Thursday, August 27, 2015

How strong is the link between global warming and California drought?

Easy answer:  No link at all. For a start, drought is a normal occurrence in California.  Second, since there has been no global warming for 18 years, it cannot  be influencing anything.  Things that don't exist don't have effects.  None of that is confronted by the lamebrain below.  He just regurgitates the usual data-free Leftist propaganda.  And thirdly, there is no significant drought.  Releasing dam water to flow straight out to sea for various crazy Greenie reasons is why there is a shortage of water for homes and crops

Further studies are being conducted at this moment to explore the contributions of particulars to the climate variability which brought about the drought and temperature components related with anthropogenic warming. Thus, when rainfall declined in 2012, the air sucked already scant moisture from soil, trees and crops harder than ever.

The climatic change and its effects may be experienced globally and warmer air and weather are not the only ones to blame since other factors such as evaporation rates and precipitation form part of the main contributors.

If human-caused greenhouse gas emissions were not trapping heat, leading to climate change, the state’s drought could be up to 27 percent less severe than it is, the study researchers say.

Yes, global warming is more than three times higher than natural climate changes and this is bad for California.

The study, authored by five researchers from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and one from the University of Idaho’s geography department, said if this trend continues then the state will experience more “persistent aridity” within a few decades, according to an August 20 press release from Columbia.

It’s very clear the warming of California has increased the probability of conditions that create drought.

Unlike the natural variation in climate which produces extreme conditions only occasionally, the demand of additional moisture on account of global warming is on the rise every year with concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rising higher consistently.

The study, said that average California temperatures have increased 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 113 years. Because of global warming Californian mountain snows have started melting in an accelerated way as well, whereas 10 years ago the melting was dispersed more gradually in time and has helped freshening up the lowlands during the hot season. The monthly changes were simulated in the quantity of water in each bucket between 1901 and 2014. It was found that global warming has contributed between 8 and 27% to the severity of 2012-2014 California drought. Due to the growing global temperature, this fact is turning out to be true for most places worldwide. This means that by around the 2060s, more or less permanent drought will set in, interrupted only by the rainiest years. If California finds itself struggling with this drought, serious planning needs to take place in order to be resilient to a future where it’s increasingly likely that the current drought will look like child’s play.


Sen. Lee: WH Hasn’t Responded to Congressional Inquiries Regarding EPA’s Toxic Spill

 Neither the White House nor the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – the federal agency tasked with protecting public health and the country’s natural resources – have responded to inquiries sent by members of Congress from states impacted by the EPA’s toxic chemical spill in Colorado two weeks ago, a spokesperson with Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) office told

Senate and House members from Utah, New Mexico and Colorado have sent letters to President Barack Obama and EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins, Jr. seeking accountability for the estimated three million gallons of toxic mine waste EPA employees released into Western waterways.

But Sen. Lee sent out a press release on Thursday explaining that he and other members of Congress from the states affected have still not received replies from the Obama administration.

The mine waste, which contained high concentrations of arsenic, lead and other heavy metals, was accidentally released into the Animas River by EPA workers as they inspected the long-abandoned Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado on Aug. 5, the Associated Press reported.

In an Aug. 17 letter to the president signed by all members of the congressional delegation from Utah, where the polluted water reached Lake Powell after travelling 300 miles downstream, the administration was chided for its slow response to the “disaster”.

“Unfortunately, EPA failed to contact the state of Utah within twenty-four hours of the spill. This reckless behavior is intolerable,” the letter states.

“The federal government must implement a more transparent and efficient cleanup effort if it is to aid Utah’s scientists and make our communities whole again,” adds the letter, which was signed by Lee, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and GOP House members Rob Bishop, Jason Chaffetz, Chris Stewart and Mia Love.

“In the long-term, the federal government must ensure that the state and local governments forced to spend money protecting their citizens are adequately and quickly compensated,” the letter added.

In an Aug. 19 letter to Elkins, all the senators from the states of Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, including Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), pointed out that “the release of contaminated water from this legacy mine has polluted the Animas River in Colorado and spread through New Mexico, Utah, the Southern Ute Indian Reservation and the Navajo Nation.”

“The EPA’s execution of this project fell far short of the standards to which any cleanup operation should adhere,” the members of Congress complained.

They also provided 13 questions they want to see answered by the inspector general’s “preliminary inquiry” into the spill.

The 13 questions seek specific facts, including the expertise of the EPA workers at the Gold King Mine; the criteria EPA would apply for such work if it was done by a private sector company; whether the delay of information to interested parties about the spill created any health risks; and details about the procedures, or lack thereof, that led to the spill.

As reported earlier by, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said at a news conference on Aug. 11 that her agency is “taking responsibility” for the toxic release.

But according to the AP, the problem is not going away anytime soon.

“It will take many years and many millions of dollars simply to manage and not even remove the toxic wastewater from an abandoned mine that unleashed a 100-mile-long torrent of heavy metals into Western rivers and has likely reached Lake Powell,” AP reported Aug. 13.

“Plugging Colorado's Gold King Mine could simply lead to an eventual explosion of poisonous water elsewhere, so the safest solution… would be to install a treatment plant that would indefinitely clean the water from Gold King and three other nearby mines.”


Obama: 'Tea Party Agrees With Me on Solar Energy'

In a Monday speech before the National Clean Energy Summit, Barack Obama told the crowd that clean energy “is not and should not be a Republican versus Democrat issue.” He’s right about that, but he instead tried to drive a wedge between the Tea Party and the organizations backed by the Koch brothers.

First, Obama gave an example of the Florida Tea Party’s push to deregulate the state’s solar industry, advocating for a freer market, trying to change the laws so that private citizens can sell energy generated by their solar panels to energy companies. To that end, they are joined by progressives such as the Green Party.

But Obama mistakes the Tea Party trying to affect local change as an endorsement for his energy policies. With that assumption in mind, he fired upon national lobbying groups suspicious of renewable fuels. “When you start seeing massive lobbying efforts backed by fossil fuel interests or conservative think tanks, or the Koch brothers pushing for new laws to roll back renewable energy standards or prevent new clean energy businesses from succeeding, that’s a problem,” Obama said. “That’s rent-seeking, and trying to protect old ways of doing business and standing in the way of the future. … They’re trying to undermine competition in the marketplace.”

But Obama’s new way of doing business involves heavy subsidies that keep industries like ethanol and solar kicking around for another year. It’s a way of business that requires the cost of electricity to “necessarily skyrocket” in order to make green energy viable. It’s an industry that’s only green because it’s under a government spigot — not exactly a Tea Party-endorsed practice, and nothing to do with the competitive free market.


Renewables Offer No Bang for Your Megawatt

Advocates of renewable energy are touting a new statistic that 70 percent of new electricity generation capacity in the first half of 2015 was renewable. While this figure is technically true, it merits an asterisk. That 70 percent refers to how much energy power plants could produce if they were running at full power all the time, a metric called installed capacity. It does not mean that 70 percent of new energy generated in the first half of 2015 came from renewables.

To find out how much energy the new power infrastructure will actually produce, we must look at the capacity factor for various types of energy. The capacity factor measures the ratio of the energy a power plant actually produces to how much it could produce if it were running at maximum power all the time. A higher factor indicates that a source of electricity is more likely to reach its full potential. Capacity factor may be thought of as how much bang you get for your installed megawatt.

Of course, capacity factors vary across energy sources. Coal-fired power plants reach a capacity factor of 61 percent, and natural gas combined-cycle plants hover around 48 percent. Nuclear power fares the best by this metric, with a factor of 92 percent. The most inefficient sources of electricity are renewables: hydroelectric (38 percent), wind (34 percent) and solar photovoltaic (28 percent). The one exception is geothermal, at 69 percent.

Large amounts of new renewable capacity, therefore, do not always translate into large amounts of new power generation. For instance, wind power comprises six percent of total installed capacity in the United States, but produces only three percent of the electricity. Nuclear power, by contrast, punches above its weight—it makes up only 10 percent of installed capacity but produces 19 percent of America’s electricity.

The following chart shows the capacity factors of various types of energy since 1980. While fossil fuels have maintained roughly the same capacity factor over the last few decades and nuclear power plants have got far more efficient, non-hydroelectric renewables have slipped.

Non-hydroelectric renewables have disappointed over the past three decades. Federal policies such as the Wind Production Tax Credit have encouraged the addition of new renewable capacity, but this has not given us a comparable amount of new renewable electricity. Since less-efficient wind turbines and solar panels have been added to more reliable geothermal wells, the overall renewable capacity factor declined from over 60 percent to an abysmal 34 percent in 2012.

Renewables have a low capacity factor because their power sources are dependent on the elements—the sun does not always shine, and the wind does not always blow. Solar panels will see their energy output spike in the middle of a clear day, but then drop down to zero at night. Additionally, wind turbines in the breezy Midwest will often achieve higher output than those in other parts of the country. Renewable energy generation depends on more factors than other energy sources, making it more unreliable.

The one trend that stands out from this graph is nuclear energy. Since 1980, capacity factor has increased from 55 percent to over 90 percent in recent years. Improvements such as reduced maintenance periods and fewer unplanned outages have contributed to this remarkable change. Advantages such as low variability in input costs have also given nuclear a leg up in reliability.

The United States added nearly 2000 megawatts of new wind capacity in the first half of 2015. It would take just over a third of that capacity to generate a comparable amount of electricity using nuclear power. But government policy tips energy investment in favor of renewables: in 2013, nuclear power got just $1.7 billion in subsidies, compared to twice that for fossil fuels and eight times as much for renewables. The federal government is quite literally subsidizing unreliability.

Incredibly, the Obama administration is doubling down on its aversion to reliable energy with its new EPA rule regarding carbon emissions. Nuclear power emits zero carbon, yet the EPA will not allow states to count existing or under-construction nuclear plants towards their emissions-reduction goals. There is little rationale for this provision other than supporting renewables, but such a rationale is self-defeating given that renewables require other sources of power to back them up.

Subsidies and regulations are generally more trouble for an economy that they are worth. But if the government is not going to get rid of energy subsidies and EPA commandments, it should at the very least update them to reflect which power sources show the most promise. The high reliability of nuclear power, as measured by its capacity factor, is a good indicator of the way forward.


Energy switch shames Scotland

Power giant soaks up subsidy but cuts and runs at first sight of costs, with ScotNat connivance, writes Brian Wilson

I am not easily shocked these days and outrage should be saved for special occasions. However, the sound of Fergus Ewing, energy minister at Holyrood, on radio was enough to awaken…well, shock and outrage.

Consider the scenario. A multinational company which bought into a great Scottish industry has betrayed its promises, is about to prematurely close one plant with the loss of 270 quality jobs and renege on construction of another, thereby turning Scotland into a large-scale importer of a commodity of which it has long been a substantial exporter.

I can think of no previous occasion on which, in such circumstances, a Scottish minister of any political colour would not be fighting to reverse these decisions; using the levers of government to achieve that outcome; and would be taking to the airwaves only in order to challenge the morality and legitimacy of what was being done.

The multinational company is Iberdrola. The industry is power generation. The broken promises are in respect of Longannet and Cockenzie. The implications for the Scottish economy extend far beyond these places. The minister is Ewing and his preferred role is as apologist-in-chief for Iberdrola. It is an utter disgrace.

According to both Iberdrola and their well-drilled mouthpieces, this is all about £40 million – the difference in transmission charges because Longannet is in the middle of Scotland rather than on the fringes of London, a geographic detail that presumably did not escape them when they acquired Scottish Power after the trading regime was introduced.

Even that £40m figure is misleading, as we shall see. But the wider point is that the same trading arrangements which are being blamed for these decisions have poured huge profits into the coffers of Iberdrola and will continue to do so for many years to come while we are left to bemoan Longannet, no more, Cockenzie, no more.

When Iberdrola bought Scottish Power, the package contained responsibilities as well as a lucrative set of assets. Privatisation in Scotland left our two companies with the massive advantage of vertical integration, unlike their English counterparts. For Iberdrola, one of the prizes this offered was easy access to the UK renewables market – and subsidies.

It is absurd to moan about transmission charges without considering the wider context of the British Electricity Transmission and Trading Arrangements which came into effect in 2005. They gave Scottish generators the right to sell renewable energy into the British market with subsidy paid for by consumers throughout Britain. Iberdrola has been the biggest single beneficiary of that reform.

Not only that, but to facilitate this major benefit, billions of pounds worth of new infrastructure was approved by Ofgem. Iberdrola’s grid company, Scottish Power Transmission, was in the forefront of that work while the renewables branch profited mightily from the market it facilitated.

We heard little about transmission charges because they were dwarfed by the subsidies Iberdrola were (and are) receiving via the Renewables Obligation.

To compartmentalise the “cost” of transmission charges in respect of Longannet in order to justify killing it off four years early, or perhaps even more outrageously to brand Cockenzie too uneconomic to proceed with, and thereby break the promise of a new gas plant, is a denial of all the responsibilities which came with the acquisition of Scottish Power. Why is the Scottish Government not saying so?

For Iberdrola, it is a case of take, take, take. Fair enough – their obligation is to their investors, the largest of whom is the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Qatar. The scandal is that Ewing, scion of the patriotic dynasty, should rush to the defence of this behaviour solely because he sees political advantage in turning it – quite falsely – into a Scotland v England conflict; a misrepresentation that Iberdrola are understandably anxious to facilitate.

A large part of Iberdrola’s UK customer base is in the north-west of England and north Wales, as a result of Scottish Power having bought Manweb in 1995. They also have extensive generation interests in these areas – and therein lies another aspect of this sorry tale. Iberdrola are investing in the Western Link sub-sea cable between Hunterston and Holyhead. For Scottish consumption, this was presented as a means of exporting Scottish renewables.

For other audiences, the story is reversed. The Western Link will be capable of importing 3.9 gigawatts of power into Scotland, equating to 70 per cent of maximum winter demand. With Longannet and Cockenzie closed, not to mention Hunterston and Torness thereafter, Scotland will become massively dependent on electricity produced in England from coal, gas and nuclear power. What a triumph for Scottish Nationalism.

The bond of mutual cynicism between the SNP and Iberdrola was sealed on 13 September 2010 when Alex Salmond and Ignacio Galan, chairman of the multinational, made a ludicrous announcement – treated entirely uncritically by most of the Scottish media – that the Spanish company would be investing £2.7 billion in Scotland by the end of 2012, no less. Of course, it never happened and nobody bothered to check.

At the time, it was a great coup for Salmond because he could present it as endorsement for his “Saudi Arabia of renewables” nonsense. On the same day, Salmond announced plans for Gamesa, the turbine manufacturer, to invest in Scotland. That never happened either and not a single one of Iberdrola’s lucrative wind turbines has been the product of Scottish manufacturing. We have been conned, right, left and centre. In evidence to a Scottish Parliament committee earlier this year, Iberdrola said Longannet would be viable on £10m a year transmission charges, the same as the English Midlands. The same committee was told by National Grid that Longannet transmission charges would fall in 2016-17 by £10m. So even within this compartmentalised accounting, the gap is down to £20m and falling.

Any minister worth his salt would fight to find a solution within these parameters, using the massive leverage the Scottish Government has with Iberdrola if it chose to exercise it. Instead, workers in Fife and East Lothian, along with the wider Scottish economic interest, are being sacrificed in return for yet another bogus point of grievance, while Iberdrola laugh all the way to the bank.

What’s Spanish for: “What a bunch of patsies”?


The Energy Liberation Plan

Alex Epstein

Thanks to American ingenuity, this country has the potential to become the energy engine of the world—jumpstarting our economy, guaranteeing our energy security, helping billions to pull themselves out of poverty, and creating millions of highly productive jobs—all while improving the quality of our environment.

The energy industry is the industry that powers every other to improve human life. The more affordable, plentiful, and reliable energy we can produce, the more (and better) food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical care, sanitation, clean water, technology, and everything else we can have.

Unfortunately, because of backwards energy and environmental policies that are anti-development, not anti-pollution, we are squandering the opportunity of a generation, through blind opposition to our three most potent sources of power: hydrocarbon energy (coal, oil, and gas), nuclear energy, and hydroelectric energy.

It’s time to replace today’s energy deprivation policies with energy liberation policies.

On October 5 I will be releasing the Energy Liberation Plan for consideration by 2016 political candidates.

The Energy Liberation plan is not like other energy plans, which are based on special treatment for some industries over others, and designed by people who think they know the energy business better than the energy business does and what consumers need more than consumers do.

The Energy Liberation Plan is based on the timeless wisdom of our Founding Fathers, who believed that everyone has the right to produce and consume as they judge best so long as they do not violate the rights of others. This principle leads to prosperity and justice in every area and in every era. It certainly applies to today’s energy policy.

Here is a preview of the five steps to Energy Liberation.

Step 1: Liberate energy consumers and communities from the meddlers who prevent us from choosing the most affordable, reliable energy.

    Abolish all energy mandates, subsidies, and special taxes, including all Renewable Fuel Mandates, Renewable Fuel Standards—anything and everything designed to make us consume uncompetitive, expensive forms of energy.

    Abolish all subsidies for government-preferred vehicles, stopping injustices such as forcing taxpayers to pay wealthy Tesla buyers upwards of $10,000.

    Liberate states to protect their air and water, removing these local issues from the jurisdiction of an unaccountable EPA that imposes massive costs on faraway places, leading to communities deciding on the best energy sources for their overall well-being.

If we restore consumer choice, abolishing all subsidies and mandates whatsoever, all consumers and businesses will have the opportunity to pay the lowest electricity rates and transportation costs.

Step 2: Liberate energy producers and builders from anti-development policies that prevent them from finding and developing the most affordable, reliable forms of energy.

    Restore true ownership to property owners, preventing laws like the Endangered Species Act from interfering with an owner’s right to create value, prioritizing a snail darter or sage grouse over human rights and well-being.

    Allow people to benefit from offshore and federal lands by allowing development in non-national park areas, putting an end to the practice of anti-development policies on 1/3 of American land.

Today’s governments treat development as guilty until proven innocent. They need to recognize that development, done safely and responsibly, is essential to prosperity and to high environmental quality.

Step 3: Liberate energy transporters from anti-development and xenophobic policies that prevent us from selling abundant, world-class energy to allies around the globe.

    Liberate exports of coal, the world’s fastest-growing fuel, to create prosperity in America and help billions around the globe bring themselves out of poverty, creating greater wealth for all humans on the planet.

    Liberate exports of crude oil, allowing our productive companies to sell their product to allies at a fair price instead of wasting resources at distorted domestic prices, which decreases productivity and efficiency.

    Liberate the export of natural gas, creating a global market for our prolific gas producers.

Restricting our energy producers’ ability to sell energy around the world makes no more sense than restricting Apple AAPL -6.80%’s ability to sell iPhones around the world. The world is ours to win—as long as we are free to participate in it.

Step 4: Liberate energy innovators from technophobic policies that prevent technologies like nuclear power and shale energy (including fracking) to reach their potential.

    Allow nuclear progress by replacing superstition-based laws with science-based laws, so that the US can be a leader in nuclear power like it once was.

    Acknowledge that nuclear power is one of the most innovative and safest technologies available and that its future potential is even greater, which makes spreading the false narrative about the dangers of nuclear power and arbitrary red-tape-regulations a major sin, preventing a safe, clean, and inexpensive resource from growing to its full potential.

    Stop the demonization of hydraulic fracturing and shale energy, which are safe, proven technologies.

Anyone who truly cares about the freedom to introduce alternative forms of energy should commit to stopping the technophobic opposition to nuclear power and to hydraulic fracturing.

Step 5: Protect individual rights and maximize environmental quality through laws requiring proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Recognize that our Constitution provides that laws are passed by Congress and the states and dutifully enforced by the executive branch—and repeal the many executive orders that violate this principle.

    Recognize that our legal system requires that to hold someone guilty of a crime one needs proof of harm beyond a reasonable doubt—and apply this to our treatment of energy producers. Recognize that while there may be proof beyond a reasonable doubt that human behavior has some influence on the global climate system, there is no such proof that we are causing a climate catastrophe. Such claims are all based on invalid models that have not and cannot accurately predict the climate. What we absolutely can predict is that restricting energy use, including fossil FOSL -3.51% fuel use, will make Americans both poorer and more vulnerable to climate danger.

    Refuse to sign any global treaty that would increase energy prices, above all restrictions on our most affordable, abundant, reliable energy sources, which will enable us to continue the last 30 years of progress instead of reversing it.

Fundamentally, governments need to be clear with each and every law regarding the protection of environmental quality that the overall goal is to protect human well-being and flourishing, and objectively analyze all the facts with that in mind. As I wrote in The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels: We are not trying to save the planet from human beings, we are trying to improve it for human beings.

Tell your favorite political candidates that you don’t want them to put forward another “energy plan” to dictate when and whether we are free to choose, use, find, develop, generate, transport, and sell it. Tell them to support the Energy Liberation Plan—and empower 300 million Americans with the greatest value a politician can give: freedom.



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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