Monday, September 12, 2016
Confusion, muddle, obfuscation and racism
As Obama, UN and EPA seek to dictate our lives and livelihoods, the real issue is green racism
Winston Churchill called Russia a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. We could say Obama’s energy and climate policy is confusion wrapped in muddled thinking inside obfuscation – and driven by autocratic diktats that bring job-killing, economy-strangling, racist and deadly outcomes.
President Obama was recently in China, where his vainglorious arrival turned into an inglorious snub, when he had to use Air Force 1’s rear exit. He was there mostly to join Chinese President Xi Jinping and UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon, to formally sign the Paris climate treaty that Mr. Obama insists is not a treaty (and thus does not require Senate “advice and consent” under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution) because it is not binding – yet.
However, once it has been “signed and delivered” by 55 nations representing 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions, it will be hailed as binding. China and the US alone represent 38% of total emissions, so adding a few more big nations (Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Japan and Germany, eg) would reach the emission threshold. Adding a bunch of countries that merely want their “fair share” of the billions of dollars in annual climate “adaptation, mitigation and reparation” cash would hit the country minimum.
Few if any developing nations will reduce their oil, natural gas or coal use anytime soon. That would be economic and political suicide. In fact, China and India plan to build some 1,600 new coal-fired power plants by 2030, Japan 43, Turkey 80, Poland a dozen, and the list goes on and on, around the globe.
Meanwhile, the United States is shutting down its coal-fueled units. Under Obama’s treaty, the USA will be required to go even further, slashing its carbon dioxide emissions by 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. That will unleash energy, economic and environmental impacts far beyond what the Administration’s endless, baseless climate decrees are already imposing.
Federal agencies constantly harp on wildly exaggerated and fabricated “social costs of carbon” – but completely and deliberately ignore the incredible benefits of carbon-based energy.
The battle is now shifting to natural gas – methane. Hillary Clinton and Democrats promise to regulate drilling and fracking into oblivion on federal lands. California regulators are targeting cow flatulence!
EPA continues to expand ethanol requirements, even though this fuel additive reduces mileage, damages small engines, uses acreage equivalent to Iowa, requires enormous amounts of water, fertilizer, pesticides, gasoline, methane and diesel fuel – and releases more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than it removes.
Wind turbines, photovoltaic solar arrays and their interminable transmission lines already blanket millions of acres of farmland and wildlife habitats. They kill millions of birds and bats (but are exempt from endangered species laws), to provide expensive, subsidized, unreliable electricity. Expanding wind, solar and biofuel programs to reach the 28% CO2 reduction target would increase these impacts exponentially.
But all this is necessary, we’re told, to prevent climate cataclysms, like an Arctic meltdown. “Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone,” the Washington Post reported. Icebergs are becoming scarcer, in some places seals are finding the water too hot, and within a few years rising seas “will make most coastal cities uninhabitable.” The situation could hardly be more dire. Oh, wait. My mistake.
That was in November 1922! Recent warming and cooling episodes are not so unprecedented, after all.
However, all this climate confusion, obfuscation, fabrication and prevarication are merely prelude, a sideshow. The real issues here are eco-imperialism, racism and racially disparate impacts.
Not the kind of racism the Washington Post alludes to by putting a front-page story about Donald Trump going to a black church in Detroit next to a piece about a black soldier being horrifically lynched at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1941. Nor absurd claims by Detroit Free Press writer Stephen Henderson that Trump is racist for daring to go to that church to “boost his stock among white middle-class voters,” when he has “no interest” in addressing inner city problems.
This racism is the sneaky, subtle, green variety: of government policies that inflict their worst impacts on the poorest among us, huge numbers of them minorities – while insisting that the gravest risks those families face are from climate change or barely detectable pollutants in their air and water.
In the Real World, soaring energy prices mean poor families cannot afford adequate heating and air conditioning, cannot save or afford proper nutrition, and must rely on schools, hospitals and businesses whose energy costs are also climbing – bringing higher prices, reduced services and lost jobs.
Workers who are laid off, dumped on welfare rolls or forced to take multiple lower-paying part-time jobs face greater stress and depression, reduced nutrition, sleep deprivation, greater alcohol, drug, spousal and child abuse, and higher suicide, stroke, heart attack and cancer rates. That means every life supposedly saved by anti-fossil fuel policies is offset by real lives lost due to government actions.
Unemployment among minorities, especially black teens, is already far higher than for the population at large. Crime and other inner city problems are far worse than elsewhere. Policies that further cripple economic growth, job creation and revenue generation will make their situation infinitely worse.
Of course, legislators, regulators, lobbyists, eco-activists, crony capitalists, judges and celebrities are rarely affected. Their communities are far from those that bear the brunt of their edicts, so they’re shielded from most impacts of policies they impose. They know what is happening, but are almost never held accountable for actions that are racist in their outcomes, if not in their supposed “good intentions.”
To them, a planet free from inflated, hypothetical dangers from modern technologies is more important than lives improved or saved by those technologies. In Earth’s poorest countries, the outcomes are lethal on a daily basis. There, billions live on a few dollars a day, rarely or never have electricity, and are wracked by joblessness, malnutrition, disease and despair. Millions die every year from malaria, lung infections, malnutrition, severe diarrhea, and countless other diseases of poverty and eco-imperialism.
And yet, President Obama, the UN, its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and myriad environmental pressure groups tell impoverished dark-skinned people they should rely on “clean energy strategies” to improve their lives, but not “too much,” since anything more would not be “sustainable.”
“If everybody has got a car and air conditioning and a big house,” Mr. Obama told South Africans, “the planet will boil over.” He can jet, live and golf all over the planet, but they must limit their aspirations.
Thus his Overseas Private Investment Corporation refused to support a gas-fired power plant in Ghana, and the United States “abstained” from supporting a World Bank loan for South Africa’s state-of-the-art Medupi coal-fired power plant. Meanwhile, radical environmentalist campaigns limit the ability of African and other nations to use DDT and insecticides to control malaria, dengue fever and Zika – or GMO seeds and even hybrid seeds and modern fertilizers to improve crop yields and nutrition.
No wonder Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said his country will not ratify the Paris climate treaty. “Now that we’re developing, you will impose a limit? That’s absurd,” he snorted. He’s absolutely right.
These anti-technology campaigns are akin to denying chemotherapy to cancer patients. They result in racist eco-manslaughter and must no longer be tolerated – no matter how “caring” and “well-intended” supposed “climate cataclysm prevention” policies might be.
If we’re going to discuss race, racism, disparate impacts, black and all lives mattering, and protecting people and planet from manmade risks, let’s make sure all these topics become part of that discussion.
Obama aides visit Mass. to strengthen offshore wind efforts
Deepwater Wind just finished the first offshore wind farm in the country, a five-turbine project off Block Island’s coast. The Obama administration wants to make sure it won’t be the last one.
Two members of President Obama’s Cabinet, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, came to the Wind Technology Testing Center in Charlestown on Friday to unveil the administration’s new blueprint for developing a significant offshore wind industry over the next few decades.
“We’ve made important strides,” Jewell said. “We’re very hopeful we’ll see steel in the ground again, beyond what’s happened at Block Island, relatively soon.”
Their goal: putting more than 80 gigawatts of offshore wind in motion by 2050. That’s slightly more than the capacity of all the wind farms located on US soil today.
Two years ago, on another sunny September day, the testing center served as the backdrop for the announcement of a major milestone in the Cape Wind project. The center is a cavernous building where giant blades for wind turbines are subjected to stress checks. But the Cape Wind project has since collapsed, and many industry insiders view it as dead.
Now, the industry is moving beyond Cape Wind, once the only utility-scale offshore wind proposal in the country. The 30-megawatt, $300 million Block Island project, for example, is scheduled to start generating power this fall. The Massachusetts Legislature this summer passed a law compelling utilities to buy as much as 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power over the course of a decade.
And three energy developers, including Deepwater Wind, have secured rights to federal waters south of Massachusetts, much farther from shore than Cape Wind would have been. Those developers — the others are DONG Energy and OffshoreMW — this week signed a letter of intent to stage work at a terminal in New Bedford that was once slated for Cape Wind.
Those milestones are what drew Jewell and Moniz to Boston on Friday. Essentially, their report calls for reducing bureaucratic red tape: expediting wind-farm permitting, stepping up inter-agency coordination, standardizing data collection, and the like.
Moniz spoke about technological advances, in part spurred by research projects funded by his agency, that will reduce offshore wind farm costs and bring the price of their electricity closer to that of other sources.
Thomas Brostrom, the head of DONG Energy’s US operations, was encouraged by what he heard. The federal proposals are “absolutely important for offshore wind,” Brostrom said. “There are things you can streamline a little bit more, and the collaboration between the agencies can still be improved a little bit, but it’s a fantastic job in a short period of time.”
University official wants answers on whether climate professors are ‘indoctrinating’ students
The University of Colorado professors who shut down climate change debate in class have landed on the radar of a top school official, who says he wants to make sure students are being “educated, not indoctrinated.”
John Carson, a member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents, said he plans to make inquires Thursday about an email from three University of Colorado at Colorado Springs professors who advised students to drop the class if they dispute climate change.
“I have a lot of questions after reading this reported email sent to students,” Mr. Carson told The Washington Times. “We should be encouraging debate and dialogue at the university, not discouraging or forbidding it. Students deserve more respect than this. They come to the university to be educated, not indoctrinated.”
He said several constituents asked him Wednesday about reports on the email, in which professors told students that the course would be based on “the scientific premise that human induced climate change is valid and occurring,” and that anyone disputing that premise may want to drop out.
“We will not, at any time, debate the science of climate change, nor will the ‘other side’ of the climate change debate be taught or discussed in this course,” said the email posted online Wednesday by the College Fix.
The professors — Wendy Haggen, Rebecca Laroche and Eileen Skahill — are team-teaching the fall online course, “Medical Humanities in the Digital Age.”
Mr. Carson, a Republican, said he also was concerned about limits on student research based on another statement in the email: “We ask that any outside sources that are used be peer-reviewed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,” which falls under the auspices of the United Nations.
“If it’s accurate, the email even limits the sources of research that students can use,” Mr. Carson said. “For there to be a prohibition on debate and dialogue on a particular public policy issue at the university is certainly alarming.”
The nine-member Board of Regents, an elected body that oversees the University of Colorado system, has a 5-4 Republican majority. The board is scheduled to meet Sept. 8 at the UCCS campus.
“The meeting may be pretty timely,” Mr. Carson said.
UCCS spokesman Tom Hutton defended the professors Wednesday, describing the class as a “special topics course with multiple choices for students to take when fulfilling requirements.”
“By clearly stating the class focus, the faculty are allowing students to choose if they wish to enroll in the course or seek an alternative,” Mr. Hutton said. “Additionally, the faculty who are leading the course have offered to discuss it with students who have concerns or differing opinions.”
In their email, the professors also say 98 percent of climate scientists agree on climate change, referring to the so-called “97 percent consensus,” a figure that has been widely cited as well as hotly disputed.
Peak Solar Activity Drove 2015/16 El Niño, Chinese Scientists Say
Chinese Academy of Science physicists find link between solar peaks and strong El Niños
Wen-Juan Huo and Zi-Niu Xiao, two physicists at the Chinese Academy of Science, have published new research today suggesting that the strong 2015/16 El Niño event occurred right after the 2014 solar peak and may be directly linked to strong solar activity. The Chinese scientists found a significant positive correlation between sunspot numbers and the El Niño Modoki index, with a lag of two years.
Moreover, strong El Niño events were found within 1–3 years following each solar peak year during the past 126 years, suggesting that anomalously strong solar activity during solar peak periods may be the key trigger of such El Niño events.
These findings may help explain the rapid rise and fall of global temperatures over the last 2 years.
Recent SST and atmospheric circulation anomaly data suggest that the 2015/16 El Niño event is quickly decaying. Some researchers have predicted a forthcoming La Niña event in late summer or early fall 2016. From the perspective of the modulation of tropical SST by solar activity, the authors studied the evolution of the 2015/16 El Niño event, which occurred right after the 2014 solar peak year. Based on statistical and composite analysis, a significant positive correlation was found between sunspot number index and El Niño Modoki index, with a lag of two years. A clear evolution of El Niño Modoki events was found within 1–3 years following each solar peak year during the past 126 years, suggesting that anomalously strong solar activity during solar peak periods favors the triggering of an El Niño Modoki event. The patterns of seasonal mean SST and wind anomalies since 2014 are more like a mixture of two types of El Niño (i.e., eastern Pacific El Niño and El Niño Modoki), which is similar to the pattern modulated by solar activity during the years following a solar peak. Therefore, the El Niño Modoki component in the 2015/16 El Niño event may be a consequence of solar activity, which probably will not decay as quickly as the eastern Pacific El Niño component. The positive SST anomaly will probably sustain in the central equatorial Pacific (around the dateline) and the northeastern Pacific along the coast of North America, with a low-intensity level, during the second half of 2016. [...]
This study investigated the modulation of El Niño Modoki events by solar activity, and analyzed the possible impact of solar activity on the 2015/16 El Niño event. The 2015/16 El Niño event is more like a mixture of two types of El Niño; namely, EP El Niño and El Niño Modoki. The EMI has a clear decadal period, similar to the solar cycle, and demonstrates a significant positive correlation with sunspot numbers. Statistical analysis revealed that an El Niño Modoki event will most likely occur in the one to three years following a solar peak year. The solar cycle reached a peak in 2014—the 24th solar cycle since 1755. The evolution of the SST and wind anomalies are similar to the typical features found from historical data composites in peak years and the following one to three years after a solar peak. Therefore, the El Niño Modoki component of the 2015/16 El Niño event might also have resulted from high solar activity. Considering the impact of high solar activity, the El Niño Modoki component in the 2015/16 El Niño event may not decay as quickly as the EP El Niño event. It will likely sustain in the central Pacific, with a low-intensity level, in the second half of 2016.
India Wants US Assurance On NSG Membership Before Ratifying Paris Agreement
India will test the waters to know whether the US is keen on ‘redoubling’ the efforts for membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) by November, before taking a call on ratifying the Paris climate deal.
After China also ratified the accord, which President Barack Obama sees as part of his presidency’s legacy, the US is pushing India to ratify the agreement at an early date. India had linked its membership of the NSG, an elite club of countries dealing with trade in nuclear technologies and fissile materials, to ratifying Paris climate agreement.
“An early positive decision by the NSG would have allowed us to move forward on the Paris Agreement,” external affairs ministry had said after India failed to make the cut at the NSG in June.
Americans didn’t take kindly to this. According to sources, at the last strategic dialogue and subsequent high level interactions, the US pressed for India’s consent for an early ratification of the pact.
“External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj made it clear that Indian commitment is firm (for ratifying the Paris accord) and India will compress the internal processes for the same. But the US needs to walk the talk on NSG membership, which has a direct bearing on our pursuit of clean energy,” said a government official. India hopes that the US will step up its efforts in this regard by November.
The US has assured India that it will redouble efforts but sources said whether the “US would do enough at the highest levels to lobby for India is an important question”. Also, how much “leverage” an outgoing president would have on countries, most importantly on China, is the key question.
Australia pays heavy cost for its policies of protecting sharks
Another week, another three shark attacks on recreational ocean lovers.
One was fatal: West Australian kitesurfer David Jewell, 50, died after being bitten in New Caledonia, 1500km across the Coral Sea from the Gold Coast, on Tuesday.
Another attack — the previous day, at Injidup, near Yallingup, Western Australia — will be remembered for the sheer luck of the surfer involved. Fraser Penman, 22, was thrown off his surfboard by a shark that attacked from beneath. The force of the impact, which almost broke his surfboard in two, suggests the shark had a lethal intention.
Surfer Mick Corbett, who was sitting only metres away, said Penman landed on the back of the shark, which he estimated to be 5m long. The attack continued. "The guy is going up and down, he’s screaming, his brother is screaming," Corbett recalled. "I thought he was actually getting properly eaten … I kept thinking, this is f..ked."
Australia spends millions of dollars researching the movements and behaviour of sharks but no researcher has yet shown even the slightest curiosity in why some shark attacks go on for minutes and others end with the beast moving on, which is what happened in this instance. There is no doubt, though, that Penman owes a lot to his surfboard taking the initial hit. Had the shark attacked one of his limbs instead, Penman would now be permanently maimed, physically and psychologically, or dead — another statistic in a toll to which we become increasingly accustomed.
Yesterday, Penman’s attack had still not been recorded at the Australian Shark Attack File’s website, even under its seemingly benign "uninjured" column. Such indifference to maintaining the file, which is funded by taxpayers and should be the most reliable guide to the present safety or otherwise of our nation’s beaches, reflects the wider nonchalance of the shark research community towards the safety of people.
Almost everywhere one looks — the CSIRO, universities and the various departments of primary industries or fishing — one sees a higher priority given to sharks than surfers, divers or swimmers. This misanthropism springs from the common perception that humans are a blight on our planet and that a few casualties from interactions with nature are an acceptable price in the quest to save the Earth from rapacious humans. Such a deliberate lack of humanity is usually associated only with religious delusions or witchcraft. But, then, you "believe" in "saving" the environment or you don’t.
The longer this goes on, the more absurd our behaviour. In this respect, Reunion Island provides a worrying sign of where Australia is heading. Reunion introduced a marine park on the west side of the island in 2007 and implemented a ban on shark fishing. Since 2011, the effect of these policies has become apparent.
The island has had 19 attacks in six years, seven of them fatal, from a population of 850,000. Most surfers on the island have known not just one but several friends who have been killed or badly injured. Most parents in the tight surfing community have attended the funeral of several friends’ children, if not their own.
And it was on Reunion where this week’s third attack occurred. This one encapsulates how neurotic the debate about sharks has become. A bodyboarder named Laurent Chardard arrived at Boucan Canot beach last Saturday to see, apart from large and good-quality surf, red flags on the sand.
Boucan has a 700m net around it, built last year. It is one of two netted beaches, the only places where it is considered safe to surf on an island that until recently was on every surfer’s bucket list of dream destinations. However, that morning inspectors had noticed a 2m hole in the net and erected the flags — not warning of a shark, just the potential of one.
Fifteen surfers paddled out anyway. Chardard was one of them. He was attacked by a bull shark and lost his right arm and leg. "Just let me die — I don’t want to live like this," he told the brave fellow surfers who came to his rescue. (Since waking up in hospital, Chardard has developed a wonderfully admirable optimism and is "ready to live again" with prosthetic limbs, one of his friends told me.) Like the luckier Penman, Chardard is only 22 years old.
The day after the attack, the owner of the Petit Boucan, one of five restaurants on the beach, went on radio to complain he’d had almost no customers since the attack and that Chardard should be charged with a criminal offence. He also floated the idea of suing Chardard for damages. In Australia it’s common to blame the victim of a shark attack but threatening to sue one takes this antagonism to a new level.
The restaurateur has since apologised — a smart move considering his clientele consists mostly of surfers, who angrily proposed a prolonged boycott. However, the restaurateur’s grievance is understandable. He has a business to run and bills to pay. His restaurant is at one of the few places on the island where it was presumably safe to swim or surf. Now that beach has been stigmatised.
Arriving at this negative outcome has not been cheap for Reunion. The net at Boucan cost about $1.5 million to build (but was still damaged by one of the first large swells to hit it), and about half that a year to maintain. The island’s tourism industry has been cut dramatically. And, of course, Chardard and his family and friends have paid a heavy price.
All this for … a fish. Why can’t we treat sharks like other fish, or cattle, or rats? Why are they exempt from our usual attitude towards animals? Why do we go to such pains to ensure these fish thrive at the cost of young lives?
The usual response to these questions is that sharks are an "apex predator" and that tampering with them has a "cascading" effect that would lead to the "collapse" of the marine environment.
But a landmark report published by the West Australian Department of Fisheries this year, the result of one of the most comprehensive studies into shark movement, disputes this. The report, bearing the catchy title of Evaluation of Passive Acoustic Telemetry Approaches for Monitoring Shark Hazards Off the Coast of Western Australia, says the movement of great whites is "highly variable" and "not consistent". So a beach visited by a great white one day might not see another for a week, or a year, or a decade. Whether the shark returns or not, the environment adapts, just as Charles Darwin explained it would more than 150 years ago.
Besides, the marine environment is less predictable than researchers lead us to believe. One would expect, for example, that the protection of great whites in South Australia would keep the population of fur seals (also protected) under control, but it hasn’t. Instead, fur seals are reaching plague proportions and are devastating the state’s fishing industry.
These outcomes are not quite as tragically counter-productive as those on Reunion but we are getting close. As part of its highly publicised $16m plan to protect surfers on the state’s north coast, the NSW government included the construction of a net, similar to the one at Boucan, at North Wall, Ballina. Local surfers told the government the plan was ludicrous and the net would be in pieces on the beach after the first big swell. The government persevered anyway, abandoning the idea after three attempts.
Five days after that plan was dropped, the government released to The Daily Telegraph details of an exciting new plan to keep sharks away from people: dropping Shark Shields, which emit electric pulses that make sharks uncomfortable, on them from drones. If this sounds like another ridiculously complex, time-consuming, expensive and ineffective idea, it’s because it is.
Meanwhile, the nation’s coastline is dotted with fishing ports in which hi-tech boats capable of profitably reducing the number of lethal sharks in our waters lay idle, or are used to catch fish that pose no threat to us.
It’s going to be a long summer.
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