Monday, October 05, 2015

Now it's hamburgers that cause global warming

For the first time in history, every major country except for India has announced new plans to curb carbon emissions, in an effort to fight climate change. This includes China and the United States, the world's two filthiest polluters.

With the pledges offered so far — what amounts to the biggest world reduction of carbon emissions ever — we're still on track for the world to heat up by more than 6 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, according to a new analysis released this week by Climate Interactive, a Washington-based research group.

We have not yet begun to face reality on this. Two months from now, at the United Nations' Paris conference on climate change, a final deal will be struck. We need strong assurances that countries including ours will do more, or at least ramp up their efforts over time.

Consider this: Producing one half-pound meat patty for your lunch releases as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000-pound car nearly 10 miles. The meat in our diets actually causes more greenhouse gas pollution than either transportation or industry.

In fact, it is a moral imperative, as Pope Francis told the United Nations. We can't have people forced out of their homes by flooding, drought and famine because we want to eat burgers and drive fleets of SUVs. We've taken the first step. The question is, now what?


Long-term climate history shows that changes in CO2 levels do not significantly affect earth's temperature

The academic journal article below goes much further into the past than Warmists usually do, so it has a better chance of sorting out how events in climate history are associated.  And they find that past fluctuations in CO2 did essentially nothing to temperature.  It was changes in the sun that led temperature change on earth.  They sourced both their temperature and CO2 data from readings of Antarctic ice cores -- as is common in paleoclimate studies

Correlation between solar activity and the local temperature of Antarctica during the past 11,000 years

By X.H. Zhao,  X.S. Feng


*  SSN [sunspots] and Vostok temperature (T) had common periodicities in past 11,000 years.

*  The millennial variations of SSN and T had a strong and stable correlation.

*  The millennial variation of SSN led that of T by 30–40 years.

*  Correlations between CO2 and T were neither strong nor stable.


The solar impact on the Earth's climate change is a long topic with intense debates. Based on the reconstructed data of solar sunspot number (SSN), the local temperature in Vostok (T), and the atmospheric CO2 concentration data of Dome Concordia, we investigate the periodicities of solar activity, the atmospheric CO2 and local temperature in the inland Antarctica as well as their correlations during the past 11,000 years before AD 1895. We find that the variations of SSN and T have some common periodicities, such as the 208 year (yr), 521 yr, and ~1000 yr cycles. The correlations between SSN and T are strong for some intermittent periodicities. However, the wavelet analysis demonstrates that the relative phase relations between them usually do not hold stable except for the millennium-cycle component. The millennial variation of SSN leads that of T by 30–40 years, and the anti-phase relation between them keeps stable nearly over the whole 11,000 years of the past. As a contrast, the correlations between CO2 and T are neither strong nor stable. These results indicate that solar activity might have potential influences on the long-term change of Vostok's local climate during the past 11,000 years before modern industry.

Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, Volume 122, January 2015, Pages 26–33

Top US scientist resigned after admitting that global warming was a big scam

Explaining his shocking resignation from the American Physical Society, Professor Emeritus of physics Hal Lewis of the University of California at Santa Barbara wrote:

“It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist.”

The renowned physicist further wrote:

“Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don’t think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club.”

Dr. Lewis, who was also a former department chairman at the University of California, had been a member of the American Physical Society for 67 years.

See entire resignation letter: here.


House Probing Group That Wants Climate Dissenters Imprisoned

Exactly one month ago, 20 scientific researchers with the Institute of Global Environment and Society penned an open letter calling on the White House to prosecute global warming skeptics under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

That letter, which appeared on the institution’s website, went strangely missing this week — likely in response to severe criticism, and not just from the Right. The authors are now probably wishing they hadn’t written anything at all.

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology launched a probe into IGES after it was revealed the institution is heavily taxpayer-subsidized. And Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the committee, wants to get to the bottom of it. In his own letter to IGES President Jagadish Shukla, Smith writes, “IGES appears to be almost fully funded by taxpayer money while simultaneously participating in partisan political activity by requesting a RICO investigation of companies and organizations that disagree with the Obama Administration on climate change. In fact, IGES has reportedly received $63 million from taxpayers since 2001, comprising over 98% of its total revenue during that time.”

And since “IGES’s recent decision to remove documents from its website raises concerns that additional information vital to the Committee’s investigation may not be preserved,” Smith outlined steps Shukla should follow “so that a full and complete record of relevant communications can be produced.” Talk about a backfire.


California’s Drought: Not an Environmental Problem. An Environmentalist Problem

I was walking through downtown Sacramento recently when raindrops started falling. People on the street stopped dead in their tracks, looked up at the sky, and began acting giddy. “What’s that?” I asked a man. “I think it’s something called rain,” he responded. Such is the gallows humor in a state that hasn’t seen substantial rainfall in years.

The obvious lack of rain is the seemingly obvious reason for the state’s lack of sufficient water. Water levels in state reservoirs are falling, officials are cracking down on “excess” water use (lawn-watering, etc.), and voters passed a water bond on the 2014 ballot to help fund more storage. The Capitol crowd is obsessed with the water issue, while local planners use the crisis to clamp down on building permits.

State officials say California’s drought is “one of the most severe droughts on record,” and they warn that even an El NiƱo rainy season is unlikely to fix the situation. In fact, nothing seems to fix the situation. Californians have slashed their water use by 31 percent during July—well above the 25-percent reduction targeted by the governor. And there’s still not enough water.

But as this series will show, California’s drought is largely a man-made crisis. It is caused by a series of policies—some from the past, many ongoing—which has prioritized environmental demands above the basic provision of water resources to the public. More than half of the state’s water resources simply flow out the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean.

Even now, in the Sierra foothills, state officials empty reservoirs to protect “unimpeded” river flows to benefit small numbers of non-endangered hatchery fish. The California Coastal Commission, the powerful agency with control of development along the shoreline, is holding up a privately planned desalination plant over concerns about its impact on plankton. The environment-friendly commission want to force the developers to build a pumping system that destroys the economics of the plant.

Meanwhile, slow-growth activists see opportunity in the drought. Their goal is to stop new developments despite California’s growing population, so a lack of water is a useful tool in their arsenal. A state law forces developers to prove sufficient water resources for decades into the future—before being able to get a permit to build developments. This slow-growth lobby sees no reason to come up with water-storage solutions.

Even the federal government is in on the action. In the far northern part of the state, along the Klamath River, federal environment officials want to remove four dams that provide water storage near the Oregon border. Their goal is to help preserve the habitat of non-native salmon. The “destroy the dams” movement had gained so much steam in recent years that San Franciscans were asked in a 2012 advisory vote to destroy the O’Shaughnessy dam in Yosemite National Park and drain the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir—the main source of water for the state’s third-largest city. Even that city’s notoriously lefty voters said “no” to shutting their main water spigot.

If one takes a map of the state of California and turns it on its side, with the Pacific boundary at the bottom, it’s easy to better understand the state’s water geology. Water flows from the Sierra Nevada Mountains through rivers that head toward San Francisco Bay. It all ends up in a place called the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the West Coast’s largest estuary. That’s near the lowest point in your sideways map. Then it heads to the bay and, then, the ocean.

When you hear Californians argue about the Delta, that’s what they are talking about. It’s a 1,100-square-mile area with 1,000 miles of rivers filled with historic towns, orchards, swamps, islands, and marinas. That estuary serves as a giant water filter. Primarily, the mighty Sacramento River meanders through the delta, kept within its banks by a series of aged dirt levees. A pumping station at the south end near Tracy sends water along a system of canals to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley—and also to the Southern metropolises.

During wet years, the estuary is filled with fresh water. During droughts, the salinity levels are high as water from the Pacific migrates eastward. That region remains Ground Zero for the state’s water fights. The fate of a tiny baitfish called the Delta Smelt is central here. Occasionally, a few dead smelt are found at the fish screens in Tracy, which causes administrators to shut down water supplies from the Delta toward the south. Water supplies are also stopped during drought years.

In 1982, our past and current governor, Jerry Brown, wanted to build a peripheral canal that would bypass the crumbling levees and take Sacramento River water around the Delta—before heading to the farm and urban water users. The state’s voters rejected that measure. Southern Californians were mostly indifferent to the idea, but Northern Californians resented having more of “their” water sent away.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest plan is to build twin tunnels under the Delta to provide a more consistent water supply southward. The planned cost: $25 billion for the total project, with a separate portion geared toward environmental restoration. Northern Californians are still mostly against it, as they claim it’s a water grab by Los Angeles-based users. (To understand the emotions, watch “Chinatown,” the 1974 movie about the deceptive way Owens Valley water was diverted to the Southland to spur the growth of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley).

Looking deeply into the plan, this much is clear: The newly renamed “California Water Fix” doesn’t even promise more water to southern cities. It simply promises a more consistent water supply. The twin tunnels are designed to change the flow of the rivers and protect the Delta Smelt. With the smelt protected, there will be fewer reasons to shut the pumps. In other words, this is a costly engineering solution to a political problem.

And therein lies California’s main water problem. No one here denies the importance of the environment or that some portion of the state’s scarce water resources needs to be used to protect wetlands and river habitats. But the balance of power has shifted from those who believe that people come first to those who seem to view the population as a scourge.

In April, I reported on a contentious meeting at the Oakdale Irrigation District east of Modesto. Farmers and local residents were aghast. The state and federal officials insisted on releasing massive amounts of water from the large New Melones Reservoir and Lake Tulloch, a small lake downstream from New Melones surrounded by homes. As the governor was threatening fines for people who take long showers, his State Water Resources Control Board was going to empty reservoirs to save about a dozen fish.

The local farmers and residents were asking for a temporary reprieve. I remember the words of one of the district officials, who was calling for “off ramps” during times of severe drought. That’s jargon for temporarily putting aside some of the more aggressive environmental demands at a time when farms and people are out of water. Bad publicity delayed the “pulse flows,” but by September water officials began insisting on new releases.

Recent reports showed that farmers use 80 percent of California’s water resources. It’s true that farmers are an important interest group. And because of the state’s old and quirky system of water rights, we see infuriating misuses of resources—e.g., farmers growing water-intensive hay in one of the driest regions on Earth, the southern Imperial Valley.

But that 80 percent number was deceptive because it completely omitted environmental uses of water, which constitute more than 50 percent of the state’s flows. Farmers, businesses, and residents fight over what remains. What we’re seeing—water releases to benefit a small number of common fish, removing dams along major rivers, delays of desalination plants, failure to build adequate water storage—is not an anomaly. It is the cumulative effect of water policies dominated by environmental interests.

It wasn’t always this way. In earlier days, California’s water policies had more in common (and with some admittedly ill environmental effect) with the ideas of capitalist defender Ayn Rand than John Muir, the famed naturalist whose environmental legacy dominates California discussions. California leaders were proud of taming the wilderness and building massive infrastructure projects—especially water projects—that allowed the state’s phenomenal growth.

In 1961, when Jerry Brown’s dad, Pat Brown, was governor, the State Water Project was begun. “The project includes 34 storage facilities, reservoirs and lakes; 20 pumping plants; four pumping-generating plants; five hydroelectric power plants; and about 701 miles of open canals and pipelines,” according to a state description. “The project provides supplemental water to approximately 25 million Californians and about 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland.”

I’ve toured a lot of the facilities and even was on an official tour of the Colorado River project, following the water as it flowed from reservoirs behind New Deal-era dams at the Arizona border down to the treatment facility in the Los Angeles. It was quite a feat to build these projects. As I argued in my Orange County Register column at the time, it could never be replicated today in a world of Environmental Impact Statements, greenmail lawsuits filed under the California Environmental Quality Act, and a political system dominated by officials more interested in quashing human development than providing the means for humans to thrive in this arid climate.

Sure, it would help if it rained—but the lack of rain is the least of California’s drought problems.


New Report: Putting People First

This is the abstract from a new report “Putting People First: An Alternative Perspective with an Evaluation of the NCE Cities ‘Trillion Dollar’ Report,” authored by Wendell Cox and published by the Center for Opportunity Urbanism

A fundamental function of domestic policy is to facilitate better standards of living and minimize poverty. Yet favored urban planning policies, called “urban containment” or “smart growth,” have been shown to drive the price of housing up, significantly reducing discretionary incomes, which necessarily reduces the standard of living and increases poverty.

This makes the alleviation of poverty, the opportunity for better living standards and aspirations for upward mobility secondary to contemporary urban planning prescriptions. Despite this, calls to intensify land use regulations are becoming stronger and more insistent.

A New Climate Economy report (NCE Cities report), by Todd Litman, “Analysis of Public Policies that Unintentionally Encourage and Subsidize Urban Sprawl,” contends that the failure to implement urban containment policy (smart growth) costs more than $1.1 trillion annually in the United States. The urban containment policies favored by the NCE Cities report seek substantially increase urban population densities and transfer urban travel from cars to transit, walking and cycling.

There are serious consequences to such policies, which lead to lower standards of living and greater poverty. This report evaluates the NCE Cities report which places urban containment policy as its most important priority. This Evaluation report offers an alternate vision, focused on improving living standards for all, while seeking to eradicate poverty.

The NCE Cities report relies heavily on social costing and externality analysis of lower density development. While these are useful tools, they are ultimately subjective and should be used with great caution.

This Evaluation identifies a number of issues with respect to the NCE Cities report cost analysis.

1. Nearly 90% of the cost is attributable to personal vehicle use, and is based on a fixed cost per mile differential between the Most Compact (densest) quintile of US urban areas and the four quintiles that are less dense. This Evaluation finds a range of differences in per capita mileage among the quintiles that is far smaller than the NCE Cities report estimates. Adjustment for this and other issues would reduce the NCE Cities report cost estimate by nearly 85 percent, to a maximum that is under $200 billion. Other, unquantified issues are identified that could reduce the reduced estimate even further.

2. The NCE Cities report largely dismisses the housing affordability consequences of urban containment policy. By rationing land, urban containment policy drives up the price of housing and has been associated with an unprecedented loss of housing affordability in a number of metropolitan areas in the United States and elsewhere. Urban containment policy has also been associated with greater housing market volatility. This is a particular concern given the role of the 2000s US housing bubble and bust in precipitating the Great Financial Crisis that resulted in a reduction of international economic output.

3. Urban containment policy has significant negative externalities. A recent economic analysis associates an annual loss of nearly $2 trillion in gross domestic product in the United States with more stringent housing regulation. This estimate would nullify the NCE Cities report cost of dispersion estimate by more than 1.5 times. More significantly, it would dwarf the NCES Report cost estimate as adjusted in this Evaluation.

The purpose of public policy in cities is not to focus a particular urban form, planning philosophy, type of housing, population density, or mode of transport. The purpose is rather to seek better lives for people. The most appropriate form of urban planning policy is that which facilitates better living standards and less poverty. There is increasing evidence that urban containment policy is not only irreconcilable with housing affordability and price stability but also with better standards of living and reduced poverty.



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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