Sunday, January 12, 2020

Climate Change, Lies And The Lancet

I have pointed out on several occasions how brainlessly Leftist the journal has become.  It even criticized George Bush and the Iraq war -- JR

The Lancet has published its latest annual report on health and climate change, which inevitably orders us to stop using fossil fuels or the kids will get it!

It is the usual load of overhyped rubbish of the sort we have seen in previous years.

The executive summary contains a number of questionable claims and statements which seriously undermine the report’s integrity and reliability.

For a start, it claims that ‘a child born today will experience a world that is more than four degrees warmer than the pre-industrial average.’

Really? A temperature rise of three degrees in 50 years or so? Even the highly discredited climate models don’t regard this as realistic. For the Lancet to state this as a bald-faced fact calls into question the objectivity of its contents.

It then proceeds to list all sorts of ways in which health is already being impacted by climate change, including disease transmission, air pollution, extreme weather (which apparently will affect women more – yes, that’s got me and all!), wildfires, heatwaves and goodness knows what else.

Yet, tucked away in Figure 5 is the dirty little secret that mortality rates from climate-related causes have been plummeting since 1990.

The only exception has been dengue fever, principally in SE Asia. The fact that the increase is concentrated in one geographical region must immediately raise the suspicion that this has nothing to do with climate, and instead is down to local factors.

As real experts on vector-borne diseases have repeatedly made clear, the principal reasons for the recent increased incidence of dengue are demographic and societal, such population growth, urbanization, lack of proper mosquito control, increased air traffic, and the discontinuation of eradication programs in the 1970s.

Urbanization is a particularly important factor. Not only does urban crowding along with the inevitable poor quality water and sewage systems, create ideal conditions for increased transmission of mosquito-borne diseases in tropical urban centers.

Urbanization also provides ideal breeding grounds for the mosquitos, because the larvae thrive in rubbish dumps full of plastics, tires and such.

So, despite all of the report’s claims of climate change’s impact on health, it is evident that people around the world are not only living longer on average, but mortality rates due to the very same climate-related factors hyped by the Lancet are also falling.

More HERE 

Greens intimidating big business

“Big Business” has been portrayed in history as intimidating and domineering in society over small business competitors, workers and politicians. In some ways that remains true. However, the larger truth is that big business is a paper tiger, easily intimidated. No segment of society knows this better than the Green climate alarmists, and they are intimidating corporate America gradually and to growing effect. Ultimately, such intimidation campaigns are misplaced and harmful.

Under pressure from groups like the Rainforest Action Network, the Hartford Insurance Company recently announced it is curtailing its investments in coal companies, which followed a similar divestment pledge from Liberty Mutual Insurance and AXIS Capital. Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment firm, also announced recently it would no longer make new coal investments nor invest in companies drilling for oil in the Arctic.

Hartford Insurance, for example, has completely bought into climate alarmism, even repeating the supposed connection between warming and greater frequency of storms and floods. There is no such connection, as CFACT explains.

Goldman Sachs’ divestment announcement, fortunately, did not go unanswered. The state of Alaska, with an economy heavily dependent on oil production, can also take its business elsewhere by excluding Goldman from other state business. This is something that Gov. Mike Dunleavy hinted would come.

The governor also pointed out that other investment firms could replace Goldman Sachs and that any loss in Alaskan oil production would hurt American workers and consumers.  Such divestment schemes also serve to help other oil producing nations that lack the environmental safeguards mandated in the U.S.  In fact, there are plenty of other takers for Arctic energy resources.

For climate alarmists, science, history and the facts on global temperature have not fit their computer models and thirty-year predictions of the earth’s demise. Accordingly, the public remains unconvinced of their claims of urgency which is one reason the Green New Deal will not be passed by Congress any time soon.  In fact, the only vote that occurred was when the U.S. Senate voted against it without a single vote in support (Democrats, including the chief sponsor of the GND, voted “present”).

While it’s true that some localized Green New Deals have been adopted in New York City, Los Angeles and other places, the negative cost impact to the public, including from energy rationing, is postponed for several years. That way, few politicians of today will face any backlash. Carbon neutral climate goals, for example, will take effect in a dozen years or decades from now, long after most present-day politicians are retired or dead.

The point here is that without real public buy-in, climate extremist groups have resorted to threats, boycotts and intimidation of high profile companies. This as another means to force transformation away from fossil fuels toward a carbon-free nirvana that is wholly unrealistic and unwarranted. Still, big business is always about the bottom line, and bad publicity from a social media campaign can reap a devastating financial effect – something few corporate CEOs would risk, whether or not they agree with climate alarmism.

The corporate campaigns by alarmist groups for divestment of fossil fuels, if successful, would be harmful to workers and the U.S. economy as a whole – without the concomitant environmental benefits. If the alarmist camp were serious, they would campaign for divestment in countries that care nothing for the environment or carbon emissions, starting with China and Russia.

Many mega U.S.-based corporations such as Amazon and Apple, whose websites tout their environmentalism, are huge investors in China because they profit handsomely. They are not seriously pressuring China to care about the climate, nor are they divesting from that dictatorial country.  China releases more carbon than the U.S. and Europe combined, but don’t count on green groups or multi-national corporations to attempt any redress.  This not-so-mild inconsistency is less about caring for the environment and global temperature and more about a Green group agenda of anti-capitalism and anti-Americanism.

Demands for corporate divestment are an attack on freedom of choice and the economic prosperity we enjoy as Americans thanks to affordable energy. If companies are convinced it is in their interest (financial or PR-wise) to have climate goals and more renewable energy sources, that’s their choice. Intimidation and boycotts from climate alarmist groups are otherwise hypocritical, counterproductive and ultimately an assault on the liberties we enjoy as Americans.


Why plastics may not always be the worst option for the planet

In the struggle to achieve a green life, plastics have become enemy number one. Images of dead dolphins, their stomachs full of plastic bags, and turtles skewered by straws have raised public consciousness of the damage plastics cause in our eco-systems.

But a new report has warned that in the war on plastics, we are at risk of turning to alternatives that could be just as bad, if not worse, for the environment.

Plastic was invented during the Industrial Revolution, and in its early years was seen as a miracle alternative to depleting and expensive natural materials.

It has revolutionised the way we live and is used in everything from medical equipment to make up.

"Plastic is light and durable and has many incredible properties that others don’t have," says Dr Rachael Rothman, the associate director of the Plastics: Redefining Single-Use project at the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures.

But the fact it is cheap, hard-wearing and readily available is also what makes it a burden on the environment.

We have come to rely on plastic, using it once and throwing it away. The UK produces 5 million tons of plastic waste every year, with only 26 per cent of it recycled, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Plastics can take hundreds of years to deplete in nature, where it is detrimental to animal life and ecoystems, and it releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere if burned.

It’s not just a problem of deadly waste: the production of plastic using fossil fuels contributes an estimated 5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to the warming of the planet.

So should we switch to non-plastic alternatives?

Huge demand, particularly from middle class consumers in the UK’s big cities, in the wake of programmes like Blue Planet, has driven supermarkets and other suppliers to seek alternatives to plastic, according to a new report from think tank Green Alliance.

But the alternatives are not always as green as you might think.

Paper bags, which have been adopted by some supermarkets for fresh produce, have a carbon footprint of up to four times that of a single-use plastic bag, and are much more difficult to re-use given how quickly paper tends to fall apart.

A tote bag made from cotton - which requires massive amounts of water to produce - would need to be used 327 times compared to be as carbon efficient as a regular plastic bag, according to a 2008 study. Fine if you only have one, but less good if you've developed a collection.

Glass bottles are also significantly more carbon intensive than their plastic alternatives, partly down to their weight - in one study by the Green Alliance a glass bottle was found to use 360g of material, compared to just 10g for a plastic bottle. That adds to its carbon footprint considerably when you take into account the extra transport costs of heavier materials.

Aluminium, which has been hailed as a magic solution to plastic water bottles, has double the carbon footprint of a plastic bottle when it comes to production, though it is also easier to fully recycle.

And while switching to wooden cutlery may feel like the hair-shirt option, it can have a similar impact on marine life if it makes it into the oceans.

What about abandoning plastic altogether?

It’s easy to walk around the supermarket and bemoan the amount of seemingly unnecessary packaging on food. But a lot of the time, plastic packaging can prolong the shelf life of food, lowering food waste.

A shrink-wrapped cucumber, for instance, lasts up to six days longer than one with no packaging at all.

Food waste has a huge detrimental cost to the environment, given the often carbon intensive processes that get our food from the ground to our plate, contributing 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gases every year from the UK alone.

What about different kinds of plastic?

Compostable, biodegradable and bio-plastics have all risen in use in recent years as alternatives to traditional plastic. But Green Alliance warns that consumers have become confused by the terms, and don’t know how to dispose of them. "Introducing more types of plastic can be more confusing. And we don’t really have a clear national system for recycling," says Dr Rothman.

Bio-plastics are products made from alternatives to petroleum, often from plants such as corn or sugarcane, but require a huge amount of energy to create - energy that currently comes largely from burning fossil fuels. Meanwhile most of our plastic comes as a byproduct of the fossil fuel industry.

Compostable sounds straightforward but in fact very few of these products can simply be thrown on your home compost pile, and instead require industrial composting.

With such an array of products now on the market, it is becoming ever more difficult to work out what can go into your conventional recycling, but including compostable or biodegradable products can often contaminate the entire collection.

So what’s the answer?

It’s one you know already - reduce, reuse, recycle. Several studies have shown that single-use has the most impact on the environment, no matter what it’s made of.

"The problem is the sheer volume we have, it’s not the fact it’s plastic," says Dr Rothman. "It’s our throwaway attitude to plastic that is the problem."

So, if you’re concerned about your carbon footprint, keep on using your cotton tote bag. But try not to buy a new one every week.


Trump Touts New Rule as Way to Improve Roads, Bridges Faster

President Donald Trump announced a new administration policy Thursday to boost the nation’s infrastructure without spending more tax dollars. 

The administration proposed a new rule under existing law to expedite environmental reviews, cutting the length of review by more than half of the average of five-to-seven years per project.

The law, called the National Environmental Policy Act, has long stalled major construction for highways and bridges.

“From Day One, my administration has made fixing this regulatory nightmare a top priority, and we want to build new roads, bridges, tunnels, [and] highways bigger, better, faster, and we want to build them at less cost,” Trump said at the White House.

The Trump administration has pushed an aggressive deregulatory agenda, and the president often has talked about streamlining environmental reviews.

The administration contends that “modernizing” environmental reviews likely would lower costs for state and local road projects.

“That is why, for the first time in over 40 years, today we are issuing a proposed new rule under the National Environmental Policy Act to completely overhaul the dysfunctional bureaucratic system that has created these massive obstructions,” Trump said.

Since President Jimmy Carter signed the measure into law in 1978, the Council on Environmental Quality has made just one substantive amendment to related regulations—in 1986, according to the White House.

On average, it takes five years to complete an environmental impact statement for a project, and seven years for highways.

“The United States will not be able to compete and prosper in the 21st century if we continue to allow a broken and outdated bureaucratic system to hold us back from building what we need. The roads, airports, schools, everything,” Trump said, adding:

Right now it takes over seven years and oftentimes much longer—seven years is like record time—to complete approvals for a simple highway, the simplest of them. With today’s proposed reforms, we will reduce that number by more than 70%. We’ll cut the federal permitting timeline for major projects down to two years, and ideally we’re going to try to get even less than that.

The proposed rule would set time limits of no more than two years for the federal government to complete environmental impact statements and one year for completing an environmental assessment.

“The administration’s proposed reforms of the NEPA target some of the worst regulatory barriers that inflate the costs of repairing the nation’s roads, bridges, airports, and railways,” said Diane Katz, senior fellow in regulatory policy at The Heritage Foundation, adding:

The streamlining provisions, if enacted, would reduce project delays and expedite the benefits of modern—and safer—infrastructure. In fact, the [law] is entirely out of sync with current environmental, political, social, and economic realities, and outright repeal would not make a whit of difference to the environment or public health.

The proposed rule also is designed to promote information sharing between or among federal agencies, allowing one agency to use the determinations of another to avoid duplicative work. Primarily, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department are involved in environmental reviews.

Under the National Environmental Policy Act, an environmental assessment determines if a project has potential environmental effect.

Each federal agency adopts its own procedures under the law. If the agency’s assessment determines a project will have significant environmental effect, it must do a more detailed environmental impact statement. 

The statement requires a multistage effort that includes collaboration between the federal agency and the public. Next is a public review process for the draft statement lasting a minimum of 45 days.

A final environmental impact statement is published to include responses to comments from the public. After this, the agency has a 30-day “wait period” before making a final decision on a project. Occasionally, rules require a supplement to the environmental impact statement.


Australia has been hotter, fires have burnt larger areas

By Dr. Jennifer Marohasy

The word unprecedented is applied to almost every bad thing that happens at the moment, as though particular events could not have been predicted, and have never happened before at such a scale or intensity. This is creating so much anxiety, because it follows logically that we are living in uncertain time: that there really is a climate emergency.

The historical evidence, however, indicates fires have burnt very large areas before, and it has been hotter.

Some of the catastrophe has been compounded by our refusal to prepare appropriately, as is the case with the current bushfire emergency here in Australia. Expert Dr Christine Finlay explains the importance of properly managing the ever increasing fire loads in an article in today’s The Australian. While there is an increase in the area of national park with Eucalyptus forests, there has been a reduction in the area of hazard reduction burning.

The situation is perhaps also made worse by fiddling with the historical temperature record. This will affect the capacity of those modelling bushfire behaviour to obtain an accurate forecast.

We have had an horrific start to the bushfire season, and much is being said about the more than 17 lives lost already, and that smoke has blown as far as New Zealand. Unprecedented, has been the claim. But just 10 years ago, on 9 February 2009, 173 lives were lost in the Black Saturday inferno. On 13th January 1939 (Black Friday), 2 million hectares burnt with ash reportedly falling on New Zealand. That was probably the worst bushfire catastrophe in Australia’s modern recorded history in terms of area burnt and it was 80 years ago: January 13, 1939.

According to the Report of the Royal Commission that followed, it was avoidable.

In terms of total area burnt: figures of over 5 million hectares are often quoted for 1851. The areas now burnt in New South Wales and Victoria are approaching this.

Last summer, and this summer, has been hot in Australia. But the summer of 1938-1939 was probably hotter. In rural Victoria, the summer of 1938-1939 was on average at least two degrees hotter than anything measured with equivalent equipment since

The summer of 1938-1939 was probably the hottest ever in recorded history for the states of New South Wales and Victoria. It is difficult to know for sure because the Bureau has since changed how temperatures are measured at many locations and has not provided any indication of how current electronic probes are recording relative to the earlier mercury thermometers.

Further, since 2011, the Bureau is not averaging measurements from these probes so the hottest recorded daily temperature is now a one-second spot reading from an electronic devise with a sheath of unknown thickness. In the United States similar equipment is used and the readings are averaged over five (5) minutes and then the measurement recorded.

The year before last, I worked with the Indonesian Bureau of Meteorology (BMKG), and understood their difficulty of getting a temperature equivalence between mercury thermometers and readings from electronic probes at their thousands of weather stations. The Indonesian Bureau has a policy of keeping both recording devices in the same shelter, and taking measurements from both. They take this issue very seriously, and acknowledge the problem.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has a policy of a three year period of overlap, yet the metadata shows that for its supposedly highest quality recording stations (for example Rutherglen), the mercury thermometer is removed the very same day an electronic probe is installed. This is a total contravention of the Bureau’s own policy, and nothing is being done about it.

I explained much of this to Australia’s Chief Scientist in a letter some years ago — neither he, nor the Bureau, deny that our current method of recording temperatures here in Australia is not covered by any international ISO standard. It is very different from methods currently employed in the United States and also Indonesia, and as recommended by the World Meteorological Organisation.

Then there is the issue of the remodelling of temperatures, I explained how this affects trends at Rutherglen in a blog post early last year.

The remodelling, that has the technical term of homogenisation, is a two-step process. With respect to the temperature maxima at Rutherglen, the Bureau identified a ‘statistically significant discontinuity’ in 1938–1939. Values were then changed.

It is somewhat peculiar that the Bureau did not recognise, in its process of remodelling the historical data for Rutherglen, that the summer of 1938-1939 was exceptionally hot because of drought, compounded by bushfires. Rather David Jones and Blair Trewin at the Bureau used the exceptional hot January of 1939 as an excuse for remodelling the historical temperature record at Rutherglen, with the changed values subsequently incorporated into international data sets.

These made-up values are then promoted by the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This propaganda is then tweeted by Hollywood superstars like Bette Midler to The Australian Prime Minister.

After a recent Sky News Television interview that I did with Chris Smith several people have contacted me about the hottest day ever recorded in Australia. They have suggested it is 16th January 1889 being 53.1 degrees Celsius at Cloncurry in Queensland. A problem with this claim is that the temperature was not measured from within a Stevenson screen, though it was a recording at an official station. A Stevenson screen (to shelterer the mercury thermometer) was not installed by Queensland meteorologist Clement Ragge at Cloncurry until the next month, until February 1889.

The hottest temperature ever recorded in Australia using standard equipment (a mercury thermometer in a Stevenson screen) at an official recording station is 51.7 degrees Celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit) at the Bourke Post Office on January 3, 1909.

We are all entitled to our own opinion, but not our own facts.



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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