Friday, July 03, 2015
The church of global warming
The new rosary: "Hail warming, full of grace, blessed art thou among climates and blessed is the fruit of thy womb panic"
In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is unhappy with the Pope's backing of what Zeg insists on calling "anthropological" global warming.
Zeg seems to be a bit of a Latinist too. That gobbledegook above the Pope's head in the toon is not dog Latin but real Latin. It translates as, "The crack-brained poison of Rome".
Radiation hormesis rediscovered
Panic merchants of all kinds insist that harm from ionizing radiation rises in a linear way. Greenies need to argue that to justify their scares about nuclear technology. But the evidence for a threshold effect is strong. Weak to medium strength radiation has repeatedly been shown to be beneficial in fact. So it is good to see below some cautious acknowledgement of that
Countless scientific studies have debated the issue - does radiation from X-rays and CT scans cause cancer? At very high doses the evidence is clear, scientists say - the answer is yes.
But one oncologist from Loyola University in Chicago now points to 'serious flaws' in the theory, when considering everyday exposure to radiation during medical scans. Dr James Welsh said the reliance of past research on unproven statistical models is important.
'Although radiation is known to cause cancer at high doses and high-dose rates, no data have ever unequivocally demonstrated the induction [start] of cancer following exposure to low doses and dose rates,' said Dr Welsh, and his co-author Dr Jeffry Siegel.
They argue studies that have identified a link between medical imaging and cancer, typically use a model known as 'linear no-threshold' (LNT).
In LNT, the well-established cancer-causing effects of high doses of radiation are simply extrapolated downward in a straight line to low doses.
The LNT model assumes there is no safe dose of radiation, no matter how small. But although LNT is used by regulators around the world, the model is 'of questionable validity, utility and applicability for estimation of cancer risks,' Dr Welsh and Dr Siegel said.
Contrary to the LNT model, there is compelling evidence that the human body has evolved the ability to repair damage from low-dose radiation.
For example, the mutation rate caused by low-dose background radiation in the environment is 2.5 million times lower than the rate of spontaneous mutations in the body.
So even if the LNT model were true, the small increase in mutations caused by low-dose radiation from medical imaging would be unlikely to overwhelm the body's defences.
They add studies purporting to find a cancer link to medical imaging radiation have other flaws besides the questionable LNT model.
For example, Dr Welsh and Dr Siegel highlight, two recent studies suggested possible increased cancer risks from low-radiation doses associated with paediatric CT scans. But these cancers are likely due to the medical conditions that prompted the need for a CT scan, rather than the radiation exposure, the pair noted.
While many people focus on the apparent risks of radiation in medical imaging, 'the more significant and actual risks associated with not undergoing an imaging procedure or undergoing a more invasive exploratory surgery are generally being ignored in both the scientific literature and the popular media,' they added.
The views first appeared in the journal Technology in Cancer Research & Treatment.
Scientists predict polar bear population crash
Greenies have not got a prediction right yet so there is no cause for alarm. Additionally, there has been huge fraud in estimating bear numbers, with whistleblowers heavily sanctioned. So this is just propaganda and prophecy combined: A unimpressive combination
Imperilled polar bears will see a population crash in most parts of the Arctic if global greenhouse gas emissions continue at current rates, thereby causing accelerated melting of the sea ice the animals depend on for survival, a study has found.
A study led by US Geological Survey (USGS) biologists showed that a worldwide failure to reduce the release of atmospheric pollutants tied to the burning of fossil fuels will likely lead to "a greatly decreased state" for polar bear populations in Alaska and elsewhere, except for an Arctic region north of Canada where summer ice is known to persist for longer.
The world's 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears, which can stand as high as 3.35 metres and weigh as much as 635 kg, use floating sea ice as platforms for hunting their preferred prey of ringed seals, for mating and to travel vast distances quickly and without expending crucial energy reserves on long-distance swimming, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The bears were protected in 2008 under the federal Endangered Species Act after US wildlife managers said climate changes threatened the massive mammal's survival, in the first such listing of its kind.
USGS ecologists used updated models for predicting greenhouse gas levels under a variety of scenarios in a research paper that concluded that polar bears will face severe challenges in the next several decades even if climate warming stabilises thanks to of reductions in global emissions.
"Substantial sea ice loss and expected declines in the availability of marine prey that polar bears eat are the most important specific reasons for the increasingly worse outlook for polar bear populations," said Todd Atwood, USGS research biologist and lead author of the study.
Dr Atwood and his team found that other stressors for polar bears, including oil and gas exploration and hunting by indigenous peoples, had little impact on them compared to the loss of sea ice.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to release for public review a draft plan on Thursday for the recovery of polar bears.
The link between climate and poverty
The climate alarmists are practically giddy over Pope Francis’ recently released “climate encyclical” — remember, these are, generally, the very same people who dis the church and its position on abortion, the origin of life on earth, and the definition of marriage. Even Al Gore, who admits he was “raised in the Southern Baptist tradition,” has declared he “could become a Catholic because of this Pope.”
Not surprisingly, Carl Pope, who served as executive director of the Sierra Club for 36 years, chimed in. He penned a piece published on June 22 in EcoWatch in which he bashes “American conservatism” and positions the papal publication as being responsible for a “new dynamism” that he claims is “palpable.”
“It is more a gale than a fresh breeze,” Pope exclaimed, “when the most ground-breaking pope since John XXIII links poverty and climate.” In his post titled “How Pope Francis’s Climate Encyclical is Disrupting American Politics,” Pope pronounces, “Something fundamental is shifting this summer in political and cultural attitudes around the climate.”
The former Sierra Club director then goes into a litany of news stories to support his position. Included in his list: the recent agreement from the “world’s major industrialized nations” to “Phase Out Fossil Fuels by 2100” — which is more rhetoric than reality.
In his claim of colliding “new realities and social change forces,” Pope never mentions the polling indicating that after the most extensive and expensive global propaganda campaign, fewer people are worried about a warming planet than were 25 years ago. Nor does he acknowledge that, according to Harvard Political Review, the vast majority of Americans — even those who agree that “global warming is a proven fact and is mostly caused by emissions from cars and industrial facilities such as power plants” — are still “unsupportive of government measures to prevent climate change that might harm the economy.”
And “harm the economy” it does — which is why, despite the G7 non-binding “agreement,” many European counties are returning to fossil fuels and retreating from renewables — led by German capacity payments to keep coal-fueled power plants open.
On June 19, in PV Magazine, Stelios Psomas, policy advisor at the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies, laments Greece’s “policy U-turn towards lignite.” Psomas said, “All [the new government] is concerned with is how to promote power generation from fossil fuels e.g. new lignite power stations, new gas pipes and exploratory drilling for oil. So far, it has shown no interest at all for renewables energy.”
In May, Greece’s Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, sent a letter to the European Commission “requesting permission to reactivate and prolong the life of Ptolemaida 3” — an “old technology” coal plant. Among his arguments, Lafazanis cited “the country’s ongoing recession, which has prompted the need to maintain household heating costs as low as possible.” Greece is also due to start construction any day on Ptolemaida 5, a new lignite-fired power station in Northern Greece.
Greece’s return to coal is due, according to Lafazanis, to the intermittency of renewable power, which endangers the country’s “energy security,” and to economic concerns. The Greek photovoltaic industry is “now preparing for the worst.”
Similarly, Poland is also seeking exemptions from “the European Union’s rules on reducing carbon emissions because the nation’s energy security and economic development depends on coal,” BloombergBusiness reports. Poland has previously received concessions from the EU climate policy. The new governing party, Law & Justice, is planning a strategy for the economy that “rejects the dogma of de-carbonization.” On Carbon-Pulse.com, Ben Garside predicts, “it may become more tempting for Polish governments to try to opt out of the [climate] laws altogether.”
Following elections in the United Kingdom that gave the conservative Tories a decisive majority, Britain’s energy policies are changing. While, so far, claiming to stick to its carbon targets, the new government will focus on minimizing costs.
In an editorial prior to the elections, The Guardian framed the party differences this way: “The Tories have cast off their green disguise. They will end subsidies for onshore wind power and rely on the market to bring down prices, they are enthusiastic about fracking and they want to build more roads. … The Greens, of course, remain committed to creating a zero-carbon economy, even if that is at the cost of economic growth.”
As predicted, the new Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, announced an end to onshore wind subsidies, which “will save hundreds of millions of pounds.” She acknowledged that ending the “subsidy scheme” meant about 250 projects, totaling about 2,500 turbines, are now “unlikely to be built.”
The change in the government’s attitude toward wind energy, which was part of the Conservatives Manifesto, is likely the first of many to come in the weeks ahead. The Manifesto pledges to:
Keep energy bills as low as possible;
Halt the spread of onshore windfarms;
Back a significant expansion in new nuclear;
Continue to support development of North Sea oil and gas and the safe development of shale gas; and
Not support additional distorting and expensive power sector targets.
In The Telegraph, columnist Fraser Nelson reports that, after taking stock of what has been learned in the past five years, Rudd intends to take the summer to come up with “a proper Tory plan” — which, like the wind subsidy decision, is expected to follow the Manifesto and keep energy bills as low as possible.
Once again, economics are an important factor. Nelson states the following as a problem with climate-driven energy policy: “the fact that at least 15,000 British pensioners die of the cold each winter. It’s a staggering death toll, which has been greeted with a shrug for far too long. But this, too, is ending. The notion of ‘fuel poverty’ is being more widely recognized — and green subsidy is compounding the problem.”
In Germany, Greece, Poland, and the UK, fossil fuel has reemerged. However, in Ethiopia, according to Pope, they are willing to reduce projected 2030 carbon pollution by 64 percent. The caveat? “If climate finance is made available.”
Yes, there is a “link” between poverty and climate. The green energy favored by the Pope, Carl Pope, and other climate alarmists threatens energy security, harms the economy, and creates fuel poverty that kills thousands of people each year.
The EPA gives with one hand and takes away with the other
The Obama administration issued a potential setback to Royal Dutch Shell's Arctic oil exploration plans on Tuesday, telling the company that established wildlife protections prevent it from drilling two rigs simultaneously within 15 miles (24 km) of each other, as it had planned.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued Shell a permit on Tuesday that said that under existing federal walrus and polar bear protections, Shell must maintain a 15 mile buffer if it plans to drill two rigs simultaneously. In Shell's 2015 Arctic drilling plan, no two of its wells are more than 15 miles apart.
GREENIE ROUNDUP FROM AUSTRALIA
Three current articles below
Unpacking wind farm impacts in Australia
Fears over adverse health impacts caused by wind farms are being heavily scrutinised during a parliamentary inquiry into the controversial renewable energy source.
The Senate select committee inquiry into the regulatory governance and economic impact of wind turbines, established last November, is due to report by August 3.
The inquiry’s extensive terms of reference include investigating the impacts of wind farms on household power prices and the Clean Energy Regulator’s effectiveness in performing its legislative responsibilities.
The role and capacity of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in providing guidance to state and territory authorities is also under scrutiny.
The first public hearing was held at Portland in Victoria on March 30 while two were held in Cairns and Canberra in May.
About 460 public submissions have been received with four more public hearings scheduled for June in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra.
At the most recent hearing in Canberra on May 19, witnesses presented a range of conflicting views about the adverse health impacts of wind turbines, particularly around low-frequency infrasound.
Family First Senator Bob Day said the inquiry had heard extensive evidence from state and local governments that they were struggling with regulating the wind turbine industry.
Senator Day said infrasound did not appear to be covered by regulations, “which mostly cover audible decibel measured sound”.
He said evidence from hearing expert Dr Andrew Bell claimed infrasound cannot be measured, and it was unknown how the ear coped with infrasound.
“It is just not possible to measure it – all you can do is accept the overwhelming evidence that people are affected by it,” he said.
Dr Bell said large infrasonic impulses – whether from a wind turbine, coal mine or a gas turbine or “whatever” – can have an effect of altering the middle ear and causing a pressure effect, “maybe headaches, maybe seasickness and things like that”.
“I think infrasound by itself with very large low-frequency pressure pulses does disturb the human ear,” he said.
“Exactly how it happens is unknown; my suspicion is that it is the middle ear muscle – the gain-control before the cochlea – but we are just beginning to do work in this area.”
The annoyance factor
The Australia Institute research director Roderick Campbell referred to a report on the wider impacts of wind energy written by researchers at the Nossal Research Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne.
Mr Campbell said the institute’s medical researchers concluded in the report that there was “no credible peer-reviewed scientific evidence that demonstrates a causal link between wind turbines and adverse physiological health impacts on people”.
But he said they found that there was some connection between annoyance from wind turbines and sleep disturbance.
“They felt that attitudes towards wind farms have a considerable influence on these factors and the extent to which noise, visual disruption and social change resulting from wind farms can cause stress or annoyance, which in turn can contribute to health issues,” he said.
“Any effects from such exposures are therefore likely to vary considerably across communities and are best considered indirect effects.”
Mr Campbell said the Warburton review – along with almost every other review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) “which is dominated by wind energy” – found that the RET either has a minimal impact on household prices or, in the longer term, is likely to put downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices.
‘No problems whatsoever’
Australian Wind Alliance national co-ordinator Andrew Bray said evidence also existed of people living near wind farms with no reported problems.
Mr Bray said he had also spoken personally to people who were in “great distress” – and “I certainly do not want to say that they are making stuff up”.
However the danger of looking at those cases selectively was “that you miss the much larger pool of people who live near wind farms who have no health problems whatsoever”.
Mr Bray said if a study was undertaken of all people living around a wind turbine, “you would find that the incidence of health problems is not high”.
However, NSW Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm said: “With cigarettes, the incidence of lung cancer was not high either”.
Public Health Association of Australia CEO Melanie Walker said complaints from people affected by noise from wind turbines must be recognised and managed, with fair and reasonable solutions developed.
Ms Walker said allegations of harm to health from wind turbines must also be placed in the context of minimal evidence supporting some claims and the considerable evidence supporting harm from other energy sources.
She said governments should also support wind power as one of the viable evidence-based renewable energy options to rapidly transition the economy from fossil fuels.
“This is supported by the Public Health Association on both health and safe climate grounds,” she said.
“We know that people who are disturbed by noise become annoyed, and we know that if you are annoyed you become more acutely sensitive to the cause of your disturbance,” she said.
“We are also aware that if you are annoyed and disturbed that you are going to have interrupted sleep, and we know that this is not good for people’s health in the short term.
“The linkage from the short-term annoyance to longer term health problems is more problematic, because there is a chain of events that takes decades to work through.
“But we do know from the broader social determinants of health literature that there are some connections between psychological distress and, over a period of years, the emergence of chronic diseases.
“So we are not saying that this does not happen, but we are saying that it is a long-term, not immediate, effect.
“We are also aware that people who live near coalmines in the Hunter Valley or people who live in Morwell in Victoria also have sources of stress in their environment which is contributing to their sense of unease as well.”
Senator Leyonhjelm said the committee had heard from people who favoured having wind turbines erected on their properties and were also very supportive of renewable energy.
But he said after the wind turbines were erected, some of those people then reported suffering adverse health effects.
Bass Strait's artificial structures good for hungry fur seals
Greenies will hate this, Everything artificial is BAD, according to them
A study looking at the feeding behaviour of Australian fur seals in Bass Strait has found the animals benefit from the shipwrecks, pipelines and cables in their underwater world.
The researchers found these structures act like artificial reefs, attracting fish and other marine life. This makes them a happy hunting ground for hungry fur seals, which feed on a variety of bony fish, squid and octopus.
Revealed by the study's GPS tracking data and underwater "seal-cam" footage, the results showed the animals from the Kanowna Island colony off Wilsons Promontory favoured particular foraging routes.
"In one case we looked at the GPS track and it was a straight line, which made us think that the seal might be following fishing vessels," said John Arnould from Deakin University.
On closer inspection the researchers realised something else was at play: the animal's foraging path mirrored a pipeline. And it wasn't alone. Others were doing the same.
Underwater infrastructure in Bass Strait includes the high-voltage Basslink power pipeline, communications cables, wells and numerous shipwrecks.
Published in the journal PLOS ONE on Thursday, the findings showed this infrastructure benefited the fur seals because by forming an artificial reef, marine life became concentrated in what was otherwise a sandy seafloor with very little habitat variation.
Associate Professor Arnould said the Australian fur seals, which feed almost exclusively on the seafloor, appear to have cottoned-on.
"For some individuals it influenced where they were foraging and for some of the 36 studied, the artificial structures were heavily influencing where they were foraging," he said.
The research team, including scientists from the University of Tasmania and the University of California Santa Cruz, also looked at how far from the infrastructure the seals were feeding.
In some cases it was up to 100 metres but Associate Professor Arnould said this still indicated the artificial environment was having an impact on foraging behaviour.
"Structures can influence currents and therefore nutrient transport," he said. "So even if seals aren't always feeding on the pipeline, the pipeline is influencing where they forage."
On one case, black and white video footage of a seal foraging around an oil rig revealed a surprising number of fish concentrated in the area.
"The amount of fish around this structure was unbelievable," Associate Professor Arnould said.
Thirty-six Australian fur seals were fitted with a GPS tracker and dive recorder as part of the study. Two of the 36 had an underwater camera attached to their dorsal fur.
Heavily hunted for their coats in the 1800s, the Australian fur seal population dipped to as few as 20,000. Now protected, the seal population is recovering at about 3000 pups a year, or 2 per cent.
Huge subsidies needed for electric cars: Australian government not interested
Renault Australia boss Justin Hocevar has held up the delivery of the Renault Nissan Alliance's 250,000th electric car as evidence the Australian government has the wrong approach to motoring.
The partnership sold the landmark car, a Renault Zoe hatch, to French resident Yves Nivelle, who took advantage of a €10,000 ($14,500) subsidy to buy a €21,990 ($31,885) car for little more than half its retail price.
"The government's environmental bonus was a big factor in my decision to get an EV," Nivelle says.
The French subsidy encourages drivers to trade in older diesel models for a new electric car.
For customers who aren't prepare to pay cash for the car, other French subsidies allow drivers to lease an electric Renault for just €99 ($145) per month.
Australian drivers miss out on the Renault Zoe as tawdry charging infrastructure and a lack of rebates provide little incentive for people to choose electric cars.
"The lack of support for electric vehicles certainly impacts the business plan for Renault to introduce electric vehicles to Australia," Hocevar says.
"Currently electric vehicles in Australia carry a price premium over their internal combustion engine counterparts and in such a competitive and price sensitive market; this does make it difficult for us to look at introducing product."
Asked whether the Federal Government would consider subsidising electric cars, a spokesman for Ian Macfarlane, Minister for Industry and Science, says the main encouragement for people to consider green cars lay in the Green Vehicle Guide website that helps consumers compare cars "based on greenhouse and air pollution emissions".
The government also charges less in luxury car tax to prestige vehicles that use less than 7.0L/100km, however that threshold (set at $75,375) hasn't changed in four years.
Minister MacFarlane is on the record as saying electric cars are "an idea, not a solution", and that he is more interested in hydrogen-fuelled cars than machines that primarily use coal-sourced electricity.
That's not a notion supported in Norway, where government subsidies have pushed electric car sales to around one in five of all models. More than 50,000 electric cars are on the road in Norway, where battery-powered motorists benefit from reduced taxes, toll-free use of motorways, free parking and the use of public transport lanes.
Hocevar says "it would be fantastic if we could emulate this support in Australia", but "at this stage we don't believe there is a plan for the government to introduce support in the near future". "The lack of support for electric vehicles in Australia is disappointing," he says.
The difference between Australia and Norway is that the majority of local power comes from coal, whereas the Scandinavian nation relies on hydroelectric energy [Those wicked DAMS!] . Yet plenty of other federal, state and local governments around the globe provide strong incentives for green cars, and Hocevar isn't the only Australian executive to criticise the government's approach to electric machines.
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
Posted by JR at 12:35 AM