Monday, July 31, 2017

Icebreaker sets record for earliest crossing of Northwest Passage

Another opportunity for dishonest propaganda.  I'm guessing that if previous explorers were on a ship that had four huge  Wärtsilä diesel engines and a hull of explosion-welded stainless steel they might have made better progress too.  This transit shows nothing about Arctic ice

There is however one amusing sentence below:  "Scientists predict the Northwest Passage will be largely ice free in the summer by 2050 if current levels of warming continue."  What?  IF!  Surely there is no doubt creeping in!  Maybe it's just caution.  Warmists have been predicting the vanishing of Arctic ice for years.  But no date they have put on it has ever proved right

After 24 days at sea and a journey spanning more than 6,000 miles, the Finnish icebreaker Nordica has set a new record for the earliest transit date of the fabled Northwest Passage.

The once-forbidding route through the Arctic, linking the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, has been opening up sooner and for a longer period each summer due to climate change. Sea ice that in years past foiled famous explorers and blocked the passage to all but the hardiest ships has slowly been melting away in one of the most visible effects of man-made global warming.

Records kept by Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans show that the previous earliest passage of the season happened in 2008, when the Canadian Coast Guard ship Louis L. St-Laurent left St. John's in Newfoundland on July 5 and arrived in the Beaufort Sea off Point Barrow on July 30.

The Nordica, with a team of researchers and Associated Press journalists on board, completed a longer transit in less time — and in the opposite direction — setting off from Vancouver on July 5 and reaching Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, on July 29.

While the icebreaker encountered Chinese cargo vessels, Alaskan fishing boats and a German cruise ship in the Pacific, upon entering the Canadian Archipelago, the Nordica traveled alone. Radar indicated the presence of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Sherman near Point Barrow; along the coast an occasional collection of houses revealed evidence of human settlement in the far north.

For the most part, the ship's only companions were Arctic sea birds, seals and the occasional whale, until two-thirds of the way through the voyage, as Nordica was plowing through sea ice in Victoria Strait, a crew member sighted a polar bear.

These animals have come to symbolize the threat posed to Arctic wildlife by climate change because the sea ice they depend on for hunting is disappearing a bit more each year. Scientists predict the Northwest Passage will be largely ice free in the summer by 2050 if current levels of warming continue.

For now, the passage remains a challenge for conventional ships and efforts are being made to prevent frozen waterways that the local Inuit population depends on for travel from being opened up. Yet tourism and other forms of economic development are already underway.

As Nordica sailed through Baffin Bay, the far corner of the North Atlantic that separates Canada and Greenland, it passed cargo ships lining up in the distance. They were preparing to pick up iron ore from a mine on Baffin Island that's expected to operate for decades to come.

One of the early expeditions to find the Northwest Passage, led by British explorer John Franklin, was last sighted off Baffin Island on July 26, 1845. The expedition never made it. Trapped by sea ice, Franklin and his men perished from cold, illness and starvation. Their two ships were found in 2014 and 2016, not far from where Nordica sighted its first polar bear.


Here’s How Wrong Past Environmental Predictions Have Been

Walter E. Williams

Each year, Earth Day is accompanied by predictions of doom.

Let’s take a look at past predictions to determine just how much confidence we can have in today’s environmentalists’ predictions.

In 1970, when Earth Day was conceived, the late George Wald, a Nobel laureate biology professor at Harvard University, predicted, “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

Also in 1970, Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford University biologist and best-selling author of “The Population Bomb,” declared that the world’s population would soon outstrip food supplies.

In an article for The Progressive, he predicted, “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next 10 years.”

He gave this warning in 1969 to Britain’s Institute of Biology: “If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

On the first Earth Day, Ehrlich warned, “In 10 years, all important animal life in the sea will be extinct.”

Despite such predictions, Ehrlich has won no fewer than 16 awards, including the 1990 Crafoord Prize, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ highest award.

In International Wildlife (July 1975), Nigel Calder warned, “The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind.”

In Science News (1975), C.C. Wallen of the World Meteorological Organization is reported as saying, “The cooling since 1940 has been large enough and consistent enough that it will not soon be reversed.”

In 2000, climate researcher David Viner told The Independent, a British newspaper, that within “a few years,” snowfall would become “a very rare and exciting event” in Britain. “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said. “Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past.”

In the following years, the U.K. saw some of its largest snowfalls and lowest temperatures since records started being kept in 1914.

In 1970, ecologist Kenneth Watt told a Swarthmore College audience:

The world has been chilling sharply for about 20 years. If present trends continue, the world will be about 4 degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990 but 11 degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.

Also in 1970, Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis., wrote in Look magazine: “Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian (Institution), believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”

Scientist Harrison Brown published a chart in Scientific American that year estimating that mankind would run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver were to disappear before 1990.

Erroneous predictions didn’t start with Earth Day.

In 1939, the U.S. Department of the Interior said American oil supplies would last for only another 13 years. In 1949, the secretary of the interior said the end of U.S. oil supplies was in sight.

Having learned nothing from its earlier erroneous claims, in 1974 the U.S. Geological Survey said the U.S. had only a 10-year supply of natural gas.

The fact of the matter, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, is that as of 2014, we had 2.47 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas, which should last about a century.

Hoodwinking Americans is part of the environmentalist agenda. Environmental activist Stephen Schneider told Discover magazine in 1989:

We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. … Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.

In 1988, then-Sen. Timothy Wirth, D-Colo., said: “We’ve got to … try to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong … we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.”

Americans have paid a steep price for buying into environmental deception and lies.


AL GORE CAN’T SAVE THE GLOBAL WARMING CULT: The fake science has been exposed

Following Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord, Al Gore is releasing an update of his 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth. It’s called An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, in which no doubt we will hear the same apocalyptic hysteria of its predecessor, and the same lurid predictions that will never come true. The difference between the 2006 Academy Award winner and the updated version is that now volumes of counter-evidence and exposure of the manipulation of climate data make it obvious that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is a progressive cult-belief and alternative energy boondoggle, not real science.

Earlier this month PJMedia covered a new report that seriously challenges the data all warmists rely on to buttress their case that the planet has been steadily warming to disastrous levels. This peer-reviewed paper examines how the raw data from weather stations are manipulated and altered by the three main purveyors of temperature data known as Global Average Surface Temperature (GAST)––The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, and the Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research––before being used by other researchers. Incorporating more reliable satellite temperature data­­––which for going on two decades do not show any meaningful rise in temperature, let alone the steep rise that the GAST data show––the authors come to this devastating conclusion:

The conclusive findings of this research are that the three GAST data sets are not a valid representation of reality. In fact, the magnitude of their historical data adjustments, that removed their cyclical temperature patterns, are totally inconsistent with published and credible U.S. and other temperature data. Thus, it is impossible to conclude from the three published GAST data sets that recent year have been the warmest ever––despite current claims of record setting warming.

Moreover, the legitimate need to control for any environmental factors that could distort raw temperatures has been abused to produce a preordained conclusion:

While the notion that some “adjustments” to historical data might need to be made is not challenged, logically it would be expected that such historical temperature data adjustments would sometimes raise these temperatures, and sometimes lower them. This situation would mean that the impact of such adjustments on the temperature trend line slope is uncertain. However, each new version of GAST has nearly always exhibited a steeper warming linear trend over its entire history.

These types of manipulation of data, however, have been obvious going back to 1998 and Michael Mann’s infamous “Hockey Stick” graph, in which the Medieval Warm Period (950-1250), when temperatures were about as hot as they are today, was erased to show a steep linear rise in temperatures. And NOAA’s manipulation of data also has been exposed by the Real Climate Science blog, which examines NOAA’s charts and graphs claiming to show that 2016 was the hottest year on record, and U.S. temperatures have increased 1.5°F since the 19th century. In fact, critical analysis reveals that in 2016, “The percentage of hot days was below average, and ranked 80th since 1895. Only 4.4% of days were over 95°F, compared with the long term average of 4.9%.”

As for the second claim of a 1.5°F rise, “NOAA creates the warming trend by altering the data. The NOAA raw data shows no warming over the past century.” The altered data are made to correlate with the increase of atmospheric CO2, conveniently supporting the main hypothesis of a “greenhouse effect” in which temperatures increase along with the greater volume of CO2 in the atmosphere––a hypothesis dating back to 1896. Additionally, missing weather station raw data––42% of stations in 2016––have been replaced by fabricated data.

Warmists, of course, like most cultists have a whole repertoire of very unscientific tactics for swatting away these inconvenient truths. They use the ad hominem and genetic fallacies to demonize critics, accusing them of being stooges of the oil companies or flat-earth kooks, even as they ignore the warmists who have received billions in government grants and green-energy subsidies, and who like Al Gore indulge in end-of-times scenarios–– “Every night on the TV news is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation,” he told Fox News––redolent of Millerism and other eschatological melodramas. And of course, it’s okay for Al Gore to make millions of dollars off such subsidies and “renewable energy” investments. Not to mention celebrity status and perhaps political capital; he’s being touted as a presidential contender in 2020, the environmental knight who will slay the “denier” dragon Trump who besmirched our national reputation and endangered the planet by withdrawing the U.S. from the preposterous Paris Climate Accord. And let’s not forget global-warming “scientists” themselves, who over the years have reaped billions of federal dollars, with $22 billion of taxpayer money slated just for 2017. At least oil companies spend their own money.

Then there’s the argument from authority, especially the modern willingness to reflexively credit with objective wisdom anyone calling himself a “scientist,” and to be hypnotized by the seeming self-evident truth of quantitative data. Most revealing, however, is the incessant claim that since “97% of scientists” believe in AGW, there is a “scientific consensus” that AGW is a scientific fact rather than a hypothesis compromised by our lack of enough scientific knowledge about how global climate functions over space and time. But the “97%” canard has been repeatedly exposed as an artifact created by unscientific polling. Thousands of respected and credentialed scientists question the central hypothesis and predictions of those endorsing AGW.

As for quantitative data, don’t forget that most pseudoscience is replete with copious numbers and formulas, from alchemy, phrenology, craniometry, and astrology to eugenics and “scientific racism” with its carefully quantified crania sizes and skewed IQ tests. Early 20th century eugenics also was considered a scientific fact acknowledged by a “consensus” of “scientists,” and was endorsed by professors at America’s elite universities, one of whom went on to become president. As respected progressive sociologist Edward A. Ross wrote in 1937, the endorsement of eugenics was “a perfect index of one’s breadth of outlook and unselfish concern for the future of our race.” Only religious nuts and the uneducated questioned a theory backed by the work of Charles Darwin. We know what that “consensus” led to––forced sterilization, “scientific” justifications for racial segregation, restrictions on immigration based on race and ethnicity, and ultimately the crematoria of Auschwitz.

Real science, of course, seldom leads to a “consensus,” and thinking it does can lead to unforeseen consequences. For example, after decades of being told that the “scientific consensus” on nutrition was that fat and cholesterol led to heart disease, now we are hearing “never mind.” Unfortunately, the avoidance of dietary fat led to a shift to carbohydrates, which in turn contributed to today’s obesity epidemic. Likewise, following the warmist’s prescriptions to outlaw carbon, our most efficient and cheapest energy source, will stunt economic growth in the developing world, leaving billions of people in disease and poverty; and will increase energy poverty in the U.S. and prevent job growth, all to achieve a meaningless reduction in the temperatures projected by computer models.

Skepticism, not consensus, is the hallmark of science. As Karl Popper said, “The method of science is the method of bold conjectures and ingenious and severe attempts to refute them.” The warmists reveal their political and ideological interests when they demonize opponents, insist on “settled science” to stifle debate, unleash state Attorneys General to hound researches and corporations, sue critics for defamation, and do anything in their power to stop “sever attempts to refute” the AGW hypothesis.

The Al Gore show is a progressive revival-tent meeting, an excuse for intrusive big government and crony-socialist rent-seeking. The fact is, from its beginning global warming has been a political, not a scientific movement. Rupert Darwall has documented the growth of the global warming fad as a political movement. As he wrote in 2015 before the Paris Climate Accord signed by President Obama,

Global warming is preeminently a political project. On Tuesday, the leaders of France and Germany met to set a goal for the December climate summit in Paris: to fully decarbonize the world economy by the end of the century. It required, Angela Merkel and François Hollande declared, “a profound transformation of the world economy and society.” The role of experts is to provide a scientific consensus to support the drumbeat of alarm. When the president of America declares climate change an immediate threat to national security and accuses skeptics of “negligence” and “dereliction of duty,” scientific skepticism becomes an enemy of the state. The shrillness of the president’s rhetoric draws attention to the weakness of the science. The true believers have given up trying to win over the undecided.

That sums up the problem. The solution is to start practicing real science again, take the big thumb of the federal government and its deep pockets off the scales of the debate, and base energy policy on science and what is best for the American people, rather than on what serves the pecuniary interests of researchers, progressive politicians, and countries like China, and that gratifies the weird combination of stale nature-love and two-bit Marxist clichés about the evils of industrialism that passes for science among the bicoastal elites.



Biofuel justifications are illusory

It’s time to really cut, cut, cut ethanol and other renewable fuel mandates – maybe to zero

Paul Driessen

The closest thing to earthly eternal life, President Ronald Reagan used to say, is a government program.

Those who benefit from a program actively and vocally defend it, often giving millions in campaign cash to politicians who help perpetuate it, while those who oppose the program or are harmed by it are usually disorganized and distracted by daily life. Legislative inertia and obstruction of the kind so graphically on display in the Senate over the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) also help to perpetuate program life.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), created under the 2005 Energy Policy Act and expanded by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, is a perfect example. It has more lives than Freddy Krueger.

The laws require that refiners blend steadily increasing amounts of ethanol into gasoline, and expect the private sector to produce growing amounts of “cellulosic” biofuel, “biomass-based diesel” and “advanced” biofuels. Except for corn ethanol, the production expectations have mostly turned out to be fantasies. The justifications for renewable fuels were scary exaggerations then, and are now illusions.

Let’s begin with claims made to justify this RFS extravaganza in the first place. It would reduce pollution, we were told. But cars are already 95% cleaner than their 1970 predecessors, so there are no real benefits.

The USA was depleting its petroleum reserves, and the RFS would reduce oil imports from unstable, unfriendly nations. But the horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) revolution has given the United States at least a century of new reserves. America now exports more oil and refined products than it imports, and US foreign oil consumption is now the lowest since 1970.

Renewable fuels would help prevent dangerous manmade climate change, we were also told. This assumes climate is driven by manmade carbon dioxide – and not by changes in solar heat output, cosmic rays, ocean currents and other powerful natural forces that brought ice ages, little ice ages, warm periods, droughts and floods. It assumes biofuels don’t emit CO2, or at least not as much as gasoline; in reality, over their full life cycle, they emit at least as much, if not more, of this plant-fertilizing molecule.

Moreover, contrary to the hysteria, computer models and Al Gore’s new movie, humanity and planet are not experiencing unusual or unprecedented climate or weather. Inconvenient to Mr. Gore’s theme, in fact not a single category 3-5 hurricane has struck the US mainland since October 2005, a record 11 years, 9 months. He simply presents a seemingly endless stream of weather calamities – what Australian science writer Jo Nova aptly refers to as “primal weather porn” and suggests that these events are unprecedented and caused by humans. The claim reflects deliberate distortion of the truth, abysmal grasp of science (by a man who received a C and a D in his only two college science courses), or both.

To get far more complete, factual, honest climate science, see the Climate Hustle documentary instead.

Moreover, with China, India, the rest of Asia, Africa, Poland and even Germany burning more and more coal – and more gasoline and natural gas – total atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to rise. But meanwhile, Greenland just had the coldest July temperature ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere, and global average temperatures are back to the 1998-2017 hiatus they had before the 2015-16 El Niño.

Regardless, the immortal RFS is still with us. However, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued a previously unheard of proposal: to reduce the RFS total target for 2018 below its 2017 level. It’s a tiny 0.2% reduction, and EPA is not planning to roll back the 15-billion-gallon obligation for “conventional” biofuel, mostly ethanol from corn. But it suggests that a little healthy realism may finally be taking root.

The reduction is for cellulosic biofuel. The federal statutory target is 4.25 billion gallons in 2018. (Set a target, it will become reality, is the mindset.) EPA proposes to reduce the regulatory target to 24 million gallons for 2018, down from 31 million for 2017. But actual production and use of this fuel in 2015 was a meager 2.2 million gallons. This minuscule reduction is a good first step, but far greater reductions in statutory and regulatory targets are realistic and needed, along with a full overhaul of the RFS program.

A little over 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol were produced in 2016 – but only 143 billion gallons of gasoline were sold. That means using all the ethanol would require blends above 10% (E10 gasoline) – which is why Big Ethanol is lobbying hard for government mandates (or at least permission) for more E15 (15% ethanol) gasoline blends and pumps. Refiners refer to the current situation as the “blend wall.”

But E15 damages engines and fuel systems in older cars and motorcycles, as well as small engines for boats and garden equipment, and using E15 voids their warranties. You can already find E15 pumps, but finding zero-ethanol, pure-gasoline pumps is a tall order. Moreover, to produce ethanol, the United States is already devoting 40% of its corn crop, grown on nearly 40 million acres – along with billions of gallons of water to irrigate corn fields, plus huge amounts of fertilizer, pesticides and fossil fuels.

Much of the leftover “mash” from ethanol distillation is sold as animal feed. However, the RFS program still enriches a relatively few corn farmers, while raising costs for beef, pork, poultry and fish farmers, and for poor, minority, working class and African families. Ethanol also gets a third less mileage per gallon than gasoline, so cars cannot go as far on a tank of E10 and go even shorter distances with E15.

Ethanol sales also involve the complexities – and sometimes fraudulent practices – of buying and selling Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs: certificates and credits for ethanol. Large integrated oil companies blend more gasoline than they refine, so they collect more RINs than they need, allowing them to hoard RINs and drive up the prices they charge to independent refiners that must buy these RINs to comply with the law. Large retail businesses like Cumberland Farms, Sheetz, Wawa and Walmart blend fuel and collect RINs, but have no RFS obligation; they use RINs as subsidies and their large volumes to command lower prices from refiners, and thereby gain an unfair advantage over small gas station owners.

The net result is that small mom-and-pop gas stations are squeezed hard and often driven out of business. Small refiners, and those on the East Coast that don’t have large wholesale and retail businesses are forced to buy pricey RINs from integrated oil company competitors, which puts those smaller outfits at a disadvantage and threatens their ability to stay in business. That means steel and refinery jobs and employee benefits are at risk. All told, the RFS presents a lot of problems for illusory benefits.

All these hard realities almost persuaded the US Senate Environment Committee to vote on a recent bill that would have revised some of the outdated and outlandish RFS mandates. It didn’t happen, but the political machinations suggest that even some progressive Democrats are beginning to question the RFS.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide are becoming increasingly popular in some states and countries. To cite the perspective of “progressive ethicists” like Peter Singer, perhaps it’s time to apply the same principles to government programs that have outlived their usefulness or should never have been born.

At the very least, politically spawned, politically correct energy programs – founded on questionable, exaggerated or fabricated climate, environmental, consumer or security scares – should no longer get free passes on land use, habitat and wildlife impacts, environmental quality or consumer and employment issues. They need to be subjected to the same tough legislative, regulatory, activist and judicial assessments that we insist on for oil, gas, coal and nuclear programs

This should apply to wind and solar, electric vehicle and battery proposals, as well as to Renewable Fuel Standards. It would restore some much-needed integrity and accountability to our government.

(The opportunity for signing up to present oral testimony at EPA’s August 1 public hearing on the 2018 biofuel standards has passed. However, written statements and supporting information submitted to EPA by August 31 will be given the same weight as comments and materials presented at the hearing.)

Via email

California mountain highway is finally cleared of snow after FOUR MONTHS of snowplowing

Global cooling!

A California highway was finally cleared of snow, opening to the public in its latest date on record. Cars were once more able to drive on Highway 89, which runs through Lassen Volcanic National Park, for the first time since last fall.

The 30-mile road, also known as Lassen National Park Highway, had crews clearing the snow for nearly four months ahead of Thursday's opening.

According to park logs, the latest opening in the last 40 years was in 1995 when the highway opened on July 21.

'This year's opening of the highway will be the latest in park records dating back to 1931,' Lassen Superintendent Jim Richardson said.

However, although the highway is open, the snow hasn't completely disappeared. Many park trails will continue to be covered in snow through mid-August.

'There's 10 feet of snow still on the perimeter of the parking area,' Lassen spokeswoman Karen Haner said.

Road-clearing work began on April 4 with help from the California Department of Transportation, reported the Redding Record Searchlight.

Haner said earlier this month that snowfall in the park was about average for the winter season but more than during the drought the previous four years.

A total of 28 feet of snow was reported over the winter at the summit of the park highway.

Plowing the snow was completed just in time for Sunday's Reach the Peak, a 'hikathon' that raises funds for the Lassen Park Foundation. Hikers will start up Lassen Peak at 8am, leaving in groups every 30 minutes.

On Friday, the park's North Summit Lake, Butte Lake and Juniper Lake campgrounds opened although some Juniper Lake spots may be too muddy for campers, park officials said.

However, Lassen Highway is not the only traditionally late-opening park road.

Tioga Road, which enters Yosemite National Park in Lee Vining, California, opened on June 29, also its latest opening since 1995, according to the National Park Service.

Despite a peak of higher than 10,400 feet, the park is most famous numerous acidic hot springs.

Between 1914 and 1917, Lassen Peak experienced a series of volcanic eruptions. One in May 1915 rained ash as far as 200 miles away, the last to occur until Washington's Mount St Helens erupted in 1980.




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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