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


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