Sunday, July 23, 2017

Roman Empire and Chinese Han Dynasty responsible for greenhouse gas emissions 1,800 years before Industrial Revolution

This study concerns methane but other gases produced by civilizational advance would have to be similar in incidence

The Roman Empire and the Chinese Han Dynasty were responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study which contradicts UN scientists’ view that man-made climate change only began with the Industrial Revolution.

Core samples from Greenland’s ice, which faithfully record the planet’s atmospheric conditions, showed that methane levels significantly rose about 2,000 years ago and remained constant for around 200 years, coinciding with the height of the 2 great empires.

Lead author of the study Celia Sapart of Utrecht University told Reuters, “Per capita they were already emitting quite a lot in the Roman Empire and Han Dynasty,” and said that methane was probably released during deforestation to clear land for farming and from the use of charcoal as fuel, for instance to smelt metal to make weapons.

The study, published in the journal Nature, found that rates of deforestation “show a decrease around AD 200, which is related to drastic population declines in China and Europe following the fall of the Han Dynasty and the decline of the Roman Empire.”

The world’s population 2,000 years ago was around 300 million and their contribution to global emissions were significant, but still tiny compared with the emissions of the 7 billion on Earth today.  Sapart estimated that methane emissions until 1800 were about 10% of the total for the past 2,000 years, with 90% occurring since the Industrial Revolution and the great surge in the use of fossil fuels.  She said, “The pre-industrial time was not a natural time for the climate – it was already influenced by human activity.  When we do future climate predictions we have to think about what is natural and what did we add.  We have to define what is really natural.”

The study noted a second rise in methane in the Medieval period, which coincided with a warm period from 800 to 1200 AD, the emergence of Europe’s economy from the Dark Ages, and population growth in Asia and Europe which led to more deforestation for farming.  It fell back again when the Black Death ravaged Asian and European populations.  A third rise in methane levels occurred around the start of the ‘Little Ice Age’ in the 1500s, as populations recovered after the plague.


Ecofascists Needed an Enemy, So They Chose Fossil Fuels

Divestment does not simply focus upon climate change or green living, but rather de-funding the fossil fuel industry.

What began as a single campaign on a college campus in 2010 has grown into a worldwide movement. It does not simply focus upon climate change or green living, but rather de-funding the fossil fuel industry. They call it divestment.

Fossil fuel divestment, the opposite of investment, means the selling of fossil fuel stocks. Recalling the successful 1980s divestment campaign against Apartheid, fossil fuel divestment advocates hope to create both financial and social pressure to ruin the fossil fuel industry, thus preserving the planet. Whether it’s college students protesting for the divestment of the school’s endowment or citizens marching for the divestment of the state’s pension, the movement has become a popular way for people to feel like they’re fighting to save the earth from both the disaster of climate change and the evil of corporations.

Bill McKibben, one of the leading advocates of the divestment movement, co-founded, a global climate change advocacy group that has held 20,000 rallies in every country in the world except North Korea (wonder why). In 2012, he wrote in Rolling Stone, “A rapid, transformative change would require building a movement, and movements require enemies. … And enemies are what climate change has lacked.”

That’s right — in order to transform the climate change debate into a movement, McKibben and his fellow ecofascists needed an enemy. So he started the divestment movement that casts the fossil fuel industry and those who invest in its companies as the morally sinister destroyers of the environment. McKibben’s admission of creating an enemy to bolster his campaign should delegitimize the moral claims of the movement. But it hasn’t., one of the leading voices in fossil fuel divestment, speaks of the supposed moral motivations for its cause:

Fossil fuel divestment takes the fossil fuel industry to task for its culpability in the climate crisis. By naming this industry’s singularly destructive influence — and by highlighting the moral dimensions of climate change — we hope that the fossil fuel divestment movement can help break the hold that the fossil fuel industry has on our economy and our governments.
Go Fossil Free holds the fossil fuel industry responsible for destroying the planet and morally injuring its inhabitants. While McKibben created an enemy, Go Fossil Free has made the fight against that enemy a “moral” one, citing floods and natural disasters allegedly caused by climate change.

However, one study notes that deaths related to climate (flood, drought, storms, extreme heat or cold) have dropped 98% since 1920. The energy industry has facilitated this decline through building better homes, heating, air conditioning, proper irrigation and disaster warning systems. That sort of steals the, er, thunder of the ecofascists’ hyperbolic claims.

Another fallacy upon which the divestment movement relies is that fossil fuels have created extreme amounts of pollution. Yet according to Forbes, air pollution in the U.S. has declined 72% since 1970 despite a 47% total increase in energy use. In addition, developed countries that use fossil fuels have cleaner environments than underdeveloped countries where dumping waste in rivers and streams prevents access to clean water. In fact, one of the key differences between third world and first world countries depends upon access to reliable energy.

Alex Epstein, founder of the Center for Industrial Progress and author of the New York Times bestseller “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” notes that there are seven billion people on the planet who need access to inexpensive, reliable energy in order to flourish. Yet three billion people have virtually no energy. For much of the world, lack of energy, not use of energy, has been the greatest barrier to growth and productivity.

While the divestment movement has succeeded in creating both an enemy and a moral cause based upon fear and guilt, the evidence points to the reality that energy has helped hedge against climate-related disasters and provided food and health care to aid human life. Divesters fail to grasp how energy powers every modern convenience from a warm shower (natural gas), to adequate hospital care (electricity), to food (diesel-powered farm equipment), and they offer few, if any, real solutions to our planet’s energy needs. Perhaps they should invest in our future instead of trying to undermine it.


The Stupidity of Mayors Fighting Climate Change

Since President Donald Trump announced America’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, mayors from across the country have announced a renewed commitment to the agreement, promising to achieve its objectives on their own.

“If the federal government doesn’t act, it doesn’t mean we don’t have a national policy; the federal government doesn’t occupy the only place on this,” said Mitch Landrieu, mayor of New Orleans and president of the United States Conference of Mayors.

He’s absolutely right—just not in the way he means to be.

To be clear, these policies will be economic and environmental failures, just as Paris is. States and cities committing to climate plans that regulate affordable, dependable power sources out of existence or subsidize uncompetitive energy technologies distort markets and hurt families, businesses, and taxpayers—all for no meaningful climate benefit in return.

But no matter how expensive or inefficient a policy might be, the federal government shouldn’t stop states from implementing it and facing the benefits or consequences. The voters who shoulder the burden of these policies will ultimately determine the fate of the politicians championing them.

The American government was built on the principle of federalism—the distribution of power among different levels of the government, from federal to local.

If the president can’t or won’t act, Americans don’t have to throw their arms up in despair. Instead, they can fight for change, both good and bad, on another level.

Federalism is enshrined in the 10th Amendment, which assigns to the states and the people all powers not assigned to the U.S. or explicitly prohibited.

These mayors’ promises on global warming are a bad idea, but there’s a silver lining: We have good reason to be skeptical that they’ll actually be kept.

In 2007, when President George W. Bush refused to commit to the goals of the Paris climate agreement’s predecessor, the Kyoto Protocol, more than 1,000 mayors promised to achieve the objectives on their own.

When the carbon reduction deadline rolled around in 2012, however, hardly any city had managed to reach its goals.

Likewise, today’s pledges may prove to be nothing more than hot air. If politicians don’t follow through on their promises, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.

This isn’t the first time since the election that people have advertently proven the effectiveness of local action, even if directed toward the wrong ends.

In the days following Nov. 8, donations to Planned Parenthood skyrocketed.

Donors intended their actions to be a protest against the possibility of Planned Parenthood losing its federal funding. Instead, they revealed why Planned Parenthood doesn’t need federal funding in the first place: If free individuals truly care about an issue, they’ll put their money where their mouth is. And if they don’t care, they won’t donate.

Expecting the federal government to solve every problem simply passes responsibility, and the check, to someone else.

As former Vice President Al Gore rightly put it, “If President Trump won’t lead, the American people will.” If only he could be right for the right reasons.


Tourists Shun Scottish Regions Hit By Wind Turbine ‘Blight’

More than half of tourists to Scotland would rather not visit scenic areas dominated by man-made structures such as wind farms, a YouGov poll suggests.

A survey carried out on behalf of the John Muir Trust (JMT) found that 55% of respondents were “less likely” to venture into areas of the countryside industrialised by giant turbines, electricity pylons and super-quarries.

Just 3% said they were “more likely” to visit such areas, while 26% said such large-scale developments would make “no difference”.

The poll has rekindled calls for Scottish ministers to increase protection for wild and scenic areas that, it is argued, will protect rural tourism businesses.

It follows a recent decision to approve the 22-turbine Creag Riabhach wind farm in Altnaharra, the first to win consent within a designated wild land area. Each turbine will stand 125m high.

“As schools across England break up for the summer this week and many families flock to Scotland, we must remember that, for many, it’s the ability to enjoy being outdoors in Scotland’s unique, unspoilt natural landscapes that brings them north,” said Andrew Bachell, JMT’s chief executive.

“When a clear majority of people say they’d be put off visiting wild and scenic areas by the existence of large-scale wind farms, giant pylons, super-quarries and other developments, policymakers have to pay attention, before it’s too late.”


More Judicial Overreach Stymies Trump's Deregulation Agenda

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 ruling, recently reversed the decision by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt of a 90-day stay on implementing new methane emissions regulations created during the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency. Pruitt argued that the stay was needed in order to thoroughly review the financial impact of the new regulations on the fossil fuel industry. Even the EPA estimated the compliance cost to be as high as $530 million, which means it would most likely be far higher. Pruitt further argued that not enough time was given for the oil industry to weigh in before the regulation went into effect.

The court rejected Pruitt’s argument, with the majority stating, “The administrative record thus makes clear that industry groups had ample opportunity to comment on all four issues on which EPA granted reconsideration, and indeed, that in several instances the agency incorporated those comments directly into the final rule.”

But there’s one big problem here that demonstrates yet another example of judicial overreach in the era of Donald Trump. This action taken by the court is extraordinary in that the court itself has recognized that its authority is limited to the reviewing of “final agency actions,” which clearly EPA Director Pruitt’s 90-day stay does not merit. In her dissenting opinion, Judge Janice Rogers blasted the majority opinion, stating, “In contrast to our precedent, the Court’s opinion concludes a particular administration proceeding has innumerable final agency actions, including intermediate decisions. No authority supports this proposition.”

Pruitt can appeal to the Supreme Court, but he won’t get a ruling on it until next year, and in the meantime the Obama-era regulation will go into effect. This is yet another reason for Trump to get busy putting conservative judges on the bench. It’s clear that the Left will continue to appeal to activist judges to block as much of Trump’s agenda as possible.




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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