Thursday, January 15, 2015

Will climate change give you worms? Study shows that parasites could become more common as temperature and sea levels rise

What's this about it being warmer 9,600 years ago?  Did they have SUVs and power stations then?

Parasitic flatworms that can cause liver and blood diseases in humans could become more common as global temperatures rise, according to a new study.

Palaeobiologists at the University of Missouri have found evidence in ancient shellfish fossils from around 9,600 years ago of high levels of parasite infestations.

These trematode flatworms spend part of their life cycle in molluscs like clams, snails and mussels before then infecting fish, and later fish-eating birds and mammals.

The scientists found that during the Holocene, when temperatures were about 2.5°C warmer than they are today and sea levels were higher, molluscs suffered from far greater levels of infection.


Botched environmental predictions for 2015

You’ve heard the warnings: Global warming could doom humanity. Overpopulation and deforestation will destroy the planet. We’re going to run out of energy.

It isn’t happening right now, experts say, but it could happen in a few decades.

Yet, decades ago, experts warned that many catastrophes would happen now – by the year 2015. Yet they have not. found five predictions that went astray.

1) UN overestimated global warming by 2015

Two decades ago, the UN came up with several models that all predicted that by 2015, the Earth would have warmed by at least a degree Fahrenheit. Yet in the last two decades, there has instead been virtually no warming according to satellite temperature measurements.

Most climate scientists say this is just a temporary pause and that warming will soon pick up again, though some say they now expect to see less warming in the future due to the pause.

2) All Rainforest Species Will Be Extinct

Dr. Paul Ehrlich, the President of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, got famous for his 1968 book “the Population Bomb” which predicted that increasing human populations would spell doom.

One part of that doom, he warned in his 1981 book “Extinction,” was that all rainforest species would likely soon go extinct due to environmental destruction.

“Half of the populations and species in tropical moist forests would be extinct early in the next century [the 2000s] and none would be left by 2025,” he warns on page 291. He added that that his model indicated that, on the upper bound, complete extinction would occur as soon as 2010.

Elsewhere in the book, he also wrote that his model’s assumptions were “more realistic” than those typically used and that “unless appropriate steps are taken soon… humanity faces a catastrophe fully as serious as an all-out thermonuclear war.”

Ehrlich did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning.

3) Oil will run out by 2015

A Pennsylvania state government “Student and Teacher Guide” reads: “Some estimates of the oil reserves suggest that by the year 2015 we will have used all of our accessible oil supply.”

Yet the Earth still has oil: at least 1.6 trillion gallons of proven reserves, according to the Energy Information Administration, a US government agency. In fact, proven reserves have more than doubled over the last couple decades, as technological innovation made more oil accessible.

The guide is on the website of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Department spokesman Eric Shirk told that the prediction was “obviously wrong” but added that the guide mostly consists of practical information on how to recycle oil that is still current.

4) Arctic sea ice will disappear by 2015.

“Peter Wadhams, who heads the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge… believes that the Arctic is likely to become ice-free before 2020 and possibly as early as 2015,” Yale Environment 360 reported in 2012.

Yet government data shows that arctic sea ice has increased since then. At its lowest point during 2014, sea ice covered about 1.7 million square miles -- an area nearly half the size of the United States.

Wadhams did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning.

Update: Wadhams responded Friday and said he stands by his prediction that Arctic ice will have disappeared between 2015 and 2020.

“The observed trend of ice volume in the summer Arctic is strongly negative, and leads to a high probability that there will be an ice-free September by or before 2020,” he said, adding that the recent increase would likely be temporary.

“The volume is subject to random weather-based fluctuations which may cause a temporary rally, as has happened in 2013 and 2014."

5) Looking to the future: A billion people could die from climate change by 2020

Dr. John Holdren, who currently serves as the White House Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, made dire predictions about global warming in the 1980s.

Paul Ehrlich cites Holdren in his 1987 book “The Machinery of Nature”, noting that: “As University of California physicist John Holdren has said, it is possible that carbon dioxide climate-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020.”

Holdren told that he does not view that as a prediction.

“As accurately reflected in the quoted passage, my statement in the 1980s about potential impacts of climate change on food production by 2020 was not a ‘prediction’ or a ‘forecast.’ It was, precisely, a statement about what ‘is possible,’ ” he wrote in an email to

There are also still five more years left for the scenario to occur.

“It is a bit too soon, on the eve of 2015, to make any firm pronouncements about what will or will not happen by 2020,” Holdren wrote.

He added that new regulations are the best way to avoid catastrophe.

“I very much hope, of course, that nothing as dire as a famine killing a billion people will happen as a result of climate change by 2020, or ever. But the prospects for permanently avoiding such an outcome… will be greatly improved if this country follows through on the sensible measures in the President's Climate Action Plan,” he wrote.


US Senate moves on Keystone despite veto threat

Senate Republicans steered legislation to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline toward an initial test vote on Monday, intent on forcing a quick veto showdown with President Barack Obama over the long-stalled project.

The measure has sparked intense debate over the Canada-to-Texas pipeline's potential impact on employment and the environment, yet there was little or no doubt that it would overcome Monday's hurdle. Republicans said they hoped it could win final approval and be sent to the White House by the end of next week.

"President Obama has every reason to sign the jobs and infrastructure bill that we will pass," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky. He noted that the Nebraska Supreme Court had recently rejected a legal challenge brought by opponents, an obstacle the White House had cited.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, made the case for the opposition. He said that if constructed, the pipeline would carry "some of the dirtiest, most dangerous and most polluting oil in the world." He called the project "anti-clear water, anti-clear air, anti-public health."

The proposed 1,179-mile pipeline would begin in Canada, enter the United States at Morgan, Montana, cut across South Dakota and connect with an existing pipeline in Steele City, Neb., that, in turn, reaches refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. It would carry an estimated 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

The White House has repeatedly threatened a veto, and if Obama follows through, it will become the first of what are expected to be numerous clashes with the Republican majorities now in control of both houses of Congress.

The House passed pipeline legislation last week, as it often has in recent years. This time, for the first time since the project was proposed six years ago, the Senate is in Republican hands and the legislation commands enough bipartisan support to assure its approval -- if not enough to override a veto.

By bringing the legislation to a vote one week after taking over the Senate majority, Republicans hope to achieve two goals at once.

Passing the measure is the first, and ushering in a new era of open Senate debate with the opportunity for lawmakers to seek votes on proposed changes is the second.

"It's the latest example of Congress getting back to work under a new Republican majority," said McConnell, in a jab at Democrats who have generally blocked votes on amendments over the past few years.

Democrats said they welcomed that, and some readied proposed changes that would try and put Republicans on record concerning climate change.

The pipeline project has unanimous support from Republicans in Congress, but it divides Democrats. Environmentalists generally oppose the legislation, while several unions support it for the jobs it would create.

In fact, there was significant debate over both the proposed project's impact on the environment and on the economy.

An environmental impact statement prepared by the State Department estimated that construction spending "would support a combined total of approximately 42,100 jobs throughout the United States for the up to 2-year construction period."

It added that not all the employment would be newly created, though. It said some of the jobs would be "continuity of existing jobs in current or new locations," a distinction often overlooked by the bill's supporters.

Once the proposed project opens, it will require "approximately 50 total employees in the United States: 35 permanent employees and 15 temporary contractors," the State Department estimated.

The project would have a bewildering range of possible impacts on the environment. They range from the effect on the Great Plains Aquifer under southern Nebraska to the fate of the American Burying Beetle, one of 14 species that could be affected that are proposed or currently receiving protection.

The review also said other options for extracting the oil and moving it toward refineries by rail or tanker ship would have a worse impact on climate change, in some cases far worse.


Rejecting Keystone XL Pipeline Will Backfire on Democrats

With the holidays over, the stage is set for the Keystone XL pipeline to be the first political battle of 2015, pitting the lame duck President Obama against the new Republican-led Congress.

The political posturing over approval of the pipeline that would bring oil sand crude oil from Canada to refineries in Gulf Coast states began shortly after the midterm elections.

During his end of the year press conference last month, Obama downplayed the economic benefits of construction of the pipeline saying it would not benefit consumers at the gas pump and job creation would be limited to a few thousand temporary construction jobs and some additional employment in the refinery industry.

Obama followed those comments by saying in an interview with NPR that he would use his veto power to block the Congressional bills that threaten his accomplishments in areas including the environment.

As new members of Congress were being sworn into office, word came from the White House that Obama would not sign a bill approving the pipeline.

Meanwhile, the new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), promised to put a vote on the Keystone pipeline on the fast track. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee had scheduled a hearing on the Keystone approval bill on January 7 but the hearing was blocked and by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).

Despite the last minute gymnastics by anti-fossil fuel Democrats, a bill approving the pipeline will pass Congress but be met with an Obama veto.

The truth is Obama never had any intention to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

Obama’s obsession with his climate change agenda and the money flowing from radical environmentalists such as billionaire Tom Steyer to Democrats will serve as motivation to use his veto pen.

Additionally, Obama’s arrogance would not allow him to yield to the first bill coming from the Republican led Congress.

Republicans should seize on the veto by Obama as an opportunity to educate the public, especially middle class voters, on the consequences of the president’s climate change agenda.

Properly positioned and communicated, the new Congress can expose how climate change regulations benefit billionaire elites while harming the lower and middle class Americans.

In fact, the economic consequences of Obama’s energy policy offers an amazing opportunity to reach traditional Democrat voters including labor union members and blacks.

Labor unions support construction of the pipeline. Last month James Hoffa, President of the International Teamsters Union wrote a commentary in the Detroit News urging Michigan’s elected officials to support construction of the pipeline.

According to Hoffa, construction of the Keynote pipeline would result in about a $3.4 billion boost to the country’s gross national product and approximately a total of 42,100 jobs including construction and supplier jobs.

The Laborers’ International Union of America (LIUNA) also supports the Keystone pipeline. LIUNA President Terry O’Sullivan has criticized Obama for ignoring the indirect economic benefits of the pipeline that would occur from communities that would support the construction project.

By rejecting Keystone, Obama would be siding with the environmental lobby over union jobs, inviting a union backlash.

Keep in mind that voter reaction in Kentucky and West Virginia to Obama’s war on coal, which cost thousands of coal miner jobs, helped elect Republicans in those coal dependent states to the Senate.

Republicans must also communicate the adverse economic impact of EPA regulations that reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Higher energy costs from climate change regulations preferentially harms lower income families.

A study by Dr. Wayne Winegarden from the Pacific Research Institute on EPA’s proposed Clean Power rule in Ohio shows the greatest burden of increased electricity costs falls on black households. While higher income families in Ohio would pay 1.1 percent of their yearly spending on electricity, the average black household would spend 5.8 percent.

Lower income black households could spend a much greater amount with some spending more than 20 percent of their household income on electricity. Such outrageous utility bill increases would drive more black families to government dependency.

As the last election shows Obama’s policies harmed the Democrat brand with voters. By using his veto pen against the Keystone pipeline Obama could cause labor union members and blacks to break away from the traditional Democrat coalition.


Atheists and the Pope: Climate Ideology Unites the Left

            Pope Francis is wading into the "climate" debate. And while his language poses as spiritual, the subject and his approach are purely secular. He is thus subject to the same kind of analysis as would be rendered on the pronouncements of any other pundit in the political arena. Indeed, the Pope's argument is even less about the pseudo-science of "global warming" (or, as this has become a suspect claim, "climate change") than is common among other sectors of the Left. He embraces explicitly the socialist roots of the environmental movement which was spawned from the New Left agitation of the 1960's. This should not be surprising since the Argentine Pontiff is the product of a Latin American Catholicism that has been corrupted by "liberation theology", an explicit attempt to give Marxism the cover of a religion its atheist theorists reject.

            In October, Pope Francis denounced, "An economic system centered on the god of money [that] needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it." He told the diplomatic corps a year ago:

"I wish to mention another threat to peace, which arises from the greedy exploitation of environmental resources. Even if ‘nature is at our disposition', all too often we do not respect it or consider it a gracious gift which we must care for and set at the service of our brothers and sisters, including future generations." And at an audience in May, his words were even more an expression of socialist themes, "Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few."

            Consider the similarity with a recent screed by the hate-filled Naomi Klein in the left-wing monthly In These Times. Her title: "Can Climate Change Unite the Left? To Avoid Catastrophe, We Must Seize Corporate Polluter's Wealth." The article is illustrated with a photo of Green protesters waving signs that read "Flood Wall Street" and "Capitalism Versus Climate." Green has truly become the new Red. Klein opens her article recounting a presentation from Brad Werner, a geophysicist at the University of California, San Diego whom she notes has pink hair. Werner mixes his computer model of climate change with a call for "environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous people, workers, anarchists and other activist groups." The target of this violent movement is not just capitalism, but the entire modern civilization of the West which has built the society with the highest standard of living.

            The practical failure of socialism is that it cannot produce economic growth. Two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia still cannot manufacture anything the world market wants. It has a classic third world economy based on the export of oil, gas and raw materials. Mikhail Gorbachev tried to initiate reforms to increase output and efficiency, but the communist system could not adapt; it collapsed. The People's Republic of China has abandoned communism in all but name in favor of a mix of state and private capitalism to avoid the Soviet fate.

            In Europe, democratic socialism failed in the United Kingdom and Sweden. French Socialist President Francois Hollande has purged the more extreme members of his party to push through a modest "pro-business" agenda in an attempt to revive a stagnant economy. And, most galling to the Left, was the Reagan Revolution which sparked a boom that in a single generation (1980-2010) increased American real GDP per capita by some 70 percent.

            So the Left's counter is to make capitalism's strength into a liability by denouncing economic progress as a danger to "the planet." As Green protesters put it, "global warming is a result of an economic system that is based on endless extraction, endless growth, and ceaseless exploitation of the earth and people." The Left's argument is that the by-products of growth are worse than the benefits of growth; and that those who champion material progress are "selfish and greedy."

            The Green movement was born from the New Left agitation during the 1960's. The first attempt to turn young people away from materialism failed miserably. Hippie communes and alternate lifestyles sitting in the mud had very limited appeal. Indeed, the "flower power" generation became the most affluent and acquisitive in history. And their tech-obsessed children are even more dependent on massive energy consumption.

            If people could not be convinced to adopt less abundant lives, the choice would have to be imposed on them. So the next ploy was to argue that there were "limits to growth" based on finite resources. It didn't matter how much progress was desired, it could not be attained. Papers, conferences, and expert testimony bolstered the case for the rapid exhaustion of nature's bounty, especially fossil fuel sources. That campaign of false science was dispelled not by debaters but by innovators. The Greens are now trying to put the cap on the new flood of oil and gas from fracking, as they did earlier on the expansion of "inexhaustible" nuclear power, and continue to do with the "war on (abundant) coal." The strategy now is to create artificial shortages since real shortages never occurred. Harking back to earlier failed arguments, Klein claimed we must live "within planetary boundaries, ones based on intricate reciprocal relationships rather than brute extraction."

            This is why the Keystone XL Pipeline has taken on such symbolic importance. It draws the line between those who favor continued economic growth, prosperity and abundant living against those who want to turn back the clock to a lower level of civilization where (artificial) shortages have to be managed by socialists to assure "fairness." As Naomi Klein put it in her article, "After all, changing the building blocks of our societies---the energy that powers our economies, how we move around, the designs of our major cities--- is not about writing a few checks. It requires bold long-term planning at every level of government." She proposes an array of taxes, not just on carbon emissions, but on financial transactions and income because she argues that wealth is related directly to pollution, so the rich should pay to fix the problem.

            This is the agenda at the United Nations where not just affluent individuals and profitable corporations are to be punished, but entire "rich" societies. In September, Pope Francis will address the UN General Assembly to promote the drafting of a new treaty to be adopted at the December 2015 international Climate Change Conference in Paris. Like the previous Kyoto Accord, the new agreement is to be based on punitive mandates on the "developed" countries to force them to cut back their economic activity while the "developing" countries (including China) will remain free to advance as full speed. This line brings together the "anti-imperialist" and socialist creeds of the Left. Whether at home or abroad, the Left considers success a badge of dishonor in the West.

            The United States rejected Kyoto because it was based on an inequality of obligation. President Obama kept to this policy in his first term, but has now accepted the UN framework. Point two of the US-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change issued in November states, "They are committed to reaching an ambitious 2015 agreement that reflects the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances." Those differences mean that the West is to blame for everything; an allegation to which Vice President Joe Biden pled guilty when he addressed the 2014 UN climate conference last month in Lima, Peru.

            The Catholic Church has been a pillar of Western civilization, and its savior on numerous occasions. It is thus alarming when Pope Francis promotes a political line that strikes at the very core of Western success and which would lead to systemic decline if the policies being proposed from the Green ideology were to be implemented. The Left has used "the planet" and now the Pope has introduced "Creation" as a supposed trump card to overcome centuries of the Left's defeat in philosophical debate and real world experience. Nothing short of a rejection of the Left's gambit as illegitimate in every detail can save us from the true catastrophe of a diminished future.


What Terrorism? Kerry Still Obsessing Over 'Climate Change'

While the attention of much of the world Sunday was focused on the massive unity rally in France in response to the recent terror attacks in that country, Secretary of State John Kerry was in India for a "global business" summit where he spoke of, among other concerns, the "one enormous cloud hanging over all of us which requires responsibility from leaders. Global climate change." Kerry said that climate change is "violently affecting communities" worldwide, but that the silver lining in his view is that responding to climate change offers an "unprecedented number of plusses, and frankly, almost no downside." His full remarks on the subject came during his speech at the opening ceremony of the summit

"I am convinced, as we look to the relationship of the future though, just as Ban Ki-moon mentioned a few minutes ago, there is one enormous cloud hanging over all of us which requires responsibility from leaders. Global climate change is already violently affecting communities not just across India but around the world. It is disrupting commerce, development, and economic growth. It’s costing farmers crops. It’s costing insurance companies unbelievable payouts. It’s raising the cost of doing business, and believe me, if it continues down the current trend-line, we will see climate refugees fighting each other for water and seeking food and new opportunity.

So this is a relationship between India and the United States where we believe very deeply that we could turn sustainable economic growth opportunities into a prosperity we have ever seen before. And it means one very [simple] thing: Unlike many problems in public life where you struggle sometimes between the plusses and minuses of a particular choice you make – and leaders here all know and business leaders all know what I’m talking about – the choices of climate change offer an unprecedented number of plusses, and frankly, almost no downside. If we make the choices that are staring us in the face, the fact is that a solution to climate change is already here. It’s called energy policy. Sustainable energy policy. And in a sustainable energy policy comes a whole set of benefits to our economy, something many countries of the world are screaming for today."

While the bulk of Kerry's talk centered on economic and business issues, he did pay tribute to the rally in France:

"We may all come from different walks of life, but we stand together this morning with the people of France as they march in tribute to the victims of last week’s murderous attack on the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. And we stand together not just in anger and outrage, but in solidarity and commitment to the cause of confronting extremism and in the cause that extremists fear so much and that has always united our countries – freedom. We stand together in freedom and together we make it clear that no act of terror will ever stop the march of freedom."



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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