Sunday, December 17, 2017



France’s Macron leads the climate charge, with the US absent

The United States may have withdrawn from the Paris climate change accord, but on Tuesday dozens of world leaders and philanthropists met to find solutions to the swiftly warming planet — and send a message of resolve to the White House.

More symbolic than policy-driven, Tuesday’s summit comes two years after the landmark ‘‘COP21’’ conference in Paris, where 196 participating countries — including the United States — vowed to keep this century’s global temperature increase below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. In one of the most controversial moments of his young presidency, President Trump announced in June that the United States would leave the Paris accord.

The United States is now the only nation on Earth to have rejected the global pact.

Although the rest of the world — and much of the United States — has continued working to meet the Paris commitments, French President Emmanuel Macron called Trump’s decision ‘‘very bad news’’ and warned against complacency. In opening remarks Tuesday, he minced no words. ‘‘We’re losing the battle,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re not moving quickly enough. We all need to act.’’

The One Planet Summit focused on practical ways to continue meeting climate goals without the participation of the US government. The main emphasis was private financing for climate initiatives in the United States and elsewhere. A major goal of the summit was to encourage private investors to fill the annual gap of $210 billion needed to meet the requirements of the Paris agreement.

Toward that end, the summit did secure some major commitments. The Gates Foundation, for instance, said Tuesday that it would pledge $300 million over the next three years to support farmers in Africa and Asia struggling with the effects of climate change: diminished soil fertility, extreme weather, and crop pests, among others. Earlier this year, the foundation had pledged a separate $300 million to benefit public health and poverty reduction programs in Tanzania.

AXA, the world’s third-largest insurance company, announced further reductions of coal investments by an additional $2.8 billion. And the World Bank — to meet its Paris commitments faster — said it would stop financing projects involving upstream oil and gas beginning in 2019. Other US philanthropic organizations also supported the cause. On Monday, the Hewlett Foundation pledged $600 million over five years to nonprofits working on climate change issues.

On the US front, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire and leading climate change advocate, vowed to persuade more companies to change their practices. Bloomberg emphasized the business incentives behind addressing climate change. ‘‘Clean energy is now cheaper than coal, energy efficiency saves money and improves your bottom line, and talented people want to work for companies that care about the planet,’’ he said.

The biggest challenge to persuading more companies to go green, Bloomberg added, is that ‘‘reliable data doesn’t exist.’’ To solve that problem, he has chaired the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, an organization that seeks to communicate financial risk related to climate change.

Since his election, climate change has been among Macron’s signature issues. When Trump said the United States would drop out of the Paris accord, Macron immediately launched a campaign called ‘‘Make Our Planet Great Again,’’ a riff on Trump’s campaign slogan. As part of that campaign, Macron offered research grants for 18 foreign scientists studying climate change to pursue their work in France. On Monday, he revealed the winners, including 13 Americans.

For political analysts, Tuesday’s summit provided further evidence of Macron’s desire to assert France as a principal mediator in virtually every important global deliberation, especially on climate change.

‘‘There is an element of prestige here, because France and President Macron want to play a leading role in the global climate governance, and I think there are just two leaders who are credible there: Macron and [Chinese President] Xi Jinping,’’ said Marc Antoine Eyl-Mazzega, director of the Center for Energy at the French Institute for International Relations, a Paris think tank.

Xi — who was not in attendance at Macron’s second Paris summit, although Chinese representatives were — also has been a supporter of the Paris agreement, even if China remains the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on Earth.

‘‘Some countries have become more inward-looking and less willing to take part in international cooperation, and the spillovers of their policy adjustments are deepening,’’ Xi said in September, stopping short of mentioning the United States by name.

But some see Chinese emissions as the potential thorn in Macron’s plans. ‘‘The exit of the US from climate credibility leaves a gap. The US has traditionally played the role of bad cop with China, forcing them to reduce their emissions. Now that role may fall to Macron,’’ said Paul Bledsoe, a former Clinton White House climate adviser, now with the Progressive Policy Institute.

‘‘I think Macron recognizes the urgency of climate action in a way that maybe older generations don’t, but he’s got to realize that global emissions can’t peak until Chinese emissions do. And Chinese emissions are still growing.’’

SOURCE




GOP Tax Bills Aim to Derail the Green-Power Gravy Train,/b>

Commentators, as well as congressional Democrats, have criticized the Republican tax bill for being rushed through the House and Senate without significant debate.

While that complaint — plus the fact that, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s most recent analysis, the bill could increase the federal deficit by $1 trillion or more — has merit, the new tax bill should bring some much-needed sanity to federal energy policy, and in particular to the lavish subsidies being given to wind and solar energy combined.

Both the House and Senate bills aim to slash the subsidies being given to wind and solar.

While the final details of the tax overhaul must be hammered out in conference committee, both the House and Senate bills aim to slash the subsidies being given to wind and solar. Those tax giveaways are distorting wholesale electricity markets and costing taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.

In January, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that federal subsidies for wind energy will cost the federal treasury $23.7 billion between 2016 and 2020. Solar subsidies will cost $12.3 billion over that same time period.

Not only is that a lot of money, it’s also far more generous, on an energy-equivalent basis, than what the federal government provides to the hydrocarbon and nuclear sectors. In May, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service issued a report on energy-related tax rules. It found that in 2016, solar and wind energy got more federal taxpayer cash ($6 billion) than the oil, coal and natural-gas sectors combined ($5.2 billion). Solar and wind got more cash despite the fact that coal, oil and gas produced 24 times as much energy last year as wind and solar.

The story is even more appalling when it comes to nuclear energy. Again, according to the Congressional Research Service, on an energy-equivalent basis, solar energy got 182 times as much in federal subsidies last year as the nuclear sector — and wind energy got 68 times more.

Those are staggering figures, particularly given the fact that the domestic nuclear sector — which helps reduce carbon-dioxide emissions — is in a full-blown crisis, with numerous reactors being forced to shut down in recent years and with many more, including the Indian Point reactors in Westchester County, likely to be prematurely shuttered.

The caterwauling from the rent seekers can be heard from Montauk to Jerry Brown’s kitchen in Sacramento.

A spokesman for the American Wind Energy Association told The New York Times that “even the threat of this bill is having a chilling effect” on new wind installations. The lobby group for Big Wind claims that “50,000 US jobs” are at stake.

But recall that wind subsidies will cost the federal treasury $23.7 billion between 2016 and 2020. Thus, each wind-related job costs taxpayers about $474,000. That’s an expensive gig, especially when you consider that the median household income in the United States last year was about $57,600.

Another good thing about the looming tax changes: The House version of the bill scraps the federal credit for electric vehicles. Current federal policy provides a subsidy of up to $7,500 to EV buyers. Who buys those cars? Rich people. A 2013 analysis found that Tesla buyers have an average household income of $293,000.

For years, renewable-energy advocates have been telling us that wind and solar are getting cheaper. We’re hearing the same about electric vehicles. But as those industries see their gravy train derailed, we’ll soon find out just how competitive they really are.

SOURCE




Congress still needed to bolster Trump effort to end Obama’s war on coal

“Congress has abandoned much of its responsibility to legislate and has instead given unelected regulators extraordinary power to control the lives of others.”

That was President Donald Trump on Dec. 14 letting the American people know specifically why his administration has had to spend much of its first year in office taking apart the administrative state in Washington, D.C., where it is bureaucrats who make law, not Congress. “This excessive regulation does not just threaten our economy, it threatens our entire constitutional system,” Trump added. He’s right.

And so far, in 2017, the Trump administration has made more than good on its promise to begin rolling back onerous regulations.

For example, on October 10, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its filing of a proposed rulemaking to rescind the Clean Power Plan (CPP), including the existing power plant regulations that were implemented during the Obama administration. Specifically, the EPA stated, “After reviewing the CPP, EPA has proposed to determine that the Obama-era regulation exceeds the Agency’s statutory authority.” The rulemaking appeared in the Federal Register on October 16.

So far, in February 2016 the Supreme Court has granted a stay on the execution of the Clean Power Plan pending hearing by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia of State of West Virginia, et al. v. EPA. The case remains up in the air, but an adverse outcome could undermine the key underpinning of the agency’s regulatory action. Americans for Limited Government supports this litigation and the EPA’s action and believes that the carbon endangerment finding and the Clean Power Plan both exceeded the statutory limits of the Clean Air Act.  The greatest danger to the agency proposal, however, remains legal challenges that will ultimately test this contention.

To bolster these regulatory and legal efforts, the EPA and President Donald Trump should support additional legislation by Congress to either defund or amend the Clean Air Act to prohibit implementation of the Clean Power Plan. Appropriate vehicles for such a rider would be the upcoming omnibus spending bill, the debt ceiling, the 2019 budget or the September continuing resolution. With narrow majorities in the House and Senate by Republicans, 2018 might be the last chance for legislative action on this front.

Permanent prohibition and rescission of the Clean Power Plan — and any similar rulemaking that would seek to restrict carbon emissions — will give the electric industry the certainty it needs to build new coal-powered plants and to reopen recent closures. It will guarantee that when the EPA completes its action, it is not overturned. This in turn will help bolster capacity on the U.S. electric grid so that when the U.S. economy starts booming under the Trump administration, we have enough power to sustain it.

Regulations are forever?

The crux of the problem for the EPA or any other agency that wishes to end a regulation is that in 1983, the Supreme Court unanimously decided in Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association v. State Farm Mutual an agency must supply a reasoned analysis. Thus, it is more difficult to eliminate an existing regulation than it is to change it.

Thus, every regulatory rescission is subject to judicial review to determine not only whether it was rational based on the statutory scheme, but to prove that the original regulation exceeded the statute.

Even when there is no basis in law, as in Massachusetts v. EPA, in 2007 the Supreme Court ruled carbon dioxide could be regulated under the terms of the Clean Air Act.

When the challenges come, as surely they will, the assumption courts will make is that the Clean Power Plan was properly enacted and based on the statutory scheme, leaving it to the Trump administration to prove otherwise. That could be a losing battle. But it need not be.

The Trump administration might be better served if Congress were to act to prohibit the use of funds to implement the Clean Power Plan and the carbon endangerment finding as well. Then when the regulatory rescissions come, the EPA could simply say it lacks funds to enforce the regulations.

Executive action alone is no silver bullet. Much depends presently on whether Justice Anthony Kennedy wishes to affirm his ruling Massachusetts v. EPA — which led directly to the carbon endangerment finding by the EPA in 2009 — by upholding the Clean Power Plan.

President Trump and Congress need to be smarter this time — and defund regulations via Congressional action. Then there will be no question that the Clean Power Plan exceeds statutory authority.

Permanently ending the Clean Power Plan will bolster the U.S. electric grid

If electricity consumption is supposed to be a reliable proxy for economic growth, the only conclusion one can come to is that the U.S. economy has not grown in any meaningful sense since 2007. That year, the U.S. consumed about 3.89 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity. It dipped to a low of 3.72 trillion kilowatt hours in 2009 after the financial crisis and now stands at 3.85 trillion kilowatt hours in 2016, according to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The U.S. is using no more electricity now than in 2007, even though the working age population has expanded by more than 16 million during that time.

After 2000 and China’s introduction to World Trade Organization, permanent normal trade relations, offshoring and Kyoto, and then the financial crisis and Obama administration’s war on coal, U.S. industrial use of the grid was flat and then dropping. 2016 actually marked a 25-year low, with industrial usage collapsing, from 1.03 trillion kWh in 2007 to 936 billion kWh in 2016, a drop of 91 billion kWh. Residential and commercial use of the grid kept rising.

Overall, had industrial, residential and commercial electrical use continued growing at the same rate as in the 1990s, national usage as measured as the percent of summer capacity megawatts used at peak demand would be nearing 100 percent of grid production now, according to an Americans for Limited Government study of data from the North American Electric Reliability Council and the Energy Information Agency. Today it stands at about 75 percent.

Grid capacity has been further harmed by former President Barack Obama’s war on coal. Coal as a percentage of net electricity generation has declined from 49 percent in 2007 to 30 percent in 2016, behind natural gas at 34 percent, according to the Energy Information Agency (EIA). Although nuclear and coal are by far the most efficient sources of electricity, they are making up a smaller part of the pie.



The fact the grid has not been maxed out is a testament to the offshoring of industrial capacity and the lack of robust economic growth since 2005. While undoubtedly the electric industry would move to meet additional demand as it has in the past, without new access to coal and nuclear power, that could become more difficult. It should not be left to chance.

That is why to help bolster capacity on the U.S. electric grid so that it is prepared when the U.S. economy starts booming under the Trump administration, the Clean Power Plan must be permanently repealed by Congress.

Had the economy been growing robustly during the Obama administration, grid capacity would have been tested.

To the extent that Republicans might not be in possession of Congressional majorities after 2018, and that otherwise the EPA’s action depends on uncertain affirmation by the Supreme Court and specifically Justice Anthony Kennedy, now is the time to pursue a legislative option while it remains open. There may not be a better chance to do this.

The Congress has numerous vehicles at its disposal to attempt to put a rider on legislation: the upcoming omnibus spending bill, the debt ceiling, the 2019 budget or the September continuing resolution. The risk is not by attempting to use a legislative vehicle, it is in waiting to see what happens without one.

SOURCE




Trump Admin To Remove Climate Change From List Of National Security Threats

The Trump administration will reverse course from previous Obama administration policy, eliminating climate change from a list of national security threats. The National Security Strategy to be released on Monday will emphasize the importance of balancing energy security with economic development and environmental protection, according to a source who has seen the document and shared excerpts of a late draft.

“Climate policies will continue to shape the global energy system,” a draft of the National Security Strategy slated to be released on Monday said. “U.S. leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth, energy agenda that is detrimental to U.S. economic and energy security interests. Given future global energy demand, much of the developing world will require fossil fuels, as well as other forms of energy, to power their economies and lift their people out of poverty.”

This matches President Trump’s vision, sometimes shared using his trademark hyperbole, that the United States needs to emphasize national security and economic growth over climate change.

During his successful campaign, Trump mocked Obama’s placement of climate change in the context of national security. Here’s a sample of his approach from a campaign speech in Hilton Head, South Carolina, in late 2015:


"So Obama’s always talking about the global warming, that global warming is our biggest and most dangerous problem, OK? No, no, think of it. I mean, even if you’re a believer in global warming, ISIS is a big problem, Russia’s a problem, China’s a problem. We’ve got a lot of problems. By the way, the maniac in North Korea is a problem. He actually has nuclear weapons, right? That’s a problem.

We’ve got a lot of problems. We’ve got a lot of problems. That’s right, we don’t win anymore. He said we want to win. We don’t win anymore. We’re going to win a lot — if I get elected, we’re going to win a lot.

(Applause)

We’re going to win so much — we’re going to win a lot. We’re going to win a lot. We’re going to win so much you’re all going to get sick and tired of winning. You’re going to say oh no, not again. I’m only kidding. You never get tired of winning, right? Never.

(Applause)

But think of it. So Obama’s talking about all of this with the global warming and the — a lot of it’s a hoax, it’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, OK? It’s a hoax, a lot of it. And look, I want clean air and I want clean water. That’s my global — I want clean, clean crystal water and I want clean air. And we can do that, but we don’t have to destroy our businesses, we don’t have to destroy our —

And by the way, China isn’t abiding by anything. They’re buying all of our coal; we can’t use coal anymore essentially. They’re buying our coal and they’re using it. Now when you talk about the planet, it’s so big out there — we’re here, they’re there, it’s like they’re our next door neighbor, right, in terms of the universe."


The draft of the National Security Strategy makes this approach policy, emphasizing national security and economic growth over climate change.

President Obama made climate change, and the burdensome regulations that accompany its focus, a primary focus of his administration, including in his National Security Strategy released in 2015. “[W]e are working toward an ambitious new global climate change agreement to shape standards for prevention, preparedness, and response over the next decade,” that report said.

“In some ways, [climate change] is akin to the problem of terrorism and ISIL,” Obama said at climate talks in Paris in 2015. During a weekly address, Obama said “Today, there is no greater threat to our planet than climate change.”

In September 2016, President Obama released a memorandum requiring federal agencies to consider the effects of climate change in the development of national security-related doctrine, policies, and plans. All of this alarmed critics concerned with more pressing security risks.

By contrast, President Trump’s National Security Strategy will focus on conventional and immediate national security risks. The draft says, in part:

"North Korea seeks the capability to kill millions of Americans with nuclear weapons. Iran supports terrorist groups and openly calls for our destruction. Jihadist terrorist organizations such as ISIS and al Qaeda are determined to attack the United States and radicalize Americans with their hateful ideology. States and non-state actors undermine social order with drug and human trafficking networks, which drive violent crimes and cause thousands of American deaths each year…. Strengthening control over our borders and immigration system is central to national security, economic prosperity, and the rule of law. Terrorists, drug traffickers, and criminal cartels exploit porous borders and threaten U.S. security and public safety. These actors adapt quickly to outpace our defenses."

As for climate change, the draft report says “The United States will remain a global leader in reducing traditional pollution, as well as greenhouse gases, while growing its economy. This achievement, which can serve as model to other countries, flows from innovation, technology breakthroughs, and energy efficiency gains –not from onerous regulation.”

SOURCE





Slimy attack on Polar bear truth-teller   

At this time of year, we’re accustomed to seeing polar bears as a holiday mascot for a certain soft drink. But you can rest assured that thousands of real live polar bears are anything but cute and cuddly as they hunt down and devour Arctic seals and assorted other prey.

Sadly, there’s one unnamed polar bear that most likely didn’t live to enjoy this time of plenty. In late August, the photography team of Paul Nicklen and Christina Mittermeier happened upon an emaciated member of the species that was down to its last brief bursts of energy, desperately rummaging through garbage heaps in a vain search for nourishment. “This is what a starving polar bear looks like,” wrote Mittermeier. “Weak muscles, atrophied by extended starvation could barely hold him up.”

Laying it on even thicker, Nicklen added, “We stood there crying — filming with tears rolling down our cheeks.” They added that there was nothing they could do to help, because feeding wild animals is illegal and “it’s not like we travel around with 200-300 pounds of seal meat.” And while they conceded that they couldn’t completely pin down the cause of the bear’s imminent demise, they presumed global warming was the culprit. “This is the face of climate change,” Mittermeier asserted. Paul Amstrup of Polar Bears International added, “Despite uncertainties about how this bear got into this starving condition, we can be absolutely certain if we allow the world to continue to warm, there will be ever greater numbers of such events as survival rates decline over more and more of the polar bear range.”

But not so fast, say the skeptics. First off, they counter, it’s not unusual to see starving polar bears in late August as that’s near the end of their dormant period. “That bear is starving, but it’s not starving because the ice suddenly disappeared and it could no longer hunt seals,” wrote Arctic wildlife biologist Jeff Higdon. Population-wise, polar bears are certainly not in immediate danger of extinction. In fact, some regions of the polar north have a significant polar bear presence.

Research — based on years’ worth of observations — tells us that, if anything, Arctic sea ice arrived on time, or even a bit early this winter — so healthy bears were easily able to swim out to their hunting grounds and floes of ice. Polar bear scientist Susan Crockford made the case that things were just fine. For her trouble, Crockford had her reputation sullied in the worst way. Terence Corcoran recounts:

As a starting point, we look to a story published December 1st on Vice News’s tech site. Motherboard, that included an interview with U.S. polar bear scientist/activist Stephen Amstrup. In the article, Amstrup accuses Canadian polar bear scientist Susan Crockford of filling her bear research with extreme allegations. Climate activists have targeted Crockford, a zoologist and adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Victoria, because her research inconveniently finds that, despite their claims, polar bears are not at risk. ‘You don’t have to read far in her material to see that it is full of unsubstantiated statements and personal attacks on scientists, using names like eco-terrorists, fraudsters, green terrorists and scammers,’ Amstrup claimed.

A few days later, Motherboard published a slithery retraction. After Crockford complained that Amstrup’s comments about her were “a lie” and that she has never used such terms, Amstrup “clarified” his comments. He said that when he accused Crockford of calling scientists fraudsters, he really meant to accuse “climate deniers as a whole, rather than Crockford in particular.”

Life is often made more difficult for those who don’t worship at the altar of climate change, and Crockford’s sin is that of being an oft-cited skeptic to the “polar bears are going extinct” narrative. Polar bears do indeed make for cute and cuddly symbols of the far north, and for now they aren’t going anywhere fast — despite what some with an agenda would lead us to believe.

SOURCE

***************************************

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.  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

*****************************************


Friday, December 15, 2017



New paper questions Paris Agreement’s dubious temperature limits

It turns out that the temperature target of the agreement was never properly defined,/i>

The Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015 during the COP21 climate conference stipulates that the increase in the global average temperature is to be kept well below 2°C above “pre-industrial levels” and that efforts are pursued to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above “pre-industrial levels.”

Closer inspection of the treaty text, however, reveals that the term “pre-industrial levels” is nowhere defined in this epochal UN-document, that has meanwhile been ratified by 170 Parties.

This is particularly odd because the “pre-industrial” temperatures of the past 10,000 years have varied quite significantly, as meticuloulsy documented by hundreds of paleoclimate studies.

Puzzled by this apparent gap in the Agreement, Fritz Vahrenholt went out and researched the history of the temperature limit definition.

The former renewable energy manager and current head of the German Wildlife Foundation was surprised to find that the initial description of this important climate goal dates back to the mid 1970s, proposed by an economist, by the name of William Nordhaus.

Nordhaus’ idea was as simple as effective: He looked at the maximum temperatures recorded during the past several hundred thousand years and warned that this natural range should not be exceeded in the future. Two decades later, in 1995, the German Advisory Council for Global Change further refined this concept, but kept Nordhaus’ original idea of a tolerable ‘temperature window’.

Vahrenholt: “Unfortunately this important palaeoclimatological perspective was lost in subsequent key papers on the subject that paved the way to the Paris Agreement. Reports by the World Bank and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2014 and 2015 narrowed their view to the last 200 years which does not do justice to the enormous natural temperature fluctuations on a multi-millennial perspective.”

In order to better understand the complex pre-industrial temperature history of the past, Vahrenholt teamed up with Sebastian Lüning, a professional resources geologist who in his spare time works on paleoclimatological studies with the Switzerland-based Institute for Hydrography, Geoecology and Climate Sciences.

Lüning researched the literature and integrated the Paris Agreement 2.0°C and 1.5°C temperature limits into the climate development of the past 2000, 10,000 and 120,000 years.

Lüning: “Comparing the modern warming to reference levels at the end of the Little Ice Age about 150 years ago does not really make much sense because this period represents one of the coldest times of the past 10,000 years. The choice of a baseline near the lower extreme of a variable parameter is uncommon in science. The temperature level that was reached during the interval 1940-1970 may serve as a better reference level because it appears to roughly correspond to the average pre-industrial temperature of the past two millennia.”

On an even longer time scale, it is found that current temperatures have not yet even exceeded the warmest temperatures of a natural warm phase that globally occurred some 7000 years ago, the so-called ‘Holocene Thermal Maximum’.

SOURCE




Green-Russian Anti-Fracking Campaign Paying Off As Britain Turns To Russian Gas

With gas supplies crippled amid a freezing winter by the shutdown of a major pipeline, the UK has apparently turned to a Russian project targeted by US sanctions, with reports indicating that a deal was struck for a shipment of gas by the end of December.

Some 170,000 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) carried by the Christophe de Margerie ice-class tanker, the first vessel of the Novatek-operated Yamal project in the Arctic, has been bought by a British energy company. It is now heading to the Isle of Grain terminal in the UK, the Telegraph reported.

One of the largest Russian natural gas producers, Novatek, revealed Monday that the cargo was sold to Petronas LNG UK Limited (PLUK), the UK branch of Malaysia’s Petronas.

PLUK has a 50 percent stake in the Dragon LNG Terminal at Milford Haven, so that’s where the tanker could also be heading, S&P Global Platts reports.

Novatek has so far issued no comment on the vessel’s ultimate destination.

As a deep freeze settles over Britain, the shutdown of the North Sea’s most important fuel transport route has left authorities in a precarious position. Ineos, a private company which owns a key refinery near Aberdeen, said it discovered a crack in a vital 42-year-old oil and gas pipeline, which will require at least two weeks’ maintenance work.

The disruption was compounded by an explosion at a major processing facility in Austria, the combination of which has caused wholesale gas prices to hit their highest level for six years, increasing by more than 50percent in the space of 24 hours.

To add to the problems, the Morecambe gas field in the Irish Sea is processing half its usual supply and there have also been stoppages in the Dutch and Norwegian operations that supply the UK’s energy needs.

And all this comes as temperatures in central England have plummeted to minus 13 degrees Celsius: almost 15 degrees chillier than the usual average December low.

All this come as British Prime Minister Theresa May has escalated her anti-Russian rhetoric in recent weeks, accusing Moscow of interfering in elections and looking to “weaponise information to challenge the West.” And the Conservative-led British government has been among the loudest voices calling for penalties and embargoes against Russia.

Ironically, the Christophe de Margerie which might now be carrying gas to the UK was loaded at the personal command of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

SOURCE





Daily Telegraph Falls For Lord Deben’s Extreme Weather Scare

To the long list of naive young Telegraph journalists, we can add the name of Ashley Kirk.

Last week he penned an article called “What is Britain doing to tackle flooding in the face of extreme weather? “ (Unfortunately behind the paywall).

Apparently primed by Lord Deben, he goes on to make apocalyptic predictions that the UK will be hit by a vicious combination of extreme storms, intense downpours and rising sea levels as it faces the next century. This is all apparently predicated on a couple of wet winters in recent years.

Because of climate change he claims that our flood defences simply won’t be able to cope with the extreme flooding coming our way.

He quotes Deben as saying that periods of intense rainfall could increase in frequency by a factor of five this century as global temperatures rise, and then goes on to describe all of the problems this could cause in England, with winters being wetter.

There’s one slight problem though, which young Mr Kirk might have spotted if he had bothered to check the facts. Winters in England are not becoming wetter. And even the extremely wet winter of 2013/14 had just 8mm more rain than 1914/15.

Worse still for Deben’s little bit of disinformation, there have been several winter months which were much wetter than anything seen recently. The wettest of the lot was in December 1914.

And when we look at all months of the year, we find a similar pattern. Again, the 1910s and 20s stand out as much more extreme.

Kirk also reminds us that the Met Office concluded last year that there is around a 10% chance in any given year of existing monthly rainfall records, over any of the large regions, being matched and/or broken.

Unfortunately it did not occur to him that there are 10 UK regions, as classified by the Met Office, and 3 winter months. In other words, there are 30 possible combinations of regions/months, for which records could be set.

Given that the Met Office data only dates back to 1910, there is statistically about a 1 in 3 chance of such a record being set every year.

If Kirk had bothered to read the Met Office report which he links to, “Met Office science behind the National Flood Resilience Review”, he would have discovered this statement near the start:

"The flooding in 2013/14 and again in late 2015 was driven by large-scale frontal rainfall, a weather pattern that is often associated with river flooding and typically seen in the UK during winter months. The focus of our work was therefore on looking for synoptic weather patterns that give rise to large accumulations of rainfall that are likely to drive high river flows and flooding."

We also assessed whether climate change has played a clear role in recent rainfall and flooding events and concluded that natural variability is by far the dominant cause and will continue to be so for the next 10 years

The floods of 2013/14 and 2015 were natural variability was the dominant cause, and not climate change.

As for the rising sea levels he is panicking about, he might like to know that they have been rising at a pretty steady 7 to 8 inches a century since 1900, with no sign of acceleration.

The rate of rise was highest prior between 1920 and 1970. In the last fifty years, the rate of rise has fallen to 1.57mm/year. Indeed, at North Shields there has been no rise at all for more than a decade.

SOURCE




Virtue signalling by Bill Gates and Richard Branson

A cheap way for businessmen to gain praise

Famous faces turned up to show their support to world leaders at a major environmental summit in the fight against global warming.

More than 50 world leaders will be joined by big names including Leonardo Di Caprio, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sean Penn as part of the One Planet summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Man filmed himself killing 13 cats with blowtorch

The global meeting comes two years to the day that the historic Paris Climate Accord was signed – and there was one very noticeable absence.

US President Donald Trump – who has rejected the Paris agreement – was not invited to the summit, where participants are expected to announce billions of dollars’ worth of projects to help poor countries reduce emissions.

Trump – who is sceptical of global warming – said the Paris Accord would hurt US business.

In June, hours after Trump announced he would withdraw from it, Macron announced a contest for multi million-euro grants.

On Monday, he awarded 18 climate scientists – most of them based in the US – the grants to relocate to France for the rest of Trump’s term.

The French leader said Trump’s decision to withdraw was a ‘deep wake-up call for the private sector’ to take action.

‘If we decide not to move and not change our way to produce, to invest, to behave, we will be responsible for billions of victims,’ he told CBS News.

Developing nations say the rich are not on track to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 – from public and private sources – to help them switch from fossil fuels to greener energy sources and adapt to the effects of climate change.

The summit is expected to focus on how public and private financial institutions can invest more money and put pressure on corporate giants to shift towards ecologically friendly strategies.

‘The missing piece of the jigsaw is the funding to help the world’s poorer countries access clean energy so they don’€t follow the fossil fuel-powered path of the rich world,’ said Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid’s lead on climate change.

‘Without adequate finance, there is no way developing countries can deal with climate change or decarbonise fast enough to deliver the Paris goals.’

SOURCE




Fracking Protesters ‘Fake Police Injuries For The TV Cameras’

There is no morality in the Green/Left

Ambulance staff have accused anti-fracking protesters of faking injuries and making false allegations of police brutality in publicity stunts aimed at preventing drilling for shale gas.

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) was called out ten times in July to attend to protesters outside a site near Blackpool where Cuadrilla intends to carry out hydraulic fracturing of wells.

Graham Curry, the ambulance service’s area manager, said that seven of the protesters refused to go to hospital and were found to have no injuries or illnesses.

In an email seen by The Times he wrote: “I can say that the seven cases who refused seemed to be more for effect and the cameras rather than for any clinical need.”

He added that in another incident, on August 1, a protester claimed that his neck had been broken by the police. When crews arrived he became “very aggressive” towards them, prompting Mr Curry to attend.

“I found the patient was walking around and swearing at my paramedics and me. He refused to go to hospital,” he added in the email, sent to the office of Clive Grunshaw, police and crime commissioner for Lancashire.

He said protests that blocked the main road beside the fracking site had delayed ambulances responding to genuine emergencies in a nearby village on at least two occasions.

SOURCE

***************************************

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.  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

*****************************************


Thursday, December 14, 2017



Ho Hum!  Another  Melting Arctic report

When Arctic temperatures rise well above baseline, Warmists seem to get erections.  The fact that the earth as a whole at the same time changes only minutely should tell them that they are looking at a local phenomenon, not a global one.  But it never does.  The reason Arctic temperatures sometimes rise dramatically simply reflects the varying activity of the many underwater volcanoes around the North Pole. Because most of the Arctic is sea ice (floating ice), those volcanoes can have a big effect on the ice above them and on Arctic waters generally.  The changes have nothing to do with CO2 or human activity


In 2017, winter sea ice around the Earth's northern pole cover fell to the smallest extent on record, said the Arctic Report Card, released annually by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The year was the second warmest in modern times for the fragile Arctic, said the peer-reviewed report compiled by 85 scientists from 12 nations.

And while Arctic temperatures this year weren't record-breaking hot, scientists are still concerned.

Jeremy Mathis, head of NOAA's Arctic research program, says the region is a different place than just a decade ago.

He says a warming Arctic can cause problems like extreme weather that affects the rest of the world.

In 2017, winter sea ice around the Earth's northern pole cover fell to the smallest extent on record, said the Arctic Report Card, released annually by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The year was the second warmest in modern times for the fragile Arctic, said the peer-reviewed report compiled by 85 scientists from 12 nations.

'The magnitude and pace of the 21st century sea ice and surface ocean warming decline is unprecedented in at least the last 1,500 years and likely much longer,' said the report.

'There are many strong signals that continue to indicate the Arctic environmental system has reached a 'new normal.''

The consequences of this continued warming are dire -- harming valuable fisheries in the eastern Bering Sea, compromising roads, homes and infrastructure due to permafrost thaw and risking increasing wildfires at high altitudes, said the report.

Warmer air temperature. Average annual air temperature over land was the second highest after 2016 in the observational record, with a temperature 2.9 degrees Fahrenheit (1.6 Celsius) above the average for 1981 to 2010.

Declining sea ice. This year's maximum winter sea ice area, measured each March, was the lowest ever observed, while this year's minimum area, measured each September, was eighth-lowest on record. Sea ice is also getting thinner each year, with year-old ice comprising 79 percent of coverage, and multi-year ice just 21 percent. In 1985, multi-year ice accounted for 45 percent of sea ice.

Above average ocean temperature. Sea surface temperatures in August 2017 were 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 Celsius) above the average in the Barents and Chukchi seas. Surface waters of the Chukchi Sea have warmed 1.26 degrees Fahrenheit (0.7 Celsius) per decade since 1982.

Arctic ocean plankton blooms increasing. Springtime melting and retreating sea ice which allows sunlight to reach the upper layers of the ocean, continues to stimulate increased chlorophyll as measured by satellite, which indicates more marine plant growth across the Arctic. This increase has occurred since measurements began in 2003.

Greener tundra. Overall vegetation, including plants getting bigger and leafier, and shrubs and trees taking over grassland or tundra, increased across the Arctic in 2015 and 2016, as measured by satellite. The greatest increases over the last three decades are occurring on the North Slope of Alaska, Canada's tundra and Taimyr Peninsula of Siberia. The annual report on vegetation is based largely on data from sensors aboard NOAA weather satellites.

Snow cover up in Asia, down in North America. For the 11th year in the past 12, snow cover in the North American Arctic was below average, with communities experiencing earlier snow melt. The Eurasian part of the Arctic saw above average snow cover extent in 2017, the first time that's happened since 2005.

Less melt on Greenland Ice Sheet. Melting began early on the Greenland Ice Sheet in 2017, but slowed during a cooler summer, resulting in below-average melting when compared to the previous nine years. Overall, the Greenland Ice Sheet, a major contributor to sea level rise, continued to lose mass this past year, as it has since 2002 when measurements began.

Even though fewer heat records were shattered than in 2016, the 'Arctic shows no sign of returning to the reliably frozen region it was decades ago,' it said. 'Arctic temperatures continue to increase at double the rate of the global temperature increase.'

Scientists released the Arctic Report Card, now in its 12 year, at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

'The rapid and dramatic changes we continue to see in the Arctic present major challenges and opportunities,' said retired Navy Rear Adm. Timothy Gallaudet, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator, who led the press conference to release the report card.

'This year's Arctic Report Card is a powerful argument for why we need long-term sustained Arctic observations to support the decisions that we will need to make to improve the economic well-being for Arctic communities, national security, environmental health and food security.'

SOURCE




Global Agricultural Boom: A Million Thanks to Climate Change!

Global cereal (grain) production has reached record levels in 2017. Credit for the increase usually goes to agrochemicals and other advanced agricultural technology. However, there are two other key contributors — carbon dioxide and climate change.

World cereal production for 2017 is projected to reach 2,613.3 million tons, 5.8 million tons above 2016’s level and nearly one-fourth higher than 2008’s. Despite population growth, production per capita rose 13 percent over the last decade, from 0.31 to 0.35 tons per person.

Production of all the world’s staple food crops — such as rice, wheat, and other coarse grains like millet — has risen in the past decade.

Comparison with the period before 2008 is even more startling.

The global food production index — an index of crops considered edible and nutritious — has risen steadily in the past six decades. Doubling from 1983 to 2008, it grew more than twice as fast as population and has continued to rise.

Rice production, for example, rose almost 30 percent from 361.33 million tons in 1990 to around 506.5 million in 2017.

Yet climate alarmist scientists, politicians, and mainstream media claim that climate change would hinder global agricultural production.

There are two key reasons their claims are false — exaggeration of climate change and misconceptions regarding the biological impact of carbon dioxide.

The change in global average temperature has in fact been beneficial to life during the past 2,000 years. Global temperatures during the Roman Warm Period (around 0 A.D.) and the Medieval Warm Period (around 1000 A.D.) greatly aided human life by enhancing crop growth. The Modern Warm Period we are experiencing is in fact very similar to these earlier warm periods.

Global agricultural production suffered only during cold periods, including the Little Ice Age, which ended around the late 18th or early 19th century.

Since the 1800s, the earth has been warming — returning to levels ideal for crop production. It is remarkable that the mainstream media can claim that temperatures are killing crops when they have actually contributed to exponential growth of crop yields.

A second major reason for unprecedented growth in global vegetation, including crop yields, has been the increase in carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere during the past few centuries.

Increasing carbon dioxide has been a major driver of plant growth since the Little Ice Age. It contributed roughly $3.2 trillion worth of crop yield in 1960–2011 and can be expected to contribute another $9.8 trillion by 2050.

In other words, carbon dioxide is the elixir of life. But climate alarmists wrongly brand it a pollutant.

Studies in the fields of chemistry, physics, agro-science, and climatology all indicate that increased carbon dioxide is the major reason for the greening of the earth in the past two centuries, including substantially high growth in the past few decades.

The historic growth patterns of global vegetation, their real-time impact on agricultural output, and crop-specific studies all prove that the current climate patterns have aided in the progress of human civilization.

Claims of the adverse impact of global warming are myths propagated by global warming elites and radical environmentalists. They cannot be defended scientifically.

Both global warming and carbon dioxide have benefitted plant growth, and both are important contributors to the success of modern civilization.

If anything, the Modern Warm Period, with its high carbon dioxide concentration, has given us reason to celebrate this winter, not to fear.

SOURCE




Litigation — Ecofascists' New Weapon Against Dissent

Believe it or not, there are a large number of climate researchers who refuse to become ecofascist henchmen. Unfortunately, their nonconformity on man-made global warming means there’s a significant price to pay, which is inflicted upon them with the help of the Leftmedia. Over the last several years, leftists have resorted to an increasingly radical approach to shutting down climate skepticism — for example, by dragging dissenters to court. The latest victims are the National Academy of Sciences and Christopher Clark.

The duo are the current targets of Stanford professor Mark Jacobson, who has initiated a $10 million defamation lawsuit because Clark and 20 fellow researchers recently presented an alternative view on renewable energy’s less-rosy potential via literature that appears at the National Academy of Sciences. According to Investor’s Business Daily, “The paper … was a robust critique of work done by Stanford professor Mark Jacobson, whose widely cited research claimed that the U.S. could easily switch to 100% renewable energy in as few as 35 years.” Sadly, we live in the age of litigiousness. So why rebut when you can simply sue? And that’s exactly what Jacobson did.

Such dragging through the mud is the Left’s new modus operandi. Prominent climatologist Michael Mann claimed defamation too when he sued Tim Ball, a fellow climatologist with whom he disagreed. Moreover, according to IBD, “Now another scientist finds himself being sued by environmentalists because his results failed to conform to what they wanted. In this case, the highly respected geoscientist Ricardo Villalba conducted a scientific survey of Argentina’s glaciers. Green groups said that his survey favored mining interests, and so filed suit against him. Villalba now faces criminal charges for violating a 2010 law meant to protect Argentina’s glaciers.” And lest we forget, AGs United for Clean Power wants to see climate skeptics prosecuted. Yet a new study by two Australian scientists points to evidence of sea level measurement malpractice. This is but a small sample of what the litigious Left doesn’t want the public to see.

The esteemed author Michael Crichton once said, “The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.” Unfortunately, ecofascists want to ensure consensus-breakers aren’t able to do so without suffering severe consequences.

SOURCE





The Blue Planet movie: RIGHT ON PLASTICS AND PCBS, WRONG ON ACIDIFICATION

Matt Ridley

The BBC's Blue Planet II is superb, but got a few things wrong
My Times column on the BBC's Blue Planet II:

Nothing that Hollywood sci-fi screenwriters dream up for outer space begins to rival the beauty and ingenuity of life under water right here. Blue Planet II captured behaviour that was new to science as well as surprising: giant trevally fish eating sooty terns on the wing; Galapagos sea lions herding yellowfin tuna ashore; an octopus wrapping itself in shells to confuse sharks.

The series also preached. Every episode had a dose of bad news about the ocean and a rebuke to humanity, while the entire last episode was devoted to the environmental cause, featuring overfishing, pollution, climate change and ocean acidification. The team behind the incomparable Sir David Attenborough has acceded to demands that it should push more environmentalism.

Bottlenose dolphins in South Africa on the BBC’s Blue Planet II
Bottlenose dolphins in South Africa on the BBC’s Blue Planet IIPA

Mostly, these sermons were spot on. It is a scandal that eight million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year, though 95 per cent of it comes from just ten rivers, all in Asia and Africa, so that’s where the main effort is needed. Plastic kills albatross chicks and even whales.

The series has been accused of cheating in the sequence in which a pilot whale is shown carrying its decomposing calf. The commentary implied, without actually saying, that the calf might have died from ingesting plastic, or from pollutants in its mother’s milk. Yet there was no evidence of how it died. I think that’s unfair on the BBC. The commentary was careful and raised a valid worry.

Why are there still so few killer whales, bottlenose dolphins and great white sharks in European waters, now that seal numbers have hugely increased? There is only one resident pod of killer whales in British waters, and it is dwindling, with no calves born for years.

In conclusion, this pan-European meta-analysis of stranded or biopsied cetaceans demonstrates that several European cetacean species, specifically BNDs, SDs, and KWs, currently have markedly elevated blubber PCB concentrations. Particular “PCB hotspots” included the western (SDs and BNDs) and central (BNDs) Mediterranean Sea and SW Iberia, the Gulf of Cadiz (BNDs) and the Strait of Gibraltar (BNDs and KWs). Despite an EU ban on the use and manufacture of PCBs in the mid-1980s, blubber PCB concentrations are still very high, possibly having reached a “steady state” between environmental input and degradation, meaning that high PCB exposures are set to continue for the long-term in cetacean top predators in Europe.

These high and stable PCB exposures are associated with small populations, long-term population declines or contraction of range in several dolphin species in Europe (NE Atlantic and Mediterranean Seas) that were not adequately explained by other factors (e.g. bycatch or other anthropogenic causes of mortality).

Bycatch is common in the most abundant cetacean species in Europe, but is comparatively rare in BNDs and virtually unrecorded in recent years for KWs, suggesting that the ongoing population declines in these two species are predominantly driven by other processes, with bioaccumulation of PCBs through marine food chains being the predominant factor.

A lack of recruitment in monitored KW and BND populations is also consistent with PCB toxicity as the likeliest cause of their declines. In the Mediterranean Sea, the SD has suffered recurrent CeMV mortalities, which may have been exacerbated by the high and immunotoxic level of PCB exposure. Without significant mitigation, PCBs will continue to drive population declines or suppress population recovery in Europe for many decades to come.

Measures to significantly reduce inputs of PCBs into the marine environment from terrestrial and other sources are urgently needed. Further studies are also needed to better assess PCB exposure and quantify toxic effects in marine apex predator populations in Europe. Finally, the potential impact of PCB bioaccumulation in marine ecosystems may extend beyond European waters, particularly in globally distributed marine apex predators such as KWs, false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) and great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias).

Being at the top of the food chain, these mammals concentrate PCBs in their fat and it renders them sterile (killer whales that eat fish, rather than seals, are doing better).

PCBs were used mainly in electrical equipment until they were banned in the 1980s. Off America, this problem is fading: PCB levels have fallen and animals have “offloaded” the pollutants in milk, such that after several births they can bear and feed healthy calves. PCB levels in European waters fell but have now stabilised, implying that they are still getting into the sea somehow.

I was glad to see these issues given more attention, at last, than global warming, having long argued that the obsession with climate change (increasingly recognised as gradual) is diverting attention and money from more urgent environmental issues such as overfishing, pollution and invasive species.

It was good, too, to hear Attenborough’s recognition, rare on the BBC, that we are living through an unexpectedly bountiful renaissance in some marine ecosystems. Too often we are told only the bad news. The last episode featured the recovery of turtles, as well as the resurgent herring, killer whales and humpback whales of Norway, and the vast concentrations of sperm whales now being seen for the first time since the era of Moby Dick. Many populations of sperm, right, grey, bowhead, fin, blue and humpback whales are now high again, and rising at 5 to 10 per cent a year, something I never dreamt would happen in my lifetime.

The series could have made the same point about the penguins, fur seals and elephant seals of South Georgia, an island denuded of almost all wildlife about 75 years ago, but now once again teeming. Or about walruses, an Arctic species that has rebounded after centuries of exploitation. When I first visited Spitsbergen in the 1970s there were about 100 walruses there. Today there are about 4,000 and the population is still increasing rapidly.

Walruses were brought to the brink of extinction in Svalbard (Norway) during 350 years of unregulated harvesting. They became protected in 1952, when few remained. During the first 30 years of protection, approximately 100 animals became established within the archipelago, most of which likely came from Franz Josef Land, to the east. A marked recovery has taken place since then. This study reports the results of a photographic aerial survey flown in summer 2012, covering all current and historical haul-out sites for walruses in Svalbard. It provides updates regarding the increasing numbers of: (1) landbased haul-out sites (from 78 in 2006 to 91 in 2012); (2) occupied sites (from 17 in 2006 to 24 in the 2012 survey); (3) sites with mother-calf pairs (which increased from a single site with a single small calf in 2006 to 10 sites with a total of 57 small calves in 2012) and (4) a 48% increase in abundance in the six-year period between the two surveys to 3886 (confidence interval 3553-4262) animals, including animals in the water at the time of the survey.

Future environmental change might reduce benthic production in the Arctic, reducing the prey-base for walruses, and also impact walruses directly via declines in their sea-ice breeding habitat. But, currently the Svalbard walrus population is growing at a rate that matches the theoretical maximum rate of growth that has been calculated for recovering walrus populations under favourable environmental conditions with no food limitations.
Walruses recovering after 60+ years of protection in Svalbard, Norway

So it was naughty of Blue Planet II, in showing a sequence in which a mother and calf walrus desperately try to find a bit of ice big enough to bear their weight but not already occupied by other walruses, to imply that this was evidence of climate change threatening a species with extinction. Most of the ice in the Arctic Ocean disappears each summer and reappears each winter. Walruses have hauled out on shore, or on what’s left of the ice at that season, forever. The main thing that has changed is that there are now more walruses, and more polar bears feasting on them, throughout the Arctic.

So the climate change obsession is still sometimes getting in the way of telling the truth. The most dishonest sequence in the series was when Attenborough watched shells dissolving in a tank of acid, to a soundtrack of fizzing noises, and was told by Professor Chris Langdon that although this was “more dramatic than what’s happening in the oceans”, nonetheless “the shells and the reefs are really truly dissolving”.

This is highly misleading in several different ways. Was it carbonic acid, or another acid? The reduction in alkalinity will get nowhere near neutral, let alone actual acidity, even by the end of the 22nd century, so “dissolving” is false, let alone happening now. The changes in ocean pH expected even by the end of this century are minuscule compared with what was shown in that tank, and by comparison with the daily and seasonal changes that an average reef experiences. (Coral bleaching, a different issue, is more serious, but more temporary.)

A 2010 analysis of 372 studies of 44 different marine species found that the world’s marine fauna is “more resistant to ocean acidification than suggested by pessimistic predictions” and that it “may not be the widespread problem conjured into the 21st century”:

"Ocean acidification has been proposed to pose a major threat for marine organisms, particularly shell-forming and calcifying organisms. Here we show, on the basis of meta-analysis of available experimental assessments, differences in organism responses to elevated pCO2 and propose that marine biota may be more resistant to ocean acidification than expected.

Calcification is most sensitive to ocean acidification while it is questionable if marine functional diversity is impacted significantly along the ranges of acidification predicted for the 21st century. Active biological processes and small-scale temporal and spatial variability in ocean pH may render marine biota far more resistant to ocean acidification than hitherto believed."

And recent work has established that corals’ ability to make skeletons is “largely independent of changes in seawater carbonate chemistry, and hence ocean acidification...the relevance of their commonly reported finding of reduced coral calcification with reduced seawater pH must now be questioned”. Indeed, one study found that calcifying plankton “respond positively to acidification with CO2enrichment”,

"As a result, cell growth and cellular calcification of E. huxleyi were strongly damaged by acidification by HCl, but not by acidification by CO2 enrichment...The present study clearly showed that the coccolithophore, E. huxleyi, has an ability to respond positively to acidification with CO2 enrichment, but not just acidification."

another that the growth rate of corals also increases with higher carbon dioxide up to 600 parts per mllion and concluded:

"Furthermore, the warming projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the end of the twenty-first century caused a fivefold decrease in the rate of coral calcification, while the acidification projected for the same interval had no statistically significant impact on the calcification rate—suggesting that ocean warming poses a more immediate threat than acidification for this important coral species."

The producers of Blue Planet II claim every word of the commentary was based on solid scientific evidence. Not in this case. In a magnificent series, they got that one wrong.

SOURCE




Australia: NSW govt won't back down on shark nets

Once again the Green/Left want to toy with people's lives by introducing unproven safety measures.  The whole point behind their activism is to save the lives of other creatures that get caught in the nets.  Who cares if a few people get attacked?  Greenies think people are pollution

The NSW government won't stop its shark net meshing program despite a Senate inquiry report finding nets provide a false sense of safety.

A shark expert has called on the NSW government to change its approach to shark prevention, insisting shark nets can't be relied upon to provide safety to beachgoers.

The criticism follows the release of a Senate inquiry report on Tuesday, which had been charged with examining shark mitigation and deterrent measures.

The report recommended shark nets across NSW beaches be phased out as their effectiveness was difficult to evaluate, but the significant damage caused to other marine wildlife was clear.

The NSW government has refused to put an end to its controversial netting program, noting on Wednesday there had only been one shark attack fatality at a meshed beach in NSW since the 1930s.

University of Sydney shark bite researcher Christopher Neff has slammed the government's decision, insisting the nets are not a "reputable approach" to beach safety. "If the government ignores the most comprehensive study on shark prevention in Australia, they need to rethink their approach," Dr Neff told AAP on Wednesday. "There is absolutely no evidence to support that shark nets are the leading beach safety option."

He urged the government to consider drones as an inexpensive early warning direction system that would work "phenomenally" with shark shields on surfboards.

The Greens-dominated Senate committee found the measures implemented by some governments, including mesh nets in NSW, provided beachgoers with a false sense of security.

But NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair has remained firm in the government's decision to keep the meshed nets in place.

"I find it insulting to the staff that have been researching this area, insulting to the investment we've put in and more importantly it's insulting to the communities that have been affected by shark attacks," Mr Blair told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

Following concerns about the amounts of by-catch caught up in the nets, the government made modifications to reduce the effects on marine wildlife and continues to investment in SMART drumlines and drone technology as part of a suite of measures to make beachgoers safe, Mr Blair said.

Marine conservationist and drone operator Dean Jefferys also championed the use of drones as a "ridiculously cheap" option but said it was about time the government came on board and phased out the nets.

"If the government refuses to implement the recommendation of the Senate inquiry, we will launch an international social media campaign urging tourists and locals to not swim at beaches with shark nets," Mr Jefferys told AAP on Wednesday.

SOURCE

***************************************

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.  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

*****************************************

Wednesday, December 13, 2017



Investigation finds Swedish scientists committed scientific misconduct

Probe centered on controversial paper that claimed microplastic pollution harms fish

Two Swedish scientists have been found guilty of "misconduct in research" in a paper that they published in Science1 and later retracted. Their highly publicized work had suggested that tiny particles of plastic in the ocean harm fish.

The misconduct ruling was made by an investigative board from Uppsala University in Sweden, where the researchers work.

Marine biologist Oona Lönnstedt and limnologist Peter Eklöv originally reported in their 2016 paper that microplastic particles had negative effects on young fish, including reducing their efforts to avoid predators. The duo's report described a series of experiments on an island in the Baltic Sea. After other researchers raised questions about data availability and details of the experiments, Uppsala conducted an initial investigation and found no evidence of misconduct.

However, an expert group of Sweden’s Central Ethical Review Board, which was also tasked with vetting the study, concluded in April 2017 that Lönnstedt and Eklöv “have been guilty of scientific misconduct”. The researchers defended the paper but requested that Science retract it in light of questions about their findings.

To settle the controversy, the university’s vice-chancellor, Eva Åkesson, subsequently handed over the case to the newly established Board for Investigation of Misconduct in Research at Uppsala University for further scrutiny.

Charges made

In its decision, announced on 7 December, the board finds Lönnstedt guilty of having intentionally fabricated data; it alleges that Lönnstedt did not conduct the experiments during the period — and to the extent — described in the Science paper.

Eklöv, who was Lönnstedt's supervisor and co-author, failed to check that the research was carried out as described, the board says. However, by the rules in force at Uppsala at the time of the work, which required that misconduct findings apply only to intentional acts, the board said that Eklöv's failure to check the research "cannot entail liability for misconduct in research" .

Both researchers, the board concluded, "are guilty of misconduct in research by violating the regulations on ethical approval for animal experimentation".

On the basis of the board's report, Åkesson rendered a decision that “Oona Lönnstedt and Peter Eklöv are guilty of misconduct in research.”

It was only when the new board looked into the matter again that the university fully realized the seriousness of the allegations, says Erik Lempert, chair of the board.

“That long and arduous battle has finally concluded with a reasonable outcome,” says Timothy Clark, an ecologist at Deakin University in Geelong, Australia, who was one of the researchers to initially raise concerns about the paper

Eklöv wrote in an e-mail to Nature that he takes full responsibility for the errors in the animal ethical permit. “But most of all I am very disappointed on my colleague to find out that she actually had fabricated data,” he says. “At the same time, it is very good that the committee was able to clarify these circumstances to whether she actually was guilty.”

SOURCE





Feds Urge Court To Dismiss ‘Children’s’ Lawsuit Backed By Deep-Pocketed Foundations

A test case for a national effort to bring so-called “children’s” lawsuits backed by deep-pocketed philanthropic foundations in more than a half dozen states reached federal court Monday.

Underwritten by several foundations, including the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and with most of the 21 young people who filed the lawsuit in attendance, the plaintiffs argued for the case to move forward to trial.

“Children are disproportionately experiencing the impacts of climate change, and will going forward,” said Julia Olson, Executive Director of Our Children’s Trust. Allowing the case to continue, Olson argued, would allow “these young people [to] present their historic and scientific evidence and make their case.”

Federal lawyers asked the court to halt the suit, calling all aspects of the case “unprecedented.”

“It is really extraordinary. Plaintiffs seek unprecedented standing to pursue unprecedented claims in pursuit of an unprecedented remedy,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Eric Grant told the three-member panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The three-member panel includes two Clinton appointees and a Reagan appointee.

All three judges expressed skepticism of the lawsuit’s potential for success to varying degrees, though the Clinton-appointed judges—Judge Marsha Berzon and Chief Judge Sidney Thomas—appeared hesitant to grant the administration’s lawyers’ request to halt the lawsuit before reaching trial.

Dr. James Hansen, former director of the U.S. NASA Goddard Space Institute, also attended the proceeding. Hansen helped connect Olson with another child plaintiff previously, when Olson was looking to find children who would act as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against government agencies. Hansen, inspired by his own grandchildren, believed that a turn to the courts would provide relief.

“The judicial branch is much less influenced by special interests such as the fossil fuel industry,” Hansen told The Atlantic in 2012.

Olson’s inspiration for inviting children to bring lawsuits stems from her colleague Mary Christina Wood, law professor at the University of Oregon, who first introduced “Atmospheric Trust Litigation” as a brand of the public trust doctrine in law.

In a 2012 report, “Establishing Accountability for Climate Change Damages: Lessons from Tobacco Control” issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Climate Accountability Institute, Wood outlined “her involvement with so-called atmospheric trust litigation, a legal strategy she pioneered that is now unfolding in all 50 states. The goal of the litigation—to force massive reforestation and soil carbon sequestration that would return the planet to a sustainable level of atmospheric carbon dioxide (350 parts per million)—is grounded in the internationally recognized principle known as the Public Trust Doctrine, first enunciated by the Roman Emperor Justinian.”

“Under this doctrine, a state or third-party corporation can be held liable for stealing from or damaging a resource—in this case, the atmosphere—that is held as a public trust. The beneficiaries in the case are citizens—both current and future—who claim that the defendants (the state or federal government or third-party corporations) have a duty to protect and not damage that resource, which they oversee or for which they bear some responsibility,” the report’s authors wrote.

“Wood noted that this legal action has several promising features: it is being brought by children, can highlight local impacts of climate change because it is being brought in every state, and is flexible enough to be brought against states, tribes, the federal government, or corporations,” the report continued.

A landmark 2009 lawsuit brought against utilities by six states was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court in a unanimous decision in 2011. The nation’s highest court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency held the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, not federal judges. This reversed a lower court decision that would have allowed the lawsuit to proceed to trial.

“In a world filled with silly, frivolous, and undeserving lawsuits, these plaintiffs take the cake.  It is difficult to imagine one that—to even the lay person on the street—is more ridiculous,” said William Perry Pendley, President of Mountain States Legal Foundation. “We have confronted and defeated similar claims in Colorado where one plaintiff said she had standing because her grandchildren would no longer be able to ski in Colorado.  There are much better things for federal courts to do than hear foolish lawsuits like this.  Let us hope the Ninth Circuit does the right thing,” Pendley told Western Wire.

Marc Morano, publisher of Climate Depot and author of upcoming book, “Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change,” told Western Wire, “Climate activists have shamelessly stooped to using children for their PR efforts. Shame on these parents for allowing their kids to be used as cheap publicity pawns in the climate debate.”

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund lists $180,000 in grants to Our Children’s Trust since 2014 to “Advance Solutions to Climate Change: Public and Policymaker Awareness of Climate Change.”

The Leonardio DiCaprio Foundation (LDF) sent $1.3 million to a host of recipients, including Our Children’s Trust, as part of $15.6 million effort.

“LDF believes in supporting innovative approaches to galvanize action on climate change. Our Children’s Trust (OCT), is taking a novel litigation approach by representing the voice of youth in a groundbreaking climate change lawsuit against the U.S. federal government. The case has achieved notable success thus far and will be heading to trial shortly. OCT hopes to secure a legally binding ruling wherein the federal government would be required to act on climate change,” LDF wrote in a recent marketing brochure.

The foundation has also established a $1 million rotating litigation fund.

“This important grant will help Our Children’s Trust advance the global climate campaign in which more and more young people around the globe are exercising their fundamental constitutional and public trust rights to demand urgent reductions in carbon and methane pollution to stabilize our climate system and protect our oceans,” Olson wrote to LDF. “Where political branches of governments have failed us, these youth are bringing landmark actions in their state and federal courts to secure the legally binding right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate, in accordance with current science, for the benefit of all present and future generations.”

SOURCE






Under Trump, EPA slows actions against polluters
     
Which most likely reflects a less hysterical definition of pollution

Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator, has said the Trump administration’s high-profile regulatory rollback does not mean a free pass for violators of environmental laws. But the Trump administration has taken a turn in the enforcement of federal pollution laws.

An analysis of enforcement data by The New York Times shows that the administration has adopted a more lenient approach than the previous two administrations — Democratic and Republican — toward polluters like those in East Liverpool.

The Times built a database of civil cases filed at the EPA during the Trump, Obama, and Bush administrations.

During the first nine months under Pruitt’s leadership, the EPA started about 1,900 cases, about one-third fewer than the number under president Barack Obama’s first EPA director and about one-quarter fewer than under president George W. Bush’s during the same time period.

In addition, the agency sought civil penalties of about $50.4 million from polluters for cases initiated under Trump. Adjusted for inflation, that is about 39 percent of what the Obama administration sought and about 70 percent of what the Bush administration sought over the same time period.

The EPA, turning to one of its most powerful enforcement tools, also can force companies to retrofit their factories to cut pollution. Under Trump, those demands have dropped sharply.

The agency has demanded about $1.2 billion worth of such fixes, known as injunctive relief, in cases initiated during the nine-month period, which, adjusted for inflation, is about 12 percent of what was sought under Obama and 48 percent under Bush.

Resolving complicated pollution cases can take time, and the EPA said it remained committed to ensuring companies obeyed environmental laws.

“EPA and states work together to find violators and bring them back into compliance, and to punish intentional polluters,” the agency said in a statement. Officials said Pruitt was less fixated on seeking large penalties than some of his predecessors were.

“We focus more on bringing people back into compliance than bean counting,” the statement said.

Confidential internal EPA documents show that the enforcement slowdown coincides with major policy changes ordered by Pruitt’s team after pleas from oil and gas industry executives.

The documents, which were reviewed by The Times, indicate that EPA enforcement officers across the country no longer have the authority to order certain air and water pollution tests, known as requests for information, without receiving permission from Washington. The tests are essential to building a case against polluters.

At at least two of the agency’s most aggressive regional offices, requests for information involving companies suspected of polluting have fallen significantly under Trump, according to internal EPA data.

In the last two complete fiscal years of the Obama administration, the EPA’s office in Chicago sent requests for testing that covered an average of 50 facilities per year, or about 4.2 each month. By comparison, after the policy changes, one such request for a single facility was made in the subsequent four-month period.

The enforcement slowdown has been compounded by the departure of more than 700 employees at the EPA since Trump’s election, many of them via buyouts intended to reduce the agency’s size.

Separately, Pruitt’s team has told officials and industry representatives in Missouri, North Dakota, and other states that EPA enforcement officers will stand down on some pollution cases, according to agency documents.

The retrenchment is said to be part of a nationwide handoff of many enforcement duties to state authorities, an effort Pruitt calls cooperative federalism but critics say is an industry-friendly way to ease up on polluters.

The Times asked top EPA enforcement officials from the Obama and Bush administrations to review The Times’ data, analysis, and methodology. They said the slowdown signaled a sea change in enforcement under Trump.

“Those kinds of numbers are stark,” said Granta Nakayama, a lawyer who served in the Bush administration as assistant administrator for the EPA’s enforcement office and who now represents companies facing EPA enforcement actions for the law firm King & Spalding.

“If you’re not filing cases, the cop’s not on the beat,” he said. “Or has the cop been taken off the beat?”

Some enforcement experts suggested that the EPA under Pruitt might have filed fewer cases because it was going after larger penalties. But according to the Times analysis, most of the top penalties were smaller than those in the previous two administrations.

SOURCE





U.S. transit agencies cautious on electric buses despite bold forecasts

Communities across the United States are looking to replace their dirty diesel buses, ushering in what some analysts predict will be a boom in electric fleets.

But transit agencies doing the buying are moving cautiously, an analysis by Reuters shows. Out of more than 65,000 public buses plying U.S. roads today, just 300 are electric. Among the challenges: EVs are expensive, have limited range and are unproven on a mass scale.

A typical 40-foot electric bus costs around $750,000, compared with about $435,000 for a diesel bus. Cheaper fuel and maintenance expenses can lower the overall costs over the 12-year life of the vehicles. But those costs can widely depending on utility rates, terrain and weather.

The technology is still a gamble for many cities at a time when bus ridership is falling nationwide and officials are trying to keep a lid on fares, says Chris Stoddart, an executive at Canadian bus maker New Flyer Industries Inc. A top supplier of conventional buses to the U.S. market, the company has just a handful of pure battery electrics in service.

“People worry about being an early adopter. Remember 20 years ago someone paid $20,000 for a plasma TV and then 10 years later it was $900 at Best Buy,” said Stoddart, senior vice president of engineering and customer service for New Flyer. “People just don’t want a science project.”

Rival electric bus manufacturers expect dramatic growth; the most ambitious forecasts call for all bus purchases to be electric by 2030.

But even green-energy advocates are skeptical of such rosy predictions. CALSTART, a California-based nonprofit that promotes clean transportation, figures 50 percent to 60 percent of new buses will be zero emissions by 2030. Market research firm Navigant Research expects electric buses to make up 27 percent of new U.S. bus sales by 2027.

Transit agencies have found EV performance lags in extreme conditions. In environmentally friendly San Francisco, officials have resisted electrics over concerns about the city’s famously steep hills. “The technology isn’t quite there yet,” Erica Kato, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said in a statement.

Weather is also a major challenge.

An electric bus tested last year near Phoenix wilted in the summer heat due to the strains of running the air conditioning. The vehicle never achieved more than 89.9 miles on a charge, less than two-thirds of its advertised range, according to a report by the Valley Metro Regional Public Transportation Authority.

In Massachusetts, two agencies running small numbers of electric buses - the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority in Springfield and Worcester’s Regional Transit Authority - say the vehicles weaken in extreme cold and snow. They have no plans to acquire additional EVs, officials at those agencies said.

Even places with successful pilots have downplayed expectations. Seattle’s King County Metro transit agency soon will be operating more than a dozen vehicles by three manufacturers, according to Pete Melin, director of zero emission fleet technologies. The agency likes what it has seen so far.

Still, Melin said, high electricity rates from the local utility at peak demand periods are a concern. And the lack of a uniform charging system among bus makers has complicated Seattle’s goal of running an all-electric fleet by 2034.

“We have caveats to becoming zero emissions,” Melin said in an interview.

Another worry is government funding. Federal money for bus purchases is about 25 percent lower than it was five years ago, according to Rob Healy, vice president of government affairs for the American Public Transportation Association......

Winnipeg-based New Flyer, meanwhile, has won some big orders, including a deal to supply up to 100 electric buses to Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Still, company executives view electrification as a gradual transformation.

“It’s going to be a slow, methodical rather than an absolute disruption type environment,” CEO Paul Soubry said on a conference call with analysts last month.

SOURCE





Australia: Electricity and gas bills take up to 12 per cent of household budgets

Large low-income families, pensioners and indigenous Australians have been hardest hit by the rise in energy costs and face increasing difficulty paying electricity and gas bills that could consume 12 per cent of their household budgets.

Research to be released today by KPMG, using census data and the Household Expenditure Survey published this year, pinpoints the impacts of “energy poverty’’, suggesting about 42,000 families are struggling to deal with rising power costs.

The paper, authored by demographer Bernard Salt, who acted as special adviser on the research, and Cassandra Hogan, KPMG’s national sector leader for power and utilities, suggests that spending on energy rises only modestly as income rises.

Per-person spending in the lowest income bracket averaged $15.57 a week compared with $18.91 in the highest income bracket. This meant low-income families had limited ways of reducing energy costs and large families and pensioners were most vulnerable to rising bills.

A low-income family of five with an estimated weekly energy cost of $77.85 would be spending about 12 per cent of their weekly income of about $650 on energy. A pensioner couple’s weekly energy costs of about $31 would be 5 per cent of a weekly income of $650.

Ms Hogan said the rising cost of energy could affect a household’s quality of life “in a very real way since energy is a fixed, as opposed to a discretionary, cost’’. “And the reason why it is devastating is because it exposes no less than 1 per cent of the Australian nation, including no less than 200,000 kids, to the bruising effects of energy poverty,” Ms Hogan said. “Poor households with big families in the public housing estates of our biggest cities are most exposed. For these Australians there is no defence.’’

The impact of energy poverty includes about 10,000 low-income families in the western Sydney suburbs of Fairfield and Liverpool. Energy poverty hot spots in Melbourne include about 9700 families in the city’s north at Hume and the southeast at Dandenong. In Brisbane, the impact is clustered around Logan to the south of the city, affecting 3700 families. In Perth about 3000 families, centred on Gosnells, are affected. And in Adelaide, the impact is on about 2400 families around Salisbury.

The research found that weekly average household spending on domestic energy had risen 26 per cent over six years to $40.92 from $32.52 in 2010.

Ms Hogan said better targeting of relief payments and hardship schemes was required from government and retailers. She said customers facing hardship could be automatically placed on the best available energy offers. She also called for improved efforts to offer early assistance to customers struggling to pay.

“The federal and state governments need to develop a national concessions framework to ensure a consistent and transparent approach to customer assistance that minimises costs for retailers and hence consumers,’’ she said.

Smarter technology enabling customers to understand where costs were escalating quickest would help them manage. They would also benefit if retail plans were made easier to understand and to compare like-for- like.

While new technology such as gas and battery storage and more energy-efficient appliances could help, gas remained a potential problem. There were insufficient options to alleviate gas consumption, which represented a large proportion of household energy usage.

SOURCE

***************************************

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.  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

*****************************************