Monday, January 21, 2019

Pacific nations spooked by climate scare

Bainimarama and Rabuka are the leading figures in Fiji politics and both are fine and reasonable men.  Both have led military coups during their path to power but on all occasions did so bloodlessly.  They both now hold democratically elected posts.  But they are military men, not exactly steeped in world politics, so have understandably taken seriously all the Greenie shrieks about sea-level rise swamping Pacific atolls.

Most of the Fiji islands are volcanic in origin but there are a few lightly populated outlying coral atolls.  The volcanic islands, where almost all the people live, are too elevated to be affected to any significan extent by the Warmist projections of sea-level rise

And sea-level rise is largely a snark anyway.  As Nils Axel Morner peskily points out, it is mainly a product of "adjustments".  And some atolls are actually gaining in area anyway.  See Morner on Fiji here

Australia must not put the interests of a single industry above the lives of Pacific nations battling climate change, Scott Morrison has been firmly told.

At an official dinner in Fiji to mark a newly announced partnership between the two nations, Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama explicitly told Australia to do better.

He said the only way to guarantee the survival of Pacific island countries was for Australia to shift away from fossil fuels.

"I urged your predecessor repeatedly to honour his commitment to clean energy," Mr Bainimarama said on Thursday night in Suva.

"From where we are sitting, we cannot imagine how the interests of any single industry can be placed above the welfare of Pacific peoples and vulnerable people in the world over.

"Rising seas threaten whole communities, forcing them to endure the trauma of relocating from land they've endured for generations.

"Fijian farmers are watching their crops perish in soil that has been spoiled by the heightened salinity that is associated with sea level rise."

Mr Bainimarama said the evidence of climate change was clear in the disappearing coastlines in Bangladesh and worsening flooding in the United States.

"And in Australia as well, where soaring temperatures have reached record highs in several major cities just this week," he said.

"This cannot be written off as a difference of opinion.

"Consensus from the scientific community is clear and the existential threat posed to Pacific island countries is certain."

Mr Morrison responded in his speech, praising Mr Bainimarama for Fiji's global leadership on climate change.

"I pay respect in particular to Mr Bainimarama's international leadership on climate change and oceans," Mr Morrison said.

"You have heard him speak passionately about this this evening and it was that same passion he took into the leadership of the COP process over the past 12 months."

In Vanuatu on Wednesday, Mr Morrison promised Pacific nations Australia would directly fund projects tackling the impact of climate change.

But he said Vanuatu's leaders had not asked Australia to do more to curb emissions.


Pacific island nations are GROWING in area

Patterns of island change and persistence offer alternate adaptation pathways for atoll nations

Paul S. Kench et al.


Sea-level rise and climatic change threaten the existence of atoll nations. Inundation and erosion are expected to render islands uninhabitable over the next century, forcing human migration. Here we present analysis of shoreline change in all 101 islands in the Pacific atoll nation of Tuvalu. Using remotely sensed data, change is analysed over the past four decades, a period when [adjusted] local sea level has risen at twice the global average (~3.90 ± 0.4 mm.yr−1).

Results highlight a net increase in land area in Tuvalu of 73.5 ha (2.9%), despite sea-level rise, and land area increase in eight of nine atolls. Island change has lacked uniformity with 74% increasing and 27% decreasing in size. Results challenge perceptions of island loss, showing islands are dynamic features that will persist as sites for habitation over the next century, presenting alternate opportunities for adaptation that embrace the heterogeneity of island types and their dynamics.

Nature Communicationsvolume 9, Article number: 605 (2018)

Considering the total earth system, global warming and polar ice-melt will NOT lead to sea-level rise

Why would sea-level rise for global warming and polar ice-melt?

Aftab Alam Khan


Two major causes of global sea level rise such as thermal expansion of the oceans and the loss of land-based ice for increased melting have been claimed by some researchers and recognized by the IPCC. However, other climate threat investigators revealed that atmosphere–ocean modeling is an imperfect representation, paleo-data consist of proxy climate information with ambiguities, and modern observations are limited in scope and accuracy. It is revealed that global warming and polar ice-melt although a reality would not contribute to any sea level rise. Floating-ice of the polar region on melting would reoccupy same displaced volume by floating ice-sheets. Land-ice cover in the polar region on melting can reduce load from the crust to activate elastic rebound that would raise land for its isostatic equilibrium. Such characteristics would not contribute to sea level rise. Equatorial bulge, polar flattening, elevation difference of the spheroidal surface between equator and pole with lower in the pole, strong gravity attraction of the polar region and week gravity attraction of the equatorial region, all these phenomena would play dominant role in preventing sea level rise. Palaeo-sea level rise and fall in macro-scale (10–100 m or so) were related to marine transgression and regression in addition to other geologic events like converging and diverging plate tectonics, orogenic uplift of the collision margin, basin subsidence of the extensional crust, volcanic activities in the oceanic region, prograding delta buildup, ocean floor height change and sub-marine mass avalanche. This study also reveals that geophysical shape, gravity attraction and the centrifugal force of spinning and rotation of the earth would continue acting against sea level rise.

The Great Global Warming Hurricane Myth

hurricane florence damageHow often do we hear claims that there are more hurricanes than there used to be, or that they are now much more powerful? Such claims are bolstered by 24-hour news coverage, featuring dramatic images of extreme weather.

Newspapers and TV channels alike can get more viewers and readers with apocalyptic ‘Worse Than Ever’ headlines. Worse still, many such organizations are happy simply to make up facts to suit themselves.

For instance, last year the BBC baldly stated, in a supposedly factual piece, that ‘a warmer world is bringing us a greater number of hurricanes and a greater risk of a hurricane becoming the most powerful category 5’.

They were forced to retract this claim only after an official complaint, by which time the false information had gone ’round the world and back.

But what is the truth?

A study by the Global Warming Policy Foundation shows that hurricanes, in fact, are not getting more common, or stronger.

The most reliable data is for US landfalling hurricanes, for which the US Hurricane Research Division maintains records back to 1851. The data show no upward trend in hurricane frequency.

The record year for hurricanes was as long ago as 1886 when there were seven.

As for major hurricanes (category 3 and above), there was recently a record 12-year period without any making landfall in the United States, until Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017.

Hurricanes Irma and Harvey made headlines in 2017, and Michael again last year, all making landfall at category 4. Although these were hugely powerful storms, there have been much stronger ones in the past.

Since 1851, there have only been three category 5 hurricanes, the strongest. The most powerful of these was the Labor Day hurricane which hit Florida in 1935, followed by Camille in 1969 and Andrew in 1992.

Although it is unusual to have three category 4s in the space of two years, you have to go back to 2004 and Charley to find the previous one. By contrast, between 1945 and 1954, there were six category 4s. Three more followed in successive years from 1959 to 1961.

Reliable databases for all Atlantic hurricanes and global ones do not go as far back as those for the US. It is only since satellite monitoring began in the 1970s that we have had meaningful data globally.

Previously many hurricanes were either not spotted at all, or were underestimated in strength. Hurricane hunter aircraft were understandably reluctant to fly into the middle of the strongest storms, and this is likely to have affected the record.

The data that we do have, however, show no indication of any long-term trends.

It is true that there have been shorter-term trends. For instance, there is more Atlantic hurricane activity now than in the 1970s and 80s.

But this is generally accepted to be due to the ocean cycle known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). Go back to the 1940s and ’50s, and you find similar levels of activity to the present.

For example, while there have been 28 major Atlantic hurricanes in the last ten years, there were 39 in the 1950s. The record individual year was 1950 when there were eight.

Whenever a particularly bad storm comes along, there is always someone ready to claim that global warming made it worse. Bigger, stronger, wetter, fast-moving, slow-moving, earliest, latest, furthest north, longest-lasting. I could go on.

A classic example was Hurricane Florence, which brought very significant rainfall to North Carolina. However, what exacerbated Florence were some very specific localized weather conditions.

An unfortunate concatenation of prevailing wind directions meant that it stalled off the coast for a number of days, allowing high rainfall totals to build up.

There have been other hurricanes and tropical storms which have delivered more intensive rainfall over the US.

Hurricane Floyd, for instance, dumped much more rain than Florence, but this was spread over most of the US east coast as it quickly traveled north.

By contrast, Florence’s rainfall was concentrated over what was, in fact, a very tiny area.

The simple truth is that there have always been catastrophic hurricanes, and always will be. To blame them on global warming is to ignore the data and indulge a new form of green superstition.


6 Takeaways From New EPA Chief’s Confirmation Hearing

America is “the gold standard for environmental progress,” Andrew Wheeler, the president’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, told a Senate committee Wednesday during his confirmation hearing.

Committee Democrats, while accusing him of favoring the fossil fuel industry, avoided personal attacks on Wheeler, who took over as acting EPA administrator after Scott Pruitt’s resignation in July under partisan fire.

Wheeler highlighted the Trump administration’s regulatory reform agenda and its goals in an opening statement to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

“In 2018, EPA finalized 13 major deregulatory actions, saving Americans roughly $1.8 billion in regulatory costs,” Wheeler said. “To date, under President [Donald] Trump, EPA has finalized 33 major deregulatory actions saving Americans almost $2 billion. The U.S. is the gold standard for environmental progress.”

Wheeler said policymakers don’t need to make a trade-off between economically damaging government regulations and environmental protection.

“Through our deregulatory actions, the Trump administration has proven that burdensome federal regulations are not necessary to drive environmental progress,” he said. “Certainty and the innovation that thrives in a climate of certainty are key to progress.”

Democrats on the committee, however, said Wheeler is biased toward producers of coal and other fossil fuels and ignored the need to protect the environment and for “urgent action” to prevent catastrophic climate change.

They asked Wheeler, 54, to offer his opinion on the recent findings of the National Climate Assessment, an interagency government report, and the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Democrats also pressed Wheeler on his relationship with the coal industry and took the opportunity to comment on the partial government shutdown and its impact on the EPA’s ability to perform vital functions.

Committee Republicans credited Wheeler with working to “provide greater regulatory certainty” while upholding environmental standards. They cited his long record of public service, including work he previously did for the committee.

Wheeler, Pruitt’s deputy, assumed his responsibility for implementing key parts of Trump’s regulatory reform agenda. These included ending the practice of “sue and settle” and rolling back restrictions on the private sector that the administration viewed as costly and duplicative.

The Senate confirmed Wheeler to serve as deputy EPA administrator in April 2018, and this marked his second confirmation hearing in 14 months.

Prior to rejoining the agency, the Ohio native was Republican staff director for the same Senate committee.

A lawyer who was an Eagle Scout, Wheeler began his public career in the administration of President George H.W. Bush as a special assistant in the EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics.

Wheeler worked as a lobbyist for Murray Energy, a coal mining company based in Ohio. Robert E. Murray, the company’s founder and chief executive officer, is a prominent supporter of Trump and his name also came up.

Here are six key takeaways from Wheeler’s confirmation hearing.

1. Democrats Cast Wheeler as Extreme

Sen. Thomas Carper of Delaware, the panel’s ranking Democrat, set the tone with an opening statement in which he favorably compared Wheeler with his predecessor while objecting to Wheeler’s policy stances.

“Mr. Wheeler is certainly not the ethically bereft embarrassment that Scott Pruitt proved to be and—to be fair—he has engaged more frequently and substantively than Scott Pruitt with both Congress and EPA career staff,” Carper said, adding:

I knew that Mr. Wheeler and I would not always agree. But I hoped that he would moderate some of Scott Pruitt’s most environmentally destructive policies, specifically where industry and the environmental community are in agreement. Regrettably, my hopes have not been realized.

In fact, upon examination, Mr. Wheeler’s environmental policies appear to be just as extreme as his predecessor’s, despite the promises that Mr. Wheeler made when he first appeared before our committee.

Later in the hearing, Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., criticized Wheeler for describing concerns over climate change as an “issue” instead of a “crisis.”

“I think you are 100 percent wrong,” Markey told Wheeler. “We are having a climate crisis.”

Markey cited last fall’s National Climate Assessment, which draws from the EPA and 12 other federal agencies, to bolster his point. He also criticized Trump’s response to the report.

Markey: “How did President Trump respond when asked about the conclusion of the National Climate Assessment … ? He said, ‘I don’t believe it.’ Do you agree with Donald Trump?”

Wheeler: “I believe that President Trump was referring to the media reports of the assessment itself, and I question the media reports as well because they focused on the worst-case scenario and they also focused on one study that was not actually in the report. And that’s the study that said there would be a 10 percent hit to the GDP [without strong government action].”

2. Shutdown Politics

In the run-up to the hearing, some committee Democrats criticized Wheeler for making use of EPA staff to prepare amid the partial government shutdown, which began Dec. 22.

In a letter to the EPA, they expressed concern that Wheeler was operating in violation of a U.S. law that prohibits executive branch agencies from spending money or incurring obligations outside those provided by Congress or federal law.

Carper, among the Democrats to sign the letter, commented on how the shutdown affects federal workers and the public.

“With much of EPA shut down, rules are not being written. Drinking water and power plant inspections are not being performed,” Carper said, adding:

Superfund sites are not being cleaned up. The safety of new chemicals is not being assessed. Public meetings are being cancelled. Just as important, 14,000 furloughed EPA employees are unsure if they will be able to afford their mortgages, day care providers, or grocery and electricity bills. Some of those furloughed employees appear to have been asked to help prepare for this very hearing …

In his opening remarks, Wheeler noted that the EPA “deleted all or part of 22 [Superfund] sites from the National Priorities List” in fiscal 2018, calling it the “largest number of deletions in one year” since fiscal 2005.

“And we are in the process of cleaning up some of the nation’s largest, most complex sites and returning them to productive use,” he added.

3. Facts on Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., a leading skeptic of climate change, sought to set the record straight on the trend of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S.

Although Trump critics have blamed the administration’s “rollback” of environmental regulations for rising carbon dioxide emissions in 2018, Inhofe said these critics overlooked key facts.

The Oklahoma Republican cited an article from Forbes that said carbon dioxide emissions are still down 11 percent since 2005 and that the recent uptick can be attributed to robust economic growth. Inhofe invited Wheeler to comment.

“Our CO2 emissions peaked in 2005 and it’s been on a decline since then,” Wheeler said. “We believe, and I was just briefed on this by my career staff, that we are going to continue to see a decline in CO2 emissions.”

“We had an uptick in manufacturing and industrial output that brought our CO2 emissions up slightly,” he added, “but overall we don’t expect that to continue. The downward trend is going to continue in the long term.”

4.  Ties to Coal Industry Executive

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., who once proposed using a law designed to fight organized crime to prosecute individuals and organizations who don’t support his climate change agenda, characterized Wheeler as favoring fossil fuel interests.

Related: Secret Deal Among AGs to Prosecute Climate Change ‘Deniers’ Challenged in Court

Whitehouse asked Wheeler about his relationship with Murray, the coal industry executive who owns and operates Murray Energy. He focused on an “action plan” Murray had presented to the Trump administration.

“You have your thumb, wrist, forearm, and elbow on the scales in virtually every determination that you can in favor of the fossil fuel industry, and I think that is very unfortunate,” Whitehouse told Wheeler.

“We learned by published reports that on March 29, 2017, you attended a meeting between your client Bob Murray and Energy Secretary Rick Perry where this action plan was discussed.”

Whitehouse presented photos of the meeting, saying the “action plan” was in the room. He said the plan also was given to Pruitt and to Vice President Mike Pence.

At the time, Murray was a client of the lobbying firm where Wheeler worked.

Whitehouse: “Can you tell me now how many meetings with Trump administration officials for Bob Murray did you arrange, attempt to arrange, or attend, and with whom?”

Wheeler: “I didn’t try to arrange the meeting with Scott Pruitt. Someone else at my firm did that. The purpose of that meeting was talking about the relief … ”

Whitehouse, interrupting: “My question was quite specific, how many meetings with Trump administration officials did you arrange or attend for Mr. Murray?”

Wheeler: “The meeting with Secretary Perry, and then I believe we had an additional meeting at the White House. … But I did not arrange or attempt to arrange … ”

Whitehouse interrupted again, saying he would continue to pursue this line of questioning in writing.

5. Presidential Contenders and Climate Change

Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., both viewed as likely presidential contenders in 2020, asked Wheeler his views on climate change.

Sanders: “President Trump has indicated his belief that climate change is a hoax. … Do you agree?”

Wheeler: “I believe climate change is real and that man has an impact on it.”

Sanders: “The president has said that climate change is a hoax. Do you agree with him?”

Wheeler: “I have not used the hoax word myself.”

Sanders also expressed dismay that Wheeler did not refer to climate change in his opening statement.

Booker asked Wheeler about his views on the U.N.’s climate change report as well as the U.S. government assessment, highlighting dire forecasts in both documents.

“There’s this urgency to move as quickly as possible,” Booker said. “We face growing challenges not just now, but really over the next 25 years. … Why are you pulling back on regulations that will ultimately help us to deal with what our climate scientists say we need to do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?”

In response, Wheeler said he and his team are “moving forward on a proactive basis” to further reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

He cited the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, which replaced the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, as a key component of ongoing efforts.

6. Balancing Environment With Economy

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who chairs the committee, praised Wheeler for implementing regulatory reforms that balance environmental protection with economic growth.

Summing up his EPA tenure, Barrasso said:

Acting Administrator Wheeler has led efforts to issue commonsense regulatory proposals like the Affordable Clean Energy Rule and the revised definition of ‘Waters of the United States’; implement this committee’s 2016 bipartisan reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act in an effective and efficient manner; reduce lead exposure, including through the Federal Lead Action Plan; provide greater regulatory certainty to states, to tribes, localities, and to the regulated community; and improve enforcement and compliance assistance.



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