Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking back

CO2 data shows nobody's dead from a little carbon dioxide

A lady with a CO2 meter has some interesting information

What I’m about to say isn’t a spoof. It’s the result of research and discussions with scientists working in the field. For all of you who need the data, I’ll give them in summary, but you go look up the mountain of references, do some research for yourself, even get a meter if you like. You’ll believe the numbers below better if you discover them on your own. And you won’t need to believe me when I say “I told you so.”

The following summarizes levels of CO2 under various conditions:

40,000 ppm: The exhaled breath of normal, healthy people.

8,000 ppm: CO2 standard for submarines

2,500 ppm: CO2 level in a small hot crowded bar in the city

2,000 ppm: The point at which my CO2 meter squawks by playing Fur Elise

1,000 to 2,000 ppm: Historical norms for the earth’s atmosphere over the past 550 million years

1,000 to 2,000 ppm: The level of CO2 at which plant growers like to keep their greenhouses

1,000 ppm: Average level in a lecture hall filled with students

600 ppm: CO2 level in my office with me and my husband in it

490 ppm: CO2 level in my office working alone

390 ppm: Current average outdoor level of CO2 in the air

280 ppm: Pre-industrial levels in the air, on the edge of "CO2 famine" for plants

150 ppm: The point below which most plants die of CO2 starvation

(all of these data vary a little with size of the space, ventilation, wind, and the like)

What does it mean?

There’s a lot more data out there, but this simple list says it all. Carbon dioxide is present in our outside air at about 390 ppm.

A little less than that and our plants start to suffer.

A little more and there’s little effect on people while plants proliferate.

 A lot more and there’s still not much effect on people.

Nowhere in the list of numbers do people get dead. Well, except for those submarines that never surface. You get the point.

Above average is a good thing

Above ambient levels of 390 ppm is where plants start to thrive. Remember your science: it says plants take in CO2 and output O2; people take in O2 and output CO2. We’ve got a good thing going with the plants, not to mention that they grow into what we eat. Having more to eat is a good thing in my book…and in the book of the world where so many people still don’t have enough food.

What happens with less?

But the powers that be—namely Gov. Schwarzenegger and the AB32 crew—want to lower the levels of CO2 in the air. If those regulations succeed, we will have targeted the plants for destruction. Then what will we eat? Each other?

Leave nature alone

Left on its own, nature has seen much higher levels of CO2 in times when human beings weren’t exhaling in numbers or driving cars. How about we leave well enough alone and let nature and people do their own thing. If that means a little more CO2, we can take it and take it well.


Glacier scientist: Global warming is good, not bad

For Terry Hughes of Fort Pierre, now a professor emeritus of earth sciences and climate change at the University of Maine, the way to answer the question of whether human activity is driving climate change isn’t with a “yes” or “no.”  He prefers to answer: “It doesn’t matter.”

It doesn’t matter, Hughes said, because global warming is good – far preferable than global cooling.

As a glaciologist, or one who studies glaciers, Hughes didn’t need to be convinced that climate change is real. “I never doubted it for an instant. The Earth has not always been like this,” Hughes said.

Hughes even agrees that human activity probably have something to do with it. “It may have given it a nudge,” Hughes said. “But there are so many natural events that swamp that out, for example, the eruption of Vesuvius, or Krakatoa. The industrial revolution was more gradual, over decades.”

As recently as the 1970s, Hughes recalls, his colleagues feared for another ice age.

Hughes says a number of his colleagues at places such as NASA and the University of Maine “have urged me to march in lockstep with Albert Gore, the drum major in the parade denouncing global warming as an unmitigated disaster.”

But Hughes – who returned a few years ago to live in Fort Pierre now that he has retired – has demurred.  “It’s human nature for them to pound the panic drum,” said Hughes, but added he isn’t convinced global warming won’t be as bad as feared. “In fact, it’s going to be a big plus, in the balance.”

Eight reasons why. Here’s why Hughes thinks that way.

* Assuming that global warming is caused by CO2 – which has greatly increased in the past 18 years with no corresponding global warming, Hughes contends – more atmospheric CO2 would greatly increase agricultural production.

* Global warming would thaw permafrost, opening lands in the arctic and subarctic to a boom in economic development in Alaska, Canada and Russia. For example, Hughes said, 18 to 24 hours of summer sunshine would deliver two agricultural harvests per year.

* Thawing permafrost would increase by one-seventh Earth’s landmass open to extensive human habitation. That would be a new frontier in the same way the New World was, and on a similar scale. At the same time, the portion of Earth open to two annual harvests would increase by two-sevenths, Hughes calculates.

* Melting sea ice would open the Northwest Passage and the Northeast Passage to year-round shipping. The cost and time to travel between the West and the Orient would be cut in half. New cities and seaports would spring up to service the sea traffic.

* Melting sea ice and the rising sea level, if the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets melt, would open new fishing grounds that could join in the boom in ag production to feed the planet.

* If the sea level did rise, there would be a global economic boom. Jobs would be needed worldwide to relocate coastal cities and re-design port facilities. Examples might be floating port facilities like those along the Amazon.

* Science, technology and engineering would undergo a massive revolution as humans worked to meet the new challenges.

* Changes in climate and sea level would encourage more cooperation between countries to handle the redistribution of population, manufacturing and commerce.

Hughes, in an as-yet-unpublished academic paper, argues that the other frightening alternative to global warming is global cooling.
“We know that endgame: A sheet of ice thousands of feet thick from south of the Great Lakes across the North Pole almost to the Mediterranean Sea, the situation only 18,000 years ago,” Hughes wrote. “Why is that scenario never stated? Would reductions in atmospheric carbon dioxide trigger that calamity?”


Pope Francis Foolish to Link Church To Green Movement

Pope Francis' recent leftist statements should trouble Catholics and non-Catholics alike, but even more disturbing are the pope's latest declarations on the dramatic action needed to fight climate change.

The Vatican apparently now has been infiltrated by followers of a radical green movement that is, at its core, anti-Christian, anti-people, anti-poor and anti-development. The basic tenets of Catholicism — the sanctity of human life and the value of all souls — are detested by the modern pagan environmentalists who worship the created, but not the creator.

At its core, Big Green believes that too many human beings are the basic global problem. People, according to this view, are resource destroyers. Climate change, they say, is due to the overpopulation of Mother Earth.

The head of the Catholic Church should denounce — not praise — such anti-human thinking. It violates Pope John Paul II's famous letter reminding us that creative human beings are a resource, not a curse.

Instead, the pope unwittingly has linked arms with the people who have provided finance, intellectual credibility and applause for radical and immoral population-control policies including eugenics, millions of forced abortions and sterilizations, and one-child policies, all in the name of "saving the planet."

Francis is reportedly preparing a lengthy encyclical message for early 2015 to the world's 1.2 billion Catholics on the need for decisive action on climate change. He may even be preparing a U.N. speech on the topic.

Earlier this year, he said: "The monopolizing of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness."

The science behind this is bunk. As we've documented repeatedly, there is no scientific basis for the claims that the planet has been hit with more severe weather events over the last decade or that we are witnessing "great cataclysms" above the historical norm.

The number of hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, typhoons, monsoons, earthquakes, floods, freezes and so on is not on the rise, according to the best scientific evidence available. Not only are natural disasters no more prevalent today than 100 years ago, but deaths and damage to communities from catastrophic weather events have dropped greatly as wealth and incomes have risen.

The church has missed the vital connection between increased economic development — thanks to human ingenuity and free-market capitalism — and humanity's ability to overcome the sometimes random and ravaging effects of nature.

Death rates, especially for children in the poorest areas of Africa, South America and Asia, fall because people can leave "the land of (their) birth," thanks to higher incomes and transportation.

What climate-change action will the Vatican endorse? Almost all the leading anti-climate-change initiatives endorsed by the Green Movement — cap and trade, carbon taxes, regulations against using abundant fossil fuels — are merely regressive taxes that hurt the poor the most.

What is the ethical and moral basis for going to poor villages and telling those living at subsistence levels that they have an obligation to save the planet by staying poor and using less energy? Cheap and affordable electric power is the best antidote for extreme poverty, disease, malnutrition and human deprivation. It should be celebrated.

Ironically, the pope in separate declarations has spoken out about the immorality of "income and wealth inequality" and "trickle-down economics." The radical climate change agenda he has made peace with would make the poor poorer and income inequality worse.

We'd like to hear the pope say this: The science on global cooling, global warming, climate change — or whatever the left calls it these days — is unsettled at best.

But if climate change is a threat, the best response is not to empower heavy-handed and incompetent command-and-control governments to fight it, but let free people use their wealth, technology, ingenuity and creativity to solve it. If the corrupt U.N. or Greenpeace is our salvation, we're all doomed.

Francis recently declared we should be wary of putting a "crude and naïve trust in those wielding economic power," a clear slap at capitalism. But surely it's more true of those "wielding economic power" in government.

We would remind Francis that the greatest acts of barbarism and the most villainous violations of basic human rights in history — slavery, the Holocaust, China's one-child policy, Stalinism, Pol Pot's killing fields, Mao's starvation of millions, and on and on —have been perpetrated by the statists.

Most of these acts of death and destruction were defended in the name of some greater and grandiose planetary cause — Marxism.

The Church's mission is to save souls. Free people and free enterprise should be left to fix what ails the planet.


No evidence California homes use less electricity today than homes built before building energy codes

The National Bureau of Economic Research has some bad news for CA Greenies.  See summary below.

How Much Energy Do Building Energy Codes Really Save? Evidence from California

Arik Levinson

Construction codes that regulate the energy efficiency of new buildings have been a centerpiece of US environmental policy for 40 years. California enacted the nation’s first energy building codes in 1978, and they were projected to reduce residential energy use—and associated pollution—by 80 percent. How effective have the building codes been? I take three approaches to answering that question. First, I compare current electricity use by California homes of different vintages constructed under different standards, controlling for home size, local weather, and tenant characteristics. Second, I examine how electricity in California homes varies with outdoor temperatures for buildings of different vintages. And third, I compare electricity use for buildings of different vintages in California, which has stringent building energy codes, to electricity use for buildings of different vintages in other states. All three approaches yield the same answer: there is no evidence that homes constructed since California instituted its building energy codes use less electricity today than homes built before the codes came into effect.


If You Lose Weight, You’re Destroying the Planet

In 2011, a study claimed that losing weight could help save the planet from the Flying Global Warming Monster.

"Being overweight is bad for the environment as well as your health, according to a study released today.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that overweight people were likely to be more responsible for carbon emissions than slim people because they consume more food and fuel.

We estimated that a 10 kg weight loss of all obese and overweight people would result in a decrease of 49.560 Mt of CO(2) per year, which would equal to 0.2% of the CO(2) emitted globally in 2007. This reduction could help meet the CO(2) emission reduction targets and unquestionably would be of a great benefit to the global health."

Science spoke. And only a bunch of ignorant mouth-breathing troglodytes who don’t follow Neil deGrasse Tyson on Twitter would dare to disagree.

But no wait. Apparently losing weight DOES cause Global Warming.

"Despite a worldwide obsession with diets and fitness regimes, many health professionals cannot correctly answer the question of where body fat goes when people lose weight, a new study shows. The most common misconception among doctors, dieticians and personal trainers is that the missing mass has been converted into energy or heat. The correct answer is that most of the mass is breathed out as carbon dioxide and goes into thin air."

But wait. Obesity also causes Global Warming.

"Expanding waistlines are not just tipping scales but may also push the mercury higher around the world, according to a new study.

As humanity becomes more rotund, more resources are needed to cool, nourish and transport the extra weight, a trend that can contribute to climate change by requiring the consumption of more fossil fuels and resulting in more greenhouse gas emissions."

Whether or not you lose weight, you’re destroying the planet… because you’ve alive. But let’s hear from other leading experts, like Hillary Clinton.

Speaking to State Department staff on Earth Day, Mrs Clinton said more must be done to reduce the department’s environmental footprint and conceded this was a big challenge, much like one of her personal battles.

“Often times when you face such an overwhelming challenge as global climate change, it can be somewhat daunting – it’s kind of like trying to lose weight, which I know something about,” she said to laughter.

But wait, Latino Fox News says Italian mountain goat-antelopes are losing weight because of Global Warming. So it’s all right then.


Obama’s green economic policies hit blacks hardest

Following the lead of the Rev. Al Sharpton, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets to protest grand jury decisions regarding the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and physical restraint death of Eric Garner in New York, by white police officers.

With chants of “Black lives matter” and “No justice, no peace,” demonstrators are expressing their frustration with what they regard as a system gamed against black Americans. Underlying the social unrest is a weak economic recovery that has left blacks behind. Blacks have the highest unemployment rate, the lowest average income and the lowest rate of homeownership.

Objective analysis would conclude that President Obama’s progressive policies have failed blacks, leaving them frustrated and vulnerable to the social agitation by Mr. Sharpton.

The sad truth is Mr. Obama’s agenda includes policies that preferentially harm blacks. In particular, Mr. Obama’s climate change policy, in effect, serves as a 21st-century version of Jim Crow laws owing to its economic impact on black households. A study from the Pacific Research Institute on the impact of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulations on existing power plants demonstrates the harm Mr. Obama’s climate change regulations could cause black families in Ohio.

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan establishes state-specific targets for carbon dioxide emissions from power plants to be 30 percent lower than 2005 levels by 2030. Because Ohio uses coal to generate the vast majority of its electricity, the state will experience a significant rise in power costs from the EPA’s proposed rule that targets coal-fired power plants that emit carbon dioxide.

The impact of rising electricity costs are not divided equally among Ohio households. As the study shows, wealthy households would be minimally affected, but low-income households would pay a significantly higher proportion for electricity.

The lower the income, the greater the economic burden.

Under the EPA’s proposed regulations, the average yearly cost for electricity would rise from 2.9 percent to 3.8 percent of the average Ohio household’s income. For the average black household, however, the yearly spending on electricity would rise from 4.5 percent to 5.8 percent.

For lower-income blacks, the yearly cost for electricity would be as much as 26 percent of household income, or possibly higher.

Conversely, high-income households are minimally affected. Some Clermont County households would spend only 1.1 percent of their income on electricity under the EPA’s rule, from today’s baseline of 0.8 percent.

The social impact of Mr. Obama’s climate change plan is devastating to the black community, the group that suffers the most because of lower average incomes.

These households will have less money to spend on food, housing, health care and other basic needs.

Higher energy costs will drive more black families to government dependency, including assistance to help pay for soaring utility bills.

Mr. Obama is fully aware of the electricity price increases resulting from his climate change agenda.

During a 2008 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, before he was president, Mr. Obama discussed the consequences of his plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Candidate Obama acknowledged that “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket” and compliance costs would be passed “on to consumers.”



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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

This seems amusing indeed

The report below seems to be about conversations rather than any written report so it is a bit hard to zero in on what exactly is being claimed. But it seems that the central England temperature record is being referred to -- which goes back about 400 years.  And if this year will be only a tenth of a degree hotter out of 400 years of readings, that is surely a huge affirmation of temperature STABILITY.  There were indeed some big peaks in that record about 1830 and 1920 so it seems likely that this year will be little different from those years

It may be cold now, but 2014 is set to be the warmest year EVER.  With snow blanketing swathes of the country and icy conditions on their way, balmy summer temperatures seem a distant memory. But while the wintry weather grips the North, forecasters reveal that 2014 has in fact been the warmest year in history.

Records dating back to the 17th century show that Britain has been a tenth of a degree hotter this year than in any other for more than 400 hundred years.

The same can be seen in other parts of the world, with the change attributed to global warming.

While official confirmation can't be given until the end of the year, Met Office scientist Mike Kendon told the Times: 'We have seen continuous warmth throughout the year.'

In 2013, winter months were stormy but warm, with the average temperature 1.5C above what is normal.

Spring was 1.3C hotter, while autumn saw a 1.4C increase in temperatures too.

It surpasses 1998 and 2010, two of the hottest years on record, experts said, with almost all of the warmest years belonging to the 21st century.

While no one month has seen a record temperature, a slight increase on average throughout the year has contributed to the data.

Earlier this month the Met Office predicted it would be the warmest year on record, but urged caution when dealing with figures.

Colin Morice, a climate monitoring scientist at the Met Office, said: 'Record or near-record years are interesting, but the ranking of individual years should be treated with some caution because the uncertainties in the data are larger than the differences between the top ranked years.

'We can say this year will add to the set of near-record temperatures we have seen over the last decade.'


Google goes off the climate change deep end

Chairman Eric Schmidt should heed his own advice – and base energy policies on facts

Paul Driessen and Chris Skates

In a recent interview with National Public Radio host Diane Rehm, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said his company “has a very strong view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts. And the facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring, and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. We should not be aligned with such people. They’re just literally lying.”

While he didn’t vilify us by name, Mr. Schmidt was certainly targeting us, the climate scientists who collect and summarize thousands of articles for the NIPCC’s Climate Change Reconsidered reports, the hundreds who participate in Heartland Institute climate conferences, and the 31,487 US scientists who have signed the Oregon Petition, attesting that there is no convincing scientific evidence that humans are causing catastrophic warming or climate disruption.

All of us are firm skeptics of claims that humans are causing catastrophic global warming and climate change. We are not climate change “deniers.” We know Earth’s climate and weather are constantly in flux, undergoing recurrent fluctuations that range from flood and drought cycles to periods of low or intense hurricane and tornado activity, to the Medieval Warm Period (950-1250 AD) and Little Ice Age (1350-1850) – and even to Pleistocene glaciers that repeatedly buried continents under a mile of ice.

What we deny is the notion that humans can prevent these fluctuations, by ending fossil fuel use and emissions of plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide, which plays only an insignificant role in climate change.

The real deniers are people who think our climate was and should remain static and unchanging, such as 1900-1970, supposedly – during which time Earth actually warmed and then cooled, endured the Dust Bowl, and experienced periods of devastating hurricanes and tornadoes.

The real deniers refuse to recognize that natural forces dictate weather and climate events. They deny that computer model predictions are completely at odds with real world events, that there has been no warming since 1995, and that several recent winters have been among the coldest in centuries in the United Kingdom and continental Europe, despite steadily rising CO2 levels. They refuse to acknowledge that, as of December 25, it’s been 3,347 days since a Category 3-5 hurricane hit the US mainland; this is by far the longest such stretch since record-keeping began in 1900, if not since the American Civil War.

Worst of all, they deny that their “solutions” hurt our children and grandchildren, by driving up energy prices, threatening electricity reliability, thwarting job creation, and limiting economic growth in poor nations to what can be sustained via expensive wind, solar, biofuel and geothermal energy. Google’s corporate motto is “Don’t be evil.” From our perspective, perpetuating poverty, misery, disease and premature death in poor African and Asian countries – in the name or preventing climate change – is evil.

It is truly disturbing that Mr. Schmidt could make a statement so thoroughly flawed in its basic premise. He runs a multi-billion dollar company that uses vast quantities of electricity to disseminate information throughout the world. Perhaps he should speak out on issues he actually understands. Perhaps he would be willing to debate us or Roy Spencer, David Legates, Pat Michaels and other climate experts.

Setting aside the irrational loyalty of alarmists like Schmidt to a failed “dangerous manmade climate change” hypothesis, equally disturbing is the money wasted because of it. Consider an article written for the Institute of Electric and Electronic Engineers’ summit website by Google engineers Ross Koningstein and David Fork, who worked on Google’s “RE~C” renewable energy initiative.

Beginning in 2007, they say, “Google committed significant resources to tackle the world’s climate and energy problems. A few of these efforts proved very successful: Google deployed some of the most energy efficient data centers in the world, purchased large amounts of renewable energy, and offset what remained of its carbon footprint.”

It’s wonderful that Google improved the energy efficiency of its power-hungry data centers. But the project spent countless dollars and man hours. To what other actual benefits? To address precisely what climate and energy problems? And how exactly did Google offset its carbon footprint? By buying “carbon credits” from outfits like the New Forests Company, which drove impoverished Ugandan villagers out of their homes, set fire to their houses and burned a young boy to death?

What if, as skeptics like us posit and actual evidence reflects, man-made climate change is not in fact occurring? That would mean there is no threat to humans or our planet, and lowering Google’s CO2 footprint would bring no benefits. In fact, it would keep poor nations poverty stricken and deprived of modern technologies – and thus unable to adapt to climate change. Imagine what Google could have accomplished if its resources had been channeled to solving actual problems with actual solutions!

In 2011, the company decided its RE~C project would not meet its goals. Google shut it down. In their article, Koningstein and Fork admit that the real result of all of their costly research was to reach the following conclusion: “green energy is simply not economically, viable and resources that we as a society waste in trying to make it so would be better used to improve the efficiencies in established energy technologies like coal.”

Skeptics like us reached that conclusion long ago. It is the primary reason for our impassioned pleas that that the United States and other developed nations stop making energy policy decisions based on the flawed climate change hypothesis. However, the article’s most breathtaking statement was this:

“Climate scientists have definitively shown that the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere poses a looming danger....  A 2008 paper by James Hansen, former director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies… showed the true gravity of the situation. In it, Hansen set out to determine what level of atmospheric CO2 society should aim for ‘if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted.’ His climate models showed that exceeding 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere would likely have catastrophic effects. We’ve already blown past that limit. Right now, environmental monitoring shows concentrations around 400 ppm.…”

We would never presume to question the sincerity, intellect, dedication or talent of these two authors. However, this statement presents a stunning failure in applying Aristotelian logic. Even a quick reading would make the following logical conclusions instantly obvious:

1.      Hansen theorized that 350 ppm of atmospheric CO2 would have catastrophic results.

2.      CO2 did indeed reach this level, and then exceeded it by a significant amount.

3.      There were no consequences, much less catastrophic results, as our earlier points make clear.

4.      Therefore, real-world evidence clearly demonstrates that Hansen’s hypothesis is wrong.

This kind of reasoning (the scientific method) has served progress and civilization well since the Seventeenth Century. But the Google team has failed to apply it; instead it repeats the “slash fossil fuel use or Earth and humanity are doomed” tautology, without regard for logic or facts – while questioning CAGW skeptics intelligence, character and ethics. Such an approach would be disastrous in business.

We enthusiastically support Eric Schmidt’s admonition that our nation base its policy decisions on facts, even when those facts do not support an apocalyptic environmental worldview. We also support President Obama’s advice that people should not “engage in self-censorship,” because of bullying or “because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities of someone whose sensibilities probably need to be offended.”

In fact, we will keep speaking out, regardless of what Messsrs. Schmidt, Hansen and Obama might say.

Via email


Five current articles below

More pressure on banks over global warming

There is an amusing perversity here.  Warmists are trying to  convince banks that lending money to coal and oil companies is risky -- on the grounds that coal and oil are old hat and will soon be replaced by windmills and solar power.  The fact that even the hi-tech "Ivanpah" project in the California desert actually depends for much of the time on "fossil" fuels is not acknowledged.  So the chance that demand for coal and oil will vanish is vanishingly small.

On the other hand, the ever-tightening net of Greenie restrictions is a real hazard to the oil and gas industry.  It bumps up their costs and hence the prices for their product -- leading to a fall in demand and a probable winnowing out of the less efficient producers.  So lending to conventional energy producers does have some risk but not because of global warming or "sustainable" energy.  It is risky because Greenies attack businesses in that field

One of the country's biggest investors, Australian Super, has asked the chairmen of the nation's biggest banks how they are responding to carbon exposure risk, as lenders face growing pressure over their response to climate change.

Australian Super's investment manager for governance, Andrew Gray, said banks needed to give investors comfort that they were "assessing and managing" the risks appropriately.

"We've actually engaged with the boards of the banks and have been asking them about this issue themselves," he said.

Mr Gray said the discussion had occurred over the past year or so and had been "constructive".

"Companies that actually have fossil fuel assets – they would have direct exposure – but banks as financiers of those companies therefore also potentially have exposure," he said.

"We would say it's a plausible issue to be examining for the banks, and so we are certainly doing that."

Former Coalition opposition leader John Hewson, who chairs the Asset Owners Disclosure Project, said that carbon didn't rate a single mention in the financial system inquiry by David Murray, who had previously doubted the severity of climate change.

"I was fascinated that the Murray Review, which is focused heavily on bank capital and the need to increase bank capital, doesn't focus on the climate risk," Dr Hewson said.

Until recently, views such as Dr Hewson's were on the fringe in the finance community, even though environmental groups have been airing them for years.

But noise is being made everywhere. In December, the Bank of England reportedly launched an inquiry into a potential "carbon bubble" in the world economy.

Earlier in the year, former United States secretary to the Treasury and Goldman Sachs chief Hank Paulson likened the growing financial risks created by climate change to the US housing credit bubble that was allowed to inflate until 2008.

Domestically, while there has been investor debate about carbon risk, it has focused on large emitters, such as coalminers, manufacturers, or airlines.

Now the spotlight is on the big four banks - Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, NAB and ANZ.

ANZ and CBA shareholders this year faced resolutions from the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility that would have required banks to disclose their "financed emissions".

Even though these were firmly rejected by shareholders, Mr Gray said it would be wrong to assume this means the issue was being ignored by long-term investors such as super funds.

"Irrespective of the ACCR resolution, that's a conversation that we were having anyway from the perspective of saying, 'Well we're a big investor in the banks, we want to understand what the risk of that looks like and how banks are managing any potential risks from this as an investment theme'," Mr Gray said.

All of the major banks now disclose more information about their lending to big carbon emitters, which is partly a response to the investor and activist pressure.

Company chairmen also told investors they consider risks such as these in detail before extending credit to customers. They say these checks are built into banks' environmental, social and governance policies, which are applied to all of big corporate clients.

ANZ chairman David Gonski faced repeated questions on carbon at its AGM in December, and argued the bank carefully considered any extra risks that big carbon emitters would face.

"We will continue to look to balance things, so that we can see that we are assisting the world in its living standards, but also at the same time moving towards renewables in a positive way," Mr Gonski said.

Despite assurances such as these, research by Tim Buckley from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis - a group pushing for action on climate change by investors - paints a less comforting picture about lenders' response to carbon risks.

Mr Buckley, a former head of equity research at Citi and fund manager, said the big four banks may have already funded "stranded assets" that were already feeling financial pain due to their carbon exposure.

He described the $3 billion Wiggins Island coal export facility as "potentially one of the first stranded assets in Australia" for banks and the associated coalmining company investors.

ANZ arranged the syndicate of local and global banks lending to the project, which has since been hit by a plunge in coal prices. Mr Buckley said this plunge in the coal price was partly the result of carbon risks materialising.

The banks' loans to the Wiggins Island project are protected in this case by take-or-pay contract rules that will in effect mean coalminers guarantee the port's cash flow.

Nonetheless, lending behaviour such as this undermines bank claims about carefully considering carbon risks – though Mr Buckley said this was now starting to change quite quickly.

He said three years ago if you were to ask senior finance executives if they understood the magnitude of their carbon risk in their loan books, infrastructure funds or equity portfolios, they would admit they had "no idea".

Now this is changing, after a collapse in coal company share prices linked to the coal price.

"I think they do have an idea today," he said. "Would they have known a year ago? No."

It had changed significantly in the past six months, he said, in part due to pressure from shareholders and signs that countries including the United States, China, Japan and Germany are acting to address their carbon emissions.

"Through the board election campaign of Ian Dunlop with BHP, the banks have gone through a bit of a baptism of fire and in the last six months," he said. "They are thinking about the associated financial risks a lot more. It wasn't even on their radar a year ago."

Despite these changes, many still remain sceptical that banks are taking carbon risk seriously.

Dr Hewson said: "I doubt if they've had serious board consideration of these sort of issues and gone through their portfolio loan by loan… whether they've actually done that sort of work, and if they have, why wouldn't they be prepared to tell the market what sort of risks they're running?"

The Asset Owners Disclosure Project, which Dr Hewson chairs, is considering "naming and shaming" how the world's 1000 biggest banks are responding to carbon risk, something it already does for pension funds.

He said the issue was not whether banks should avoiding fossil fuels, but that investors needed to be aware of the risks.

Similarly, Mr Buckley prefers to describe the risks in the language of finance, rather than environmentalism or politics.

"I actually never talk about climate change, I talk about the financial risk of stranded assets," he said.

Whatever happens to the politics of climate change, the issue is now clearly on the table as a financial risk. And as Australian Super's Mr Gray said, it was likely to remain there, especially as big super funds become more active in raising this and other social or environmental issues with boards.


More unscientific science

It's Warmist "science" so we know what to expect -- and are not disappointed.  The author is jubilant that, in the second year of Australia's now-abolished carbon tax, emissions of CO2 dropped more than they did in the first year.  He is clearly unaware of one of the first principles of statistics:  Correlation is not causation.  And a correlation based on a sample of two (years) is in any case indistinguishable from random noise.

To have have shown, with any plausibility at all, that the tax CAUSED the drop in emissions, he would at least have presented data about other influences on CO2 emissions and shown that those sources were static over the years concerned.  He does not even attempt that.

Gareth Hutchens is an industrious writer who pops up frequently in Left-leaning publications but he is a twit.  He has the self-serving tram-track thinking that is typical of the Left

Gareth Hutchens

This week the Environment Minister Greg Hunt published data on the quiet, two days before Christmas, that showed the second year of operation of Australia's carbon price was more successful at reducing emissions than the first.

The carbon price began operation on July 1, 2012 and ended on July 1 this year after the government fulfilled an election pledge by abolishing it.

The new data from Australia's National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, published this week, showed emissions produced during the second and final year.

And guess what? Carbon emissions declined across Australia by 1.4 per cent in the second year, compared with a decline of 0.8 per cent in the first year.

Economists had predicted that that would happen. It takes a while for new markets to begin working properly.

The data showed the electricity (minus 4 per cent), agriculture (minus 2.6 per cent), industrial processes (minus 1.3 per cent) and transport sectors (minus 0.4 per cent) all experienced declines in emissions this year, and that those declines were partially offset by a rise in fugitive emissions (5.1 per cent) and emissions from stationary energy (0.9 per cent).

It is worth emphasising that a nationwide decline in emissions of 1.4 per cent is much bigger than 0.8 per cent.

I say that because Mr Hunt has spent a lot of time criticising the fact that carbon emissions declined by less than 1 per cent in the first year.

His office did so again this week when I asked them what their thoughts were on the latest data.

They chose not to comment on the fall in emissions in the second year of the carbon price – the larger fall of 1.4 per cent.

"We have put in a place a policy which will start its first emissions reductions from March this year and we are confident that it will see Australia meet its 5 per cent reduction by 2020," a spokesman said.

"In its first year, the carbon tax was a $7.6 billion hit on the economy but reduced emissions by less than 1 per cent. There is a better way through the Emissions Reduction Fund."

Mr Hunt will have lots of time next year to challenge the cause of the bigger fall in emissions in the second year of the carbon price.

But he will have to acknowledge that the decline has occurred.

And instead of patting himself on the back for getting rid of a mechanism that was reducing emissions by less than 1 per cent a year, he may even have to explain why he got rid of a scheme that was showing signs of achieving exactly what it was designed to achieve.


Greenie misconceptions about the Great Barrier Reef

VISITORS to north Queensland who come to see the reef and rainforest are often perplexed to gaze from their hotel balconies out on to a wind-ruffled, muddy grey to brown-coloured sea.

What happened to the sparkling blue waters, they ponder. Fuelled by dim memories of media misreports, they usually jump to the conclusion that human pollution must be the cause.

Those who live along the Queensland coast, as opposed to those who preach about it from the concrete and glass metropolitan jungle, know that muddy coastal water is an intrinsic part of the natural tropical system, generated by the resuspension of seabed mud by constantly blowing southeast trade winds.

Indeed, special types of coral reef — turbid-water reefs — have evolved to live happily in just these muddy near-shore waters. The Great Barrier Reef itself — growing luxuriantly in pellucid blue, oceanic waters far offshore — is recognised in textbooks as one part of a larger mixed carbonate-terrigenous complex of both muddy (inshore) and bluewater (offshore) reefs with a long, robust geological history.

Along the Queensland coast, the shoreline is made up of sandy beaches and adjacent sandy-mud coastal lagoons and estuaries, punctuated by spaced rocky headlands. The nearby inner shelf seabed is almost flat and covered by a blanket of sandy mud and mud up to several metres thick that has accumulated during the past few thousand years.

This coastal-inner shelf system has been built, and is still nurtured, by sand and mud delivered to the coast from the Queensland hinterland at times of riverine flood — mostly after cyclones.

Dilute muddy water from even the greatest cyclonic floods only reaches from the coast to the offshore bluewater reefs about once every 10 years. It persists there just briefly before being dispersed by waves and currents, and in being dispersed introduces rare nutrients into a nutrient-starved locale.

The coastal wetlands are important ecosystems for mangrove growth and provide a nurturing environment for fish and invertebrate larvae. Also, shallow embayments with sandy low tide and subtidal beach flats provide the conditions for seagrass growth — an essential habitat for dugongs.

Prior to European settlement, this system existed in precarious but dynamic “balance”, with major cyclones causing immediate coastline erosion, followed months to years later by fairweather shoreline accretion and restoration, fed by sediment contributed by the same and earlier cyclones. It is possible that historical tree-clearing and grazing inland has increased the amount of sand and mud delivered to the coast in post-European time, with one computer model estimate of a two to four -fold increase.

If true, such sediment enhancement is no bad thing. First, the pre-European shoreline was, and remains, deficient of enough sediment to maintain its position without continuing sand nourishment, especially at locations away from river mouths. Second, more sediment nurtures not just the shoreline beaches but feeds nutrient into the ecologically vital coastal wetlands.

Ports and their access channels have been dredged along the Queensland coast since the late 19th century, and the spoil dumped at sea. Over a period of months to years, this spoil is redistributed across a wide area and merges insensibly into the sandy mud, inner shelf substrate.

The briefly enhanced turbidity caused by dredging and dumping activity represents but a small, localised disturbance within a dynamic oceanographic background that sees constantly varying rates of mud resuspension caused by wind, and by the regular interchange of shelf waters within a few days to weeks by tidal and other marine currents.

Not surprisingly, therefore, despite expensive nutrient and water quality analysis in the past 30 years, no measured evidence exists for changes in water quality on the near-shore GBR shelf in post-European time.

Furthermore, the historical dredging and spoil dumping on the shelf has had no other known significantly adverse effects either, especially not on the bluewater reefs in the distant offshore.

Spoil has sometimes been dumped at the shoreline to reclaim areas for port development — the Brisbane and Townsville ports are prime examples. Given the value of the land created, this is an entirely sensible procedure when undertaken (as it has been) as an environmentally efficacious and cost-effective commercial venture.

It is simply fallacious for conservationists to trumpet that the GBR is threatened by near-shore dredging, and it is risible and disgraceful that an international agency (UNESCO) is involved in unscientific grandstanding on the matter as well.

Caving in to activists, the federal government has rejected the two best environmental options for the spoil — either seabed dispersal or land reclamation. Instead, Environment Minister Greg Hunt has opted for the worst and possibly the most expensive environmental option — that spoil dredged from near Abbot Point will be dumped on land.

A more perfect combination of scientific ignorance and environmental stupidity would be hard to find.


Australian City Takes Moderate Approach to Sea-Level Rise

Councilors of the Australian coastal city of Shoalhaven have taken a moderate approach to planning for sea level rise. Shoalhaven’s future planning decisions and real estate notices will be made in anticipation of sea levels rising by nine inches by 2050. Nine inches was a mid-range estimate, more than an inch below the level recommended by consultants Shoalhaven hired to help develop its planning response to rising sea levels.

In addition, Shoalhaven’s planning levels were the first public rejection of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s (CSIRO) recommendation to plan for up to 31 inches of sea level rise. CISRO is the Australian national science agency. Other coastal towns planning for rising sea levels have adopted CSIRO’s recommendations.

Evidence, Not Models

The councilors noted research shows sea-level projections are very imprecise, and the further out you go, the less precise they become. In addition, the higher the level of sea level rise planned for, the more properties affected and higher the costs for property owners trying to insure or sell their coastal properties.

The councilors also built a relief valve into their coastal impact planning, something other councils had not done. Every seven years the town will compare projected sea levels to the actual measurements. If sea level rise has slowed or risen, adjustments can be made to coastal impact plans.

In response to Shoalhaven’s planning decision, Tom Harris, executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition, said, "The rate of change of average global sea level is immaterial to coastal planning. It is only the rate of local change that matters to cities, towns, and other settlements. It is very perceptive of Shoalhaven city planners to actually measure local sea level rise on a periodic basis and make their future plans based on what they actually observe.”


The carbon tax figures are in: Australians paid $14b to reduce global emissions by 0.004%!

We can finally assess (sort of) the carbon tax in Australia. It ran for two years from July 2012 to July 2014 and cost Australians nearly $14 billion. The National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Office released Australian emissions statistics for the June Quarter of 2014. The headlines hitting the press this week are saying we reduced our emissions by 1.4%.

The Greens are excited, but neither the journalists or the Greens have looked at the numbers.  Not only is this reduction pathetically small on a global scale, but it’s smaller than the “noise” in the adjustments. Like most official statistics the emissions data gets adjusted year after year, and often by 1 – 2%. We won’t really know what our emissions were, or what the fall was, for years to come… (if ever).

Spot the effect of the Australian carbon tax in the graph of emissions by sector below.  It operated for the last two years. The falls in electricity emissions started long before the carbon tax (and probably have more to do with the global financial crisis, a government unfriendly to small business, and the wild subsidies offered for solar power).

Did Australian industry “reduce” their emissions a year ahead of the carbon tax? Maybe. In anticipation of the pointless expense and increased sovereign risk, they may have shut down or moved overseas. Should we celebrate?

The cost-benefits of using a tax to change the weather
During the carbon tax period we “saved” something like 17Mt of CO2. That’s how much less we theoretically emitted compared to what we would have been produced if our emissions had stayed at the annual level they were at in June 2012 (subject to adjustment).

Australia’s emissions are 1.5% of total human emissions, which are 4% of global emissions*. Those global emissions from all sources during the two years of the tax were roughly 416 Gt. Thus the carbon tax may have reduced global CO2 emissions by 0.004% and global temperatures by less.

The carbon tax is often framed as “revenue” or money raised, as if the government created some wealth. It should always be called a cost. And it’s not money from “polluters” — it’s money from Australians.

The carbon tax cost Australians $6.6 billion in 2012-2013  and cost $7.2 billion (projected) in 2013-14. Over the two year period, that’s $13.8b for an average reduction of 0.004%. The carbon tax was projected to cost $7.6 billion in 2014-15 if it had not been repealed.

The story of shifting data

Despite the headlines of “record falls” in Australian emissions, the data keeps changing, and the fall was about the same size as the adjustments. Each quarter, the numbers may be revised by up to 2%. In four of the last six years the annual emissions were announced and then were later raised. In two years the original estimate was similar to the last.

In other words, any 1% change is mere noise (in so many ways). Some of the time the headlines will have announced a fall in emissions that later vanished with data revision.

According to the most recent Excel data statistics I can find (subject to change), over the two years of the carbon tax our emissions started at 555Mt, fell to 550Mt and fell again to 542 Mt. As you can see by reading across the rows, the emissions may be adjusted for years after the fact. Who knows what Australia’s emissions of 2014 will be listed as 10 years from now.

More HERE  (See the original for links & graphics)


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, December 29, 2014

Social psychologists attack the "denier" accusation

Almost  any Leftist writing with a pretense at scholarship is conspicuously marred by its one-sidedness.  Only "facts" that support Leftist prejudices will be considered.  This of course can only be considered as propaganda and will do little to persuade anybody with some knowledge of the field concerned.  Jonathan Haidt and a few others have come to realize that such writing is largely pointless.  It will only persuade those who are already believers.

So in an effort to upgrade the standards of scholarship in the social sciences, Haidt has spoken the unspeakable.  He believes that conservative viewpoints should be included in social science debates. He is swimming against the huge tide of suppressing conservative thought that pervades Leftist discourse. The huge efforts at censorship emanating from the Left are not for him.

I actually feel rather sorry for Haidt and his lieutenants.  Haidt has not considered WHY Leftist discourse is so selective in its consideration of the facts.  Leftists are selective because they HAVE to be.  Reality is so at variance with central Leftist assertions that it just cannot be confronted in full. The historic  Leftist assertion about the malleability of human nature, for instance, flies in the face of the whole discipline of genetics.  And, as time goes by, the findings in genetics move ever more strongly towards showing an overwhelming influence of genetics on human behaviour. Human beings are NOT a "blank slate".

But Leftists need to say that people are blank slates in order to justify their authoritarianism.  Leftists want to CHANGE people (can you get more authoritarian than that?).  They even once dreamed of creating a "New Soviet Man".  But if they are up against genetic fixity in people, attempts at change will be futile.  They may say that it is not people but "the system" that they want to change but "the system" consists of what people do --  so that is a detour that leads nowhere.

So as he lets fact-based conservative ideas into his head, I think Haidt will himself become a conservative.  And that will ditch his career!

At any event, I reproduce below a journal abstract of an excellent paper by Haidt and his associates that puts the case for intellectual diversity in science.  I also reproduce one example from the body of the paper about Leftist bias rendering research unable to show what it purports to show.  The example concerns the common Warmist accusation that climate skeptics are "deniers"

Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science

Jos L. Duarte et al


Psychologists have demonstrated the value of diversity - particularly diversity of viewpoints - for enhancing creativity, discovery, and problem solving. But one key type of viewpoint diver sity is lacking in academic psychology in general and social psychology in particular: political diversity. This article reviews the available evidence and finds support for four claims: 1) Academic psychology once had considerable political diversity, but has lost nearly all of it in the last 50 years; 2) This lack of political diversity can undermine the validity of social psychological science via mechanisms such as the embedding of liberal values into research questions and methods, steering researchers away from important but politically unpalatable research topics, and producing conclusions that mischaracterize liberals and conservatives alike; 3) Increased political diversity would improve social psychological science by reducing the impact of bias m echanisms such as confirmation bias, and by empowering dissenting minorities to improve the quality of the majority's thinking; and 4) The underrepresentation of non - liberals in social psychology is most likely due to a combination of self - selection, hosti le climate, and discrimination. We close with recommendations for increasing political diversity in social psychology.

One closely reasoned example of bias from the paper

Denial of environmental realities: Feygina, Jost and Goldsmith (2010) sought to explain the "denial of environmental realities" using system justification theory (Jost & Banaji, 1994). In operationalizing such denial, the author s assessed the four constructs listed below, with example items in parentheses:

Construct 1: Denial of the possibility of an ecolog ical crisis ("If things continue on their present course, we will soon experience a major environmental catastrophe," reverse scored).

Construct 2: Denial of limits to growth ("The earth has plenty of natural resources if we just learn how to develop them. ")

Construct 3: Denial of the need to abide by the constraints of nature ("Humans will eventually learn enough about how nature works to be able to control it.")

Construct 4: Denial of the danger of disrupting balance in nature ("The balance of nature is s trong enough to cope with the impacts of modern industrial nations.")

The core problem with this research is that it misrepresents those who merely disagree with environmentalist values and slogans as being in "denial." Indeed, the papers Feygina et al (2010) cited in support of their "denial" questions never used the terms "deny" or denial" to describe these measures. Clark, Kotchen, and Moore (2003) referred to the items as assessing "attitudes" and Dunlap, Van Liere, Mertig, and Jones (2000) characte rized the items as tapping "primitive beliefs" (p. 439) about the environment.

The term "denial" implies that 1) the claim being denied is a "reality" - that is, a descriptive fact, and that 2) anyone who fails to endorse the pro - environmental side of these claims is engaged in a psychological process of denial.  We next describe why both claims are false, and why the measures, however good they are at assessing attitudes or primitive beliefs, fail to assess denial.

Construct 1 refers to a "possibility" so that denial would be belief that an ecological crisis was impossible . This was not assessed and the measure that supposedly tapped this construct refers to no descriptive fact. Without defining "soon" or "major" or "crisis," it is impossible for this to be a fact. Without being a statement of an actual fact, disagreeing with the statement does not, indeed cannot, represent denial.

Similar problems plague Construct 2 and its measurement. Denial of the limits of growth could be measured by agreement with an alternative statement , such as "The Earth's natural resources are infinite." Agreement could be considered a form of denial of the limits of growth. However, this was not assessed. Absent a definition of "plenty ," it is not clear how this item could be refuted or confirmed. If it cannot be refuted or confirmed, it cannot be a descriptive fact. If it is not a fact, it can be agreed or disagreed with, but there is no "denial."

Even strongly agreeing with this statement does not necessarily imply denying that there are limits to growth. "Plenty " does not imply "unlimited." Moreover, the supposed reality being denied is, in fact, heavily disputed by scholars, and affirming the Earth's resources as plentiful for human needs, given human ingenuity, was a winning strategy in a famous scientific bet (Sabin, 2013) .

Construct 3 is an injunction that we need to abide by the constraints of nature. Again "constraints of nature" is a vague and undefined term. Further, the construct is not a descriptive fact - it is a philosophical/ideological prescription , and the item is a prophecy about the future, which can never be a fact. Thus, this construct might capture some attitude towards environmentalism, but it does not capture denial of anything. It would be just as unjustified to label those who disagree with the item as being in denial about human creativity, innovation, and intelligence

Construct 4 is similarly problematic. "Balance in nature" is another vague term, and the item assessing this construct is another vague prediction. One can agree or disagree with the item. And such differences may indeed by psychologically important. Disagreement, however, is not the same construct as denial.

Whether some people deny actual environmental realities, and if so, why, remains an interesting and potentially scientifically tractable question. For example, one might assess "environmental denial" by showing people a time - lapse video taken over several years showing ocean levels rising over an island, and asking people if sea levels were rising. There would be a prima facie case for identifying those who answered "no" to such a question as "denying environmental realities."

However, Feygina et al. (2010) did not perform such studies . Instead, they simply measured support for primitive environmentalist beliefs and values, called low levels of such support denial, and regressed it on the system justification scores and other measures (a third, experimental study, did not assess denial ).

None of Feygina et al's (2010) measures refer to environmental realities. Thus, the studies were not capable of producing scientific evidence of denial of environmental realities. Vague environmentalist philosophical slogans and values are unjustifiably converted to scientific truths even though no data could ever tell us whether humans should "abide by the constraints of nature."

It is not just that people have different environmental attitudes; the problem is the presumption that one set of attitudes is right and those who disagree are in denial. This conversion of a widely shared political ideology into "reality," and its concomitant treatment of dissent as denial, testifies to the power of embedded values to distort science within a cohesive moral community

Much more HERE

NOAA Demonstrates How To Defraud Taxpayers At Christmas

The Arctic and its future are looking dimmer every year, a new federal report says.

Spring snow cover in Eurasia reached a record low in April. Arctic summer sea ice, while not setting a new record, continued a long-term, steady decline. And Greenland set a record in August for the least amount of sunlight reflected in that month, said the peer-reviewed report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies.

The fine scientists at NOAA are defrauding taxpayers with omissions of key information. Why did they refer only to April snow cover? Autumn snow cover just set an all-time record maximum.

Since CO2 hit 350 PPM, autumn/winter snow cover is increasing much faster than the decline in spring/summer snow cover.

Arctic sea ice extent is at a 10 year maximum, and has been for the past two months.

Greenland has gained nearly 300 billion tons of ice since the end of August, and surface melt area has been generally below normal this year. NOAA forgot to mention these things.

NOAA’s intent was clearly to disinform, rather than to inform. So the question is, why does climate science peer-review allow such blatant propaganda through?

SOURCE  (See the original for links and graphics)

Why are Warmists so dogmatic?

The left needs science to serve as a metaphysical validation for their worldview—even if they have to kill it to capture it

Robert Tracinski

The recent Neil deGrasse Tyson kerfuffle and the dogmatic defense of the global warming consensus raises the question: what’s the impetus? Why do people feel the need to proclaim themselves so loudly as the pro-science side of the debate and to write off all opponents as anti-science? What makes scientists so susceptible to a cultural vogue like global warming and so willing to be dismissive of evidence that contradicts their theory?

The least satisfying explanation is that it’s easy to make a name for yourself and get funding and research grants if you back the global warming consensus. That’s true, but it doesn’t seem quite sufficient. There are lots of way to get rich and famous and get invited to the right cocktail parties. Why choose this one? Nor is it enough to say that people are looking for an excuse to feel smugly superior, because there are also lots of ways to do that. I’ve even had Evangelical Christians do it to me, and truth be told, I’ve probably been a little smug once or twice myself.

All of these are just extra inducements added on to a deeper motive.

Given the size, breadth, and intensity of the global warming vogue and the pro-science pose of its supporters, it must answer some profound need, some crisis of the soul.

It is needed because the left is fundamentally reactionary.

The modern left formed as a reaction against capitalism and the Industrial Revolution. I think this reaction was driven by a deeply ingrained attitude toward morality. Practically every moral philosophy has warned against the evils of greed and self-interest—and here was an economic system that encourages and rewards those motives. You could look at this and decide that it’s necessary to re-evaluate the moral issues and come to terms with self-interest in some way. Most factions of the modern right have done so, whether they accept self-interest as a necessary evil or to make a virtue of selfishness.

But if you’re not willing to make such an accommodation, you’re going to look around, see all this heedless profit-seeking, and conclude that it must be evil in some way and it must be leading to evil consequences. So you will lend an eager ear to anyone who claims to validate your moral suspicions about capitalism.

In the first go-around, these anti-capitalists tried to capture the science of economics, forming theories about how capitalism is a system of exploitation that will impoverish the common man, while scientific central planning would provide abundance for all.

Let’s just say that this didn’t work out. When it turned out that central planning impoverishes the common man and capitalism provides abundance for all, they had to switch to a fallback position. Which is: to heck with prosperity—too many material goods are the problem. Our greed for more is destroying the planet by causing environmental catastrophes. This shift became official some time in the 1960s with the rise of the New Left.

Some of the catastrophes didn’t pan out (overpopulation, global cooling) and others proved too small to be anything more than a speed bump in the path of capitalism (banning CFCs and DDT). But then along comes global warming—and it’s just too good not to be true. It tells us that capitalism is not just exploiting the workers or causing inequality or deadening our souls with crass materialism. It’s destroying the very planet itself.

The global warming theory tells us that the free market is a doomsday machine bringing about the end of the world. It turns capitalism into a metaphysical evil.

And there is no halfway solution to the problem, no practical fix or technological patch. Carbon dioxide emissions are an unavoidable byproduct of the burning of fossil fuels, and the entire system of industrial capitalism runs on fossil fuels. So the only way to avoid catastrophe is to shut it all down.

You can see how this brings order and balance back to the left’s universe. Their visceral reaction against capitalism is validated on the deepest, most profound level.

You can see how this would be almost like a drug or like an article of religious faith. How can you allow people to question and undermine the very thing that gives meaning to your life? Hence the visceral reaction to global warming skeptics.

Then there is a second dilemma faced by the left. Their own history—and indeed their present—hasn’t always been so liberal and enlightened and progressive. The hard-core advocates of central planning had embraced or excused Soviet totalitarianism, with its party lines and Lysenkoism, and the central planners and “pro-science” types of a previous era had embraced eugenics. Today, there are still those who want to shut down opposing opinions, and every couple of years somebody floats a proposal to imprison global warming skeptics. Or maybe they just try to sue them and shut them down in the courts.

What to do? Construct an alternative narrative in which the political right is the modern-day successor to the Inquisition and the political left is the inheritor of a tradition of bold free-thinking that goes all the way back to Giordano Bruno. Even if you have to fudge a few facts to make it work.

Now put these two together: the left’s imperative to think of itself as a tradition of free-thinkers opposed to religious dogma, and their need for a scientific theory that validates their prejudice against capitalism—and you get the impetus for the whole mentality of what the blogger Ace of Spades calls the “I Love Science Sexually” crowd (a play on the name of a popular Facebook page). And you can also understand their adulation of popularizers like Neil deGrasse Tyson who repeat this conventional wisdom back to them and give it the official imprimatur of science. Once the narrative is established, it becomes a bandwagon and others jump onto it because being “pro-science” sounds like (and is) a good thing, and because they don’t know enough to question the story they’re being told.

You can also see why they would be more concerned with having the image of being “pro-science” than they are with actually being scientific. The first allows you to hold fast to the specific conclusions that are comforting to you; the second means that you have to be willing to challenge them.

In short, this is an attempt to capture science as a metaphysical validation for the worldview of the left—even if they have to kill it to capture it.


Fred Singer discusses Lima,Peru results

The just concluded confab in Lima, Peru, didn’t really conclude anything — certainly no binding Protocol to limit emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) — but “kicked the can down the road” to the next (21st annual) international gabfest in Paris, scheduled for December 2015.

Recall, however, that in July 1997, the US Senate passed the Byrd-Hagel Climate Resolution by unanimous vote. Robert Byrd (D-WV) wanted to protect West Virginia coal mining; Chuck Hagel (R-NE) wanted to protect the United States from unfair competition. A direct consequence of this bi-partisan Resolution was that Clinton-Gore never submitted the infamous Kyoto Protocol to the Senate for ratification. [Kyoto was designed to put teeth into the UN-FCCC (Framework Convention on Climate Change), popularly known as the Rio (1990) Global Climate Treaty].

Kyoto expired in Dec 2012 after wasting literally hundreds of billions in 15 years — without accomplishing its main goal of reducing global emissions of the much-maligned greenhouse gas CO2. On the contrary, emissions rose — mainly from greatly increased industrial growth in China, which was fueled primarily by coal-fired power plants. At the same time of course, global agriculture benefited from these higher levels of CO2, which is a natural plant fertilizer.

China Accord: a bad deal

In Nov 2014, president Obama and Chinese president Xi inked an agreement that Obama thinks might lead to another Kyoto; it was hailed as an “important breakthrough.” However, while the US would have to cut CO2 emissions drastically over the next decade, China merely promised to peak its emissions by 2030 — maybe — but would be free to continue its industrial development, at our expense. It’s a bad deal for the US; energy would become super-expensive, stifling economic growth, forcing industry to flee, and killing productive jobs — all of the calamities that Hagel, back in 1997, feared might happen.

Obama’s war on coal is indeed making electricity prices “sky-rocket” — just as he promised in 2008, when he ran for president. Voters were beguiled by the vision of “slowing the rise of the oceans” and of “saving the climate.” Little did they realize that they were being fed nonsensical science and that high energy prices would instead lead to growth of poverty. Had they had the good sense to look at the European experience, they might have rejected Obama’s siren song. Blame, if you will, the main-stream media, TV, Hollywood, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, etc. George W. Bush could have saved the situation but he didn’t.

Hagel to the rescue?

Here is a great opportunity for Chuck Hagel to save the US economy. Who else can boast of early opposition to Kyoto? He is no longer bound to silence as a member of Obama’s Cabinet. Free to speak out, he has much going for him:

**a Congress anxious to take on a lame-duck president on Constitutional issues
**courts skeptical of executive over-reach
**public anger towards a hated EPA, IRS, and Dept of Justice
**foreign-policy disasters, like Benghazi, and the threat of terrorism within the US
**a clear majority of states with like-minded governors, attorneys-general, and legislatures.

More specifically, on the climate/energy issue Hagel can point to:

**Nature rules the climate — and always has — not human activities
**the disastrous record of Kyoto and scandalous waste of resources and human efforts
**how “saving the climate” detracts from solving genuine world problems
**the sad experience of European energy-cost rise, industry flight, and job losses
**the shoddy science of the UN-IPCC, exposed by independent NIPCC reports
**the 18-year “pause” in global warming and the failure of IPCC climate models to reproduce it
**the conspiracies of “Climategate” and the subsequent whitewash efforts
**how destructive energy regulations are based on non-validated science
**how Obama got snookered by China and sold out the US for personal glory.

And that is why we must strongly oppose creating a second Kyoto in Paris in 2015
— with the active assistance of India, Japan, Australia, and Canada.


This ban is a fracking outrage

New York’s ban on fracking is an act of pure green elitism

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration announced that it will ban fracking - the practice of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from shale-rock formation - in the state of New York. With this decision, New York becomes the first state with significant gas-production potential to ban fracking. While greens and celebrity campaigners are jumping for joy, the masses in upstate New York are reeling from the blow the decision represents, as they are in desperate need of the kind of economic development that fracking would have brought.

This has been a class battle. New York state is geographically enormous, but its politics is dominated by the ‘downstate’ area in and around New York City. Cuomo and the Democrats reflect the interests of the urban elites who push an anti-industrial, green agenda. On the other side are the people of upstate New York. The areas of New York with the most potential for fracking, such as those in the ‘southern tier’, are also among the most economically depressed regions in the entire United States.

Many people in upstate New York were hopeful that fracking would give their economy a welcome boost. It may have appeared likely given how tremendously successful fracking has been nationally, in areas such as Texas, North Dakota and Ohio. Fracking has added about 2.1million jobs and contributed an extra $473 billion to the US economy. It has lowered energy prices and reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

Upstate New Yorkers would only have had to cross the border into Pennsylvania to see the potential. Jobs in Pennsylvania’s energy sector have more than doubled, to about 28,000, between 2010 to 2014, with average salaries at $93,000, compared to the state average of $40,000. And the benefits have been spread across communities. Energy companies have generated more than $2.1 billion in tax revenues in Pennsylvania, funding social improvements such as road and bridges, water and sewer projects, local housing and parks.

The New York Department of Health report found ‘significant uncertainties about the kinds of adverse health outcomes that may be associated with’ fracking that ‘could adversely affect public health’. ‘The science’, according to the report, ‘provides insufficient information to determine the level of risk to public health.’ Health commissioner Howard Zucker added: ‘The potential risks are too great. In fact, they are not even fully known.’

What the review did not find is any evidence that fracking is unsafe. Instead, New York’s administrators are effectively saying that, because of inconclusive information, uncertainties and unknown risks, we are going to ban fracking. There could not be a clearer example of the so-called precautionary principle, which states that, if there is any risk whatsoever, we should not act.

It is noteworthy that the review searched for evidence in academic ‘what if?’ studies, rather than studying the existing practices of fracking operations around the country. If they had done the latter, they would have to admit that there has been no evidence of harm. As Lisa Jackson, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has noted, there is no example of fracking leading to the contamination of a water supply.

The logic of the report – which is the logic of the green opponents of fracking – is that if development entails any risk, we must not permit it. But by this logic, we would never have had any industrial progress. Imagine if we were discussing the introduction of air flight today. Opponents would ask: ‘Will airplanes lead to a single death? Will they cause any pollution, produce any carbon emissions? We can’t allow that.’ This approach is truly reactionary, and betrays no appreciation of how we as a society advance. We learn by doing. With air flight, we learned to make it one of the safest forms of travel by learning from crashes; the truth is, without those unfortunate accidents and deaths, there would have been no progress.

That’s how we should approach fracking. It’s not that fracking entails no risks — but we should do what we can to minimise the risks and learn from our mistakes in the pursuit of progress. And that’s what has been happening in practice in the US: as the process of fracking has become more widespread, it has become safer. That is how appropriate oversight and regulations are supposed to work.

It is also noteworthy that New York’s health review found that fracking would bring ‘interference with quality of life (eg, noise, odours), overburdened transportation and health infrastructure’. But you could say that about any industrial development. Yes, more people moving into town, more people going out shopping and dining, that will all bring more noise and traffic. We can’t have that, say the greens, who would prefer the silence of the ghost town. Comments about noise and traffic in the report show that the notion of ‘public health’ has been expanded well beyond its brief. They also reveal that the opposition to fracking is a rant against industrialism and change itself, masquerading as debate over chemicals in the water.

In announcing the decision to ban fracking in his state, Governor Cuomo wouldn’t even take responsibility for it. ‘I don’t think I even have a role here’, he said, claiming the ban was down to his administrative officials. Elsewhere he said he was deferring to the scientists, averring ‘I’m not a scientist’. The idea that public policy is a question of science is wrong and a copout. ‘The science’ has nothing to say about assessing the value of jobs and prosperity. Cuomo’s attempt to hide behind science is cowardly.

So what is Cuomo’s big idea for jobs in upstate New York, the economic development alternative to fracking? Casinos. It is a sick joke. Of course, casinos will bring no new wealth creation to the region; they will just provide an alternative way for people to spend their dwindling incomes. And as many have pointed out, relying on casinos is yesterday’s big idea (scam), now that many resort casinos in the northeast are realising big losses.

The southern tier is the area of upstate NY that was a prime candidate for fracking. To add insult to injury, a few hours after the fracking ban was announced, Cuomo’s administration broke the news that the southern tier had lost their bid to have one of the new casinos. The frontpage headline of the region newspaper, the Press & Sun Bulletin, screamed ‘NO!’ in red type. ‘The casinos went down, fracking went down – come on; this place is dead in the water now’, said a Binghamton resident, quoted in the New York Times: ‘This whole area was thumbed at, snubbed, like it was nothing.’

The question of moving forward with fracking, as with other forms of industrial development, is not simply a technical, scientific one. People’s livelihoods and prosperity are at stake, and the science doesn’t tell us what value we should place on lifting people out of poverty. The decision to ban fracking in upstate New York is based on flimsy ‘it’s possible something bad could happen’ grounds, at a time when such drilling is being deployed successfully and safely elsewhere. The decision was made in the context of grinding poverty and over the heads of the local people who want it. It was promoted by a green elite that cares more about supposed threats to the Earth than about the masses who need jobs and lower energy prices. For these reasons, the fracking ban should be seen for what it is: an obscene and immoral decision.


Global warming will be bad for Christmas trees!

The presents are unwrapped. The children's shrieks of delight are just a memory. Now it's time for another Yuletide tradition: cleaning up the needles that are falling off your Christmas tree.

"I'm not particularly worried about it ... I'll just sweep it up," said Lisa Smith-Hansford of New York, who bought a small tree at a Manhattan sidewalk stand early this week. She likes the smell of a real tree, she said, comparing it to comfort food.

But others do mind. Consumers consistently cite messiness as one of the most common reasons they don't have a real tree, says the National Christmas Tree Association.

Some kinds of trees, like the noble fir or Fraser fir, are better than others at maintaining moisture and keeping their needles once they're in your house, says Gary Chastagner of Washington State University. But even within a given species, some trees are better than others, he said. Needle retention is an inherited trait: if a tree does well, so will the offspring that grow from the seeds in its cones.

Trees that experience warm autumns tend to have more needle loss later, Chastagner said. So if global warming leads to warmer falls in the future, it could be bad news for Christmas trees, he said. But since his studies focus on tree branches harvested before cold autumn weather sets in, they may identify trees that will do well in a warming world, he said.



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.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


Sunday, December 28, 2014

How solar power and electric cars could make suburban living awesome again

Chris Mooney is at it again.  He's a science popularizer without one of the most important things in science:  A critical mind.  Regurgitating hokum is his thing.  This time he is living in a fantasy world where everyone drives electric cars.  Good luck  with that!  Didn't the Chevy Volt teach anyone anything?

The suburbs have had it rough in the last few years. The 2008-2009 economic collapse led to waves of foreclosures in suburbia, as home prices plummeted. More recently, census data suggest that Americans are actually shifting back closer to city centers, often giving up on the dream of a big home in suburbs (much less the far-flung "exurbs").

It doesn't help that suburbia has long been the poster child for unsustainable living. You have to drive farther to work, so you use a lot of gas. Meanwhile, while having a bigger home may be a plus, that home is also costlier to heat and cool. It all adds up -- not just in electricity bills, but in overall greenhouse gas emissions. That's why suburbanites, in general, tend to have bigger carbon footprints than city dwellers.

You can see as much in this amazing map from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, showing how carbon footprints go up sharply along the east coast as you move away from city centers:

But now, a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper by Magali A. Delmas and two colleagues from the UCLA Institute of the Environment suggests that recent technologies may help to eradicate this suburban energy use problem. The paper contemplates the possibility that suburbanites -- including politically conservative ones -- may increasingly become "accidental environmentalists," simply because of the growing consumer appeal of two green products that are even greener together: electric vehicles and solar panels.

"There’s kind of hope for the suburbs, basically," says Delmas -- even though suburbia "has always been described as the worst model for footprint per capita, but also the attitude towards the environment."

Here's why that could someday change. Installing solar panels on the roof of your suburban home means that you're generating your own electricity — and paying a lot less (or maybe nothing at all) to a utility company as a result. At the same time, if you are able to someday generate enough energy from solar and that energy is also used to power your electric car, well then you might also be able to knock out your gasoline bill. The car would, in effect, run “on sunshine,” as GreenTechMedia puts it.

A trend of bundling together solar and "EVs," as they're called, is already apparent in California. And if it continues, notes the paper, then the "suburban carbon curve would bend such that the differential in carbon production between city center residents and suburban residents would shrink."

The reason is that, especially as technologies continue to improve, the solar-EV combo may just be too good for suburbanites to pass up — no matter their political ideology. Strikingly, the new paper estimates that for a household that buys an electric vehicle and also owns a solar panel system generating enough power for both the home and the electric car, the monthly cost might be just $89 per month — compared with $255 per month for a household driving a regular car without any solar panels.

This dramatic savings becomes possible to contemplate, notes the study, due to the growing prevalence of $0 down payment options both for installing solar panels, and for buying electric vehicles. Via government subsidies.   Subsidizing everyone might even stretch Uncle Sam -- JR


Polar Ice Caps More Stable Than Predicted, New Observations Show

A global warming expert has said the poles are not melting. In fact, the poles are "much more stable" than climate scientists once predicted and could even be much thicker than previously thought.

For years, scientists have suggested that both poles are melting at an alarming rate because of warming temperatures - dangerously raising the Earth's sea levels while threatening the homes of Arctic and Antarctic animals.

But the uncertainty surrounding climate change and the polar ice caps reached a new level this month when research suggested the ice in the Antarctic is actually growing.

And there could even be evidence to suggest the polar bear population is not under threat.

Ted Maksym, an oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, conducted a study in which he sent an underwater robot into the depths of the Antarctic sea to measure the ice.

His results contradicted previous assumptions made by scientists and showed that the ice is actually much thicker than has been predicted over the last 20 years.

Dr Benny Peiser, from the Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF), said this latest research adds further proof to the unpredictability of the supposed effects of global warming.

He said: "The Antarctic is actually growing and all the evidence in the last few months suggests many assumptions about the poles was wrong.

"Global sea ice is at a record high, another key indicator that something is working in the opposite direction of what was predicted."

He added: "Most people think the poles are melting... they're not. This is a huge inconvenience that reality is now catching up with climate alarmists, who were predicting that the poles would be melting fairly soon."

Separate satellite data released this month showed evidence that at the other end of the globe, the ice in the Arctic sea is also holding up against climate change better than expected.

The data from the European Space Agency CryoSat-2 satellite suggests that Arctic sea ice volumes in the autumn of 2014 were above the average set over the last five years, and sharply up on the lows recorded in 2011 and 2012.

According to this research, Arctic sea ice volumes in October and November this year averaged at 10,200 cubic kilometres.

This figure is only slightly down on the 2013 average of 10,900 cubic kilometres, yet massively up on the 2011 low of 4,275 cubic kilometres and the 6,000 cubic kilometres recorded in 2012.

Dr Peiser, who believes the threat of global warming has been overstated by climate scientists, described this occurrence as "some kind of rebound" adding that no-one knows what will continue to happen to the poles.

He added: "This depends on whether or not we have further warming to come... and this is not certain.  "We do not know what the climate will be in 10, 20 years."

As well as melting ice, scientists have also been concerned about the population of the polar bears is rapidly decreasing.

But a previous report this summer by Dr Susan Crockford, an evolution biologist at the University of Victoria in Canada, suggested that the polars bears are actually a "conservation success story".

She told the GWPF that the current polar bear population is "well above" the official estimate of 20,000 to 25,000, and could be as high as 27,000 to 32,000.

Dr Peiser said: "People said the poles are melting, so therefore the polar bears will become extinct. They are actually doing very well."


Federal regulators say “Bah, Humbug!” to Christmas lights

Christmas lights have become so affordable that even the humblest of homes often are lit like the Star of Bethlehem. Federal bureaucrats are working to end this. They claim it will make us safer, but the facts don’t back them up.

It’s not uncommon to find strings of mini-lights priced at $1 for a hundred lights, sometimes even less. To cure this excessive affordability, the feds are rushing to save Americans from mass holiday displays. They seem to believe we all are like Clark Griswold, the bumbling father figure in National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation” (played by Chevy Chase), who nearly electrocutes himself, starts fires, falls off the roof and short-circuits power in his whole neighborhood as he tries to create a home display that would outdo Rockefeller Center.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has created an example of regulate first and explain why later. In October they proposed new regulations to outlaw strings of bulbs, lighted lawn figures and similar items that would be declared as hazardous. The red tape deals with certifying wire sizes, fuses, and tensile strength of all “seasonal decorative lighting products.”

This includes Christmas tree lights, lighted wreaths, menorahs, outdoor strands, lawn figures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, or Santa or Rudolph or Frosty the Snowman. Yes, Kwanzaa, too. CPSC is an equal opportunity Scrooge. The agency estimates that their proposed regulations will impact 100 million items per year with a market value of $500 million.

Of course, those items already are covered by safety regulations and also by industry standards and oversight. CPSC admits that 3.6-million unsafe lights were recalled under existing safeguards in place since 1974.

So what is CPSC’s justification for adding red tape to the red, green, blue, yellow, white and other colored displays? They report 250 deaths from fires or electrocutions by Christmas lights. That’s not 250 deaths per year; it’s 250 deaths since 1980. They had to add together 33 years of statistics to misportray danger.

That averages seven deaths per year in our country of about 320 million people. The worst single year, CPSC reports, had 13 deaths. But most (80 percent) of those deaths were back in the 1980s and 1990s. Since then, deaths have declined annually. In 2013, there was one single death attributed to fire or shock from Christmas lights. One. That also was the average from 2008 through 2013: One death per year. That compares with an average of 13 per year from 1980 through 1993. The number has been declining ever since, without needing burdensome new federal regulations.

CPSC attributes the decline to improved industry standards, as issued through Underwriters Laboratory, and to more fire-resistant home-building techniques.

CPSC is testing the bounds of the often-heard claim that “If it saves only one life, it’s worth it.” Do they believe that regulating 100 million holiday items, adding to their $500 million cost, will save one life per year? Or is the true problem not defective products but defective human behavior? No regulation can counteract stupidity; we all do dumb things at times. But fortunately, Clark Griswolds are rare.

Promoting common-sense in using lights and extension cords is a better approach than more regulations, but that would be counter to the Big Brother,  control-everything, build-the-bureaucracy tendencies of federal agencies. Indeed, CPSC publishes safety guides not only for Christmas lights but also for all other household use of electricity. An abundance of safety guides are available from numerous organizations.

CPSC would never admit it, but we’re free to speculate on the true motive: That this is part of the Obama administration’s effort to reduce our use of electricity, lest global warming set the Earth on fire.

Holiday lights are major users of electricity.

CPSC’s comment period closes on Dec. 30th and its proposed regulations could become effective a month later. So enjoy everybody’s Christmas lights this holiday season, while you can.


Gasoline Brings Families Together This Holiday Season

The holiday season is one of the most traveled times of the year in the United States, and this year, “more Americans will join with friends and family to celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year than ever before” states Marshall L. Doney of the American Automobile Association (AAA).

These happy reunions are made possible by vehicles that quickly, safety and inexpensively transport us across vast distances undeterred by inclement weather; vehicles powered by abundant and low-cost petroleum products such as jet fuel, diesel-distillate, and gasoline.

Some highlights from AAA’s 2014/2015 Year-End Travel Forecast:

Holiday travel is expected to total 98.6 million, an increase of four percent from the 94.8 million who traveled last year.
Travel volume for the year-end holidays will reach the highest peak recorded by AAA (since 2001).
Nearly 91 percent of all travelers (89.5 million) will celebrate the holidays with a road trip, an increase of 4.2 percent from 2013.
Air travel is forecast to grow one percent from 2013, with 5.7 million travelers taking to the skies.
Contrary to the claims of environmentalists that petroleum is an obsolete fuel that can and should be replaced by “green” energy, the fact that millions of Americans choose to fuel their vehicles with fossil fuels in order to visit loved ones suggests otherwise.

As we enter the holiday and make the choice to use petroleum to increase our happiness, let’s make an additional choice to honestly acknowledge and celebrate the fuel and the industry that makes this possible.


Still no global warming in Europe

Meteorologists Warn Of Blizzard Conditions, 30°C Temperature Plunge

So far it’s been a very mild winter across Central Europe. Just days ago, with temperatures in the double-digit Celsius range, meteorologists and media wrote off the possibility of a white Christmas. Gradually all the snow being a “thing of the past” talk was starting up.

Wrong again. So unpredictable can chaotic systems like weather and climate be.  Now Central Europeans are being told to brace for blizzard conditions, forecast to arrive this weekend. here reports that on Europe’s 2nd Christmas Day (December 26) snow will spread from the Alps and across southern Germany, and make its way through the east with temperatures dropping into the minus zones. By Saturday night readings will drop to as low as -6°C and snow will spread over the northwestern flatlands to the North Sea coast.

30°C temperature drop writes that significant snowfall is expected for Saturday with a thick blanket over many regions. “Winter will be setting an exclamation mark!” warns of blowing and “massive drifting snow” and of chaotic traffic conditions.

Temperatures will plummet to as low as -11°C, thanks to a low positioned over Italy pumping cold air from the East. By Tuesday, according to, readings will fall to as low as -18°C in East Germany, some 30°C below values measured just days ago.

In Fulda the temperature may drop to as low as -20°C on New Year’s Eve.

How long will the cold linger? Forecasts are showing it to persist into early January. This year the North Atlantic has been especially tempestuous and forecasts have been difficult to pinpoint more than 3 days out.

Long-range forecasts by the NCEP have been pointing to normal winter conditions for the January to March period. But judging by what Central Europe has seen so far, everything from spring-like to Arctic conditions are likely this winter. Once again, the North Atlantic dominates Europe’s weather.



Three current articles below

A Christmas malediction to the wind industry

The wind industry is finding it harder than ever to put its case – principally because – apart from fleecing power consumers – it doesn’t have one.

In its effort to keep the Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) alive and the massive wind industry subsidies flowing unchecked, the Clean Energy Council (CEC) has been pumping out a dozen press releases a day, which have become so shrill, incoherent and internally inconsistent as to be nothing short of ridiculous.

2GB’s Alan Jones has been solidly belting the wind industry since the National Rally in June 2103 – reaching around 2 million Australian voters every week-day through 77 stations around the Country.

Plenty of mainstream journos have picked up on the debacle that is Australian energy policy today: joining the growing National and International backlash against the greatest economic and environmental fraud ever committed.

2014 has been a turning point in the battle to bring the great wind power fraud to a screaming halt.

European governments have run-out of patience with the eternal promises that the wind industry will grow-up soon, and no longer need a massive pile of taxpayer/power consumer subsidies. The tap has been turned off in Spain, the Brits are putting a lid on the subsidies for new projects and the Germans have chopped “welfare-for-wind” by 25% – all in the name of trying to cut spiralling power costs and keep their struggling economies afloat.

The wind industry’s subsidy fuelled mission to cover every last corner of Australia in giant fans is in melt down.

There are a handful still being speared into a couple of spots around the Country (Bald Hills and Cape Bridgewater in Victoria; Boco Rock, NSW), but the hucksters and frauds that are seeking to pocket $50 billion in REC Tax/Subsidies at power consumers’ expense are watching their plans for fans crumble before their beady, greedy little eyes.

Power retailers haven’t signed any power purchase agreements (PPAs) with wind power outfits for over 2 years – without which wind power outfits will never get the finance to plant another turbine: FULL STOP.

STT hears from insiders that – whatever happens to the LRET during the life of this Federal government – retailers are not going to enter PPAs; the banks are not going to lend for any new projects; and the banks that have lent, are all looking to call in their loans as and when the terms of their current lending facilities expire (the bulk of them expire in 2015/2016).

After which, wind power outfits will need to refinance on terms reflecting the very real RISK that the LRET will either be scaled back, scrapped, or inevitably collapse, at some point in the near future – as the completely unsustainable economic debacle that it is. That means either substantially higher rates or no-finance at all.

This will hopefully be the last Christmas celebrated by our favourite whipping boys at the near-bankrupt wind power outfit Infigen (aka Babcock and Brown): its losses continue to pile up, it’s bleeding cash, its share price is rocketing South and its mountain of debt is fast-becoming insurmountable. In a strange way, we’ll be sorry to see them go. But – rest assured – we’ll be amongst the first to let you know when they do.


Millions wiped out in "clean" energy failure

ONE of Australia’s highest profile clean energy companies has been placed in liquidation, wiping out at least $10 million in public grants and tax breaks and exposing its intellectual property to an offshore raid.

Wave energy developer Ocean­linx went into liquidation last week after a marine accident off the South Australian coast in March torpedoed plans for a wave energy generator designed to power 1000 houses.

The cost to investors after the demise of the clean ­energy company could be much more than $80 million.

Company chairman Tibor Vertes yesterday slammed liquidator Deloitte Australia, accusing it of failing to properly assess his bid to keep the Oceanlinx name afloat by protecting the intellectual property underpinning it.

Mr Vertes will take action in the Federal Court next month to pursue Deloitte and others in an attempt to protect intellectual property, but he believes a rival bid values that intellectual property at vastly less, and expects that the technology will be lost to Australia.

“It’s money out of the country,’’ Mr Vertes said . “It’s finished, it’s over.’’

Oceanlinx had built several prototypes of wave energy units, including three off the NSW coast and had planned to expand to substantially bigger markets in the US, Europe and Asia. At its peak, the firm had been listed by the UN as one of the top 10 clean-energy stocks in the world.

The latest reinforced concrete prototype weighed about 3000 tonnes and was designed to sit on the sea floor, transferring the electricity via cable to the electricity grid.

The company went pear-shaped when plans for a groundbreaking generator failed after it sank off South Australia while being transported.

Mr Vertes has accused the then administrators of failing to maximise the chances of Oceanlinx remaining alive, claiming that too little time had been granted to enable his interests to bid successfully for the remnants of Oceanlinx.

The preferred bidder is a company known as Wave Energy ­Renewable.

Mr Vertes’s lawyers argue that officials should ensure all bids are properly considered. Deloitte did not respond yesterday.

Earlier this month, however, lawyer Dominic Calabria defended the handling of the administration. “Our clients ... have advertised the sale of the assets of the company, fielded countless expressions of interest and conducted negotiations with a number of parties over an extended period of time,’’ Mr Calabria wrote.


South Australia: Payments slashed for solar homes that feed electricity into grid

THE once-generous payments householders received for their solar power will be scaled back to a 5.3c per kilowatt hour from the start of next year.  This equates to a return of about $540 per year from a 6kW system which is large enough to power most homes.

But if you installed the same sized system before October 2011 you would potentially be pulling in $4836 per year.  Those payments will continue until June 30, 2028.

The retailer feed-in tariff, which must be paid by your energy provider, was set at 7.6c/kWh last year but fell to 6c once the carbon price was removed.

The Essential Services Commission of South Australia has further reduced it to 5.3c/kWh because it “reflects the forecast wholesale market value of photovoltaic (solar) electricity in the coming year’’.

“The proposed value is lower than the 2014 retailer feed-in tariff of 6.0 cents/kWh, due to the lower forecast wholesale market price of electricity,’’ ESCOSA says.

Individual energy retailers can elect to pay householders more for their power.

The original 44c/kWh feed-in tariff was taken up by more than 100,000 householders before it was closed by the Government in September 2011, and reduced to 16c/kWh. Householders who receive these payments are also eligible for the 5.3c payment which is paid by energy retailers.

Those who signed up before the cut-off receive the higher tariff until the scheme expires in 2028, costing an estimated $1.425 billion — an amount recovered through fees charged to all electricity customers.

The initially generous scheme was designed to foster the growth of the solar industry.

Solar panel prices have plummeted since then, with larger systems much more affordable now.



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.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here