Saturday, February 04, 2012

Two more replies to some Green/Left boilerplate

I myself commented on the boilerplate concerned on 2nd but I have received via email from an Australian source the following addition to the discussion:

On 1 February a group of climate scientists published an article in The Australian (it had already been published in the Wall St Journal) explaining why they believe there is no compelling argument for drastic action to reduce emissions. This produced a response by a group of climate scientists (under the name of one, Kevin Trenberth) who believe there is a need for such action and a claim that the first group does not have the required expertise. A copy of the latter article is set out below.

The fact that the self-appointed experts have felt the need to respond is a further indication of concern by the experts that their analyses are increasingly being exposed as (to say the least) highly questionable. The response, however, is largely devoid of substance and is based on the pathetic claim of superior expertise.

This has produced several letters challenging the respondents, the most important of which is the one below by Bill Kininmonth who is of course one of our expert climate scientists but whose views have to date been ignored by the government.

Climategate email reveals doubts on data (Letter published in The Australian, 4-5 Feb 2012)

Kevin Trenberth, responding to an Opinion (to which I was a co-signatory) published in the Wall Street Journal (27/1/12) and The Australian (“Climate change ‘heretics’ refute carbondangers”,1/2), claims to have been quoted out of context and misrepresented (“Expertise a prerequisite to comment on climate”, 3/2).

The quote in our Opinion is from an email sent by Trenberth to a group of colleagues that became public with the release of emails from the UK University of East Anglia (or climategate). Trenberth wrote: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t...... there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observation system is inadequate.”

The context is an exchange of emails initiated on 11 October 2009 in response to a BBC item that there has been no warming since 1998 and that Pacific oscillations will force cooling for the next 20-30 years.

Trenberth was certainly lamenting the inadequacy of the observing systems (with which I agree) but at face value he is also acknowledging that the available data do not support warming since 1998. The latter is an inconvenience to the human-caused global warming hypothesis that he and his colleagues are wedded to.

William Kininmonth, Kew, Vic

Expertise A Prerequisite To Comment? (Square bracketed section deleted by Ed)

[Kevin Trenberth writes with other climate scientists in defence of their view that the world faces dangerous warming (Commentary, 3/2). But he fails to explain why some qualified scientists present a vastly different perspective.

Take just one example from the attitude of Climate Research Unit head at East Anglia University, a principal source of advice to the IPCC. He told the BBC in 2010 that surface temperature data cannot be verified or replicated, that the mediaeval warming period may have been as warm as today, that no statistically measured global warming has occurred for the previous 15 years and that the science is not settled. There are many other examples of expert climate scientists with different views.]

Although not an economist, Trenberth claims a low-carbon economy will “drive decades of economic growth”. But analysis by Australia’s expert economist, Ross Garnaut, says action to mitigate the effect of emissions would lift growth by 2100 to only a minor extent, and then after cutting it initially.

There are experts and experts. Some are right and some are wrong. The uncertainties of climate science, acknowledged in the IPCC’s 2007 report, suggest emission reducing action by governments is not justified.

Des Moore, South Yarra Vic

Hidden dissent at a great temple of Warmism (the UEA)

Nick Brooks in Email 1558:

"I'm always wary of claims (p3) that we are entering a period of unprecedented warmth. I do not know what the mean global temperature was in the Holocene climatic optimum, but research suggests tropical sea-surface temperatures some 5-6 degrees higher than present. Even a smaller change would of course be catastrophic for many societies today, but unless there have been serious comparisons between today and the mid-Holocene and we can say with confidence that anthropogenic warming scenarios exceed such palaeoclimatic conditions such claims may come back to haunt us.


Century of ocean warming good for corals, research shows

Another nasty one for Hoagy and all the other Warmists. Hoagy has been very quiet in recent years

A GOVERNMENT-run research body has found that the past 110 years of ocean warming has been good for the growth of corals spanning more than 1000km of Australia's coastline.

The findings undermine predictions that global warming will devastate coral reefs, and add to a growing body of evidence showing corals are more resilient than previously thought - up to a certain point.

The study by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, peer-reviewed findings of which were published today in the leading journal Science, examined 27 samples from six locations from the West Australian coast off Geraldton to offshore from Darwin.

At each site, scientists took cores from massive porites corals - similar to a biopsy in humans - and counted back to record their age in much the same way tree rings are counted.

Although some cores extended to the 18th century, they focused on the period from 1900 to 2010.

The researchers found that, contrary to their expectations, warmer waters had not negatively affected coral growth. In fact, for their southern samples, where ocean temperatures are the coolest but have warmed the most, coral growth increased most significantly over the past 110 years. For their northern samples, where waters are the warmest and have changed the least, coral growth still increased, but not by as much.

"Those reefs have actually been able to take advantage of the warmer conditions," said Janice Lough, a senior AIMS research scientist and one of the study's authors.

The key question is how warm the water can get before the positive effects are reversed. [Why should they be reversed? That is just ideology speaking. Warmth is generally good for all life] Lab studies have typically measured the effect of short-term, rapid changes in temperature and water chemistry; these mimic, for example, coral-bleaching events that are known to be devastating.

Much harder to measure are the long-term effects of gradual warming, such as those caused by climate change.


Tiny sales for Chev Volt

General Motors extended-range electric Chevrolet Volt had its worst sales month since August, as negative publicity over fire risks hurt vehicles sales in January.

GM sold just 603 Volts - above its sales in January 2011, but far below GM's best-ever sales month in December, when GM sold 1,529 Volts.

Last week, GM North America President Mark Reuss said sales of the Volt have been hurt by bad publicity.

Reuss said bad publicity from the government's investigation into fire risks of post-crash Volts is "definitely a component" of the decline in sales.

GM sold about 7,700 in 2011, below GM's target of 10,000. GM abandoned its sales target of 45,000 for 2012 last month, saying it would match "supply to demand."

GM was outsold by Nissan Motor Co.'s all-electric Leaf in 2011, as the Japanese automaker sold nearly 9,700 last year. Nissan said it sold 676 Leafs in January, down from 954 in December.

Nissan hopes to double Leaf sales this year.

Reuss said that when GM restarts production in February at its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant, it will build Volts in a "very reasonable" volume. He said there is some pent-up export demand.

Reuss says Volt awareness has gone up over the last two months in the wake of publicity over the government's investigation.

GM is focused on rehabilitating the Volt's reputation. "It's a tough road, but we've got to do it," Reuss said.

Last week, Congress held a hearing into the Obama administration's handling of disclosure of a fire in a crash-tested Volt. GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson testified at that hearing. He said the Volt is safe, and that the Volt has become "a political punching bag." He said the Volt has suffered "collateral damage" because of two months of rentless bad publicity.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration closed its investigation into the Volt in January after finding no unreasonable risk to safety. GM has agreed to make some voluntary upgrades to the Volt to guard against fires in post-crash Volts, but stopped short of issuing a formal recall.


Obama's War on Oil Crushing Small Businesses, Jobs

When the Deep Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico exploded in May of 2010, the Obama Administration was quick to climb the rostrum of political opportunity and seize full advantage from public outrage directed at BP, the energy company responsible for the well. “We will keep our boot on their neck until the job gets done,” raged Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar in reference to responsibility for stopping the leak and cleaning up the contamination.

Holding BP responsible was fair enough, and nobody was rushing to defend the company. However, Salazar and his boss, Barack Obama didn’t stop there. Salazar quickly imposed a permitting moratorium that essentially shut down the gulf. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu as well as other elected officials immediately objected saying it would devastate the gulf economy far beyond the already significant impact of the well explosion, particularly to the energy, fishing, and tourism industries.

Eventually, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman overturned the moratorium and ordered Interior to begin permitting according to existing regulations. Salazar re-instated a second moratorium within days, which caused Feldman to find him in contempt of the previous court order noting that the Administration had shown “determined disregard” for the court. In a separate ruling, the court found that new regulations imposed unilaterally by Salazar also violated his authority and federal law and struck them down, as well.

Obama extorted $20 billion from BP to fund an escrow damage account without constitutional authority or judicial foundation. Columnist George Will was appalled. The use of "raw political power, without recourse to courts that exist for this sort of thing, under laws, with due process, essentially confiscates $20 billion from a publicly held corporation, about half of its shares held by Americans, to be dispensed, again, without judicial supervision, as the political branch sees fit" resembles the action of a tyrant ruling a "Northern Hemisphere Venezuela" rather that the United States of America Will said on the ABC News program, This Week.

Interior has effectively maintained an "informal moratorium" by stalling and delaying permitting. The results have been devastating just as Gov. Jindal warned. A study just completed by Greater New Orleans, Inc., or GNO, an economic development agency, found that the many small and medium size business that are dependent on the energy business in the gulf are shedding workers, exhausting personal savings, and leaving the gulf in an attempt to survive. It’s a tale of economic destruction that was created by excessive over-reach for perceived political gain by Salazar and the Obama White House.

In a survey of 100 business owners or company executives associated with the oil and gas industry in the gulf, GNO found that 50 percent had been forced to lay off workers as a result of Salazar’s moratorium. Thirty-nine percent reported retaining staff but being forced to reduce salaries and cut hours.

Of the 100 companies surveyed, 41percent are not making a profit, 76 percent have drained cash reserves, and 82 percent have been forced to tap into personal savings as a result of the permit slowdown – 13 percent said they had completely exhausted their personal cash.

Forty-six percent of the companies surveyed reported moving some or all of their operations away from the gulf in an attempt to survive.

"Small and mid-sized companies are the hidden victims of the permit moratorium and ensuing slowdown," said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of GNO, Inc. "While global companies can simply shift their assets, these Louisiana companies – through no fault of their own – have endured significant, and now documented, financial hardships."

Although the moratorium is technically lifted, permit issuance is slow at best. According to GNO’s most recent published Gulf Permit Index report for January, 2012 the rate of issuance of deep-water permits are 71% fewer than the historical average. Just two permits per month have been issued over the last 90 days. Barely two-per-month shallow-well permits are being issued, too, which is 84% less than historical levels.

In his recent State of the Union Address, Barack Obama tried to claim credit for increases in oil and gas production in the U.S. Production in some parts of the nation has happened in spite of his Administration, not because of it. Advanced technology and the success of fracking to open more reserves to production from Texas to North Dakota and Pennsylvania to Alaska are responsible. But, in the gulf – where 30 percent of domestic oil and 13 percent of natural gas is produced – Obama’s policies have damaged not only energy production but the economy and lives of countless Americans. That’s a tragedy Barack Obama didn’t mention in his speech and a reality he chooses to ignore.


Agenda-driven “science” at EPA

Newly proposed air pollution rules impose exorbitant costs for illusory health benefits

In December 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency released new Clean Air Act “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.” Once again, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson touted the supposedly huge benefits of controlling emissions of mercury (Hg) and other air toxics from U.S. coal- and oil-fired power plants (or electric generating units, EGUs).

The people of Idaho may welcome this new rule, since EPA’s miraculous modeling machine has promised to prevent “six premature deaths” and create “up to $54 million” in health benefits by 2016 – even though not one coal-fired EGU in Idaho fits the EPA’s final rules. Even the District of Columbia, which has only one oil-fired unit, will somehow, magically realize “up to $120 million” in health benefits, presumably from new restrictions on coal-fired units in Maryland or Virginia.

The average U.S. citizen, however, can be excused for no longer being willing to be penalized by EPA – the Extreme Punishment Authority – for such minimal, imaginary and manufactured benefits.

In fact, the final rule may be the most expensive one ever devised by EPA. And yet, even EPA admits, the alleged “hazards to public health” from mercury and non-mercury emissions from American EGUs are “anticipated to remain after imposition” of the new regulations.

As to benefits, EPA computer models claim Hg emission cuts will reduce average per person “avoided IQ loss” by an undetectable “0.00209 IQ points,” with estimated “total nationwide benefits” of $500,000 to $6.1 million by 2016. For the electric utility sector, says EPA, net job creation from the rules will be “not statistically different from zero” and could be between minus 15,000 and plus 30,000 jobs.

In fact, the new regulations will likely eliminate tens of thousands of jobs annually, especially in energy-intensive industries that rely on low-cost electricity to survive and face growing competition from foreign companies that pay far less for energy, labor and raw materials. Small businesses will also get hammered.

“EPA cannot certify that there will be no SISNOSE from this rule,” the agency admits. “SISNOSE” is EPA-speak for “significant impacts on a substantial number of small entities.” In other words, the rules are likely to inflict significant economic harm on small businesses, and thus on the health and welfare of numerous (former) small business owners, employees and families. The agency failed to explain why it has once again ignored the adverse impacts on human health and welfare caused by its rules.

EPA also confessed that U.S. power plants actually contribute a mere 3% of the total mercury deposited in computer-modeled American watersheds, and thus in fish tissue. Citizens will justifiably wonder where the other 97% comes from, and why we should spend so much money for so little benefit. (The “missing” mercury comes from foreign sources and from volcanoes, subsea vents and other natural sources.)

To see how extreme EPA’s scenarios are, consider five more egregious errors in the final regulations. First, EPA admitted it could “calculate risk” for only 3,100 (4%) of the continental USA’s 88,000 watersheds.

Second, for over 60% of the 3,100 watersheds it did model, EPA took only one or two fish mercury measurements – making it virtually impossible to adopt even valid 75th-percentile fish mercury values. There is a breaking point where extremely poor statistical sampling renders EPA’s pretentious number crunching, conclusions and rules invalid. That breaking point has clearly been reached.

Third, the agency’s estimates for mercury exposure risks are solely for “hypothetical female subsistence consumers” who daily eat almost a pound of fish that they themselves catch in U.S. streams, rivers, and lakes over a 70-year lifetime. That’s less than 1% of U.S. women. For the rest of American women (who eat mostly ocean fish, purchased at a grocery, on a far less regular basis), EPA’s rules are irrelevant.

Fourth, EPA admits that only 22 to 29% of its computer-modeled watersheds are “at risk” from EGU mercury, even when it erroneously assumed that at least 5% of total Hg deposition into the watersheds came from U.S. power plants. If the modeling criteria were tweaked only slightly – to reflect average freshwater fish consumption rates for American women, and require that at least 15% of total mercury deposition be attributable to EGUs – not one U.S. watershed would be at risk.

Finally, EPA ignores the presence of selenium in nearly all fish. Its strong attraction to mercury molecules protects fish and people against buildups of methylmercury (MeHg), mercury’s biologically active and more toxic form.

Combining any series of small probability scenarios results in a near-zero likelihood that the events will actually happen. If each of five scenarios has only a 20% chance of happening, the likelihood that all five will happen is 0.032 percent.

As the preceding analysis suggests, the probability that all the EPA’s improbable scenarios will actually happen is virtually zero; the likelihood that its new regulations will benefit human health is also zero.

However, EPA still stubbornly “disagrees that [mercury] exposure levels in the U.S. are lower than those in the Faroe Islands.” Exposure to MeHg in the U.S. is “the same” as in the Faroe Islands, EPA insists.

The agency is simply wrong.

Extensive medical and scientific studies demonstrate that average Americans are exposed to at least 5 to 10 times less MeHg than average Faroe Islanders. The islanders consume large quantities of pilot whale meat and blubber – which is high in methylmercury, high in PCBs and low in selenium. As a result, their blood mercury concentrations can be up to 350 times higher than the mean blood mercury levels measured by the Centers for Disease Control for average American women.

The Faroe Islands study is irrelevant to mercury exposure risk for average Americans. EPA’s use of that study is deceptive. American women and children are safe from any likely threats from mercury.

To top it off, EPA itself proclaims: “The emissions limits in today’s rule are technology-based … and do not need to be justified based on their ability to protect public health.”

In other words, if the technology exists to eliminate these pollutants, the agency will impose the new regulations – regardless of their cost, their effect on electricity prices and reliability, their impact on factory and other jobs, and whether the rules actually do little or nothing to improve human health.

It has become increasingly obvious that EPA’s real goal is to assert its authority over ever-increasing segments of our economy; reinterpret medical and scientific studies to fit its regulatory agenda; and replace as many coal-fired power plants as possible with costly, unreliable renewable energy systems.

American voters, elected officials and courts need to challenge these radical, unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats, demand an end to EPA’s distortion of science and reality – and reverse these flawed rules.



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


1 comment:

slktac said...

Has anyone checked on whether or not breaking one of those mercury containing, federally mandated CFLs wipes out the savings in mercury from power plants for the victim of the broken bulb? Especially if one does not open all windows, leave the room, wait one hour and then meticulously vacuum up the remnants. (Note: using a hepa filter makes this safe. It's how the bulbs are recycled--broken in a vacuum container that has a hepa filter. The vacuum container closely resembles a shop vac....) My guess is the EPA hopes IQ's don't go up much or people might end up figuring out the EPA is clueless.