Friday, August 05, 2016

With Zika in Miami, can we start spraying DDT on mosquitoes yet?

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has admitted that their strategy to combat Zika in Miami where infected mosquitoes have been found is not working. CDC Director Tom Drieden explained, “they’ve been applying both chemicals that kill larval mosquitoes and adult mosquitoes every day. It isn’t working as well as we had hoped.”

The CDC needs a new pesticide plan, and it already exists — with dichloro-diphenyl-trichloro-ethane (DDT), a gas banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1972.

As a result of the CDC and the EPA’s shuffling to find a solution, Zika has infected over 5,000 Puerto Ricans living on the island and has moved into Florida. If Florida follows Puerto Rico’s trend, as many as 50 pregnant women could be infected each day — with the risk of devastating birth defects.

The CDC has now advised travel restriction on pregnant women, mosquito bite prevention, testing for pregnant women, waiting periods to attempt pregnancy, and dozens of other warnings in an area of Miami in an attempt to contain the spread. What was once a foreign problem is now a domestic health crisis.

However, with no actual working method to counter the mosquitoes the CDC has little hope for reviving the Florida community and preventing the disease from spreading through the mainland United States.

That is, without DDT.

DDT has already proven its effectiveness and cost efficiency. In 1947 application of DDT began, by the end of 1949 more than 4 million homes were sprayed and total eradication of malaria in the U.S. was declared. In the U.S., DDT had successfully stopped the mosquitoes before the EPA ever had the opportunity to ban it.

This has not just been an effective strategy in the United States. In 2006 the World Health Organization (WHO) studied the use of DDT in homes to end the spread of malaria and recommended struggling countries across the world use targeted indoor residual spraying of DDT to contain disease spread.

WHO found the only cases of resurgence of the disease after spraying resulted from resistance gained from previous excessive, unregulated use of DDT as a pesticide, however thus far “DDT is the only insecticide which is used exclusively for public health, and, therefore, unlike with other insecticides, resistance development to it is no longer influenced by other uses such as in agriculture.”

The fact is, DDT is probably the most effective answer to the spreading health devastation here and now with Zika. This action is not a choice of the CDC though. It is the EPA that maintains an absolute ban on domestic use of the spray, stifling the chances of disease control. What are we waiting for?

In 1972, Congress enacted the Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act, a far-reaching amendment that gave the EPA vast discretion to ban certain pesticides. The executive ban by the EPA on DDT from use completely was instituted that very year because the gas, primarily sprayed over livestock as a pesticide, was found to cause defects in the developments of animals exposed to the spray.

This unelected agency consistently prioritizes animal life over the welfare of American citizens, despite the findings from the WHO and clear need for a more effective mosquito spray from the CDC on the ground in Miami. The mosquitoes are not going to stop biting Americans and causing substantial birth defects in their children, but still the EPA cares more about the animals potentially being hurt by DDT.

Researchers admit use of the pesticide can be done carefully and controlled, but environmentalists maintain that the negative effects of DDT on the environment and possible effects on humans make it an unrealistic option. But as the WHO organization accounted for “Concerns over the safety of DDT have been comprehensively addressed in the framework of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)…. therefore, DDT can be used for [inside residual spraying] where it is indicated, provided that stringent measures are taken to avoid its misuse and leakage outside public health.”

For now, the EPA ban on DDT is being adhered to, but what will it take to be lifted? Perhaps when Zika reaches Washington, D.C. they’ll do something —like use  the gas that has the absolute best chance of ending the spread of the virus. If this does not occur the EPA will not only be responsible for the nearly 600 mainland Americans and over 900 Americans in US territories already infected, but the many more that this epidemic will eventually engulf.


New paper finds increasing trend in winter snow cover extent in Northern Hemisphere 1982-2013

Satellite observed changes in the Northern Hemisphere snow cover phenology and the associated radiative forcing and feedback between 1982 and 2013

Xiaona Chen et al.


Quantifying continental-scale changes in snow cover phenology (SCP) and evaluating their associated radiative forcing and feedback is essential for meteorological, hydrological, ecological, and societal purposes. However, the current SCP research is inadequate because few published studies have explored the long-term changes in SCP, as well as their associated radiative forcing and feedback in the context of global warming. Based on satellite-observed snow cover extent (SCE) and land surface albedo datasets, and using a radiative kernel modeling method, this study quantified changes in SCP and the associated radiative forcing and feedback over the Northern Hemisphere (NH) snow-covered landmass from 1982 to 2013. The monthly SCE anomaly over the NH displayed a significant decreasing trend from May to August (−0.89 × 106 km2 decade−1), while an increasing trend from November to February (0.65 × 106 km2 decade−1) over that period. The changes in SCE resulted in corresponding anomalies in SCP. The snow onset date (D o) moved forward slightly, but the snow end date (D e) advanced significantly at the rate of 1.91 days decade−1, with a 73% contribution from decreased SCE in Eurasia (EU). The anomalies in D e resulted in a weakened snow radiative forcing of 0.12 (±0.003) W m−2 and feedback of 0.21 (±0.005) W m−2 K−1, in melting season, over the NH, from 1982 to 2013. Compared with the SCP changes in EU, the SCP anomalies in North America were relatively stable because of the clearly contrasting D e anomalies between the mid- and high latitudes in this region.

Environmental Research Letters, Volume 11, Number 8

Democrat AGs, Green Groups Defy Subpoena on ‘Coordinated’ Climate Efforts

Environmental activists and state government officials, declining to comply with subpoenas by House Republicans probing their “coordinated efforts” to punish climate change skeptics, face additional scrutiny as part of the congressional investigation.

The deadline for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and eight environmental organizations to comply with subpoenas from the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology came and went July 27 without their producing requested documents.

So what now?

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House committee, said “noncompliance only raises additional questions.”

In an email to The Daily Signal, a committee aide wrote that “we’re talking with the recipients [of the subpoenas], and we’ll consider all of our options.”

As The Daily Signal previously reported, the House committee has the option to send a “contempt of Congress” finding to the full House.

In a statement last week, Smith said:

The committee is disappointed that the New York and Massachusetts attorneys general and the environmental activist organizations behind the AGs’ efforts have refused to comply with lawfully issued subpoenas. Their noncompliance only raises additional questions. As discussions with the individual subpoena recipients move forward, the committee will consider using all tools at its disposal to further its investigation.

‘Ongoing and Potential Investigations’

New York’s Schneiderman and Massachusetts’ Healey are part of a coalition of 17 state attorneys general who joined forces to coordinate investigations of individuals who express skepticism toward the idea of man-made global warming, or climate change.

Schneiderman’s office has said the public officials are looking at conventional energy companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp.

“The participating states are exploring working together on key climate change-related initiatives, such as ongoing and potential investigations into whether fossil fuel companies misled investors and the public on the impact of climate change on their businesses,” the New York attorney general’s office said in a release.

Some political figures and academics have suggested pursuing charges against scientific skeptics of climate change under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, widely known as RICO.

The eight green groups subject to the committee’s inquiries include the Union of Concerned Scientists, Greenpeace,, the Climate Accountability Institute, the Climate Reality Project, the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Pawa Law Group.

‘Talk About a Chilling Effect’

The state attorneys general, calling themselves AGs United for Clean Power, held a press conference March 29 in New York with former Vice President Al Gore to announce formation of “an unprecedented coalition of top law enforcement” that would “defend climate change progress made under President Obama.”

All but one of the 17 participating attorneys general are Democrats; the attorney general of the Virgin Islands is an independent.

Some of the attorneys general, who are elected, have subpoenaed documents, communications, and research in an effort to acquire the work material of more than 100 academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, and individual scientists, the House committee notes.

Republican members of the committee who stand behind its subpoenas see the state attorneys general as colluding with green pressure groups to undermine free speech.

“Since when did it become a crime to express or hold an opinion?” Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas, and chairman of the committee’s energy subcommittee, asked in a July 13 press statement, adding:

The difference of opinions is what makes our country so strong and unique. It’s this freedom without censorship or restraint that helped build our country.  However, this posse of attorneys general believe that those whose opinion, or scientific research, conflicts with the alleged consensus view on climate change should be the subject of investigation and prosecution by government officials—talk about a chilling effect on free speech.

The Daily Signal invited Schneiderman’s office in New York and Healey’s office in Massachusetts to respond to Smith’s latest public comment, but did receive a response from either office by deadline.

However, The Daily Signal reported previous statements from each office indicating they did not intend to comply. Eric Soufer, a press spokesman for Schneiderman, said in part:

Chairman Smith and his allies have zero credibility on this issue, and are either unwilling or unable to grasp that the singular purpose of these investigations is to determine whether Exxon committed serious violations of state securities fraud, business fraud, and consumer fraud laws. This committee has no authority to interfere with these state law enforcement investigations, and whether they issue a subpoena or not, this attorney general [Schneiderman] will not be intimidated or deterred from ensuring that every New Yorker receives the full protection of state laws.

Republican lawmakers, however, insist that AGs United for Clean Power are playing politics at the expense of free speech.

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, a committee member, said in the July 13 statement:

Instead of upholding the Constitution, protecting citizens, and putting real criminal behind bars, these attorneys general are using taxpayer dollars to manufacture charges to send a political message. This demonstrates a clear deviation from the legal duties of an attorney general and the possible abuse of discretionary judgement. It is not the job of the attorneys general to decide what science should be conducted, and their actions indicate their intent is to silence certain voices.

In an email previously reported by The Daily Signal, Healey spokeswoman Cyndi Roy Gonzalez said Smith and his fellow Republicans jeopardize states’ rights:

The extent to which Chairman Smith and Republican committee leadership, at the behest of Big Oil, [are] attacking the legal authority of state attorneys general to investigate whether major corporations misled investors and consumers is very troubling, and an affront to states’ rights.

In a 20-page letter to Smith dated July 26, Richard Johnston, chief legal counsel to Healey, reiterated that argument:

Attorney General Healey hereby objects to the subpoena as an unconstitutional and unwarranted interference with a legitimate ongoing state investigation. The subpoena is a dangerous overreach by the committee and an affront to states’ rights.

Committee Republicans, Johnston argued, arranged for the subpoena while disregarding letters from Healey and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, detailing why the committee doesn’t have legal authority to “tamper with a state attorney general’s investigation into possible violations of state law by Exxon Mobil Corp.”

Republicans, he said, also disregarded the Massachusetts attorney general’s objection that most of the requested documents “are either attorney-client privileged documents or protected from disclosure as attorney work product.”

Johnston said Smith and other committee Republicans delivered the subpoena “without acknowledging” Healey’s offers to discuss her objections in a conference call with Smith or committee staff.

“This sequence of events suggests that the majority had no intention of considering the substance of Attorney General Healey’s objections,” he wrote.

The green groups on the receiving end of the subpoenas also indicated that they did not intend to cooperate with Smith and his committee.

The Climate Accountability Institute, for instance, posted a statement on its website that it responded July 13 “by declining to provide the requested documents on the basis of the committee’s lack of jurisdictional and legislative authority over our First Amendment rights to protect private communications and freedom of assembly with scientists and thinkers.”

The climate change group added:

CAI will not be intimidated, and we stand with other colleagues at UCS [Union of Concerned Scientists], Greenpeace, 350, and other groups and funders to denounce the unconstitutional and abusive tactics of Chairman Smith.


Philippines Wisely Rejects Western Imperialism on Climate Policy

Todd Gaziano

My family members in northern Virginia, who disdain cold weather, have an aphorism that captures our thoughts about climate change: “Global warming, every little bit helps!”

The new Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, may not be rooting for warming like we are, but his repudiation last month of the Paris climate treaty is particularly inconvenient for those pushing an activist policy agenda.

The fundamental truth is that every nation should reject economically unsound policy initiatives that harm their citizens and are devoid of any meaningful climate benefit, regardless of mainstream climate change projections.

Geologic climate change is undeniable; that modern man can have an impact on the climate is certainly plausible and merits careful study. The seemingly large, scientific agreement that man has had a material impact on the climate in the past 150 years and is likely to have a greater impact in the future, though not a true consensus, becomes less unified when the focus turns to how significant and how likely each of those effects may be over the next century.

It is the nature of science that some predictions and models will be revised over time. But overall, our scientific understanding of the climate and man’s impact on it will continue to improve in the next few decades. I’m eager for those developments for several reasons, including that the scientific studies genuinely interest me.

But even assuming the current projections of those who claim to speak for the climate change consensus prove to be accurate, the temperature increase in the next 20 years will be exceedingly tiny by the standard of world history.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the temperature increase for 2016-2035 relative to 1986-2005 without significant global climate initiatives may be 0.3 to 0.7 degree Celsius. Over the longer term, the panel’s mid-range scenarios predict average temperatures to increase by about 1.5 to 3 degrees by the end of the 21st century.

Given my wife’s and my disdain for winter, a 0.3 to 0.7 degree increase over the next 20 years is not remotely enough to suit our tastes. And if we are lucky enough to live 40 more years, we think an additional half-degree warming in our last two decades will be equally inadequate.

Putting our personal preferences aside, there would be more important net winners and losers with increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. For example, there could be improved crop yields in some regions while other areas may be harmed by various impacts. Climate change activists argue that the global net harms easily swamp any benefits. Yet even assuming that is the case doesn’t end the policy debate.

The critical policy debate is what costs are reasonable or necessary to impose now, especially since the possible scenarios (outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other scientists) still include a fair degree of uncertainty as to their relative likelihood and range of impacts.

The supposedly debate-ending claim that is often made is that even a modest sea level rise will devastate poor people who live near the coast, especially those who live in the tropics, where warming and other impacts may be greater.

The climate change panel’s mid-range projection is that sea levels may rise by a little less than a foot in the next 50 years. That doesn’t end the policy debate for many reasons, including the following considerations:

Will a given policy initiative, such as the misnamed “Clean Power Plan” in the United States, actually help in negotiating world-wide reductions in carbon emissions or will such unilateral Environmental Protection Agency dictates actually decrease American negotiating leverage to secure enforceable reductions from China, India, and other rapidly industrializing nations?

Relatedly, will reductions in Western nations’ industrial output caused by mandated carbon reductions, carbon taxes, and other regulatory measures shift more industrial production to countries with dirtier plants—but still decrease employment and growth in the West?

Will people be harmed more by the enormous costs (economic and noneconomic) of a given policy initiative than by the negligible impact on warming the initiative is supposed to effect? For example, unemployment and increased poverty from reduced economic growth increase certain serious diseases, infant mortality, and other measurable harms.

Will further scientific study and technological advances in the next two decades produce significantly more cost-effective solutions to reduce carbon emissions and climate change?

Will such further study and technological advances in the next two decades produce substantially more cost-effective means to ameliorate the impacts of the climate change, such as modest sea level changes, that actually result over that period and beyond?

Returning to Duterte’s repudiation of the Paris treaty, what makes it particularly inconvenient for the climate policy activists is that the Philippines fits the profile of a nation most at risk from climate change. The nation is composed of over 7,500 tropical islands, with a rapidly growing population, currently over 100 million. Many of those millions live near the coast, which is regularly battered by typhoons.

Yet Duterte did not even pay lip service to the Paris treaty his predecessor signed. Instead, he said he wanted to kick an unnamed ambassador from an industrialized nation who was pressuring him to follow it.

The Philippines is still industrializing, and Duterte made it perfectly clear it is not going to curb its economic development in the near term out of concern for climate change. Indeed, he said it would be “stupid” and “absurd” to try to meet the targets urged on the Philippines since that would stymie its growth—for little to no meaningful impact on global temperatures.

The Paris treaty, assuming it goes into force when the requisite number of nations causing 55 percent of global emissions join it, would still be largely symbolic because the signatories set their own targets for reducing greenhouse gases and there is no effective enforcement mechanism.

Thus, it would have been easy for Duterte to pretend to stay onboard with the agreement and even demand payments that are planned for developing nations to meet their targets. (The U.S. has already contributed $500 million to the Green Climate Fund.) Other nations will surely play that game.

Producers in emerging nations may benefit when the others become less competitive, even ignoring the potential bribes. But in contrast to merely signing up for an international kabuki dance, it would be the height of folly for developing nations to actually implement most of the policies Western climate imperialists urge.

Duterte has seemingly concluded that no conceivable climate change goal is worth even the tiniest compromise on his country’s future growth curve. Given that growth in any period is compounded many times over in the next century, who can blame him? (Although there’s no need to threaten to attack foreign ambassadors, except rhetorically, which is probably what he was clumsily attempting.)

Duterte deserves praise for his honesty—as well as his wisdom in focusing on economic growth that will be much more important to the Philippine people in the long run.

Unless America also changes course, only “stupid” nations like ours and others in Europe will attempt “absurd” initiatives like the Clean Power Plan that will put a drag on our already sluggish economies and cause additional industrial production and jobs to move elsewhere.

At least my family will know that such costly and counterproductive policies won’t materially affect climate change one way or the other. And we’ll keep hoping that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections of mild warming will prove accurate in our lifetimes. To us, every little bit helps.


Germany: "People Rebelling Against Wind Power” …Viewed As “A Destructive Force”

The July 24, 2016 print edition of national flagship daily Die Welt wrote a feature story on how German citizens are becoming fed up with the widespread crony capitalism of the wind energy business and are thus now mobilizing a fierce rebellion. The German daily writes of health issues for people living in their vicinity.

The article starts by featuring technology fan Volker Tschischke, who was once an ardent proponent of renewable energy – until wind turbines were built close to his residence and encircled his home village of Etteln. Now he leads a citizens initiative against the construction of wind parkc. The turbines “have driven him to resistance“, Die Welt writes.

Local politicians are no longer serving the interests of the local people, but rather “are rolling out the red carpet for wind power companies” and appear to be “no longer listening to the people and about the concerns of their everyday lives,” the national German daily writes.

A “destructive force”

Die Welt describes an Energiewende (transition to renewable energies) that is “dividing the people“, where those who live in big cities and thus not effected by the blight are open to wind parks, while those living in the countryside are fed up and fiercely resisting them. Die Welt reports that people across rural Germany “no longer view the Energiewende as a necessary national project, but as a destructive force.”

Now, ever so gradually, it even appears that Berlin is getting the message as leading parties see their poll numbers dropping. Die Welt writes that Berlin is now throttling the expansion of wind parks and working to “deescalate the conflict“.

“Ruined and destroyed for generations”

As an example of blight and destruction, Die Welt cites the area surrounding the central city of Paderborn, quoting a local resident who is thinking about packing up and leaving: “Here the living area is being ruined and destroyed for generations.”

Even though Berlin is scrambling to put the brakes on the uncontrolled spread of wind turbine littering across the rural landscape, local residents often remain powerless against the mighty wind industrialists and projects that have already been proposed. And even when local political leaders side up with their residents against the parks, Die Welt describes a David versus Goliath fight:

On one side there’s the mayor of the town and some of his staff, and on the other side there are corporation-like companies that hire staffs of lawyers.”

In such cases the big wind companies have an easy time pile-driving their projects through, Die Welt writes.

Opponents resort to sabotage

Also wind park developers often promise towns and villages cash-flow from wind projects, But as Die Welt reports, most never end up seeing any money. “The promise of business tax revenue is a ‘large fairy tale’.”

Die Welt also adds that wind park opponents are often labeled “grumblers“, “troublemakers” or “Energiewende blockers who use ludicrous ways to try to stop the success of the Energiewende.”

The conflict has even escalated to the point where opponents have even sabotaged a wind measurement instrument used to check the feasibility of a possible future project. Farmers are even blocking deforestation equipment with their tractors, Die Welt reports.

Lawless, Wild West conditions

In other locations it seems that wind energy development resembles the Wild West where there is a complete lack of law and order. Town have corrupted the planning, permitting and building process. Die Welt writes sometimes sleazy towns act as planner, permitting authority, builder and operator all in one. Nothing stands in the way. There are no checks and balances. Only a few profiteers. The German daily writes:

"The county of Aurich is a stakeholder in wind park projects. For the investor that is totally practical. He is thus practically the funder, impact study conductor and project approver all in one.”

Whether its solar power or wind energy, there’s a common thread: A very select few are profiting hugely while the rest of society are left to clean up a huge industrial, financial and environmental mess.


Australia:  New conservative senator vows to halt 'ridiculous lies' on climate change

Malcolm  Roberts wins second seat in Queensland for Pauline Hanson’s anti-immigration party and calls for government to abandon all policies that aim to reduce greenhouse gases.  A big moan about it from the Guardian below

On the day the government moved to save 15 of 35 climate science positions planned to be cut at the CSIRO, the Senate election results in Queensland showed One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts had won a second seat for the party in that state.

He stood in front of the media and denounced the government for taking part in an international climate change conspiracy and called for all policies that aim to reduce greenhouse gases to be abandoned.

Roberts is the “project leader” of a group called the Galileo Movement. It launched in 2011, with the aim of exposing what its leaders described as the “political fabrication of global warming alarm”.

He claimed in 2012 in an interview with Fairfax Media that climate science is controlled “by some of the major banking families in the world” who collude “in a tight-knit cabal with the United Nations”.

Those comments were one step too far even for News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt, who himself has argued that climate change is all a big conspiracy.

But now, elected to federal parliament, Roberts did not shy away from this statement.

“I’ve done a lot of research into climate,” he said at a media conference on Thursday. “I went looking into the agencies that have been spreading the climate science. I started finding out things about the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology. That led me then to the UN, which has been driving this. Then I started following the money trails.”

He went on to explain that they could be traced back to a few families who are making “trillions” of dollars.

When One Nation announced its policies for this year’s election, an attack on climate science was strangely prominent.

Alongside a “royal commission to determine if Islam is a religion or political ideology” the party has also called for “a royal commission (or similar) into the corruption of climate science”.

“Climate change should not be about making money for a lot of people and giving scientists money,” the party’s website says.

This renewed focus on climate change had the fingerprints of Malcolm Roberts all over it.

Roberts says he is a scientist (he has a mining engineering degree) and that the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology are no longer involved in science, since he says there is nothing to support the climate science they do. “All we need to do is stop these ridiculous lies based on climate,” he said.

Whether Roberts will have any impact on the functioning of the new parliament is not yet clear. But he said he has been called by both Malcolm Turnbull and attorney general, George Brandis.

“They offered their congratulations and then said they would make sure they would get the resources to us so we could do our jobs,” he said.



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