Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Comment from tornado-hit Arkansas

 by Doug L. Hoffman

The state of Arkansas, in the south central portion of the United States, was struck last night by a number of storms that spawned deadly and destructive tornadoes. One of these tornadoes was a half mile wide at its base and reportedly stayed on the ground for eighty miles. The towns of Mayflower and Vilonia were particularly hard hit and the death toll currently stands at 16. Emergency officials and rescue crews are still searching for survivors. In the face of such a natural calamity people ask questions such as “could we have been more prepared” and “how can we help the victims.” Equally predictable in these times, a number of green pinheads have implied that this natural disaster was caused by global warming, and that we only have ourselves to blame. This is simply not true.

As tragic as this event was, and as selfless and heroic as the efforts of Arkansans to help their fellow citizens has been, there are still a number of lowlifes who cannot help but use this disaster to further their own agenda. I am, of course, referring to the human scum who waited less than a day to proclaim global warming as the cause of this tragedy.

Let me set the record straight: Tornadoes have not increased in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since 1950, and there is some evidence to suggest that they have actually declined. That statement is taken from testimony of Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., before the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the U.S. Senate. It should be noted that Pielke has been studying extreme weather and climate since 1993 at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO. Over the past 20 years he has published dozens of peer-reviewed papers on hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, Australian bushfires, earthquakes and other subjects related to extreme events. Since 2001, he has been a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado. He is not a climate change denier, he is a self-proclaimed luke warmer.

Moreover, he takes his data from the U.S. government, specifically the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Climate Data Center (NCDC). Those data indicate that the number of tornadoes occurring each year has not increased. This is shown in the figure below.

Not only have the yearly counts risen, the number of strong storms (EF3 and above) has not increased either. This shows that the intensity of the tornadoes is not increasing over time, so both of the points made by eco-scaremongers are incorrect.

The science here is conclusively inconclusive—there is no discernible trend in tornado activity. This will come as no surprise to those who actually study severe weather and the damage it can cause. Even the IPCC has concluded: “There is low confidence in observed trends in small spatial-scale phenomena such as tornadoes and hail.” The sad truth is that natural disasters have always afflicted humanity and will continue to do so in the future, but at no greater a rate, and with no increase in force, than in the past.

In today's victim culture it is required that every calamity have a source, someone on whom the misfortune can be blamed. In the ultimate blame game promoted by environmental fanatics and climate alarmists we are all at fault. This is because we are causing global warming and everything bad stems from that. But this is a pernicious lie. Arkansas' tornado outbreak was simply a random act of nature, and nature is both cruel and capricious.

So, to the heartless ideologues who seek to use human suffering to promote their erroneous and unscientific claims, slink back under the rocks you emerged from. The good people of Arkansas will not be pawns in your deceitful game. Pray for us. Help if you can. But otherwise, have the common decency to leave us alone while we morn our dead and rebuild our lives.


The World's Resources Aren't Running Out

Ecologists worry that the world's resources come in fixed amounts that will run out, but we have broken through such limits again and again

How many times have you heard that we humans are "using up" the world's resources, "running out" of oil, "reaching the limits" of the atmosphere's capacity to cope with pollution or "approaching the carrying capacity" of the land's ability to support a greater population? The assumption behind all such statements is that there is a fixed amount of stuff—metals, oil, clean air, land—and that we risk exhausting it through our consumption.

"We are using 50% more resources than the Earth can sustainably produce, and unless we change course, that number will grow fast—by 2030, even two planets will not be enough," says Jim Leape, director general of the World Wide Fund for Nature International (formerly the World Wildlife Fund).

But here's a peculiar feature of human history: We burst through such limits again and again. After all, as a Saudi oil minister once said, the Stone Age didn't end for lack of stone. Ecologists call this "niche construction"—that people (and indeed some other animals) can create new opportunities for themselves by making their habitats more productive in some way. Agriculture is the classic example of niche construction: We stopped relying on nature's bounty and substituted an artificial and much larger bounty.

Economists call the same phenomenon innovation. What frustrates them about ecologists is the latter's tendency to think in terms of static limits. Ecologists can't seem to see that when whale oil starts to run out, petroleum is discovered, or that when farm yields flatten, fertilizer comes along, or that when glass fiber is invented, demand for copper falls.

That frustration is heartily reciprocated. Ecologists think that economists espouse a sort of superstitious magic called "markets" or "prices" to avoid confronting the reality of limits to growth. The easiest way to raise a cheer in a conference of ecologists is to make a rude joke about economists.

I have lived among both tribes. I studied various forms of ecology in an academic setting for seven years and then worked at the Economist magazine for eight years. When I was an ecologist (in the academic sense of the word, not the political one, though I also had antinuclear stickers on my car), I very much espoused the carrying-capacity viewpoint—that there were limits to growth. I nowadays lean to the view that there are no limits because we can invent new ways of doing more with less.

This disagreement goes to the heart of many current political issues and explains much about why people disagree about environmental policy. In the climate debate, for example, pessimists see a limit to the atmosphere's capacity to cope with extra carbon dioxide without rapid warming. So a continuing increase in emissions if economic growth continues will eventually accelerate warming to dangerous rates. But optimists see economic growth leading to technological change that would result in the use of lower-carbon energy. That would allow warming to level off long before it does much harm.

It is striking, for example, that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's recent forecast that temperatures would rise by 3.7 to 4.8 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial levels by 2100 was based on several assumptions: little technological change, an end to the 50-year fall in population growth rates, a tripling (only) of per capita income and not much improvement in the energy efficiency of the economy. Basically, that would mean a world much like today's but with lots more people burning lots more coal and oil, leading to an increase in emissions. Most economists expect a five- or tenfold increase in income, huge changes in technology and an end to population growth by 2100: not so many more people needing much less carbon.

In 1679, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the great Dutch microscopist, estimated that the planet could hold 13.4 billion people, a number that most demographers think we may never reach. Since then, estimates have bounced around between 1 billion and 100 billion, with no sign of converging on an agreed figure.

Economists point out that we keep improving the productivity of each acre of land by applying fertilizer, mechanization, pesticides and irrigation. Further innovation is bound to shift the ceiling upward. Jesse Ausubel at Rockefeller University calculates that the amount of land required to grow a given quantity of food has fallen by 65% over the past 50 years, world-wide.

Ecologists object that these innovations rely on nonrenewable resources, such as oil and gas, or renewable ones that are being used up faster than they are replenished, such as aquifers. So current yields cannot be maintained, let alone improved.

In his recent book "The View from Lazy Point," the ecologist Carl Safina estimates that if everybody had the living standards of Americans, we would need 2.5 Earths because the world's agricultural land just couldn't grow enough food for more than 2.5 billion people at that level of consumption. Harvard emeritus professor E.O. Wilson, one of ecology's patriarchs, reckoned that only if we all turned vegetarian could the world's farms grow enough food to support 10 billion people.

Economists respond by saying that since large parts of the world, especially in Africa, have yet to gain access to fertilizer and modern farming techniques, there is no reason to think that the global land requirements for a given amount of food will cease shrinking any time soon. Indeed, Mr. Ausubel, together with his colleagues Iddo Wernick and Paul Waggoner, came to the startling conclusion that, even with generous assumptions about population growth and growing affluence leading to greater demand for meat and other luxuries, and with ungenerous assumptions about future global yield improvements, we will need less farmland in 2050 than we needed in 2000. (So long, that is, as we don't grow more biofuels on land that could be growing food.)

But surely intensification of yields depends on inputs that may run out? Take water, a commodity that limits the production of food in many places. Estimates made in the 1960s and 1970s of water demand by the year 2000 proved grossly overestimated: The world used half as much water as experts had projected 30 years before.

The reason was greater economy in the use of water by new irrigation techniques. Some countries, such as Israel and Cyprus, have cut water use for irrigation through the use of drip irrigation. Combine these improvements with solar-driven desalination of seawater world-wide, and it is highly unlikely that fresh water will limit human population.

The best-selling book "Limits to Growth," published in 1972 by the Club of Rome (an influential global think tank), argued that we would have bumped our heads against all sorts of ceilings by now, running short of various metals, fuels, minerals and space. Why did it not happen? In a word, technology: better mining techniques, more frugal use of materials, and if scarcity causes price increases, substitution by cheaper material. We use 100 times thinner gold plating on computer connectors than we did 40 years ago. The steel content of cars and buildings keeps on falling.

Until about 10 years ago, it was reasonable to expect that natural gas might run out in a few short decades and oil soon thereafter. If that were to happen, agricultural yields would plummet, and the world would be faced with a stark dilemma: Plow up all the remaining rain forest to grow food, or starve.

But thanks to fracking and the shale revolution, peak oil and gas have been postponed. They will run out one day, but only in the sense that you will run out of Atlantic Ocean one day if you take a rowboat west out of a harbor in Ireland. Just as you are likely to stop rowing long before you bump into Newfoundland, so we may well find cheap substitutes for fossil fuels long before they run out.

The economist and metals dealer Tim Worstall gives the example of tellurium, a key ingredient of some kinds of solar panels. Tellurium is one of the rarest elements in the Earth's crust—one atom per billion. Will it soon run out? Mr. Worstall estimates that there are 120 million tons of it, or a million years' supply altogether. It is sufficiently concentrated in the residues from refining copper ores, called copper slimes, to be worth extracting for a very long time to come. One day, it will also be recycled as old solar panels get cannibalized to make new ones.

Or take phosphorus, an element vital to agricultural fertility. The richest phosphate mines, such as on the island of Nauru in the South Pacific, are all but exhausted. Does that mean the world is running out? No: There are extensive lower grade deposits, and if we get desperate, all the phosphorus atoms put into the ground over past centuries still exist, especially in the mud of estuaries. It's just a matter of concentrating them again.

In 1972, the ecologist Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University came up with a simple formula called IPAT, which stated that the impact of humankind was equal to population multiplied by affluence multiplied again by technology. In other words, the damage done to Earth increases the more people there are, the richer they get and the more technology they have.

Many ecologists still subscribe to this doctrine, which has attained the status of holy writ in ecology. But the past 40 years haven't been kind to it. In many respects, greater affluence and new technology have led to less human impact on the planet, not more. Richer people with new technologies tend not to collect firewood and bushmeat from natural forests; instead, they use electricity and farmed chicken—both of which need much less land. In 2006, Mr. Ausubel calculated that no country with a GDP per head greater than $4,600 has a falling stock of forest (in density as well as in acreage).

Haiti is 98% deforested and literally brown on satellite images, compared with its green, well-forested neighbor, the Dominican Republic. The difference stems from Haiti's poverty, which causes it to rely on charcoal for domestic and industrial energy, whereas the Dominican Republic is wealthy enough to use fossil fuels, subsidizing propane gas for cooking fuel specifically so that people won't cut down forests.

Part of the problem is that the word "consumption" means different things to the two tribes. Ecologists use it to mean "the act of using up a resource"; economists mean "the purchase of goods and services by the public" (both definitions taken from the Oxford dictionary).

But in what sense is water, tellurium or phosphorus "used up" when products made with them are bought by the public? They still exist in the objects themselves or in the environment. Water returns to the environment through sewage and can be reused. Phosphorus gets recycled through compost. Tellurium is in solar panels, which can be recycled. As the economist Thomas Sowell wrote in his 1980 book "Knowledge and Decisions," "Although we speak loosely of 'production,' man neither creates nor destroys matter, but only transforms it."

Given that innovation—or "niche construction"—causes ever more productivity, how do ecologists justify the claim that we are already overdrawn at the planetary bank and would need at least another planet to sustain the lifestyles of 10 billion people at U.S. standards of living?

Examine the calculations done by a group called the Global Footprint Network—a think tank founded by Mathis Wackernagel in Oakland, Calif., and supported by more than 70 international environmental organizations—and it becomes clear. The group assumes that the fossil fuels burned in the pursuit of higher yields must be offset in the future by tree planting on a scale that could soak up the emitted carbon dioxide. A widely used measure of "ecological footprint" simply assumes that 54% of the acreage we need should be devoted to "carbon uptake."

But what if tree planting wasn't the only way to soak up carbon dioxide? Or if trees grew faster when irrigated and fertilized so you needed fewer of them? Or if we cut emissions, as the U.S. has recently done by substituting gas for coal in electricity generation? Or if we tolerated some increase in emissions (which are measurably increasing crop yields, by the way)? Any of these factors could wipe out a huge chunk of the deemed ecological overdraft and put us back in planetary credit.

Helmut Haberl of Klagenfurt University in Austria is a rare example of an ecologist who takes economics seriously. He points out that his fellow ecologists have been using "human appropriation of net primary production"—that is, the percentage of the world's green vegetation eaten or prevented from growing by us and our domestic animals—as an indicator of ecological limits to growth. Some ecologists had begun to argue that we were using half or more of all the greenery on the planet.

This is wrong, says Dr. Haberl, for several reasons. First, the amount appropriated is still fairly low: About 14.2% is eaten by us and our animals, and an additional 9.6% is prevented from growing by goats and buildings, according to his estimates. Second, most economic growth happens without any greater use of biomass. Indeed, human appropriation usually declines as a country industrializes and the harvest grows—as a result of agricultural intensification rather than through plowing more land.

Finally, human activities actually increase the production of green vegetation in natural ecosystems. Fertilizer taken up by crops is carried into forests and rivers by wild birds and animals, where it boosts yields of wild vegetation too (sometimes too much, causing algal blooms in water). In places like the Nile delta, wild ecosystems are more productive than they would be without human intervention, despite the fact that much of the land is used for growing human food.

If I could have one wish for the Earth's environment, it would be to bring together the two tribes—to convene a grand powwow of ecologists and economists. I would pose them this simple question and not let them leave the room until they had answered it: How can innovation improve the environment?


People are the ONLY resource

Everyone on the planet who worries that free markets generate “unsustainable” economic growth should read Matt Ridley’s superb essay “The World’s Resources Aren’t Running Out” (April 26).  An insight implied in Mr. Ridley’s refutation of environmental doomsayers is the late Julian Simon’s understanding that the ultimate resource is the human mind.

Most environmentalists think that resources are “natural.”  But they’re not.  No substance on earth - not iron ore, not petroleum, not even land - is a resource unless and until human beings creatively figure out how to use that substance to produce outputs cost-effectively.  And innovative, free markets are by far the most powerful engine ever stumbled upon to power such human creativity.  As the economic historians Gavin Wright and Jesse Czelusta put it, “the abundance of … mineral resources should not be seen as merely a fortunate natural endowment.  It is more appropriately understood as a form of collective learning, a return on large-scale investments in exploration, transportation, geological knowledge, and the technologies of mineral extraction, refining, and utilization.”*

So the great irony is that the chief source of “natural resources” is the very economic institution - entrepreneurial capitalism - that environmentalists accuse of destroying natural resources.


Mora County’s drilling ban: The moral high ground or moronic?

In the circumstances, it would be fair to deny them all petroleum products.  They might find something good about drilling then

In a little “frontier” community in northern New Mexico, a property rights battle is playing out with huge national implications and almost no one knows it is taking place. The outcome of two lawsuits that are pending against Mora County and its Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance have the potential to impact an individual’s ability to use and profit from his or her own land — not just in New Mexico, but from coast-to-coast.

One year ago, on April 29, 2013, in a 2-1 vote, Mora County Commissioners made headlines by making the little county the first in the country to ban oil-and-gas exploration and production outright. Several communities have passed moratoriums or bans on hydraulic fracturing. Others, such as nearby Santa Fe County, have enacted rules and regulations that are so restrictive on drilling practices that they essentially do ban oil-and-gas drilling. But none have gone so far as to totally outlaw all development of hydrocarbons.

Mora County is proud to be taking a stand and believes that it has done an important thing. The commissioners think they have the rights locally. They don’t care what the federal or state constitutions say. They’ve passed this ordinance anyway. It’s one thing to say you can’t drill in this county.  It’s something else again to say, “You know those constitutional rights you thought you had?  Well, they don’t apply in this county.”

Marino Rivera’s family has been in Mora County for generations. He supports the drilling ban, but, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican (SFNM), he knew the county would get sued. “The ban is unconstitutional. I think we all knew that going in.” He felt that it was worth the fight just to “make a statement.”

County Commissioner John Olivas, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners — who is on staff at the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance as a “traditional community organizer” and is also listed as the “northern director,” believes “the ordinance is defensible” and claims the little county is “ready for the fight.”

“Why is it wrong for citizens of Mora Country to say no to corporations?” Olivas asks.

Olivas characterizes himself as a part of a great crusade. He said: “we see these lawsuits as merely a beginning — of a waking up that must occur across our communities and the country to understand that we are caught within a system that virtually guarantees our destruction.” Olivas sees the effort as part of a movement that is bigger than an oil-and-gas ban in an area that doesn’t have any current drilling activity. He wants to “not only call out corporate decision makers for what they do — but begin to dismantle what they’ve spent so many years building.”

Olivas concludes his statement with a call to join the resistance movement, citing 150 communities that “have now begun to walk the path the people of Mora are walking.” He told New Mexico Watchdog: “I think it can lead to a domino effect.”

The Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance

Mora County’s ordinance was a triumph for the Pennsylvania-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) — which calls itself a “public-interest law firm.” About its work, the website states: “CELDF has assisted more than 150 communities across the country to establish Community Rights ordinances that today are protecting communities from a range of harmful practices, from shale gas drilling and fracking to the land application of sewage sludge.”

Funding for CELDF has come from such sources as the Heinz Endowments of Pittsburgh, chaired by Secretary of State John Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz ($162,000 from 2000-2002); the Norman Foundation of New York City ($180,000 from 2003-11); the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation of New York City ($165,000 from 2001-11); and the Park Foundation of Ithaca, New York ($135,000 from 2008-11). It has also received support from RSF [Rudolf Steiner Foundation] Social Finance, a leader in what the magazine Inc. calls “do-gooder finance.”

In a press release about Mora County’s vote, CELDF Executive Director Thomas Linzey, Esq., claims: “Mora is joining a growing people’s movement for community and nature’s rights.”

The Mora ordinance states: “It shall be unlawful for any corporation to engage in the extraction of oil, natural gas, or other hydrocarbons within Mora County.” In June 2013, the commission voted to expand the ban to individuals as well. Additionally, under the ordinance, any permits or licenses issued by either the federal or state government that would allow activities that would compromise the county’s rights would be considered invalid.

Commissioner Paula Garcia, was the one “no” vote a year ago. Like her two colleagues, she opposes oil-and-gas drilling in Mora County, but she voted against the ordinance because, as she told the E&E (Environment and Energy) reporter: “the ordinance is so ambitious and experimental that it leaves the county vulnerable to a legal challenge by industry and then the county will have to go back to square one if it loses in court.” Garcia told the Albuquerque Journal: “It’s very experimental in that it has a lot of provisions in there that haven’t been tested. Most of the attorneys I’ve talked to said this is not likely to hold up in court.”

The ordinance tests U.S. Supreme Court decisions dating back to the 1800s that recognize corporations as having many of the same rights as citizens and challenges state and federal powers. IPANM President Richard Gilliland, in a press release, said: “What the Mora County Commission has done with the ordinance is an insult to the U.S. Constitution and every free citizen.”

National Impacts

Mora County doesn’t have any drilling activity but it is important as a part of the national battle.

La Jicarita—which calls itself “an online magazine of environmental politics in New Mexico” — states: “CELDF works in a national arena and sees itself as taking the high road, a radical approach to social change that asserts the ‘rights’ of communities and ecosystems and works towards ‘federal constitutional change.’”

In November seven fracking bans were on ballots — three in Ohio and four in Colorado. Several were in locales with no oil-and-gas potential development. As Pendley indicated, all of these fracking and drilling bans and/or moratoriums are part of an attempted national movement. The “symbolic” votes in communities with no oil-and-gas development are part of a strategy to target left-leaning constituencies where ordinances can be passed and momentum can be built.

On February 28, 2014, the Los Angeles City Council passed (10-0) a largely symbolic ban on hydraulic fracturing within city limits. Officials from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the agency that oversees oil drilling in Southern California, said there have been no recent reports of fracking within Los Angeles’ city limits. There are 1800 oil and gas wells in the city of Los Angeles, only about 10 percent are active. The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce is concerned about the possibility of people losing their jobs in the oil industry due to the decision.

The left, understanding the potential national implications, is paying attention to what happens in Mora County. A piece posted on’s ClimateProgress site, states: “the amount of resources now unavailable to the oil and gas industry does not matter as much as the precedent the ordinance sets for other counties, cities, and even states that want to put an end to fossil fuel extraction. … If the IPA’s lawsuit against Mora succeeds, there will be a strong basis for future challenges to any other similar law or ordinance. However, if Mora’s ordinance holds up in court, it will become that much harder for the oil and gas industry to challenge future bans on fossil fuel extraction that may crop up in other places.”

The Mora County story, isn’t just about Mora County and it isn’t just about oil-and-gas drilling — or even about fracking. It reflects a battle being played out across America.

Karin Foster, executive director for the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico (IPANM), who was working with the group to file the first of the two lawsuits, says: “It is about business and our American way of life. It is time for industry, business and the general public to fight back to expose the hypocrisy of the people who drive their cars, turn on their lights, take hot showers, wear their Patagonia jackets, and drink their Starbucks coffee at town hall meetings in Mora County.”


British energy companies 'to reap £2bn windfall' from green levies deal

Britain's biggest energy suppliers could pocket a £2bn windfall over the next three years after the government miscalculated a deal to cut green levies, new research claims.

Households face overpaying by up to £23 a year for an energy efficiency scheme, unless suppliers cut bills or are made to use the money to install more insulation, analysis for the Insulated Render and Cladding Association (Inca) suggests.

The Prime Minister approved an overhaul of the 'Energy Company Obligation’ (ECO) home insulation scheme in December, watering down targets as part of a deal to cut £50 from bills by reducing green levies. The ECO changes were estimated to save companies up to £35 per household.

In a joint open letter to the Prime Minister, Inca, the trade association for the solid wall insulation industry, and other energy efficiency groups, say: “The actual savings to the 'Big Six’ go far beyond the £35 you have persuaded them to give back to customers, representing a £1bn-£2bn windfall to energy suppliers over the next three years."

This equates to an extra £15-£23 per household per year.

Earlier this month The Telegraph disclosed research by the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) claiming companies would save more than expected, leading to a £245m windfall.

But the new analysis for Inca finds the windfall will be much greater because companies will benefit not only from having to install fewer measures - as highlighted by ACE - but also from substantially lower costs for the measures that they do have to carry out. Market prices for some of measures are less than half those assumed by the government.

The research was conducted by AgilityEco, a consultancy run by two former British Gas executives with extensive experience implementing energy efficiency schemes.

Labour’s Julie Elliott MP, shadow energy minister, called on companies to pass on any savings. “It is clear that the Government has underestimated the amount that would be saved by reducing support under the ECO scheme,” she said.

Solid wall insulation bore the brunt of the cuts to ECO targets because it is the most expensive type of insulation. But, in its consultation response to the changes, Inca argues the windfall leaves room for the targets to be doubled without increasing consumer bills.

It also argues that the 8m households in “energy-leaking” solid wall homes deserve help after contributing £2.7bn over the last decade to subsidise insulation for other households.

“At the rate proposed in your consultation, it will take 300 years to get these homes to a decent state of energy efficiency,” it says.

Angela Knight, chief executive of Energy UK, said the green levies deal was based on “the best estimates that both companies and government could make”.

Suppliers were in discussion with government about running costs, she added, although final costs would not be known until the end of the programme.

A spokesman for the organisation, which represents the energy industry, added that they did not recognise Inca's numbers. "The cost of delivering ECO will vary from company to company but the industry welcomes further transparency to make ECO more open and easy to understand," they said.

A British Gas spokesman said: “In terms of the Government changes to ECO, as part of our January price cut we made it clear that we passed all the benefit of the savings to our customers in full. We were the first supplier to announce the price cut and it applied to all customers whether on variable or fixed tariffs."

A DECC spokesperson said it was still analysing responses to its proposed changes to the ECO scheme and hoped to publish its response to the consultation before the summer break.


Some skepticism from Wales

SIR – John Childs’ blind support for the IPCC (Letters, April 10) is wildly misplaced and, if his views were not so harmful to our economy, would be humorous.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports are not peer reviewed, they are pal reviewed.

The IPCC is a government-funded organisation which supplies whatever predetermined “proof” of man’s alleged harm to the planet politicians require. This is then used to tax us and limit our freedoms in the name of “saving the world for the children”.

IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachaury has confirmed this at interview and is reported as saying: “We are an intergovernmental body and we do what the governments of the world want us to do. If governments wanted us to come up with something different... we would be at their beck and call.”

IPCC summaries are very different from the scientific reports and are gone through in fine detail behind closed doors by government representatives and members of so-called green groups to ensure the message is enough to terrify to public into compliance.

Dr Pachauri, a railway engineer and economist – not a climate scientist – said in 2009: “When the Fifth Assessment comes out in 2014 people are going to say: My God, we are going to have to take action much quicker than we planned”

Perhaps Mr Childs can explain how Dr Pachauri knew that, five years before the report was published.

IPCC projections suggesting varying degrees of warming as carbon dioxide levels rose have been proven wrong by Mother Nature.

There has been no net warming now in 17 years and six months. Since mythical man-made warming was supposed to cause the climate to change, perhaps Mr Childs can explain how something which does not exist can cause anything.

He is entitled to his own opinions but not entitled to his own facts.

Alwyn Davies



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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A radical idea

Whether or not man has caused global warming isn’t really the question.

The question that we’re asking now is to what extent the so-called climate change models have predictive value, when in fact, 114 out of 117 predictions made in regards to global warming have proven wrong.

Warming forecasts have consistently overstated the amount of warming that’s happening. They also missed the decade and a half long pause in global warming that we’re currently experiencing.

Dr. Roy Spencer has estimated that as many as 95% of the global warming models have just been flat out wrong.

Perhaps this is a radical idea, but maybe, just maybe, the settled science crowd ought to consider this: Maybe global warming is the Earth’s natural way of providing for a more hospitable environment for a growing human population. Warmer weather, more food? That kind of thing?

Because the real threat to man’s existence isn’t global warming, but rather in a new Ice Age.

If man actually exerts an upward pressure in global temperatures, then thank God for man.


Should California dictate U.S. energy policies?

Can the rest of America afford its Alice in Wonderland energy policies? (Can California?)

California loves to be seen as the trendsetter on energy and environmental policies. But can we really afford to adopt their laws and regulations in the rest of America? Heck, can the once Golden State afford them itself? The path to hell is paved with good intentions, counter-productive policies - and hypocrisy.

The official national unemployment rate is stuck at 6.7% - but with much higher rates for blacks and Hispanics and a labor  participation rate that remains the lowest in 35 years. Measured by gross national product, our economy is growing at an abysmal 1.5% or even 1.0% annual rate.

Meanwhile, California's jobless rate is higher than in all but three other states: 8.1% - and with far worse rates as high as 15% for blacks, Hispanics and inland communities. First the good news, then the insanity.

Citigroup's Energy 2020: North America report estimates that the United States, Canada and Mexico could make North America almost energy independent in six years, simply by tapping their vast recoverable oil and natural gas reserves. Doing so would help lower energy and consumer prices, insulate the three nations from volatile or blackmailing foreign suppliers, and spur job creation based on reliable, affordable energy, says the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Driving this revolution is horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. According to Citigroup, IHS Global Insights, the EIA and other analysts, "fracking" technology contributed 2.1 million jobs and $285 billion to the US economy in 2013, while adding $62 billion to local, state and federal treasuries! Compare that to mandates and subsidies required for expensive, unreliable, job-killing wind, solar and biofuel energy.

Fracking also slashed America's oil imports from 60% of its total needs in 2005 to just 28% in 2013. It slashed our import bill by some $100 billion annually.

By 2020 the government share of this boom is expected to rise to $111 billion. By 2035, U.S. oil and natural gas operations could inject over $5 trillion in cumulative capital expenditures into the economy, while contributing $300 billion a year to GDP and generating over $2.5 trillion in cumulative additional government revenues. What incredible benefits! But there's more.

A Yale University study calculates that the drop in natural gas prices (from $8 per thousand cubic feet or million Btu in 2008, and much more on the spot market, to $4.00 or so now) is saving businesses and families over $125 billion a year in heating, electricity, fertilizer and raw material feed stock costs.

The only thing standing in the way of a US employment boom and economic and industrial renaissance, says Citigroup, is politics: continued or even more oppressive anti-hydrocarbon policies and regulations.

Here's the insanity. Fully 96% of this nation's oil and gas production increase took place on state and private lands. Production fell significantly on federal lands under President Obama's watch, with the Interior Department leasing only 2% of federal offshore lands and 6% of its onshore domain for petroleum, then slow-walking drilling permits, according to the Institute for Energy Research.

The President continues to stall on the Keystone pipeline, while threatening layers of expensive carbon dioxide and other regulations, to prevent what he insists is "dangerous manmade climate change." His EPA just adopted California's expensive all-pain-no-gain rules for sulfur in gasoline, and the Administration and environmentalists constantly look to the West Coast for policy guidance.

Governor Jerry Brown says 30 million vehicles in California translate into "a lot of oil" and "the time for no more oil drilling" will be when its residents "can get around without using any gasoline." However, that rational message has not reached the state's legislators, environmental activists or urban elites.

California's ruling classes strongly oppose drilling and fracking - and leading Democrats are campaigning hard to impose at least a long temporary ban, based on ludicrous claims that fracking causes groundwater contamination and even earthquakes and birth defects.

Meanwhile, California's oil production represents just 38% of its needs - and is falling steadily, even though the state has enormous onshore and offshore oil deposits, accessible via conventional and hydraulic fracturing technologies. The state imports 12% of its oil from Alaska and 50% more from foreign nations, much of it from Canada, notes Sacramento area energy consultant Tom Tanton.

The record is far worse when it comes to electricity. The Do-As-I-Say state imports about 29% of its total electricity from out of state: via the Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Phoenix, coal-fired generators in the Four Corners area, and hydroelectric dams in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest, Tanton explains.

Another 50% of its electricity is generated using natural gas that is also imported from sources outside California. Instead, the Greener-Than-Thou State relies heavily on gas imported via pipelines from Canada, the Rockies and the American Southwest, to power its gas-fired turbines. Those turbines and out-of-state sources also back up its numerous unreliable bird-killing wind turbines.

It adds up to a great way to preen and strut about their environmental consciousness. They simply leach off their neighbors for 62% of their gasoline and 79% of their electricity, and let other states do the hard work and emit the CO2.

These foreign fuels power the state's profitable and liberal Silicon Valley and entertainment industries - as well as the heavily subsidized electric and hybrid vehicles that wealthy elites so love for their pseudo-ecological benefits, $7,500 tax credits, and automatic entry into fast-moving HOV lanes.

Meanwhile, California's poor white, black, Hispanic and other families get to pay $4.23 per gallon for regular gasoline, the second highest price in America - and 16.2 cents per kWh for residential electricity, double that in most states, and behind only New York, New England, Alaska and Hawaii.

However, the state's eco-centric ruling classes are not yet satisfied. Having already hammered large industrial facilities with costly carbon dioxide cap-and-trade regulations, thereby driving more jobs out of the state, on January 1, 2015 they will impose cap-and-trade rules on gasoline and diesel fuels. That will instantly add at least 12 cents more per gallon, with the price escalating over the coming years.

Regulators are also ginning up tough new "low-carbon fuel standards," requiring that California's transportation fuels reduce their "carbon intensity" or "life-cycle" CO2 emissions by 10% below 2010 levels. This will be accomplished by forcing refiners and retailers to provide more corn-based ethanol, biodiesel and still-nonexistent cellulosic biofuel.

These fuels are much more expensive than even cap-tax-and-trade gasoline - which means the poor families that liberals care so deeply about will be forced to pay still more to drive their cars and trucks.

In fact, Charles River Associates estimates that the LCFS will raise the cost of gasoline and diesel by up to 170% (!) over the next ten years, on top of all the other price hikes.

In the meantime, China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Germany and a hundred other countries are burning more coal, driving more cars and emitting vastly more carbon dioxide. So the alleged benefits to global atmospheric CO2 levels range from illusory and fabricated to fraudulent.

Of course, commuters who cannot afford these soaring prices can always park their cars and add a few hours to their daily treks, by taking multiple buses to work, school and other activities.

There's more, naturally. Much more. But I'm out of space and floundering amid all the lunacy.

Can we really afford to inflict California's insane policies on the rest of America? In fact, how long can the Left Coast afford to let its ruling classes inflict those policies on its own citizens?


Alaskan Polar Bears Threatened… By Too Much Spring Ice

Five meters of ice– about 16 feet thick - is threatening the survival of polar bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea region along Alaska’s Arctic coast, according to Dr. Susan J. Crockford, an evolutionary biologist in British Columbia who has studied polar bears for most of her 35-year career.

That’s because the thick ice ridges could prevent ringed seals, the bears’ major prey, from creating breathing holes they need to survive in the frigid waters, Crockford told

“Prompted by reports of the heaviest sea ice conditions on the East Coast ‘in decades’ and news that ice on the Great Lakes is, for mid-April, the worst it’s been since records began, I took a close look at the ice thickness charts for the Arctic,” Crockford noted in her Polar Bear Science blog on April 18th.

“Sea ice charts aren’t a guarantee that this heavy spring ice phenomenon is developing in the Beaufort, but they could be a warning,” she wrote, noting that they "don't bode well" for the Beaufort bears.

“What happens is that really thick ice moves in because currents and winds from Greenland and the Canadian islands push it against the shore,” Crockford told

“The male seals arrive in the area in early spring to set up breeding territories. They drill a hole through the ice to maintain breathing holes close to the shore. But there’s a limit. They can drill through two meters (about seven feet) of ice. But too much beyond that and they’re in trouble.”

“The reason that’s important is that seals mate right after the pups, who are born in April, are weaned. So the male seal wants to be there, but he has to have breathing holes. If the ice is too thick, he has to move off someplace else,” she explained.

But this is the same time that female polar bears are just emerging with their newborn cubs from maternity dens either on or near the shore.

“When those bears come out of their dens in the spring, they need to find seals right away because they will have gone six months without eating,” Crockford said. “If there are no seals, they have to go further out, where there’s thinner ice.”

“Spring and early summer are really a critical time for polar bears. That’s when they need to eat as many seals as they can because that’s when they put on fat for the rest of the year. If they have trouble doing that in the spring, they’re in big trouble.”

There were comparably high levels of spring ice in the Beaufort Sea in 2004 and 2006, when bear counts were “one of the pieces of evidence used to have the bears listed as ‘threatened’ in the U.S.,” Crockford pointed out.

“Polar bear biologists were finding some bears quite thin and found a population decline,” she said, which they attributed to melting summer ice caused by global warming.

“But the biologists were not there to see the thick [spring] ice. All they saw was thin bears,” she pointed out. “They blamed the poor condition of the bears on summer ice, instead of acknowledging that it was likely the condition of the ice in the spring that was the cause of the problem.”

“Female [polar bears] with cubs having trouble feeding are one aspect of the repercussions of thick ice,” Crockford added. “The other repercussion is that other bears, instead of hanging around and starving, probably left the area. They could have gone to the Chukchi Sea, which is located between the U.S. and Russia near the Bering Strait.”

The U.S. Geological Survey conducted a polar bear population survey for the area in 2006. It reported a decline in the adult polar bear population and reduced cub survival rates, which was used to list the bears as a “threatened species” in the U.S. by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in 2008.


Keystone Pipeline Protesters: ‘Man Camps’ Could Lead to Sexual Assaults of Native Americans

Native Americans opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline said its construction could lead to Native American women being sexually assaulted, according to news reports from a protest held this week on the National Mall. However, a workers’ union that supports the pipeline said such claims were “disgusting” and harmful to the “hard-working people who build America.”

“We are worried about man camps that are coming to our territory,” Faith Spotted Eagle, an elder with the Yankton Sioux of North Dakota, said at the protest, as reported by Politico.

Spotted Eagle said the mostly male encampments that would be put in place to house those working on the pipeline posed a threat to Native American women.

“We have seen our women suffer,” she said. “One out of three women in our nation have been sexually assaulted by non-native people.”

Members of tribes from states along the path where the pipeline would be built to transport crude oil from Alberta, Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast joined non-tribal protestors in a coalition called the “Cowboy and Indian Alliance.”

“We have stopped the pipeline in its tracks for the last five years,” protestor Jane Kleeb of the environmental group Bold Nebraska, said at the protest.

Rosebud Sioux President Cyrill Scott told BuzzFeed that some of the man camps would have as many as 600 men.

“I am very concerned these transient workers are going to come onto our land and violate our people,” Scott said.

“There will be violence and sexual assault from Keystone,” Aldo Seoane, another Rosebud Souix, said at the protest.

Some news reports cited Department of Justice statistics that state “American Indians are 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault crimes compared to all other races, and one in three Indian women reports having been raped during her lifetime.”

But the statistics do include information about the perpetrators.

Concerning the sexual assault claims by the coalition, the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), which has 500,000 members, said the assertions were besmirching hard-working Americans.

“It’s disgusting that some anti-worker operatives in Washington would feel so desperate to find another attack on a job-creating pipeline that they would resort to such baseless smears against the hard working people who build America," LiUNA Communications Director Richard Greer told

As for the Obama administration’s decision on April 18 to further delay approval of Keystone, LiUNA President Terry O’Sullivan in a press release said: “They waited until Good Friday, believing no one would be paying attention. The only surprise is they didn’t wait to do it in the dark of night.”

“It’s not the oil that’s dirty, it’s the politics,” said O’Sullivan.  “Once again, the administration is making a political calculation instead of doing what is right for the country. This certainly is no example of profiles in courage. It’s clear the administration needs to grow a set of antlers, or perhaps take a lesson from Popeye and eat some spinach.”

“This is another low blow to the working men and women of our country for whom the Keystone XL Pipeline is a lifeline to good jobs and energy security,” said the LiUNA president.

According to the Bold Nebraska website, the Cowboy and Indian Alliance – or CIA – will hold a “traditional water ceremony” outside of Secretary of State John Kerry’s home where they will be “praying that the Secretary listen to his conscience and the science and reject Keystone XL.”

On April 18, the State Department announced the pipeline decision was being delayed again after more than five years of review of the project. Keystone XL falls under the agency’s jurisdiction because it involves the crossing of an international border.

Keystone is a proposed 1,179-mile 36-inch diameter pipeline that would transport crude oil from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Neb., according to the website of TransCanada, the company in charge of the project.

“Along with transporting crude oil from Canada, the Keystone XL Pipeline will also support the significant growth of crude oil production in the United States from producers in the Bakken region of Montana and North Dakota,” the explanation on the company’s website stated.


EPA Administrator: 'Newsflash! People Like Us'

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy on Monday took aim at critics who try to "vilify the work of reputable scientists and EPA."

"To those calling EPA untrustworthy and unpopular -- newsflash! People like us," she said in a speech at the National Academy of Science. "They want safe drinking water. They want healthy air. And they expect us to follow the science -- just as the law demands."

McCarthy, in her prepared remarks, stressed the "bedrock science" behind "sensible regulatory standards," such as the Clean Air Act.

And she said "a small but vocal group of critics" are trying to prevent the EPA from doing the job Congress directed it to do:

"People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts," she said. "You can't just claim the science isn't real when it doesn't align well with your political or financial interests. Science is real and verifiable. With the health of our families and our futures at stake, the American people expect us to act on the facts, not spend precious time and taxpayer money refuting manufactured uncertainties."

She pointed to the threat of climate change, evidenced by "more frequent and intense heat waves, droughts, floods, and storms to more smog and asthma." She said climate change "has put our health and economic risks on steroids," and cannot be ignored.

"Using the best science we have to offer, our next U.S. National Climate Assessment is about to be finalized. From coastal cities to the Great Plains, we have to use that science to prepare and to plan. Just like we use the science on mercury, acid rain, ozone pollution, particulate matter and more.

"To reduce the risks that threaten our health and safety, we need to listen to climate science. We cannot let those same critics of science continue to manufacture uncertainties that stop us from taking urgently needed climate action."


Gallup: One in Four in U.S. Are Solidly Skeptical of Global Warming

Nearly 40% are "Concerned Believers" in global warming, others are mixed

Over the past decade, Americans have clustered into three broad groups on global warming. The largest, currently describing 39% of U.S. adults, are what can be termed "Concerned Believers" -- those who attribute global warming to human actions and are worried about it. This is followed by the "Mixed Middle," at 36%. And one in four Americans -- the "Cool Skeptics" -- are not worried about global warming much or at all.

Gallup Global Warming Opinion Groups

The rate of Concerned Believers has varied some over the past decade and half, but is currently identical to the earliest estimate, from 2001. Over the same period of time, the ranks of Cool Skeptics have swelled, while the Mixed Middle -- once the largest group -- has declined modestly.

These groupings stem from a special "cluster" analysis of four questions that measure Americans' belief and concerns about human-induced global warming, all of which have been asked together on Gallup's annual Environment survey seven times since 2001. The latest results are from the March 6-9, 2014, Environment poll. However, the groupings derive from analysis of seven years of combined data.

Gallup has recently reported on a number of the individual trends included in the cluster analysis as part of its Climate Change series. This analysis provides a unique way of summarizing Americans' overall stance on global warming.

Perceived Cause of Global Warming Is Major Discriminator

Concerned Believers and Cool Skeptics are of entirely different mindsets when it comes to how much they worry about global warming. Concerned Believers say they worry "a great deal" or "fair amount" about the issue, while Cool Skeptics worry only "a little" or "not at all." Additionally, Concerned Believers think media reports about the issue are either correct or underestimated, while Cool Skeptics think they are exaggerated. And, most starkly, 100% of Concerned Believers say the rise in the Earth's temperature over the last century is due to the effects of pollution, while 100% of Cool Skeptics say it is due to natural changes in the environment. Finally, two-thirds of Concerned Believers believe global warming will pose a serious threat to their own way of life in the future, while 100% of Cool Skeptics disagree.

Americans in the Mixed Middle are individuals who hold a combination of views. For instance, some believe humans are the cause of the Earth's warming, but aren't worried about it. Others say global warming is a natural phenomenon, but that it will pose a serious risk in their lifetime. In one way or another, those in the Mixed Middle fail to line up with the orthodoxy on either side of the climate science issue.



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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Monday, April 28, 2014

Germany's Vice Chancellor Stuns, Declares Germany’s Green energy revolution To Be On ‘The Verge Of Failure’!

The green energy orgy in Germany is over. The music has stopped and the wine that once flowed freely has long run out. The green energy whores and pimps can go home.

In a stunning admission by Germany’s Economics Minister and Vice Chancellor to Angela Merkel, Sigmar Gabriel announced in a recent speech that the country’s once highly ballyhooed transformation to renewable energy, the so called Energiewende, a model that has been adopted by a number of countries worldwide, is “on the verge of failure“.

Speaking at an event at SMA Solar, Germany’s leading manufacturer of solar technology, Gabriel even dropped yet another admission bomb:  "The truth is that in all fields we under-estimated the complexity of the Energiewende.”

Gabriel is not only the national economics minister and vice chancellor to Angela Merkel, he is also head of Germany’s socialist SPD party, which is now the coalition partner in Angela Merkel’s CDU/SPD grand coalition government. Moreover Gabriel was once the country’s environment minister and a devout believer in global warming and in Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth.

In the speech Gabriel tells the audience how the energy transformation is on the verge of failure: "Those who are the engines of the transformation to renewable energies, that’s you, you don’t see how close we are to the failure of the energy transformation.”

Gabriel says that major reforms are thus unavoidable, and he calls efforts for energy consumers to get off the grid “pure madness”. That’s not what they want after all. Gabriel is now calling on companies who produce green energy for their own use to ante up as well:  "The complete exemption from paying feed-in tariffs is a model that is wonderful for you as a business model, but is one that is a problem for everyone else.”

The solar energy audience reacts with dead, stunned silence (3:03). That can’t believe what they just heard.

The mood at SMA Solar, which has been a huge benefactor of the renewable energy subsidies brought on by Germany’s EEG feed-in act, was somber and shock and Gabriel delivered the reality. Many in attendance seemed unable to fathom what Gabriel was unloading: the heady days at the green energy feeding trough are over – live with it.

The European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE) here writes:  "The responsible persons in attendance at the Hessen-based photovoltaic SMA Solar and all the other profiteers of the EEG feed-in act saw their jaws drop when this late and blunt admission was made.”

That Gabriel would make such comments can only tell us that the situation and the costs surrounding the Energiewende must be far more dire than most of us realize.

Germany’s renewable energy gravy train has derailed for good. Other countries take note!

Finally, give credit to Gabriel for not shying away from what needs to be done and for taking the responsibilities as economics minister very seriously. Finally a person in power who gets it!


Germany’s energy policy is expensive, harmful and short-sighted

By Bjorn Lomborg

The Ukrainian crisis has again put German energy policy in the spotlight. As long as Europe’s green energy is expensive and unreliable, it favours Russian gas and leaves the continent’s energy policy unsustainable.

Germany’s energiewende, the country’s move away from nuclear and fossil fuels towards renewable energies has been regarded by some commentators as an example for the rest of the world. But now Germany shows the globe how not to make green policy. It is failing the poor, while protecting neither energy security nor the climate.

Last month, the government said that 6.9m households live in energy poverty, defined as spending more than 10 per cent of their income on energy. This is largely a result of the surcharge for renewable energy. Between 2000 and 2013, electricity prices for households have increased 80 per cent in real terms, according to data from the OECD and the International Energy Agency.

This means more and more money is going from the poor to the rich. Low-income tenants in the Ruhr area or Berlin are paying high energy prices to subsidise wealthy homeowners in Bavaria who put solar panels on their roofs.

Some have argued that Germany’s energy policy could be seen as a huge bet on developing the energy of the future – and if it works, it would secure Germany’s engineering future.

However, most of Germany’s money was spent, not on research into future technology, but on buying existing inefficient green technology. Three weeks ago, in a report to the German parliament, a group of energy experts delivered a damning indictment of the current subsidies. They said that the policy has had a “very low technology-specific innovation impact in Germany”. Essentially, it is much safer for companies to keep selling more of the old technologies of wind, solar and biomass because these are already getting huge subsidies instead of trying to develop new and better technologies that have similar pay-offs but much higher risk.

The legislation does not offer more protection for the climate. Instead, it makes such protection much more expensive. “There is no justification for a continuation of the Renewable Energies Act”, the report concludes.

German energy policy is an expensive way to achieve almost nothing. For solar alone, Germany has committed to pay subsidies of more than €100bn over the next 20 years, even though it contributes only 0.7 per cent of primary energy consumption. These solar panels’ net effect for the climate will be to delay global warming by a mere 37 hours by the end of the century, according to a report cited in Der Spiegel.

A McKinsey study published earlier this year found that Germany energy prices for households are now 48 per cent above the European average. At the same time, European power prices have risen almost 40 per cent since 2005, while US electricity prices have declined.

Despite exemptions from renewable obligations for energy-intensive companies, German industrial power costs are 19 per cent higher than the EU average. German industrial costs have risen 60 per cent since 2007, compared to increases of about 10 per cent in the US and China. This makes Germany an ever less attractive place for industry. German chemical giant BASF has already said it will make most if its future investments outside of Europe.

Green energy cannot meet Germany’s need for reliable electricity. That is why Germany still needs copious amounts of fossil fuels; German CO2-emissions have risen since the nuclear power phase-out of 2011, despite the incredible subsidies for renewables.

Germany is an example of how not to do green energy. Instead the solution is to research and develop better green energy technology. A study by some of the world’s top climate economists including three Nobel Laureates for the Copenhagen Consensus Center shows that subsidising existing renewables does so little good that for every euro spent, 97 cents are wasted. However, every euro spent on green innovation could avoid €11 in long-term damages from global warming.

If we can reduce the price of future green technology below the cost of fossil fuels, everyone will switch. And such cheap green energy will not leave us at the mercy of Russia, it will actually fix global warming – and it will help rather than hurt the poor.


Lunacy of the British town that turned green

With the sun shining down on a shimmering sea, children playing on the beach and families thronging its cafes and boutiques, Brighton seems the perfect postcard portrayal of English serenity.

Strolling down the cheerful promenade, the resort’s celebrated blend of raffish charm and Regency elegance appear little changed over the years. It is difficult to imagine this is the home of a civic revolution.

Yet this is the greenest city in Britain, the launchpad for an attempt to reshape the nation’s political landscape – and the result is a dismal farce.

A rising tide of splits, stunts,  U-turns, gaffes and divisive industrial disputes has alienated voters and angered businesses here in a city better known for its bohemian tolerance, while outlandish proposals for a ban on bacon butties and plans to use sheep for traffic calming have earned only derision.

The serious side of politics has suffered, too – a demonstration  of the dangers that await when protest parties win power. A doomed attempt to impose the biggest council tax rise in the country ended with humiliating warnings that Whitehall could be forced to take over the Town Hall.

Starting with just one councillor in 1996, the Green Party’s rise to power in Brighton has been unprecedented and rapid. In 2010  there was the election of Caroline Lucas as the MP for Brighton Pavilion – the party’s first Westminster seat – and then came the capture of the city council just a year later.

A clever mix of protest, pavement politics and promises of change proved popular with residents, many of them families forced from London by soaring house prices, students, or those attracted by the city’s liberal approach to life.

In 2011, the Greens ousted the Conservatives to become the largest group on the council with 23 seats. According to their leader Jason Kitcat, this was to be the future of British politics.

It is hard to share his optimism. The party’s cuddly combination of middle-class idealism and municipal inexperience has hit the rocks of political reality as it grapples with a fast-growing city of 275,000 people in tough economic times.

‘Winning was the worst thing possible for them,’ said one opposition councillor privately. ‘You can see they still want to be popular the whole time and dislike responsibility.’

The Green honeymoon was short-lived. Take the surreal story of an elderly elm tree.

First the Greens voted to upgrade a roundabout in the city called Seven Dials, but then found that there were protests to protect the 170-year-old tree beside the site. Eco-warriors camped out in the branches and pinned poems to the trunk. The national media showed an interest. So the Greens switched sides, joined the campaign to spare the 60ft elm from the chop and then spent a small fortune altering their own traffic scheme.

Then there was its manifesto pledge for ‘Meat-free Mondays’, which would have banned bacon rolls and beef pies from council-run staff canteens. It led to complaints from manual workers and the proposal was ditched.

Residents were similarly  surprised at Green plans to introduce livestock to one of the main routes into the city  as part of a ‘speed reduction package’. The scheme was deferred after protests.

There have been times when it seemed that the business of town hall administration was descending into absurdity on a daily basis.

Brighton was declared a ‘no fracking zone’, even though there is no prospect of shale gas drilling in the city. Needless to say,  Green councillors have flocked to anti-fracking protests in nearby Balcombe, where Caroline Lucas was among dozens arrested last summer. She was cleared of public order charges last week.

At last month’s council meeting,  a Green member accused a former Tory leader of wearing a swastika. She wasn’t. It turned out to be a traditional Irish emblem on her necklace.

Yet beyond the comedy lie serious consequences. After three years of political mismanagement, Brighton’s citizens face soaring charges for council services and increasingly scruffy streets. Yesterday, the Greens were under fresh attack after part of the seafront collapsed into a pub below. Even recycling levels have fallen to half those achieved by Tory-run Bournemouth.

The governing party is fatally split with, inevitably, divisions erupting into the open. Unlike other political parties, Greens do not ‘whip’ members into line to get policies passed, and meetings can descend into rows more suited to the Punch and Judy shows down on the beach.

A slim majority of moderates under amiable council leader Mr Kitcat have fought ceaseless challenges from a cabal of hard-Left councillors led by his deputy Phelim Mac Cafferty, a prominent gay activist.

The different factions are known  as ‘mangos’ (green on the outside yet yellow, like Lib Dems, in the middle) and ‘watermelons’ (green on the outside but red in the middle). The groups sit apart in the chamber during council meetings.

So serious are their differences that outside mediators were reportedly called in to reconcile the two sides. Mr Kitcat narrowly survived the latest attempt to depose him only last month – thanks to the support of his Polish-born wife Ania, a fellow moderate on the council.

So much for the new politics.

When refuse workers went on strike against efforts to stop long-standing Spanish practices in working hours and to harmonise pay with female council staff, they were supported by the watermelons – Mr Mac Cafferty and eight colleagues.

According to one councillor, some  of these staff earned more than £50,000 a year by manipulating allowances and overtime payments. ‘They must be the highest paid bin drivers in the country,’ he said.

The strike last June led to the strange sight of the council leader telling binmen to get back to work, while his deputy joined the picket line as rubbish piled up in the streets. Ms Lucas, the MP, added fuel to the fire by backing the protesters. Earlier this month, the unions threatened another strike.

Perhaps the greatest threat to the Green utopia – and the dignity of a proud and successful city – came two months ago when Mr Kitcat proposed a 4.75 per cent council tax increase. Supposedly a response to government cuts, this was interpreted by opponents as an effort to unite his fractious forces. The huge rise required a local referendum, the first since the Coalition Government brought in new rules to protect taxpayers. Yet even holding the vote would have cost at least £300,000.

The whole initiative was defeated in the council chamber, leading to deadlock over the budget. Officials warned that a team from Whitehall might have to take over the running of their city.

Days later, Labour and some moderate Greens backed a compromise increase just under the two per cent permitted without the need for a referendum. As Labour leader Warren Morgan put it: ‘The rise might have been fine for those who can afford organic food, but not everyone lives in the trendy city centre.’

Then there was the case of the Christian councillor who opposed gay marriage. Christina Summers said she was ‘accountable to God above any political party’, so she was abused by her colleagues and drummed out of the Green group.  ‘I was called everything from a bigot to a fascist,’ she told me.

‘For some of these people, ideology is far more important than personal relationships. They just think anyone identifying as a Christian is against homosexuals.’

Ms Summers now sits as an independent. ‘I feel very sad, since our election successes were amazing achievements,’ she said. ‘Unfortunately they have no understanding what being in government means, which is the need to show some compromise.’ This from a party that claims on its website to be committed to ‘a caring, inclusive and democratic society’ that enables everyone to ‘follow their interests’.

A 74-page report on ‘Trans Equalities Strategy’ to eliminate discrimination and avoid discomforting transsexuals asked for gender- neutral toilets and transgender-only sports sessions. Doctors were also urged to stop identifying patients according to gender on forms at GPs’ surgeries.

Residents are being offered the category ‘Mx’ (for Mixter) alongside Mr, Ms and Mrs on council forms. This prevents ‘an unnecessary sense of exclusion and frustration to be forced to accept a title  that doesn’t reflect someone’s gender expression.’

Political rivals say that a Green addiction to gesture politics is changing the nature of the city. It does not take long to find evidence supporting their claim.

Typical was the Occupy Brighton camp set up shortly after the Green takeover. At first it was praised by party councillors. Inevitably, however, the cluster of tents began to attract people with drink and drug problems. It was eventually closed down after a fireman was assaulted while putting out a blaze.

Graham Cox, a Tory councillor and former head of Sussex CID, said the Green council promoted an image of Brighton as a place of protest and alternative lifestyles that welcomed the homeless.

‘They don’t care about things like cutting the grass and keeping flower-beds tidy, so our town is getting scruffier. They are basically hippies who don’t give a damn about such things.’

Others residents I spoke to said the same. And, sure enough, walking back along the main street connecting Brighton with Hove, I found five rough-sleepers on one 200-yard stretch amid the smart cafes, food shops and clothing outlets.

Luke, 47, was sitting on a cardboard sheet in a shop doorway reading a Wilbur Smith thriller. ‘I came here because I heard that the facilities were good with drop-in centres and free food,’ he said, adding that he had been pestered by drug dealers offering him free samples.

The council has also been accused of attracting travellers. Its policy was described by one rueful Green councillor as ‘come in and take over our parks’ – which is precisely what happened last summer.

Council officials unlocked the gates for 30 travellers’ caravans to enter Wild Park, the area’s largest nature reserve with spectacular views over the city.

Their action – reportedly taken to prevent injuries should the travellers try to break in – made it harder to evict the group, costing local taxpayers thousands of pounds in legal fees. This pushed up the bill for dealing with illegal travellers last year to nearly £200,000, the second highest in the country.

Yet the gates were unlocked again last month to let in another convoy of 19 caravans.

Little wonder that a poll last summer found the party plunging to third place behind the Tories and Labour, a disaster for this fledgling political force in its heartland.

Time and again I heard complaints over transport. Parking fees have soared – one woman told me she was giving up her part-time bar job since it was no longer viable once she had paid the charges.

As for the business community, one boss of a Brighton-based green business who was initially delighted when the party took control of the council told me: ‘Now it’s just embarrassing – they’re making a pig’s ear of everything.

‘They have fine ideals but lack any sense of reality. ‘How could they not see that if you double the price of parking in a downturn, it drives away business?’

At least the cycle lanes look good.

Mr Kitcat told me he was proud of his party’s record, especially raising the minimum wage for council staff and contractors and improving Brighton’s air quality. Yet the council leader – a republican educated  at one of the country’s top public schools – admitted he was disappointed by the internal dissent.

‘This is the first time we have  been in administration and it is definitely a learning curve,’ he said.  ‘While it is a lot messier than  people going with the party flow, isn’t it quite healthy to have this freedom?’

Caroline Lucas, whose marginal seat is threatened by the meltdown in the Greens’ popularity, denied the party was any more divided than others in local politics.

But Ben Duncan, a prominent ‘watermelon’ who has proposed taxes on tourists and the introduction of ‘cannabis cafes’, said there were major philosophical differences between Greens seeking revolutionary change to society and those not wanting to alarm voters.

He admitted wanting to kick out the council leader. Indeed, in a blog he said that Mr Kitcat had betrayed both his city and his party.

Contempt is growing for mainstream politics and, on the eve of local elections next month, voters must question if they really want more of these alternative protest politicians actually taking office.

They might heed the words of one Brighton shopper I met.  ‘They seemed to have so many fresh ideas,’ she told me. ‘Now we just roll our eyes at any mention of the Greens – they’ve turned out even worse than the others.’


Top climate expert's sensational claim of government meddling in crucial UN report

A top US academic has dramatically revealed how government officials forced him to change a hugely influential scientific report on climate change to suit their own interests.

Harvard professor Robert Stavins electrified the worldwide debate on climate change on Friday by sensationally publishing a letter online in which he spelled out the astonishing interference.

He said the officials, representing ‘all the main countries and regions of the world’ insisted on the changes in a late-night meeting at a Berlin conference centre two weeks ago.

Three quarters of the original version of the document ended up being deleted.

Prof Stavins claimed the intervention amounted to a serious ‘conflict of interest’ between scientists and governments. His revelation is significant because it is rare for climate change experts to publicly question the process behind the compilation of reports on the subject.

Prof Stavins, Harvard’s Professor of Business and Government, was one of two ‘co-ordinating lead authors’ of a key report published by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) earlier this month.

His chapter of the 2,000-page original report concerned ways countries can co-operate to reduce carbon emissions.

IPCC reports are supposed to be scrupulously independent as they give scientific advice to governments around the world to help them shape energy policies – which in turn affect subsidies and domestic power bills.

Prof Stavins said the government officials in Berlin fought to make big changes to the full report’s ‘summary for policymakers’. This is the condensed version usually cited by the world’s media and politicians. He said their goal was to protect their ‘negotiating stances’ at forthcoming talks over a new greenhouse gas reduction treaty.

Prof Stavins told The Mail on Sunday yesterday that he had been especially concerned by what happened at a special ‘contact group’. He was one of only two scientists present, surrounded by ‘45 or 50’ government officials.

He said almost all of them made clear that ‘any text that was considered inconsistent with their interests and positions in multilateral negotiations was treated as unacceptable.’

Many of the officials were themselves climate negotiators, facing the task of devising a new treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol in negotiations set to conclude next year.

Prof Stavins said: ‘This created an irreconcilable conflict of interest. It has got to the point where it would be reasonable to call the document a summary by policymakers, not a summary for them, and it certainly affects the credibility of the IPCC. The process ought to be reformed.’

He declined to say which countries had demanded which changes, saying only that ‘all the main countries and regions were represented’.

Some deletions were made at the insistence of only one or two nations – because under IPCC rules, the reports must be unanimous.

He revealed the original draft of the summary contained a lot of detail on how international co-operation to curb emissions might work, and how it could be funded. The final version contains only meaningless headings, however, with all details removed.

His comments follow a decision two weeks earlier by Sussex University’s Professor Richard Tol to remove his name from the summary of an earlier volume of the full IPCC report, on the grounds it had been ‘sexed up’ by the same government officials and had become overly ‘alarmist’.

Prof Stavins’ letter provoked a response from Bob Ward, policy director of the London School of Economics’ Grantham Institute and a fierce critic of those who dissent from climate change orthodoxy.

Mr Ward asked on Twitter whether it showed the ‘IPCC government approval process is broken’.

Yesterday he admitted the affair showed that ‘the IPCC is not a perfect process, though it’s hard to imagine a better one’.

Prof Judith Curry, the head of climate science at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, said that between them, Professors Tol and Stavins had shown the process was ‘polluted by obvious politics’.

The IPCC headquarters in Geneva could not be reached for comment.


British power station sues government for axeing contract after MoS exposed its switch from coal to wood from precious U.S. forests

Britain's biggest power station is suing the Government for losing a lucrative contract after a Mail on Sunday investigation revealed that it burns wood from precious US forests as a ‘green’ alternative to coal.

Drax is committed to switching from coal to ‘biomass’, or wood pellets.

In December, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey promised the North Yorkshire plant two lucrative ‘contracts for difference’ – which would see it earn £105 for every megawatt hour it generates, rather than the normal price of £50.

The extra money would come from subsidies funded by consumers’ household bills. But this paper revealed that much of its biomass is shipped in from historic wetland hardwood forests – 3,000 miles away in North Carolina.

Environmentalists say this is destroying endangered species’ habitats, and increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Ministers have now withdrawn their promise to guarantee profits for the part of the plant using biomass.

This wiped £400million off the company’s share price and prompted the firm to start legal action.

A spokesman for Mr Davey said: ‘Drax was informed that this project no longer qualifies for the award of contract.’


There's no such thing as a happy Greenie

In 2012, the British Columbia–based Native American Haida tribe launched an effort to restore the salmon fishery that has provided much of their livelihood for centuries. Acting collectively, the Haida voted to form the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation, financed it with $2.5 million of their own savings, and used it to support the efforts of American scientist-entrepreneur Russ George to demonstrate the feasibility of open-sea mariculture — in this case, the distribution of 120 tons of iron sulfate into the northeast Pacific to stimulate a phytoplankton bloom which in turn would provide ample food for baby salmon.

The verdict is now in on this highly controversial experiment: It worked.

In fact it has been a stunningly over-the-top success. This year, the number of salmon caught in the northeast Pacific more than quadrupled, going from 50 million to 226 million. In the Fraser River, which only once before in history had a salmon run greater than 25 million fish (about 45 million in 2010), the number of salmon increased to 72 million.

George writes:

The fish really came back this fall, a year following our 2012 ocean pasture restoration in the NE Pacific. The wonderful heartening news is they came back in tremendous numbers, more than in all of recorded history in many regions such as SE Alaska nearest to our ocean restoration project location.

Now it is being reported that everywhere from Alaska to the lower 48, baby salmon that swam out to sea, instead of mostly starving were treated to a feast on newly vibrant ocean pastures where once they could neither thrive nor survive. They grew and grew and before too long they swam back to our rivers a hundred million strong.

The SE Alaska Pink catch in the fall of 2013 was a stunning  226.3 million fish. This when a high number of 50 million fish were expected. Those extra ocean pasture fed fish came back because their pasture was enjoying the richest plankton blooms ever, thanks to me a[nd] 11 shipmates and our work in the summer of 2012. IT JUST WORKS.

In addition to producing salmon, this extraordinary experiment has yielded a huge amount of data. Within a few months after the ocean-fertilizing operation, NASA satellite images taken from orbit showed a powerful growth of phytoplankton in the waters that received the Haida’s iron. It is now clear that, as hoped, these did indeed serve as a food source for zooplankton, which in turn provided nourishment for multitudes of young salmon, thereby restoring the depleted fishery and providing abundant food for larger fish and sea mammals. In addition, since those diatoms that were not eaten went to the bottom, a large amount of carbon dioxide was sequestered in their calcium carbonate shells.

Native Americans bringing back the salmon and preserving their way of life, while combating global warming: One would think that environmentalists would be very pleased.

One would be very wrong. Far from receiving applause for their initiative, the Haida and Mr. George have become the target of rage aimed from every corner of the community seeking to use global warming as a pretext for curtailing human freedom.

“It appears to be a blatant violation of two international resolutions,” Kristina Gjerde, a senior high-seas adviser for the International Union for Conservation of Nature told the Guardian. “Even the placement of iron particles into the ocean, whether for carbon sequestration or fish replenishment, should not take place, unless it is assessed and found to be legitimate scientific research without commercial motivation. This does not appear to even have had the guise of legitimate scientific research.”

Silvia Ribeiro, of the international anti-technology watchdog ETC Group, also voiced her horror at any development that might allow humanity to escape from the need for carbon rationing. “It is now more urgent than ever that governments unequivocally ban such open-air geoengineering experiments,” she said. “They are a dangerous distraction providing governments and industry with an excuse to avoid reducing fossil-fuel emissions.”

Writing in the New York Times in 2012, Naomi Klein, the author of a forthcoming book on “how the climate crisis can spur economic and political transformation,” made clear the antihuman bias underlying the Haida’s critics. Klein reported that while vacationing on the coast of Canada’s British Columbia, in a place she had visited for the past 20 years, she was thrilled by the unprecedented sighting of a group of orcas. At first, “it felt like a miracle.” But then she was struck by a disturbing thought:

If Mr. George’s account of the mission is to believed, his actions created an algae bloom in an area half of the size of Massachusetts that attracted a huge array of aquatic life, including whales that could be ‘counted by the score.’ . . . I began to wonder: could it be that the orcas I saw were on the way to the all you can eat seafood buffet that had descended on Mr. George’s bloom? The possibility . . . provides a glimpse into the disturbing repercussions of geoengineering: once we start deliberately interfering with the earth’s climate systems — whether by dimming the sun or fertilizing the seas — all natural events can begin to take on an unnatural tinge. . . . a presence that felt like a miraculous gift suddenly feels sinister, as if all of nature were being manipulated behind the scenes.

This is a remarkable passage. Previously, environmentalists objected to human actions that harmed whales. But now, human actions that help whales also evoke horror. Clearly, it’s not about whales at all. It’s about prohibiting human activity, which is seen as intrinsically evil and therefore in need of constraint regardless of its content or intent.

The George-Haida experiment is of world-historical significance. Starting as a few bands of hunter-gatherers, humanity expanded the food resources afforded by the land a thousandfold through the development of agriculture. In recent decades, the bounty from the sea has also been increased through rapid expansion of aquaculture, which now supplies about half our fish. Without these advances, our modern global civilization of 7 billion people would not be possible.

But aquaculture makes use only of enclosed waters, and commercial fisheries remain limited to the coasts, upwelling areas, and other small portions of the ocean that have sufficient nutrients to be naturally productive. The vast majority of the ocean, and thus the earth, remains a desert. The development of open-sea mariculture could change this radically, creating vast new food resources for both humanity and wildlife. Furthermore, just as increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have accelerated the rate of plant growth on land (by 14 percent since 1958, according to NASA satellite data), so increased levels of carbon dioxide in the ocean could lead to a massive expansion of flourishing sea life, provided that humans make the missing critical trace elements needed for life available across the vast expanse of the oceans.

The point deserves emphasis. The advent of higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere has been a great boon for the terrestrial biosphere, accelerating the rate of growth of both wild and domestic plants and thereby expanding the food base supporting humans and land animals of every type. Ignoring this, the carbophobes point to the ocean instead, saying that increased levels of carbon dioxide not exploited by biology could lead to acidification. By making the currently barren oceans fertile, however, mariculture would transform this putative problem into an extraordinary opportunity.

Which is precisely why those demanding restraints on carbon emissions and restrictions on fisheries hate mariculture. They hate it for the same reason those demanding constraints in the name of allegedly limited energy resources hate nuclear power. They hate it because it solves a problem they need unsolved.



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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