Sunday, September 30, 2012

You can still see the Warmist in Judith Curry

Judy gal (chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology) has come a long way since she started listening to climate skeptics but there is still a supercilious "know-it-all" attitude about her.  Note this quote from her:

"Propaganda is pretty much the mission for ClimateDepot, but stealth propaganda is becoming increasingly apparent on the ‘science’ blogs, as revealed by the recent SkS hack of their Forum"

The most chaitable thing I can say about that is that she does not know what she is talking about.  She is academic enough to quote her definition of propaganda but that very definition gives the lie to what she says.  The definition says that propaganda is one-sided.  If she thinks Climate Depot is one-sided she needs to get on its mailing list.  I receive mailouts from Climate Depot daily and they send me roughly as many bits of Warmist reporting as they do skeptical reporting.

The idea of sending me Warmist articles is of course the expectation that I will rubbish them  -- which I do.  Rubbishing Warmism is as easy as stealing candy off a baby -- and grown up  babies is what many Warmists sound like.  They want authority (Daddy) to give them the truth.

Judith is just plain wrong, almost wrong enough to be defamatory.  But her failure to attend to the facts is of course very Warmist.

She also seems broadly sympathetic to this comment:

 “Finally, it is concluded that the climate change discourse has been stifled by the obsession of discussing the science basis and that in order to advance the discourse, there needs to be a change in how science as an ideology is communicated and enacted.“

Too much science in the Warming debate?  Science should be communicated as an ideology?  In my 40 years in science I have never heard anything so blatantly anti-intellectual  -- aside of course from Nazism and Communism.  Dr Goebbels would agree  -- JR

Dash for gas in Switzerland

No-one has died as a result of radiation from Fukushima but it would appear that nuclear phobia still trumps dislike of carbon emissions.  Both are deeply irrational so we are looking at a dialogue of the insane here.  Germany's dash towards brown coal is similar

Switzerland would have to charge higher end-user power prices and resort to new gas-fired plants to fill the supply gap created by its planned nuclear phase-out prompted by Japan's Fukushima accident, the Swiss energy ministry said on Friday.

The country, which voted last May to phase out nuclear by 2034, on Friday unveiled an ambitious energy strategy intended as a road map for coping with the transition.

"It will be necessary to temporarily develop electricity from fossil fuels... until the energy needs can be completely covered by renewable energy," the energy ministry said in a statement on Switzerland's new strategy through to 2050.

It said that such plants would probably include combined heat and power units as well as Combined Cycle Gas Turbines (CCGTs). Some analysts expect global gas prices to tumble due to the ready availability of new sources from shale, increasing the fuel's appeal.

The statement also said the average household electricity bill, estimated at 890 Swiss Francs ($950) a year, was due to rise in line with higher costs for renewable energy and to cover the costs of investment in the grid.

The Alpine country, which sources about 40 percent of its energy from five nuclear power plants, joined Germany in voting to phase out nuclear energy after the Japan Fukushima crisis shook confidence in the sector.

Now doubts are emerging about the ability of these countries to expand their renewable capacity in time for when nuclear station shutdowns will squeeze supply margins.

The West's energy watchdog, the International Energy Agency, has already warned that Switzerland may struggle to meet its future power demand and that end users may face higher prices as part of the transition.

Belgium's cabinet postponed the planned closure of one of its oldest nuclear reactors by a decade in July over concerns about finding alternative power sources. Germany may have to slow down its planned transformation to green energy amid cost concerns, its Environment Minister said in August.

The Swiss strategy, part of a public consultation, envisages a greater role for hydropower and renewables as part of its new strategy. It includes targets for hydropower production of 37,400 GWH and renewable energy production of 11,940 GWH by 2035.

The strategy also includes several measures designed to accelerate the process of obtaining permits for renewable energy projects.

Switzerland's strong tradition of direct democracy can slow the development of controversial projects such as wind farms, denounced by some as eyesores. A new version of the strategy will be released in 2014 after the public consultation.


NASA's Orwellian revision of the past

It turns out that there is no way to reliably compare current global temperatures to historical data using NASA's database.  It is a scientific scandal.

I wrote recently about NASA changing its entire temperature record database, just from July to September. That is, in 2012, NASA changed temperatures going back to 1880. And it did that without telling anyone or explaining it. The net effect was to make the 130-year warming trend steeper, by lowering older (pre-1963) temperatures and slightly raising recent ones.

I must confess, I was slightly apprehensive about writing that. It was just possible that I had grabbed the wrong data set in July and was comparing apples and oranges. I'm now happy to report that I was not the only one to catch this change. It was real.

I don't know exactly who does this, or how, but someone compares every month of NASA's temperature data to the previous month. If you want to see exactly what changed between August and September 2012, select the top month on that page. Here is a summary of how much changed in recent months.

    August to September: 60%.
    July to August: 27%.
    June to July: 17%.
    May to June: 39%.
    April to May: 17%.

NASA's temperature record is, indeed, a living document.

My piece was also picked up by "Watts Up With That?" WUWT argues that NASA is in violation of the Data Quality Act.

This is the data that the American public pays for. It is one of only two or three such records of global temperatures going back more than a century. It is what all claims of global warming are based on. And about one third of that data changes every month! Without warning, notice or explanation.

In my opinion, this is a scandal. There is no way for the public to inform itself reliably on an issue that could cost us trillions of dollars. We have no way of knowing how much of global warming is real and how much is simply due to unexplained adjustments to the data - data that is under the control of zealots like James Hansen.


Greece can't afford "renewables" any more

Greece, aiming to stave off a fresh energy crisis, plans to support its main electricity market operator through a temporary tax on renewable power producers and by extending an emergency loan, a senior official said on Friday.

Deputy energy minister Asimakis Papageorgiou told Reuters that Greece's international lenders had dropped their opposition to the loan plan in view of the country's critical energy situation.

The electricity system came close to collapse in June when market operator LAGHE was overwhelmed by subsidies it pays to green power producers as part of efforts to bolster solar energy.

LAGHE was already suffering in Greece's debt crisis as bills were left unpaid by consumers protesting against the collection of an unpopular property tax via the bills of PPC, the country's sole electricity retailer.

Earlier this year the fund extended 100 million euros to state-owned natural gas supplier DEPA and another 110 million to dominant state-controlled utility PPC (DEHr.AT).

The temporary charge on renewable energy producers was a further measure to plug LAGHE's deficit of more than 300 million euros.

"I'd call it a solidarity levy," Papageorgiou said. "It will be in force over a very specific period... and set at such a level that will allow them to operate normally with satisfactory returns."

Greece has slashed the guaranteed feed-in prices it pays to some solar operators and is no longer approving permits for their installation.


Greens Shocked: Britain Plans To Build 20 New Gas Power Plants

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey has given the clearest indication yet that he expects gas to continue to play a major role in the UK's energy mix for at least the next two decades, revealing 20 new gas-fired power plants are likely to built over the next few years.

Speaking to the Guardian, Davey said the government was planning 20GW of new gas capacity by 2030, but insisted that the surge in new gas capacity would not crowd out investment in renewables, nor lead to the UK breaking its legally-binding carbon budgets.

"I strongly support more gas, just as I strongly support more renewable energy," he told the paper. "We need a big expansion of renewable energy and of gas if we are to tackle our climate change challenges."

The comments come ahead of the expected release of a new national gas strategy this autumn and what is likely to be a tense debate between the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Treasury over whether or not the upcoming Energy Bill includes a decarbonisation target for the electricity sector for 2030.

Chancellor George Osborne has signalled that he is fiercely opposed to the target, arguing that it would discourage investment in new gas capacity. However, the Lib Dem conference this week passed motions supporting the inclusion of the target on the grounds it is deemed necessary to ensure the UK meets its long term carbon targets.

The latest comments will further anger green groups, particularly after the Lib Dem conference signalled that the party was preparing to step up its support for the low carbon economy.

"Green-lighting a whole fleet of new fossil fuel power stations would cause a huge jump in emissions and blow this autumn's once-in-a-generation opportunity to replace dirty power stations with clean ones," said Joss Garman, political director of Greenpeace. "Only days ago Ed Davey and Danny Alexander said they were fully committed to achieving completely carbon-free power in the UK by 2030. Nick Clegg can't afford to make this another 'sorry'."


Norm Kalmanovitch on global warming and the Alberta deficit

Re: "Alberta deficit could hit $3B," Aug. 31.

With $2-billion spent on carbon capture and storage, and millions subsidizing other ludicrous initiatives to stop global warming (which officially ended by 1998), Alberta is well over the $4-billion mark in spending on climate change foolishness, so without this wasted expenditure addressing a clearly fabricated problem, Alberta would not be in a deficit position.

Premier Alison Redford had the chance to extricate Alberta from what is essentially climate change fraud by referencing the documents Paul Hinman tabled in the legislature on my behalf on Oct. 25, 2011.

In tabling these documents, Hinman stated: "I'd urge all members of the legislative assembly to read these reports, that we might make better-informed decisions," but apparently the political necessity of perpetuating the global warming scam was more important to Redford than doing what is right, especially with the government's position on climate change being a key issue in the election.

Graphs in my report all showed no global warming since 2002 and, using the International Panel on Climate Change's own HadCRUT3 data set, I demonstrated global cooling since 2002, followed by this comment: "The red trend lines on this data set clearly shows that the world has actually been cooling since 2002 in spite of the continued accelerated increase in CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, and therefore every penny spent by our government since 2002 to combat global warming has been entirely wasted."

Removal of $4 billion in wasted spending from a $3-billion deficit, according to my math, gives a billion-dollar surplus.




The graphics problem:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


Friday, September 28, 2012

The End of International Environmentalism

Green ideology crashes and burns at the Rio +20 Earth Summit

Twenty years ago, the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro marked the arrival of environmentalism as a potent force in international affairs. That 1992 conference produced the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which aims to set limits on global emissions of greenhouse gases, and the Convention on Biological Diversity, which promotes ecosystem conservation. At the time, Chris Flavin of the Worldwatch Institute crowed, "You cannot go to any corner of the globe and not find some degree of environmental awareness and some amount of environmental politics." With socialism in disrepute, Flavin said, environmentalism had become the "most powerful political ideal today."

Two decades later, that ideal is in disarray. A 20th anniversary conference in Brazil last June, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development-nicknamed Rio +20-was an undisguised flop. Greenpeace spokesperson Kumi Naidoo judged Rio +20 a "failure," while Oxfam Chief Executive Barbara Stocking called it a "hoax." More than 1,000 environmentalist and leftist groups signed a post-conference petition entitled "The Future We Don't Want," a play on The Future We Want, the platitudinous document that diplomats from 188 nations agreed on there. Naidoo lamely vowed that disappointed environmentalists would engage in acts of civil disobedience.

Should the people of the world share the greens' despair over the "failure" of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development? No. First of all, "sustainable development" is a Rorschach blot. The United Nations defines it this way: "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." That fuzzy concept can be used by anyone to mean anything he likes. So it is not at all surprising that the representatives from rich and poor nations meeting in Rio could not agree on anything substantive under this heading.

Since that first Earth Summit, the world has experienced a lot of beneficial development. In 1992, 46 percent of the planet's population lived in absolute poverty (defined as income equivalent to less than $1.25 per day). Today that number is down to 27 percent, in inflation-adjusted terms. During the same period, average life expectancy has increased by three and a half years.

At Rio +20 environmentalists and the leaders of poor countries were hoping to shake down the rich countries for hundreds of billions of dollars in annual development assistance. But most of the development achieved during the last two decades was not the result of official assistance (a.k.a. taxpayer dollars) from the rich to the poor. In fact, a study published in the February 2012 issue of the Canadian Journal of Economics by a team of German development economists found that aid often retards economic growth, having "an insignificant or minute negative significant impact on per-capita income." Most of the aid is stolen by the kleptocrats who run many poor countries, while the rest is "invested" in projects that are not profitable.

So what has produced so much improvement in the lives of poor people in developing countries since the first Earth Summit?

"Remember in the 1960s, official development assistance accounted for 70 percent of the capital flows to developing nations, but today it amounts to only 13 percent, while at the same time, development budgets have actually increased," explained U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Rio +20. "Why is that? Well, you know very well. Because while continuing to provide assistance, the private-sector investments, using targeted resources and smart policies, have catalyzed more balanced, inclusive, sustainable growth."

Summary: The way to development is trade, not aid.

Activists, frustrated at their inability to effect wealth transfers, are now fixated on a particularly puzzling and disturbing goal: to maintain and expand open-access commons, which are unowned properties available to be exploited by anyone. Many participants at the People's Summit for Social and Environmental Justice, a parallel Rio gathering of 200 environmentalist groups, advocated a green twist on an old red ideology, even postulating that property is theft.

Canonical Marxism predicted that capitalism would collapse under the weight of its class "contradictions," in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer until reaching a social breaking point. In the environmentalist update, capitalism will collapse because the pollution produced by its heedless overconsumption builds to an ecological breaking point. For the hard core, the solution to environmental problems is a kind of eco-socialism in which nature is prevented from being "privatized" or "commodified." This trend in environmentalist thinking might be called commonism.

Looking across the globe, it is true that various aggregate environmental measures have deteriorated. Since 1992, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) claims, biodiversity has declined by 12 percent, and 740 million acres of primary forests have been cut down. Today 53 percent of fish stocks are fully exploited and the share that is overexploited, depleted, or recovering has risen from 10 percent to 32 percent since 1974. But are these calamities the result of rapacious capitalism? Not really.

The same UNEP report notes that 80 percent of the world's forests, which harbor the bulk of the world's biodiversity, are government-owned. Also, in nearly every place where some kind of environmental calamity is under way, it is taking place in an open-access commons. Polluted river? No one owns it. Forest getting cut down? Same problem. Overfishing? Likewise. A water shortage? Ditto. Empirically, calling for the enlargement or reimposition of a commons with respect to an environmental resource or amenity is tantamount to calling for its eventual destruction.

Countries with strong property rights generally see environmental improvement such as reductions in air and water pollution, stable fishery stocks, and expanding forests. That's because owners protect their resources, since they directly suffer the consequences of not doing so. Furthermore, countries with strong property rights are more prosperous and can thus afford the costs of environmental regulations, even inefficient ones, applied to those commons that still remain.

Two decades on, what was once the "most powerful political ideal" on the international scene crashed and burned at Rio +20. The failure of environmentalism as an ideology was inevitable, since it has so badly misconstrued the causes of many of the problems it claims to address. It will be interesting to see in which direction those cherishing a permanent animus against democratic capitalism will now go.


Have I got a deal for you!

If you got an email offering you the chance to invest in a business that would create new profitable industries, employ millions of people, reduce energy consumption without reducing quality of life, and improve environmental quality, would you be skeptical? And if the email went on to claim that the technologies to do all this exist now and could save existing businesses billions of dollars in just a few years by reducing waste and energy use, would you wonder why no one was already implementing all these "common sense" ideas? If the email went on to promise that you could do this all at no risk by investing borrowed money, you'd likely be reaching for the delete key.

If we substitute "the federal government" or "the United Nations Environment Programme" or "the European Union" for "you" and change the email to a proposed law, however, we discover that politicians from Washington to Brussels are embracing measures to "green" the economy and create "green jobs" with an almost religious fervor, despite weak empirical support for these proposals. The Obama administration included billions of spending and tax incentives for green initiatives in its budget, and last spring's "stimulus" bill poured $62 billion in transfers plus $20 billion in tax cuts into "green initiatives."

Unfortunately, the rhetoric about "greening the economy" or creating "green jobs" is just political window-dressing for some of the same central-planning measures proposed by the left for years. Behind that rhetoric are proposals built around government subsidies for favored technologies, measures to limit trade, and a great deal of wishful thinking about alternative energy measures not quite ready for prime time.

What Counts as Green?

The first problem in untangling the claims made by green-economy proponents is determining what counts as a "green" job or technology. Many times no definition at all is provided; even when the term is defined, different groups pick quite different definitions. For example, the U.S. Conference of Mayors' report Current and Potential Green Jobs in the U.S. Economy defines a green job as

    "any activity that generates electricity using renewable or nuclear fuels, agriculture jobs supplying corn or soy for transportation fuels, manufacturing jobs producing goods used in renewable power generation, equipment dealers and wholesalers specializing in renewable energy or energy-efficiency products, construction and installation of energy and pollution management systems, government administration of environmental programs, and supporting jobs in the engineering, legal, research and consulting fields."

Interestingly, the mayors count jobs in existing nuclear power plants but not in new ones.

In contrast the United Nations Environment Programme's Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World excludes all nuclear jobs, but includes all jobs said to "contribute substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality."

If we take politics into account we can explain these definitions. The Conference of Mayors is concerned with building a coalition for spending to benefit its members. Those mayors with nuclear power plants in their cities want to claim credit for greening their economy through nuclear plants (which also pay lots of local taxes). The U.N. report, on the other hand, was aimed at gaining support from an international environmental movement that detests nuclear power, which explains why it didn't count any nuclear jobs.

Neither applies any objective criteria to the problem of defining which industries will gain and which will lose. For example, both define as "green" any jobs related to nonfossil-fuel technology, even if these energy sources (such as wood) release as much carbon dioxide per BTU of energy generated as fossil-fuel sources-or more. (Wood is much less efficient in terms of carbon emissions than either natural gas or gasoline on a per-BTU basis.) Moreover, burning many renewable fuels produces considerable particulate pollution, both inside homes and outside-a serious problem particularly for women and children in developing countries.

Green-economy proponents also disagree about how green hydroelectric plants are. Many who advocate government spending on alternative energy also want to dismantle existing hydro projects to restore rivers and improve fish habitats. (And many of those dams were built with subsidies by the Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers and would have flunked any serious cost-benefit analysis.) But small hydro, their preferred alternative, is by definition "small." As a result, it would take quite a few small hydro plants to produce sufficient energy to replace even a single large dam or coal-fired power plant. Not surprisingly, there is no evidence of a large-scale building boom in small hydro projects or even a serious effort to identify where such projects might be located.

Even more interestingly, both definitions are expansive enough to include "supporting jobs in the engineering, legal, research, and consulting fields." Indeed, the Conference of Mayors found that the top two U.S. jurisdictions for current green jobs are New York City and Washington, D.C., suggesting that the investment in green technology so far is producing a lot of consultants, lawyers, and lobbyists rather than engineers or factory workers. Another estimate found more secretaries, management analysts, bookkeepers, and janitors among "green jobs" than environmental scientists.

Defining terms is essential to a rational policy debate; without clarity we end up with a division between favored and disfavored technologies driven by interest groups rather than by either market forces or logical thinking. Unfortunately, so far the green-economy literature has mostly produced lists of "technologies we like" and "technologies we don't like" based on politics. We certainly shouldn't be spending billions of dollars promoting what we can't define.

Where Do Estimates Come From?

Even if we don't quite know what a green economy looks like, its advocates assure us there will be lots of jobs and other benefits from converting to it. Not surprisingly, most green-economy proposals predict huge benefits at low cost, making them politically appealing. Jobs will appear in economically depressed areas, and energy efficiency will soar, saving firms, consumers, and governments billions. Unfortunately these benefits are largely due to inappropriate economic forecasting methods. In particular, most estimates are produced via "input-output analysis," the same technique used to produce outlandish claims for the benefits of municipal stadium projects.

In an input-output analysis a vast matrix is calculated from economic data as they exist today, tracing connections between firms in different industries. For example, an automobile plant uses steel, aluminum, plastic, batteries, paint, tires, and other materials to produce cars with a particular amount of labor per car under current technology. If we thought that the plant would begin producing more cars, the input-output matrix could be used to calculate how much more steel, aluminum, and other inputs would be demanded by the car industry and how many more workers would be hired to work in it.

There is a role for such calculations in industry forecasts (predicting steel demand from auto production helps steel plants decide about investing in new capacity, for example). But using them to predict the impact of government programs to green the economy is problematic because the method rests on two assumptions that green proposals violate: constant prices and constant technology.

By definition, efforts to change energy technology are going to change technology and prices. The relationships in an input-output matrix based on using coal to generate electricity and gasoline to fuel cars simply aren't applicable to an economy where substantial amounts of energy come from high-cost sources like wind and solar and the cars are hybrids or run on ethanol.

Worse, the green-economy predictions rest on extremely optimistic estimates of the impact of spending on new technologies. Almost no advocates of these policies deduct the jobs lost from replacing existing technologies with the new, green ones. Refinery workers, coal miners, fossil-fuel power plant workers, and many others will all lose their jobs if the proposed shift to nonfossil fuels takes place. Some of those workers may find jobs insulating public buildings or bolting together windmills, but many will not. Because all that public spending to produce these new technologies comes from taxes (whether today or in the future), it reduces private spending and so eliminates the jobs that would have been created by the higher private spending displaced by the taxes.

Any estimates of major changes are likely to be imprecise even if all these factors are taken into account because of the considerable uncertainty surrounding these relationships. Ignoring all the downsides, as green-economy proponents do, suggests that they are less interested in accurate predictions than in creating political pressure for policies regardless of their impact.

Labor Productivity

Even if we set aside these technical issues, however, there are still some serious problems with green-economy plans. Perhaps most important, the literature mistakenly glorifies low-productivity jobs on grounds that more employment is better. For example, the UN Environment Programme criticizes modern agriculture because "labor is extruded from all points in the system," argues wind and solar are better technologies because producing each BTU of energy requires more labor than in fossil-fuel industries, and argues that the steel industry has evolved to use too little labor.

To see why this is a problem, let's consider ethanol. Although even many environmentalists now recognize ethanol's problems, it was the darling of alternative-energy proponents for many years, and hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies have produced a substantial corn-based ethanol industry in the United States. (Despite these subsidies, the fuel remains uncompetitive with gasoline at current gas prices.) Corn-based ethanol requires more labor to produce than gasoline does, largely because growing and processing corn is more labor-intensive than pumping and refining oil. As a result, green-economy advocates score ethanol higher than gasoline since each BTU of energy in ethanol takes more labor to make than a BTU of gasoline.

But lower labor productivity is a bad thing not a benefit. Not only does more labor mean higher costs, but higher-productivity jobs (generally those that involve working with greater amounts of capital) can pay higher wages precisely because they are more productive. Low-productivity jobs are low-paying jobs because employers cannot afford to pay their employees more than the employees generate. If more labor were the metric, we'd all be better off using quills and parchment in place of computers.


Military's new mission-bailing out GM (again)

 The Department of Defense has a new mission - to purchase and integrate 1,500 new Chevy Volts into its fleet.  Who gave this order to begin "Operation Inefficient"?   That's what ALG would like to find out.

Why exactly?  The military line is that this past summer, the Department of Defense's began purchasing Chevy Volts and other electric cars as part of an initiative to "green up" the military.  And the prettier version - they are just doing their part to reduce the country's dependence on foreign energy.  I'm not buying it!  Again I ask, why?!   Why, when our defense budget is in the targets of a fiscally irresponsible, do-nothing-Congress, are we wasting money on the most unimpressive inefficient vehicle on the market?!  Do you really think the military is taking its own initiative to spend money on the most unintimidating vehicle on the market?  Somewhere up the line an order was given.

According to Air Force spokeswoman Tonya Racasner, over the next few years it will add 1,500 "non-tactical" (thank goodness!) road-capable, plug-in electric vehicles.  To date, the military has purchased 168.

As the leading branch in overseeing this initiative, the Air Force is preparing for the arrival 41 new electric vehicles reporting to Los Angeles Air Force Base.  In addition, the Army alone plans to place green-cars at more than 40 of its installations.  The other military branches are also following suit, with purchases and adding more charging stations on and off military bases.

This Administration has championed the Chevy Volt as a symbol of the government bailout of General Motors.  It couldn't have picked a better candidate to represent itself!  The Chevy Volt has been a series of problems.

 *   It has a battery problem that has led spontaneous fires, something the Department of Defense itself has been involved in helping solve.

*   It could electrocute first responders to an accident, causing the Department of Energy to spend $4.4 million on a program to teach firefighters how to protect themselves when responding to a Volt accident.

*   GM has already had to suspend production twice this year alone (so far.).

Despite having spent over $1.2 billion on developing this car, GM still hasn't got it right - and is reportedly losing $50,000 per vehicle.  And all that with the government's help!   The Obama Administration has made this company and the Chevy Volt its poster child of the big government auto bailout.  It has hailing the Volt as the "car of the future".  It has tried to create incentive with green-pushing tax-breaks.  President Obama has even given a personal pledge to drive one himself after a second term.   Despite all this "help", GM is finding little consumer demand for the Volt.  While Chevy may boast record high sales for August 2012, moving 2,500 cars, the experts attribute some of this to "the best incentives it's ever had on the model to move cars" - a $169 monthly lease, down from $269 a month.   And they're surprised GM didn't sell more.

So this begs the question, why is the Defense Department, whose budget always seems to be in Congress' sights, spending valuable taxpayers' money on this poorly built machine?  Is this Administration orchestrating another pseudo bailout for GM.  Or is this Administration simply trying to protect itself and its bad investment - a self-bailout?

Americans for Limited Government has filed a FOIA with the Secretary of Defense's office to see who has authorized these purchases and any government discussions behind them, including communications with the White House.

After the Chevy Volt has posted a very poor track record, why is the federal government continuing to spend money on a project going up in smoke?


Wind turbine noise being studied to death?

This is in response to the September 1, 2012 article published by regarding the Fairhaven industrial wind turbines (IWT). It is apparent that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is way past due for making their decision about the Falmouth IWT noise levels. The DEP has witnessed the nighttime operation of Wind 1 and has sufficient noise level measurements to determine that Wind 1 is out of compliance. Under state law, wind turbines cannot increase the quietest nighttime dBA noise levels (L90) by more than 10 dB when compared to the maximum (Lmax) produced.

Ariel Wittenberg, reporter for southcoasttoday, witnessed nighttime noise measurements for the Fairhaven Wind Turbine project. Noise levels were measured by the DEP's Laurel Carlson accompanied by Sumul Shah, Project Developer. Carlson wrote down a long series of noise levels measured in 5-second increments; 47.8, 46.6, 47.7 and so on. This measurement methodology dates back to the 1970s, when sound levels were manually taken by viewing an analog meter needle movement. Statistical measurements require at least 100 readings with IWT ON and then OFF. Each hand-written measurement includes an identifier relating to the noise source heard. The 10th lowest value would represent the L90 or residual background; the noise level exceeded 90% of the time when turbines are OFF. The Lmax would be the highest value measured when the turbines are ON. A drawback for DEP methodology is that most of the noise levels are excluded by reading only once every five seconds.

The DEP is correct to require an observer to listen and note every noise source so that non-IWT noise can be excluded. Sound meters are poor listeners, unable to identify a noise source, whereas the human has excellent identification capability. However, meters can compute statistical sound levels and record time histories for dBA, dBC, dBL and fractional octave bands. Instrument data is downloaded to computer spreadsheet programs for post analysis.

Compliance can easily be determined using a time-history graph showing the IWT operating, and then shutdown, leaving only ambient background sound. Measuring this ON to OFF transition directly shows the difference between IWT-ON sound levels to background-only sound levels.

Falmouth's Wind 1 was measured ON and OFF by the DEP during the night of March 7, 2012. At the same time and locations, independent sound level measurements were made with a calibrated Type 1 precision sound level meter and the results are shown below.

This graph includes sufficient information for the DEP to show that Falmouth Wind 1 does not meet state law; IWT-ON Lmax of 46 dBA in red and IWT-OFF L90 of 27 dBA background in green. The difference is 19 dB; 9 dB louder than the maximum allowed under state law. There is no doubt that this increase would provoke a very vocal negative reaction by neighbors.

It should be noted that similar IWT-ON noise levels were recorded in Fairhaven (47.8, 46.6, 47.7) at similar hub-height wind speeds of 6.5 m/s (14.5 mph). These same noise levels have been measured at other wind turbine sites at similar distances in Maine and Massachusetts.

Neighbors at Falmouth and Fairhaven have voiced their concerns about excessive audible noise and exposure to the adverse public health effects from infrasound and low frequency noise. The Falmouth Board of Health (FBOH) has acknowledged that there needs to an action to protect the public health, having received dozens of valid health complaints and testimonies. On June 11, 2012 the FBOH submitted results of their epidemiological study taken in the vicinity of the three Falmouth IWTs to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (BPH) requesting immediate assistance. The FBOH wrote, "Due to the increasing intensity of the reported health impacts, the Board is considering emergency actions" and concludes with "We look to your Department, as that which holds the highest duty to protect health of citizens of the Commonwealth, to assist us in this matter." After three months, there has still been no public response from the DPH.

Neighbors are very concerned about the DEP and DPH studying IWT noise to death. They already have all the evidence they need. Now the Massachusetts DEP and DPH need to act to protect the public health, or just declare: IWT neighbors live in Public Health Sacrifice Zones.


Even War and Rumors of War Can't Save Chevy Volt

A new Congressional Budget Office report tells Obama what the rest of us have known for some time: Your bet on electric cars wasn’t an investment, but a gamble; a dumb gamble.  And now you’ve just come up snake eyes.

“Despite the federal government pumping $7.5 billion into the electric vehicle industry in the United States through 2019,” writes the, “overall national gasoline consumption is unlikely to be significantly affected, according to a report released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).”

The CBO says that even if Obama increased the amount of the subsidy, it would make little difference to the gasoline usage or emissions output because automakers would still be required to hit fuel efficiency targets. Instead, the CBO says that either a tax on gasoline or carbon is the only way to increase the attractiveness of electric cars to consumers.

Duh.  That’s because electric cars don’t save gas, they don’t save money and they don’t save the “planet.”  They are only a vanity-plumping, amenity purchase for the metro-testicled.

“Assuming that everything else is equal” says the CBO, “the larger an electric vehicle’s battery capacity, the greater its cost disadvantage relative to conventional vehicles—and thus the larger the tax credit needed to make it cost-competitive.”

It’s not like none of us pointed this out at the time Obama unveiled his plan to put a million electric vehicles on the road before he destabilized the Middle East.

Ok, so he didn’t tell us that last part.  Dr. Strange-Chu told us about that one.  “Somehow,” Strange-Chu said, “we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”

Hey? How about a regional civil war? We could lob a few missiles at Libya?

But even with Middle East and North African disorders keeping oil prices high, electric vehicles are still not cost competitive- nor does the consumer seem to want them at any cost.      

General Motors essentially confirmed Obama’s bad bet when they admitted over the weekend that the recent rash of “viral” Chevy Volt sales have been stoked by discounts of as much as $10,000 off the MSRP of $40,000.

Two weeks ago industry insiders revealed that General Motors was taking a loss of around $50,000 per Chevy Volt sold. That was assuming a sales price without the new and improved $10k discount. If you add in the $7,500 government subsidy, the Volt’s cost to the consumer is around $22,500.

Cost to the taxpayers is much, much higher.

Before the discount, the Volt cost General Motors- a joint venture between Obama, Inc., and the United Auto Workers that was subsidized by your tax dollars- around $650 million just this year according to estimates by industry insiders. In August alone the discount bumped up the price to GM by another $28 million.

So far this year the company has sold around 13,000 Volts, compared to the 60,000 unit goal that they set at the beginning of the year.

"Let's face it, over $40,000 is asking a lot for a compact car," says Bob Lutz, who helped develop the Volt- and was present when GM was hurling toward bankruptcy.

"Its prime purpose was to introduce a new generation of technology," says the now-retired Lutz, according to CBSNews. "And at the same time ... demonstrate to the world that GM is way more technologically capable than the people give it credit for."

Show- offs.

I never knew technology was capable of losing this much money so quickly.  I’m impressed.  And now so is the Congressional Budget Office.


Manufactured Fear Drives Needless Regulations

As sure as the sun rises in the morning, Americans can count on their televisions and newspapers to brim with daily reports of all the dangerous products lurking in their homes. Women in particular are told commonplace items like shampoo, deodorant, plastic food containers, household disinfectants, children’s toys, baby bottles, and garden hoses threaten them and their families. Even living room furniture is now cast as a household killer.

Silicone is the latest item to come under scrutiny. Discovered in the mid-19th century by a Swedish chemist, nowadays the term silicone is most often associated with breast augmentation, but its uses go far beyond giving women the perfect d├ęcolletage. In fact, silicone is used in everything from car engines to cosmetics, prosthetic limbs and medical equipment. In other words, silicone has made life easier for modern man, so naturally the hyper-regulatory Environmental Protection Agency is on alert.

In 2011, the EPA announced it was interested in collecting environmental monitoring data for two materials in silicone—D4 and D5— to assess the chemicals’ potential impact on the environment. The EPA notified the silicone industry that it wanted to establish an environmental monitoring program at silicone manufacturing, processing and formulating facilities and select municipal waste water treatment plants that treat the chemical.

The silicone industry was quick to accommodate EPA’s request, voluntarily agreeing to monitor five municipal wastewater treatment sites. The sites would be selected in a way that allowed an assessment of the worst case scenario in terms of the potential harm that might be caused by the release of the chemicals to the environment.

The EPA wasn’t satisfied with industry’s plan, suggesting instead that the industry monitor a whopping 42 sites. Of course, the EPA never justified why so many sites needed monitoring for this risk assessment process, or what benefit would accrue from duplicative data from sites using the same treatment techniques.

But then high-powered regulatory agencies don’t really need to explain their motives or logic, do they? And they probably don’t care that this additional monitoring will come at a high price—to the tune of $50 million in redundant data collection.

While the EPA and the silicone industry hashed out the details of this monitoringarrangement, Canada began its own monitoring program. In 2012, the Canadiangovernment (well-known to be environmental sympathizers and heavy-handed regulators of the chemical industry) completed an assessment of the safety of silicone that was conducted by a panel of independent scientific experts. The scientists found that D5 does not pose a risk to the environment or to humans. On D4, the Canadian government only required pollution prevention plans—a pretty standard requirement for the chemical industry.

Reassuring, right? Not to the EPA. Despite being provided the results from the Canadian study, the EPA remained undeterred though they ultimately revised their proposal to include 16 sites. That may be less onerous, but still creates a needless burden for industry and the EPA again offers no justification for why 16 sites are needed. It’s almost like EPA just pulls these numbers out of thin air.

Such stubbornness betrays the EPA’s real intentions—to regulate certain industries, chemicals, and products that environmentalists and public health officials (their real constituency) view as hazardous despite their being no evidence of real danger. This is part of a larger trend, building a culture of alarmism in America. The tactic is simple: based on the idiom “better safe than sorry,” ubiquitous pseudo-scientific activist organizations promote the idea that a chemical poses a “potential risk.” They say there is a “chance of danger,” or that a “correlation” between a certain product and a dreadful disease exists.

This clever rhetorical trick is designed to plant the seeds of fear without the nuisance of producing proof. It’s understandable what happens next; people are simply more willing to accept regulations once they believe they and their children are at risk.

American women should be aware that these overzealous government agencies have little regard and no responsibility for economic growth in this country. The money used to satisfy the EPA would be better directed to job creation, the construction of new and better manufacturing sites, or research into products that would truly make life easier and safer for women and their families.

Instead, industry will waste time and money collecting data to satisfy a Washington bureaucrat who can’t speak Canadian.

This is the real reason for concern.




The graphics problem:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Awash with B.S.

The net is awash with BS today so I will have to give each shovelful just a brief comment.  I will start out with a sensible article and then get on with the shovelling:

Silent Spring's 50-Year History of Selective Data

Rachel Carson, more than any other person, created the politicized science that afflicts today's public policy debates.

Rachel Carson's jeremiad against pesticides is credited by many as launching the modern environmentalist movement, and the author, who died in 1964, is being widely lauded for her efforts. "She was the very first person to knock some of the shine off of modernity," says environmentalist Bill McKibben in a New York Times Magazine article from this past Sunday.

"The hostile reaction to Silent Spring contained the seeds of a partisan divide over environmental matters that has since hardened into a permanent wall of bitterness and mistrust," writes William Souder, author of a new biography of Carson, On A Farther Shore. He adds, "There is no objective reason why environmentalism should be the exclusive province of any one political party or ideology." That conclusion is flatly wrong.

In Silent Spring, Carson crafted a passionate denunciation of modern technology that drives environmentalist ideology today. At its heart is this belief: Nature is beneficent, stable, and even a source of moral good; humanity is arrogant, heedless, and often the source of moral evil. Rachel Carson, more than any other person, is responsible for the politicized science that afflicts our public policy debates today.

First, let's acknowledge that Carson was right about some of the harms that extensive modern pesticide use could and did cause. Carson was correct that the popular pesticide DDT did disrupt reproduction in some raptor species. It is also the case that insect pests over time do develop resistance to pesticides, making them eventually less useful in preventing the spread of insect-borne diseases and protecting crops. In fact, the first cases of evolving insect resistance were identified in California orchards in at the beginning of the 20th century, when species of scale insects became resistant to the primitive insecticides lime sulfur and hydrogen cyanide. By 1960, 137 species of insects had developed resistance to DDT. To preserve their usefulness, pesticides clearly needed to be more judiciously deployed.   

Carson, however, realized that tales of empty birds' nests and bug and weed-infested crops were not enough to spur most people to fear the chemicals she opposed. The threat had to be made more immediate and intimate. Carson biographer Souder notes, "In 1960, at the halfway point in writing Silent Spring, just as she was exploring the connection between pesticide exposure and human cancer, Carson was herself stricken with breast cancer." Given the sorry state of medicine in the 1950s, few diseases were scarier than cancer. And deaths from cancer had been rising steeply. Carson cited government statistics showing that cancer deaths had dramatically increased from 4 percent of all deaths in 1900 to 15 percent in 1958. 

"The problem that concerns us here is whether any of the chemicals we are using in our attempts to control nature play a direct or indirect role as causes of cancer," wrote Carson. Her conclusion was that "the evidence is circumstantial" but "nonetheless impressive." She added the claim that in contrast with disease germs, "man has put the vast majority of carcinogens into the environment." She noted that the first human exposures to DDT and other pesticides were barely more than a decade in the past. It takes time for cancer to fester, so she ominously warned, "The full maturing of whatever seeds of malignancy have been sown by these chemicals is yet to come."

But hinting at cancer doom decades away was not enough. Carson was convinced that pesticides could wreak their carcinogenic havoc much sooner rather than later. As evidence she cited various anecdotes, including one about a woman "who abhorred spiders" and who sprayed her basement with DDT in mid-August. She died of acute leukemia a couple of months later. In another passage, Carson cites a man embarrassed by his roach-infested office who again sprayed DDT and who "within a short time . began to bruise and bleed." He was within a month of spraying diagnosed with aplastic anemia.

To bolster these frightening anecdotes, Carson cited data that deaths from leukemia had increased from 11.1 per 100,000 in 1950 to 14.1 in 1960. Leukemia mortality rose with pesticide use; suspicious, no? "What does it mean? To what lethal agent or agents, new to our environment, are people now exposed with increasing frequency?," asked Carson. Fifty years later the death rate from leukemia is 7.1 per 100,000. Half of what Carson cited in Silent Spring. In fact, the incidence rate is now 12.5 per 100,000.

Carson surely knew that cancer is a disease in which the risk goes up as people age. And thanks to vaccines and new antibiotics Americans were luckily living much longer; long enough to get and die of cancer. Average life expectancy was 46 in 1900 and the annual death rate was 17 out of 1,000 Americans. By 1960, life expectancy had risen to nearly 70 years and the annual death rate had fallen to 9.5 per 1,000 people. Today, life expectancy is 78 years and the annual death rate is 7.9 per 1,000 people. Today, although only about 12 percent of Americans are over age 65, they account for 56 percent of new cancer diagnoses and 69 percent of cancer deaths.

Did cancer doom ever arrive? No. In Silent Spring Carson cites data showing that American farmers were then applying about 637 million pounds of pesticides to their crops. The most recent Environmental Protection Agency estimate is that farmers used 1.1 billion pounds in 2007.  (The amount of insecticide applied to crops has been falling recently, as farmers adopt genetically enhanced insect-resistant crop varieties.)

What happened to cancer incidence rates? According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, age-adjusted incidence rates have been dropping for nearly two decades. Why? Largely because fewer Americans are smoking and lots of women stopped using hormone replacement therapy, which researchers have now concluded significantly increased the risk of breast cancer.

Back in the early 1990s, based on sketchy research, environmentalists began pushing the hypothesis that past exposure to organochlorine pesticides, such as DDT, was fueling a breast cancer epidemic. However, after years of research a major review article in 2008 in the journal Cancer found that exposure of organochlorine compounds like DDT "is not believed to be causally related to breast cancer."

With regard to overall cancer risks posed by synthetic chemicals, the American Cancer Society in its most recent report on cancer trends concludes, "Exposure to carcinogenic agents in occupational, community, and other settings is thought to account for a relatively small percentage of cancer deaths - about 4 percent from occupational exposures and 2 percent from environmental pollutants (man-made and naturally occurring)." What factors really do increase cancer risk? Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and eating too much food. In fact, while overall cancer incidence has been falling, cancers related to obesity - e.g., pancreatic, liver, and kidney - have risen slightly.

The first notable triumph of environmentalism occurred in 1972. Ten years after Silent Spring, William Ruckelshaus, Administrator of the barely two year-old Environmental Protection Agency, banned DDT, overruling an administrative law judge's fact finding after months of scientific testimony that "DDT is not a safety hazard to man when used as directed" and that its benefits outweighed its costs. As part of the justification, Ruckelshaus noted in his decision, "Public concern over the widespread use of pesticides was stirred by Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring."

Carson biographer Souder oddly concludes that the fierce opposition from chemical companies, agricultural interests, and their allies in government "put Rachel Carson and everything she believed about the environment firmly on the left end of the political spectrum. And so two things - environmentalism and its adherents - were defined once and forever." He gets it backwards.

Carson described the choice humanity faced as a fork in the road to the future. "The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress at great speed, but at its end lies disaster," she declared. "The other fork of the road - the one 'less traveled by' - offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of our earth." This kind of apocalyptic rhetoric is now standard in today's policy debates. In any case, the opposition to Silent Spring arose not just because Carson was attacking the self-interests of certain corporations (which she certainly was), but also because it was clear that her larger concern was to rein in technological progress and the economic growth it fuels.

Through Silent Spring, Carson provided those who are alienated by modern technological progress with a model of how to wield ostensibly scientific arguments on behalf of policies and results that they prefer for other reasons. It is this legacy of public policy confirmation bias that Yale law professor Dan Kahan and his research colleagues are probing at the Yale Cultural Cognition Project.

In a recent study on how Americans perceive climate change risk published in Nature Climate Change, Kahan and his colleagues find that people listen to information that reinforces their values and ignore that which does not. They observe that people who are broadly identified as being on the political left "tend to be morally suspicious of commerce and industry, to which they attribute social inequity. They therefore find it congenial to believe those forms of behavior are dangerous and worthy of restriction." On the other hand, those broadly considered as being on the political right are proponents of technological progress who worry about "collective interference with the decisions of individuals" and "tend to be skeptical of environmental risks. Such people intuitively perceive that widespread acceptance of such risks would license restrictions on commerce and industry."

As trust in other sources of authority - politicians, preachers, business leaders - has withered over the past 50 years, policy partisans are increasingly seeking to cloak their arguments in the mantle of objective science. However, the Yale researchers find that greater scientific literacy actually produces greater political polarization. As Kahan and his fellow researchers report, "For ordinary citizens, the reward for acquiring greater scientific knowledge and more reliable technical-reasoning capacities is a greater facility to discover and use-or explain away-evidence relating to their groups' positions." In other words, in policy debates scientific claims are used to vindicate partisan values, not to reach to an agreement about what is actually the case. This sort of motivated reasoning applies to partisans of the political left and right, who both learned it from Rachel Carson.

NBC, Your Warmist channel

Ideal for the simple-minded,  particularly those who haven't noticed that the weather changes from year to year and those with short  memories who don't remember previous episodes of bad weather

At the end of an interview with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer turned to the subject of climate change and fretted: "We've had a crazy week in this – year in this country of extreme weather. Are you seeing around the world the kind of motivation and will that's necessary to, A, admit there's a problem, and then address the problem?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Blair replied in part: "This climate issue is real, and we are very irresponsible for future generations if we don't deal with it and we should recover, I think, a sense of urgency about it." Tossing all objectivity aside, Lauer joined in the advocacy: "I hope we will."

Here is a transcript of the September 24 exchange:

7:15AM EDT ....

MATT LAUER: I want to just end on a question, I know it's near and dear to your heart. You're here for climate week as well. We've had a crazy week in this – year in this country of extreme weather. Are you seeing around the world the kind of motivation and will that's necessary to, A, admit there's a problem, and then address the problem?

TONY BLAIR: Well, not enough, frankly. I mean, I think we've got to be very clear about this. I know we've got all these economic problems to deal with, but this climate issue is real, and we are very irresponsible for future generations if we don't deal with it and we should recover, I think, a sense of urgency about it.

LAUER: I hope we will.

100 mln will die by 2030 if world fails to act on climate - report

It's just prophecy and about as likely to come true as all the past failed Greenie prophecies.  See Paul Ehrlich, for instance.  But isn't 100 million deaths  a GOOD thing by Greenie standards?  Many Greenies want BILLIONS more than that  eliminated -- for "sustainability's" sake, of course.....  There's no such thing as a happy Greenie

More than 100 million people will die and global economic growth will be cut by 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030 if the world fails to tackle climate change, a report commissioned by 20 governments said on Wednesday.

As global average temperatures rise due to greenhouse gas emissions, the effects on the planet, such as melting ice caps, extreme weather, drought and rising sea levels, will threaten populations and livelihoods, said the report conducted by humanitarian organisation DARA.

It calculated that five million deaths occur each year from air pollution, hunger and disease as a result of climate change and carbon-intensive economies, and that toll would likely rise to six million a year by 2030 if current patterns of fossil fuel use continue.

More than 90 percent of those deaths will occur in developing countries, said the report that calculated the human and economic impact of climate change on 184 countries in 2010 and 2030. It was commissioned by the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a partnership of 20 developing countries threatened by climate change.

"A combined climate-carbon crisis is estimated to claim 100 million lives between now and the end of the next decade," the report said.

It said the effects of climate change had lowered global output by 1.6 percent of world GDP, or by about $1.2 trillion a year, and losses could double to 3.2 percent of global GDP by 2030 if global temperatures are allowed to rise, surpassing 10 percent before 2100.

It estimated the cost of moving the world to a low-carbon economy at about 0.5 percent of GDP this decade.


British economist Nicholas Stern told Reuters earlier this year investment equivalent to 2 percent of global GDP was needed to limit, prevent and adapt to climate change. His report on the economics of climate change in 2006 said an average global temperature rise of 2-3 degrees Celsius in the next 50 years could reduce global consumption per head by up to 20 percent.

Temperatures have already risen by about 0.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times. Almost 200 nations agreed in 2010 to limit the global average temperature rise to below 2C (3.6 Fahrenheit) to avoid dangerous impacts from climate change.

But climate scientists have warned that the chance of limiting the rise to below 2C is getting smaller as global greenhouse gas emissions rise due to burning fossil fuels.

The world's poorest nations are the most vulnerable as they face increased risk of drought, water shortages, crop failure, poverty and disease. On average, they could see an 11 percent loss in GDP by 2030 due to climate change, DARA said.

"One degree Celsius rise in temperature is associated with 10 percent productivity loss in farming. For us, it means losing about 4 million metric tonnes of food grain, amounting to about $2.5 billion. That is about 2 percent of our GDP," Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in response to the report.

"Adding up the damages to property and other losses, we are faced with a total loss of about 3-4 percent of GDP."

Even the biggest and most rapidly developing economies will not escape unscathed. The United States and China could see a 2.1 percent reduction in their respective GDPs by 2030, while India could experience a more than 5 percent loss.

One Million New Plankton Species Found

Name them!  Name even 10 of them!

A team of marine scientists have discovered up to a million new species of plankton during a 70,000-mile voyage around the world's oceans.

The microscopic sea life was found during Tara Oceans expedition lasting more than two years and aimed at learning more about the effects of climate change.

The sailing ship's journey took more than two years as it sailed from home in France through the Mediterranean, the Gulf and Indian Ocean to Cape Town.

After crossing the South Atlantic, the ship headed into the Antarctic, and then into the South Pacific, reaching Hawaii in September last year and then moving off to its home leg across the North Pacific, through the Panama Canal and across the North Atlantic.

"It's the first time that anyone's done this expedition looking specifically for plankton life, and that's why we found so many," expedition leader Dr Chris Bowler said.

"These planktonic organisms are the life support system of the planet. 

"They are the base of the food chain ... if there's no plankton, there's no fish in the oceans. They also, through photosynthesis, generate oxygen - in fact they generate the oxygen in every second breath that we breathe so they're incredibly important on a planetary scale.

"And they take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere by taking it into the interior of the ocean where it can be stored for thousands of millions of years so they're an essential buffer against climate change due to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere."

The team also said it found evidence of another of mankind's detrimental effects on the planet - hundreds of thousands of bits of plastic floating in the Antarctic.

Ashamnu: Our Souls Have Transgressed With Climate Silence

Cripes!  I can't find my soul.  I wonder where it is?

Arev Yom Kippur . The eve of the Day of Atonement. After the period of reflection and engagement with others between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, this is a moment to turn to internal considerations and the relationship between the individual and G-d.

As part of the prayers for the Day of Atonement, the Vidui, the Al Cheyt or recital of sins, is perhaps the most important. (Modern Judaism being what it is, there are a myriad of translations and modern variations on the Vidui/Al Chet.) A key word: Ashamnu . "we have sinned" is a recognition of individual and communal failures. The Al Cheyt is a recognition and statement about sins by ourselves (and our community) against others, against oneself, against G-d through action . and inaction.

It is clear: one can do wrong through action and words . and one can do wrong through inaction and silence.

And, there is a silence that bears heavily on the heart at this time: the silence in our political leadership and among too many of us on the damage we are doing to the planetary system, the risks of climate change, and the urgent necessity for meaningful change to change our path toward something that enables sustainable prosperity for humanity.

From a Yom Kippur sermon leading into a Viddui recitation,
    This is Yom Kippur. This is a night for confession. So let us be honest. If ever there was a time for candor, this is it. We humans are not good with limits. We are pushing the planet and its animal resources to the limit. We want what we want when we want it. We pretty much take, hunt, fish, and consume until someone or something stops us or until there is no more to be taken.

    Do you remember the Viddui we will be reciting in a few minutes? It's the Confession prayer that lists our sins alphabetically.  

    a.b.c.  We abuse. We besmirch. We consume. We destroy. We excuse ourselves. We forget the consequences of our actions. We are greedy.

    I could continue through the alphabet, and I should go on because, as the saying goes, although religion ought to comfort the afflicted, religion also needs to afflict the comfortable. And we truly do need to be uncomfortable tonight. Remember an alternate name for Yom Kippur is Yom Ha-Din.the Day of Judgment. This night is meant to be a time for severity.

"a time of severity". We are living in a time of consequences, a time where humanity's future (and our own, unless you are on your deathbed, futures) require confronting Inconvenient Truth, and acting in this regard.

The individual matters and we need, for Yom Kippur, to judge ourselves with "severity" - to push our own comfortable ways as to whether we 'sin' and damage and harm unknowingly or knowingly.

We, however, live within a society. And, while each of us has a voice and role in that society, there are leaders. And, we expect leaders to show leadership. Truthfully, there is no such thing as that perfect person (take a look and reflect on the Al Cheyt) nor is there such a thing as a perfect leader. But, we should recognize our own faults and seek to change our patterns. And, we should look to our leaders' faults and seek to help them change for the better.
    Most of all, we cannot afford more of the same timid politics when the future of our planet is at stake. Global warming is not a someday problem, it is now.

Who said this? Senator Barack Obama in 2007.

Where, however, is President Barack Obama and Presidential-candidate Barack Obama in 2012?

There is no question that President Barack Obama is better on environmental and climate issues than a tea-party ruled Mitt Romney conceivably could be. However, this is an incredibly low bar of judgment.

Even though climate change is an arena of incredibly stark differentiation between the parties (and candidates); even though President Obama's one-liner about climate change was one of the best received lines during his DNC speech; even though "the future of our planet is at stake", the silence about climate change from Presidential candidate Barack Obama and Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden is simply deafening.

We sin . we do wrong through action and words. We sin, we do wrong through inaction and silence.  It is past time to end the climate silence.

Climate change is already damaging global economy, report finds

Since there has been no warming for 15 years or so, the damage must be from wasteful Greenie policies

Climate change is already contributing to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people a year and costing the world more than $1.2 trillion, wiping 1.6% annually from global GDP, according to a new study.

The impacts are being felt most keenly in developing countries, according to the research, where damage to agricultural production from extreme weather linked to climate change is contributing to deaths from malnutrition, poverty and their associated diseases.

Air pollution caused by the use of fossil fuels is also separately contributing to the deaths of at least 4.5m people a year, the report found.

The 331-page study, entitled Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of A Hot Planet and published on Wednesday, was carried out by the DARA group, a non-governmental organisation based in Europe, and the Climate Vulnerable Forum. It was written by more than 50 scientists, economists and policy experts, and commissioned by 20 governments.

By 2030, the researchers estimate, the cost of climate change and air pollution combined will rise to 3.2% of global GDP, with the world's least developed countries forecast to bear the brunt, suffering losses of up to 11% of their GDP.

Sheikh Hasina, prime minister of Bangladesh, said: "A 1C rise in temperature [temperatures have already risen by 0.7C globally since the end of the 19th century] is associated with 10% productivity loss in farming. For us, it means losing about 4m tonnes of food grain, amounting to about $2.5bn. That is about 2% of our GDP. Adding up the damages to property and other losses, we are faced with a total loss of about 3-4% of GDP. Without these losses, we could have easily secured much higher growth."

But major economies will also take a hit, as extremes of weather and the associated damage - droughts, floods and more severe storms - could wipe 2% of the GDP of the US by 2030, while similar effects could cost China $1.2tr by the same date.

While many governments have taken the view that climate change is a long-term problem, there is a growing body of opinion that the effects are already being felt. Scientists have been alarmed by the increasingly rapid melting of Arctic sea ice, which reached a new record minimum this year and, if melting continues at similar rates, could be ice free in summer by the end of the decade. Some research suggests that this melting could be linked to cold, dull and rainy summers in parts of Europe - such as has been the predominant summer weather in the UK for the last six years. In the US, this year's severe drought has raised food prices and in India the disruption to the monsoon has caused widespread damage to farmers.

Connie Hedegaard, the European Union's climate chief, warned that extreme weather was becoming more common, as the effects of climate change take hold. "Climate change and weather extremes are not about a distant future," she wrote in a comment for the Guardian last week. "Formerly one-off extreme weather episodes seem to be becoming the new normal."

Michael Zammit Cutajar, former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said: "Climate change is not just a distant threat but a present danger - its economic impact is already with us."


The graphics problem:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Electric cars lose their spark

Thomas Edison built an electric car exactly 100 years ago (above) but it hit the same rock that bedevils electric cars to this day:  The low power-to-weight ratio of storage batteries. An excellent example of the adage:  "Those who will not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it"

Is the Electric Car Revolution Running Out of Juice?  It depends on whom you ask:

*    Year-to-date sales of the electric Nissan (NSANY) Leaf are down over 30%.

*   Ford (F) had sold just 177 of its electric Focus through August.

*   At the same time, production of Tesla Motors' (TSLA) hot-looking -- and expensive -- Model S sedan is sold out for months to come.

*    Meanwhile, the Chevy Volt is selling a bit better lately -- but that's a mixed blessing for General Motors (GM).

How to Lose Money on a $39,995 Sale

Why are improving sales for the Volt a mixed blessing? It turns out that those sales are expensive ones: Reuters recently reported that GM is losing a bundle on each Volt it sells -- despite the little plug-in hybrid's steep $39,995 base price.

While GM took issue with Reuters' math, it's clear that the innovative car isn't a moneymaker for General Motors. With sales of just a few thousand in the best of months, it'll be many years before the car manages to repay its development costs, estimated at over $1 billion.

Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing, at least in GM's view. Like other automakers, GM is looking ahead toward the next decade, when fuel-economy rules will be much stricter. From the General's perspective, the Volt represents an early investment in the kind of technology that GM -- and other automakers around the world -- will need to perfect before those rules go into effect.

There's some validity to that argument. But that hasn't stopped GM's critics from complaining that electric-car technology is turning into an expensive boondoggle.

Will Electric Cars Ever Take Off?

A Washington Post editorial this week took the Volt to task, as part of a larger argument against the U.S. government's subsidies of electric car technology. The Department of Energy said in 2011 that there could be 1 million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015, but as the Post points out, that's looking pretty unlikely right now.

The Department of Energy's conclusion was based on a study that made some assumptions that look kind of silly now. It expected Nissan to sell 25,000 Leafs this year. But through August, the automaker had sold fewer than 5,000 here in 2012. It also predicted that GM would sell 120,000 Volts this year. The reality: Fewer than 14,000 Volts had been sold through August in the U.S. in 2012.

Both of these cars, like much of the still-emerging U.S. electric-car business, were heavily dependent on government aid. GM's massive bailout is no secret, but some of the other Department of Energy aid programs are less well-known: Among other grants and loans, Nissan received $1.5 billion in low-cost loans to refurbish the Leaf's Tennessee factory, and Tesla got a $465 million line of credit to help get the Model S into production.

And what are taxpayers getting for all that? Not a whole lot.


How the IPCC fools everyone that CO2 drives climate instead of the Sun

The IPCC claims that only an increase in man-made greenhouse gases can explain most of the global warming observed during the 20th century. To justify this position, the IPCC programs computer models with multiple dubious assumptions, such as in the graph below showing assumed values in the models:

1. Greatly exaggerated, alleged radiative forcing at the top of the atmosphere from increased greenhouse gases [mostly CO2]  of 2 W/m2 from 1959-2000, even though the "IPCC formula" found in the fine print of AR4 predicts a much smaller change of 0.837 W/m2 [58% less] during the same period [5.35*ln(369.52/315.97) = 0.837 W/m2].

2. No change in forcing due to changes in cloud cover, even though multiple papers show a decrease in cloudiness observed in the late 20th century could alone account for all observed global warming.

3. The false assumption that the effect of solar radiation on the Earth's surface can be modeled by tiny changes in Total Solar Irradiance [TSI] at the top of the atmosphere, shown in the graph below as the blue line. The models falsely assume there has been no change in solar radiation at the Earth surface from the 1930's to the end of the 20th century. In reality, multiple papers have shown the effects of solar radiation at the Earth surface are greatly modified and amplified by changes in clouds, ozone, large changes in solar UV and the solar magnetic field, aerosols, and other factors. Observations have shown swings of solar radiation at the Earth surface of 5 W/m2 over the past 18 years alone [1987-2005], far more than the ~0.25 W/m2 ripples and zero net change of TSI assumed in the blue line below.

4. That the effects of volcanic eruptions are accurately modeled, even though this has been shown to be false, and which also has large effects upon solar radiation at the Earth surface.

5. That long-term trends in ocean oscillations can be ignored in the models, and which also have been shown to correlate with solar activity.

6. That chaotic systems [the ultimate example of which is the climate] can be modeled by linear assumptions.

7. That increased CO2 will cause an increase in atmospheric water vapor, even though observations show a decline in atmospheric water vapor.

The IPCC climate models are little more than computer games built upon multiple absurd assumptions and circular reasoning. They do, however, serve the purpose of fooling most of the people, all the time.

Radiative forcing assumptions in IPCC computer models.

Another source of assumptions programmed in the models

SOURCE  (See the original for links)

New paper shows how natural changes in ozone may drive climate

A important paper published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research finds that large quantities of ozone [O3], a "major greenhouse gas," are being produced naturally by an increase in lightning activity "caused by the influx of aerosols from a volcano."

According to the authors, "Our findings thus suggest a stronger O3 historical radiative forcing because this link implies lower lightning-generated [nitrous oxide] and lower O3, especially in the upper troposphere, in preindustrial time. Aerosol forcing therefore has a warming component via its effect on O3 production and this component has mostly been ignored in previous studies of climate forcing related to O3 and aerosols."

Prior research has shown that large variations in solar UV activity also control ozone production and that ozone levels could be the main driver of recent climate. Once again, natural variability including changes in ozone, solar and volcanic activity have been shown to be important drivers of climate.

Aerosol indirect effect on tropospheric ozone via lightning

By Tianle Yuan et al.

Tropospheric ozone (O3) is a pollutant and major greenhouse gas and its radiative forcing is still uncertain. Inadequate understanding of processes related to O3 production, in particular those natural ones such as lightning, contributes to this uncertainty. Here we demonstrate a new effect of aerosol particles on O3 production by affecting lightning activity and lightning-generated NOx.

We find that lightning flash rate increases at a remarkable rate of 30 times or more per unit of aerosol optical depth. We provide observational evidence that indicates the observed increase in lightning activity is caused by the influx of aerosols from a volcano. Satellite data analyses show O3 is increased as a result of aerosol-induced increase in lightning and lightning produced NOx. Model simulations with prescribed lightning change support the satellite data analysis.

O3 production increase from this aerosol-lightning-ozone link is concentrated in the upper troposphere, where O3 is most efficient as a greenhouse gas. Our findings thus suggest a stronger O3 historical radiative forcing because this link implies lower lightning-generated NOx and lower O3, especially in the upper troposphere, in preindustrial time.

Aerosol forcing therefore has a warming component via its effect on O3 production and this component has mostly been ignored in previous studies of climate forcing related to O3 and aerosols.

Sensitivity simulations suggest that 4-8% increase of column tropospheric ozone, mainly in the tropics, is expected if aerosol-lighting-ozone link is parameterized, depending on the background emission scenario.

We note, however, substantial uncertainties remain on the exact magnitude of aerosol effect on tropospheric O3 via lightning. The challenges for obtaining a quantitative global estimate of this effect are also discussed. Our results have significant implications for understanding past and projecting future tropospheric O3 forcing as well as wildfire changes and call for integrated investigations of the coupled aerosol-cloud-chemistry system.
SOURCE  (See the original for links)

Fewest Forest Fires On Record

There have been 47,437 forest fires this year. That is the smallest YTD total since the National Interagency Fire Center started tracking it in 2003. It is almost 25% below the mean and about one fourth of the 1938 total.

I live three miles from what was mindlessly described in June as Colorado’s largest fire on record. The usual crew of idiots declared that the fire would burn until the winter snows, but the fire was completely extinguished by summer rains by mid-July.

In late September 1898, a forest fire burned the entire northwest quadrant of the state. This year’s fire was about 1% that size, and it is cool and wet here in late September, 2012.

More HERE (See the original for links)

Paper finds 'brightening' of sunshine hours since 1980

A paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research examined sunshine hours over the Iberian Peninsula from 1961-2004. The authors find a dimming of sunshine occurred from 1961 to the early 1980's, corresponding to the ice age scare of the time.

Conversely, the authors find, "Since the early 1980s, the [sunshine duration] series exhibit an upward trend or “brightening,” which corresponds to the subsequent warming period.

The authors also find a relationship between sunshine and atmospheric circulation patterns, stating, "Finally and perhaps surprisingly, the [total cloud cover] residual [sunshine duration] series exhibits a statistically significant relationship with a regional atmospheric circulation pattern during spring, summer, and autumn."

The IPCC, however, dismisses the role of the Sun in climate change by only examining small changes in Total Solar Irradiance [TSI], while ignoring sunshine hours at Earth's surface, the effect of cloud variations on sunshine, and amplifying factors on sunshine such as clouds/cosmic rays, ozone, large changes in solar UV and the solar magnetic field within and between solar cycles, solar effects on ocean oscillations and atmospheric patterns, etc., etc.

Dimming/brightening over the Iberian Peninsula: Trends in sunshine duration and cloud cover and their relations with atmospheric circulation

By Arturo Sanchez-Lorenzo et al.


This study analyzes the spatial and temporal changes in sunshine duration (SunDu) and total cloud cover (TCC) over the Iberian Peninsula (IP) and four subregions during 1961–2004 using high-quality, homogenized data sets. The analyses confirm that over most of the IP and in most seasons, SunDu and TCC variations are strongly negatively correlated, with absolute values ∼0.8–0.9. Somewhat weaker correlations (0.5–0.6) are found in the southern portion of the IP in summer. A large discrepancy between the SunDu and TCC records occurs from the 1960s until the early 1980s when the SunDu series shows a decrease that it is not associated with an increase in TCC. This negative trend or “dimming” is even more pronounced after removing the effects of TCC via linear regression. Since the early 1980s, the SunDu and TCC residual SunDu series exhibit an upward trend or “brightening.” In addition to the long-term dimming and brightening, the volcanic eruptions of El Chichon and Mount Pinatubo are clearly evident in the TCC residual SunDu record. The TCC and SunDu records over the IP are well correlated with sea level pressure (SLP), with above normal TCC and below normal SunDu corresponding to below normal SLP locally in all seasons. The TCC and SunDu related SLP changes over the IP in winter and spring are part of a larger‐scale north‐south dipole pattern that extends over the entire Euro‐Atlantic sector. Other more regional atmospheric circulation patterns, identified from rotated principal component analysis, are also linked to TCC and SunDu variations over the IP. Finally and perhaps surprisingly, the TCC residual SunDu series exhibits a statistically significant relationship with a regional atmospheric circulation pattern during spring, summer, and autumn.

EU carbon prices drop as US Senate bars airlines from curbs

European Union carbon-dioxide permits dropped to a five-day low as oil prices declined and the U.S. Senate passed a measure that would effectively shield the country’s airlines from the EU emissions limits.

EU permits for delivery in December fell as much as 2 percent, the biggest decline since Sept. 19, and traded at 7.34 euros ($9.51) a metric ton, down 1.6 percent, on the ICE Futures Europe exchange as of 8:40 a.m. in London.

The Senate bill, which passed on Sept. 22 and must be reconciled with similar legislation passed by the House last year, would bar U.S. airlines from participating in the EU emissions trading system, or the ETS. While Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the Obama administration has not taken a position on the bill, in June he said the government “strongly opposes” the EU plan.

The 27-nation EU decided in 2008 to include flights to and from European airports in the ETS from 2012. International airlines have to surrender EU or United Nations emission permits against this year’s emissions by April 2013. Banning U.S. airlines from complying with the ETS may mean that fewer airlines buy permits, creating an excess of supply.

Brent crude for November delivery lost 0.8 percent to $110.55 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe as concern that European debt-crisis talks will falter and threaten the economic recovery outweighed speculation tension in the Middle East will disrupt crude supplies.

Oil can affect carbon prices because it’s linked to economic output and to cleaner-burning natural gas costs in Europe.

United Nations credits for December fell 1.6 percent to 1.85 euros. The contract sank to a record low of 1.43 euros on Sept. 18.




The graphics problem:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here