Sunday, April 26, 2015

New Survey Shows TV Weathercasters have been bullied into accepting global warming

TV weather forecasters aren't always climate change experts. But they are often responsible for informing the public about climate change impacts in real time, so it's important that they accurately reflect the science.

Fortunately, a new survey from George Mason University provides some hope in that regard. It found that more than nine out of ten broadcast meteorologists acknowledge that climate change is happening, and about two-thirds say human activities play a significant role.

This represents notable progress from George Mason's 2010 survey, when 27 percent of weather forecasters shockingly agreed that "global warming is a scam."

Most weathercasters now recognize that climate change has and will continue to impact the weather in their area, with rising temperatures and extreme weather events like heat waves and heavy storms.

And importantly, they feel it is appropriate to convey the science of climate change to their audiences.

So why are weathercasters coming around on climate change?

Following the last survey, a grassroots non-profit organization called Forecast the Facts launched a campaign calling on TV meteorologists to "report the facts about climate change" and drawing attention to those who weren't.

Now, most TV forecasters say they have read findings from the National Climate Assessment, a report by the U.S. government to inform Americans about the climate change impacts already occurring all across the country.

But while more and more meteorologists are accepting climate science, the forecasters at Fox News are still casting doubt and denial.

Fox News' senior meteorologist, Janice Dean, claims that "anything past a five day forecast is impossible to predict," and that "we're not going to be able to prove climate change for decades, even centuries."

And then there's the other Fox News favorite: Weatherbell Analytics Chief Forecaster Joe Bastardi. The network often turns to Bastardi for climate commentary, providing him a forum to spout anti-science denial, like his claims that man-made climate change is "an obvious fraud" and that the human contribution to carbon dioxide levels is too "tiny" to cause warming.  Fox hosts Bill O'Reilly and Neil Cavuto have both admitted that Bastardi is -- in O'Reilly's words -- a "climate change denier," and yet they and their Fox News colleagues keep hosting him time and time again.

As the nation's meteorologists continue to educate themselves about climate science, it looks like Fox News' forecasts will remain misleading with a strong chance of denial.


Ask a beetle. How fast is climate change? Temperature-sensitive beetle populations in the Arctic will help researchers study climate

This is just theory with no climate data offered

Scientists have been logging changes in weather patterns and temperatures in the Arctic for some time. Now they need to find ways to measure how these changes in climate are affecting biodiversity. One of the best places to look may be down at our feet, at beetles. That`s because, as a McGill research team discovered after doing the first large-scale survey of Arctic beetles, these six-legged critters are not only abundant in number but also diverse in feeding habits and what they eat is closely linked to the latitude in which they are found.

As a result, McGill researchers believe that Arctic beetles may prove to be ideal markers of climate change, since any changes in climate that affect the soil, plants and animals on which the beetles depend are likely to be quickly reflected in changes in the beetle communities.

A team of researchers led by Prof. Chris Buddle and Dr. Crystal Ernst of McGill's Dept. of Natural Resource Sciences, were able to identify more than 460 different species of Arctic beetles in locations ranging from the edge of the boreal forest in Northern Ontario to Ellesmere Island in the far north. More significantly, they found that there were clear differences in what beetles are found where along this north-south gradient, and the ecological roles they fulfilled differed depending on the latitude in which they lived.

"Depending on the latitude and the temperature, Arctic beetles perform a range of ecological functions such as pollinating or feeding on plants, preying on other insects, and breaking down decaying matter," says Ernst, who is the first author on the study published in PLOS ONE. "In the far north, there are generally very high numbers of predators and far fewer beetles which eat plants, while further south the reverse is generally true."

The discovery that Arctic beetles may be especially sensitive to temperature has implications for future climate change monitoring.
"As temperatures in northern regions rise or become more variable, there is a strong possibility that the beetle communities will undergo significant changes in response," says Buddle, the lead researcher. "Whether these changes will have positive or negative effects on Arctic ecosystems and the other animals and plants living there remains to be seen, but it is clear that beetles' sensitivity to climate make them ideal targets for long-term biodiversity monitoring in the far north."


Solar tax credits are not `conservative' or `free market'

By Marita Noon

The solar industry has poured a startling amount of effort and funding - much of it backed by California-based, billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, who is heavily invested in solar - into attempting to gain the legislative favor needed for it to survive.

Nationwide, the growth of the renewable power industry is dependent on a combination of big government mandates, tax credits, and subsidies - making it the perfect target of wrath from limited-government, free-market, and/or fiscally-conservative individuals and policymakers.

Some proposed legislation would prop up the industry (Florida), and force it to stand on its own (Louisiana).

In Louisiana, about 80 percent of the cost of solar installation is paid for through a combination of federal and state tax credits.

In discussing the state's dramatic $1.6 billion budget shortfall, The Advocate's Mark Ballard, on April 6, aptly pointed out that the solar industry promises a "full-court press to protect" Louisiana's generous tax credits that it says are "vital to its survival." Ballard cites State Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield, who called the solar tax credit's cost to the state's taxpayers "one of the fastest-growing. The solar credit cost $63.5 million in 2014, up from $9 million in 2013." Plans to ratchet back - not remove - the tax credit, Ballard reports, could save the state $57 million.

Facing the loss of the essential-to-survival tax credit, legislators have been besieged by solar supporters. State Senator Robert Adley says many, claiming to be "a businessman," have sat in his office to plead the case. He snaps back, "You are not a businessman. A real businessman has skin in the game; has his own money at risk. With eighty percent of your costs coming from the taxpayers, you don't depend on the market, you depend on the government. You are feeding at the trough."

Representative J. Lance Harris agrees. "This subsidy absolutely makes no sense, there's no energy crisis!  We've got plenty of oil, plenty of natural gas, and plenty of electricity. What if the taxpayer subsidized eighty percent of the cost of a new Porsche for anyone who wanted one?  There's no difference; it's misguided and ridiculous."

As part of its "full-court press," the solar industry is bringing the Tea Party's Judas Iscariot equivalent to town. Debbie Dooley, who was part of the original Tea Party movement back in 2009, has since capitalized on the affiliation by claiming - as she did in her April 7 Facebook post crowing about "speaking directly after Al Gore" at an event in New York - that she is "advancing energy choice in a conservative way through free market competition."

A power source that depends on big government handouts of taxpayer dollars for "survival" doesn't qualify as "conservative" or "free market."

During a recent trip to Louisiana, I was discussing the state's generous solar subsidies on Jeff Crouere's Ringside Politics radio show. He asked me how the solar subsidies were working. I explained that the answer depended on which side of the equation you stood. For the solar industry and homeowners, who benefited from the subsidies, it was working well. But for the taxpayers and ratepayers, not so good. We chatted for a few minutes about the situation and, then, had a caller who couldn't have been more perfect if I'd scripted him.

The caller planned to dispute my argument and, instead, ended up reinforcing it.

He told about his rooftop solar system - with which he was very happy. Why wouldn't he be happy? He got a $40,000 system for $7,000. He explained that, now, after five years of payments, his electricity was virtually "free."

I was pleased that the caller addressed the system's $40,000 cost. If one only listens to the ads, you'd think a solar system is cheap. He went on to say that he "got a generous check from Bobby Jindal" and he "took advantage of the federal incentives" - which resulted in his $7000 cost. He bragged that he amortized the cost over five years. He argued with me over my assertion that a few rooftop solar customers penalized the entire ratebase.

At the end of the call, Crouere asked for my response. I pointed out how the caller made my point. Courtesy of Louisiana and federal taxpayers, he got a $40,000 system for $7,000. Because the utility is required to buy the surplus electricity his system generates (when it does) during the sunny days at full retail, known as net metering, and he buys it back at night, his bill is essentially zero. But any business owner knows that you can't buy your product at retail and sell it at retail and stay in business for long. Because of people like the caller, who, as Senator Adley stated, are "feeding at the trough," costs for all ratepayers must increase to cover all the expenses of generating and delivering electricity that he is using but not paying for.

Yes, the caller benefited from the system, but taxpayers and ratepayers are the victims of his windfall. Like Dooley, he believed it was a free-market choice. Yet, government subsidies picking solar as a winner, make it possible -even attractive - for him.

The Advocate quotes Dooley as saying, "Conservatives want to champion free market choice, and not let the government pick the winners and losers" - though that is exactly what the state's solar subsidies, for which she shills, do. No other industry receives 63.5 million of Louisiana taxpayers' dollars in one year. Yes, the industry claims it has created 1,200 jobs, which costs taxpayers almost $53,000 per job.

In defending the subsidies, solar supporters, like Dooley, claim that the fossil fuel industry gets them too. However, in 2013, the state's oil-and-gas industry paid nearly $1.5 billion in state taxes and supports 64,669 jobs in the extraction, pipeline, and refining industries - not including indirect taxes and jobs. The petroleum industry gives; solar takes away.

As the Louisiana legislature looks at ways to fix the budget deficit, it is clear where cuts, rather than encouragement, should take place.


Lindsey Graham: `I Believe Climate Change Is Real,' But Reject Cap and Trade

In an interview with "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he believes "climate change is real," but he rejects the cap and trade solution proposed by former Vice President Al Gore.
"I believe climate change is real, but I reject the cap and trade solution of . of Al Gore. He's made a religion. It's a problem," he said.

Gore's proposed cap and trade system would penalize companies for exceeding carbon emissions limits. Last month, Gore said politicians who deny that climate change is an "accepted science" should pay a price.

Host Chris Wallace noted that in his home state of South Caroline, Graham is running fourth behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz (R- Texas). He asked if Graham was too far in the center of nondefense issues to win the Republican presidential nomination.

"You believe that climate change is real and the federal government must address it. You're open to raising attacks as part of a grand bargain. You support comprehensive immigration reform," said Wallace. After noting where Graham ranks among other GOP presidential hopefuls, he asked: "Are you too moderate? Are you too far in the center on nondefense issues to win the Republican nomination?"

"Not at all," Graham said, adding that not only does he believe in climate change, he would like to "clean up the air and water, become more energy independent, create jobs" and he is for offshore drilling.

"I'm for finding oil and gas that we own," Graham said. "I'm for clean coal, I'm for natural gas, but I would like a lower carbon economy over time. Clean up the air and create jobs in the process."


Green Times for Energy Efficiency, No Thanks to Government

Are you feeling green this Earth Day? You should. The White House would have you believe our days are numbered because we've failed to enter another ice age (take a moment to shiver in the irony), but statistics suggest we're in unprecedented times - in terms of energy efficiency.

But here's the kicker: Neither Earth Day nor government intervention have anything to do with our greener ways. Based on data from the Energy Information Administration, American Enterprise Institute's Mark Perry writes, "In 2014, it required only 6,110 BTUs of energy (petroleum, natural gas, coal, nuclear and renewables) to produce each real dollar of GDP, which was the least amount of energy required to produce a dollar of real GDP in US history."

That's even more extraordinary when you consider how much the economy has expanded. "[T]he US economy was 28% larger last year than 14 years ago, even though slightly less total energy was required in 2014 than in 2000 (98.324 vs. 98.819 quadrillion BTUs) to produce $3.5 trillion more real output," says Perry. "That would be like adding an economy about the size of Germany's to the US, but without requiring any additional energy to produce 28% more output!"

And consider this even crazier statistic: It cost a whopping 15,930 BTUs in 1949 to squeeze out just $2 trillion in GDP. So next time you hear demagogues claiming we're dirtying up our planet, tell them we're living in remarkably efficient times relative to yesteryear using the same old fossil fuels. And tell them they can thank capitalist innovators for the progress.


Greenie headaches for ship owners

Lloyd’s Register Issues Emissions Guidance

With key dates looming - 2016 NOx compliance and a 2018 review of fuel availability ahead of a global cap for SOx emissions, LR’s new guidelines and updated technical information supports operators’ investment decisions

This new guidance addresses operational and in-service considerations reflecting further accumulated experience from working with clients, industry groups and regulators. As well as a focus on exhaust gas treatment (scrubbers) the guidance also examines the wider scope of options for SOx/NOx compliance beyond exhaust gas treatment.

Since an earlier version of this report was issued in 2012, early adopters of the technology, mainly passenger ship and ferry operators,  have committed to fleet-wide scrubber implementation programmes. Early adopters gain valuable operational experience as well as a head start in both understanding the technology and realising any benefits.

In the majority of the tanker, bulk carrier and container segments the uptake of scrubber technology remains slow. With shorter periods inside Emission Control Areas (ECAs), lower fuel consumption (especially due to slow steaming) and typically lower asset residual values, the business case for installing scrubber technology on deep sea tank, bulk or container ships is not, yet, either strong enough or urgent enough.

The bunker price collapse during 2014 has been another factor. While the price difference between heavy fuel and distillates has remained relatively constant, the fuel costs inside ECAs have reduced giving operators more time to consider their options.
Recently, several suppliers have released new hybrid fuel products for ECA compliance. These are aimed to address the operational risks of operating on distillates but they also present several challenges of their own.

Looking ahead, there are two key years: 2016 and 2018

Ships constructed after January 1, 2016 will need to comply with NOx Tier III when trading to US/Canada and we explore some of the technological options. Other ECAs for NOx may be introduced in the future affecting, however, only newly constructed vessels.

In 2018, IMO will publish a fuel availability study determining whether the global 0.50% sulphur limit will enter into force in 2020 or 2025. If it is 2020, the implications will be widespread: a possible rapid uptake of scrubber technology (with a question mark on whether supply could cover the demand) and the potential for a dramatic increase in operational costs for those who choose to operate on distillate fuels.

Whether LNG will make the leap from niche fuel to mainstream is a big question. Early adopters of LNG-as-fuel could start seeing a real return on their investment and any 'LNG-ready' ships may start converting to LNG-fuelled, if and when the bunkering infrastructure develops sufficiently.

The time for decisions is fast approaching. If in 2012 the industry needed to start considering their options, today, in 2015, time is running out. The compliance options are clear. Ship operators need to evaluate compliance strategies specific to their ships, operation and risk criteria. At Lloyd’s Register, we are ready to offer our independent support on the journey from making decisions to implementing them.



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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