Saturday, March 03, 2012

Chevy Volt production halted

Another of Obama's "Green jobs" projects bites the dust

General Motors has reportedly sent home 1300 employees for five weeks due to a lack of demand for its much-hyped plug-in hybrid car, the Volt.

The Detroit Free Press quotes GM spokesman Chris Lee as saying: "Even with sales up in February over January we are still seeking to align our production with demand."

The Hamtramck production plant, which builds the Chevrolet Volt, Opel Ampera and will also produce the Holden badged Volt, will close its doors from March 19 to April 23, according to Lee.

The plant closure is a public relations disaster for GM, which had heralded the car as a breakthrough for the US automotive industry.

The Volt is GM's first hybrid car that is designed to run primarily on electricity. It uses a small capacity petrol engine as a "range-extender", allowing it to travel longer distances.

Chevrolet fell embarrassingly short of its initial 10,000 unit sales target for the Volt in the US in 2011, with just 7671 cars sold.

Bad publicity surrounding a fire in a crash tested Volt has hampered sales in recent months. The car was cleared by safety investigators but January sales were at an all-time low before rebounding last month.

Industry newsletter Automotive News says GM has a stockpile of about 6000 vehicles.

Price seems to be the main barrier to acceptance of the plug-in, with consumers unwilling to pay double the amount they would for a conventional car of the same size.


Is Skeptic Tom Harris a Dirty Denier of Climate Change?

There has recently appeared an "audit" by a group of committed Warmists called Climate Change Denial in the Classroom. It criticizes a course taught at Canada's Carleton university by skeptic Tom Harris. The audit is the usual combination of domatism and fallacious logic but, for once, Harris has been given an opportunity to reply to it by none other than Britain's faltering Leftist mouthpiece, "The Guardian". Below are some excerpts from the Guardian interview. The whole transcript is available here.

Some excerpts from a February 28, 2012 Interview between The Guardian's US Environmental reporter Suzanne Goldenberg and International Climate Science Coalition's Tom Harris:

S: But so I guess I want to get to the gist of it is that - they are saying that what you are doing is is deviating in you know from established science which which sort of scientific consensus is that climate change is real and that it is largely caused by man.

T: Yah, that is what they are saying.

S: Is that a statement that you would agree with?

T: Well there's a couple of statements there, I mean--I'm deviating from science literature - well, no I'm not. The scientific literature is - there's all kind of literature across the board - if you look at the tens of thousands of scientific papers that are put out every year, there are good scientists who say we are causing virtually no climate change, that it is almost entirely natural and those are serious scientific papers that come out from UCLA and many of the top schools in the world and they have to (interrupted)

S: So then then you reject the idea that there is a scientific consensus.

T: Oh yeah, there is no consensus. I mean, that is a myth. It's been - you know people say there's a consensus but whenever I've challenged people - show me that there's actually been a poll of people who focus on the causes of climate change and that the majority of them think that human caused climate change is dangerous problem - nobody presents a poll. Either they are asking the wrong questions or they are asking only a tiny subset of the tens of thousands of climate scientists that are in the world. As far as I know, and I've never seen a reputable poll that proves the idea of consensus and so no I don't think there is known to be a consensus on one side or the other.

S: And your personal view?

T: My personal view is that it's like a bell curve and you know I've worked in the area for about 15 years and I think what you have are almost no scientists on either extreme where they say we're definitely causing catastrophe and it's going to happen unless we stop it versus those who say we are definitely not causing any change. I don't think there's very many on either of those two extremes. I think that most of the scientists are in the middle where they are pretty humble and they say, `well this is an awfully complex and very immature field so, yeah, we should cut down on pollution and save energy and do those things, but the idea that we control the climate - naa - who knows'. In fact, you know it's interesting - one of the main comments (interrupted)

S: Tom can I ask you personally - I mean for someone who has been steeped in the material for 15 years what is your view on the causes of climate change?

T: I don't know and I don't think that even the world's leaders know but the sun does show a lot better correlation with temperature over medium, short and long term time frames than carbon dioxide. I mean there are times in the past like 440 million years ago when carbon dioxide was 15 times you know 1,500% of today's level and we were at the coldest period in the last half billion years. There are other times when we were in warm periods when it was high C02 but you know when it comes to the sun - if you actually look at the sun's changes there's a very good correlation, far, far better than C02's so I would say the most likely candidate for the primary driver and of course there's a dozen drivers of climate, everything from ocean circulation to you know continental drift to volcanoes, there's so many things - even our position in the galaxy affects climate but I'd say in the short term probably it's the sun. That's my belief but then again there may be something we haven't discovered yet. I mean, it was only 2003 when they started the field of cosmoclimatology where they found the correlation between the sun and climate and they also found a cause which was the influx of cosmic rays which were causing clouds and when the sun became brighter it pushed away a lot of the cosmic rays so you had less clouds and so the earth became even hotter. And that was only discovered in 2003 and so this is a very, very new science. So even the scientists who are expert in the field will not say definitively yes it is caused by the sun but they do say that it's starting to look like it.

S: Yeah okay. Do you think that we need a complete overhaul of the way climate change is taught in school?

T: Yes, very much so. What we should be doing is is getting rid of the political bias. We should get rid of the notion that there is a consensus and we should look at it as science and we should teach the whole field - not just the tiny little bit that says greenhouse gases are responsible. I mean, I have two daughters in high school, actually one's in first year university, and I've been following their text books and they make a lot of statements that are simply not true. Scientists agree, you know, carbon dioxide is driving climate change. Well that's baloney. Scientists don't agree on very much in this field. It's a very new field and certainly they don't agree that carbon dioxide is driving climate. I mean they're - I think what they need to do is actually take a step back and say look - this whole dogma of, you know, human caused climate change has become so sacrosanct that nobody's questioning it and yet science is all about questioning. We should be encouraging the students to look at this - is this really true? You know, what other references can you find to show that carbon dioxide may only be a minor contributor? But they don't do that and in fact it's interesting when I went into parent-teacher night I brought it up with the biology teacher in front of - you know like they all the teachers sorry they had the teacher at the front and all the parents in the chairs - and I said, "Are you showing them the range of opinions on the causes of climate change?" and the biology teacher said, "Oh well, we can't risk leaving the Earth as a barren wasteland to our children!" and she just became sort of hysterical and fortunately she didn't know that I was the father of my daughter so she wasn't penalized in class which is good because she didn't know who I was but I thought - oh, oh man, I can't talk to her. Because they've been told basically what's true and they have to teach what's truth and that's it. And the fact that there's no truth in science first of all but secondly the fact that there is a lot of good scientists out there - left ring, right wing, pro-capitalist, anti-capitalist, makes no difference - most of them are actually non-partisan. The fact that there are many scientists out there who disagree just doesn't get into the curriculum at all and I think quite frankly that if Heartland encourages a more open discussion about climate in the classroom - without saying that they're point of view is right and the others are wrong but just encouraging a more open point of view - I think that's very helpful.

S: Okay. Great. Well I won't keep you any longer. I just wanted - so what response have you made officially to this report if any?

T: Well, none actually.

S: Was today the first day you first heard about it or did you know it was in the works?

T: I heard it was in the works but I hadn't actually seen it till just a little while ago. My first reaction to the report is this - it's rather funny actually, it's hilarious I think because first of all the people quali or doing the work are not qualified to comment. Secondly, the first half (interrupted)

S: But some of the things they said you know anybody could comment on like numbers of weather stations or something that you got wrong.

T: Oh yeah, well I haven't even seen those details yet. But the main thing I noticed is that the first part of the report is completely riddled with logical fallacies - guilt by association, ad hominem, motive intent, straw man arguments, red herring. I mean, you just look it up on Wikipedia and you've got all the logical fallacies and they are using almost all of them. I mean the fact is all that matters in the course is what was taught, not whether I have some nefarious motive. All that matters is what was taught and if the items in there are actually wrong then fine that's good input to the next person who teaches the course but all the beginning of the report - and some of its just 100% wrong like saying I was a lobbyist or am a lobbyist. I've never been a lobbyist. In Canada, to be a lobbyist you have to be registered in the Lobby Registration Act or it's illegal and I never have been and anyone can check that. And it's interesting because groups like the Suzuki Foundation have a dozen lobbyists who meet with some of the top politicians in the country. We don't do that and the reason we don't do that is because we don't think it's useful or effective. We think that what's needed is public education so that people can learn enough about the basics of the field that they can make up their own mind. And they may agree or they may disagree with us and that's their choice. But lobbying is a waste of time as far as I'm concerned. I don't think politicians give a hoot what's real. I think they do what's popular and what the public want. And so as a consequence we focus on public education. So you know when I got down to that part and it said Harris is a lobbyist and of course on DeSmogBlog today it's hilarious - they started out with "an energy industry public relations man". (Laughter) This is funny. I have no energy clients - anyway, in fact I don't have clients because it's not that kind of group - "and a lobbyist with no background in climate science" - well actually I do. My Masters is in thermal fluids and of course the atmosphere is a big thermal fluid system so I have (interrupted)

A review of some addled Greenie propaganda

"The Lorax," the animated 3-D feature based on the Dr. Seuss book, is a movie the Unabomber would have loved.

While the film's marketing makes it look like a feel-good parable teaching responsible environmental stewardship, the reality reality is quite different. This isn't a gentle sendup in which conservation triumphs over avarice and individual profit. It's not George Bailey versus Mr. Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life."

Instead, "The Lorax" presents a radical critique of the idea that humans have a claim to build wealth out of natural resources.

I first became aware of the hype around the new animated version of "The Lorax" while changing my son's diapers. The Dr. Seuss character is part of a product-placement campaign with Seventh Generation, the eco-friendly paper and soap company.

The Lorax, an orange-hued, mustachioed woodland creature with a cantankerous bearing that belies its cuddly appearance, appears on the front of diapers and on other Seventh Generation products, offering the endorsement "Lorax approved." The use of the character to promote sustainably manufactured products points to the essential hypocrisy and crude stupidity of the new film.

"The Lorax" is the story of the environmental devastation of Thneed-Ville, a walled corporate city-state ruled in totalitarian fashion by Mayor O'Hare (voiced by Rob Riggle), the head of O'Hare Air, which supplies the polluted metropolis with clean air.

Thneed-Ville is hopelessly polluted, thanks to an industrialist called the Once-Ler (Ed Helms), who marketed a utility-garment product woven from the silk-soft threads of the Truffula tree. This product, called the Thneed, proved so popular that its inventor resorted to a scorched-earth policy to keep up with demand, eventually denuding the region of trees, turning a bucolic vale into a postapocalyptic nightmare.

There is something about arguing with the premise of a children's movie that makes one feel distinctly like an idiot, but the particulars here are important. "The Lorax" is relentless in propagandizing how the use of natural resources to create consumer products is inevitably catastrophic. There even is a song in which the Once-Ler defends his practices by invoking social Darwinism.

Yet to go by the details supplied in the film, Truffula trees grow fast enough to be harvested and replanted using basic, centuries-old forest-management techniques. To go back to the product-placement scheme I cited earlier, the products that bear the "Lorax approved" slogan are themselves unimaginable within the context of the Lorax movie.

The movie concerns itself with the efforts of young Ted (Zac Efron) to sneak past Thneed-Ville's surveillance apparatus to meet secretly with the Once-Ler (now living in poverty and exile outside of town) to learn the secret history of Thneed-Ville and, if possible, find a way to revive the extinct Truffula species.

Ted isn't motivated by ideology - he's trying to impress a cute older girl named Audrey (Taylor Swift) who wants a real tree more than anything. Ironically, those parents loopy enough to want their kids to be indoctrinated with the wing-nut message of "The Lorax" might find this plot point to be a bit sexist and even "heteronormative."

Visually, the movie is a treat. Vivid colors, of both the primordial forest and the plastic, prefab town of Thneed-Ville, pop off the screen. Danny DeVito's voicing gives the Lorax a kind of irascible charisma. The action, especially the drawn-out chase scenes in which Ted flees from O'Hare's thugs on a motor scooter, are thrilling and well-imagined. The woodland creatures are cuddly and sympathetic, and the Truffula trees are gorgeous - slight, bendy trunks topped with tufts of silky plumage.

Any aesthetic appeal the movie holds, however, is outweighed by its reductive and self-defeating ideology. It's the quintessence of limousine liberalism, with the studio looking to squeeze a few bucks out of the righteous indignation of moviegoers.

One wonders: If the filmmakers are serious about this message, why they are charging admission? And if they're not serious, what is the point of this cuddly piece of cartoon agitprop?


Split Court Decision for Michael Mann in Global Warming Legal Battle

John O'Sullivan

Virginia Supreme Court renders a verdict that permits continued suppression of evidence in the Michael Mann `hockey stick' graph controversy - but only just. One dissenting judge scuppers the climatologist's hopes of yet another global warming whitewash and skeptics remain upbeat.

The latest decision (March 2, 2012) in the Cuccinelli vs. University of Virginia. (UVa) case determines that the university is not a "person" subject to a "Civil Investigative Demand" (CID) from the attorney general. This means UVa won't have to hand over Michael Mann's Climategate e-mails and documents to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (at least - not for now).

With Justice McClanahan dissenting on the "with prejudice" issue this is not the 'get out of jail free' card that Michael Mann hoped for.

Legal Precedents May Assist Attorney General's Gambit

Legal analysts will read with interest dissenting McClanahan's opinion that affirms Cuccinelli was correct on the point that UVa is not exempt from the Attorney General's authority to issue CIDs pursuant to Code 8.01-216.10. As such Justice McClanahan believes the taxpayers' champion, Cuccinelli, was authorized to issue CIDs to UVa. This offers Cuccinelli some wriggle room to mount a legal challenge on the basis that the 'with prejudice' component of the decision may be viewed as:

* Excessively heavy-handed and thus contrary to the best interests of justice i.e. Cuccinelli should reasonably be permitted to amend and perfect his CID. Thus he might overcome the issue that his original submission "did not sufficiently state what the Attorney General suspected Dr. Mann did that was "false or fraudulent" in violation of Code 8.01-216.3(A)"

* Falling foul of recent "personhood" case law, particularly as to its applicability to organizations and corporations. Cuccinelli may find some joy here by applying Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 08-205 (2010), 558 U.S. ----, 130 S.Ct. 876 (January 21, 2010).

Many with legal training in the skeptic camp may deem the ruling to be politically motivated (see from page 5 for the "Person" analysis in the opinion).

Focus Shifts Inexorably to Canada Court Case

So while we may rue a battle victory to Mann the war goes on. If Cuccinelli fails to resurrect his case in Virginia this will mean supporters of transparency and accountability in climate science will turn their attention to events in the Supreme Court of British Columbia (Vancouver).

It is there that Dr. Mann is faring less well in his libel suit against Canada's ever-popular skeptic climatologist, Tim Ball. Dr. Ball's legal team is correctly demanding the full disclosure of this very same hidden evidence. As Mann is the complainant - and B.C. jurisdiction provides Ball the right to motion for full disclosure - it is far trickier for Mann to hide his numbers here.

With great confidence that Ball's jibe that Mann "belongs in the state pen, not Penn State" will be shown to be accurate, some of us have literally bet the farm that Mann will lose. Thus mishaps in Virginia won't necessarily delay Mann's ultimate downfall. So please donate to Tim Ball's legal fund today


One Law for Me, Another for Thee

The controversy over the Gleick affair is related to the legal fight over EPA's greenhouse gas regulations by more than just general subject matter (climate change) or the happenstance that both are in the news.

The root cause of both controversies is a by any means necessarymindset, a `one law for thee, another for me' mentality, that is inimical to democracy and scientific integrity alike.

Climate scientist Peter Gleick, an expert in scientific ethics, stole fund raising and budget documents from the Heartland Institute under false pretenses (identity theft) and very likely forged the phony `confidential climate strategy memo' touted by DeSmog Blog and other blogs as exposing a Koch-funded, `doubt is our product' `denial machine.'

Gleick still denies he authored the strategy memo, but you don't have to be a climate skeptic to distrust the self-serving plea of a confessed liar and thief. DeSmog Blog still claims the memo is genuine, despite several lines of evidence to the contrary:

(1) The digital footprint shows that the memo was created in the Pacific time zone, where Gleick lives, rather than in the Central time zone, where all the bona fide Heartland documents (except the IRS 1099 form) were created.

(2) The strategy memo contains an allegedly incriminating phrase -- "anti-climate" - often used by warmists to describe skeptics but never by skeptics to describe themselves.

(3) The memo proposes to keep "Peter Gleick" and other "opposing voices" out ofForbes magazine. How on earth could Heartland pull that one off? Is Heartland the think tank-tail that wags the financial empire-dog? The strategy memo implies that when Heartland President Joe Bast says "jump," Steve Forbes says "how high?" The strategy memo doesn't pass the laugh test.

(4) The memo proposes to pay Dr. David Wojick $100,000 to develop a K-12 global warming curriculum. Why? To show that, "climate change is controversial and uncertain - two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science." In other words, Heartland wants to spend $100k to develop curricular materials so that - teachers won't use them! To believe this, you also have to believe that Heartland produces phone book-sized assessments of the peer-reviewed scientific literature so that people won't read them.

(5) The ersatz strategy memo boasts that Koch funded Heartland's climate science program to the tune of $200,000 in 2011. In reality, as Heartland's 2012 Fund Raising Plan shows, Koch donated $25,000 in 2011, not $200,000, and for Heartland's health care program, not its climate science program. Heartland seeks a $200,000 donation from Koch in 2012 - for its health care program, not its climate program. Heartland sent the Fund Raising Plan to all members of the organization's board. Why would Heartland also send board members a memo that gets the amount, type, and year of Koch's past and projected contributions stunningly wrong? It makes no sense.

Rather than condemn Gleick for behavior beyond the pale, DeSmog Blog lauds him as a whistle blower. Gleick tries to blame the victim, claiming he acted out of "frustration" at Heartland's efforts to "prevent this debate." Yet we now know Heartland invited Gleick to debate climate change and Gleick declined - weeks before he published the stolen documents. James Garvey argues that the righteousness of Gleick's cause - damaging Heartland's reputation and funding - should be considered an extenuating circumstance. In the 17th Century, religious partisans invoked the "No faith with heretics" doctrine to justify lying and worse. Gleick and his apologists preach a `no faith with skeptics' doctrine. Medievalism lurks not far beneath the surface of these would-be defenders of science.

Michael Mann and six colleagues suggest that Heartland merely got its comeuppance for cheering the release of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) emails that sparked the Climategate controversy. That, too, is nonsense.

The CRU is a tax-funded organization; thus, its research and work-related emails are subject to freedom of information laws. Heartland is a privately-funded organization; thus, its planning documents are not subject to such laws. As we know from the Climategate emails, CRU scientists stonewalled FOIA requests for years to prevent independent researchers from checking their data and methods. That was a bona fide scandal, not only because evading FOIA is unlawful, but also because scientists who deny independent researchers the opportunity to reproduce (invalidate) their results attack the very heart of the scientific enterprise.

Leaking the CRU emails - for all we know the work of a genuine whistle blower - was the only way to (a) produce documents responsive to valid FOIA requests, (b) expose CRU's willful evasion of FOIA, and (c) subject CRU research products to the indispensable scientific test of reproducibility.

Fakegate and Climategate are profoundly similar in one respect: both expose scandalous behavior by prominent members of the climate science establishment. As atmospheric scientist Judith Curry observes, "There is the common theme of climate scientists compromising personal and professional ethics, integrity, and responsibility, all in the interests of a 'cause'."

The `by any means necessary' mentality animating Gleick and the Climategate schemers is also at the heart of the litigation that became Massachusetts v. EPA, the Court's decision in the case, and the Obama Administration's climate policy and fuel-economy power grabs.

Whatever the outcome of Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA, the following facts are hard to dispute. (1) EPA and the California Air Resources Board's (CARB) motor vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards implicitly regulate fuel economy. (2) Under the statutory scheme Congress created, one agency - NHTSA - regulates fuel economy through one set of rules - Corporate Average Fuel Economy - pursuant to one statute - the Energy Policy Conservation Act (EPCA). Today, three agencies - EPA, NHTSA, and CARB - regulate fuel economy through three sets of rules pursuant to three statutes - the Clean Air Act (CAA), EPCA, and California Assembly Bill 1943. (4) The CAA provides no authority for fuel economy regulation, and EPCA specifically prohibits states from adopting laws or regulations "related to" fuel economy. (5) Congress never intentionally authorized EPA to de-carbonize the U.S. economy.

The last point deserves further comment. Congress declined to give EPA explicit authority to regulate greenhouse gases in 2010, when Senate leaders pulled the plug on cap-and-trade legislation. That was after nearly two decades of global warming advocacy. Note that a key selling point of the Waxman-Markey bill was that it would preempt EPA regulation of greenhouse gases under several CAA provisions.

If instead of introducing a cap-and-trade bill, Reps. Waxman and Markey had introduced legislation authorizing EPA to do exactly what it is doing now (i.e., regulate greenhouse gases via the CAA as it sees fit), the bill would have been dead on arrival. The notion that Congress gave EPA such expansive authority when it enacted the CAA in 1970, years before global warming was even a gleam in Al Gore's eye, defies both history and logic.

It is unrealistic to hope that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will undo the damage that judicial and regulatory activists have done to our constitutional system of separated powers and democratic accountability. Congress can restore the balance of powers but only if it has the will to do so. Only one chamber of Congress has the will today. That may change in November.


Britain goes Third World

UK may dim lights on major roads to save money, environment

The BBC reports that British authorities are studying whether or not lighting along major roadways should be dimmed or even turned off to save the government money and curb carbon emissions.

According to the report, The Highways Agency is investigating lowering lighting levels at night, but only when traffic levels are "very low" to ensure safety is maintained. The study, to be carried out in 2012 and 2013, will include consulting the UK's Institution of Lighting Professionals while still vowing to stay in accord with "internationally agreed standards."

At this time, there are no public estimates on how much the UK could save on power and lighting maintenance by turning the lights down, or what sort of carbon footprint reduction could be expected. However, we imagine that if the initiative moves forward, British authorities will be keen to point out the savings. Now, about dimming costly light flashing on all those speed cameras...



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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