Friday, June 16, 2017

Greenie obsessions just killed a lot of people

12 confirmed dead and death toll will rise after huge inferno broke out at a residential tower block in London. It was welfare housing. “When this block was built, it complied with the old fire regulations. Had it been left alone it would never have burned like this.”

Ministers were warned numerous times over the cladding that turned the Grenfell Tower into an inferno but ignored the advice of fire experts, it has been revealed.

The Home Office was handed a damning report after hundreds of residential tower blocks were surveyed in the 1990s - but did nothing.

The study, carried out by architect Sam Webb, found that half of the buildings inspected did not meet basic fire safety regulations.

He told the Guardian: 'We discovered a widespread breach of safety, but were simply told nothing could be done because it would make too many people homeless.'

Dozens of people are feared dead and many others remain missing after the devastating blaze ripped through the Grenfell housing block.

Seventy eight people were taken to hospital, with 18 fighting for lives in critical condition, as more than 600 residents tried desperately escape the flames that broke out at around 1am on Wednesday.

Fears have since emerged that new plastic cladding was a main factor in the fire and caused the tower to 'light up like a matchstick'.

The rain-proof cladding was installed at the block in White City, west London, in May 2016 as part of a £10million refurbishment but claims say it helped the fire spread quickly from the fourth to 24th floor.

The former chairman of the tenancy organisation connected to Grenfell said the fire was a 'scandal' that could have been avoided.

Reg Kerr-Bell said he stood down from the Kensington and Chelsea Tenancy Management Organisation (KTMO) several years ago over his concerns about the way it was run. He said: 'This is a scandal. This is one of the biggest scandals in the country - and it could have been avoided.'

He added: 'This refurbishment contract should never have been managed by KTMO. It was too big for them. My great concern was about the viability of the project.'

 He said he met a former director two days ago to discuss his concerns. 'We felt there was a disaster waiting to happen and we were going to have a meeting with the MP so that we could put these concerns to them.

'That was two days ago and today he phoned me and said: 'You will not believe what is going on'. 'It is not going to finish with this - this is just the start.'

A series of blunders are being blamed for the disaster with residents claiming there were no working fire alarms, no sprinklers and the only staircase leading to safety was blocked.

Experts were last night focusing their blame for the scale of the disaster on external cladding fitted to the block only last year.

It was made from metal panels and slabs of a polystyrene-like material, separated by a small cavity, fixed to the concrete surface of the outside of the tower.

Together with new windows, the cladding was meant to boost the building's energy efficiency, protect against the weather and smarten up the look of the 1970s facade.

But it appears to provide a fatal conduit for the flames to leap from one flat to another, with witnesses saying the outside of the block ignited 'like a firelighter'.

There are fears that hundreds of high-rise blocks across the UK are fitted with similar materials – even though MPs warned of the potential fire risk nearly 20 years ago.

A report in 1999 by the Environment, Transport and the Regions select committee said: 'We do not believe that it should take a serious fire in which many are killed before all reasonable steps are taken towards minimising the risks.'

The MPs highlighted concerns that the air cavity between the layers of cladding can act as a chimney, helping the fire spread rapidly upwards. Their report demanded that 'all external cladding systems should be required either to be entirely non-combustible, or to be proved through full-scale testing not to pose an unacceptable level of risk in terms of fire spread'.

But the method was popular as councils sought to meet insulation standards laid out under the Blair Government's £22billion Decent Homes Programme, which ran from 2000 to 2010. It continued to be used even after the 2009 fire at the 14-storey Lakanal House in Camberwell, South East London, which killed six people.

Sam Webb, a fire safety expert who helped gather evidence after that tragedy, said last night there was a conflict between safety and the materials used to make buildings more energy efficient.

'They are not fire-resistant and in some cases they're flammable,' he said. Fires involving cladding have also occurred in Australia, Russia and the Arabian Peninsula – adding to the serious safety concerns.

Grenfell Tower was clad last year as part of an £8.6million refurbishment by East Sussex-based builders Rydon, which said yesterday that its work 'met all required building controls'.

Yet the company admits on its website that the insulation material used, Celotex RS5000, 'will burn if exposed to a fire of sufficient heat and intensity… [and] toxic gases will be released with combustion'.

Design specifications seen by the Mail suggests Grenfell Tower had 150mm (6in) of Celotex RS5000 insulation and overcladding made from ACM – aluminium composite material – with a 50mm (2in) 'ventilated cavity' in between.

ACM is also potentially highly flammable and rescuers yesterday faced the hazard of blazing metal panels raining down on them as they tried to enter the building.

Arnold Tarling, chartered surveyor and fire expert with property firm Hindwoods, said the air cavity could create a 'wind tunnel [that] traps any burning material between the rain cladding and the building'.

Had there merely been one layer of insulation, this could have fallen off and fallen away from the building but the metal cladding meant it was all contained inside.

'Not all insulation used in the process is the more expensive non-flammable type,' he said. 'So basically you have got a cavity with a fire spreading behind it.'

Dr Kostas Tsavdaridis, associate professor of structural engineering at the University of Leeds said: 'The fire seems to have spread inside the building but also outside.

'Some materials used in facades act as significant fire loads: in most cases they are high-temperature resistant instead of fire resistant. But even if they are, smoke and fire will spread through the joints.'

Grenfell Tower was equipped with metal overcladding by Harley Facades Limited, another East Sussex-based firm.

The company, which installed but did not manufacture the panels, said they were a 'commonly used product'. Managing director Ray Bailey said: 'At this time, we are not aware of any link between the fire and the exterior cladding to the tower.'

Celotex, which is based near Ipswich, said: 'Our records show a Celotex product (RS5000) was purchased for use in refurbishing the building. We will assist with enquiries from the relevant authorities.'

Plans for the externals works at Grenfell Tower were approved by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

In May 2016, once work was completed, council leader Nick Paget-Brown said: 'It is remarkable to see how the cladding has lifted the appearance of the tower and how the improvements inside people's homes will make a big difference to their lives.'

The tower's management facing a possible gross negligence manslaughter case it has emerged


The Bureaucrat Behind the Curtain
“Pay no attention to that man behind that curtain!” The Wizard of Oz had a good reason for trying to distract Dorothy when his true identity was revealed in the 1939 classic film. The last thing he wanted was for her to figure how things really operated.

Oz isn’t the only place where people are ignorant of who operates quietly in the shadows. The federal government is rife with people who do their jobs away from the spotlight, wielding a measure of influence that can even outweigh that of their bosses.

Take the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). You may be aware that its current administrator is a man appointed by President Trump — Scott Pruitt. But there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Francesca Grifo, the agency’s “scientific integrity official.”

And frankly, that’s fine by Ms. Grifo. The less you know about her and many other unelected bureaucrats, the easier their jobs are. Especially because Ms. Grifo’s current job appears to be trying to subvert Mr. Pruitt’s.

Ms. Grifo was hired in 2013. Her position as scientific integrity official grew out of President Obama’s stated goal to “restore science to its rightful place,” as he put it in his 2009 Inaugural address.

Like so many other titles and goals, it all sounds pretty harmless. But as Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel recently pointed out, a political motive was at work. This was, she writes, Mr. Obama’s “way of warning Republicans that there’d be no more debate on climate change or other liberal environmental priorities.”

Ms. Grifo came to the agency from the far-Left Union of Concerned Scientists, so you can imagine why she was selected. You can also imagine what her job boils down to now that Donald Trump is president: thwarting his agenda as much as possible.

Toward that end is a meeting she’ll be hosting soon with numerous groups to discuss ways to pursue “scientific integrity.” The initial guest list read like a who’s who of the liberal environmental movement: Earthjustice, Public Citizen, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Progressive Reform, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, and yes, the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“This is a government employee using taxpayer funds to gather political activists on government grounds to plot — let’s not kid ourselves — ways to sabotage the Trump administration,” Ms. Strassel writes. (Since then, some conservative groups have been invited as well, but it took Ms. Strassel’s column to do it.)

It isn’t just disagreements over policy that fuels the behind-the-scenes activities of bureaucrats such as Francesca Grifo. They surely have their eyes on the budget cuts that the president has proposed to climate programs.

Climate Wire called his budget “a slap in the face.” To Scientific American, it’s a “slaughter.” Think Progress deems it “a punitive assault on science, the environment, and indeed the planet.”

But as environmental experts Katie Tubb and Nicolas Loris point out in a piece for The Daily Signal, all this hyperventilating lacks context.

For one thing, some cuts to the federal government’s sizable climate budget are clearly in order: At least 18 agencies administer climate change activities, to the tune of $77 billion between fiscal years 2008 and 2013.

There’s a lot of wasteful spending in there, such as $700,000 to a global warming musical, and an EPA grant for “green” nail salon concepts in California. Moreover, Ms. Tubb and Mr. Loris note, most of the money goes to “green” tech rather than to science, wildlife or international aid. “Even after the president’s proposed cuts,” they write, “there is plenty of money left in the federal budget to study and model the climate.”

If President Trump wants to make any headway at the EPA and other federal agencies, he needs to do more than appoint good people to run them. He needs to make sure that the people behind the curtain aren’t working to undermine him.


Getting more coal and nuclear power on the grid should be a priority

Nearly 100 people are back to work in Pennsylvania, where the newly opened Corsa Coal Corporation’s Acosta Mine in Somerset County, Pa. will produce 400,000 tons of coal annually for 15 years. President Trump vowed to end the war on coal and prioritize job growth, this mine opening shows he is already on his way to making this dream a reality.

Trump praised the mine’s opening in the Rose Garden while he announced the United States withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, the gesture was meant to highlight Trump’s focus on returning jobs and stable energy to the nation over environmental policy.

President Trump could not have selected a more pressing time to make this announcement, as weakening infrastructure in our nations power grid has halted economic growth and placed our entire country at greater risk for rolling blackouts.

Despite being a “resilient” energy source — meaning they have the ability to withstand natural disasters, supply shortages, and even terror attacks — coal and nuclear energy have been largely replaced in favor of natural gas and “cleaner” energy sources.

President Obama’s war on coal gave the EPA unprecedented power to close coal mines that were deemed environmentally harmful, forcing coal electricity production to shrink from 49 percent of the grid to just 31 percent and nuclear energy production unchanged since 2007, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration(EIA).

At this rate, the United States has reduced usage of needed energy sources so significantly, its putting the entire nations energy supply at risk.

Overall electricity generation in the U.S. has dropped from 4.005 trillion kWh in 2007 to 3.92 trillion kWh in 2016, but while this has happened end use has only decreased from 3.89 trillion kWh to just 3.853 trillion kWh, placing additional strain on stretched grid capacity.

Meanwhile, the government under former President Barack Obama created federal subsidies for green industries, despite the reality that neither wind nor solar energy produce consistent or enough power to meet our country’s electricity demands.

The stunted growth of nuclear energy and reduction of coal energy has proven to be a catalyst for economic devastation as well. In Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana the coal sectors decreased by 49 percent, 44 percent and 37 percent, resulting in nearly 50,000 coal jobs lost during Obama’s presidential term.

President Trump has made a great start on reopening the coal industry, but regulations are still prevalent throughout both the coal and nuclear energy sector, including the 2009 Carbon endangerment finding as well as the new and existing coal power plant regulations.

On the nuclear front, in the last 20 years, only one nuclear plant has been successfully opened according to the EIA. In fact, the EIA reports that nuclear energy’s share of the nation’s electricity generating capacity will continue to drop from 20 percent to 11 percent by 2050, coinciding with a predicted growth in electricity demand of up to 92 percent over the same period of time.

The reason for the decrease? Regulations by the federal government which have made nuclear energy unattainable.

The Morning Consult of June 2017 explains, “Nuclear-powered plants can produce reliable, base-level electricity…with zero carbon emissions. Engineering innovations have resulted in advanced nuclear reactors that are much safer, more efficient, and more affordable than reactors currently in use…Unfortunately, regulatory requirements here at home have driven the cost of bringing new reactor technology to market so high that power companies are instead lobbying for billions in subsidies to keep decades-old technology in operation… Innovation has put to rest many of the safety concerns that regulation was meant to protect us from.”

Instead of fostering this innovation and generating energy that can meet our national demands, the U.S. is relying on archaic laws regarding nuclear energy — all the while shutting down Yucca Mountain, the only permanent place in the country to store spent nuclear fuel.

For example, Gerald Ford asserted in 1976 that nuclear energy could not be recycled due to the possibility of creating nuclear explosives. This, despite admitting in his October 28, 1976 Statement on Nuclear Policy that, “nuclear energy represents one of the best hopes for satisfying the rising world demand for energy with minimum environmental impact and with the potential for reducing dependence on uncertain and diminishing world supplies of oil.”

Somehow, France, Great Britain, and Japan have all successfully generated energy from recycled and reprocessed nuclear fuel and have never managed to accidently make a nuclear weapon. France todays generates 80 percent of its electricity needs with nuclear power — much of it generated through recycling old fuel.

The opening of this coal mine in Pennsylvania was a great step toward stable energy for our country, but President Trump needs to take it a step further. In order to secure our energy grid with coal and nuclear power to prevent millions from losing power, Congress and the President must continue removing regulations, allow nuclear reprocessing, reopen Yucca Mountain and expedite review and ultimately the rescission of the Clean Power Plan.

The former Obama Administration harmed the energy security of the entire country, now we are a step closer to getting our power back. But Congress and the President still have much to act upon.


Elevated CO2 Stimulates the Growth of Sunflower Plants
Paper Reviewed: Gong, X.Y., Schäufele, R., Lehmeier, C.A., Tcherkez, G. and Schnyder, H. 2017. Atmospheric CO2 mole fraction affects stand-scale carbon use efficiency of sunflower by stimulating respiration in light. Plant, Cell and Environment 40: 401-412.

As one of the top 35 crops in terms of global food production, it is important to understand how sunflower (Helianthus annus) plants will respond to increases in the air's CO2 content. The latest study to do just that comes from Gong et al. (2017), who grew sunflower seeds (cv Sanluca) in plastic pots in controlled environment chambers under CO2 concentrations of 200 (low treatment) or 1000 ppm (high treatment) for a period of 42 days.

At the end of the experiment, Gong et al. report that elevated CO2 increased plant dry mass (g per plant) by 52 percent and plant photosynthesis by 91 percent. In addition, the aerial fertilization effect of elevated CO2 led to increases in net and gross primary productivity of 77 and 90 percent, respectively (see figure below). Furthermore, the authors report that stomatal conductance "showed a clear reduction, and intrinsic water use efficiency showed a clear increase with CO2" as well.

In light of the above, it would appear that, in the future, sunflower plants (and the farmers who grow them) will reap the growth-enhancing and water-saving benefits provided by rising levels of atmospheric CO2.


Australia: Greenies lose another attempt to block a mega coal mine

ANTI-Adani activists have lost another case in the courts after the Supreme Court today dismissed an appeal against the approval of the Abbot Point coal terminal expansion, near Bowen.

The expansion project, which went through three environmental impact studies, will be expanded as part of the $US16.5 billion Carmichael Mine, port and rail development.

The appeal was brought by the Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping, which said the decision meant it was a dark day for the reef.

The defeat of the appeal means that the only remaining case against the mine is the Australian Conservation Foundation’s appeal against the Federal Government’s environmental approval.

Native title issues were resolved by legislative amendments passed by the Federal Senate yesterday.

WRAD’s spokeswoman Sandra Williams said her group would continue to fight for the reef, but her lawyers said it would have to consider the judgement before deciding on any further appeals.



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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello, you have half the story on the Grenfell fire. The other half of the story is the refirgerator which caused the fire:

Are Britains fridges safe?

"While many in the industry preferred R134a, environmental groups and Greenpeace in particular, championed hydrocarbons as the natural alternative as they are non-ozone-depleting and non-global warming. Despite industry concerns as to its flammability, isobutane has become the standard domestic refrigerator gas and has become popular in certain plug-in commercial refrigerators. Only last month Waitrose announced that it was to use hydrocarbons in the refrigeration systems of all its new stores and refurbs.

Greenpeace developed Greenfreeze technology in 1992 utilising isobutane and propane "