Sunday, March 30, 2014

Yet another problem of global warming?

This is supposed to be a science process?

The IPCC clearly does politics, not science

Government officials and scientists are gathered in Yokohama this week to wrangle over every line of a summary of the report before the final wording is released on Monday – the first update in seven years.

Nearly 500 people must sign off on the exact wording of the summary, including the 66 expert authors, 271 officials from 115 countries, and 57 observers.

But governments have already signed off on the critical finding that climate change is already having an effect, and that even a small amount of warming in the future could lead to "abrupt and irreversible changes"


Did Nate Silver take down the Roger Pielke article in response to a campaign by a tiny minority of malcontents?

Lubos Motl

Nate Silver is a statistician who has analyzed baseball and elections. I don't know him but it seems that some other people do. At any rate, he started a new expensive online news server (the number is 538). Some mostly left-wing pundits have criticized the new server and made its childhood a rocky experience.

The first study he happened to publish on that server was one by Dr Roger Pielke Jr, a "climate lukewarmer" [in the middle between skeptics and alarmists] who does research into damages caused by meteorological phenomena:

Disasters Cost More Than Ever — But Not Because of Climate Change (by Pielke)

His main point is simple: the absolute amount of money destroyed by natural disasters is increasing but so is the total GDP. The ratio stays pretty much constant – as he demonstrates by some graph from the Munich Re reinsurance company – and it should.

(Well, there is even some decrease that seems statistically insignificant; if it ever became significant, it would probably be due to people's increasing ability to protect their assets.)

There exists no scientific or otherwise rational reason to think that the "losses to GDP" ratio should be significantly changing with time. As people are getting wealthier, they have more assets that may be destroyed by unpleasant weather and so on.

Needless to say, a "lukewarmer" like Pielke Jr is a sufficient heretic for the climate activists to go ballistic; his claims – self-evidently correct claims – were a blasphemy. So they have spammed the comment section with tons of negative comments (80% of comments were claimed to be negative), posted a long pseudoscientific rebuttal at SkepticalScience.COM, a rant at Salon.COM mentioning the grilling of Silver by Jon Stewart, a diatribe at HuffPo, and dozens of other anti-Pielke replies on assorted far left-wing servers and blogs.

All the data I can access are consistent with the hypothesis that all these insane anti-skeptic "fireworks" you can see on the Internet and in the media are the result of an orchestrated campaign by 25 or fewer unhinged alarmist trolls, at least 90% of the "fireworks".

This is actually the mean value of my estimate. Such a claim may sound remarkable but people who don't have access to any data about the visitors and commenters on a website generally underestimate how intensely amplified the visibility of certain views becomes due to the relentless work of a very small number of obsessed trolls and spammers.

I am fortunately not getting too many truly obnoxious comments these days. But during the last 3 months, I got about 5 comments from different posters praising guest posts on The Reference Frame, with the implicit suggestion that I should stop writing my own essays. OK individual opinions, I thought for a while. After all, I try to pick high-quality guest bloggers (and yes, I prefer native speakers, something I am not) so if the comparison ends up in this way, it shouldn't shock me.

However, when I saw the fifth comment of this sort, I finally checked the IP addresses. Needless to say, every single comment from this set was posted by the very same user in Halifax, Canada. Without this check (I am not doing them often, but sometimes I am), I could easily believe that there were 5 people holding this opinion; in reality, there was just 1 troll. This is just one recent anecdote but over the years, I have accumulated many stories of this kind. The general conclusion seems clear to me: on the Internet, a huge fraction of the "violent opposition" to some opinions is created by a tiny group of people.

The critics that were mentioned as contributors to Silver's apology by the media belonged to this list:

Michael Mann
Kevin Trenberth
Rob Honeycutt
... and a few others.

Have I seen the names before? You bet. All of them belong to the aforementioned "list of 25 top climate alarmist trolls". They keep on trolling, trolling, trolling. They are spamming, spamming, spamming. They are attacking, attacking, attacking climate skeptics. They are whining, whining, whining that they were unfairly attacked even though they haven't. They are lying 24 hours a day. Michael Mann is threatening others with lawsuits all the time (and sometimes even sues, being supported by some really immoral wealthy individuals), yet he has the breathtaking arrogance to claim that it's others who are threatening him. They are doing these things all the time, seven days a week, 52 or 53 weeks a year, and a large percentage of the "climatic portion of the blogosphere" is created by this small group of people. If you removed these trolls from the surface of the globe, climate alarmism would pretty much cease to exist on the Internet. Incidentally, yes, this is my recipe how to solve the climate problem.

I find it sort of shocking that people like Nate Silver who should already know something about the "behavioral science about the Internet commenters" and about the sociology of the climate debate – election-related statistics are not too far from this discipline – still fail to understand these points. I find it shocking that they still get manipulated by these aggressive yet intrinsically inconsequential scumbags and crackpots.

Let me just mention one graph – the only "apparently non-trivial" argument against Pielke's assertions that I have seen anywhere in the hurricane of vitriol directed against his self-evident assertions. You see that the "number of natural catastrophes" has more than doubled over the last 30 years. But one must be careful about the definition of a "natural catastrophe". Note that in 1980, the world population was less than 4.5 bilion, so it has "almost" doubled since that time, too. Moreover, the people are much wealthier and they have many more things that may be damaged or insured and damages of these things count as "natural catastrophes".

My point is that the quantity "number of natural catastrophes" doesn't really have a robust, time-independent definition here. If you actually look at the overall money which have a much more robust definition, as Pielke did, you will see that the claims or losses were increasing proportionally to the total GDP.

There's one more observation that is being mentioned by Pielke's critics: the number of "geophysical events" like earthquakes, tsunami, and volcanic eruption wasn't substantially increasing – only "the weather got worse". But they always prefer to automatically assume that any such asymmetry is due to their favorite "climate change". The actual reason of the unequal growth is simply that people may escape from the places where earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions are occurring because these places are known and ultimately determined by the fault lines, tectonic plates, and other geological entities. On the other hand, one can't really escape bad weather! So the rate of the increase of the concentration of people and their wealth in "geologically risky" places was much smaller (and insurance companies wouldn't insure you at certain places) than the concentration of people in places where "bad weather" may occur (which is the whole surface of the Earth).

At any rate, the right interpretation of all these graphs is a science of a sort. It is not as hard a science as particle physics. But one needs some expertise. And Roger Pielke Jr has accumulated about 10,000 citations by work focusing on these questions – despite the fact that his basic philosophy wasn't exactly aligned with the political establishment of the Academia. Why would Nate Silver surrender to 25 trolls whose total number of citations in these matters is 100 times lower than those of Roger Pielke Jr? And if Nate Silver thinks that the total loudness of the trolls is more important than the truth and the people's expertise, why did he hire Roger Pielke Jr to write the piece in the first place? Why didn't he establish a new server as a footnote to a random crackpot's blog, for example as 538.SkepticalScience.COM? A researcher (or an essayist) who may only conclude what the majority already believes is a useless parasite.

Roger Pielke Jr isn't necessarily my "#1 cup of tea" but I can still see that Nate Silver's behavior towards him was disrespectful. More generally, the freedom of expression and journalism ethics seems to be evaporating from the Internet in the U.S. that is increasingly controlled by the aforementioned groups of violent trolls and by the group think they want to impose – and they have already imposed in vast portions of the American Internet and the American society. Twenty-five years ago, I wouldn't predict that I would be writing these things in 2014. But it's true, anyway: I think that the freedom of expression – especially journalists' freedom to evaluate the data in the way they see fit – is much better e.g. in Russia these days than it is in the U.S. And despite all the annoying trends I am observing, I think that the journalism ethics and especially the freedom of expression is in a much better shape in Czechia than it is in either of the countries above.

I have embedded Robert Foster's ("funny fake rapping media host") "report" about the recent Russian-American tension. He is doing fun of both sides and makes some good points – well, at least good for those who are not following the events in any objective way. The funny video was reposted by Russia Today but I am afraid that it would be censored in all the U.S. media that look at themselves way too seriously when they moralize about the "evils" done by Russia. Around 4:20, journalist Abby Martin adds her contribution to the rap, too. She is saying things that Putin would probably disagree with – but she can do so despite her being an employee of the Kremlin-funded Russia Today. I think that nowadays, the journalists in MSNBC or other American TV channels wouldn't be able (well, I mean "wouldn't be allowed") to display their editorial independence and freedom of expression in this way. It would be enough for a few left-wing jerks like Michael Mann to launch an e-mail campaign against anything they find inconvenient and in the evening, the boss of the news would already be apologizing for and firing the blasphemous employee.

So I have grown increasingly disillusioned by the status of human rights and professional ethics in the U.S. It's a system de facto controlled by several cliques of aggressive fascists who are blackmailing everyone who is inconvenient them, who are spamming the Internet and news with lies, whining, demagogy, and character assassinations, and who are using the gullible brainwashed sheep – the average Americans – both as a weapon and as a final target to be conquered. Couldn't at least one Nate Silver find the balls to tell Manns and Trenberths of this world "fuck you"? It's probably too much to ask.

As the anthem indicates, the U.S. may have been a "land of the brave and the free" sometime in the past. But these days, it's mainly a country of spineless unfree cowards like Nate Silver.

And that's the memo.


Cook's 97%: A Climate Falsehood You Can Check for Yourself

One problem in arguments about climate (and many other things) is that most of the information is obtained at second, third, or fourth hand, with the result that what you believe depends largely on what sources of information you trust. One result is that people on either side of the argument can honestly believe that the evidence strongly supports their view. They trust different sources; different sources report different evidence. It is thus particularly interesting when on some point, even a fairly minor one, you can actually check a claim for yourself. I believe I have found an example of such a claim.

Cook et. al. (2013) is the paper, possibly one of two papers, on which the often repeated claim that 97% of climate scientists support global warming is based. Legates et. al. (2013) is a paper which criticizes Cook et. al. (2013). Bedford and Cook (2013) is a response to Legates et. al. All three papers (the last a pre-publication version) are webbed, although Legates et. al. is unfortunately behind a pay wall.

Bedford and Cook (2013) contains the following sentence: "Cook et al. (2013) found that over 97% endorsed the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause."

To check that claim, look at Cook et. al. 2013. Table 2 shows three categories of endorsement of global warming reflected in the abstracts of articles. Category 1, explicit endorsement with quantification, is described as "Explicitly states that humans are the primary cause of recent global warming."

Category 2 is explicit endorsement without quantification. The description, "Explicitly states humans are causing global warming or refers to anthropogenic global warming/climate change as a known fact" is ambiguous, since neither "causing" nor "anthropogenic global warming" specifies how large a part of warming humans are responsible for. But the example for the category is clearer: 'Emissions of a broad range of greenhouse gases of varying lifetimes contribute to global climate change.' If human action produces ten percent of warming, it contributes to it, hence category 2, as implied by its label, does not specify how large a fraction of the warming humans are responsible for.

 Category 3, implicit endorsement, again uses the ambiguous "are causing," but the example is '...carbon sequestration in soil is important for mitigating global climate change,' which again would be consistent with holding that CO2 was responsible for some but less than half of the warming. It follows that only papers in category 1 imply that "human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause." Authors of papers in categories 2 and 3 might believe that, they might believe that human emissions of greenhouse gases were one cause among several.

Reading down in Cook et. al., we find "To simplify the analysis, ratings were consolidated into three groups: endorsements (including implicit and explicit; categories 1–3 in table 2)." It is that combined group, ("endorse AGW" on Table 4) that the 97.1% figure refers to. Hence that is the number of papers that, according to Cook et. al., implied that humans at least contribute to global warming. The number that imply that humans are the primary cause (category 1) is some smaller percentage which Cook et. al. do not report.

It follows that the sentence I quoted from Bedford and Cook is false. Cook et. al. did not find that "over 97% endorsed the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause." (emphasis mine). Any interested reader can check that it is false by simply comparing the two papers of which Cook is a co-author. John Cook surely knows the contents of his own paper. Hence the sentence in question is a deliberate lie.

That Cook misrepresents the result of his own research does not tell us whether AGW or CAGW is true. It does not tell us if it is true that most climate scientists endorse AGW or CAGW. It is nonetheless interesting, for two related reasons.

In recent online exchanges on climate, I repeatedly encountered the claim that 97% of climate scientists believed humans were the main cause of global warming. That included an exchange with one of the very few reasonable and civil supporters of the CAGW claim that I encountered in the online arguments, where most participants on either side are neither. So far as I know, the paper says nothing that is not true. But it appears designed to encourage the misreading that actually occurred. It does so by lumping together categories 1-3 and reporting only the sum and by repeatedly referring to "the consensus" but never stating clearly what that consensus is.

The closest it came to defining the consensus is as the "position that humans are causing global warming," which leaves it unclear whether "causing" means "are one cause of," "are the chief cause of," or "are the sole cause of." To discover that it meant only the former, a reader had to pay sufficiently careful attention to the details of the paper to notice "contribute to" in the example of category 2 in Table 2, which few readers would do. The fact that Cook chose, in a second paper, to misrepresent the result of the first is pretty good evidence that the presentation of his results was deliberately designed to mislead.

There is a second, and more important, reason why all of this matters. Beliefs on either side depend largely on what sources of information you trust. I have now provided unambiguous evidence, evidence that anyone on either side willing to carefully read Cook (2013) and check what it says against what Bedford and Cook claims it says can verify for himself, that John Cook cannot be trusted. The blog Skeptical Science lists John Cook as its maintainer, hence all claims on that blog ought to be viewed with suspicion and accepted only if independently verified. Since, as a prominent supporter of the position that warming is primarily due to humans and a very serious threat, Cook is taken seriously and quoted by other supporters of that position, one should reduce one's trust in those others as well. Either they too are dishonest or they are over willing to believe false claims that support their position.

The fact that one prominent supporter of a position is dishonest does not prove that the position is wrong. For all I know, there may be people on the other side who could be shown to be dishonest by a similar analysis. But it is a reason why those who support that side because they trust its proponents to tell them the truth should be at least somewhat less willing to do so.

P.S. A commenter has located the data file for Cook et. al. (2013). By his count, the number of articles classified into each category was:

Level 1 = 64
Level 2 = 922
Level 3 = 2910
Level 4 = 7970
Level 5 = 54
Level 6 = 15
Level 7 = 9

The 97% figure was the sum of levels 1-3. Assuming the count is correct—readers can check it for themselves—that 97% breaks down as:

Level 1: 1.6%
Level 2: 23%
Level 3: 72%

Only Level 1 corresponds to "the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause." (emphasis mine) Hence when John Cook attributed that view to 97% on the basis of his Cook et. al. (2013) he was misrepresenting 1.6% as 97%. Adding up his categories 5-7, the levels of rejecting of AGW, we find that more papers explicitly or implicitly rejected the claim that human action was responsible for half or more of warming than accepted it. According to Cook's own data.

Would anybody now like to claim that lumping levels 1, 2, and 3 together and only reporting the sum was not a deliberate attempt to mislead?




The World Health Organization (WHO) has released its latest figures on the annual death toll caused by pollution--and they look shocking. Of all the deaths across the globe in 2012, no fewer than seven million--1 in 8--are apparently the result of pollution.

Even if you take the WHO's estimates with a huge pinch of salt--and you probably should--that doesn't mean the pollution problem in some parts of the world isn't deadly serious. During the 20th century, around 260 million are reckoned to have died from indoor pollution in the developing world: that's roughly twice as many as were killed in all the century's wars.

Here, though, is the point where the WHO loses all credibility on the issue.

    "Excessive air pollution is often a by-product of unsustainable policies in sectors such as transport, energy, waste management and industry. In most cases, healthier strategies will also be more economical in the long term due to health-care cost savings as well as climate gains," Carlos Dora, WHO Coordinator for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health said.

    "WHO and health sectors have a unique role in translating scientific evidence on air pollution into policies that can deliver impact and improvements that will save lives," Dr. Dora added."

See what Dora just did there? He used the shock value of the WHO's pollution death figures to slip three Big Lies under the impressionable reader's radar.

First, he's trying to make out that outdoor pollution is as big a problem as indoor pollution. It isn't: nowhere near. Many of the deaths the WHO links to the former are very likely the result of the latter (cooking and heating in poorly ventilated rooms using dung, wood, and coal) which, by nature, is much more intense.

Secondly, he's implying that economic development is to blame. In fact, it's economic development we have to thank for the fact that there are so many fewer pollution deaths than there used to be. As Bjorn Lomborg has noted, over the 20th century as poverty receded and clean fuels got cheaper, the risk of dying of pollution decreased eight-fold. In 1900, air pollution cost 23 per cent of global GDP; today it is 6 per cent, and by 2050 it will be 4 per cent.

But the third and by far the biggest of the lies is the implication that the UN's policies on climate change are helping to alleviate the problem.

In fact the opposite is true. It's the UN's policies on climate change which are killing the world's poor.

Two years ago, at the Rio + 20 Earth Summit, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon launched a program of "sustainable energy for all."

But "sustainable energy" is often merely an environmentalist euphemism for costly, inefficient, intermittent, unreliable renewable energy--such as solar or wind: a heavily subsidized, first-world luxury which no developing country could possibly afford because it makes no economic sense.

Another energy form that would fit into the "sustainable" category would be "biomass"--ie dung, vegetation--which is the very thing responsible for all those indoor pollution deaths.

The surest, quickest way to reduce pollution deaths in the developing world would be to develop a stable electric grid system so that people could keep themselves warm and cook relatively cleanly. But thanks to the UN's obsession with "climate change" this opportunity is being denied developing countries. The World Bank now more or less refuses to finance the building of any coal-fired power stations in places like Africa in order to promote "alternative energy sources." This anti-cheap energy policy has been endorsed by the Obama administration.

As one Ugandan writer once put it:

    "Al Gore uses more electricity in a week than 28 million Ugandans together use in a year. And those anti-electricity policies are keeping us impoverished.

    Not having electricity means millions of Africans don’t have refrigerators to preserve food and medicine. Outside of wealthy parts of our big cities, people don’t have lights, computers, modern hospitals and schools, air conditioning – or offices, factories and shops to make things and create good jobs.

    Not having electricity also means disease and death. It means millions die from lung infections, because they have to cook and heat with open fires; from intestinal diseases caused by spoiled food and unsafe drinking water; from malaria, TB, cholera, measles and other diseases that we could prevent or treat if we had proper medical facilities."

If the WHO's mother organization the United Nations wanted to stop those seven million pollution deaths, it could do so in short space. Unfortunately, like so many of those involved in global governance these days, it gives Gaia worship higher priority than the lives of the world's poor.


Climate Forecast: Muting the Alarm

Even while it exaggerates the amount of warming, the IPCC is becoming more cautious about its effects

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will shortly publish the second part of its latest report, on the likely impact of climate change. Government representatives are meeting with scientists in Japan to sex up—sorry, rewrite—a summary of the scientists' accounts of storms, droughts and diseases to come. But the actual report, known as AR5-WGII, is less frightening than its predecessor seven years ago.

The 2007 report was riddled with errors about Himalayan glaciers, the Amazon rain forest, African agriculture, water shortages and other matters, all of which erred in the direction of alarm. This led to a critical appraisal of the report-writing process from a council of national science academies, some of whose recommendations were simply ignored.

Others, however, hit home. According to leaks, this time the full report is much more cautious and vague about worsening cyclones, changes in rainfall, climate-change refugees, and the overall cost of global warming.

It puts the overall cost at less than 2% of GDP for a 2.5 degrees Centigrade (or 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature increase during this century. This is vastly less than the much heralded prediction of Lord Stern, who said climate change would cost 5%-20% of world GDP in his influential 2006 report for the British government.

The forthcoming report apparently admits that climate change has extinguished no species so far and expresses "very little confidence" that it will do so. There is new emphasis that climate change is not the only environmental problem that matters and on adapting to it rather than preventing it. Yet the report still assumes 70% more warming by the last decades of this century than the best science now suggests. This is because of an overreliance on models rather than on data in the first section of the IPCC report—on physical science—that was published in September 2013.

In this space on Dec. 19, 2012, I forecast that the IPCC was going to have to lower its estimates of future warming because of new sensitivity results. (Sensitivity is the amount of warming due to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide.) "Cooling Down Fears of Climate Change" (Dec. 19), led to a storm of protest, in which I was called "anti-science," a "denier" and worse.

The IPCC's September 2013 report abandoned any attempt to estimate the most likely "sensitivity" of the climate to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The explanation, buried in a technical summary not published until January, is that "estimates derived from observed climate change tend to best fit the observed surface and ocean warming for [sensitivity] values in the lower part of the likely range." Translation: The data suggest we probably face less warming than the models indicate, but we would rather not say so.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation, a London think tank, published a careful survey of all the reliable studies of sensitivity on March 5. The authors are British climate scientist Nic Lewis (who has no academic affiliation but a growing reputation since he discovered a glaring statistical distortion that exaggerated climate sensitivity in the previous IPCC report) and the Dutch science writer Marcel Crok. They say the IPCC's September report "buried good news about global warming," and that "the best observational evidence indicates our climate is considerably less sensitive to greenhouse gases than climate scientists had previously thought."

Messrs. Lewis and Crok argue that the average of the best observationally based studies shows the amount of immediate warming to be expected if carbon dioxide levels double after 70 years is "likely" to be between one and two degrees Centigrade, with a best estimate of 1.35C (or 2.4F). That's much lower than the IPCC assumes in its forthcoming report.

In short, the warming we experienced over the past 35 years—about 0.4C (or 0.7F) if you average the measurements made by satellites and those made by ground stations—is likely to continue at about the same rate: a little over a degree a century.

Briefly during the 1990s there did seem to be warming that went as fast as the models wanted. But for the past 15-17 years there has been essentially no net warming (a "hiatus" now conceded by the IPCC), a fact that the models did not predict and now struggle to explain. The favorite post-hoc explanation is that because of natural variability in ocean currents more heat has been slipping into the ocean since 2000—although the evidence for this is far from conclusive.

None of this contradicts basic physics. Doubling carbon dioxide cannot on its own generate more than about 1.1C (2F) of warming, however long it takes. All the putative warming above that level would come from amplifying factors, chiefly related to water vapor and clouds. The net effect of these factors is the subject of contentious debate.

In climate science, the real debate has never been between "deniers" and the rest, but between "lukewarmers," who think man-made climate change is real but fairly harmless, and those who think the future is alarming. Scientists like Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Richard Lindzen of MIT MITD -21.88%  have moved steadily toward lukewarm views in recent years.

Even with its too-high, too-fast assumptions, the recently leaked draft of the IPCC impacts report makes clear that when it comes to the effect on human welfare, "for most economic sectors, the impact of climate change will be small relative to the impacts of other drivers," such as economic growth and technology, for the rest of this century. If temperatures change by about 1C degrees between now and 2090, as Mr. Lewis calculates, then the effects will be even smaller.

Indeed, a small amount of warming spread over a long period will, most experts think, bring net improvements to human welfare. Studies such as by the IPCC author and economist Professor Richard Tol of Sussex University in Britain show that global warming has probably done so already. People can adapt to such change—which essentially means capture the benefits but minimize the harm. Satellites have recorded a roughly 14% increase in greenery on the planet over the past 30 years, in all types of ecosystems, partly as a result of man-made CO2 emissions, which enable plants to grow faster and use less water.

There remains a risk that the latest science is wrong and rapid warming will occur with disastrous consequences. And if renewable energy had proved by now to be cheap, clean and thrifty in its use of land, then we would be right to address that small risk of a large catastrophe by rushing to replace fossil fuels with first-generation wind, solar and bioenergy. But since these forms of energy have proved expensive, environmentally damaging and land-hungry, it appears that in our efforts to combat warming we may have been taking the economic equivalent of chemotherapy for a cold.

Almost every global environmental scare of the past half century proved exaggerated including the population "bomb," pesticides, acid rain, the ozone hole, falling sperm counts, genetically engineered crops and killer bees. In every case, institutional scientists gained a lot of funding from the scare and then quietly converged on the view that the problem was much more moderate than the extreme voices had argued. Global warming is no different.


For Once, an Energy Pivot in the Right Direction

To the surprise of many, the Obama administration seems to be taking a positive look at exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to European nations, particularly Ukraine, in an effort to cut Russian influence in the region. “The situation in Ukraine proves the need to reinforce energy security in Europe and we are considering new collaborative efforts to achieve this goal. We welcome the prospect of U.S. LNG exports in the future since additional global supplies will benefit Europe and other strategic partners,” said the administration in a release.

A good first step would be to expedite decisions on exporting LNG to countries with which we do not have a free-trade agreement. So far the Department of Energy has approved just seven such deals, with a backlog of 24 more in the pipeline.

But a much more important step is investment in infrastructure to export LNG, and one such project in Washington's backyard is under attack from environmentalists. Cove Point, in southern Maryland, was built more than 30 years ago as an import facility, but owner Dominion Resources wants to invest over $3 billion to convert it to an export terminal.

Replicating a strategy that has thus far prevented natural gas extraction in Marcellus Shale states like Maryland and New York, environmentalists want to scuttle the project by studying it to death, asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to do an exhaustive “environmental impact” study. They're claiming that approving the Cove Point project would produce a negative greenhouse gas impact. “Building a new LNG terminal doesn't strengthen our nation, and it further disrupts our climate,” sniffled Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune.

Meanwhile, founder Bill McKibben warned Democrats that they won't escape notice if they back the project because it encourages more “exploitation” of resources. “Fracking's become a dirty word, for good reason,” McKibben opined.

But the geopolitical benefits of eventually reducing Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas may convince regulators to ignore these radical environmentalists. Ironically, many of these same nations have instituted their own bans on fracking but will be happy to buy our natural gas. Perhaps the environmentalists should just move there and await our energy bailout.



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


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