Sunday, March 11, 2018

General Kelly killed EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s idea to publicly debate the merits and demerits of man-made global warming

President Donald Trump’s chief of staff killed EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s idea to publicly debate the merits and demerits of man-made global warming, according to a report Friday from The New York Times.

John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, put a screeching halt to Pruitt’s goal to craft a red team and blue team to challenge climate change science, three people familiar with the deliberations told TheNYT. Trump has expressed interest in the idea.

Pruitt, who famously sued the agency more than a dozen times as Oklahoma’s attorney general, spent more than a year championing the notion of holding military-style exercises to question the validity of climate change. He even floated the idea of televising the debates, all in an effort to bring transparency to the science.

Military and intelligence agencies use a similar debate tactic to expose vulnerabilities to strategic systems. The tactic would give needed balance to climate science, a field of research many believe has been monopolized by activists, skeptics say. Some in the administration were enthusiastic supporters, however, Kelly and others were skeptical about the proposal.

White House officials were in agreement that Pruitt’s idea was unwise, according to sources who attended a meeting discussing the proposal. Their main objection was that a public debate on the hot-button issue of climate science could create an unnecessary distraction as Trump seeks to pullback elements of former President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy.

Some inside the administration worried the debate would muddy the waters of Pruitt’s de-regulatory mission

The EPA has not responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment about the validity of TheNYT’s report.


Comment from a reader:  "Kelly is correct. Do not debate something that will only give validity to the movement.  We have seen what junk science has been submitted as evidence of cause of Global Warming. And besides the debate is already public. Trump has made his move and no need to drag him into another irrelevant issue.  This year, Mother Nature has presented the best arguments using ice and snow and a late winter blow.  Hard to accept Global Warming while shoveling 18 inches of snow."

The New Lukewarmers: Scientific American Turns Down The Heat Over Global Warming

Horgan of SciAm writes:

I work hard to maintain my optimistic outlook. Wishful thinking works. The first step toward building a more healthy, peaceful, just world is to believe we can do it. So how do I deal with all the bad news about climate change? U.S. officials are rolling back regulations designed to curb global warming even as reports flood in about its scale and potential consequences.

I have thus found solace in two new essays that offer upbeat takes on our environmental future. Both reflect the outlook of ecomodernism, a movement I have written about here and here. One essay, published in the ecomodernist Breakthrough Journal, is by mega-pundit Steven Pinker. I have knocked Pinker for his views on the roots of war and other matters, but in general I appreciate his empirically-based optimism.

His Breakthrough essay, “Enlightenment Environmentalism,” is adapted from his new bestseller Enlightenment Now. The book, which been praised and attacked, argues that we’ve achieved lots of progress, material and moral, and we should achieve lots more as long as we don’t succumb to fatalism.

In his Breakthrough essay, Pinker spells out a key assumption of ecomodernism. Industrialization “has been good for humanity. It has fed billions, doubled lifespans, slashed extreme poverty, and, by replacing muscle with machinery, made it easier to end slavery, emancipate women, and educate children. It has allowed people to read at night, live where they want, stay warm in winter, see the world, and multiply human contact. Any costs in pollution and habitat loss have to be weighed against these gifts.”

Pinker contrasts the can-do ecomodernist spirit with “the lugubrious conventional wisdom offered by the mainstream environmental movement, and the radicalism and fatalism it encourages.” We can solve problems related to climate change, Pinker argues, “if we sustain the benevolent forces of modernity that have allowed us to solve problems so far, including societal prosperity, wisely regulated markets, international governance, and investments in science and technology.”

The bulk of Pinker’s essay consists of documentation of how we’ve handled environmental threats. We have reduced our rate of population growth; made agriculture, transportation and other key industries more energy-efficient; and increased the acreage of marine and terrestrial preserves. Here is a typical passage:

“Since 1970, when the Environmental Protection Agency was established, the United States has slashed its emissions of five air pollutants by almost two-thirds. Over the same period, the population grew by more than 40 percent, and those people drove twice as many miles and became two and a half times richer. Energy use has leveled off, and even carbon dioxide emissions have turned a corner. These diverging curves refute both the left-wing claim that only de-growth can curb pollution and the right-wing claim that environmental protection must sabotage economic growth and standard of living.”

My mood got an even bigger boost from “The Conquest of Climate” by Will Boisvert, a journalist I met at an ecomodernist powwow a few years ago. My first exposure to Boivert’s dry, iconoclastic sensibility was a 2013 Breakthrough Journal article, “A Locavore’s Dilemma,” which asserts that “the linkage of local farming to efficiency and sustainability is dubious.” Boisvert’s new essay, which he posted on his blog “Progress and Peril,” deserves to be widely read. It is even broader in scope than Pinker’s essay, and I found its analysis strikingly original. Boisvert begins:

“How bad will climate change be? Not very. No, this isn’t a denialist screed. Human greenhouse emissions will warm the planet, raise the seas and derange the weather, and the resulting heat, flood and drought will be cataclysmic. Cataclysmic—but not apocalyptic. While the climate upheaval will be large, the consequences for human well-being will be small. Looked at in the broader context of economic development, climate change will barely slow our progress in the effort to raise living standards.”

Boisvert examines four consequences of climate change: water shortages, food shortages, rising air temperatures and rising seas. He contends that the negative effects of climate change will be offset by continued progress in technology and other realms. As an example, he examines a 2016 Lancet study that predicted that by 2050 climate change will cause food shortages that result in 529,000 deaths each year.

The food shortages, Boisvert points out, “are relative to a 2050 baseline when food will be more abundant than now thanks to advances in agricultural productivity that will dwarf the effects of climate change.” Even factoring in climate change, the Lancet study calculates that per capita food consumption will be higher in 2050 than in 2010. Newsweek’s story on the Lancet study was nonetheless headlined, “Climate change could cause half a million deaths in 2050 due to reduced food availability.”

Boisvert comments: “A headline like ‘Despite climate change, rising food production will save millions of lives’ isn’t great click-bait, but it would give a truer picture of a future under global warming.” He adds: “Global warming won’t wipe us out or even stall our progress, it will just marginally slow ordinary economic development that will still outpace the negative effects of warming and make life steadily better in the future, under every climate scenario.”

I also like Boisvert’s discussion of water shortages. Claiming that a drought sparked Syria’s terrible civil war, greens warn that global warming could provoke “water wars.” Boisvert points out that the drought that struck Syria also affected Israel. He continues:

“Shortages forced Israel to tighten its already stringent water conservation and recycling standards. More importantly, they prompted breakthroughs in reverse-osmosis desalination technology, cutting by half the energy needed to extract fresh water from the sea and dramatically lowering the cost to just 58 cents per cubic meter (1,000 liters) of drinkable water… The implications of cheap desalination are profound. By tapping limitless sea-water resources it could drought-proof agriculture and thus eliminate the greatest threat posed by climate change.”


Free Market – Not Heavy Hand of Gov’t – Can Help Improve Environment

Over the past three years, China had become the new poster child for economists and environmentalists alike. The country seemed to attain the impossible by maintaining high growth in gross domestic product, while at the same time reducing reported carbon emissions.

However, the admiration went up in smoke after news that China returned to its old ways in 2017. With many economists thinking that the Chinese government had undersold the depth of the nation’s economic slowdown in 2015 and 2016, the reinvigoration of growth in 2017 predictably increased the use of energy and, as a result, increased carbon dioxide emissions to record highs.

It’s no surprise China remains a fervent supporter of the Paris climate accord because it can increase carbon dioxide emissions for the next 22 years, despite the fact that it already emits more than the U.S. and European Union combined.

Yet, China’s propensity to skew emissions data, as well as its past transgressions of underreporting the number of emissions-intensive energy plants online, highlights the feebleness of the Paris accord.

Environmental activist groups champion Beijing’s massive government-funded solar-power spending while looking the other way when it comes to China’s coal use.

Such behavior also reinforces the wise move by the U.S. to remove itself from an agreement that looked to finance government-mandated emissions reductions through American pocketbooks.

The Trump administration rejected an agreement that might have reduced the rate of warming by 0.2 of one degree Celsius by the year 2100. Even that projection is generous, as it assumes accuracy in the climate models and that every country will meet its intended emissions-reduction targets, a highly unlikely scenario.

Instead, the U.S. turned its sights on improving individuals’ access to energy rather than limiting it. Instead of agreeing to drastically stunt economic growth among its citizens while other countries would be afforded the opportunity to reduce their emissions slowly—or in some instances, increase emissions exponentially—the U.S. boldly asserted that it would continue along the path of affordable, reliable, and increasingly cleaner energy.

In fact, such a rejection paints a picture of confidence in the American people. Instead of mandating which sources of energy are sufficient for the country to consume, leaving the Paris accord behind allows individuals to control their own energy choices.

Much work at the domestic and state level needs to be done to empower energy consumers to control preferences for price, reliability, and source. But leaving the Paris accord and rolling back burdensome regulations that are devoid of any climate benefit are important steps in the right direction.

While some may say America’s energy dominance is coming at significant environmental cost, consider the progress already made.

Since 1980, the United States has drastically reduced harmful pollutants in the air. Nitrogen dioxide, which can inflame the lungs and weaken immunity, is down 57 percent. The equally harmful sulfur dioxide is down 80 percent. Lead, which has adverse neurological and cardiovascular effects, is down 98 percent.

While some of these decreases are undoubtedly a result of government standards that rightly recognized the detriments to health of those pollutants, much of the progress should be attributed to the market, which drives investment in new, cleaner technologies.

When harsh standards, such as those of the Paris accord, are applied, China exhibits a likely outcome: Countries are incentivized to cheat on their reporting, not innovate, and not progress.

By contrast, when governments reduce the market manipulation caused by subsidies and excessive regulations, all sources must compete on an even playing field and are incentivized to maintain economic viability. The byproduct is competitive energy prices, improved efficiencies, and reduced emissions.

For example, in 2015, during the early years of the shale revolution, the EPA reported that the U.S. saw a 2.2 percent decrease in greenhouse-gas emissions from the previous year. That was attributed primarily to energy production switching from coal to natural gas.

During the same period, the European Union experienced a slight 0.5 percent increase in greenhouse-gas emissions, owing to a marginally colder winter.

Of course, many differences exist among the climates, markets, and energy portfolios of the U.S. and Europe. However, the notion that countries must litter their energy sectors with mandates, regulations, and politically preferred energy sources, such as those dictated by the Paris accord and touted by European countries, rejects more beneficial market solutions.

Importantly, Paris elevates the distant, uncertain risk of global warming over the immediate, known risk of energy poverty for much of the developing world.

By empowering the energy industry to innovate through competition, the U.S. will avoid the economic pitfalls of costly agreements. At the same time, as consumers continue to demand energy that is both affordable and clean, allowing market responses to such demands independent of government coercion, it will enable the industry to continue its reduction of emissions.

Both developed and developing countries would be wise to follow suit.


Pruitt's $1 Billion Rollback at the EPA

His deregulatory endeavor has yielded $1 billion in cost savings after just one year

On Feb. 17, 2017, Scott Pruitt — formerly a conservative lawmaker and attorney general in Oklahoma — succeeded in becoming the new face of the EPA. Democrats didn’t take his ascension very well. In fact, Pruitt was forced to reinforce his security detail last autumn because of numerous death threats from ecofascists. The Left’s adversarial attitude toward Pruitt is better understood when you consider just how pivotal of a role he has in the Trump administration.

The EPA just revealed that Pruitt’s deregulatory endeavor has yielded $1 billion in cost savings after just one year. This was the direct outcome of nearly two dozen deregulations. More importantly, it’s also only a taste of what’s coming down the pipeline. The Clean Power Plan and Clean Water Rule are just two of the 44 additional deregulations that are currently on the agency’s docket. It’s estimated that the elimination of the Clean Power Plan could single-handedly save the economy upwards of $33 billion. With results like these, no wonder leftists loathe Pruitt with such tenacity.

Of course, this also speaks to the enormous influence of Pruitt’s predecessor, Gina McCarthy. Much of the current administration’s work is geared toward fixing what she broke and the billions of dollars with which she unnecessarily burdened the economy. Pruitt’s progress could be even further along had he not had to first put out a massive inferno of McCarthy’s making. Even still, he is making significant headway, and that will give the economy more and more breathing room. It’s also a reminder that no government agency should ever have so much control over a free-market economy.


Australian Broadcasters Withhold Important Information from the Public Concerning Climate Change

Jennifer Marohasy

Australian politicians, and the media they sponsor, have been throwing their hands in the air and screaming unprecedented climate change – particularly over the last two weeks. A focus has been on the record number of new record hot days. But in all of this, there is no mention that the method used to actually measure hot days has changed.

This week’s Four Corners program began by interviewing Karl Braganza from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Braganza explained that it is really only since the 1990s that we have started to see the extreme heat. What he didn’t mention is that a totally new method of measurement came into effect on 1 November 1996 – with the transition continuing, so each new year, additional weather stations have their mercury thermometer replaced with an electronic probe taking one-second spot readings.

For example, the Bureau claimed a new record hottest day for September for the state of Victoria on 23 September 2017, which was actually a one-second spike from an electronic probe installed in June 2012. The Bureau reported this as the hottest September day back to 1889. Yet between 1889 and 1996 a completely different method was being used to measure maximum daily temperatures at Mildura.

According to the Guinness World Records, a record must be standardisable and verifiable. Yet the new record from Mildura was not measured according to world standards of calibration for the use of electronic probes which specifies that one-second readings be averaged over at least one minute. Meanwhile this questionable data is being used to justify ever more expenditure on Australia’s perceived climate catastrophe – without any questioning by leading Australian journalists Michael Brissenden or Sarah Ferguson, who presented Monday night’s program that lamented the new record hot days.

In not reporting that the incidence of “extreme heat” corresponds with a change in how maximum temperatures are measured, these two journalists, Brissenden and Ferguson, have withheld important information from the Australian public.

Given the new, very different, method of measuring temperatures, it would be assumed that there are dozens of reports published by the Bureau that document how comparable the measurements from electronic probes have proven at different locations, and under different conditions. Yet there are none!

The Bureau claims, when asked, that temperatures from its electronic probes and traditional mercury thermometers are comparable – without providing any actual evidence. My analysis of temperature data from Mildura indicates that there is a statistically significant different – with the first probe (in place from 1996 to 2000) recording too cool, and subsequent probes too warm relative to the mercury thermometer (often by up to 0.4 degrees Celsius).

I have been attempting to bring this to the attention of the media, particularly the ABC for some months. But their journalists turn-away. They don’t want any scrutiny of this much revered institution, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Even in the Australian parliament there is a closing-of-ranks. Rather than consider my evidence, Monday before last Senators Richard Di Natale and Anne Urquhart from the Australian Greens claimed that the questions I have been raising about the integrity of the temperature data amounted to ‘climate denial’ and harassment of the Bureau’s CEO, Andrew Johnson.

In reality, my few emails to Johnson have focused on the single issue of how temperatures are measured, which really has nothing whatsoever to do with denying climate change. Indeed, if we are to accurately quantify the magnitude of global warming, then the integrity of the temperature databases is paramount. Yet the number of documented anomalies continues to grow – as does the indifference of our political class.




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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