Thursday, June 23, 2016

Which animals will cope with climate change droughts?

One has to assume that the Warmist prophecies below will be as good as all the other Warmist prophecies:  Totally useless and wrong.  Prophecy is a mug's game and those who engage in it reveal themselves as mugs.  And why is prophecy needed anyway?  Australia is always having a drought somewhere so if response to drought is of interest, go out and observe it directly instead of theorizing about it from your armchair

And the basic assumption below is a crock-- that warming would cause drought.  It would not.  Warmer water gives off more water vapour which eventually comes down as rain.  Flooding might be a problem, not drought.

So the whole story below is just an arid intellectual exercise. Tasmin Rymer should stick to rhymes

James Cook University, Australia

Summary: Scientists believe the current rate of climate change is unprecedented in Earth's history and will lead to more and worse droughts in many areas. Now a research team may have found a way to predict which mammals will best cope with drought -- and which won't do so well.

JCU's Dr Tasmin Rymer led a study that produced a template measuring several crucial factors, including an animal's physiology and environment, to determine how it would handle a severe drought.

Dr Rymer said scientists believe the current rate of climate change is unprecedented in Earth's history and will lead to more and worse droughts in many areas.

"So we developed a theoretical framework that allows researchers to estimate the likelihood that a species will be able to cope," she said.

Dr Rymer said the "Adaptive Triquetra" model considers the primary driving stressors of droughts: temperature, limited water, and reduced food availability. Then it looks at how well an animal's specific body system could mount a response, and the extent to which its traits are adaptable.

"We have provided a comprehensive suite of traits to consider when making predictions about species' resilience to drought. It's designed to help scientists assess the potential for a species or population to cope with increasing aridity," she said.

Dr Rymer said the process is more complex than it sounds, with much work still needed to fully determine the characteristics of many species before the model can be applied to them.

She said the Adaptive Triquetra is still a conceptual framework in need of empirical testing, but held great promise for fine-tuning wildlife management.

"If you found a species was particularly vulnerable to water stress, such as in a drought, you might design a management plan that provides access to artificial water points. If you found a species was vulnerable to increased temperatures, you might provide subterranean shelters."

Dr Rymer said in one example of where the model would have been useful, managers of a reserve in South Africa assumed their animals were suffering from lack of water during a drought, but in fact they had denuded the vegetation around their few artificially-built water holes and the animals were starving.

"If they had dropped fences and spaced water sources widely apart, this would have promoted movement and foraging over a wider area. Our model may have suggested this course of action if it had been in use," said Dr Rymer.

"Knowing which species are at risk and what stressors have the greatest impact allows for more effective management strategies to be put into place."


Did ‘Stonewall’ Jackson Sleep Here? Farmer Sues Green Group Over Claim

Martha Boneta is still duking it out with the Greenies

No historical evidence locates Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson on what is now Liberty Farm in Fauquier County, Virginia, on the evening of July 18, 1861, three days before the First Battle of Bull Run.

So why would a prestigious state preservation group represent that as a fact?

The current owner of the farm, Martha Boneta, has sued the Piedmont Environmental Council, a nonprofit land trust, accusing the organization of knowingly making a false historical claim when selling her the property.

The environmental council, Boneta claims in the lawsuit, told her the celebrated Civil War general bivouacked on the open fields surrounding the farm.

Liberty Farm, also known as Paris Farm, is located about an hour’s drive outside Washington, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the rural village of Paris. Boneta purchased the property in 2006, 145 years after Jackson’s supposed overnight stay.

While negotiating the real estate transaction with Boneta, according to her suit in Fauquier County Circuit Court, the environmental council presented her with a document describing Jackson’s movements and coordinates in July 1861.

After a “strenuous march” from Winchester, Virginia, Jackson and his men spent the night nearby, according to the deed detailing terms of the conservation easement that was part of the environmental council’s sale of the property to Boneta.

The next day, July 19, Jackson resumed his march to what was then Piedmont Station and is now Delaplane, the environmental council’s document explains. From there, it says, Jackson and his troops boarded a train on their way to what would be called the First Battle of Bull Run.

Also known as the Battle of First Manassas, Bull Run was where Jackson earned the nickname “Stonewall.”

The “Oak Grove” situated on the high point of the property “is recognized as the heart of the bivouac of General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson’s men on the evening of July 18, 1861 … ,” the document says.

But here’s the problem: Even a general as nimble and agile as Jackson could not be in two places at the same time.

Historians believe he camped in the vicinity, but don’t agree on where. One historian, in an email to the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, insists Jackson did not overnight on the land that is now Liberty Farm.

Jackson, who served under Gen. Robert E. Lee, was a decisive factor in significant Civil War battles until he was fatally wounded by friendly fire at age 39 during the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, as notes.

Boneta’s lawsuit against the Piedmont Environmental Council, filed in May, argues that the organization’s linking of Jackson to her property was not just a mistake but a deliberate act of fraud.

“Stonewall Jackson did not bivouac on Paris Farm on the eve of the First Battle of Bull Run,” Boneta’s suit says, adding:

PEC knew, in negotiating with Ms. Boneta for the sale of the Paris Farm, that its representation regarding Stonewall Jackson bivouacking on the Paris Farm prior to the First Battle of Bull Run was false. PEC’s knowledge of the falsity of its claim regarding Stonewall Jackson bivouacking on Paris Farm is demonstrated by the fact that PEC claimed that another one of its properties was the scene of Stonewall Jackson’s famous night watch.

The false historical designation, the suit claims, greatly inflated the purchase price of the property beyond its actual value and restricted Boneta from accessing roughly 18 acres for agricultural operations.

The dispute over Stonewall Jackson’s whereabouts that day in 1861 is the latest wrinkle in a long, complicated dispute between Boneta and the Piedmont Environmental Council that reaches back to 2009. That’s when Boneta first filed suit against the land trust, accusing it of violating the terms and conditions of the conservation easement.

Boneta purchased the 64-acre property for $425,000 on July 31, 2006. Without the historical designation involving the Civil War general,  the property actually was worth $100,000—the value the environmental council listed in 2005 tax filings, according to the suit.

“PEC’s knowing, false representations to Ms. Boneta were made in order to obtain more money from Ms. Boneta for Paris Farm than she would otherwise have paid for it and more money from Ms. Boneta than Paris Farm was worth at the time,” the suit alleges.

The environmental council’s willingness to invoke what turns out to be dubious history as a way to restrict Boneta’s farming operations points to the disproportionate influence green groups have acquired across the country, an energy policy analyst who has followed the story closely told The Daily Signal.

“Under the guise of practicing conservation, land trusts—operating with little, if any, oversight—are becoming states within a state,” said Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, adding:

Lording over millions of acres throughout the U.S., they have learned that they can harass property owners and force them into prohibitively expensive litigation with impunity.  By claiming—in the absence of any evidence—that Martha Boneta’s farm was of particular historical significance, the PEC could both limit her ability to use her land and line their pockets by jacking up the sales price of the property they sold her.  We’re living in an age of green robber barons.

In November 2014, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, which holds the easement with the Piedmont Environmental Council, “indicated that there was no accurate historical evidence in support of the PEC’s claim,” according to the suit.

In response to requests from The Daily Signal under the Freedom of Information Act, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation released email records detailing the role it played in obtaining historical information that raised questions about Jackson’s precise location on July 18, 1861.

Reached by telephone, a spokeswoman for the Piedmont Environmental Council told The Daily Signal that the land trust “disputes the claims” in Boneta’s suit but “cannot comment further” on ongoing litigation.

Jason McGarvey, spokesman for the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, told The Daily Signal that his agency had done its own research before hearing from the local historian who disputed the claim that  Jackson camped on what is now Boneta’s property.

“We had already determined that the documentation supporting the restrictions in the deed did not meet our standards for stewardship,” McGarvey said in a June 17 email.

‘Well-Heeled’ Activists

Matthew Vadum, senior vice president of the Capital Research Center, which studies politically oriented nonprofits, describes the Piedmont Environmental Council as a “well-heeled activist group” that is well positioned to wage legal battles. Indeed, from 2005 through 2014, the land trust pulled in $55.4 million in donations and other revenue, according to publicly available tax  filings.

Boneta’s suit says she fenced about 18 acres of her property in response to the environmental council’s historical claim. Erecting, maintaining, and removing the fencing cost about $18,000, the suit says.

Boneta also spent thousands of dollars to trademark the name Liberty Farm with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, so her property could be marked for guided historical tours.

Her suit calls for the environmental council to be charged with fraud and breach of contract. She asks for no less than $325,000 in compensatory damages to cover what she considers an inflated sale price and her loss of the use of her property,

Cohen, the energy policy analyst, said he sees a financial motivation behind the environmental council’s tactics.

“By boasting about all the land it has ‘saved,’ including the Stonewall Jackson fabrication,” he told The Daily Signal,  “the PEC can receive millions of dollars in government grants and it can hustle donors to write even bigger checks to the green money machine.”


Going Out With A Bang: Could Algal Sex Save The Great Basrrier Reef?

It’s no secret that the domestic situation between corals and the algae that live inside has become a little heated in recent months, but scientists may have found a way to get that steamy relationship get back on track.

First, a bit of background: The mass coral bleaching that has savaged the Great Barrier Reef over recent months occurred because of unusually warm ocean temperatures, driven by climate change and an El Nino weather system.

The bleaching starts when corals expel a type of algae that normally lives inside them, and gives them their colour. When the water becomes too warm, the algae gets all hot under the collar, and starts producing toxins that damage the corals.

That’s why the algae get turfed out. But the algae are the coral’s main source of food, so they starve, get bleached white, and are eventually overrun by a different kind of algae.

Clearly, it’s a marriage in crisis – which is why scientists have mounted an intervention.

New research published in the Journal of Molecular Biology and Evolution has revealed that the water of the Coral Sea isn’t the only thing that has been getting hot of late.

The algae appear to have responded to the conditions by starting to reproduce sexually, instead of asexually, and it turns out this promiscuity could help save the corals’ relationship with their special algae friends too.

The difference is that when the algae produce asexually they produce a more-or-less identical copy of themselves. If they produce sexually, different algae’s genetic codes get spliced together, which produces new variants of algae.

The algae that can stand the heat are less likely to get all toxic, and therefore less likely to be sent to the dog-house by the corals, which are in turn less likely to bleach. It’s a raunchy sort of survival of the fittest.

Professor Madeleine van Oppen, from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, was one of the scientists involved in the study. She said the findings are “critical in terms of developing more climate-resilient algae and corals”.

The algae’s sexual reproduction was only a small part of the study. The main finding was that some algae use a mechanism to switch on genes which produce special proteins in order to protect themselves from heat exposure and mop up some of the toxic chemicals that poison their symbiotic relationship with the coral.

The sexual reproduction is important, though, because it speeds up evolution and might allow the algae to adapt quickly enough to tolerate the rise in sea temperatures.

It’s a bit of good news in a sea of bad, for those of us rooting for the Great Barrier Reef.


The Watermelons Are Here

“Recently I was foolish enough to try to reason with an environmentalist,” wrote Stanford economist Thomas Sowell. “But it became obvious that he had his mind made up and didn’t want to hear any evidence to the contrary. The pope is more likely to have read Karl Marx than an environmentalist is to have read even a single book that criticized environmentalism.”

One might say a lot about the Pope and Marx, but I want to focus on Sowell’s juxtaposition of the ideologies of socialism and environmentalism. Socialism is an economic and political ideology, but surely environmentalism is just a concern for the environment?

Sowell conflated these ideas because socialism and environmentalism have become opposite sides of the same coin. Socialists want to ban private ownership and favor government ownership and control over the means of production. Socialists believe that removing individual freedom of economic and political action results in a reduction of inequity and thereby brings about a just society in which everyone is equal.

But that seems a million light years away from the idea of cleaning up a roadside, protecting rare birds, or concern about polluted water. In such context the word ‘ideology’ seems inappropriate to apply to concern for a healthy environment. Most people, like myself, believe that it is proper and good to seek a fruitful and beautiful environment. If that is environmentalism then count me in.

Patrick Moore, a founder and past president of Greenpeace who has since left the group, prefers to call himself a ‘sensible environmentalist’ because he appreciates that the environmentalist movement has changed. It is, he says, no longer science based but “a political activist movement.” It has taken on the form of a total ideology erasing boundaries between radical activism and sensible environmentalism.

Moore identifies the point where the ideology of socialism co-opted ‘sensible’ environmentalism. In an interview with the Vancouver Sun he said, “The collapse of world communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall during the 1980s added to the trend toward extremism. The Cold War was over and the peace movement was largely disbanded. The peace movement had been mainly Western-based and anti-American in its leanings. Many of its members moved into the environmental movement, bringing with them their neo-Marxist, far-left agendas. To a considerable extent the environmental movement was hijacked by political and social activists who learned to use green language to cloak agendas that had more to do with anti-capitalism and anti-globalization than with science or ecology.”

Dany Cohn-Bendit, co-president of the group European Greens–European Free Alliance, exemplifies the all-too-common Marxist-Green connection. When he transformed himself from Dany the Red into Dany the Green he surfed the fashionable green political wave onto a deeper Red tide.

Cohn-Bendit said, “We have a project for Europe, an idea—the ecological transformation of our way of production and our way of life.” Says Dany the Green: “It’s for the survival of mankind.”

Self-described socialist activist Tom Athanasiou, director of U.S.-based EcoEquity, wrote “[E]nvironmentalism is only now reaching its political maturity.” He explains that there is a wonderful convergence of Red political concerns that Green concerns enable.

President Obama’s short-lived Green Jobs Czar, Van Jones, who self-identifies as a “communist,” explained why he was not on the streets burning down the system but instead working within it. “I’m willing to forgo the cheap satisfaction of the radical pose for the deep satisfaction of radical ends,” said he. He had discovered in environmentalism a means to satisfy his need for both the radical pose and Marxist ends because environmentalism serves policies he already believes in.

The ecosocialist current within the Green movement has become a red tide engulfing the planet. That is presumably why there is often a profusion of hammer and sickle communist party flags proudly flown by Green activists outside climate conferences, while inside leaders like the late Hugo Chavez, the former president of Venezuela, insist that socialism is the path to saving the planet. The last conference he attended Chavez added, “Capitalism is the road to hell, to the destruction of the Earth.”

Edward Said once described environmentalism as “the indulgence of spoiled tree-huggers who lack a proper cause.”

That may be true to a certain extent. However, as I hope you see, for many in the green movement the environment is no longer the cause, but the vehicle. The environment, and climate change in particular, is the big sail at the backs of activists who have hijacked the green movement. They are watermelons—green on the outside, red on the inside.


Wind-Energy Sector Gets $176 Billion Worth of Crony Capitalism

Last month, during its annual conference, the American Wind Energy Association issued a press release trumpeting the growth of wind-energy capacity. It quoted the association’s CEO, Tom Kiernan, who declared that the wind business is “an American success story.”

There’s no doubt that wind-energy capacity has grown substantially in recent years. But that growth has been fueled not by consumer demand, but by billions of dollars’ worth of taxpayer money. According to data from Subsidy Tracker — a database maintained by Good Jobs First, a Washington, D.C.–based organization that promotes “corporate and government accountability in economic development and smart growth for working families” — the total value of the subsidies given to the biggest players in the U.S. wind industry is now $176 billion.

That sum includes all local, state, and federal subsidies as well as federal loans and loan guarantees received by companies on the American Wind Energy Association’s board of directors since 2000. (Most of the federal grants have been awarded since 2007.) Of the $176 billion provided to the wind-energy sector, $2.9 billion came from local and state governments; $9.4 billion came from federal grants and tax credits; and $163.9 billion was provided in the form of federal loans or loan guarantees.

General Electric — the biggest wind-turbine maker in North America — has a seat on AWEA’s board. It has received $1.6 billion in local, state, and federal subsidies and $159 billion in federal loans and loan guarantees. (It’s worth noting that General Electric got into the wind business in 2002 after it bought Enron Wind, a company that helped pioneer the art of renewable-energy rent-seeking.)

NextEra Energy, the largest wind-energy producer in the U.S., has received about 50 grants and tax credits from local, state, and federal entities as well as federal loans and loan guarantees worth $5.5 billion. That’s more than what the veteran crony capitalist Elon Musk has garnered. Last year the Los Angeles Times’s Jerry Hirsch reported that Musk’s companies — Tesla Motors, Solar City, and Space Exploration Technologies — have collected subsidies worth $4.9 billion. NextEra’s haul is also more than what was collected by such energy giants as BP ($315 million) and Chevron ($2.2 billion).

About $6.8 billion in subsidies, loans, and loan guarantees went to foreign corporations, including Iberdrola, Siemens, and E.On. Those three companies, and five other foreign companies, have seats on AWEA’s board of directors.

Many of the companies on the AWEA board will be collecting even more federal subsidies over the next few years. In December, the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the latest renewal of the production tax credit will cost U.S. taxpayers about $3.1 billion per year from now until 2019. That subsidy pays wind-energy companies $23 for each megawatt-hour of electricity they produce.

That’s an astounding level of subsidy. In 2014 and 2015, according to the Energy Information Administration, during times of peak demand, the average wholesale price of electricity was about $50 per megawatt-hour. Last winter in Texas, peak wholesale electricity prices averaged $21 per megawatt hour. Thus, on the national level, wind-energy subsidies are worth nearly half the cost of wholesale power, and in the Texas market, those subsidies can actually exceed the wholesale price of electricity.

Of course, wind-energy boosters like to claim that the oil-and-gas sector gets favorable tax treatment, too. That may be so, but those tax advantages are tiny when compared with the federal gravy being ladled on wind companies. Recall that the production tax credit is $23 per megawatt-hour. A megawatt-hour of electricity contains 3.4 million Btu. That means wind-energy producers are getting a subsidy of $6.76 per million Btu. The current spot price of natural gas is about $2.40 per million Btu. Thus, on an energy-equivalent basis, wind energy’s subsidy is nearly three times the current market price of natural gas.

MidAmerican Energy Company, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, has a seat on AWEA’s board. Berkshire’s subsidy total: $1.5 billion — and it’s primed to collect lots more. In April, the company announced plans to spend $3.6 billion on wind projects in Iowa. Two years ago, Berkshire’s CEO, Warren Buffett, explained why his companies are in the wind business. “We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them,” he said. “They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

Keep in mind that the $176 billion figure in wind-energy subsidies is a minimum number. It counts only subsidies given to companies on AWEA’s board. Not counted are subsidies handed out to companies like Google, which got part of a $490 million federal cash grant for investing in an Oregon wind project. Nor does it include the $1.5 billion in subsidies given to SunEdison, the now-bankrupt company that used to have a seat on AWEA’s board. (To download the full list of subsidies garnered by AWEA’s board members, click here.)

Nor does that figure include federal money given to J. P. Morgan and Bank of America, both of which have a seat on AWEA’s board. The two banks received federal loans or loan guarantees worth $1.29 trillion and $3.49 trillion, respectively. In an e-mail, Phil Mattera, the research director for Good Jobs First, told me that the loan and loan-guarantee figures for the banks include the federal bailout package known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program as well as “programs instituted by the Federal Reserve in the wake of the financial meltdown.”

When all of the subsidies, loans, and loan guarantees given to the companies on AWEA’s board are counted, the grand total comes to a staggering $5.1 trillion.

According to Wikipedia, crony capitalism “may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism.” Wind-energy companies are getting favoritism on every count. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to give those companies permits allowing them to legally kill bald and golden eagles with their turbines for up to 30 years. The industry is getting grants, tax breaks, and loans worth billions. And thanks to federal mandates like the Clean Power Plan and state renewable-energy requirements — nearly all of which are predicated on the specious claim that paving vast swaths of the countryside with wind turbines is going to save us from catastrophic climate change — the industry is surfing a wave of state interventionism.

AWEA’s Kiernan likely has it right. In a country where having a profitable business increasingly requires getting favors from government, the U.S. wind industry is definitely a “success.”


As Readiness Declines, U.S. Military Fiddles with 'Greening'

America's military faces a readiness crisis. The Marine Corps is looting aviation museums for spare parts to repair combat aircraft. The Navy is three dozen ships short of what the chief of naval operations says is necessary to meet operational requirements. Reduced training hours have led to an increase in fatal training incidents for the Army. And the Air Force is flying increasingly old and worn-out planes.

With these issues piling up for our service members, one would think our commander in chief would dedicate his final year in office to rebuilding the military. Yet throughout his presidency, Mr. Obama preferred to steer taxpayer dollars to wasteful environmental campaigns.

Global warming, he claims, is one of the greatest threats to American security — on par with North Korean nukes or terrorism. He thus "justifies" the allocation of scarce resources within the Defense Department to feel-good power projects driven by arbitrary energy consumption and production targets rather than military utility. Dubious "military" projects, such as building more solar power facilities to generate electricity on bases, provide no additional security, cost much more than conventional power sources and put the stability and security of bases at risk.

Solar power is famously unreliable. It provides consistent power only where it's consistently sunny, and of course it can't harness any power at night. Because security demands reliable power, many bases shifting to solar find they still must rely largely on conventional energy sources for power.

And building solar fields isn't the only major cost incurred by the military. Because of the way solar panels function, most military bases pursuing commercial-scale solar projects must also upgrade their power grids just to make it safe for them to handle solar. All of these expenses are being incurred at a time when conventional fuel sources are far more affordable.

This is not to say that alternative and renewable power is always a waste. In fact, the military has engaged in such practices to much success in the past. One example is the geothermal power generated by two plants at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California.

There, the Defense Department leased land to a private company that recognized the potential for producing consistent, reliable, renewable power from the Earth's heat. These plants generate 270 megawatt hours — enough power for 180,000 homes.

But what drove the renewable energy project in China Lake were free market principles, well-thought-out investments and recognition of a legitimate demand for power — not feel-good environmental crusades or political posturing.

Ironically, the Navy is forced to use some of its income from this successful renewable energy project to fund wasteful energy initiatives. Environmental regulations require the Defense Department to "reinvest" a portion of the plants' payments into solar and other initiatives aimed at meeting arbitrary targets for renewable energy production and consumption.

The Obama administration also forces the Defense Department to spend taxpayer dollars on "renewable energy certificates." These certificates enable the department's agencies to "meet" renewable standards by essentially buying credits, without actually engaging directly in the production or consumption of renewable energy. This acts as a cap-and-trade structure internal to the military, through which taxpayer dollars are spent on symbolic pieces of paper that contribute nothing to military capability.

Certainly there is a role for renewable energy projects in the Pentagon. Some may save taxpayer dollars. Others may enhance war fighter capability. As an example of the latter, troops stationed in sunny environments have been able to use portable solar panels to recharge batteries — a practice that reduces the weight carried by combat units. Either type of initiative should be lauded and pursued by the government.

Instead, many Defense Department energy projects exist only because of mandates imposed upon our armed forces. The next commander in chief and Congress owe it to the services to give them the resources needed to reverse the growing readiness crisis. Continuing to divert defense dollars to pet environmental projects is unwise and unsafe.



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.  

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