Saturday, November 30, 2013

My showdown with the Royal Society over global warming

Nigel Lawson

The long-discussed meeting between a group of climate scientists and Fellows of the Royal Society on the one side, and me and some colleagues from my think-tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation on the other, has now at last taken place. It was held behind closed doors in a committee room at the House of Lords, the secrecy — no press present — at the insistence of the Royal Society Fellows, an insistence I find puzzling given the clear public interest in the issue of climate change in general and climate change policy in particular. The origins go back almost a year, to a lecture by the president of the Royal Society, the biologist Sir Paul Nurse. In it he chose to launch a gratuitous personal attack on me, making a number of palpably false allegations. I wrote to him, pointing out his errors, and he replied — somewhat changing his tune — conceding that ‘it is quite legitimate for both of us to talk about climate change policy, but before doing so we need to have access to the highest quality climate science. I am not sure you are receiving the best advice, and I would be very happy to put you in contact with distinguished active climate research scientists if you think that would be useful.’

I readily accepted his offer: hence, at long last, this month’s meeting in the House of Lords. The charge that my critical views about climate change policy are based on inadequate exposure to reputable scientists was always absurd, not least given that the academic advisory council of the GWPF has on it, among others, the world’s most highly regarded physicist, Professor Freeman Dyson of Princeton, arguably the world’s most eminent climate scientist, Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT (who flew over for the meeting), and three Fellows of the Royal Society. So Nurse’s team were able to tell me little I did not already know. But what did emerge was that, if anyone needed educating, it was them. Despite the fact that they were headed by Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, the Director of the Grantham Institute, which has pronounced views on climate policy, and a member of the Climate Change Committee, which is concerned with the implementation of the Climate Change Act, they were very reluctant to engage on the crucial issue of climate change policy at all. What was clear, however, was that they had no understanding of, or interest in, the massive human and economic costs involved in the policies they so glibly endorse.


The Strange "Global Warming" of the Antarctic Peninsula

Where on earth would you expect to see the greatest increase in temperature as a result of greenhouse gas-induced global warming? How about one of the colder places on the planet? Like Antarctica. Temperatures there have been routinely measured at the Faraday/Vernadsky station on the Antarctic Peninsula ever since February of 1947; and they reveal a warming of approximately 3.8°C through January 2011, making the peninsula a veritable global warmer's paradise. But the location has one ... small ... problem. According to the recent study of Franzke (2013), "there is no evidence for an increase of the annual maximum temperature."
"Typically," in the words of Franzke, "one would expect that a significant warming also leads to absolute warmer temperatures and not just to a reduction in cold temperatures." But the latter is precisely what has happened at the Faraday/Vernadsky weather station: it's only the colder temperatures that have gotten warmer.

Climate models also seem to "think" like we do on this matter. Franzke writes, for example, that "global climate projections suggest that the frequency of hot extremes will increase due to global warming," citing Meehl et al. (2007). The models therefore also miss the mark as it applies to the Antarctic Peninsula, and to other parts of the world as well (see, for example, Kukla and Karl, 1993; Easterling et al., 1997). And thus it is that Franzke writes that the data from the Antarctic Peninsula "are somewhat at odds with the general opinion that global warming leads to more frequent and larger extremes." In fact, on the Antarctic Peninsula, Franzke finds that "annual maximum temperatures are almost constant over the last six decades," while minimum temperatures have actually gotten less extreme.

And so it is that we suggest that there may not have been even a relative heat wave on the Antarctic Peninsula since the start of temperature measurements there some six and a half decades ago.

Very strange!

More HERE  (See the original for  references)

The UN global warming hoax is slowly dying

By Alan Caruba

In 2007 Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner was interviewed on the subject of sea levels. He is the head of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics Department at Stockholm University in Sweden. He is past president (1999-2003) of the INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution, and leader of the Maldives Sea Level Project. Dr. Mörner has been studying the sea level and its effects on coastal areas for some 35 years.

“You have Vanuatu, and also in the Pacific, north of New Zealand and Fiji — there is the island Tegua. They said they had to evacuate it, because the sea level was rising. But again, you look at the tide-gauge record: There is absolutely no signal that the sea level is rising. If anything, you could say that maybe the tide is lowering a little bit, but absolutely no rising.”

The most recent edition of Bloomberg Businessweek features a cover that says, “This entire country is about to be wiped out by climate change. It won’t last.”  It is devoted to Kribati, a Pacific island chain, and it is a total lie.

The media has been a co-conspirator to the global warming hoax and I take this latest example as one that reveals its utter desperation to maintain the greatest hoax of the modern era. The facts mean nothing to them. Real science means nothing to them. But reality is intruding on theirs and the United Nations environmental program just wrapped up Conference of Parties-19 in Warsaw, where more nations are now in open revolt.

Writing from the conference was Craig Rucker, Executive Director of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), a think tank that has helped organize the Poles to protest this travesty. “Poland has been bullied for decades and they are not about to cede their energy independence to Russia, the UN, or anyone. Nor should they.”

On November 21, Rucker reported that “COP-19 was shocked when China led a block of 132 nations in a walkout over ‘loss and damage.’ Loss and damage is a completely bogus concept that developed nations should be legally liable when natural disasters strike developing nations. There is of course no meaningful scientific or historical link that Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda was abnormal and with no global warming link.”

We owe a debt of gratitude as well to The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based free market think tank, that has sponsored eight international conferences on global warming since 2008 and recently released a report,“Global Warming Reconsidered II.” Like CFACT, Heartland has been on the forefront of those seeking to educate the public regarding the phony science claims put forth.

COP-19 was one more UN conference leading up to a new version of the Kyoto Protocol that required nations that signed onto it to reduce their so-called greenhouse gas emissions. The final push will come in 2015 in Paris.

Nations that did sign on — the U.S. Senate unanimously refused to ratify the treaty when the Protocol was initially introduced in 1997 — are realizing the economic harm that it imposed on them. The same afternoon of the China-led walkout, Poland announced that it had fired its environmental minister who is also the president of the UN conference, two days before the conference was supposed to end!

The Protocol, as is the entire global warming aka climate change hoax, is based on the lie that carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere is causing it to warm. In recent years CO2 has increased in the atmosphere and the Earth, some 15 or more years ago, entered a cooling cycle. It is getting colder.

“Never underestimate what a gathering of bureaucrats and carbon profiteers might accomplish when after your money”, warned Rucker.

A November 20 article in The Daily Caller reported, “It’s worth noting that U.S. diplomats were specifically instructed by the Obama Administration to oppose any attempts to create an independent fund for climate reparations from rich countries to poor countries.”

Three days later, the Administration announced that it now supports all nations declaring their targets for reducing CO2 emissions before 2015. Rucker warns that this now clears “the path for the UN to adopt a full climate treaty and successor to the Kyoto Protocol in 2015.” If the Senate is not controlled by Republicans at that point, it would permit the administration to sign onto a treaty. The harm to the economy would be incalculable.

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott, elected recently to undo the damage of a carbon tax, told the Washington Post: “Despite a carbon tax of $37 a ton by 2020, Australia’s domestic emissions were going up, not down. The carbon tax was basically socialism masquerading as environmentalism and that’s why it’s going to get abolished.” Australia did not send a representative to COP-19.  Canada dropped out of the Protocol in recent years. Japan is abandoning the UN’s greenhouse gas emission reduction levels by allowing them to grow by 3 percent.

Nation by nation, the UN global warming hoax is being abandoned for the obvious reason that it is a lie perpetrated to transfer wealth from the developed nations to those less developed. It was never about saving the Earth from a global warming; that was a lie from start to finish.

Some journalists are trying to tell the truth, but magazines like BusinessWeek and newspapers like The New York Times continue to keep the hoax alive. An informed population, not just in the United States, but increasingly worldwide, will ensure that it dies a long overdue death.


BritGov 'fails to monitor whether green energy levies work’, National Audit Office warns

Ministers are failing to properly assess whether billions of pounds of levies charged to consumer energy bills are actually achieving desired policy aims, the National Audit Office has said.

A joint Treasury-Energy Department board tasked with monitoring spending is neglecting its remit to assess the “energy policy outcomes” of the levies, the watchdog said in a report.

The NAO also criticised the cap on levies as ill-defined - deterring investors in new power plants, lacking sufficient transparency, and potentially underestimating the true costs of green subsidies.

Ministers established the Levy Control Framework (LCF) in 2011 to monitor and control the costs of policies funded through levies on energy suppliers, who pass on the cost to consumers on bills.

The spending cap is set to rise from £2bn in 2011-12 to £7.6bn for 2020-21 to fund new green energy projects such as wind farms and solar panels.

But the board in charge of controlling spending has “not sought to identify the best combination of outcomes and affordability within that cap”, the NAO said.

The levy control board “has focused on cost control and not the associated impacts on energy policy outcomes”, it said, adding this was “contrary to its terms of reference”. For example, it would monitor how new wind farms affected bill levies but not “the resulting progress towards decarbonisation”.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) say the combined cost of all their policies is currently about £112 on a typical household energy bill and will rise to £191 in 2020. Only £90 of this 2020 total will actually be counted in the LCF, however, as the cap does not cover all policy costs paid for on bills.

Controversial energy efficiency schemes are excluded from the LCF - despite the fact the NAO said they could “reasonably be regarded as a levy”. There was no clear rationale for determining which schemes counted as levies, it said.

“As consumer-funded spending increases and new schemes are introduced, [DECC] needs to assure Parliament and the public that it has robust arrangements to monitor, control and report on all consumer-funded spending, and the outcomes it is intended to secure.”

DECC was yet to “define clearly the future scope” of the cap, the NAO added. “Investors seek transparency over the scope and scale of any caps on funding to give them confidence in the support available for potential investments.”

It warned that DECC may have underestimated the costs of a subsidy scheme that funds solar panels on houses and disclosed that while DECC believed the LCF would be enough to fund meeting green targets, it had also modelled scenarios where the cap was breached. It has not published these and will not say the likelihood the cap is exceeded.

A DECC spokesman said: "The NAO report is supportive of the work Government is doing to control costs for consumers and concludes that the Levy Control Framework (LCF) is providing certainty to investors.

“The LCF helps fund investment in renewable energy as well as support for vulnerable and elderly through the Warm Home Discount.

“Government monitors and controls expenditure on schemes that are funded by consumer bills very carefully.

Energy and climate change policies, will reduce household energy bills in the long-run, with bills being on average 11%, or £166, lower than they would otherwise be in 2020."


Energy Policy must respect Science and State Sovereignty

Editor's Note: The following urges Congress to pass two important energy bills. On Wednesday, November 20, 2013 the House passed one of them, H.R. 2728 which protects the sovereignty to regulate energy production within their borders. The bill passed by a 228-192 margin with seven Democrats joining the Republican majority. No word when, or if, the Senate will take up the bill. Unsurprisingly, the White House has threatened a veto.

America has lost confidence in government because our government has lost its credibility. During the past several years, the American electorate has been misled repeatedly solely for political purposes. And the less-than-truthful statements have been about topics that cut to the heart and stir up emotions.

What started with a promise to be "the most transparent administration in history" has become wrapped in endless scandals and no one ever seems to be held accountable. Political corruption and cronyism, targeting of Tea Partiers and even members of the press, spying and individual privacy violations, trampling the Constitution, and bald-faced lying are standard-operating-procedure. When pressed for answers all we get is an angry retort; "What difference does it make?"

As a result of President's Obama's prevarications, just 39 percent of Americans believe he's doing a good job; a majority says the President is dishonest and untrustworthy. Plus, members of Congress also are considering action that would require the campaigner-in-chief and his administration to lay politics aside and deal with certain issues objectively—for the good of the People rather than to advance his personal extreme agenda.

As evidence, consider two energy-related bills, H.R. 2728 and H.R. 2850, which would help to prevent the administration from politicizing energy policy. The first bill would retain the primacy of states over oil and natural gas development within their borders. It was drafted in response to a Bureau of Land Management proposal to add a one-size-fits-all layer of federal regulations on top of existing state regulations.

As the health care debacle has shown yet again, a one-size-fits-all federal approach doesn't work. There's no reason for a single, 60-year old man to be paying for maternity benefits, and there's no justification for Washington, D.C.-based regulators to be overseeing energy projects hundreds or thousands of miles away and in geology they know little about, especially when the states have regulated energy development effectively for decades.

The second bill would force the Environmental Protection Agency to rely on sound science for its upcoming report on fracking and drinking water. In the past four years, questions have been raised about the agency's objectivity due to evidence of an anti-fracking bias.

Who can forget the EPA regional director who threatened to crucify oil companies, improperly ordered an administrative action against a Texas gas producer falsely accused of harming drinking water, and who resigned to take a position with the Sierra Club?

And questions still remain about the EPA's groundwater testing methodologies in the Pavillion, Wyoming area, where the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) was called in to repeat the tests. But, "unlike the EPA, the USGS failed to find any traces" of the fracking chemicals the EPA claimed to have discovered, as well as "significantly lower concentrations of other materials identified by the EPA…which may not have resulted from the fracking at all," as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

To avoid such problems with the fracking study, H.R. 2850 would require peer-review and order EPA to produce a rigorous, scientific report untainted by politics.

Fracking is much too important to the nation's future to be sullied by politics. In combination with horizontal drilling, fracking is unlocking vast quantities of U.S. oil and natural gas. It is likely to make the United States the largest oil and gas producer in the world while lowering energy costs and fueling the reemergence of U.S. manufacturing. A new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts American energy self-sufficiency within two decades…if the federal government doesn't get in the way.

Fracking also is helping to fuel huge economic benefits without the government support handed to so-called "green" companies, many of which have failed. According to IHS Global Insight, shale energy produced by fracking could create 3.5 million U.S. jobs by 2035 and generate $2.5 trillion in cumulative added government revenues, making it the right prescription for our lackluster economic recovery.

Yet fracking has its detractors who continue to spread fear of the technology, claiming it pollutes groundwater. This scare-mongering is baseless with much of it coming from Hollywood and radical environmental groups. Well-regarded studies in Texas, Pennsylvania andArkansas have found no link between fracking and groundwater contamination.

Even the uber-green Obama cabinet officials profess the safety and benefits of fracking. The President's EPA Administrator and Interior Secretary testified to Congress that there is no evidence of groundwater contamination due to fracking. Further, Obama's current and former Energy Secretaries praise fracking as "a big contributor to our carbon reduction" and "something you can do in a safe way."

One might think it self-evident that science, not politics and myths, should direct public policy and that state sovereignty as guaranteed by the Constitution would be sacrosanct, but not in today's Washington, DC. That's why Congress should approve H.R. 2728 and H.R. 2850 to protect the truth and prevent another federal power grab by the Obama Administration.


Staggering Concessions By Austria’s National Weather Service: “Natural Factors Substantial…Models Inadequate”!

A November 11, 2013 press release by Austria’s national weather service, the Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik (ZAMG), somehow got by me. And not surprisingly it was completely ignored by the German-language mainstream media. It’s titled: “Slower temperature increase: climate models under scrutiny“.

In the introduction the ZAMG writes:

"If one compares the temperature development of the last 15 years to the simulations from the new climate model generation, then one sees a substantial deviation between reality and model: the so-called temperature hiatus.”

Air temperature is the preferred parameter that experts use to gauge climate change. On the hiatus the ZAMG writes, “In the last 15 years there has been a clear weakening in the global temperature rise; only 3 of 114 climate model simulations account for it

As possible causes for the unexpected temperature hiatus, the ZAMG cites: 1) the 11-year solar cycle, 2) volcanic activity, 3) internal climate variability and 4) man-made aerosols. Keep in mind that man-made aerosols have long been dubiously used as the preferred wild card to explain away deviations between models and observations. If there’s a misfit, no problem! Just adjust the aerosol weighting in the model until it there’s a fit! Never mind small details like reality.

Interestingly, the ZAMG also brings up global winter temperature trends.

Note how the northern hemisphere winters are cooling dramatically.

Ed Caryl recently wrote a piece on this and a couple of readers got a bit pissy about the claim wintertime temps are cooling.  Well, here’s more proof that they indeed really are cooling. What more do you want?

So why are the models deviating so starkly from reality? The ZAMG writes:

"Why the global climate models are by far over-estimating the current temperature development – and thus obviously are not taking the processes behind it correctly – is the topic of discussion and is now the subject of ongoing research. According to the latest expert report, it could be an error in missing or incorrect radiative forcing, or a false reaction by the climate model to external drives. Moreover, some of the climate models are likely reacting too much to the concentrations of greenhouse gases.”

In layman’s terms: The modelers have no clue what’s wrong, and they are not even close to properly modeling the climate. The sheer simplicity of their models, when compared to the enormous complexity of the climate system, is a joke.

The Austrian ZAMG concludes:

"The research results of the last year make it ever clearer that natural fluctuations in climate are substantial. The current temperature hiatus shows that the climate system is not understood in its full complexity and that the climate models still are not adequate.”

Really makes you wonder about the scientists who claim to be 95% certain. That 5% uncertainty is looming larger than ever.

More HERE  (See the original for links, graphics etc.)


For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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 or here


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Back in hospital with complications from my recent surgery

Not sure that I will be posting tomorrow

Meteorologist's poll finds no consensus on climate change & those with liberal political views far more likely to believe in man-made global warming

Meteorologists’ views about global warming:  A survey of American Meteorological Society professional members

Meteorologists and other atmospheric science experts are playing important roles in helping society respond to climate change. Members of this professional community are not unanimous in their views of climate change, and there has been tension among members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) who hold different views on the topic.

In January 2012, the AMS surveyed its members via email and found 52 percent believe global warming is happening and is mostly human-caused, while 48 percent do not. The survey also found that scientists with professed liberal political views were far more likely to believe global warming is human-caused than others.

Authors of the survey recommended that the AMS should “acknowledge and explore the uncomfortable fact that political ideology influences the climate change views of meteorology professionals; refute the idea that those who do hold non-majority views just need to be “educated” about climate change; [and] continue to deal with the conflict among members of the meteorology community.”


A detailed discussion of the survey results can be found here.

Why greens love high fuel bills

Ever-rising energy prices are the product of green attacks on our consumption habits

Fuel Poverty Action (FPA) reacted angrily when the UK prime minister, David Cameron, said he would act to cut fuel bills. Why?

FPA campaigns against higher fuel bills that hurt the poor – or does it? Cameron said he would ‘cut the green crap’, meaning the ‘green levies’ that are added by law on fuel bills. Fuel Poverty Action, supposedly the friend of the poor, denounced the proposed cut.

FPA is organising protests against high prices in central London on 26 November, but its own policy seems to support higher prices. How did it tie itself in these knots? The answer is that FPA’s campaigners support the green levies on fuel bills.

Green levies on fuel bills were brought in by the New Labour government to finance the transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. They make up nine per cent of the cost of the average fuel bill, currently running at £1,300 a year.

It is easy to see how FPA and other defenders of the green levies have painted themselves into this corner. The levies are supposed to fund investment in wind power and other renewables, and also to pay for government schemes to insulate people’s houses so that they can cut their fuel use.

The problem is that both of these are long-term goals which – it is hoped – will cut the cost of fuel for households. But in the here and now they are adding to the cost of electricity bills. Green campaigners like FPA end up calling for higher fuel bills so we can have lower fuel bills. In 1947, the then president of France, Charles de Gaulle, said something similar: ‘We must all tighten our belts if the standard of living is to rise.’ A few days ago, the Guardian wrote about ‘green levies, which go towards… helping the poor cut their usage’.

Green campaigners have long known that there is a problem with their goal of reducing consumption, namely that it is unlikely to be popular with the vast majority of people, who are also consumers (it was a point that was hotly debated at the ‘climate camps’ – the annual green get-togethers – until they stopped in 2011). The point is sharply drawn in the green policy on fuel bills. Environmentalists want to see less fossil fuel burned, which means less electricity generated and higher prices. Moreover, environmentalists have long argued that prices are artificially low, and should include the cost of pollution.

The green levies on energy bills are based on those arguments. Higher fuel bills will cut consumption, and lead to smaller carbon emissions. To make their point, green protesters succeeded in blocking a proposed coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in 2008, and won a moratorium on future coal-burning plants – and cutting back on electricity generation in turn leads to higher prices.

The problem for the greens, and for their Labour Party allies, is that higher prices are very unpopular. Green activists, grappling among themselves with the charge that they are responsible for higher prices, have tried to explain the problem away. No, they say, we are not responsible for higher prices. Our policies are going to make prices lower because of the money earmarked for insulation schemes and alternative energy sources. Such is the appeal of green groupthink.

This argument might be convincing in an entirely abstract world. But in Britain in 2013, it is just wrong. The reason is that even if these changes could happen, they cannot happen immediately, before a great deal of time and energy is spent making those changes.

Take alternative energy sources. The most important of these is wind power, which, it is claimed, provides around five per cent of the country’s energy (though these statistics are almost certainly an exaggeration of the extent of UK wind power). That would mean that to push up alternative energy’s share in electricity generation, wind power would have to double in capacity. Right now, wind power is causing problems across the country, and its finances are questioned. Clearly wind power is not going to be Britain’s main source of energy for generations.

Second, there is insulation. Better insulation does reduce energy consumption. So far, 1,000 of the 26million households in Britain have taken up the government’s insulation scheme (which is paid for out of the green levy). Two hundred and nineteen homes have been insulated. Like the subsidies to wind power, those to home insulation have been criticised for being unrealistically costly. In any event, it seems unlikely that the home insulation scheme is going to make much impact before Christmas. At the current rate of progress, it would take 5,000 years to insulate half of British homes.

Assuming that the shift to alternative energy and investment in home insulation are good ideas, why are they not financed out of general taxation? The answer is that these schemes were brought in with the specific intent of pushing energy prices up.

The green levies are not the only reason that prices have gone up. It is the failure to match energy demands with energy generation that is forcing the price up. The failure to build enough electricity-generation plants – like the one at Kingsnorth – means that the UK is forced to buy the shortfall on the open market. Campaigners think that they are hitting the energy suppliers with these actions, but E.ON and the others can just as easily make money selling less electricity at a higher price as they can selling more at a lower price; indeed, judging by their profits it is a very successful business model. Cutting back supply can only make things worse.

You can see greens’ problem. Rising energy prices are the only policy ever introduced with the intention of cutting CO2 emissions that has actually worked. (The replacement of coal-fired plants with gas - the so-called ‘dash for gas’ - achieved substantial cuts in the Nineties and Noughties, but CO2 emissions were not the reason for the policy.) Overpriced energy actually does make people cut back their use. Historically, this is a great challenge to environmentalists. Only once in most people’s lives does the chance come actually to make a difference. Here, for the first time, the greens have succeeded in reducing carbon emissions.

So why will they not defend the policy? Instead of targeting the Big Six energy producers for raising prices, green protesters should be applauding them, or perhaps demanding that the prices go up even more. To do so, of course, would mean coming clean about the meaning of environmentalism – that it means cutting back people’s consumption. That is something that the environmental campaigners are too cowardly to say.

FPA highlights the economic hardship that higher prices cause, and also points to the increase in winter fuel deaths that come when prices rise. But just as many of those problems can be laid at the door of the supporters of the green levies.

FPA will be campaigning against the Big Six energy producers tomorrow – but that is just a smokescreen. Their main demand is that energy prices should rise, so that we can use less.


Senator Schatz is wrong about wind energy

A TV ad started last week shows U.S. Senator Brian Schatz promoting “energy that’s moving Hawaii forward. Senator Brian Schatz is leading the effort to harness our incredible wind energy potential with tax credits to grow wind energy production that would create thousands of new jobs and clean energy.”

Hawaii residents from Waianae to Kahuku, from Molokai to Lanai, and everywhere in the between dislike wind turbines. Senator Schatz promotes more taxpayer monies for special interests who are peddling a technology that cannot make it on its own. He is wrong for the following reasons.

Independently from any politics, a Punahou and UH-Manoa graduate student and I conducted detailed research on cost effective energy solutions for Hawaii, by examining all major energy sources available to Hawaii. A summary of our work was accepted by Pacific Business News last month, and was published this week: Making the Case for Liquefied Natural Gas.

Our research concluded that wind and solar power plants are ineffective; they require multimillion dollar subsidies. The solar energy in our research was the power plant type that consumes land in order to produce some daytime electricity, similar to the 36 acres wasted by the Pohoiki plant at Kalaeloa to produce only 5 MW.

On the other hand, solar photovoltaic panels have been locally accepted by thousands of homeowners and businesses. Rooftop PV is an incremental, distributed power source with near zero visual or other negative impacts for Hawaii, as I explained here: Big Rooftop Solar Panels Make Sense in Hawaii - without Any Subsidies! Rooftop PV supports dozens of local small businesses.

Recently BMW decided to locate its electric vehicle chassis assembly in a region of Washington State because the local electricity rate is 3 cents (!) per kilowatt-hour. HECO’s rate on Oahu is over 33 cents and thanks to Senator Schatz’s flawed advocacy, our electricity costs will increase, and Hawaii will become increasingly uncompetitive.

I urge Senator Schatz to review the three page summary of our research titled The Next 100 MW Power Plant for Oahu and modify his views about renewable energy. America’s future cannot be supported by intermittent, unreliable and expensive energy.

Hawaii does not need unsightly turbines and cannot afford their cost and flaky reliability. And please stop bragging about the jobs. Hawaii has fewer than 50 turbines and fewer than 50 people are located here to manage them … that is, when the turbines are not down due to fires or other self-inflicted damage.


Ethanol Mandate: ‘Little More Than Soviet-style Production Quota’

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision last week to reduce the amount of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply for the first time is a welcome acknowledgment that the regulation was little more than a “Soviet-style production quota,” according to Marlo Lewis, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).
“Like all central planning schemes, there comes a point where even the commissar has to admit that it’s just not working,” Lewis said in a statement.

On Nov. 15, EPA announced that it “is proposing a cellulosic biofuel volume for 2014 that is below the applicable volume specified in the [2007 Energy Independence and Security] Act,” due in part to the fact that only 20,000 gallons of cellulosic biofuels were produced last year, “in lower volumes than foreseen by statutory targets,” according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Those “statutory targets” required “1 billion gallons in 2013, increasing to 16 billion gallons by 2022,” EIA reported. But actual production of ethanol from wood, grass and inedible plant material didn’t even come close.

EPA scaled back its Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, which has been in effect since 2007, from 18.15 billion gallons to 15.21 billion gallons in 2014 after an Associated Press investigation revealed that “even as environmental policy, the RFS is a bust.”

“As farmers rushed to find new places to plant corn, they wiped out millions of acres of conservation land, destroyed habitat and polluted water supplies. Five million acres of land set aside for conservation — more than Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined — have vanished on Obama's watch,” AP reported. “The consequences are so severe that environmentalists and many scientists have now rejected corn-based ethanol as bad environmental policy.”

Instead of scaling back the ethanol mandate, Lewis says, Congress should just repeal it.

“Even if the RFS did not inflate food prices, increase pain at the pump, exacerbate world hunger, expand aquatic dead zones or contribute to habitat loss, Congress should still repeal it because the RFS flouts the core constitutional principal of equality under the law,” Lewis said. “The RFS literally compels one industry to purchase, process and sell other industries’ products.”


Keystone Cops Oppose Rail, Too

As we have reported on numerous occasions, the Keystone XL pipeline -- meant to transport Canadian oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast for refinement -- has been stalled by ecofascists who hold sway with the Obama administration. The White House has repeatedly stalled to grant the proper permits for the pipeline, appeasing those ecofascists but displeasing constituent unions who want the thousands of new jobs building and operating the pipeline would create.

We have also recounted how delaying the pipeline won't accomplish anything but deprive the U.S. of the oil. The Canadians will find a market for their product, most likely in China. In fact, according to The New York Times, "Suncor Energy, Canada's top petroleum producer, announced on Thursday that it would expand its oil production in 2014 by 10 percent, another sign that the Obama administration's delays are not holding back growth in the western Canadian oil sands fields."

The other option for import to the U.S. is rail, which means opponents have a new target. Indeed, they're pushing for heavy regulation of rail terminal projects in California, Washington state and elsewhere to block import of these oil sands. Of course, pipelines are safer and more efficient than rail, so perhaps it would make sense to relent on building the Keystone pipeline. But that would require leftists to think with their heads.


Another cost of EPA regulation:  Price of Chicken Reaches All-Time High in U.S.

The price for fresh whole chickens hit its all-time high in the United States in October, according to data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In January 1980, when BLS started tracking the price of this commodity, fresh whole chickens cost $0.69 per pound. By this October 2003, fresh whole chickens cost $1.54 per pound.

In the last decade alone, the price has gone up 51 percent, from $1.02 in October 2003 to the current price of $1.54 per pound.

One factor contributing to the increasing cost of chicken, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, is increased regulation of chicken farmers.

In 2003 and 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency used the Clean Water Act to impose new regulations on “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs),” targeting the manure they produce.

In 2003, the EPA issued a final rule in the Federal Register to “ensure that CAFOs take appropriate actions to manage manure effectively in order to protect the nation’s water quality.”

In 2008, the EPA published another final rule to further “the statutory goal of restoring and maintaining the nation’s water quality by ensuring that CAFOs properly manage manure generated by their operations.”

CNS News asked the American Farm Bureau Federation, which represents farm and ranch families, to ask if such regulation had impacted the price of chicken.

“It’s hard to establish direct cause and effect in a situation like that, but obviously the greater the regulatory burden, the higher production costs are going to be,” said John Anderson, deputy chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“As production costs go up, that’s going to reduce the amount that farmers are able to produce at any particular price point and eventually that works its way through the system in terms of higher prices,” said Anderson.

“So, yeah, in terms of quantifying how much effect it would have, or exactly the timing of those effects, you know that would be very difficult, but certainly, as a general principle, increased regulation brings increased costs, and that brings higher prices to the ultimate consumer. There’s no question about that,” he added.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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 or here


Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I am going in later today for more day-surgery so I am taking the day off from blogging

Will be back tomorrow, I hope


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

63 Percent Chance Weather Predictors Are Skeptics on Global Warming

A new survey from the American Meteorological Society contains more bad news for global warming alarmist: people who actually get paid for accurately predicting weather are increasingly skeptical about whether global warming is man-made or natural or whether global warming is occurring at all.

The survey is the result of increasing tension amongst meteorologists regarding global warming.

“There has been tension in recent years among AMS members who hold different views on climate change,” explains the AMS in the introduction to the new report. “Some members have expressed that their views – which question the view that human-caused global warming was occurring – are treated with hostility within the AMS.”

Scientists? Bullying each other? Naaaaww.

The report found that only 37% of meteorologists who did not make a living by publishing papers supporting the theory that global warming is caused by human activity actually think that man-made global warming is real.

That is meteorologists who make a living predicting weather events are the ones least likely to believe the theories created by new found “climate science.”

The survey also found that of all meteorologists only a bare majority supported man-made global warming theory.

48 percent did not support man-made global warming theory.

The AMS sent out a survey to all meteorologists and got a return of 1854 responses.

The AMS says that the study finds that the more educated experts are about climate science, the more likely they are to believe that global warming is man-made.

But I say that the data just proves that the more dependent scientists are on believing global warming to be man-made in order to make a living through publishing, the more likely they are to believe global warming is man-made because that’s how they make their living.

Of 1821 meteorologist included in the survey, only 231 made a living publishing papers regarding man-made global warming theory. Yet they accounted for a larger share of meteorologists who believe in man-made global warming.

73% of scientists who publish papers regarding global warming and climate are inclined to believe that global warming is real and global warming is man-made.

The farther that science gets from this conflict of interest, it seems, the more likely it is that they are disinclined to believe global warming is man-made.

In essence, it’s as if a group surveyed the College of Cardinals to prove the existence of God and ascribed the results to the college members’ oversized education rather than their piety.

And all of this goes to show that the argument that there has already been a scientific consensus reached amongst experts that global warming is real and global warming is man-made is a political argument rather than a scientific one.

“A substantial number of expert AMS members – 22% of the most expert group in our sample – do not subscribe to the position that global warming is mostly human-caused,” says the AMS. “Climate experts are not completely homogenous in their views on global warming, just as climate skeptics have been shown to have a variety of nuanced opinions. Any suggestion that all those with non-majority views simply need to be ‘educated’ is inaccurate and likely to be insulting to a substantial number of AMS members.”

Gee, ya think?

Those of us who are skeptics about global warming are used to being marginalized, trivialized and brutalized by a tiny fraction of people whose wallets get fat by publishing papers in support of man-made global warming theory.

But while more and more data comes out calling into question man-made global warming models, it’s nice to see professional organizations start to treat skeptics with, if not exactly respect, at least the decency accorded people accused of some heinous crime.

Because while this is progress, make no mistake they’re still looking to prove us guilty, if necessary by reason of insanity, if in fact they can’t muster the scientific arguments.

Which of course they can’t.


Guilty plea in bird deaths at wind farms a first

A major U.S. power company has pleaded guilty to killing eagles and other birds at two Wyoming wind farms and agreed to pay $1 million as part of the first enforcement of environmental laws protecting birds against wind energy facilities.

Until the settlement announced Friday with Duke Energy Corp. and its renewable energy arm, not a single wind energy company had been prosecuted for a death of an eagle or other protected bird — even though each death is a violation of federal law, unless a company has a federal permit. Not a single wind energy facility has obtained a permit.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based company pleaded guilty to killing 14 eagles and 149 other birds at its Top of the World and Campbell Hill wind farms outside Casper, Wyo. All the deaths, which included golden eagles, hawks, blackbirds, wrens and sparrows, occurred from 2009 to 2013.

"Wind energy is not green if it is killing hundreds of thousands of birds," said George Fenwick, president of the American Bird Conservancy, which supports properly sited wind farms. "The unfortunate reality is that the flagrant violations of the law seen in this case are widespread."

There could be more enforcement. The Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating 18 bird-death cases involving wind-power facilities, and about a half-dozen have been referred to the Justice Department.

Wind farms are clusters of turbines as tall as 30-story buildings, with spinning rotors as wide as a passenger jet's wingspan. Though the blades appear to move slowly, they can reach speeds up to 170 mph at the tips, creating tornado-like vortexes. Eagles are especially vulnerable because they don't look up as they scan the ground for food, failing to notice the blades until it's too late.

"No form of energy generation, or human activity for that matter, is completely free of impacts, and wind energy is no exception," the American Wind Energy Association said in a statement.

The case against Duke Energy and Duke Energy Renewables Inc. was the first prosecuted under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act against a wind energy company. The Obama administration has championed pollution-free wind power and used the same law against oil companies and power companies for drowning and electrocuting birds.

"In this plea agreement, Duke Energy Renewables acknowledges that it constructed these wind projects in a manner it knew beforehand would likely result in avian deaths," Robert G. Dreher, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in a statement.

Duke has a market capitalization of nearly $50 billion.

"We deeply regret the impacts of golden eagles at two of our wind facilities," Greg Wolf, president of Duke Energy Renewables, said in a statement. "Our goal is to provide the benefits of wind energy in the most environmentally responsible way possible."

A study in September by federal biologists found that wind turbines had killed at least 67 bald and golden eagles since 2008. Wyoming had the most eagle deaths. That did not include deaths at Altamont Pass, an area in northern California where wind farms kill an estimated 60 eagles a year.

An investigation in May by The Associated Press revealed dozens of eagle deaths from wind energy facilities, including at Duke's Top of the World farm, the deadliest for eagles of 15 such facilities that Duke operates nationwide.

In 2009, Exxon Mobil pleaded guilty and paid $600,000 for killing 85 birds in five states. The BP oil company was fined $100 million for killing and harming migratory birds during the 2010 Gulf oil spill. And PacifiCorp, which operates coal plants, paid more than $10.5 million in 2009 for electrocuting 232 eagles along power lines and at its substations.

The wind farms in Friday's settlement came on line before the Obama administration drafted voluntary guidelines encouraging wind energy companies to work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to avoid locations that would impact wildlife. Companies that choose to cooperate get rewarded because prosecutors take it into consideration before pursuing prosecution.

Once a wind farm is built, there is little a company can do to stop the deaths. Some companies have tried using radar to detect birds and to shut down the turbines when they get too close. Others have used human spotters to warn when birds are flying too close to the blades. Another tactic has been to remove vegetation to reduce the prey the birds like to eat.

As part of the agreement, Duke will continue to use field biologists to identify eagles and shut down turbines when they get too close. It will install new radar technology, similar to what is used in Afghanistan to track missiles. And it will continue to voluntarily report all eagle and bird deaths to the government.

The company will also have to apply for an eagle take permit and draft a plan to reduce eagle and bird deaths at its four wind farms in Wyoming.

Duke's $1 million will be divided. The fine — $400,000 — will go into a wetlands conservation fund. The state of Wyoming gets $100,000. The remainder will be used to purchase land or easements to protect golden eagle habitat and for projects aimed at minimizing interactions between eagles and wind turbines in Wyoming.


Change Of Wording Let’s Emerging Nations Off The Hook Over CO2 Emissions

Loopholes in a UN agreement on climate change will allow China, India and other emerging economies to delay setting any targets to cut their overall emissions.

European Union member states now face a dilemma over whether to continue with plans to make ambitious pledges next year to cut emissions by 2030 without any guarantee that countries with far larger carbon footprints will follow.

China weakened the wording of the agreement during a final negotiating session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Warsaw. This meant the meeting ended without setting a clear course towards the global deal on emissions scheduled to be signed in Paris in December 2015.

A suggestion by the US that each country should propose emissions targets for discussion by March 2015 was watered down by adding that only those nations “ready to do so” would observe the deadline. The word “commitments” was replaced with the weaker “contributions”.

The changes were made to accommodate a group of 130 developing nations which argue that Britain and other countries which were early to industrialise have a “historical responsibility” for emissions. The 130 are resisting setting their own binding targets, saying they must be allowed to continue expanding their economies. The EU and the US say that the distinction made between developing and developed countries in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol is increasingly irrelevant.

When the protocol was being negotiated, developing countries accounted for only about a third of emissions. Now they are responsible for 60 per cent and their share is still growing, with China this year overtaking the EU in emissions per person.

The conference agreed a new “Warsaw International Mechanism” to address the issue of losses incurred by developing countries from extreme weather events, which many scientists say have been intensified by climate change.

The agreement also includes a commitment to study the issue “to address gaps in the understanding” but stops short of committing rich countries to pay the compensation demanded by the Philippines and others.

A spokesman for the Department of ­Energy and Climate Change said that the mechanism included no new financial commitment “aside from some modest running costs”. However, it will result in the accumulation of evidence of losses which could strengthen future claims for compensation.


Poland recognizes the real global warming agenda

A cabal of climate change alarmists landed in Warsaw, Poland, last weekend, to hammer out terms and rally support for a new binding global agreement to “save the planet” from “dangerous global warming.”

Not so fast, tens of thousands of Poles responded. The facts support their position.

Average global temperatures have not risen in 16 years, even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased steadily, helping plants grow faster and better.  Antarctic ice is at a record high, Arctic sea ice is back to normal, and at current rates Greenland would not melt for 13,000 years.  A new research paper in Global and Planetary Change reveals that global sea level rise has decelerated by 44 percent since 2004, to barely 7 inches per century!

These realities were underscored during a climate policy conference in Warsaw on the eve of the UN confab. The Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) keynoted the event, which was sponsored by Solidarity, the Institute for Globalization, and other Polish and European NGOs. Capping off the program, representatives from the United States, Italy, Sweden, Hungary, and Poland formally signed the “Warsaw Declaration.”

The declaration calls on the United Nations to discontinue work on a new treaty until a genuine “scientific consensus is reached on the phenomenon of so-called global warming,” including both its natural and human causes.

The next day, more than 50,000 enthusiastic Poles gathered in downtown Warsaw to celebrate National Independence Day, which commemorates the restoration of Poland’s statehood in 1918, after 123 years of partition and occupation by Russia, Prussia, and Austria.

As millions more watched on live television, I was honored to be invited to the stage, to deliver an address [interpreter at left in photo] celebrating freedom and warning against the UN’s dangerous, oppressive climate agenda. It was undoubtedly the largest audiences ever to hear a speech denouncing UN global warming policies, and I was proud to stand next to a CFACT banner that read “No to UN Climate Hype” in Polish — and to be surrounded by thousands of people wearing stickers bearing the same message.

It was clear that — after 12 decades of partition, 6 years of Nazi terror, and 44 years of Russian and Communist subjugation — few Poles are in any mood to have their lives, liberties, and living standards dictated by the European Union and United Nations, under the guise of “protecting the planet” from the supposed “ravages” of “cataclysmic” global warming (or “climate change” or “climate disruption” or whatever the catch-phrase of the week might be).

This is “a new battle for freedom,” I emphasized, “against those who would use environmental and climate alarmism to steal away our liberties and give international bureaucrats control over our energy sources, our daily lives, our prosperity, and our national sovereignty.”

During last year’s climate meeting in Rio de Janeiro, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said that what the UN intends is “a complete economic transformation of the world.” In 2000, former French President Jacques Chirac called the Kyoto climate treaty “the first component of authentic global governance.” And last year IPCC Working Group III co-chair Ottmar Edenhofer said international climate policy is not about environmental policy; it is about “how we redistribute the world’s wealth.”

These attitudes and agendas are bad news for those of us who love freedom. UN climate policy is bad news for the people of Poland, I stressed. The good news is that my address was carried live on Polish national television, covered by many international media outlets, and heartily endorsed by the throngs of independence celebrants, who gave a rousing chant in support of my message following my address.

My talk was certainly noticed by the UN climate alarmists, who were kicking off their COP-19 climate conference, power grab, and wealth redistribution schemes just a few kilometers away.

“The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion,” I continued, quoting from the Book of Proverbs. That is why environmentalists and climate bureaucrats don’t want to debate these issues or show anyone the assumptions, massaged temperature data, and secret codes that they use in their misleading global warming computer models. “They know they are deceiving the world.”

Those of us gathered in Warsaw that day, I concluded, “stand for freedom. We stand for opportunity. We stand for our families. We stand for a strong and prosperous future. Together let us be bold as a lion.”

The UN made a big mistake in choosing Poland to host this global warming treaty summit. The Poles see right through the global warming hype and propaganda.  Having to endure generations of Nazi and Communist oppression, pollution, and economic deprivation has left them with a deep distaste for bureaucratic control and further curbs on freedom, opportunity, and growth. Having to live according to grim ideologies enforced by threats of jail, or worse, has made them angry about new codes of ecologically correct speech the global warming hype and propaganda.

Poland deserves freedom and prosperity. It knows it cannot move forward without energy — the Master Resource, the lifeblood of modern industrialized societies. The brave Poles are not about to cede their sovereignty to UN control — not about to let phony climate Armageddon alarms dictate their lives, livelihoods, liberties, living standards and life spans. They will not let the EU or UN control virtually everything they make, grow, ship, eat, drive and do.

They are fully aware that Poland is blessed with some of the biggest coal and shale gas reserves in all of Europe. They know Japan has reversed course, and
will now allow a 3 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions above 1990 levels, instead of mandating a 25 percent cut. They realize that “rich nations” (or more accurately, formerly rich nations) have rejected demands that they fork over $30 billion immediately, followed by $100 billion annually — in “compensation,” “adaptation,” and “mitigation” money, to pay for “damages” from more frequent, more intense climate changes that aren’t happening, but are supposedly caused by industrialized nations.

They also know Germany is expanding its coal use to generate affordable electricity, and to reverse the skyrocketing energy prices and job destruction that are sending shock waves through the German economy. Poland too needs all the coal, oil, and natural gas power it can muster, to build an economy that was held back for decades by war and Communist misrule.

CFACT has been an officially recognized NGO at United Nations conferences for nearly two decades. It will be in Warsaw throughout the 2-week-long COP-19 confab, with a delegation headlined by Apollo VII astronaut, Colonel Walter Cunningham, who is highly critical of UN climate pseudo-science.

We will steadfastly present the facts about natural and manmade climate change, and insist absolutely that environmental policies must reflect genuine science and the needs of human beings.

We will also support Polish feelings about the UN climate treaty — which boil down to what Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher told the Soviet Union: “Let Poland be Poland!”


Global Warming Activism: Another Year, Another U.N. Flop

Why do they bother?  At this time every year, the U.N. holds a meeting of the Parties to its climate change treaty adopted at the Rio “Earth Summit” twenty-one years ago, and in force for 19 years.  In the intervening time, there isn’t a single shred of evidence that it has done anything about global temperature.

In no small part, that’s because global temperature hasn’t done very much.  Two years after it went into force—if you believe the surface temperature history that scientists consult the most—we entered into an era with no significant additional warming.  That makes it kind of hard to find any signal resulting from the treaty.

The playbook is as predictable as the futility of the Cubs.  Weeks before the confabs begin in November, environmental groups and activist scientists gin up the usual “it’s even worse than we thought” meme.  The New York Times will carry a front page story by Justin Gillis, which will be shredded for its (many) sins of omission by the blogosphere before noon.

Not to be outdone, the Washington Post will carry a masthead piece that It’s Time to Get Serious,  perhaps as Sewious as Elmer Fudd is about the Wascally Wabbit.

Soon the conference begins.  This year, 10,000+ descended upon Warsaw, very few flying in the back of the airplane.  While there are 189 signatories to the treaty, only 134 countries are sending anyone of ministerial rank. Hey, we’re serious about this!

An added fillip this year was the landfall of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines just days before the gathering.  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was happy to conflate it with global warming, in complete contravention to his own Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest science report, released just two month ago, saying that there’s really not much of a link, after all. According to the IPCC,  “there is no significant trend in global tropical cyclone frequency.”

The purported business of Warsaw is to begin to hash out a new treaty, scheduled for 2015, to replace the predictable failure of the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases.  Without jiggling the figures, most nations didn’t live up to their “commitments,” and even if everyone had, there would be no detectable effect on temperature—even six decades from now.

That’s the purported business.  The real business is to serve as a two-week hectoring platform for poor countries to euchre the developed world for money to adapt to the supposed climate horrors we are raining down on them.  The usual figure bandied about is $100 billion a year, mainly from U.S. taxpayers (and their children and their grandchildren).  A nation pushing $17 trillion in debt isn’t likely to blithely take on another tranche.

It is a fact that poorer nations are impacted by the vagaries of weather and climate much more so than affluent ones.  Even modest development helps a great deal.  43 years ago tropical cyclone Bohla—a mere category 3 storm—killed at least 300,000 in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).  Thanks to better infrastructure, detection and forecast technology, and improved communication, that’s just not likely to happen again, even in a stronger storm.  Consequently, the way to adapt to weather, climate, and climate change is to foster economic growth, not to simply send money.

Near the end of each conference there’s the requisite foot-stamping.  This year, these countries and the myriad environmental groups “walked out” in protest over the lack of action (i.e. money).

On the last scheduled day, (this year it was November 22), a vague draft “agreement” usually appears and news leaks of a “deadlock” between the developed and less-developed world.  The attendees to stay overtime, usually overnight, and a breakthrough  is announced.

Then nothing happens until next year.

Wait for the uptick in editorials about “it’s serious this time,” the breathless news stories and op-eds in the dinosaur media, their shredding in the blogosphere, and you’ll know the next UN climate confab is about to begin.


Australia's Environment Protection Agency sidelined after warning of high risks at AGL coal seam gas project

The NSW government has sidelined the Environment Protection Authority in pushing ahead with a coal seam gas project despite advice it is high risk, threatening valuable agricultural land.

In a submission that has been confidential until now, the EPA warned the Department of Trade against approving the disposal of waste water at AGL's Gloucester project as it would lead to dangerously high salt levels and the potential destruction of farmland.

Fairfax Media has learnt the EPA has been excluded from the approvals process for irrigation trials at Gloucester, after effectively being sidelined by the newly created Office of Coal Seam Gas.

The EPA was asked by the Department of Trade to undertake a review of AGL's Gloucester coal seam gas project in February last year. It made its submission in April but the report has been confidential since then, even though the irrigation trials have begun.

In its report, the EPA says the project is high risk and is likely to produce dangerously high salt levels under the present AGL proposal to "irrigate", or spray. the water from its mining onto surrounding farmland.  It also warns of the damaging effects on local wildlife.

The submission says the government needs to ask for more information from AGL and that it is not possible to evaluate the effects on soil and water unless "adequate" information is provided by AGL.

Should the project continue as planned, 2500 tonnes of salt a year will be sprayed over the surrounding farmland, an outcome that independent geo-technical engineer Professor Philip Pells said could be disastrous for the environment.

Professor Pells is not anti-CSG. He approves of the AGL operations at Camden but said the geology at Gloucester was more sensitive as the basin structure beneath the project means the underground aquifers are "intimately connected" with the surface water.

Further, he said, AGL had no proper procedures for disposal of the saline waste water.

For its part, AGL has said the disposal of waste water from its CSG mining will have a "neutral or beneficial effect on water quality".

It has also disputed the EPA's findings that the soil was "strongly sodic", saying that referred to the natural soil quality at the location, which was no longer relevant as the company had treated the soils.

"AGL has added many hundreds of tonnes of compost, lime (calcium carbonate), gypsum (calcium sulphate) and zeolite minerals (which enhances the water retention quality of soils) and therefore the soil characteristics of the upper soils are now very different to the natural soil quality. These amended soils are now much more suitable for irrigation activities."

An EPA spokeswoman said the authority was assessing the application from AGL for an environment protection licence for the total Gloucester coal seam gas project, but not the trial.

"The EPA will take water and soil impacts and other relevant environmental considerations into account as part of its assessment."

EPA chief environmental regulator Mark Gifford said the irrigation trial was approved and was being overseen by the NSW Office of Coal Seam Gas.

"The EPA is being ignored," Professor Pells said. "No one appears to be in control.  "The trials were approved by the Department of Mineral Resources but now the process seems to have been taken over by the Office of Coal Seam Gas."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Industry said the water approved for irrigation was "two to five times less salty than water in the surrounding surface aquifers that also flow into the Avon River".

"It is the responsibility of AGL to conduct the trial within the approved guidelines," she said. "The risks are minimal and the monitoring and reporting is showing that the project is proceeding within the parameters of the approval."



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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 or here


Monday, November 25, 2013

Britain to be hit by entirely typical weather

TEMPERATURES in the UK are going to fall sharply over the coming weeks because that is what happens at this time of year, it has been claimed.  During winter snow can often reach the ground

Meteorologists believe that winter, a spell of short, cold days commonly defined as a season, will be more or less exactly what you would expect.

Professor Henry Brubaker of the Institute for Studies said: “Household fuel costs will rise considerably as families try to increase the temperature of their homes.

“People on the verge of death may die.

“Ice and snow will create icy, snowy conditions.

“Your car will refuse to start.

“Because it’s winter.

“It’s really nothing to freak out about, unless you’re a pre-Neanderthal cave dweller who believes sunsets are caused by Gark, the angry moon god.”

He added: “There’s a high probability that this winter will be followed by another sudden, weather-related phenomenon known as spring.”

Housewife Nikki Hollis said: “The important thing is to stay inside, carry a flaming torch at all times and don’t be sentimental about eating your plumpest child.”


A Climate of Fear, Cash and Correctitude

The Medieval Warm Period (950-1300 AD or CE) was a boon for agriculture, civilization and Viking settlers in Greenland. The Little Ice Age that followed (1300-1850) was calamitous, as were the Dust Bowl and the extended droughts that vanquished the Anasazi and Mayan cultures; cyclical droughts and floods in Africa, Asia and Australia; and periods of vicious hurricanes and tornadoes. Repeated Pleistocene Epoch ice ages covered much of North America, Europe and Asia under mile-thick ice sheets that denuded continents, stunted plant growth, and dropped ocean levels 400 feet for thousands of years.
Modern environmentalism, coupled with fears first of global cooling and then of global warming, persuaded politicians to launch the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Its original goal was to assess possible human influences on global warming and potential risks of human-induced warming. However, it wasn’t long before the Panel minimized, ignored and dismissed non-human factors to such a degree that its posture became the mantra that only humans are now affecting climate.
Over the last three decades, five IPCC “assessment reports,” dozens of computer models, scores of conferences and thousands of papers focused heavily on human fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, as being responsible for “dangerous” global warming, climate change, climate “disruption,” and almost every “extreme” weather or climate event. Tens of billions of dollars have supported these efforts, while only a few million have been devoted to analyses of all factors – natural and human – that affect and drive planetary climate change.
You would think researchers would welcome opportunities to balance that vast library of one-sided research with an analysis of the naturalcauses of climate change – so that they can evaluate the relative impact of human activities, more accurately predict future changes, and help ensure that communities, states and nations can plan for, mitigate and adapt to those impacts. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case.
In autumn 2013, Nebraska lawmakers budgeted $44,000 for a study of climate cycles and natural causes – avoiding additional speculation about manmade effects. Several Nebraska researchers rejected the idea, saying the budget was insufficient and they would not be interested unless human influences were made part of the study. They would not compromise their integrity or let politics dictate their research, they said. Ultimately, the project was cancelled in favor of yet another study of human influences.
Integrity is an important concern, especially when so many scientists have accepted far larger sums for research that emphasizes human causes, including some at Penn State, Virginia, George Mason and other institutions associated with the IPCC and EPA. Such grants have brought us “studies” connecting “dangerous manmade global warming” to dwindling frog populations, shrinking Italian pasta supplies, clownfish getting lost, cockroaches migrating, and scores of other remote to ridiculous assertions.
It is essential that some studies now begin to assess, understand and calibrate the powerful, complex, interrelated natural forces that drive climate fluctuations, cycles and changes. Only then will we be able to discern and separate significant human influences – and begin to predict why, when, how and where Earth’s climate is likely to change in the future. Even $44,000 would have enabled these accomplished Nebraska researchers to examine existing scientific papers and prepare a valuable report on natural factors that would help to put human influences in context. Only such comprehensive knowledge will enable us to predict, prepare for, mitigate and adapt to future climate variations with sufficient accuracy.
American taxpayers alone are providing billions of dollars annually for research focused on human factors, through the EPA and other government agencies. The universities and other institutions routinely take 40% or more off the top for “project management” and “overhead.” None of them wants to derail that gravy train, and all fear that accepting grants to study natural factors or climate cycles would imperil funding from sources that have ideological, political or crony corporatist reasons for making grants tied to manmade warming, renewable energy and related topics. Peer pressure, eco-activist harassment, politically correct posturing, and shared ideologies about fossil fuels, forced economic transformations and wealth redistribution via energy policies also play a major role, especially on campuses.
Racial and sexual diversity is applauded, encouraged, even required, on campuses, as is political diversity across the “entire” spectrum from communist to “progressive.” But diversity of opinion is restricted to 20x20-foot “free speech zones,” and would-be free speech practitioners are vilified, exiled to academic Siberia, dismissed or penalized – as “climate skeptics” from Delaware, Oregon, Virginia and other institutions can testify. Robust debate about energy and climate issues is denounced and obstructed.
As The Right Climate Stuff team points out, we cannot possibly model or distinguish human influences on climate change, without first understanding and modeling natural factors. But solar, cosmic ray, oceanic and other natural forces are dismissed in the corridors of alarmism. Even the adverse effects of climate change and renewable energy policies on jobs, economic growth, human health and welfare, and bird and bat populations receive little attention. Sadly, science has been subjected to such tyranny before.
When Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo found that science and observations did not support Ptolemy’s clever and complex model of the solar system, the totalitarian establishment of their day advised such heretics to recant – or be battered, banished or even burned at the stake. Today’s climate models are even more clever and complex, dependent on questionable assumptions and massaged data, unable to predict temperatures or climate events, and employed to justify costly energy and economic policies.
The modelers nevertheless continue to enjoy fame, fortune, power and academic glory – while those who question the garbage in-garbage out models are denounced and ostracized.
A particularly ugly example of junk science occurred in Stalin’s Soviet Union, where Trofim Lysenko rejected plant genetics and promoted the idea that traits were acquired by exposure to environmental influences. His delusions fit the regime’s utopian fantasies so well that a generation of scientists accepted them as fact, or at least said they did, so as to stay employed, and alive. Meanwhile, Lysenko’s crackpot ideas led to agricultural decline, crop failures, starvation, and finally the demise of the centrally planned Soviet economic system that perpetrated and perpetuated suffering for millions of people.
Skepticism and debate would have saved resources and lives. However, the Stalinist political machine would not tolerate dissent. Today’s scientific disease is less pernicious. However, politically driven science still frames critical public policies, because ideologically driven government has become the dominant financier of science. The disease has already crippled Europe’s industry and economy. It now threatens the vitality of the once powerful and innovative American system.
We’re all familiar with the Third World “democratic” process, where voters are “persuaded” by fear, fraud, deception, free meals and sham theatrics to give tin-pot dictators 97% of the “freely” cast votes.
Today we’re told 97% of climate scientists agree that the science is “settled” on climate change. This sham “consensus” is based on 75 of 77 scientists who were selected from a 2010 survey that went to 10,257 scientists. It ignores the 700 climate scientists31,000 American scientists and 48% of US meteorologists who say there is no evidence that humans are causing dangerous climate change.
More important, science is not a popularity contest or a matter of votes. As Galileo and Einstein demonstrated, one scientist who is right, and can prove it with evidence, trumps hundreds who have nothing but models, old paradigms, scary headlines and government cash to support their hypotheses.
Few scientists would say the Dust Bowl was caused by humans, even though poor farming practices clearly exacerbated it. Few would say cancer research should be limited to manmade chemicals, even though they may be responsible for some cancers.
Nebraskan and other researchers should end their focus on human causes – and start working to understand all the complex, interrelated factors behind global climate changes and cycles. Government financiers and policy makers must do likewise. Our future well-being depends on it.

Worried About the Climate? End Subsidies

Ronald Bailey

At the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP-19) of the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), one of the better ideas for lowering the emissions of greenhouse gases is to eliminate consumer and producer fossil fuel consumption subsidies.

The International Energy Agency estimates that consumption subsidies amounted to $544 billion in 2012. Ending subsidies would encourage consumers and producers to cut back fossil fuel use, which in turn would reduce carbon dioxide emissions. And would save taxpayers a great deal of money.

On Thursday, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) held a session on reducing nitrous oxide emissions. Nitrous oxide is a long-lived gas that has a global warming potential of 310, meaning one molecule traps over 310 times more heat than a molecule of carbon dioxide. The amount of nitrous oxide put into the atmosphere is equivalent to about 3 gigatons of carbon dioxide, which approximates the emissions of half of the world’s entire vehicle fleet. In addition, nitrous oxide depletes the stratospheric ozone layer that shields the earth’s surface from damaging ultraviolet light. So preventing nitrous oxide emissions is a twofer—cutting it lowers the temperature and protects the ozone layer.

Nitrous oxide exists naturally in the atmosphere, but, as a result of human activities, its concentration has increased by 20 percent over pre-industrial levels, making it the third most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide and methane. The new UNEP report, Drawing Down N2O, outlines several ways to cut emissions.

Two-thirds of human emissions come from agricultural activities, e.g., using nitrogen fertilizer or livestock waste management. It is not an exaggeration to say that the invention of a process to synthesize nitrogen fertilizer made the modern world possible, as fertilizers boost crop yields as much as 50 percent. Nitrogen fertilizer that isn’t taken up by plants boosts input costs to farmers. However, farmers have to make tradeoffs between a number of different costs for fuel, equipment, seed, labor, fertilizer, and so forth in order to make a profit, and managing nitrogen fertilizer is usually not at the top of the list for improving the bottom line.

That being said, if it’s economic and ecological madness to subsidize the burning of fossil fuels, it’s just as barmy to subsidize agriculture in the amount of $300 billion annually. The World Bank reported in 2012 that fertilizer subsidies in India amounted to 2 percent of that country’s GDP. Agricultural subsidies clearly encourage farmers to overuse fertilizer, which in turn produces nitrous oxide emissions that harm the ozone layer and raise global temperature. The UNEP report notes that research and development can help improve nitrogen use efficiency. As it happens, private seed growers have already developed crop plants that use half of the nitrogen of conventional plants.

Another UNEP report reckons that, in order to remain on a path that keeps the average increase in global temperatures below 2 degrees centigrade of the pre-industrial level, the world must close a “gap” in what countries have pledged to cut under the UNFCCC by an additional 8 to 12 gigatons of greenhouse gases by 2020. The UNEP nitrous oxide report estimates that by 2020 it should be possible to cut those emissions corresponding to about 0.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide. Such a reduction would represent about 8 percent of the cuts needed to close the emissions gap and it would also help protect the ozone layer.

Finally, cutting back on the emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as refrigerants would help lower projected future increases in the mean global temperature. HFCs were introduced in the 1990s to replace chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants whose emissions were damaging the ozone layer. Under the Montreal Protocol in 1987 countries began a phase-out of CFCs, a project I agreed with, as explained in my book Eco-Scam: The False Prophets of Ecological Apocalypse. CFCs were also powerful greenhouse gases and eliminating them avoided emissions equivalent to 8 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year between 1990 and 2010. With respect to keeping the mean global temperature down, the effects of cuts in CFC emissions are calculated to have been four times greater than the carbon dioxide reductions achieved under the UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol.

While the HFCs that replaced CFCs do not harm the ozone layer, they do have very high global warming potentials. For example, a molecule of HFC 134a, which is often used in home refrigerators and car air conditioners, has a global warming potential that is 3400 times greater than a molecule of carbon dioxide. HFCs already represent about one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The United States, Canada, and Mexico have been pushing to phase-out HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, which would lead to a 2.2 gigaton reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020, with cuts eventually amounting to the equivalent of 100 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050.

Ironically, carbon dioxide is a cost-effective replacement for HFCs in large-scale refrigeration in grocery stores and warehouses. Amusingly, environmentalist proponents of using carbon dioxide as a coolant coyly refer to it as “natural” refrigerant. In other applications, Dupont and Honeywell have developed a new refrigerant, hydrofluoroolefin (HFO-1234yf), which is a near drop-in replacement for HFC refrigerants in automobile air conditioners. The new HFO refrigerant has a global warming potential of less than one. Of course, transitioning away from HFCs will not be costless, but if man-made global warming turns out to be a problem, reducing their emissions would likely be less costly than cutting the equivalent of carbon dioxide emissions.


Taxpayers Lose $139 Million After Energy Dept. Loan to Electric Car Maker is Sold

The Department of Energy sold part of its $192 million loan to electric carmaker Fisker Automotive on Friday to a Chinese investor. The sale represents yet another loss for American taxpayers over a stimulus-backed “green” initiative—this time to the tune of $139 million.

The Daily Caller has the details:

"Including the $25 million loan sale, the DOE has recovered only $53 million of the original $192 million disbursed — netting taxpayers a $139 million loss.

Fisker was awarded a $529 million loan guarantee by the Obama administration in 2009 to produce a luxury hybrid car, the Karma, which sold for a $103,000 per unit. However, failure to meet Energy Department benchmarks to receive funding resulted in the company losing its loan guarantee in 2011. The company drew down on $192 million before having its federal funding pulled. The Obama administration seized $21 million from the company in April to help repay taxpayers for its loan.

Earlier this year, reports came out that Fisker had violated its loan agreements multiple times before being cut off by the Obama administration in 2011. Bloomberg reported that Fisker’s technical defaults began in 2011 partly due to “lower-than-required earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, and failing to meet a production milestone of at least 11,000 vehicles sold to dealers for an average of $87,500 by Sept. 30, 2011.”

Fisker's collapse closes yet another sad chapter in DOE's troubled portfolio. The jobs that were promised never materialized and, once again, taxpayers are on the hook for the administration’s reckless gamble,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Pa., and House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy, R-Pa., said in a joint statement.

The sale represents the biggest taxpayer loss on a green loan since the Solyndra collapse, which cost taxpayers $528 million.

"Once again, American taxpayers are losing out to foreign investors due to the Obama administration's failed green energy policies," Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said. "Time after time this administration has fumbled the ball with their attempts to pick winners and losers when it comes to American energy.


Green Energy: The Rotary Dial Phone of the Future

The whole idea of green energy—renewable resources—grew out of an energy reality that was much different from today’s. It was in the 1970s, following the OPEC Oil Embargo that solar panels began popping up on rooftops and “gasohol” subsidies were enacted. It was believed that green energy would move the U.S. off of foreign oil and prevent oil from being used as a weapon against us.

Today, that entire paradigm has been upended and OPEC’s power has been virtually neutered by increasing domestic oil production and decreasing gasoline consumption.

Jay Lehr, Heartland Institute science director, likens continuing “as though our new energy riches did not exist” to “ignoring our telecommunication revolution by supporting operator-assisted telephones with party lines.”

Instead of growing our gas, we need to be growing food that can feed a hungry world and balance out the U.S. trade deficit.

In a November 17 editorial, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) perfectly sums up the current renewable resource status: “After 35 years of exaggerations about the benefits of renewable fuels, the industry has lost credibility.” Similarly, on the same day, the Washington Post (WP) went a step further, stating that ethanol “has been exposed as an environmental and economic mistake.”

It seems that ethanol is an idea whose time has come—and gone.


Mandated for blending into America’s gasoline supply in 2007 through the Energy Security and Independence Act, ethanol now has an unlikely coalition of opponents—including car and small-engine manufacturers, oil companies and refiners, and food producers and environmental groups.

A national movement is growing and calling for the end of the ethanol mandates that, according to the WSJ, have “drained the Treasury of almost $40 billion” since the first gasohol subsides were enacted in 1978. Realize the word “Treasury,” used here, really means “taxpayer.”

“At the end of 2011, the ethanol industry lost a $6 billion per year tax-credit subsidy,” the WP points out. But the mandate for the American consumer to use ethanol remains through what Senator David Vitter (R-LA) calls: “a fundamentally flawed program that limps along year after year.”

Imagine the surprise, given that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy asserts: “Biofuels are a key part of the Obama Administration’s ‘all of the above’ energy strategy, helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, cut carbon pollution and create jobs,” when, on November 15, the EPA gave a nod toward market and technological realities and, for the first time, proposed a reduction in the renewable volume obligations—below 2012 and 2013 levels.

On a call with reporters, a senior administration official explained: “While under the law volumes of renewable fuel are set to increase each year this unanticipated reduction in fuel consumption brings us to a point where the realities of the fuel market must be addressed to properly implement the program.”

The WP describes the problem: “Mixing more and more ethanol into a fixed or shrinking pool of fuel would bump up against the capacity of existing engines to burn it, as well as the capacity of the existing distribution network to pump it.” It states: “The downward revision of roughly 3 billion gallons is the first such reduction since Congress enacted the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in 2007.”

The EPA’s decision is lauded by AAA President and CEO Bob Darbelnet: “The EPA has finally put consumers first.” He said the targets in the 2007 law “are unreachable without putting motorists and their vehicles at risk.”

The November 15 announcement has even received rare bipartisian support. In a joint statement, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and ranking member Henry Waxman (D-CA) praised EPA’s decision to cut into the biofuels mandate next year. “As our white papers and hearings made clear, the status quo is no longer workable,” Upton said. “Many of the issues raised by EPA, stakeholders, and consumer advocates are now reflected in the agency’s proposed rule.” Both suggested the committee would continue to examine possible legislative changes to the overall mandate.

The ethanol lobby is not so enthusiastic. “Despite a lack of demand,” states the WSJ, it “wants government to force a blend of E15 or higher on millions of consumers and force car makers to adapt their fleets to a fuel that offers less octane per mile traveled and no environmental benefit.”

Brooke Coleman, Advanced Ethanol Council executive director, expressed the industry’s disappointment: “While only a proposed rule at this point, this is the first time the Obama administration has shown any sign of wavering when it comes to implementing the RFS.”

Coleman added: “What we’re seeing is the oil industry taking one last run at trying to convince administrators of the RFS to relieve the legal obligation on them to blend more biofuel based on clever arguments meant to disguise the fact that oil companies just don’t want to blend more biofuel. The RFS is designed to bust the oil monopoly. It’s not going to be easy,” To which, Taylor Smith, Heartland Institute policy analyst, quipped: “The renewable fuel industry has reacted to EPA’s announcement as if something big has been taken away from them, when technically nothing has been taken away from them, just less will be given to them in the future. The oil industry’s heavy lobbying may be blamed for EPA’s announcement, but ethanol’s failure to lower CO2 emissions or reduce oil use or oil imports since the law was passed has just as much if not more to do with it.”

Ethanol is setback.


While the ethanol mandate hasn’t been eliminated, the administration has wavered and has given a nod toward “market and technological reality.” Likewise, those of us opposed to government mandates and subsidies were handed a small victory in Arizona when, on November 14, the commissioners tipped their hand by setting a new direction for solar energy policy. In a 3-2 vote, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) took a step and added a monthly fee onto the utility bills of new solar customers to make them pay for using the power grid.

While the ACC decision didn’t make national headlines, as the EPA decision did, it has huge national implications.

The issue is net-metering—a policy that allows customers with solar panels to receive full retail credit for power they deliver to the grid. Supporters of the current policy—including President Obama—believe that ending it “would kill their business.” Opponents believe it “unfairly shifts costs from solar homes to non-solar homes.”

The ACC vote kept the net-metering program, but added a small fee that solar supporters call “troubling.” Officials for SolarCity and SunRun—companies that install solar arrays—have reportedly said: “The new fees mean fewer customers will be able realize any savings.”

“What amounts to a $5 charge is a big hit to the solar industry,” said Bryan Miller, SunRunvice president for public policy and power markets. “In our experience, you need to show customers some savings.”

Considering that Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) wanted to cut the rate paid to customers with solar and wanted a much larger fee added, the ACC decision might not seem like a victory. In fact, the solar supporters called it a victory for their side, claiming “policymakers in Arizona stood up for its citizens, by rejecting an attempt from the state’s largest utility to squash rooftop solar.” But that’s not the full story.

The new fee passed 3-2—which might sound like a narrow margin. However, the two “no” votes, voted “no” because each believed the fee should be higher—meaning that all five commissioners wanted a fee added (four of the five had previously indicated that they were ready to add fees as high as $50 a month). Additionally, the fee is only in place until the next rate case that will be filed in June of 2015. Plus, a clause was added that allows the commission to adjust the charge annually. After December 31, solar customers will be presented with a document making it clear that the fees they pay the utility may increase.

James Montgomery, associate editor, reported that the Alliance for Solar Choice representative, Hugh Hallman, acknowledged that there is a cost-shift that the solar sector needs to address. In the ACC case, it was the solar industry that proposed the fee—even thought it had “bitterly” fought any new fees. The Arizona Republic coverage of the vote states: “The solar industry offered the $5 compromise as it faced the reality that the commissioners appeared poised to enact even higher fees closer to what APS requested.” And adds: “The meeting appeared to be going against the solar industry.”

Commissioner Brenda Burns, who was one of the “no” votes because she wanted higher fees, called out the Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association over a statement made in a letter claiming that solar customers used their own money to install solar at no cost to their neighbors. She noted: “Solar customers got up-front incentives to pay for their solar panels until they expired in October. Those incentives came from other customers and ran into the thousands of dollars for many solar users. APS ratepayers paid more than $170 million in cash incentives,” she said. “It is a fact, and we shouldn’t ignore the fact.”

The ACC’s process pointed out the customers’ savings that $170 million in cash incentives got them could be “largely or entirely wiped out” with a $5 fee. It solidified that there is cost-shifting taking place—which the industry has denied. And, it set up larger fees and potential credit adjustments in the near future.

Rhone Resch, Solar Industries Association president/CEO, called the ACC decision “precedent setting action.” There are a number of other state commissions currently reviewing net-metering policies.

Renewable energy has suffered a setback in both the EPA ethanol decision and the ACC solar decision. Will wind be next?


On November 14, fifty-two Congressmen signed a letter, organized by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), calling for the end of the wind production tax credit (PTC). In the letter addressed to Rep. Dave Camp, chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, they point out that the PTC, which was scheduled to end on December 31, 2012, was extended “during the closing hours of the last Congress,” as a part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA). Not only was it extended, but it was enhanced by modifying the eligibility criteria. Originally, wind turbines needed to be “placed in service” by the end of the expiration of the PTC to qualify for the tax credit. Under the ATRA, they need only to be “under construction” to qualify.

The letter points out: “If a wind project developer merely places a 5% deposit on a project initiated in 2013, it will have at least until 2015 and possibly 2016 to place the project in service and obtain the PTC. That means that a wind project that ‘begins construction’ in 2013 could receive subsidies until 2026.”

Like ethanol and solar, “the growth in wind is driven not by market demand, but by a combination of state renewable portfolio standards and a tax credit that is now more valuable than the price of the electricity the plants actually generate.”

Earlier this month, more than 100 organizations—including the two for which I serve as executive director—sent a letter to Congress calling for them to allow the PTC to expire as scheduled. This letter states “after 20 years of preferential tax treatment,” wind energy “remains woefully dependent on this federal support” and calls for “energy solutions that make it on their own in the marketplace—not ones that need to be propped up by the government indefinitely.”

Both of these actions come at a time when wind energy is suffering some embarrassing setbacks of its own.

On November 20, the sixth GE 1.6 megawatt wind-turbine blade in 17 months broke off. Three “incidents” have taken place in Illinois (most recently on November 20), two in Michigan (November 12), and one in New York (November 17). The blades weigh about 20,000 pounds and are about 160 feet long. These six cases are called “rare” and “isolated” but there are hundreds of the same GE turbines in the same industrial wind parks where the blades broke off. One can’t help but wonder which turbine will “crash to the ground” tomorrow?

Reports indicate that so far, “no one was injured.” However, locals have reported shrapnel from the blade break has been found more than 1500 feet away.Setbacks for turbine installations are 511 feet from roads and only 700 feet from property lines, so the possibility of somebody getting killed is a real probability.

Note: The North American Wind Power story on the Michigan failures, states: “GE’s 1.6-100 is one of North America’s most sought-after turbines.” Woe to the person who has a different manufacturer’s turbine nearby if these are the “most sought after.”

While, to date, no one has been killed by a wind-turbine blade, plenty of birds—including federally protected birds, such as bald eagles—have been killed. On November 22, the first-ever criminal enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for unpermitted avian takings at wind projects was settled. Duke Energy agreed to pay fines, restitution, and community service totaling $1 million and was placed on probation for five years.

The EPA finally saw some sense when it announced the reduction in the amount of ethanol that refiners are required to blend into gasoline in 2014. The ACC signaled a change in ratepayer compensation for solar energy. Will Congress show similar wisdom and allow the wind tax credit to expire at the end of 2013?

These mandates and tax credits are remnants of an outdated energy policy that is akin to “ignoring our telecommunication revolution by supporting operator-assisted telephones with party lines.” America’s energy paradigm has changed and our energy policies need to keep up and be revised to fit our new reality.



It is only one sentence in the coalition agreement, but it could mean the end of Germany’s green energy shift (Energiewende). The Christian Democrats (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD) want to force the renewable industry to pay for conventional back-up energy generation.

Almost unnoticed by the public, Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) and North Rhine Westphalia’s Prime Minister Hannelore Kraft (SPD) have agreed upon on a passage in the Energy chapter of the draft coalition agreement that could ensure the end of the green energy transition and seal the fate of the renewable energy industry. “This is massive,” is the comment even in government circles. The decisive statement has allegedly been included in the draft contract under pressure from the bosses of RWE and E.on, Peter Terium and John Teyssen.

The renewable energy lobby has not even noticed the attack on its core business. The decisive statement can be found in line 259 of the 11 November draft agreement. It says: “We will examine whether large producers of electricity from renewable sources must guarantee a base load portion of their maximum feed in order to contribute to supply security.”

This refers to the cardinal problem of solar and wind energy, the intermittency of power generation that depends on the weather. The year has 8,760 hours; wind turbines, however, only produce for 1,530 hours at full power, photovoltaic systems even just for 980 hours. To make matters worse, no one knows in advance when green electricity is fed into the grid, and when it’s not available.

The proposal by Altmaier and Kraft boils down to a requirement for operators of wind and solar power to take out a form of insurance. In principle, they must guarantee the supply of the kilowatt hours usually provided by their systems, regardless of whether the wind blows or the sun is shining. However, this is only possible for wind and solar systems by guaranteed power of conventional power plants. This way, coal or gas power plants would be brought back into the business – and the green power producers would have to pay for it. They would be forced to do business with RWE and Co.

The business model of renewable energy operators would be destroyed. This is made clear by a simple calculation: the cost of conventional power plant capacity in Europe is typically estimated at 60 Euros per kilowatt. Since solar energy systems need the back-up only for about 1,000 hours per year, this would result in a kilowatt-hour price of approximately six cents for the insurance. An operator of solar power systems would have to pay this amount for every kilowatt hour generated by himself to the operators of a coal or gas power plant, so that they hold up the necessary safe plant capacity.

Part of the legally guaranteed EEG feed-in tariff, which has the objective to promote green electricity, would end up with the operators of conventional power plants in this way. It is such a big amount that one could no longer make any profit with green electricity. If they had to shoulder the burden, the development of renewable energies would come to an end – and so would the green energy transition.

Operators of onshore wind turbines would be charged for the usual hours at full load with less than four cents per kilowatt hour. The feed-in tariffs for new wind turbines is currently around nine cents. Take away four cents for back-up and the wind operator would be left with five cents per kilowatt hour. For this amount, however, nobody is building a wind turbine. The green energy transition would be killed instantly. Instead, RWE and Co. could breath again. It cannot be ruled out that their current search for a new corporate image would be undermined as a result.

Whether it will actually get that far is uncertain. After all, the formulation in the draft coalition agreement includes three vague concepts. Firstly, the matter should only be “examined”. Secondly, only “large” green power producers should be obliged, if at all. And thirdly, the back-up insurance should be organized only for a proportion of the base load. Disaster is looming but there is still hope.

The mere fact that the coalition partners are flirting with the idea of promoting old energy at the expense of new one is a revelation. It shows how much the CDU and the SPD are now distancing themselves from the green energy transition.



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