Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Beware PFOS! A big, loud, extraverted, blonde publicity hound comes to Australia to warn about it

Have you ever had your carpet or your uphostered chairs Scotchguarded?  If so, you are probably pleased with the results.  The stuff tended to make dirt and stains just slide off.  What you did not know is that you probably were a user of the deadly PFOS!

And Erin Brockovich is here to alarm you about it.  The big scare by which she first made her name eventually proved to be without foundation so we must be suspicious of her latest pronouncements.  She cost the company she targeted $600 million or so but that's fine because companies are evil

That the chemical underlying Scotchguard gets into people and animals one way or another has been known for decades.  But the concentrations are extremely minute -- measured in a few parts per billion. -- and, as always, the toxicity is in the dose.  So how toxic is it?  It certainly seems to be seriously toxic to a range of animals but evidence of toxicity to people is slight.  And don't forget that this has been under investigation for a long time.

Additionally, it has been estimated that there is by now some PFOS in every American, so bad effects should be pretty evident by now.  But they are not.

But the scare has been sufficient for American manufacturers to stop production of the stuff and the levels in people have gone into steady decline.  So if it is a problem, it has been dealt  with.  But publicity-seeker Brockovich is telling you none of that.  She has done very well out of her scares, so why would she?

You can still get Scotchguard but they have taken the zing out of it

ENVIRONMENTAL activist Erin Brockovich has described Oakey’s groundwater contamination crisis as worse than what she witnessed in the United States, as she called on the community to speak up for change.

Ms Brockovich, 56, flew into Brisbane this week to speak with Oakey locals about the spread of toxic PFOS and PFOA from firefighting foam used by the ­Defence Force for decades.

The activist consults on environmental pollution cases in the US and Australia, and has most recently worked as an advocate for communities, such as Oakey, poisoned by PFOS and PFOA.

Speaking exclusively to The Courier-Mail, Ms Brockovich said the same contamination crisis was unfolding in several US states but that Oakey’s critical plight had not received the urgent government attention it deserved.

“These are toxic compounds that can wreak havoc with your health, and once they’re in you, they won’t leave,” she said.

“People (in Oakey) are sick, they have been harmed, and their property values have been degraded.”

According to Ms Brockovich — who is also an ambassador for Shine Lawyers, who is working with locals — the people of Oakey deserve to be heard by authorities.

“People need to get blood tests and arm themselves with information to make choices for their families,” she said.

“The Government’s job is to listen to these people and to let them know they’re not going to be ignored.

“This is going to blow up pretty quickly, but before we see a potential health crisis, we need to wrap our arms around this.”

Ms Brockovich visited Oakey last year to hear locals’ concerns and said today’s public meeting would educate them about the problem and the best way forward.

“There are innocent children in Oakey who are four years old with blood levels 10 times higher than the national median average … what will their futures look like?” she said.

“Australia has higher blood levels than I’ve seen in the US.”


'Climate Change: What's So Alarming?'

The latest from Prager University:

“Are droughts, hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters getting stronger and more frequent? Are carbon dioxide emissions, global temperatures and sea levels putting us on a path for climate catastrophe? Bjorn Lomborg, Director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, breaks down the facts about the environment and shows why the reality of climate change may be very different from what you hear in the media.”


Obama’s Wasteful Climate Conference Trip Cost Taxpayers $4,165,068.40

It takes a lot of taxpayer cash and jet exhaust to fly a president to a “climate change” meeting in Paris.

We have obtained records from the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of the Air Force detailing the costs of Obama’s trip to attend the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference. Secret Service charges for Obama and his staff to attend the Conference cost taxpayers $1,324,171.60. Flight expenses cost $2,840,896.80, bringing the total expenditure for the conference to at least $4,165,068.40. To date, Obama’s known travel expenses total $83,795,502.33.

Barack Obama’s appointees didn’t volunteer this information. We filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for these documents on January 6, 2016.  Our request wasn’t answered, so we had to sue this past May (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:16-cv-00863)).  Only then did we get the documents.

Here are the Secret Service expenses for Obama’s ideological Paris junket:

$82,991.60 for air and rail travel.
$706,065 for Parisian hotels.
$531,598 for rental vehicles.
$10,820 in overtime pay.
Cell phone rentals were $2,562.
Cell phone usage cost of $679.
A copier rental for $652.
$624 in “miscellaneous” expenses.

The Secret Service detail stayed in a number of Parisian hotels. The most money was spent at the InterContinental Paris Le Grand, a historic hotel built in 1862 that is called a “luxury” hotel that “defines historic grandeur,” according to its website. Accommodations were also booked at the Hilton Astor, Marriott Ambassador, Marriott Rive Gauche, and Mercure Tour Eiffel.

According to Air Force documents, at least two planes were used for the trip to Paris, Air Force One and a C-32A (which is generally used by either the secretary of state or the first lady):

Air Force One travelled a total of 14.4 hours @ $180,118 per hour for a total of $2,593,699.20.

The C-32A travelled 15.6 hours @ $15,846 per hour for a total of $247,197.60.

Other expenses for additional cabinet members’ travel and catering, Secret Service meals, meeting rooms, etc. are not included in these totals.

The controversial Paris Climate Conference, also known as COP21, lasted from November 30, 2015, to December 12, 2015. Travel to the conference reportedly burned 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide, seemingly defeating the purpose of the meeting of world leaders. Critics also contend President Obama’s executive action implementing the Paris Climate Agreement circumvents the constitutional requirement that treaties become law only after ratification by the U.S. Senate.

This junket is another example of wasteful and unnecessary presidential travel that abuses the taxpayers, the military, and the U.S. Secret Service. It’s pure folly and we should demand that the next president (and Congress) put an end to it.


Global Warming: One More Official Exposes Real Goal Of Climate Scare

In recent years we've documented the true motivations that are driving the global warming scare.

Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of United Nation's Framework Convention on Climate Change, who aspires to be U.N. secretary general, has admitted that the goal of environmental activists is to destroy capitalism.

One-time U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Chairman Rajendra Pachauri acknowledged that his "fight" against global warming is his "religion" and "dharma."

Ottmar Edenhofer, who co-chaired the IPCC working group on Mitigation of Climate Change from 2008 to 2015, has conceded that the climate crusade is an effort to shackle capitalism and establish a global welfare state.

Now we have Bank of England Governor Mark Carney revealing a deeper objective when he talked about how stopping climate change will provide capital markets with as much as a $7 trillion investment opportunity.

Of course his pitch is supposed to sound appealing to capitalists and defenders of the free market. But what good is sinking trillions into investments that are both unnecessary and are unlikely to produce a return?

The carbon trading scheme that was supposed to fuel economic growth while cutting man's carbon dioxide emissions has turned out to be virtually worthless in Europe. There's no reason to think Carney's plot would produce better results.

But it would likely be a lucrative venture for Carney. He "and his banker mates," Eric Worral writes on the Watts Up With That? blog, "would stand to make a lot of money, out of a vast surge in climate 'compliance' activity which would be associated with the new regulations."

Some might call that "greed." But to Carney, maybe it's simply a matter of ensuring domestic tranquility. If his "investment" ideas become reality, then he pleases his wife Diana Fox Carney, who is such an environmentalist zealot that she is almost too easy to make fun of, and he also makes a few extra pounds on the side to add to his central banker's salary, which is about $1.2 million a year.

Whatever his motives, though, they're not in line with the narrative that this is all about saving the planet. It's about hidden agendas, and the more these under-the-table intentions are exposed, the more we are convinced that the whole thing is a top-to-bottom fraud.


Blinded By The Sun

The solar-powered plane that recently concluded its much delayed and long overdue round-the-world flight was predictably touted as further 'proof' that green energy has come of age. The real-world appraisal is dour: a PR stunt to obscure the fact that 'alternative technologies' are going nowhere

Just the other day, we were told history was made when the aircraft Solar Impulse 2 landed in Abu Dhabi after what was described as the first round-the-world flight by a solar powered plane.  The epic journey commenced in March, 2015, and since that time the plane had spent a total of 23 days in the air. This was an achievement for which the aviation world waited a long time, quite literally, to applaud — both in the short and much longer-term.

On December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright conducted what is generally credited as  the first sustained powered flight of a heavier-than-air aircraft, covering 39 metres. By 1905, the Wrights were able to cover  24 miles in 39 minutes 23 seconds. By 1916 the aeroplane had been matched the synchronised machine gun and become a potent instrument of war.  A bare 65 years after the short hop at kitty Hawk, NASA put a man on the moon. The rapid progress was fuelled primarily by human imagination, wonderful new commercial opportunities and, of course, by two world wars.  It was an extraordinarily rapid pace of development.

In 1925, John Logie Baird demonstrated his first prototype of a modern television set.  His breakthrough, of course, relied on earlier technologies, the most important of which was the cathode ray tube first demonstrated in 1907.  In 1928, the world’s first television station WGY commenced operation in Schenectady in upstate New York.

In 1932 the BBC commenced regular programming.  TV broadcasts in London were on the air an average of four hours daily from 1936 to 1939. There were 12,000 to 15,000 receivers. Some sets in restaurants or bars might have 100 viewers for sport events.  Broadcasts were suspended during the war and resumed in 1946.  By the 1960s TV had become a ubiquitous part of modern life and by now its quality has improved exponentially.

A third example of technological advancement and commerce began in 1946, when ENIAC, the world’s first electronic general purpose computer was unveiled.  It weighed 27 tons, occupied 167 square metres of space, used 150kw of electricity.  Its construction cost almost US$7 million in today’s money, not least for its five million hand-soldered joints!  It could multiply two 10 digit numbers in .0028 seconds.  ENIAC was, of course, based on vacuum tubes and crystal diodes, which imposed a serious physical limitation on future progress.  This impediment was overcome in 1955 with the development of the first fully transistorized computer, the Harwell Cadet, at the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment.  The development if the integrated circuit in 1958 then opened the way to the rapid development of the microcomputer.  The world went from ENIAC to Apple Mac in just 38 years!  And the pace of technological advance in computing since then has been astronomical.

See where I’m going with this? Now consider other technologies, ones we are constantly told are on the very edge of becoming commercially viable.

As early as 1887, Professor James Blyth of Glasgow built a ten-metre wind-power generator which he used to provide electricity to his holiday cottage.  At about the same time, James Brush in Cleveland, Ohio, built a larger wind generator which he used to power his laboratory.  It consisted of a 17-metre rotor mounted on an 18-metre tower.  It was rated at 12kw. Photovoltaic power generation was first demonstrated in 1839 but was quickly abandoned as a practical method for generating electricity. It did not really rear its head again until 1941, when Russell Ohl invented the solar cell. Still, it remained a niche technology until the mid 1970s, when governments started to worry about peak oil.

Let’s be generous and say that serious development of the two main renewable-energy technologies commenced in the 1980s.  So how far have they advanced in 35 years? A green website called Conserve Energy Future tells us that in 2012, $25 billion was invested worldwide in wind power. Bloomberg News tells us that in the ten years between 2004 and 2014, a total of US$2.3 trillion was invested in renewables, and that, as of 2016, they still produce a meret 4% or thereabouts of the world’s energy consumption.

We are constantly being bombarded with feel-good stories about wind and solar power generation and, indeed, billions of dollars have been expended worldwide on these boondoggles. This has produced little in the way of practical, base-load power, it has certainly spawned an endless supply of studies telling us how good renewables will be for the economy. This alleged benefit is said to be over and above those technologies’ CO2-curbing potential.

Trouble is, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) tells us that, in 2010, renewables made up only 20% of global electricity production, of which 16% was from hydroelectricity.  Wind power contributed 1.4% and solar less than 1%. The EIA predicts that the share of non-hydro renewables will increase to 9% by 2040.  They also tell us that coal will still be the largest contributor (30%) along with natural gas (25%) contributing 55% and nuclear 20%. The total share of renewables will have increased to only 25%.

Let me re-iterate.  By 2040, wind and solar will still only be contributing 9% of global electricity production.  If renewables are such a great economic opportunity, why such modest growth over a period of 25 years?

Oh, and by the way, that 30% share for coal in 2040 represents, in absolute terms, an increase in usage of 50%. Based on our experience with the successful technologies described above, if wind and solar are ever going to be a viable alternative to fossil fuels, don’t you think we should have seen some evidence of it by now? Wind power, in particular, has been around for 130 years and its fundamental design has hardly changed at all in that time.

Aviation, television and computing all have a couple of things in common.

First, their technological development was a logarithmic curve — that is, the giant leaps were made early in the maturation lifecycle and their further development predicated upon some new, breakthrough technology, such as the transistor, the jet engine etc. We have not seen that pace of improvement in either wind or solar.

Second, they were financed by redirecting a percentage of profits into R&D, private venture capital and, yes, government investment.  But in relation to government investment, it is important to make the distinction that this was government as consumer – particularly in the defence realm – not government as venture capitalist. Where are the venture capitalists for wind and solar?  The canny investors just clamouring to get on board the new renewables revolution?

History, physics and common sense all tell us wind and solar will never be competitive with fossil fuels.  The undeniable limiting factor is that fossil fuel energy is concentrated and available whenever required, while wind and solar are spread across the globe and are unvaryingly intermittent.

But getting back to the Solar Impulse 2,  Pilot Bertrand Piccard is reported in the Guardian to have said, “I hope people will understand that it is not just a first in the history of aviation, but also a first in the history of energy.” As The Guardian further explains, “The aim of the Solar Impulse adventure was not to develop solar-powered planes for widespread use, but to show the capabilities of renewable energy.”

So, not really about aviation at all, just a PR exercise. The project cost an estimated 170 million Euros to achieve something that has been commonplace for many decades – and, by the way, to achieve it very messily, as the plane required conventionally powered aircraft to shuttle its handlers and tech meisters about the globe, as Quadrant contributor Tony Thomas explained in a recent Spectator essay.

I wonder how much sponsorship I could get for my idea.  My plan is to demonstrate the effectiveness of wind power by building some wind generators powered by huge rubber bands to provide reliable wind to an opposing bank of wind turbines.  Of course, I’ll need someone to periodically rewind the rubber bands – some useful idiot with nothing better to do for the next 18 months.

“Hello,  Bertrand?  Is that you?”


NY's renewable-energy push gets dirty

New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s renewable-energy ambitions are running headlong into the hard realities of maintaining a reliable electric grid. On July 8, the New York Independent System Operator, the agency charged with managing the state’s grid, provided comments on the governor’s plan to require utilities to get 50 percent of their electricity from renewables by 2030. The NYISO maintains that to keep the lights on, the state will have to spend heavily on new transmission infrastructure to accommodate more renewables, preserve all of its nuclear capacity (including the controversial Indian Point Energy Center), and build even more onshore wind-energy capacity in upstate communities. Five days after the NYISO filed its comments, Cuomo’s energy czar, Richard Kauffman, fired off an angry—and rather bizarre—letter to Brad Jones, the NYISO president and CEO. Calling the grid operator’s comments “misleading, incomplete, and grossly inaccurate,” Kauffman claimed that the NYISO showed “an alarming lack” of understanding of “how a modern grid can be developed and operated.”

Kauffman apparently wanted a political response from the NYISO. Instead, he got a technical one. Indeed, the NYISO’s comments are straightforward. The grid operator pointed out that about 90 percent of the new renewable-energy generation needed to meet Cuomo’s targets will be located in upstate New York. Given the distance between those upstate generation sources and the main population centers located in the southern and eastern parts of the state, the NYISO concluded that “nearly 1,000 miles of new bulk power transmission” will have to be built over the next decade and a half. This likely upset Kauffman because high-voltage transmission lines are costly and difficult to site. Indeed, rural residents across the country have waged lengthy battles to stop construction of transmission lines through their neighborhoods. It’s readily apparent that rural New Yorkers will resist such plans as well.

The NYISO also made it clear that Cuomo will have to change his tune on nuclear energy. “Retaining all existing nuclear generators is critical to the State’s carbon emission reduction requirements as well as maintaining electric system reliability,” the agency wrote. For years, Cuomo has pushed for the closure of Indian Point, though the twin-reactor, 2,069-megawatt facility provides up to one quarter of New York City’s electricity. Now the governor appears to have gotten the message. About ten days after the NYISO published its comments, the Cuomo administration said that it would be willing to include nuclear energy as part of the state’s Clean Energy Standard. That’s important, because late last year, Entergy Corporation announced that it planned to close its 838-megawatt FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego by early 2017.

On Monday, the New York Public Service Commission will vote on a proposal that will provide about $1 billion per year in subsidies to the state’s nuclear plants to keep them operating. While giving subsidies to big utilities is hardly an ideal outcome, the move recognizes the difficulty that utilities are having in keeping their reactors in operation—especially when they have to compete against highly subsidized sources like wind and solar.

The NYISO also provided some remarkable numbers on the amount of renewable-energy capacity that will be needed to meet Cuomo’s 50 percent goal. It projected that the state will need nearly to triple its installed wind-energy capacity. That means that New York, which now has  about 1,750 megawatts of wind-generation capacity, will have to add another 3,500 megawatts of onshore wind. That will require covering roughly 450 square miles of land with wind turbines—a territory nearly as large as Albany County, which covers 523 square miles. Where will New York put those thousands of new wind turbines? Upstate, of course.

But an increasing number of upstate communities are already battling against the encroachment of Big Wind. Earlier this month, lawmakers in Jefferson County voted against giving tax breaks for wind and solar projects because the projects don’t create enough benefits for local communities. In April, the town of Clayton imposed a six-month moratorium (later upheld by the state supreme court) on applications for new wind-energy projects. Last July, the Town Board of Catlin passed a law prohibiting wind projects after Florida-based NextEra Energy proposed a $200 million project in the town. In 2014, after a decade-long fight, oil-and-gas giant BP announced that it was abandoning plans to build a 200-megawatt wind project near Cape Vincent amid fierce opposition from local residents. In 2007, the western Catskills town of Bovina also banned wind projects.

Three upstate counties—Erie, Orleans, and Niagara—as well as the towns of Yates and Somerset are all fighting a proposed 200-megawatt project called Lighthouse Wind. A few months ago, I interviewed Yates supervisor James J. Simon, who told me that the fight against Lighthouse Wind is “about trying to preserve our rural agricultural landscape.” An associate dean at Genesee Community College, Simon wasn’t active in politics until now. The attitude of the pro-wind forces, he says, is “you all are small potatoes and we are going to cram this down your throat.”

According to the NYISO, along with pushing thousands of new wind turbines on upstate residents, the state will also need to add nearly 10 gigawatts of new solar capacity over the next 14 years. That’s roughly equal to all the combined solar capacity of Spain and Australia. And the NYISO expects that the majority of that new solar capacity (6.8 gigawatts) will have to be utility-scale solar—meaning huge swaths of land covered in nothing but PV panels. Where will these massive solar arrays be located? Yep—upstate.

Maybe it was the publication of these eye-popping numbers that angered Cuomo’s energy czar. In his letter to Jones, Kauffman claimed that the NYISO is “held captive” by the state’s electric utilities and that it lacks “understanding into the imperative to address climate change.” To hear the Cuomo administration tell it, the NYISO—an independent nonprofit whose principal job is assuring electrical reliability for 19 million New Yorkers—is both incompetent and corrupt. Kauffman’s letter—combined with the looming fight over hundreds of miles of high-voltage transmission lines and thousands of new wind turbines—shows that Cuomo’s renewable-energy plans are headed for some nasty political fights.



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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