Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Climate Scientists Trying To Discredit Trump’s EPA Chief End Up Proving Him Right

That good ol' selective quotation again

A study meant to debunk a claim made by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt in his confirmation hearing ended up doing the opposite — it proved him right.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Nature, found that Pruitt’s claim of a “leveling off of warming” over the past two decades is unsupported by satellite-derived temperature data, which measures the lowest few miles of the atmosphere.

Researchers supposed debunking of Pruitt, however, centers on a selectively quoted line from his testimony, which cuts out the administrator’s reference to the global warming “hiatus.”

Scientists have been debating the “hiatus” in warming for years, trying to parse out its causes and, in some cases, if it’s due to bad measurements in surface temperature readings. But the “hiatus” is extremely apparent in satellite temperature readings, stretching for about two decades.

 “Mr. Pruitt claimed that ‘over the past two decades satellite data indicates there has been a leveling off of warming,’” reads the study, quoting Pruitt’s confirmation hearing testimony from January.

But Pruitt actually said: “over the past two decades satellite data indicates there has been a leveling off of warming, which some scientists refer to as the ‘hiatus.’”

Pruitt was clearly referring to the “hiatus,” or lack of significant warming, in the satellite temperature record that started in the late 1990s and continued until the recent El Nino began in 2015.

“This study seems to be an unwarranted kneejerk reaction to Pruitt’s ‘leveling off’ of warming comment,” Dr. Roy Spencer, a climate scientist who operates one of the satellite datasets relied upon by the study, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“But Pruitt’s comment in testimony wasn’t that precise, and it’s true that the previous warming became much weaker and approached zero over a period of approximately 20 years until the 2015-16 warm El Nino event,” Spencer said.

Pruitt has come under attack from environmentalists and some scientists for his comments on global warming. Most recently, opponents criticized Pruitt for saying that he didn’t believe carbon dioxide was the main driver of recent warming.

Major media outlets, including The Washington Post, picked up this new study’s results, criticizing Pruitt and his management at the EPA. WaPo reported, “Scientists just published an entire study refuting Scott Pruitt on climate change.”

Researchers found that “the tropospheric warming from 1979 to 2016 is unprecedented relative to internally generated temperature trends on the 38-year timescale,” according to the study.

Based on what Pruitt actually told Congress in January, however, the study essentially proves that he was correct.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue pointed out on Twitter that data presented in the study shows a slowdown in warming in the last 20 years. Maue also noted how authors used several studies on the “hiatus” in their citations, but refused to use the term in the study.

The study’s authors used climate models to show the warming trend in satellite data couldn’t be explained by natural warming, which excludes man-made greenhouse gases.


Bad news for Warmists: North Pole ice cap the same thickness as 1940

By Thomas Lifson

The apocalyptic religion of global warming/climate change stumbled upon the best animal mascot nag since Smokey the Bear when someone snapped a photo of a polar bear on an ice floe. Of course, polar bears are great swimmers, so the notion that a poor bear could be stranded on the last piece of ice remaining from the North Pole melt-off is absurd. But the religious frenzy of the Warmists holds such a myth as sacred, so the picture became its icon of compassion for cute furry objects of pity, the victims of the very carbon dioxide upon which its metabolism depends.

Now comes the worst possible news: the North Pole is not melting. Realclimatescience.com reports:

The Danish Meteorological Institute reports that Arctic sea ice is about two meters thick.

In 1940, Arctic sea ice was also about two meters thick.

Arctic sea ice is about the same thickness as 75 years ago, but because people are constantly being lied to about climate by government scientists, they carry the same misconceptions which people had 60 years ago.

In 1958, the New York Times reported that Arctic ice was about two meters thick, and that people carry a popular misconception that the ice is much thicker than it is. They also predicted an ice-free Arctic within one generation.

More HERE  (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Nipping a legal problem in the bud

Consult with all affected parties, to ensure informed endangered species and pesticide policies

Paul Driessen

One of my recent articles predicted that the Fish & Wildlife Service’s endangered species designation for the rusty patched bumblebee would lead to its being used to delay or block construction projects and pesticide use on hundreds of millions of acres of US farmland. The abuses have already begun.

Projects in Minnesota and elsewhere have been delayed, while people tried to ascertain that no bees were actually nesting in the areas. Now a federal district court judge has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency failed to consult with the FWS before approving 59 products containing neonicotinoid pesticides that are used primarily as seed coatings for corn, canola, cotton, potato, sugar beet and other crops.

As crops bud and grow, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt must nip this problem in the bud. Thankfully, Judge Maxine Chesney has given them the means to do so.

The Endangered Species Act requires that EPA determine whether a pesticide “may affect” a listed species, she noted, and consult with the FWS and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS, which has no conceivable role in protecting domesticated or wild bees), before approving the 59 products, which contain the neonics clothianidin or thiamethoxam. So EPA must consult with the agencies and determine that the insecticides would have “no effect” on the species or establish stricter guidelines for using them.

The Center for Food Safety and a couple of beekeepers initiated their lawsuit to toughen restrictions on or ban use of the 59 pesticide products, because of alleged risks to bees and other pollinators. Pesticide manufacturers, their CropLife America trade association, and various farmers and beekeepers argued that these “neonic” insecticides are safe for bees, and no new measures or restrictions are needed.

Properly done, consultation would evaluate the conflicting claims and ensure more informed policies. During the Obama Administration, those consultations would likely have involved only the EPA, FWS and NMFS, where many analysts have anti-pesticide views, along with the anti-insecticide plaintiffs. The industry and other parties who intervened in the lawsuit would likely have been excluded or ignored.

But those interveners certainly bring essential expertise. So do farmers, other beekeepers, the Department of Agriculture, scientists who have been studying neonic and other threats to honeybees, and wild bee experts like Sam Droege in the Interior Department’s US Geological Survey.

Truly informed policies and regulations must involve all such experts, as well as parties who will be most affected by any EPA-DOI decisions: construction companies and unions, local government officials, conventional farmers who rely on neonics to protect their crops – and beekeepers who increasingly understand that honeybee colony losses in recent years were due to natural pests and pathogens, and that alternative pesticides are actually more harmful to bees than neonics.

Extensive studies have concluded that the actual cause of bee die-offs and “colony collapse disorders” has been a toxic mix of tiny pests (parasitic Varroa destructor mites, phorid flies, Nosema ceranae gut fungus, tobacco ringspot virus and deformed wing virus) – as well as chemicals used by beekeepers trying to control these beehive infestations. These diseases and pathogens can easily spread to wild bees.

Field studies involving crops where bees forage for pollen have consistently found no observable adverse effects on honeybees resulting from exposures to properly applied neonic seed coatings. The studies assessed neonic residues from bees and hives under actual pollinating/pollen-gathering conditions; they found that pesticide residues were well below levels that can adversely affect bees – and that neonics “did not cause any detrimental effects on the development or reproduction” of honeybee and wild bee species.

That should not be surprising. Coating seeds ensures that neonic pesticides are absorbed into plant tissues – and thus target only pests that actually feed on the crops. This reduces or eliminates the need to spray crops with much larger quantities of neonicotinoid, pyrethroid or other pesticides that definitely can kill birds, bats and beneficial insects that inhabit or visit the fields or are impacted by accidental “over-sprays.” Even organic farming can harm bees, as it often employs powerful, toxic “natural” chemicals (like copper sulfate) and spraying with live Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) bacteria.

Laboratory studies consistently overdose bees with pesticides, under conditions that do not come close to approximating what bees encounter in forests, grasslands or croplands. That makes their findings highly questionable to useless for devising responsible, science-based regulations.

These realities help explain the sudden attention to wild bees. When the hullabaloo over honeybee deaths and “colony collapse disorder” supposedly caused by pesticides (especially neonics) collapsed like a house of cards, eco-activists began raising alarums over wild bees species. That’s because so little is known that their latest “no wild bees – no food or flowers” claims cannot yet be refuted as convincingly as were claims about domesticated honeybees that have been bred and studied for centuries.

The FWS and Interior Department clearly opened a Pandora’s Box when they decided to list the rusty patched bumblebee as endangered (rather than merely threatened). That bee’s historic range covers nearly 4 million acres, scattered in unknown segments among 378 million acres across 13 Northeastern and Midwestern states. Other species that anti-pesticide activists want added to the endangered list (yellow-banded, western and Franklin’s bumblebees) were found historically in small areas scattered over more than a billion acres in 40 US states. Some nest in the ground; others in trees.

If environmentalists succeed in getting these endangered designations – especially coupled with a narrow consultation process – they could delay, block or bankrupt power lines, bridges, highways, pipelines, housing developments, wastewater treatment plants, plowing operations and other projects all over the USA. Non-organic farming, neonic-treated seeds, and other pesticide use could be particularly vulnerable.

The actual environmental benefits would be minimal – or profoundly negative, as farmers are forced to use other insecticides or switch to land-intensive organic methods. Additional ironies abound.

The constant environmentalist, court, news media and government agency attention to bees and pesticides is hard to understand in the context of policies that promote, mandate and subsidize large-scale wind turbine installations – while ignoring or exempting their impacts on raptors and other birds, bats, and even whales (NMFS should investigate that) and human health.

Meanwhile, extensive monoculture corn and canola plantations (to produce feed stocks for ethanol and biodiesel production) replace millions of acres of food crop and wildlife habitat lands, while using vast quantities of water, fertilizer and energy to replace the oil, coal and natural gas that rabid greens want kept in the ground. These biofuel operations reduce biodiversity and the numbers and varieties of flowering plants on which wild bee species depend. In addition, over their life cycles ethanol and biodiesel generate more carbon dioxide than fossil fuels per Btu of energy produced (see here, here and here).

Broad-based consultations are therefore essential, to ensure that all these topics are addressed by experts and affected parties who can help evaluate the science and policy implications for domesticated and wild bees, as well as for farming, construction, jobs, families and other species.

They must assess not just the alleged risks of using neonics, but also the risks of not using them, risks associated with having to use other classes of pesticides, and risks that could be reduced or eliminated by using modern neonic seed coatings. They should focus on replicable, evidence-based, field-tested science, not laboratory studies; balance agricultural, consumer and environmental needs; and consider bees in the context of how we protect (or don’t protect) other valuable wildlife species.

These steps would help restore science and common sense to policy and regulatory processes – and serve as a foundation for adjusting the Endangered Species Act to minimize regulatory and litigation excesses.

Via email

Climate change litigation growing rapidly, says global study

Researchers identified hundreds of climate change-related lawsuits filed in 24 countries, many of them seeking to hold governments accountable for existing climate-related legal commitments. Map is from their report

A new global study has found that the number of lawsuits involving climate change has tripled since 2014, with the United States leading the way. Researchers identified 654 U.S. lawsuits—three times more than the rest of the world combined. Many of the suits, which are usually filed by individuals or nongovernmental organizations, seek to hold governments accountable for existing climate-related legal commitments. The study was done by the United Nations Environment Program and Columbia University's Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.

Around 177 countries recognize the right of citizens to a clean and healthy environment, and courts are increasingly being asked to define the implications of this right in relation to climate change.

"Judicial decisions around the world show that many courts have the authority, and the willingness, to hold governments to account for climate change," said Michael Burger, executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. Burger said that in the United States, litigation has been "absolutely essential" to advancing solutions to climate change, from the first, successful, lawsuit demanding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulate greenhouse gas emissions, to a recent lawsuit claiming that citizens have a constitutional right to a stable climate system. "Similar litigation all over the world will continue to push governments and corporations to address the most pressing environmental challenge of our times," he said.

"The science can stand up in a court of law, and governments need to make sure their responses to the problem do too," said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment. As litigation has grown, it has addressed a widening scope of activities, ranging from coastal development and infrastructure planning to resource extraction. The scope of individual suits is also growing in ambition, says the report.

Some suits outside the United States have already had results. Among other things, the report describes how, in September 2015, a Pakistani lawyer's case against the government for failure to carry out the National Climate Change Policy of 2012 resulted in the government designating action points within several ministries, and the creation of a commission to monitor progress.

The report predicts that more litigation will originate in developing countries, where people are expected to suffer many of the worst effects of shifting climate. The report also predicts more human-rights cases filed by "climate refugees," coming as a direct result of climate-driven migration, resettlement and disaster recovery. By 2050 climate change could, according to some estimates, displace up to 1 billion people. That number could soar higher later in the century if global warming is not kept under 2 degrees Celsius, relative to pre-industrial levels, say some.

International organizations including the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees have already acknowledged the need to address the plights of people displaced by changing climate. But there is yet no international agreement on the rights of such displaced persons, nor on the obligations of countries to respect them.

Technology will not suffice to address coming problems, say the authors; laws and policies must be part of any strategy. They say that because of the Paris Agreement, plaintiffs can now argue in some jurisdictions that their governments' political statements must be backed up by concrete measures to mitigate climate change.


A secretive EPA in Australia

NSW home owners could be living near contaminated land without knowing because the state's environmental watchdog has failed to disclose the information, a government review has found.

The NSW Environmental Protection Authority told the review it decided not to declare all contaminated residential sites because it could "affect the valuation of a property".

The report was led by Macquarie University Professor Mark Taylor who found the EPA failed to make the information public even when the "contamination is significant enough to warrant regulation".

While the EPA is committed to declaring contamination on and near commercial and industrial land, the review found it "generally does not declare off-site residential land to avoid unnecessarily blighting that land and causing undue concern".

The review continues to say the EPA first determines if the contamination poses health or environmental risks before it decides to disclose the information to residents.

The review found two examples where off-site residential properties near "significantly contaminated" sites were not declared to affected residents and no reason was provided why in the EPA's briefing notes.

The EPA says in the report it is investigating the matter.

The environmental watchdog has committed to a revised declaration process, which will assure a more "standardised approach", but decisions to declare or not declare the contamination will continue to be made on a "case-by-case basis", the report says.

However, the EPA will not declare all contaminated sites that are deemed "significant enough to warrant regulation".

In a statement released on Sunday, the EPA says if the contaminated site poses an impact on neighbouring properties, it's up to the council to reveal that information and in cases of significantly contaminated sites, the information is "added to the public record, published in the Government Gazette, notification is provided to the landowner, polluter, land occupier and local council or authority".

"Local authorities are then tasked to record this information on property planning certificates issued under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act," the EPA said in the statement.

The environmental watchdog noted NSW had some of the strictest reporting requirements in Australia, and "human health and the environment are the priority".

"Property value never overrides the EPA's protection of human health and the environment regarding significantly contaminated sites," the EPA said.



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1 comment:

C. S. P. Schofield said...

Got a question for you, as you seem to have the resources to answer;

Has anybody looked into what taking solar energy out of the environment by diverting it to electric generation might do? I mean, to be a useful part of the nation's energy budget, solar power MUST be removing significant amounts of energy from the natural system. What does that do? Has anybody even ASKED?