Sunday, October 16, 2011

EPA's CO2 Endangerment Finding is Endangered

By S. Fred Singer

In a narrow 5-4 decision in 2007, the US Supreme Court authorized the EPA to consider the greenhouse gas CO2 as a 'pollutant' under the terms of the Clean Air Act -- provided EPA could demonstrate that CO2 posed a threat to human health and welfare. (CO2 is a colorless gas, non-toxic and non-irritating, and a natural constituent of the atmosphere. In the geological past, CO2 levels have undergone wide variations -- from as low as one half up to twenty times the present level.)

The EPA then issued an Endangerment Finding (EF) in 2009, which was promptly challenged in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. One of the challenges came from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP). We questioned both the procedure and the validity of the underlying science used by the EPA, as embodied in their TSD (Technical Support Document).

As my CEI colleague Marlo Lewis relates, the EPA's Inspector General (IG) released a report in September 2011, finding that EPA did not meet applicable federal Information (or Data) Quality Act (IQA) standards when developing the TSD. The IG argued that the TSD is a "highly influential scientific assessment," and therefore should have been subjected to the most rigorous form of peer review. EPA fell short of the mark by not publishing the comments of the agency's 12-member peer-review panel, and by placing an EPA employee on the panel, compromising its independence.

EPA claims it met all IQA standards because the TSD, far from being a "highly influential scientific assessment," is not a "scientific assessment" at all. According to EPA, the TSD did not involve any weighing of data, information, or studies. Rather, the TSD simply summarizes assessments of other authorities, principally the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the US National Academy's National Research Council (NRC), and the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). [Note that neither NRC and USGCRP are "independent;" both reports are based on the IPCC, whose own Assessment has been compromised by the revelations of the Climategate e-mails.]

But in so saying, EPA may have leapt from the frying pan into the fire, because in the ongoing litigation over EPA's greenhouse gas regulations, a key claim made by the petitioners Coalition for Responsible Regulation is that when EPA developed its TSD and associated EF, it unlawfully outsourced its "judgment" to the IPCC and other non-agency experts.

The Coalition then sent a "request for judicial notice" to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, asking the Court to take cognizance of the IG report and consider its implications for the case. [Marlo Lewis has written an informative and extremely useful article about this new development at GlobalWarming.Org]

After all of the responses and briefs are filed, the Court may issue a decision around mid-2012.

Faulty EPA Science

The lack of an independent analysis of the science underlying the EF puts the burden right back on the soundness of the science used by the IPCC, which is the main source of the TSD. [The NRC and USGCRP reports draw on the same IPCC data and models, and are not independent.]

But the science is certainly inadequate to support the IPCC conclusion of anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

1. The IPCC's own data contradict its own model results -- as a simple comparison shows. Although the issue had been contentious, with one group claiming a disparity (Douglass, Christy, Pearson, and Singer, published in Int'l Journal of Climatology 2007) and the other group claiming "consistency" (Santer and 16 co-authors, published in IJC 2008), all now concur that "agreement between models and non-existent" in the crucial location, the upper tropical troposphere, above 5 miles (Thorne et al, published in Journal of Geophysical Research 2011).

2. Further, (non-linear) climate models are subject to chaotic uncertainties; each model run shows a different temperature trend. Hence, the IPCC models cannot be validated against observations. Our NIPCC studies show that at least 10 runs have to be performed and averaged in order to obtain consistent temperature trends. (But about half of the 22 IPCC models had only one or two runs; none had more than five.)

3. Finally, the latest (2007) IPCC Assessment bases its conclusion about AGW on a reported global warming of the past 50 years. It says: "Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely [90 to 99% certain] due to the observed increase in greenhouse gas concentrations." [Ref: IPCC-AR4 2007, Summary for Policymakers, page 10.]

But the global surface warming reported since 1979 is fake; it does not exist -- as demonstrated by NIPCC in several other data sets: Atmospheric temperatures show no warming trend, as seen both by balloon-borne radiosondes and independent satellite observations.

The reported warming of the sea surface can be traced to instrumental problems. And the available proxy data show no post-1979 warming.

The reason for the reported surface warming, as reported by the IPCC, is still unclear. But it is likely due to a selection of weather stations that favors an increasing fraction of urban stations and airports, which show a local warming trend because of increasing air traffic.It will be interesting to see the reaction of IPCC scientists, once these data are fully published and accepted by the scientific community.

It is unlikely, therefore, that the EPA's TSD will stand. And without the TSD, the Endangerment Finding is toast - and so is regulation of carbon dioxide.


Global warming is the least of Tuvalu’s worries

For nearly a decade now, the tiny Pacific island-group nation of Tuvalu has made news for its government’s claim that the archipelago is being swallowed up by rising sea levels caused by global warming. The island government has even considered suing the world’s largest industrial powers for emitting the carbon dioxide that many scientists believe is trapping solar radiation in the atmosphere and leading to allegedly higher global temperatures.

When the highly vaunted UN climate summit in Copenhagen in Dec. 2009 failed to produce a successor agreement to the 1997 Kyoto accords, the Tuvalu delegation was not shy about expressing its disgust and outrage, claiming that world leaders had consigned them to a slow extermination. (So slow — over 100 years — that almost no current Tuvaluns will live long enough to be killed by the encroaching oceans and their descendents will have plenty of time to row to safety. But let’s not pick nits.)

Now comes word that a drought afflicting the four-island, five-atoll state has dried up nearly all the fresh water there. The United States, Australia and New Zealand have airlifted in potable supplies and desalination plants, but even so, Tuvalu has only about half the daily water supply its inhabitants need.

This, too, is being blamed on manmade climate change, although, it is known that the immediate cause of the low rainfall is a powerful La Nina, which (not to nitpick again), is a cooling of the Pacific’s surface over a broad area near the equator.

The trouble for all these Polynesian prophesies of impending doom is that there is no evidence of appreciable sea-level rise in the past 50 years, not at Tuvalu or anywhere. The more likely causes of the nation’s ecological threats are over-population, a reduction (deliberate or otherwise) of natural barrier reefs and government mismanagement of water resources.

Two American experts on coastal construction and sea-level — James Houston, director emeritus of engineering research and development for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Robert Dean, professor emeritus of civil and coastal engineering at the University of Florida — examined decades worth of data from all the tidal monitors around the U.S. and determined earlier this year that “worldwide-temperature increase has not produced acceleration of global sea level over the past 100 years.” indeed, the rate at which oceans have been rising has “possibly decelerated for at least the last 80 years.”

Houston and Dean are committed warmists. They started their study with the expectation that their results would show rapidly increasing sea levels. Instead, they found that the oceans around the U.S. had risen little in the 20th Century and that the far from rising faster due to global warming were actually rising more slowly. If the trend of the past 80 years continued, the pair estimated that at most worldwide oceans would rise by 15 cms (ankle depth) by 2100, rather than the one to two metres most recently projected by the UN, or the 10 metres estimated by Al Gore.

Swedish geologist and physicist Nils-Axel Mörner, formerly chairman of INQUA, the International Commission on Sea Level Change, has studied real-world sea levels for nearly 40 years. Rather than relying mostly on computer models, as most climate scientists do, Dr. Morner has concentrated on using satellites, photographs and detailed measurement records to determine whether the oceans are rising, falling or remaining pretty much the same.

“The sea is not rising,” he has told anyone who will listen. ”It hasn’t risen in 50 years.” What’s more, if it rises in the 21st Century, it will be by ”not more than 10cm (four inches), with an uncertainty of plus or minus 10cm.” That’s pretty much the same prediction as that derived by the other real-world measurers, Houston and Dean.

This past June, we learned, too, that even if the oceans are rising, Pacific islands such as Tuvalu may actually be expanding as a result, not sinking. Paul Kench, a geography professor from New Zealand’s Auckland University, and Arthur Webb of Fiji’s South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission, measured 27 South Pacific islands using satellite images and aerial photos and found that over the past 60 years only four had shrunk, while 23 had either remained unchanged or expanded. “It has been thought that as the sea level goes up, islands will sit there and drown,” Prof. Kench told the New Scientist. “But they won’t.”

Storms and rising waters bring in more debris from surrounding coral reefs and build up the islands, he explained. Some have grown by more than 30%, with an average increase of 3% since the 1950s.

Their findings were published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Global and Planetary Change.

So why has the government of Tuvalu kicked up such a fuss? For one, like most warming alarmists, they have almost certainly convinced themselves that the earth truly is going to hell in a hand basket — they believe their own bumph, even in the presence of contravening research. Then there is the fact that continuing to sound the climate-change alarm has brought the tiny nation a lot of attention and foreign aid. And, finally, many Tuvaluns would like to leave. To some extent, too, their government would like to see them go as a partial solution to over-population.

All the dire talk has convinced New Zealand to create an immigration fast-track for islanders and caused guilt-ridden governments in the developed world to send Tuvalu tens of millions of development dollars. So it’s not hard to figure out why Tuvalu has such a high stake in all the climate change hysteria.


Tapping natural resources to address Maryland’s economic problems

By Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr.

As co-chair of the Affordable Power Alliance, Bishop Jackson understands energy – and poverty. And he knows enough about “fracking” to respond knowledgeably about myths and falsehoods that anti-hydrocarbon environmental activists are using to generate opposition to drilling techniques that have quadrupled America’s natural gas supplies, and driven gas prices lower than they have in years. Families will now find heating their homes won't break their budget, electricity will also cost less, and companies will be able to hire and retain more workers in factories and petrochemical plants. It’s a win-win-win for everyone

Maryland’s 7.2% unemployment rate is below the national average, but still too high. Budget shortfalls next year could reach $700 million or more, the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute warns. Many of our cities and counties likewise face mounting debt.

Families need temporary assistance to address unemployment, poverty and homelessness. Aging roads, sewer systems and other infrastructure need repair. Revenue projections for 2012 and beyond will not cover these programs, education, healthcare, and public employee pensions, the institute cautions.

Faced with unpalatable reductions in programs and growing opposition to tax increases, the Free State clearly needs reliable new revenue sources.

One source could be natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation that extends beneath western Maryland and four neighboring states. Of the four, only Pennsylvania is tapping it so far, but the results are impressive.

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue reports that Marcellus gas production generated more than $1.4 billion in state tax revenues since 2006; by 2020 it could generate $20 billion more. Those activities created 72,000 Pennsylvania jobs between October 2009 and March 2011.

By 2020, gas production from the formation could support 256,000 jobs across the five states, at an average annual salary of $73,000 – well above the national average – energy experts say. Abundant new natural gas supplies from other US shale deposits have helped cut the price of natural gas in half, to below $4.00 a thousand cubic feet, making it more affordable for home heating, electricity generation, petrochemical feed stocks, and backing up unreliable wind and solar installations.

A recent analysis found that Pennsylvanians saved $633 million in utility bills since 2006, due to these expanded supplies.

Maryland too could be harnessing Marcellus gas to boost its economy, job growth, and state and county revenues. Thousands of able-bodied workers would prefer employment at good salaries over welfare, unemployment and food stamps.

Drilling and production could also help thousands of small businesses that would provide goods, equipment and services to drilling, pipeline and related companies. In Maryland, 19% of these businesses are owned by African Americans – still more by other minorities.

And yet there is strong opposition to harnessing these resources – primarily because doing so involves a new process called hydraulic fracturing (HF or “fracking”). Actually, fracking isn’t all that new.

It has been used in more than a million US wells during the past 60 years. It employs high pressure fluids to create tiny fissures in impermeable, hydrocarbon-rich rock formations, allowing companies to tap their energy. But over the past few years, HF has been combined with horizontal drilling and other techniques, so that many wells can be drilled from one site, reaching multiple formations up to several miles away and unlocking huge supplies of previously unavailable natural gas.

But certain groups are using fear tactics to delay or stop fracking. They claim it is not federally regulated. They say it “could” contaminate groundwater and drinking water. They suggest it is incompatible with efforts to improve the Chesapeake Bay’s health.

In reality, hydraulic fracturing is regulated under state and federal laws, as well as industry guidelines. A 2009 Ground Water Protection Council review concluded that enacting additional federal regulations “would be costly to the states, duplicative of state regulations, and ultimately ineffective because such regulations would be too far from the field of operations.” US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson has said there is no recorded incident in which fracking contaminated a drinking water well. This shouldn’t be surprising.

Shale gas formations are typically thousands of feet below groundwater supplies, with layers of shale, limestone and other impermeable rock in between. The first several hundred feet of each well has special steel “casing” cemented in place to protect water supplies; the actual drill hole and pipe goes through this casing. In addition, the fluids used in fracturing are 99.5% water and sand.

The other 0.5% is mostly weak salts and acids, vegetable or other oils, guar gum and other chemicals, many of which are found in foods and common household products. However, we still should know what is in specific fracking fluids, and must ensure that they are handled, recycled and disposed of properly.

Faced with environmentalist pressure and public concerns, Governor Martin O’Malley signed an executive order to study fracking. His decision is understandable.

However, he should ensure that the study is completed in a timely manner; is based on facts, not protests and unsubstantiated fears; and does not result in unnecessary over-regulation. A proper review would also take advantage of the studies, laws, regulatory frameworks and hands-on experience in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Texas and other states that have used fracking for years.

It would also recognize that hydraulic fracturing is essential for producing most natural gas (and all these benefits), just as we need to mine the coal that generates over half of Maryland’s electricity. In fact, every energy option (including wind and solar) requires mining and fossil fuels – and affects wildlife habitats and environmental quality. We need to be wise stewards of the Earth God gave us, in everything we do.

Responsibly developing this vital God-given shale gas resource would put thousands of Marylanders back to work, improve people’s living standards, generate billions of dollars in government revenues, balance county and state budgets, and produce more American energy for all Americans.


Manure a hazardous waste?

Does EPA want to turn farms and ranches into Superfund sites? As reported by Environment and Energy Daily:
Missouri Rep. Billy Long (R) [has introduced a bill to] stop EPA from classifying livestock manure as a hazardous substance for its Superfund cleanup program. Long says such a move is an effort by environmental “extremists” to target and regulate modern livestock operations.

While the Obama EPA denies that it wants to turn farms into Superfund sites:
The legislation seeks to address controversy surrounding concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, and the manure they produce. President George W. Bush’s EPA crafted a rule in 2008 that exempted CAFOs from reporting requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) — which established the Superfund cleanup program.

Environmentalists challenged that exemption in court and have strongly encouraged President Obama’s EPA to scrap the exemption for CAFOs. EPA is currently drafting a replacement to the Bush-era policy and if the agency removes the exemption, farms would have to report emissions for several pollutants, including ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, if they exceed threshold limits.

Therein lies the rub. Long and Republicans say that could lead to limiting the use of manure as organic fertilizer — a practice that is becoming common on farms. They also say it could lead to a farmer who uses manure as fertilizer being held liable for millions of dollars in violations.

“It doesn’t make any sense to lump tens of thousands of farms and livestock producers under the same severe liability provisions that apply to the nearly 1,300 federal Superfund toxic waste sites,” Long said when he introduced the bill.

The EPA says,
If a facility stores large amounts of manure, the facility could emit significant amounts of ammonia. If that quantity exceeds a certain threshold under CERCLA, the farm would have to report it. EPA was careful to emphasize, though, that does not mean the farm would have to stop using the manure or reduce the emissions — only report them.

And we’re supposed to believe the EPA because it has a track record of truth-telling and regulatory restraint? [See here if you want the lowdown on that]


115-year-old electric car gets same 40 miles to the charge as Chevy Volt

Batteries just cannot match the energy density of hydrocarbons

Meet the Roberts electric car. Built in 1896, it gets a solid 40 miles to the charge — exactly the mileage Chevrolet advertises for the Volt, the highly touted $31,645 electric car General Motors CEO Dan Akerson called “not a step forward, but a leap forward.”

The executives at Chevrolet can rest easy for now. Since the Roberts was constructed in an age before Henry Ford’s mass production, the 115-year-old electric car is one of a kind.

But don’t let the car’s advanced age let you think it isn’t tough: Its present-day owner, who prefers not to be named, told The Daily Caller it still runs like a charm, and has even completed the roughly 60-mile London to Brighton Vintage Car Race.

If you didn’t know there are electric cars as old as the Roberts, you aren’t alone. Prior to today’s electric v. gas skirmishes, there was another battle: electric v. gas v. steam. This contest was fought in the market place, and history shows gas gave electric and steam an even more thorough whooping than Coca-Cola gave Moxie.

But while the Roberts electric car clearly lacked GPS, power steering and, yes, air bags, the distance it could achieve on a charge, when compared with its modern equivalent, provides a telling example of the slow pace of the electric car.

Driven by a tiller instead of a wheel, the Roberts car was built seven years before the Wright brothers’ first flight, 12 years before the Ford Model T, 16 years before Chevrolet was founded and 114 years before the first Chevy Volt was delivered to a customer.

As the New York Times reported September 5, “For General Motors and the Obama administration, the new Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid represents the automotive future, the culmination of decades of high-tech research financed partly with federal dollars.”

Like “green technology’s” most powerful proponent, President Barack Obama, the 1896 Roberts was made in Chicago. Obama, who supports the $7,500 tax credit for the Volt, is not fazed by its 40-mile electric limit — he only drove the car 10 feet.


More nonsense from "The Guardian"

They are really sounding desperate these days. The changes in climate and coffee availability that they say are taking place CANNOT be due to global warming because even Warmist scientists now admit that there has been NO global warming for the last 12 years

Forget about super-sizing into the trenta a few years from now: Starbucks is warning of a threat to world coffee supply because of climate change.

In a telephone interview with the Guardian, Jim Hanna, the company's sustainability director, said its farmers were already seeing the effects of a changing climate, with severe hurricanes and more resistant bugs reducing crop yields.

The company is now preparing for the possibility of a serious threat to global supplies. "What we are really seeing as a company as we look 10, 20, 30 years down the road – if conditions continue as they are – is a potentially significant risk to our supply chain, which is the Arabica coffee bean," Hanna said.

It was the second warning in less than a month of a threat to a food item many people can't live without.

New research from the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture warned it would be too hot to grow chocolate in much of the Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world's main producers, by 2050.

Hanna is to travel to Washington on Friday to brief members of Congress on climate change and coffee at an event sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists. [At least one of whom's membership is a dog!]

The coffee giant is part of a business coalition that has been trying to push Congress and the Obama administration to act on climate change – without success, as Hanna acknowledged.

Hanna told the Guardian the company's suppliers, who are mainly in Central America, were already experiencing changing rainfall patterns and more severe pest infestations.

Even well-established farms were seeing a drop in crop yield, and that could well discourage growers from cultivating coffee in the future, further constricting supply, he said. "Even in very well established coffee plantations and farms, we are hearing more and more stories of impacts." These include: more severe hurricanes, mudslides and erosion, variation in dry and rainy seasons.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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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