Thursday, July 09, 2015

Are shrubs causing global cooling?

I initially thought this story about shrubs might be an allusion to George Bush II.  Leftists always thought they were enormously clever by referring to him as "Shrub".  But it was not to be.

But some amusing nuttiness below anyway.  I fully accept that shrubs are thriving these days.  There is one in my front garden that certainly is.  The known higher levels of CO2 would be the main cause of that.  But the effect should be worldwide and not confined to the Arctic.  But note what we read below:

"'While plants help to slow climate change in other parts of the world, in the Arctic, taller shrubs prevent snow from reflecting heat from the sun back into space, thereby warming the Earth's surface.'"

So plants worldwide must be doing well and we are told that "plants help to slow climate change" outside the Arctic.  As there are a lot more plants outside the Arctic than it it, shrubs should in fact overall be COOLING the planet!

The usual illogic below

Shrubs growing in the Arctic may cause global warming to get worse, according to research.  Scientists have found climate change has already resulted in an increase in shrubs across the tundra.

They say shrubs reduce the amount of sunlight reflected by snow as they provide a darker surface while they also alter the soil temperatures causing permafrost to thaw.

This can contribute to global warming by reducing the amount of heat from the sun that is reflected back into space.

Dr Isla Myers-Smith, a climate change scientist at the University of Edinburgh who led the study, said: 'Arctic shrub growth in the tundra is one of the most significant examples on Earth of the effect that climate change is having on ecosystems.

'Our findings show there is a lot of variation across this landscape. Understanding this should help improve predictions of climate change impacts across the tundra.'

The research, which is published in the journal Nature Climate Change, involved an international team of scientists studying vegetation changes at 37 sites in nine countries.

They analysed the annual growth rings in the plant stems of shrubs growing in the tundra to build up a 60 year record of the effects of climate on vegetation growth.

They found that as global temperatures have increased, the number of shrubs has increased and their distribution has moved further north.  The type of shrubs has shifted in some areas to taller plants such as alder and willow.

The study also found that the changes appear to be happening faster in Europe and Russia than they are in North America.

The researchers warn that as these changes continue, it could accelerate the transformation of the arctic ecosystem.

Some animals like moose prefer to eat shrubs while others, such as caribou, live on the lichen and grass species that cover northern parts of the Arctic.

Kevin Guay, a researcher who took part in the study at the Woods Hole Research Centre in Falmouth, Massachusetts, said: 'While plants help to slow climate change in other parts of the world, in the Arctic, taller shrubs prevent snow from reflecting heat from the sun back into space, thereby warming the Earth's surface.'


Obama and EPA imperil minority welfare

“Clean Power Plan” would bring imaginary benefits – and real health and welfare damage

Paul Driessen and Roger Bezdek

The Obama Environmental Protection Agency and environmental activists frequently claim that climate change will disproportionately affect poor and minority communities. In their view, this justifies unprecedented environmental regulations, like EPA's pending “Clean Power Plan” (CPP) to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from coal and gas-fueled power plants 30% by 2030.

But what effect will the regulation itself have on poor and minority communities?

The plan will result in higher electricity costs for businesses and families, lost jobs, lower incomes, higher poverty rates, reduced living standards, and diminished health and welfare, our exhaustive recent study found. This damage will be inflicted at the national level and in all 50 states. The CPP will impact all low-income groups, but hit America’s 128 million Blacks and Hispanics especially hard.

The EPA rules will: 1) more than double the cost of natural gas and electricity, adding over $1 trillion to family and business energy bills; 2) require average families to pay $1,225 more in inflation-adjusted dollars for power and gas in 2030 than in 2012; 3) destroy millions of jobs in companies and industries that can no longer compete, here or internationally; and 4) significantly reduce U.S. economic growth every year for the next two decades, causing more than $2.3 trillion in total lost gross domestic product.

Compared to whites, blacks and Hispanics already spend 50% and 10% more of their incomes on utilities, respectively, 20% and 90% more on food, and 10% and 5% more on housing. The EPA regulations will significantly increase the minority family “energy burden” – the percentage of annual household incomes they must pay for residential energy bills – and thus the number of families driven into energy poverty. Inability to pay energy bills is second only to inability to pay rent as the leading cause of homelessness, so increasing numbers of poor and minority families will become homeless.

Black and Hispanic household incomes will decline by increasing amounts every year, while their food and healthcare costs will climb significantly, since those business sectors will also have to pay much more for energy. The poverty rate will increase by more than 23% for blacks and more than 26% for Hispanics.

EPA’s rule will force poor and minority families to choose between buying food, putting gas in the car, going to the doctor, buying medicines, giving to their church, saving for retirement, or making mortgage, rent and car payments. Small businesses will have to find thousands more just to keep the heat, lights and air conditioning on, without laying people off or closing their doors. Factories, malls, school districts, hospitals and cities will have to pay millions more for energy.

By 2035, cumulative job losses resulting from the rule will total 7 million for blacks and 12 million for Hispanics. Most of these losses will occur in localities where blacks and Hispanics are most heavily concentrated. The rule will especially harm residents of seven states with the highest concentrations of blacks and Hispanics: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York and Texas.

Entire communities could sink into poverty. Bread winners lucky enough to find work will be forced to take multiple jobs, commute longer distances, and suffer severe sleep deprivation. Families will have to cope with more stress, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, spousal and child abuse. Nutrition and medical care will suffer. More people will have strokes and heart attacks.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) bluntly summed up the effects of EPA’s “clean power” rules. “A lot of people on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum are going to die,” he said.

Ironically, these are the very people that Obama and EPA claim to care about the most. As African-American author and news analyst Deneen Borelli observes, President Obama “is rewarding his overwhelming support by black voters with an energy policy that will significantly reduce their disposable income.” Indeed, she says, climate change is “the green movement’s new Jim Crow law.”

National Black Chamber of Commerce President Harry Alford accurately called EPA’s carbon dioxide regulation “a slap in the face to poor and minority families.”

Blacks and Hispanics work hard to provide better futures for their children. The EPA regulations will push the American dream even further out of reach for them. Their incomes will be less, their unemployment rates will increase substantially, and it will take those who are out of work longer to find another job. Blacks and Hispanics are often the “last hired and the first fired.”

These are real impacts. However, EPA refuses to consider them, much less tabulate them and compare them to supposed regulatory benefits. It won’t even acknowledge that the health and climate risks that its costly regulations will allegedly prevent are in fact speculative, exaggerated and even fabricated.

For almost 20 years, average planetary temperatures have barely budged, even as carbon dioxide levels “soared” from 0.03% all the way to 0.04% of Earth’s atmosphere. No category 3-5 hurricane has hit the United States for a record 9-1/2 years. Tornadoes, floods, droughts, polar bears, polar ice, sea levels and wildfires are all in line with, or better than, historic patterns and trends. Meanwhile, the Sahel is green again, thanks to that extra plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide, without which life on Earth would end.

Moreover, even if CO2 does drive climate change, slashing US greenhouse gas emissions would bring no benefits, since China, India and other developing nations will not be reducing their enormous emissions.

Other EPA rules are equally suspect. Its mercury regs are based on an imaginary group of US women who catch and eat 300 pounds of fish annually – and whose children would supposedly improve their IQs by an un-measurable 0.00209 points if coal-fired power plants are shut down. As to soot, EPA’s illegal experiments on 296 people found that even “dangerous” or “lethal” exposures harmed no one.

Our air is clean. We don’t need these job-killing, health-impairing EPA regulations. But our governing elites will not give up their power or perks – or their propensity for playing with people’s livelihoods, living standards, health and well-being, for virtually no climate stability, air quality or other benefits.

The good news is that all of this is not inevitable. A recent Supreme Court decision held that EPA should have considered these and other enormous costs from its “mercury and air toxics” regulations, before imposing the rules. The decision should give governors and federal and state lawmakers every incentive to resist EPA’s harmful and dictatorial actions, and not wait for the CPP regulation to go into effect.

A dozen states have already sued EPA over its Clean Power Plan, which is opposed by experts on both sides of the aisle – and even noted liberal constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe. Other states should join the suit, demand a full accounting of regulatory costs, and simply refuse to implement the plan.

As currently written, the regulation calls on unelected state environmental agencies to draft their own state plans and submit them directly to EPA for review and approval. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has signed an executive order blocking her state's environmental agency from submitting a plan. Other states have introduced legislation to the same effect. More should follow them into battle.

The grim reality is that the EPA wants states to do their dirty work for them.  By submitting a plan, states will become complicit in the agency's plan to shut down affordable, reliable power generation, destroy jobs and livelihoods, and plunge minority families deeper into poverty, hardship and ill health.

For the sake of their constituents, elected officials in Washington and state capitals have an obligation to fight this federal takeover of state authority. They should act soon. EPA is scheduled to release its final regulation in August, initiating a one-year period before states will be forced to comply.

As this deadline approaches, our elected officials should determine how best to confront – and resist – EPA’s latest power grab. They should remember that the jobs, economic well-being, health and very lives of millions of minority and blue-collar families hang in the balance.

Via email

No, Polar Bears Won't Face Existential Threat Within 10 Years

In 2009, then-Sen. John Kerry said, “Scientists project that the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer of 2013.” In that same year, Al Gore reiterated the claim: “Some of the models suggest that there is a 75 percent chance that the entire north polar ice cap during some of the summer months will be completely ice-free within the next five to seven years.”

Without ice, polar bears have a tough time surviving, and sadly we had to bid farewell to this wonderful creature a few short years ago because we failed to heed the warning.

Actually, no, that’s not at all true. Not only has the Arctic retained a considerable amount of ice in recent summers, but polar bears are thriving. Earlier this year, Dr. Susan Crockford of the Global Warming Policy Foundation discovered, “On almost every measure, things are looking good for polar bears. Scientists are finding that they are well distributed throughout their range and adapting well to changes in sea ice. Health indicators are good and they are benefiting from abundant prey.” With roughly 25,000 polar bears estimated to be roaming the Arctic, up from 5,000 in the ‘60s, the alarm should be over.

But it’s not.  According to a new report from the U.S. Geological Survey, computer models suggest nearly one-third of polar bears could be wiped off the planet in 10 years as greenhouse gas emissions rise.

Let’s get this straight: The same scientific lobby that warned decades ago polar bears would be extinct by now — but which instead grew in population — are now telling us that a significant percentage of bears could face eradication within a decade based on computer models. The same computer models that utterly failed to forecast the current 18-year-old global warming hiatus. That kind of logic is enough to make even a polar bear do a facepalm.


23 things Congress could defund in Interior and Environment

This week, the House of Representatives is taking up the appropriations bill for the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. This is an opportunity for Congress to exercise its constitutional power of the purse through policy riders that can help limit the size and scope of government.

To that end, Americans for Limited Government suggests the following areas where House members might look to offer amendments to curb what has been a department run amok.

1. Defunding EPA Carbon Endangerment Finding. In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the carbon endangerment finding that held carbon dioxide to be a harmful pollutant under the terms of the Clean Air Act.  It has been used to justify punitive regulations, particularly against producers of coal electricity, to reduce carbon emissions — all without any vote in Congress. It should be defunded, along with any rule that restricts or limits the emissions of carbon dioxide of any motor vehicle, combined heat and power plants or plants for the generation of power or for the production of heat, including the new and existing power plant rules.

2. Defunding UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Since 1988, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been responsible for promoting the man-made global warming hypothesis that the EPA now bases its punitive carbon restriction regulations on. Congress could send a strong message by taking away funds to participate in the forum any longer.

3. Defunding Northern Spotted Owl protection under Endangered Species Act. In 1990, the northern spotted owl was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. That designation has since obliterated the logging industry in California, Oregon and Washington, and now the radical environmentalists want to expand the territory protecting the owl. We propose the opposite. Congress could deny funds to protect any land the owl resides on so loggers can get back to logging.

4. Defunding ethanol mandate. Congress adopted the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005 and expanded it in 2007, with the EPA now requiring so-called renewable fuel including corn-based ethanol to be blended into transportation fuel. It is simply a corporate handout to ethanol producers that presumes ethanol would not otherwise be sold without a government mandate. Congress could deny funds to make any rule that ethanol be included in the blending of gasoline for commercial sale.

5. Defunding removal of lands for energy production purposes without reporting and energy production offsets elsewhere. Instead sitting aside waiting for the EPA to take energy off the table and out of markets, Congress can be proactive and require that no land be removed for energy production until a public report on the amount of energy potential of those lands is issued by the Energy Information Agency, and other public lands containing an equivalent or higher amount of energy potential are made available for energy production.

6. Defunding any litigation pursued under new and existing power plants rule. The heart of the EPA’s strategy for ensuring compliance with its carbon emissions restrictions is via litigation against energy producers. Congress could strike a blow by defunding carrying forth any litigation under Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From New Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units and under Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units under the Clean Air Act or any substantively similar rule that limits emissions of carbon dioxide from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units, including, primarily, coal- and natural gas-fired units.

7. Defunding the Green Climate Fund. Since 2010, the UN Green Climate Fund has been redistributing funds to developing countries, supposedly to combat man-made global warming. Congress could deny funds for this purpose.

8. Defunding the EPA Social Cost of Carbon assessment tool. Congress could deny any funds from being used to utilize the Social Cost of Carbon or any other tool to estimate of the economic damages associated with a small increase in carbon dioxide emissions, the value of damages avoided for a small carbon dioxide emission reduction, changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, or property damages from increased flood risk.

9. Cut EPA general counsel’s office by 30 percent. Just like it sounds. Do not allow no more than $40 million be used to pay for personnel in the Office of the General Counsel of the Environmental Protection Agency.

10. Defunding surveillance cameras in national parks. Congress could block any funds from being used to purchase, install, or maintain any surveillance cameras in national forests and other public lands administered by the U.S. Forrest Service.

11. Zero funding the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. Somehow, we suspect there would be still be arts and humanities in the U.S. without national endowments set up for that purpose. As such, Congress could zero fund both of these agencies to carry out any part of the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965.

12. Defunding light bulb ban. In 2007, Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which was to phase out certain types of incandescent light bulbs. But we don’t have to say goodbye to Thomas Edison’s most famous invention just yet. Congress could block funds from being used to implement or enforce section 430.32(x) of title 10, Code of Federal Regulations; or to implement or enforce the standards established by the tables contained in section 325(i)(1)(B) of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (42 U.S.C. 6295(i)(1)(B)) with respect to BPAR incandescent reflector lamps, BR incandescent reflector lamps, and ER incandescent reflector lamps.

13. Barring sue and settle arrangements under the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. The EPA escalation of sue and settle cases to change the law through federal court rulings threatens to shut down America’s coal producers and other entrepreneurs and compromise our electric grid.  Operating hand in hand with radical environmentalist groups that are willing participants in the scam, sue and settle not only endangers the economy, but also the constitutional separation of powers. Congress could deny any funds from being used for paying legal fees or damages under cases in which the government is a party arising those laws and put a stop to it.

14. Protecting ANWR from Obama executive action. Better safe than sorry. Obama asked Congress to designate portions of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness, but Congress has not acted. And we all know what that means. Where Congress won’t act, Obama will, so Congress can get ahead of another usurpation by blocking funds from being used to from suddenly claiming ANWR is wilderness.

15. Defunding Special Envoy to get Keystone XL approved. Can we just get this pipeline approved already? Perhaps the Secretary of State and Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change would notice if the salaries of employees were not permitted to be paid in an amount exceeding $1.00 per pay period until the Secretary of State issues a permit for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that shall have effect for a period lasting no less than 10 years.

16. Defunding EPA activities that impose additional, extralegal requirements for approving mine permits. Congress could deny funds from being used in defending the government’s position in the Pebble Limited Partnership versus Environmental Protection Agency case that is blocking gold and copper from being mined in Alaska.

17. Defunding EPA rules on burning wood. But what if it gets cold? Congress may want to consider blocking funds from being used by the EPA to enforce the “New Source Performance Standards for Residential Wood Heaters” or any other rule that that restricts the use of wood burning as a heat source, fireplaces, and for cooking.

18. Reporting on Climate Impacts of Forest Fires. When you engage in proper timbering of our nation’s forests, it can help prevent forest fires. As such, Congress should require the EPA to report on the climate impacts of the forest fires that the agency through its regulation is causing.

19. Defunding Navigable Waters Rule. The EPA thinks it can regulate every pond and puddle in America. But not if Congress steps in. It could block funds from being used to implement Definition of “Waters of the United States” Under the Clean Water Act  or any other rule that attempts to define waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act.

20. Defunding Delta Smelt protection and all actions to divert water away from farmers in the San Joaquin delta of California under Endangered Species Act. Water is a big problem in California right now, and for farmers whose lands depended on irrigation waters from the San Joaquin delta, it got a whole lot worse when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to start protecting the Delta Smelt. Congress should block funds from being used to divert water from the San Joaquin delta away from agriculture farmland under the guise of protecting the Delta smelt under the Endangered Species Act.

21. Defunding Boiler MACT regulations. Congress could block funds from being used to enforce the Boiler MACT regulations.

22. Defunding additional national monument designations. There’s probably enough national monuments by now. Congress could defund any more from being created under the Antiquites Act of 1906.

23. Defunding no-take zones or marine sanctuaries designations. There’s probably enough no-take zones and marine sanctuaries already, too. Congress could block funds be used to create any more no-take zones or marine sanctuaries in U.S. waters under the National Wildlife Refuge Administration Act, the National Park Service Organic Act, the Wilderness Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, the National Marine Sanctuaries Act or any other act, executive order, rule, regulation, policy, or initiative.


Reusable bags encourage shoppers to buy junk food, Harvard finds

Canvas shopping bags might be good for the environment but they could be bad for your waistline, Harvard University has found.  Researchers have discovered that a customer’s choice of shopping bag influences purchasing.

And while canvas or hessian bags are more likely to encourage shoppers to choose environmentally friendly organic products, they also make people feel more virtuous and so deserving of a sugary or fatty treat.

In fact, a study showed that people who took their own reusable bag into supermarkets were 33 per cent more likely to pick up unhealthy snacks than those who used the shop provide film bags.

“Grocery store shoppers who bring their own bags are more likely to purchase organic produce and other healthy food,” said study author Uma Karmarkar, assistant professor of business administration at Harvard’s Marketing Unit.

“But those same shoppers often feel virtuous, because they are acting in an environmentally responsible way.  “That feeling easily persuades them that, because they are being good to the environment, they should treat themselves to cookies or potato crisps or some other product with lots of fat, salt, or sugar.”

The study also showed that canvas bags could also be adding to the cost of the weekly grocery shop. The study showed that they encourage people to buy organic food, which adds around £8 to a family of four’s grocery bill, totalling an extra £416 a year.

The study is the first to demonstrate that bringing your own grocery bags causes significant changes in food purchasing behaviour.

The authors collected loyalty cardholder data for 142,938 shopping trips at a major grocery chain in California between May 2005 and March 2007. California has banned plastic bags since 2014.

They compared the same shoppers on trips for which they brought their own bags with trips for which they did not.

Participants were also recruited online from a national pool and were randomly assigned one of two situations: bringing their own bags or not bringing their own bags.

“In short, bringing your own bags changes the way you shop," said Bryan Bollinger of Duke University, who co-authored the research.

"Our findings thus have important implications for grocery store managers. In stores where reusable bags are popular, marketing organic or sustainably farmed foods as indulgences could increase the sales of those items.”


Australia: Greens infiltrate the classroom

By retired Leftist politician Gary Johns

I received a letter this week that had been sent to the parent of a 10-year-old schoolboy and signed by the deputy principal of Cottesloe Primary School, Perth. The letter requested her permission to send a letter, allegedly written by her son, to Julie Bishop regarding the UN climate talks.

This was part of a school project. I am informed the parent looked into the project and spoke with her son and was very unhappy about what the school had done. Her son would not author the letter so much as be encouraged to copy a letter written by a green activist.

“Climate Action for a Safe Environment” is a Greens-inspired campaign to infiltrate schools, indeed the minds of schoolchildren. The campaign website contains a note for teachers: “Students can craft a persuasive letter based solely on the information in Curtin’s CASE flyer” (emphasis added).

The letter seeking parental permission reads in part: “This morning (students) had a speaker, Dr Chilla Bulbeck, discussing environmental issues including climate change and global warming.

“The students … were asked to write a letter to Julie Bishop ­putting forward their thoughts on global warming and climate change” (emphasis added).

The letter to parents directs them to the campaign website where a standard letter is ready and waiting.

“Dear Julie Bishop,

My name is … and I am an ­average … student ... please help this goal of mine (to stop global warming) become yours too ­because we can make a difference for Australia” (emphasis added).

Craft a persuasive letter using their thoughts, describing their goal? This is a deception. This is high-pressure propaganda and it is taking place in primary schools right now.

Bulbeck is an expert in selling ideology. She held the chair of women’s studies at ­the University of Adelaide until 2008 but is now a full-time “volunteer” for the Greens in Western Australia. She is a big-time feminist. Her recent book is a lament for the young generation who seem ­comfortable in their skins and not at all concerned with the evils of inequality, racism and sexism that apparently lurk in every conversation and gesture.

Unlike feminist radicals of yesteryear, she finds young people “are stumped to identify or discuss collective or structural bases for inequality and difference”.

She is a radical in love with the idea of a never-ending revolution. To let her at the minds of 18-year- olds at university is one thing; to let her near 10-year-olds quite ­another. Bulbeck claims Curtin’s CASE is not a political organisation, but admits “our project does appeal to Greens members and supporters”. Very subtle. She also makes an appeal to “climate consensus” based on a “tri-partisan” world. It seems the Greens are now up there with the big two parties, provided they fall into line.

A representative of a political party was allowed into the classroom to push the party’s agenda on young children and to use them to write letters to achieve the party’s goals. Were other ­voices heard?

Were children aware that if the world decides to cut the output of carbon dioxide emissions by denying cheap energy-dense sources they are condemning ­millions to an early death through poverty?

The sunny shores at Cottesloe Beach will remain sunny, the West Australian economy will continue to give succour to millions, provided non-renewables remain strong until such time as there are cheap and reliable ­alternatives.

This exercise in high-pressure manipulation of 10-year-olds took place a few suburbs from the University of Western Australia where a posse of ignorant ­academics and students ran Bjorn Lomborg out of town.

They asserted he was a ­climate-change denier. He is not. Lomborg knows the cost of trading the possible loss of life in 100 years from climate change against the certain loss of life now through lack of access to cheap dense forms of energy.

Did children feel pressured to write a letter and to take the Greens’ viewpoint in that letter? I suspect the school will say there was no pressure, but the examples of letters in the project are all from one position.

It is also understandable that a 10-year-old child might feel very awkward about saying in the presence of his teacher and the other students that he did not wish to write such a letter.

The Greens are no doubt presenting this “lesson” at more than one school. Please, parents, if you have examples of this propaganda send them to me.



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


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