Thursday, October 25, 2018

47,000 Ticks on a Moose, and That’s Just Average. Blame Climate Change

Maybe recent warmer years have had an effect on Moose.  But was that warmth anthropogenic?  No.  recent warm years were due to El Nino -- an influence that has now ceased and led to a fall in temperatures

The biggest number of winter ticks that Peter J. Pekins ever found on a moose was about 100,000. But that moose calf was already dead, most likely the victim of anemia, which develops when that many ticks drain a moose’s blood. So it was probably a lowball estimate, because some of the ticks had already detached.

“It’s about as grody a picture as you can imagine on a dead animal,” said Dr. Pekins, a professor of natural resources and the environment at the University of New Hampshire. (A warning: The pictures below are, indeed, grody.)

Between 2014 and 2016, Dr. Pekins counted ticks on moose calves at two locations in New Hampshire and Maine. He wanted to see how the moose were faring, given that climate change has been delaying snow’s arrival in New England’s winters.

The longer-lasting warmth gives the ticks a leg up as they glom onto the moose, their preferred hosts, in the fall. They then feed through winter and hop off in the spring to lay eggs.

The moose-tracking exploits of Dr. Pekins and his colleagues were published last month in the Canadian Journal of Zoology. They argued that three consecutive years of tick outbreaks “arguably reflects a host-parasite relationship strongly influenced by climate change at the southern fringe of moose habitat.”

While large numbers of ticks, literal bloodsucking parasites, aren’t great for adult moose, they’re especially bad for moose calves, which can die from the onslaught.

With the help of a team that shoots nets from helicopters to catch and tag the calves with radio collars (a process that takes about 15 minutes for the moose and eschews the use of drugs), Dr. Pekins was able to track 179 moose calves. The average number of ticks he found on them was 47,371.

In some ways, the moose are a victim of their own success.

“Maine and New Hampshire had less than 50 moose in the 1970s,” Dr. Pekins said. But their numbers have multiplied many times over since then, thanks to improvements in the available habitat and a lack of predators like wolves.

As a result, Maine now has anywhere from 60,000 to 70,000 moose; New Hampshire had as many as 8,000 or 9,000 in the early 2000s, though the numbers now hover around 5,000. And it’s the abundance of moose that enables the ticks to survive.

“You need a lot of moose on the landscape to have a lot of parasites,” Dr. Pekins said. “That’s the host-parasite relationship.”

That relationship was more or less in balance until the changing climate tilted the scales in the ticks’ favor. Over the long term, Dr. Pekins doesn’t expect the moose to die off completely, but there will be fewer of them.

The ticks don’t want the moose to die off completely, either. “The parasite doesn’t want to kill off its host — that’s bad evolution,” Dr. Pekins said. “Because the parasite loses the game.”


Professor urges students to vote Democrat in midterms or else ‘future generations’ will face ‘higher seas, much hotter temps’

A Texas A&M University professor is urging his students to vote in the 2018 midterm elections in order “to determine” how much the seas rise and how much global temperatures will rise.

Professor Andrew Dessler, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences, also implied that his students must cast those votes for Democrat candidates or else “future generations” will face “higher seas, much hotter temperatures, less ice, vastly different precipitation patterns, etc.”

Dessler wrote on October 23: “I’ve been encouraging my students to vote. This is what I tell them: they’re voting to determine whether we’ll be in the top row or the bottom row.” Dessler’s tweet featured a UN IPCC chart showing various rows of temperature scenarios from the years 2046 through the year 2200. The top row features the UN IPCC lowest temperature increase projections through the year 2200, while the bottom row shows a more severe temperature throughout the year 2200.

In response to a tweet declaring “I won’t vote democrat–sorry that party has lost it,” Dessler replied: “I’m sure future generations — as they live in degraded world with higher seas, much hotter temperatures, less ice, vastly different precipitation patterns, etc. — will totally understand and sympathize.”

Dessler is confident that a vote for Democrats can impact future temperatures in the years 2046 through 2100, that he retweeted a tweet claiming, “VOTE. Your vote can help us stay on the top row.”

Dessler has a long history of claiming that government taxes and regulations can regulate the climate and weather

Dessler has been a fierce critic of President Trump overturning so-called climate regulations


Sen Cruz: Climate Change Is A ‘Pseudoscientific Theory’ Concocted To Nix Big Oil

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas criticized the climate movement Monday night as a type of Trojan horse effort activists started to target the fossil fuel movement while also gaining control over aspects of the government.

Climate change is “the perfect, I believe, pseudoscientific theory because it could never be disproven,” the Texas senator said at a Texas Oil & Gas Association forum. He also chastised his Democratic opponent, Beto O’Rourke, for not being in line with the state’s energy industry.

Cruz, a Republican running for re-election in the first midterm election in the Trump-era, also noted that the environmental movement is predicated on government control over the energy sector.

“The solution for climate change is the same as global cooling and global warming, which is massive government control of the economy, the energy sector and every aspect of our lives,” he said. Cruz also told attendees that the climate movement has made huge gains over the decades.

The fossil fuel industry needs to counteract a “misinformation and propaganda effort,” he said, adding that journalists and celebrities are at the vanguard of the movement. “We’re getting killed — killed — in the culture.”

Cruz added: “The left has those commanding heights and uses it to push the agenda that all of you are bad,” he told the audience. “On the right, look, the best and the brightest, what do they go do? They go make money.”

He has spent several months railing against the use of taxpayer funds on programs devoted to influencing discussion on global warming. Cruz took issue in June with public funds going to the National Science Foundation, for instance.

“We find NSF’s stewardship of the federal taxpayer dollars devoted to the latter project particularly egregious for a number of reasons,” Cruz and colleagues Rand Paul of Kentucky and James Lankford of Oklahoma wrote in a letter to NSF Inspector General Allison Lerner. (RELATED: ‘It’s Unfortunate’: EPA Says Jilted Official Is Spreading Fake News About Her Suspension)

Their letter came after NBC News reported the non-profit group Climate Central “reached more than 500 local TV weathercasters” as part of its “Climate Matters” program that launched in 2012.

The program was backed by two NSF grants totaling more than $4 million that were rewarded in 2009 and 2014, according to federal records. The grants were issued to two universities and Climate Central, a website covering environmental issues.


Carbon Dioxide Emissions Dip Slightly in Trump’s First Year, EPA Says

Greenhouse gas emissions have declined across multiple sectors since President Donald Trump has been in office, the Environmental Protection Agency announced.

The latest figures show total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions dipped by 2.7 percent during 2017 compared with 2016, President Barack Obama’s last full year in office, the agency said as part of its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

The EPA collects emissions data from industrial sources on an annual basis. Those sources include power plants, oil and gas production plants, refining facilities, iron mills, steel mills, and landfills.

“Thanks to President Trump’s regulatory reform agenda, the economy is booming, energy production is surging, and we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial sources,” Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, said in a press release Wednesday, adding:

These achievements flow largely from technological breakthroughs in the private sector, not the heavy hand of government. The Trump administration has proven that federal regulations are not necessary to drive CO2 reductions. While many around the world are talking about reducing greenhouse gases, the U.S. continues to deliver, and today’s report is further evidence of our action-oriented approach.

Environmental activists link greenhouses gases to what they consider man-made climate change, or global warming.

Other key findings identified by the EPA show that greenhouse gas emissions from large power plants declined 4.5 percent since 2016 and 19.7 percent since 2011.

More than 8,000 facilities submitted data to the agency’s program for the 2017 reporting year.

Greenhouse gases that the EPA says trap heat in the atmosphere include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. But it is the carbon dioxide emissions that stand out.

“The 2.6 billion metric tons of CO2 [carbon dioxide] reported for 2017 represent 90.7 percent of the [greenhouse gases] reported in 2017,” the EPA said. “Methane emissions represent 7.7 percent of reported … emissions, N2O [nitrous oxide] represents 0.9 percent, and fluorinated gases (HFCs, PFCs, SF6) represent 0.6 percent.”

The Trump administration anticipates that carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. power sector will continue to decline if the government implements its proposed Affordable Clean Energy Rule.

The Trump rule would replace the Obama administration’s “Clean Power Plan” with guidelines that give states more flexibility to determine how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

“Much of the world ridiculed the Trump administration for withdrawing from the Paris Accord [on addressing climate change] and rolling back the previous administration’s climate regulations,” Nick Loris, an energy policy analyst for The Heritage Foundation, said in an email, adding:

But they’re not singing our praises as market-driven innovations lead the world in reducing emissions, while they fail to meet their nonbinding commitments under Paris. It’s clear that talking the talk and walking the walk are two very different things.

Wheeler has described the Obama administration plan as a “top-down, one-size-fits-all” approach to energy policy.

In February 2016, the Supreme Court ordered a halt in enforcement of the Clean Power Plan until a lower federal court ruled on its legality.

That order—which came in response to legal challenges from 27 states, 24 trade associations, 37 rural electric co-ops, and three labor unions—marked the first time the high court had stopped a regulation before a lower appeals court issued a final judgment.

The EPA projects that the Trump proposal would lead to a decrease in carbon dioxide emissions of 35 percent below 2005 levels.

The agency will hold a webinar Oct. 24 to demonstrate a data publication tool on greenhouse gases called FLIGHT.


Australia: Conservative coalition could indemnify new coal projects against potential carbon price

The energy minister, Angus Taylor, has signalled the Australian government could indemnify new power generation projects against the future risk of a carbon price, and says it could also support the retrofitting of existing coal plants.

In an interview with Guardian Australia, the man dubbed the “minister for getting power prices down” by the prime minister, Scott Morrison, has also committed to keeping current subsidies for households and businesses to install renewable energy technology like solar panels until 2030, and insists Australia’s electricity sector will reduce emissions by 26% on 2005 levels in “the early 2020s”.

Taylor on Tuesday outlined a range of measures the government wants to implement to help lower power prices, including cajoling retailers into offering customers out-of-cycle price cuts so consumers could experience hip-pocket relief by January, ahead of the next election.

He also foreshadowed policy interventions to boost investment in new “reliable” power generation, including providing a floor price, contracts for difference, cap and floor contracts and government loans.

Morrison held out the prospect of government support for new coal-fired power stations “where they meet all the requirements” of the yet-to-be finalised mechanisms to boost investment in new electricity generation.

One of the key problems preventing private investment in new coal-fired power generation is proponents have struggled to get finance because they are unable to predict future carbon risk, particularly given Australia’s decade-long partisan standoff over emissions reduction policies.

Taylor told Guardian Australia the government would look to remove the risks stopping investment in new power generation. “I’m saying we will look at whatever risks that can’t be managed by the companies that need to be managed to get investment.

“What we are saying is the risks that government needs to absorb to get investment in reliable generation, we will look at absorbing. We need the investment.”

Asked whether he acknowledged that would expose taxpayers to risk, Taylor said: “We’ll look at the risks and we’ll seek to minimise the risks to the commonwealth.”

The concept of the government underwriting new investments in power generation in order to boost competition in the market was originally recommended by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission but with tightly defined criteria. The government is pursuing the ACCC’s general principle, but writing its own rules.

The ACCC was focused on encouraging new market participants, but the energy minister said the government could back the retrofitting of existing power plants to extend their operating life.

Asked how retrofitting an existing plant was bringing new generation into the market, he said: “It’s new generation if it would otherwise be gone, that’s the point.

“What we want is additional investment, new investment, that would mean we get capacity we wouldn’t otherwise have.”

Business is extremely wary of the government’s plans to impose price regulation in the energy sector, and about oft-repeated public threats by the government to wield a “big stick” – introducing divestiture powers to break up power companies engaging in price-gouging.

The chief executive of the Business Council of Australia, Jennifer Westacott, warned on Tuesday that “ad hoc intervention in the energy market, such as underwriting generation investment or forced divestment, is sending a signal to the world that investing in Australia comes with considerable risks”.

“In the long term this will only result in less investment in energy generation, less reliable energy and ultimately higher prices,” the BCA chief said.

Taylor told Guardian Australia he was confident the government had the power to legislate to force divestiture, and a toughening of regulatory options was required because of poor market conduct.

Asked whether he expected legal challenges from power companies in the event the government ever used the divestiture power, he said: “I can’t predict what people are going to do.”

Asked what trigger the government planned to use to break up badly behaving power companies, Taylor said it was a lack of competition and deliberate withdrawal of supply.

“The issue is, have we got enough capacity and supply in the market to meet customers’ needs and are companies in the sector thwarting that, are they deliberately taking anti-competitive action to withdraw supply from the market to drive up prices?”

Stakeholders in the energy market are also enormously frustrated with the Coalition’s chopping and changing on energy policy, which culminated in the ditching of the national energy guarantee’s 26% emissions reduction target.

Taylor insists the electricity sector will hit 26% well before 2030. Asked why the government ditched a target it was going to easily exceed, the minister said: “Labor want a higher target. We are not going to facilitate that in any shape or form.

“We are not going to load the gun for Labor to have a much higher target.”

Energy ministers will meet this Friday for the first time since the Morrison government grounded part of the Neg. Taylor wants to sound out his counterparts on whether they will agree to roll out new price regulations in the electricity market, or whether Canberra will force the change by overriding them.

The Victorian energy minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, has warned she has no intention of agreeing to anything on Friday, given the state is days away from entering caretaker mode ahead of the state election.




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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