Wednesday, July 01, 2015

There is no such thing as climate stability

It swings up and down all the time with or without human presence. It's a "delusion of reference" (as in paranoid schizophrenia) to think mankind is responsible.  See the research paper below:

Major cooling intersecting peak Eemian Interglacial warmth in northern Europe

Karin F. Helmensa et al.


The degree of climate instability on the continent during the warmer-than-present Eemian Interglacial (around ca. 123 kyr ago) remains unsolved. Recently published high-resolution proxy data from the North Atlantic Ocean suggest that the Eemian was punctuated by abrupt events with reductions in North Atlantic Deep Water formation accompanied by sea-surface temperature cooling. Here we present multi-proxy data at an unprecedented resolution that reveals a major cooling event intersecting peak Eemian warmth on the North European continent. Two independent temperature reconstructions based on terrestrial plants and chironomids indicate a summer cooling of the order of 2–4 °C. The cooling event started abruptly, had a step-wise recovery, and lasted 500–1000 yr. Our results demonstrate that the common view of relatively stable interglacial climate conditions on the continent should be revised, and that perturbations in the North Atlantic oceanic circulation under warmer-than-present interglacial conditions may also lead to abrupt and dramatic changes on the adjacent continent.


Global warming gets nearly twice as much taxpayer money as border security

New estimates show the federal government will spend nearly twice as much fighting global warming this year than on U.S. border security.

The White House reported to House Republicans that there are 18 federal agencies engaged in global warming activities in 2013, funding a wide range of programs, including scientific research, international climate assistance, incentivizing renewable energy technology and subsidies to renewable energy producers. Global warming spending is estimated to cost $22.2 billion this year, and $21.4 billion next year.

At the same time, the federal government will spend nearly $12 billion on customs and border enforcement this year.

Obama’s climate agenda has attracted criticism from congressional Republicans who have been hammering the administration over the accountability and transparency of its global warming efforts.

Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee have been calling on the heads of major federal agencies to testify on global warming activities. So far, only the heads of the Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency have opted to testify in front of the House.

“With billions of dollars currently being spent annually on climate change activities, Congress and the public should understand the scope of what the federal government is doing, how the billions of dollars are being spent, and what it will accomplish,” said Kentucky Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield. “Anyone who believes the committee ought to be focusing its attention on climate change related issues should be standing with us to get these answers.”

Earlier this summer, the Senate held a hearing to highlight the immediate impacts of global warming. However, Senate Republicans released a report ahead of the hearing that rejected many of the claims made by scientists, politicians and activists about rising global temperatures.

“Over nearly four decades, numerous predictions have had adequate time to come to fruition, providing an opportunity to analyze and compare them to today’s statistics,” reads the report from Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Republicans have also taken aim at the EPA’s efforts to cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. The agency will be imposing emissions caps on new and existing power plants across the country, which significantly hurts the coal industry.

“The American public should be deeply troubled to learn that EPA is actively working to increase energy prices based on predicted global temperature increases without first undertaking efforts to determine if temperatures are actually increasing to the extent predicted by the climate models they are using,” reads the Senate Republicans’ report.

The Obama administration recently declared that the country has moved beyond debating whether or not global warming is a threat, and instead, should be debating what can be done about the issue.

“We have turned a corner on that issue,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in a recent speech. “We are — including in our Congress — really past the issue of whether we need to respond.”


Will 2015 be the year of renewable fuel standard reform?

By Marita Noon

downwiththeepaThe fact that the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee is attacking the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) management — er, mismanagement — of the federal renewable fuel standard (RFS) is indicative of the growing frustration over both the agency and the RFS itself.

At the June 18 hearing, EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator, Janet McCabe was grilled by Senators from both sides of the aisle. Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.), who chaired the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, opened the hearing by calling the RFS “unworkable in its current form.” In her comments, Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) claimed that the EPA’s management of the RFS ignored “congressional intent,” while creating “uncertainty” and costing “investment.”

The RFS has been under fire from all sides. It is the product of a different energy era — one in which presumed scarcity was the norm and reducing greenhouse gases was the concern. As a solution to both problems, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act in 2005, which established the first renewable-fuel volume mandate. Two years later, through the Energy Independence and Security Act, the RFS program was expanded, requiring that 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel be blended into gasoline and diesel by 2022 (annual targets were outlined). The EPA website explains the RFS: “achieving significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from the use of renewable fuels, for reducing imported petroleum, and encouraging the development and expansion of our nation’s renewable fuels sector.”

The EPA administers the RFS and is required to finalize the next year’s proposed fuel volumes by November 30 of each year — something it has failed to do, as Lankford pointed out: “On June 1, the amounts for the proposed mandates 2014, 2015, and 2016 volumes were all released together…some say better late than never, but we need to take a serious look at why these delays are unavoidable every year now, under current law.” The EPA has failed to meet the deadline every year since 2009.

When the 2014, 2015, and 2016 proposed volumes were released — in the middle of 2015 — almost no one was happy. It reduced the amount of corn-based ethanol blended into gasoline, while slightly increasing the share of biofuels.

One day before the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management hearing on “Re-examining EPA’s Management of the RFS Program,” the American Petroleum Institute held a press call in which an unlikely coalition of RFS opponents — the American Motorcyclist Association, the Environmental Working Group, and the National Council of Chain Restaurants— sounded optimistic that 2015 is the year for RFS reform. The Environmental Working Group says the RFS has led to more greenhouse gas emissions. The leading chain restaurant trade group, the National Council of Chain Restaurants, is opposed to the RFS because of its alleged effect on food commodity prices.

Corn growers aren’t happy with the EPA’s new proposed corn ethanol volumes — covering 2014-2016 — that are well below the benchmarks established by Congress. NPR’s Ari Shapiro, in a June 10 Morning Edition broadcast, stated, “Farmers in the Midwest have made good money growing corn for ethanol. To do that, they’ve plowed up lots of grassland. And that cancels out much of the hope for carbon savings. While the EPA still supports ethanol, it wants to take some of the focus off corn, and put it back on greener ways of making ethanol.”

The National Journal states, “The EPA cited market forces, specifically lower-than-expected growth of non-ethanol renewables and lower gasoline use than projected, in lowering the ethanol mandates.”

One of the problems with the 2007 targets is that they are based on an assumption of increased fuel usage and require ever increasing “volumes,” or gallons, of ethanol be produced rather than a percentage of ethanol being blended into gasoline. The combination of more fuel-efficient vehicles, the economic downturn, and an aging population has contributed to “lower gasoline use than projected.”

Last week, I was on the radio with Baron Lukas, President of Vital Strategies Management Consulting, a firm working in the oil-and-gas sector. He explained, “With the advent of the U.S. shale revolution, we have a lot more oil and gas than we thought possible just a couple of years ago. This is a true paradigm shift in how we view our domestic energy situation. The impact is compounded by aging demographics for Japan, China, Russia, Europe, and for the short-term, the United States, which will reduce or at least dampen domestic and global fuel requirements — older people simply drive less and represent lower industrial needs. Lastly, continuing technological advances are increasing fuel efficiency for a broad spectrum of applications, further placing downward pressure on hydrocarbon fuel demands. The bottom-line is a new reality of impending U.S. energy independence, continuing lower crude oil and natural gas prices, and far less dependence on OPEC for us and potentially for our allies.”

While EPA’s newly-released renewable-fuel volumes don’t meet the law’s target of 22.25 billion gallons for 2016, they do increase year after year — with the 2016 target being an increase over current use. Addressing EPA’s new numbers, US News reports, “The update calls for a 27 percent increase in what the EPA calls ‘advanced biofuels’ from 2014 through 2016, a catch-all category that includes cellulosic ethanol made from corn stalks, husks and other leftovers from a harvest, plus fuel converted from sugar cane, soybean oil, and waste oils and greases, such as from fast-food restaurants. Combined with conventional corn ethanol, the proposed volumes overall rise 9 percent.”

Associated Press reporting adds, “The EPA said the standards set by the law cannot be achieved, due partly to limitations on the amount of renewable fuels other than ethanol that can be produced. Next-generation biofuels, made from agricultural waste such as wood chips and corncobs, have not taken off as quickly as Congress required and the administration expected. Also, there has been less gasoline use than predicted.”

Increasing targets may encourage the renewable fuels industry. They are, however, unrealistic; and, as the June 18 hearing revealed, are expected to be “reset.”

In pressing McCabe on the RFS and the consistently-missed deadlines, Lankford asked, “How does RFS get back on schedule? Or, has Congress put a requirement on EPA that it can’t fulfill?” McCabe promised they were working on it and offered some vague explanations. Lankford then asked, “I assume you would agree there’s no chance we will hit the target for 2017 based on the statute required for 2017, so we’ll have to reset it…unless there is a tremendous amount of cellulosic ethanol that comes on board.” Lankford continued, discussing the way the law was written to decrease corn ethanol use and increase cellulosic fuel, which he pointed out isn’t “possible based on production.” McCabe agreed that the cellulosic number would need to be decreased by at least 50 percent.

Later in the hearing, Lankford called cellulosic fuels “great in theory,” but acknowledged that “no one has been able to make it in a quantity that is affordable yet.” He alluded to the fact that the cellulosic industry has struggled — with the largest manufacturer of cellulosic product going bankrupt. He said, “No one can seem to crack the code to be able to make this in a way that’s actually affordable.”

Others support Lankford’s view. On the June 10 NPR broadcast, Rob Mitchell, a researcher for the U.S. Department of Agriculture who studies how to make switchgrass grow for cellulosic ethanol, acknowledged, “We’re not producing any ethanol from switchgrass at this point on a large scale.”

Tim Snyder, agriculture economist with Agri-Energy Solutions, Inc., a Lubbock, Texas-based agriculture- and energy-consulting group, explains, “Because cellulosic ethanol is made from the ‘non-food’ portions of plants, this type of ethanol has gained widespread grassroots interest. Lignocellulosic fibers are found in plant materials like stalks, leaves and stems. These cellulosic fibers contain long chain sugars that are tied together by lignin. Only the sugars are needed to produce ethanol. Lignin is necessary to keep these chains of sugar bonded together. However, lignin renders the sugars unusable, and so it has to be extracted. Once the lignin is stripped away, yeast is added to convert the remaining cellulosic fibers or unbound sugars into ethanol. This description is extremely simplified, but should help to understand that adding steps to the production process that corn-based ethanol does not employ, adds to its overall production cost. Stripping lignin adds significant costs to the production process; even more than corn-based ethanol.”

Snyder continues, “From the standpoint of land use, it takes significantly more land to produce ethanol from cellulosic materials than it does from corn. Additionally, it will take totally new transportation, initial processing and storage infrastructures that currently do not exist on a commercial scale.”

Clearly, to reference Lankford, the RFS is a program, required by Congress in 2005/2007, that can’t be fulfilled. No wonder it has so many who see the EPA’s failures as proof that 2015 is the year for RFS reform. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee says, The mandate is in need of significant reform and oversight.”

Maybe, just, maybe, 2015 will be the year it happens.

(Author’s note: Please tune into “America’s Voice for Energy,” Thursday at 11:00AM ET to hear more from Baron Lukas discussing changing global demographics and the impact on energy demand and Tim Snyder on the economics of cellulosic ethanol and the impact on the ranching community.)


Son of Soviet dissident slams EPA chief for saying climate skeptics ‘not normal’ – ‘Shades of insane asylums for Soviet dissidents’

Jamie Glazov

Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov disappeared from public view in early May, 1984 after he had begun a hunger strike to get permission for his wife, Yelena Bonner, to travel to the U.S. for heart surgery. In the Soviet paradise, wanting one’s anti-Soviet wife to live, and, worse still, to be saved by evil capitalist surgeons and not by the holy surgeons of the Soviet utopia, was, clearly, an exercise in abnormal psychology.

Sakharov was undoubtedly “mentally ill.” No wonder, therefore, that Soviet authorities forcibly confined him in a closed ward of the Semashko Hospital in Gorky, where he was force-fed and given drugs to alter his state of mind. This is how Soviet authorities believed they would get the Soviet dissident to not only stop caring about his wife, but to also make a public recantation about his abnormal anti-Soviet views – a gambit in which they ultimately failed.

The Soviet system had a long and cruel record of perverting psychiatry to abuse political dissidents. Labelling many thought-criminals ''insane,'' the communist regime institutionalized them under horrifying conditions in mental hospitals and force-fed them dangerous and mind-shattering drugs. Dissidents such as Pyotr Grigorenko, Joseph Brodsky, Alexander Esenin-Volpin, Vladimir Bukovsky and Natalya Gorbanevskaya were among the brave heroes who did not elude this grotesque form of Soviet barbarity. Grigorenko was forcibly committed to a special psychiatric hospital for criticizing the Khrushchev regime. Brodksy was sent to mental hospitals for not writing the right kind of poetry; his treatments involved "tranquilizing" injections, sleep deprivation and forced freezing baths. Esenin-Volpin was institutionalized in the Leningrad Special Psychiatric Hospital for his anti-Soviet thoughts. Bukovsky was also confined to the same psychiatric hospital for “anti-Soviet agitation.” Gorbanevskaya was committed to a psychiatric hospital for, among other “abnormality” crimes, attending the 1968 Red Square demonstration against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

And now enter the leftist totalitarians of the Obama stripe. While anti-Soviet ideas caused dissidents to be confined to psychiatric institutions in the Soviet Union, the soil is now being fertilized for the same process in the American leftist land of Alinskyite hope and change. Indeed, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy consoled leftists worldwide this past Tuesday, engaging in Soviet-style labeling vis-à-vis global warming dissidents that would have made Leonid Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov proud. Addressing an audience at a White House summit, she stated that “normal people,” and not climate skeptics, would win the debate on global warming. She made the comment in the context of why the EPA had issued a recent report on global warming’s negative impacts on public health, stressing that, “It’s normal human beings that want us to do the right thing, and we will if you help us.”

The contention that global warming skeptics are not “normal people” is, of course, a normal sentiment coming from a leftist. The Left, as the history of the Soviet regime and other communist regimes has well revealed, breathes it oxygen by labeling. The opponents of the messianic utopian cause are always “evil” and/or “mentally deranged” to one extent or another. And these labels are very effective in demonizing and dehumanizing dissidents -- especially when the labels have that little inconvenient limitation of not having any relationship to the actual facts. There is enough evidence to suggest, after all, that man-made global warming is the myth that the skeptics say it is. A strong presentation of the facts by Shillman Fellow Daniel Greenfield on this score can be found here and here.

Gina McCarthy’s totalitarian attitude toward global warming skeptics parallels, of course, the Soviet mindset that forced Soviet dissidents into psychiatric hospitals and to be force-fed drugs. McCarthy and her superiors in the Obama administration do not, at this point, have the power to put the skeptics they are labeling into asylums, and to be administered "tranquilizing" injections and immersed into ice baths, but it is clear from their own words what their desires are – and what path they are clearing for the brave new world.

dad2The spheres of powerlessness and dehumanization being built by the Gina McCarthys of the Obama administration, to which dissidents and the opponents of “hope and change” are being banished, are somewhat of a personal issue for this writer. My father, Yuri Glazov, was a scholar at the Soviet Academy of Sciences and a professor at Moscow State University who became a “skeptic” about the Soviet paradise in which he lived. He attended human rights demonstrations in Moscow on behalf of political prisoners and signed letters of protest against Soviet political repressions. For not being “normal” in this particular regard, he was fired from his work and received a labor card with a special secret code that meant that he was blacklisted and could not receive employment anywhere in the country. The activities he had engaged in could land a Soviet citizen in the gulag or a psychiatric hospital for decades. But we were the lucky ones. The ones who got away.

My family never forgot, obviously, those who we left behind -- and Joseph Brodsky, Alexander Esenin-Volpin, Vladimir Bukovsky and Natalya Gorbanevskaya were and are among our friends, and the torment they endured for not being “normal” remains etched in history and in our hearts, and we gauge very clearly the pernicious ideological seeds that spawned their persecution and suffering.

My family escaped a totalitarian hell to come to a free country to now face, in the most tragic and bizarre sense, the ideological cousins of our tormentors. The Left and its totalitarian gate-keepers are now in solid power here, slowly but surely building the prison walls and “psychiatric” spaces designed for the treatment of abnormal skeptics. Gina McCarthy and her ilk must be called out for exactly who they are -- and for what they are intending to do. The unimaginable cruelties that Andrei Sakharov endured in the Semashko Hospital in Gorky in the mid-1980s must never be forgotten and must never leave our hearts, for they are the dividing lines in the battle between good and evil, despite the labels that try to camouflage the truth.


Drillers Big on Conservation of Water

In their never-ending search for villains and scapegoats, environmental activists are blaming U.S. oil and gas companies for exacerbating water shortages in California and elsewhere, recklessly depleting water supplies to support the shale boom.

The facts tell a different story: Shale drillers are among the most conservation-minded companies in our country—precisely because the water they use to free trapped oil and gas from underground geologic formations, in the process known as hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking"), is becoming expensive. So they’ve turned to conservation and recycling.

After fracking, 10 percent to 50 percent of the water used in the process flows back up through the well. This is a resource, not a waste product. Because the value of water has doubled or tripled in some places, energy companies are conserving as much as possible, especially in areas that are just one dry season away from drought.

If it seems almost absurd to imagine oil wildcatters conserving water, it becomes less so when you realize that water accounts for up to 25 percent of a fracking project’s costs, with the typical oil or natural gas well requiring some three million gallons of water. Combining wise water use with recycling can save hundreds of thousands of dollars per well.

Looking at the big picture, fracking actually uses comparatively little water overall—no more than 3 percent of total U.S. freshwater consumption. That’s trivial when compared with other economic activities. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that irrigation consumes about nine billion gallons of water daily, more than three trillion gallons a year, or more than 60 times the amount used for fracking. Watering lawns uses trillions of gallons of water every year; golf courses, parks, and other recreational facilities also consume far more water than fracking.

Fracking is currently underway in 21 of the 50 states. Experts estimate that 55 percent of the wells created through the use of fracking since 2011 are in drought-prone areas. Water management thus has become critically important for energy producers, especially in bone-dry California, a state that is home to huge shale oil deposits.

The Monterey Shale holds as much as 15.4 billion barrels of oil, according to the Energy Information Administration. That’s more than four times the recoverable reserves of North Dakota’s Bakken Shale or Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale. Full-scale production could provide as much as a $1 trillion boost to the California economy.

Restrictive laws and regulations are not the solution to water shortages, but one of the main causes of the problem. Public policies have kept the price of water artificially low, especially in the western United States. Therefore, no one is motivated to use water wisely.

The oil and gas industry is different. It is conscious of water’s value—and is doing something to find alternatives and achieve efficiencies, without the heavy hand of government forcing it to do so.

Accusing oil and gas companies of squandering water may grab headlines, but the fingers are pointed in the wrong direction. Because they seek to maximize profits, fossil-fuel producers actually use water more wisely than most other consumers.


Making Greenies pay their own way is "Blue blooded"?

Far-Left Australian webzine "New Matilda" says so -- so who am I to argue?  I can see no logic in it however.  I think "Blue blooded" just seemed like a good term of abuse for them.  As good Leftists, they of course think that government should fund everything.  The idea that Greens are just another political lobby who should pay their own way is incomprehensible to them.  A few excerpts from the usual long-winded ramble below

In December 2013, the Abbott government gutted the Australian Network of Environmental Defenders, cutting off all funding, including $10 million over four years despite the agreement being just six months in.

Much of it was effective immediately, and the eight EDOs around the country were told that beyond June 2014 the recurrent base-funding the organisations had received from federal governments for 18 years would be pulled.

The flow of federal funds to the EDOs was critical to their ability to perform their public interest role, but the Attorney General refuses to meet with them to discuss the cuts.

There had been no warning, no consultation, and despite recommendations from the Productivity Commission and a Senate Inquiry, there has been no back-down.

The government has made it clear it does not value the work that the 20 full-time legal staff and 17 non-legal support staff around the country do, or the function they serve our democracy.

Driving them out of the democratic contest over the environment will diminish citizens’ access to justice, the quality of environmental protections, and the scrutiny and awareness of the corporations whose operations have the potential to permanently damage our environment.

The Productivity Commission has noted that the work EDOs do - on law reform, on public education, in outreach and importantly, running cases for people who otherwise couldn’t afford them - is not being done by anyone else.

Environmental Defenders Offices are a recognised bulwark against corporate power over the biosphere. Implicit in that, Smith said, is the fact they “can’t apologise for being relevant and playing the role we do”.

“We are not a lobbying group, we’re not a campaign group. But the work we do - public interest environmental law - is, by nature, about being relevant,” he said.

“That means working in the areas which are often high-profile and highly contested.

“At the moment that is definitely in the area of coal mining and coal seam gas, but it wasn’t so long ago we were working almost reservedly in the area of, say, native vegetation reform.”

Earlier this year EDO Queensland brought a case which revealed that coal mining company Adani had provided decision makers with extremely high estimates of the taxes, royalties and jobs its mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin would create.

The company plans to build the biggest mine in Australia’s history, along with the world’s largest coal terminal, adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. In August, a separate EDO case will examine its environmental record, which is scarred with breaches and negligence in its home state of India, and whether the Environment Minister should have taken the development's vast carbon emissions into account.

Despite the potential for huge environmental damage and dodgy calculations the state government, under Campbell Newman’s tenure, had been offering to help pay for critical and expensive rail infrastructure to ensure Adani’s mine (and nine others) went ahead.

Recent weeks have shown that the Abbott government - which George Brandis reiterated last week believes “coal is very good for humanity indeed” - is more than willing to extend the same favour through its $5 billion Northern Australia Investment Facility.

The case the EDO brought - through logic and proper application of environmentally law - directly challenged the legitimacy of the Galilee developments.

And yes, it potentially damaged proponents’ chances of approval and financial close.

The small community group the Queensland EDO represented could not have funded a five-week case involving nearly two dozen expert witnesses, but the new information it dragged into the public domain has added substantial weight to widespread community concern.

Facilitating communities’ use of the law is central to the EDOs function, which is largely why the Senate Inquiry Into the Abbott Government’s Attacks on the Environment this week found that “the long-term cost to communities and to the environment will far outweigh the short-term financial gains achieved by the defunding of the EDOs.”

To the EDO, access to justice for communities and the environment is a public good: “The dominant purpose is not to protect or vindicate a private right or interest, but to protect the environment.”



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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