Monday, September 05, 2016

Water wars?

The story below is yet another "resources running out" story and as silly as most.  There are two obvious replies to the scare:  One in Australia and one in Israel.

Australia is an unusually dry country on the whole, though there are some areas where it is very wet indeed.  The Southeast of the continent relies heavily on our great Southern rivers, with irrigation from them producing excellent crops.  But if everybody were allowed to take all they want from them, people in the Southern reaches of the rivers would be left high and dry.

So the right to take water from the rivers has simply been made tradeable.  You buy water from them so only those who can make good money from the water will want to buy.  So the people who can use the water best are the one who do get to use it and there is as a result plenty of water available for productive uses.

Israel also has strategies that have solved their water problems.  Israel is in an area that has been very dry in recent years but in fact has plenty of water.  How come?  There are two main factors: A high rate of recycling "grey" water for irrigation purposes and desalination.  Israel is a world leader in desalination technology and now produces large flows of desalinated water at a very moderate cost.

A combination of the Australian and Israeli approaches should relieve any country of water problems as long as they decide to spend their money intelligently instead of blowing one-another up over religious disagreements

WE ALL think we know why wars are fought. Whether it’s the devastation in Syria, armed skirmishes in Africa or Russia’s expansionist leanings, armed conflicts are usually seen as falling into one of very few categories; capturing territory, a political ideology attempting to dominate another or, simply, for a country to get its hands on oilfields.

But, according to one theory, whatever the stated reason for most wars, they actually come down to one reason. Or rather, one resource, which is all around us.

And with stores of this resource dwindling in some parts of the world, things could be about to get a lot worse with a potential future flashpoint being between two of the world’s nuclear armed superpowers — India and China.

Alok Jha, a British journalist with a background in physics, will speak at this weekend’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House about the role water has played in a multitude of conflicts including both the Arab Spring and the civil war that has engulfed Syria.

“The Roman empire and the Persian empire would go to war for access to water and would live or die by that,” Mr Jha tells “That doesn’t happen as blatantly anymore, it’s much more subtle.”

Part of the problem, he argues in his new book The Water Book, is we’ve managed to hide water from view and have forgotten its importance.


“What we’ve done in modern society is make water invisible. Apart from when it’s falling from the sky or we’re having showers you don’t really think about it.”

Yet, every major city — from Sydney on the harbour to Brisbane on the river — exists either on or close to a river or a coastline. A map of the world’s population centres, says Mr Jha, is actually a map of freshwater sources.

“Any civilisation marks its domination and power through control of water.

Ninety seven per cent of the earth’s water is in the oceans and salty and so unusable unless treated through energy sucking desalination plants.

“Of the remaining three per cent, two per cent is in the ice caps and one per cent is freshwater, most of which most sits underground in ice or permafrost and a vanishingly small percentage is the stuff all of life uses,” explains Mr Jha.

So successful have we been at harnessing the power of water that cities and even entire nations have sprung from the desert soil, be that Las Vegas in the US or Dubai and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. Each one far outstripping the water supply naturally occurring in the area.

But climate change, the inefficient use of water, and access to the oceans could stretch our ability to squeeze more H20 out of the supplies we have and could spark violence across borders.
Alik Jha argues the world is taking the risk of conflicts over water for granted.

Alik Jha argues the world is taking the risk of conflicts over water for granted.Source:Supplied


Conflicts concerning strategic bodies of water are nothing new. Indeed, a series of skirmishes in the 1960s between Israel, Syria and Lebanon about freshwater allocations from the Jordan Valley was called the ‘water war’.

But Mr Jha argues that far more conflicts have water at their core.

“There are conflicts and skirmishes all the time and they are often not described as a water war, sometimes people might fight over a bit of land or it may manifest as a trade dispute but underlying all of that is access to water.

“In the Middle East there are constant battles over (water) but it’s at a very low level and sometimes internal (to the country),” he says.

“The Arab Spring was exacerbated by failed crops. Syria, right now, is largely political and it’s about dictatorships and war but it’s exacerbated because of water shortages.”

The spark for the genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region, which saw two million deaths and the country divided in two, is credited as the populated and parched north of the country looking to get its hands on water from the lush but culturally distinct south.
Rebel Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement fighters in the Darfur region of Sudan. The were needed in the 2000s when the country split in two. Picture: Scott Nelson/Getty Images

Rebel Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement fighters in the Darfur region of Sudan. The were needed in the 2000s when the country split in two. Picture: Scott Nelson/Getty ImagesSource:Supplied


“If you do not have access to water, it’s not just hard to have a shower in the morning, you can’t do anything, you can’t grow crops, you have no clothes, nothing works,” he says.

If climate change continues, as scientists predict, there will be even less water in the Middle East, sub Saharan Africa, the southern US, the Mediterranean and, he says, Australia. And as the water moves, so will the people.

“If everything in a country dries up the people will look across international boundaries for jobs, food, for home. Richer countries will have to work out how to absorb these people.

Reasons for migration might seem diverse now, from looking for a better life to escaping conflict, “but in 20 years, if you look back you’ll see it was a water-led migration,” says Mr Jha.

Conversely, massive global disruption could also occur because of too much water. Rising sea levels could swamp major world centres, like New York, London and Tokyo.


Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun

JUSTIN GILLIS of the NYT is telling his tired old lies again.  That parts of the U.S. East coast are subsiding has long been recognized.  Parts of the U.K. East coast are receding too --  and have been doing so for many years.  The result is similar to a sea level rise but is not the same.  If it were a global sea level rise behind the phenomena below, how do we explain that,  along the coasts of Alaska, sea levels are FALLING?  Answer: the land surface there has been rapidly rising (uplift) for many decades.  Some land rises and some falls so to pick out just the falls is a typical Greenie lie

NORFOLK, Va. — Huge vertical rulers are sprouting beside low spots in the streets here, so people can judge if the tidal floods that increasingly inundate their roads are too deep to drive through.

Five hundred miles down the Atlantic Coast, the only road to Tybee Island, Ga., is disappearing beneath the sea several times a year, cutting the town off from the mainland.

And another 500 miles on, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., increased tidal flooding is forcing the city to spend millions fixing battered roads and drains — and, at times, to send out giant vacuum trucks to suck saltwater off the streets.

For decades, as the global warming created by human emissions caused land ice to melt and ocean water to expand, scientists warned that the accelerating rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline.

Now, those warnings are no longer theoretical: The inundation of the coast has begun. The sea has crept up to the point that a high tide and a brisk wind are all it takes to send water pouring into streets and homes.

Federal scientists have documented a sharp jump in this nuisance flooding — often called “sunny-day flooding” — along both the East Coast and the Gulf Coast in recent years. The sea is now so near the brim in many places that they believe the problem is likely to worsen quickly. Shifts in the Pacific Ocean mean that the West Coast, partly spared over the past two decades, may be hit hard, too.

These tidal floods are often just a foot or two deep, but they can stop traffic, swamp basements, damage cars, kill lawns and forests, and poison wells with salt. Moreover, the high seas interfere with the drainage of storm water.

In coastal regions, that compounds the damage from the increasingly heavy rains plaguing the country, like those that recently caused extensive flooding in Louisiana. Scientists say these rains are also a consequence of human greenhouse emissions.

“Once impacts become noticeable, they’re going to be upon you quickly,” said William V. Sweet, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Silver Spring, Md., who is among the leaders in research on coastal inundation. “It’s not a hundred years off — it’s now.”

Local governments, under pressure from annoyed citizens, are beginning to act. Elections are being won on promises to invest money to protect against flooding. Miami Beach is leading the way, increasing local fees to finance a $400 million plan that includes raising streets, installing pumps and elevating sea walls.

In many of the worst-hit cities, mayors of both parties are sounding an alarm.

“I’m a Republican, but I also realize, by any objective analysis, the sea level is rising,” said Jason Buelterman, the mayor of tiny Tybee Island, one of the first Georgia communities to adopt a detailed climate plan.

But the local leaders say they cannot tackle this problem alone. They are pleading with state and federal governments for guidance and help, including billions to pay for flood walls, pumps and road improvements that would buy them time.

Yet Congress has largely ignored these pleas, and has even tried to block plans by the military to head off future problems at the numerous bases imperiled by a rising sea. A Republican congressman from Colorado, Ken Buck, recently called one military proposal part of a “radical climate change agenda.”

The gridlock in Washington means the United States lacks not only a broad national policy on sea-level rise, it has something close to the opposite: The federal government spends billions of taxpayer dollars in ways that add to the risks, by subsidizing local governments and homeowners who build in imperiled locations along the coast.

As the problem worsens, experts are warning that national security is on the line. Naval bases, in particular, are threatened; they can hardly be moved away from the ocean, yet much of their land is at risk of disappearing within this century.

“It’s as if the country was being attacked along every border, simultaneously,” said Andrea Dutton, a climate scientist at the University of Florida and one of the world’s leading experts on rising seas. “It’s a slow, gradual attack, but it threatens the safety and security of the United States.”


Obama's "ratification" of the Paris climate treaty is a joke

There's some news. The Chinese and the U.S. president have met in China and "ratified" the Paris climate treaty. This brings the number of countries that have ratified it to 26. Additional 33 countries have promised to ratify before the end of the year. It means that the total number will exceed 55 which is needed. If they also exceed 55% of the world's production of CO2, the Paris climate treaty will come into force for the countries that have ratified it.

A map of the ratification status is available.

Recall that the Paris climate treaty is encouraging the countries to make individual commitments in the form of five-year plans to decarbonize their economies. Like communist parties, all the signatories should gather, talk about their experience with the five-year plans, criticize those who aren't sufficiently tough, and agree about new five-year plans. During communism, similar voluntary activities encouraged by the communist leadership were known as the Initiative Z.

The countries that have ratified may withdraw but the process of withdrawal takes at least 4 years in total. It's a lot of time to cause a significant harm to the country's economy.

It's interesting to look how the treaties were ratified by China and America.

More than eight years ago, on June 4th, 2008, Barack Obama said that it was the day when he slowed the rise of oceans. Today in China, Obama said that now is the moment when he saved our planet. You can see that it takes a bit over 8 years for a clown who has slowed the rise of the oceans to save the planet, too.

It would be sort of funny if that clown didn't mean it seriously.

We often say that China isn't a democracy – well, because it isn't one. Still, they have a legislature and yesterday, before the Chinese president signed the treaty during his today's "Planet Saved" comedy show with his U.S. counterpart, China's legislature actually voted to approve the treaty. If you want to know which words are being used for that, it was the "Standing Committee" of the "National People’s Congress" that was carefully thinking and finally adopted the agreement, according to the official Chinese press.

What about the process in the U.S., the self-described leader of the democratic world? Well, if it were one, the requirements would be analogous but more real than in China. Real representatives and not just a bunch of Chinese puppets who would be punished if they voted "incorrectly" would be really thinking about the merits of the agreement. The ratification of the treaty requires 2/3 of the votes in the Senate.

Instead, Barack Obama has declared that the salvation of the planet is no big deal legally. It is just an "executive agreement" which only requires the president's signature.

It is ludicrous but just try to think how terribly ludicrous this statement is. The executive branch of the government will be replaced by a different one when the treaty really comes into force around 2020. Well, the Obama administration will be gone in less than half a year. So how can an executive agreement or action of the current administration possibly affect how lawmakers, companies, and regular citizens behave in 2020 when the Paris treaty is supposed to be relevant?

It makes absolutely no sense. You clearly need some laws – adopted by lawmakers (they are called lawmakers because they make laws) – if you want some rules affecting the behavior of the U.S. citizens, companies, and politicians that survive the current administration.

Barack Obama is just mocking himself – and he is mocking his supporters, too. As an Obama supporter, Gene Day looks even nuttier than he did before. Not even in the non-democratic China, it would be possible to completely avoid the will of the voters and their representatives while changing the legal landscape of the country in this serious way. Barack, you would have to be at least the Führer to make similar decisions. Your signature will be ignored by every American worker, entrepreneur, and politician who has a brain.

Meanwhile, it's much safer for the other countries that haven't signed yet not to sign, ever. I wouldn't really call it "Clexit". To "Clexit", you must first be in, and then it takes 4 years to leave. You just shouldn't get in at all. In particular, Brexit gave some new sovereignty and democracy to the U.K. so that it could follow it with Clexit and restore its 18th century industrial leadership.

It's ludicrous to assume that this signature of Obama's will matter. But it's only ludicrous from the contemporary viewpoint – this scenario has nothing to do with the way how the republic works. However, the actual main goal of the Paris treaty and similar activity of the climate alarmists is to change the conditions, promote the climate hysterical politicians to Führers, and make it possible for them to control every fart of yours and your cow (California has banned or regulated cows' farts, no kidding) without any attention paid to any representatives, voters, or taxpayers.

The actual goal of the climate hysteria is to introduce a new totalitarian system and this is why its proponents must be treated in the same way as the Nazis.


Clexit:  Climate exit

Viv Forbes

For at least a decade we have been told by the UN/IPCC, by most government media and officials, by many politicians, and by the Green “charities” and their media friends that “the science is settled”. We are lectured by Hollywood stars, failed politicians and billionaire speculators that anyone who opposes the World War on Carbon Dioxide is ignorant, mischievous or supporting some hidden vested interest. We endure calls for an end to free speech for climate sceptics, smearing with derogatory terms like “denier”, and even aggressive punishments like dismissal and legal action against sceptics for speaking out. The new low is the use of anti-racketeer legislation against sceptics:

We notice the sudden and unexplained denial of pre-booked sceptic conference facilities and the steadfast refusal of alarmists to debate facts and issues.

Why are they so afraid of words? Surely this is a sign that their facts are shonky and their arguments are feeble? They fear they are losing the confidence of the public.

The tide is turning, and informed opposition is growing. It is time for the thinking media to give sceptical evidence and conclusions a fair go in the court of public opinion.

In a short time with no costly international meetings and very little publicity, Clexit has gathered the support of over 115 members in 20 countries. Please look at the list of Foundation Members and countries here

Look at the skills, qualifications, experience and wisdom of our founding members; and the many other well-qualified dissenters listed at the end. The science is not settled.

This global warming alarm started with UN sponsored groups such as the IPCC. But Clexit has members who were official IPCC reviewers but they dissented from the final public IPCC reports which were prepared by political appointees.

The climate alarm rests totally on computerised models of atmospheric physics. But Clexit has highly qualified meteorologists, physicists, astro-physicists, radiation experts, climate modellers and long-range forecasters who reject the science, maths, assumptions and forecasts of the greenhouse-driven computer models.

We are told that Earth’s climate is controlled by the gradual increase of a tiny trace of one colourless gas in the atmosphere. But Clexit has specialists who can show that the warm and cold currents in the deep and extensive oceans, the variable water vapour in the atmosphere and Earth’s changing cover of ice, snow and clouds have far more effect on weather and climate than carbon dioxide.

We are told that carbon dioxide is a pollutant. But Clexit has organic chemists, biologists, physicians, naturalists, graziers, foresters and farmers who know that extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is very beneficial for Earth’s biosphere – deserts are contracting, bush and forests are expanding, and crop yields are up.

We are told that sea levels are rising alarmingly. But Clexit has experts on sea level history and measurement who can prove that there is nothing unusual or alarming about current fluctuations in sea levels.

We are told that today’s climate is extreme and unusual. But Clexit has geologists and geographers who have studied eons of climate history via ice cores, stratigraphy, paleontology, deep-sea drilling, historical records, glaciers, ice sheets and landscapes and who say that climate change is normal and today’s climate is not extreme or unusual.

We are told to fear the coming global warming. But Clexit has geologists and researchers who have studied the cycles of the ice ages and the climate effects of the Milankovitch cycles in Earth’s orbit – obliquity, eccentricity and precession. They say we have passed the peak of this modern warm era and the long-term trend is now towards global cooling. We will still have short-term periods of hot and extreme weather, and some heat records may still be broken, but the 1,000 year climate averages are trending down towards the next glacial epoch of the Pleistocene Ice Age.

We are told repeatedly that the Great Barrier Reef is doomed by dangers that change annually – rising seas, river sediments, warm seas, ocean acidity, fertiliser run-off, coal port development, over-fishing or marauding star-fish. But Clexit has qualified members who have studied oceanography and ancient and modern corals and report that the Reef is healthy, and corals have survived far more dramatic changes in sea levels and climate in the past.

Solar cycles get no consideration in the IPCC climate models but Clexit has astro-physicists and long range weather forecasters who have demonstrated that solar and lunar cycles have big effects on Earth’s climate and weather cycles. In addition, while billions of dollars are spent fruitlessly on failed climate models and endless climate conferences, little is known about the strings of undersea volcanoes or how much geothermal heat is released from Earth’s molten interior during orogenic upheavals.

We are told that we must embrace green energy. But Clexit has power engineers and logistics experts who say that wind and solar can never run modern industrial societies, modern transport or big cities. Such a policy is a recipe for blackouts and starvation. Clexit also has naturalists and conservationists who see more harm than good in extensive wind, solar and bio-fuel developments.

Finally, we are told that to save the world we need to hand powerful taxing and regulating powers to unelected officials of the United Nations. But Clexit has politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, columnists, lawyers, army officers and bloggers who see that this political agenda will destroy the freedoms we cherish.

Many Clexit members have held very senior positions in research, industry or academia but no longer have sensitive positions, careers or incomes to protect, so are free to express honest opinions, which they have done by supporting “Clexit”.

We ask the media to give our soundly-based dissenting conclusions a fair hearing – there are two sides to most stories, but only one side is being aired.

The Clexit initiative was launched with no budget, promises or funds. So, unlike the alarmists with an agenda, those receiving rivers of government funds and those posing as tax-exempt charities, we cannot afford massive advertising costs.

We hope, in the interests of fair play, you see fit to give our valid concerns some space in the free media.

Note: The first informal meeting of many Clexit members will take place in London on Sept 8/9, 2016 at this conference (whose first booked venue was suddenly withdrawn):

Disclosure: The formation of Clexit was not prompted or supported by any industry, corporation, group or lobby nor have they had any say in our statements or conclusions.


There's No Winning the Gas Wars

One positive development in our generally lackluster economy has been low fuel costs. Economist Stephen Moore says, “The best rule of thumb is that every penny rise in gas prices at the pump takes about $1.5 billion out of the wallets of motorists.” So taking into account how much per-gallon gasoline prices have plummeted over the years — by several dollars in most cases — consumers are saving many billions of dollars that can be used elsewhere. That’s welcome relief to consumers. But not so much to anti-fossil fuel antagonists.

Citing new statistics that show 35,092 car-related deaths from 2014 to 2015 — a 7% increase — Time magazine’s Justin Worland says, “[A]n increase in traffic deaths is just one of several negative side effects. More driving also means an increase in the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change and automobile pollution continues to lead to disease and death in America’s urban centers. Compounding those problems, low gas prices make Americans more likely to buy gas guzzlers.”

So while low fuel prices are good for families struggling financially, Worland argues that an uptick in traffic deaths and “climate change” negate any monetary advantages. For starters, Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw sets the record straight with a look at the trend: “Since the 1970s, traffic fatalities in the United States have continued to fall, even as total population and the number of vehicles on the roadways have skyrocketed. Per capita traffic deaths are less than half what they were when Jimmy Carter was in office. And when compared to other western nations, we’re absolutely one of the safest.” Besides, “When the economy is doing well and there are more new buildings being erected or existing ones extensively renovated we have more accidents on construction sites. As construction increases we produce more construction materials and factory injuries increase as employment goes up. Shall we cease all of those activities as well?”

As far as the environment is concerned, where’s the outrage toward hypocritical environmental scolds like Barack Obama, John Kerry, Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio, all of whom rack up multitudinous miles in their fancy airliners to lecture the rest of us about the dangers of greenhouse gas emissions?


From fracking to flatulence: the all-out assault on methane

What is the “biggest unfinished business for the Obama administration?” According to a report from Bill McKibben, the outspoken climate alarmist who calls for all fossil fuels to be kept in the ground, it is “to establish tight rules on methane emissions”—emissions that he blames on the “rapid spread of fracking.”

McKibben calls methane emissions a “disaster.” He claims “methane is much more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide” and that it does more damage to the climate than coal. Methane, CH4, is the primary component of natural gas.

Apparently, his progressive friends in California agree, as they are now, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ): “seeking to curb the natural gas emanating from dairy farms”—more specifically cow manure and flatulence. The August 12 editorial says that the California Air Resources Board “suggests that dairy farms purchase technology to capture methane and then sell the biogas to customers.” It acknowledges that the supposed cure would only be cost-effective with “substantial government subsidies and regulatory credits.” WSJ points out that while California’s proposed regulations might produce the “least GHG intensive” gallon of milk in the world, it would also be the “most expensive.”

To buttress his anti-fracking argument, McKibben is selective on which studies he cites. He starts with a paper from “Harvard researchers” that shows increased methane emissions between 2002 and 2014 but doesn’t pinpoint the source of the methane. He, then, relies heavily on “a series of papers” from known fracking opponents: Cornell Scientists Robert Howarth and Anthony Ingraffea. Within his report, McKibben mentions Howarth’s bias, but, I believe, intentionally never mentions Ingraffea’s. Earlier this year, in sworn testimony, Ingraffea admitted he’d be lying if he said that every one of his papers on shale gas was “entirely objective.” Additionally, a group that Ingraffa co-founded and for which he serves as Board Chair, Emeritus: Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, received, at least, tens of thousands of dollars in coordination with wealthy foundations to support the broad movement of opposition to shale gas drilling.

Because of bias, McKibben claims to reach out to an “impeccably moderate referee”: Dan Lashof. Mckibben then goes on to report on Lashof as having been “in the inner circles of climate policy almost since it began.” In addition to writing reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and crafting Obama’s plan to cut “coal plant pollution,” Lashof was the “longtime head of the Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council” and he now serves as COO for “billionaire Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate America.” Lashof is hardly an “impeccably moderate referee.”

Because McKibben goes to great lengths trying to appear balanced in his conclusions, a casual reader of his report might think the research cited is all there is and, therefore, agree with his cataclysmic views. Fortunately, as a just-released paper makes clear, much more research needs to be considered before cementing public policy, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s “tight rules on methane emissions.”

In the 28 peer-reviewed pages (with nearly 70 footnotes) of Bill McKibben’s terrifying disregard for fracking facts, Isaac Orr, research fellow for energy and environment policy at The Heartland Institute, states: “Although McKibben—a journalist, not a scientist—accurately identifies methane as being exceptionally good at capturing heat in Earth’s atmosphere, his ‘the-sky-is-falling’ analysis is based on cherry-picking data useful to his cause, selectively interpreting the results of other studies, ignoring contradicting data, and failing to acknowledge the real uncertainties in our understanding of how much methane is entering the atmosphere. In the end, methane emissions aren’t nearly as terrifying as McKibben claims.”

In the Heartland Institute Policy Brief, Orr explains why it has been difficult to achieve consistent readings on methane emissions: “Tools have been developed only recently to measure accurately methane emissions, with new and better equipment progressively replacing less perfect methods.” He then details the various methods:

    Direct measurement of emissions, on-site, identifies methane emissions from specific sources;

    Ambient Air Monitoring uses aerial surveys, allows large areas to be surveyed, with results affected by uncertainties;

    Life-Cycle Analyses draw on multiple sources to provide an integrated measure of emissions from the entire natural gas value chain; and

    Meta-Analyses combine the results of multiple studies using different methodologies or databases to search for overarching trends, recurring facts, and robust findings.

Throughout the section on methodology, Orr draws attention to the results of the various techniques—which he says shows “great uncertainty about how much methane is entering the atmosphere, how much is produced by oil-and-natural gas production, and how emissions can be managed in the future.” He also points out that more than 75 studies examining methane emissions from oil and gas systems have been done, yet “McKibben chose an outdated study [Howarth/Ingraffea] that used unrealistic assumptions and reached inaccurate conclusions.” Additionally: “Natural gas producers have a powerful economic motive to reduce methane leakage and use technologies that capture methane emissions during the drilling and well completion phase.”

Orr calls McKibben’s assertions that methane emissions are from the oil-and-gas sector: “simplistic” and “inappropriate.” Regarding the Harvard study, he explains: “Estimating the contributions from different source types and regions is difficult because there are many different sources of methane, and those sources overlap in the same spatial area. For example, methane is produced naturally in wetlands—and it is worth noting that environmentalists support ‘restoring’ wetlands despite the increases in methane emissions this would cause. Methane also is produced by agriculture through growing rice and raising livestock, fast-growing activities in developing countries. This makes it difficult to calculate exactly where methane is coming from and what sources should be controlled.”

Based on McKibben’s approach, other sections of The Heartland report include: Methane and Global Warming, Repeating Gasland Falsehoods, and What’s the Fracking Alternative?—with the latter being my favorite.

Because McKibben’s ultimate goal is to keep fossil fuels in the ground, he goes to great lengths to support how wind and solar—the fracking alternatives—have progressed (an argument that Orr takes apart). However, a careful read of McKibben’s version of the story reveals that he acknowledges that his preferred energy sources are uneconomic. Within his report, McKibben admits that fracking has “brought online new shale deposits across the continent.” He sarcastically derides politicians who viewed fracking as a win-win situation by suggesting they were cynically saying they “could appease the environmentalists with their incessant yammering about climate change without having to run up the cost of electricity.”

McKibben even attacks President Obama’s support of natural gas—made abundant thanks to the companion technologies of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. (He’s not too happy with Secretary Clinton’s efforts either.) Here are a few of the key phrases McKibben uses in that paragraph: (Note: McKibben sees these as negatives.)

    “The fracking boom offered one of the few economic bright spots”;

    “Manufacturing jobs were actually returning from overseas, attracted by newly abundant energy”; and

    “The tool that made restrictions on coal palatable.”

Combine these McKibben statements and he is clearly aware that his plan will take away one of the few economic bright spots; that due to higher priced electricity, manufacturing jobs will leave our shores; and coal regulations will be unpalatable. While McKibben touts the oft-mentioned line about Denmark generating 42 percent of its power from wind, Orr reminds us that the figure only accounts for electricity—not total energy. When factoring in all of Denmark’s energy consumption, wind, solar, and geothermal only account for 5 percent of the energy mix and, as Orr explains, Denmark has the highest electricity rates in Europe and is still dependent on fossil fuels for the vast majority of its energy.

I am often asked why the anti-fossil fuel crowd has so recently turned against the decades-old technology of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that has provided such economic and environmental benefits and has become even safer due to ever-increasing advances. In his report, McKibben states what is essentially the answer I often give: “One of the nastiest side effects of the fracking boom, in fact, is that the expansion of natural gas has undercut the market for renewables.” It has upset the entire world-view of people like McKibben who’d banked on oil and natural gas being scarce—and therefore expensive. In that paradigm, wind and solar power would be the saviors. Now they are an expensive redundancy.

Worrying about whether methane emissions come from oil-and-gas activities, from agriculture, such as cow flatulence or rice farming, or from naturally occurring seeps may seem irrelevant to the average energy consumer’s day. However, when you consider that long-term, expensive public policy is being based on this topic, it is important to be informed fairly and accurately—and to communicate with your elected officials accordingly.



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


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