Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Seven bee species are placed on the endangered species list

There are around 20,000 species of bee so the scare about crops not being pollinated is just the usual Greenie dishonesty

Wildlife authorities in the US have added bees to its list of endangered and threatened species, a first time for any bee.

Among those insects in trouble are seven species of yellow-faced bee, Hawaii's only native bees.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced the listing last week after years of study by the conservation group Xerces Society, state government officials and independent researchers.

The threatened insects play a crucial role in pollinating plants on the island chain, but their numbers have been in decline due to loss of native plant species from development, wildfires and destructive species such as pigs.

'Because remnant populations of many species of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees are small and isolated, they are especially vulnerable to habitat loss, predation, stochastic events, and other changes to their habitat,' the Xerces Society said in a statement.

It added: 'Conservation of these important pollinators will require the active management of natural areas where populations are known to exist.'

The nonprofit organisation was involved in the initial petitions to protect the bee species, said Sarina Jepson, director of endangered species and aquatic programmes for the Portland, Oregon-based group.

Yellow-faced bees can be found elsewhere in the world, including Europe, but the listed species are native only to Hawaii and pollinate plant species indigenous to the islands.

The addition of the seven species of yellow-faced bee to the endangered and threatened list is reported to be a first for any bee species.

Although the bees are found around the world, including Europe, those Hylaeus species listed are only found on the islands of Hawaii.

Environmentalists say the bees are under threat from habitat loss, with Hawaii's unique native flora being lost to development, wildfires and destructive species such as pigs.

The bees are critical for maintaining the health of plants and other animals across the islands, say wildlife experts.

The bees face a variety of threats including 'feral pigs, invasive ants, loss of native habitat due to invasive plants, fire, as well as development, especially in some for the coastal areas,' she told The Associated Press.

The bees can be found in a wide variety of habitats in Hawaii, from coastal environments to high-elevation shrub lands, she said.

The yellow-faced bees pollinate some of Hawaii's endangered native plant species.

While other bees could potentially pollinate those species, many could become extinct if these bees were to die off entirely.

Hawaii-based entomologist Karl Magnacca worked with Xerces on much of the initial research. It has taken almost 10 years to get to this point, he told the AP. 'It's good to see it to finally come to fruition,' he said.

The bees 'tend to favor the more dominant trees and shrubs we have here,' he said.

'People tend to focus on the rare plants, and those are important, that's a big part of the diversity. But the other side is maintaining the common ones as common. '(The bees) help maintain the structure of the whole forest.'

Magnacca added that there are a lot more rare insects that deserve protection. 'It may not necessarily be appropriate to list them as endangered, but we have this huge diversity that we need to work on and protect here in Hawaii,' he said.

The bees are critical for maintaining the health of plants and other animals across the islands, said Gregory Koob, conservation and restoration team manager for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Honolulu.

There is no designated critical habitat attached to the listing, he said, but the protection will allow authorities to implement recovery programs, access funding and limit their harm from outside sources. All federal agencies must consult with the Fish and Wildlife service when interacting with endangered species.

'As an animal, it can't be taken or harmed or killed by individuals,' Koob said. 'Any research that is done needs a permit from Fish and Wildlife Service unless it's done by a state agency.'

Koob said that if the bees were removed from ecosystem, the plants that they pollinate would likely not survive.

'Those plants are not only food and nesting habitat for the bees, but they also provide habitat for other animals,' he said. 'It's the web of life.'

Friday's listing finalised the protection of 10 animal species in Hawaii, the seven bees along with the band-rumped storm-petrel, the orangeblack Hawaiian damselfly and the anchialine pool shrimp. It also added 39 species of plants native to Hawaii.

The rusty-patched bumble bee, found widely across the continental United States, is also being considered for protection.


Bureaucratic Flimflam: Environmental Edition

Like a stage magician performing sleight of hand before an unsuspecting audience, politicians and bureaucrats frequently engage in misdirection. Case in point: the federal Environmental Protection Agency. As Independent Senior Fellow William F. Shughart II and Utah State University colleague Michael Jensen reveal in the Detroit News, the EPA touts its proposed Clean Power Plan as a flexible and fair tool for dealing with climate change. Pull back the curtain, however, and you’ll see that the EPA’s publicists slyly direct the public’s attention away from two essentials: the exceedingly high cost of the coal regulation and the exceedingly low benefit.

One year after it goes into effect, the Clean Power Plan would result in the closure of enough coal-fired power plants to supply electricity to 2.5 million homes, according to Shughart and Jensen. As for its alleged climate-change benefit, an economist with the American Enterprise Institute estimated that the EPA plan “amounts to a temperature reduction of 0.0015 of one degree by the year 2100,” Shughart and Jensen write.

The Department of Interior performs similar tricks. Its proposed Stream Protection Rule would leave $14 billion to $29 billion worth of coal in the ground and kill 100,000 to 300,000 jobs, disproportionately harming low-income people in Appalachia. “The ‘look over there!’ trick of environmental regulation is class warfare at its finest, as lower-income earners are forced to carry the burden of achieving the environmental goals of the political elite,” Shughart and Jensen write. “We must always ask ourselves whom we are willing to harm in order to achieve our supposed ‘green’ dreams.”


James Lovelock, inventor of Gaia Theory and godfather of the modern environmental movement, has finally renounced the green religion

Climate alarmism, he says, is not “remotely scientific”; one volcano could make more difference to global warming than humans ever could; the computer models are “unreliable”; greens have behaved “deplorably”; and anyone who tries to “predict more than five to ten years is a bit of an idiot.”

Though this is not the first time Lovelock has rowed back on his earlier climate catastrophism – in 2012 he was already admitting “I made a mistake” – it’s his most emphatic rejection yet of the green litany.

Lovelock, 97, ascribes the dramatic change in his once fervently alarmist beliefs to the fact that he has “grown up.”

Only ten years ago – when the inventor, scientist and environmentalist was a mere spring chicken of 87 – Lovelock argued in his book The Revenge of Gaia that mankind was doomed.

Because of global warming, he predicted, “billions will die” and the few survivors would have to retreat to the Arctic which would be one of the few habitable places left on earth.

But now he admits to being “laid back about climate change.”

    “CO2 is going up, but nowhere near as fast as they thought it would. The computer models just weren’t reliable. In fact I’m not sure the whole thing isn’t crazy, this climate change. You’ve only got to look at Singapore. It’s two-and-a-half times higher than the worst-case scenario for climate change, and it’s one of the most desirable cities in the world to live in.”

Besides, he says, nature is more powerful than the computer models:

    It’s only got to take one sizable volcano to erupt and all the models, everything else, is right off the board.

Lovelock was speaking in an interview with the fervently alarmist Guardian whose interviewer Decca Aitkenhead was naturally somewhat taken aback by his views which she ascribed in part to his temperament as an “incorrigible subversive.”

But Lovelock himself insists that it is simply a question of looking at the evidence.

One experience that has sharply concentrated his thoughts is the cost of heating his home, an old mill in Devon. When the heating bills rose to £6,000 for just six months, he realised that he would have to downsize and has now moved to a smaller cottage on Chesil Beach in Dorset. This claim has brought him into conflict with another green guru, the chunky knit Guardianista George Monbiot.

    “I remember George Monbiot took me up on it and wrote that it was impossible, that I had to be lying. But I wasn’t lying, I’ve got the figures.” Monbiot doesn’t quite accuse him of lying, in fairness; just of “talking rubbish” and “making wild statements”. In any case, he says that in the US he found he could heat a house for six months, in temperatures of -20C (-4F), for just £60. As a result, he has withering contempt for environmentalists’ opposition to fracking. “You see, gas in America is incredibly cheap, because of fracking,” he says. But what about the risk of triggering earthquakes? He rolls his eyes.

    “Sure enough, that’s true, there will be an increase. But they’re tiny little tremors, they would be imperceptible. The only trouble is that you can detect them. The curse of my life has been that I’ve spent a lot of time inventing devices that are exceedingly sensitive. And the moment somebody can detect something, they’re going to attach a number to it, and then they make a fuss about it.” He chuckles, then pauses. “I’m not anti-green in the sense that I’m in favour of polluting the world with every damn thing we make. I think we’ve got to be careful. But I’m afraid, human nature being what it is, the thing gets exaggerated out of all proportion, and the greens have behaved deplorably instead of being reasonably sensible.”

Besides Monbiot, Lovelock finds time for a little dig at yet another fervent green catastrophist the Prince of Wales:

    He was once invited to Buckingham Palace, where he told Princess Anne: “Your brother nearly killed me.” Having read that Prince Charles had installed grass-burning boilers at Highgrove, Lovelock had tried one in his house. “It’s supposed to smoulder and keep the place warm; but it doesn’t, because it goes out, and clouds and clouds of smoke come out.” He giggles. “Princess Anne thought this was hilariously funny.”

His heretical stance on nuclear energy too is likely to alienate many of his former admirers in the green movement:

    Even more heretical than his enthusiasm for fracking is Lovelock’s passionate support for nuclear power. But, like fracking, he says, it offers only “a stopgap” solution. “Because in the long term, they’ll use up all the uranium.” How long would that take? He pauses to do some quick mental arithmetic, as casually as I might tot up how many pints of milk to grab from Sainsburys.

    “Let’s see … I think uranium that is affordable to extract would last about 50 years, something in that range. It might be 100. When you’ve used all that up, you go to thorium, and that would last you three times as long as uranium – so, shall we say, about 200 years?” The most sensible energy solution would be to cover 100 sq miles of the Sahara in solar panels. “It would supply the whole of Europe with all the energy they needed,” but it won’t happen “because it would be so easy for terrorists to go and bugger it up”. So for now, nuclear energy is the only viable option.

Not that any of this matters much anyway, Lovelock suggests, because by the end of the century robots will have taken over and they probably won’t find much use for us.

    The implications for climate change are obvious. “The world that they’re going to be comfortable in is wildly different from the one that we feel comfortable in. So once they really get established, they will – with regret – start losing organic life.” Will they care about rising temperatures? “They won’t give a fourpenny fuck about the temperature, because to them the change will be slow, and they can stand quite a big change without any fuss. They could accommodate infinitely greater change through climate change than we can, before things get tricky for them. It’s what the world can stand that is the important thing. They’re going to have a safe platform to live in, so they don’t want Gaia messed about too much.”


Saskatchewan rejects proposed wind farm to protect birds

177 megawatt SaskPower site would have included up to 79 turbines, but an environmental review found potential risks to migratory birds

A proposed project that would have generated electricity from wind energy in southwestern Saskatchewan has been denied over concerns about birds.

Environment Minister Scott Moe says an environmental review of the proposal for Chaplin identified potential risks to migratory bird activity in the area.

Algonquin Power wanted to build a 177 megawatt facility on behalf of SaskPower that would have included a maximum of 79 wind turbines, 50 to 70 kilometres of access roads and 110 kilometres of trenched transmission lines.

Moe says the government will continue to work towards its goal of 50 per cent of power generation from renewable energy sources by 2030.

To that end, it has released new guidelines for proposed wind energy sites that include a five-kilometre buffer zone around environmentally sensitive area such as national and provincial parks, ecological reserves, important bird areas and key Saskatchewan rivers.

Moe says the guidelines are designed to enhance environmental protection and provide more certainty to future wind energy developments.

“By clearly identifying avoidance areas for wind energy developers, our government is demonstrating our commitment to make decisions that balance environmental responsibility with economic needs,” Moe said in a release Sept. 19.

Proponents will still be required to evaluate proposed sites outside the buffer zone for potential impacts on the environment and wildlife.

The guidelines were developed with industry and environmental stakeholders, Moe said.

The Chaplin proposal was the first wind electricity project to undergo an environmental impact assessment. Moe said the experience helped in the development of the guidelines for future wind and other renewable energy generation projects.


Australian Greens propose new burden for taxpayers

They really do seem to think money grows on trees

Battery storage systems fitted to homes and businesses would have helped South Australians who lost power during the severe storms, the Greens say.

The Greens are pushing for a national policy that would give Australians a tax credit of up to $5000 to help with the cost of battery storage for solar energy systems.

"Bringing a battery boom to South Australia will give households and small businesses the energy security that they need," SA Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said in a statement.

"Renewable energy coupled with battery storage is the future and will help to keep energy demand sustainable while bringing much needed jobs to our state."

The policy also includes a grant scheme for low-income earners, with the grants capped at $5000 per household in the first year of the policy.

The Greens estimate that if the policy were enacted, up to 1.2 million homes across Australia would take up the scheme.

"Battery storage technology is on the verge of major breakthroughs when it comes to capacity and cost," she said.

"This scheme would help South Australian households adopt an emerging technology while also supporting innovation in Australia."

It comes in the aftermath of storms that caused state-wide blackouts across South Australia, sparking a political debate over energy security.

Senator Hanson-Young said it's time for action, not cheap talk and political point-scoring.

"No amount of hot air from blowhard politicians in Canberra will power our state into the future," she said.

"It's time we got real about tackling dangerous global warming and giving South Australians the energy security that they need."



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