Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Trump’s EPA Outpaces Obama in Cleaning Up Hazardous Waste Sites

President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency has cleaned up more polluted or contaminated sites in less time and at a faster pace than the Obama administration did in all of 2015 and 2016, according to an analysis of government records by The Daily SIgnal.

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the EPA’s Superfund Task Force Report, which includes a list of 42 recommendations for federally funded cleanup efforts at hundreds of polluted and even toxic sites.

An EPA press release highlights progress the agency has made in acting on the task force’s recommendations, including “more direct attention to the sites potentially eligible for partial or full deletion” from the federal Superfund list.

Since Trump took office in January 2017, EPA officials have cleaned up all or part of 13 listed sites, compared with nine sites cleaned up by the Obama administration in 2015 and 2016.

A total of 1,345 sites remain on the Superfund list, according to the EPA.

The agency released a video highlighting Superfund success stories from around the country.

In 1980, Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act. Widely known as the Superfund program, it provides funds for cleaning up thousands of contaminated sites across the country that include such contaminants as lead, asbestos, dioxin-infused soil, and radiation.

Contaminated locations include industrial facilities, landfills, and mining sites, according to a page on the EPA website detailing the Superfund’s history.

The parties responsible either must clean up the sites themselves or cover the cost of EPA cleanups. If no party is found responsible for contamination, the program provides the EPA with the money and authority to perform the cleanup.

The EPA distinguishes between full and partial deletions of sites from the Superfund list, which the agency uses to identify and prioritize sites that warrant investigation because they are known to have hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants.

Full deletions occur from the Superfund list “when all the remedies are successfully implemented and no further cleanup is required to protect human health or the environment.” Partial deletions occur when portions of a site are cleaned up while others require additional remediation, according to an EPA release.

The agency’s annual list of full and partial deletions of Superfund sites shows the Trump administration well ahead of where remediation efforts were during the final two years of Barack Obama’s eight years as president.

The Trump administration potentially could double the amount of sites deleted from the Superfund list in its first two years, in comparison to what the Obama administration recorded in 2015 and 2016.

“For decades, the Superfund program has been a bonanza for lawyers and remediation companies and a bust for the communities in which the sites are located,” Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, told The Daily Signal in an email, adding:

Only now, under the Trump administration, has cleaning up contaminated sites and returning them to local communities in a timely fashion and at an acceptable cost become a priority for EPA.

The average time from Superfund designation to completion of cleanup at a site was about 15 years. This means that an EPA employee assigned to the Superfund program could spend a 30-year career at the agency and oversee the cleanup of a grand total of two sites.

This is an absurd waste of public and private resources, and the Trump EPA is to be applauded for bringing sanity to a program where it has been long absent.

The 2018 update to the task force report says that over the next year, the agency will “continue to expedite cleanups and move sites towards deletion.”

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is scheduled to mark the one-year anniversary of the Superfund task force at an event Wednesday in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

“EPA has improved the health, living conditions, and economic opportunity of thousands of people living near Superfund sites over the past year as the agency worked to implement the Task Force recommendations,” Wheeler said in a press release.

“I am proud of the accomplishments achieved by EPA’s hardworking staff, and we will continue to engage directly with stakeholders and communities near Superfund sites to accelerate cleanup and promote economic revitalization. Our plan to complete Task Force recommendations by the end of 2019 will ensure this work continues as one of EPA’s highest priorities.”


Can We Trust Experts?

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers predicted that if Donald Trump were elected, there would be a protracted recession within 18 months. Heeding its experts, a month before the election, The Washington Post ran an editorial with the headline “A President Trump could destroy the world economy.” Steve Rattner, a Democratic financier and former head of the National Economic Council, warned, “If the unlikely event happens and Trump wins, you will see a market crash of historic proportions.”

When Trump’s electoral victory became apparent, Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman warned that the world was “very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight.” By the way, Krugman has been so wrong in so many of his economic predictions, but that doesn’t stop him from making more shameless predictions.

People whom we’ve trusted as experts have often been wrong beyond imagination, and it’s nothing new. Irving Fisher, a distinguished Yale University economics professor in 1929, predicted, “Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” Three days later, the stock market crashed. In 1945, regarding money spent on the Manhattan Project, Adm. William Leahy told President Harry S. Truman, “That is the biggest fool thing we have ever done. The (atomic) bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives.”

In 1903, the president of the Michigan Savings Bank, advising Henry Ford’s lawyer not to invest in Ford Motor Co., said, “The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty — a fad.” Confidence in the staying power of the horse was displayed by a 1916 comment of the aide-de-camp to Field Marshal Douglas Haig at a tank demonstration: “The idea that cavalry will be replaced by these iron coaches is absurd. It is little short of treasonous.”

Albert Einstein predicted: “There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.” In 1899, Charles H. Duell, the U.S. commissioner of patents, said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Listening to its experts in 1936, The New York Times predicted, “A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.”

To prove that it’s not just academics, professionals and businesspeople who make harebrained predictions, Hall of Fame baseball player Tris Speaker’s 1919 advice about Babe Ruth was, “Taking the best left-handed pitcher in baseball and converting him into a right fielder is one of the dumbest things I ever heard.” For those of us not familiar with baseball, Babe Ruth was one of the greatest outfielders who ever played the game.

The world’s greatest geniuses are by no means exempt from out-and-out nonsense. Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was probably the greatest scientist of all time. He laid the foundation for classical mechanics; his genius transformed our understanding of physics, mathematics and astronomy. What’s not widely known is that Newton spent most of his waking hours on alchemy. Some of his crackpot experiments included trying to turn lead into gold. He wrote volumes on alchemy, but after his death, Britain’s Royal Society deemed that they were “not fit to be printed.”

Then there’s mathematical physicist and engineer Lord Kelvin (1824-1907), whose major contribution was in thermodynamics. Kelvin is widely recognized for determining the correct value of absolute zero, approximately minus 273.15 degrees Celsius or minus 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit. In honor of his achievement, extremely high and extremely low temperatures are expressed in units called kelvins. To prove that one can be a genius in one area and an idiot in another, Kelvin challenged geologists by saying that Earth is between 20 million and 100 million years old. Kelvin predicted, “X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” And he told us, “I can state flatly that heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”

The point of all this is to say that we can listen to experts but take what they predict with a grain or two of salt.


Norwegians Quietly Revolt Against Tesla

Slow repairs in Norway hint at troubles as the automaker grows

After a fender-bender with his Tesla Model S last February, Tor Havard Wiig figured he’d be back on the road within a week or two. Five months on, he’s still waiting on parts—and he’s ready to sell the two-year-old car.

The delay and scant communication from Tesla Inc. show “there’s a lot lacking there,” said Wiig, a 43-year-old technology consultant in the Norwegian coastal city of Bergen. “I never expected it to take so long to fix such minor damage.”

As Tesla sales boom in Norway, customers are grousing about a dealership network and service operation that have failed to keep pace. Though Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk says the level of output Tesla has reached this summer means it’s finally become a real car company, the experience in Norway suggests Tesla’s woes don’t stop at the assembly line. Musk has struggled to ramp up production of a cheaper sedan, the Model 3, and the company is said to have pressed suppliers to return cash paid for components.

In Norway, where plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles made up more than half of new car sales last year, Tesla is the lowest-ranked automaker on a list of brands for quality of service, and fourth-worst among companies in all sectors.

Tesla has slipped up as sales in Norway for its Model S sedan and Model X SUV—with prices ranging from about $80,000 to $130,000 in Norway—more than doubled last year and jumped another 70 percent through June. Its repair staff, by contrast, has grown only by a third—highlighting the potential troubles it may face as electric cars become more commonplace.

“You could probably call it growing pains,” said Christina Bu, secretary general of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association, a group that represents car owners. “They’re heading at full speed into a mass market where customers will demand better service. Norway is the first country where this is really happening.”

Musk has said Norwegians were right to be upset, but blames authorities for not acting fast enough to greenlight a plan to dispatch repair technicians to customers’ homes. While some talks have taken place, Tesla hasn’t filed a formal application for mobile service centers, Norwegian officials say.

Tesla says it’s planning to open a new repair shop in Oslo this year and that satisfaction with its service is rising as it has expanded its team of technicians by 30 percent. Norway’s leading recruitment website, Finn.no, shows 33 jobs for Tesla parts advisers, technicians, and mechanics posted this month alone. BMW AG and Volkswagen, with top-selling e-cars, show none.

“They’ve hired many people already,” said Satheesh Varadharajan, head of the Tesla Owners Club Norway, which has more than 3,000 members.  “It’s not like they’re standing still. They’re pushing like crazy.”

As Tesla stumbles, traditional automakers—with well established service networks—are adding models and boosting output. Jaguar this year introduced its $80,000 I-Pace crossover, with a driving range of 298 miles, versus 237 miles for a similarly priced Model X. Next year, Mercedes-Benz will unveil the EQ C crossover, and Volkswagen is planning a new electric hatchback to face off with Tesla’s Model 3.

Plug-ins and battery-powered cars already play a major role in the nation of 5.3 million people that gets its electricity almost exclusively from hydro plants. But as Norway aims to make all new cars sold in the country battery-powered by 2025—a target it will reach only with lavish subsidies paid for by sales of oil—automakers will need to fix their service hiccups.

A recent survey by the electric vehicles association showed that an increasing number of owners report waiting to get a spot at a charging station. A shortage of charging sockets has become the second-most cited reason for not buying an electric car, after concerns about driving range.

For now, Tesla can rely on the kind of goodwill reserved for underdogs, though this is likely to change as it grows and shifts the balance of its production away from luxury vehicles and toward the mass market.


Top Trump officials clash over plan to let cars pollute more

Senior administration officials are clashing over President Trump’s plan to roll back a major environmental rule and let cars emit more tailpipe pollution, according to 11 people familiar with the confrontation.

The officials are in disagreement over whether the proposal can withstand legal challenge.

The rollback, one of the most consequential proposals of the Trump administration, not only would permit more planet-warming pollution from cars, it would also challenge the right of California and other states to set their own, more restrictive state-level pollution standards.

On one side is the Environmental Protection Agency’s acting chief, Andrew Wheeler, who has tried to put the brakes on the plan, fearing that its legal and technical arguments are weak and will set up the Trump administration for an embarrassing courtroom loss.

Wheeler inherited the proposal from his predecessor, Scott Pruitt, who resigned July 5 under a cloud of ethics investigations.

On the other side are top officials at the Transportation Department, Jeffrey A. Rosen and Heidi King, two of the proposal’s chief authors.

Rosen, a former George W. Bush administration official known for his zeal to undo federal regulations, is pushing the controversial proposal on the expectation that by the time any challenge makes it to the Supreme Court, the court’s makeup will be more friendly to a conservative, anti-regulatory policy, according to individuals familiar with his thinking.

Rosen and King have also justified their proposal with a new analysis concluding that the stricter Obama-era pollution rules would lead to thousands of deaths in road accidents. They argue that more fuel-efficient cars are less safe because they are lighter.

The plan’s official release has been delayed by what one person familiar with the talks called “a nuclear war” between Wheeler on one side and Rosen and King on the other. Wheeler has sharply questioned the auto fatality numbers and fears that if they are proven faulty, that will undermine the legal case for the rollback, according to people familiar with his argument.

This report is based on interviews with five people who are either former employees of the two agencies or former Trump administration officials, as well as six industry lobbyists and others close to the negotiations.

For now, the White House is siding with Rosen. Trump is expected to announce the proposal next week.

In a separate development, Wheeler has reversed Pruitt’s final policy decision, which would have allowed more highly polluting trucks on the nation’s roads.

Wheeler’s decision, outlined in a memo to his top air policy staff, formally vacated the move Pruitt made on his last day in office, earlier this month, before resigning amid a host of ethics investigations.

Pruitt had told manufacturers that the agency would not enforce a cap on what are known as “glider” trucks — vehicles with older and less efficient engines installed.

“I have concluded that the application of current regulations to the glider industry does not represent the kind of extremely unusual circumstances that support the EPA’s exercise of enforcement discretion,” Wheeler wrote.

If the Trump administration loosens federal pollution rules for cars, California has vowed to stick with its own stricter standards and to sue the administration. California has a waiver under the 1970 Clean Air Act to set its own air pollution regulations, and a dozen other states follow its lead.

If California fights to retain its rule, it could result in a huge legal battle that is likely to reach the Supreme Court.

The new emissions proposal, which is to be jointly released by the EPA and the Transportation Department, was largely completed in May.

It was sent by both agencies to the White House for review, after which it was expected to be published in June or early July in the Federal Register.


Australian Left struggles with fundamental truths concerning energy debate

Groupthink seems to be preventing many journalists at left-wing media outlets from realising they have been on the wrong side of the renewable energy and power prices story for a decade.

This newspaper argued as far back as the Howard years that a ­renewable energy target was ­incompatible with a carbon trading system designed to produce a market for cost abatement. Then prime minister John Howard and opposition leader Kevin Rudd both took limited trading schemes to the November 2007 election.

Not long after, journalists from Fairfax Media and the ABC began taking issue with The Australian’s criticism of rooftop solar subsidies. We said these would do little to reduce carbon dioxide output from baseload power stations but would dramatically lift prices to consumers too poor to pay for rooftop sets.

Now there is independent proof the left media was wrong. This month the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission and Australian Energy Mar­ket Operator released reports that show The Australian has been right about the effects of ­renewables.

Remember the outcry against the “Carbon Cate” stories by The Sunday Telegraph about the Sydney Theatre Company’s instal­lation of a $4.5 million rooftop solar system at the Wharf Theatre when Cate Blanchett’s husband, Andrew Upton, was director of the STC? Blanchett went on to campaign with other actors in television commercials about ­renew­­­­­­­­­­­­­- ables in 2011 under then prime minister Julia Gillard’s carbon tax.

Today, around the world, rooftop solar feed-in tariff concessions are being unwound, even in Germany, long the poster child for green warriors but a massive user of imported Australian coal and Russian gas to ensure reliable base­load power.

Climate change hysteria reached its peak in the Gillard years. Academics and journalists wrote that as editor-in-chief of this paper I should be charged with crimes against humanity for pointing out the facts: renewables would send industry offshore and play havoc with electricity prices.

Well, power-intensive industries have been sent offshore, where they add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than they would here because power here is mainly generated from higher-quality, less-polluting coal.

AEMO, distinctly pro-renew­ables, said on July 17 that the nat­ional power market would need to rely on baseload coal-fired power for at least another 20 years and called for policies to extend the lives of power stations nearing the end of their normal operational timeframes. The ACCC report ­released on July 11 said renewables had pushed out dispatchable power and made the network less reliable. Household solar subsidies had been paid for in higher prices to other consumers and business. It backed contributing economics editor Judith Sloan on “the gold plating of electricity networks” by state governments.

But at Fairfax, The Sydney Morning Herald economics editor Ross Gittins was lamenting on May 29 that he really should confine all his columns to discussions of government inaction on climate change. Ignoring the ACCC on coal on July 16, he assembled all the reasons Indian company Adani’s proposed Galilee Basin project in Queensland, which would be the world’s biggest coalmine, would not create jobs.

The Herald’senvironment editor, Peter Hannam, at least reported the ACCC’s findings fairly, but in a comment piece he criticised it for focusing on power prices rather than climate change. Yet Fairfax does not come close to our ABC for renewables evangelism.

ABC Radio National’s Saturday Extra stand-in host Andrew West interviewed ­finance blogger Mich­ael West on July 21 about Adani. Michael West claimed, unchallenged, that the mine would not be economically viable, despite coal prices at six-year highs. India was leading the world in adoption of green power and would be at 55 per cent renewable power by 2030, he claimed.

In fact, India is at 16 per cent ­renewables today and is building 132 new coal-fired power stations according to research by the Australian parliamentary library. Its prospects of ever reaching 55 per cent renewables are remote, as Germany is finding out, struggling to meet its 30 per cent ­reduction target.

At The Drum nightly on ABC TV spruikers for renewables — particularly prominent renewables investor John Hewson and the University of Melbourne’s Simon Holmes a Court — are always given precedence over commentators with rational points about the power market. And for some reason a parade of people who know nothing about electricity generation are regularly given a platform to display their “correct” feelings (rather than facts) about coal and renewables.

Jane Caro flapped her hands wildly on July 9 and pronounced “any suggestions of any new coal-fired power stations is a criminal act”. Do people who say such things know coal is the ­nation’s biggest export earner and 1600 new coal-fired power stations are under construction worldwide this minute? For a historical perspective on the importance of coal to ­hum­anity, Caro could read a piece by global warming believer Bjorn Lomborg in this paper on July 20: “For the well off in both rich and poor countries around the world, lives are enriched by plentiful ­access to energy that provides light, fresh food and clean water … Yet there is a disturbing movement in the West to tell the 1.1 billion people who still lack these myriad benefits that they should go without.”

Taking care of the poor used to be central to the politics of the Left. No more. This is an issue where left-wing journalists always side with the wealthy, like the merchant bankers around the world who invest billions in the government-guaranteed and subsidised global wind power scam.

Anyone who doubts it is a scam should look at why wind subsidies are being dismantled in Europe. This paper published a two-part analysis on the issue by veteran Herald-Sun finance journalist Terry McCrann on July 14 and 21.

McCrann’s first piece analysed prices for wind-generated power the previous weekend in South Australia. Almost all SA’s power that weekend was from wind because it was blowing hard. At one point the price of power hit zero (something that happens regularly in Germany). Across the weekend power averaged $44.89 a megawatt hour. Then the wind stopped and by Monday the price hit $14,000/MWh, “the maximum allowed” in the national market. Across that whole day it averaged $700.60/ MWh.

Wrote McCrann: “How can you build a system on prices which fluctuate from day to day by over $650 a MWh?”

Lomborg wrote here on July 14 outing major nations around the world for announcing heavy greenhouse gas cuts but falling far behind their targets. He argued that even meeting the Paris Agreement global emissions reduction target would mitigate only 1 per cent of forecast global warming this century.

And by 2040, “even with carbon being taxed, the International Energy Agency estimates that ­average coal will still be cheaper than average solar and wind ­energy”. More than $100 billion was being spent globally this year alone on subsidies for solar and wind, “yet this technology will meet less than 1 per cent of the globe’s energy needs”.




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


Monday, July 30, 2018

Environmentalist scare stories – Never mind!

Solid evidence shows there is no “bee-pocalypse,” but alarmists allege new pesticide threats

Paul Driessen

“Baby boomers” will remember Gilder Radner’s Saturday Night Live character from the ‘70s – Emily Litella, who would launch into hilarious rants against perceived problems, only to discover that she had completely misconstrued what she was fuming about.

“What’s all this fuss about endangered feces?” she asked in one. “How can you possibly run out of such a thing?” Then, after Jane Curtain interrupted to tell her “It’s endangered species,” she meekly responded with what became the iconic denouement of the era: “Ohhhh. Never mind.”

The Sierra Club and “invertebrate-protecting” Xerces Society recently had their own Emily Litella moment, over an issue they both have been hyperventilating about for years: endangered bees. For over half a decade, both organizations have been raising alarms about the imminent extinction of honeybees and, more recently, wild bees – allegedly due to the widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides.

These are advanced-technology crop protection compounds, originally developed and registered as “reduced-risk” pesticides. Applied mostly as seed treatments, neonicotinoids get taken up into the tissue of crop plants, where they control pests that feed on and destroy the crops, while minimizing insecticide exposure to animals, humans and beneficial species like bees.

But not according to the Sierra Club! It campaigned incessantly for years on the claim that neonicotinoids would drive honeybees into extinction. For instance, in March 2015 the Sierra Club of Canada launched a nationwide “Protect the Pollinators Tour,” as part of its #SaveTheBees project.

“Ironically, the justification for this chemical madness is the same desire to produce enough food to feed everyone,” it said. “The chemical industry wants us to believe we have no choice; it’s their way or the highway. But the science tells us otherwise – that farmers don’t need these chemicals at all! The science also tells us we’re not just killing bees and pollinators, but other insects too. And we’re also killing birds and aquatic life. The scientists tell us we could be creating a Second Silent Spring. It’s madness.”

A year later, the Maryland Sierra Club did its own fulminating, urging the state’s legislature to pass a “Pollinator Protection Act. “Help STOP Pollinator Deaths from Neonic Pesticides!” it exhorted.

“Toxic Neonic pesticides kill and harm bees and other pollinators, like butterflies and birds. Continued, unchecked use poses a serious threat to our food supply, public health and environment. Ask lawmakers to help keep Maryland pollinators safe and healthy – by curbing consumer use of toxic pesticides.”

In December 2016, the Sierra Club was out raising more money by sounding phony alarms about Trump appointees “denying the science” that supposedly links neonic pesticides to alleged bee declines:

“Bees had a devastating year. 44% of colonies killed.… And Bayer and Syngenta are still flooding our land with bee-killing toxic ‘neonic’ pesticides – now among the most widely used crop sprays in the country. Now, Myron Ebell – Donald Trump’s pick to lead the EPA transition team – denies the science that links neonics and bee death….”

Why would they make such false claims? Well, as Sierra Club officer Bruce Hamilton once admitted: “It’s what works. It builds the Sierra Club. The fate of the Earth depends on whether people open that envelope and send in that check” (or click on the ever-present online Donate Now button).

However, a few weeks ago, a Sierra Club blog post started singing a different tune:

“‘Save the bees’ is a rallying cry we’ve been hearing for years now…. But honeybees are at no risk of dying off.  While diseases, parasites and other threats are certainly real problems for beekeepers, the total number of managed honeybees worldwide has risen 45% over the last half century. ‘Honeybees are not going to go extinct,’ says Scott Black, executive director of the Xerces Society. ‘We have more honeybee hives than we’ve ever had, and that’s simply because we manage honeybees. Conserving honeybees to save pollinators is like conserving chickens to save birds … [since] honeybees are not all that different from livestock.”

So, Never mind. Finally, after all these years, the Sierra Club (and Xerces Society) admit that honeybees are not going extinct. It would appear as well that neonic pesticides can’t be causing a honeybee apocalypse – because there isn’t one!

But in the eco-alarmism world, every silver cloud has a dark lining! This time, it’s wild bees, also called “native” bees, whose allegedly looming demise is the imminent ecological cataclysm du jour.

Honeybees are not native to North America; they were first brought here by colonists in 1622. Now – according to the Sierra Club anyway – these non-native bees pose a threat to wild bees and other native pollinators. New research, it says, “shows managed honeybees can negatively impact native bees.”

Varroa mites, deformed wing virus and other problems from commercial hives (the real causes of honeybee declines in recent years) “can be transferred to wild species when populations feed from the same flowers.” In fact, the rusty patched bumblebee, “which was listed as endangered in early 2017 after declining more than 90 percent over the last decade, may owe that disappearance to diseases spread by commercial bees.” And the RPB is not the only threatened or endangered wild bee species.

Many native bees – of which there are over 20,000 species globally, in various sizes, shapes and colors – “are experiencing incredible losses,” says a Sierra Club blog. “Of the nearly 4,000 native bee species in the United States alone, four native bumblebee species have declined 96 percent in the last 20 years, and three others are believed to have gone extinct. In the last 100 years, 50 percent of Midwestern native bee species disappeared from their historic ranges.”

Now the blog doesn’t claim all these supposed wild bee declines are due to neonic exposure. At least it doesn’t say so just yet, leaving that inference to your imagination. However, the Sierra Club is likely just as wrong about wild bee species being in trouble, as it was during its previous years of railing about the causes and reality of honeybees going extinct.

First, the overwhelming majority of wild bee species, at least in North America, never get any exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides, because they are desert species – with habitats typically tens or hundreds of miles away from croplands.

Second, the overwhelming majority of those wild bee species are specialists. They feed exclusively on the pollen and/or nectar of one or a very few plant species – and their life-cycles are tied inextricably to the flowering cycle of the (mainly desert) plants they pollinate.

They typically emerge from the ground prompted by the same natural signals (rains) that awaken the cacti and other plants. They then live just long enough to produce larvae and stock the larval nests with food (pollen and/or nectar) from the plants they pollinate before they die. This cycle is completed in days – and pesticide exposure is virtually impossible given the environments where it takes place.

All this is not to say that wild bees don’t play any role in crop pollination. Some do.

However, 59 scientists published a three-year study in Nature, concluding that only 2% of wild bee species provide “almost 80% of the wild bee crop pollination.” They also found that “the species currently contributing most to pollination service delivery are generally regionally common species, whereas threatened species contribute little, particularly in the most agriculturally productive areas.”

In other words, the handful of wild bee species that contribute the lion’s share of wild bee crop pollination – and thus are most exposed to neonic and other pesticides – are abundant and not threatened or at risk, certainly not from pesticide exposure.

This jibes with the observations by Sam Droege, the U.S. Geologic Survey’s wild bee expert whose surveys indicate that most wild bee species are doing just fine.

It’s encouraging that the Sierra Club and Xerces Society have finally acknowledged that the “honeybee apocalypse” – which they used for years to demonize neonic manufacturers and raise millions of dollars – was pure fiction. Eventually, perhaps, we hope (fat chance) they’ll admit their exaggerated claims and half-truths about wild bees are equally phony and misleading.

It’s a real pity that so much public hysteria – and pressure on politicians and regulators to combat fictitious bee problems – was generated in the process. That was especially true in Europe, where regulators gave in to agitator pressure and misrepresentations, and banned neonics this year. Now farmers will have to spray crops with pesticides that really are harmful to bees, or will lose more to voracious insects.

Environmental activists always claim to be pushing for better public policies, to “Save the Earth.” Misdiagnosing and misrepresenting non-existent ecological crises is precisely the road to the hell of bad public policy. And it’s not always paved with good intentions.

At least when it comes to claims about another “bee-pocalypse,” it’s time to say, Never mind.

Via email

New Paper: 54% Of ‘Vulnerable’ SW Pacific Islands Studied Showed Growing Shorelines

Despite a rapid local sea level rise rate nearly three times the global mean (1.8 mm/yr), 15 of 28 studied atoll islands in the southwest Pacific increased in shoreline area during 2005 to 2015 (Hisabayashi et al., 2018).

For the three islands that experienced extreme shoreline erosion – with one atoll island even “disappearing” – a Category 5 cyclone was identified as the most likely causal factor.

Consequently, the authors conclude that “the dramatic impacts of climate change felt on coastlines and people across the Pacific are still anecdotal.”

Quantifying shoreline change in Funafuti Atoll, Tuvalu using
a time series of Quickbird, Worldview and Landsat data

Summary: “Atoll islands are low-lying accumulations of reef-derived sediment that provide the only habitable land in Tuvalu, and are considered vulnerable to the myriad possible impacts of climate change, especially sea-level rise. This study examines the shoreline change of twenty-eight islands in Funafuti Atoll between 2005 and 2015 … Results indicate a 0.13% (0.35 ha) decrease in net island area over the study time period, with 13 islands decreasing in area and 15 islands increasing in area.  Substantial decreases in island area occurred on the islands of Fuagea, Tefala and Vasafua, which coincides with the timing of Cyclone Pam in March, 2015.”

“Most of the islands remained stable, experiencing slight accretion or erosion or a combination of both over time. The total net land area of the islands increased by 1.55 ha (0.55%) between 2005 and 2010, and it has decreased by 1.90 ha (0.68%) between 2010 and 2015, resulting in a net decrease by 0.35 ha (0.13%).  Over this 10-year period, 13 of 28 studied islands had a net decrease in area, ranging from −0.04% on Fongafale (−0.06 ha) to −100% on Vasafua (−0.07 ha). The decrease in area adds up to −2.56 ha and the mean reduction in island area for these 13 islands was −0.20 ha (−20.5%). The largest absolute decreases in island area occurred on Fuagea (−0.90 ha, −78.33%), Fualefeke (−0.54 ha, −7.94%), and Tefala (−0.34 ha, −43.86%), and Vasafua experienced the largest percentage decrease (−0.07 ha, −100%). Vasafua’s “disappearance” is discussed below. The remaining 15 of 28 studied islands had a net increase in area, totaling 2.21 ha, with a range from negligible values (Motugie, 0.01%, 0.00002 ha) to a 5.05% growth on Falefatu (0.18 ha). The mean increase in island area for these 15 islands was 0.15 ha (2.41%). The largest absolute increase in island area occurred on Funafala (0.83 ha, 3.56%), Avalau-Teafuafou (0.33 ha, 2.74%), and TeleleMotusanapa (0.33 ha, 3.59%).”

“The imagery captured in 2015 reveals a significant change in shape and size of the vegetated area for all three islands, and Vasafua’s vegetation is completely missing in the 2015 image. These drastic differences between the 2014 and 2015 imagery are most likely the impacts of Cyclone Pam, which was a Category-5 tropical cyclone that struck the Pacific region on March 9–16 in 2015. Substantial decreases in island area were detected in three small, uninhabited islands all located in the southwestern rim of Funafuti Atoll (Fuagea, Tefota, and Vasafua). … The most drastic changes in these islands occurred between December 2014 and June 2015, which we deduce to be the impact wrought by the Category 5 Cyclone Pamthat passed through the southwest Pacific Ocean in March 2015…. [T]he level of details observed in this study on Vasafua islet that lost all vegetation due to Cyclone Pam would not have been detected if not for the availability of fine spatial resolution data and the short revisit times.”

“Some studies (Leatherman, Zhang, and Douglas 2000; Romine et al. 2013; Albert et al. 2016) have systematically/rigorously shown the relationship between sea-level rise and shoreline changes, but the dramatic impacts of climate change felt on coastlines and people across the Pacific are still anecdotal and highlights the urgent need for further research.”


Zinke Ditches Obama Policy that Raised Power Prices Across Country

The Department of the Interior is scrapping an Obama-era policy mandating energy companies mitigate development on federal land by funding offsite environmental projects.

The Bureau of Land Management — a DOI-controlled agency and the largest land-owning agency in the U.S. — began forcing oil, gas and coal companies to pay mitigation fees to the BLM or a third party under former President Barack Obama.

The fees would be used to fund environmental projects such as restoring habitat or protecting wetlands.

The size of the fee was calculated by the BLM to cover the damage done by the proposed development.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke retracted the policy in a memo to the BLM Tuesday.

“This policy means that Americans … who want to use their public lands will no longer be required to pay money to BLM or third parties as a form of ‘mitigation’ when they seek new permits from BLM,” DOI spokeswoman Faith Vander Voort told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“BLM will continue to require project proponents to avoid or minimize actual harm on public lands as appropriate.”

“This policy also does not affect State mitigation programs, or compensatory mitigation under other federal laws,” Vander Voort added.


Environmental hypocrites in SF

They are in favour of the environment only if it is others who pay the price

Over 100 years ago, the Hetch Hetchy Valley located in Yosemite National Park was dammed and made into a reservoir for the water supply of San Francisco and surrounding areas. This stands as the only time in American history when a single city has used a national park for its own exclusive benefit. How did this happen?

The Hetch Hetchy Valley was located in a national park, and thus fell under the protection of the federal government. Congressional debate occurred between 1908 and 1913 and Congress ultimately passed a bill, signed by President Woodrow Wilson on Dec. 9, 1913. The great controversy and regret of destroying the valley spurred the creation in 1916 of the National Park Service Act, which protected national parks for the enjoyment of all Americans. Yet the environmental blemish of damming and flooding a national park for water storage remains.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has shown interest in restoring the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park. Zinke met on Sunday in Yosemite with Restore Hetch Hetchy, a group dedicated to draining the dam and restoring this land as a national treasure.

Earlier this month, Restore Hetch Hetchy lost a lawsuit at the California Fifth District Court of Appeal. While California’s Constitution requires that the “method of diversion” for water be “reasonable,” the court ruled that San Francisco’s use of the Hetch Hetchy Valley as a reservoir did not need to meet that requirement. Restore Hetch Hetchy will now appeal its case to the California Supreme Court.

In terms of government involvement, in 1987, President Ronald Reagan’s secretary of the interior, Donald Hodel, supported draining the dam and restoring the Hetch Hetchy Valley. Restore Hetch Hetchy has sought meetings with the U.S. secretary of the interior since 2000. According to The Wall Street Journal, President George W. Bush “contemplated a feasibility study” ultimately blocked by powerful San Francisco interests including Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Democrat House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also stands in opposition to restoring the valley. In addition, Barack Obama made a speech at Yosemite in June 2016, but did not mention Hetch Hetchy.

Maybe we should follow the money. As a result of the Raker Act of 1913, San Francisco “rents” the Hetch Hetchy Valley for a mere $30,000 per year — roughly the same yearly amount as a downtown San Francisco studio apartment.

Opponents of Restore Hetch Hetchy argue that the 2.5 million residents in the Bay Area need water. Proponents contend that system improvements, water recycling, and underground water containment could give the people of San Francisco water and leave Hetch Hetchy, formerly a national treasure comparable in beauty to Yosemite, for the American people.

In 2004, Sierra Club President Larry Fahn stated:

“Now is the time to complete a full analysis of the feasibility and many benefits of bringing back the treasure of Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite. The restoration plan would not "lose” the resource, or require “another clean source of water.” The plan envisions simply collecting and storing the very same water somewhere downslope from Yosemite National Park in the high Sierra.“

Several studies discuss the feasibility of San Francisco’s water supply without the reservoir, including the Environmental Defense Fund’s Paradise Regained and the Cherry Intertie Alternative, the UC Davis study called Re-Assembling Hetch Hetchy, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation study. Multiple studies also confirm the feasibility of restoring the Hetch Hetchy Valley, including those by the National Park Service and University of Wisconsin.

The Hetch Hetchy controversy highlights the tension between local political interests and national values. It also highlights Democrat hypocrisy regarding the environment. Those open to restoring Hetch Hetchy have been the secretaries of interior under two Republican presidents — Reagan and now Donald Trump. Those who fiercely oppose restoration include Democrats Feinstein and Pelosi. Democrat Barack Obama, the "environmental crusader,” did nothing. Ironically, those assumed to be environmentalists may not be. And conservatives, long berated as anti-environment, are actually for conservation and preservation.

Will the real preservationist please stand up? You may be surprised who does.


Liberal Journos Attack News Outlets For Not Linking All Extreme Weather To Global Warming

Liberal journalists and activists are frustrated over the lack of media outlets linking recent natural disasters and extreme weather events around the world to man-made global warming.

From record-breaking heat in Japan and California to wildfires raging in Sweden and Greece, The New Republic’s Emily Atkin fretted “there’s no climate connection to be found in much news coverage of extreme weather events across the globe — even in historically climate-conscious outlets like NPR and The New York Times.”

“I suggested that journalists don’t need to determine whether an event was caused by climate change to make a climate connection — a journalist could merely say climate change makes extreme events such as these more likely,” Atkin wrote on Wednesday.

It’s only the latest incident in a growing trend of liberal journalists demanding extreme weather events be linked to man-made global warming, despite a lack of scientific study into the matter.

Environmental writer Eric Holthaus — a noted climate doomsayer — went on a long Twitter rant pointing out the media’s lack of attention to global warming as a heatwave beat down on Japan.

In summary, the articles don't provide any specific data analysis, new research, or information that is specific to Greece -- but theories or hypotheses about the impacts of climate change on current / future weather conditions like extreme temperatures and rainfall (drought)

MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes was forced to defend his networks alleged lack of global warming coverage from critics on social media. Hayes argued, “every single time we’ve covered [climate change] it’s been a palpable rating’s killer.”

NPR and NYT also felt the pressure. NPR science editor Geoff Brumfiel told TNR’s Atkin his outlet actively working on a story, trying to see what scientists think all of these events,” responsibly adding that “[y]ou don’t just want to be throwing around, ‘this is due to climate change, that is due to climate change.’”

Likewise, NYT deputy climate editor Jonathan Ellis told activists on Twitter an article on wildfires in Greece was updated with “information on the connection to climate change.”

But even then, NYT’s update only noted the “extreme conditions are in line with patterns that scientists attribute to climate change.” That’s because scientists have not formally attributed, through peer-reviewed science, Greek fires to man-made warming.




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


Sunday, July 29, 2018

A hot summer in the North of the world

When I read the article below about unusually hot weather in the Northern hemisphere I had to laugh.  Why?  Because I live in the Southern hemisphere in Australia and we have been getting a lot of reports of an unusually cold winter -- e.g. here.

So the Green/Left have been up to their old tricks again and reporting only the facts that suit them.  There is not one mention of cold weather anywhere below.  It's so blatant. It is one big cherry-pick and as such is totally dishonest.  You can "prove" just about anything by carefully selected examples. The report is not remotely scientific.

Two comments from fellow skeptics were also interesting.  They also mentioned the selectivity in the reports below.

Climatologist Tim Ball wrote:

"Why don’t they report all the record cold temperatures being set. For example, the coldest July 2 in 107 years in Eugene Oregon and the lowest ever recorded by satellite in Antarctica at -144°F.

The pattern is due to a normal Meridional flow in the Rossby Wave of the Circumpolar Vortex.

One  of the failures of climate science is it studied averages initially then in the 1970s started looking at trends. Even today it has ignored variation and that is a sure indicator of the increased Meridional flow.

What is happening is normal, explainable and yet being exploited by those with a political agenda"

Paul Driessen wrote:

"My recollection is that the hottest temperature ever recorded in Alaska was 100 degrees F … in Fort Yukon … in 1915. I’ll bet the Post didn’t want to mention that little inconvenient truth, nor a lot of other record highs in other parts of the world, many inconvenient decades ago"

In the town of Sodankyla, Finland, the thermometer on July 17 registered a record-breaking 90 degrees, a remarkable figure given that Sodankyla is 59 miles north of the Arctic Circle, in a region known for winter snowmobiling and an abundance of reindeer.

This is a hot, strange and dangerous summer across the planet.

Greece is in mourning after scorching heat and high winds fueled wildfires that have killed more than 80 people. Japan recorded its highest temperature in history, 106 degrees, in a heat wave that killed 65 people in a week and hospitalized 22,000, shortly after catastrophic flooding killed 200.

Montreal hit 98 degrees on July 2, its warmest temperature ever measured. Canadian health officials estimate as many as 70 people died in that heat wave.

In the United States, 35 weather stations in the past month have set new marks for warm overnight temperatures. Southern California has had record heat and widespread power outages. In Yosemite Valley, which is imperiled by wildfires, park rangers have told everyone to flee.

The brutal weather has been supercharged by human-induced climate change, scientists say. Climate models for three decades have predicted exactly what the world is seeing this summer.

And they predict that it will get hotter - and that what is a record today could someday be the norm.

"The old records belong to a world that no longer exists," said Martin Hoerling, a research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It's not just heat. A warming world is prone to multiple types of extreme weather - heavier downpours, stronger hurricanes, longer droughts.

"You see roads melting, airplanes not being able to take off, there's not enough water," said Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. "Climate change hits us at our Achilles' heel. In the Southwest, it's water availability. On the Gulf Coast, it's hurricanes. In the East, it's flooding. It's exacerbating the risks we already face today."

The proximate cause of the Northern Hemisphere bake-off is the unusual behavior of the jet stream, a wavy track of west-to-east-prevailing wind at high altitude. The jet stream controls broad weather patterns, such as high-pressure and low-pressure systems. The extent of climate change's influence on the jet stream is an intense subject of research.

This summer, the jet stream has undulated in extreme waves that have tended to block weather systems from migrating. The result has been stagnant high-pressure and low-pressure systems with dire results, such as heat waves in some places and flooding elsewhere.

"When those waves are very big - as they have been for the past few weeks - they tend to get stuck in place," said Jennifer Francis, a professor of atmospheric science at Rutgers University. Last year, scientists published evidence that the conditions leading up to "stuck jet streams" are becoming more common, with warming in the Arctic seen as a likely culprit.

Gone are the days when scientists drew abright line dividing weather and climate. Now researchers can examine a weather event and estimate how much climate change had to do with causing or exacerbating it.

Last year, when Hurricane Harvey broke the record for how much rain could fall from a single storm, researchers knew climate change had been a factor.

Months later, scientists presented findings that Harvey dumped at least 15 percent more rain in Houston than it would have without global warming. Theory, meet reality: When the atmosphere is warmer, it can hold more moisture. Climate change does not cause hurricanes to spin up or thunderstorms to develop, but it can be an intensifier.

In Dallas, where the temperature hit 100 on 10 out of 11 days this month, three homeless people have died of heat-related causes in the past week, said Brenda Snitzer, executive director of the Stewpot, a downtown shelter.


Wind Turbines, the Military, National Security

As Otto von Bismarck said: “The person who wishes to keep his respect for laws and sausages should not see how either is made.”

This was very much on display recently with the machinations going on with the annual US federal legislation for our military: the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). To understand the disturbing decisions made, some background as to how we got to where we are today is needed. (FYI the guilty parties here want you to skip this part, as they do NOT want citizens to have any real understanding of this issue!)

It would be nice to be able to convey this whole story in a single sound-byte sentence, but that’s not possible. If you care about US national security, it is essential to understand some related information. I’ll summarize it as simply as I can. Let me know any further info needed…

Point #1: There has been several years of conflict between military operations (in the US and elsewhere) and industrial wind energy. This is for multiple reasons, ranging from radar interference, to tall structures obstructing low-level flight paths, to specialized cases (like deteriorating the exceptionally important ROTHR facility).

Point #2: Initially the Commanding Officers (COs) of affected military facilities simply voiced their objections, and in most cases the proposed offending wind project was not approved.

Point #3: As sensible as this might seem, it was totally unacceptable to the powerful wind industry lobbyists, and some of their well-connected supporters. Their plan was to get military base COs basically out of the equation — while giving the public the impression that military concerns were being fully considered. That might seem like a tall order, but we’re dealing with some superior slicksters here. Their ingenious and deceptive end result was to create the DoD Wind Siting Clearinghouse.

Point #4: The Clearinghouse was all about expanding US industrial wind energy, not protecting US military or our national security. To pull this off, the rules and regulations for the Clearinghouse were essentially written by wind lobbyists, and the initial people in charge were unabashed wind energy promoters. (Upon retiring, the first person to head the Clearinghouse was quickly hired as a wind energy lobbyist — you can’t make this stuff up!)

Point #5: Not surprisingly, numerous conflicts continued to exist between wind energy and the US military. The public has little awareness of these due to backroom, classified agreements made. The wind industry took advantage of this lack of knowledge, repeatedly trumpeting that everything was peachy. For those who didn’t bother to closely look behind the curtain, it may well have seemed to be.

Point #6: Effectively what happened was that military defenders had to now look for some protection from state level legislation. Of course the wind lobby has infiltrated state politics as well, so this was no easy solution. That said there have been some major victories — e.g. Texas passing S277 and North Carolina passing a two year statewide moratorium (see here, Part XIII) while they did an investigation of the wind energy interference matter.

Point #7: Ultimately, though, the defense of our military, and our national security, is a federal matter. Towards that end, earlier this year I sent to some key legislators an outline of this problem, which included three (3) simple but effective solutions to this serious matter (at the end). I was hoping that they would be incorporated into the current year NDAA.

Point #8: Both the House and Senate committees involved with the NDAA actually did specifically endorse one of my three recommendations. The current wind industry written Clearinghouse rules basically say that to reject a proposed wind project, that there has to be substantial proof that it is a major national security risk. This has to be then endorsed by the DoD Secretary. Of course this is one of several things intended to fool the public (and legislator not paying close attention): it sounds good, but it’s actually worthless. In other words, the bar was purposefully set absurdly high, so that it was almost impossible to turn down a proposed wind project — and in fact only one has been so terminated via the Clearinghouse process over many years now.

Point #9: One of my three recommendations was to fix the rules so that if a wind project could be reasonably shown to threaten the lives of our military personnel, that this would be an acceptable justification to deny it a permit to be built. It was gratifying to see that BOTH the House and Senate committees reviewing the NDAA, approved changing the Clearinghouse rules, to add words to that effect. Excellent!

Point #10: However, a few days ago, for some inexplicable reason, this extremely important change was extracted from the NDAA legislation! A very experienced DC lobbyist told me that he could not recall a single case ever, where an important provision agreed to by both House and Senate committees, was then removed from the legislation. The question to ask our federal legislators: is promoting wind energy really more important than protecting the lives of our military?

Point #11: Probably due to guilt for this egregious lapse of responsibility, our esteemed legislators then added a new provision to the NDAA: Section 318 (page 179). Basically it authorizes the DoD to engage the National Weather Service (NWS) to do a study about the impact of wind turbines on weather radars and military operations. Once again the intent here seems to be to convey the illusion that we are serious about our military and our national security, and that something meaningful is being done.

Point #12: Of course the devil is in the details. This amounts to kicking the can into the ditch. Nothing in the study is about protecting the lives of pilots from wind turbine obstructions. Nothing in the study is about assessing the impact of wind turbines on navigation radar. Nothing in the study is about protecting the exceptionally important ROTHR facility. Furthermore, who knows what will happen when the study is finished? In the meantime our military and national security is being compromised.

Point #13: What’s really disturbing is that plenty of good reports have already been generated on this issue. For example, Here is a detailed NWS explanation of the problem. For example, earlier this year the NWS wrote a blistering report about how wind development in upstate NY was compromising FIVE (5) different important NEXRAD radar facilities! For example, Fort Drum issued this official statement about wind energy interference. What else do legislators need to know? Oh, they want more pertinent studies? How about: this, this, this, this, this, this, and this. We already have studies up the wazoo. We already know what the problems are and what some good solutions are.

Point #14: The reason we are procrastinating, is that the wind industry has done a superior job in creating the hallucination that wind energy is a societal benefit. The fact is that industrial wind energy is a technical, economic and environmental net liability. Once that understanding is fully absorbed, no reasonable legislator would agree to sacrifice our military or national security for such a detriment.

Point #15: The bottom line here is that the protection of our military (and our national security) is being compromised by powerful special-interest lobbyists. Our legislators are talking-the-talk, but not walking-the-walk.

That our legislators would accept a trade-off that wind energy promotion takes precedence over the lives of our military personnel, is a good indication of how badly this situation has deteriorated, and how much special-interest lobbyists are running the government, and our lives. (For more info on that, see here.)

US citizens should contact their federal representatives and insist that the NDAA to be properly fixed, today.


New EPA chief's first moves show he's following Pruitt's agenda, without the sirens

Following the chaotic tenure of Scott Pruitt, the new acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Andrew Wheeler, is trying to bring more competence and transparency to the job, but all signs indicate he’s continuing to carry out President Trump’s assault on regulations.

Wheeler, unlike Pruitt, is a longtime insider who understands the machinations of Washington. He’s unlikely to unilaterally overturn environmental protections the way Pruitt did, and more likely to dismantle them slowly through the appropriate channels. Wheeler’s know-how and political sophistication suggest he will be less vulnerable to lawsuits and less prone to gross ethical violations — meaning he could be far more successful.

“Whereas Pruitt was careless and hasty and made dozens of mistakes, if not more, Wheeler as a polished lobbyist, well connected on K Street, well connected on the Hill, has the potential of being very dangerous. He won’t be as careless and sloppy as his predecessor,” Melinda Pierce, the legislative director for the Sierra Club, told Yahoo News.

Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said Wheeler is much smoother in how he presents the EPA publicly and even to his own employees.

“Pruitt came in saying, ‘We know the EPA is a terrible place, and I’m going to fix it all,’ and he didn’t really buy into the mission. I think there’s more finesse in Mr. Wheeler, but I don’t think his actual policy agenda is any different,” Rosenberg told Yahoo News.

Wheeler, who was sworn in as the EPA’s deputy administrator in April after a heated confirmation process, was a top aide to Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., from 1995 until 2009. Inhofe was outspoken in rejecting the overwhelming scientific consensus behind anthropogenic climate change and notoriously tossed a snowball on the Senate floor as “proof” that climate change is not real. Wheeler spent 12 years on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works fighting government regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

Starting in 2009, Wheeler worked for the Faegre Baker Daniels law firm in lobbying for coal producer Murray Energy, which is owned by prominent Trump supporter Robert E. Murray, and he actively opposed former President Barack Obama’s proposals to protect the environment and address climate change. He has also dismissed the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s science as politically motivated.

“Pruitt was a fiercely ambitious ‘outsider’ from Oklahoma, whereas Andrew Wheeler is a Washington, D.C., insider,” Pierce said. “Here’s a guy that’s swampy as it gets in terms of being a D.C. lobbyist insider working for K Street and a noted climate change denier.”

Wheeler was sworn in as acting head of the EPA on July 9 following Pruitt’s resignation two days earlier. He kicked off his first day at the helm with an 18-minute speech to the agency’s employees. It was essentially a charm offensive in which he went through his abridged biography. He defended his work as a coal lobbyist by emphasizing how he fought to protect the pensions and health care benefits of coal miners: “I did work for a coal company, and I’m not at all ashamed of the work I did for the coal company.”

Wheeler said the EPA has made “tremendous progress over the last year and a half” thanks to the leadership of Trump and Pruitt. Under his leadership, Wheeler continued, the EPA would continue to keep cleaning “Superfund sites” (which have been contaminated with hazardous substances), investing in the nation’s water infrastructure, improving air quality and updating the chemical safety review process.

Wheeler used much of the same language Pruitt had when he came to the EPA. Both emphasized returning to the EPA’s original mission, taking a narrower view of the agency’s responsibilities than previous administrators.

“We’re also restoring the rule of law, reining in federal regulatory overreach and refocusing EPA on its core responsibilities,” Wheeler said. “As a result, the economy is booming, and economic optimism is surging.”

To Rosenberg, Wheeler sounded more concerned about risks to industry and the economy than about risks to communities.

“[He said] that EPA needed to communicate risk. Actually, EPA needs to address and mitigate the risks to communities. That’s their job. It’s not just communicating ‘You’re about to be sick,’ or ‘There’s about to be a toxic waste explosion.’ It’s actually doing something about it,” Rosenberg said. “I was nervous he wasn’t speaking to the real mission of EPA, which is to protect public health and safety.”

Rosenberg added that most of what Pruitt touted as regulatory rollbacks were merely giveaways to the oil and gas industries. “The career professional staff, they’re the ones that have continued to try to push forward with real public health protections in spite of the administration,” he said.

Rosenberg said Wheeler has been a little more open to the press than Pruitt and less obsessed with secrecy, security and ostentatious displays of prerogatives — such as having his driver use his siren to cut through traffic on his way to a restaurant. Wheeler promised greater transparency, but neither Rosenberg nor Pierce was too impressed by these slight changes.

“That should’ve been status quo,” Pierce said. “I’m not going to give you a gold star for transparency for doing what’s expected but somehow surprising in the wake of Scott Pruitt.”

The former coal lobbyist’s first major act as EPA acting chief was to overhaul the rule for how toxic waste from the burning of coal should be disposed of at power plants around the country. It was the first of several expected revisions to Obama-era rules for handling toxic waste to avoid contaminating waterways. The Obama-era regulations were inspired in part by two disastrous coal-ash spills in Tennessee (2008) and North Carolina (2014).

“The [Obama-era] rule wasn’t as protective as the environmental and public health community wanted it to be, but it was still a huge step forward,” Becky Hammer, the deputy director of federal water policy for the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Yahoo News.

Hammer said the new standards required owners and operators of coal-ash disposal sites to publish groundwater monitoring data, but the EPA hasn’t made this information easy for anyone to find. Rather than creating a central database, the EPA is directing the public to each individual facility’s own website in order to see its data.

The Environmental Integrity Project, an environmental nonprofit, downloaded and compiled all the data from each facility’s website and determined that almost every single site — roughly 95 percent of them — identified groundwater contamination from coal ash.

Coal ash, the material left over after coal is burned for electricity, is the second largest waste stream in the country after household garbage. Coal-fired power plants produce roughly 140 million tons per year.

“There are a number of heavy metals in it that are very dangerous to human health: lead, arsenic, radium, hexavalent chromium, all kinds of things you don’t want to come into contact with under any circumstances because they’re carcinogenic, they’re neurotoxic, they’re poisonous,” Hammer said.

Coal-ash landfills are enormous, typically 120 acres with an average depth of over 40 feet, and sometimes quite close to houses.

“The problem is that about half of all the ponds and landfills don’t have any liners or safeguards to prevent this dangerous material from leaking downward into the groundwater,” Hammer said. “We already know of about 200 sites across the country where coal ash has been found to definitively taint water supplies. There are probably a lot more than that, but a lot of the older sites aren’t monitored at all.”

Hammer pointed out that an Obama-era EPA study found that people who live near coal-ash disposal sites have a one-in-50 chance of getting cancer from drinking water contaminated by arsenic, and they have increased risks of liver, kidney and lung disease.

The coal industry petitioned the EPA to reconsider the regulations, arguing that the cost of compliance was excessive and would result in significant financial loss.

“They didn’t want the cost of more secure areas. Effectively, they’re just dumping the cost onto the public by saying, ‘OK, you clean it up,’ as opposed to ‘We, the ones that created the waste, should clean it up,’” Rosenberg said.

Pruitt was sympathetic to their case and in September 2017 started the reconsideration process that Wheeler completed.

“These amendments provide states and utilities much-needed flexibility in the management of coal ash, while ensuring human health and the environment are protected,” Wheeler said in a statement. “Our actions mark a significant departure from the one-size-fits-all policies of the past and save tens of millions of dollars in regulatory costs.”

Hammer said Wheeler’s new rule allows groundwater monitoring standards to be waived and extends the deadline for facilities to close coal-ash pits that are known to be contaminating groundwater. The 2015 rule said those facilities have to close by next April, but now that deadline has been pushed back one and a half years.

“The EPA didn’t even consider what the health effects of this would be. They just didn’t look at it at all. All they considered was how much money it would save the coal industry,” Hammer said.

Sources have told Bloomberg and others that Wheeler’s EPA is preparing to roll back Obama-era emission targets for cars, which were among Obama’s major regulatory efforts to control greenhouse gases. Under Wheeler, the EPA reportedly plans to revoke California’s authority to regulate its own car emissions, which it has done since the 1950s.

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told Yahoo News that his state would not stand idly by while the Trump administration took away its ability to set stricter emissions standards. “We also have a long history of the federal government respecting California’s right, as a state, to regulate our own air. When I was governor, the EPA thought they could stop us, and we won. The EPA even tried to claim that greenhouse gases were not a pollutant, and we took them all the way to the Supreme Court and we won that,” Schwarzenegger said.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, has taken the lead among members of Congress in calling on Wheeler to restore the trust of the American people in the EPA after Pruitt’s scandal-ridden tenure. In an open letter, Carper urged Wheeler to follow in the footsteps of former EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus, a Republican who earned “an emotional hero’s welcome” from EPA staffers when he took over the agency (for the second time) in 1983, replacing the scandal-tarnished Anne Gorsuch. Ruckelshaus, who was also the first EPA chief, appointed by President Nixon in 1970, promised to follow environmental laws, making no “Big P” political decisions and seeking help from scientists and environmentalists.

“The damage Scott Pruitt has done to the Agency will not easily be undone,” Carper wrote. “While you and I have not always agreed, and will not always agree, on every environmental policy matter, it is my hope and expectation that you will carefully consider the lessons of the past as you prepare to chart the Agency’s future.”

Wheeler is surrounded by Pruitt’s top aides, many of whom have strong industry ties, including Richard Yamada, who worked for Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, Nancy Beck, who was an executive at the American Chemistry Council, and William Wehrum, who was an attorney for the oil and coal industries.

Under Wheeler, Rosenberg said, expect to see more or less the same goal of slashing regulations unless he gives “very strong different direction to his folks — many of whom I believe have serious conflicts of interest.”


Nat. Geographic Admits They Were Wrong About Famous Climate Change Polar Bear Pic

They say the retraction never gets as much attention as the original mistake did. That’s doubly true when the picture in question went viral and the correction came months later.

You perhaps remember the photo of an emaciated polar bear that appeared in National Geographic last December. It was captured by photographers Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen on the Baffin Islands in Canada.

This is what you probably saw last winter:

“We stood there crying — filming with tears rolling down our cheeks,” Nicklen said.

However, in an article for the August 2018 issue of National Geographic titled “Starving-Polar-Bear Photographer Recalls What Went Wrong,” Mittermeier says that the narrative that grew up around the photograph — in particular its relation to climate change — was inaccurate.

“Photographer Paul Nicklen and I are on a mission to capture images that communicate the urgency of climate change. Documenting its effects on wildlife hasn’t been easy. With this image, we thought we had found a way to help people imagine what the future of climate change might look like. We were, perhaps, naive. The picture went viral — and people took it literally,” Mittermeier wrote.

“Paul spotted the polar bear a year ago on a scouting trip to an isolated cove on Somerset Island in the Canadian Arctic. He immediately asked me to assemble our SeaLegacy SeaSwat team. SeaLegacy, the organization we founded in 2014, uses photography to spread the message of ocean conservation; the SeaSwat team is a deployable unit of storytellers who cover urgent issues. The day after his call our team flew to an Inuit village on Resolute Bay. There was no certainty that we would find the bear again or that it would still be alive.”

The implication here, of course, is that this wasn’t a dispassionate attempt to convey the effects of climate change but a deliberate attempt to dramatize things. Also, we don’t know why the polar bear was wasting away — it could have been some form of disease. However, Mittermeier argues that she and Nicklen didn’t mean for it to take off the way it did.

“When Paul posted the video on Instagram, he wrote, ‘This is what starvation looks like.’ He pointed out that scientists suspect polar bears will be driven to extinction in the next century,” Mittermeier wrote.

“He wondered whether the global population of 25,000 polar bears would die the way this bear was dying. He urged people to do everything they could to reduce their carbon footprint and prevent this from happening. But he did not say that this particular bear was killed by climate change.” (Emphasis mine.)

Mittermeier said their “mission was a success, but there was a problem: We had lost control of the narrative. The first line of the National Geographic video said, ‘This is what climate change looks like’ — with ‘climate change’ highlighted in the brand’s distinctive yellow. In retrospect, National Geographic went too far with the caption. Other news outlets ran dramatic headlines like this one from the Washington Post: ‘‘We stood there crying’: Emaciated polar bear seen in ‘gut-wrenching’ video and photos.’”

“Perhaps we made a mistake in not telling the full story — that we were looking for a picture that foretold the future and that we didn’t know what had happened to this particular polar bear.”

It is a relatively frank admission by the photographer and the magazine, especially given the leanings of both. Still, this isn’t something that should have happened in the first place. In a rush to tie this to climate change, National Geographic was willing to usher its readers past the actual facts of the picture and instead paint it as a pure result of climate change. And then there’s the fact that this comes eight months later.

Let this serve as an example for other publications: In a rush to fill a leftist narrative, don’t ignore reality. If they do, readers are going to be there to hold them accountable.


Sexy ‘Miss Climate’ Competition To Combat Climate Change Apathy.  I’m not making this up

The president of our university forwarded some flashy brochures he received from Virendra Rawat, Indian founder and director of the global “Green Schools” concept.

They are auditioning for young females to compete to become “Miss Climate – 2018”.

As the letter states, “winners of this beauty pageant will serve as Global Ambassador of Climate Change”:

Hmm. There is so much to say, and the letter raises so many questions, one hardly knows where to begin…

Miss Climate brochureFirst, the overt sexism: A “beauty pageant”? Has Mr. Rawat not heard that even the future Miss America will not be judged on physical appearance?

The letter is addressed to “Dear Sir” (I suspect many universities are run by females);

The qualifications are young females 18-25 years old, with a minimum height of 5’5″, and unmarried.


1) Can contestants self-identify as female, 18-25, and of minimum height 5’5″ tall?

2) Is the former IPCC director Rajendra Pachauri involved in this in any way? It sounds like something he’d have some interest in.

3) Will the contestants’ knowledge of global environmental concerns be up to the standards of, say, the world peace concerns of the Miss America contestants?

4) Given the global warming theme, will there be a — ahem — heat level requirement of some type for contestants?

5) Will Anthony Watts enter his dog Kenji in the competition? (At least Kenji is a card-carrying member of the Union of Concerned Scientists).

I’m sure others can think of additional questions which naturally arise from this announced beauty pageant. For now, my jaw is still rising up from the floor.




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


Friday, July 27, 2018

California Was Warned Months Ago Its Grid Could Buckle In The Heat. Now It's Happening

California’s grid operator is asking customers to limit electricity use during peak hours to help keep power flowing as a “heat dome” settles over the southwestern U.S.

But they were warned of this months ago. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) warned in May that California faced “significant risk of encountering operating conditions that could result in operating reserve shortfalls.”

Expected power demand is expected to outstrip California’s available generating capacity by about 5,000 megawatts on Tuesday, according to the California Independent System Operator (CAISO).

Why the lack of energy supplies? CAISO expects high demand for air conditioning during the heat wave to outstrip supply owing to “reduced electricity imports, tight natural gas supplies” and high wildfire risk.

The grid operator issued a flex alert to customers on Monday and began mobilizing all available generating capacity. But that’s not enough, and CAISO is asking residents and businesses to cut their power usage to prevent “rotating power outages.”

This is exactly what NERC warned about, based on CAISO’s own assessment earlier this year. NERC found an increased risk of rolling blackouts as “a result of lower hydro conditions and the retirement of 789 MW of dispatchable natural gas generation that had been available in prior summers to meet high load conditions.”

“Natural gas limitations and pipeline outages could exacerbate these conditions,” NERC found.

Tens of thousands of Californians lost power in early July when a heat wave sent temperatures soaring, recording new records in the Los Angeles area. Air conditioning use put too much strain on the grid, overloading electrical distribution.

CAISO asked customers “to conserve electricity especially during the late afternoon and evening when air conditioners typically are at peak use” for Tuesday and Wednesday when temperatures are expected to hit triple digits across much of southern California.


Greenies against the wall

The reduction in habitat from a border wall would be tiny so any serious impact on an otherwise viable population would be unlikely

Scientists in the US are warning of the potential for serious ecological consequences if Donald Trump's proposed border wall between the US and Mexico goes ahead.

The wall, which would span the majority of the border from the North Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, will impede animal migration, shrink animal habitat and split populations of species into smaller, less viable groups, according to the 18 researchers who published their findings today in BioScience.

More than 2,500 scientists endorsed the article, which calls on the US government to "recognise and give high priority to conserving the ecological, economic, political and cultural value of the US-Mexico borderlands".

"National security can and must be pursued with an approach that conserves our natural heritage," they wrote.

The construction of a border fence between the US and Mexico began during George W Bush's presidency. At the time Congress gave the Department of Homeland Security authority to waive laws that could slow construction of the border fence, including the endangered species act (ESA) and the national environmental policy act (NEPA).

And there has reportedly been very little assessment of the environmental impacts of the various sections of border fence — adding up to 1,200 kilometres — that have since been built. Now President Trump plans to extend these various sections into a continuous barrier.

Numerous species along the US-Mexico border are already threatened with extinction, according to study author Professor Bill Ripple from Oregon State University. "There are currently 62 species that are threatened," he said.

"The Mexican grey wolf, it's threatened, and its range would be truncated [by the wall]. The jaguar, there's only a small amount of its range in the United States and that would be cut off from its range in the south. And the same with the ocelot."

The researchers identified 1,506 species with ranges on both sides of the border, including 163 mammals.

Although the border wall has garnered a lot of attention both locally and internationally, the ecological impacts have been mostly overlooked, the researchers said.

In publishing their research and petition, Professor Ripple is aiming to bring these issues to light.

"I'm hoping that some of the national leaders will take note and listen to what we're saying," he said.

"This is not just a small fence, this is a huge construction project that could span the entire border between Mexico and the United States."

Although there has been some discussion of leaving small holes in the fence for animals to pass through, this will not help larger species, Professor Tim Kiett from the University of Texas told the ABC's Science Show recently.

"Things like jaguar, jaguarundi, the pronghorn, a number of larger-bodied species could still be impacted even if there are small passageways in the barrier," Professor Kiett said.

"They move daily and seasonally. Some embark on largescale migration, but many just move about to forage, to find mates, and for other reasons, so if their movement ability is restricted that can impact their populations."

The latest International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List, released earlier this month, names 237 species extinctions in the United States, with a further 214 listed as critically endangered.

The consequences of building a wall across the US will likely hit endangered species the hardest, and may be complicated by the impacts of climate change, Professor Ripple warned.

"The species currently threatened with extinction are of the highest concern," he said.

It has been shown that species are moving poleward away from the equator at more than 15 kilometres per year on average, as global temperatures warm.


WAKE UP Libs! It’s Impossible For Renewable Energy To Meet Our Needs

“Green energy is the way of the future” say environmental advocates. They argue that the transition away from fossil fuels is inevitable and inexorable, desirable. Some brazenly claim that the entire world could be powered by renewables as soon as 2030—assuming the governments’ subsidies don’t dry up. But is their exuberance justified? No.

Although renewable energy capacity has grown by leaps and bounds over the last three decades (wind power capacity grew on average 24.3 percent per year since 1990, and solar by 46.2 percent), renewable energy still generates an insignificant proportion of mankind’s power, and their rapid growth is not sustainable.

The truth is that after decades of beefy government subsidies wind power still meets just 0.46 percent of earth’s total energy demands, according to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA).  The data includes not only electrical energy but also the energy consumed via liquid fuels for transportation, heating, cooking, etc.  Solar farms generate even less energy.  Even when combined, the figures are minuscule: wind and solar energy together generate less than 1 percent of earth’s energy output.

Bottom line: wind and solar energy are not making a difference in the left’s crusade against fossil fuels. It would be far more cost-effective and reasonable to simply invest in more energy-efficient technology.  But of course, doing so would not line the pockets of welfare billionaires like Elon Musk, founder of the Tesla Group.

Furthermore, the rapid growth of renewable energy is unsustainable—the future will not likely be wind nor solar-powered.

Looking first at wind energy: between 2013 and 2014, again using IEA data, global energy demand grew by 2,000 terawatt-hours.  In order to meet this demand the earth would need to build 350,000 new 2-megawatt wind turbines every year—enough to entirely blanket the British Isles.  For context, that is 50 percent more turbines than have been built globally since the year 2000. Given these facts, it is extremely unlikely that the future will be wind-powered: we simply cannot build turbines fast enough, and there is just not enough land (nor continental shelf) available to farm. And unfortunately, this is not a problem that can be overcome with better technology: turbines can become only so efficient due to something called the Betz limit (which determines how much energy can be extracted from a moving fluid, ie. the atmosphere). As it stands, modern wind turbines are already very close to their physical limit.

The state of solar energy is only slightly more promising.  Recent findings reported in Business Insider suggest that humanity would need to entirely cover an equatorial region the size of Spain with solar panels in order to generate enough electricity to meet global demand by 2030.  Not only is this an enormous amount of land that could otherwise be used for agriculture—or left unmolested—but it also greatly underestimates the size of the ecological footprint, since only 20 percent of mankind’s energy consumption takes the form of electricity.  Were we to abandon fossil fuels for transportation, the area needed would be five times as large.

An additional problem is that earth lacks the mineral resources to build that many solar panels. For example, an article published in USA Today estimates that each standard 1.8 square meter solar panel requires 20 grams of silver to build—silver is essential to modern solar cells. Since there are 1 million square meters in a square kilometer, 11.1 tons of silver is needed per square kilometer of solar panels.  Spain is 506,000 square kilometers. Covering this much space with solar panels would require 5,616,600 tons of silver.  As it turns out, that is 7.2 times as much silver as is estimated to exist in Earth’s crust—never mind the fact that we would need five-times this amount to displace fossil fuels.  Granted, new technology could mitigate the need for silver, but this same logic applies to dozens of other minerals present in solar panels—they are simply too resource-hungry to be built on a global scale.

One must also remember that such massive investments in solar panels would inevitably contribute to resource scarcity: modern electronics require many of the same minerals as do solar panels.  Increased competition for a finite supply of minerals would raise the prices of our electronic goods, as well as the price of electricity.  Of course, this analysis wholly ignores the many other problems with solar and wind energy, such as the problem of intermittency and the hidden systemic risks it entails.

This is not to say wind and solar energy have no uses.  In some cases, they may be preferable to other types of energy.  For example, remote townships and homesteads can benefit greatly from local electricity production—especially since renewable energy does not require fuel. Likewise, they could be useful for providing backup capacity in the case of fuel shortages.  However, wind and solar energy are unlikely to underpin the global energy supply, especially since more cost-effective options remain on the table.

Given these facts, we can reasonably conclude that the green energy industry is little more than a corporate welfare scheme marketed under the guise of noble intentions.


Young, dumb teenage girls form doomsday cult to fight 'global warming'

The bestselling computer game of 2018 is called Far Cry 5.  It features a militant doomsday cult that takes over parts of America and tries to forcibly convince everyone that the world is about to end.  That could never happen for real in America, could it?

In a related story, a group of mostly teenage girls have formed a group with the doomsday-ish name "Zero Hour" because of their conviction that global warming is soon to destroy the world.  Do you think it's too much to compare them to the militants in Far Cry 5?  Here's a quote from their manifesto:

The elected officials must comply with the demands of the youth, therefore they must pass and enforce legislation and support policies that protect life and our future on this planet. This is a revolution.

"Demands."  "Revolution."  That sounds pretty militant to me.

Their leader is a 16-year-old named Jamie Margolin, in my opinion, a militantly brainwashed doomsday leftist.

She may seem young, but never forget that many of the Red Guards in Mao's China who committed unspeakable atrocities were young, too.  She looks grim in all her photos.  But, to be fair, would you be smiling if you thought the world was about to end?

The teenagers behind Zero Hour – an environmentally focused, creatively minded and technologically savvy nationwide coalition – are trying to build a youth-led movement to sound the alarm and call for action on climate change and environmental justice.  As sea levels rise, ice caps melt and erratic weather affects communities across the globe, they say time is running out to address climate change.

"I've always planned my future in ifs," Ms. Margolin said.  If climate change hasn't destroyed this, if the environment hasn't become that."

What has "climate change" "destroyed" that has prevented someone from doing anything?  The answer: nothing.  This single exchange showcases the doomsday ideology of Ms. Margolin.  She seriously believes that the world is about to end.

Here's what Zero Hour stands for:

1. A blockade of all fossil fuel production.  That sounds as though it could get violent.

2. Stop eating meat.  You first.  On second thought, you first, second, and third.

3. Build "radically sustainable" homes made of garbage.  What, you think I made this up?  I mean it: homes made of garbage.

4. Growing food in every neighborhood.  I'll bet the girls got this from Mao's guide to the Great Leap Forward.  They were probably missing the page where it described how that turned out.

5. Generate zero waste.  Is this science fiction or fantasy?

6. Share clothes, appliances, households, and cars.  A pilot program should begin immediately with the homeless in San Francisco.

7. Rape culture must be dismantled.  And we only just finished setting up the rape culture!  And now they want us to dismantle it.  Typical!  (Yes, this is sarcasm.)

8. Create "collectives" to promote "permaculture," which promotes eating shrubs, perennials, and annuals.  I can see the ad campaign now: "Daisies.  The other white meat."

9. Legalize hemp for "medicine."

10. Require fossil fuel companies to pay for "climate justice education" as "reparations" for the "harm" done to youth.  It's like an environmental version of Jesse Jackson's shakedown of big companies.

11. Protect Queer and Transsexuals from the sexual violence caused by fossil fuel industries.  Who knew that at very same time a power plant produces energy for thousands of homes, it is also molesting transsexuals?

12. Welcome "climate refugees."  (Any from Europe?  Probably not!)

13. End the extraction of natural resources anywhere there is wilderness or nature.  I guess that only leaves major cities to drill and mine in.

14. A recognition that capitalism, colonialism, racism, and patriarchy has led to global warming.

Notice how a whole lot of other issues have been mixed into this enviro-doomsday movement?  What was that about the patriarchy again?

By the way, men, especially white men, are curiously absent from the leadership of Zero Hour.  Of the 16 leaders of Zero Hour, none is a white man.  Only two are boys (or least they looked like boys when the photo was taken).  Why are boys so underrepresented from this doomsday cult?  Are boys not as easily brainwashed as girls?  Or are boys not suitable to join the fight against global warming, because they are trainee members of the "patriarchy"?

It's easy to dismiss this as a bunch of misguided girls.  But the earlier the brainwashing begins, the more dangerous it is to society.  That's why their ignorant adoption of doomsday ideology should be confronted, exposed, and ridiculed, regardless of their age.  With an attitude like that, Ms. Margolin should be more worried about getting a boyfriend than the ice caps melting.


The Extinction of Honest Science

Warmists' predictions of climate doom haven't come to pass or anything like it, but give them credit for agility and perseverance in always concocting a fresh scare. The latest meme to keep grants flowing and careers on track: the purported mass die-off of species large and small

With no significant warming for 20 years, the climate alarmists need better scares.  The temperature rise of about 0.8 degC in more than 100 years is not only non-scary, it’s been immensely beneficial for feeding the globe’s burgeoning population. Now  the “extreme weather” furphy  is at work, with any storm or flood attributed  by Al Gore and the Climate Council to fossil fuel emissions. There’s the purported “ocean acidification”  but I’m yet to see evidence that it has hurt a solitary crab, let alone a species.

As for sea-level rises, well, check my birthplace, Fremantle, butting the Indian Ocean: its tide gauge shows 12 cms rise in the past 120 years – compare that with 20cm for the length of my hand. To cap it off, the warmists, including the green-colonised CSIRO, have had to recognize that extra CO2  in the 30 years to 2010  has greened the earth to the extent of two and a half Australias in area.[1]

There are two handy scares still slithering around: “The Anthropocene” and “The Sixth Mass Extinction”. Both are fakes. Both are foisted on kids by green/Left educators. Both require as supposed remedies a supra-national enforcement agency run by the Left/liberal crowd, along with a roll-back of capitalist progress.

Here’s an example. I was in Chicago in 2013 and visited its great natural history centre the Field Museum (named after a 19th century $US9m donor Marshall Field). In the “Evolving Planet” gallery for kids, there was a   chart, “The Geologic Time Scale” showing the classic geologic ages (Silurian, Devonian etc) with markers for the first five extinctions. At the top it read “Today” with a picture of a metropolis, and an arrow labeled “Sixth Mass Extinction”. A red-neon “Extinction Clock” ticked over each time another species supposedly becomes extinct. In the hour or two since the gallery opened, the counter had added another 22 supposed extinctions.

The count was based not on reality but fanciful modeling 30 years ago by Harvard professor and environmental activist Dr E.O Wilson, who claimed that 30,000 species were going extinct per year. The true number of known extinctions per year among the planet’s reputed 10 million-or-so species and  averaged over the past 500 years is about two, according to the Red List of the International  Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Yet climate activists want to compare this alleged“Sixth Extinction” with the  end-Permian “great dying” (250 million years ago) and end-Cretaceous dinosaur die-off (66 million years ago).

As for  the“Anthropocene”, it refers to the present geological era in which humans supposedly dominate the planetary processes and destroy other life forms. The label was first seriously proposed in 2001 by  co-Nobelist Paul Crutzen, of ozone-hole fame. It supposedly succeeds our 11,500 year old Holocene, the brief warm spell that has fostered our agriculture and civilisation. No such era and label as “Anthropocene” has been endorsed by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS),  the global naming authority. An ICS working group (AWG) endorsed the concept in 2016, positing a start date of 1950. Most geologic eras last about three million years, so the ICS is in no hurry to make a ruling.

The AWG argument goes that thousands of years from now, geologists will uncover a fine dividing layer of “techno-fossils”from the late 20th Century, comprised of ball-point pens, CD platters and mobile phone carcasses.[2] My lost car keys may also turn up. If the ICS is unpersuaded, the “Anthropocene” claimants argue that old labeling conventions can be thrown out since we so urgently need to save the planet.

In this debasement of science, thousands of peer-reviewed papers blather about the “Anthropocene”. Publisher Elsevier has even created a learned journal, “The Anthropocene Review” where academics can flaunt their cringe-worthy research. As Canadian fact-checker Donna Laframboise puts it, “Declaring something to be the case before it has actually happened is unethical. A more scandalous example of fake news is difficult to imagine.”[3]

Contrarian papers on the topics are often binned, as biologists Peter Kareiva and Michelle Marvier have found, because reviewers worry “as much about political fallout and potential misinterpretation by the public as they do about the validity and rigor of the science.”[4]

Meanwhile  “Anthropocene” fans argue that we humans are now more powerful than traditional geologic forces like volcanos, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis and shifting planetary orbits. At 11am on October 14, 1968, I was home at Gooseberry Hill in Perth’s Darling Ranges when my house began to shake. I’ll never forget it. The cause was a 6.9 force earthquake centred at Meckering, 100 kilometres further east. I don’t think humans can compete  with such forces, now or ever. You may disagree.

Most of the media’s environment writers have mindlessly propagated the Anthropocene concept.  New Yorker staffer Elizabeth Colbert morphed the story into a book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, and won a Pulitzer for it.[5] As a sample, she tells New Yorker readers about finding some bat corpses: “It struck me, as I stood there holding a bag filled with several dozen stiff, almost weightless bats, that I was watching mass extinction in action.”

Full credit, however, to Ruth Graham of the Boston Globe for her clear-eyed piece in 2014 exposing the naked activism of the “Sixth Extinction” crowd. UCAL ecologist Stephen Hubbell was surprised by the vehement reactions to his critical paper in Nature (2011) about extinction rates, she wrote. Hubbell said that some conservationists effectively told him, “Damn the data, we have an agenda …” Hubbell continued, “The only thing science has going for it is truth and the search for truth. If it loses that, it’s really lost its way.”

Most scientists in this field are also strong conservationists, Graham wrote, and many worry that airing dirty laundry about estimates (such as “40,000 species disappearing each year”) could hurt the cause. A Brazil-based extinction specialist, Richard Ladle, spoke to her of “some enormous exaggerations”. A much-publicized 2004 paper, for instance, warned that climate change could put a million species at risk by 2050. Ladle said, “If you keep on talking about very, very large figures and nothing appears to be happening, eventually that’s going to erode public confidence in conservation science.”

Reporter Graham quoted Nigel Stork, a conservation biologist at Griffith University, Qld., who argued in Science in 2013 that the extinction rate was over-stated: “If you express a view that’s different to some people, they say you’re anti-conservation, and that’s not true. Conservation is working. There have been fewer extinctions because we’ve been conserving a key part of the world.” Graham concluded:  “The swirling controversies demonstrate how even ‘science-driven’ policy can sit uneasily with the workings of science itself. Galvanizing public opinion sometimes demands single dramatic certainties, while science proceeds by estimate, correction, and argument.”

The “Anthropocene” and the “Sixth Extinction” are eviscerated in a 8000-word essay “Welcome to the Narcisscene” by Mark Sagoff in the Oakland, Ca.-based Breakthrough Journal.[6] Enough time has elapsed to run a check on scientists’ gruesome predictions of extinctions, Sagoff says. The predictions of decades ago, treated with credulity at the time, have proved ridiculous. Here’s a few of them, tabulated by Griffith’s Nigel Stork. “If some of these higher estimates were true, then we should have already witnessed the extinction of up to 50 percent of all species on Earth in the last 30 years,” Stork wrote.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature tracks species that have gone extinct. Last year’s Red List database looked at 24,230 plant species, and found only 118 had disappeared since 1500, while another 35 are extinct in the wild but survive in cultivation. To meet the criteria of a ‘mass extinction’, we’d need to lose about 18,000. At the current rate, it would take 70,000 more years.

It’s the same with insects. Take the well-studied butterflies, tiger beetles, dragonflies and damsel flies. Only three of 25,000 types have gone extinct in the past 500 years. A “mass extinction” would take 3 million years.

The IUCN manages data on 67,000 animal types. About 800 have gone extinct in the past 500 years. At this rate, it would take 25,000 years for a “mass extinction”.

All up, of 100,000 plants and animals, about two are lost per year. It would take another 34,000 years for a “mass extinction”.

Sagoff demolishes a subsidiary warmist argument: that current extinction rates are 100 to 1000 times (or even 10,000 times) the “normal” rates in the earth’s history. This seems extra scary, as it is intended to be. But a mass extinction would still take 34,000 years at the present rate, assuming no new species evolve. The argument about “1000 times ‘normal’” means that, normally, the same loss would take 34,000,000 years. It’s a  true-life version of this little joke:

An astronomer in a lecture predicts the earth will be swallowed by the sun in 8 billion years. He asks a distressed lady in the audience: “Why are you upset about something 8 billion years away?”

“Eight billion years? Oh, I thought you said 8 MILLION!”

Australian climate warriors have been influential in the debate. Sagoff’s article cites studies by Will Steffen (ANU and Climate Council) and Clive Hamilton, but wrongly describes the latter, an ethicist and one-time Greens candidate, as an ‘earth system scientist’. Hamilton  argues that  “on the side of responsibility are gathered the armies of scientific insight into Earth’s physical limits.” Against these are “mobilized the armies of avarice intrinsic to an economic structure driven by the profit motive.”[8] Well that’s telling us capitalists.

Steffen, whose research inspired the  2011 carbon tax, was lead author with Nobelist Crutzen in a discussion paper on the “Anthropocene” for the Royal Society the same year.[9] Steffen asserted that we are already at “Stage 3” of the “Anthropocene” era. Conceding that the term is only “informal”, Steffen accused humanity of not just being responsible for global warming but also of meddling with vital nitrogen, phosphorous and sulphur cycles, along with fresh water despoliation and “likely driving the sixth major extinction event in Earth history … the first caused by a biological species.”

Steffen digressed into warning of “peak oil”, citing that oil production would need to rise 26% by 2030 to meet demand. “The prospects of achieving this level of increased production in just two decades at prices that are affordable in the developing world seem highly unlikely,” he wrote, suggesting a “significant risk of a peak before 2020.” Oil was then about $US100 a barrel, today $US70 thanks to the abundance of fracked petroleum.

Steffen also warned that we are close to “peak phosphorous”, suggesting some sort of “equitable” rationing to help the third world’s food security. Rock phosphate was then about $US200 a ton, today about $US100. By the way, never take stock tips from climate scientists who claim expertise in discerning the future up to 2100.

Needless to say, Steffen saw the crises’ solution in “effective global governance” run by his like-minded colleagues at the UN or via enforceable treaties. But since the 2009 Copenhagen conference was a flop in terms of “very deep and rapid cuts to emissions” (he was writing before the 2015 Paris flop), he shifts to earnest discussion about geo-engineering to cool the earth. “Only recently a taboo topic, geo-engineering has rapidly become a serious research topic and in situ tests may subsequently be undertaken if the research shows promising approaches,” he wrote.[10] He instances pumping sulphate particles into the stratosphere as cooling agents, but concludes rather sensibly that “ultimately, the near inevitability of unforeseen consequences should give humanity pause for serious reflection before embarking on any geo-engineering approaches.”

His argument surfaces some curious ideas. Sulphur particles in the air cause more than 500,000 premature deaths per year and damage the environment, he notes. “This creates a dilemma for environmental policymakers, because emission reductions of SO2 … for health and ecological considerations, add to global warming and associated negative consequences, such as sea level rise…[C]omplete improvement in air quality could lead to a global average surface air temperature increase by 0.8◦C on most continents and 4◦C in the Arctic.” Not many people would see any “dilemma” in saving lives by cleaning up air pollution.

Steffen then launches a pre-emptive strike against “Anthropocene” and “Mass Extinction” deniers. Like sceptics of the warming doctrine, he asserts they are driven not by “evidence and explanation” but “by beliefs and values and occasionally by cynical self-interest.” Sceptics have cognitive dissonance such that the more challenged they are by facts, the more they cling to their beliefs, he claims:

“This response may become even more pronounced for the Anthropocene, when the notion of human ‘progress’ or the place of humanity in the natural world is directly challenged. In fact, the belief systems and assumptions that underpin neo-classical economic thinking, which in turn has been a major driver of the Great Acceleration [since 1950] are directly challenged by the concept of the Anthropocene.”

What economic system Steffen prefers, he doesn’t say. He finishes with, “The ultimate drivers of the Anthropocene if they continue unabated through this century, may well threaten the viability of contemporary civilization and perhaps even the future existence of Homo sapiens.”

Others, like University of Wollongong geographer Noel Castree, are even more critical of economic progress.  He writes,

“Even more than the concept of global warming, the Anthropocene is provocative because it implies that our current way of life, especially in wealthy parts of the world, is utterly unsustainable. Large companies who make profits from environmental despoliation – oil multinationals, chemical companies, car makers and countless others – have much to lose if the concept becomes linked with political agendas devoted to things like degrowth and decarbonisation.

… We don’t need the ICS’s imprimatur to appreciate that we are indeed waving goodbye to Earth as we have known it throughout human civilisation.”

I assume Professor Castree doesn’t use a car.

Sceptics have their own version of the current “Anthropocene” such as the “Narcissiscene” and “Greenoscene”. My favorite is the “Adjustoscene” where data has been altered to fit the climate models. Ruder people talk of the “Idioscene” or the “Obscene”. Keep it civil, folks.




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