Friday, January 11, 2019

Donald Trump is threatening to cut off federal money to aid California’s deadly wildfires, claiming the money is being wasted

He's absolutely right.  Greenie meddling in forest management is killing people

In a tweet, the US President announced he has already ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to withhold funding for the state unless it takes measures to improve forest management.

“Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forrest fires that, with proper Forrest Management, would never happen,” Mr Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, local time. “Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!”

Critics on social media questioned whether Mr Trump could legally withhold FEMA money that has already been appropriated.

This isn’t the first time the US President has lashed out at California for its handling of the destructive wildfires. In November, he blamed wildfires across the state on “gross mismanagement” and threatened to stop federal payments unless officials addressed their strategy.

State officials and local firefighters have accused Mr Trump of not understanding the issues involved in fighting fires, adding that climate change has worsened the impact of the natural disasters.

Mr Trump’s latest funding threat comes as he continues to face criticism over the ongoing partial government shutdown, which affects some of FEMA’s operations. The shutdown has so far lasted 19 days, and counting.

The Northern California wildfire of 2018 killed at least 85 people and destroyed thousands of buildings across the state, obliterating the entire town of Paradise.

The natural disaster was the deadliest, most destructive wildfire in California history, leaving an overall damage cost of $23 billion, according to German insurance company Munich Re.


Head of Brazil's environmental agency resigns

The chief of Brazil's environmental protection agency resigned on Monday after the new government led by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro -- a critic of its treatment of mining and farm interests -- raised questions over its spending.

Suelly Araujo said in a letter to Environment Minister Ricardo Salles that she would step down on Tuesday as head of the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Resources, IBAMA. She had led the agency since June 2016.

Salles last week tweeted an excerpt from an Ibama contract signed in July 2018 for the rental of vehicles at a cost of 28.7 million reais ($7.8 million at current exchange rates).

"Nearly 30 million reais in car rentals for Ibama alone," Salles said in his post. That was retweeted -- then deleted -- by Bolsonaro, who added that his government was uncovering "mountains of irregularities."

Araujo said in her Instagram feed that she considered the comment to be "an unfounded accusation, which shows a total misunderstanding of the size of Ibama and its functions."

She said the contract covered the lease of 393 SUVs modified for patrolling forests, fighting fires, technical examinations across Brazil's 27 states, and included fuel, maintenance and insurance, with a vehicle turnover every two years.

Araujo noted that media reports had already "amply" spoken of a successor who she said was named by Bolsonaro's team even before he took office on New Year's Day.

Ibama's press service told AFP that Araujo had not officially received any notification that she was to be replaced.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly criticized Ibama for what he sees as overly slow action on environmental permits to timber, farming and mining companies, and a perceived zeal in handing out fines.

He has made it clear that he intends to put business interests above environmental ones to boost exploitation of Brazilian commodities and resources as part of a plan to boost the economy.


Prodding Trump’s EPA to reexamine Endangerment

Use external pressure to overcome Administration inertia on reviewing Endangerment Finding

William L. Kovacs

Campaign rhetoric strongly suggested that the Trump Administration would redress the Obama Administration’s insane attempts to regulate every aspect of society in a futile attempt to control nature and climate. President Trump withdrew from the Paris Accord, initiated repeal of the Clean Power Plan, sought a reasonable replacement for the plan, and turned off the regulatory fire hose. Great start!

But two years in, it is clear that the administration has stalled on dealing with the most significant part of Obama regulatory overreach: the 2009 Endangerment Finding – the Environmental Protection Agency’s declaration that plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere threaten the health and welfare of current and future generations.

While the Finding itself does not impose any new regulations, it does provide the administrative basis to justify a massive number of regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, data and facts asserted as supporting the Endangerment Finding (EF) drive many climate change studies, including the November 23, 2018 study titled Climate Change Special Report – Fourth National Climate Assessment Authoritative Report on the Science of Climate Change with a Focus on the United States.

Most unfortunate of all, while the evidentiary basis for the Endangerment Finding was subject to informal public comment and the scope of the Obama era Clean Power Plan was enjoined by a court, the studies underlying EPA’s Endangerment Finding have not been subjected to outside, independent expert analysis, nor tested in the rigors of cross-examination in a court or courtroom setting.

Simply put, without independent testing of the factual claims establishing its Finding, EPA retains the power to regulate all energy-producing and energy-using activities throughout the United States – and thus to regulate our production, consumption, transportation, employment base and living standards.

Since the climate change issue could not be resolved when the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House, it is even more improbable that a divided Congress could ever reach a compromise. Even worse, while EPA talked tough on climate change in the early days of the Trump Administration, it has since hung a “Do Not Disturb” sign on its front door.

So, what can citizens do in the next two years, knowing that neither Congress nor the administration will act to critically examine the supposed “facts” set forth in EPA’s Endangerment Finding?

My moral code prohibits me from saying “there is nothing we can do.” So I will set forth some modest proposals that can be taken up by younger people who have the energy and willingness to discover, highlight and dramatize the true facts and evolving knowledge underlying the science of climate change.

First and foremost, EPA must release all of its climate studies. It might surprise some, but many of the foundational studies have never been publicly released or are so old they are corrupted. In a similar case, amid my 20-year effort to obtain the “Six-City” health study, EPA told me in the late 1990s that the information belonged to Harvard University. A few years later, when I sought it under the Data Access law, EPA said information in the studies was developed before 2000 and the law was not retroactive. The Bush administration responded to my FOIA with documents that were so redacted that the only readable words were the “to” and “from” on the first page. And finally, the Obama administration told me the studies could not be produced because the information is now too corrupted to be usable.

But this is not about the lack of transparency in government. It is about obtaining and analyzing EPA’s climate data and studies, so that the science underlying the Endangerment Finding can be tested. That means you should not pre-judge any of the studies. You must let the analysis of facts in the studies be your guide. This is essential, because otherwise environmentalist groups, the news media, left-leaning politicians and others with a stake in the 2009 Finding will paint the entire effort as an attempt to destroy the planet and human civilization.

This search for the facts is crucial since establishing the facts is essential for developing the right policies for now and for after the Trump administration is gone. If the science proves the EF is solidly supported by the evidence, we will all know that we must develop and implement the very costly policies needed for mitigation. If the facts prove the Finding is faulty or highly uncertain, then the nation could save trillions of dollars by not implementing numerous useless projects. Here are my suggestions:

1) File a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requesting from EPA a list of all climate studies it has undertaken and links to the electronic version of the Endangerment Finding studies. A citizen friendly EPA should be most willing to provide the list of and link to the studies.

2) Should EPA provide this list and links, scientists from around the world could review the quality of the studies by evaluating them under the standards of review set out in the OMB Information Quality Act (IQA) Guidance Document: peer review, objectivity, reproducibility and similar standards. There are likely thousands of studies, so the essential first task is to identify the most influential studies, of which there are likely only a few.

3) A similar request could be filed under the Data Access Law for studies performed after 1999.

4) For the most influential studies, request that EPA provide the underlying data so that the actual data can be tested in accordance with the IQA Guidance Document. The government paid for and owns this data, so it should be available to citizens to test its reliability, reproducibility and the peer review quality.

5) When the most influential studies are identified and the underlying data secured, hire a team of forensic data scientists to analyze the data used in EPA’s studies, to determine whether the studies’ authors used the data properly … or used them in ways that supported a personal bias. For the most influential studies, the forensic data team should also review the emails that relate to the government study.

6) Concurrently, a group of non-scientists should compile a list of the scientists who performed the studies, the amounts the scientists were paid, potential conflicts of interest, the total number of federal grants each scientist received, and the qualifications of each scientist working on the climate studies.

7) Establish a review board of independent, non-political climate experts to determine the soundness of the facts underlying the Endangerment Finding. If the facts are sound, the matter is settled.

8) If the facts are judged not to support the EF or if they establish a high degree of uncertainty, then it is essential that a Petition for Rulemaking be presented to EPA to conform its Endangerment Finding with the data. If it is granted, then the process of getting the facts corrected will start.

9) If EPA denies the petition, the matter should be taken to federal trial court to challenge the arbitrariness of EPA’s decision. Keep in mind: this crazy idea to challenge an EPA denial of a petition for rulemaking in court is exactly the process that environmental groups used to win the Massachusetts v. EPA case in the Supreme Court. Just don’t forget – you need to include a few states to have standing to sue.

What is outlined is a long, long shot. It requires that EPA make government-owned scientific data available to the public for review. It assumes the Trump administration will be open to such a process and can make it happen in two years. It assumes that funds can be raised to hire the best scientists in the world to analyze the facts and defend them in court, if necessary. Finally, to paraphrase Colonel Jessup in the movie “A Few Good Men,” it assumes that both sides will be prepared to handle the truth.

But at least we will all have attempted to find the truth behind the Endangerment Finding, so our country will have the best information possible on which to make some very expensive and far-reaching public policy decisions.

Via email

Are the Greenie bike-riders getting tired of it?

As a correspondent said to me: "Sports cars are more fun, attract more women, they get you to work quicker and you arrive fresh and dry"

by Jeff Jacoby

SEATTLE IS one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the United States — by one reckoning, the most bicycle-friendly. It's also a city in which bike commuting is rapidly losing its appeal. In 2017, according to recent Census Bureau data, a mere 2.8 percent of Seattle's workforce commuted to work by bicycle. That was down from 3.5 percent in 2016, and from 4 percent in 2015. The Seattle Times reports that bike commuting in the Emerald City has fallen to its lowest level in a decade. In raw numbers, the number of people cycling to work in Seattle has plunged from a peak of 16,000 to fewer than 12,000 — a decline of one-fourth.

It isn't only Seattle where the bloom is off the cycling rose. Between 2016 and 2017, bicycle commuting dropped by 12.1 percent in Boston, by 13.7 percent in Atlanta, by 19.9 percent in San Francisco, and by 24.1 percent in Austin. Nationwide, the average number of Americans using a bike to get to work fell to just 836,569, a decrease of 3.2 percent over the past year. It was the third consecutive annual decrease — at a time when the number of US workers is climbing. (Note: The Census Bureau asks about biking only in the context of commuting.)

Considering the billions of dollars that federal, state, and local governments have poured into bicycle infrastructure over the past decade, the steady drop in cycling amounts to a sharp vote of no confidence in bicycles as the much-touted wave of transportation's future. So maybe it's time for public officials and policymakers to turn their backs on the militant, self-righteous bike lobby and its fantasy of a world in which drivers defer to cyclists as the rightful kings of the road. Bicycles — nimble, healthful, non-polluting, cheap — have many advantages. But they don't belong in crowded urban traffic.

There could be a number of reasons for the drop in bicycle commuting. Americans overwhelmingly prefer to travel by car, and lower gasoline prices are making it easier for them to do so. At the same time, more Americans are working from home, and so don't commute at all. It is also plausible, as the head of the California Bicycle Coalition told USA Today, that some commuters have switched from biking to ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.

Plainly, however, tens of thousands of Americans have had second thoughts about cycling to their jobs. And that's despite the recent mania for inserting bike lanes into city streets, which has everywhere disadvantaged the vast majority of commuters who drive in order to accommodate the tiny minority who bike.

Subtracting or squeezing already-crowded car lanes for the benefit of cyclists is a terrible idea. As bicycle lanes have worsened traffic congestion, they have led to a "bikelash" in communities as disparate as Los Angeles, Memphis, and Boise, Idaho. The doctrine that cars, buses, and trucks should "share the road" with bicycles sounds egalitarian and green, but it's as impractical as expecting motor vehicles to "share" urban thoroughfares with skateboards and strollers. The chief function of those roads is to keep people and goods moving as rapidly, efficiently, and safely as possible. Bike lanes unavoidably impede that function — often to the detriment of bike riders themselves.

"Cyclists are at high risk when they're on the road," observed environmentalist Lawrence Solomon in Canada's Financial Post. Citing data from Canada and Europe, he noted that the accident rate for bicycles is at least 26 times the rate for cars, explaining that dedicated bike lanes are more likely to cause accidents, especially when cyclists and drivers turn or cross at intersections. Within the European Union, cyclists accounted for 12 percent of all urban road deaths as of 2017. In the almost obsessively bike-friendly Netherlands, wrote Solomon, a whopping two-thirds of individuals seriously injured in road accidents were bicycle riders — the majority of them hurt not by cars but by poor road conditions or the cyclist's own negligence.

In the United States, meanwhile, the Transportation Department reports that the number of annual cyclist fatalities climbed 20 percent between 2007 and 2016.

For drivers and cyclists alike, the roads can be a challenge, clogged and dangerous. Where street space is scarce and traffic is heavy, bicycle lanes simply don't work. They may initially have seemed appealing, but Americans know better now. Commuting by bike is not the wave of our urban future. It's just another overrated utopian scheme.


Australian Warmists spin like a top

How do you spin a COOLING temperature?  You call it the third warmest!  Both statements are true but their implications differ greatly, though neither foretells the future. Below is the graph put out by Australia's great temple of Warmism, the BoM -- well-known "fiddlers" of temperature data

It shows a roughly one degree temperature increase since about 1960.  Australia is not the world, however, so a more informative graph is the global satellite record, the only truly global measure of temperature

The satellites show about a 0.2 degree rise on average since 1999.  That is one fifth of one degree Celsius. One fifth of one degree -- that tiny amount is enough to keep Warmists tumescent. But you may understand that skeptics vary between saying it is trivial to saying it is not significant at all.

But that's not all of the bad news for warmism.  The satellite graph shows clearly that the temperature has been DECLINING since 2016.  Are we entering a period of global cooling?  Could be.  The truth however is that nobody knows.  Temperatures on earth have been warmer and have been cooler.  Anything is possible.

Temperatures have risen in fits and starts over the last century or so but nobody knows why and nobody can tell whether or for how long that will continue.  The one certainty is that temperatures do not remotely track CO2 levels.  From 1945 to 1975 global temperatures stayed flat on average while CO2 levels rose sharply.  That is a total contradiction of Warmist theory

2018 was Australia’s third hottest year on record. You’re not imagining it, it really is hot out there. And, no, it’s not just summer as usual. The last 12 months have been abnormally hot.

If you thought it was hotter than usual last year, you weren’t wrong. Climate experts have confirmed it was Australia’s third-warmest year on record, with every state and territory recording above average temperatures in 2018.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BOM) annual climate statement, the nation’s average temperature last year was 1.14C above the average for 1961-1990, making 2018 slightly warmer than 2017.

“When we look across all of Australia in 2018, we can see that every single state and territory had above average day and night-time temperatures,” the Bureau’s senior climatologist Lynette Bettio said in a statement on Thursday.

Only 2005 and 2013 were warmer.

Nine of the 10 warmest years on record in Australia have occurred since 2005. Dr Bettio said the only part of the country to buck the trend for above average temperatures was Western Australia’s Kimberley Region, which had cooler than average nights for the year.

The BOM also said rainfall totals in Australia in 2018 were the lowest since 2005.

The total was 11 per cent below the 1961-1990 average, but many areas experienced significantly lower average rainfalls, the bureau found. Dr Bettio said large areas of southeast Australia had rainfall totals in the lowest 10 per cent on record.

New South Wales had its sixth-driest year on record while the Murray-Darling Basin had its seventh driest.

However, some parts of northern Australia and southeast Western Australia received above-average rainfall totals.

The Bureau’s statement follows a run of exceptionally high temperatures around the nation late last month, along with a prolonged heatwave in Queensland in late November and early December.

Globally, 2018 was the fourth-warmest year on record, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service assessment, released on Tuesday. The last four years have seen the highest average temperatures globally since records began in the 19th century.



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


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