Tuesday, April 18, 2017

‘Global Warming Drought’ Over As Northern California Sees Wettest Year On Record

So this must indicate the end of global warming?

It is now the wettest year on record in the Northern California mountains, National Weather Service officials said Thursday.

An index of precipitation at eight sensors showed that just under 90 inches of rain and snow have fallen this winter in the northern Sierra Nevada.

The previous record of 88.5 inches was set in the winter of 1982-1983. The average for the region is 50 inches a year, according to the state Department of Water Resources.

The record was surpassed less than a week after Gov. Jerry Brown officially declared an end to California’s drought emergency — a largely symbolic pronouncement that left in place some water-conservation rules for the 40 million residents of the nation’s most populous state.

More snow and rain is likely to pad the record before the wet season ends.

A winter weather advisory was in effect for the northern Sierra for much of Thursday with forecasts for moderate to heavy snow along with rain at lower elevations. More storms were forecast for next week.

The measurements were taken from sensors spread from Mount Shasta near the Oregon border to Pacific House between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe.

Winter storms have blanketed mountains in snow, flooded urban areas and caused damage that could top $1 billion.

The weather also taxed reservoirs, dams and levees designed to control floods and capture winter rain and snow for agriculture and drinking water throughout the state.

The five sensors that make up the San Joaquin region have recorded 68.2 inches of rain — almost double the average for this time of year and roughly on pace with the 1983 record of 77.4 inches, according to the Water Resources Department.


This Isn't A March For Science This Is About Economic And Political Policy

One of those who organises the Union of Concerned Scientists has penned an explanation of the March for Science to take place next weekend. And it's entirely obvious that what he's actually irate about isn't science at all, it's the political and economic policies being put in place as a result of science that irks him. The two are not the same thing, not the same thing at all:

"So, why are they grabbing placards now? Because an unprecedented attack on science, scientists and evidence-based policymaking is underway in the US federal government."

An attack upon science or the scientific method would be worthy of a march of course. But that really just isn't what is being complained about:

"Nowhere is the attack more ferocious than on the issue of global warming, where the Trump administration has taken a wrecking ball to the modest but important policies put in place by President Obama."

Ah, no, that's not a complaint about science at all is it? That's a complaint about political and economic policy.

Good economic policy tells us that the political action to deal with climate change should not be what Obama has been doing. Reversing those regulations is not thus an attack on science it's an attack on bad policy. And do please note that this is true whatever we think of climate science itself. The truth of emissions causing warming has no influence at all upon the best method of reducing emissions and thus warming:

"My organisation, the Union of Concerned Scientists, with its more than 500,000 members and supporters, has joined with allies from the climate, environmental justice and labour movements to help organise both the March for Science and the People’s Climate March."

Again, that's not about science. That's about economic and political policies.

There's a much deeper point here too. Let's say that we really do want to be ruled by science. Personally, I don't think so, the people who tried scientific socialism didn't give that sort of thing a good name really. But let's say that we do want to be. OK, so, each scientist is an expert in their really rather small part of the overall endeavour. I know someone, in fact have funded some of her work, who is the world's great expert on the extraction of rare earth metals from the wastes of bauxite processing. Excellent--that doesn't mean that she's therefore who I would turn to on how competition policy should be crafted so as to ensure rare earth supply for the US military, just to mention something that is doing the rounds at present.

Similarly I'm absolutely delighted to take the word of that guy measuring atmospheric CO2 in Hawaii. That doesn't mean that he's going to be expert in how to change human behaviour in order to get that number going down again.

For we've another scientific specialty which deals with those sorts of things--economics. That's what it is about, the allocation of scarce resources so as to meet humans wants and desires. And thus if we want to change the way that humans are allocating resources then that's the science we're going to have to use. It's worth noting that pretty much all economists are against those uses of regulation to control emissions. Not because they don't believe or trust the climate scientists. But because the economists have their own expertise. Not in climate science of course--but in what you need to do to get humans to change their behaviour.

And that's the real point here. The complaint which is driving the march isn't about an attack on science at all. Far from it, it's one group of scientists not understanding that the policy they advocate is, by the scientific experts in the policy, considered to be a bad one which should be replaced.

If you like, this is the Union of Concerned Scientists not quite understanding that it is economics which is the science of what we do about things.


EPA Employees Billed Taxpayers $15,000 for Gym Memberships in Vegas

Environmental Protection Agency employees billed taxpayers roughly $15,000 for gym memberships, while numerous employees are upset over looming budget cuts.

An agency library in Las Vegas, Nevada, bought 37 employees one-year memberships to the gym 24 Hour Fitness, according to a receipt obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The "super sport" memberships cost $399.99 each.

The employees work at the U.S. Environmental Science Division located at 944 East Harmon Ave. in Las Vegas. The address is home to the EPA's National Exposure Research Laboratory and a library on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) campus, which EPA scientists, postdoctorate researchers, and contractors use for research.

The receipt for "fitness memberships for EPA employees" totaled $14,799.63 and was created in April 2016.

The 24 Hour Fitness memberships include yoga and martial arts classes. The gym boasts "good vibes" where EPA employees can "sweat it out together."

The taxpayer funding for gym memberships comes at a time when numerous EPA employees are upset with President Trump's proposed budget, which would reduce the EPA's annual funding to $5.7 billion. Employees were coming to work in tears months after Trump's presidential victory. Recently, unionized EPA employees participated in "resistance" rallies on Capitol Hill.

The EPA office opted to purchase the expensive memberships from 24 Hour Fitness instead of utilizing the gym on UNLV's campus. The agency leases five buildings from the university.

The university has a 184,000-square-foot Student Recreation and Wellness Center that is available to EPA employees for $25 per month.

The campus gym includes a "state-of-the-art" relaxation room with massage chairs, fitness assessments, personal trainers for hire, a registered dietician, a spa and leisure pool, indoor jogging, and a "gender neutral bathroom."

Instead, the agency opted to bill taxpayers $400 per person. Request for comment from the EPA library and the Environmental Science Division were not immediately returned.


Elon Musk tells unhappy Tesla investors: 'Buy Ford'

Does not acknowledge that the value of Tesla shares is entirely built on hope of future electric car sales being huge -- a classic speculative bubble

Elon Musk has got into a Twitter row with a group of powerful investors after they urged the billionaire Tesla boss to strengthen the electric car company’s board.

Five major shareholders including the powerful California State Teacher’s Retirement System (Calstrs) wrote to Mr Musk at the start of the week to raise concerns about Tesla’s directors, highlighting the personal or professional links they have with the entrepreneur.

The letter came just days after Tesla overtook Ford as the most valuable US car company, when it market value hit almost $49bn, compared with Ford’s $45bn.

This was despite Ford delivering 6.6m cars last year, compared with Tesla’s 76,000. Hopes that Tesla's electric vehicles will dominate future transport have since seen the shares climb as high as $312 since then, pushing the company's value to beyond $50bn.

However, Mr Musk - who owns about a fifth of Tesla's shares - took exception at the letter from investors, tweeting in reply to a news report that “This investor group should buy Ford stock. Their governance is amazing …”

He added: “Besides, I already said we'd add more independent members during [Solar City] merger. Will announce soon, but this group has nothing to do with it.”


Greens urged to get real and  join farmers in push for quarantine improvement

Feral predators and introduced diseases have done more damage to Australia’s biodiversity than land clearing, fire or habitat loss, and it’s time the environmental movement joined farmers in pressuring the government for better quarantine laws, a new report says.

The study’s author, biologist and writer Tim Low, said green groups that put all their efforts into trying to halt environmental degradation would get more benefit per dollar spent from worrying about stopping the next lantana or cane toad as well.

“Australians think they’ve got the world’s best quarantine system, but really it’s a disaster in slow motion,” Mr Low said. “The conservation movement should be talking more about quarantine, even if that means saying a bit less about habitat loss.”

He pointed to the recent discoveries of myrtle rust (affecting trees) and white spot disease (at prawn farms) and said the Asian black-spined toad (a possible cold-climate cane toad) had been spotted in Australia. “There’s a widespread misconception habitat loss is causing most extinctions in Australia, but evidence doesn’t back that up,” Mr Low said.

He has recently produced a soon-to-be-released report for the Invasive Species Council showing that feral animals and introduced diseases pose a greater threat to Australia’s most vulnerable native wildlife than do most other factors.

The 20-page document, entitled “Invasive Species: a leading threat to Australia’s wildlife”, obtained by The Weekend Australian, summarises the work of dozens of authors. It shows that introduced feral animals, weeds and diseases pose a severe risk to more than three-quarters of all amphibian, mammal and bird species on the threatened species list and to more than half of all types of threatened plants, fish and reptiles.

Australia has lost more mammal species than any other country; feral cats and foxes are considered mostly to blame. The study points to only one extinct animal (the toolache wallaby) for which habitat loss is considered the primary driver of its demise.

Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said the danger was “not just ongoing, it is increasing”.

“The size of the threat is far bigger than what most people had believed. It is largely invisible and slow moving. As a result, government responses have been poor and often misguided, long after it is too late,” he said.



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