Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Cities Suing Big Oil Over Climate Change Forced To Answer About The Benefits Of Fossil Fuels

California cities suing over climate change must examine the benefits fossil fuels have had on civilization, per an assignment from a federal judge.

San Francisco and Oakland have initiated a lawsuit against five major oil companies in an attempt to hold them financially responsible for climate change.

The case is being heard in the United States District Court in San Francisco. The oil companies being targeted — Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell — have urged U.S. District Judge William Alsup to dismiss the case.

Environmentalists have increasing taken to the judicial branch to wage war against energy companies, with a similar lawsuittaking place in Colorado.

On Thursday, Judge Alsup gave attorneys for Oakland, San Francisco and Chevron Corp. an interesting homework assignment: create a 10-page legal analysis on whether the benefits of years of U.S. dependence on fossil fuels were worth the climate change it caused. (RELATED: An Oil Company Just Earned A Huge Settlement After Environmentalists Brought False Charges)

“We needed oil and fossil fuels to get from 1859 to the present,” Judge Alsup stated. “Yes, that’s causing global warming. But against that negative, we need to weigh-in the larger benefits that have flowed from the use of fossil fuels. It’s been a huge, huge benefit.”

Judge Alsup centered his questions on the “broader sweep of history” and the role fossil fuels played in both World Wars and the economic boom the U.S. experienced afterward. All five oil companies are seeking dismissal, but only Chevron will respond to the judge’s assignment since the other defendants are seeking dismissal on jurisdictional grounds.

“You’re asking for billions of dollars for something that hasn’t happened yet,” Alsup said during a back-and-forth with Steve Berman, the plaintiff’s attorney. “We’re trying to predict how bad global warming will be in 75 years.”


Did the Church of Scotland just dodge a climate change bullet?

YESTERDAY, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland debated a motion on the subject of climate change and, more specifically, how quickly to divest themselves of investments in fossil fuels.

In the event, wisdom prevailed, the motion falling with only 24 per cent support, but it may be that the Assembly just dodged a bullet. The harms that the motion’s proposers were seeking to avert are hypothetical, and pencilled in for a timeslot that is far in the future – but lack of access to fossil fuels causes harms that are immediate, and very, very ugly.

Here at the Global Warming Policy Foundation, we have recently published a pair of briefing papers written by Dr Mikko Paunio, an eminent Finnish epidemiologist. Paunio’s powerfully worded case is that for millions of people around the world, getting their hands on fossil fuels is their onlyhope of escape from lives that are nasty, polluted, and short.

For instance, one of the biggest causes of premature death in the developing world is diarrhoea, and the best way to fix this is to improve domestic hygiene. For that, you need convenient and abundant water supplies, which in turn depend on the availability of a reliable electricity supply. For the time being, that almost certainly means fossil fuels.

In the same countries, untold millions of lives are also blighted by indoor air pollution, mostly caused by having to cook on open stoves fuelled by crude biofuels – wood or animal dung – or by coal. The resulting death toll runs into millions every year. A decision to divest would have hindered these poor people’s chance of following the well-trodden path to cleaner air: from biofuels, to coal, to kerosene, and ultimately to grid-based energy, either electricity or natural gas.

Of course, some will object to this analysis. The other day, the BBC’s Roger Harrabin wondered why people like me don’t support the expansion of solar power in Africa. However, once you have considered the cost and the lack of availability at night, the idea becomes a bit silly. And once you further consider the cost of adding battery storage, it borders on the ridiculous.

Similarly, the “what about modern cookstoves” objection that is often bandied about is given short shrift by Mikko Paunio. In the second of his papers, he notes that “No large-scale cookstove program to date has achieved reductions in [indoor air pollution] or provided any health benefits”.

There are no simple choices here, but only a trade-off, between, on the one hand, deaths that are happening here and now, can be quantified, and for which there is a well-understood path to prevention, and on the other, a vague idea of future trouble that emerges from a series of computer simulations of the climate of the distant future.

A decision to sacrifice all those millions who are suffering in the here and now, in order to avert some hypothetical harm a century hence would have been nothing short of inhuman. Fortunately, sanity – or rather humanity – prevailed.


Is environmental damage in the eye of the beholder?

OVER more than a decade the Scientific Alliance has tried to provide a voice of reason on some important matters, often being critical of mainstream environmentalism, but hopefully supported by evidence. When it comes to something as important (and divisive) as climate change, for example, there is a very fine line to tread in keeping people reading. Preaching to the converted is ultimately futile, but engaging with the undecided, lukewarm or agnostic can help to open minds.

The fact that such pieces have continued to be quite widely read I hope means that the balance is about right. Even with this in mind, it is difficult to get approval from fellow sceptics while not alienating those who subscribe more closely to mainstream views. For me, sceptics is a word that I see in a very positive sense, all those who claim to be scientists should act as professional sceptics.

There are others whose faith will never be shaken by reasoned criticism. They are best described as Deep Greens, and for them protecting species other than our own and minimising human influence on the environment has effectively become a religion. Moderate environmentalists will hopefully continue to influence policy more than such extremists.

The environmentalist movement is in essence a campaigning one, so strong and eye-catching messages are the norm. It is easy to forget when we hear a stream of what is wrong that, by and large, the environment is now much better cared for than a few decades ago. Many of the issues highlighted in the early days of Greenpeace have now been incorporated into mainstream public policy.

Admittedly, a number of wildlife species are under pressure, often still because of changes to how we manage landscapes. Evolving arable and livestock farming are perhaps the most important factors in this overall, but it is easy to forget that farming in any form has transformed landscapes worldwide. Forests have been cleared, but this has created habitat for a wide variety of other flora and fauna.

The fall in numbers of farmland birds is often highlighted as a problem, but we are in fact comparing current numbers with those nurtured more intensively by earlier forms of farming, not with the relatively low biodiversity levels in the ancient woodlands cleared by our ancestors to provide farmland.

The very concept of environmental damage is to an extent in the eye of the beholder. What we should more accurately talk about is environmental change. Whether or not we find such changes to our liking is a matter of choice, although this does presuppose that any changes do not wipe out other species or, say, create deserts.

Politicians continue to at least pay lip service to big environmental issues, the overarching one at present being climate change. However, it is difficult not to think that the international effort to control climate – including the Paris agreement – is losing momentum as the sheer difficulty of slashing emissions without compromising our way of life becomes increasingly apparent.

The rhetoric from both Greens and politicians will remain essentially unchanged, but climate change will continue to drop down the list of priorities for the great majority of voters. At some stage, a breakthrough in energy generation or storage technology may provide an economic and secure way to decarbonise economies, in which case societies will undoubtedly follow that route. Oil will not continue to be the mainstay of the global economy ad infinitum.

But, barring that, words will continue to speak louder than action. China and India will not compromise their economic growth in the name of reducing global emissions. Action in the USA during this presidential term will be largely from the private sector (and therefore necessarily economically viable) and even the EU cheerleaders will probably disappoint campaigners by the (voluntary) action they take under the Paris agreement. In a decade or two, whatever has been achieved will probably still be claimed as at least a partial triumph for environmental activism even if (as I think likely) temperatures continue to rise more slowly than the models predict.


Due To China’s Participation, Global Warming Industry Tops $82 Billion For 2018
The global warming industry has become a big business. With China now participating, the World Bank estimates that the worldwide value of carbon pricing has reached $82 billion this year – a stunning 56 percent increase from 2017.

The World Bank released a report showing how the once-moribund carbon markets are rebounding. More states are levying carbon taxes on their people, following the example of China. The world’s top polluter unveiled a comprehensive carbon tax plan late last year.

A long-time investor and proponent of these so-called carbon markets is former US Vice President Al Gore, who applauded Chinese participation in the scheme that he has been promoting for many years.

“China’s carbon trading system is yet another powerful sign that a global sustainability revolution is underway,” Al Gore said.

“With the top global polluter enacting policies to support the Paris Agreement and transition to a low carbon economy, it is clear that we’re at a tipping point in the climate crisis”, he said.

According to the World Bank, 51 carbon pricing initiatives – comprised of 25 emissions trading schemes and 26 carbon taxes – currently exist throughout the world. It is estimated that this covers up to 20 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions, and the World Bank hopes to increase that number next year with Singapore and Argentina planning to levy a carbon tax on their people in 2018.

“Governments at all levels are starting to see the effectiveness of carbon pricing in their efforts to cut harmful carbon pollution while also raising revenues for climate and other policies, including environmental action,” said John Roome, who works as Senior Director for Climate Change for the World Bank. “As countries take stock of their Paris Agreement commitments and set a path towards increased ambition, carbon pricing mechanisms with robust pricing levels are proving to be essential elements of the toolkit.”

While the World Bank and other globalist entities push global warming and urge nations to sign onto the Paris accords and enact carbon tax schemes to combat this supposed menace, President Donald Trump is taking a different approach. He wants to bring jobs back to the United States and believes that is more important than bolstering an international carbon market at the behest of globalists.

“The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production,” Trump said last year when he officially pulled America out of the Paris agreement.


Betty Crocker: Pro-GMO And Proud Of It

There's a lot of money to be made in kowtowing to the latest dietary fads and unsubstantiated health scares. As a result, organic products -- which are sold to people based on the myths that they are safer, healthier, and tastier than conventional products -- are now a nearly $50-billion-industry in the U.S.

Other companies have noticed and jumped aboard the bandwagon. If there is money to be made, they are eager to throw science under the bus in order to prey on a scientifically illiterate populace. The proliferation of ridiculous labels -- from "non-GMO" salt to "gluten-free" water -- serves as a case-in-point. They believe the average person is ignorant enough to fall for that sort of nonsense... and they're right.

Consider Panera Bread, a company that shamelessly launched a full-frontal assault on chemistry. Last year, they ran an ad bragging that their food didn't contain scary sounding chemicals, taking a page straight out of the Food Babe's playbook. Then, they boasted that their food didn't contain artificial preservatives, apparently unaware that food waste -- something that preservatives help prevent -- is a gigantic problem that needs to be solved*.

Or consider all the money that can be made by accusing and suing food companies over perfectly safe products. An entire industry has been built around California's Proposition 65, a gold mine for unethical activists and lawyers. The latest travesty forces manufacturers to place cancer warning labels on coffee.

Given the thoroughly unscientific and litigious milieu in which we live, companies find themselves scrambling to appease the uneducated Twitter mob and apologizing for being in business. That's why it's such a breath of fresh air when a company stands up to the hysteria.

Betty Crocker: Pro-GMO and Proud of It

In response to a critic who was unhappy that one of its labels said, "partially produced with genetic engineering," Betty Crocker responded:

Fantastic response! A full-throated endorsement of biotechnology is a beautiful thing.

May Betty Crocker live long and prosper. And may companies like Panera Bread learn that honesty is a far better marketing strategy than deceitful fearmongering.

*Note: As it so happens, karma struck. Panera had to issue a recall over possible Listeria contamination.




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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