Sunday, May 20, 2018

Earth just had its 400th straight warmer-than-average month thanks to global warming (?)

This is a classic example of how to lie with statistics.  The 400 month figure is presented as an apparent proof of continued global warming.  It is equally consistent with continued plateauing or anything in between. It is in fact consistent with global warming having stopped. Judging by the satellite data, some initial annual warming was followed by plateauing.  So global warming has in fact stopped.  The annual temperature average rose slightly from about 1975 to 2000 and is now back at about the 2000 level

Amusing that they rely heavily below on monthly temperature levels.  Even in a year with an unchanged annual average temperature, monthly temperatures will vary greatly.  There is this thing called the "seasons", for a start.

It must be embarrassing for them that they have to report "the Earth is seeing its 5th-warmest start to the year".   Only the 5th?  The earth must be COOLING!

Also interesting that in North America the temperature COOLED.  America has a dense network of temperature measuring stations so the temperature there is much harder to "fiddle"  LOL.  As in Orwell's "1984", Warmists revise history a lot, as that disrespectful climate archivist Tony Heller often documents

It was December 1984, and President Reagan had just been elected to his second term, Dynasty was the top show on TV and Madonna's Like a Virgin topped the musical charts.

It was also the last time the Earth had a cooler-than-average month.

Last month marked the planet's 400th consecutive month with above-average temperatures, federal scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.

The cause for the streak? Unquestionably, it’s climate change, caused by humanity's burning of fossil fuels.

"We live in and share a world that is unequivocally, appreciably and consequentially warmer than just a few decades ago, and our world continues to warm," said NOAA climate scientist Deke Arndt. "Speeding by a '400' sign only underscores that, but it does not prove anything new."

Climate scientists use the 20th-century average as a benchmark for global temperature measurements. That's because it's fixed in time, allowing for consistent "goal posts" when reviewing climate data. It's also a sufficiently long period to include several cycles of climate variability.

"The thing that really matters is that, by whatever metric, we've spent every month for several decades on the warm side of any reasonable baseline," Arndt said.

NOAA's analysis found last month was the 3rd-warmest April on record globally. The unusual heat was most noteworthy in Europe, which had its warmest April on record, and Australia, which had its second-warmest.

Portions of Asia also experienced some extreme heat: In southern Pakistan, the town of Nawabshah soared to a scalding 122.4 degrees on April 30, which may have been the warmest April temperature on record for the globe, according to Meteo France.

Argentina also had its warmest April since national records began there in 1961.

North America was the one part of the world that didn't get in on the heat parade. Last month, the average U.S. temperature was 48.9 degrees, 2.2 degrees below average, "making it the 13th-coldest April on record and the coldest since 1997," NOAA said.

For the year-to-date, the Earth is seeing its 5th-warmest start to the year.

A separate analysis of global temperature data from NASA also found last month was the third-warmest April on record.

Another milestone was reached in April, also related to the number "400": Carbon dioxide — the gas scientists say is most responsible for global warming — reached its highest level in recorded history at 410 parts per million.

This amount is highest in at least the past 800,000 years, according to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.


“Evil” GE foods and “eco-friendly” organics

Misrepresentations by radical greens promote myths of GE dangers and organic benefits

Paul Driessen and Vijay Jayaraj

Across the globe, genetically engineered (GE) crops face opposition from environmental and organic food activists, who claim the crops harm the environment and endanger human health.

How factual are their claims? The evidence strongly supports GE over organic crops.

Not long ago, Vijay visited the Sprouts organic food store in San Jose, California. To his surprise, organic vegetables that had shorter shelf-life and higher risk of bacterial contamination and thus serious illness were priced two to ten times more than their GE and conventional food alternatives. The store is famous among millennial techies in the Silicon Valley and enjoys reasonable sales. One possible explanation would be the false notion that GE foods are risky or injurious to health; another is that buyers incorrectly believe organic produce have fewer pesticides, are more nutritious or better protect the environment.

But in science, neither a belief nor even a general “consensus” determines truth. A thousand people could claim the theory of gravity is wrong, but one simple scientific proof would prove their consensus false. Similarly, the safety of genetically modified foods cannot be determined by the increasingly vitriolic voices of anti-GE groups. It requires robust scientific testing by actual experts in various fields.

All the major GE foods currently on the market have been exhaustively tested and found to be safe for people, animals and the environment. Moreover, to date, Americans alone have consumed more than four trillion servings of foods with at least one GE ingredient – without a single documented example of harm to a person or the environment.

That is why more than 100 Nobel Laureates in chemistry, medicine and biotechnology have said GE foods are safe for human and animal consumption. That’s not an uninformed assertion or “consensus.” It is a professional, scientific conclusion based on thousands of risk assessment studies over several decades, as well as numerous real-world experiences.

Anti-GE activists typically use the term “genetically modified organisms” or GMOs, a pejorative coined simply to disparage the use of the most modern techniques. In fact, genetic engineering with molecular techniques is merely a more modern, rapid and precise way than traditional crop breeding methods to change or improve the genetic makeup of plants. It also enables scientists to enhance crops by introducing helpful properties like resistance to droughts, standing water or insects from one organism to another.

For example, corn varieties that integrate the Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) gene right into plant tissue greatly reduce or even eliminate the need for spraying or dusting the crops with pesticides. Golden Rice incorporates two beta-carotene biosynthesis genes (Vitamin A precursors), one from daffodils, one from a soil bacterium, so that even malnourished people get sufficient Vitamin A to prevent blindness and death.

Organic farming prohibits modern manmade pesticides. But some are used surreptitiously anyway – and many organic farmers employ “natural” but still toxic pesticides like copper sulfate and neem oil. Though they oppose Bt-engineered crops, many spray live Bt bacteria on crops, killing good and harmful insects.

Studies by Stanford University and other researchers have found that “organic” fruits and vegetables actually have lower yields and are no more nutritious than conventional or GE alternatives.

However, certain organic practices, such as fertilizing with manure, have led to contamination with dangerous fungal toxins or listeria, salmonella or E. Coli bacteria. These problems are far more common in organic produce and can lead to serious intestinal illness, kidney failure, brain damage or even death.

It can fairly be said that the anti-GE war has reached levels that are ignorant, deceptive, and even fraudulent and lethal. Activist claims about the dangers of GE foods are baseless and without bona fide evidence. They ignore the many benefits of GE crops. Moreover, many of the groups and campaigns are funded, directly or indirectly, by the organic and natural food industries and allied foundations.

GE crops are environment friendly and promote sustainable agriculture, while potentially meeting the daily food demand of seven billion people globally. They allow farmers to produce more food, from less land, using less water and fewer pesticides, and with greater resistance to droughts, floods and climate change, than would be the case with conventional crops – and certainly with organic crops. They enable farmers to grow Golden Rice and other crops that prevent malnutrition, blindness and death in children.

By contrast, organic crops require more land, more water, more labor and higher farming expenses to generate the same produce. Expanding organic farms will thus cause additional loss of wildlife habitats in a time when we are trying to nurture and protect what is left of Earth’s natural habitats.

Tuskegee University professor, dean and biotech expert C.S. Prakash points out that the percentage of land used to grow crops has increased dramatically during the past 200 years, as humanity worked to provide nutritious foods for rapidly growing populations. The ideal solution to avoid deforestation, he says, is to use GE crops, which produce much more food per acre than their non-GE counterparts.

An ardent proponent of GE in the fight against poverty and disease, Dr. Prakash worries that the anti-GE campaigns will impede our efforts to provide sufficient, affordable food in many developing countries. Moreover, non-GE crops are susceptible to many insects and diseases that GE crops are resistant to.

Much of the most important work to improve food crops genetically was done by Norman Borlaug, using pre-molecular techniques. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for developing crop variants that helped billions avoid certain death during the food crises of the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, much of the wheat, maize (corn) and rice now consumed globally are Borlaug’s crops, which are disease resistant and high yielding.

GE crops are also more climate adaptive. New variants of rice and wheat are being designed to withstand extreme climatic and geographical conditions. One important example is wheat variants that withstand a whopping 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), which was practically unimaginable just a decade ago. This can make wheat cultivation far more productive in the 40% of world’s dryland surface where conditions are hostile to normal wheat varieties.

Health Canada and the United States Department of Agriculture recently approved Golden Rice and High Fibre Wheat, respectively, thereby continuing to embrace GE crops, as they have done for years. This pro-GE stance has been echoed by international governing institutions such as the United Nations and governments of major technologically innovative countries like Israel, China and India.

Although the number of organic farms is increasing in India, its food markets are largely dominated by crops that cannot be considered organic. Organic madness has nevertheless invaded parts of India. The Indian state of Sikkim recently branded itself “organic” by banning the entry and sale of more than 25 non-organic horticultural and agricultural products. That decision has caused widespread chaos, leaving families unable to afford cereals, fruits and vegetables that otherwise would be their staple foods.

It is time to progress from unfounded fears about GE foods – and begin educating government leaders and regulators, as well as domestic and global journalists, about the safety and benefits of GE crops.

Let us begin by asking: What actual, replicable, peer-reviewed evidence do environmentalists and organic food producers and advocates have that organic foods are safer, more nutritious or more eco-friendly than conventional or genetically modified varieties? What actual, replicable, peer-reviewed evidence do they have that GE crops have harmed people or the environment in any way?

Neither we nor Dr. Prakash nor any other agricultural experts we have spoken with can find any such evidence. If environmentalists and organic food proponents cannot provide solid evidence, they should end their deceitful pro-organic, anti-GE campaigns – or be compelled to do so by government agencies and courts of law that deal in facts and sound science, instead of allegations, innuendo and intimidation.

The billion dollars spent by radical environmentalists and the organic foods industry on campaigns against GE plants would have been far better spent on approving more GE crops, upgrading agricultural practices, providing more nutritious, affordable food, and improving lives all over the world.

The lies, demagoguery and destructive tactics of anti-GE groups are poisonous to the century-long effort to eradicate food poverty across the globe. These inhumane, lethal tactics can no longer be tolerated.

Via email

Fossil Fuel Funds Have Unlikely Investors: Environmental Icons

The latest dive into the Paradise Papers by U.S. reporters has discovered nonprofits making contradictory investments.

From a 34-foot tall Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton to a herd of taxidermy elephants forever poised to charge, the American Museum of Natural History is a celebration of nature. Through its exhibits, website and other public education efforts, the New York City institution regularly encourages conservation and protecting the planet from climate change.

But, at least since 2009, the museum’s endowment fund has quietly invested millions in the oil and gas industry through an undisclosed stake in a private equity fund, reveals a report by NBC News, which joined the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in a new Paradise Papers investigation examining the offshore investments of nonprofit organizations.

The museum invested $5 million in a fund run by Denham Capital, a private equity firm that invests in oil and gas, mining and power plants. That fund has pumped money into fracking for shale oil in Ohio and Pennsylvania and made an unsuccessful bid to invest in coal in Mongolia.

The museum is one of several prominent environmental nonprofits and foundations, including the World Wildlife Fund, whose investments in fossil fuels were uncovered by NBC and other partners in a collaboration with ICIJ in a new look at the Paradise Papers, a leaked trove of 13.4 million documents, obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with ICIJ. The files revealed how endowments, foundations and other nonprofits use offshore companies and undisclosed investments to obscure where their tax-exempt dollars are flowing.

The investigation showed nonprofits repeatedly making investments that contradict their missions and lobbying in state legislatures to increase the secrecy surrounding their investments.

NBC’s findings are part of a collaboration, dubbed Alma Mater, organized by ICIJ to examine the offshore investments of U.S. tax-exempt charitable organizations. Originally designed to investigate more than 100 universities whose endowments appeared in the Paradise Papers, the project expanded to include nonprofit museums, foundations and advocacy groups. It includes reporters in California, Montana, New York and Tennessee, working for outlets ranging from national television networks to city newspapers to an independent university publication.

Among the most striking findings were the investments by environmental groups in the fossil fuel industry. Not only the American Museum of Natural History, but also World Wildlife Fund, which states publicly that “we must urgently reduce carbon pollution,” invested in the Denham Capital fund, NBC News found.

The museum told NBC News that the investments represent “a small part of our overall program for managing the Museum’s endowment” and has noted in the past that it holds no direct stock in fossil fuel companies. It has been working since 2014 to reduce its fossil fuel investments. The World Wildlife Fund told NBC News that it is trying to unwind investments in oil and gas, and that, in the meantime, it has put money into a counter investment offered by a Deutsche Bank financial instrument which loses money when fossil fuel stocks rise and earns money when they fall.

While the museum and the World Wildlife Fund are working to cut back their investments in fossil fuels, other nonprofits have resisted.

A major foundation that supports environmental causes, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, has also turned to the energy sector. The Packard Foundation invested $50 million in a fund managed by U.S.-based private equity firm Energy Capital Partners that invests in oil and gas-related operations, NBC News found.

The Packard Foundation, which states on its website that it “invests in policies and projects to transform the use of fossil fuels around the world” with its grants, told NBC News that when it comes to its endowment it seeks to maximize gains on its investments and does not avoid fossil fuels.

Universities that have taken public stances in the fight against climate changes have also behaved differently when it came to investing their endowments. Earlier this year, the University of Washington was one of 13 universities that formed the University Climate Change Coalition, an initiative to reduce carbon emissions. Yet it invested $9 million in the Denham Capital fund, NBC News noted.

The University of Washington told NBC News that it had resolved in 2015 to divest from coal, but not from other fossil fuels.

The University of Montana, which has not made similar public pronouncements about climate change, also has invested in fossil fuels. The University of Montana Foundation sent $5 million in 2007 to a fund operated by private equity firm Coller Capital, which in turn invested in a joint venture including Royal Dutch Shell, reported the Montana Kaimin, the University of Montana’s independent student newspaper.

In a previous interview with the Montana Kaimin, University of Montana President Seth Bodnar declined to commit to divesting from fossil fuels but expressed openness to considering social responsibility in judging investments.

The University of Montana Foundation has invested more than $30 million in offshore funds, the Montana Kaimin reported.

Universities go offshore

Investments in private equity firms that finance the oil and gas industry are part of a broader shift in how universities manage their endowments. The search for higher returns has led universities to move away from traditional stocks and bonds and focus on “alternative investments,” which include hedge funds, private equity funds and venture capital.

The University of Tennessee’s turn to offshore alternative strategies includes shares in at least 19 funds with a combined value of more than $200 million as of June 2017, reported ICIJ’s partners at the Memphis Commercial Appeal. These investments represent about 20 percent of the endowment, while its investments in U.S.-based stocks and bonds has dropped to about 5 percent, the Commercial Appeal found.

Overall, the percentage of university endowments in alternative investments jumped from 20 percent in 2002 to 51 percent by 2014, according a 2015 report by the Congressional Research Service.

The push for secrecy

As they have embraced alternative investments and tax havens, some universities have also pushed to keep the activities of their endowments secret. Public universities, which are subject to Freedom of Information laws, have taken some of the strongest steps.

Last year, the Board of Regents of the University of Montana System, comprised of sixteen universities and colleges across the state, signed a new contract between the system and the foundation that manages its endowment. The contract included language allowing the foundation 20 days to block public records requests to the university system in order to seek a protective order, the Montana Kaimin reported.

The University of Tennessee also acted last year to keep its endowment’s activities secret. The university successfully lobbied the state legislature to pass a law allowing the university not to disclose the fees that it pays to the funds that invest its money or the identity of the companies that these funds ultimately invest in, reported the Commercial Appeal.

University of Tennessee Chief Investment Officer Rip Mecherle told the Commercial Appeal that its offshore investments were above board and “plain vanilla.” He said that he had personally helped draft the secrecy provision at the request of the university’s money managers and that some of the best investors insist on such secrecy rules as a condition of accepting a client.

Even without new secrecy provisions like those in Montana and Tennessee, universities and other nonprofits face little scrutiny as they seek to maximize returns on holdings as large as tens of billions of dollars. Sometimes the investments conflict with goals the tax-protected institutions have publicly embraced, the Paradise Papers revealed. More often, the destination of these tax-exempt investments remains hidden from view.


Pruitt’s latest move is making the EPA more efficient in the permitting process with civil service reforms

By Natalia Castro

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been plagued with inefficiency for years. The Partnership for Public Service has ranked the EPA 22 out of 23 ineffective leadership for a mid-sized agency for the last two years in a row. The Resource for the Future, an environmental, energy, and natural resource research institution, found that the average EPA permit process takes 420 days to complete.

But now, under Administrator Scott Pruitt, the EPA is committed to fixing itself. Pruitt is taking the necessary steps to increase accountability and set clear guidelines for action. The EPA has already established over 400 metrics across all EPA programs and regional office that track monthly goals, created standardized methods of communicating monthly targets, integrated monthly business reviews for all senior leaders to review their office’s performance, and initiated new employee training.

Pruitt is also looking to hold the career employees at the agency accountable. The newly created Office of Continuous Improvement (OCI) will ensure the policies that work in some areas of the department are implemented across the agency, and hopefully, act as a model for other agencies.

In a May 14, 2018 press briefing, EPA Chief Operating Officer Henry Darwin explains, the purpose of the new office is to coordinate the agency-wide implementation of the new EPA Lean Management System (ELMS).

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers noted in March 2016 ELMS has its roots in the automotive industry, Toyota created the Lean Management system to eliminate waste from manufacturing operations. Today, engineers and manufacturing leaders use Lean Management to create clear standards of quality and expedite timelines.

The OCI will universalize these ELMS standards across the agency and oversee their success with the goal of instituting full ELMS in 80 percent of agency units by September 30, 2020 and will require programs within the EPA to submit timelines for action and engage in monthly reviews of both regional and national programs to ensure deadlines are being kept.

While this might seem like an ordinary accountability standard in the private sector, Pruitt explained in the press briefing that the EPA has failed to conduct these program reviews for years.

Pruitt further explained, until this year, the EPA did not track the time it took to complete permit requests, did not track legal deadlines set by Congress, did not measure correction and compliance rates following known violations of agency guidelines, and did not measure the number of drinking water systems out of compliance with EPA rules.

Essentially, EPA management has had little to no accountability for when projects must finish or how actions must be corrected when projects are completed inadequately. Pruitt notes, this caused vast inconsistencies between regional branches, created a disengaged workforce, and fueled mismanagement.

The Office of Continuous Improvement will give the EPA the opportunity to rebuild their reputation of waste and inefficiency, and if successful, can be used across the federal government to improve agency efficiency. Our civil service employees must be held accountable for their work the way employees in the private sector are, and what better way to do that than implement a system that has worked for private manufacturers?


Poor People Are Getting Air Conditioning — Some Say That’s Bad For Climate Change

The number of air conditioners across the world is expected to triple by 2050, stoking fears that increasing indoor climate control will spur global climate change.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) released a Tuesday report, “The Future of Cooling,” on increasing demand for in-home cooling in the coming decades. Currently, 10 percent of the world’s energy is used for keeping buildings cool, but that amount is expected to rise as hot, developing countries gain access to air conditioners.

“As incomes and standards of living increase, more people will naturally want to buy and use air conditioners to keep cool,” the report states. “Wider access to cooling is necessary, bringing benefits to human development, health, well-being and economic productivity.”

“But it will have a significant impact on countries’ overall energy demand, putting pressure on electricity grids and driving up local and global emissions,” the report states.

The IEA proposes instituting performance standards on air conditioning units to make them more energy efficient. The cooling revolution can continue simultaneously combating the worst of the increase in emissions.

Instituting standards compliant with the Paris Climate Accords — a non-binding international agreement to cut emissions and combat climate change — could double the efficiency of the world’s fleet of AC units.

The standards may adversely impact those who need air conditioning the most. Implementing energy efficiency standards may cut the cost of energy over time but increases the up-front cost of installing new appliances, according to an April 2017 Heritage Foundation report.

“The up-front costs of a more expensive light bulb or appliance may not acutely impact a wealthy or middle-income family’s budget, but the real-world implications of regulations that increase energy costs and take choices away are nothing to dismiss — especially for the poor, who could be disproportionately and severely affected through these higher up-front costs,” the report states.




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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