Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Global warming as an evangelical faith

This could almost be a spoof but I don't think it is

I have always had the feeling that my life was lacking in a way. That I was not doing enough of something. Yet, I could not figure out what that something was. It was a void that needed to be filled.

I remember when climate change was only a word to me. I remember when recycling was only a chore to do.

I remember all this so well because it was only fours months ago that I started to care about what climate change actually meant.

My sociology professor, whom I now consider to be a friend, first formally introduced me to the concept of climate change. At first, I thought that climate change was just a part of my sociology class—something that we would be done with after a few classes. However, that was not the case.

After several weeks of discussing the topic, I realized that climate change was more than that to my professor. For him, it was a passion and he felt an obligation to make his students also feel passionate about it.

I come from a country that is considered one of the richest in the world. A country where temperatures rise high enough to cook an egg on the sidewalk. I was raised in Saudi Arabia.

Climate change has never been a topic on the tongues of the students of Saudi Arabia. I cannot recall once ever hearing about climate change from my teachers, friends, classmates or family. This tells me that there is a huge population oblivious to what is happening around the world.

As a country that produces most of the fossil fuel distributed throughout the world, it is no surprise that climate change is never discussed in Saudi Arabia. That would be like admitting that the Saudi government has left a huge carbon footprint.

Since I only had a rudimentary understanding of climate change, I began researching more about it. I came across several talks on the topic by people I had never heard of before. One of them stood out to me. When talking about climate change, this person had a look on her face that I did not see on others. She had a look that was very familiar to me. In no time at all I remembered where I had seen that look before. It was the same look my professor had when he spoke about climate change. It was the look of passion.

This person’s name is Rachel Kyte, who is the World Bank’s principal advocate for raising global awareness of climate change. Ms. Kyte has given many talks about climate change over the years, and is helping inspire a social change in the world. Her speeches are inspirational. I remember thinking, how can I be like this person?

A week later, I was granted an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime. Have you ever wished you had the chance to meet someone and were granted that chance? My professor gave me that chance. He had sent me an invitation to attend the Connect4Climate screening of Years of Living Dangerously at the World Bank. The film was a preview of a new television series on climate change.

I could not believe how lucky I was. I immediately accepted the invitation and on the day of the screening I arrived at the World Bank a little bit ahead of time in the hope that I would be able to talk to Ms. Kyte. Unfortunately, I was not able to find her then. I was ushered to a seat in the auditorium, where I waited eagerly for the talk to begin. I sat straighter than I usually do and became stiff as a board.

While waiting I realized that there are a lot more people than I thought who are interested in the cause as of climate change. I realized that I was not fighting for lost cause. I felt supported.

The event started with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim stating facts about how he and his organization are trying to deal with climate change. After his talk, he invited three people on stage for a discussion about the importance of climate change and what we might expect to happen to the world if nothing is done to combat it. Ms. Kyte was moderator of the discussion.

The film that followed was something that can only be described as a dream. I could not believe what I was watching. It portrayed the world we live in the today, and the catastrophes that are happening all around us because of climate change. The movie contained many famous people who are also interested in the battle against humans’ constant greed, which is killing the very planet we live on.

The movie screening ended with a round of applause from the audience. I on the other hand had a hard time looking up. I was extremely emotional. The movie had a lot of elements that would have made a stonehearted man break down in tears. I managed to compose myself. I was determined to get a word in with Ms. Kyte.

After wriggling myself between reporters, I finally managed to reach her only to be dumbstruck. I had a small speech prepared on how much she has inspired me but was only able to stutter a bit. Somehow, I managed to compose myself and was able to say a few words to her about that. I was also able to pluck up the courage to ask her if she would be photographed with me. She was happy to oblige.
worldbankclimateRachel Kyte, the World Bank’s principal advocate for raising global awareness of climate change, with Suleiman Ahmad Allauddin Khan. Photo credit: Ivan Bruce / Connect4Climate

After leaving the auditorium I had a funny feeling in my gut. Walking past a glass window I saw a smile on my face that looked a bit out of place. After a few minutes I was able to put on a more socially acceptable smile.

I made my way to the small feast our hosts had put together for us. I was greeted by my professor and one of my classmates. My professor was also surrounded by two of his former students. As soon as I was introduced to them I felt an instant connection form between us. We shared the same cause and had the same inspiration.

After leaving my professors side I was struck with a new realization. I realized that the people who had attended the screening with me were not only from the U.S. There were people from China, Poland, India, Italy, Ivory, Coast, South Africa and even a fellow Saudi Arabian.

To see that there were people at the event from all over the world helped encourage me to stand firm and pursue my cause for as long as I my bones and muscles will allow me. To see a fellow countryman at the event was evidence enough that these people managed to get the word across the world. More and more people were becoming aware of our cause.

Suddenly I knew what I could do to help. I knew that I had to spread the word, to inspire as many people as I can. I decided that I would take on my professor’s legacy and enlighten the minds of people about the dangers of climate change.

I left the World Bank a new person. I left with a new purpose in life. I left with a cause.


Obama's War on U.S. Energy

 By Alan Caruba

A nation without adequate energy production is a nation in decline and that has been the President’s agenda since the day he took office in 2009. He even announced his war on coal during the 2008 campaign even though, at the time, it was providing fifty percent of the electricity being utilized.

It’s useful to know that the U.S. has huge coal reserves, enough to provide energy for hundreds of years and reduce our debt through its export to nations such as Japan. It increased coal-fired power generation by ten percent in 2013 while Germany’s coal use reached the highest level since 1990. Both China and India are increasing the use of coal. So why is coal unwelcome in the U.S.? Because Obama says so.

On April 15, the White House held a “Solar Summit” to continue promoting subsidies for solar panels and the Obama Energy Department has announced another $15 million in “solar market pathways” to fund local government’s use of solar energy. Its “Capital Solar Challenge” is directing federal agencies, military bases, and other federally subsidized buildings to use solar power.

According to the Institute for Energy Research, “solar energy provides two-tenths of one percent of the total energy consumed in the United States. While the amount of solar electricity capacity in the U.S. has increased in recent years…it still only accounts for 0.1% of net electricity generated…the least among the renewable sources of hydroelectric, biomass, wind and solar.”

So, in addition to the millions lost in earlier loans to solar companies like Solyndra that failed not long after pocketing our tax dollars, Obama is using the power of the federal government to waste more money on this unpredictable—the Sun only shines in the daytime and clouds can get in the way—source of energy whose “solar farms” take up many acres just to provide a faction of what a coal-fired or natural gas powered plant does.

This isn’t some loony environmental theory at work although the Greens oppose all manner of energy provision and use whether it is coal, oil or natural gas. This is a direct attack on the provision of energy, fueled by any source, that America needs to function and meeting the needs of its population, manufacturing, and all other uses.

The most recent example of this is the further extension of the delay on the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast. That too is part of Obama’s war on energy for the nation, but it may also have something to do with the fact that the Burlington Santa Fe Railroad owns all of the rail lines in the U.S. connecting to western Canada. They haul 80% or more of the crude oil from Canada to the Midwest and Texas, earning a tidy sum in the process. It is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, a major contributor to Democrat causes and candidates. The Keystone XL pipeline could divert more than $2 billion a year and if its delay is not crony capitalism, nothing is.

This is what the Sierra Club is telling its members and supporters as of Monday, April 21: “Keystone XL means cancer. It means wolf blood spilled. And it’s nothing short of a climate disaster.” It is a lie from start to finish.

Keystone has become a political issue and the announcement by the Obama State Department that is giving agencies “additional time” to approve its construction due to ongoing litigation before the Nebraska Supreme Court that could affect its route brought forth protests from red-state Democrats in Congress who even threatened to find ways to go around the President to get the project approved. Eleven Democratic senators have written to the President to urge him to make a final decision by the end of May. Some of them will be up for reelection in the November midterm elections.

Even Congress, though, seems incapable of over-ruling or overcoming Obama’s war on the provision of energy sources. In early April, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released new data showing that federal onshore oil and natural gas leases and drilling permits are at the lowest levels in more than a decade. Leases to companies exploring the potential of oil and natural gas reserves were down in 2013 from 1.8 million acres the year before to 1.2 million, the smallest area since records began to be maintained in 1988!

We have a President who gives daily evidence of his contempt both for those who voted for him and those who did not. His anti-energy agenda impacts on the creation of jobs, causes manufacturing to delay expansion or to go off-shore, reduces the revenue the government needs to reduce its debts and deficits, and drives up the cost of energy for everyone.

And he is doing this in one of the most energy-rich nations on the planet.


Another "Green" disaster

"Green" street-lighting in Britain

When Andy Richards saw a dazzling light beaming through his bedroom window, his first thought was of alien invasion. ‘It was like The Day Of The Triffids,’ he says. ‘This brilliant white glare.’

Opening his curtains, he realised the source was more mundane. It came from the street light outside the two-bedroom home he shares with his wife Kate in Chiswick, West London.

Unbeknown to the couple, Hounslow council had installed LED lamp-heads on the street lights along their quiet residential road. The gentle, golden glow of the old lamps has been replaced by a harsh beam which, they say, makes it impossible for them to sleep.

So desperate have the couple become, they have taped a large pieces of black cardboard to their windows.

‘It’s like a World War II blackout,’ says Andy, a 61-year-old record producer, who has lived on the street for 25 years. ‘It was the only thing we could do. We’ve had three miserable weeks without sleep.’

The council claims LED lights were chosen because they use less energy, so they are cheaper to operate and more environmentally friendly than conventional sodium bulbs.

After several weeks of pestering from Andy — he started texting local councillor Colin Ellar, a proponent of the new system, at 2am ‘so that he knew what it was like to go without sleep’ — the council has agreed to dim the lights for a trial period.

However, despite the protestations of the Richardses and their neighbours, the council won’t be reconsidering its plan to replace almost 16,000 lights across the borough. And Hounslow isn’t the only council eagerly embracing LED street lights. Across Britain, local authorities have fallen for the new ‘energy efficient’ lighting.

Bury council in Manchester has announced plans to change 11,000 street lights on 1,850 side-roads throughout the borough by 2017.

Similar schemes are under way at Bassetlaw in Nottinghamshire and Blackburn in Lancashire, as well as parts of Birmingham, Sheffield, Gloucestershire and Glasgow.

And the picturesque Norfolk town of Fakenham can be seen in a whole new light — literally — thanks to the instalment of 30 LED lamps in the town centre.

Fans of LED lamps, which first appeared on British streets in 2011, point to the environmental and financial advantages they offer.

While conventional sodium street lamps light up when an electric current is passed through lithium gas, making it glow, lamps powered by LEDs — light-emitting diodes — glow when current passes through a solid material such as gallium, known as a semiconductor.

They use up to 60 per cent  less energy than sodium lamps and are said to last up to eight times longer, reducing maintenance costs and halving electricity bills.

They are also easy to operate. LEDs produce light immediately when they are switched on rather than taking time to heat up, and can be controlled remotely via digital sensors.

It has even been claimed that their bright ‘floodlight-style’ beams will deter criminals.

Yet wherever LED lights are installed, they leave residents in uproar.

In Llandough, Wales, locals have organised a petition to have their recently installed LED street lights removed and replaced with the originals.

Last year, Bath council was forced temporarily to stop replacing the city’s street lamps with LEDs and hold a public consultation, so vociferous were complaints after the first 2,000 were erected.

And in Trafford, Manchester, residents have threatened to take their council to court if it continues with plans to replace all its 27,000 street lights.

But why are the objections so strong? If the lights can, as Hounslow council promises, be dimmed  if necessary — and if they use less energy, save money and reduce crime — what is so wrong with the new system?

Rather a lot, it turns out. Because, it seems that in their rush to embrace the new ‘green’ technology, Britain’s councils have ignored several serious health issues.

Studies have indicated that LED lights disrupt sleep by suppressing the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone which governs our sleep patterns. All light consists of different colour combinations, and visible light falls on a rainbow-like spectrum, which extends from red to blue. Natural light combines all the colours of the spectrum, but the light given off by LEDs is overwhelmingly blue.

Too much ‘blue light’ suppresses our biological clock, resulting in lower-quality sleep. This in turn increases the likelihood of heart disease, obesity and diabetes. It damages the immune system and leaves sufferers vulnerable to depression and anxiety.

It has even been suggested that too much exposure to LED light causes blindness. Last year, a Spanish study suggested that the light emitted by LED bulbs can damage cells in the retina. By way of illustrating just how potent their glare can be, consider that LED lights are generally banned in art galleries because they bleach the paint on works on display.

‘They are dangerous and potentially damaging,’ says Simon Nicholas, a 53-year-old chartered engineer who successfully campaigned to stop LED lights being erected in Trafford until further research is done.

Certainly, there was no inquiry into the health implications of the lights before they were installed in Chiswick. Indeed, councillor Colin Ellar claims to have been unaware of the dangers, which were widely reported, until a few days ago. Meanwhile, those affected by councils’ new-found zeal for the LED bulbs are questioning just how much taxpayers’ money they will, ultimately, save.

Roderick Binns, 65, who lives a few doors away from Andy and Kate, says his council bills  have increased.  ‘It doesn’t feel as though any reduction is being passed on.’

In fact, the initial cost of installing LED lamps is remarkably high. Replacing Trafford’s lights would cost £9.3 million. Although in some instances the bulbs can be installed on top of posts that are already in place, in others installing LED involves ripping down and replacing the entire lamp frame, at a cost of about £500 a unit.

Essex County Council was recently forced to halt plans to replace its lamps when it emerged that the work involved would cost a staggering £31 million.

Even with the energy savings the lights should bring, it could take 20 years for installation costs to be recouped.

Simon Nicholas, who campaigned against the lights in Trafford, says: ‘If you were saving energy at home, would you buy a new £500 unit or put a low-watt bulb in? Why can’t they just do that?’

Roderick Binns, a property consultant, says that residents in Chiswick could actually lose money because the unsightly lights might affect the value of their homes.

‘For those right in front of a light, they’re a negative, not a positive,’ he says.

What’s more, contradicting the claim that bright LED light would lower crime rates, some say the lights may in fact increase antisocial behaviour.

Studies into the effect of lighting on crime have produced mixed results. LED lamps tend to focus their light on one particular spot instead of diffusing light evenly, as their predecessors did. As a result, they leave some patches of street and pavement almost entirely unlit — and potentially vulnerable to criminals.

‘It doesn’t make sense,’ says Les Godwin, a councillor in Prestbury, Chesire, who is opposing the introduction of LEDs in his neighbourhood. ‘If you have a well-lit area and you turn it into one with dark parts, that can’t be good.’

Councillor Ellar admits that, as well as receiving complaints over the brightness of the lights, he has been told by residents ‘in around 25 instances’ that coverage where they live is so patchy, the streets are now too dimly lit.

Above all, what appears to have angered people is that LED lamps, like so many other modern innovations, are an ugly and potentially harmful blot on the urban landscape.

‘The colour rendering is awful,’ says Roderick Binns.  ‘Street lamps usually give a kind of gentle glow but this is a harsh white light. It’s very off-putting.’

In Manchester, the lights have been nicknamed ‘UFO lamps’ because of their unforgiving glare.

Given that some of Britain’s lampposts date back to the 19th century, ripping them down in large numbers is a rather poignant loss to local historians.  As Simon Nicholas puts it: ‘You wouldn’t rip down historic statues. It’s vandalism.

‘It’s a matter for central government — at the moment nobody’s paying attention and nobody’s stopping this. It’s worrying.’

Until then, it will be down to determined home-owners like him to protect their streets from the invasion of the UFO lamps.


Gore prefers abuse to facts

Al Gore flew across the Pacific to the Aloha State last week – no word on how big his carbon footprint was – to proclaim of the climate debate, “Ultimately, we are going to win this thing.” It's imperative, he explained: “Our way of life is at stake, our grandchildren are at stake, the future of civilization is at stake,” and those with contrary views are simply “immoral, unethical and despicable.”

Such rhetoric has been preached for decades now, only alarmists' clamor has grown as the debate takes a decided turn. Public support for this hoax is rapidly cooling, prompting even more extreme scaremongering.

Earth is nearing two decades of no observed global warming, the U.S. hasn't been struck by a major hurricane in nearly a decade, tornadoes in the Heartland occur at a historically low rate, the Great Lakes are still nearly 40% ice covered as of April 17, global sea ice is above average, and Antarctic ice extent continues to shatter daily records. But who needs facts when you can slander your opponents?


Corporate Welfare Painted Green

Silicon Valley electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors is both a victim and victimizer. It is a victim of laws enacted in Arizona, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, and Virginia that prohibit automakers from selling directly to consumers. (New York and Ohio will soon join the list.) Tesla is also a victimizer—a corporate welfare queen whose business model relies on a $465 million federal loan, Chinese government-subsidized lithium-ion batteries, and a California government-created “marketplace” for clean-air credits. As Independent Institute Senior Fellow Benjamin W. Powell notes, both kinds of victimization—the prohibitions and the subsidies—harm the public.

The bans on manufacturer-to-consumer auto sales harm consumers by reducing competition for the benefit of auto dealers. The government subsidies harm the taxpayers who are forced to fund them. But what about the environmental benefits of zero-emissions vehicles? The notion that Tesla’s electric cars can curb carbon dioxide emissions overall is pure fantasy, according to Powell. It’s a case of looking only at one locale while ignoring the effects on activity elsewhere in the world.

“To the extent that more widespread use of electric cars in the United States lessens our demand for oil, it depresses the price of oil compared to what it would have been, and simply leads to greater oil consumption in other parts of the world,” Powell writes. Tesla is a technological innovator—and a crony capitalist. To determine whether it is truly a market innovator, it would have to forego government subsidies and succeed on a level playing field. “If the government left the auto industry alone, market prices would dictate which technologies should go into the production of automobiles and how those cars should be delivered to consumers,” Powell continues. “Some companies would win and some would lose, but all consumers would be better off.”


Climate Change Views Approach a Tipping Point

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide later this year whether or not the Environmental Protection Agency can use the risk of global warming as the basis for curtailing coal-generated electricity. According to Independent Institute Research Fellow S. Fred Singer, the Court could bring about a paradigm shift away from climate alarmism—if it cites the growing number of studies that challenge the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Those studies, collected and republished by the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), look closely at the biological and societal impacts of climate change as well as the physical science that informs—or should inform—the public-policy debate. The NIPCC finds that the human contribution to global climate change is very small and practically indistinguishable from natural variability; that modest temperature rises have been and will continue to have positive effects overall on flora, fauna, and human welfare; that the cost of mitigation through emissions reductions would far exceed any benefits; and that the many laws and regulations already adopted to combat global warming now merit re-evaluation, modification, or repeal.

The Supreme Court decision could reverse momentum for more greenhouse gas restrictions. But if the Court sides with coal regulators, the odds will increase for a treaty to come out of next year’s Paris conference on climate change. The adoption and enforcement of such a treaty would hardly be a sure thing, however. “So far, only Western Europe seems to be keen on ratifying [a greenhouse-gas treaty]—and even there, doubts are developing,” Singer writes. “Eastern Europe is definitely against any new Protocol, as are Japan, Australia, and Canada.”



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