Friday, April 03, 2015
Could toxic oceans that wiped out species 200 million years ago reappear?
How one-eyed can you get? The authors below found that gas emissions from vulcanism poisoned a lot of life way, way back. Volcanoes do of course put out all sorts of dangerous gases. So which particular gas was the African-American in the woodpile? The authors finger our old friend CO2 of course! Compared to SO2 and H2S, CO2 is in fact almost inert. All the adverse effects they describe could be more plausibly ascribed to the more corrosive volcanic gases. CO2 is getting a bum rap
A team lead by the University of Southampton studied fossilised organic molecules taken from sedimentary rocks that originally accumulated on the bottom of the north-eastern Panthalassic Ocean, which surrounded the continent of Pangaea.
The rocks are now exposed on the Queen Charlotte Islands, off the coast of British Columbia, Canada.
The experts found signs of bacteria which had suffered severe oxygen depletion and hydrogen sulphide poisoning which would have been caused by massive volcanic rifts in the Earth's tectonic plates.
'As tectonic plates shifted to break up Pangaea, huge volcanic rifts would have spewed carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, leading to rising temperatures from the greenhouse effect,' said Professor Jessica Whiteside.
'The rapid rises in CO2 would have triggered changes in ocean circulation, acidification and deoxygenation.
'These changes have the potential to disrupt nutrient cycles and alter food chains essential for the survival of marine ecosystems. Our data now provides direct evidence that anoxic, and ultimately euxinic, conditions severely affected food chains.
'The same CO2 rise that led to the oxygen-depleted oceans also led to a mass extinction on land, and ultimately to the ecological takeover by dinosaurs, although the mechanisms are still under study.'
She explained that although the Earth was very different during the Triassic period, the rate of carbon dioxide release from volcanic rifts are similar to those we are experiencing now through the burning of fossil fuels.
Professor Whiteside added: 'The release of CO2 was probably at least as rapid as that caused by the burning of fossil fuels today, although the initial concentrations were much higher in the Triassic.
'The consequences of rapidly rising CO2 in ancient times inform us of the possible consequences of our own carbon dioxide crisis.'
Kerry Gets Eight Out of Four Pinocchios
A fake climate warrior as well as the man with the hat
John Kerry has a long history of phony “seared memories.” From Christmas 1968 in Cambodia to the “very first climate hearings in the Senate,” Kerry just makes stuff up. The Washington Post “fact checker” took on the claim about the Senate climate hearings only to discover that “Kerry was not even a participant in the most important hearing of that time; he simply spoke at a hearing that took place the following year. And yet, like Brian Williams claiming to have come under fire in Iraq, Kerry has repeatedly placed himself at the center of the action – and the narrative.”
Not only that, a follow-up article reveals that the hearing was not, as Kerry at another time asserted, deliberately scheduled on the summer’s hottest day, nor was it “sweltering” in the hearing room. Leftists regularly assert that weather isn’t proof of climate – unless they need it to be. The fact checker concluded, “Frankly, this now puts Kerry’s statements in an even a worse light. Not only did he place himself at a hearing he did not organize and attend, but he described witnessing events that did not happen.” That’s par for the course with Kerry.
EPA's McCarthy (Sort of) Makes the Case for Approving Keystone
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said Monday that building the Keystone XL pipeline alone would not be a disaster for the climate, as some opponents of the project contend.
“No, I don’t think that any one issue is a disaster for the climate, nor do I think there is one solution for the climate change challenge that we have,” McCarthy said during an interview with POLITICO’s Mike Allen.
Keystone critics have long alleged that the pipeline, if approved, would greatly exacerbate climate change.
And Environmental Protection Agency’s concerns about Keystone’s climate impact have given ammunition to environmentalists fighting the project. In comments to the State Department released in February, the agency said state should give “additional weight” to whether the sharp drop in oil prices in recent months would increase the pipeline’s environmental impact and stimulate production in the carbon-rich Canadian oil sands.
McCarthy, in her interview with POLITICO, stressed that those EPA comments did not come to any conclusion about the pipeline, and she pushed back on the criticism from Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., Gary Doer.
“I have great respect for the ambassador, but he should just relook at the comment letter that we put in,” she said.
TransCanada spokesman Mark Cooper countered that despite the EPA’s comments, the current downturn in oil prices would “not significantly impact whether the oil sands will be developed.” In addition, Cooper noted, Keystone’s 700,000-plus barrels of heavy crude imports would displace “foreign heavy oil that produces similar or greater amounts of” emissions.
One anti-Keystone group said McCarthy’s statements appeared to diverge from what the agency told the State Department, which could finish its long-delayed review of Keystone within weeks or even days.
“Gina McCarthy would do well to look at comments published by her own EPA, warning that Keystone XL would accelerate development of the tar sands oil field in Canada, which in turn would mean game over for our climate,” Karthik Ganapathy, spokesman for the green group 350.org, said by email.
Once Secretary of State John Kerry finishes weighing whether Keystone’s construction is in the national interest, President Barack Obama is poised to make the final call on the pipeline — a decision that has no binding deadline.
Other green groups said they didn’t see McCarthy’s Keystone comments Monday as a shift in the EPA’s view. Jim Murphy of the National Wildlife Federation said he didn’t find her statement “concerning,” adding that the EPA “has been strong throughout” in pointing to the potential greenhouse gas emissions generated by the $8 billion pipeline.
Yet McCarthy’s prominent role in Obama’s strategy to make climate change a central part of his legacy adds extra weight to her words.
Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, circulated McCarthy’s comments on Twitter, adding that the EPA chief appeared to have “debunked the anti-#KeystoneXL crowd’s alarmism today. Cool.”
The Problems With Obama’s Plan to Slash US Greenhouse Gas Emissions By Nearly 30 Percent
The Obama administration announced Tuesday its plans to commit the U.S. to greenhouse gas emissions of 26-28 percent (from 2005 levels) by 2025 as part of a United Nations climate agreement set for this December in Paris.
The announcement is being heralded as America’s stepping up to “lead the way.” The Paris agreement is to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which the U.S. rejected.
Obama’s commitment, which was initially laid out in a lopsided agreement with China last November, doesn’t stop with cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025. The Obama administration’s submission to the U.N. is meant to set up a “pathway from 2020 to deep, economy-wide emission reductions of 80 percent or more by 2050. The target is part of a longer range, collective effort to transition to a low-carbon global economy as rapidly as possible.”
To achieve the goal, the Obama administration proposed a package of regulations which it is already well underway in implementing: fuel efficiency mandates for cars and trucks, energy efficiency mandates for everything from buildings to kitchen appliances, methane emissions regulations, an executive order to cut emissions and energy use by the federal government, and the capstone Clean Power Plan regulating state carbon dioxide emissions.
President Obama has spoken openly about his intentions to work around legislators if they did not act on climate change. His administration has dared Congress to try to stop the Clean Power Plan.
Obama’s offer to the U.N.:
* Ignores serious, honest scientific questions about the extent (or lack thereof) of global warming. Data have yet to show that the world is headed toward accelerating and catastrophic global warming. The world has not seen any warming in the 21st century and for much of the 1990s even while carbon dioxide emissions have steadily increased. Nor does the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes claim that extreme weather events are increasing in frequency. Further, it is very much up for debate about how sensitive the climate is to carbon dioxide. In other words, carbon dioxide may not even be the problem, assuming there is one.
* Challenges the Constitution. As one of Obama’s former law school professors testified, the Clean Power Plan is an unconstitutional “sleigh-of-hand [that] offends democratic principles by avoiding political transparency and accountability.” Regardless of where an individual stands on global warming, the ends do not justify the means if the means take the very foundation of American government and democracy as a casualty. Americans should further be very concerned about what the Paris agreement is ultimately to accomplish. At another preliminary climate conference in Doha in 2012, Executive Secretary for the U.N.’s conventions on climate change Christiana Figueres said, “It must be understood that what is occurring here, not just in Doha but in the whole climate change process, is a complete transformation of the economic structure of the world.”
* Sets the U.S. on course for incredible economic hardship with very little, if any, environmental benefit. If finalized, the Clean Power Plan will have almost zero impact on global temperatures, even though the plan is billed as a global warming initiative. It guts energy diversity by eliminating coal and replacing it with natural gas, which is as foolish as staking your retirement nest egg on one kind of investment. The plan threatens electric reliability and forces Americans to pay more for less power. It will shrink the economy and hit manufacturing particularly hard and ultimately consume the very resources Americans have to protect and improve their environments.
* Withholds from others the health and opportunity made possible by affordable, reliable energy. While elitists will go to Paris to barter and swap carbon dioxide emissions cuts for green financing, there are billions of people all around the world with little or no access to affordable, reliable energy and the opportunities energy unlocks. Energy heats the homes and meals, runs the schools and hospitals, and creates the products and opportunities that help lift people out of poverty. Yet too many climate policies make these opportunities further out of reach by restricting the use of conventional, reliable energy sources and forcing the use of more expensive, less available technologies. In the process they thwart the very means by which to improve environmental health as well.
* Gives the impression of leadership. Supporters praised the U.S.-China climate deal as one that “raised global hopes that developed and developing nations can come together to fight climate change.” Fighting together is an interesting way to put it as so far the many talks leading up to Paris have focused on developed countries like the U.S. cutting emissions (and their economies with it), providing financial support to developing nations (at $100 billion a year), and subsidizing politically preferred technologies. China on the other hand, and others likely to follow, “intends” to level off emissions “around” 2030, according to the deal. What some are praising as American leadership looks a lot more like unilateral disarmament.
Obama has often been accused of leading from behind on important issues. In this case, however, he is leading headlong in exactly the wrong direction.
Pulling the Plug on Renewable Energy
There is never a good time for bad public policy. For few policies is this more evident than renewable energy mandates (REM), variously known as renewable portfolio standards, alternative energy standards and renewable energy standards.
The first renewable energy mandate was adopted in 1983, but most states did not impose these mandates until the 2000s. Though the details vary from state to state, in general, renewable energy mandates require utilities to provide a certain percentage of the electric power they supply from “renewable” sources, notably wind and solar, with the required percentages rising over time.
At the height of the renewable-energy mania, 30 states and the District of Columbia had imposed REMs and another seven had established voluntary standards.
Renewable energy mandate proponents included environmental lobbyists with a hatred for capitalism and fossil fuels that make modern society possible, crony socialists who saw the mandates as way of strong-arming exorbitant payments from government and ratepayers alike, and paternalistic politicians who look down on people’s choices in the marketplace, believing they know best what sources of energy people ought to choose.
Green-energy advocates, crony socialists and government elitists have seen their fortunes wax and wane over five decades. Government subsidies for unreliable, expensive renewable fuels had risen, fallen, been scrapped and begun anew since the 1970s. The existence and amount of subsidies tended to rise in fall with various energy crises — crises often created by the same government that then proposed subsidies for renewable energy as the solution for the problems it created.
For 50 years, green-energy gurus in industry and the environmental movement have sold the snake oil that renewable power would soon be as cheap and reliable as coal, oil, nuclear and natural gas. The nation has been told the turning point has always been just around the corner, always requiring a little more public funding and tax breaks before we have abundant, cheap, clean, reliable energy materializing from thin air.
All these promises were false, and the public and more-honest politicians have seen through the sales pitch. Now, support for renewables is as unreliable as the energy it provides.
To guarantee a market for renewables, green lobbyists fought successfully for mandates ensuring green-energy producers a slice of the electricity market regardless of the price and quality of the energy they produced.
Energy prices skyrocketed, as predicted by numerous energy analysts.
Though cost is an important concern, it is not the only problem with renewable power sources. Renewable energy is not environmentally friendly. Renewable energy mandates have turned millions of acres of wild lands and wildlife habitats into a vast wasteland of wind and solar industrial energy facilities. In the process, renewable energy facilities have condemned to death hundreds of thousands of animals, including endangered birds, bats and tortoises. Finally, the construction and maintenance of these facilities have polluted the air and water. There is nothing green about all this. Still, continuing high costs, not environmental concerns, may finally spell doom for the mandates.
Citing high costs, Ohio became the first state to freeze its renewable energy mandate. Under Ohio’s mandate, utilities would have been required to provide 25 percent of the state’s electricity from qualified renewable sources by 2025. Under a law signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich in June 2014, Ohio froze its mandate at the current level of 12.5 percent, halving the mandated level.
In January, West Virginia repealed its renewable energy mandate entirely, and the New Mexico House of Representatives passed a bill freezing the state’s renewable standards in March.
Kansas has also recently held hearings on repealing its renewable energy mandate, spurred on in part by a new report from Utah State University reporting Kansas ratepayers are paying $171 million more than they would without the mandate. These additional costs have resulted in a loss of $4,367 each year in household disposable income.
What’s true for Kansas is true for other states with renewable energy mandates. States with mandates experienced 10 percent greater unemployment, due to higher energy prices resulting from the REM, than states without mandates. In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy has found electricity prices in states with renewable energy mandates have risen twice as fast as in states with no renewable requirement. Electricity prices in states with mandates are 40 percent higher than in non-REM states.
With these facts, it is little wonder that states are doing a slow walk back from their previous support of costly, environmentally harmful renewable energy mandates. It’s a classic case of legislate in haste, repent in leisure
Endangered Black-Throated Finch could derail plans to build the biggest coal mine in Australia
A BIRD no larger than a cricket ball could derail plans to build the biggest coal mine in Australia.
A legal challenge to Indian giant Adani’s plans for the $16.5 billion Carmichael mine by environment group Coast and Country began in the Land Court of Queensland on Tuesday.
If approved, the project would extract at least 50 million tonnes of coal a year from the Galilee Basin and export it through the Abbot Point coal terminal, north of Bowen.
“The environmental harm it will cause, or is at risk of causing, will be correspondingly great,” lawyer Saul Holt QC, for Coast and Country, told the court.
The case will put the spotlight on environmental and economic concerns, including the plight of the endangered Black-Throated Finch.
“If this mine goes ahead ... there is a high likelihood of species-threatening harm to the world’s most significant population of the endangered Black-Throated Finch,” Mr Holt said.
“As an environmental issue and risk, it is of the first order and it will be treated as such.”
But lawyer Peter Ambrose, for Adani, defended the company’s environmental modelling and previewed evidence by a range of experts in his opening address.
The company accepts there has been a serious decline in finch populations — which Mr Holt said was 80 per cent since the 1980s. But Adani pointed to offset and management plans that would “provide appropriate controls on the environmental impact”.
In exchange for the 9789 hectares of habitat that would be affected by the mine, there was an offset area of 30,999ha, Mr Ambrose said.
“The applicant’s evidence is they don’t have to move too far, as the offset areas are right beside where they are known to breed.”
Mr Ambrose cited estimates the mine could produce net economic benefits of between $18.6 billion and $22.8 billion.
But Mr Holt said the project would also contribute to the degradation of the Great Barrier Reef through a contribution to climate change.
Adani’s witnesses will argue that thermal coal use is generated by demand — not supply — and electricity generators would find alternative sources of coal if the mine does not go ahead. Therefore, Adani argues, there will be no net increase in greenhouse gas emissions
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Posted by JR at 1:33 AM