Thursday, February 05, 2015

'Green' questionnaire allegedly helps predict how consumers buy environmentally friendly products

A remarkably naive piece of attitude research below.  The researchers have taken no account of acquiescent bias, social desirability bias or social class bias.  They are psychometrically illiterate.  What their finding imply, if anything, is that Green acolytes are mostly middle class and therefore tend to exhibit other middle class charateristics.   Another howler from  Excerpt below

How do consumers decide when faced with the option of buying a traditional product or a competing product that is marketed as 'green?'  Penn State Smeal College of Business faculty member Karen Winterich and her colleagues set out to develop a scale of 'green consumption values'

The define "green " as the tendency of to express the value of environmental protection through the goods and services they purchase. To measure those values, researchers developed a six-item measure they call the GREEN scale, consisting of the following statements:

  • It is important to me that the products I use do not harm the environment.
  • I consider the potential environmental impact of my actions when making many of my decisions.
  • My purchase habits are affected by my concern for the environment.
  • I am concerned about wasting the resources of our planet.
  • I would describe myself as environmentally responsible.
  • I am willing to be inconvenienced in order to take actions that are more .

"Our primary goal is to develop a concise measure of exclusively green consumption values, as opposed to broader attitudes toward socially responsible behavior or environmental consciousness," the researchers wrote in an article to be published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

In applying the GREEN scale across a series of six studies, the researchers also found that green consumption values tend to exist within a larger network of ideas and beliefs about conservation.

"We demonstrate that green consumption values are strongly related to the careful use of not just collective, environmental resources, but also personal resources," the researchers wrote. "That is, both the tendency to use financial resources wisely . and the tendency to use physical resources wisely . are positively correlated with green consumption values."

In other words, consumers that value green consumption also tend to value financial savings and reuse and repurpose goods rather than quickly disposing of them. Consumers with this set of values may experience some conflict if environmentally friendly products are more expensive or less effective than their traditional counterparts. How do consumers resolve this?


Syriza is a Greenie party

The victory of the left-wing coalition party, Syriza, in this weekend’s Greek elections has been accompanied by a whole heap of hype. And not just of the desperate Europhilic, hell-in-a-handcart variety. Many also seem to think that the triumph of Alexis Tsipras and Syriza represents, to use the BBC’s words, ‘an anti-austerity revolution’. Others talk excitedly and obscurely of ‘building a successful transformative movement’, or,  more bluntly, that ‘a Syriza government could spur on other anti-austerity forces across the continent’.

The hope invested in Syriza, especially by those lazily chomping at the anti-capitalist bit outside of Greece, has been striking. Syriza has been turned into the vanguard of anti-austerity resistance, a movement seemingly capable of pointing the way to a more prosperous, possibly even abundant future. And yet there is nothing in the reality of Syriza that justifies this massive investment of hope and hype. More importantly, there is nothing in the reality of Syriza to suggest that it can really challenge the consensus on austerity.

In fact, everything suggests that Syriza is interested in little more than a less severe version of the austerity regime imposed on Greece for the past six years by the so-called Troika: the European Union, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB). As a Syriza spokesman told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this week, ‘there has been a lot of posturing on all sides’. He then sought to reassure other European states that Greece under Syriza was not looking to do anything too radical, like leave the Eurozone: ‘A Grexit is not on the cards.’ He was echoing the recent mollifying words of Tsipras himself: ‘Our goal is to reach a new agreement - within the Eurozone - that would allow the Greek people to breathe… and to live in dignity by restoring debt sustainability and finding a way out of recession through financing growth.’

In fact, what Syriza is promising to do doesn’t much sound like ‘an anti-austerity revolution’ at all. It wants to rearrange the terms of the debt repayments, and, simultaneously, increase public spending to alleviate the ‘humanitarian crisis’ - which consists of a one-in-four unemployment rate and a steep decline in living standards. Channel 4 News’ Paul Mason described Syriza’s offering as ‘a Keynesian fiscal union with a high welfare state’. Little wonder Syriza’s embittered former leader, Alekos Alavanos, said that while Syriza ‘has radical left origins, [it is] now a moderate party’.

But there’s a deeper problem with Syriza than the disparity between its anti-austerity posturing and the moderation of its actual policies and approach: Syriza is not only unwilling really to challenge austerity; it is ideologically and intellectually incapable of really challenging austerity. It is infused with the very same anti-growth sentiments, the very same scepticism towards material progress, that underpins the idea of austerity. In its core, Syriza supports the project of ensuring that humanity lives within its environmentally and economically limited means.

This should not be a surprise. Syriza’s dominant party faction, Synaspismos, may have its origins in the Greek Communist left, but its current incarnation owes just as much to its embrace of the No Logo anti-capitalism, anti-globalisation moment of the late 1990s and early 2000s. As a young Synaspismos member, Tsipras was particularly taken with the anti-G8 protests in Genoa in 2001. ‘He saw that this was the future of the left’, a comrade told the Financial Times. Three years later, Syriza was formed from the dregs of the anti-globalisation semi-surge, bringing Synaspismos together with assorted anti-capitalist and ecological grouplets.

As such, Syriza, right from the start, was a product of the crisis of the left, of the left’s willingness, in the absence of the old socialist and Communist verities, to embrace the anti-progress, anti-modernity narrative of environmentalism. After all, went the thinking, at least it was anti-capitalist - it’s just that it was also rather anti-human and anti-aspiration, too. In fact, the problem for the anti-globalisation brigade was not so much capitalism — it was human society’s tendency to seek to improve its lot, always producing and consuming more, always transcending extant limits, always developing.

So keen was Synaspismos to shed its attachment to old-left dreams of material abundance that, in 2003, it changed its name from Coalition of the Left and Progress to Coalition of the Left and Ecology. The replacement of ‘progress’ with ‘ecology’ has been writ large in Syriza’s pronouncements ever since. It is antagonistic towards both nuclear power and to what it calls the ‘over-exploitation of natural resources promoted by neoliberal expansionism’. It says that ‘natural resources are under attack everywhere’. And it promises to ‘create decent jobs, distribute the wealth produced more fairly, and respect the environment’. Just this month, Tsipras outlined his vision in the Spanish newspaper El Pais: ‘From the darkness of austerity and of authoritarianism, into the light of democracy, of solidarity and of sustainable development.’

So, yes, Syriza may at points sound like it is challenging the mainstream political-elite consensus on the need for austerity. But dig a little deeper, and a far more familiar, conformist political beast emerges, one that is as committed to cutting back on people’s use of resources and consumption habits as the most green-gilled of contemporary miserablists. This is no recipe for anti-austerity — it’s an endorsement of its underlying ingredients, from growth scepticism to an acceptance that humanity is approaching the end of the line and that nature is about to limit our aspirations.

Seven years on from the financial crash, seven years in which Western economies have receded and stagnated, and the left is still no closer to coming up with a proper challenge to austerity. For that, we need some future-oriented verve, a commitment to risk-taking and some ballsy disrespecting of the environment and natural limits. One thing is for sure: Syriza is not it.


Obama’s Prediction of a Million Electric Cars on Road By 2015 Off By 72%

In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama predicted that the U.S. would have “a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.”

The president backed up his prediction with $2.4 billion in federal grants to companies producing lithium-ion batteries for plug-in cars.

But reality hasn’t even come close.

Despite massive federal spending on electric vehicles, which is expected to total $7.9 billion through 2019, there are currently just 286,390 plug-in vehicles on the nation’s roads today, according to the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA).

That’s 72 percent lower than the million electric vehicles the president predicted four years ago. And with gasoline prices now averaging $2.06 per gallon, the lowest they’ve been since April 2009, that percentage is not likely to change any time soon.

Despite steep discounts, manufacturers’ rebates, federal and state tax credits, and even special utility rates in some areas, plug-in electric vehicles accounted for just 3.5 percent of the more than 16.4 million light vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2014, according to EDTA.

Most of the 118,773 plug-in electric vehicles sold in the U.S. last year were in California, which has one of the strictest emissions standards in the nation, but which also provides state rebates up to $2,500 for all-electric vehicles and $1,500 for gas/electric hybrids, EDTA reported.

With the exception of the all-electric Tesla Model S, which lost market share, total sales of electric plug-in vehicles increased 35 percent last year. But they were eclipsed tenfold by just the three top-selling combustible engine vehicles in America – all pickup trucks – which alone accounted for 1.7 million in sales in 2014.

Ford’s F-Series pickup retained its position as the most popular vehicle in America with 753,851 sold nationwide, according to national sales figures compiled by Good Car Bad Car. Chevrolet’s Silverado pickup came in second with 529,755 sold last year. The Dodge Ram pickup was third with 439,789 vehicles sold last year.

In contrast, the three top-selling electric plug-in models were the Nissan Leaf (30,200 sold), the Chevrolet Volt (18,805 sold) and the Toyota Prius HPV (13,264 sold). By this time, General Motors was supposed to be selling 120,000 Volts annually and Nissan 100,000 plug-in Leafs, according to a 2011 DOE report.

The higher initial cost of an all-electric vehicle is one reason they are so unattractive to consumers.

The Associated Press calculated that even with a 16 percent sticker price discount and a $7,500 federal tax credit, “it would take five years to pay off the difference in price” between an electric Ford Focus and the popular gas-powered model.

The other major obstacle is driving range. The all-electric Focus has a maximum driving range of just 76 miles on a full battery and few electric cars can go more than a hundred miles before needing to be recharged.

Although Obama backed up his prediction four years ago with $2.4 billion in federal grants to companies producing lithium-ion batteries to power electric cars, there has been no major breakthroughs that make them economically competitive with gas- and diesel-fueled vehicles, which have become far more fuel-efficient in the meantime.

In fact, with new advances being made in the internal combustion engine, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles will still make up 95 percent of all light duty vehicles sold in 2040.

“Taking the infrastructure we have, using engines we understand with no new costs—that is where we are going in the next 15 years and what is going to compete really effectively with electrics,” said Don Hillebrand, head of the advanced combustion unit at the federally-funded Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Ill.

Earlier this month, Energy Sec. Ernest Moniz announced another $55 million program to “develop and deploy cutting-edge vehicle technologies that strengthen the economy,” according to the Department of Energy (DOE).

The money will be spent on research “that aim to reduce the price and improve the efficiency of plug-in electric, alternative fuel, and conventional vehicles,” including “advanced batteries” and “lightweight materials.”

But there will also be funding for “advanced combustion engines” and vehicles that run on natural gas instead of petroleum, Moniz said.


In major shift, Obama administration will plan for rising seas in all federal projects

Yet another regulatory cost burden

President Obama issued an executive order Friday directing federal agencies to adopt stricter building and siting standards to reflect scientific projections that future flooding will be more frequent and intense due to climate change.

The order represents a major shift for the federal government: while the Federal Emergency Management Administration published a memo three years ago saying it would take global warming into account when preparing for more severe storms, most agencies continue to rely on historic data rather than future projections for building projects.

The new standard gives agencies three options for establishing the flood elevation and hazard area they use in siting, design and construction of federal projects. They can use data and methods “informed by best-available, actionable climate science”; build two feet above the 100-year flood elevation for standard projects and three feet above for critical buildings such as hospitals and evacuation centers; or build to the 500-year flood elevation.

The White House move comes just days after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a massive post-Sandy report examining flood risks for 31,200 miles of the North Atlantic coast. The research explicitly took sea level rise induced by climate change into account, and finds that “Flood risk is increasing for coastal populations and supporting infrastructure.”

Last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted coastal areas will face 30 or more days of flooding by mid-century due to sea level rise. According to the National Climate Assessment, more than $1 trillion of property and structures in the United States are at risk of inundation from sea level rise of two feet above current sea level — an elevation that could be reached by that same point.

Despite these threats. Americans continue to flock to the coasts: more than half the U.S. population lives in coastal counties, according to administration officials.

Jerry Howard, president and CEO of the National Association of Home Builders said in a statement that his industry recognizes “the need to prepare for and build more resilient buildings and communities” but new buildings already accommodate concerns over sea level rise.

“As a result, any new initiatives should address improving older homes, structures and infrastructure that are less resilient to flooding and other natural disasters,” Howard said. “Further, any reforms must preserve the strong partnership between state and local governments so that they, not the federal government, retains primary authority over land use decisions.”

While global warming is a contested political issue in Washington, many state and local governments — more than 350 — have already adopted flood standards along the lines of what the Obama administration is now requiring.

Perdido Beach, Ala., a small waterfront community of 581 people, adopted an ordinance in 2010 requiring any new construction be built three feet above the 100-year flood elevation for standard project. The town’s mayor, Patsy Parker, said in an interview that in April the town experienced its worst deluge of rain in a century — 25 inches within two days — which caused major damage.

“It was more severe than any of us in this area, in this county, have seen in our lifetimes,” Parker said, adding there has been no opposition to the stricter requirements. “We know these events are going to come, and we want to be prepared for them.”

Within the D.C. region, two counties–Ocean City, Md. and Stafford County, Va.–already require standard projects be built built three feet above the 100-year flood elevation. Nine counties in Maryland and Virginia demand they be built two feet above that height, and D.C. requires projects are built 1.5 feet above that level.

Building to the stricter federal standards will add between 0.25 percent and 1.25 percent to the cost of construction, senior administration officials said. In the long run the move could save taxpayers money, they said, because it could significantly cut the nation’s recovery costs.

In an interview, Georgetown Climate Center executive director Vicki Arroyo called the new policy “a positive step towards being more prepared for the threat that we’re already facing from rising sea levels and more intense storms.”

“We have to start applying what the science is telling us, and what we’re seeing from recent events, to investment decisions and codes and standards — ideally at all levels of government,” Arroyo said.

The administration has applied future climate impact estimates to rebuilding efforts once before, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. In that instance, FEMA and the Housing and Urban Development Department developed new elevation standards for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and Rhode Island based on scientific projections, and required any approved projects to meet either those estimates or local elevation requirements if they were tougher.

The new policy does not make changes to the National Flood Insurance Program, which covers Americans in flood-prone areas with federally backed insurance provided they meet federal standards aimed at minimizing risks. But it will apply to grants the program provides, thereby affecting construction in flood-prone areas.


Stormy Weather and Politics

By Thomas Sowell

It was refreshing to see meteorologists apologize for their dire – and wrong – predictions of an unprecedented snow storm that they had said would devastate the northeast. It was a big storm, but the northeast has seen lots of big snow storms before and will probably see lots of big snow storms again. That’s called winter.

Unfortunately, we are not likely to hear any similar apologies from those who have been promoting “global warming” hysteria for years, in defiance of data that fail to fit their climate models. What is at issue is not whether there is “climate change” – which nobody has ever denied – but whether the specific predictions of the “global warming” crowd as to the direction and magnitude of worldwide temperature changes are holding up over the years.

The ultimate test of any theoretical model is not how loudly it is proclaimed but how well it fits the facts. Climate models that have an unimpressive record of fitting the facts of the past or the present are hardly a reason for us to rely on them for the future.

Putting together a successful model – of anything – is a lot more complicated than identifying which factors affect which outcomes. When many factors are involved, which is common, the challenge is to determine precisely how those factors interact with each other. That is a lot easier said than done when it comes to climate.

Everyone can agree, for example, that the heat of the sunlight is greater in the tropics than in the temperate zones or near the poles. But, the highest temperatures ever recorded in Asia, Africa, North America or South America were all recorded outside – repeat, OUTSIDE – the tropics.

No part of Europe is in the tropics, but record temperatures in European cities like Athens and Seville have been higher than the highest temperatures ever recorded in cities virtually right on the equator, such as Singapore in Asia or Nairobi in Africa.

None of this disproves the scientific fact that sunlight is hotter in the tropics. But it does indicate that there are other factors which go into temperatures on earth.

It is not only the heat of the sunlight, but its duration, that determines how much heat builds up. The sun shines on the equator about 12 hours a day all year long. But, in the temperate zones, the sun shines more hours during the summer – almost 15 hours a day at the latitude of Seville or Athens.

It is also not just a question of how much sunlight there is falling on the planet but also a question of how much of that sunlight is blocked by clouds and reflected back out into space. At any given time, about half the earth is shielded by clouds, but cloudiness varies greatly from place to place and from time to time.

The Mediterranean region is famous for its cloudless summer days. The annual hours of sunlight in Athens is nearly double that in London – and in Alexandria, Egypt, there are more than twice as many annual hours of sunlight as in London.

How surprised should we be that cities around the Mediterranean – Alexandria, Seville, and Tripoli – have had temperatures of 110 degrees or more, while many tropical cities have not? Clouds and rain are common in the tropics.

American cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas often hit summer temperatures of 110 degrees or more, because they are located where there are not nearly as many clouds during the summer as are common in most other places, including most places in the tropics. The highest temperatures on earth have been reached in Death Valley, California, for the same reason, even though it is not in the tropics.

Putting clouds into climate models is not simple, because the more the temperature rises, the more water evaporates, creating more clouds that reflect more sunlight back out into space. Such facts are well known, but reducing them to a specific and reliable formula that will predict global temperatures is something else.

Meteorology has many facts and many scientific principles but, at this stage of its development, weather forecasts just a week ahead are still iffy. Why then should we let ourselves be stampeded into crippling the American economy with unending restrictions created by bureaucrats who pay no price for being wrong?

Certainly neither China nor India will do that, and the amount of greenhouse gasses they put into the air will overwhelm any reductions we might achieve, even with draconian restrictions at astronomical costs.


Another confirmation:  Unusually hot weather in Australia goes back a long way

Australia's notorious BoM has made various declarations to the effect that modern-day temperatures in Australia are unprecedentedly high.  A recent very hot summer in Sydney was particularly targeted as "proof" of global warming.  So it is interesting to find records of Sydney weather centuries ago.  We do of course have the observations by Watkin Tench showing that Sydney had disastrously hot weather in 1790 but other sources of data are obviously very welcome.   We now have a compilation from two other early sources.  See the abstract below.

The compilation was done by Warmist scientists so it is amusing that they make no direct comparisons between average temperatures then and average temperatures now.  From what Tench reported it is a slam dunk what to conclude from that.  The authors do however concede that the general picture of weather events in Sydney in the late 18th century is extremely similar to the picture these days.  So I think it is safe to conclude that there has been no warming in Sydney for over 200 years.  I wonder how global warming missed Sydney?

A climate reconstruction of Sydney Cove, New South Wales, using weather journal and documentary data, 1788–1791

Joëlle Gergis et al.


This study presents the first analysis of the weather conditions experienced at Sydney Cove, New South Wales, during the earliest period of the European settlement of Australia. A climate analysis is presented for January 1788 to December 1791 using daily temperature and barometric pressure observations recorded by William Dawes in Sydney Cove and a temperature record kept by William Bradley on board the HMS Sirius anchored in Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) in the early months of the First Fleet’s arrival in Australia. Remarkably, the records appear comparable with modern day measurements taken from Sydney Observatory Hill, displaying similar daily variability, a distinct seasonal cycle and considerable inter-annual variability.

To assess the reliability of these early weather data, they were cross-verified with other data sources, including anecdotal observations recorded in First Fleet documentary records and independent palaeoclimate reconstructions. Some biases in the temperature record, likely associated with the location of the thermometer, have been identified. Although the 1788–1791 period experienced a marked La Niña to El Niño fluctuation according to palaeoclimatic data, the cool and warm intervals in Sydney over this period cannot be conclusively linked to El Niño– Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions. This study demonstrates that there are excellent opportunities to expand our description of pre-20th century climate variability in Australia while contributing culturally significant material to the emerging field of Australian environmental history.

Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Journal 58 (2009) 83-98


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


No comments: