Thursday, February 01, 2018

USA Today claims it doesn't publish climate-denying op-eds. That's not true

The Leftist article below shows an absolute horror over anti-Warmist views getting any publicity at all.  Their attitudes to opposing views are thoroughly North Korean. And their objections to climate skepticism are entirely "ad hominem".  There is no reference to any scientific facts against which we could evaluate Warmism.

And in their final paragraph below they say that global warming is not getting nearly enough attention in the media.  But if you google "global warming" you get something like 50 pro-Warmist articles to about one skeptical article.  So how come they have not long ago made their case to everyone with all that support for it? That the theory is heavily at variance with the evidence they cannot consider

Each editorial USA Today publishes is accompanied by an "opposing view" op-ed that presents a counter-argument. This is a particular problem when it comes to the topic of climate change. As Media Matters has documented on multiple occasions, the newspaper's “opposing view” format regularly leads it to publish climate denial and misinformation from authors who have undisclosed fossil-fuel industry connections.

USA Today has heard from critics who have called on it to stop running climate-denying op-eds, but instead of changing its practices, the paper's editorial board is trying to defend them. Its defense does not hold up to scrutiny.

Bill Sternberg, the paper's editorial page editor, put forward that defense in a January 26 piece titled, "Why does USA TODAY pair editorials with opposing views?" From the piece:

In recent years, perhaps no debate topic has been more controversial than global warming. A number of readers and outside groups have demanded that we stop running opposing views from climate change skeptics.

We’ve tried to adhere to the rule of thumb put forth by the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York: Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but they are not entitled to their own facts.

In other words, we won’t run pieces that deny the reality of human-induced climate change. The scientific consensus on that point is overwhelming, and increasingly so.

But we will run opposing views that disagree about proposed remedies, discuss the urgency of the climate change problem compared to other problems, or raise questions about costs versus benefits.

And whenever possible, we try to disclose potential conflicts of interest, such as whether the writers, or their organizations, have received money from fossil-fuel interests.

But in fact USA Today has regularly run "opposing view" op-eds that "deny the reality of human-induced climate change." And many of them have been written by people who have "received money from fossil-fuel interests," which the paper typically fails to disclose.

A 2016 Media Matters study found that USA Today published five “opposing view” opinion pieces featuring climate denial or misinformation from January 1, 2015, through August 31, 2016. All five were written by individuals with fossil-fuel ties, which USA Today did not disclose to readers.

For example, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the Senate's leading climate denier, argued in a March 2015 "opposing view" piece that "the debate on man-driven climate change is not over," though in fact it is over. There is overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is causing climate change, as Sternberg admits in his own piece.

And, in October 2015, then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) wrote an "opposing view" op-ed claiming that “temperatures have been essentially flat for 18 years," pushing a favorite climate-denier myth that has been thoroughly discredited. USA Today did not disclose that Inhofe and Sessions had both received substantial campaign contributions from fossil fuel industry interests -- millions of dollars in Inhofe's case and hundreds of thousands in Sessions'.

More recently, in August 2017, USA Today published an op-ed casting doubt on a federal climate report; the piece was written by Chris Horner, who the paper identified only as "a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute." As Media Matters pointed out at the time, Horner's work has been funded by big fossil-fuel corporations for years. Horner has received payments from Alpha Natural Resources, one of the largest coal companies in the U.S., and has numerous other ties to the coal industry. Horner’s employer, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, has received more than $2 million from ExxonMobil over the past two decades, as well as funding from Marathon Petroleum, Texaco, the American Petroleum Institute, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, Koch Industries, and the Koch brothers' charitable foundations, among others.

But USA Today might be making modest progress on disclosure, at least. In September 2017, an "opposing view" piece by longtime climate denier Myron Ebell did acknowledge some of his conflicts of interest. The bio that ran under his piece read, "Myron Ebell is director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which has received donations from fossil fuel interests."

If USA Today recently adopted a policy of disclosing authors' fossil-fuel industry ties, that would be a modest step in the right direction. But it still needs to do more to fix its problem. Instead of giving a platform to an increasingly small group of climate deniers, whose views are far outside the mainstream, the paper should be inviting more commentary from diverse voices in the business, military, scientific, and other communities who are arguing for different kinds of climate solutions.

The country desperately needs intelligent debate about the best ways to combat and cope with climate change, not about whether climate change is a serious problem. If, as Sternberg claims, USA Today wants to make its readers "better informed," it should publish more op-eds by people who take climate change seriously and create a vibrant forum for honest and constructive back-and-forth about climate action.


We Will Make You Green

BOOK REVIEW: "Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex" by Rupert Darwall

Anyone remember the “acid rain and forest death” scare of the 1970s and 1980s? Rupert Darwall, in Green Tyranny, provides a reminder of this and much more while “exposing the totalitarian roots of the climate industrial complex”.

Acid rain caused by sulphur emissions from coal-fuelled power stations was supposedly poisoning Scandinavian and northern American soil, lakes, fishes and forests. Scandalously, the national science academies of the US, Canada, UK, Sweden and Norway said so loudly. But it was bunk, and put to rest by a 1990 report by the US government’s National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program, a decade-long US$500 million study.

Darwall is not a scientist or an academic but an investment banking and public policy wonk, with an after-hours specialty in the history of ideas. His previous book was The Age of Global Warming: A History (2013). In this new volume, his forensic rigour again puts muscle into every page.

The book gains novelty and heft by focusing on how Sweden and Germany generated the global—or rather, the West’s—renewables transformation. The Swedes (population 8 million) have been extraordinarily influential, due largely to their supposed integrity and independence from power blocs. Above all, the Swedes were father to the IPCC.

Darwall busts the stereotype with detail, such as Sweden’s refusal to accept Jews fleeing from the Nazis, and its alliance with NATO in the Cold War that was kept secret from the Swedish and world public (Sweden was not neutral at all). In a hall-of-mirrors exercise, Sweden was also used by the Soviets as a drop-box and credible source for their misinformation campaigns. These included the “nuclear winter” phoney scare, designed to undermine the US nuclear armament drive that, ultimately, led to communism’s defeat. In the twenty-first century Swedish bureaucrats continue to enforce conformity to the state line, including suppression of wayward journalism.

The “climate industrial complex” is necessarily led by the state, with its power to engorge the renewables industry rent-seekers through tax, regulations, laws and administration. “Dense networks connect state bureaucracies and regulatory bodies to universities, think-tanks, NGOs, the media, special interest groups, financiers and their lobbyists, and religious institutions,” Darwall says.

Their aim is to overwhelm business opposition, control advice to government and suppress the sensible objections to draconian renewables targets. Thus is occurring “the largest misallocation of resources in history”. As one example, Angela Merkel coerced the EU in 2007 into a legally-binding 20 per cent renewables target by 2020. This was in the absence of any technical knowhow about the grid integration, let alone the cost (which in Germany’s case alone is heading towards 1.1 trillion euros, about the same as its renovation costs for East Germany). As Darwall puts it, “Government support for wind and solar was less about assuring the survival of the unfittest than guaranteeing the triumph of the unfittest.”

That the climate-saving rationale is a sham is proven by the same environmentalists’ successful attacks on nuclear power and strivings against the dazzlingly emissions-effective fracked gas.

The climate cabal’s own-goals would be hilarious if the issues were not so world-changing. Before 2010, the environmental NGOs attacked Volkswagen as a polluter, but greased by Volkswagen million-euro donations, changed tune and lauded the company in 2012 as the world’s ecologically-nicest car-maker. Then in 2015 the sensational Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal came to light.

A far bigger scandal is the West’s subsidising or enforcing a switch from petrol cars to allegedly low-carbon-dioxide-emission diesel, such that by 2011 more than half of all Europe’s new cars were diesel. But the authorities knew from the start that diesel-based air pollution in big cities is an immediate cancer and health risk. As a London Department of Transport official who had helped draft the UK’s pro-diesel switch put it:

We did not sleepwalk into this. You are talking about killing people today rather than saving lives tomorrow. Occasionally we had to say we were living in a different world and everyone had to swallow hard.

The same authorities are now enforcing anti-diesel policies. As Darwall says, it’s a “world created by environmentalism and carbon policy monomania”.

The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research is on the front line for the climate industrial complex. Its head, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, believes the carrying capacity of the planet is under 1 billion (currently 7.6 billion) because of global warming. He has also warned of a possible “ocean heat belch” that would shock-heat the first ten kilo­metres of the atmosphere by thirty-six degrees. Schellnhuber was Angela Merkel’s top climate adviser for many years and was also appointed by Pope Francis to help write his climate encyclical Laudato Si. The Potsdam Institute, by the way, now partners with Melbourne University. Schellnhuber said at the partnership launch that global warming “has to be tackled with the best scientific evidence”.

Because the renewable targets are so destructive, a vital task of the climate industrial complex is to maintain all-pervasive faith in the supposed warming crisis (notwithstanding the now scientifically accepted finding that the climate models have exaggerated heat forecasts). Darwall believes the complex has created what he calls the “spiral of silence”, a psychological phenomenon known for half a century in which people shrink from expressing dissenting views if they believe their views would be widely unpopular.

As a local example, Robyn Williams of the ABC’s Science Show lavishes time on climate nutter Naomi Oreskes while excluding and mocking sceptics. When finally giving leading sceptics airtime last June, Williams also brought in anti-sceptic professors Andy Pitman and Steve Sherwood with their “gold star” science (Williams’s description) to dominate the conversation lest any listener be contaminated by the likes of US sceptic climatologist Judith Curry. Incidentally, Pitman’s remarks included a prediction of Sydney temperatures of up to fifty-five degrees.

But Australia’s “spiral of silence” is, thankfully, collapsing. The importance of Tony Abbott’s London sceptic speech in October was not just in telling some climate truths but also in legitimising others to defy the “consensus”. It also forced the sceptic case into the left-wing media, where a panicked Fairfax refers even in straight news to “Abbott’s ‘loopy’ speech”.

Darwall’s book abounds in surprising factoids.

• The carbon-dioxide emissions research pioneer Svente Arrhenius inspired the creation in 1922 of the State Institute for Racial Biology. The goal was selective breeding to improve racial characteristics, and one lecturer was the future Nazi “Race Pope” Hans Guenther. In 1933 the Swedes legislated for sterilisation without consent in some cases. The cause was taken up by Gunnar Myrdal (Nobel Prize for economics 1974) advocating sterilisation of “low-quality” people.

• Hitler domestically was an ardent environmentalist, at the height of the war intervening to protect German wetlands. He backed giant wind tower plans to cut coal consumption, and was still funding wind power research in 1944.

• From 2006 the revered bird-loving group the Audubon Society endorsed “clean energy” wind farms, knowing, as its US president John Flicker said, that “wind turbines sometimes kill a lot of birds”—in fact, nearly 600,000 birds a year in the US, including 80,000 raptors, as well as over 900,000 bats. “We very much appreciate Audubon’s leadership on this issue,” responded the American Wind Energy Association.

• An unintended consequence of California’s legalisation of pot smoking and production is that private indoor pot growers are now consuming 9 per cent of the state’s electricity, jeopardising the state’s emission targets. Some large growers are paying a million dollars a month in electricity bills.

Darwall is writing largely for a US audience, and the book’s timing is obviously caught short by Trump’s counter-attack in favour of fossil fuels. But Darwall’s long-term warning holds:

Global warming poses a question about the nature and purpose of the state: whether its role is to effect a radical transformation of society or whether its principal task is to protect freedom …

Delivering pre-ordained emission cuts requires a powerful administrative state. Uniquely, America’s Constitution and its separation of powers provide checks against it. This, ultimately is what is at stake in the battle of Paris and the climate war. It is a fight for America’s soul.


NY’s latest power play

Renewable energy companies aren’t building the windmills and solar panels Governor Andrew Cuomo hoped for when he pledged in 2015 to have 50 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewables by 2030. Cuomo’s latest solution? The state will build them itself.

Part GG of Cuomo’s proposed Transportation and Economic Development (TED) Article VII budget bill would let the state Power Authority, which owns and operates the massive hydroelectric dams at Niagara Falls and Massena, “finance, plan, design, engineer, acquire, construct, operate or manage” renewable energy projects, defined as “solar power, wind power, hydroelectric, and any other generation resource authorized by any renewable energy standard adopted by the state for the purpose of implementing any state clean energy standard.”

It’s difficult to overstate what type of change this represents in state energy policy, which since Cuomo was elected has been to cajole private interests into investing in utility-scale renewable energy projects without the state building them itself.

The state since 2013 has been financing green energy projects through the Cuomo-created Green Bank, which last year reported having lent $259 million for the purpose and committed another $85 million. More importantly, the state Public Service Commission’s 2016 Clean Energy Standard ordered utilities and anyone getting power directly from the grid to begin buying renewable energy credits (RECs), a mechanism by which renewable generators could remain profitable while selling electricity into the grid at a loss.

That heavy-handed approach, by which the state puts up the capital and then makes people buy the product, still isn’t delivering the desired results. The state has twice had to slash the amount of RECs it’s requiring utilities and others to buy simply because not enough eligible renewable energy is produced here (and since power generated by rooftop solar panels didn’t count toward the total).

NYPA, by the way, is authorized already to use its profits from the large hydroelectric plants to buy energy on the market, a mechanism by which it was hoping to prop up offshore wind developers as recently at 2011. This brute-force legislation would go the last mile and let NYPA build and operate them itself.

That, however, opens up a new array of problems. For one thing, NYPA would have to pay artificially inflated construction costs, since it’s subject to the state’s archaic prevailing wage law. NYPA’s expenses would also be elevated by mandatory contributions to the state pension system, the state’s arbitrary requirement to contract with minority- and woman-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) and the work rules set out in the authority’s union contracts. And all of this would be happening while NYPA’s finances are being drained by the money-losing canal system, which state legislators transferred to the Authority last year.

It is, in short, the Cuomo administration’s last resort.

The move is likely necessary to maintain even the appearance New York is making progress toward the governor’s ballyhooed “50-by-30” goal of having half the state’s electricity come from renewables by 2030. That target, the Empire Center explained in 2016, raises significant cost, land-use and transmission issues, all while New York simply isn’t the most practical place to deploy solar panels or wind turbines.

The difficulty in reaching 50 percent is compounded by the artificial constraints placed on the state’s own initiatives. All Canadian hydroelectric power—and any existing renewable generators—are disqualified from competing for the newest set of renewable energy subsidies. And, as noted in this space previously, the renewable push itself has been something of a green smokescreen for the Clean Energy Standard’s real purpose: a multi-billion dollar bailout of upstate nuclear plants toward which 99.3 of related funds will flow by the end of 2018.

The governor’s criticism of New York’s renewable energy spending in his written 2013 State of the State message still holds true: “despite all of this spending, NYS is not on track to achieve its clean energy goals.”


A 'Climate Skeptic' Just Took Charge Of EU Environment Policy

Neno Dimov, the man who took over as the president of the EU's Environment Council on Jan. 1, got an earful yesterday when he appeared before members of the European Parliament. Some of his past words were coming back to haunt him.

Lawmakers were aghast that a man who once called climate change a fraud and described himself as an opponent of climate science was going to be coordinating the EU's environment policy for the next six months.

“You personally have been questioning climate change and whether human activity is the cause; you even challenged the theory of sea-level rise,” Dutch Liberal MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy said to him. Other MEPs demanded he clarify his personal stance.

Dimov demurred. He would not say anything about his personal opinion on climate change, noting only that there is a "political consensus" within the EU on climate change and that he will "keep this consensus alive." However, he said, there is always room for "challenges and doubts." A vocal admirer of U.S. President Donald Trump, Dimov has in the past said global warming is being used as a tool of intimidation.

Musical Chairs

So how did the EU end up with a climate-skeptic environment chief?

The European Union, always keen to avoid the impression of being centralized around Brussels, has a variety of traditions meant to diffuse power throughout the bloc.

One of these is the "rotating presidency." Every six months, one of the EU's 28 member countries takes charge of the Council of the EU – the bloc's upper chamber, made up of ministers from each of the national governments. Each of the Council's policy configurations – for instance, the Agriculture Council, made up of the 28 different agriculture ministers – is chaired by the presidency country.

As Bulgaria's environment minister, Dimov will chair the Environment Council until the end of July. This means he will set the agenda and conduct negotiations with the European Parliament on behalf of all the member states. The Council does not propose legislation – that task falls to the Commission, the EU's executive branch, and its environment commissioner, Karmenu Vella. But Dimov will still have the power to steer important pieces of legislation over the coming months.

Dimov became Bulgaria's environment minister in May of last year, and shortly afterward he gave a TV interview saying that "climate change is a scientific debatŠµ; there is no consensus, and every part has arguments." He said that he is one of the opponents.

In 2015 he said in an online video that global warming is a "fraud … used to scare the people." "The melting of the ice will not raise the sea level even with a millimeter," he said. "The main factor for climate change is solar activity."

But it is Dimov's stance on sustainability and preservation issues that have riled environmentalists in his home country. He is currently embroiled in controversy over his decision to open up protected nature areas in the country to development, including for a large new ski resort. Earlier this week, Bulgarian environmentalists gathered in front of the Council of the EU to give a jar of fresh air from one of the nature reserves to Dimov as he arrived in Brussels for his meetings.

"There are big protests in a lot of cities in Bulgaria and abroad because of the National Park Pirin, and we want Neno Dimov's resignation as a main wish of the protests," says Danita Zarichinova of Friends of the Earth Bulgaria. "He's made total chaos in the ministry on the politics of air pollution, plastics, Natura 2000 zones and so on."

Dimov is no stranger to environmental issues. He has built his career portraying himself as a fair-handed and reasonable arbiter, striking a balance between environmental protection and economic development. "We must have some symbiosis between these two trends, if we want to improve the standard of our living as they both determine the quality of life," he told Bulgaria's Focus Radio this month. "This is actually what I was trying to achieve from the very beginning."

Dimov served as Bulgaria's deputy minister of the environment from 1997 to 2002, during which time he was also a member of the management board for the EU's European Environment Agency – somewhat analogous to the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States.

Afterward, he conducted Bulgaria's EU accession negotiations in the field of environment. He has written a book critical of environmental red tape, called "From Environmentalism to Freedom.”

Dimov will not be the traditional president of the Environment Council, where previous minister-presidents have tended to come from either purely political or environmentalist backgrounds.

In this way, he may find common cause with a counterpart across the Atlantic. Scott Pruitt, the new head of the U.S. EPA, has a similar background of crusading against environmental red tape and casting doubt on climate change.


Australia: Classrooms powered by renewable energy to be trialled in NSW schools

This sounds like fun.  What happens when it is an overcast day?  Do the kids alternately freeze and boil?
School children across Australia could soon be taught in classrooms powered entirely by renewable energy as a result of the innovative ‘Hivve’ modular classroom, now being trialled in two New South Wales schools.

On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing Hivve Technology Pty Ltd with $368,115 in funding to pilot their modular classrooms in a school environment.

Known as the ‘Hivve’, the portable classroom incorporates solar PV generation, real time energy metering, CO2 metering, data capture and communications to actively manage energy demands and control indoor environment quality.

Each Hivve classroom has the potential to generate enough electricity to power itself and two other classrooms in the school.

A regular classroom can consume on average 3,800 KWh per year, but when a HIVVE classroom is in use, there is an estimated net energy generation of 7,600 KWh per year.

Ready for the start of 2018 school year this week, the two pilot classrooms are being trialled at St Christopher’s Catholic Primary School in Holsworthy in Sydney’s south western suburbs and at Dapto High School in Dapto where the performance of the Hivve classrooms will be monitored and evaluated over a 12 month period.

A prototype building built by Hivve Technology Pty Ltd has successfully demonstrated the functionality in a controlled environment and this will be the first time the Hivve classroom and technology has been trialled in a real school.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said there was enormous potential for Australia’s public schools to not only educate on renewables, but also reduce their reliance on the grid.

“This is a great way to get the next generation involved in renewables at an early age and educate them as to what the positive benefits will be as Australia continues its shift towards a renewable energy future,”

“The success of the Hivve project could lead to a nation-wide adoption of the modular classrooms, reducing reliance on the grid and even providing a significant amount of electricity back to the NEM.” Mr Frischknecht said.

Hivve Director David Wrench said the Hivve Technology was conceived and designed to deliver sustainable solutions – both environmental and economic – to help meet Australia’s growing school infrastructure needs.

“We are very pleased to be partnering with ARENA on this exciting project. We have carefully designed every element of the Hivve classroom to create the best possible learning environment for students”, Mr Wrench said.

Media release from



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