Monday, September 02, 2019

California "logic"

Climate hysteria is a great opportunity to teach children to ask questions

Most adults have little or no time to investigate the claims about climate change. They either accept them, assuming that “authority figures” have done their homework, or sit on the fence.

Some consider that only scientists are supposed to understand science. But everyone has an equal place at the table of science and if our questions are not answered or the evidence doesn’t stack up, we are free to reject that “science”.

Climate alarm has long given up the pretence of any link to science. Millions have been successfully “converted” – and they get duly worked up if their belief is questioned: “have you been outside recently?”, “erratic climate events are everywhere!”, “rainfall is getting less every year!”, “flash floods, including in Rajasthan are clear proof!”.

Some of them have gone to the next stage and become missionaries. They go about distributing their religious pamphlets in schools, indoctrinating innocent lower-IQ children. Hopelessly confused children like Greta Thunberg are being churned out as a result. At an age when children like her should be learning to ask questions, they have become the brainwashed front for the climate religion. There is little difference between such “committed” youth and Hitler’s Youth or the youth churned out by ISIS’s madrassas.

In my view, if anyone tells a child that climate change is man-made just because someone says so (such as a missionary “scientist” but now increasingly, “royals” and “celebrities”), that person has committed a sin against the enlightenment, against human progress.

I would personally have been supportive of Greta Thunberg if she had been a prodigally intelligent child who dazzled her teachers with amazing questions, then found the answers and was now promoting a view that she thoroughly understood. It would not matter to me that she had come to the wrong conclusion. After all, no one can be right on everything all the time. But she suffers, sadly, from mental issues and speaks as a missionary – she cannot answer a single question about the science.

We are very prone as a species to superstitions, panics, delusions, manias and hysterias. We have gone through thousands of them (many still underway), such as religion, alchemy, witchcraft, astrology, phrenology, eugenics, the Y2K bug, the SARS panic, much of Ayurveda and Chinese traditional medicine and all of homeopathy.

The climate hysteria will ultimately pass, but to avoid such hysterias in the future we need to get our children to start thinking and stop believing. Climate change is a superb topic for teachers and students to explore.

I stumbled upon the ideas of Socrates and Voltaire when I was a child and since the age of twelve, I have been a deep sceptic. “God” would have to pass through a thousand hurdles if “He” came by and tried to make me believe. For example, I recall being the only one staring into the eyes of Sathya Sai Baba in Bangalore in 1981 when all others had prostrated themselves before him. He obviously failed to pull a fast one over me. Today, Michael Strong, author of The Habit of Thought, is one of the few educationists who actively uses the Socratic method. Our educationists must learn from him.

I believe that children from age 10 onwards should attend one class each week only on questions. They should list various topics and then ask as many questions as they can on that topic. As they grow older their ability to ask questions will get deeper and more sophisticated.

The topic of climate change can lead to many questions. What is climate? What factors impact the climate? (Answer: at least a few hundred). How is the Earth’s temperature measured? (Long-term quality thermometer measurements have only been available in a few European and American sites, with most of them now contaminated by urbanisation. Let children also ask about satellite measurements and about the only reliable surface measurements – from the US Climate Reference Network.)

How is the sea level measured? (Let them ask whether the land itself can sink – indeed it does: it is very common.) What is the proof of the greenhouse gas effect? (Let them ask and find out that there is no robust way to prove it in a laboratory.) How is CO2 measured?

What information is needed to confirm (or reject) the CO2 hypothesis? What is the correlation between CO2 and temperature over the recent past? (Answer: very little.) What is the correlation as we stretch out to hundreds and then millions of years? (Answer: zero.) What climate “model” predictions could prove the hypothesis? What would nullify it?

What are the strengths and weaknesses of temperature and CO2 estimates of the past? (Eg tree rings, ice core, marine sediments, pollen. Tree ring data is a better measure of rainfall than of temperature, ice cores show that CO2 increased when the Earth’s wobbles first made it warmer – CO2 was thereafter ejected from the oceans.)

Are extreme events increasing? Let the children read IPCC’s reports that say: “there is only low confidence regarding changes in global tropical cyclone numbers over the last four decades”, there is “low confidence that anthropogenic climate change has affected the frequency and the magnitude of floods” and that there is a “decreasing trend in the global number of tropical cyclones and globally accumulated cyclonic energy”.

Let them then ask about the costs and benefits of CO2. Let them read IPCC’s reports which show no economic harm. Let them understand that CO2 is plant food so it gives us a lot of benefits. Let them ask: what other competing scientific hypotheses exist to explain the slight increase in temperature since 1800?

This topic is not going away any time soon. So let’s use it as an opportunity to train children to ask questions. Einstein was smart not because of his intelligence but because he asked questions.

Children should also be asked to watch magic shows on Youtube, such as the Penn and Teller show and James Randi’s work. Let them, thereafter, discuss in the class how easy it is to fool even adults. Let their blind “respect” for adults’ “wisdom” drop a notch each day as they grow older.

SOURCE  (hat-tip: GWPF Newsletter 29/8/19)

E.P.A. to Roll Back Regulations on Methane, a Potential Greenhouse Gas

The Trump administration laid out on Thursday a far-reaching plan to cut back on the regulation of methane emissions, a major contributor to climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule aims to eliminate federal requirements that oil and gas companies install technology to detect and fix methane leaks from wells, pipelines and storage facilities. It would also reopen the question of whether the E.P.A. had the legal authority to regulate methane as a pollutant.

The rollback plan is particularly notable because major energy companies have, in fact, spoken out against it — joining automakers, electric utilities and other industrial giants that have opposed other administration initiatives to dismantle climate-change and environmental rules.

The weakening of the methane standard is the latest in the march of environmental-policy rollbacks by the Trump administration designed to loosen regulations on industry.

Mr. Trump has sought to open millions of acres of public land and water to drilling, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and has lifted an Obama-era moratorium on new coal mining leases on public land. This month, the Interior Department completed a plan to weaken the Endangered Species Act. Later this year the E.P.A. plans to roll back clean-water regulations affecting streams and wetlands.

E.P.A. officials said the new methane rule, which would replace one from the Obama administration, is a response to Mr. Trump’s calls to trim regulations that impede economic growth or keep the nation reliant on energy imports. The plan “removes unnecessary and duplicative regulatory burdens from the oil and gas industry,” said the E.P.A. administrator, Andrew Wheeler. “The Trump administration recognizes that methane is valuable and the industry has an incentive to minimize leaks and maximize its use.”

Mr. Wheeler noted that since 1990, natural gas production in the United States has almost doubled while methane emissions across the industry have fallen 15 percent.

Anne Idsal, the agency’s acting senior clean-air official, said that elimination of the Obama-era rules would have “minimal environmental benefits.”

Environmental advocates described the proposal as a major setback in the effort to fight climate change. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas.

“The Trump E.P.A. is eager to give the oil and gas industry a free pass to keep leaking enormous amounts of climate pollution into the air,” said David Doniger, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group. “If E.P.A. moves forward with this reckless and sinister proposal, we will see them in court.”

Under the proposal, methane, the main component of natural gas, would be only indirectly regulated. A separate but related category of gases, known as volatile organic compounds, would remain regulated under the new rule, and those curbs would have the side benefit of averting some methane emissions.

The new rule must go through a period of public comment and review, and would most likely be finalized early next year, analysts said.


Airport’s Ban on Plastic Water Bottles a Flight of Fancy

Politicians in California like to show how much they care about making the world a better place by banning things. Making the world a better place isn’t something they seem to care much about, however, because if they did, they would be doing very different things.

As Exhibit A, please consider San Francisco’s new ban on sales of bottled water at the city’s international airport, which just took effect on August 20, 2019. The Wall Street Journal‘s Andy Kessler considers a scenario that may become all too common thanks to the city’s new law aimed at inconveniencing air travelers passing through SFO:

After running late for your flight after a 30-minute security line only to have TSA confiscate your Fiji water bottle, you’ll now have to stop at a crowded water fountain to fill your own metal flask. Or buy an overpriced glass or aluminum bottle at the concession stand, paying another 10 cents for a bag. And your teeth will chatter if you drink through a paper straw. Of course you could risk dehydration instead: Men lose up to a half-gallon of water during a 10-hour flight. Oddly, you can still buy sugary drinks in plastic bottles at SFO; only healthy, calorie-free water is banned in plastic. You can’t make this stuff up.

It’s not that city officials don’t like the idea of people buying overpriced bottled drinks at the city-owned airport. Rather, it’s the idea of people buying water in plastic bottles that upsets them—especially because of what they seem to think happens with all those bottles after air travelers drink the water in them.

The San Francisco Chronicle‘s Dustin Gardiner quotes state senator Scott Wiener’s justification for state politicians’ efforts to ban all things plastic in California:

“Plastics are frankly strangling the health of our oceans,” Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, said as the Senate debated SB54 last month. “This is a huge problem, and it’s time to move past baby steps to address it.”

A huge problem, indeed. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, over 8 million metric tons of plastic waste flows into the oceans every year. If California’s politicians think they are going to have a meaningful impact in solving that problem with the actions they take, they must also think Californians are major contributors to that problem.

Are they really?

A study by Germany’s Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research suggests that over 90 percent of all the plastic waste in the ocean flows into it from just 10 rivers. Alex Gray of the World Economic Forum reports:

By analyzing the waste found in the rivers and surrounding landscape, researchers were able to estimate that just 10 river systems carry 90% of the plastic that ends up in the ocean.

Eight of them are in Asia: the Yangtze; Indus; Yellow; Hai He; Ganges; Pearl; Amur; Mekong; and two in Africa – the Nile and the Niger.

According to National Geographic, “relatively little plastic waste enters the ocean from North America and Europe because of their more robust waste-management systems.”

Californians may not be as environmentally destructive as state politicians believe.

But perhaps that’s not true in San Francisco, if politicians from that city think their latest ban on sales of water in plastic bottles at the city’s airport will have a noticeable impact on the global problem of plastic waste being dumped in the oceans.

Let’s play pretend and say that instead of disposing four million plastic water bottles with a robust waste-management system, San Francisco’s politicians allow city employees at the airport to dump the bottles into San Francisco Bay each year to flow out into the Pacific Ocean and add to the global plastic waste problem.

Before the ban took effect, San Francisco’s airport was selling 4 million water bottles each year. Assuming all were half-liter containers, each weighing 9.3 grams, that amount of plastic bottle waste would total 37.2 metric tons. If the public employees of the airport were dumping that many empty plastic water bottles into San Francisco Bay, it would account for 0.000465 percent of all the plastic waste flowing into the world’s oceans each year.

An effective solution to that hypothetical problem wouldn’t be to ban the sale of water in plastic bottles at the airport. It would be to establish and operate an effective waste management system for the city while also banning the city’s employees from dumping empty water bottles into the bay. If they already had done all that, why not focus on making their system work better?

Do you suppose that common sense solution occurred to the politicians? Or do you suppose they cared more about showing how much they care about the environment without really caring enough to do anything to noticeably improve it, regardless of whatever harm and inconvenience they might impose upon the dignity of air travelers passing through the city’s airport?


Most coral ‘far from sediment danger’

Run-off of sediment from farms seldom reaches the outer Great Barrier Reef, or areas where the vast majority of corals live, the head of the Australian Institute of Marine Science has said.

However, AIMS chief executive Paul Hardisty said increased nutrients were a problem for some areas and long-term monitoring showed the Great Barrier Reef was under stress.

Water quality on the outer reef has been a central issue raised by scientist Peter Ridd, who is undertaking a controversial speaking tour through Queensland sugarcane growing areas.

Dr Ridd is calling for better quality assurance checks for reef science before new laws are introduced that affect farmers along the Queensland coast.

Dr Hardisty said the reef was a complex ecosystem of 3000 reefs, including near-shore reefs, mid-shelf reefs 20km to 40km offshore, and outer-shelf reefs 100km to 200km offshore. He said there was a natural improvement in water quality from inshore to offshore reefs.

“Mid-shelf and offshore reefs typically have better water quality as these regions are flushed more frequently with waters from the Coral Sea,” he said.

“When it comes to water quality on the Great Barrier Reef, ­researchers agree it is uncommon for sediment plumes to regularly reach outer-shelf reefs.

“The inner-shelf and mid-shelf reefs, particularly those close to large rivers in the wet tropics, experience more frequent exposure to flood plumes of dissolved and suspended material.”

Extra nutrients can come from many conditions, including river outflows which can be enhanced by agricultural or industrial ­activity.

Dr Hardisty said studies had shown fine particles of nutrient-enriched and organic-rich sediment could settle on inshore and mid-shelf reefs during calm ­periods and had the potential to kill young corals within 48 hours and adult corals in three to seven days, depending on species.

An AIMS spokeswoman said inshore reefs included popular tourist destinations such as Green Island and Fitzroy Islands off Cairns, Magnetic Island off Townsville, and Hayman and Hook islands in the Whitsundays.

She said about 80 per cent of the reefs were platform reefs on the mid- and outer-continental shelf, while about 600 reefs (20 per cent) were near-shore, ­either as fringing reefs around continental islands and along the mainland coast, or as small ­detached platform reefs.

Dr Ridd said Dr Hardisty’s comments supported his claim that there was “almost no land-derived sediment on the Great Barrier Reef where 99 per cent of corals live”.

“Nutrients are not measurably different on the Great Barrier Reef to the Pacific Ocean and farm fertilisers are almost irrelevant,” he said. “For years AIMS and others have been going on about the inshore reefs and the term implies to the unsuspecting layman that it is a third or maybe even a half of the coral (inshore vs offshore). They have never come clean about what fraction the ­inshore reefs are.”

Dr Ridd is midway through a lecture tour along the Queensland coast promoted by sugarcane and farm groups concerned about water quality legislation before the Queensland parliament. The tour has provoked strong criticism from environment and reef groups.

The Australian Coral Reef ­Society said Dr Ridd ignored inshore reefs, as if they were not an important component of the World Heritage Area and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

“This is convenient for his ­argument that there are no water-quality problems for the Great Barrier Reef, discounting the hundreds of published papers investigating and reporting on these problems,” the society said.

“He also incorrectly suggests areas like the Whitsundays are not important parts of the Great Barrier Reef, despite the huge tourism industry in such areas.’’



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