Sunday, September 22, 2019

Russia Announces Plans for Coal-Digging Surge

Despite the climate crisis and environmental concerns, the country says it aims for a big dig of the carbon-rich rock. Much of it will be extracted in new Arctic fields.

"I would like to congratulate everyone whose life is connected with coal mining, with this key industry in our country’s economy," President Vladimir Putin said this week while greeting the governors of Russia's main coal-extracting regions.

The meeting took place in the Kremlin on the eve of Miner’s Day, the annual celebration devoted to workers in the coal mining industry. Government ministers and seven regional leaders were seated at the table were, among them Krasnoyarsk region governor Alexander Uss and Kemerovo region governor Sergei Tsivilev.

Coal mining has been a key industry in Russia for a long time. And its role will be no less significant in the future, the participants of the meeting said.

Big growth

Over the last 10 years, Russia has boosted its annual coal production by more than 30% to a total of 440 million tons, and the country is now the world’s third-largest producer, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said.

In the same period, investments in the industry have surged 150%. "This is, of course, a significant figure," Novak said.

The production is to continue upwards. According to a draft development program, annual coal production might reach as much as 670 million tons in the course of the next 15 years.

The government will assess the development program in September, the Kremlin said.

New projects

A series of new coal projects stand behind the growth figures. Almost half of Russia’s current 58 coal mines in operation have opened in the course of the last 20 years. And several more are in the making, including in the Arctic.

In the Taymyr Peninsula, the large territory stretching into the far northern Kara Sea, there are plans for extractions of more than 25 million tons per year over the next five years.

The VostokCoal company is in the process of developing the first of its big number of licenses on the northeastern tip of the peninsula. The license areas of Severnaya Zvezda (Northern Star) company are located nearby. The two companies intend to build two major port terminals in the area for export of the coal.

The black rocks will ultimately play a crucial role in the ambitious development of the Northern Sea Route. President Putin has requested in his state six-year plan that shipping on the Arctic route is to reach 80 million tons per year by 2024.

Asian buyers

Russia sees the Asian market as the destination for its growing coal production.

"Our coal companies are now actively conquering the Asia-Pacific region [and] we see the potential for coal consumer growth exactly in this direction," Energy Minister Novak told President Putin.

Meanwhile, the European market is gradually shrinking as EU countries actively replace coal with alternative energy sources. Prices are dropping and Russian coal exports to the region are in decline. According to the Kommersant business daily, several Russian companies are now running into deficits because of faltering sales to Europe.


Michael Mann's Tree-Ring Circus

This has been a tough week for climate hustler Michael Mann, who lost his defamation and libel lawsuit against respected climatologist and warming skeptic Dr. Tim Ball at the same time it was announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that there has been no U.S. warming since 2005.

Mann, who poses as a climatologist at Penn State, has had his court case against genuine climate scientist Dr. Tim Ball dismissed, with Mann ordered to pay court costs, for failure to produce supporting evidence to prove his claim that global temperatures took a sharp upward turn when the Industrial Revolution and fossil-fuel use began pouring CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

He didn’t because he can’t, and the fact is that the global warning he speaks of is Mann-made, a fantasy based on a career of perpetrating climate fraud, as indicated by NOAA’s report that there hasn’t been any U.S. warming for nearly a decade and a half and maybe even beyond that. As noted by James Taylor, director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy at the Heartland Institute, in a piece for Real Clear Energy:

When American climate alarmists claim to have witnessed the effects of global warming, they must be referring to a time beyond 14 years ago. That is because there has been no warming in the United States since at least 2005, according to updated data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

In January 2005, NOAA began recording temperatures at its newly built U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN). USCRN includes 114 pristinely maintained temperature stations spaced relatively uniformly across the lower 48 states. NOAA selected locations that were far away from urban and land-development impacts that might artificially taint temperature readings…

There is also good reason to believe U.S. temperatures have not warmed at all since the 1930s. Raw temperature readings at the preexisting stations indicate temperatures are the same now as 80 years ago. All of the asserted U.S. warming since 1930 is the product of the controversial adjustments made to the raw data.

The use of properly positioned temperature recording stations coupled with satellite date, a relatively recent innovation that covers the whole earth, has given us a more realistic picture than computer models that can’t even  predict the past and fraudulently manipulate raw data from dubious sources.

Meteorologist Anthony Watts documented the inaccuracy of old weather station data used by NASA on his website. Watts said that “90 percent of them don’t meet (the government’s) old, simple rule called the ‘100-foot rule” for keeping thermometers 100 feet or more from biasing influence.” Many of the U.S. stations were in locations such as paved driveways, near rooftop exhaust vents, even near idling jet engines.

In 2016, Mann testified before the Democratic Platform Drafting Committee that actual data didn’t really matter because we could actually see climate change happening. The Washington Times noted both his appearance and at least one contradiction to his claims based, not on computer models, but on actual empirical observation:

Leading climate doomsayer Michael Mann recently downplayed the importance of climate change science, telling Democrats that data and models “increasingly are unnecessary” because the impact is obvious…

Mr. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, spoke before the committee June 17 in Phoenix… Mr. Mann told the panel that “the signal of climate change is no longer subtle, it is obvious,” citing hurricanes, flooding in Texas and South Carolina, the California drought and “record heat” in Arizona.

Skeptics have hotly challenged the link between rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and “extreme weather” events, noting, for example, that hurricane activity is on the decline.

A nine-year “hurricane drought” of Category 3 storms starting in 2006 beat the previous mark of eight years from 1861-1868, the longest such streak since such recording began in 1851, according to a May 2015 study by the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Mann has proven adept over his career at making controversial, no, fraudulent adjustments made to the raw data. Mann might be remembered as one of the participants in what Investor’s Business Daily dubbed a “tree-ring circus” -- the Climategate scandal. As IBD noted at the time:

Mann was at the heart of the Climate-gate scandal in 2009, when emails were unearthed from Britain's Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. In one email sent to Mann and others, CRU director Philip Jones speaks of the "trick" of filling in gaps of data in order to hide evidence of temperature decline:

"I've just completed Mike's nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline (in global temperatures)," the email read.

It was that attempt to "hide the decline" through the manipulation of data that helped bring down the global warming house of cards.

The graph created by professor Mann and his colleagues carefully selected and manipulated tree-ring data to supposedly prove that air temperatures had been stable for 900 years, then soared off the charts -- in a pattern resembling a hockey stick -- in the 20th century due to man-made greenhouse gases. Mann et al. performed the neat trick of making the Medieval Warm Period (about A.D. 800 to 1400) and the Little Ice Age (A.D. 1600 to 1850) statistically disappear.

As Investor’s Business Daily also noted:

The graph relied on data from trees on the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia. Here, too, the results were carefully selected. Just 12 trees from the 252 cores in the CRU's Yamal data set were used. A larger data set of 34 tree cores from the vicinity showed no dramatic recent warming, and warmer temperatures in the middle ages. They were not included.

“Hiding the decline” and any actual evidence that global warming hype was nothing more an attempt by climate change scammers to impose what has become a religion. MIT Professor Richard Lindzen is quoted in the Daily Caller questioning the tenets of this new religion:

Throughout history, governments have twisted science to suit a political agenda. Global warming is no different, according to Dr. Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Global climate alarmism has been costly to society, and it has the potential to be vastly more costly. It has also been damaging to science, as scientists adjust both data and even theory to accommodate politically correct positions,” writes Lindzen in the fall 2013 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons…

Lindzen compares global warming to past politicized scientific movements: the eugenics movement in the early 20th Century and Lysenkoism in the Soviet Union under Stalin. However, the MIT professor argues that global warming goes even beyond what these past movements in terms of twisting science.

“Global Warming has become a religion,” writes Lindzen. “A surprisingly large number of people seem to have concluded that all that gives meaning to their lives is the belief that they are saving the planet by paying attention to their carbon footprint.”

The goal is to use climate change as a means to increase government power over every aspect of our lives, what we make, how we make it, what energy we use, what cars we drive, even what food we eat. And now the high priests of the global warming religion are demanding what other false religions have demanded -- human sacrifices upon their altar. As Michael Mann has found out, facts are stubborn things and tree rings don’t always ring true.


Campus Protesters Fail to Shut Down Climate Science Lecture

Climate Scientists Respond to Climate Alarmism in 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary Campaign

Dr. Patrick Michaels, senior fellow at the CO2 Coalition, and Dr. Caleb Stewart Rossiter, the Coalition's executive director, were invited by the Georgetown University College Republicans to participate in its "Climate Forum: A Rebuttal" event on Thursday, September 19. The CO2 Coalition is an alliance of 50 climate scientists and energy economists who describe themselves as "unalarmed" about the impact of industrial carbon dioxide on the planet.

About 100 student protesters who were preparing to take part in a Climate March occupied the room and shouted down the speakers as soon as the event began. Georgetown University Police cleared the room and administrators let students re-enter after conducting a bag search to ensure the safety of the speakers and the student organizers. They warned the protesters that if they did not wait with their comments until the question period they would be in violation of the student conduct code. Michaels and Rossiter both had the chance to speak with a now-respectful audience of 75, evenly divided between protesters and other students.

Michaels, a climatologist, demonstrated that UN climate models have over-predicted global warming threefold for the past 40 years. He said this was because the models assume more warming from industrial carbon dioxide than it actually creates. Rossiter, a statistician, explained the link between low access to electricity and low life expectancy in Africa.  He also presented UN data showing that, despite talk of a "climate crisis," rates of hurricanes, droughts, and sea-level rise had not changed during the era of industrial carbon dioxide. At the end of the talk, Georgetown University Police felt it necessary to escort Dr. Michaels and Dr. Rossiter to their cars.

Rossiter commented: "I'm sort of getting a taste of my own medicine -- 'hoist with my own petard,' as Shakespeare wrote -- since I was a disruptive student in the same way 40 years ago, protesting the Viet Nam war and U.S. support for apartheid in South Africa. I respect the students' desire to promote what they see as justice. I just think they're wrong on the facts. That they wouldn't engage in discussion until threatened with suspension shows that they probably know it too."

The CO2 Coalition has written the president of Georgetown University to express its deep gratitude for the professionalism the police showed and the commitment the administration showed in successfully defending free speech on campus.

Via email from The CO2 Coalition:

San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle should be held to Clean Water Act standards as human waste pollutes their waterways

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement in reaction to President Donald Trump calling on the EPA to take Clean Water Act action against west coast cities that put human waste into natural waterways:

“In March of 2018, San Diego County, California cities of Imperial Beach and Chula Vista sued the International Boundary & Water Commission-United States Section and Veolia Water North America West over the ‘devastating pollution discharges’ from the Tijuana River. Last night, President Trump stated that he anticipated that the United States Environmental Protection Agency will take action against San Francisco and potentially, Los Angeles, which have exacerbated a homeless problem to such an extent that they are polluting the Pacific Ocean with drug needles and raw human waste.

“While some might laugh at the notion that the washing of raw human waste into the San Francisco Bay should be cited by the EPA, the truth is that the effects can be catastrophic.  Just last year in Seattle, Washington (which should be in line for EPA sanction as well), opioids were found in mussels pulled from the Puget Sound.  Mussels, which filter sediment for nutrition, became contaminated due to the washing to raw human waste from a drug addicted homeless population directly into the Sound.

“It is beyond ironic that the far-left urban policies of cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle are creating an environmental disaster for the coastal sea life which these same politicians claim to revere.  An EPA lawsuit holding these eco-socialist elites to the same standards which they would hold a private company should create an existential values clash on the left coast.  And hopefully, they will become ‘woke’ to the reality that their urban policies fail to serve any of their purported values.”



Four current articles below

Fact-free prophet takes vicious turn

Andrew Bolt

GLOBAL warmists are turning vicious. Now guru Tim Flannery likens me to a paedophile.

Has Flannery, our former Chief Climate Commissioner and now a professorial fellow at Melbourne University, become unhinged? For me, his outburst confirms that Flannery represents the death of reason.

In the taxpayer-funded Conversation, Flannery claims that man-made global warming and dwindling resources may wipe out most of the Earth's nearly 8 billion people. "British scientist James Lovelock has predicted a future human population of just a billion people,” he writes. "Mass deaths we predicted."

Typical Flannery. In fact, Lovelock later admitted he was too "alarmist", and Flannery was, too: "We don't know what the climate is doing."

But Flannery, undaunted, rages over the slaughter he imagines is coming: "The climate crisis has now grown so severe that the actions of the denialists have turned predatory: they are now an immediate threat to our children. "My children ... will probably live to be part of that grim winnowing -- a world that the Alan Joneses and Andrew Bolts of the world have laboured so hard to create."

Then a third suggestion that I'm a child abuser. "They are threatening my children's wellbeing as much as anyone who might seek to harm a child."

How low can Flannery go? If I thought there was the slightest chance of our emissions killing my children, I'd work day and night to cut them. But I don't think they're at all threatened by global warming. What really threatens them is the monstrous, self-righteous unreason that Flannery represents. In 2004, Flannery, actually a mammal expert, said man-made warming would cause such droughts that "there is a fair chance Perth will be the 21st century's first ghost metropolis".

Yet Perth is flourishing, and Professor Andy Pitman, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, says "as far as the climate scientists know there is no link between climate change and drought".

In 2009, Flannery warned "this may be the Arctic's first ice-free year". Not even dose. In 2015 Flannery predicted more cyclones: "We're more likely to see them more frequently in the future." But the following year we had the fewest cyclones in decades, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agrees cyclones have become rarer.

In 2017, Flannery claimed global warming was drowning Pacific islands like Tuvalu and this was a "widespread phenomenon". In fact, TuValu has grown by 2.9 per cent over four decades, and Professor Paul Kench found 43 per cent of Pacific islands have also grown, and just 14 per cent shrunk.

And now Flannery claims "global hunger has increased for the last three years because of extreme weather events". Really? In fact, the Food and Agricultural Organisation reports that world grain crops have been at record levels for the past three years.

What an extraordinary record of false claims, yet Flannery is still treated as an oracle by the Conversation, the ABC and Melbourne University.

But the worst of it is that this false prophet has cost Australians so much. In 2007, Flannery falsely claimed our dams would run dry: "Even the rains that fall will not actually fill our dams and our river systems." He added: "In Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, water - supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months."

State Labor governments freaked, and raced to build desalination plants not just for those cities, but Melbourne, too. The cost was massive — some $12 billion. But this was another Flannery fail: the rain kept falling, and those desal-plants were essentially mothballed. What a waste.

Here's another example of the cost of Flannery's flummery. Flannery also urged us to scrap our reliable coal-fired electricity plants and use more geothermal power instead. "There are hot rocks (underground) in South Australia that potentially have enough embedded energy in them to run Australia's economy for the best part of a century," he said. "The technology to extract that energy and turn it into electricity is relatively straightforward."

The Rudd Government believed him, and gave a $90 million grant to a geothermal plant in which Flannery was a shareholder. Yet another Flannery fail. The plant was a technological nightmare and was scrapped.

So how should I describe Tim Flannery, who misquotes experts, misstates science, makes dud predictions, urges us to waste billions of dollars and scares children with absurd claims of "mass deaths"? I won't do a Flannery and call him a "predator". I'll stick to the facts. The man is a crank.

From the Courier Mail, 19/9/19

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg overruled department to block wind turbines on scenic island

The former environment minister Josh Frydenberg went against the advice of his departmental experts when he blocked two wind turbines on Lord Howe Island in 2017, consigning the world heritage-listed island to relying on diesel fuel for the bulk of its electricity.

A freedom of information request by the Guardian has uncovered that the minister took the unusual action of blocking the project under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, deeming it “unacceptable”.

It was one of two projects that Frydenberg rejected while environment minister, the other being a nursing home at Sydney’s Middle Head on federal land.

Now the Guardian can reveal that his decision was taken despite the advice of his own department, strong support from the majority of residents on Lord Howe Island, the governing board of the island, and even another federal government agency – the Australian Renewable Energy Agency – which had offered $4.6m in funding towards the renewable energy project.

The department’s natural heritage section 23 November 2016 advice was that “the proposed action is unlikely to significantly impact the Island Group’s world heritage values” and that moving the island away from reliance on weekly deliveries of diesel would help secure its Unesco world heritage status.

The department went on to say: “The proposed turbine site was selected because it is in close proximity to the existing powerhouse and electricity network and is one of the least visible cleared pieces of elevated land on the island.”

“Practical access and operation considerations limit the turbines’ physical size. The turbines are not permanently fixed but can be lowered for maintenance and other purposes.”

It said the proposed turbines were a similar scale to the existing aviation towers near the project site.

There was some concern expressed from the migratory birds section of the department about whether the turbines might harm Lord Howes’ bird population.

But the final recommendation from the department was that risks could be mitigated by the Lord Howe Island board’s proposal to shut down the turbines at sunset when shearwaters returned to their nests.

“The department considers that impacts on listed migratory birds could potentially be mitigated, for example through development and implementation of the adaptive management approach proposed in the referral,” it said.

But having outlined the reasons why the project should be given the go-ahead, the department, perhaps pre-empting the minister’s attitude, advised that he could still oppose it, and included the paperwork for him to do so.

At the time, [radio jock] Jones was regularly railing against windfarm projects, and there was opposition to windfarms within the Coalition. In 2014, the then treasurer, Joe Hockey, called wind turbines “utterly offensive”, while former prime minister Tony Abbott said in 2015 they were “ ugly” and “noisy”.

A spokesperson for the current environment minister, Sussan Ley, said then minister Frydenberg considered that “the proposed wind turbines would create a considerable, intrusive visual impact and that this would affect the spectacular and scenic landscapes for which the island group is recognised”.

“The minister concluded that the proposal would be an inappropriate development for Lord Howe Island and that the impacts on the island group’s heritage values could not be sufficiently avoided or mitigated,” she said.

The spokesman said the minister had given “thorough consideration to a range of matters” before deciding that the wind turbine proposal would have clearly unacceptable impacts and that the decision did not affect the solar component of the island’s energy project.

Lord Howe Island’s Unesco listing has identified “human-caused climate change” as a key threat. The organisation has a policy which calls on world heritage sites to investigate renewable power options.

Lord Howe Island is now exploring what can be done with solar and batteries to meet the island’s needs. New South Wales spends $750,000 a year on shipping diesel to the island to provide power for its 350 residents.


New coal mine that would have provided 1,100 jobs to hard-pressed families is scrapped after green activists from Sydney's north shore sent 2,530 objection letters

The construction of a controversial coal mine has been blocked after planners received a series of objection letters from city-based environmental activists.

The multi-million-dollar Bylong Valley coal mine was commissioned by Korean company Kepco, which claimed the mine, north-east of Mudgee, would generate $300million for the New South Wales economy and create 1,100 jobs.

After a large amount of opposition from the community, the project was given to the  NSW Independent Planning Commission for review in October last year.

But today it was revealed the project's demise came after a spate of complaints by residents of Sydney's northern beaches, 250 kilometres away from the proposed mine site.

Out of 3,193 comments to the commission, 2,530 objections came from Lane Cove Coal and Gas Watch, The Daily Telegraph reported.  'These people should not be allowed to comment on something that is not on their doorstep,' Mid-West Regional Council mayor Des Kennedy said. 'People here want those jobs, but at the public meetings they were bussing in activists from all over the place.'

While 350 submissions received by the commission were largely objections, most of them came from people living more than 60 kilometres away.

Lane Cove Bushland and Conservation Society vice-president Ron Gornall said the  environmental group maintain their objections.  'Our group was opposed to the mine … like a lot of environmental groups, we look at other areas,' he said.

None of the 14 government agencies consulted objected to the construction of the mine.

While the commission acknowledged the economic benefits the mine would bring, they also said it was not an ecologically sustainable development, ABC reported.

'The commission found the mine's predicted air quality, biodiversity, noise, subsidence and visual impacts are acceptable and/or can be effectively managed or mitigated,'the commission said in its determination.

'It raised significant concern about other longer-lasting environmental impacts.'

'The predicted economic benefits would accrue to the present generation but the long-term environmental, heritage and agricultural costs will be borne by the future generations.'

Kepco began working on the project in  2010 and construction was supposed to start this year.


Our universities have caved in to lazy groupthink

In the lead-up to Friday’s Global Climate Strike, enlightening emails have found their way into staff and student university in­boxes. These communications are as illuminating as they are disheartening, as they once again reveal the extent to which our institutions of higher education have been captured by ideologically driven activists.

The array of carefully crafted messages that have been doing the rounds at Notre Dame, Queensland, NSW, La Trobe and Melbourne universities range from the subtle suggestion that staff may like to “accommodate” striking students, to robustly and actively encouraging students to ditch their studies and take to the streets to yell about climate change.

Without exception, all students have been informed that they will not be penalised for absenteeism and that there will be absolutely no repercussions for non-attendance. This is completely at odds with standard university attendance requirements, which are markedly unforgiving.

Perhaps the most telling of all emails, however, has come from the desk of Stephen Trumble, head of the department of medical education at the University of Melbourne, who writes: “All students are encouraged to consider joining with staff in participating in the Global Climate Strike on Friday 20th September. The medical school supports sustainable development and mitigating the effects of climate change.”

It seems that the priorities of Melbourne University’s medical school are misguided. Australians want doctors who are trained to diagnose and cure illness, not doctors who are trained to be eco­-warriors. “One of our course outcomes,” Trumble concludes, “is that Melbourne MD graduates should practise medicine in an environmentally sustainable manner so as not to contribute to this immediate problem.”

One wonders whether this might look like a surgeon turning off the operating theatre lights and poking around inside the unfortunate patient by candlelight.

It smacks of ideological totalitarianism, where staff and students at our universities are being compelled to conform to the orthodoxy prevalent on campus.

The question is, what will become of the rebels who choose to go to class? Their presence in the lecture theatres will single them out as dissidents and they will be judged accordingly as climate change deniers. Never mind what they may think about climate change in private, their public inaction will condemn them in the eyes of their peers.

As it turns out, the same fate is awaiting those Victorian public servants who, rather than joining their colleagues on the streets of Melbourne, have chosen to remain at their desks.

Unsurprisingly, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who this week achieved the honour of being the highest paid premier in the country, is encouraging his employees to ask for “flexible working arrangements” so they can help bring his city to a standstill.

Taxpayers are essentially paying public servants to take the day off. It is unlikely that the Department of Premier and Cabinet would display the same degree of leniency towards staff if they were to down tools on a Friday afternoon to attend an anti-abortion rally.

What we are seeing on campus and indeed in government is the spirit of the mob at work. This concept is explored by Douglas Murray in his latest book The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity. “We are,” he observes, “going through great crowd derangement. In public and in private, both online and off, people are behaving in ways that are increasingly irrational, feverish, herd-like and simply unpleasant.”

One of the most profound impacts that postmodernism and identity politics have had on our universities is the crippling of intellectual inquiry. When universities are fiercely and repeatedly advocating diversity as a fundamental academic value, the reality is that diversity of opinion has been all but banished from many classrooms and lecture theatres, where the predominantly liberal-left world view, once concealed within the humanities, has become the wider orthodoxy.

The fact remains, students want diversity of opinion on campus. In a recent survey of 500 domestic students commissioned by the Institute of Public Affairs, 82 per cent of respondents, no matter what their political persuasion, said university was a place where they should be exposed to different views, even if those views are challenging or offensive. The results also showed that students were looking outside the university to be challenged or to find out alternative points of view, with 58 per cent of students saying they were more exposed to new ideas on social media than on campus.

Things must be dire indeed if students are finding greater diversity of opinion on the notoriously skewed platforms of Twitter or Facebook.

The Global Climate Strike shows that universities are no longer the chief institutions through which knowledge is preserved, generated and disseminated. Australian campuses are rapidly becoming places where intellectual inquiry is being crippled and the free exchange of ideas is severely limited. Collectivism and groupthink have no place in our universities, which to all intents and purposes are failing in their purpose.



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Friday, September 20, 2019

The ‘Climate Strike’ is a crock that exploits kids

This Friday, in advance of the United Nations Climate Summit, students across the country will walk out of their schools as part of a Climate Strike. In New York City, the Department of Education has given its stamp of approval to the walk-out and won’t mark it as an absence, making it less “a strike” and more a coordinated effort by the school system to force political action on children.

Tweeted DOE: “We applaud our students when they raise their voices in a safe and respectful manner on issues that matter to them.” Does it? The department is only giving kids a pass to skip school to protest on this one issue. So while school brass may applaud students raising their voices, only preapproved political posturing will be granted official protest status.

Sure: Children are our future, goes the adage. Shouldn’t they have a say in what happens to their planet?

But what “say” are they having by marching around with signs — repeating slogans and talking points spoon-fed to them by … adults?

Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted about the strike on Monday, “Young people are taking action against Climate Change in record numbers. You know why? BECAUSE. WASHINGTON. WON’T. We are running out of time. Our kids aren’t waiting. We can’t either. #ClimateStrike”

But it’s hard to ignore that in this call for action there’s no, well, action. They’re literally doing what they’re urging politicians to stop doing: talking.

We could have had an army of teenagers cleaning up parks or beaches instead of striking and making signs. Teens could have led the way by not using cars or plastic utensils for the day.

Or how about something as simple as this: Give up their phones for a day (or, heck, 15 minutes!) to save energy. (Right!)

Instead, expect stories on Saturday about how much garbage the protesting kids left behind.

In my Russian-speaking community, people took to Facebook to discuss the similarities they saw to their time in the Soviet Union. One mom posted that the strike is “Soviet-style brainwashing and propaganda” Another mom wrote that the particular issue doesn’t matter; “having children demonstrate on school time was the Soviet way.”

One Park Slope elementary school sent parents a note that the entire school will be walking out for the strike. A mother of a 6-year-old told me, in response: “I am all for people supporting causes they believe in, but do not force your causes and beliefs on my first-grader.”

Another mom told me she believes in climate change and thinks the government should take action but finds the strike absurd. She’s afraid to single her kid out by making him skip it and isn’t speaking up.

Trump says Green New Deal would turn US into 'hermit nation'
In America in 2019, it really ought to be OK for parents to say: “My kids are not your props and, no, it’s not OK for them to spend school time making climate-change signs or walking out in protest.”

Memo to DOE: Some parents would actually prefer their kids to be in class learning than taking part in one-sided political theater (though, it’s true, at some schools kids who strike won’t be missing much).

Nor should parents be put on the spot and have to declare whether they want their kid to attend the organized protest. This isn’t a school subject. It’s not standardized testing or dissecting a frog. Parents shouldn’t even have to opt in to have their child attend (and whether even that should be allowed is arguable).

In any event, the real test to see if kids care about the Climate Strike would be to do it after school or on a weekend. After all, almost any teen will agree to skip school, no matter the cause. But every grown-up knows that far fewer teens would spend their free time protesting than school time.

Fact is, teenagers should be learning how to be adults and learning adult skills — not just mimicking actions of the adults in their orbit to gain their approval.

I believe climate change is real and we must deal with it. I teach my children to be good stewards of the environment. But that’s separate from allowing them to be exploited for political goals — even if I happen to agree with the mission.

Sticking kids with the job of solving climate change or even just using them as puppets is deeply inappropriate.

De Blasio tweeted: “New York City stands with our young people. They’re our conscience.” Maybe adults should have their own conscience.


NBC News Wants You to Confess Your Climate Sins

Do you ever get the feeling that climate change is a cult? Does it ever seem like its adherents are immune to reason as they vindictively lash out at anyone who questions their beliefs? Wouldn't it be nice if they just left you alone and let you live your life?

Well, too bad. You live in 2019 and you use modern technology and conveniences. You eat food that actually tastes good. You're guilty and you need to confess. Repent, sinner!

That's right, NBC "News" has put up a page for what they're literally calling Climate Confessions.

"Even those who care deeply about the planet's future can slip up now and then. Tell us: Where do you fall short in preventing climate change? Do you blast the A/C? Throw out half your lunch? Grill a steak every week? Share your anonymous confession with NBC News."

Bless me, Gaia, for I have sinned.

Apparently, there are all sorts of ways you can sin against the planet. NBC breaks it down into six categories

I submitted my own confession: "I work in an air-conditioned newsroom at NBC." They haven't published it yet, but I feel better already.

Hat tip to Mark Hemingway, who notes: "This from NBC News is amazing. Climate change is some kind of religion -- all eschatology, minus the redemption." In other words, you're always guilty but you can never be saved.


Wind Power Sources Remain More Fantasy than Reality

At first glance, wind power seems to be the path to a carbon-free energy future. Once harnessed, it’s clean and abundant. Larger turbines have enhanced wind’s power-generating capacity.

But contrary to its supporters, wind energy has grown thanks largely to production tax credits (2.3 cents per kilowatt hour) totaling billions of dollars. However, those credits are being phased out, and without such generous subsidies, wind energy will not make much of a dent in power production or carbon mitigation for at least a decade.

The amount of wind energy has tripled in the past 10 years, growing to 97,223 megawatts in 41 states. Half of that generating capacity is located in five of them: Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma, California and Kansas. Because seasonal wind patterns vary considerably across the country, wind’s contribution to the grid represents just 8 percent of power production nationwide.

Despite all the hoopla over wind energy, the nation’s only offshore wind turbines are located in coastal waters near Rhode Island. The Block Island Wind Farm, which went into operation in late 2016, cost $2 billion, plus $16.7 million to compensate companies that lost access to fishing grounds. Operating and maintenance expenses for wind farms currently add about $48,000 per megawatt generated.

Massachusetts likewise is preparing to obtain power from more than a score of huge wind turbines off its coast, carried to the mainland by underwater cables, with the cost passed through to households and businesses.

According to the Institute for Energy Research, offshore wind energy is “very, very expensive,” costing 2.6 times more than onshore wind power and 3.4 times more than power produced by a natural gas combined-cycle plant. Of course, the cost of wind farms surely will fall as more are built, and perhaps ways will be found to reduce the dangers wind turbines pose to birds, bats, and other wildlife.

In the meantime, if we are serious about reducing energy costs and carbon emissions, we need to be realistic about the limitations of power generated by the wind and other renewables.

A more practical environmental approach is to expand the use of the combined-cycle natural gas plants, which have smaller carbon footprints than coal plants and have reduced such emissions to levels not seen since the early 1990s. The shale revolution has made that possible, greatly strengthening economic incentives to substitute natural gas for coal in power production. Nowadays, data analytics and complex algorithms make it easier to find natural gas and boost the productivity of shale fields.

The surge in America’s natural-gas production also helps to reduce carbon emissions in other countries. Exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are projected to double by the end of this year. Asian countries that still rely heavily on coal are the largest purchasers of American LNG, using the clean-burning fuel to improve their air quality.

Shale has been the single biggest addition to the nation’s energy supply in many decades. Renewables at the moment offer more promise than reality. Even with lavish subsidies, wind and solar power together account for slightly more than 10 percent of the nation’s electricity. In contrast, gas provides nearly 35 percent; it is indispensable for generating backup power on days when the wind doesn’t blow, or the sun doesn’t shine.

Because of rising electricity demands and the retirement of coal and nuclear plants, many states are planning for more wind-powered electricity production. Under present regulatory regimes, most of the capital and operating costs of new wind farms will end up being added to consumers’ utility bills. So, too, in some states are “the stranded costs” of mothballed power plants.

Unsubsidized wind energy simply is too expensive to become a major source of electricity in most states. (In 2016, wind represented just seven-tenths of 1 percent of Massachusetts’s power production.) The inability of grid operators to manage the variations in power from wind and solar energy is creating new headaches.

Americans need a reliable supply of affordable electricity. But if too much weight is placed on wind and solar systems and not enough on conventional power plants, the result will be far too little electricity, with potentially grievous economic consequences.


Renewable Energy Will Only Be Possible With Massive Increases in the Supply of Critical Minerals
The recent threats by Beijing to cut off American access to critical mineral imports has many Americans wondering why our politicians have allowed the United States to become so overly dependent on China for these valued resources in the first place.

Today, the United States is 90% dependent on China and Russia for many vital “rare earth minerals.”

The main reason for our overreliance on nations like China for these minerals is not that we are running out of these resources here at home. The U.S. Mining Association estimates that we have at least $5 trillion of recoverable mineral resources.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports that we still have up to 86% or more of key mineral resources like copper and zinc remaining in the ground, waiting to be mined. These resources aren’t on environmentally sensitive lands, like national parks, but on the millions of acres of federal, state and private lands.

The mining isn’t happening because of extremely prohibitive environmental rules and a permitting process that can take five to 10 years to open a new mine. Green groups simply resist almost all new drilling.

What they may not realize is that the de facto mining prohibitions jeopardize the “green energy revolution” that liberals are so desperately seeking.

How’s this for rich irony?: Making renewable energy at all technologically plausible will require massive increases in the supply of rare earth and critical minerals. Without these valuable metals, there will not be more efficient 21st-century batteries for electric cars or modern solar panels. Kiss the Green New Deal and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ utopian vision of 100% renewable energy goodbye.

Yet, for decades now, environmentalists have erected every possible barrier to mining here in America for critical minerals — which we have in great abundance.

Search far and wide through the grandiose Green New Deal plans and you will not find any call for additional domestic mining for battery-operated electric vehicles and electrified mass transportation systems, nor the underlying energy infrastructure.

Thanks to the extreme environmentalists, we import from unfriendly and repressive governments the critical minerals needed to produce rechargeable batteries (lithium and cobalt), wind turbine motors (dysprosium), thin films for solar power (tellurium) and miniature sensors that manage the performance of electric vehicles (yttrium).

Another irony in the left’s anti-mining crusade is that these same groups have long boasted that by eliminating our need for fossil fuels, America won’t rely on cartels like OPEC that have in the past held our nation hostage to wild price swings and embargoes. Greens also complain that fossil fuel dependence requires a multibillion-dollar military presence in the Middle East and around the world to ensure supply. Now we can substitute OPEC with China and Russia.

Here is one simple but telling example of the shortsightedness of the “no mining” position of the environmentalists. Current electric vehicles can use up to 10 times more copper than fossil fuel vehicles. Then, additional copper wire networks will be needed to attach convenient battery chargers throughout public spaces and along roads and highways. Do we really want this entire transportation infrastructure to be dependent on China and Russia?

Of course, it is not just green energy development that will be imperiled by our mining restrictions folly. Innovation and research on new lightweight metals and alloys, such as those used in lifesaving medical devices and tiny cameras in smartphones, could also become stalled if foreign prices rise prohibitively.

Also, because our mining laws — the ones that don’t outright prohibit mining — protect the environment far more than those in nations like China and Africa, by importing these minerals, we are contributing to global environmental degradation.

So, there you have it. The keep-it-in-the-ground movement environmentalists demand against use of almost all of America’s bountiful energy and mineral resources is blocking a green future and a safer planet. Do they know this? Do they care?


‘Blood on his hands’: Australian PM urged to intervene after Queensland Government loses bid to continue shark culling

Greenies much prefer sharks to people

Queensland’s tourism minister says Prime Minister Scott Morrison could have “blood on his hands” if he doesn’t intervene on a ban preventing shark culling on the Great Barrier Reef.

The Queensland Government yesterday lost an appeal in the Federal Court for the right to use drum lines to catch and kill sharks on the reef in a bid to protect swimmers.

The appeal came after the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in April upheld a Humane Society challenge to the State Government program in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park area.

Queensland Agriculture Minister Mark Furner wants the Federal Government to change federal legislation to allow the program to continue in the park.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which manages the area, was created by federal legislation in 1975.

Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the court decision left her deeply concerned for the safety of visitors swimming in the World Heritage area.

“I’m calling on the Prime Minister to intervene,” she told reporters. “I’m sure the Prime Minister does not want to have blood on his hands through this decision in relation to the federal act.”

However, Humane Society campaigner Lawrence Chlebeck says the court decision is a victory for sharks.  “No longer will sharks senselessly die for a misguided sense of security,” he said.

In its decision, the tribunal said the scientific evidence about “the lethal component” of the shark control program “overwhelmingly” showed it does not reduce the risk of an unprovoked shark attack.

The program now has to be carried out in a way that avoids killing sharks to the “greatest extent possible”. The park will only be permitted to authorise the euthanasia of sharks caught on drum lines on animal welfare grounds.

All tiger, bull and white sharks caught on drum lines are now to be tagged before being released. Additionally, sharks caught on drum lines are to be attended to as soon as possible — preferably within 24 hours of capture — and tagged sharks are to be relocated offshore.

Mr Chlebeck wants the Government to stop shark culls along the entire Queensland coastline.

There have been no changes to the shark control program in other Queensland locations, including the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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


Thursday, September 19, 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claims climate change is behind illegal immigration crisis on the southern border

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has claimed climate change is behind the immigration crisis on the southern border and that 'walling ourselves off' isn't a long term answer.

The New York Democrat, 29, said it was time to recognize 'climate refugees in our immigration policies'.

On Monday the freshman lawmaker tweeted: 'Remember when we said climate change would cause mass migration, & the right called us crazy?

'Well, it's happening. And walling ourselves off from the world isn't a plan for our future. It's time to recognize climate refugees in our immigration policies.'

Ocasio-Cortez shared a link to an article in her tweet, which was retweeted almost 12,000 times, which claimed millions of people had been displaced this year.

The report from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) revealed that in the first six months of 2019 more than seven million people had to leave their homes because of natural disasters including floods and tornadoes, reports the Mic.

Ocasio-Cortez also spoke out about climate change and urged people to consider it as a 'major factor fueling global migration' in April.

She tweeted: 'The far-right loves to drum up fear & resistance to immigrants. 'But have you ever noticed they never talk about what's causing people to flee their homes in the first place? Perhaps that's bc they'd be forced to confront 1 major factor fueling global migration: Climate change.'

Last week the New York representative predicted that Miami would not exist 'in a few years' if the Green New Deal is not passed.

Speaking at the NAACP forum she said: 'What is not realistic is not responding with a solution on the scale of the crisis — because what's not realistic is Miami not existing in a few years.'

Ocasio-Cortez reiterated that we need to be 'realistic' about the problem and make changes immediately.

She revealed the Green New Deal proposal in February, which focused on changing the economy, renewable energy alternatives and resource efficiency.

At the time she was critiqued over the draft legislation, which included an FAQ section that encouraged ending air travel and meat production.

The politicians comments yesterday follow her endorsing Democratic Sen. Ed Markey for re-election in Massachusetts.

In a video released by Markey's campaign she said she is backing the Democratic incumbent as one of the Senate's 'strongest progressives' and her partner on the Green New Deal climate change proposal. 

'When I first got to Congress and we started to discuss big, bold plans - a solution on the scale of the crisis - many members shied away,' said Ocasio-Cortez. 'Ed Markey was one of the few people that had the courage to stand up and take a chance.'

Markey said: 'Climate change is the existential threat of our time, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the kind of generational leader we need to make the bold goals of the Green New Deal a reality'.   

Known by her initials AOC, the liberal newcomer toppled a House Democratic leader with a remarkable 2018 primary challenge that stunned Washington.

A group aligned with Ocasio-Cortez, Justice Democrats, has already announced its support for primary challenges to other congressional Democrats in 2020.

However Ocasio-Cortez has become a top villain for Republicans, who are running campaign ads featuring her as the face of the Democratic party and its leftward lean.

They call her 'socialist' for her health care and climate change proposals. In a controversial ad that aired during the Democratic presidential primary debate this week depicted Ocasio-Cortez, alongside imagery of genocide, as the 'face of socialism.'

Ocasio-Cortez is heading to Colorado next week to headline a fundraising dinner for Democrats and participate in activities around the climate strike protests.

These are a series of worldwide walkout of young people from schools, homes, jobs to demand action on climate change.


AOC’s Miami hype

The latest from AOC is her warning to the residents of Miami and the state of Florida writ large who are on the front lines of the imminent climate change catastrophe, as she describes.

At an NAACP event on September 11th, of all dates, she said: “When it comes to climate change, what is not realistic is not responding …with a solution on the scale of the crisis. Because what is not realistic is Miami not existing in a few years.”

Assume for a moment that AOC’s prediction was real, that Miami will be flooded from rising oceans due to melted arctic glaciers from global warming from carbon emissions in “a few years.” Would her proposed Green New Deal prevent it? Could anything we do prevent it?

For the sake of their stated profession, has a single soft-ball “journalist” who agrees with AOC ever asked her to defend her claims about the imminent climate catastrophe for the planet?

Has anyone asked AOC if carbon emissions alone affect the planet’s temperature, or are there other factors, such as sunspot activity and ocean currents? I doubt even AOC would pretend we could impact sunspots and El Niño, but would curbing carbon emissions alone be enough?

If polar ice caps in Greenland and elsewhere are literally melting in such catastrophic amounts enough to soon flood Miami, as she claims, how would a change in temperature of two or three degrees alter that?

AOC and nearly every Democratic presidential candidate are demanding we change our lifestyles and conveniences by changing our diets and automobiles. They demand that we eliminate jobs in the energy sector, and pay more in taxes and energy costs. Yet rarely are any of them asked to provide scientific detail why any of this is warranted.

Not one of these public figures proposing to alter our lives and society is leading by example. They are driving large SUVs, flying in private jets, owning multiple homes, and dining in fancy restaurants. This was on flagrant display at the recent climate summit in Sicily, hosted by Google, and is true of every major politician demanding societal changes in the name of fighting the climate.

One of my favorite ongoing examples is presidential candidate Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City, who has been polling steadily near zero. He obsesses about climate change and demands policies ranging from banning red meat to retrofitting commercial buildings. But he won’t use the exercise equipment at Gracie Mansion in Manhattan which is the free home provided for the mayor. Instead, he is driven round-trip in his gas-guzzling platoon of SUVs over the East River to his favorite Brooklyn gym for his daily workout. He remains impervious to the hypocrisy of such a routine.

Fortunately, for now, most Americans are onto the act, and are not buying what climate alarmists are selling. Lots of people in the abstract believe in some man-made effect on the climate, but not enough to care in terms of changing their own habits and lifestyles, including the climate alarmists.

Last month a Gallup survey found just 3 percent of Americans believed “environment/pollution/climate change” was the most important problem facing the country; and this collective category came in 9th on the list of non-economic issues. With all three issues lumped together, “climate change” alone would rank further down the list of concerns.

If the existence of Miami were really in jeopardy in “a few years,” would not more Americans rank climate change the most important problem?

The 1 or 2 percent of Americans who view the climate as the most important issue facing the country were no doubt represented in the audience for the CNN “town hall” on climate change held recently. Several of the questioners were young and animated (rude, actually) about the issue. How many of them used mass transit, eschewed their high-energy computers or cell phones in the previous 24 hours, or spurned plastic bottled water and drank from the faucet?

Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute recently said it well:

"The cardinal rule when it comes to environmental virtue-signaling is that people give up what they’re willing to give up. Young people are no different. If being environmentally sound required sacrificing anything that a self-described environmental warrior actually valued, the conversation would quickly change to a different topic. One’s own habits are necessary; it’s everyone else’s that need to change."

Which brings us back to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This human news magnet will no doubt continue her Chicken Little act on climate; whether it’s speaking at events, or sharing her thoughts of the moment on Instagram from her kitchen stove. Fortunately, it appears most Americans are more entertained rather than agreeing, much less acting on her vacuous admonitions.


GMO's Are Not the Problem. They're the Answer!

By Rich Kozlovich

On September 13, 2019 Cameron English posted the article, GMO, CRISPR-edited crops can cut pesticide use—if environmental activists do not block them saying:

In 2017, University of Florida plant geneticists Zhonglin Mou and Kevin Folta, along with their team of graduate students, announced a new method to fight common diseases in fruit plants. Their discovery could drastically reduce the use of fungicides if widely implemented by growers.

Unfortunately, their methods may never be put to use thanks to the controversy surrounding crop biotechnology.

The research confirms a point that cannot be stressed enough: scientists continue to make agriculture safer and more sustainable with the tools of modern genetics, but activists have waged such an effective scare campaign against crop biotechnology that it often remains unused by industry.

Luddite urban dwellers only consume, they don't produce, so they not only don't realize just how important this is, they don't want to know since environmentalism has become the neo-pagan religion of the urban atheist. 

In their worship of the planet they self-righteously believe they're morally superior to the rest of us in their "all natural" views.  It would be nice if they had to take responsibility for the consequences in human suffering they're "all natural" views produced in preventing these major crop engineering advances.

Genetic engineering advances that would have brought Golden Rice to the dinner tables of those in Southeast Asia, whose diet lacks sufficient Vitamin A because rice is the primary carbohydrate source in this area of the world, and as The Golden Rice Project notes:

Rice does not contain any β-carotene (provitamin A), which their body could then convert into vitamin A. Dependence on rice as the predominant food source, therefore, necessarily leads to VAD, most severely affecting small children and pregnant women. In 2012 the World Health Organization reported that about 250 million preschool children are affected by VAD, and that providing those children with vitamin A could prevent about a third of all under-five deaths, which amounts to up to 2.7 million children that could be saved from dying unnecessarily. "

Marc Brazeau in his March 5, 2019 article Golden Rice is coming. Finally! Will it be the game-changer hinted at for almost 20 years? saying:

Comes the news that the government of Bangladesh is about to approve Golden Rice for commercial release some time in the next three months.

First and foremost this is fantastic news for Southeast Asia for humanitarian and economic development reasons. On a less consequential level this is great news for the overall debate surrounding the use of biotech in agriculture. Golden Rice occupied a space in the debate as the Great Golden Hope of Biotech Crops, a wholly virtuous crop devoid of the grubby commercial concerns of intellectual property or profit motive.

In this case, the IP had been donated, the rice was being developed by a non-profit NGO and the rice will be given freely to farmers and local breeding programs—a trait of value directly to consumers, among them some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. Because of this history, it is a crop not linked to so-called ‘industrial agriculture’ and its key trait is not tied to pesticide use.

Let's try to get this once and for all. Activists are constantly touting the idea what they do "is for the children".   That's a logical fallacy known as the appeal to emotion fallacy, and when someone uses it you need to start looking very closely at what they're really promoting.  Because what these activists have done isn't "for" the children, what they've done has been "to" the children.  From DDT to GMO's the green movement is now, and has always been, foundationally misanthropic.

For twenty years this has been going on.  That means if we take the number 2.7 million at face value that comes to 54 million children whose lives would have been saved.  And untold millions more would have been saved from other afflictions as a result of Vitamin A deficiency.

I would like for everyone to think about this.  If GMO techniques become common place here's what would happen. Agriculture would be able to produce food in an abundance that was never dreamt of.  It would be done with less land use, allowing for animal protection, less pesticides, less labor, less cost and in some cases less water would be needed, all of which makes agriculture amazingly "sustainable".  Isn't what they claim they want?   Isn't "sustainability" their ultimate goal?  Yet, these "all natural", "anti-pesticide", "sustainability" advocate Luddites are against it.  Why?

Because they're not really against pesticides, land use, water use or GMO's, and they don't really care about "sustainability".  What they're against is humanity.

The radicals among these activists think humanity is a plague on the planet that needs to be eradicated.  The "moderates" only want to eliminate between four and six billion people.


How do you throw away a dead wind turbine?

Contrary to popular opinion, the life cycle of a modern wind turbine is no more than 20 to 25 years. Since turbine blades cannot be burned and are not recyclable, the recommended option is landfill disposal. But not every landfill can even accept these massive structures, even after they are broken into their parts.

According to Pu Liu and Claire Barlow (Waste Management, April 2017), there will be 43 million metric tons of blade waste worldwide by 2050, with China possessing 40% of the waste, Europe 25%, the United States 16%, and the rest of the world 19%. The problem of blade disposal, they conclude, is just beginning to emerge as a significant factor for the future.

A 2017 report from researchers Katerin Ramirez-Tejeda, David A. Turcotte, and Sarah Pike (New Solutions) asserts that “the environmental consequences and health risks are so adverse that the authors warn that if the public learns of this rapidly burgeoning problem, they may be less inclined to favor wind power expansion.”

Ramirez-Tejeda, et al., added that landfilling turbine waste is especially problematic “because its high resistance to heat, sunlight, and moisture means that it will take hundreds of years to degrade in a landfill environment. The wood and other organic material present in the blades would also end up in landfills, potentially releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and other volatile organic compounds to the environment.”

At current U.S. landfilling costs of about $60 per ton, the 40-ton monsters may provide short-term revenues for landfill operators. The long-term cost (including for pretreatment and transportation), together with community opposition to landfill expansion) is making turbine blade disposal a major emerging problem in the U.S. and worldwide.

Evidence of these difficulties is already emerging in the American heartland. The City of Casper, Wyoming, in July finally released a statement confirming the disposal of wind turbine blades in the Casper Regional Solid Waste Facility. The city says the facility has been accepting fiberglass wind turbine blades, that are being replaced, for disposal.

City officials justified their actions, stating that, “Destroying the blades requires compacting equipment more powerful and larger than the Casper Regional Solid Waste Facility has. Disposal in a landfill is a viable option as fiberglass is a material that does not leach components into the soil or groundwater and thus can be buried in an unlined landfill.”

City Manager Carter Napier commented, “The citizens of Casper can be satisfied in knowing that years of planning and proactive development pays off with projects of this nature.” Napier assured citizens that, “the revenue that is received from this project will ultimately benefit our entire community.”

City officials further explained that the Casper Regional Solid Waste Facility is the only landfill in the region that has both the national certifications required by the federal government to dispose of materials in an environmentally friendly manner and an unlined landfill large enough to handle the project.

Meanwhile, in Sioux Falls, Iowa, city officials have announced that Iowa wind farm operators brought 101 old turbine blades to the city dump this summer. However, City Hall promised it would not take any more turbine blades unless their owners take more steps to make the massive fiberglass pieces less space consuming.

The reason, according to Public Works Director Mark Cotter: “We can’t take any more unless they process them before bringing them to us. We’re using too many resources unloading them, driving over them a couple times, and working them into the ground.” Landfill crews, upon receiving each of the 120-foot-long blades (broken into three sections), crush the hollowed-out structures beneath the weight of 60-ton trucks.

In the future, city officials have determined, wind energy companies must break blades into pieces no larger than 3 feet long – through a grinding or shearing process. Sioux Falls is also planning a pilot study to determine the feasibility of sheering blades on site, the impact on air space at the landfill, and if pricing for accepting them [currently $64 per ton] should be changed.

Ultimately, according to Sarah Lozanova (Earth911, August 2017), decommissioning wind farms might be more costly than the construction phase. Indeed, she added, decommissioning and recycling wind turbines is a blind spot when considering the total environmental impact of wind energy.

Casper and Sioux Falls landfill operators are on the front lines of this massive emerging problem. Casper claims positive revenues, but Sioux Falls says they are losing money. One thing is certain: The costs and hassle (and waste of limited landfill space) of disposing of millions of tons of turbine blades must be factored into the cost-benefit for any wind project.


Australia: Facts on fires forgotten in rush to blame climate change

Bushfires in Queensland and New South Wales dominated the news last week — and much of the media was quick to amplify claims climate change was at play.

Here’s retired NSW fire commissioner and former NSW climate change councillor Greg Mullins on ABC regional radio: “There are fires breaking out in places where they just shouldn’t burn. The west coast of Tasmania, the world heritage areas, subtropical rainforests, it’s all burning. And this is driven by climate change, there’s no other explanation.”

Well, he’s an expert, he’s worth reporting. But shouldn’t such claims be tested? He cited places burning that shouldn’t burn, such as Siberia where other sources confirm bushfires happen there every summer.

And Mullins mentioned the west coast of Tasmania. We saw fires there earlier this year and on this program we exposed emotive reporting suggesting this was unprecedented. It wasn’t, of course.

This report, for instance, in the South Australian Chronicle of February 1915 reported lives lost and the “most devastating bushfires ever known in Tasmania sweeping over the northwest coast and other districts. The extent of the devastation cannot be over-estimated.”

And as for Mullins’ claims on rainforests of the west coast, there was this report in 1982 from The Canberra Times, detailing a “huge forest fire” burning out 75,000 hectares of dense rainforest.

Nine newspapers’ Jane Caro tweeted her surprise at the fires: “So there are bushfires all the way up the NSW & Queensland coasts and no rain forecast for 6 to 8 weeks — in September!” she exclaimed, saying this was with one degree of warming and spruiking the climate action strike this Friday.

Yep, that’ll do it.

Back in the 1940s there were September days in Brisbane of 90 degrees fahrenheit, or over 32 degrees Celsius. Now sure, last week’s conditions were horrid, and not the norm. But they are not unprecedented. Drought, dry winters, hot springs, we get them. They might fit into a global warming narrative and they might not.

The best thing to do last week, surely, was to fight the fires. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott did — but I don’t know about the social media alarmists.

Channel 10 news reporter Alex Bruce-Smith wrote the fires were “unprecedented.” “There’s no beating around the bush,” she said, “climate change is helping drive the catastrophe we are currently seeing … it’s the worst start to a Queensland bushfire season on record.”

But is it?

To be fair to the journalists, this stuff was being put out there by people in authority. Andrew Sturgess of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said: “It is a historic event. We have never seen fire danger indices, fire danger ratings at this time of the year, as we are seeing now. We have never seen this before in recorded history.”

Never before in recorded history? The Chronicle in the late winter of 1946, August 22, noted: “From Bundaberg to the New South Wales border”, “hundreds of square miles of drought stricken southeastern Queensland were aflame …”

Two years later on September 30, 1948, the Central Queensland Herald reported: “An 800-mile chain of bushfires fed by dry grass stretched tonight along the Queensland coast from Cairns to Maryborough.”

Both these easily-retrievable examples put the claims of “worst ever” and “unprecedented” into perspective, if not in the shade.

Perhaps the media ought to be more careful about such descriptors, or check them, or try for some perspective rather than just going with the zeitgeist.

Last week, The Guardian linked bushfires in Queensland rainforests to global warming. “I never thought I’d see the Australian rainforest burning. What will it take for us to wake up to the climate crisis?” That was written by Dr Joëlle Gergis of the ANU’s Climate Change Institute and member of the Climate Council.

“Despite being ridiculously busy, I couldn’t turn down this opportunity to share my thoughts on the current bushfires,” she tweeted. “As a scientist, what I find particularly disturbing about the current conditions is that world heritage rainforest areas such as the Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast hinterland are now burning,” she wrote.

Well, we were busy too but were able to dig this out. It’s the Cairns Post from October 25, 1951. “A bushfire in Lamington National Park today swept through a grove of 3000-year-old Macrozamia palms. These trees were one of the features of the park. The fire has burnt out about 2000 acres of thick rainforest country.”

That’s right, nearly 70 years ago, rainforest burning in Lamington National Park, before global warming.

Journalists were quick to share the alarmist views. Hey, it’s easier than checking them.

Seemingly forgotten in the rush to fit up climate change as the cause of these fires was one highly relevant fact. Arsonists were responsible for many, if not most of the blazes.

As reported last Wednesday” “Detectives have already established that ten fires — in Brisbane, Stanthorpe, the southeast and central Queensland regions — were deliberately lit. Eight of those were set by juveniles.”

Unless climate change is changing juvenile behaviour, it is hard to overlook crucial facts, such as how the fires actually started.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

UK: Parents told not to terrify children over climate change as rising numbers treated for 'eco-anxiety'

Rising numbers of children are being treated for “eco-anxiety”, experts have said, as they warn parents against “terrifying” their youngsters with talk of climate catastrophe.

Protests by groups such as Extinction Rebellion, the recent fires in the Amazon and apocalyptic warnings by the teenage activist Greta Thunberg have prompted a “tsunami” of young people seeking help.

A group of psychologists working with the University of Bath says it is receiving a growing volume of enquiries from teachers, doctors and therapists unable to cope.

The Climate Psychology Alliance (CPA) told The Daily Telegraph some children complaining of eco-anxiety have even been given psychiatric drugs.

The body is campaigning for anxiety specifically caused by fear for the future of the planet to be recognised as a psychological phenomenon.

However, they do not want it classed as a mental illness because, unlike standard anxiety, the cause of the worry is “rational”.

“A lot of parents are coming into therapy asking for help with the children and it has escalated a lot this summer,” said Caroline Hickman, a teaching fellow at Bath and a CPA executive.

“The symptoms are the same [as clinical anxiety], the feelings are the same, but the cause is different. “The fear is of environmental doom - that we’re all going to die.”

Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg rose to global fame this year as she supported the protests by Extinction Rebellion, which brought parts of central London to a standstill.

Thurnberg argues that the EU must cut its carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2030 to avoid an existential crisis - double the target set by the Paris Accord - while Extinction Rebellion demands the UK achieve net-zero emissions by 2025.

The G7 summit in Biarritz last month was also dominated by a row between France and Brazil over the Amazon fires after President Macron said the Earth’s “lungs” were burning. Ms Hickman said parents should talk to their children about global warming but should not say mankind is doomed.

“Parents need to find some words to talk about it that is age-appropriate and not terrifying,” she said.

“You need to separate what is fact from what is unknown: tell them some species are going extinct and some humans are being harmed, but don’t say we’re all going to die, because that isn’t true.”

“What you don’t want is that child to collapse in a well of depression saying “what’s the point in going to university”, or  “what’s the point of doing my exams”, which I have heard children say.”

The CPA recommends a four-stage approach to explaining responsibly climate change to children without scaring them.

Parents should first gradually introduce them to the known facts, then ask them how they feel, before acknowledging that the ultimate outcome is uncertain.

Finally, parents should agree practical steps to make a difference, such as by cutting down on non-recyclable waste and choosing food with a better climate footprint.

Eco-anxiety is steadily gaining recognition in the academic community. In 2017 a report by the American Psychological Association produced a report recognising its impact and calling for dedicated research into the mental health consequences of climate change.


California experience raises the caution flag on ‘green jobs’

California’s mixed record of using public investments and environmental mandates to create “green jobs” raises serious questions about the promises of some Democratic presidential candidates to use economy-transforming investments in environmentally friendly technologies to put millions of people to work.

Many of the initiatives touted by the candidates in their environmental plans are already in place in California, and some of them having been promoted as important engines of job creation. But California stopped counting green jobs in 2013, struggling to separate truly new jobs from existing employment growth.

As California's experience shows, reality doesn't always live up to projections. And while some of the most conservative estimates, like Warren's and Steyer's, appear reasonable based on California’s record, the state’s experience also reveals just how modest — and unimpressive — those goals would be for a 10-year period.

Most of the proposals being floated by candidates have analogues in California, which is now a decade into its quest to prove that economic growth and greenhouse gases are not inextricably linked. Where Biden wants to install 500,000 electric vehicle charging outlets by 2030, California has a target of 250,000 by 2025. Where Washington Gov. Jay Inslee had wanted to make new buildings zero-carbon by 2030, California has net-zero energy efficiency standards that require solar panels on all new homes. Where Warren proposes a National Institute of Clean Energy to fund cutting-edge research, California has its state Energy Commission, which spends some $250 million per year on grants and incentives for everything from batteries to hydrogen stations to electric school buses. Warren, Steyer and O'Rourke's "buy clean" requirements for the federal government match California's 2017 law requiring public projects to use low-emission steel, glass and insulation.

California’s experience is that jobs have materialized, but that it's been more trouble than it's worth to count them in the aggregate. While "green jobs" were the common argot in 2009, when Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act injected $790 billion into the economy, the term has fallen out of favor since — as has calculating its number.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics stopped tabulating green jobs in 2013, as did California’s Employment Development Department after it found "no discernible evidence that green firms were more likely to create jobs than non-green firms." A 2008 California law required the creation of a "green-collar jobs council" and annual reports to the legislature, but they dropped off in 2010.

"'Green jobs' is a strange and somewhat elusive category," said University of California, Davis economist Dave Rapson.

That's partly because the term encompasses many existing jobs, so it doesn't reflect the job creation goal that politicians are after. "The green job classification hasn't been particularly useful because the work is distributed among so many traditional industries," said Betony Jones, an adviser to government agencies and nonprofits on labor issues who used to work at the University of California, Berkeley Labor Center, which has done some of the most detailed thinking on the amorphous sector. "Where do you draw the line? Do you count recycling jobs but not garbage pickup jobs, and it's the same person?"

Some private groups have been the keepers of the green jobs flame. Over the 6-year period from 2013 to 2018, "advanced clean energy," including energy storage, hydropower, solar, nuclear, ethanol, alternatively fueled vehicles and building efficiency, added 130,350 jobs, according to figures compiled by a Steyer-funded think tank, Advanced Energy Economy. That's about 6.4 percent of California's total non-farm job growth of just over 2 million jobs.

Warren’s plan to create 1.2 million jobs over 10 years would add an average of 120,000 jobs per year, or about 5 percent of the U.S.'s annual job growth from 2013-2018. It would also lift GDP by 0.1 percent per year above a baseline assumption of 2.04 percent annual growth, according to an analysis of the plan the Warren campaign commissioned from Moody's. Steyer's plan to create 1 million jobs would add 100,000 jobs per year. While that's comparable to California's results, it's not exactly the economic "transformation" that Steyer touts.

"A million additional jobs over 10 years, that's not a very large number," said Rob Williams, an environmental economist at the University of Maryland and a university fellow with the think tank Resources For the Future who published a working paper earlier this month, which found job creation estimates are not a good rationale for making environmental policy decisions. "The natural amount of jobs created and destroyed every year are just enormously larger than that."

Larger estimates, like Inslee's and Sanders', likely don't reflect net job losses and gains from such labor market shifts, but focus just on the gains.

"In many cases, people are just trying to come up with the biggest number they can come up with," said Williams. "In many cases, what our modeling suggests is these are causing job shifts rather than net job creation. You create clean energy jobs, and you lose jobs in older industries."

Warren's plan, at least, has accounted for that. It assumes the oil and gas industry will lose 160,000 jobs over 10 years, according to Moody's chief economist Mark Zandi.

Sanders' 20 million figure doesn't include losses, according to the University of Vermont ecological economist who did the analysis, Jon Erickson. But he pointed out that Sanders' plan would help workers affected by ongoing declines.

"The economy is hemorrhaging jobs in the coal sector," he said, citing a nationwide decline in coal mining employment over the past 40 years from 250,000 jobs to 50,000 today. "Kentucky today has fewer coal jobs than it did when Trump took office. It's just heading that way, and no amount of wishful thinking is going to turn things around."

His analysis estimates 1.5 million jobs would be created in the wind industry and 3 million in home energy efficiency and weatherization.

"Certainly many of those jobs, you can be thinking of them as transition jobs that would replace losses that are already happening in other industries," Erickson said. "Rather than just let this naturally happen by market forces, the Green New Deal actually helps pay for the economic transition from a fossil fueled economy to a renewable energy fueled economy."

Overall, though, economists don't subscribe to theories of massive job creation. "The sort of standard economist take on all of this is pretty skeptical," said James Bushnell, another UC Davis economist. "Unless you're in a recession, creating jobs in one sector usually comes at the expense of reduced jobs in another sector." Indeed, California's oil and gas sector shrank by about 6,000 jobs from 2013-18, going from 21,000 to 15,000 jobs, according to state data.

At the least, California's forays into clean energy haven't dampened its juggernaut economy, which rebounded from the recession significantly faster than the national average. "What we know is California's economy has done very well, and we've invested a lot in clean energy," Bushnell said. "I don't know if we're at the point where we can point to causality there. I conclude from that that our investment in clean energy has not hurt the economy. I don't necessarily take it in the direction that it's stimulated growth."

One example that serves as an illustration of California's experience is an energy efficiency program that was put on the 2012 state ballot by none other than Steyer. While he is an outlier among presidential candidates in never having held public office, his decade of experience as the biggest self-appointed promoter of California’s energy policies is instructive.

"I think Steyer's probably the only one who knows what he's talking about who has experience with it," said Tom Dalzell, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245, the main union representing employees of the state's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric.

Steyer, who entered the presidential race in July but has already reached half of the polling levels required to qualify for the fall debates, cut his political teeth in California's clean energy world. He rose to prominence by defending the state's climate policies against a jobs argument at the peak of the recession, bankrolling the campaign against an oil company-sponsored ballot initiative in 2010 that would have suspended the state's greenhouse gas target until the unemployment rate — then at 12 percent — fell below 5.5 percent.

Coming off of that victory, he sponsored a 2012 initiative, Proposition 39, that closed a corporate tax loophole and devoted half of the proceeds to energy efficiency retrofits in schools. The Clean Energy Job Creation Fund, which handed out $1.5 billion through last year, provides a real-world comparison to national hypotheticals.

While Steyer argued at the time that it would create up to 40,000 jobs, the program has resulted in just 8,700 direct jobs, and 19,800 jobs in total including indirect jobs and increased economic activity, according to an analysis by the UC, Berkeley Labor Center.

Steyer's campaign said that the Prop. 39 job count reflected the fact that only half of the new spending went to schools. The other half went to the state's general fund, "where it goes to other state programs that create additional jobs," spokesperson Ben Gerdes said in an email. As for Steyer's current Climate Corps plan, it's only one part of his broader jobs plan, which will "create a regenerative economy for all Americans" through additional spending on infrastructure and clean energy standards, Gerdes said.

Prop. 39 also created fewer jobs than originally expected because the initiative ended up spending a larger share of funding on schools than envisioned. Efficiency retrofits at schools inherently produce fewer jobs than large, new construction projects, according to one of the key architects of the measure, which was written to give the legislature control over the purse strings.

"The key thing about jobs analysis is you cannot do them without knowing where the money's directed," said Kate Gordon, who served as head of energy and climate for the Steyer-founded think tank Center for the Next Generation and is now California Gov. Gavin Newsom's senior climate adviser, as well as director of the state's planning and research agency. "There was a faction of people who wanted it to be used for commercial real estate and new buildings and upgrades. Those projects create a lot of jobs."

Gordon also previously served as co-director of the Apollo Alliance, the group of environmentalists and labor unions that came up with a plan to spend $500 billion to create 5 million green jobs. That jobs number made it into Obama's 2008 presidential platform, but didn't fully materialize — despite the 2009 stimulus package -- because it also included a national clean energy standard and a national carbon price, neither of which came to pass, Gordon pointed out.

California has both of those policies. And the biggest single clean energy job engine for the state has indeed been its renewable energy requirements for utilities, which UC Berkeley researchers have credited with creating 52,000 "job-years" from 2003-2014. That's about 4,300 jobs per year on average, but is more heavily weighted toward the later years, when installations accelerated to about 10,000 jobs per year.

There's been no recent analysis of the number of jobs created from Californnia's cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases, which has so far generated about $10 billion through the sale of emissions permits. But a quarter of the revenue has gone to the state's high-speed rail system, which last year trumpeted the creation of 2,000 construction jobs to date. A 2018 study estimated that the first four years of cap-and-trade proceeds — $2.2 billion — had created 19,700 jobs and an additional 55,900 jobs indirectly.

While the numbers aren't huge, the jobs are meaningful to the people who have them. "The Green New Deal says a bunch of things to a bunch of people and it means something different to everybody, but it was pretty strong about creating new work for union workers," Jones said. "And California has a pretty good track record on that."

California’s green-collar jobs council has since morphed into state training programs, which received $12 million in funding from Prop. 39 to train disadvantaged workers, including women, foster youth and formerly incarcerated people. The programs placed 1,721 people into jobs, out of 2,609 people trained. They're now getting funding from the cap-and-trade auctions, as well as the gas tax increase approved by lawmakers in 2017.

“We're going back to the old days of New Deal, big public investments and putting language in those investments,” said Tim Rainey, the executive director of the Workforce Development Board, which oversees the training programs.

The trainees are placed as apprentices in jobs being done by union members, including high-speed rail. A particular beneficiary is the Building and Construction Trades Council, which has been one of the most stalwart defenders of oil industry jobs.

The lesson California has learned is not to focus on big-picture numbers. "To the extent it's possible, it's really important to step away from the specific job number," Gordon said. "This is going to take a rethinking of the way we build infrastructure, buildings, transportation networks, grids, the way we do capital stock turnover of existing companies, infrastructure, everything."

But jobs are still a potent argument in the state legislature, where environmentalists are working to convince unions to stop lobbying against climate policies in favor of continued reliance on fossil fuels. Unions are a swing vote: Sometimes they side with environmentalists, as in their opposition to a bill this session, CA SB386 (19R), that would have let utilities count existing large-scale hydropower dams towards their renewable electricity requirements — with the attendant effect of reducing the need for new construction projects.

Other times, union workers ally with oil and gas companies, as they did to torpedo CA AB345 (19R), a bill this year that would have curbed oil production and jobs by establishing a 2,500-foot buffer zone between new oil and gas wells and homes, schools, hospitals and playgrounds.

Labor unions have also opposed a years-long effort by renewable energy companies and some environmental groups to coordinate California's electricity grid more closely with surrounding states, because it would enable renewable energy projects to move to right-to-work states. But IBEW 1245 agreed last year to shut down the state's last nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, by 2025, and the union points to the labor agreements it secured as a potential example for how to transition away from fossil fuels. It's now working with other unions representing oil and gas workers to figure out a "just transition" for them.

On the national level, candidates are also envisioning "just transitions." Sanders' plan would create "millions of good-paying, unionized jobs" in steel and auto manufacturing, construction, energy efficiency retrofitting, coding and server farms and renewable power plants. It would also guarantee fossil fuel workers' wages for up to five years and give them housing assistance, health care, pension support and either job placement or early retirement support.

But on the ground in California, Dalzell isn't optimistic about reaching a compromise with his fellow workers.

"Their on-the-ground reality is different than ours, and so they might have an approach some would consider to be 180 degrees out from ours," he said. "And then steelworkers who represent the refineries, they're very aggressive fighting anything about transportation efficiency, electrification of cars, and on other issues there are tensions."

Meanwhile, the jobs estimates will continue.

"Economists tend to be pretty skeptical that these effects are actually important, but they're clearly important for the politics, so there's this gap between the importance in the political world and the importance economists have paid to it,” Williams said.


EPA Touts ‘Accelerated’ Cleanup of Hazardous, Contaminated Sites

The Environmental Protection Agency has hit the acceleration button to clean up Superfund sites across the country on President Donald Trump’s watch, according to a new task force report detailing progress over the past two years.

The Superfund Task Force, commissioned in May 2017, developed a list of sites requiring the EPA’s “immediate and intense attention.”  Formally known as the “Administrator’s Emphasis List,” EPA officials released it in December 2017, less than a year after Trump took office.

The new task force report spotlights the sprawling Tar Creek Superfund site as one of several where the government has made “substantial progress.”

Tar Creek includes thousands of acres of lead and zinc mining areas in northeast Oklahoma, southeast Kansas, and southwest Missouri. Because of the site’s “complexity and size,” the report says, a cleanup that goes back to 1984 will take several more years to complete.

The work includes “plugging” abandoned wells and excavating contaminated soil in Ottawa County, Oklahoma. State and federal officials first became aware of potential environmental hazards in 1979, when water began rising to the surface from underground mines.

The EPA has joined with the state of Oklahoma and the Quapaw tribe of Native Americans in a yearlong effort to formulate a “strategic plan” for Tar Creek after it was added to the agency’s Emphasis List. The strategic plan, which will be released later this month, assesses cleanup needs, risks, and economic potential for the site.

“The work of the Superfund Task Force over the past two years is paying dividends for communities nationwide, including those near the Tar Creek Superfund site,” Regional Administrator Ken McQueen said in a press release.

“EPA will continue working with our partners toward a cleanup that will benefit the surrounding communities,” McQueen said.

The full Superfund Task Force report, released earlier this month, is available here.

EPA officials say they will continue to update the Emphasis List on a quarterly basis.

Related:  Trump’s EPA Outpaces Obama in Cleaning Up Hazardous Waste Sites

The Superfund program dates to 1980, when Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act. The legislation provides funds for cleaning up thousands of sites across the country laced with such contaminants as lead, asbestos, and dioxin-infused soil, as well as radiation.

Superfund sites include “manufacturing facilities, processing plants, landfills, and mining sites,” according to the EPA’s website.

Those sites with known or potential releases of “hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants” are placed on the agency’s National Priorities List.

In addition to its efforts aimed at what it calls expediting cleanup and remediation, the task force said it sought to reinvigorate “responsible party cleanup and reuse,” promote third-party private investment, boost redevelopment and revitalization among communities, and develop a strategy for stakeholder engagement. The EPA’s press release details how officials met some of these goals.

“Thanks to the hard work of EPA career officials, the Superfund Task Force has strengthened the program in numerous ways, from accelerating cleanups to promoting redevelopment to improving community engagement,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a written statement, adding:

The recommendations generated by the Task Force and applied by the Superfund program have directly improved the health and economic opportunity of thousands of people living near Superfund sites. We are taking concrete steps to ensure that the work of the Task Force continues to enhance the Superfund program moving forward.
The agency prepared an online storyboard highlighting the task force’s success stories across the country.


The case against fracking is based on ideology, not science

THE ENVIRONMENTAL CASE against fracking crumbled years ago. The economic case for it is unassailable. So why are leading Democratic presidential candidates intent on shutting down one of the most beneficial US innovations of the modern era?

Fracking — short for hydraulic fracturing — is the drilling method that launched an American energy renaissance. Though the technology isn't new, its application to formerly impenetrable underground rock formations has turned the United States into the world's leading producer of oil and natural gas. US energy independence, which as recently as a decade ago was a pie-in-the-sky slogan, is beginning to look realistic. Last November, the nation reached a singular milestone, exporting more oil and refined fuel than it imported. It was the first time since the early 1970s that America could claim the status of a net energy exporter. And all thanks to fracking.

At the same time — also thanks to fracking — America's carbon-dioxide emissions have plummeted.

By unleashing vast quantities of clean-burning natural gas, fracking dramatically changed the economics of electricity production. As natural gas grew more and more affordable, fewer and fewer power plants continued to burn coal. Indeed, more than half of all US coal-fired plants have closed over the past 10 years. According to the Energy Information Administration, 35 percent of America's electricity in 2018 came from natural gas; just 27 percent was from coal. No one would have thought those percentages were possible in 2000, when half of the nation's electricity was generated by coal-fired plants and less than one-sixth came from natural gas.

Because natural gas releases only half as much carbon dioxide as coal, the sweeping shift to gas-fueled plants has led to a dramatic reduction in America's greenhouse gas emissions. So dramatic, in fact, that no other nation matches it, as President Obama observed in his 2014 State of the Union address: "Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth."

For anyone who worries about climate change and is intent on carbon reduction, all this should be cause for rejoicing. Fracking, which has made it possible, should be extolled as a boon to environmental progress.

Yet while many mainstream Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and former California Governor Jerry Brown, have expressed support for fracking, at least three of the party's leading presidential candidates — Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Kamala Harris of California — want to do away with it. Warren declares that on her first day as president, she would issue an executive order to "ban fracking — everywhere." Harris told CNN this month that "there's no question" that she opposes it. Sanders, for his part, came out against fracking in 2016.

It's hard to make sense of such blind hostility to the technology that has done more than any other to expand the supply of clean, affordable energy. The candidates' rejectionism clearly isn't grounded in science. Many fracking foes raise alarms about groundwater contamination. But when the Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency exhaustively studied that issue, it reported that it could "not find evidence" that fracking was responsible for "systemic impacts on drinking water resources." Lisa Jackson, who headed the EPA during Obama's first term, told a congressional hearing in 2011 that she was "not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water."

Of course that isn't to say that fracking can never lead to problems. Like every technology or industrial process, it comes with costs as well as benefits. But that only means it should be carefully supervised and regulated, not banned outright. As it is, fracking is regulated by the states, though there are environmentalists who argue for stricter supervision. That's a position Warren/Sanders/Harris could adopt if their real interest was to craft a better energy policy. Their demand for a total end to fracking, however, is mere ideological posturing, unsupported by science.

To repeat, fracking has the support of many mainstream Democrats, some of whom actually are scientists. One of them is geologist John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado who recently quit the Democratic presidential race.

"Based on experience and science, I recognized that fracking was one of our very best and safest extraction techniques," Hickenlooper wrote in his 2016 memoir. "Fracking is good for the country's energy supply, our national security, our economy, and our environment."

A vow to "ban fracking — everywhere" may excite progressive extremists who hate the fossil-fuel industry and all its works. But it's the very opposite of a serious proposal, and the mark of a candidate unsuited for the White House.


Water storage in Australia at risk of falling behind population growth

There is no shortage of viable dam proposals but fanatical Greenie opposition derails most of them

The failure by governments of the largest states to build dams has placed water storage at risk of falling behind population growth.

An analysis revealed by Water Resources Minister David Littleproud has found that at current rates, water storage per person in NSW, Victoria and Queensland will fall by more than 30 per cent by 2030.

“The states have been responsible for urban water since federation and should be taking the lead,” Mr Littleproud said.  “They’re just not keeping up with their growing populations.”

On a tour of the drought-hit Stanthorpe region in his electorate of Maranoa in southern Queensland, Mr Littleproud also announced a committee had been established to help deliver drought resilience and preparedness programs to communities.

As reported by The Australian, the failure by the Coalition to push ahead water infrastructure projects it wants the states to build with the help of federal funding means that at the end of this term in government, it will not have seen a single major dam built or likely even started construction after nine years in office.

Only minor dam projects in Tasmania have been built on the Coalition’s watch. “Since 2003, of the 20 dams completed in Australia, 16 of them are in Tasmania,” Mr Littleproud said.

“If NSW, Queensland and Victoria don’t start building dams, their water storage capacity will fall by more than 30 per cent by 2030.”

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, who holds the water infrastructure portfolio, has created a new advisory body called the National Water Grid to coordinate funding for water infrastructure projects.

Mr Littleproud said while the federal government had offered $1.3 billion for new projects through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund in 2015, it “still had to drag most states kicking and screaming to build new dams.”

Apart from the decline in availability of municipal water to many towns, the lack of rain in the Murray-Darling Basin, couple with the federal government’s buy-backs of water licences from irrigators and more demand from horticulture, has sent the price of water for agriculture skyrocketing on the spot market.

“Building dams will make sure we still have clean drinking water in regional towns and bring down the price of water to produce food,” Mr Littleproud said.

“This is not just about agriculture, it’s about water security and food prices in our towns and capital cities.”

Mr Littleproud announced the Future Drought Fund Consultative Committee, describing it as “an important milestone in taking action on drought.”

The committee will develop the Drought Resilience Funding Plan for the fund, which begins with a $3.9 billion credit that will grow to $5 billion, he said.

“The Future Drought Fund was established to give drought-prone Australians the best tools to plan and prepare for drought and sustain their livelihoods and communities,” Mr Littleproud said.

The Consultative Committee will seek input directly from drought-vulnerable communities for the Drought Resilience Funding Plan.

“This committee is made up of people with track records of success in agricultural economics, managing climate risk, rural and regional development and natural resource management,” Mr Littleproud said.

Mr Littleproud said the committee’s chairman would be Brent Finlay, and the committee members Kate Andrews, Wendy Craik, Elizabeth Peterson and Caroline Welsh who would begin their work in Canberra later this month.



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