Sunday, April 11, 2010

Greenies could die of lead poisoning: Australian research

They already drink a lot of birdshit so what's a little lead? In the old days when Australian country people HAD to use tank water, they used it to make tea, which is, of course, boiled first and hence pretty sterile. But even that won't remove lead. But the lead in today's tanks probably comes from city pollution so that was an unlikely problem for them

PEOPLE who drink from their rainwater tanks may be consuming unacceptable levels of lead, a study says. Scientists from the University of Technology, Sydney, assessed the quality of water stored in household tanks around the city and found that five of the 11 tanks contained lead levels exceeding 0.01 milligrams a litre - the amount considered safe in drinking water by the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

They also found the turbidity, or murkiness, of the water exceeded acceptable levels, as did the pH levels in some tanks.

A lead researcher, Benjamin Kus, said the results of their study confirmed past research that had also found rainwater tanks could accumulate higher than acceptable levels of lead and other pollutants.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 16 per cent of households use rainwater tanks, and more than three-quarters of them use the tanks as their main source of drinking water.

The scientists believe high levels of lead and murky water were making their way into rainwater tanks because not enough of the initial roof run-off was being discarded before water entered the tank. The roof run-off, or first flush, was often the most polluted water and was collected in a pipe attached to the tank, they said.

Mr Kus said most first-flush devices collected about 12 litres to 20 litres of roof run-off but there were no exact calculations on how much first flush should be collected. He also said the exact source of the lead was not known.

In an additional study Mr Kus and his colleagues collected water that flowed into the tank from the roof to determine how much water needed to be bypassed before it was safe to drink.

They found that for an average roof - about 250 square metres - the first 1250 litres of water needed to be bypassed before the levels of lead and the turbidity of the water were acceptable for drinking.

According to drinking water guidelines, published by the National Health and Medical Research Council, lead that is absorbed into the body can make its way to the kidney, liver and bone marrow. Lead is a cumulative poison that can severely affect the central nervous system, and can persist in bone for up to 30 years.

The implications of the study are especially relevant to people living outside metropolitan areas, where rainwater tanks are often the principal source of water. More than 30 per cent of non-capital city households use rainwater tanks, according to the Bureau of Statistics.

In NSW there are no restrictions against the use of rainwater for drinking. However, NSW Health recommends that, where available, people should use the public water supply for drinking and cooking because it is filtered, disinfected and generally fluoridated.

Maintenance of tanks is the responsibility of the owner or user of the tank.

A civil engineer and co- author of the studies, Jaya Kandasamy, said bypassing large amounts of roof run-off water was not ideal in drought-affected countries such as Australia, especially when households were installing rainwater tanks to conserve water. Tank water should be treated or filtered, Dr Kandasamy said.

The study, published in the journal Water Science and Technology, found the levels of other heavy metals, salts and minerals in the tank water were acceptable for drinking.


Holes in Climate Science

By S. Fred Singer, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project

A recent News Feature in 2010 Nature [pp 284-287] discusses what it calls “The Real Holes in Climate Science.” The problem is that it misses the “real holes” and therefore echoes the IPCC mantra that warming in the last thirty years is anthropogenic.

The author, Quirin Schiermeier, bases his views on the ‘RealClimate’ blog and some of its authors. Needless to say, he has not talked to any climate skeptics. To give a better view of his bias: In his opinion, the leaked CRU emails do not challenge the “scientific consensus” on climate change but only show “rude behavior and verbal faux pas.” The holes he identifies are the conventional ones:

* Regional climate prediction – although this does not stop alarmists from attempting to publish such predictions that promote catastrophic futures

* Precipitation – everyone would agree that this is a “real hole” in climate science -- difficult to fill until we understand better the formation of clouds

* Aerosols – even the IPCC admits there are huge errors when assessing particles such as sulfates, black carbon, sea salt and dust, all of which have different optical properties and can also produce indirect effects on clouds

* The tree ring controversy: QS brings back the hockeystick and blithely ignores the fact that it has been thoroughly discredited. He still insists that the 20th century is unusual in terms of temperature rise. He asserts that the emails that mention “hide the decline” and “Mike’s Nature trick” merely refer to the divergence issue between tree ring data and instrument data. He says that “many scientists are tired of the criticisms” – perhaps because they have run out of excuses.

He finally quotes Susan Solomon, the former co-chair of the IPCC 2007 Science Team, as claiming that “multiple lines of evidence support AGW” – without listing any.

QS tries to dispose of what he calls “Enduring climate myths [by skeptics]” – which all happen to be facts:

* Climate models cannot provide useful information about the real world

* Global warming stopped ten years ago

* Temperatures were higher in pre-industrial times

* Temperature records taken in the lower atmosphere indicate that the globe is not warming

* A few degrees of warming are not a big deal

* Measured increases in temperature reflect the growth of cities around weather stations rather than global warming

But the real holes in climate science are these facts, never mentioned by QS or by the IPCC:

* The absence of ‘fingerprint’ data that would indicate a substantial warming from CO2

* The absence of data for positive feedbacks that might amplify the effects of greenhouse gases like CO2

* The empirical evidence that shows the control of climate fluctuations on a decadal scale by solar activity by way of cosmic rays.

SCIENCE EDITORIAL #11-2010 (April 10, 2010)

Palin enrages the Warmists

"Snake oil" is in fact a good traditional American expression that describes global warmism perfectly. The attempt below to whitewash the deliberate fraud by the major warmist organizations shows how little they care for the truth. And the fact that the only authority they quote to refute Palin is an NBC host would be funny if it were not so pathetic. It's all fairly desperate stuff, actually

America does not need ‘this snake oil science stuff'. That's essentially the message sent by former politician Sarah Palin during a recent speech to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, where she disparaged the work of thousands of the world's top minds to the delight of a large crowd that laughed, clapped and cheered her on the whole way.

She was addressing the increasingly urgent matter of global climate change when Palin whipped out a gem of a quote, telling the conference-goers that American does not need "this snake oil science stuff" and calling climate science "Gore-gate."

The former half-term governor was attempting to make a reference to the so-called "Climate-gate" affair that was orchestrated over a set of leaked emails from the University of East Anglia, providing the world with insight to an internal dispute between teams of scientists. The whole "scandal" is better known to MSNBC host Rachael Maddow as "total bull-pucky": fictional claims blown so out of proportion by right-wing media that the masses at least partially accept it.

In the midst of describing what she thinks America really needs, Palin belted out a truly amazing run-on sentence: "We should create a competitive climate for investment and for renewables and alternatives that are economical and doable and none of this snake oil science stuff that is based on this global warming, Gore-gate stuff that came down where there was revelation that the scientists, some of these scientists were playing political games."

"Nothing about the supposed 'bombshell' climate-gate scandal at all challenges the scientific consensus that global warming is happening, that it is induced by human activity," Maddow scoffed during an April 2 broadcast.

For Palin to play off a fictional theme is expected at this point, as she once fashioned a popular campaign meme off the laughable invention that President Obama "pals around with terrorists [Bernadette Dohrn and William Ayers, to be precise]." In spite of this, it is perhaps her insistence that the United States does not need "this snake oil science stuff" that best highlights the place from which her beliefs spring.

To her credit, Palin has at least been been remarkably consistent on this point, actually calling on President Obama to insult the international community and boycott last year's Copenhagen climate summit over emails stolen from the University of East Anglia. Even then, in December 2009, she was whipping up her fans with the term "snake oil" and claiming that because a small group of people had a dispute over data methodologies [e.g. How to "hide the decline"], the entire body of knowledge generated by tens of thousands from around the world [And summarized by just three crooked and colluding organizations] was suddenly void.

Palin wrote on her Facebook page that "the leaked e-mails involved in Climategate expose the unscientific behavior of leading climate scientists who deliberately destroyed records to block information requests, manipulated data to 'hide the decline' in global temperatures, and conspired to silence the critics of man-made global warming."

She failed to explain how this negates other scientists' work, or how former Vice President Al Gore was involved. [Does THAT need explaining?]


Global warming's weak links

Potential treaty still all pain and no gain

Delegates from around the world gather in Bonn this weekend to chart the future of a new global-warming treaty they hope to sign in Mexico this fall or in South Africa in 2011 at the latest. This treaty would lock our nation into massive new taxation, regulation, subsidies and redistribution; take unprecedented control of our economy; and radically alter our way of life. Laws and regulations that increase the power of government are seldom repealed. Treaties are tougher still. The costs and burdens of the treaty these delegates hope to sign are so extraordinary, they cannot be justified unless every link in the chain of logic supporting the treaty is beyond reproach.

A chain, we all know, is only as strong as its weakest link. We must have extraordinary confidence in the integrity of every link before we trust it. Has the process been sound? Has the globe warmed? Are we humans to blame? Will any warming continue? Would the impacts be terrible? Would the proposed solutions do any meaningful good? Will the benefits exceed the costs? Let any link in this chain of questions fail, and the treaty cannot be justified. It would be all pain, no gain and should be scrapped.

The public's trust in the supposed scientific consensus took a blow when a vast body of e-mails from the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia came to light in what has been dubbed "Climategate." Climate scientists derided their critics, blocked access to peer-reviewed literature, withheld data from examination, planned to "hide the decline" in past temperatures and generally revealed themselves to be shaping their science to their politics rather than the other way around. Anyone who tells you climate science is settled is selling something. The climate is a vastly complicated system. The science that studies it is prone to error and was politicized before it could mature.

The treaty's advocates have long been challenging our credulity as they continually have made assertions people can judge for themselves to be false. You can't hold up every unseasonably hot day as evidence of global warming, dismiss every cold and calm day and hold the confidence of people educated enough to attribute both to natural variability. The treaty advocates hyped extreme tales of drowning bears, famine, plague, pestilence and flood. They flattened past warm and cool periods to make the trend look like a hockey stick. Is it surprising if people aren't buying? You can't demonize, ridicule and ignore opponents without begging the question: Why? Experts confident in their conclusions neither suppress, nor exaggerate.

Has the globe warmed? Most think that since the late 19th century, there has been some warming. The issue becomes muddled when you consider such factors as the reliability of the data sets, the selective use of the proxy data used to estimate historic temperatures and the way urbanization warms local weather stations.

Climate changed continually long before man's activities could have been a factor. It appears likely that man's contribution has been exaggerated and natural variability downplayed. The portion of carbon dioxide we can attribute to man is dwarfed by that which is produced from nature. There have been studies that have show that in the past, temperatures moved first and carbon dioxide followed. Which is the cause and which the effect remains unknown. Because carbon dioxide increased periodically in past millenniums, can we reliably conclude that any of the current increase has come from today's smokestacks and sport utility vehicles?

We had best hope the climate prophets have cried false, as the solutions being put forth in Bonn benefit narrow interests, with no gain for climate. Alternative energy sounds nice but in practice does more to generate fortunes from subsidies than it does meaningful power. Would-be carbon traders hope to reap huge bonuses from mandated markets the climate will never notice. Biofuels profit agribusiness, yet reduce natural habitats, make food scarce and offer little carbon change. Nations with stagnant economies seek handouts, while their citizens really need free elections, free markets and the rule of law.

President Obama recently demonstrated his willingness to ignore public opinion and force a health care bill through Congress while his party's majorities are still strong. It would be a mistake to do this on climate. The process must be reformed, public confidence restored and every link in our climate chain proved beyond reproach before we should agree to a climate treaty.


Weatherization boondoggles nationwide

After a year of crippling delays, President Barack Obama's $5 billion program to install weather-tight windows and doors has retrofitted a fraction of homes and created far fewer construction jobs than expected.

In Indiana, state-trained workers flubbed insulation jobs. In Alaska, Wyoming and the District of Columbia, the program has yet to produce a single job or retrofit one home. And in California, a state with nearly 37 million residents, the program at last count had created 84 jobs.

The program was a hallmark of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a way to shore up the economy while encouraging people to conserve energy at home. But government rules about how to run what was deemed to be a "shovel-ready" project, including how much to pay contractors and how to protect historic homes during renovations, have thwarted chances at early success, according to an Associated Press review of the program.

"It seems like every day there is a new wrench in the works that keeps us from moving ahead," said program manager Joanne Chappell-Theunissen. She has spent the past several months mailing in photographs of old houses in rural Michigan to meet federal historic preservation rules. "We keep playing catch-up."

The stimulus package gave a jolt to the decades-old federal Weatherization Assistance Program. Weatherization money flows from Washington to the states, where it is passed to local nonprofits that hire contractors to spread insulation and install efficient heaters in people's homes.

Energy officials said the stimulus infusion is on track to create thousands of career-pathway jobs and support an industry that lowers carbon emissions while saving consumers money. "This is the beginning of the next industrial revolution with the explosion of clean energy investments," said assistant U.S. Energy Secretary Cathy Zoi. "These are good jobs that are here to stay."

But after a year, the stimulus program has retrofitted 30,250 homes — about 5 percent of the overall goal — and fallen well short of the 87,000 jobs that the department planned, according to the latest available figures.

As the Obama administration promotes a second home energy-savings program — a $6 billion rebate plan — some experts are asking whether that will pay off for homeowners or for the planet.

"A very rosy picture was painted that energy efficiency would be a great way to create jobs and save money," said Michael Shellenberger, an energy expert who heads the Breakthrough Institute, an Oakland-based think tank that is financed by nonpartisan foundations and works on energy, climate change and health care issues. "The Obama administration risks overpromising again."

Many states held off on weatherizing under the stimulus over concerns about a Depression-era law that requires contractors to pay workers wages equal to those paid for local public works projects. The U.S. Labor Department issued wage rules for every county in the country in September but after receiving about 100 complaints, changed the wage rates again a few months later.

Bureaucratic delays kept officials in Austin, Texas, from weatherizing anything while they waited to hire furnace technicians under a $7.4 million federal grant, of which they received the first installment this month.

The recession itself has compounded the problems, since hiring freezes in some states meant there weren't enough public employees to administer the program. In California, where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered many state workers to take "Furlough Fridays," the program had created 84 jobs and weatherized 849 homes at last count, in December. Officials estimate several hundred jobs have been created since then.

Energy Department spokeswoman Jen Stutsman said the program produced 8,500 jobs nationwide from October to December 2009, but said she could not provide job creation figures for the last full year since federal guidelines for measuring the program's impact changed in the fall.

Zoi said the number of jobs created and homes completed would rise quickly as the program emerged from its startup phase, and that it was on target to meet overall goals. Now that the money is trickling down more quickly, auditors are fretting over how to make sure it doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

The Energy Department plans to hire one program officer for each state to watch for waste, fraud and mismanagement. That also will help to ensure crews' performance is up to snuff.

In Illinois, the staff of the department's inspector general, Gregory Friedman, discovered that one agency weatherization inspector missed a dangerous gas leak on a newly installed furnace. State and local officials told auditors they would make sure the leak was fixed and retool statewide training materials.

In Indiana, where workers were required to go through a state weatherization training program, local managers say they have spent hours teaching new recruits to do their jobs properly. "We keep getting inundated with all kinds of people who want a paycheck, but just aren't qualified to do this kind of work," said Bertha Proctor, who heads a nonprofit contracting agency in Vincennes, Ind.

Still, some of the stimulus program's flexible standards have allowed for innovation. In Portland, Ore., local officials are reporting an energy-saving boon that has helped minority-owned businesses in the job-starved construction industry. Ohio, which had a strong weatherization program in place at the outset, had completed 6,814 homes by the end of last year, more than a fifth of the total nationwide.

Legislation authorizing a second energy savings program is moving slowly through Congress. Many details of the plan, including how long it will run and its total cost, still need to be worked out. The Obama administration said the "HomeStar" program would reward homeowners who buy energy-saving equipment with an on-the-spot rebate of $1,000 or more, and hope it could become as popular as last year's Cash for Clunkers money-back program for cars and trucks.

Micheline Guilbeault, 65, of Lawton, Okla., whose home was weatherized through the stimulus package, said she thought the new proposal would encourage more homeowners to go green. "My house doesn't shudder anymore when the wind blows," Guilbeault said. "With the door that they just put in, I'm sure that the bill will go down because myself, I can feel the difference."

Still, some government watchdog groups said taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook paying for home improvements if the government has yet to release figures showing how much weatherizing saves. "The government should have stayed out of the weatherizing business in the first place," said Leslie Paige of Washington-based Citizens Against Government Waste. "This is a way to rapidly expand and entrench an existing program without ever going back and looking at the rationale or intent or effectiveness."


Obama's Assault on Private Property: Cap and Trade Will Force Homeowners to Intrusive Federal Inspections

In Illinois every couple of years, I would have to drive my luxury edition 1999 Nissan Pathfinder to the Illinois emissions testing station and pass a clean air test. I always had to time it carefully because my Check Engine light would go on for a thousand miles and then go off for 2,000. It was always better to go during work hours. If you went on a Saturday, you were there for the afternoon. Even with the Check Engine light problem, I always passed, but I never drove it in there when the light was on.

A piece in the American Thinker today tells of Obama’s plan to perform a similar test with your house. If the cap and trade bill passes, there is a law in the cap and trade bill that will require you to register your house with the Federal Government. Your house will also be put through a test regulated a new branch of the Department of Energy that will measure your house’s emissions and efficiency.

A new federal agent will have the right to come onto your private property and declare whether or not your house meets the federal regulations. If your house fails Obama’s test under the coming cap and trade bill that will soon face a vote in the Senate, you will not be able to sell your house until the house passes the government’s strict regulations. You will also be required to fix the problems in your house at your expense. This of course is similar to the law in Illinois that forces car owners to test their cars and then threatens to confiscate their driver’s license and tags if the car fails and is not corrected within a certain time frame.

Of course, there is nothing Constitutional about a federal agent entering your house, but this is the Obama administration and they don’t care. This is a clear attack on private property rights and just another way the federal government will control you and force you onto the smart grid.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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