Friday, January 31, 2020

5 Ways to Reduce Wildfire Risk in California

Data from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection show that 2019 was another year of wildfire disaster. As of November 25, 7,860 fires had burned 259,823 acres, destroyed 732 structures, claimed three lives, and dangerously reduced air quality.

A U.S. Geological Survey researcher reported that: “Since the year 2000 there’ve been a half-million acres burned due to powerline-ignited fires, which is five times more than we saw in the previous 20 years.” Many of the most devastating fires were ignited by power lines, but arson and negligence played a major role.

California’s primary strategy to prevent fire damage has been to cut off electricity. During a period of near-freezing temperatures, California residents went days without light and electricity for appliances. Spoiled food, silent cell phones, dead water pumps, and intermittent internet service disrupted daily life. That’s no strategy at all. People’s essential needs must be met.

As the ash settles on the latest tragedy, what can be done to reduce the impact of future fires? Scientific evidence suggests five ways to do this. All five must be pursued aggressively. This is an emergency – treat it as such.

* First, broaden tree trimming around power lines, waiving regulations if needed, and clear out ground fuels under them. Pacific Gas & Electric has a huge backlog of needed maintenance on lines and towers, and underbrush clearance. Some lines could be buried in vulnerable places, at a cost of about one million dollars per mile. Compared to 2018 fire losses of $11.4 billion, released by state officials, that’s a bargain.

* Second, get serious about prescribed burns. Every locality in fire country needs to work promptly and aggressively to reduce fuel loads that increase fire intensity. The current method of fire suppression has increased ground fuels and promoted over-crowding.

Mechanical thinning and selective harvesting can also play important roles. Preemptive burns and thoughtful forest management would greatly reduce these problems.

* Third, replace invasive vegetation with fire-resistant native species. This is especially useful and would significantly reduce accident-related ignitions along highways. Wildfires leave gaps within vegetation that create an environment leading to higher susceptibility to invasive species.

Sparks rarely ignite trees, but a single spark readily ignites dead grass. Dead grasses are classified as a 1-hour fine fuel, meaning they become highly flammable in just one hour of warm dry conditions, setting the stage for an explosive fire.

Historically, due to scant surface fuels, sagebrush habitat burned about every 60 to 100 years. However, invading annual grasses, like cheatgrass, now extend the fire season and promote large fires every three to five years.

Targeted holistic grazing is another strategic and profitable approach to wildfires, in which cows, sheep, or goats can reduce those easily ignited fuels.

* Fourth, improve regulations for building and zoning in fire prone areas. Increased development in the urban-wildland interface virtually guarantees wildfire problems. Smarter home building through local and statewide regulations on building codes that require the use of fire-resistant materials, creating defensible spaces and disclosure of fire risk during a sale would considerably reduce the risk of destruction related to wildfires.

Current homes in “ignition zones” should be required to follow best practices on clearing surrounding vegetation.

Finally, reduce human ignitions by arson and negligence. People ignite 84% of all fires in America’s lower 48 states, accounting for 44% of all burned areas. The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that arson accounts for 20% of California’s fires, 55% of Kentucky’s and is the leading cause of Florida’s fires.

More resources are needed to address arson as well as to increase public education programs to reduce careless fires. Educational programs combined with aggressive patrolling, prosecution, and fines would reduce both arson and negligence.

Readers may notice that one popular remedy is missing from our list: reducing emissions of the warming gas CO2. Warming plays virtually no role in California’s fires, which occur across a broad range of temperature and moisture. The only human-caused “climate change” connection to the wildfires is the CO2 -phobia that has raised the price of electricity by 50 percent and reduced the power companies’ available personnel for maintenance.

 The Manhattan Institute’s Steven Malanga, writing in the Wall Street Journal, cites a Credit Suisse report that California has required PG&E to spend $2 billion on wind and solar, “at five times the going rate” of fossil fuels. These mandates should be suspended so that more funds are available for the true task at hand, reducing California wildfires.


CLINTEL Manifesto blasts climate scaremongering

There is NO climate emergency. Preaching doom and gloom is a crime against the young generation. These are the key points of a new manifesto from the Climate Intelligence Group or CLINTEL.

CLINTEL is a rapidly growing international group, led by prominent scientists, that opposes the ill-founded attempts to scare people into hasty climate policy actions. They also oppose the terrorizing of children as part of the false climate alarm. CLINTEL recently issued a World Climate Declaration denouncing scaremongering and this new manifesto provides detailed scientific backup for the WCD for a wide public. The manifesto is authored by Professor Guus Berkhout, the President of CLINTEL.

The focus of the Berkhout manifesto is on climate related modeling, which it says is “unfit for purpose.” The purpose in this case is predicting future climate change. Modeling dominates climate science. It also provides the scary scenarios that drive hugely expensive and disruptive climate emergency action policies. That the models are faulty is a very important finding.

The manifesto says there are at least four strong reasons why today’s models are no good.

First, the model makers have not properly included the many factors that are known to be important, especially natural variability. In fact the major models simply assume that (almost) all climate change is due to human activity, an unproven hypothesis.

Second, the predictions to date are dramatically too warm compared to actual satellite measurements. There has been relatively little warming in the last 20 years and much of that looks to be natural. In stark contrast the models have predicted dramatic warming that has not occurred. The models are far too hot to be trusted. Not the climate but the model makers are the source of the panic.

Third, the models lack consideration of historical climate data. There is a growing list of observational studies finding that the global temperature is nowhere near as sensitive to human-generated CO2 as the models assume. Ironically the latest generation of models is even more sensitive than their predecessors, so they are getting even further from observation. The models are getting worse, not better.

Nor can these models explain past periods of warming and cooling, such as the medieval warm period (MWP) and the recently ended little ice age (LIA). If we cannot even explain past climate change, exclusively caused by natural variability, then we certainly cannot understand the present and predict the future. A great deal more data and research is needed in this area. We simply have insufficient insight in the complex nature of climate change. Climate science is far from settled!

All of these glaring problems with models are well explained in the Berkhout manifesto. It follows that present model projections of dangerous future warming and subsequent natural disasters are not to be trusted. They are certainly no basis for inflicting damaging climate policies on the world. The manifesto puts it succinctly: “Stop using Misleading Computer Models.”

CLINTEL is also focused on children being demoralized by climate alarmism. Young people are easy to influence by activists because they have not had enough science to defend themselves. In addition, climate change and environmental pollution are hopelessly confused. To explain why there is NO climate emergency, the manifesto closes with “a message to our grandchildren.” Here is the gist of the message:

“Don’t behave like a parrot. Be critical against the many false prophets who try to misuse you and try to turn you against your parents. The information they tell you is one-sided and misleading. Please, deepen your climate knowledge. By doing so, you will find out that there is NO empirical evidence that points at any climate crisis.”

The World Climate Declaration basically says that the climate policies, being called for in the false name of emergency, not only dangerously undermine the global economic system but they also put lives at risk in countries where large-scale access to reliable and affordable electricity is made unfeasible. This CLINTEL manifesto provides the science showing that there is no such emergency.

CLINTEL recently sent a letter of protest to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The basic message is clearly stated here: “Despite heated political rhetoric, we urge all world leaders to accept the reality that there is no climate emergency. There is ample time to use scientific advances to continue improving our understanding of climate change. Meanwhile, we should go for ADAPTATION; adaptation works whatever the causes are.”

For more information see and look at:


Hypocrites preaching Green

If you don’t know who Tom Steyer is, you should. He’s the guy riding in the internal combustion powered limousine that drops Al Gore off at his speaking engagements.

Mr. Steyer, a billionaire former hedge fund manager, who has become the most influential environmentalist in American politics, made his billions from the coal-related projects his firm bankrolled that have and will generate tens of millions of tons of carbon pollution for years, if not decades, to come.

His former firm Farallon, was appropriately named after a shark-infested shoal on the California coast, and it quickly earned a reputation for take-no-prisoners investing, raking in millions, and eventually billions. For more than 15 years, Mr. Steyer’s fund, Farallon Capital Management, pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into companies that operate coal mines and coal-fired power plants from Indonesia to China:

Farallon invested in a subsidiary of Indiabulls, an Indian financial conglomerate, in 2008, just as the subsidiary began expanding into coal-fired power. Two years later, Indiabulls began construction on two massive coal-fired power plants: the 2,700-megawatt Amravati plant in central India and the 1,350-megawatt Nasik plant outside Mumbai. When completed, Amravati is expected to be one of the largest coal-fired power plants in India locking in decades of carbon pollution.

In 2007, Farallon provided funds for the sale of Meiya Power, an electric utility that operates four large coal-fired power plants, which collectively produce about 7,000 megawatts of power. Combined, the completed Indiabulls and Meiya plants will produce about 60 million tons of carbon pollution a year.

The expected life span of those facilities, some of which may run through 2030, could cloud the credibility of Mr. Steyer’s clean-energy stance.

Today, it is appalling that Steyer is using his emissions profits to fund his image as the “environmental savior” to combat climate change. It is basically hypocritical to claim oneself a great environmentalist while investing in the very same technologies you rail against. Steyer’s shark instincts are now securing a wealth of investor funds from those who believe and support his green messages.

For electricity generation, green is good, but Steyer and his buddies Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg are tight lipped about the extensive land required for the intermittent electricity from wind turbines and solar panel farms and where to place them for maximum exposure to sun and wind year- round.  The land acquisitions necessary to pull that off are nightmares waiting to happen. T

hen, its only intermittent electricity when the sun is shining, and the wind is blowing.

Steyer and his buddies are shockingly unaware that oil and gas is not just an American business with its 135 refineries in the U.S.,  but an international industry with more than 700 refineries worldwide that supply oil products and fuels to the world. Without the U.S refineries our country would become a national security risk being dependent on foreign countries for our existence.

With the winter weather most of the country has endured this year, going green would have resulted in a very dark America with numerous weather-related deaths from exposure to the elements because of no electricity.

Green is good, but Steyer and his followers have yet to propose replacements for the products from deep earth fuels that contribute to ALL medications, electronic components, air travel, shipping, transportation, and commerce.

Steyer, Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg have yet to provide substitutes for the economies around the world that are directly connected to the prosperity of energy dense deep earth minerals and fuels that support the following infrastructures that benefit from the thousands of products that move things around the world.

Medications, vaccines, antibiotics, and medical equipment that are all made with the derivatives from petroleum.

Electronics that are all made with the derivatives from petroleum.

Commercial aviation, with 23,000 commercial airplanes worldwide that has been accommodating 4 billion passenger annually.

Cruise liners, each of which consumes 80,000 gallons of fuels daily, that have been accommodating more than 25 million passengers annually worldwide.

The USA has 98 operating nuclear power reactors in 30 states providing 20% of carbon free electricity in the USA.

The 52,000 merchant ships burning more than 120 million gallons a day of high sulfur bunker fuel (soon to be converted to diesel fuel to reduce sulfur emissions) moving products worldwide worth billions of dollars daily.

The military presence that protects each country from each other, is increasing each year to save the world.

Usage of fertilizers that accommodates growth of much of the food that feeds billions annually.

More than 8,000 coal power plants in America providing continuous electricity to citizens.

Vehicle manufacturing as all parts are based on the chemical and by-products from fossil fuels.

The usage of asphalt for road construction.

Again, green electricity is a good idea, but the inefficiencies of those renewables, and the huge subsidies required to move in that direction negatively affect the consumer. Like Germany, America’s renewables are becoming an increasing share in electricity generation, but at a HIGH COST. In California alone, intermittent electricity from low power density renewables has contributed to California household users paying more than 50% and industrial users paying more than 100% above the national average for electricity and may be very contributory to America’s growing homelessness and poverty populations.

Despite the debut of 45 pure electric and plug-in hybrids in the United States last year, only 325,000 plug-in passenger vehicles were sold, down 6.8% from 349,000 in 2018, according to Edmunds. That is just 2% of the 17 million vehicles of all types sold in the United States in 2019. Tom Steyer’s advocating that electric vehicles will replace every other vehicle on the road is far-fetched.

Until they figure out how to power a 4500 pound Maybach with bulletproof windows and panels all around that can cold start on a dime and get out of harm’s way when a diplomat needs to exit a venue post haste, the intermittent electricity and lithium powered vehicle market will always only be a niche market.


The Thunberg fallacies

Ever since she splashed into view I have wondered about Greta Thunberg’s reasoning. Her quoted statements, blasting the world for not doing the impossible, have given no clue where she is coming from.

Now, thanks to some detailed published statements of hers, from the World Economic Forum in Davos, I have my answer. It turns out she is hotly embracing not one, but two, howling fallacies. No wonder she sounds nuts.

To begin with, she cites the IPCC report on climate change from 2018, which claims we have only a few years left to act if there’s a 67% chance of keeping the global temperature rise from now to below 0.5 degrees C. (She, like everyone else, talks about a rise of 1.5 degrees, but the IPCC says that 1.0 degrees has already happened, which she knows.) If she said a half a degree people might laugh.

She says this is “not an opinion”, that it is THE science. Which is the first fallacy. What the IPCC writes is of course just an opinion and a highly contested one at that. It is nothing but model-based speculation, which is contradicted by real evidence.

But hey, lots of alarmists buy the IPCC stuff and they are not yelling that our planetary house is on fire. Getting to that point is Thunberg’s second, and far bigger, fallacy. She has decided that another half degree of global warming is the threshold to catastrophe.

Mind you she gives no actual reasons here. It appears to be a pure leap of faith. She mentions in passing some apparently dreadful things like tipping points and unknown feedbacks, but nothing specific. The IPCC certainly does not suggest any such hidden cataclysmic triggers.

She even says, “Either we prevent temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees (Celsius), or we don’t. Either we avoid chain reaction of unravelling ecosystems, or we don’t.” It sounds like one follows from the other but it doesn’t.

This is the first I have heard of a chain reaction of unraveling ecosystems, especially one triggered by tiny warming (just half of what we supposedly have already seen.) I am sure the IPCC has never mentioned this demon or we would all have heard of it.

So there it is. She starts with the questionable IPCC and then simply leaps into the abyss but she calls it, “THE science”. There is no science here. In fact, there is no reasoning that I can see. In logic this is called argument by assertion.

The IPCC report merely addressed the relatively mundane question “What is the difference between 1.5 degrees of total warming (0.5 to come) and 2.0 degrees?” This question arises because the Paris Accord includes both targets. It says we want to hit 2.0 but get below it toward 1.5 if possible. In no case is 1.5 a target.

Given that 2.0 is the basic target, it is perfectly clear that 1.5 is not the threshold to catastrophe. In fact the report says that while holding to 1.5 is better, the difference is small. This is why the UN has not proposed dropping the 2.0 degree target. All of which contradicts Greta Thunberg’s claims. The report she cites simply does not support her outlandish position. No wonder the CLINTEL people say there is NO emergency.

To recap, there are two fallacies in her reasoning. Let’s call them the IPCC fallacy and the Thunberg fallacy. The IPCC fallacy is thinking that humans control global temperature. The Thunberg fallacy is thinking that a mere half degree of future warming is the threshold to catastrophe, to the point of threatening human existence. Unfortunately her followers have embraced her delusion.

The IPCC fallacy is well established and widespread, including among many scientists. It is the basis for the Paris Accord. It is moderate in its way. The Thunberg fallacy is new and nuts. In fact it is tearing the alarmist community apart, which is fine by me. Although like all forms of madness, the Thunberg fallacy bears watching, lest it get out if control.

Greta Thunberg and her followers are calling for rapidly rebuilding the global energy system, while also completely restructuring the world’s economic, social and political systems. All this turmoil in the name of limiting future global warming to one half a degree. It does not get any crazier than that.


Politicized charities

Don't give them a cent

Four of Australia’s leading international aid organisations have urged the Morrison Government to take major climate change action amid the country’s bushfire crisis.

World Vision Australia, Oxfam Australia, Plan International Australia and Save the Children Australia have joined forces to issue a plea for stronger climate measures.

The group wants more ambitious emission reduction targets to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5C, warning many countries will face unmanageable suffering and devastation if more isn’t done.

“The time for debate about climate change is over, it is now time for action. We cannot afford to waste any more time,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.

The organisations have called on Australia to demonstrate strong leadership on climate action and transition to a low-emissions global economy, support reforestation programs and build the capacity of vulnerable communities in Australia and overseas to deal with the ravages of climate change.

The four charities have called for the Coalition government to sign the Intergovernmental Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action.

“Our organisations acknowledge that this issue is so pressing, we must advocate in alliance to amplify the voices of the world’s most vulnerable people,” the joint statement says.

The Australian arms of World Vision, Oxfam, Plan and Save the Children describe climate change as a human rights issue impacting on health and an adequate standard of living.

“Every day, our aid workers see the very real and devastating impact of climate change on the world’s most vulnerable people,” the aid alliance says.

The group pointed to a food crisis in southern African, severe floods in Indonesia and a 2018 deadly cyclone in Mozambique.

“Now the climate emergency has well and truly arrived at home, too,” the alliance continued.

“Australians are suffering through the devastating ongoing fallout from our worst fire season on record, with dozens of lives, thousands of homes and more than a billion creatures lost.

“Fires continue to rage and millions are breathing in hazardous air across three states.” Climate action has been brought into sharp focus by Australia’s deadly bushfires with the issue sparking tensions within the coalition.



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Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Left’s Opposition to Mining Threatens Its Green Dream

Environmental activists who oppose mining minerals in the United States are threatening the same green agenda they claim to embrace. Among those leading the attack is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, who proposes banning mining on public lands.

Though environmentalists may not realize it, increased domestic production of “critical” minerals would benefit the environment. But existing restrictions on recovering these elements are forcing U.S. firms to purchase these resources overseas.

This can be problematic if our trading partners are unstable, unreliable or unfriendly, as was the case before the fracking revolution when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) dominated the global market for crude oil. Now the United States is a net exporter of oil and natural gas. But we continue to be dependent on imported minerals, not because domestic supplies don’t exist, but because restrictive regulatory policies prevent their recovery.

As a result, the United States today imports 100 percent of the minerals considered critical by the Interior and Defense Departments. We also obtain at least half of many other minerals, ranging from copper, zinc and chromium to lithium, from overseas suppliers; these are the very same minerals needed to produce batteries for electric vehicles, large-scale power storage units and other clean energy technologies.

At the top of the pyramid are the so-called rare earths, a group of 14 elements with names like promethium, neodymium and yttrium, which are found in computer hard drives, electric vehicle batteries, cancer drugs, solar panels, wind turbines, lithium-ion batteries, magnets and smartphones. China dominates global rare earth production; it supplies 80 percent of the rare earth elements imported into the United States.

In fact, China is the primary supplier of more than half of the strategically important minerals on which scores of modern products and processes depend. Among the minerals at greatest risk is cobalt, which is used in the production of electric vehicle batteries. Much of the world’s cobalt supply comes from Chinese-owned mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

America’s dependence on imported minerals has doubled in the past 10 years and it’s expected to rise over the next two decades, along with global demands. The World Bank warns that by 2050 the demand for lithium will grow by 965 percent, graphite by 383 percent and nickel by 108 percent. as the production of electric vehicles and other green technologies increases.

As part of its ongoing trade dispute with the United States, China threatened to restrict shipments of rare earths last summer. The newly signed phase one trade deal isn’t going to change that.

The best way to protect our economy and environment from sudden rises in the prices of critical minerals, caused by geopolitical tensions, trade wars or any other OPEC-like supply shock, is by reopening domestic mines and taking advantage of the estimated $6.2 trillion in U.S. mineral resources.

But U.S. mining faces an uncertain future.

Most of the domestic reserves of critical minerals are located in the Mountain West: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. But new mining operations are either restricted or banned on more than half of all federal lands—and Ms. Warren and others want to shut the door completely.

A deal negotiated between the United States and Australia will help offset the risk of China’s weaponization of rare earths, but the surest way to avoid future supply shocks is by utilizing our own mineral deposits.

The difficulty of winning support in Congress for mining reforms cannot be underestimated, but neither can the positive consequences. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican and head of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is pushing for changes in the mine-permitting process that would enable domestic companies to open new mines in half the time it now takes.

The mining of critical minerals is not without environmental risks, but if environmentalists want to continue to promote green energy solutions, they must recognize that domestic mineral resources, whether found on private or federal lands, are essential to their green dream.


Trump Administration deep-sixes Obama WOTUS rule

Putting an end to decades of uncertainty over how much regulatory power the federal government has over bodies of water – from ponds to oceans — the Trump administration has overturned and replaced an Obama-era rule that would have imposed federal zoning on millions of acres of private land throughout the country.

Unveiled Jan. 23, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule is the Trump’s administration’s response to the 2015 Obama “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule. Presented as an effort to “clarify” Washington’s regulatory jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, the Obama rule would have forced landowners to seek permits from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and/or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to undertake any activity on their property that might affect a nearby body of water, be it a drainage ditch, stock pond, or puddle.

Under the Trump rule, federal jurisdiction over “navigable waters of the United States,” as provided in the Clean Water Act, stays in place. But the Obama-era attempt to extend that jurisdiction to other bodies of water not specifically identified in the 1973 Clean Water Act has been blocked.

Obama’s WOTUS rule was the biggest power grab in EPA’s nearly 50-year history. Now it is gone.

Farmers No Longer Forced to Go to Lawyers and Consultants

“Today, thanks to our new rule, farmers, ranchers, developers, manufacturers, and other landowners can finally focus on providing the food, shelter, and other commodities that Americans rely on every day, instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on attorneys and consultants to determine whether waters on their land fall under the control of the federal government,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

Wheeler’s point about “attorneys and consultants” is well taken. So confusing is the language of the Clean Water Act that landowners were constantly under threat of being hauled into court either by the feds or by environmentalists for the slightest violation of a statute loaded with imprecise and undefined terms. By design, the Obama WOTUS made things even more confusing, and strengthened EPA’s hand in the process.

Delivering on candidate Trump’s 2016 campaign promise, the administration has brought clarity to the statute and relief to landowners. In Step One, announced in September, the White House repealed the Obama WOTUS rule in total. Federal courts had already struck down large sections of the rule, and now the whole monstrosity has been scrapped. Now, in Step Two, the administration is actually defining key waters-related terms of the law whose lack of definition have bedeviled farmers, ranchers, and others rural landowners for decades.

Providing Definitions

The new rule, which will go into effect on March 24, defines four types of hydrological features that will fall under federal regulatory jurisdiction – territorial seas and navigable waters, tributaries, lakes and ponds, and adjacent wetlands – and lists 12 types of waters that are excluded from the rule, including groundwater, ephemeral pools, and stormwater runoff. Prior converted cropland has been exempted from federal regulation. Yet because there has been no definition of prior converted cropland, farmers often found themselves subject to regulation and litigation anyway. With its new rule, the Trump administration had provided a clear definition of prior converted cropland. Similar definitions have been provided for such terms as “ephemeral,” “Intermittent,” and “adjacent and non-adjacent wetlands.”

The administration’s move was welcomed by such organizations as the American Farm Bureau, National Homebuilders Association, and National Association of Manufacturers, as well as by hundreds of elected officials, ranging from county commissioners to governors and members of Congress.

Deprived of a tool to harasses farmers, ranchers, and other rural landowners, environmental groups blasted the administration.

“With the Dirty Water Rule, the administration has put the interests of polluters over those of the public and our drinking water,” fumed John Rumpler, program director of Environment America (Washington Times, Jan. 24).

The new rule has nothing to do with drinking water, which is regulated under an entirely different statute, the Safe Drinking Water Act.


California files lawsuit to remain a national security risk

California has chosen to be the only state in America that imports most of its oil needs from foreign countries and relies on the U.S. Navy. This to pay a steep price keeping an aircraft carrier with escorts on station to deter attacks on oil tanker traffic operating in and around the Persian Gulf.

The state of California is suing President Donald Trump’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in an attempt to block the opening of more than 1 million acres of public land to oil and gas drilling, including hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

Conservation groups sued BLM over a California fracking plan that would allow drilling and fracking on public lands across eight counties in California’s Central Valley and Central Coast: Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura.

Regarding the crude oil demands for the state, there are scary similarities between Governor Newsom’s goals for California and Vladimir Putin’s objectives. Both support California being more and more dependent on imported foreign oil and both support anti-fracking in California. Obviously, any successful fracking enterprise would lessen the states’ dependency on that foreign oil. Does the Governor know his actions are supportive of California’s 5th largest economy in the world being a National Security risk to America?

California and Hawaii are the only two states who cannot participate in the sharing of excess oil the U.S. is producing and being enjoyed by the other 48 states. Hawaii is a true island, but California is an energy island, as the Sierra Mountains are a natural barrier that prevents the state from pipeline access to any of that excess oil. Hawaii is a different story altogether so let’s focus on California.

The Golden State’s position on crude oil production fits right in with Putin’s goal to control energy. Russia is adamantly against U.S. fracking efforts and very supportive of any environmentalist group or wealthy individual efforts to slow or stop crude oil and natural gas exploration and production within the U.S. and European borders. Recently a Russian funded environmental group gave millions to anti-fracking groups to stop, curtail or severely weaken US fracking of crude oil and natural gas in states like Texas, North Dakota, Colorado, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Pennsylvania.

California’s love of foreign crude oil is obvious. According to the Energy Information Administration, except for California which remains as the only state that imports most of its crude oil from foreign countries, the nation reduced imports and is now a net exporter of crude oil. In 1992 CA and AK accounted for 95% of the state’s demand for crude oil, today CA and AK account for a lowly 43% with the balance of 57% from foreign countries. California increased imports from foreign countries from 5 percent to 57 percent of total consumption. The imported crude oil cost California more than $60 million dollars a day being paid to oil-rich foreign countries, depriving Californians of jobs and business opportunities.

In addition to the anti-fracking position of the state, they are seriously considering Assembly Bill AB-345 (Muratsuchi), “Oil and gas: operations: location restrictions,” which would require, commencing January 1, 2020, all new oil and gas development outside federal land, to be located at least 2,500 feet (nearly half a mile) from any residence, school, childcare facility, playground, hospital, or health clinic. The bill would define re-drilling of a previously plugged and abandoned well, or other rework operations, as a new development.

There are more than 8,000 active or newly permitted oil and gas wells located within a 2,500’ buffer of sensitive sites, that represents about 30% of the 30,000 active wells in California.  These setbacks would further reduce California crude oil production to the point that the foreign imports needed to make up for the in-state reduction would drive up the monthly cost to more than $80 million dollars a day being sent to oil rich foreign countries, at current crude oil pricing.

In pursuit of going green at any cost, like Germany, California continues to decease its in-state crude oil production and its in-state electricity generation. The states’ dependency of foreign countries for crude oil and dependency on other states for electricity is accelerating.

Obviously, our California leaders have limited knowledge that electricity cannot exist without fossil fuels as all the parts for wind and solar renewables are made with fossil fuels. Noticeable by their absence from turbines and solar panels, are those crude oil chemicals and by-products that account for everything in our society and supports the militaries, aviation, merchant ships, and all the transportation infrastructures needed by commerce around the world.


Any climate policy change is going to be slow burn

Comment from Australia

Climate politics is global. This is the ultimate message from the worldwide reaction to Australia’s bushfire tragedy. The backdrop to the demands that Australia do more on climate change is that the world is not doing enough and that the Paris Agreement is in serious trouble and may fail.

The global story is stark: the scientists intensify their alarm but governments are not responding. The gulf between the scientific consensus from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the pledges made by the ­governments of the major emitters grows only larger and soon will verge on gargantuan.

The US, following President Donald Trump’s decision, withdraws from the Paris Agreement on November 4, at the time of the presidential election. If Trump is re-elected it means no American return and that will cast an ominous shadow over the agreement’s structure and credibility. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says “we are still losing the climate race” but then feels obliged to sound an optimistic note: “But we can choose another path.”

The idea that nations will choose another path seems remote. Below the surface you sense the desperation from the architects and champions of a global model that isn’t working and was always a third-best solution. It is now more than 20 years since the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated with its binding targets only on rich, industrialised nations. It is ­almost 10 years since the failure of the Copenhagen conference to ­secure a legally binding global agreement, and almost five since the patch-up job in Paris — a weak fallback — asking nations to submit voluntary targets as nationally determined contributions.

Last year’s UN Emissions Gap Report, along with other UN documents, finds a “bleak” picture. Greenhouse gas emissions are rising. There is “no sign” they will peak in the next few years. By 2030 emissions will need to be 25 per cent and 55 per cent lower than in 2018 to limit warming to below 2C and 1.5C, the Paris requirements. The gulf between country pledges and what is needed remains “large” and growing, with countries needing to increase their pledges “threefold” to achieve the temperature goals.

The UN analysis says: “Essentially there has been no real change in the global emissions pathway in the last decade. The ­effects of climate policies have been too small to offset the impact of key drivers of emissions such as economic growth and population growth.” Understand what this means: the already “baked in” ­absence of progress means the steeper scale of adjustment needed in coming years will be so great it “risks seriously damaging the global economy” — decoded that warns about a global recession.

Paris is not a legally binding agreement; it has no compliance mechanism and no penalties for noncompliance. How does such a system work? By political pressure, public, media, peer group pressure and moral suasion. Invoke the Pope or Prince Charles or Greta Thunberg or the better ­angels of our nature. Pivotal to the political pressure is the fear of extinction or Armageddon. Guterres has bet his UN leadership on climate change ­action. Operating as a global politician, he told the General Assem­bly that unless big emitters act “we are doomed”. Big emitters will determine the fate of the Paris Agreement and our trajectory points to failure.

In this situation, the Australian bushfires become a test case, at home and globally. Guterres slotted the fires into “an existential climate crisis” where “our planet is burning” while governments “fiddle” as the globe “is edging closer to the point of no return”.

The raging bushfires, deaths, property destruction and terrifying pictures naturally prompted demands for action. Climate change constitutes a moral challenge for Australia and all nations to take stronger action. But media demands that Australia must now become a world leader on climate action or that more ambition on Australia’s part is a solution in its own right to our bushfire challenge are unrealistic, irrational and misleading.

The contradiction at the heart of the Paris deal now reverberates through the politics of the democracies. National pledges under Paris are utterly insufficient, as judged by the science. Every analysis shows this. In country after country the climate change champions demand greater action but national governments — essentially the big emitters — refuse to act with the urgency the scientists and the UN demand with doomsday scenarios.

The political battle is waged at the national and global level in constant interaction with each other. Guterres, like the ­activists, says the people are demanding “much stronger ambition”. Are they? Maybe, but global results don’t show it. At home Anthony Albanese backs coal exports and says Labor’s 45 per cent emissions target was a mistake.

For progressives, the bushfires are decisive. They show the climate is changing; that the threat is here, not just in the future. With quasi-religious belief they depict the fires as a “game changer” — the event that shifts public opinion towards greater action. These are declarations of faith. Do they pronounce too much? In reality, it will take many months to determine whether the fires are a game changer. The politics of climate change in Australia has fluctuated wildly over 15 years and fluctuations are likely to recur.

The human brain isn’t good at responding to a predicted catastrophe some time in the future. The domestic test is whether the bushfires have repudiated the May 2019 election settlement and made Scott Morrison’s modest 26 per cent emission reduction stance untenable with the public. The international test is whether Australia, having experienced fires of such notoriety, remains unmoved in its Paris Agreement pledges or concedes the growing threat by declaring more ambitious targets.

There is one certainty. Morrison will take his time on this judgment. He does not subscribe — at least so far — to the “game changer” conclusion of the commentators who demand he change his policy. His caution is understandable. What would be the political consequences for Morrison if, acting on the fires, he now announced a more ambitious emission reduction target?

First, he would never satisfy his opponents, who would pocket the concession, demand more and renew their attacks on his government. Second, he would inflame and alienate many of his own ­supporters, who would attack him for cracking under pressure, surrendering to his opponents, betraying his election mandate and dividing, perhaps fatally, his own side of politics.

In short, it would be meagre gain for truckloads of pain — that’s the political equation. At this stage it doesn’t make sense. Morrison’s aim is to hold his government and his voting base together. That may mean policy change at some point. But that will come only down the track after intense internal management and will surely involve targets beyond 2030.

In the interim, Morrison will make clear he accepts the reality of climate change, that he wants Australia to exceed the 26 per cent 2030 emission reduction target, that he prefers this be achieved without carry-over of credits and that he wants a new national framework for combating fires with greater emphasis on adaptation and resilience building.

Every sign is that Morrison will stick by his stance saying he wants power prices cut and won’t take further action on climate change if it hurts the economy and means higher power prices. But that is ­exactly what it means. The UN is talking about “transforming” policy change. That’s what the science requires. Wealthy Liberal electorates might accept this in principle but there is scant evidence most of the country will.

There is no escape from the fact that on climate Australia is a 1.3 per cent nation. This is our contribution to global emissions. It is wrong to say we don’t matter and don’t have obligations. But it is equally wrong to pretend that ­action by Australia makes any meaningful difference to global greenhouse gas emissions. Yet nothing seems to agitate climate activists as much as this truth.

It doesn’t negate the case for Australia doing more — in moral, diplomatic and self-interested terms. It is vital to avoid any trade or financial retaliation that singles us out from other rich commodity-based exporters (think Canada and New Zealand) by trying to claim we were doing less and should be penalised.

The climate change lobby demands, after the bushfires, a transformational policy change. That won’t happen because neither the policy nor political argument for such transformation exists. That may change. For the present, climate change policy will reflect a series of Morrison-judged compromises amid shifting reassessments involving the economy, energy, emissions reduction and prices, the bushfire legacy and how public opinion evolves, particularly within the Coalition vote.


Greyhound cuts ties with Adani coal mine after backlash from climate Nazis

The bus company Greyhound Australia has ruled out any extension of work on the controversial Adani coal project after a backlash from climate change campaigners.

On Sunday the SchoolStrike4Climate group launched a campaign to boycott travel with the company until it publicly ruled out working on the mine.

Guardian Australia revealed last week that Greyhound had written to staff warning they could be caught “in the crossfire” of anti-Adani campaigners after the company took a three-month contract at the coal project, with an option to extend.

The Indian-owned Adani mine and railway project is the first to begin work to extract the vast coal reserves of Queensland’s Galilee basin.

Greyhound is providing transport to workers for the construction company BMD, which is building the railway to take the coal to Adani’s Abbot Point port.

In a statement, Greyhound Australia said it had “received numerous messages, emails and phone calls from people expressing their thoughts both for and against the Carmichael Rail Network and Adani Carmichael project”.

It said: “Following considered deliberation, and in the best interests of our staff, customers, and partners, Greyhound Australia has decided to not enter into a contractual agreement with BMD to service construction of the Carmichael Rail Network beyond our preliminary 31 March 2020 commitment.”

The company declined to comment further.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Al Shabaab terror group bans single-use plastic bags

There's an old saying that you can know a man by the company he keeps

The Somali militant Islamist group, which has links to al Qaeda, has long had an interest in environmental issues. It made the official announcement on Radio Andalus, which is operated by al Shabaab.

Jubaland regional leader Mohammad Abu Abdullah said the group had come to the decision due to the "serious" threat posed by plastic bags to both humans and livestock. He added that pollution caused by plastic was damaging to the environment.

In the same announcement, the group said it has banned the logging of rare trees.

Details of how the eco-friendly bans would be enforced were not shared with listeners.

Last year, Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada claimed Afghans should plant more trees because of their "important role in environmental protection, economic development and beautification of the Earth".

In 2016, a magazine published by the Yemeni branch of al Shabaab criticised former US president Barack Obama for failing to adequately combat climate change during his presidency.

The group, whose troops were estimated at 7,000 to 9,000 militants in 2014, retreated from major cities in 2015 but still controls large parts of rural areas.

Al Shabaab was responsible for a deadly terror attack at the Westgate shopping mall [Kenya] which killed 67 people in 2013.

Last October, twin bombings by the terror group in Mogadishu killed more than 500 people.


David Attenborough Accused Of Misleading Public About Polar Bears, Again

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has today filed a complaint to the BBC, accusing Sir David Attenborough of misleading the public about the state of polar bear populations in Canada.

In last night’s wildlife TV series Seven Worlds, One Planet David Attenborough and the BBC once again misled the public in a most egregious way.

In the programme, Sir David made false claims, used emotionally manipulative language and blatantly misrepresented several natural biological processes and habitat conditions as the effects of human-caused climate change.

Contrary to David Attenborough’s claim, summers are not a time of starvation for polar bears. The bears shown hunting beluga whales from the shore of Hudson Bay were neither starving nor desperate: they were already fat and healthy after feeding on young seal in spring.

Contrary to Attenborough’s claim, the behaviour shown of polar bears hunting belugas from shore in summer is not extraordinary, is not confined to this area of the Canadian Arctic and has not ‘only been reported in recent years.’ In fact, similar hunting strategies by polar bears have been reported at least since the 1980s.

Rather than a new behaviour born of climate-change induced desperation, this is a relatively rare but not unheard-of hunting strategy by healthy polar bears.

The GWPF has previously pointed out serious misrepresentations about walruses and climate change in Attenborough’s Our Planet series on Netflix.


The U.S. government will give your state money to fight climate change. But you have to call it something else

Or so says The New York Times

The Trump administration is about to distribute billions of dollars to coastal states mainly in the South to help steel them against natural disasters worsened by climate change.

But states that qualify must first explain why they need the money. That has triggered linguistic acrobatics as some conservative states submit lengthy, detailed proposals on how they will use the money, while mostly not mentioning climate change.

A 306-page draft proposal from Texas doesn’t use the terms “climate change” or “global warming,” nor does South Carolina’s proposal. Instead, Texas refers to “changing coastal conditions” and South Carolina talks about the “destabilizing effects and unpredictability” of being hit by three major storms in four years, while being barely missed by three other hurricanes.

Louisiana, a state that is taking some of the most aggressive steps in the nation to prepare for climate change, does include the phrase “climate change” in its proposal in just one place, an appendix on the final page.

The federal funding program, devised after the devastating hurricanes and wildfires of 2017, reflects the complicated politics of global warming in the United States, even as the toll of that warming has become difficult to ignore. While officials from both political parties are increasingly forced to confront the effects of climate change, including worsening floods, more powerful storms and greater economic damage, many remain reluctant to talk about the cause.

The $16 billion program, created by Congress and overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is meant to help states better prepare for future natural disasters. It is the first time such funds have been used to prepare for disasters like these that haven’t yet happened, rather than responding to or repairing damage that has already occurred.

The money is distributed according to a formula benefiting states most affected by disasters in 2015, 2016 and 2017. That formula favors Republican-leaning states along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, which were hit particularly hard during that period.

Texas is in line for more than $4 billion, the most of any state. The next largest sums go to Louisiana ($1.2 billion), Florida ($633 million), North Carolina ($168 million) and South Carolina ($158 million), all of which voted Republican in the 2016 presidential election.

The other states getting funding are West Virginia, Missouri, Georgia and California, the only state getting money that voted Democratic in the 2016 presidential race.

California hasn’t yet submitted its proposal, but in the past the state has spoken forcefully about the threat of climate change, in addition to fighting with the Trump administration to limit greenhouse gas emissions from cars.

Half of the money, $8.3 billion, was set aside for Puerto Rico, as well as $774 million for the United States Virgin Islands. The Trump administration has delayed that funding, citing concerns over corruption and fiscal management.

Not every state has felt compelled to tiptoe around climate change. Florida’s proposal calls it “a key overarching challenge,” while North Carolina pledges to anticipate “how a changing climate, extreme events, ecological degradation and their cascading effects” will affect state residents.

The housing department has itself been careful about how it described the program’s goals. When HUD in August released the rules governing the money, it didn’t use the terms “climate change” and “global warming” but referred to “changing environmental conditions.” Still, the rule required states that received money to describe their “current and future risks.” And when those risks included flooding — the most costly type of disaster nationwide — states were instructed to account for “continued sea level rise,” which is one consequence of global warming.

A spokeswoman for the housing department did not respond to requests for comment.

Stan Gimont, who as deputy assistant secretary for grant programs at HUD was responsible for the program until he left the department last summer, said the decision not to cite climate change was “a case of picking your battles.” “When you go out and talk to local officials, there are some who will very actively discuss climate change and sea-level rise, and then there are those who will not,” Mr. Gimont said. “You’ve got to work with both ends of the spectrum.

And I think in a lot of ways it’s best to draw a middle road on these things.” Texas released a draft version of its plan in November. That draft said the state faced “changing coastal conditions,” as well as a future in which both wildfires and extreme heat were expected to increase.

In response, the state proposes better flood control, buying and demolishing homes in highrisk areas and giving counties money for their own projects.

But state officials in Texas, where Republicans control the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the Legislature, were silent on what is causing the changes. The report does not cite climate change or global warming, though “climate change” pops up in footnotes citing articles and papers with that phrase in their titles.

Brittany Eck, a spokeswoman for the Texas General Land Office, which produced the proposal, did not respond to questions about the choice of language or the role of climate change in making disasters worse. In an email, she said Texas would distribute the funding based on “accepted scientific research, evidence and historical data to determine projects that provide the greatest value to benefit ratio to protect affected communities from future events.” Some local politicians in hardhit areas of Texas are outspoken.

Lina Hidalgo, a Democrat and the top elected official in Harris County, which includes Houston and which suffered some of the worst effects of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, said that addressing the effects of climate change was a top issue for her constituents.

“Harris County is Exhibit A for how the climate crisis is impacting the daily lives of residents in Texas,” Ms. Hidalgo said in a statement.

“If we’re serious about breaking the cycle of flooding and recovery we have to shift the paradigm on how we do things, and that means putting science above politics.”

Citing ‘changing coastal conditions’ in a funding request.

In South Carolina, which like Texas is controlled by Republicans in both legislative chambers and the governor’s office, the state’s proposal likewise makes no mention of climate change. It cites sealevel rise once, and only to say that it won’t be addressed.

The state’s flood-reduction efforts “will only address riverine and surface flooding, not storm surge or sea-level rise issues,” according to its proposal.

That is despite the fact that sea levels and storm surges are increasing across the coastal southeastern United States because of climate change, federal scientists wrote in a sweeping 2018 report.

The authors noted that Charleston, S.C., broke its record for flooding in 2016, at 50 days, and that “this increase in high-tide flooding is directly tied to sea-level rise.” Megan Moore, a spokeswoman for South Carolina’s Department of Administration, said by email that the proposal “is designed to increase resilience to and reduce or eliminate long-term risk of loss of life or property based on the repetitive losses sustained in this state.” She did not respond to questions about why the proposal did not address climate change.

One of the states acknowledged that weather conditions were changing and seas were rising, but still mostly avoided the term climate change. Louisiana, whose location at the mouth of the Mississippi River makes it one of the states most threatened by climate change, intends to use the $1.2 billion it will receive to better map and prepare for future flooding — a major peril for countless low-lying areas, said Pat Forbes, executive director of the state’s Office of Community Development, which is managing the money.

“We realize we’ve got to get better, because it’s going to get worse,” Mr. Forbes said.

The state, where both the House and Senate are controlled by Republicans but the governor is a Democrat, submitted a proposal that makes references to climate change, noting that the risks of flooding “will continue to escalate in a warming world.” Still, the 91-page report uses the phrase “climate change” only once, at the end of an appendix on its final page.

Mr. Forbes called climate change “not that important a thing for an action plan,” and said that mostly leaving the phrase out of the document was not intentional.

He said the purpose of the proposal was to demonstrate to the federal government that Louisiana knows what it wants to do with the money.

“Our governor has acknowledged on multiple occasions that we expect the flooding to be more frequent and worse in the future, not better,” Mr. Forbes said. “So we’ve got to have an adaptive process here that constantly makes us safer.” Other states used their proposals to emphasize the centrality of climate change to the risks they face. “Climate change is a key overarching challenge which threatens to compound the extent and effects of hazards,” wrote officials in Florida, where Republicans control both legislative chambers and the governor’s office.

In North Carolina, which has a Democratic governor and a Republican-controlled Legislature, the proposal argued that the state was trying to anticipate “how a changing climate, extreme events, ecological degradation and their cascading effects will impact the needs of North Carolina’s vulnerable populations.” Shana Udvardy, a climate resilience analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the failure to confront global warming made it more important for governments to at least call the problem by its name.

“We really need every single state, local and federal official to speak clearly,” Ms. Udvardy said.

“The polls indicate that the majority of Americans understand that climate change is happening here and now.” Others were more sympathetic.

Marion McFadden, who preceded Mr. Gimont as head of disaster-recovery grants at HUD during the Obama administration, said the department was responding to the political realities in conservative states. She described the $16 billion grant program as “all about climate change,” but said some states would sooner refuse the money than admit that global warming is real.

“HUD is requiring them to be explicit about everything other than the concept that climate change is responsible,” said Ms. McFadden, who is now senior vice president for public policy at Enterprise Community Partners, which worked with states to meet the program’s requirements. Insistence on saying the words raises the risk “that they may walk away.”


Critics Face Harsh Climate When It Comes To Expressing Dissent – Especially When It Comes To Science

The climate issue now dominates almost all areas of life. This makes it all the more important that the arguments of the critics of the climate alarm are finally heard seriously. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

On the contrary, those who do not support the alarmist line will be publicly scolded, possibly obstructing their career and future. An almost perfectly controlled opinion system has been established.

Has something like this existed before? Have there been cases where good arguments were ignored for far too long, where critics had to fear reprisals, to the point where they were finally proved right and public opinion suddenly turned? Yes, there have been such cases. It seems to be a basic psychological pattern in human society to regard one side as the only valid truth in controversial debates and to present competing opinions as the misguided misconceptions of some madmen. The following three examples illustrate this:

1. The case of Claas Relotius

I’m sure you know the case. A Spiegel editor (Claas Relotius), who was highly respected at the time and showered with prizes, had incorporated years of invented facts into his reports. When another reporter (Juan Moreno) found out about his colleague, his superiors did not believe him at first, although he provided good evidence. This went so far that he was threatened with termination of his contract.

Moreno fought for his professional survival and was able to convict Relotius in the end. You can read in Moreno’s exciting book “Thousand Lines of Lies: The Relotius System and German Journalism“.

2. Doping in cycling

For many years, professional doping was used in cycling, and it is probably still the case today. Whoever wanted to make the manipulations public was done in the cycling scene. The best example was the multiple Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who defended himself against all accusations legally and otherwise with great effort. In the end, everything was discovered.

In January 2013 Armstrong confessed his doping past in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. Read the book “The Cycling Mafia and its dirty business” by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle.

3. The rejection of continental drift

Today we know that the continents are moving. When Alfred Wegener proposed this at the beginning of the 20th century, he was laughed at and ridiculed. Long after his death it turned out that he was right. We had reported about it here in the blog (“Plate tectonics is catching on: Lessons for the Climate Debate” and “Continental Shift and Climate Change: The Miraculous Repetition of the History of Science“). A comprehensive treatise on the subject was published by Naomi Oreskes in her book “The Rejection of Continental Drift: Theory and Method in American Earth Science“.

4. Alzheimer’s cabal

Another example of rampant dogmatism in science to add here is: “The maddening saga of how an Alzheimer’s ‘cabal’ thwarted progress toward a cure for decades” by Sharon Begley.

Her report exposes how a “cabal” of “influential researchers have long believed so dogmatically in one theory of Alzheimer’s that they systematically thwarted alternative approaches.” Had it not been for this dogmatism, “we would be 10 or 15 years ahead of where we are now,” said Dr. Daniel Alkon, a longtime NIH neuroscientist who started a company to develop an Alzheimer’s treatment.


A truth about climate change that Warmists continue to dodge

Higher levels of CO2 are beneficial

Andrew Bolt on Australia's wild fires:

ACTIVISTS are exploiting these terrible bushfires to whip up an astonishing fear of man-made global warming and hatred of sceptics like me.

But know what makes me sure, even after this fiery devastation, that the global warming menace is exaggerated? It's warmist scientist Andy Pitman, who has once again confirmed exactly what I've been saying. How horrified he'll be to hear it

You may remember Professor Pitman, the director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes. He last year was recorded admitting to fellow warmists that droughts — like this severe one that's fed the fires — are NOT caused by global warming. "As far as the climate scientists know there is no link between climate change and drought," he said. "There is no reason a priori why climate change should make the landscape more arid."

Indeed, despite the drought, Australia's rainfall over the century as increased, not fallen.

Pitman and the ABC were naturaily mortified when I and others started to quote him. Pitman is now furious that former rime Minister Tony Abbott last week quoted his admission, too, in he Australian.

But in his anger, Pitman let slip a fact that sceptics like me have tried for years to point out. Pitman complained that "Abbott quotes me on drought ... when in fact for 15 years I have been warning that the risk of fires is increasing as a consequence of climate change".

That's because, he said, the extra carbon dioxide we emit is actually plant food that causes "greening", meaning we get more leaves and even trees to burn in a drought. But Pitman has been too honest. Most warmists have dodged this truth, because it undermines their fear campaign.

You see, it's actually sceptics like me who have for years argued that global warming is greening the planet, and that this is, overall, a good thing. As renowned physicist Freeman Dyson says: "The whole Earth is growing greener as a result of carbon dioxide, so it's increasing agricultural yields, it's increasing the forests and it's increasing growth in the biological world."

NASA has found that an area about twice the size of the continental United States got greener between 1982 and 2009. This helps to explain why world grain crops keep setting new records.

But wait! A greener planet Bigger crops. Fewer cyclones, too. Is this really something we want to stop? This goes to the key question that sceptics like me keep asking. We don't deny the planet has warmed. We instead question whether the warming we're seeing — less than predicted — is all bad. We particularly question whether it's smart to spend billions or even trillions to cut emissions in a largely symbolic attempt to "stop" all this.

Of course, some warmists will say: look at these deadly fires! Don't they prove global warming is deadly? In fact, tragic as they've been, they are far from our worst, measured either by deaths or area burned.

What's more, our bush this summer was dried out by a drought that was caused primarily not by global warming but by a natural and regular change in ocean patterns called the Indian Ocean Dipole. When that dipole pushes warmer water in the Indian Ocean east to Australia, we get rain; when it replaces that with cooler water, we get drought

Last December the Bureau of Meteorology warned the dipole had pushed so much cool water our way that we get no real rain until April. We'd get no rain to stop the fires. Well, the bureau was wrong. The dipole suddenly decayed a couple of weeks ago, and we've since had lots of rain over eastern Australia, with more to come this week.

So, thanks to Pitman, the sceptics' case is even clearer. Do we really want to spend a fortune to slash our emissions in a largely futile attempt to "stop" a warming that isn't anything as dangerous as we're told? Or would it be far cheaper and infinitely more effective to finally do all the fuel reduction burns needed to keep down the fuel loads in our forests?

After all, even Pitman is blaming extra fuel loads for the intensity of the flames. Yet Victoria, for one, has over the past five years burned only half the area recommended by the royal commission into the shocking 2009 fires that killed 172 people -- four times more than died in this summer's fires. But that's one more topic warmists hate. Reason is their enemy, and only fear is their friend.

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 27 January, 2020


For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Greta Thunberg: A Living Explanation Of The Left

It is not easy to understand what the Left — as opposed to liberals — stands for. If you ask a Christian what to read to learn the basics of Christianity, you will be told the Bible. If you ask a (religious) Jew, you will be told the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud. If you ask a Mormon, you will be told the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Ask a Muslim, and you will be told the Quran.

But if you ask a leftist what one or two books you should read to understand leftism, every leftist will give you a different answer — or need some time to think it over. Few, if any, will suggest Marx’s “Das Kapital” because almost no leftists have read it and because you will either not finish the book or reject it as incoherent.

So, then, how is one to understand what leftism stands for?

The truth is it is almost impossible. What leftist in history would have ever imagined that to be a leftist, one would have to believe that men give birth or men have periods, or that it is fair to women to have to compete in sports with biological males who identify as females?

There are two primary reasons it is so difficult, if not impossible, to define leftism. One is that it ultimately stands for chaos:

— Open borders.

— “Nonbinary” genders.

— Nonsensical and scatological “art.”

— “Music” without tonality, melody or harmony.

— Drag Queen Story Hour for 5-year-olds.

— Rejection of the concept of better or worse civilizations.

— Rejection of the concept of better or worse art.

— Removal of Shakespeare’s picture from a university English department because he was a white male.

— The end of all use of fossil fuels — even in transportation (as per the recent recommendation by the head of the U.N. World Meteorological Organization).

— The dismantling of capitalism, the economic engine that has lifted billions of people out of abject poverty.

And much more.

The other major reason it is impossible to define leftism is that it is emotion-based. Leftism consists of causes that give those who otherwise lack meaning something to cling to for meaning.

Two things about Greta Thunberg, Time Magazine’s 2019 person of the year, embody these explanations.

With regard to chaos, here is what Greta Thunberg wrote at the beginning of the month: “The climate crisis is not just about the environment. It is a crisis of human rights, of justice and of political will. Colonial, racist and patriarchal systems of oppression have created and fuelled it. We need to dismantle them all.”

Greta Thunberg, like all leftists, seeks to dismantle just about everything. As former President Barack Obama said five days before the 2008 election, “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

As regards emotion and meaning, the Guardian reports, this is what Thunberg’s father just told the BBC: “Greta Thunberg’s father has opened up about how activism helped his daughter out of depression … how activism had changed the outlook of the teenager, who suffered from depression for ‘three or four years’ before she began her school strike protest outside the Swedish parliament. She was now ‘very happy’, he said … ‘She stopped talking … she stopped going to school,’ he said of her illness.”

The post-Judeo-Christian world the Left has created has left a vast number of the West’s citizens, especially more and more young people, with no meaning. This Grand-Canyon-sized hole is filled by leftist causes.

The fact is life is better, safer and more affluent, and offers more opportunities for more people, than ever before in history. Just about all emotionally stable, mature people should be walking around the West almost delirious at their good fortune. Americans in particular should feel this way. But leftists (again, as opposed to many liberals) are not usually emotionally stable and are certainly not mature. That is why depression among young Americans (and perhaps Swedes) is at the highest levels ever recorded. So, like Greta, they look to left-wing causes to find meaning and emotional fulfillment. Until she embraced climate crisis activism — a chance, as she sees it, to literally save the world — Greta Thunberg was so depressed “she stopped talking.” But thanks to climate activism and other left-wing activism, she is now “very happy” (an assessment I suspect many observers find hard to believe).

Feminism and “fighting patriarchy” (in an age when American women have more opportunities than ever before and more opportunities than women almost anywhere else in the world), fighting racism (in the least racist multiracial society in history), fighting white supremacy (which has almost disappeared from American life) and fighting on behalf of myriad other leftist causes — in other words, fundamentally transforming society — gives meaning to people with no meaning.

None of that is morally or rationally coherent. But it is very emotionally satisfying. Just ask Greta Thunberg’s dad.


Denim’s toll on the planet has long been fashion’s guilty secret. Not anymore: How BLUE jeans went green

Whiskering. I always had my doubts about this term used to describe a denim distressing technique. For a start, it sounded more like a pet’s pampering treatment.

Secondly, I always found the results themselves pretty distressing on the style front. Those pale streaks, meant to recreate vintage wear and tear, always looked far too white. I spent vast sums on distressed boot-cuts in an effort to find the perfect, elegantly aged pair. But no matter which brand I tried, I would realise too late that I looked like a Britney Spears backing dancer from the Bad Bleached Denim years.

I would always find that the wretched whiskers seemed to splay almost purposefully across the parts to which I least wanted to draw attention.

But never mind my style credentials, what I didn’t know back then was the harm they were doing to the environment.

Now the scary truth is out: traditional denim production is one of the worst polluters in fashion.

Creating that aged look in denim involves repeated washing, water wastage, and toxic dyes. Conventional (as opposed to organic) cotton is a water-intensive crop, requiring roughly 50 litres to grow enough for a single pair of jeans, as well as the heavy use of pesticides.

The good news, however, is that denim brands — from Levi’s to supermarket fashion ranges such as F&F at Tesco — are finally getting with the green programme.

The industry is seeking out new, non-toxic dyes, cutting water waste, investing in technology to recycle the water used and — crucially — trying to switch to organic cotton.

Passionate eco-pioneer Stella McCartney is launching the world’s first fully biodegradable stretch jeans. Lee is also a step ahead with its biodegradable jacket, above, with removable buttons as they’re the only part that will not decompose.

Now, I’m off to try on a pair of mid-blue Frame flares. Not a whisker in sight . . .


As ‘flight shame’ movement grows, more airlines and travelers seek to offset carbon footprint

You don’t need to speak Swedish to understand the idea behind “flygskam.” Its English translation is flight shame, and a growing number of travelers are feeling that shame and rethinking their mode of vacation transportation. The belief is that reducing air travel will help fight global warming.

Spurred on by teenage activist Greta Thunberg, flight shame is an environmental movement that highlights the aviation industry’s growing carbon footprint, putting pressure on carriers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The “Greta effect” has stirred up a new sense of urgency over airlines and climate change. Thunberg brought attention to the issue when she took a racing yacht to a climate summit in New York to avoid flying.

One immediate sign of the Greta effect is fewer passengers at Swedish airports, where the movement was born in 2017. Earlier this month, Swedavia, which owns 10 airports in Sweden, announced that it had seen a 4 percent drop in the number of passengers last year. In 2019, there were around 40 million passengers flying to and from all Swedavia airports, down from 42 million in 2018. The biggest drop was seen in the Stockholm airport, with numbers down 8 percent.

The flight shame movement isn’t confined to Sweden. A survey of more than 6,000 people in the United States, Germany, France, and the UK by the Swiss Bank UBS found that 21 percent had reduced the number of flights they took over the past year out of concern for the environment.

“With the pace of the climate change debate, we think it is fair to assume that these trends are likely to continue in developed markets,” the UBS analysts said in the report.

In England, more than 100,000 people have pledged to be flight free in 2020.

The CEO of SAS, one of Scandinavia’s largest carriers, has attributed his airline’s declining passenger numbers to flight shame (along with a weak krona). In Germany, where passenger counts are also in decline, one political party said improving the rail system could help make domestic flights obsolete. It’s reached the point where the CEO of Dutch carrier KLM wrote an open letter asking passengers not to fly unless necessary.

“Over the past 10 years, it’s gone from a trend to a lifestyle,” said Adriana Lynch, chief marketing officer at Office Outsiders. Lynch works with brands in the hospitality industry. “Consumers are no longer saying that it’s cute to be socially responsible. They’re looking for alternatives. In 2020 it’s an actual movement.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were confronted with an overwhelming amount of flight shame and finger wagging after taking four private jet trips in 11 days. Soon after, the prince announced that he was launching an initiative called Travalyst, an effort to bring greater awareness to sustainability and travel. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are now flying commercial carriers.

The erstwhile prince isn’t the only one trying to make travel more sustainable. Last week JetBlue announced that it will go carbon neutral this year, offsetting its estimated 15 billion to 17 billion pounds of CO2 — equivalent to more than 1.5 million automobiles — by funding programs such as reforestation, supporting wind and solar projects, and exploring the use of biofuels. It comes on the heels of similar programs from EasyJet and British Airways.

"Though none of the larger US airlines have yet matched JetBlue, I won’t be surprised if at least one decides to do so,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst.

Air travel accounts for about 2.5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, a much smaller percentage than automobiles, but according to projections from researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University in England, emissions from the sector could more than double by 2050, even if planes become substantially more fuel-efficient.

While airlines grapple with solutions, travelers now have ways to check on how they may or may not be contributing to the problem. One of the shame-iest websites is called Shame Plane. It offers an estimate of how much Arctic ice will melt based on your trip. (Bon voyage!) There are also slightly less shame-based carbon emissions calculators, such as the Carbon Foot Print Calculator. The International Civil Aviation Organization also has a helpful calculator.

If you’d like to shrink your footprint and diminish your flight shame, you can donate to organizations that work specifically to fund earth-friendly, carbon-offsetting programs. Cool Effect funds reforestation projects and nature preserves. Green-e specializes in renewable energy projects, and Gold Standard focuses on reforestation and renewable energy. There are hundreds of choices of projects you can fund through organizations.

Many major airlines work with similar organizations and give travelers the opportunity to offset carbon emissions by making donations based on the length of their flight. Those airlines include: Alaska Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, United, Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, EVA, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, and Qantas.

This week, the travel app TripIt announced it was adding a feature that not only shows a flight’s carbon emissions, but provides practical ideas on how to offset them. Also this week, the airline and hotel booking app Hopper announced it will donate four trees for every flight booked and two trees for every hotel booked through its app in partnership with Eden Reforestation Projects.

The International Council on Clean Travel regularly ranks the most fuel-efficient airlines. Choosing a fuel-efficient airline is another way to help reduce emissions. In the United States, the most fuel-efficient airline in 2017 and 2018 was Frontier, followed by Spirit and Southwest. The least efficient was JetBlue, because it operates its planes with a lower load factor and fewer seats per plane. Fewer seats means fewer passengers. It’s akin to driving with fewer passengers in a car. The ICCT reported Frontier ranked high because it has a newer fleet and more direct flights than competitors. Internationally, Norwegian Air was the most fuel-efficient airline. British Airways was ranked worst.

One key difference between the flight shame movement in Europe versus the United States is that European travelers have many more rail options, both domestically and continentally. If a vacationer wants to travel from Switzerland to Germany or Italy to France, there are ways to do so that don’t require additional hours, or days. In the United States, large swaths of the country are not connected by rail, or if they are, routes are limited or simply impractical.

“In the US, if you’re going to tell someone not to fly on environmental grounds, you’re often telling them not to travel,” said Seth Kaplan, an author and airline analyst. “Oftentimes there isn’t a greener option, or an option that anyone is going to put up with in terms of travel time. But generally no greener option at all.”

The lack of options is frustrating to Eva Martinez of Quincy. She said she wants to do the right thing and reduce the number of flights she takes each year, but not at the expense of missing time with her family in New Mexico. She said she has friends in the same boat, or, in this case, plane. Giving up flying means less time with family, or fewer vacations outside the United States.

So while travelers are more focused on the environment, Harteveldt said he doesn’t see flight shame taking hold in the United States, especially as airfares continue to drop and more routes open.

Even in continental Europe, where the growth of air travel slowed in 2019, it’s impossible to clearly ascribe the change to flight shame. David Tarsh, managing director of Tarsh Consulting, which represents a number of companies within the travel industry, said reasons could run the gamut, from riots in Chile, to strife in Hong Kong, or terrorism in Sri Lanka.

“Even if [travelers] tell you the reason for not flying was flight shaming, it is possible that other factors were dominant,” Tarsh said. "For example: higher air fares, slightly inconvenient dates, or corporate cost cutting. One needs to investigate very carefully before being able to assert definitively that flight shaming is having a significant impact.”

There is one easy way to eliminate flight shame, and that’s to stay grounded, but keep in mind that long car trips, particularly solo trips in heavy traffic, will not help the environment. But if staying on land is not an option, an easy way to reduce your footprint is by flying economy instead of business or first class. According to a study from the World Bank, the emissions associated with flying in business class are about three times as great as flying in coach, because more passengers per plane means fewer flights.

At last, cramped economy passengers have something to be happy about: smaller carbon footprints.


Facts blurred in climate coverage

Sobriety and perspective were once two of the valued qualities of serious media who considered themselves above the exaggeration and inflammation — commonly referred to as beat-ups — that they view as the domain of the tabloid or shock media.

Climate change has flipped that around. Nowadays media that would assign themselves the “quality” label while rejecting the accurate “green-left” tag are all about hysteria and twisting facts. Let me start with CNN, whose reporter Will Ripley spent a week or so in Australia reporting mainly on bushfires and weather, including a climate protest.

“They (the protesters) say the planet is dying,” Ripley reported. “And Australia is right on the frontline of this climate crisis: you have the unprecedented bushfires, you have the Great Barrier Reef drying up because of the ozone levels in the atmosphere.”

Oh, dear. Fact-checking goes missing when pushing the alarmist perspective. Only sceptical views tend to be treated with any, well, scepticism, by most media.

The word “unprecedented” has been invoked time and again in order to pretend terrifying events, the likes of which have scarred this nation forever, were something brought newly upon us by climate change.

Early in the season NSW had more emergency level fires on one day than ever before (due to arson, natural events and weather conditions), and on two other days the Sydney area recorded its worst fire conditions, and it has been the worst bushfire season in that state. But it is wrong to claim this is the worst season by any measure for any other state or the nation as a whole.

We could fill pages with such hype. Given the essential facts have been so drastic it seems implausible that anyone would want to embellish the story — but the sensationalism has been, well, perhaps unprecedented.

US ABC news headed a story “Wildfire Apocalypse” and chief meteorologist Ginger Zee said “unprecedented” fires were “consuming” Australia.

Maps on US and UK media had flames all over our continent; we were ablaze coast to coast.

At the BBC, TV host Ros Atkins bought into the sensationalism and Twitter-level political debate full-on: quoting people like Lara (Bingle) Worthington on social media, describing us as the “hottest place in the world” (as, of course, we often are in summer) and showing pictures of Scott Morrison holding a lump of coal.

Atkins along with most journalists in Australia adopted the word “megablaze” or “megafire” to describe the main Blue Mountains fire. This is of a piece with the climate change-induced language tweaks to make weather events sound different to all that preceded them. Storms are now “storm events” and heatwaves “extreme heat events” and so it goes. (The concocted word “megafire” even passed my lips as I read a breaking news update scripted elsewhere and presented live on air.)

But worse than the beat-ups has been the politicisation. Green-left politicians and climate protesters, led by former NSW fire commissioner and global warming activist Greg Mullins, were sowing the seeds before the fire season even began and have used every blaze and even every death to push their policies.

The basis of their concern is not seriously disputed in public debate: that global warming will make bad fire conditions more common in many parts of Australia. But the thrust of their arguments, amplified by compliant media, is based on untruths: claims this fire season is our worst, accusations our government is not acting on climate, inferences our policies can alter global climate and, perhaps worst of all, implicit and false promises that climate policies can ameliorate the annual threat of bushfires.

To avoid sensible arguments about historical context, policy options and global impacts, the green-left media deliberately creates a false dichotomy.

They characterise the argument in Australia as one between climate change reality and climate change denial.

This jaundiced falsification is social media click-bait. On the BBC Atkins used some of my commentary to this end, running a clip of me saying the activists and politicians were using bushfires to advocate policies that “can and will do nothing ever to prevent horror bushfire conditions” in Australia.

Instead of making an argument against this incontestable statement — perhaps by trying to explain how Australia’s policies can change a climate that has produced bushfires for millennia — Atkins falsely insinuated I didn’t accept the science and gave us the intellectually lazy climate science versus denial and inaction case.

He then falsely suggested Australia was not involved in global efforts to lower emissions. This is the inane “white hats versus black hats” level at which media conduct this complex debate.

In another segment Atkins asked London-based Sydney Morning Herald journalist Latika Bourke whether it was “fair to say the very existence of climate change is still an active debate in Australia?”

“Yes,” replied Bourke, “it’s been a very ferocious debate in Australia for about the last decade.” She claimed this debate has split the two major parties; one side accepting science and backing emissions reduction, and the other arguing “climate change, if it is happening at all, is not the fault of human activity”.

This is a mischaracterisation of our political debate where the choice at the last election was between a Coalition promising to meet our Paris climate agreement targets of 26-28 per cent by 2030 and a Labor opposition promising to increase that target to 45 per cent. Neither the science nor the need for multilateral action are in dispute between our major parties, but rather the targets and methods of achieving them.

Bourke then went on to say there was no resolution to the debate, “except what we’re seeing this summer and that is a catastrophic weather event.” Atkins aired another interview with Bourke in which she said: “Australia’s well used to bushfires but this extremity, this intensity, this degree, Australia has not seen before.” Plain wrong.

She went on to say, perhaps second-guessing her own hyperbole: “And these are the worst in living memory.” But, again, this is just wrong. It is only 11 years since the fierce firestorms of Black Saturday in Victoria where hotter temperatures and stronger winds saw 173 lives and thousands of properties lost and, of course, anyone involved in 1983’s Ash Wednesday will not have forgotten those hellish conditions or their toll. If we study the historical reports we know maelstroms descended in 1967, 1939, 1851 and many other times in between.

It is unpleasant to do these comparisons between horrible events. But it is sadly necessary to counter a loose conspiracy of misinformation designed to convince everyone that we have created something new, something more horrible than anyone else has experienced before.

It is of a piece with official edicts by news organisations such as The Guardian to inflame climate coverage by talking of “crisis” and “emergency” instead of climate change. It smacks of fake news generated to pursue green- left political goals. And it is as much of a worry as the climate.


Reducing Fire, and Cutting Carbon Emissions, the Aboriginal Way

The article from the NYT below gives a good sense of Aboriginal burning practices but does not give enough emphasis to the fact that Aboriginal burning practices -- very frequent small fires -- would not be tolerated for a moment in most of Australia.  They would rightly be seen as dangerous.

The Aborigines described below can get away with it for two main reasons:

1).  They live in Kakadu national park, which is only very lightly populated -- so they have few neighbours to bother them with criticisms

2).  The NT has predicable monsoons, which enables safer detection of risky/non-risky times to burn.  Rainfall in the rest of Australia is much less predictable, if it is predictable at all. So choosing safe times to burn is very approximate.

Adequate burns can only be done safely in most of Australia if plans for burning cover many areas -- so that a burn can start somewhere as soon as there is a good day for it.  Burns have to exploit ALL good burning days

COOINDA, NT. — At a time when vast tracts of Australia are burning, Violet Lawson is never far from a match.

In the woodlands surrounding her home in the far north of the country, she lights hundreds of small fires a year — literally fighting fire with fire. These traditional Aboriginal practices, which reduce the undergrowth that can fuel bigger blazes, are attracting new attention as Australia endures disaster and confronts a fiery future.

Over the past decade, fire-prevention programs, mainly on Aboriginal lands in northern Australia, have cut destructive wildfires in half. While the efforts draw on ancient ways, they also have a thoroughly modern benefit: Organizations that practice defensive burning have earned $80 million under the country’s cap-and-trade system as they have reduced greenhouse-gas emissions from wildfires in the north by 40 percent.

These programs, which are generating important scientific data, are being held up as a model that could be adapted to save lives and homes in other regions of Australia, as well as fire-prone parts of the world as different as California and Botswana.

“Fire is our main tool,” Ms. Lawson said as she inspected a freshly burned patch where grasses had become ash but the trees around them were undamaged. “It’s part of protecting the land.”

The fire-prevention programs, which were first given government licenses in 2013, now cover an area three times the size of Portugal. Even as towns in the south burned in recent months and smoke haze blanketed Sydney and Melbourne, wildfires in northern Australia were much less severe.

“The Australian government is now starting to see the benefits of having Indigenous people look after their lands,” said Joe Morrison, one of the pioneers of the project. “Aboriginal people who have been through very difficult times are seeing their language, customs and traditional knowledge being reinvigorated and celebrated using Western science.”

In some ways, the Aboriginal methods resemble Western ones practiced around the world: One of the main goals is to reduce underbrush and other fuel that accelerates hot, damaging fires.

But the ancient approach tends to be more comprehensive. Indigenous people, using precisely timed, low-intensity fires, burn their properties the way a suburban homeowner might use a lawn mower.

Aboriginal practices have been so successful in part because of a greater cultural tolerance of fire and the smoke it generates. The country’s thinly populated north, where Aboriginal influence and traditions are much stronger than in the south, is not as hamstrung by political debates and residents’ concerns about the health effects of smoke.

The landscape and climate of northern Australia also make it more amenable to preventive burning. The wide open spaces, and the distinctive seasons — a hot dry season is followed by monsoon rains — make burning more predictable.

Yet despite these regional differences, those who have studied the Aboriginal techniques say they could be adapted in the more populated parts of the country.

“We most certainly should learn to burn Aboriginal-style,” said Bill Gammage, a professor at the Australian National University in Canberra. “Our firefighters have quite good skills in fighting fires. But for preventing them, they are well short of what Aboriginal people could do.”

Last week, Victor Cooper, a former forest ranger in northern Australia, lit a wad of shaggy bark to demonstrate the type of fire that burns at temperatures low enough to avoid damage to sensitive plants that are crucial food for animals.

The preventive fires, he said, should trickle, not rage. They must be timed according to air temperature, wind conditions and humidity, as well as the life cycles of plants. Northern Aboriginal traditions revolve around the monsoon, with land burned patch by patch as the wet season gives way to the dry.

“We don’t have a fear of fire,” said Mr. Cooper, who burns regularly around his stilt house nestled in woodlands. “We know the earlier we burn, the more protection we have.”

This year, he will become certified to join the carbon credits program. Money earned through that system has incentivized stewardship of the land and provided hundreds of jobs in Aboriginal communities, where unemployment rates are high. The funds have also financed the building of schools in underserved areas.

NASA satellite data is used to quantify the reduction in carbon emissions and do computer modeling to track fires. Modern technology also supplements the defensive burning itself: Helicopters drop thousands of incendiary devices the size of Ping-Pong balls over huge patches of territory at times of the year when the land is still damp and fires are unlikely to rage out of control.

Those taking part in the program say they are frustrated that other parts of the country have been reluctant to embrace the same types of preventive burning. The inaction is longstanding: A major federal inquiry after deadly fires more than a decade ago recommended wider adoption of Aboriginal methods.

“I have many friends in other parts of Australia who can’t get their heads around that fire is a useful tool, that not all fire is the same and that you can manage it,” said Andrew Edwards, a fire expert at Charles Darwin University in northern Australia. “It’s hard to get across to people that fire is not a bad thing.”

Nine years ago, Mr. Gammage published a book that changed the way many in Australia thought about the Australian countryside and how it has been managed since the arrival of Europeans in the late 18th century.

The book, “The Biggest Estate on Earth,” uses documents from the earliest settlers and explorers to show how the landscape had been systematically shaped by Aboriginal fire techniques.

Many forests were thinner than those that exist now and were more resistant to hot-burning fires. Early explorers described the landscape as a series of gardens, and they reported seeing near constant trails of smoke from small fires across the landscape.

As Europeans took control of the country, they banned burning. Jeremy Russell-Smith, a bushfire expert at Charles Darwin University, said this quashing of traditional fire techniques happened not only in Australia, but also in North and South America, Asia and Africa.

“The European mind-set was to be totally scared of fire,” Mr. Russell-Smith said.

As the fires rage in the south, Aboriginal people in northern Australia say they are deeply saddened at the loss of life — about 25 people have been killed and more than 2,000 homes destroyed. But they also express bewilderment that forests were allowed to grow to become so combustible.

Margaret Rawlinson, the daughter of Ms. Lawson, who does preventive burning on her property in the far north, remembers traveling a decade ago to the countryside south of Sydney and being alarmed at fields of long, desiccated grass.

“I was terrified,” Ms. Rawlinson said. “I couldn’t sleep. I said, ‘We need to go home. This place is going to go up, and it’s going to be a catastrophe.’”

The area that she visited, around the town of Nowra, has been a focal point for fires over the past few weeks.

The pioneering defensive burning programs in northern Australia came together in the 1980s and ’90s when Aboriginal groups moved back onto their native lands after having lived in settlements under the encouragement, or in some cases the order, of the government.

Depopulated for decades, the land had suffered. Huge fires were decimating species and damaging rock paintings.

“The land was out of control,” said Dean Yibarbuk, a park ranger whose Indigenous elders encouraged him to seek solutions.

The Aboriginal groups ultimately teamed up with scientists, the government of the Northern Territory and the Houston-based oil company ConocoPhillips, which was building a natural gas facility and was required to find a project that would offset its carbon emissions.

According to calculations by Mr. Edwards, wildfires in northern Australia burned 57 percent fewer acres last year than they did on average in the years from 2000 to 2010, the decade before the program started.

Mr. Yibarbuk, who is now chairman of Warddeken Land Management, one of the largest of the participating organizations, employs 150 Aboriginal rangers, part time and full time.

“We are very lucky in the north to be able to keep our traditional practices,” Mr. Yibarbuk said. “There’s a pride in going back to the country, managing it and making a difference.”



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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