Monday, July 01, 2019

Trump dismisses need for climate change action: ‘We have the cleanest water we’ve ever had, we have the cleanest air’

Donald Trump has again dismissed the need to tackle climate change by saying the US has the cleanest air and water “ever”.

The president, speaking at the G20 Summit in Japan, also claimed that wind power “does not work” because it has to be heavily subsidised.

“We have the cleanest water we have ever had, we have the cleanest air we’ve ever had, but I’m not willing to sacrifice the tremendous power of what we’ve built up over a long period of time and what I’ve enhanced and revived,” he said.

“I’m not sure that I agree with certain countries with what they are doing, they are losing a lot of power. I am talking about the powering of a plant.

“It doesn’t always work with a windmill. When the wind goes off, the plant isn’t working. It doesn’t always work with solar because solar’s just not strong enough, and a lot of them want to go to wind, which has caused a lot of problems.

“Wind doesn’t work for the most part without subsidy. The United States is paying tremendous amounts of subsidies for wind. I don’t like it, I don’t like it.”

Defending his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Accord, Mr Trump denied he was “ignoring” the problem but claimed that trying to take action on global warming would affect the American economy.

“We have the best numbers we’ve ever had recently, and I’m not looking to put our companies out of business,” he said.

“I’m not looking to create a standard that is so high that we’re going to lose 20 to 25 per cent of our production.”

The president has previously described climate change as a “hoax” and dismissed the problem as a “change in the weather”.

In previous interviews and on campaign rallies he has claimed the US has “among the cleanest climates”.

However, earlier this week vice-president Mike Pence, when asked if climate change was a threat, said “America has the cleanest air and water in the world”.

Challenged about the truth of this statement, he replied: “Ahh, but we’re making progress on reducing carbon emissions.”


Tricky statistics

San Francisco Fed promotes “climate-adaptation” loans

You get cheap loans if you can tie it to global warming

Heralding a new era of what it calls “climate adaptation finance,” a June 14 report issued by the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank calls for using the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to guide lending practices in economically depressed communities throughout the United States.

Enacted in 1977 to spur economic development in low-to-moderate-income communities, the CRA sought to end the practice of “redlining,” in which banks were alleged to have avoided making loans in downtrodden neighborhoods deemed unlikely to produce a return on investment. Using the CRA’s provisions guiding pre- and post-disaster investments, the report argues for transforming the statute into an instrument of climate/environmental policy.

“Climate change is already causing disruption to regional economic activity. Low-to-moderate income populations are highly vulnerable to these impacts, in part, because they have fewer resources to adapt,” the report says. “The stability and prosperity of local economies in the face of climate change depends on how well the public, private, and civic sectors can come together and respond to the shocks and stresses of climate change.”

The report, “Climate Adaptation and the Community Reinvestment Act,” was co-authored by Jesse M. Keenan and Elizabeth Mattiuzzi. Keenan is with the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University; Mattiuzzi is with the Department of Community Development at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank.

“Collaborative efforts to fund climate adaptation not only reduce the burden on highly vulnerable populations, but they also offer the opportunity for co-benefits within a broader portfolio of community development ambitions,” the authors explain. Targeting community development practitioners, investors, and policymakers, the report stresses the importance of “sparking new ideas about how to develop partnerships and funding streams for CRA-eligible activities – in both eligible communities and areas within a federal disaster declaration …”

From Redlining to Greenlining

The authors acknowledge that their report “provides an interpretation of potentially applicable existing administrative authority” under the CRA. In fact, their report is a blueprint for banks and, more important, banking regulators to use the CRA to favor green investments in communities covered under the law. In effect, a statute designed to put an end to redlining would be repurposed to promote greenlining.

Kennan and Mattiuzzi applaud efforts undertaken in the name of sustainability to “advance behaviors, actions, and strategies that reduce negative environmental impacts and reduce consumption to levels that are commensurate with currently understood notions of stability in managed ecological systems.” But climate mitigation and similar steps are not enough. Hence the importance of developing “additional pathways for investing in communities in the face of climate change.”

Although they cite no climatological data to support their assumption, the authors underscore the importance of “reducing greenhouse gases that cause global warming and climate change.” Yet their blithe acceptance of a politically fashionable narrative justifies hijacking a 42-year-old law in order to alter banks’ lending practices – and doing all this administratively, with zero input from Congress.

Global Trend?

This development is not restricted to the United States. The Wall Street Journal (June 19) reported that Banque de France Gov. Francois Villeroy de Galhau has raised the prospect that the European Central Bank (ECB) could give “green” bonds better treatment than other assets, “putting its lending power behind the fight against global warming.” According to the Journal, over 30 central banks worldwide, excluding the U.S. Federal Reserve, are now members of the Network for Greening the Financial System, created in 2017.


Researchers find climate propaganda worked on unaffected flooding bystanders

Global warming alarmists are crowing about new research showing people in Colorado who lived in areas near the September 2013 floods, but who did not lose property in the floods, have become as alarmist about global warming as people who lost property in the floods.

“These findings may speak to the power of collective experiences, rather than experiences felt independently,” researchers wrote in the journal Climatic Change, as reported in the Colorado Sun.

“My working hypothesis is that human beings are social creatures and we experience a lot of the world through proxy, through what our neighbors, our family, our friends, the media tell is going on,” said author Deserai Crow of the Colorado University Denver School of Public Affairs.

Emphasis, of course, on what “the media tell is going on.”

The difference between scientific evidence and media tall tales is especially apparent regarding alarmist media coverage of the Colorado floods. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found conclusively that the rains that fell on Colorado in September 2013 were neither more likely nor more intense as a result of climate change.

“We found such climate factors had little appreciable effect on the frequency of heavy 5-day rainfall events in this area during September,” said the lead author of the NOAA report, Martin Hoerling, as reported by meteorologist Anthony Watts.

Even the alarmist United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports little confidence in claims that global warming is causing more frequent or severe flooding.

“There is limited to medium evidence available to assess climate-driven observed changes in the magnitude and frequency of floods at regional scales,” states IPCC’s 2018 interim climate report.

“Furthermore, there is low agreement in this evidence, and thus overall low confidence at the global scale regarding even that sign of these changes,” the IPCC report concluded.

Reporting on the flooding perception research by the University of Colorado and Duke researchers, the Colorado Sun’s headline asks, “What will make you believe in global warming? How about a life-altering flood, study asks?”

Or, more likely, how about some science-altering fraudulent media coverage?


For bee alarmists, Groundhog Day comes in June

Paul Driessen

For anti-insecticide zealots and others in the environmentalist movement who’ve been preoccupied for years with bees and “colony collapse disorder,” it actually comes every June.  That’s when the Bee Informed Partnership – a University of Maryland-based project supported by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) – releases the results of its annual survey of honeybee colony losses and health.

In Bill Murray’s 1993 “Groundhog Day” movie, cynical TV weatherman Phil Connors is condemned to relive the same day over and over in a little Pennsylvania town until he learns the right “life lessons.” Each June, eco-campaigners work themselves into a carefully orchestrated lather over bee losses, getting caught in a time loop of endlessly repeating the same false and misguided claims about the BIP report.

Last week’s BIP report predictably garnered the usual hyperventilating headlines, sounding almost as alarming as in recent years. The 38% 2018-19 over-winter colony loss rate was the highest in the 13 years the survey has been taken. Combined with in-season (summer) honeybee colony losses of 20.5% this yielded an overall annual loss rate of 40.7% (computed using a special BIP methodology).

That’s slightly higher than 2017-18’s reported 40.1% overall loss rate and 2.9% higher than the average annual loss rate calculated since 2010. Hit the panic button.

Environmental worrywarts moved seamlessly into their annual spasm of anxiety and dire prognostication.  “Honey bees are no longer disappearing suddenly and mysteriously. They’re dying persistently, and in plain sight,” the Washington Post lamented.

Will there be enough honeybee colonies left to pollinate California’s lucrative almond crop next winter? an environmental “investigative news organization” agonized. (Ironically, but predictably, this story was posted four weeks after the USDA predicted another record almond harvest in the state.)

Is the BIP report further evidence that the hyperventilating media and eco-campaigners were correct about the “bee-pocalypse” they’ve been “documenting” for the last half-dozen years? Hardly!

First, the alarmists who routinely over-react to the annual BIP survey forget (or ignore) its limitations. As the report makes clear, the survey is entirely voluntary, returned by beekeepers who take time to fill it out. It consequently does not even purport to be a scientific sampling of American beekeepers. It is a compilation and analysis of responses from those who voluntarily self-report. The results show this.

The roughly 4,700 beekeepers who responded this year account for only about 12% of all US honeybee colonies. Professor Dennis Van Engelsdorp – founder of the Bee Informed Partnership  – showed in his own research that hobbyist and small-scale beekeepers (who account for the majority of the BIP respondents) have more severe parasite and pathogen infestations of their honeybee hives than large-scale commercial beekeepers. That increases colony loss rates.

Interestingly, while BIP survey results go up and down from year to year, the overall trend line over the survey’s first dozen years has been downward. But that may reflect small-scale beekeeper experiences.

In any case, US honeybee colony numbers aren’t shrinking; they’re growing, regardless of what the latest BIP survey results find. The USDA’s actual census of beekeepers and their colonies – which actually is systematic and scientific – shows that the overall number of US honeybee colonies grew by 4% in 2018.

Indeed, in releasing the latest BIP results, Van Engelsdorp himself said, “We’re not worried about honeybees going extinct.  We’re worried about commercial beekeepers going extinct.” Hive infections, long distance travel and other aspects of the business have driven more beekeepers to other professions.

Second, there’s good news in the latest Bee Informed Partnership survey. Finally, after years of misleading media and activist rhetoric seeking to pin the blame for honey bees’ problems on agricultural pesticides –neonicotinoid insecticides in particular – attention is now focusing where it should have been all along: on Varroa destructor mites. These tiny, nasty critters and the multiple virulent diseases they spread to honeybee colonies are the foremost scourge of our beloved, and vital, insect pollinators.

This year’s BIP survey announcement and most of the resulting press coverage emphasized this point.

It’s about time. Neonics have become the world’s most widely used insecticides because they work – and pose minimal risks to bees. Some are sprayed on fruits and vegetables, but nearly 90% are used as seed coatings for corn, wheat, canola and other crops. They are absorbed into plant tissues as crops grow.

That means they target only pests that actually feed on the crops, particularly during early growth stages. Since they don’t wash off, they reduce the need for multiple sprays with insecticides that truly can harm bees, birds, fish, other animals and non-pest insects. And they are barely detectable in pollen and nectar – which is why neonic residues are well below levels that can adversely affect bees.

That makes it ironic, and outrageous, that relentless anti-pesticide campaigners – especially those who profess to be alarmed about the “plight of the bumblebee” and want to ban neonics – have said virtually nothing about Varroa mites. Nor have they proposed any plan to deal with this scourge.

Thankfully, recent USDA research has identified a promising new approach of using RNA interference (RNAi) to disrupt the reproduction of another bee parasite, Nosema ceranae – the honeybee’s second-worst scourge. USDA is also reporting progress in efforts to breed more Varroa-resistant or Varroa-tolerant honey bees, which somehow have better hygienic habits: removing mites from one other.

Activists and journalists concerned about bees and pollinator health should have focused on this all along – particularly since available Varroa treatments no longer work as well, due to the mite’s uncanny ability to develop resistance to treatments. Instead, years of energy and millions of dollars have been wasted pursuing a wrong-headed crusade against neonic insecticides that are irrelevant to any challenges facing honey bees and other pollinators.

Phil Connors finally escaped from his time loop after he ended his disdain for small town Punxsutawney, began performing good deeds and told Rita he truly loved her. Maybe now – finally – self-professed bee advocates and environmental crusaders will wake up from their Groundhog-Day-in-June time loop and devote some time, effort and honesty to addressing the real problems that affect honey and wild bees.

Maybe they will also stop treating modern conventional farming like an evil pariah, and organic farming like a planetary savior. Maybe they will stop repeating the organic food industry’s Big Lie: that it doesn’t use pesticides. In fact, as Professor David Zaruk explains on his website, organic farmers employ a dozen highly toxic “natural” pesticides and over 3,000 other “approved” pesticides.

Several are highly toxic to bees: acetic acid, copper sulfate, pyrethrins, hydrogen peroxide, azidirachtin, rotenone, citronella oil, eucalyptus oil and garlic extract, and spinosad. Several are very toxic to humans: boron can affect people’s brain, liver or heart; rotenone has been linked to Parkinson’s disease; nicotine sulfate is a neurotoxin that has actually killed several gardeners; and copper sulfate can readily and severely injure a user’s brain, liver, kidneys, stomach and intestinal linings, skin and eyes ... or even kill!

But again, Varroa is the villain, the real, enduring threat to bees – not pesticides, synthetic or organic.

Unfortunately, persuading environmentalists to acknowledge these realities is not likely. They have too much ideology, power and prestige invested in their campaigns against synthetic pesticides and conventional farming – to say nothing of the billions of dollars they’ve gotten from organic interests.

Bottom line? Lies, deception and fraud are unethical, immoral and illegal no matter who engages in it, devises the strategies or finances the campaigns. These environmentalist campaigns have been employed over and over because they work – and because too many legislators, regulators, judges and journalists have repeated, approved and applauded them. It will be an uphill battle to change that dynamic.

Let’s hope a few brave lawmakers start applying the same standards of truth and ethics across the board.

Via email

Trump, May clash over climate change at G20

Theresa May failed to convince Donald Trump to shift his stance on climate change during her last hurrah on the world stage yesterday.

The two leaders clashed behind the scenes on the final day of the G20 summit.

The US president snubbed May’s attempt to get world leaders to “raise their ambition” on climate change as he refused to reverse his position on the landmark 2016 Paris agreement committing world leaders to limit warming by 1.5C. America was the only country not to recommit to the Paris accord at the summit in the Japanese port city of Osaka - despite May pushing for the “strongest wording we can deliver”.

A communique hailing the “irreversibility” of the climate deal was produced by G20 leaders but included a statement of US objections. As has become the norm at G20 conferences, Trump lobbied for the language in the joint statement to be watered down.

Speaking at a news conference in Japan yesterday morning, May hailed the leaders’ success in coming up with a joint statement at all.

“In Osaka this week we have worked hard to bridge differences between the G20 countries on some of the biggest challenges our nations face,” she said. “That has not been easy but we have made progress.”

She said action to tackle climate change was needed “before it’s too late”.

May did not have a formal meeting with the US president, but the two met on the fringes of what was the final global summit she will attend as prime minister before handing over to her successor on July 24.

Earlier in the day, the prime minister had led a session on climate change, warning her global counterparts that they were the “last generation with the power to limit global warming”.

In a plea to the leaders whose nations produce 80 per cent of climate change gases, May said the world needed a fivefold increase on existing commitments to cut emissions to limit global warming to 1.5C.

In a direct pitch to the US president and Xi Jinping of China, she said that the young people of the world were demanding action from their leaders, warning: “We will be judged by history on how we act in the next few years.” May also announced a commitment to put climate goals at the heart of UK international development spending and urged world leaders to match Britain’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Trump’s opt-out clause echoed the tricky process that has been followed at previous summits since the US president announced his intention to pull out of the Paris deal.

A senior British government official acknowledged that the process of drawing up the summit communique had been “challenging”.

The “sherpas” - officials who do the groundwork for national leaders at summits - had a “long night” trying to agree the wording of statements on climate change and trade.



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