Monday, November 04, 2019

The delusional Andrew Cuomo: 'We Didn't Have Hurricanes' Before Climate Change

On Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) said that hurricanes, superstorms, and tornadoes did not occur before climate change. In the same breath, he said that anyone who questions the left's climate-alarmist hysteria is "just delusional." He may want to check in a mirror.

After he finished berating President Donald Trump in an interview with MSNBC, Cuomo turned to his latest attempt to enforce climate change orthodoxy.

"You know, anyone who questions extreme weather and climate change is just delusional at this point," Cuomo said. "We have seen in the State of New York what everyone is seeing. We see these weather patterns that we never had before. We didn’t have hurricanes, we didn’t have superstorms, we didn’t have tornadoes."

While it is at least plausible that carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels might lead to increasing global temperatures and rising sea levels, it takes a special kind of insanity to think that there were no hurricanes or tornadoes before human beings started burning carbon for energy.

Even interpreting Cuomo's words charitably, the governor said that New York State did not experience hurricanes, superstorms, and tornadoes until the effects of manmade climate change. It is difficult to assess this claim, because written records do not go very far back, but even this less delusional suggestion is entirely incorrect.

An analysis of sedimentary evidence from New Jersey showed that a major hurricane struck the New York/New Jersey area between 1278 and 1438, long before the internal combustion engine. Another hurricane tracked parallel to the East Coast with impacts on New England and New York in August 1635. On September 8, 1667, a "severe storm" was reported in Manhattan. The Great Storm of 1693 caused severe damage on Land Island in October 1693. In September 1785, ships crashed into Governors Island as a result of powerful waves reportedly generated by a tropical cyclone. In August 1788, a hurricane struck New York City or Long Island, causing severe flooding and leaving the west side of the Battery "in ruins."

Unless the Iroquois and their ancestors were secretly burning fossil fuels — and cleverly erased the evidence they did so — Cuomo's statement about there having been no hurricanes and superstorms in New York prior to climate change is flat-out wrong. A simple Google search would have set him straight.

Furthermore, his remarks illustrate how climate alarmism can cloud someone's judgment. It is flat-out ridiculous to suggest that extreme weather did not exist before human beings pumped carbon into the atmosphere. After all, Earth's atmosphere has had far more carbon in the past than it does today.

While the climate change narrative may make logical sense, the data does not support the left's alarmist position. Scientists and alarmists have predicted various kinds of doomsday scenarios — extreme cold, extreme heat, glaciers melting, cities underwater — none of which have come to pass. In one of the most embarrassing examples, alarmists predicted that The Maldives Islands in the Indian Ocean would sink beneath the waves in 2018 — and the islands are still there. In fact, they have actually grown in recent years!

It is far from "delusional" to question the "climate change consensus." Cuomo's remarks were far more delusional.


Jane Fonda: 'I'm Not Buying Anymore Clothes' to Fight Climate Change

She would already have rooms full of them

Actress and political activist Jane Fonda said on Friday that she's not purchasing any more clothes as a way to fight climate change.

"You see this coat? I needed something red so I went out and found this coat on sale. This is the last article of clothing that I'm going to ever buy," Fonda said at a "Fire Drill Friday" protest on Capitol Hill with actresses Rosanna Arquette and Catherine Keener.

Fonda said youth climate activist Greta Thunberg has made her "think a lot about consumerism."

"I grew up when consumerism didn't have such a stranglehold over us so when I talk to people about how we don't really need to keep shopping—we shouldn't look to shopping for our identity; we just don't need more stuff then I have to walk the talk so I'm not buying any more clothes -- a lot of free time."

Friday's protest marks the fourth time Fonda has been arrested protesting in support of climate change action on Capitol Hill.


Washington subsidies not helping the wind industry

Last week the lobbying arm of the wind energy industry made an unsurprising, though somewhat embarrassing, announcement. It wants a longer lifeline with federal subsidies. So much for wind being the low-cost energy source of the future. 

Less than a year ago, the American Wind Energy Association had with great fanfare issued a press statement that as Bloomberg reported: “America’s wind farms are ready to go it alone.” Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a Republican who has strongly supported the wind industry since the days of federal support began in 1992, boasted that the wind industry has finally “matured” and that wind farms were “ready to compete.”

Never mind.

Big Wind’s change of heart was predictable because when this tax giveaway — which basically requires taxpayers to underwrite 30 percent of the cost of wind energy production — was first enacted, the renewable energy lobby promised that it would lift itself out of the federal wheelchair and walk on its own within five years. But like clockwork, every five years they have come back to Congress pleading for an extension — much like Oliver with his porridge bowl asking: “Please, sir, could I have some more.”

What was especially interesting was why Big Wind thinks it is deserving of “more.” The industry execs mentioned the tough competition from natural gas — which isn’t going away. Natural gas is today by far the most cost-efficient source of electric power generation in most markets. Thanks to the shale revolution natural gas prices have fallen by about two-thirds. This means that only with very generous taxpayer assistance on top of local mandates requiring local utilities to buy wind and solar power can green energy compete.

Big Wind said that it will lobby for a continued subsidy so wind power will “have parity” with the solar industry subsidies. The solar industry sun gods have even higher subsidies than wind producers get. They are actually right. Per unit of electricity, solar gets five times as much as wind power. And wind gets some five times more than coal and natural gas. So now we have a subsidy arms race going on. 

Over the last 30 or so years, the renewable energy industry has received well over $100 billion in federal, state and local handouts. Yet these are still fairly trivial contributors to America’s overall energy production — supplying somewhere between 5 percent and 10 percent of the nation’s total. The rational solution would of course be to eliminate all federal energy subsidies and simply create a level playing field among coal, nuclear, natural gas, solar and wind. But given the current anti-fossil fuels hysteria and the movement to promote green energy at any cost, the idea of creating an economically-efficient market for energy is about as likely as hell freezing over — which isn’t going to happen anytime soon because of global warming.

Given the powerful green movement’s lobby on Capitol Hill, don’t be surprised if the federal aid keeps pouring in. But here again we see again the central contradiction of the green energy fad. On the one hand, we here rave reviews of how enormously cost effective green energy has become in the 21st century. We are told we can require 50 percent, 60 percent and even 100 percent renewable energy over the next decade at no cost to consumers or businesses.

If so. Why must the subsidies continue ad infinitum? If $100 billion of taxpayer handouts hasn’t worked, what will? 

My hunch is that the lifelines Washington keeps tossing to the wind and solar industry have been more curse than blessing. Subsidies can be as addictive as heroin. A cold turkey cut off of taxpayer aid would force the renewable industry to adopt strategies and innovations that would make them viable competitors in energy markets.

Necessity really is the mother of invention. 


Lasers could cut lifespan of nuclear waste from "a million years to 30 minutes," says Nobel laureate

Gérard Mourou has already won a Nobel for his work with fast laser pulses. If he gets pulses 10,000 times faster, he says he can modify waste on an atomic level.

If no solution is found, we're already stuck with some 22,000 cubic meters of long-lasting hazardous waste.

Whatever one thinks of nuclear energy, the process results in tons of radioactive, toxic waste no one quite knows what to do with. As a result, it's tucked away as safely as possible in underground storage areas where it's meant to remain a long, long time: The worst of it, uranium 235 and plutonium 239, have a half life of 24,000 years. That's the reason eyebrows were raised in Europe — where more countries depend on nuclear energy than anywhere else — when physicist Gérard Mourou mentioned in his wide-ranging Nobel acceptance speech that lasers could cut the lifespan of nuclear waste from "a million years to 30 minutes," as he put it in a followup interview with The Conversation.

Who is Gérard Mourou?

Mourou was the co-recipient of his Nobel with Donna Strickland for their development of Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA) at the University of Rochester. In his speech, he referred to his "passion for extreme light."

CPA produces high-intensity, super-short optical pulses that pack a tremendous amount of power. Mourou's and Strickland's goal was to develop a means of making highly accurate cuts useful in medical and industrial settings.

It turns out CPA has another benefit, too, that's just as important. Its attosecond pulses are so quick that they shine a light on otherwise non-observable, ultra-fast events such as those inside individual atoms and in chemical reactions. This capability is what Mourou hopes give CPA a chance of neutralizing nuclear waste, and he's actively working out a way to make this happen in conjunction with Toshiki Tajima of UC Irvine. As Mourou explains to The Conversation:

"Take the nucleus of an atom. It is made up of protons and neutrons. If we add or take away a neutron, it changes absolutely everything. It is no longer the same atom, and its properties will completely change. The lifespan of nuclear waste is fundamentally changed, and we could cut this from a million years to 30 minutes!

We are already able to irradiate large quantities of material in one go with a high-power laser, so the technique is perfectly applicable and, in theory, nothing prevents us from scaling it up to an industrial level. This is the project that I am launching in partnership with the Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, or CEA, in France. We think that in 10 or 15 years' time we will have something we can demonstrate. This is what really allows me to dream, thinking of all the future applications of our invention."

While 15 years may seem a long time, when you're dealing with the half-life of nuclear waste, it's a blink of an eye.

The process Mourou is investigating is called "transmutation." "Nuclear energy is maybe the best candidate for the future," he told the Nobel audience, "but we are still left with a lot of dangerous junk. The idea is to transmute this nuclear waste into new forms of atoms which don't have the problem of radioactivity. What you have to do is to change the makeup of the nucleus." After his speech he phrase his plans for lasers and waste more plainly: "It's like karate — you deliver a very strong force in a very, very brief moment."

The idea of transmutation's not new. It's been under investigation for 30 years in the U.K., Belgium, Germany, Japan, and the U.S. Some of these efforts are ongoing. Others have been given up. Rodney C. Ewing of Stanford tells Bloomberg, "I can imagine that the physics might work, but the transmutation of high-level nuclear waste requires a number of challenging steps, such as the separation of individual radionuclides, the fabrication of targets on a large scale, and finally, their irradiation and disposal."

Mourou and Tajima hope to be able to shrink the distance a light beam has to travel to transmute atoms by a further 10,000 times. "I think about what it could mean all the time," Mourou says at Ecole Polytechnique, where he teaches. "I don't overlook the difficulties that lie ahead. I dream of the idea, but we will have to wait and see what happens in the years to come."


Australia: Catfish and shrimp take precedence over drought-hit farmers

Environmental madness

Twenty-two billion litres of precious water have been flushed into a swamp in one of Australia's most drought-stricken regions.

The New South Wales state government started releasing 22 gigalitres of water from Wyangala Dam from the middle of last month.

The move was intended to help increase flow to the heavily parched Lachlan River and its tributaries.

But the decision has been criticised because the water has been used without consulting farmers.

The dam has seen its water level fall by 20 per cent as a result and the state's water minister has questioned the timing of the release.

'I would like to see evidence this was the best time to release water for the environment when the Bureau of Meteorology is indicating little to no inflows over the next 12 months,' NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey said.

The water released from the dam could have sustained 30,000 people living in nearby towns including Cowra and Forbes for over a year.

Instead it will make its journey west down the river to the Great Cumbung Swamp where the Lachlan River ends.

The government agency which operates the state's rivers said in a statement the water release was critical to the survival of the rivers flowing out of the dam.

The Commonwealth Environment Water Holder said the water was vital to improving the health of the river system along the length of the Lachlan River.

A senior green agency source also told The Daily Telegraph the increased supply to the river system would benefit the resident catfish and freshwater shrimp.

But Ms Pavey said 'during times of extreme drought we need flexibility, not blind recklessness'.

The partial opening of the dam has dropped its capacity to about 18 per cent, compared to 23 per cent at the beginning of last month.

The dam is already subject to a proposal to raise its walls by 10 metres at a cost of $650million.

The river stretches almost 1,500km across New South Wales' south and is part of the Murray-Darling Basin which has faced brutal drought conditions in recent years.



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