Sunday, August 12, 2018

Report: Trump Admin Mulling Idea To Scrap Obama-Era Lightbulb Regulations

The Trump administration is preparing to repeal an Obama-era rule effectively outlawing a wide swath of popular lightbulbs, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The Department of Energy is ready to scrap a rule broadening the number of lightbulbs that must meet strict energy efficiency standards set to take effect in 2020, according to a document the agency published on its website.

The document was later removed from the site, WaPo noted.

Former President Barack Obama’s DOE expanded the class of bulbs covered by a 2007 lightbulb ban to include bug lights, three-way bulbs, “rough service lamps,” and some decorative bulbs, such as globe-shaped bulbs.

Obama’s decision came in January 2017 and roped in bulbs that had previously been exempt from the ban.

Obama officials argued the expansion was needed because consumers might use the unregulated bulbs to replace regulated ones. “DOE expects these sales will likely increase since these lamps could be used as replacements for other regulated lamp types,” the law notes.

The Trump administration is clamming up about the change.

“The Department does not comment on ongoing rulemakings beyond what is publicly available in the Unified Agenda published twice a year,” spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes told reporters when asked if the DOE is preparing to ding the regulation.

Eliminating the regulation is potentially as groundbreaking as President Donald Trump’s move to roll back fuel emission rules, according to some experts.

“It’s certainly one of the biggest for energy efficiency standards, setting aside the clean-car standards,” Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, which discovered and saved the document before it was removed from the DOE’s website, said in an interview with reporters.

Congress passed into law in 2007 new efficiency requirements for general lightbulbs, with strict requirements set to take effect in 2020. LED bulbs and compact fluorescent lamps can easily meet the 2020 standard of 45 lumens per watt, according to deLaski.

But the traditional incandescent bulbs on the market cannot.

Obama also banned sales of the 100-watt incandescent lightbulb in 2012 as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 was taking hold.

Conservatives complained at the time, calling the bans an infringement on consumers’ rights to choose how they light their homes.

“Congress should not be picking winners and losers, allowing big corporate donors to dictate what consumer products we can and can’t buy!” the conservative Eagle Forum wrote in 2012. “If we don’t take a stand to save our light bulbs, what will they go after next?”


Make Socialism Scientific Again!

I mentionerd the pseudo-academic article this refers to on 8/8/18 -- JR

Remember the good old days when socialism was “scientific”? Keep in mind that the orthodox Marxism of “dialectical materialism” was understood as a scientific doctrine of history, not advocacy based on the abstract principles of egalitarianism. But then socialism crashed and burned everywhere (except on college campuses), which is why today socialism comes to sight as a religious faith, a trait it always had from the beginning, which is why you often found cleric-scientists among the ranks of its enthusiasts in the 19th century. Today I think socialism is more akin to witchcraft. In fact, hold on to that image for a bit.

Meanwhile, I have been dining out for years on the highly revealing statement made back in 2004 by Harvard’s renowned geneticist Richard Lewontin, who told the New York Review of Books that year:

Most scientists are, at a minimum, liberals, although it is by no means obvious why this should be so. Despite the fact that all of the molecular biologists of my acquaintance are shareholders in or advisers to biotechnology firms, the chief political controversy in the scientific community seems to be whether it is wise to vote for Ralph Nader this time.

This time? How about any time? It’s one thing for academic scientists to lean left (though many I know emphatically do not), but this is the kind of statement that makes you wonder. Lewontin deserves his scientific reputation; his political judgment is clearly juvenile.

This is preface for noting the release of a new article from PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), which usually publishes serious and sober work. But I think the fumes in the editorial lab must have been strong the day this article was accepted:

Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene

Will Steffen, Johan Rockström, Katherine Richardson, Timothy M. Lenton, Carl Folke, Diana Liverman, Colin P. Summerhayes, Anthony D. Barnosky, Sarah E. Cornell, Michel Crucifix, Jonathan F. Donges, Ingo Fetzer, Steven J. Lade, Marten Scheffer, Ricarda Winkelmann, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber


We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a “Hothouse Earth” pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene. We examine the evidence that such a threshold might exist and where it might be. If the threshold is crossed, the resulting trajectory would likely cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies. Collective human action is required to steer the Earth System away from a potential threshold and stabilize it in a habitable interglacial-like state. Such action entails stewardship of the entire Earth System—biosphere, climate, and societies—and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values.

In other words, another typical Malthusian callback to how the world is doomed if we don’t hand over power to an enlightened elite. I’ve highlighted the key part of the last sentence, because those judgments cannot be called “scientific” in any way whatsoever. The complete text of the article is even worse:

We suggest that a deep transformation based on a fundamental reorientation of human values, equity, behavior, institutions, economies, and technologies is required. . .

In other words, we have to change everything. Although the authors won’t say so directly, the implication is global governance of some kind, which by definition will have to be undemocratic. (Which for many people on the left is a feature, not a bug.)

Perhaps this is an entirely unremarkable restatement of a common view that is probably published in an academic journal a dozen times every day, but there is one interesting irony of this particular article. If you look at the fine print, you find this acknowledgement: “Edited by William C. Clark, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and approved July 6, 2018 (received for review June 19, 2018).”

I’ve never met Prof. Clark, and don’t know him at all, but he is the author of one of my very favorite articles about the institutional problems of science and politics way back in 1980: “Witches, Floods, and Wonder Drugs: Historical Perspectives on Risk Management.” It’s a terrific article. It was the late columnist Warren Brookes who first brought it to my attention. Clark’s comparison of the institutional incentives for witch-hunting with contemporary risk assessment (built partially on the terrific work of the late Aaron Wildavsky) has a perfect application to today’s Malthusian environmentalism and especially climate change thermaggeddonism—especially apt for the Inquisition-like treatment of dissent from climate change orthodoxy.

Some samples from the article:

Collective action by the central authority was henceforth required, and any action taken against a particular individual was justified in the name of the common good. In the case of the witch hunts, this “common good” justified the carbonization of five hundred thousand individuals, the infliction of untold suffering, and the generation of a climate of fear and distrust—all in the name of the most elite and educated institution of the day. . .

The institutionalized efforts of the Church to control witches can be seen, in retrospect, to have led to witch proliferation. Early preaching against witchcraft and its evils almost certainly put the idea of witches into many a head which never would have imagined such things if left to its own devices. The harder the Inquisition looked, the bigger its staff, the stronger its motivation, the more witches it discovered. . .

Since the resulting higher discovery rate of witch risks obviously justifies more search effort, the whole process becomes self-contained and self-amplifying, with no prospect of natural limitation based on some externally determined “objective” frequency of witch risks in the environment. . .

In witch hunting, accusation was tantamount to conviction. Acquittal was arbitrary, dependent on the flagging zeal of the prosecutor. It was always reversible if new evidence appeared. You couldn’t win, and you could only leave the game by losing. The Inquisition’s principal tool for identifying witches was torture. The accused was asked if she was a witch. If she said no, what else would you expect of a witch? So she was tortured until she confessed the truth. The Inquisitors justified ever more stringent tortures on the grounds that it would be prohibitively dangerous for a real witch to escape detection. Of course an innocent person would never confess to being a witch (a heretic with no prospects of salvation) under mere physical suffering. The few who lived through such tests were likely to spend the rest of their lives as physical or mental cripples. Most found it easier to give up and burn.

You can see here an early version of the “precautionary principle” (“The Inquisitors justified ever more stringent tortures on the grounds that it would be prohibitively dangerous for a real witch to escape detection”) and many other prominent traits of the climate campaign.

Here is Clark’s killer sentence:

Many of the risk assessment procedures used today are logically indistinguishable from those used by the Inquisition.

And this coda, for which you should swap out “risk assessors” with “climate change advocates”:

Today, anyone querying the zeal of the risk assessors is accused at least of callousness, in words almost identical to those used by the Malleusfive hundred years ago. The accused’s league with the devil against society is taken for granted. Persecution in the press, courts, and hearing rooms is unremitting, and even the weak rules of evidence advanced by the “science” of risk assessment are swept away in the heat of the chase. This is not to say that risks don’t exist, or that assessors are venal. It is to insist that skeptical, open inquiry remains theory rather than practice in the majority of today’s risk debates. That those debates are so often little more than self-deluding recitations of personal faith should not be surprising.

Cue the refrain that “97 percent of scientists believe in climate change.” Believe? It would seem the Inquisition never really went away: it just changed institutions and identified a different class of witches to hunt down.

Clark’s entire paper, with interesting case histories of flood control and drug approval (hence the full title of the paper) is worth reading, even if some of the analysis is now dated and obsolete. But I am begged to ask the question: what happened to that Clark? Or perhaps he cleverly thinks that the best way to chastise politicized scientists is simply to publish their tendentious work?

NB: Scientists are the equal of any other citizens, and are perfectly entitled to their political opinions. But to represent their opinions with the veneer of scientific authority, as is done here, degrades science, and contributes to the decline in public regard for the scientific community. Prof. Kerry Emanuel of MIT, a “mainstream” climate scientist, put the matter well a few years back:

Scientists are most effective when they provide sound, impartial advice, but their reputation for impartiality is severely compromised by the shocking lack of political diversity among American academics, who suffer from the kind of group-think that develops in cloistered cultures. Until this profound and well-documented intellectual homogeneity changes, scientists will be suspected of constituting a leftist think tank.

Instead of offering vague political nostrums like this article, scientists who are sincerely convinced of the high probability of doom from climate change ought to be offering the specs for the technical changes that need to be made to energy supply (i.e., what carbon intensities, what kind of pollution mitigation, what kind of “geoengineering” strategies, etc). To their credit, many scientists do just this. This group of authors clearly want to be in a different line of work—or at least ought to be.


The Guaranteed-to-Fail Climate Solution: Behavioral Change

BIG PICTURE: The media is in a tizzy this week over the latest climate change research published in America’s PNAS, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

The paper is titled “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene.” Once again we see what is supposed to be a reputable organization – the National Academy – misleading the public into believing that the Anthropocene is an official geological epoch rather than a figment of the activist imagination.

But putting that aside, the abstract ends this way:

Collective human action is required to steer the Earth System away from a potential threshold and stabilize it in a habitable interglacial-like state. Such action entails stewardship of the entire Earth System—biosphere, climate, and societies—and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values.

Behavioral changes. Transformed social values. Only academics who haven’t the first foggy clue how the real world works, could write such impractical nonsense.

Widespread behavioral change is simply not possible. Not without turning the entire planet into a police state.

Persuading medical doctors – highly educated, professionally motivated individuals – to wash their hands thoroughly enough to remove harmful bacteria before they move on to the next patient is notoriously difficult. It was difficult in the mid-1800s and it remains difficult today.

The reasons are simple. Doctors are human beings. They’re often rushed. Their minds are often distracted. They’re impatient. Fully aware of what constitutes correct behavior, they nevertheless fail this test on a regular basis.

You can read all about this phenomenon in the 2011 book SuperFreakonomics. Or in this online transcript of a 2012 radio show featuring Stephen Dubner, one of the book’s co-authors. Toward the end, he says:

It’s humbling, isn’t it? To think that the best-educated people in the hospital need to be tricked and shamed and even frightened into washing their hands. It shows just how hard behavior change can be…

Parents, teachers, coaches, workplace supervisors, religious leaders, police officers, and certain other government officials spend a great deal of time telling people not to do all manner of things. If behavior change were easy, there’d be no more lying, cheating, stealing, back-stabbing, substance abuse, unprotected sex, and so on.

But even threats of serious consequences such as disease, job loss, incarceration, and eternal damnation are insufficient. We’re no closer to eliminating those behaviors than the Ancient Romans were.

TOP TAKEAWAY: Whatever the future may hold, we’ll need all the technological fixes we can muster. Billions of people aren’t going to just fall into line. We won’t be voluntary, en masse and in a timely manner, altering our behavior because ivory tower academics think we should.


EPA study shows it is time to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard

By Printus LeBlanc

This week the corn lobby celebrated thirteen years since the establishment of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Thirteen years of the government mandating the public buy an inferior product from well-connected lobbyists in Washington, D.C., and we wonder where they got the idea for the Obamacare individual mandate. There is good news on the horizon though. There is now evidence the RFS isn’t even as good for the environment as originally thought.

The RFS had two goals upon implementation in 2005. The first was to reduce the amount of petroleum the U.S. imports, specifically from the Middle East. This reason as already been refuted. Fracking reduced the amount of foreign imported oil, not ethanol.

The second reason was environmental. It was believed the RFS was more environmentally friendly because it is renewable. The mountains of evidence proving otherwise have been ignored, now a recently released report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will finally prove the RFS does more harm to the environment than good.

When the RFS was instituted, it was only a matter of time before the law of unintended consequences reared its head. With the government mandating biofuels, it is no surprise more corn and soybeans would be grown. The extra fertilizers and run off lead to algae blooms. The blooms deplete oxygen in the water killing marine life. The report stated, “modeling studies since the 2011 Report suggest that demand for biofuel feedstocks, particularly corn grain, may contribute to harmful algal blooms, as recently observed in western Lake Erie, and to hypoxia, as observed in the northern Gulf of Mexico.”

Causing more fertilizer to be spread which leads to algae blooms killing marine life does not sound environmentally sound.

Not only does the RFS do more harm than good to the soil and water, the program is no friend to the air. The proponents of ethanol like to laud the environmental impacts of the fuel versus gasoline. The problem with the analysis is it looks at the burning of ethanol as a fuel and does not examine what it takes to produce ethanol. Producing ethanol takes farmland that must be tended to, usually with diesel-powered vehicles. The harvest must then be transported to a facility to manufacture the ethanol, once again usually with diesel-powered vehicles. Finally, turning the feedstock into ethanol is an energy-intensive operation.

According to the EPA report, the production facilities are no better than refineries producing gasoline. The report states, “as of mid-2017, there are approximately 200 ethanol production facilities in the U.S. Over 90 percent of these facilities are dry mill facilities processing corn. Facilities producing ethanol from corn and cellulosic feedstocks tend to have greater air pollutant emissions relative to petroleum refineries on a per-BTU of fuel produced basis.”

The final verdict on the report shows what happens whenever the government gets involved. It doesn’t matter if it is healthcare, college, or in this case energy, government interference drives up the cost and makes the problem worse.

It is time to end the RFS. The program does nothing it was supposed to do. It did not reduce the U.S. reliance on petroleum imports, fracking did. It is not good for the environment, multiple studies have shown that, including this latest one. It has bankrupted refineries and finally put undue financial burdens on taxpayers with extra costs. The RFS does do one thing; it pours millions of dollars into the pockets of K Street lobbyists and a few select farmers.


Now global warming misses Melbourne

Australia's wimpy Prime minister recently declared that the drought -- mainly affecting outback NSW -- was caused by Global Warming.  Shortly after that declaration Western Australia got huge rainfall.  Now Melbourne has been swamped too.  Australia is  a big place so "Global" effects that miss out both Western and Southern Australia are not very global are they?  PM Turnbull needs to grow a pair and stop trying to pander to Greenie absurdities

WILD weather has lashed Melbourne this afternoon with hail and heavy rain falling across the city.

Hail pelted suburbs including Yarraville, Kingsville, Footscray and Montrose this afternoon as temperatures plummeted to just 7C in the city.

It was a dramatic drop from the “spring-like” conditions yesterday, with temperatures reaching 20C.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Richard Carlyon said earlier today it had been “the wettest” since June 17. “The cold front moved through Melbourne and delivered up to 10mm of rain,” he said. “Almost two months ago we saw 16mm.”

Heavy snow has begun falling at Victoria’s alpine resorts with 20cm expected over the weekend.

Snow lovers shivered through a chilly morning, with the mercury languishing in the negatives. The apparent temperature at Mt Buller was -11.2C at 10.30am.

Mt Hotham Alpine Resort general manager Belinda Trembath said the mountain would a snow base of about 180cm by the end of the day.

“We’re very fortunate here in the mountains that we are getting some fantastic snow events, it seems to be successive week after week, consistent snow falls and certainly fantastic conditions for skiers and boarders,” she said.

“It started snow about 8.30am and we’re expecting up to 20cm today.”




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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