Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Beyond Storms & Droughts: The Psychological Impacts of Climate Change

This is pseudo-science.  The full "report" is here. There is NO research into climate change contained in it at all.  It is at best colorful propaganda.  The arguments in it are of the kind:  "Big storms  upset people.  Therefore climate change will upset people."  Any mention of the fact that extreme wind events have been less frequent in recent years is not to be found in this tripe

So their arguments are in the form of a syllogism with a premise that is both missing and false

The impacts of climate change on the world are often obvious, like the sight of retreating glaciers in Alaska or the slow creep of rising seas that are washing big portions of southern Louisiana out into the Gulf of Mexico.

But look at it from a different perspective, and it's clear that some of the biggest impacts from Earth's rapidly warming climate occur within us as human beings, like the sense of loss and trauma felt by hurricane survivors after everything they know – their homes, workplaces, churches, really their entire community – is swept out to sea.

How we'll handle experiences like these in a world changed by global warming is the subject of a new report, "Beyond Storms and Droughts: The Psychological Impacts of Climate Change," by the American Psychological Association and ecoAmerica, an environmental advocacy group devoted to climate change and sustainability issues.

Both organizations issued the report as a wake-up call to all Americans, whom they say can expect "broad psychological impacts" on their well-being and health from climate change.

That means a future with heightened levels of stress, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, as well as a loss of community identity – if nothing is done to stop or slow emissions of industrial-produced greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.



In an effort to win public support for the EPA’s recently proposed regulations to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants an estimated 30 percent by 2030, the White House has begun a campaign in which it claims the carbon dioxide “pollution” causes children to get asthma.

“The next version of the White House claim will have puppies and kittens in it too,” David W. Kreutzer, Ph.D., a Heritage Institute research fellow in energy economics and climate change, told WND, treating the Obama administration argument with derision.

“Carbon dioxide has nothing to do with any health effects directly.”

Kreutzer explained that when the issue is pressed directly, top Obama administration “get a little bit more honest” and shift their ground to argue that even if carbon dioxide is not a toxic gas, it is still the indirect cause serious health problems such as asthma.

“What the White House is really maintaining is that when we get more carbon dioxide, we get more ozone, and the ozone causes asthma. Or, if more carbon dioxide causes global warming, then spring will last longer and we will have more pollen. Or, by using less coal we will have reduced particulate emissions and the particulate emissions cause asthma.”

Marc Morano, the executive director of Climat Depot, agrees.

“This is pure propaganda,” Morano told WND.

“The White House is trying to demonize carbon dioxide as a pollutant. The idea is to convince people that carbon dioxide somehow causes asthma and puts children in hospitals.”

Morano said Obama “has shifted the debate to children and asthma because he knows the public is not buying global warming.”

Both Kreutzer and Morano insist the EPA already has ample regulations that have been enforced for decades to remove toxic particles from the air to a level the EPA considers safe for health regardless of cost.

“The whole point of this asthma campaign is for the White House to get sick children on TV,” Kreutzer insisted.

“Even if you believed the most dire predictions of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the EPA’s proposed regulations would not reduce enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to make any measurable impact on the climate.”

Morano contends there is a difference between regulating the amount of carbon dioxide in the air and regulating pollutants.

“We have largely solved classical air pollution over the past few decades,” he noted.

“The coal-burning power plants coming on line today are vastly cleaner than they were a generation ago. But the Obama EPA isn’t regulating pollution with these new rules. They are regulating carbon dioxide, not carbon.”

He pointed out that carbon dioxide, a miniscule trace gas in the atmosphere, is vital to photosynthesis and life on earth. It is a gas everyone exhales, and plants use it for food.

There is nothing inherently toxic or unhealthy in carbon dioxide,” he said.

Still, Morano cautioned the White House change of emphasis to health themes is “effective propaganda.”

“People say, ‘I don’t know if I buy global warming, but I want to clean up the air,’” he noted.

“As long as the White House can manage to convince the American people that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, identical to smog, soot and toxic air particulates, the shift of the EPA debate from climate change directly to asthma, lung disease and other health care issues will persuade some normally intelligent people, including generally credible news editors on television.”

White House ‘war on asthma’

The evidence is abundant that the Obama administration has shifted into high gear a campaign to convince the public the EPA carbon dioxide regulations are necessary because carbon dioxide “pollution” increases asthma that impacts disproportionately “vulnerable” groups, including children, the elderly, the poor and “communities of color.”

In a June 6 press release the White House argued, “In the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled, and climate change is putting those Americans at greater risk of landing in the hospital.”

The White House press release went on to state that the effects of climate change “impact the most vulnerable Americans – putting the elderly, kids, and people already suffering from burdensome allergies, asthma, and other illnesses at greater risk.”

To make sure the full emotional impact of the asthma argument was appreciated, the White House press release concluded as follows:

The President believes we have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that’s not irrevocably polluted or damaged. While no single step can reverse the effects of climate change, we must take steady, responsible action to cut carbon pollution, protect our children’s health, and begin to slow the effects of climate change so that we leave behind a cleaner, more stable environment. That’s why the President put forward the Climate Action Plan last year and earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency released a vital component of that plan – common-sense carbon pollution standards for existing power plants.

The press release linked to a seven-page White House-authored paper that repeated the argument, claiming carbon-dioxide emissions cause climate change that in turn causes children to develop asthma.

“We have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that’s not irrevocably polluted or damaged. The effects of climate change are already being felt across the Nation,” the White House report claimed in the first sentences.

The second paragraph made the causal link argument: “Climate change, caused primarily by carbon pollution, threatens the health and well-being of Americans in many ways, from increasing the risk of asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses to changing the spread of certain vector-borne diseases.”

Then came a statement designed to touch the reader’s emotions: “Certain people and communities are especially vulnerable to the health effects of climate change, including children, the elderly, those with chronic illnesses, the poor, and some communities of color.”

The White House campaign to blame carbon-dioxide emissions for causing asthma was kicked off in President Obama’s weekly address May 31, delivered at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington.

“Hi, everybody. I’m here at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., visiting with some kids being treated here all the time for asthma and other breathing problems,” the president said. “Often, these illnesses are aggravated by air pollution – pollution from the same sources that release carbon and contribute to climate change. And for the sake of all our kids, we’ve got to do more to reduce it.”

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, in a press release announced the agency’s “Clean Power Plant.”

“About a month ago, I took a trip to the Cleveland Clinic,” she said. “I met a lot of great people, but one stood out – even if he needed to stand on a chair to do it. Parker Frey is 10 years old. He’s struggled with severe asthma all his life. His mom said despite his challenges, Parker’s a tough, active kid – and a stellar hockey player. But sometimes, she says, the air is too dangerous for him to play outside. In the United States of America, no parent should ever have that worry.

McCarthy proceeded to claim the EPA’s plan to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants would “deliver climate and health benefits up to $90 billion dollars,” while avoiding up to 100,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart attacks in the first year alone.

What causes asthma?

Contrary to Obama administration assertions that carbon dioxide causes asthma, the professional health care community appears stumped when asked directly to explain what causes it.

“Asthma is very common, affecting more than 26 million people in the United States, including almost 7 million children. No one knows for sure why some people have asthma and others don’t,” the website of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology notes.


You Won’t Believe Who America’s Greatest Enemy Is

Every administration must define the enemy from which they are protecting us. During the Cold War, that was easy. But since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it’s often been less self-evident.

During the Cold War, the enemy was in Moscow. The big challenge was to make neither too much, nor too little of the threat. George Kennan always argued for a tempered, measured threat assessment. On the other hand, the drafters of NSC 68, led by Paul Nitze, and Senator Arthur Vandenberg wanted to “scare the hell out of the American people.”

Getting the threat right was critical. It was the main selling point to the public about how much was enough to defend us.

But America’s long-time selling point for strategy crumbled with the Wall. No self-evident replacement arose until 9/11. From the rubble of the World Trade Center, a strategy for fighting a “global war on terrorism” (GWOT)—the “Long War”—emerged.

Then came Obama. He not only shortened the long war and banned GWOT from the rhetorical locker room, he actively participated in a campaign to delegitimize the whole endeavor. That crusade continued into the West Point speech. “[A] strategy that involves invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is naive and unsustainable,” the president told the Corps of Cadets and their assembled loved ones.

But while treating the terrorist threat dismissively, Mr. Obama went on to identify an alternative “enemy” on which to pin a grand strategy. Unfortunately, his chosen enemy is just as far removed from a pressing threat to national security as his caricature of the Bush Doctrine was divorced from the real Bush Doctrine.

The “enemy” chosen by Obama to animate America’s grand strategy is climate change. The nation’s existential goal, therefor, is “to energize the global effort to combat climate change, a creeping national security crisis that will help shape your time in uniform,” the commander-in-chief told his new troops at West Point. Apparently, the new second lieutenants will spend their careers fighting the weather.

Weather may seem an odd foe for the military. But for a progressive president, it’s the perfect choice.

Obama can’t be accused as a warmonger because he doesn’t want the military to fight anyone—he wants the military to help people.

Weather isn’t a person or a country. He risks offending almost no one.

Making climate change a national security matter also helps a president to press for other statist agenda items—from pet green energy projects to adopting the right-to-protect doctrine.

Unfortunately, as an organizing principle for national security, climate makes a terrible “enemy.” It is enormously complex and unpredictable. The unpredictability of how climate change will play out on the global stage ought to dissuade any strategist from regarding it as an organizing principle around which one can practice what Freedman calls “the art of creating power.” Basing strategy on climate would be the ultimate march of folly.

Mr. Obama may well know that. The reference to climate may be just like the rest of the address: knowingly empty rhetoric. But it does lead to a conclusion devoid of complexity and unpredictability—this speech and the vapid ideas in it will soon be forgotten.


Australia And Canada Form Climate Realist Alliance

The political leaders of Canada and Australia declared on Monday they won’t take any action to battle climate change that harms their national economies and threatens jobs.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Australian counterpart, Tony Abbott, made the statements following a meeting on Parliament Hill.

Abbott, whose Liberal party came to power last fall on a conservative platform, publicly praised Harper for being an “exemplar” of “centre-right leadership” in the world.

Abbott’s government has come under criticism for its plan to cancel Australia’s carbon tax, while Harper has been criticized for failing to introduce regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada’s oil and gas sector.

Later this week, Abbott meets with U.S. President Barack Obama, who has vowed to make global warming a political priority and whose administration is proposing a 30-per-cent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 2030.

At a Monday news conference, Harper and Abbott both said they welcomed Obama’s plan. Abbott said he plans to take similar action, and Harper boasted that Canada is already ahead of the U.S. in imposing controls on the “electricity sector.”

But both leaders stressed that they won’t be pushed into taking steps on climate change they deem unwise.

“It’s not that we don’t seek to deal with climate change,” said Harper. “But we seek to deal with it in a way that will protect and enhance our ability to create jobs and growth. Not destroy jobs and growth in our countries.”

Harper said that no country is going to undertake actions on climate change — “no matter what they say” — that will “deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country.

“We are just a little more frank about that.”

Abbott said climate change is a “significant problem” but he said it is not the “most important problem the world faces.

“We should do what we reasonably can to limit emissions and avoid climate change, man-made climate change,” said Abbott.

“But we shouldn’t clobber the economy. That’s why I’ve always been against a carbon tax or emissions trading scheme — because it harms our economy without necessarily helping the environment.”

Abbott’s two-day trip to Ottawa was his first since becoming prime minister and it quickly became evident he is on the same political page as Harper.

They are both conservative politicians who espouse the need to balance the budget, cut taxes, and focus on international trade.

Just as Harper once turned to former Australian prime John Howard for political guidance, Abbott is now turning to his Canadian counterpart as a model.

He recalled how he met Harper in late 2005, just before the federal election that brought Harper to power.

“You were an opposition leader not expected to win an election. But you certainly impressed me that day. And you’ve impressed not only Canadians but a generally admiring world in the months and years since that time.”

“I’m happy to call you an exemplar of centre-right leadership — much for us to learn, much for me to learn from the work you’ve done.”

Harper paid tribute to Abbott for the work he has done as chair of the G20, which will hold a meeting in November in Australia.

“You’ve used this international platform to encourage our counterparts in the major economies and beyond to boost economic growth, to lower taxes when possible and to eliminate harmful ones, most notably the job-killing carbon tax,” said Harper.


 Obama’s Climate Plan Faces Years Of Legal Challenges

A key concession touted by vulnerable Democrats in the administration's new carbon pollution standards may provide the greatest legal threat to the controversial new rules, the cornerstone of President Obama's climate change agenda.

The administration is giving states broad flexibility on how they meet Environmental Protection Agency targets for existing power plants to reduce their carbon emissions 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Under the rules, states may take actions to reduce pollution that aren’t directly related to power plant emissions. A state could avoid retiring a power plant by investing in cleaner technology, push energy efficiency programs that will cut demand, or invest in wind and solar, according to the EPA.

That latitude marks an unprecedented move by the agency, which typically specifies methods of reducing emissions solely for power plants.

"We gave every state the opportunity to say where they wanted investments to happen,” said EPA chief Gina McCarthy said in an interview with PBS after unveiling the proposal. “Some of them will invest in their coal units, they will get them more efficient and they will stay for a long time."

Red-state Democrats have generally been critical of the overall climate rule, but see the flexibility option as a benefit for energy industries, allowing each state to choose a method that reflects its priorities.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who faces a tough reelection battle this year, called the flexibility approach a "wise" decision by the EPA.

Legal observers, though, aren’t sure the EPA’s maneuver will pass muster in the courts.

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has the power to mandate states apply "the best system of emissions reductions," to existing power plants.

Critics say the EPA is now using a definition of “best system” that is too broad. Traditionally, the agency used “best system” to refer to specific technologies or practices to reduce pollution from plants.

Now the EPA is defining “best system” to include other flexible options states can use, including cleaner, renewable energy sources to meet the agency’s reduction targets.

A top agency official said the EPA is not bending the Clean Air Act, it is simply changing the pollutant it applies to it, and looking beyond carbon technology for ways to reduce power sector emissions.

The EPA official acknowledged that it was a completely new approach, but said the agency considered the legal implications surrounding it before proposing the rule. The official said EPA wouldn’t have issued the rule if they didn’t think it would be upheld.

But many legal experts, and even Obama's top climate adviser, John Podesta, expect challenges, putting the future of the rules in the hands of the courts once it's finalized.

A legal challenge will likely contest the flexibility or "beyond the fence" options afforded to states when determining how best to become more energy efficient.

In the case of Kentucky, prime coal country where the climate plan is under full assault, EPA estimates the state will become 17 percent more energy efficient by 2030 through reductions in carbon emissions.

Kentucky can do that by investing cleaner technology in its coal plants, which would curb carbon emissions, or they can become more efficient by joining a cap-and-trade program, or establishing energy efficiency programs for consumers.

The problem, electric utilities say, is that even if Kentucky were to invest in cleaner coal plant technology, like EPA chief McCarthy said they could, it wouldn't be enough to meet the 18 percent efficiency rate.

At best Kentucky would become 6 percent more efficient when adding new technology to a plant, forcing the state to adopt other energy policies.

"Every time the Clean Air Act has been used, it has never been to justify compliance obligations beyond the fence line of the specific source being regulated," said Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council.

"There is definitely a legal risk to creating such a broad interpretation," Segal added. "Especially since there is no precedent on this. The question is whether the EPA can base a standard on mandating demand-side controls."

In effect, courts will likely be asked if the EPA can require carbon dioxide emission reductions that are separate from power plants.

That part of the rule which power generating companies are expected to challenge, though, is one vulnerable Democrats, like Landrieu, from pro-energy states have celebrated.

Fellow Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, (Alaska) said his top priority for the rules would be the flexibility they would afford his home state.

Conservative groups are working hard to tar Begich in his energy-producing state by attempting to tie him to a number of Obama's climate policies.

The administration has tried to assuage pro-fossil fuel Democrats like Landrieu and Begich that the flexible rules will be a benefit and place the burden of reducing pollution on all states.

That concession could help the regulations weather the political storm, but at the cost of inviting an equally tough legal fight.

Robert Glicksman, professor of environmental law at George Washington University, though, said that if history is any indication, the EPA is likely to prevail.

"The EPA has at least a reasonable chance of prevailing," Glicksman said. "In recent cases the Supreme Court has noted the deference they are obliged to afford the EPA when a provision isn't clear."

But he cautioned, it could all depend on the courts.


British Banana Republic

More evidence is emerging of Britain's decline into banana republic status, driven by the politicial establishment's eccentric attachment to all things green.

"Britain may be forced to use “last resort” measures to avert blackouts in coming winters, Ed Davey, the energy secretary, will say on Tuesday.

Factories will be paid to switch off at times of peak demand in order to keep households’ lights on, if Britain’s dwindling power plants are unable to provide enough electricity, under the backstop measures from National Grid."

I am in awe of Mr Davey, who is trying to spin this as an opportunity for businesses:

"He told the Telegraph businesses were “delighted” to get paid to reduce demand. Some would not actually “switch off” and would instead fire up their own on-site generators to replace grid supplies. Others, such as large-scale refrigeration firms, could temporarily cut power without any negative effects."

Of course the reason they are "delighted" is that they are going to be paid a great deal of money for switching off and using their own generators. The fact that this is going to cost consumers a great deal of money and increase carbon emissions to boot is, of course, not worthy of a mention.



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