Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Rich Greens trying to buy GOP candidates

She’s as green as they come.  Shenna Bellows, the Democrat running for Senate in Maine, proudly touts her environmental credentials. She rails against emissions-intensive oil sands from Canada, would tighten EPA regulations on greenhouse gases, and wants more investment in renewable energy.

So why isn’t the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) – a big-name, big-money green group – endorsing Ms. Bellows?

In short, it’s pragmatism. LCV instead endorsed Sen. Susan Collins, her Republican opponent, who is favored to win come November. Despite the fact that LCV has given Collins a D-level rating on green issues, Collins is among the most pro-environment in the GOP. She’s also a key dealmaker in an increasingly fractured Congress – and on climate change, environmentalists are realizing, it will be hard to succeed without reaching across the aisle.

“Senator Susan Collins is committed to finding bipartisan solutions that will safeguard our environment and combat climate change while promoting clean energy,” LCV Action Fund president Gene Karpinski said in a statement announcing the endorsement this summer.

And it’s not just Sen. Collins. Environmental groups are opening their arms to some other unlikely candidates ahead of November’s midterm elections. From pro-Keystone Democrats in the South to moderate Republicans in the Northeast and Midwest, environmental organizations have warmed to moderate politicians they may have overlooked in past cycles.

With more money, resources, and clout than ever before, greens are trying to broaden their sphere of influence, aiming to turn climate change and environmentalism into non-partisan issues in coming elections.

Critics lambast the green movement for moving away from principle. But other observers applaud the pragmatism, and green groups insist it’s necessary for a compromise-driven approach to action on climate change.

“If we’re going to change the politics of environmental issues, and particularly climate change, we need both parties,” says Tony Kreindler, senior director for communications at Environmental Defense Action Fund, the political action arm of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), an environmental group that supports some environmentally-friendly Republicans.

Cash to burn

The shift can be partly attributed to green groups’ deeper pockets in this year’s midterm elections. The usual players – the League of Conservation Voters, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Sierra Club – are increasingly embracing political action committees and private donor networks to match those in the Republicans’ camp. That’s helping green groups move beyond written endorsements to become heavy-hitters in the campaign spending department.

One new group alone, NextGen Climate, is ready to spend $100 million to transform climate change into a major campaign issue. NextGen is billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer’s answer to the Koch brothers, billionaire industrialists who have spent millions aiding conservative candidates country-wide.

Though NextGen has shied away from GOP candidates, groups like the Environmental Defense Fund are backing moderate Republicans with good environmental records.

Look no further than New York’s 19th Congressional District, where a liberal Democrat is facing off against a moderate Republican incumbent. Democrat Sean Eldridge trumpets environmental protection as a key platform. Incumbent Rep. Chris Gibson (R) has stayed relatively low-profile on the issue, and LCV gives mixed reviews to Gibson’s voting record.

Nonetheless, the Environmental Defense Action Fund is dropping $250,000 to support Republican Congressman Gibson.

“If you look at the numbers in Congress, the math is inescapable: We still need Republican support to get climate legislation off the House floor,” Mr. Kreindler says in a telephone interview, explaining EDF’s commitment to electing pro-environment Republicans.

Backing Congressman Gibson is only one piece of EDF’s foray into Republican politics this election cycle. The group has also gotten involved in several state-level legislative races in Kansas, supporting Republicans who defended a renewable electricity production mandate in the state.

Green groups acknowledge that helping elect Republicans and moderate Democrats won’t yield sweeping climate and environmental changes overnight. Instead, they view it as an investment that will keep climate change on the radar for politicians in both parties.

And some observers think it may be a wise investment. "It’s important to be pragmatic," says Meghan McGuinness, associate director for energy and the environment at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank in Washington. "Getting things done will require bipartisanship, particularly in the Senate, and both sides will need to compromise."

Moving to the middle

It’s not just Republicans who are benefitting from big green’s largesse. Moderate Democrats from Michelle Nunn in Georgia to Sen. Mark Udall in Colorado are raking in cash and endorsements from green groups that are willing to tolerate the pro-fossil-fuel and pro-Keystone XL stances that the groups otherwise oppose.

Even Tom Steyer of NextGen Climate is pumping millions into campaigns for Democrats who don’t always toe the line on environmental causes.

Part of the reason greens are so willing to dump money into races with moderate Democrats is defensive. Groups like the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters view a Democratic-controlled Senate as a “firewall” to prevent a GOP-led House from dismantling EPA regulations and eviscerating President Obama’s coal plant emissions reductions targets.

To keep the Senate in Democrats’ hands, green groups have gravitated toward candidates they don’t always agree with on key environmental issues. For example, several weeks ago the League of Conservation Voters endorsed Michelle Nunn, the Democrat running for Georgia’s open Senate seat.

“She knows we have a moral obligation to act on climate change, and she's been clear she supports growing the clean energy economy. That's why we're happy to be supporting to her,” Sara Chieffo, legislative director for the League of Conservation Voters, told the Huffington Post.

But just a week before that endorsement, Ms. Nunn released an ad criticizing other Democrats for their position on one of green groups’ pet issues: blocking the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry Alberta oil sands from Canada to US Gulf Coast refineries.

"Too many Democrats play politics by dragging their feet on the Keystone pipeline," Nunn says in the 30 second ad.

Sierra Club backs pro-Keystone candidates like Sen. Kay Hagan (D) of North Carolina – herself facing a bruising re-election bid – demonstrating that green groups are willing to compromise. Keystone support isn’t a dealbreaker for Tom Steyer either, as he told C-SPAN in an interview earlier this year. “We’re going to take a holistic view, and try and make sure that the people we support are going to be doing the right thing down the road,” Steyer said.

That’s not to say Keystone XL doesn’t figure into green juggernauts’ endorsement strategies, though. In their recent endorsement for South Dakota Senate Candidate Rick Weiland, for instance, LCV pointed to his anti-Keystone stance as a reason for support.

And the Sierra Club, too, factors Keystone XL in its decision to support candidates.

“When we consider supporting candidates, we look at their record as a whole from where they stand on protecting our lands and wildlife to stopping Keystone XL to advancing clean energy,” Melissa Williams, the Sierra Club’s national political director, said in a statement earlier this year.

As Democrats like Nunn try to strike moderate positions on energy and the environment, Republicans seem to be easing their way to the center as well – particularly on climate change. They may be doing it with an eye to the presidential election in 2016, when Republicans will compete with Democrats on the national stage for the support of independent voters who may favor clean energy and climate policies.

“I doubt, even a year from now, whether major political candidates will consider it viable to deny the existence of climate change,” Todd Stern, the United States envoy on climate change, told a group of students at Yale Law School last week.

Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana have all dodged questions about humans’ involvement in climate change, suggesting a growing reluctance to outright reject global warming.

Still, many Republicans are skeptical that climate change deserves the outsize attention President Obama has given it.  “While America faces immediate challenges and threats, President Obama remains fixated on pushing an extreme climate agenda,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R) of Wyoming in a statement released to the Monitor in late September.


British government policies caused the global warming "hiatus"?

No causal chain but what the heck?

Government environmental measures may already have helped to slow down global warming, an energy minister has claimed.  Baroness Sandip Verma said the rate of warming might have decreased, which could support the effectiveness of green policies.

Her comments came as Viscount Ridley, a Conservative peer and critic of government efforts to stop temperature rises, questioned her on when warming would start again.

He told peers at question time in the House of Lords: 'The fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change has confirmed in the same words that there has been a hiatus in global warming for at least the last 15 years.'

And he asked Lady Verma: 'Would you give us the opinion of your scientific advisers as to when this hiatus is likely to end?'

Lady Verma told him: 'You raise a couple of issues that we would dispute in a longer debate, but what we do recognise is that there a change in weather patterns happening across the globe, that climate change is occurring.

'It may have slowed down, but that is a good thing. It could well be that some of the measures we are taking today is helping that to occur.'

For Labour, Baroness Bryony Worthington said the fifth report would be published on Friday.

In April, the IPCC said it is '95 per cent' certain that climate change is man made, but still could not explain why the world has barely got any hotter in the last 15 years.

The IPCC report said that sea levels have risen by seven inches (19cm) since 1901 and are expected to rise a further 10 to 32 inches (26 to 82cm) by the end of the century.

It added that concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have increased to levels that are unprecedented in at least 800,000 years.

But the landmark report conceded that world temperatures have barely risen in the past 15 years, despite growing amounts of greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere.

Previous studies claimed this hiatus has lasted for 15 years, but new research believes the temperature has remained almost constant since 1995.

The conclusions were made by an economics professor Ross McKitrick from the University of Guelph in Canada who studied average land and ocean temperatures from the Hadcrut4 temperature series, dating back to 1850.

Hadcrut4 is a monthly record of temperature readings created by the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office, and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit.

It combines sea surface temperatures with land surface air temperatures into a grid that shows variations and anomalies.

Professor McKitrick also compared these readings to those taken by the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) satellite, which has measured upper air temperatures since 1979.

In both datasets, he noticed a period where the line levelled off, from around 1990.


Another claim that warming causes cooling

Warmists have got a theory for everything

As the Arctic warms, extremely cold winters are becoming more likely in Eurasia. Recent studies had suggested that a warmer North Pole would be linked to colder, more extreme winters in Eurasia. Now a study based on climate models of Eurasian weather suggest colder than normal winters will be twice as likely to happen. But there is a twist: the effect is unlikely to last.

The jet stream, is a fast-moving flow of air that sweeps from west to east and normally keeps Arctic weather systems swirling around the pole. Warmer than usual air over the Arctic is thought to weaken it, allowing these cold weather systems to creep south, and leading to blocking events where systems stay in one place for long periods of time rather than flowing east as normally happens. The latest study, published this week, suggests that climate change is making extreme winter systems twice as likely to settle over central Eurasia.

Masato Mori of the University of Tokyo and colleagues focused their climate modelling on central Eurasia - the region around southern Russia and northern China - and found that Arctic warming due to climate change was doubling the chances of extreme winters.

The weather systems of western Europe are linked to the jet stream too, and Adam Scaife of the UK Met Office says the effects are likely to be similar if slightly less pronounced in this region. He says Mori's study adds some strength to the proposed link between Arctic melting and cold Eurasian winters, though more work is needed to confirm it.

Mori and colleagues then pushed the analysis one step further and used their models to explore whether the cold Eurasian winter trend was likely to last. Their models suggest it won't. The Arctic could have no sea ice during the autumn by some time in the 2030s, says Scaife, at which point things will change. "The key thing here is that they argue that climate change wins in the long run," he says. So while winters may be cold for now, it might not be all that long before they follow the global warming trend.


Wind farms can 'never' be relied upon to deliver UK energy security

Wind farms can never be relied upon to keep the lights on in Britain because there are long periods each winter in which they produce barely any power, according to a new report by the Adam Smith Institute.

The huge variation in wind farms' power output means they cannot be counted on to produce energy when needed, and an equivalent amount of generation from traditional fossil fuel plants will be needed as back-up, the study finds.

Wind farm proponents often claim that the intermittent technology can be relied upon because the wind is always blowing somewhere in the UK.

But the report finds that a 10GW fleet of wind farms across the UK could “guarantee” to provide less than two per cent of its maximum output, because “long gaps in significant wind production occur in all seasons”.

Modelling the likely output from the 10GW fleet found that for 20 weeks in a typical year the wind farms would generate less than a fifth (2GW) of their maximum power, and for nine weeks it would be less than a tenth (1GW).

Output would exceed 9GW, or 90 per cent of the potential, for just 17 hours.

Britain currently has more than 4,500 onshore wind turbines with a maximum power-generating capacity of 7.5GW, and is expected to easily surpass 10 GW by 2020 as part of Government efforts to tackle climate change.

It is widely recognised that variable wind speeds result in actual power output significantly below the maximum level – on average between 25 and 30 per cent, according to Government data.

However, the report from the Adam Smith Institute found that such average figures were “extremely misleading about the amount of power wind farms can be relied up to provide”, because their output was actually “extremely volatile”.

“Each winter has periods where wind generation is negligible for several days,” the report’s author, Capell Aris, said.

Periods of calm in winter would require either significant energy storage to be developed – an option not readily available - or an equivalent amount of conventional fossil fuel plants to be built.

Suggestions that a pan-European electricity grid would help to provide extra security are also false, because northern European wind power is similarly unreliable, it found.

“Wind farms are a bad way of reducing emissions and a bad way of producing power”, said Ben Southwood, head of policy at think tank the Adam Smith Institute.

“We may want to reduce carbon emissions, but nuclear and gas are our best ways of doing that until cheap energy storage options are available on a vast scale", he added.

The Conservatives have vowed to end subsidies for new onshore wind farms if they win the 2015 election on the grounds there are already more than enough with planning consent to hit EU green energy targets.

Ministers estimate that 11-13GW of onshore wind farms will be needed by 2020 to hit the targets, while official analysis suggests 15GW is likely to be built.

Jennifer Webber, director of external affairs at wind industry body Renewable UK, said: “All source of electricity provide varying amount of power, but last year wind provided enough electricity for over five million homes, and contributed to a decrease in the amount of fossil fuels we burned for electricity.

“This year we’ve seen records for amounts of electricity from wind broken overwhelmingly regularly as wind has stepped up to the plate when other sources have been struggling, and recently there have been periods where it’s overtaken both nuclear and coal on the grid, showing it’s already a major part of the electricity mix.

“National Grid, who are the people who actually manage the electricity system, have said that they’re managing wind on the system well, they have good forecasts and they’re able to significantly expand it.”

A Government spokesman said: “We need a diverse energy mix that includes renewable sources like wind which work alongside nuclear and technologies like carbon capture and storage so we can continue to use fossil fuels in a cleaner way.”


EPA Chief Insists: 'People Overwhelmingly Consider Climate Change a Problem'

 Recent polls put climate change low on the list of Americans' pressing concerns, but that's not how EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy sees it:

"From all the recent public opinion work out there on climate change, what stands out to me is this: First, people overwhelmingly consider climate change a problem, and they want action. And second, what’s even more impressive, is the overwhelming support specifically for EPA action to curb carbon pollution from power plants."

McCarthy spoke Friday at a Conference on Energy and the Environment at Georgetown University.

But as reported eight days ago, a recent Gallup Poll found that climate change ranked at the bottom of a list of 13 concerns that are most pressing for registered U.S. voters in next month’s midterm election.

In that poll, only 40 percent of respondents identified climate change as either a “very important” or and “extremely important” factor in their votes. That was well behind the second-lowest-ranking concern, which was abortion and access to contraception, which was considered an important factor by 50 percent of respondents.

Likewise, a Gallup poll in March 2014 found that only 24 percent of Americans worried a great deal about climate change. In that poll, both "climate change" and "quality of the environment" were near the bottom of a list of 15 issues Gallup asked Americans to rate. Only "race relations" ranked lower than those two issues in Gallup's March 6-9 survey.

And in last month, a Pew Poll found that while most Americans believe in climate change, they give it a low priority. Forty-eight percent rated global climate change as a major threat — well behind the level of concern shown for other issues.


Some excerpts from a diatribe by an Australian Green/Left law academic

He's certainly got a good imagination.  He implicitly implies that "climate disruption" is going on but seems unperturbed that the 2003 prophecy he quotes (in red) shows no sign of being fulfilled.  Mr Obama is in fact letting poor Hispanics flood into America these days.  Some fortress!  The usual Green/Left lack of reality contact.

And where do we see these days "a dramatic growth in violent political and social unrest over dwindling resources"?  I know of none.

And another loss of reality contact in saying that police forces are also adopting military ideas and tactics "to confront demonstrations about climate change".  Tactics of that sort are indeed growing in the USA but they are used to confront crime, especially black crime (check Ferguson, Missouri). If middle-class Greenies make a big enough nuisance of themselves they might experience such approaches but that is entirely their doing.

And his last paragraph below is sheer fantasy -- and a good laugh. A definite ivory tower inhabitant

For over a decade, the Pentagon and other Western militaries such as Australia have put serious thought into the medium and long-term implications of climate change. For example, in 2003, the Pentagon released a paper titled “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its Implications for United States National Security.”

The report predicted massive flooding, storms, forced migration, food shortages, starvation and water crises. Moreover, as a result of diminishing carrying capacity, the report also foresaw a dramatic growth in violent political and social unrest over dwindling resources.

The authors of the Pentagon report also predicted “boom-times” for militarized security, as nations that have food, water, energy and other resources mobilize high-tech technology to separate themselves from the masses outside of their geographical borders. By 2025-2030, the authors predicted:

The United States and Australia are likely to build defensive fortress around their countries because they have the resources and reserves to achieve self-sufficiency… Borders will be strengthened to hold back unwanted starving immigrants.

Such an outcome would make current LNP immigration policy look like “an evil child's fumbling toys” to quote Hannah Arendt. And yet, the Australian government already uses the Navy to prevent asylum seekers from landing on Australian soil. Moreover, it has continued to build an “economic fortress” around itself by dramatically cutting its foreign-aid budget and refusing to commit to the United Nations Green Climate Fund.

Police forces are also adopting military ideas and tactics to confront demonstrations about climate change and other justice issues. Stephen Graham highlights in his book Cities Under Siege, the way that large defence and IT companies have created a multi-billion dollar market in civilian technologies directed at crowd control and civilian disturbances. Geographic mapping and drone technology are perhaps the best-known examples utilised by the Australian police.

This might sound like hyperbole, but I do not think it is a stretch to imagine a time when the US-Australian Great Green Fleet (complete with biofuel planes) is deployed in the name of national security to “hold back unwanted starving” climate refugees or masses of people suffering from climate related disease.



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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