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


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