Sunday, March 04, 2018

Global Warming Fail: Winter Storm Humiliates Mayor Announcing Ban on Certain Cars

With her city under siege by one of the worse winter storms in years, and the army called out to deal with a rare snow paralyzing transportation systems, the mayor of Rome should have had plenty of things to do for her people.

But for Virginia Raggi, the most important thing was to be more than 6,000 miles away, in the sunny climes of Mexico, announcing a ban on one of her city’s most popular private forms of transportation.

In other words, the global warming gang was once again being humiliated by weather that refused to cooperate with the leftist agenda.

Even more humiliating for the citizens of Rome, though, was that Reggi chose the site on foreign soil to make the coming ban public on Monday — before she even made the announcement at home.

“Rome has decided to ban the use of diesel cars from its historical centers from 2024,” Raggi told the environmentalists, drawing a round of applause.

“My citizens still don’t know,” she added laughing. (The Daily Caller has the video here. The announcement comes about the 5-minute mark.)

While the might not have known what their 39-year-old mayor was up to in Ciudad de Mexico, Romans were getting a taste of global warming at home. (The environmentalist crowd has been trying to call it “climate change” ever since they realized the weather was something they couldn’t lie about, but everyone knows what they’re really selling.)

And this is what global warming looked like in Rome this week, while Raggi was regaling her fellow greens.

According to The Associated Press:

“The Arctic storm dubbed the ‘Beast from the East’ saw temperatures across much of Europe fall Monday to their lowest level this winter and even brought a rare snowstorm to Rome, paralyzing the city and giving its residents the chance to ski, sled and build snowmen in its famous parks and piazzas.

“Rome’s schools were ordered closed, while train, plane and bus services were crippled. Italy’s civil protection agency even mobilized the army to help clear slush-covered streets as a city used to mild winters was covered by a thick blanket of snow.”

And this is the time Reggi uses to announce a ban on diesel engines – and do it thousands of miles from her shivering city.

That was no small order to spring on a supposedly free people. While diesel passenger vehicles are rare in the United States, about two-thirds of all cars sold in Italy are diesel engines, according to the U.K. Guardian.

And Rome has an unusually high number of automobiles – about 2.3 million — compared to its population. That works out to just more than 800 for every 1,000 inhabitants, Reggi told the conference.

(In the United States, by contrast, there were just under 450 private vehicles per 1,000 people in 2012, according to The Atlantic.)

One of the reasons the number of vehicles in Rome is so high is a previous, heavy-handed government action to control the population banned only cars with odd-numbered or even-numbered license plate on alternating days, according to the Guardian.

The Roman response? “To skirt the alternate days regulation, many families buy a used car with a different number plate,” the Guardian reported.

Now, Rome obviously has great number of treasures from antiquity – monuments of marble that are being damaged by air pollution mainly caused by vehicle exhaust. And if Roman authorities wanted to present the fight in that light, they might be on firmer ground. Tourism is a major part of the Roman economy, and everyone can understand that tourists won’t be spending money in Rome if the treasures aren’t protected.

But that kind of dollars-and-euros reasoning wouldn’t satisfy the virtue-signaling ethos of modern environmentalism, which presents its climate change/global warming stance as a measure of moral standing.

So, to fight global warming, in the middle of one of the worst winter storms her city can remember, the mayor of Rome jets to Mexico City to announce a ban on the type of vehicles her people drive the most.

Even after a previous attempt to limit half the vehicles ended up resulting in more of them on the roads.

It was a humiliating moment for Rome. It was a humiliating moment for the global warming gang, even if they should be getting used to this kind of thing by now.

And it should have been humiliating for Reggi, whether she realizes it yet or not.


BPA Safety Confirmed Again

Well, there’s yet more evidence out there that the hysteria about the chemical Bisphenol-A (more commonly called BPA) was just a bunch of hooey promoted by green activists who want BPA and many other useful and perfectly safe chemicals banned.

I’ve written about BPA (here, here, and here, and for a useful fact sheet, go here) for years, trying to explain that BPA isn’t the scary thing it’s made out to be and now a two-year government study of rats has found that there’s really nothing to worry about.

The study’s results are explained in an impressive 249-page report, which was a joint effort by the National Toxicology Program, the National Institutes of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration. The study’s researchers are clear: "BPA produced minimal effects" and that the effects they did see appeared to be "within the range of normal biological variation” which means they could have occurred by chance.

NPR reports:

The finding bolsters the Food and Drug Administration's 2014 assessment that water bottles and other products containing BPA are not making people sick.

"[It] supports our determination that currently authorized uses of BPA continue to be safe for consumers," said Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the FDA's deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, in a statement issued by the agency.

The study's findings are at odds with claims by advocacy groups that exposure to BPA is associated with a wide range of health effects including cancer, obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Indeed. Anti-chemical and environmental activists have, for years, been saying that BPA causes a whole host of health problems and have pointed to studies that suggest the same. Yet, those studies have always found correlations, not actual causation. Finding correlations between a substance and a disease can be helpful, but these sorts of studies are limited and are never viewed by the scientific community as “proof” that a substance is bad or harmful.

Consider this example of activists’ scary claims against BPA. Activists often say that BPA causes obesity because sodas are bottled in plastic containers that contain BPA. Okay, fine, plastic soda bottles do contain barely detectable levels of BPA, but those bottles also contain a whole lot of sugary drink. Might it be the cola that’s contributing to someone’s weight problem, over the trace amounts of BPA they’re ingesting by drinking a soda?

But, wait. Is it really the soda? One must also consider the fact that people who drink large quantities of high-calorie, sugary drinks usually don’t have great eating habits. Could it be the Big Mac or greasy pizza they’re eating along with that soda that’s causing this person’s weight problems?

Yes, it might be that, or it might be the fact that people who don’t care much about eating well, also tend not to exercise. Perhaps it’s the lack of exercise?

See how this works? It’s very easy to make correlations, but finding the actual causes of disorders, like obesity, is a bit tougher.

NPR also explains that many of the studies pushed by the anti-BPA crowd don’t meet the basics of scientific standards:

Critics of the chemical point to numerous small studies done by academic researchers. These studies, usually of rodents, have suggested that BPA can disrupt the body's hormone system in ways that affect health.

But studies that met the FDA's Good Laboratory Practice standards have suggested that BPA is safe at levels encountered by consumers. So the agency has approved its use in most consumer products.

This study should reassure consumers that BPA is a perfectly safe chemical that’s used by manufacturers to make products safer, more durable, and less expensive. But consumers should also consider who is to blame for this decade-long campaign of misinformation about BPA: anti-chemical activists groups like the Environmental Working Group, the Breast Cancer Fund, and the Safer Chemicals, Healthier Families Campaign (which is really just a collection of about 200 radical environmental and anti-business organizations), so called mommy blogs like Mamavation and so many individual activists who stoked consumer fears while ignoring the safety record of BPA. These groups are prolific pushers of junk science, they like and fabricate and terrorize all consumers in an effort to take product development and safety back decades—and they don’t care how many people they harm as a result.

Consumers should also pause to consider the cost of manufacturing changes as consumer demand grew for BPA-free products. Moms, in particular, should feel angry about all the false and baseless claims that children had been harmed, which lead not only to a whole lot of unpleasant anxiety but to the FDA banning BPA in all children’s products, and as a result increased the price on these products.

Consumers should also feel outraged that many manufacturers, instead of pushing back on the activists, capitulated to the demands and then simply switched out BPA for a chemical called BPS, which, as IWF Senior Fellow Angela Logomasini explained, is actually a more potent “endocrine disrupter” that the human body does not metabolize as easily as BPA. Is that improvement? No, that’s a cynical gesture by product manufacturers to give the activists a win while appearing to “care” for human health and mother earth. Wouldn’t it have been easier to fight back and stand up for product safety?

Moms should also be disgusted that they paid extra to get BPA-free products—money that could have gone into college funds or to pay for family vacations, for food, clothing, heat. Eventually, every thing became BPA-free, but consumers paid for those products to be redesigned and reformulated. Again, the consumer lost.

Who won? The anti-chemical activists who got rich off needlessly worried moms and other consumers who believed the myth that BPA was harmful because these groups refused to acknowledge the overwhelming evidence that BPA is safe.

We can’t turn back the clock on the BPA farce, but hopefully consumers will be wise to the tactics employed by activists—tactics that do nothing to protect consumers or improve the environment. 


UK Electricity prices hit 10-year high as cheap wind power wanes

The UK’s electricity market has followed the lead of surging wholesale gas prices this week to reach weekend highs not seen in a decade.

The power market has avoided the severe volatility which ripped through the gas market this week because strong winds helped to supply ample electricity to meet demand.

But as freezing winds begin to wane this weekend National Grid will need to use more gas-fired power plants to fill the gap, meaning the cost of generating electricity will surge.

Jamie Stewart, an energy expert at ICIS, said the price for base load power this weekend has already soared to around £80 per megawatt hour, almost double what one would expect to see for a weekend in March.

National Grid will increase its use of expensive gas-fired power by an extra 7GW to make up for low wind power, which is forecast to drop by two-thirds in the days ahead.

Wind speeds helped to protect the electricity system from huge price hikes on the neighbouring gas market on Thursday, by generating as much as 13GW by some estimates.

However, by the end of Friday this output will fall by almost half to 7GW and slump to lows of 3GW by Saturday, Mr Stewart said.

The power price was already higher than usual at £53/MWh last weekend even before the full force of the storms hit Britain. That was still well above the more typical "mid-40s” price for this time of year, Mr Stewart added.

The twin price spikes across the UK’s energy markets has raised fears of household bill hikes in the months ahead. One industry source said that smaller suppliers may be forced to shut under the pressure of the market surge.

Late on Thursday Big Six supplier E.on quietly pushed through a dual-fuel tariff increase of 2.6%, to drive the average bill up to £1,153 from 19 April.

Energy supply minnow Bulb also increased prices by £24 a year for its 300,000 customers, blaming rising wholesale costs.

The UK has suffered two gas price shocks this winter, which is the first since the owner of British Gas shuttered the country’s largest gas storage facility at Rough off the Yorkshire coast.

A string of gas supply outages this week cut supplies to the UK just as freezing conditions drove demand for gas-heating a third higher than normal for this time of year.

It was the first time in almost ten years that National Grid was forced to warn the market that supplies would fall short of demand unless factories agree to use less.

The twelve-year market price highs followed a pre-Christmas spike when the UK’s most important North Sea pipeline shut down at the same time as a deadly explosion at Europe’s most important gas hub, based in the Austrian town of Baumgarten


Ross ice shelf in Antarctica is freezing and not melting:  Pesky!

The under-side of one of the largest floating ice shelves in the southern oceans is not melting as expected, according to experts.

Scientists drilling along the western coast of Antarctica found that the Ross Ice Shelf is actually freezing - but they have no idea why.

The finding might explain why the ice shelf is considered more stable than many of  the region's other floating shelves.

If sea water freezes to the bottom of the ice periodically, this would help shore up the shelf and protect it from thinning.

Researchers from New Zealand used a hot water drill to dig deep into the floating ice shelf, roughly the size of Spain and around half a mile thick (1km).

Experts then lowered a camera into the hole they had melted, using a thermometer and other instruments to study the ice shelf's history.

Rather than finding the evidence they expected to confirm the recent melting, they came across jagged icy crystals.

If the shelf was melting, the sides of the borehole would have instead been smooth.

'It blew our minds,' said Christina Hulbe, a glaciologist from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, who co-led the expedition, speaking to New Scientist.

The team, which included hot water drillers, glaciologists, biologists, seismologists and oceanographers, set up camp around 200 miles (350 km) from the ice shelf's front.

They worked from November 2017 through to January, supported by tracked vehicles and, when the notorious local weather permitted, Twin Otter aircraft.

As with all polar oceanography, getting to the ocean was often the most difficult part.

In this case, the team faced the complex task of melting a bore hole, only 25 centimetres (ten inches) in diameter, through hundreds of metres of ice.

Writing in The Conversation, Dr Hulbe added: 'Once the instruments were lowered more than 300m (980 ft) down the bore hole it becomes the easiest oceanography in the world.

'You don’t get seasick and there is little bio-fouling to corrupt measurements.

'There is, however, plenty of ice that can freeze up your instruments or freeze the hole shut.'

It's not exactly clear why the Ross Ice Shelf is freezing, when others in the region are thawing and even sheering.

The team has left behind a number of instruments down the hole to continue to monitor the health of the ice shelf.

They are now looking for signs within the shelf to see if it has had past melting episodes.

If Ross and four other ice shelves in the south are unable to hold back the ice from melting, it is estimated global sea levels could rise by up to ten feet (three metres).


After uproar, EPA’s Pruitt says he plans to fly coach: ‘There’s a change coming’

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency, facing ongoing criticism about his taxpayer-funded, first-class travels, says he plans to spend more time in coach.

‘‘There’s a change coming,’’ EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told CBS News in a podcast set to air Friday.

Pruitt has faced a public backlash and inquiries from Congress in recent weeks, after The Washington Post detailed dozens of first-class flights Pruitt had taken through last summer, and his penchant for staying at luxury hotels.

In the CBS interview, Pruitt stopped short of saying he plans to fly in coach on all future trips, and he reiterated that his personal security detail recommended last year that he begin flying first class because of the number of threats he has faced.

‘‘Look, there have been incidents on planes. There have been incidents in airports, and those incidents, you know, occurred, and they are of different types,’’ Pruitt said. ‘‘These threats have been unprecedented from the very beginning, and the quantity and type are unprecedented.’’

Pruitt said he had a ‘‘responsibility’’ to listen to the advice of agency security officials, including one who wrote a memo to superiors last May after an incident in which a fellow traveler allegedly approached the EPA leader using ‘‘vulgar’’ and ‘‘threatening’’ language. The memo argued that Pruitt should be allowed to fly first or business class to provide ‘‘a buffer’’ between him and the public.

‘‘Now, what I’ve done going forward is I’ve instructed those same individuals to accommodate those security threats in alternate ways — up to and including flying coach going forward,’’ Pruitt told CBS.

One option agency officials have explored is seating Pruitt in the bulkhead row, which has more legroom than a traditional coach seat and also would allow him to be among the first passengers to disembark.

The EPA has refused to release the written ‘‘waiver’’ that allows Pruitt to fly regularly in first or business class, based on security concerns. But since Pruitt began flying in upscale cabins last spring — a practice that sets him apart both from his predecessors and other current Cabinet members — he has logged numerous trips and amassed a hefty set of expenses.

On one occasion, he took a $1,641.43 first-class flight from Washington D.C. to New York for a pair of television interviews. Soon after, taxpayers paid roughly $90,000 for Pruitt and a group of aides to travel to an international gathering in Italy, including a visit with officials in Rome.




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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