Friday, July 03, 2009

Everything is bent to promote global warming -- even the size of sheep

Crazy stuff. Why? 1). Since there has been no global warming for 10 of the 24 years concerned, the explanation given fails its most basic assumption. More likely is that some imported pest has reduced the amount of forage available and that factor enhances the survival of smaller animals. 2). Most sheep in Australia run wild and do so in much warmer climates than St. Kilda -- and they are generally big healthy animals. By the logic below they should all be the size of Chihuahuas

CLIMATE change has caused a flock of wild sheep on a remote northern Scottish island to become smaller, according to an unusual investigation published on Thursday. The study explains a mystery that has bedevilled scientists for the past two years.

The wild Soay sheep live on Hirta, in the St. Kilda archipelago in the storm-battered Outer Hebrides, and have been closely studied for nearly a quarter of a century. The law of evolutionary theory says the brown, thick-coated ungulates should have got progressively bigger. Tough winters mean that bigger sheep have a better chance of survival and of reproducing than smaller ones, and eventually they would dominate in the flock's numbers. But in 2007, stunned researchers realised that the average size of the Hirta sheep, instead of rising, had been progressively falling.

The answer, British biologists said on Thursday, lies in climate change. A team led by Tim Coulson, a professor at Imperial College London, pored over data for the animals' body size and life history over 24 years. They found that the sheep were not growing as fast as they once did and smaller sheep were likelier to survive into adulthood instead of perishing as lambs. This gives smaller sheep a shot at reproduction, which means that the average sheep size has fallen - by 81gram per year on average.

Coulson believes that shorter, milder winters mean that lambs do not need to put on as much weight in the first months of life in order to survive to their first birthday, as they did when winters were colder. “In the past, only the big, healthy sheep and large lambs that had piled on weight in their first summer could survive the harsh winters on Hirta,” he said. “But now, due to climate change, grass for food is available for more months of the year and survival conditions are not so challenging - even the slower-growing sheep have a chance of making it, and this means smaller individuals are becoming increasingly prevalent in the population.”

Another factor in the sheep shrinkage is a so-called “young mum effect.” Ewes that give birth earlier tend to produce smaller sheep, thus adding to the smaller average size.

Man-made climate change is already having an impact on species in terms of habitat and migratory patterns. But scientists say it is hard to predict which will be winners and losers from the change, partly because of the complexity of separating out evolutionary pressures from environmental factors.

The new study, published in the US journal Science, could help, said Coulson. “Biologists have realised that ecological and evolutionary processes are intricately intertwined, and they now have a way of dissecting out the contribution of each,” he said. “Unfortunately, it is too early to tell whether a warming world will lead to pocket-sized sheep.”



Henrik Svensmark et al have a new GRL paper in press entitled: 'Cosmic ray decreases affect atmospheric aerosols and clouds'

The Abstract states:

Close passages of coronal mass ejections from the sun are signaled at the Earth's surface by Forbush decreases in cosmic ray counts. We find that low clouds contain less liquid water following Forbush decreases (FDs), and for the most influential events the liquid water in the oceanic atmosphere can diminish by as much as 7%. Cloud water content as gauged by the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) reaches a minimum around 7 days after the Forbush minimum in cosmic rays, and so does the fraction of low clouds seen by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and in the International Satellite Cloud Climate Project (ISCCP). Parallel observations by the aerosol robotic network AERONET reveal falls in the relative abundance of fine aerosol particles which, in normal circumstances, could have evolved into cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). Thus a link between the sun, cosmic rays, aerosols, and liquid-water clouds appears to exist on a global scale.

The paper concludes:

Our results show global-scale evidence of conspicuous influences of solar variability on cloudiness and aerosols. Irrespective of the detailed mechanism, the loss of ions from the air during FDs reduces the cloud liquid water content over the oceans. So marked is the response to relatively small variations in the total ionization, we suspect that a large fraction of Earth's clouds could be controlled by ionization. Future work should estimate how large a volume of the Earth's atmosphere is involved in the ion process that leads to the changes seen in CCN and its importance for the Earth's radiation budget. From solar activity to cosmic ray ionization to aerosols and liquid-water clouds, a causal chain appears to operate on a global scale.

Reference: Svensmark, H., T. Bondo, and J. Svensmark (2009), Cosmic ray decreases affect atmospheric aerosols and clouds, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2009GL038429, in press. (accepted 17 June 2009)


Exxon-Mobil gives peanuts to climate skeptics

Skeptics get $365,000 out of a total of 9 million (4%) given to all environment groups

Company records for 2008 show that ExxonMobil gave $75,000 (£45,500) to the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) in Dallas, Texas and $50,000 (£30,551) to the Heritage Foundation in Washington. It also gave $245,000 (£149,702) to the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington.

The list of donations in the company’s 2008 Worldwide Contributions and Community investments is likely to trigger further anger from environmental activists, who have accused ExxonMobil of giving tens of millions to climate change sceptics in the past decade. All three groups have raised questions about global warming. [How awful1 Raising questions! Unforgiveable] The Heritage Foundation published note last year that said: “Growing scientific evidence casts doubt on whether global warming constitutes a threat, including the fact that 2008 is about to go into the books as a cooler year than 2007”.

ExxonMobil promised in 2006 to stop funding climate change sceptics after it was criticised by the Royal Society for giving money to researchers who were “misinforming the public about the science of climate change”. In its 2008 corporate citizenship report, published last year, ExxonMobil repeated that it would cut funds to several groups that “divert attention” from the need to find new sources of clean energy.

The company has cut funding to several of the more controversial groups, including Frontiers for Freedom, who said in 2007: “The truth is, there is no conclusive or reliable scientific proof that the sky is falling or that Earth’s climate is experiencing cataclysmic warming caused by man’s activities.” The George C Marshall Institute also did not receive any Exxon money last year.

The oil giant also funded a range of environmental groups last year, giving $110,000 (£67,222) to the Alliance to Save Energy, $105,000 (£64,166) to the Annapolis Center for Science-based Public Policy, $100,000 (£61,113) to the Energy research centre at Columbia University and $35,000 (£21,389) to the Center for Clean Air Policy.

A spokesman for ExxonMobil said the company reviews its contributions annually and that it had “the same concerns as people everywhere, and that is how to provide the world with the energy it needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We take the issue of climate change seriously and the risks warrant action.”

ExxonMobil donated a total of $9 million (£5.5million) to environment-related groups in 2008, and a total of $225million (£137million) to charity, 1/200th of its $45.2billion (£27.6billion) profits for the year.



General Motors this week announced it is quitting its three-decade joint venture with Toyota at the vaunted NUMMI plant near San Francisco. The facility has been much ballyhooed over the years for its cooperative symbolism - it benefited then-neophyte Toyota to employ UAW labor as it entered a wary, protectionist-minded, 1980s U.S. market, while GM was eager to learn Toyota's vaunted manufacturing techniques - but that has outlived its usefulness now that GM and Toyota are struggling with overcapacity today.

But the little details of the NUMMI plant are equally newsworthy.

NUMMI is Toyota's most expensive manufacturing facility in North America - and it is the only auto manufacturing plant in California, period (despite the Golden State's status as America's largest auto market). Why? Because California is a nightmare for large manufacturing.

Its high energy costs, high taxes, and heavy-handed environmental regulation make it prohibitively expensive to build cars relative to other states in the union. Yet Washington is rushing headlong to adopt California's economic and regulatory model for the entire country.

And that means future large manufacturing will be going overseas.


Green-industrial complex gets rich from carbon laws

THE word environmentalist usually conjures images of down-at-heel campaigners in tie-dyed T-shirts who eat only organic muesli. In truth, going green has become big business. We are witnessing the emergence of a green-industrial complex, an alliance between national governments, corporations and powerful individuals that is using the politics of fear to transform the economic and political worlds.

For a snapshot of the government and business interests intertwined in the rise of green capitalism, consider Al Gore. He's getting rich from environmentalism, not just by being paid a whopping $US175,000 ($217,500) a speech but by using political pressure to force government policy in a direction that benefits his business interests.

Gore is chairman of the Alliance for Climate Protection, an outfit that seeks to "persuade people of the importance, urgency and feasibility" of going green. It recently launched a $US300 million ad campaign to coax American people and politicians to embrace the carbon-lite lifestyle.

But Gore is also chairman of a greeninvestment firm called Generation Investment Management, which is a member of the Copenhagen Climate Council, an international collaboration of businesses and science bodies, and which invests in firms that produce renewable energy and low-carbon technology. So Gore uses one of his multimillion-dollar organisations, the Alliance for Climate Protection, to put pressure on government to promote the low-carbon lifestyle that will furnish one of his other multimillion-dollar organisations, General Investment Management, with booming business.

Gore's activities provide only a glimpse into the new collusion between greens, businesses and government. So speedily has this network come together that according to one critic of the politics of environmentalism, Bjorn Lomborg, it is not going too far to liken the new green-industrial complex to the military-industrial complex that president Dwight Eisenhower warned of in the 1950s.

Governments across the world are promoting green ideology and economics on the back of the recession. President Barack Obama has spoken of a "green revolution" and spending $US150 billion to create five million "green-collar" jobs. As a result, the race is on among green-leaning businesses to snap up new government contracts and among not-so-green businesses to improve their green-industrial credentials in the hope of reaping government cash.

Yet the international evidence suggests the attempt to create green jobs will hamper economic recovery. Obama cited Spain as a country where green jobs have improved economic matters. In fact, according to a study by a professor of economics at Juan Carlos University in Madrid, for every green job created by the Spanish government in recent years, an average of 2.2 other jobs were destroyed to make way for it. Furthermore, green jobs tend not to be permanent; in Spain, only 1 in 10 green jobs exists for a significant period.

In Britain, green-industrial activists have used their political clout and scientific research, much of it derived from studies that underpin the business-science alliance of the Copenhagen Climate Council, to pressure the government to adopt a green new deal. In response, Gordon Brown announced in April that he would create 400,000 green jobs and a "low-carbon economy".

Yet his figures don't add up. The Brown government imagines that by 2015 it will have created 39,600 new jobs in geothermal energy, 74,900 in the development of alternative fuels, 25,300 in solar power and 69,300 in the construction of wind turbines. Yet, as a result of Britain's debilitating crisis of credit, the renewables industry, in which tens of thousands of new jobs are apparently going to be created, is in a dire state. Five of Britain's biggest wind-energy projects have been abandoned or put on hold indefinitely and British Petroleum recently cut 620 jobs in its solar-energy division because it wasn't profitable. As journalist Christopher Booker argues, Brown's "green revolution" is "babyish make-believe".

The Spanish and British experiences suggest Obama should not so enthusiastically sign up for the creation of a post-recession US informed by the politics and prejudices of the green-industrial complex. But, then, Obama and other leaders' embrace of the green-industrial complex is not about effecting real change, far less about making economies properly more productive. Rather, it is about instituting a new political outlook, one in which government intervention on the side of science-exploiting, globally conscious corporations becomes the solution to contemporary problems.

Indeed, green activists talk openly about the recession being a good thing. A leading European scientist whose views inform the Copenhagen Climate Council recently said, "It's a cruel thing to say ... but if we are looking at a slowdown in the economy, there will be less fossil fuels burning, so for the climate it could be an advantage."

This captures the complex's cavalier attitude towards individual hardship and its disdain for anything other thanbig government-big business solutions. This is about creating a new mission for the elite while enforcing a culture of low horizons among the "little people".

We should remember that the green-industrial complex's business interests played a role in bringing about the recession. The company whose collapse precipitated the credit crunch, Lehman Brothers, enthusiastically embraced the idea of carbon trading, which is held up by all members of the green-industrial complex as the way forward. In its 2007 report, The Business of Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities, Lehman expressed hope that it might become a "prime brokerage for (carbon) emissions permits", meaning it aspired to make money not only from speculating in mortgages but also from trading in thin air.

Lehman was inspired by European carbon-trading schemes. Under the plan first proposed in the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 and introduced in Europe in the early and mid-2000s, the EU and UN allocated to industry legal titles to emit a certain amount of CO2. Because the titles are transferable and because large numbers were allocated to large corporations when the licenses were first introduced, there arose a market in carbon trading. Powerful businesses were able to sell their CO2 permits to smaller companies that needed to emit a certain amount of CO2.

Many smaller public institutions suffered as a result.

In Britain, for example, the University of Manchester forked out pound stg. 92,500 for CO2 permits - and when the carbon-trading market hit the recession and the value of CO2 permits fell, the university would be doing well, said one report, "if it managed to get pound stg. 1000 for the lot of them".

The green-industrial complex's transformation of CO2 into a tradeable commodity empowered large corporations over smaller ones.

Now there are calls for an international carbon-trading regime. The World Bank has proposed that it broker "carbon rights" between the developed and developing world. In the already international and informal world of "carbon offsetting", wealthy individuals in the West pay large sums to charities that fund "eco-friendly" farming and industry in the developing world. It was recently revealed that Prince Charles has made donations to a charity that encourages Indian farmers to use foot pumps rather than machinery to draw water for their crops. In short, guilt-ridden rich people are paying poor people to stay poor so that they can continue living carbon-rich lives over here.

Formalising such an unequal relationship with international brokerage of carbon-emission rights would be a disaster, a form of eco-slavery.

Far from ushering in a brighter future, the green-industrial complex's activities hinder economic experimentation, individual initiative and human aspiration. Theirs is a recipe for economic stagnation rather than recovery and for a new form of politics dominated by an elite green clique and closed off to us mere mortals.


Renewable sources of enegy? No Thanks! Say Greenies

There's no such thing as a happy Greenie
17 Miles Of Maine's Kennebec River Restored

It's been 10 years since the federal government ordered the Edwards Dam on Maine's Kennebec River to be torn down. Regulators had decided that the public would be better served by a free-flowing river than the tiny amount of electricity produced by the dam's hydro plant. Removing the dam has changed the environment — for the better.

More HERE. (NPR Audio at link)


Three posts below

Greenie people-hate on display again

MILLIONS of dollars worth of luxury waterfront homes at Byron Bay will be demolished in the name of climate change following a council decision to enshrine "planned retreat" in law. The radical step to block homeowners protecting their property from rising sea levels was contained in a coastal planning policy released by the Greens-run Byron Bay Council yesterday. It would be the first time in NSW that the idea of planned retreat - where nature is allowed to take its course - will be imposed on existing dwellings under state law. And it means that, once gazetted by the State Government, any house under threat of erosion can be legally demolished.

NSW Environment Minister Carmel Tebbutt, under threat in her own seat of Marrickville from the NSW Greens, has refused to intervene. She said it was up to residents to lobby the council.

Some of the country's rich and famous face losing their homes to rising sea levels, including former actor, now recluse, John Cornell. The council has prevented them building rock walls to help protect their beachfront homes from storm surges. They will now proceed with legal action against the council, claiming they have been denied the basic right of being able to protect their homes. The local business chamber has written to Premier Nathan Rees calling for State Government intervention to stop what they described as "lunacy".

Local business group Byron United president Ed Ahern said the actions of the local council were "alarming". "The State Government needs to intervene in these matters and take over responsibility," he said. "We urgently request that the Government intervenes in this important matter." He said landowners had been prevented from protecting their properties and the issue was now the subject of a formal complaint to the NSW Ombudsman.

Byron Bay Mayor Jan Barham, of the Greens, has defended the move, previously claiming planned retreat had been a policy in Byron Bay since the 1980s. Ms Barham, who is reported to be considering a move to the NSW Upper House, did not return a request to be interviewed. However, she has said that wealthy residents who built their homes along the beach were always aware of the erosion issue.

Ms Tebbutt said the NSW Government would continue to encourage Byron Shire Council to take a practical and reasonable approach when dealing with the affected landowners. "Our draft policy allows landowners affected by coastal hazards, including sea level rise, to seek approval from their local council to protect their property," she said. [In other words: "Get lost"]


Greenie delusions

A solar power station that will generate power 24 hours a day? Really?? I must be missing something. The moon must be VERY bright in South Australia

WHYALLA's 301 days of annual sunshine will be driving the world's first solar power station, producing electricity 24 hours a day by this time next year.

The $15 million plant will again put South Australia's regional areas at the forefront of sustainable and emission-free energy production. It will also address the problem of finding an emission-free electricity source capable of providing a base-load, or 24-hour, power supply, which is a necessity for the world to combat climate change.

Construction of the solar-thermal power plant, Whyalla Solar Oasis, began last week. It will initially comprise four "Big Dishes" while the technology is demonstrated, generating power for up to 1000 homes. The long-term plan is for 600 dishes to be built, each 500sq m in area, in a 2km by 1km area at the city's northern entrance. The expanded plant is expected to generate about 130 gigawatts of power a year, enough for 19,000 average homes and preventing 129,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions being produced – equal to that generated by 36,000 cars each year.

Whyalla Council deputy mayor Eddie Hughes said it was "incredibly exciting" for work to start after 12 years of planning and 30 years of research by the Australian National University.


Business baulks at extra green tape

A PUSH to force state governments and local councils to refer development proposals with a large carbon footprint to the federal government for approval has alarmed business groups, who claim it could stall economic recovery. The proposal is contained in the interim report of a review of the federal Environment Protection Act, released this week. Green groups have proposed adding greenhouse gas emissions to the seven triggers that require any proposed development to be referred to the federal environment minister.

The panel reviewing the act, chaired by former ANU chancellor Alan Hawke, rejects the idea of a permanent trigger, but says such a mechanism could be introduced as an interim measure until the onset of a national emissions trading scheme, now not anticipated until 2011 at the earliest. "If there is to be a delay in effective establishment of the carbon pollution reduction scheme, then there is a much stronger case for introduction of a greenhouse gas trigger to drive down emissions in the interim period," the report says.

The potential for significant projects to be tied up in an extra layer of bureaucracy would appear to flow counter to yesterday's push at the Council of Australian Governments to develop national performance measures on development approvals designed to speed economic recovery.

Infrastructure Partnerships Australia's Brendan Lyon said the interim report was a cause for concern on several fronts because it could risk further unnecessary delay to critical infrastructure projects. "Climate change is an important consideration and infrastructure will play a major role in equipping Australia to cut reductions, while sustaining living standards and economic productivity," Mr Lyon said. "But the mechanism for carbon abatement should be through an emissions trading scheme backed by a price on carbon. "Australia's economy will adapt best through the phasing in of a robust price for greenhouse gas emissions, rather than through adding an additional layer of complexity and potential delays in approval processes."

The present seven triggers in the act, covering actions by government or private enterprise with "a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance", have not significantly affected major developments. But the trigger for endangered species caused a stoush recently between the NSW and federal governments after federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett temporarily halted logging in a NSW state forest out of concern for declining numbers of superb parrots.

John Sheahan from the Australian Property Institute said the key point about a greenhouse trigger would be its design, given such a move would represent "the most significant intrusion ever" by the commonwealth into land use. "Some projects might end up spending many months in that office in Canberra waiting to be assessed," he said. Mr Sheahan said the innate conservatism of local councils would mean Mr Garrett's office could be flooded with referred applications it did not have the resources to deal with.

Aaron Gadiel from developers' lobby Urban Taskforce said an extension of the Environment Protection Act was "the last thing the Australian economy needs right now".



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