Monday, September 14, 2020

Global temperatures are on track to reach a level the planet has not seen in 50 MILLION years by 2300, analysis of seabed rocks reveals

"On track to reach" -- just another prophecy.  Certain to be just as good as all their previous failed prophecies. The fact that we actually live in an era of exceptional temperature stability makes it really hard for the climate alarmists

To this day, we have very little temperature data for large parts of the earth's surface -- the Southern ocean, Siberia, Northern Canada, for instance. So the whole idea that we can say with any accuracy from that data what the earth's average temperature is like even now, is suspect.

But there is some evidence to suggest that the average global temperature has risen by about one degree Celsius over the last 100 years or so, but it has to be noted that in many places -- particularly in the USA, where the measurements are most accurate -- there has been no rise at all over that time, even a slight fall.

So if we project from the most recent measurements rather than very shaky measurements of what happened millions of years ago in one place, there is no cause for concern.  A patchy rise of another one degree over the whole of the next century would hardly be noticed

Global temperatures by the end of the century will reach levels not seen in 50 million years if greenhouse gas emissions are not significantly reduced, a study has warned.

German and US experts analysed tiny fossils in cores drilled from the seabed to reconstruct the Earth's climatic history back to the time of the dinosaurs.

During this 66-million-year period, the planet has seen four distinct climate states — which scientists have dubbed 'hothouse', 'warmhouse', 'coolhouse' and 'icehouse'.

Each state is characterised by particular greenhouse gas concentrations and the extent of the ice to be found stored at the Earth's poles

For most of the past three million years, the Earth has been in an 'icehouse' state — one characterised by alternating glacial and interglacial periods.

However, greenhouse gas emissions and other human activities are now pushing the climate towards a 'warmhouse' and 'hothouse' state, experts have warned.

Warmhouse conditions were last seen during the Eocene epoch — which ended around 34 million years ago — in which there were no polar ice caps.

Across this time, the average global temperatures were 16.2–25.2°F (9–14°C) higher than they are in the present day.

Global temperatures by the end of the century will reach levels not seen in 50 million years if greenhouse gas emissions are not significantly reduced, a study has warned. German and US experts analysed cores drilled up from the seabed over the last five decades to reconstruct the Earth's climatic history. all the way back to the time of the dinosaurs.

'The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections for 2300 in the "business-as-usual" [emissions] scenario will potentially bring global temperature to a level the planet has not seen in 50 million years,' said paper author James Zachos.

In their study, Professor Zachos and colleagues created a 'climate reference curve' dubbed CENOGRID, which maps out global temperature changes in the past, at present and includes various predictions for the future based on emissions levels.

CENOGRID has revealed that the natural climate variability that occurs as a result of changes in the Earth's orbit around the sun is much smaller than the future warming predicted as a result of greenhouse gas emissions.

'We now know more accurately when it was warmer or colder and have a better understanding of the underlying dynamics and the processes that drive them,' said paper author and marine geologist Thomas Westerhold.

'The time from 66 to 34 million years ago — when the planet was significantly warmer than it is today — is of particular interest, as it represents a parallel in the past to what future anthropogenic change could lead to,' he added.

'We have known for a long time [that] the glacial–interglacial cycles are paced by changes in Earth's orbit,' explained Professor Zachos, who conducts research at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

These cycles, he added, 'alter the amount of solar energy reaching Earth's surface, and astronomers have been computing these orbital variations back in time.'

'As we reconstructed past climates, we could see long-term coarse changes quite well. We also knew there should be finer-scale rhythmic variability due to orbital variations, but for a long time it was considered impossible to recover that signal.'

'Now that we have succeeded in capturing the natural climate variability, we can see the projected anthropogenic warming will be much greater than that.'

'We use CENOGRID to understand what Earth's normal range of natural climate change and variability is and how quickly Earth recovered from past events,' said paper author and palaeoclimatologist Anna Joy Drury of University College London.

'While we show [that] the Earth previously experienced warm climate states, these were characterised by extreme climate events and were radically different from our modern world.'

'Since the peak warmth of the Hothouse, Earth's climate has gradually cooled over the last 50 million years.'

'But the present and predicted rapid anthropogenic changes reverse this trend and, if unabated, far exceed the natural variability of the last 66 million years.'

'CENOGRID's window into the past provides context for the ongoing anthropogenic change and how exceptional it is.'

Most of the major climate transitions in the past 66 million years — when a giant asteroid strike killed off the dinosaurs — have been associated with changes in greenhouse gas levels.

Previous research by Prof Zachos determined that a period of rapid global warming around 50 million years ago that drove the climate into a hothouse state was caused by a massive release of carbon into the atmosphere.

Similarly, in the late Eocene, as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels fell, ice sheets began to form in Antarctica and the climate transitioned to a coolhouse state.

'The climate can become unstable when it is nearing one of these transitions, and we see less predictable responses to orbital forcing, so that is something we would like to better understand,' Prof Zachos added.

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Science.


Separating fact from fiction about wildfires

Due to much of the western United States being naturally arid, high mountain scrub desert, grassland, and dry forest, wildfires are an unfortunate fact of life. They always have been and likely always will be.

And despite what you may have heard, there is no evidence climate change is making the problem worse.

California, where much of the attention on wildfires has been focused in recent years, because it has a large population and major media outlets are located there, was one of the least populated (and lowest population density) regions of the country before European colonizers spread across the continent. Research shows droughts in the region have on occasion lasted on the order of a hundred years. And there is evidence massive wildfires regularly swept through the region in the past. Indeed, a 2007 paper in the journal Forest Ecology and Management found prior to European colonization in the 1800s, more than 4.4 million acres of California forest and shrub-land burned annually, far more than the area of California that has burned since 2000, which ranges from 90,000 acres to 1,590,000 acres per year.

Although one wouldn’t know it from the news coverage and alarming, but false, claims that climate change is making wildfires more frequent and severe, the opposite is true. A 2012 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found wildfires in the western United States attained “the lowest levels … during the 20th century and during the Little Ice Age (LIA, ca. 1400–1700 CE [Common Era]). Prominent peaks in forest fires occurred during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (ca. 950–1250 CE) and during the 1800s.”

Wildfires have declined sharply over the course of the past century in the United States and globally. As reported in Climate at a Glance: Wildfires, long-term data from U.S. National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) show wildfires have declined in number and severity since the early 1900s. Using data on U.S. wildfires from as far back as 1926, NIFC reports the numbers of acres burned is far less now than it was throughout the early 20th century, with the current acres burned running about 1/4th to 1/5th of the record values that occurred in the 1930s.

Globally, the data on wildfires are just as clear. In his book “False Alarm,” Bjorn Lomborg observes:

“There is plenty of evidence for a reduction in the level of devastation caused by fire, with satellites showing a 25 percent reduction globally in burned area just over the past 18 years … In total, the global amount of area burned has declined by more than 540,000 square miles, from 1.9 million square miles in the early part of last century to 1.4 million square miles today.”

To the extent wildfires have grown modestly in recent years, although still far below the modern peaks of the early 1900s, government policies and demographic shifts are mostly to blame.

After the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, forest policy on federal lands shifted, and not for the better. After Reagan, forests began to be managed for the imagined good of ecosystems, placing ecological and recreational values above timber production. The result was an abdication of management so that nature was allowed to take its course unfettered.

Under this policy, thousands of miles of forest roads were ripped out, roads built to allow the harvesting of timber, but also used by firefighters to access wildfires in the hinterlands before they spread to populated regions. And timber harvests plunged as much as 84 percent from 12 billion board feet per year to less than 2 billion board feet per year.

The result across much of the western states has been an unnatural tree density. For example, historically, ponderosa pines grew in stands of 20 to 55 trees per acre, but in some areas they now grow in densities of 300 to 900 trees per acre. The unnatural density allowed what were formerly isolated pockets of insect infestations to morph into massive infestations killing large swaths of forests. There are now more dead trees in many federal forests than live ones, drying out and becoming growing stockpile of fuel for wildfires. Indeed, the U.S. Forest Service estimates more than 190 million acres of public land, almost all of it in the arid west, are at risk of catastrophic fires. Too many trees, too much brush, and bureaucratic regulations and lawsuits filed by environmental extremists are to blame.

On the demographic side, populations have grown dramatically in the western states. What were once uninhabited areas or small towns have become major metropolitan areas with suburbs growing out to the edges of wildlands. For instance, in Colorado, where wildfires are raging at the moment, the population has grown five-fold since 1940, from a little more than one million in 1940 to nearly 5.76 million today. Former small mining towns have become cities. Colorado’s population has grown 14.5 percent since the 2010 census, the fourth largest percentage growth in the nation.

Across the west, more people, more buildings, and more infrastructure have created a growing urban-rural interface, meaning more people and property are in harm’s way when wildfires inevitably occur. Indeed, the absolute costs of wildfires have increased dramatically over the past century even as the number of acres burned has declined. When wildfires strike, more people are affected and more expensive property is destroyed. The higher costs aren’t caused by climate change but from the rise in the number of people and value of assets placed in the “bullseye” as a result of demographic shifts in where people live and the lifestyles they pursue.

When it comes to wildfires, to co-opt the immortal words of naval officer Oliver Hazard Perry, “we have met the enemy, and it is, not climate change, but us.”


Modernizing America’s Environmental Policy for the 21st Century

Since publication of the last Mandate for Leadership, the Trump administration has taken a number of encouraging steps to decrease the ever-expanding regulatory state that threatens liberty, property rights, and economic progress for little to no environmental benefit.

The administration scrapped the climate agenda of the Obama administration, which would have driven up energy bills on American families for no meaningful global temperature impact.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency replaced the Clean Power Plan with the Affordable Clean Energy rule and revamped New Source Performance Standards to allow new coal-fired power plants to compete in the market, and the U.S. is withdrawing from the ineffective Paris Agreement.

Another Obama-era problem that needed fixing was the Waters of the United States rule, more colloquially known as WOTUS. The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created a new and expansive regulatory definition for the waters within the federal government’s jurisdiction according to the Clean Water Act.

The Environmental Protection Agency rescinded the rule in September 2019 and is replacing it with one that limits federal responsibilities to those that are more in line with its constitutional powers, protects property rights, and recognizes the role of the states.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, which implement the Endangered Species Act, finalized regulations that will better conserve species by solving some significant problems with the law’s implementation. This law simply has not worked.

Over the law’s more than 45 years, only about 3% of the species listed as threatened or endangered have been removed from the list due to recovery. While greater reform by Congress is necessary, new regulations will provide much-needed transparency and better protect species instead of using the Endangered Species Act as a premise to block development.

The Environmental Protection Agency also announced in October 2017 that it would no longer engage in legal settlements frequently negotiated by the previous administration, which emboldened and enriched private groups.

The practice involved the Environmental Protection Agency encouraging lawsuits by environmental lobbyists to force rule-making or enforcement action. The agency would privately strike a generous settlement, with the plaintiffs heavily involved in the rule-making and the rest of the public excluded.

The president has likewise sought to streamline the National Environmental Policy Act, which has plagued permitting projects. Executive Order 13766, “Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects,” directed agencies to designate select infrastructure projects as “high priority” for the purpose of expediting permitting reviews.

Executive Order 13807, “Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure,” instituted a policy of “One Federal Decision.” This order calls for designating a “lead” agency for each major project to navigate National Environmental Policy Act reviews. Relevant agencies will compile reviews into a single record of decision rather than conflicting opinions among federal agencies.

Executive Order 13807 also calls for the processing time for environmental reviews to be reduced to “not more than an average of approximately 2 years.” Once a record of decision is issued, permit decisions should be completed within 90 days.

The president also acted on his executive order to review national monument designations under the law since 1996, making his announcement in Utah, which has been the subject of sweeping national monument designations through the Antiquities Act. The president announced reductions in two national monuments in southern Utah to make these designations consistent with the law.

In 1906, Congress gave the president the power to designate federal lands as national monuments. According to the law, these lands must constitute “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

The law has been abused by presidents from both parties, particularly in the past several decades. In severely limiting access to these lands, presidents have acutely affected the lives of the people who live and work on the land and have not given the states a say in the decision.

The Environmental Protection Agency also made some progress by recognizing its egregious practice of using ancillary benefits (co-benefits) to justify regulations. This has played out in a number of rule-makings, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s review of air quality standards and hazardous air pollutants from coal-fired and oil-fired electric plants.

Over-reliance on ancillary benefits can allow the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate a pollutant without ever making the case that reducing emissions of the targeted pollutant is even warranted.


Pennsylvania Lawmakers Resist Governor’s Executive Actions on Climate Change

If Pennsylvania joins a multistate agreement that restricts carbon dioxide emissions, the commonwealth could jeopardize its position as an energy producer and exporter without achieving discernible environmental benefits, according to elected officials who are resisting executive actions to address climate change.

The state Senate on Wednesday passed legislation to prohibit Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, from joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and imposing carbon taxes without the approval of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

A state Senate committee last week voted to move to the floor two bills that reaffirm the General Assembly’s authority over tax policy while asserting that Wolf’s Department of Environmental Protection cannot act unilaterally “to abate, control, or limit carbon dioxide emissions by imposing a revenue-generating tax or fee on carbon emissions.”

The Senate passed the House version of the legislation Wednesday by a vote of 33-17, one vote shy of a veto-proof majority.

“I don’t think the governor has the legal authority to proceed as he is,” said state Sen. Joe Pittman, a Republican representing the 41st District, which cuts across Armstrong, Butler, Indiana and Westmoreland counties.

“At the end of the day, we are not an appendage of the governor’s office, we are a coequal branch of the government,” Pittman said in a phone interview with The Daily Signal, “and if you’re going to slap a $300 million annual electricity tax on the people, then the people’s elected representatives need to have a voice in this process.”

The $300 million figure, found in a document from the state’s environmental protection agency, is drawn from estimates of the costs of  Pennsylvania’s participation in the initiative in 2022.

The House passed HB 2025, co-sponsored by seven of Wolf’s fellow Democrats, by a vote of 130-71 in July.

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee votes in favor of that bill and companion bill SB 950 also received bipartisan support. State Sen. Andy Dinniman, a Chester County Democrat who represents the 19th District, joined with Republicans in 8-3 votes to advance the two bills challenging the governor.

With Senate action on the House bill, a Senate committee staffer told The Daily Signal, Wolf will have 10 days to decide whether to sign or veto it.

“Senate Bill 950 needs to be considered yet by the Senate Appropriations Committee,” the staffer said. “That bill could be considered by the full Senate as early as the week of Sept. 21.”

‘Keep Pushing’

Pittman, lead sponsor of SB 950 and vice chairman of the environmental and energy committee, said he is encouraged by the support the House version of his bill attracted and sees a “similar dynamic” at work in the Senate:

With the House vote, there was a very large contingent of the House Democratic Caucus who fully recognize the concern that working women and men and many blue-collar industries have for the potential impact that a carbon tax could have on their livelihoods. I’m hopeful that a similar outcome will occur in the Senate. We need to keep pushing this so we can get the governor to have real conversations about how communities will be affected and severely impacted by becoming part of this agreement.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, known as RGGI, is a compact among New England and Mid-Atlantic states that currently includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Jersey. Virginia is set to join in 2021.

Wolf issued an executive order in October 2019 instructing the state Department of Environmental Protection to begin formulating regulations that would enable Pennsylvania to enter the climate change agreement.

Initially, the governor had set a deadline of July 31 for the department to present a regulatory plan to the state’s Environmental Quality Board, but he extended this deadline to Sept. 15.

If the state Senate follows the House in passing legislation prohibiting the Wolf administration from implementing anti-emissions regulations without the General Assembly’s approval, it could set up a constitutional showdown.

Wolf should heed the advice of his own advisory committees that recommended against Pennsylvania’s joining the climate change accord, state Sen. Gene Yaw, a Republican representing the 23rd District (which includes Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Susquehanna, and Union counties), said in an interview.

Three panels that advise the environmental agency have voted against Wolf’s proposal to join RGGI: the Small Business Compliance Advisory Committee, the Citizens Advisory Council, and the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee. The panels include some members  appointed by the governor and others appointed by state lawmakers.

“Why have advisory committees if you’re not going to pay attention to them?” Yaw said. “They’ve had three strikes and they should be out, but the governor is still going forward even though he can’t get support from his own people on the committee. They were chosen because of their expertise in certain areas and because they would give a reasonable, rational approach to certain issues, and they’ve done this.”

‘We Should Be Consulted’

As chairman of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Yaw held two hearings probing the potential impact of  RGGI on Pennsylvania where industry representatives, environmental advocacy groups, and Wolf administration officials testified.

Yaw told The Daily Signal that his concerns about Wolf’s proposed regulations “go beyond” the questions he and other lawmakers have raised about how the governor appears to be overstepping his authority.

As a matter of policy, Yaw said, he isn’t convinced that RGGI would produce tangible environmental benefits but does expect that the resulting regulations would raise energy costs:

I think what the governor is doing is a very narrow, shortsighted view of the environmental concerns that are out there. I have the immediate concern about what this is going to do to electricity rates in Pennsylvania, and these electricity rates will have an effect on health, welfare, and jobs and everything else. These are policy decisions that go beyond any one person, and I think the Legislature needs to be involved in this and that we should be consulted.

The key to RGGI is a Budget Trading Program for carbon dioxide that both limits C02 emissions from electric power plants and issuing “allowances” for the emissions.

In other words, RGGI empowers government officials to implement “cap and trade” measures in which regulators place an upper limit or “cap” on the amount of carbon dioxide at power plants. The regulators also create “allowances” within interstate auctions that may be traded back and forth among companies subjected to the limit on carbon dioxide, so that some may exceed a cap as long as others remain below it.

Wolf has argued that Pennsylvania needs to implement anti-carbon regulations to combat what he describes as a “global climate crisis,” and that this should be done in partnership with other states.

“Even as we continue to work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we cannot neglect our responsibility and our efforts to combat climate change,” Wolf said in a June 22 press release.

‘Diverse Energy Portfolio’

The state’s Department of Environmental Protection’s website devoted to RGGI highlights the environmental, health, and economic benefits that the Wolf administration expects Pennsylvanians to experience if the state enters the climate change agreement.

But before pressing ahead with alternative forms of energy, Yaw said, he would like to see policymakers take a harder look at the environmental footprint of so-called “clean energy” sources such as wind and solar, and also to consider what goes into the construction of nuclear power plants.

Environmental and economic benefits also come with Pennsylvania’s vast supplies of natural gas, Yaw said:

I believe we should have a diverse energy portfolio. Right now, we are an energy exporter and we have all this new natural gas, and this has been enormously beneficial. I’ve also seen numbers that said greenhouse gas emissions across Pennsylvania have dropped something like 30% in the last 15 years. That’s a lot, and it can be attributed to the fact that more of our electricity is being produced by natural gas.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that Pennsylvania is ranked second only to Texas in oil and natural gas production. An article in Forbes four years ago detailed how natural gas enabled the state to lower carbon dioxide emissions by 30%.

“RGGI, in my opinion, takes a superficial look at what the real cost of energy is,” Yaw said. “Let’s take just one example of solar panels. It takes rare earth minerals to make solar panels, and we don’t have enough of those rare earths in the U.S.”

“So, we are going to have to import them, and how are those minerals produced? Well, they are produced by mining. In the Republic of Congo where cobalt is mined, they use young kids for that work. I don’t think we want to be known in Pennsylvania for using kids like this.”

Yaw also cited the potential environmental fallout from solar and wind power.

“We have to find a way to recycle solar panels at the end of their useful life or dispose of them, and the same should apply to windmills,” he said. “We have to ask ourselves what is the real cost of energy and what does it mean to say this is clean energy.”

‘An Advantage’

RGGI typically applies to electric power generators fired by fossil fuel with a capacity of 25 megawatts or greater. If Pennsylvania becomes part of the agreement, all five of the state’s remaining coal-fired plants in Keystone, Conemaugh, Homer City, Cheswick, and Montour would be affected, as well as all of the natural gas plants.

Since Pennsylvania would have to accommodate itself to RGGI’s rules and regulations, Yaw said, he is concerned that the state would lose its standing as an energy supplier and exporter.

“We are a generator of electricity,” he said. “These other states [in RGGI] have no generation. They are just importing it and they’re going to say to us that we have to match their emissions standards since we’re the generator. This means Pennsylvania is going to get hurt.”

Pittman, who sponsored the Senate bill, said he has similar concerns about how RGGI would affect the import-export equation. Pennsylvania doesn’t operate in a “bubble,” he told The Daily Signal, and the actions of other states must be taken into account.

“We are part of a multistate power grid and right now, we export electricity to other states,” he said, adding:

If we choose to move forward and close down our electricity production, we are going to essentially shift that production to other states and those other states will admit carbon when they produce our electricity. To me, the issue is not about needing to shift production to other states, but to allow market forces to continue to do what they’ve been doing.

Right now we have a very diverse power grid that is able to accommodate fluctuations and commodity pricing and to keep really all the sectors as competitive as possible. And I think that’s an advantage that we would be unwise to give up, particularly whenever you consider the reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. We’ve made substantial progress just in the last 10 or 15 years on our own, and it has been without the heavy hand of government. It’s been through market forces.



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