Monday, July 22, 2019

Environmental overreach again?

An email from  Robert Henneke []

Subject: Combat veteran at risk of jail time… over a spider

My name is Rob Henneke. I’d like to tell you about the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s lawsuit to defend a Texan war veteran’s private property rights against the federal government.

My client is John Yearwood. Mr. Yearwood served our country in Vietnam, is a decorated combat veteran, and lives on the land in Central Texas that his family has owned for generations. But because the federal government says that there might be an obscure cave spider species (one that he's never even seen) somewhere on his property, he could be held responsible if any guests on his property were to ever do something that might disturb that spider.

This puts Mr. Yearwood and his private property rights in limbo. It's also unconstitutional, so that's why we are suing the federal government to get them to leave him alone and to leave his private property rights alone. I'm asking that you'll join that fight. If you'll join us, we can have the resources to represent Mr. Yearwood and other great Americans like him and push back against federal overreach, as well as defend the constitution.

You can sign the petition in support of Mr. John Yearwood here:

I hope you'll join us, and I thank you for your support.

Robert Henneke, General Counsel and Director of the Center for the American Future

“We Had Expected More Melting” — Thick Arctic Ice Forces Norwegian Research Vessel And Icebreaker To Turn Back At Svalbard

The Norwegian research vessel and icebreaker Kronprins Haakon (Crown Prince Haakon) was forced to turn back north of Svalbard after meeting considerably thicker ice than expected.

Thick one-year ice combined with large batches of multi-year ice have merged to form powerful helmets, and several of these are impenetrable to us, said Captain Johnny Peder Hansen.

The ice is still 3m (10ft) thick, in mid-July! Even the researchers’ long special-purpose chainsaws proved hopeless, while the 20,000 horsepower Kronprins Haakon, at a cost of USD $175 million, failed miserably at attempts to push through.

“In the middle of July, we saw a few signs of thawing and [assumed] that spring had come, said Captain Hansen, who for several decades has worked on various vessels in the Arctic. “We had expected more melting.”

Klassekampen, a respected left-leaning Norwegian newspaper writes: “Polar bears were seen on Bjørnøya this past winter –located in the middle of the Barents Sea– which shows that the ice edge was very far south.”

“Winter conditions have changed,” concludes the paper. The cold times have returned, in line with historically low solar output:


10 fallacies about Arctic sea ice & polar bear survival: teachers & parents take note

By Susan Crockford.  Susan has been a student of Arctic biology for many years

1. `Sea ice is to the Arctic as soil is to a forest`. False: this all-or-nothing analogy is an specious comparison. In fact, Arctic sea ice is like a big wetland pond that dries up a bit every summer, where the amount of habitat available to sustain aquatic plants, amphibians and insects is reduced but does not disappear completely. Wetland species are adapted to this habitat: they are able to survive the reduced water availability in the dry season because it happens every year. Similarly, sea ice will always reform in the winter and stay until spring. During the two million or so years that ice has formed in the Arctic, there has always been ice in the winter and spring (even in warmer Interglacials than this one). Moreover, I am not aware of a single modern climate model that predicts winter ice will fail to develop over the next 80 years or so. See Amstrup et al. 2007; Durner et al. 2009; Gibbard et al. 2007; Polak et al. 2010; Stroeve et al. 2007.

2. Polar bears need summer sea ice to survive.  False: polar bears that have fed adequately on young seals in the early spring can live off their fat for five months or more until the fall, whether they spend the summer on land or the Arctic pack ice. Polar bears seldom catch seals in the summer because only predator-savvy adult seals are available and holes in the pack ice allow the seals many opportunities to escape (see the BBC video below). Polar bears and Arctic seals truly require sea ice from late fall through early spring only. See Crockford 2017, 2019; Hammill and Smith 1991:132; Obbard et al. 2016; Pilfold et al. 2016; Stirling 1974; Stirling and Oritsland 1995; Whiteman et al. 2015.

3. Ice algae is the basis for all Arctic life. Only partially true: plankton also thrives in open water during the Arctic summer, which ultimately provides food for the fish species that ringed and bearded seals depend upon to fatten up before the long Arctic winter. Recent research has shown that less ice in summer has improved ringed and bearded seal health and survival over conditions that existed in the 1980s (when there was a shorter ice-free season and fewer fish to eat): as a consequence, abundant seal populations have been a boon for the polar bears that depend on them for food in early spring. For example, despite living with the most profound decline of summer sea ice in the Arctic polar bears in the Barents Sea around Svalbard are thriving, as are Chukchi Sea polar bears - both contrary to predictions made in 2007 that resulted in polar bears being declared `threatened' with extinction under the Endangered Species Act. See Aars 2018; Aars et al. 2017; Amstrup et al. 2007; Arrigo and van Dijken 2015; Crawford and Quadenbush 2013; Crawford et al. 2015; Crockford 2017, 2019; Frey et al. 2018; Kovacs et al. 2016; Lowry 2016; Regehr et al. 2018; Rode and Regehr 2010; Rode et al. 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018.

4. Open water in early spring as well as summer ice melt since 1979 are unnatural and detrimental to polar bear survival. False: melting ice is a normal part of the seasonal changes in the Arctic. In the winter and spring, a number of areas of open water appear because wind and currents rearrange the pack ice - this is not melt, but rather normal polynya formation and expansion. Polynyas and widening shore leads provide a beneficial mix of ice resting platform and nutrient-laden open water that attracts Arctic seals and provides excellent hunting opportunities for polar bears. The map below shows Canadian polynyas and shore leads known in the 1970s : similar patches of open water routinely develop in spring off eastern Greenland and along the Russian coast of the Arctic Ocean. See Dunbar 1981; Grenfell and Maykut 1977; Hare and Montgomery 1949; Smith and Rigby 1981; Stirling and Cleator 1981;  Stirling et al. 1981, 1993.

5. Climate models do a good job of predicting future polar bear habitat. False: My recent book, The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened, explains that the almost 50% decline in summer sea ice that was not expected until 2050 actually arrived in 2007, where it has been ever since (yet polar bears are thriving). That is an extraordinarily bad track record of sea ice prediction. Also, contrary to predictions made by climate modelers, first year ice has already replaced much of the multi-year ice in the southern and eastern portion of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, to the benefit of polar bears. See also ACIA 2005; Crockford 2017, 2019; Durner et al. 2009; Hamilton et al. 2014; Heide-Jorgensen et al. 2012; Perovich et al. 2018; Stern and Laidre 2016; Stroeve et al. 2007; SWG 2016; Wang and Overland 2012.

6. Sea ice is getting thinner and that's a problem for polar bears.  False: First year ice (less than about 2 metres thick) is the best habit for polar bears because it is also the best habitat for Arctic seals. Very thick multi-year ice that has been replaced by first year ice that melts completely every summer creates more good habitat for seals and bears in the spring, when they need it the most. This has happened especially in the southern and eastern portions of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (see ice chart below from Sept 2016). Because of such changes in ice thickness, the population of polar bears in Kane Basin (off NW Greenland) has more than doubled since the late 1990s. See Atwood et al. 2016; Durner et al. 2009; Lang et al. 2017; Stirling et al. 1993; SWG 2016.

7. Polar bears in Western and Southern Hudson Bay are most at risk of extinction due to global warming. False: Ice decline in Hudson Bay has been among the lowest across the Arctic. Sea ice decline in Hudson Bay (see graphs below) has been less than one day per year since 1979 compared to more than 4 days per year in the Barents Sea. Hudson Bay ice decline also uniquely happened as a sudden step-change in 1998: there has not been a slow and steady decline. Since 1998, the ice-free season in Western Hudson Bay has been about 3 weeks longer overall than it was in the 1980s but has not become any longer over the last 20 years despite declines in total Arctic sea ice extent or increased carbon dioxide emissions. See Castro de la Guardia et al. 2017; Regehr et al. 2016.

8. Breakup of sea ice in Western Hudson Bay now occurs three weeks earlier than it did in the 1980s. False: Breakup now occurs about 2 weeks earlier in summer than it did in the 1980s. The total length of the ice-free season is now about 3 weeks longer (with lots of year-to-year variation). See Castro de la Guardia et al. 2017; Cherry et al. 2013; Lunn et al. 2016; and vidoe below, showing the first bear spotted off the ice at Cape Churchill, Western Hudson Bay, on 5 July 2019 - fat and healthy after eating well during the spring:

9. Winter sea ice has been declining since 1979, putting polar bear survival at risk. Only partially true: while sea ice in winter (i.e. March) has been declining gradually since 1979 (see graph below from NOAA), there is no evidence to suggest this has negatively impacted polar bear health or survival, as the decline has been quite minimal. The sea ice chart at the beginning of this post shows that in 2019 there was plenty of ice remaining in March to meet the needs of polar bears and their primary prey (ringed and bearded seals), despite it being the 7th lowest since 1979.

10. Experts say that with 19 different polar bear subpopulations across the Arctic, there are "19 sea ice scenarios playing out" (see also here), implying this is what they predicted all along. False: In order to predict the future survival of polar bears, biologists at the US Geological Survey in 2007 grouped polar bear subpopulations with similar sea ice types (which they called `polar bear ecoregions,' see map below). Their predictions of polar bear survival were based on assumptions of how the ice in these four sea ice regions would change over time (with areas in purple and green being similarly extremely vulnerable to effects of climate change). However, it turns out that there is much more variation than they expected: contrary to predictions, the Barents Sea has had a far greater decline in summer ice extent than any other region, and both Western and Southern Hudson Bay have had relatively little (see #7). See Amstrup et al. 2007; Crockford 2017, 2019; Durner et al. 2009; Atwood et al. 2016; Regehr et al. 2016.

SOURCE. H/T Climate Lessons

America’s Garbage ‘Problem’ Concocted by Trashy Data
Too often, environmental analysis is garbage-in, garbage-out, treating readers with lopsided data presented to support a predetermined conclusion. To fit the narrative that the US has an unsustainable trash problem, a July report by the global risk analysis group Verisk Maplecroft emphasizes that the US is responsible for 12 percent of the world’s trash, despite only having 4 percent of the world’s population.

Despite the report’s findings and pessimistic take on the US, America does just fine in proper waste disposal and can successfully take out its own trash with minimal environmental consequences. Regulations on plastics, discussed in the report and trumpeted endlessly by environmental groups and international governmental organizations such as the European Union (EU) and United Nations, would only mean higher prices and worse products for consumers.

The report claims that the global trash crisis is “primarily driven by plastics.” This narrative plays right into the environmental left’s drive to ban plastic products and stick consumers with costly, inferior alternatives. Already, the left-leaning video news outlet NowThis has piled on, excoriating the US for having a trash problem and failing to take action to reduce its “waste footprint.” But according to more rigorous analysis, the United States – and other Western countries – largely keep their trash out of ecology’s way.

According to a 2018 analysis by University of Oxford scholars Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser, high-income countries in North America (including the US) and most of Europe keep their used plastic “stored in secure, closed landfills. Across such countries almost no plastic waste is considered inadequately managed.” Contrast this to the situation “across many countries in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, [where] between 80-90 percent of plastic waste is inadequately disposed of, and therefore at risk of polluting rivers and oceans.”

The Verisk Maplecroft report does correctly point out that America only recycles about a third of its waste. But that ignores promising alternatives such as clean incineration, which turns waste into electricity on a large scale complete with comprehensive safeguards against pollution (i.e. carbon injections to absorb heavy metals, dioxins and furans). The old argument about incineration being terrible for the environment no longer holds; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that burns emit far less sulfur dioxide, mercury, and dioxins than they did thirty years ago. And of course, it doesn’t make sense to recycle everything anyway (as opposed to leaving it in the trash heap).

Sure, even countries with very competent waste management systems can always do better. But there comes a point when the benefits of “doing something” would impose substantial costs on the population, with pollution barely budging downward. Paper straws cost at least five times more than plastic straws, and costs quickly add up when consumers in the US and EU likely use a combined 400 million straws per day.

Using a back of the envelope calculation, consumers across the developed world would have to shell out a total of $2 billion more per year on straws alone. These resources could’ve been used for other things such as feeding the homeless or helping opioid addicts get the treatment they need. Instead, policies are sucking this money out of the economy to reach an unattainable standard that experts agree won’t make a dent in the global plastics crisis. Additionally, paper straws are inherently less reliable than their traditional counterparts, and are impossible for many disabled persons to use. Meanwhile, alternatives such as metal straws can actually be dangerous (in addition to making that cringey clanking sound on the teeth). In fact, according to a recent news report, a woman died from being impaled by a metal straw.

But, fueled by alarming photos of suffering animals and littered coastline that negate any nuance, these sorts of environmental calls to action seem to take place in every generation. First there was Rachel Carson’s crusade against the popular pesticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), which Carson claimed was wreaking havoc on human and animal health. The truth was far more complicated, and the government DDT bans promulgated as a result of Carson’s anecdote-heavy work led to increased malaria rates in India, Sri Lanka, and South Africa.

This generation, armed with of pictures of sea turtles with plastic straws affixed to their noses, has prompted calls for action to ban or severely limit the use of plastics. Activists have pinpointed a legitimate problem; plastic in the ocean can have a terrible impact on marine life. But they seem unable to identify the real source of the issue, which is developing countries in Asia and Africa. It is simply not politically correct to blame developing countries for a problem when the United States is a good boogey man.

Instead of jumping down the rabbit hole of plastic prohibition and expensive recycling initiatives, policymakers should work to curb pollution at its source. Poor and developing countries chronically underinvest in waste management and anti-littering enforcement because they’re focusing on problems more immediate to them such as hunger, strife, and disease. Jumpstarting development in these countries won’t be easy, but the least policymakers in the European Union and the US can do is encourage the exchange of goods without tariffs and trade restrictions. African countries are already taking the first step in this process, having recently formed a free-trade area across the continent.

These steps are far more promising than fear mongering over waste in developed countries and pursuing misguided policies that would cost consumers dearly. Policymakers should take a long, hard look at the evidence, instead of jumping to misguided conclusions based on trashy data sources.


Another prominent Australian Greenie attacks windmills

Greens leader Richard Di Natale has backed his predecessor Bob Brown’s concerns about a proposed wind farm on Tasmania’s Robbins Island, saying it needs to be subject to a thorough planning process.

Dr Brown told The Australian this week the wind farm was comparable to the Franklin Dam, and yesterday condemned the company behind the proposal, UPC Renewables, as a “profit-seeking multinational”. He has shocked many with his objections after supporting earlier wind farm developments in the state.

Asked whether it was a sign of renewable energy’s success that it’s now embraced by corporations “big and profitable enough to offend the Greens”, Senator Di Natale told Insiders the substance of Dr Brown’s criticism was the impact of the project on the local environment.

“This is an area where you’ve got migratory bird species, many of them threatened, nesting shore birds, and that’s why it needs to be subject to a thorough planning process,” Senator Di Natale said.

“The reality is that the Greens are very strong supporters of renewable energy.

“We understand that coal is the central problem when it comes to climate change, that we have to transition away from coal to renewable energy.

“Under Bob, we had a big hand in establishing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation that has meant billions of dollars flowing into wind projects and solar projects, but even the strongest supporters of those projects wouldn’t say that every single site in the country is suitable site.

“You wouldn’t put offshore wind farms on the Great Barrier Reef or solar panels on the Opera House.”

Senator Di Natale said the details of the Robbins Island proposal weren’t yet clear.

“When there is a final proposal it will be subject to a whole bunch of planning laws,” he said.

‘We’re the real opposition’

Senator Di Natale also hit out at the Labor Party, condemning them from passing the Coalition’s suite of income tax cuts, arguing that the Labor Party has “decided that the best way to beat a terrible conservative government is by adopting their policies.”

“What we need is a real opposition in this country, and it’s very clear that the Greens are now the real opposition.

“It was the Labor Party, who, quite rightly in the lead-up to the election, talked about how important it was to improve the tax system, to deal with economic inequality.

“You had the deputy leader saying that it was a good thing that coal was coming to an end. “After the election, they’ve backed in the biggest tax cuts that we’ve seen. They’ve backed in the government’s flat tax, small government agenda.

“(Deputy leader) Richard Marles is out there saying that we should celebrate the coal industry. “You don’t beat the conservatives by adopting their policies.”



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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