Monday, August 15, 2016
Olympic Athletes Challenged by New Opponent: Global Warming
It is hard to know where to start with the nonsense below: Yes. It does get hot in Rio: Rio is in the tropics. No. Past Olympic records have not been adjusted for the climate of the host city. It was pretty cold in Helsinki but that did not make anyone run faster. There is far greater variation in host city temperatures due to latitude than any fancied rise in temperature due to global warming
And the prediction that Britain would fade out is looking silly, seeing that Britain is third in the gold medal tally, behind only the USA and China
And if warming is slowing down the athletes generally at Rio, how come world records are being broken there daily? The scare below is totally made-up with no factual basis
Climate change warnings poignantly made during the Olympic Games opening ceremony on Friday are likely to resonate with athletes as they struggle to train and compete in Brazil’s tropical heat.
Marathon runners, swimmers, volleyball players and even soccer referees will succumb to extreme temperatures and lose concentration during the games, in some cases risking their lives to heatstroke, according to a report released Monday by Observatorio do Clima, a Brazilian civil society group.
“Because of warming, sport will never be the same again,” and fewer records than in previous games are likely to fall as a result, the report said.
Global warming was a key theme of the opening ceremony, featuring maps, charts and graphics of rising global temperatures, melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels encroaching on cities from Amsterdam to Shanghai.
Brazil heated up faster than the global average, warming 1 degrees Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in the last 54 years, and four cities smashed new heat records in 2015, according to the report. If countries don’t deliver on goals to limit global temperature rises to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, 12 Brazilian cities may have to limit play in similar games by the end of the decade, it said.
Sharply higher temperatures so far haven’t impacted this year’s Olympiad, according to Jose Marengo, a climate scientist at the Brazilian government’s National Center for Monitoring Warning of Natural Disasters. Temperatures in Rio could climb to about 30 degrees Celsius on Aug. 15 from about about 24 degrees Celsius on Monday, according to Accuweather.com.
Even though the games are taking place during Brazil’s winter, the heat may still impede performance, particularly in the marathon where Olympic records have only been broken in temperatures below 12 degrees Celsius. Runners perform best between 8 degrees and 11 degrees, well below the level expected this month in Brazil, the report said.
Over the coming years, athletes are likely to “give into fatigue earlier on, even if they remain in the competition until the end,” according to the report.
The next Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 could more heatwaves because climate change tends to create hotter summers and colder winters, Marengo said. Temperatures in the Japanese capital may top 36 degrees Celsius this week, according to AccuWeather.
“Temperatures are getting higher and heatwaves are getting more frequent,” Marengo said. “We don’t see many studies showing how this heat stress will impact people working outdoors.”
The heat is likely to be painful for athletes from colder climates, says Brazilian tennis player Fernando Meligeni. He reckons European players won’t be used to the humidity, which will make them sweat more than usual. “I believe that the English and the Swedish, for example, will fade out,” Meligeni said, according to the report.
Warm temperatures have already caught out athletes. Two soccer matches in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil required technical time when so-called “wet bulb” temperatures -- a measurement used in occupational health -- reached 32 degrees Celsius, which is the “stop play” threshold for FIFA. Several athletes in the test events for the Rio Olympics had heat-related injuries. Eleven of the 18 race walkers succumbed to the heat and one fainted, according to the report.
The Middle East is in the middle of a hellish heatwave right now
Yes. The Middle East has always gotten very hot at times but the current heat cannot be attributed to anthropogenic global warming, seeing there has been none of that this century
The Middle East is currently facing one of its most extreme heatwaves ever, with experts warning temperatures are getting almost too hot for human survival.
Climate scientists say it’s evidence that the planet needs to cut down on its greenhouse gas emissions, especially given heatwaves can be fatal.
HOW HOT IS THE MIDDLE EAST RIGHT NOW?
Over the past month, temperatures in Kuwait and Iraq have soared to 54 degrees, while Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, has seen temperatures of 43C and higher nearly every day for almost two straight months.
Meanwhile, parts of the United Arab Emirates and Iran were dealt a historic heat index of 60C.
Zainab Guman, a 26-year-old university student from Basra, told The Washington Post it felt like “walking into a fire” when she left the house. “It’s like everything on your body — your skin, your eyes, your nose — starts to burn,” she said. For the past couple of months, she’s barely left home.
A study by climate scientists released last year predicted that extreme heatwaves could push the Gulf in the Middle East beyond human endurance if nothing was done about climate change.
It predicted that extreme heatwaves — more intense than anything the planet has ever felt — will kick in just after 2070, and our most scorching days of today would be near-daily by that stage.
Professor Elfatih Eltahir, one of the study’s co-authors, said this was evidence that the planet needs to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.
“We would hope that information like this would be helpful in making sure there is interest (in reducing emissions) for the countries in the region,” he said.
“They have a vital interest in supporting measures that would help reduce the concentration of CO2 in the future.”
The pipeline’s approved. Environmentalists are angry
Final federal approval for what is being called the “new Keystone” came from the Army Corps of Engineers on July 26 — allowing the pipeline to move forward. The 1,168-mile long Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), also called the Bakken Pipeline, is comparable in length to the Keystone XL. It will cross four states and carry 450,000 barrels of oil a day from North Dakota to a transfer terminal in Illinois where it will connect with other pipelines and be taken to refineries.
The $3.8 billion dollar project has pitted environmentalists against economic interests.
During the Keystone fight, outspoken opponent Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Nebraska, said: “In America we should be focused on making sure that the oil in North Dakota, Oklahoma, and others, in Montana, that that oil is getting to market.” Now, thanks to DAPL, America’s oil will have a safer way to get “to market” — freeing up as many as 750 train cars a day to transport corn, soybeans, and grain. However, as soon as DAPL came on the scene, they moved the marker, and environmental opposition was mounted. Bold Iowa, a group that shares a website with Kleeb’s Bold Nebraska, says it has members willing to risk arrest in “nonviolent protests.” They are also training monitors to report any environmental violations or hazards.
On August 1, nine pieces of heavy equipment — excavators and bulldozers — were set on fire at three different DAPL construction sites, causing $3 million in damage. At the time of this writing, no arrests have been made. Additionally, protestors have gathered on the grounds of the North Dakota Capitol, calling for Governor Jack Dalrymple and legislators to put a halt to construction of the pipeline until their lawsuits are addressed.
On its “Stop the Bakken Pipeline” page, the Iowa Sierra Club posted: “A new pipeline will delay the US transition to clean and renewable energy and more fuel-efficient vehicles. The United States needs to move away from fossil fuel extractions and to energy sources that have less impact on climate change.”
The Club’s position sounds a lot like Hillary Clinton’s. When she finally came out against Keystone, she said: “We need to be transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy.” She called the pipeline “a distraction from important work we have to do on climate change.”
Opposition, however, is not as broad-based as the environmental groups had hoped for. At an April meeting of the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition in Iowa, organizers were disappointed. Chairs were set up for 200, but only about 40 “trickled in.” In the four states the pipeline will cross, more than 90 percent, on average, of the landowners signed the voluntary easement agreements.
At its peak, the DAPL’s construction is expected to involve as many as 4000 workers in each state and will require the purchase of $200 million in American-made heavy construction and related equipment from Caterpillar, Deere, and Vermeer.
Cory Bryson, Business Agent for Laborers Local 563 reports: “We’ve been inundated with calls from all over the country from people wanting to work on this pipeline project. Mainline pipeline projects like Dakota Access provide excellent working opportunities for our members and tremendous wages. The Laborers excel at this work.” No wonder men and women want to travel to the pipeline’s locale, some workers, most without college degrees, brag about banking $2-5000 a week.
In Illinois, the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce has assembled hundreds of packets with information including restaurants, health-care facilities, RV sites, and Laundromats. Executive Director Lisa Musch reports that her office has been receiving calls for months from people looking for rental properties. Teriann Gutierrez, owner of Buena Vista Farms, a resort-campground, and a retired plastics engineer, says: “I’ve been full since the beginning of April.” She told me the boost in population is bringing a lot of money into the community that has been hit hard with the loss of manufacturing jobs. DAPL is putting a lot of local people to work. Gutierrez is very thankful as the boom means she’ll be able to pay down debt.
“Like any major construction project, the DAPL will create, and more importantly maintain, high paying American jobs throughout the supply chain and throughout the nation,” North Dakota’s at-large Congressman Kevin Cramer said. “I’ve seen the crews that work on building the line and they take great pride in their craft. They spend money in local, usually rural, communities throughout the route. The steel suppliers and equipment manufacturers and distributors are just a few of the links in the chain. Everybody from fry cooks to hotel owners to financers are affected. Perhaps, most importantly, in a low price crude market, the economics of moving oil by the most efficient and safe manner possible preserves jobs on the production side of the equation as well.”
While DAPL is already creating lots of jobs, it is just one of many pipeline projects in the works that could be bringing much needed economic development to other communities and high-paying jobs for American workers. Gutierrez explained that, according to the workers staying at Buena Vista Farms: “The hardest thing is getting the permits. The long process holds up jobs.” Apparently, many of them made reservations but, then, had to delay them—and delay starting to work on the pipeline—because the permits hadn’t been approved as expected. It doesn’t have to be that way. Under President Obama, permitting for oil-and-gas activity has been slow-walked. Jobs have been held up.
Donald Trump has made clear that he’ll support pipelines and said he’ll invite TransCanada to reapply for the Keystone permit. On the other side, Clinton opposed Keystone and supports moving away from fossil fuels. Secretary of State John Kerry, Clinton’s successor, has implied that with “some 300 pipelines” we really don’t need any more. He said: “it’s not as if we’re pipeline-less.” A Clinton administration would likely extend the Obama delay tactic.
Whichever candidate wins in November will appoint agency heads who support his or her views — thus driving the policy direction.
Like Gutierrez, union members are grateful for the jobs. Last week, Dave Barnett, Pipeline Representative for the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry, told me: “We are pleased that the thousands of job opportunities associated with these projects are being decided on their need and merits, not on political pressures by extremists as the Keystone XL was.”
Whether the thousands of additional job opportunities materialize depends on American voters. Will we vote for pipelines that fuel the American economy and transport our natural resources safely and cheaply? Or, will we block job creation and economic development by voting with the environmentalists who want to “keep it in the ground?” In less than 100 days, we’ll have the answer to these important questions.
Illegal Federal Endangered Species Regulation Actually Harms Endangered Species
Last week, the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, with the support of the Pacific Legal Foundation, submitted a petition to the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) challenging a regulation from that agency which rewrote the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Instead of reserving the most stringent restrictions for species most at risk of extinction like Congress intended when they passed the law, this FWS regulation imposes the most stringent restrictions on lesser threatened species. Besides being illegal, this regulation is counterproductive. By imposing draconian restrictions on all ESA species, the FWS actually removes any incentive for landowners to conserve species. A regulation that is not authorized by law and actually contradicts the goals of the law authorizing it? That’s logic only a regulator can understand.
The ESA, passed in 1973, established two categories for species considered at risk of extinction. “Endangered” means the species is at imminent risk of extinction. The lesser designation of “threatened” means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. Congress prescribed drastic restrictions in the case of species listed as endangered, banning any “taking” of an endangered species. “Take” is defined extremely broadly, including not just harming or killing a member of the species, but also including any harm to its habitat. For species that are merely threatened, however, this severe restriction was not supposed to apply.
Logically, the differing treatment of endangered versus threatened species in the ESA makes sense. A species in danger of extinction warrants the strongest protection. The entire purpose of listing a species as “threatened,” however, is to try to make sure it never becomes endangered. The best way to ensure this is to give landowners in the area every incentive to help conserve the species. Because the restrictions of an endangered listing are so severe, under the ESA as written landowners are incentivized to make sure that a threatened species does not deteriorate further. And for landowners impacted by an endangered listing, they are incentivized to help a species recover to threatened status because this adjustment would restore their property rights.
The regulation from the FWS completely ignores this logic. By imposing severe takings restrictions on threatened as well as endangered species, the FWS removes any conservation incentive for landowners. In either case, a landowner’s property rights are severely restricted, so why bother doing anything to help? Indeed “taking” is so broadly interpreted that it actually makes some conservation efforts illegal. For example, trapping a listed species with the intent to move it to a safer or more habitable area is considered a taking, subjecting such a do-gooder to criminal penalties. Ultimately, this FWS regulation actually makes conservation and protection of a species less likely.
Here we have a regulation that (1) imposes severe property rights restrictions on landowners, (2) is not authorized by law, and (3) actually contradicts the purpose of the ESA by doing nothing to help protect species and more likely do harm. What is the purpose of this regulation, other than empowering the federal government to tell landowners what to do? Could it be that this regulation is about just that: power, not conservation?
Where the Wild Things Aren’t: The Federal Government Claims Land Is “Critical Habitat” for a Species That Does Not Live There
In 2012, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) designated 6,477 acres of private land in Mississippi and Louisiana as “critical habitat” for the dusky gopher frog, an endangered species. A critical habitat designation imposes a whole host of permitting restrictions on a selected property, significantly impairing the property rights of the owner. There was something that should seem odd about the decision, though: the frog only exists in Mississippi. The 1,544 acres in Louisiana included in the designation are not inhabited by the frog, and indeed the FWS’s own report describes the land as “poor quality terrestrial habitat for dusky gopher frogs.” But little things like facts and logic can’t be expected to halt the march of the regulators.
The dusky gopher frog’s historic range included parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. However, for many decades the frog has only been observed in Mississippi. In the vicinity of the Louisiana land in dispute, the frog has not been observed since the 1960’s. The Endangered Species Act (ESA), which the regulators used to justify this infringement of property rights, was signed into law in 1973.
The ESA is a statute with vague language which grants the FWS power to impose federal controls on any land it deems “essential” to the conservation of an endangered species. What constitutes essential is left entirely to the discretion of the FWS. So sweeping is this power, the FWS decided that in this case it was appropriate to identify some land that in theory could in the future, with substantial changes, support the frog and designate it essential. The Louisiana landowners affected by this outrage have challenged this decision in court, but so far federal courts have agreed with the FWS, though not unanimously. In a blistering dissent in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Pricilla Owen notes:
“The majority opinion interprets the Endangered Species Act to allow the Government to impose restrictions on private land use even though the land: is not occupied by the endangered species and has not been for more than fifty years; is not near areas inhabited by the species; cannot sustain the species without substantial alterations and future annual maintenance, neither of which the Government has the authority to effectuate, as it concedes; and does not play any supporting role in the existence of current habitat for the species.”
This is a succinct summary of the how far off the rails the regulators have gone in this case. Not only does the frog not currently inhabit the designated land, in order for the designated land to ever serve as appropriate habitat for the frog, it would have to be substantially changed. Yet the regulators claim such enormous, unaccountable power, that this land can be designated as “essential” to the conservation of a species which does not live there and cannot survive there as the land currently exists.
This assertion of power under the ESA, and courts’ refusal thus far to push back, is extraordinarily ominous. If the FWS has the power to designate land as critical habitat in this case, there is no limit to its power. Vast swaths of the United States can, in theory, be modified in such a way to support endangered species. If you knocked down every building in New York City, tore up the pavement, and erased every sign of human development, the island of Manhattan would be an ideal preserve for any number of species. Should the federal government be able to decide that your backyard would make a good habitat for an endangered species if enough changes are made? According to the FWS they already can.
Yet again, we see the danger of broad grants of authority to federal agencies. Perhaps when the ESA was first passed, Congress assumed that the executive branch would use its powers with restraint. That was folly then, and it is folly now. The regulators do not know the meaning of restraint. Unless they are affirmatively limited, federal regulators will seize the absolute maximum power they can get away with, quaint ideas of private property rights notwithstanding.
Climate accord 'irrelevant,' and CO2 cuts could impoverish the world
The world's historic effort to reduce carbon emissions is likely to be a costly if not quixotic endeavor, according to one expert, whose recently published research warns that decarbonizing the globe could have devastating consequences on the world's way of life.
In a report published this week, the International Energy Agency issued a call for "concrete action" to match the ambitions of last year's landmark climate change agreement, which was recently ratified by nearly 200 countries. The energy watchdog said the transition to a low-carbon future would require "massive changes in the energy system" to prevent the globe's temperature from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius.
Yet the agency also put a steep price tag on efforts to combat climate change. In order to decarbonize the power sector within the next 40 years, the world would have to invest at least $9 trillion — and an additional $6.4 trillion to make other industries more environmentally friendly.
Those vast sums are why M.J. Kelly, a University of Cambridge engineering professor, recently wrote that the push to restrict carbon "is set to fail comprehensively in meeting its avowed target, and a new debate is needed." For that reason, Kelly is skeptical that initiatives like the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris will achieve its lofty goals.
In peer-reviewed research, Kelly argued carbon dioxide should be considered the byproduct of the "immense benefits" of a technologically advanced society. Cutting carbon, he added, could result in a dramatic reduction in the world's quality of life that would usher in mass starvation, poverty and civil strife. Massive decarbonization is "only possible if we wish to see large parts of the population die from starvation, destitution or violence in the absence of enough low-carbon energy to sustain society."
Removal of all excessive carbon from the atmosphere "is simply impossible over the next 20 years unless the trend of a growing number who succeed to improve their lot is stalled by rich and middle-class people downgrading their own standard of living," Kelly said. He added that "humanity is owed a serious investigation of how we have gone so far with the decarbonization project without a serious challenge in terms of engineering reality."
Unlike those frequently called climate skeptics, Kelly in fact accepts the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, in 2014 that human-generated CO2 has been responsible for more than half the globe's warming since 1950. The scientist's primary points are rooted in arguments that are equal parts economic and scientific.
"There needs to be a renewed debate on the impacts" of higher carbon levels, Kelly told CNBC.
"Everyone assumes that every change is for the worse, but we are starting to find upsides" in carbon dioxide, he said. "The recent science is casting doubt on whether more CO2 is necessarily a bad thing."
Kelly's findings give added ammunition to a camp of scientific skeptics who contend CO2 has a beneficial impact on the environment. Last November, Indur Goklany, a U.S. Department of the Interior official and a former delegate to the IPCC, said policymakers need to reassess their aversion to carbon dioxide, which he said is a major factor in plant fertilization and boosting crop yields, among other benefits.
High levels of CO2 concentration have actually helped improve biosphere productivity by 14 percent over the last three decades, Goklany's research found.
In its report, the IEA singled out cities as integral to curbing energy use and carbon emissions. If current urban power trends continue, the agency said energy demand in cities would surge by 70 percent from current levels, undercutting carbon restriction policies. "Hence, efforts aimed at fostering sustainable urban energy paths are crucial to meet national and global low-carbon ambitions," it said.
However, Cambridge's Kelly linked middle-class economic growth to soaring energy demand — the lion's share of which will continue to be met by fossil fuels. Recently, Exxon Mobil projected that those fuels will still provide 80 percent of energy for at least the next two decades.
What that effectively means, Kelly argued, is that rapid decarbonization is a "glib" effort that would result in "large parts of the population [dying] from starvation, destitution or violence in the absence of enough low-carbon energy to sustain society."
The IEA supports technology like carbon capture and storage — which it contends can cut the cost of fighting CO2 emissions by 70 percent — as well as alternative energy such as solar, wind and nuclear.
"The two largest contributions to cumulative emissions reductions ... over the period 2013-50 would come from end-use fuel and electricity efficiency (38 percent) and renewables (32 percent)," the energy watchdog said this week. "Carbon capture and storage (CCS) would come in third place with 12 percent, followed by nuclear with 7 percent."
Kelly, however, has his doubts. Renewable energy is not yet plentiful or potent enough to completely supplant fossil fuels, while atomic energy is fraught with risks and hamstrung by political resistance.
"Only [CCS] and nuclear have any scope to reduce CO2 emissions," the engineer told CNBC.
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
Posted by JR at 12:37 AM