Sunday, February 01, 2015
The Earth's crust under Iceland is rising -- but why?
We read below: "Compton found the onset of rising temperatures and the loss of ice corresponded tightly with her estimates of when uplift began". But there has been no global warming for 18 years. So has the uplift stopped? Rather to the contrary, it seems. So it must be local warming at work -- probably due to vulcanism.
Note also below: "He added there is geological evidence that during the past deglaciation roughly 12,000 years ago, volcanic activity in some regions of Iceland increased thirtyfold". So if uplift can be related to volcanic activity 12,000 years ago, why not now? QED
A new study has found that as global warming melts the island's great ice caps, the crust is 'rebounding' and rising.
Geologists have long known that as glaciers melt and become lighter, the Earth rebounds as the weight of the ice decreases.
Whether the current rebound geologists detect is related to past deglaciation or modern ice loss has been an open question until now.
Some sites in south-central Iceland are moving upward as much as 1.4 inches per year — a speed that surprised the researchers.
The University of Arizona-led team reports in an upcoming issue of Geophysical Research Letters.
The paper is the first to show the current fast uplift of the Icelandic crust is a result of accelerated melting of the island's glaciers and coincides with the onset of warming that began about 30 years ago, the scientists said.
'Our research makes the connection between recent accelerated uplift and the accelerated melting of the Icelandic ice caps,' said first author Kathleen Compton.
'Iceland is the first place we can say accelerated uplift means accelerated ice mass loss,' Bennett said.
To figure out how fast the crust was moving upward, the team used a network of 62 global positioning satellite receivers fastened to rocks throughout Iceland. By tracking the position of the GPS receivers year after year, the scientists 'watch' the rocks move and can calculate how far they have traveled — a technique called geodesy.
The new work shows that, at least for Iceland, the land's current accelerating uplift is directly related to the thinning of glaciers and to global warming. 'What we're observing is a climatically induced change in the Earth's surface,' Bennett said.
He added there is geological evidence that during the past deglaciation roughly 12,000 years ago, volcanic activity in some regions of Iceland increased thirtyfold.
Others have estimated the Icelandic crust's rebound from warming-induced ice loss could increase the frequency of volcanic eruptions such as the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, which had negative economic consequences worldwide.
The article 'Climate driven vertical acceleration of Icelandic crust measured by CGPS geodesy' by Compton, Bennett and their co-author Sigrun Hreinsdóttir of GNS Science in Avalon, New Zealand, was accepted for publication Jan. 14, 2015, and is soon to be published online. The National Science Foundation and the Icelandic Center for Research funded the research.
The team primarily used the geodesy network to track geological activity such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
In 2013, Bennett noticed one of long-running stations in the centre of the country was showing that site was rebounding at an accelerated rate.
He wondered about it, so he and his colleagues checked the nearby stations to see if they had recorded the same changes.
'The striking answer was, yes, they all do,' he said. 'We wondered what in the world could be causing this?'
The team began systematically analyzing years of signals from the entire network and found the fastest uplift was the region between several large ice caps. The rate of uplift slowed the farther the receiver was from the ice cap region.
Other researchers had been measuring ice loss and observed a notable uptick in the rate of melting since 1995.
Temperature records for Iceland, some of which go back to the 1800s, show temperatures increasing since 1980.
To determine whether the same rate of ice loss year after year could cause such an acceleration in uplift, Compton tested that idea using mathematical models. The answer was no: The glaciers had to be melting faster and faster every year to be causing more and more uplift.
Compton found the onset of rising temperatures and the loss of ice corresponded tightly with her estimates of when uplift began. 'I was surprised how well everything lined up,' she said. Bennett said, 'There's no way to explain that accelerated uplift unless the glacier is disappearing at an accelerated rate.'
Estimating ice loss is laborious and difficult, he said. 'Our hope is we can use current GPS measurements of uplift to more easily quantify ice loss.'
The team's next step is to analyze the uplift data to reveal the seasonal variation as the ice caps grow during the winter snow season and melt during the summer.
Senate approves Keystone, Obama veto looms
The Senate voted Thursday to approve the Keystone XL pipeline on a 62-36 vote, setting up a clash with President Barack Obama, who has vowed to kill the bill with just his third veto in six years.
The Keystone bill’s three-week gallop included votes on more than 40 amendments, but the bill still lacks the support in both the Senate and the House to override a presidential veto.
Story Continued Below
Yet the debate drew praise from Democrats and Republicans alike as a sign the Senate had left behind the gridlock that has stymied legislation for years, and it could now pick up its pace while giving the minority a chance to influence policymaking.
But the debate failed to win over any lawmakers from the solid bloc of Democrats who were unwilling to undercut Obama and approve a pipeline that’s long been a top priority for the oil and gas industry.
“Time and time again Republicans pledge their allegiance to foreign special interests above the American middle class,” New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, Democrats’ third-ranked leader, told reporters.
Despite the intensity of the debate in Congress, Keystone is still largely where it began: a symbol to Republicans of the White House’s hostility to fossil fuels, and to Democrats as another effort by GOP to do the bidding of Big Oil.
Senior Republicans have not yet agreed on whether the pipeline bill will head to the House for a second vote, thanks to changes the Senate made this month, or go to bicameral conference talks.
House Speaker John Boehner praised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “for passing this bill in an open, inclusive, and bipartisan way,” and urged Obama to walk back a threat to veto “this common-sense bill that would strengthen our energy security.”
The White House did not back down, reiterating on Thursday its intention to veto the Keystone bill. Overriding Obama would require four more Democratic votes in the Senate and dozens more in the House, where 28 Democrats joined the GOP in approving the pipeline bill earlier this month.
Obama has not said whether he would approve the permit that would allow TransCanada to build the pipeline that would link Canada’s oil sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. The White House has said it opposed the legislation in the Congress because it would remove the decision from the executive branch.
Republicans already are discussing plans to attach the pipeline to upcoming measures that could prove difficult for Obama to reject, such as annual government spending bills.
But the Keystone clock may already be working against them. The State Department has told other federal agencies to weigh in by Monday on its year-old finding that the $8 billion project is unlikely to have a significant environmental impact, an indication that the administration is in the final stages of its six-year Keystone review.
A final recommendation from State on whether Keystone is in the national interest could come as soon as this month. Although there is no binding deadline for Obama to make the final decision on a border-crossing permit for the pipeline, he has repeatedly expressed a dim view of its economic benefits in recent months.
TransCanada CEO Russ Girling praised today’s vote, which he noted was the 10th time the Senate had passed a measure to support the pipeline’s construction.
“Every barrel of Canadian and American oil transported by Keystone XL replaces imports from overseas — and improves U.S. and North American energy independence,” he said in a statement.
American Petroleum Institute CEO Jack Gerard warned that leaving the pipeline in limbo could have a significant impact on oil and gas transportation plans throughout the country.
“The fact is that if all other infrastructure projects are delayed like Keystone XL, we are years away from approving anything that could create jobs and enhance our energy security,” Gerard said in a statement.
Despite the Keystone bill’s poor prospects at becoming law, Senate Republicans welcomed the vote that gave their new majority its first legislative accomplishment and drew three new Democratic supporters — Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Bob Casey (Pa.) and Tom Carper (Del.) — more fully behind their Keystone effort.
In addition to that trio, six Democrats who have previously supported Keystone joined with every Republican to pass the Keystone bill.
Democrats and environmentalists also saw bright spots in the vote: They prevented the GOP from peeling off new Keystone supporters in Obama’s party and opened up some cracks in the Republican’s rhetoric on climate change.
“The only positive aspect of this debate has been that some amendments did put senators on the record on issues that truly matter — starting with climate change,” the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Canada project director, Danielle Droitsch, said in a statement on the Keystone vote.
Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmentalist who poured more than $50 million into Democratic candidates’ campaigns during last year’s midterms, urged Obama to follow up EPA’s carbon regulations and his emissions pact with China by rejecting Keystone to “truly solidify America’s legacy as a global leader on climate.”
New Virginia law protects farmers from meddling local officials
The "Boneta Bill" marks a major victory for grassroots activists over powerful special interests
In a hard-fought and stunning victory for family farmers and property rights throughout the Commonwealth, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) March 5 signed into law legislation solidifying Virginia’s status as a right-to-farm state by limiting local officials’ ability to interfere with normal agricultural operations.
The governor’s signature marks the latest chapter in a swirling controversy that attracted nationwide attention in 2012 when the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors forced family farmer Martha Boneta to cease selling produce from her own 64-acre farm. No longer allowed to sell the vegetables she had harvested, Boneta donated the food to local charities lest it go to waste.
Fauquier County officials threatened Boneta with $5,000-per-day fines for hosting a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls without a permit, and advertising pumpkin carvings. Seeing in the county’s action against Boneta as a brazen effort to drive her off her land, Virginians from all walks of life rallied to her defense. Supporters gathered in Warrenton, the county seat, for a peaceful “pitchfork protest” to vent their anger over what an out-of-control local government had done to a law-abiding citizen.
In the 2013 session of the General Assembly, Rep. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William, spearheaded an effort to undo the injustice inflicted on Boneta, and to protect other small farmers from similar abuse, by strengthening Virginia’s Right to Farm Act. What became known as the “Boneta Bill” passed the House by an overwhelming margin but was killed in a Senate committee.
Undeterred, Boneta and her supporters came back to the General Assembly in 2014 and won wide bipartisan approval for legislation protecting the rights of family farmers. The bill signed by Gov. McAuliffe grew out of legislation developed by Rep. Bobby Orrick, R-Thornburg, and Richard Stuart, R-Montross, and supported by, among others, Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax.
Backed by the Virginia Farm Bureau, the new law protects customary activities at agricultural operations from local bans in the absence of substantial impacts on public welfare. It also prohibits localities from requiring a special-use permit for a host of farm-related activities that are specified in the bill. The law takes effect on July 1.
“I want to thank Gov. McAuliffe, the members of the General Assembly, and all those who have rallied to the defense of family farmers,” Boneta said. “After all my family and I have been through, it is gratifying to know that an injustice can be undone, and the rights of farmers as entrepreneurs can be upheld thanks to the work of so many dedicated people.”
Successful grassroots effort citizens
Passage of the Boneta Bill was all the more remarkable, because it was entirely a grassroots effort. Supporters of the legislation, none of whom received any compensation for the time and effort they devoted to the cause, flooded the state capitol in Richmond with emails, phone calls, and personal visits with lawmakers to ensure enactment of the legislation.
In contrast, opponents of the bill, including well-funded environmental organizations and power-hungry county governments – both determined to preserve strict land-use controls – reportedly employed lobbyists to kill the bill. In the end, highly-motivated citizens triumphed over highly paid lobbyists.
India unwilling to be treated at par with China on CO2 emissions
India’s resistance to accept a peak year for emissions was a prime reason why US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed to strike a climate deal along the lines of a US-China agreement on emission cuts.
The US wanted India to make specific commitments including a peak year for a new climate treaty to be signed at Paris later this year. But India refused as it feared it would have resulted in the world putting India in the same bracket as China on carbon emissions.
China is the world’s biggest carbon emitter while India is fourth with per capita emissions one-third those of China’s.
“Having a peaking year was not acceptable to us,” said an environment ministry official.
The officials also said the US was not willing to enhance its commitment to climate finance and reiterated that it had already offered to give $1 billion to the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) for climate finance. India has also been seeking a US commitment to provide adequate funds for adapting to climate change for developing and least developed countries.
Sources said India was also not willing to make any bilateral commitment until India submitted its intended domestically determined contribution (INDCs) to fight climate change to the United Nations by June this year.
India is likely to make its plan of generating 1,00,000 MW of solar power and 55,000 MW of wind power as part of its INDCs, apart from saving upto 20,000 MW of power from introducing energy efficient systems. “We also want to see what other countries will commit in their INDCs,” an official explained.
US Secretary for State John Kerry earlier this month had emphasised that a climate deal with India would be a top priority during Obama’s visit. But the two countries failed to hammer out a deal except for a US commitment to invest in India’s plan to generate 1,00,000 MW of solar power by 2019.
But it is not the end of the road for a Indo-US deal on climate change. The two countries will hold further negotiations on climate change in a working group in the next few months. A source said many issues are on the table and will be discussed in coming months.
Deflating Climate Change
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is dominating the headlines amid allegations of cheating in his team’s 45-7 playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts last week. At least he was – Boston still is the subject of most newswires, but for the past two days that was thanks to an ironically well-timed blizzard, not Brady.
The real DeflateGate, however, is Barack Obama’s negligence concerning foreign affairs while obsessing over things beyond his control. Last week, Yemen fell hostage to Islamic extremists, the latest in a string of countries whose leadership crumbled to radical uprisings. Nevertheless, terrorism’s expanding influence is not what the president chose to emphasize is civilization’s greatest threat during his State of the Union address. No, that would be a perpetual straw man – global warming.
Shortly after delivering self-congratulatory remarks on his counterterrorism policies, Obama proceeded in his SOTU address to declare, “No challenge – no challenge – poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” Really, how crazy must one be to worry about getting blown to smithereens or having your throat slit by maniacal fundamentalists when the oceans might rise a bit within the next century? And here we thought the president already had that situation under control. In 2008, the story was that Obama’s inauguration would mark “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” Six years later, the world is going up in flames, and it’s not because of a man-made fever.
“2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record,” said the lecturer in chief, a statistic that was the conclusion of a new report by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. According to NOAA, earth’s average temperature last year was 1.24°F above average – sea surface temperatures were the highest on record (1.03°F above average), while land temperatures came in fourth place (1.80°F above average).
Even if we take the government at its word and assume last year was indeed the warmest – since records began in the late 1800s, it’s important to note – the report lacked two particularly big disclaimers.
For starters, last week the Daily Mail revealed, “The margin of error is said by scientists to be approximately 0.1C. … As a result, GISS’s [Goddard Institute for Space Studies] director Gavin Schmidt has now admitted [government officials believe] the likelihood that 2014 was the warmest year since 1880 is just 38 per cent.” Incredibly, the trumpeted “consensus” appears suddenly irrelevant.
Second, Obama’s ensuing remark is simply unfounded: “Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does: 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.” According to Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) satellite data, the staple of modern temperature recordings, the globe has experienced no observable warming now for more than 18 years. NOAA omitted that inconvenient truth, however, because the nearly two-decade long hiatus doesn’t fit the narrative.
It seems Mother Nature presents a twist every time envirofascists open their petulant mouths – and indeed, drivers on Monday’s snarled I-95 corridor would have enjoyed some global warming. Tom Brady may be tossing under-inflated footballs, but the narcissist in chief has been prematurely spiking the ball ever since he entered the Oval Office, all while destroying our Liberty, one policy at a time. Unless America begins taking seriously the real DeflateGate, the only thing we’ll be left with is a Hail Mary.
Russian sponsorship of Green groups?
A shadowy Bermudan company that has funneled tens of millions of dollars to anti-fracking environmentalist groups in the United States is run by executives with deep ties to Russian oil interests and offshore money laundering schemes involving members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
One of those executives, Nicholas Hoskins, is a director at a hedge fund management firm that has invested heavily in Russian oil and gas. He is also senior counsel at the Bermudan law firm Wakefield Quin and the vice president of a London-based investment firm whose president until recently chaired the board of the state-owned Russian oil company Rosneft.
In addition to those roles, Hoskins is a director at a company called Klein Ltd. No one knows where that firm’s money comes from. Its only publicly documented activities have been transfers of $23 million to U.S. environmentalist groups that push policies that would hamstring surging American oil and gas production, which has hurt Russia’s energy-reliant economy.
With oil prices plunging as a result of a fracking-induced oil glut in the United States, experts say the links between Russian oil interests, secretive foreign political donors, and high-profile American environmentalists suggest Russia may be backing anti-fracking efforts in the United States.
The interest of Russian oil companies and American environmentalist financiers intersect at a Bermuda-based law firm called Wakefield Quin. The firm acts as a corporate registered agent, providing office space for clients, and, for some, “managing the day to day affairs,” according to its website.
As many as 20 companies and investment funds with ties to the Russian government are Wakefield Quin clients. Many list the firm’s address on official documentation.
Klein Ltd. also shares that address. Documents filed with Bermuda’s registrar of companies list just two individuals associated with the company: Hoskins, Wakefield Quin senior counsel and managing director, and Marlies Smith, a corporate administrator at the firm.
According to documents filed with Bermuda’s registrar of companies, Klein Ltd. was incorporated in March 2011 “exclusively for philanthropic purposes,” meaning “no part of the net earnings … inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.”
“The company does not propose to carry on business in Bermuda,” the documents stated.
The only publicly available documentation of any business conducted by Klein Ltd. were two Internal Revenue Service filings by the California-based Sea Change Foundation, which showed that Klein had contributed $23 million to the group in 2010 and 2011. Klein Ltd. was responsible for more than 40 percent of contributions to Sea Change during those years.
The foundation passed those millions along to some of the nation’s most prominent and politically active environmentalist groups. The Sierra Club, the Natural Resource Defense Council, Food and Water Watch, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Center for American Progress were among the recipients of Sea Change’s $100 million in grants in 2010 and 2011.
Neither Wakefield Quin nor Sea Change responded to multiple requests for more information about their relationships with Klein Ltd.
“None of this foreign corporation’s funding is disclosed in any way,” the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee wrote of the company in a report last year. “This is clearly a deceitful way to hide the source of millions of dollars that are active in our system, attempting to effect political change.”
The Sierra Club, which received nearly $8.5 million from Sea Change in 2010 and 2011, launched its “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign the following year. The effort has become one of the largest and best-funded environmentalist campaigns combating fracking and the extraction of natural gas in general.
Sea Change’s “skeletal staff quietly shovels tens of millions of dollars out the door annually to combat climate change. And that’s pretty much all it does,” noted Inside Philanthropy, which awarded the foundation its “sharpest laser focus in grantmaking” award last year.
Nathaniel Simons and his wife run the foundation and are, except for Klein Ltd., its only donors. Simons, a hedge fund millionaire who commutes to work across San Francisco Bay aboard a 50-foot yacht, also runs a venture capital firm that invests in companies that benefit from environmental and energy policies that Sea Change grantees promote.
Simons himself has ties to Klein Ltd. Several Wakefield Quin attorneys are listed as directors of hedge funds that his firm manages, and in which Sea Change has assets.
Senior counsel Rod Forrest was listed on documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a director of two investment funds, Medallion International Ltd. and Meritage Holdings Ltd., in which Sea Change had tens of millions invested while it received money from Klein Ltd.
Simons’ company runs the Meritage Fund. The Medallion Fund is run by Renaissance Technologies, the hedge fund management firm run by his father, billionaire and Democratic mega-donor Jim Simons. Both funds listed Wakefield Quin’s Hamilton, Bermuda, address on SEC filings.
Wakefield Quin’s Hoskins and Smith, as well as a number of other employees of Wakefield Quin, have worked in some capacity for companies or investment funds owned by or tied to Russian state-owned corporations and high-level officials in the country.
Hoskins, Forrest, and another Wakefield employee named Penny Cornell were all listed as executives of Spectrum Partners Ltd., a fund with offices in Moscow, Cypress, and Bermuda, Cornell at the address of Wakefield Quin’s offices.
According to a performance report for one of Spectrum Partners’ funds, its portfolio consisted of “Russian and CIS [former Soviet state] securities and securities outside of Russia or CIS but having significant economic or business involvement with Russia and/or CIS.”
As of 2008, more than half of the fund’s holdings were in the oil and gas sectors.
Numerous executives at Wakefield Quin have ties to Russian oil and gas companies, including Rosneft, which is majority-owned by the Russian government and in 2013 became the largest oil company in the world.
Hoskins is the vice president of a London-based company called Marcuard Services Limited, and a member of the firm’s board, according to its website.
The company’s president, and the chairman of its parent company, Bermuda-based Marcuard Holding Limited, is Hans-Joerg Rudloff. Rudloff is also a former vice-chairman of the Rosneft’s board.
Hoskins is also a director at a Bermuda-based subsidiary of Russian investment bank Troika Dialog. That firm organized an initial public offering for Timan Oil & Gas, which is run by Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev.
The Environmental Policy Alliance, which provided the Washington Free Beacon with a copy of an upcoming report on Klein Ltd.’s Kremlin ties, said Wakefield Quin’s ties to environmental financiers and Russian oil barons merit closer scrutiny.
“The American public deserves to know whether environmentalists are attacking US energy companies at the behest of a Russian government that would like nothing more than to see their international competition weakened,” Will Coggin, a senior research analyst at the EPA, said in an emailed statement.
“In the face of mounting evidence, environmental groups are going to have to start answering hard questions about their international funding sources,” Coggin said.
The overlap between executives at firms with ties to Russian oil interests and a multi-million-dollar donor to U.S. environmentalist groups has some experts worried that Russians may be replicating anti-fracking tactics used in Europe to attack the practice in the United States.
“I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organizations—environmental organizations working against shale gas—to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen, formerly NATO’s secretary general, said last year.
It is unlikely that the Kremlin is directly involved in doing so in the United States, according to Ron Arnold of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.
“If anybody in Russia is behind all the secretive Bermuda investment house and law firm action, it’s most likely some oligarch bidding against U.S. competition,” he said in an email.
Arnold, the author of Undue Influence: Wealthy Foundations, Grant Driven Environmental Groups, and Zealous Bureaucrats That Control Your Future, said that the opacity of Klein Ltd.’s involvement with the Sea Change Foundation exemplifies attempts to shield the source of donations to such groups.
“In my experience of trying to penetrate offshore money funnels for U.S. leftist foundations and green groups, I have found that Liechtenstein, Panama and Bermuda are the Big Three green equivalents of the Cayman Islands for hedge fund managers—totally opaque and impervious to my specially designed research tools,” Arnold said.
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Posted by JR at 1:42 AM