Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Fake news about refugees

Yes. Africa has droughts. Always has had and always will have. Yes, there are many genuine refugees but all we know of are fleeing war, not the climate. That some are fleeing the climate is just made up -- fake news.  Some are certainly fleeing as a result of bad weather events such as drought but tying weather events to global warming is pure speculation.  It cannot be proven and there is no increase in such events if we look at the statistics.  There were many equally bad events in the past

From African farms shriveled into desert to monster storms revved up by warmer air over the oceans, climate change is stoking environmental disasters around the globe and uprooting millions of people a year — adding to a refugee crisis said to be the worst since World War II.

The increasingly extreme weather patterns have destroyed food and water supplies, left communities destitute, strained national and international aid resources, and fomented political instability in fragile societies in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, according to development experts.

“Climate change is the force multiplier for chronic social and environmental problems,” said Tim Ash Vie of the Climate Group, an advocacy organization working to counter global warming.

The hazards of global warming will be the focus of high-profile conferences, protests and other events on the margins of the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting this week in New York, echoing some of the features of the Global Climate Action Summit earlier this month in San Francisco.

President Trump is scheduled to address the U.N. on Tuesday. But he has dismissed the science behind climate change as a hoax and pulled the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate accord, which seeks to lower carbon emissions that are linked to global warming.

The Trump administration also has drastically cut the number of vetted refugees fleeing wars and persecution that it will accept into the U.S. Last week, it moved to cap the total next year at 30,000, the lowest since the refugee program was created in 1980.

The plight of those forced from their homes by the changing environment has been overshadowed by the estimated 65 million refugees now surging around the globe, the most in decades. Unlike them, people displaced by environmental changes are not recognized as refugees under international law.

The 1951 Refugee Convention, which grew out of World War II and was ratified by 145 countries, predated modern environmental science. In recent decades, climate scientists have concluded that the planet is warming due to human activities, causing a mix of effects.

A warming polar cap has opened new fishing and shipping routes in the northern oceans, while greater rainfall and longer growing seasons have improved crop yields in some areas. But hurricanes in the Atlantic and typhoons in the Pacific have steadily worsened, causing devastation from North Carolina to China.


30 Years Ago Officials Predicted The Maldives Would Be Swallowed By The Sea. It Didn’t Happen

Environmental officials warned 30 years ago the Maldives could be completely covered by water due to global warming-induced sea level rise. That didn’t happen. The Indian Ocean did not swallow the Maldives island chain as predicted by government officials in the 1980s.

In September 1988, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported a “gradual rise in average sea level is threatening to completely cover this Indian Ocean nation of 1196 small islands within the next 30 years,” based on predictions made by government officials.

Then-Environmental Affairs Director Hussein Shihab told AFP “an estimated rise of 20 to 30 centimetres in the next 20 to 40 years could be ‘catastrophic’ for most of the islands, which were no more than a metre above sea level.”

The article went on to suggest the Maldives, along with its 200,000 inhabitants, could “end” sooner than expected if drinking water supplies dry up by 1992 “as predicted.” Today, more than 417,000 people live in the Maldives.

“Call Noah and have him build another Ark,” Daniel Turner, executive director of the pro-energy group Power the Future, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Bring out the Coast Guard. Send all the boogie boards and floaties you can find for the Maldives is going down,” Turner said sarcastically.

The Maldives are among the island nations often held up by United Nations officials as being on the “front-lines” of man-made global warming. The island nation was among the first to apply for Green Climate Fund aid, but the funding hasn’t been flowing, according to The New York Times.

“That’s too long to wait,” Maldives energy and environment minister Thoriq Ibrahim told The Times last year. “There’s no use having a fund somewhere if you can’t access it quickly.”

The Maldives are indeed low-lying islands with its highest point only reaching about eight feet above sea level. But obviously, decades-old warnings the Maldives were on the verge of being swallowed by the seas didn’t pan out.

A recent study projected low-lying reef islands, like the Maldives, could become “uninhabitable” by the middle of the 21st Century because too much sea water will get into freshwater drinking supplies.

The study projects “sea-level rise and wave dynamics over reefs will lead to the annual wave-driven overwash of most atoll islands by the mid-21st century.”

However, other research suggest the Maldives and other coral islands may actually be expanding, not sinking into the sea.

New Zealand researchers published a study earlier this year based on aerial photos and satellite images of Pacific islands over the last four decades that found most atolls they examined were increasing in size.


10 years to ditch fossil fuel car engines, save Paris climate target, warns study
Greens hate transport because greens hate freedom. If you think they won't come after your EV after they've got rid of the petrol/diesel car, you have not been paying attention

Europe must stop selling new petrol, diesel and conventional hybrid cars by 2028 in order to stand a better chance of honouring the Paris Agreement’s most ambitious target, according to a new study.

Research conducted by the German Aerospace Centre, commissioned by Greenpeace Belgium, says that passenger car engines as we know it need to be completely phased out from new sales before the end of the next decade.

Otherwise, Europe will struggle to “meaningfully contribute” to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the most ambitious part of the Paris Agreement on climate change’s “well below 2 degrees Celsius” overall aim.

Green activists have now urged governments to adopt effective phase-out regimes, so that existing fleets can be replaced in good time.

The study provides two clear options for meeting the 1.5 degrees goal: one uses a so-called carbon budget that means there will be a 50% chance of hitting the target, while another assumes a more ambitious 66%. A carbon budget is the amount of CO2 we can emit before global warming takes effect and pushes the planet over a certain average temperature.

In the one-in-two chance scenario, the findings insist that unchecked passenger car emissions will eat away the carbon budget for staying under 1.5 degrees within a decade.

For the more ambitious 66% likelihood, the news is even more grim as the budget will be exhausted within just five years if business-as-usual continues.

The German Aerospace Centre study authors concluded that those figures show either “stringent” CO2 cuts to passenger cars are necessary or further cuts in other sectors have to be identified.

In Europe at least, that latter option appears to be a non-starter given that emission cuts can only be sold politically if all sectors are expected to make even progress in reduction measures.

Given the current public attention levied at air quality, urban mobility and the associated health concerns, the study also assumed that demand for the combustion engine will fall gradually by itself.

“The phasing-out of the internal combustion engine in passenger cars will not only benefit the climate, it will also help solve the air pollution crisis and improve the quality of life for everyone,” said Barbara Stoll, Greenpeace Clean Air campaigner.

During the now annual car free day in Brussels on Sunday (16 September), air pollution fell by a massive 30% in the EU capital’s smoggiest streets and even further in other areas.

The mayors of Brussels and Paris have called for an annual car-free day for all of Europe, citing initiatives in their cities that have driven down pollution. But a recent damning report by the EU Court of Auditors revealed there is plenty of work left to do.

Filling a gap

If governments were to heed these 1.5 degree warnings and take measures to kill the combustion engine, then consumers would need to be offered an alternative.

The study acknowledges that increased production and sales of battery-powered vehicles would need to be adopted but also warns that could create problems in the job sector and environmental concerns due to the reliance on rare earth metals.

CO2 limits on cars risk ‘social catastrophe’, industry says
The European Commission may have underestimated the impact a “forced push” for more electric cars could have on EU jobs, Europe’s leading carmaker association has said as lawmakers begin in earnest to look into newly proposed limits on CO2 emissions.

The study does acknowledge that other options are available beyond mass electric car uptake, including synthetic fuels and changes in behaviour, but they are not included in its assumptions.

However, it does insist that they should be taken into account when developing options to come up with carbon reduction strategies.

Pledges to ban petrol and diesel have already been made by the French and British governments, which set a 2040 deadline, while carmakers like Volvo have even promised only to make electric and hybrid vehicles from as early as next year.


Bloom Energy’s “tangled web”

What a tangled web Bloom weaves, since first it practiced to deceive

Paul Driessen and Clint Laird

Bloom Energy executives, investment bankers, venture capitalists, politicians, regulators and others involved in advancing Bloom’s business, reputation and financial dealings are living the complicated life that flows from lying. Lies typically start small. Often, they’re small deceptions. But deceptions can metastasize into a tangled web of lies that threatens corporate survival, as truth intrudes over time from all sides.

For years the truth about Bloom’s business and ethics has intruded. But Bloom successfully parried them, going public on the New York Stock Exchange in July 2018. Its stock came out at $15 and has doubled.

Prior to going public, a competitor’s CEO said he hoped the oft-delayed IPO would happen because it would force Bloom to “dial back their practice of playing very loose with the truth.” He meant the Securities and Exchange Commission would be watching, to protect the public. He proved prophetic.

Within a day of going public, Bloom’s PR people were walking back its CEO’s rosy, inappropriate and unfounded financial predictions. Death by a thousand SEC and other cuts is the fate that awaits Bloom, now that it’s public. It may come sooner and with greater effect than most over-hyped green company failures – especially after a recent Heritage Foundation program exposed many of its shenanigans.

Bloom makes solid oxide fuel cells, which use an electrochemical reaction to convert natural gas into electricity on the customer’s site. Bloom claims cost advantages in generation and from no transmission lines.

Bloom also claims its “green” electricity costs 9-11 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), close to what its competitors charge. But Bloom’s promoted rates come after it receives federal, state and sometimes county subsidies. Absent these, Bloom’s rates would be 25-30 cents a kWh, making it seriously uncompetitive. Even its IPO statements admit a critical dependence on subsidies.

Bloom claims “greenness,” but the USEPA says its fuel cells produce hazardous materials in the filters needed to “scrub” impurities from the natural gas. While acknowledging the hazmats, Bloom claims it is somehow exempt from being labeled a “hazmats generator” – which is critical for Bloom’s marketing.

EPA and Bloom are battling this in the courts. Meanwhile, at least one Bloom customer has paid an environmental fine (without admitting fault) for improperly handling (Bloom’s) hazmats. If Bloom loses this lawsuit, it has another hazmat exemption up its sleeve. Get cut by a sword, parry a stroke, get cut by another.

Everyone likes being green. Apple brags it’s 100% green, although its solar panels and Bloom generators at the Maiden, NC site don’t provide electricity to Apple. Instead, this electricity goes directly to Duke Power, which must pay top retail prices when the sun shines and Bloom cells function. Apple reaps this income while also getting Duke Power’s lowest rates as a high-volume customer. What a sweet arrangement.

But what Apple and other Bloom customers really like are the subsidies they receive when installing “virtuous” Bloom generators. A manufacturer can sell a lot of anything when someone else pays for it. Of course, in this case, the “someone else” is taxpayers and ratepayers.

The federal Investment Tax Credit for fuel cell manufacturers like Bloom ran out in 2016. Sales predictably declined. But Senators Carper (D-DE), Blumenthal (D-CT) and Schumer (D-NY) successfully lobbied to reinstate the ITC retroactively for 2016 and into the future. That will cost the taxpayers between $600 and $900 million. The fuel cell industry will show appreciation in Washington’s typical swampy ways.

Thanks to the ITC reinstatement, Bloom also got fawning financial reporting, and its much-delayed IPO became a reality. The company had been running on fumes and losing $30 million per month. The instant $270 million in reinstated subsidies breathed new life into it.

Bloom’s financial parent is the impressive venture firm Kleiner Perkins. In February 2010, KP’s chief John Doerr put top executives from Google, eBay, Walmart, FedEx and Coca-Cola onstage to promote Bloom technology. To open his long adulation, Doerr said the event reminded him and Google co-founder Larry Page of Google’s own IPO. His slick, alluring statement helped bolster Bloom’s prominence and value.

Page then praised Bloom, saying Google was Bloom’s first customer and he foresees Bloom powering a “whole data center running on [its fuel cells] at some point” (time mark 15:55 in the video). But Google installed only four 100 kW Bloom generators at its headquarters in July 2008. This is a pittance, and only one generator “needed to work” at a mere 60% capacity for just 30 days to permit or persuade Google to endorse Bloom’s technology and help Morgan Stanley raise $100 million for Bloom later that year.

Since then, Google has added no more Bloom generators – an endorsement of a very different sort.

Other deceptions played out in Delaware, where Bloom cut a sweetheart deal involving 30 megawatts of fuel cell generating capacity (75 times Google’s total install) and a virtually free manufacturing facility. Bloom promised 900 jobs, monthly consumer costs of under $1, and 96% operating “up” time. They delivered 277 jobs, $5/month (and rising) electricity costs and 86% “up” time.

The missing jobs triggered a $1.5 million penalty – versus the $12 million that Delaware paid Bloom to locate there and some $200+ million that Bloom has received so far from state ratepayers under its sweetheart deal. The 623 missing Delaware jobs are in India.

In 2013 Bloom was found guilty of hiring Mexican workers for a third of the federal minimum wage and paying them in pesos. It also violated overtime and record-keeping provisions.

These ethics violations and operational deceptions highlight bigger questions. Can a company actually thrive or even survive if it has lost $2+ billion, has annual interest expenses exceeding $100 million, and produces a product that exists only because of multiple subsidies? Can the company be kept on life support and “media spin” long enough for insider investors to cash out?

(But would you want to bet against Kleiner Perkins and its powerful business and political accomplices?)

It’s instructive that several top Kleiner Perkins people have recently left or announced their departure; its top tier has shrunk from nine to five. This month, top tier player Mary Meeker announced that she and her team will leave to form their own firm. It’s rumored that these departures were precipitated, at least in part, by KP’s decisions to back “clean tech,” the financial disappointments from that decision, and rumblings about misstatements of material facts to legislators and regulators.

Several years ago, Advanced Equities investment bank executives argued that Bloom (and others) had misled them, and they in turn simply passed the deceptions on to investors. In 2012, the SEC shut the bank down and fined two of its top executives for doing insufficient due diligence. It will be interesting to see how the SEC and other government agencies treat KP executives and others involved in Bloom’s web of deception.

Equally intriguing, in filing for its IPO, Bloom disclosed large payments to the two Advanced Equities execs – including post-IPO shares, hundreds of thousands of preferred shares and warrants, and a $5 million loan. Many wonder, were these payments and their accompanying non-disclosure agreements illegal hush money?

Others say Bloom personifies influence peddling among the swamp denizens of Washington and state legislatures. Eventually taxpayers and ratepayers will demand comprehensive reform to end this behavior. Savvy Wall Street analysts are already catching on.

In Delaware, Bloom’s costs are transparently displayed on monthly consumer electric bills. People are already asking, “What are all these renewable energy charges, and why do we have to pay them?”

In 1906, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle portrayed the harsh conditions and exploited lives of immigrants in Chicago, exposing the meat-packing industry’s flagrant corruption. Despite the absence of radio and television at the time, the book created a national uproar and call for reform, which quickly resulted in the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.

Today’s digital and social media could (and should) generate taxpayer and consumer reactions to Bloom’s crony corporatist subsidy saga akin to public response to The Jungle. Consumers will learn to trust their electric bills, not the tangled web of deceptions woven in our political swamps.

Via email

German Animal Lovers Boycott Wind Power: Vegans Incensed by Bloody Bird & Bat Slaughter

German vegans have mounted a boycott against wind power, incensed by the pointless and bloody slaughter of millions of birds and bats.

Irony comes in many sizes and shapes, but the idea of one group of moralising zealots taking on another group of moralising zealots, is simply delicious (so to speak).

The concept of carnivorous wind and sun worshippers going toe to toe with tofu and mung bean munching Germans throws up the opportunity for a new form of blood-sport, a bit like bear-baiting, in the Deutschland of old.

At least one electricity retailer has decided to deliver up the kind of electricity that might just satisfy the ethically fussy palates of German vegans. The cleverly named ‘Vegawatt’ promises to deliver electricity to satisfy all animal lovers, including hard-core vegos.

Although, STT is not quite sure how Vegawatt proposes separating its morally sound megawatts from the unethical stuff, enabling it to deliver only the former to its pious customers as its marketing pitch so nobly promises? Once excited electrons start tearing around an enormous electricity grid, both the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ behave in precisely the same manner, making the evil ones pretty hard to distinguish.




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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