Barack Obama plans 30 per cent cuts in power carbon emissions
The United States has unveiled a new regulation requiring the power sector to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030, one of the strongest actions ever taken by the US to combat global warming.
With hopes for major climate legislation long since vanished, it forms the centrepiece of the Obama administration's climate change strategy.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Gina McCarthy unveiled the plan, saying it was not just about "disappearing polar bears and melting ice caps". "Climate inaction is costing us more money in more places more often," she said.
Under the new regulation, America's existing power plants - the main source of the country's carbon pollution - will have to cut their carbon emissions by 30 per cent of 2005 levels within the next 15 years.
The coal industry has gone immediately on the attack. With an eye on November's mid-term elections, Democrats in coal mining states have moved to distance themselves from the measure.
Congressman Nick Rahall, who represents West Virginia where coal mining is a big part of the economy, said the proposal was "bad for jobs". "Make no mistake about it," he said. "The only real question is where on a scale from devastating to a death blow that this new rule will fall."
The regulation addresses a major unmet priority of Barack Obama's presidency and is likely to be his last chance to substantially shape domestic policy.
Having failed to push a sweeping climate change bill through Congress in his first term, the president is now acting on his own, using his executive authority under the Clean Air Act to issue the regulation.
If the measures withstand an expected onslaught of legal and legislative attacks, they will come into effect a year from now.
Evidence mounts against climate change, Obama acts anyway
It has been a bad month in the media for the environmentalist crowd.
News has come out that polar bears — a bread and butter fundraising dynamo endangered species for the global warmist crisis machine — may not be in danger at all.
The ferocious predators that have been repackaged as cute, cuddly Coke swilling stuff toys are significant because the species became the first to be declared “endangered” by the U.S. government due to the presumed warming trend.
Only one problem – the bears may not be endangered at all.
In fact, scientists who make the population claims about the snow white, nine foot tall behemoths admit that their numerical count that is the basis of the polar bear hysteria is, “simply a qualified guess given to satisfy public demand.”
The researchers further admit that their estimates don’t include large population groups of polar bears that likely increase their total numbers by twenty percent or more.
In the face of the alarming news that the world might not face a polar bear shortage after all, other news certain to be cataclysmic to fear mongering environmental direct mail efforts was released – the United States has undergone a record length of time without experiencing a hurricane.
The well known denier denizen the Washington Post reports, “Such a streak, or “drought”, is unprecendented (sic) going back to 1900. As of the start of this hurricane season, the span will be 3,142 days since the last U.S. major hurricane landfall. The previous longest span is about 2½ years shorter!”
Quite inconvenient when the President himself warned that, “The changes we’re seeing in our climate means that, unfortunately, storms like Sandy could end up being more common and more devastating.”
Hard to reconcile his dire prediction with the facts, but that never stopped the environmental agenda before.
And then there is the sticky Antarctica problem that arose earlier in the month. Worldwide news was made by predictions dooming a set of glaciers located on the western part of the continent – lost in the headlines was the timeline for doom – 200 to 900 years from now.
Also lost in the headlines was the news that Antarctica continues to experience record high levels of ice. Pesky continent is supposed to be losing ice, and it is going off and setting records in the opposite direction.
Closer to home, swimmers were warmed to not go into Lake Superior this past Memorial Day weekend due to still remaining icy conditions.
All of this combined with the lack of a warming planet since before rising seniors in high school were born, and it is clear that Mother Nature is making a pretty strong argument against those who insist the science is settled on the global warming debate.
Yet, President Obama persists on using this shaky science to impose crippling regulatory regimes on the nation. New regulations that are not only economically disastrous as evidenced by the GDP contraction last quarter, but also more importantly, put our nation’s ability to produce enough electricity to meet our growing demand in jeopardy.
And that would be a global warming disaster – our nation devolved from the most developed in the world to a third world status all due to Obama’s fealty to an economic suicide pact on the green altar of climate change.
Green jobs myths
The Internet is awash with websites promoting green jobs. Unlike regular jobs, green jobs are socially and environmentally responsible. And they are more rewarding and fulfilling. They give the green-collar worker a sense of belonging to something greater than himself. As a candidate in 2008, Barack Obama promised five million high paying green jobs. To green advocates, these jobs have helped implement the green recovery from the "Great Recession." Many tens of millions more will be created to build a new Green Economy that will bring social justice, environmental harmony, and sustainable prosperity to America.
As the Green Economy emerges, our entire infrastructure must be modernized, to bring our systems of agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, education, housing, and so forth into a mellifluous alignment with nature. According to Bright Green Talent, one of numerous companies established to help the green collar crowd, "we have to change everything — the way we live, the way we work, the way we eat, the way we travel, the way we make things." For those eager to begin green careers, it's "a wonderful time to get a green job or become a green entrepreneur." There's no time like the present to prepare for challenges ahead, such as "species extinction, deforestation, sea pollution, desertification, topsoil reduction, and freshwater depletion." And what could be more rewarding and fulfilling than a pat on the back from humanity for staving off "ecological collapse, major conflict, famine, drought, and economic depression"?
But back in the real world, there is a problem. Despite a few years of rapid growth in wind-and solar-generated electricity, there is no demand for green jobs. The ambitious, profligate schemes to create a green economy have gone awry. Sustainability is stagnation, even in the green world.
In his 2012 reelection bid, President Obama boasted about his record of creating 2.7 million green jobs, with many more on the way — ostensibly the result of his $90 billion clean-energy stimulus. In reality, it was the result of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) redefining a green job as any employment with an environmental benefit. Under the new BLS definition, many coal miners, loggers, bus drivers, iron workers, bike-repair shop clerks, and used-record store employees have green jobs.
Based on direct-employment data, however, only 140,000 actual green jobs existed when Mr. Obama was touting 2.7 million. This paltry number included the 910 direct jobs in the solar and wind energy industries that were created by the stimulus program (at a cost to taxpayers of $9.8 million per job). But it also included green jobs that existed before Obama took office. That is, even 140,000 was a gross overstatement. In examining the president's shamelessly deceptive claims, Reason magazine discovered both the paucity and the vapidity of green jobs, and provided a more accurate characterization of our emerging Green Economy:
Surprisingly, the top sector for clean jobs was not installing sleek new solar panels or manufacturing electric cars, but “waste management and treatment” (386,000 jobs). In other words, trash collectors. Rounding out the rest of the top four were “mass public transit” (350,000 jobs), conservation (315,000), and “regulation and compliance,” i.e., government employees (141,000). Should the 21st Century economy really depend on hiring more trash collectors, bus drivers, and bureaucrats?
The growth in legitimate green jobs was embarrassingly grim, even in industries such as solar and wind that had experienced significant growth in installation capacity. According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2012, after two years of a "ninefold increase in solar power . . . solar employment had increased just 28%." In 2008, the wind industry employed about 85,000; by 2012, it employed about 81,000 — a decline of almost 5%.
Today, millions of Americans would be thrilled to land a job producing planet-healers such as solar panels, windmills, or batteries. Unfortunately, most of those jobs have moved to places such as China, where the cost of labor for producing the products is $1.74 per hour — compared to $35.53 per hour for American manufacturers. Thanks to green economists, who didn't think that an enormous labor cost differential would matter, American taxpayers blew $90 billion to create a green manufacturing boom in China, and now pay subsidies to homeowners and businesses to buy China's green products — green sustainability to the geniuses in Washington DC.
True, the present glut of cheap foreign solar panels has benefited many American consumers, as have the generous tax-funded subsidies. And, in recent years, solar panel installation jobs have increased by 20% annually. These jobs, however, pay on average less than $38,000 a year — compared with $52,400 a year, the average pay for manufacturing jobs. On the bright side, installers can think of the $14,400 difference as psychic income, derived from their being socially and environmentally responsible.
Central planners have pushed the green revolution to new heights of crony capitalism — and irony. America's subsidized solar-panel manufacturing industry is unhappy with China's subsidized solar-panel manufacturing industry. Consequently, the US division of solar-panel maker SolarWorld AG, a German-owned firm, is lobbying Congress for protection. But America's subsidized installation industry is happy with cheap Chinese solar panels. In this skirmish, notes a recent Slate article, “The World’s Dumbest Trade War”: "one side is wearing an American flag over a German flag, and the other has an American flag draped over a Chinese flag."
Immense subsidies to bring us together in a cause greater than ourselves have, instead, brought the world’s top economic powers to "the brink of a trade war that could cripple a promising industry in both countries, kill jobs, and hurt the environment all at once. It’s a terrible trade-policy trifecta." So much for environmental harmony.
And where's the environmental harmony for our birds and tortoises? Birds crashing into solar panels (or plummeting to their deaths after having their wings "reduced to a web of charred spines" by solar mirrors) are not good for the green image. Nor are dead desert tortoises, whose habitat has been disrupted by tediously sprawling solar farms. And gangly wind farms are worse, swatting more than a half million birds to death annually, including the iconic bald eagle.
After almost six years of throwing billions of taxpayer money at anything green, the excitement is over. Large-scale renewable energy has slowed to a feeble crawl, if not a morbid decline. Of the 365 federal applications for solar facilities since 2009, only twenty are on track to be built; only three large-scale plants are operational. Solar companies are going broke, and projects are being cancelled. Solar energy remains uncompetitive and, for all of the hoopla, contributes less than one half of 1% to the nation's power supply. Declining subsidies (the current 30% investment tax credit, for example, will drop to 10% in 2016) and increasing environmental costs (consider, for instance, the BrightSource Energy solar farm in California's Ivanpah Valley, which has already spent over $56 million relocating tortoises) are driving investors away. The wholesale blade-kill slaughter of birds has jeopardized the wind energy industry's annual subsidy ($12 billion in 2013).
Some green job promoters may be thinking, "Well, at least things can't get any worse." If so, they are wrong. The lawsuits are starting. There's nothing like a lawsuit to increase project costs, scare off financial backers, and kill green jobs. Recently, the Justice Department (taking time from its hectic fossil fuel lawsuit schedule) brought charges against a Wyoming wind farm that had been killing golden eagles, and won. The victory was small (a puny $1 million fine) but ominous. On its heels, the American Bird Conservancy announced plans to sue the Interior Department over eagle-kill permits that authorize windmill companies to "kill and harm bald and golden eagles for up to 30 years without penalty." This is bad news for green job seekers, and for bird hunters, who could apparently get a 30-year permit instead of an annual license. Bird hunter to Fish and Wildlife clerk: "Yeah, I'll have one of those eagle-kill permits, you know, for my windmill."
The EPA has spent over $50 million on 237 green job training programs. Of the 12,800 people trained, 9,100 obtained green jobs — at a cost to taxpayers of $5,500 per job. The Department of Energy has spent $26 billion on green energy loan programs that created 2,308 permanent jobs — at a cost to taxpayers of $11.25 million per job. Evidently, none of the employees works on the 20 million acres of federal land that the Obama administration has made available to renewable developers. Last October, in the first auction of this land for solar development, not a single bid was made. However, some of them may work on the millions of acres that Obama has denied to fossil fuel developers, where they search for reasons to suppress fracking. Yet fracking (on private lands) has created 360,000 jobs, at a cost to taxpayers of $0 per job, while reducing America's energy costs by $100 billion and carbon emissions by 300 million tons.
By 2012, fewer than 140,000 (of the five million promised) green jobs had been created, and these at an enormous cost to taxpayers. The number of legitimate new green jobs available today is anyone's guess. But green job seekers might want to dust off their brown resumes. A search at Bright Green Talent returned 14 green jobs — in the entire country. Damn that “talent” requirement! A similar search at Great Green Careers was more promising, returning 196 openings. But only four of them were full-time positions — in the entire country. Perhaps the other 192 companies were using the 29.5 hour work week Obamacare work-around.
Today, five years after the Great Recession, the general economy continues to stagnate. Economic growth has been stifled by feckless healthcare, energy, and financial reform policies. Despite incessant claims of job growth, jobs have been lost. The labor participation rate (the percent of the working-age population that is working) — the most accurate, and the only unambiguous, measure of employment — has dropped from 66 to 63% during the so-called recovery. And, despite equally incessant claims that we need more of them, there is no demand for green jobs. Five years of "sustainability" have brought stagnation, even to the green economy: shrinking profits, decreasing subsidies, project delays and cancellations, lawsuits, an imminent trade war, and widespread tortoise and bird carnage.
Nevertheless, earlier this month, at a California Walmart, President Obama proclaimed, "We’re going to support training programs at community colleges across the country that will help 50,000 workers earn the skills that solar companies are looking for right now.” That would be bird carcass removers and tortoise herders.
Prominent French scientist predicts cooling
Dr. Jean-Louis Pinault is a proven expert environmental physicist and statistical analyst of global spatio-temporal data. His publication record leaves no doubt in this regard: Pinault-Google-scholar-profile.
Dr. Pinault has developed a model, which he supports with extensive statistical analyses of global spatio-temporal data, whereby relatively small solar variations (relative to the large variations occurring on the lifetime of the Sun) acquire leverage on global climate via an oceanic resonance tuning that operates on the global ocean oscillations on Earth.
Dr. Pinault was met with sufficiently significant resistance from the dominant scientific cabal, know as "peer review", to decide to concentrate on writing a book, rather than fighting reviewers and spineless and lazy editors (my words). In his book he both explains his science ideas and exposes the scientific censorship which has frustrated him. His book is "From the melody of the oceans to climate change: a fight against ostracism", and was just released on May 10, 2014.
Dr. Pinault's ideas are important for two reasons: (1) they suggest a new and plausible mechanism whereby small solar constant variations have an amplified effect on Earth, which may dominate climate change within the current multimillion-year period, with the present ocean masses, and (2) they illustrate how difficult it is for a recognized scientist to propose a model that is not sufficiently aligned with dominant scientific dogma.
Dr. Pinault's model is consistent with my own calculations that show that average climate sensitivity, without ocean resonances, is greater for solar constant changes and for planetary surface modifications than for changes in CO2 concentration: HERE, and HERE.
In a recent email exchange, Dr. Pinault explained his new book to me in this way:
The theory of anthropogenic climate warming, i.e. resulting from the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide in particular, has produced the economic and political media frenzy we know, unprecedented in the history of science. On the other hand, there are those who oppose who are skeptical about this hypothesis. Arguing natural climate variability observed in the past, including the recent past regarding the Little Ice Age, they refute alarmist predictions that are becoming harder to sustain as the temperature of the planet has no longer increased over the last fifteen years, while the concentration of carbon dioxide is soaring.
This confrontation between the proponents of global warming due to human activity, supported by the IPCC, and skeptics reflects a misunderstanding of the mechanisms involved in climate variability. Computers of the former allow a "bad model to be accurately wrong", I quote William Gray, whereas the latter challenge the working methods and the scientific integrity of the IPCC members who cling tenaciously to the theory of greenhouse gases liable for global warming, which is the raison d'être of the IPCC.
But this very uneven debate, skeptics cannot enforce their arguments in scientific journals that are subject to censorship since the Copenhagen Climate Conference, should now be enriched with a phenomenon totally unknown to climatologists and oceanographers, which is the planetary wave resonance in the oceans. This discovery, which I did by chance at a time when I knew almost nothing about the oceans and climate, not only allows explaining and reproducing the warming of our planet, more precisely the middle and long-term climate variability, but also the El Niño phenomenon, the succession of wet or dry years observed in Western Europe since the 70°S, the surface currents in oceans...
Highlighting the resonantly forced ocean long-waves allows lifting the veil on many previously unexplained phenomena of both oceanic and climatic origin. Is that the tropical belt of the oceans produces long-waves, whose wavelength is several thousand kilometers. Trapped by the equator they are deflected at the approach of the continents to form off-equatorial waves that act as tuning slides, like a trombonist who uses his slide for resonating the air column in the pipe with the vibration of his lips to produce a note. This musical analogy explains the title of this book, my instrumental practice helped me a lot in understanding the oceanic and atmospheric phenomena, at least as much as my training as a physicist mathematician that provided me with a beautiful diploma from the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, a long time ago.
These long tropical waves resonate with the main source of forcing that are the trade winds, whose period is annual, to produce sub-harmonic whose period is multi-annual. These long baroclinic waves result of the oscillation of the thermocline.
The tropical oceanic resonance is one of the drivers of ocean surface circulation and contributes to the formation of strong western boundary currents. Around latitude 40°N or S, those western boundary currents leave the boundary of the continents to join each of the five oceanic subtropical gyres. These resonantly forced baroclinic waves then become gyral, turning clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere. Having the same periods as the baroclinic waves of the tropical oceans, they form where the western boundary currents leave the coast: again, like the trombone, the wavelength of these gyral waves tunes with the period frequency of forcing.
For periods between half a year and eight years, the forcing of these gyral waves is induced from the sequence of warm and cold waters conveyed by western boundary currents, and now cause the oscillation of the thermocline of the gyre. But these gigantic gyral waves also have the ability to tune with the long-period solar cycles of one to up to several centuries, as well as Milankovitch cycles that affect the occurrence of glacial and interglacial periods, which reflect the changes in terrestrial astronomical parameters throughout tens of thousands of years, while filtering out the effects of the better known, the 11-year solar cycle.
These resonant baroclinic waves have the ability to 'hide' the thermal energy that drives them by lowering the thermocline; those warm deepwater little participate in evaporation so that the resonant gyral ocean waves act as heat sink by absorbing more thermal energy than they re-emit. On the contrary, during the uprising of the thermocline, thermal surface anomalies induce atmospheric instabilities say again baroclinic, depressions or cyclones, which, carried by the jet-streams at high altitude, travel throughout the continents. Changes in surface temperature of continents tend to balance with the thermal anomalies of subtropical gyres. Positive or negative, these thermal anomalies of sea surface tend to produce the same anomalies at the surface of continents due to the large heat capacity of seawater on the one hand, and the cyclonic or anticyclonic activity stimulated at mid-latitudes secondly.
This thermal balancing internal to our planet, which occurs over the years, smooth the climate variations we observe daily at mid-latitudes. This simple model, if not simplistic, is based on the imbalance between the energy received and re-emitted by the earth. This imbalance mainly depends on the depth of the thermocline of resonantly forced gyral waves, firstly allowing to account for long-term climate variability, and secondly to reproduce with high accuracy global warming observed during the second half of the 20th century, then the stagnation of the average temperature of the planet, precursor of the beginning of a slow cooling that will continue for several centuries. This warming effect results in the accumulation of warm seawaters by coupling with solar activity which showed a burst in the 20th century, what climatologists call the modern maximum which indicates the end of the Little ice age that occurred between the 16th and 18th centuries and also that of the Ice Age that happened more than 10,000 years ago.
This discovery gives reason to the skeptics when they observe a correlation between long-term variations in solar activity and climate. Up to now these arguments were refuted by the official theory since climate models were not able to interpret how a variation in solar activity well below the percent can impact the climate without involving the phenomenon of oceanic resonance. Then the influence of greenhouse gas emissions played the role of troubleshooter to remedy model failures.
Clearly the controversy over global warming emphasized our ignorance concerning fundamental oceanic and climatic phenomena. Gyral wave resonance should reconcile the community of oceanographers and climatologists, skeptical or not. But subjected to the ubiquitous ostracism in 'official' scientific circles, I resigned myself to suspend submitting my work in peer-reviewed scientific journals, giving priority to dissemination of results.
Dr. Pinault's book should be of interest to climate scientists worthy of the title, and to historians of science.
His model will be tested in the coming decades, since it predicts: "...firstly allowing to account for long-term climate variability, and secondly to reproduce with high accuracy global warming observed during the second half of the 20th century, then the stagnation of the average temperature of the planet, precursor of the beginning of a slow cooling that will continue for several centuries."
If he is correct, then it will be even more reason to conclude that modern CO2 increases don't matter and never mattered, regarding modern climate change.
Is Michael Oppenheimer crumbling on Warmism?
Punts on the crucial question of climate sensitivity
Michael Oppenheimer was a paid partisan of the environmental pressure group Environmental Defense and the climatologist to the Hollywood stars. Oppenheimer was the holder of the “Barbra Streisand Chair of Environmental Studies” at the Environmental Defense Fund. Streisand explained: “My Foundation started supporting climate change work in 1989, when I donated a quarter of a million dollars to support the work of Oppenheimer at EDF.
The following statements were made during the Q&A session of the May 29th House hearing:
Michael Oppenheimer: ‘Some things are more or less settled, some things are not. The question of whether carbon dioxide is 30 to 40 percent above pre-industrial times, that’s settled. The question of exactly how warm the Earth will become as a result, that’s not.’ Oppenheimer refused to defend the 97% claims. ‘Whether the 97% is defensible, I really don’t know.’
Skeptics in practice
A sophisticated network of metal thieves has targeted some 20 French wind turbines in a new looting trend, scaling the near 40-metre-high structures and stealing up to one tonne of metal from a single engine, Le Figaro reported Wednesday.
Citing an anonymous police source, the daily newspaper said the ring stole metal from wind farms in sparsely populated areas, where they had less chance of being caught.
“They cut the power to turn off the engine propeller motor,” the officer said, noting the thieves broke through the doors at the bottom of the turbines, before using the stairs to reach the engine which is located at the top – often as high as 40 metres off the ground. “By using bolt cutters and makeshift tools they then cut and ripped out the whole metal wiring, which is mostly made of copper,” he said.
The officer said a metal raid of a single wind turbine engine could amount to as much as one tonne of loot. One tonne of copper is estimated to be worth around 4,500 euros on the market.
But the officer said the thieves take great risks, since their modus operandi means they’re stuck within the turbines for several minutes during the raids, with no alternative exits to the bottom door.
According to Le Figaro, at least 20 such incidents have been recorded recently. Two successful raids and one foiled attempt were reported in March alone.
In response to the escalated number of raids, turbine operators have installed video surveillance systems, while police have begun patrolling particularly large wind farms with helicopters equipped with cameras.
“If it’s not a national problem yet, it’s soon going to become one” an unnamed investigator told the newspaper.
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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