Thursday, July 09, 2020

Objective Facts Falsify Laughable New Jersey Climate Report

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) unveiled an alarming climate report last week that is so outrageous that climate realists should print copies and use it to win over alarmists. The media, nevertheless, are trumpeting without scrutiny the report’s “findings,” and even adding to the alarm. But don’t panic, New Jersey will be just fine. Let’s debunk some of the report’s claims.

Among the top Google News search results today for “climate change” is an article by The Press of Atlantic City. The article, titled “State climate change report offers sobering predictions for South Jersey,” provides a useful summary of the DEP report’s claims. According to the opening paragraph of the Press article, “Imagine flooding in Atlantic City almost every day of the year, blueberries and cranberries no longer grown in the state, and birds like the American goldfinch, the state bird, at risk because of changes in the climate.”

Let’s start with blueberries. The DEP report, which was required under an executive order signed by New Jersey’s Democratic governor, and the report’s fawning, uncritical media coverage claim that New Jersey will soon become too hot to grow blueberries. Nevertheless, three of the top 10 states for blueberry production are Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi. Indeed, Florida hosts a large number of blueberry festivals every year during April, May, and June to celebrate the local blueberry harvest. Yet, the alarmist DEP report and the fawning media coverage claim New Jersey will soon become hotter than present-day Tampa, Florida, which hosts many of the local blueberry festivals.

To show how preposterous the blueberry claim is, Atlantic City, New Jersey has an average high temperature of 64 degrees, and an average low of 45 degrees. Tampa, Florida, where blueberries grow quite well, is 19 degrees hotter, with an average high temperature of 82 degrees and an average low of 65 degrees. The claim that New Jersey will soon become so hot that blueberries “will no longer be grown in the state” is clearly a preposterous lie.

Let’s move on to New Jersey’s state bird, the American goldfinch. As shown here, the American goldfinch lives year-round as far south as Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana. It is also a common winter resident in Florida. Yet, New Jersey bureaucrats and their media sock-puppets claim it will soon become too hot in New Jersey for the goldfinch. Even the most alarmist of alarmists do not claim New Jersey will become hotter than Louisiana and Florida. The claim that global warming will soon drive goldfinches from New Jersey is also clearly a preposterous lie.

Finally, let’s examine sea level and Atlantic City flooding. Atlantic City sits at an elevation of 7 feet. During the past 100-plus years, sea level at Atlantic City has been rising at a steady pace of approximately 4.12 millimeters per year, or 1.6 inches per decade. There has been no recent increase in the pace of sea level rise. Atlantic City has dealt with the slow, steady sea-level rise quite well utilizing 20th century technologies. Sand dunes and sea walls protect Atlantic City and cities all over the world from sea level rise and floods. Despite this, New Jersey bureaucrats claim that, even with the advantages of 21st century technologies, a city that sits at 7 feet above sea level will see flooding “almost every day of the year” if it experiences just a few more inches of sea level rise? That is simply ridiculous.

So, the media tee up three key “findings” in the New Jersey DEP climate report, while objective science shoes each finding is an alarmist lie.

Time to cancel the New Jersey climate crisis.


Chancellor set to announce £3bn green investment package

Rishi Sunak is to announce a £3bn package of green investment to decarbonise public buildings and cut emissions from Britain’s poorly insulated homes as part of the government’s Covid-19 economic recovery plan.

The chancellor will seek to use Wednesday’s summer statement on the economy to fend off criticism that his proposals lack ambition by insisting that he can “kick start” an environment-friendly revival through the creation of thousands of green jobs in the construction industry.

Sunak will say that the extra money for decarbonising houses, schools, hospitals, prisons and military bases will help the UK meet its target of being a carbon net zero economy by 2050, and is likely to say that further green spending will be announced later in the year.

Opposition parties and environmental groups said, however, that the green investment pledge was inadequate to meet the challenge posed by global heating.

Rosie Rogers, Greenpeace UK’s head of green recovery, said: “Surely this is just a down payment? The German government’s pumping a whopping £36bn into climate change-cutting, economy-boosting measures and France is throwing £13.5bn at tackling the climate emergency. £3bn isn’t playing in the same league.”

The Treasury said the summer statement was about “securing the recovery” and would be followed by two bigger events – a spending round and a budget – in the autumn. Sunak’s plan was on top of the £5bn of infrastructure spending announced by Boris Johnson last week.

Of the £3bn, the chancellor will earmark £1bn to improve the insulation and energy efficiency of public buildings, and to invest in green heating technology.

Sunak will also announce £50m to pilot new approaches to retrofitting social housing at scale to make them greener, through measures like heat pumps, insulation and double glazing, which the Treasury said would support landlords to improve the least energy efficient social rented homes in England.

Warmer homes for social tenants could lower annual energy bills by £200 a year for some of the poorest households, the government estimates. The UK’s homes are the draughtiest in Europe, accounting for about a fifth of the UK’s carbon emissions, but sporadic attempts at insulation programmes by governments over the last two decades have failed to make much progress.

With the focus of the spending statement on jobs, it is thought most of the remaining £2bn will be spent on creating “green” employment opportunities for construction workers. The Conservative manifesto at the 2019 election promised to invest £9.2bn on improving energy efficiency in homes, schools and hospitals, saying that this, if done at sufficient speed, would create around 100,000 jobs.

“The government remains committed to decarbonising buildings to keep us on track to reach net zero emissions by 2050,” a treasury spokesperson said. “The funding expected to be announced this week represents a significant and accelerated down payment on decarbonising buildings, to help stimulate the economic recovery and create green jobs. Allocations for future funding will be determined in due course.”

Rogers added: “Of course this money is better than nothing, but it doesn’t measure up to the economic and environmental crises. It’s not enough to create the hundreds of thousands of new green jobs that are needed. It’s not enough to insulate all of the homes and buildings that need to be kept warm and more energy efficient. It’s not enough to ‘build back greener’, and it’s certainly not enough to put us on track to tackle the catastrophic impacts of the climate emergency.”

Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at business group the CBI, said: “Investment in green jobs and technology must be at the centre of our efforts to revive the economy.

“This £3bn package of measures will undoubtably fast-forward progress towards net-zero. With the government’s own manifesto promising £9.2bn on energy efficiency alone, we look forward to seeing the full details on delivery of its ambition to build back greener.


Reporting Renewable Energy Risks

Joe Biden has drifted far to the left and made it clear that, if elected president, he would restrict or ban fracking, pipelines, federal onshore and offshore drilling, and use of oil, coal and even natural gas. He’s selected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as his climate and energy advisor and is expected to choose an equally “progressive” woman of color as his running mate (and president-in-reality).

He may also employ federal financial regulations to slow or strangle fossil fuel companies’ access to low-cost capital, further preventing them from producing oil, gas and coal. His official climate plan promises to require “public companies to disclose climate risks and the greenhouse gas emissions in their operations and supply chains.” By compelling them to present a litany of climate and weather risks supposedly caused or worsened by fossil fuel emissions, the rules could sharply reduce lender and investor interest in those fuels and hasten the transition to wind, solar, battery and biofuel technologies.

Those risks exist primarily in highly unlikely worst-case scenarios generated by computer models that reflect claims that manmade carbon dioxide has replaced the sun and other powerful natural forces that have always driven Earth’s climate (including multiple ice ages) and extreme weather. Actual data are often“homogenized” or otherwise manipulated to make the models appear more accurate than they are.

Models consistently predict average global temperatures0.5 degrees C (0.9 F) higher than measured. The12-year absence of Category 3-5US-landfalling hurricanes is consistently ignored, as are the absence of any increase in tropical cyclones, the unprecedented absence of any violent tornadoes in 2018 – and the fact that violent twisters were far fewer during the last 35 years than during the 35 years before that.

However, pressure group mob politics and the refusal of climate alarmists to discuss model failures and contradictory scientific evidence would likely make these realities irrelevant in a Biden administration. That would have devastating consequences for a US economy struggling to recover from Covid-19 and compete in a world where Asian, African and other countries are not going to stop using fossil fuels to improve living standards, while they mine the raw materials and manufacture the wind turbines, solar panels, batteries and biofuel equipment the USA would have to import under a Green New Deal (since no mining and virtually no manufacturing would be permitted or possible under Biden era regulations).

Replacing coal, gas and nuclear electricity, internal combustion vehicles, gas for home heating, and coal and gas for factories – and using batteries as backup power for seven windless, sunless days – would require some 8.5 billion megawatts. Generating that much electricity would require some 75 billion solar panels ... or 4.2 million 1.8-MW onshore wind turbines ... or 320,00010-MW offshore wind turbines...or a combination of those technologies – plus some3.5 billion100-kWh batteries ... hundreds of new transmission lines ... and mining and manufacturing on scales far beyond anything the world has ever seen.

That is not clean, green, renewable energy. It is ecologically destructive and completely unsustainable – financially, ecologically and politically. That means any company, community, bank, investor or pension fund venturing into “renewable energy” technologies would be taking enormous risks.

Once citizens, voters and investors begin to grasp (a) the quicksand foundations under alarmist climate models and forecasts; (b) the fact that African, Asian and even some European countries will only increase their fossil fuel use for decades to come; (c) the hundreds of millions of acres of US scenic and wildlife habitat lands that would be covered by turbines, panels, batteries, biofuel crops, power lines and forests clear cut to supply biofuel power plants; and (d) the bird, bat and other animal species that would disappear under this onslaught – they will rebel. Renewable energy markets will be pummeled repeatedly.

Public backlash will intensify from growing outrage over child labor, near-slave labor, and minimal to nonexistent worker health and safety, pollution control and environmental reclamation regulations in foreign countries where materials are mined and “renewable” energy technologies manufactured. As the shift to GND energy systems brings increasing reliance on Chinese mining and manufacturing, sends electricity rates skyrocketing, kills millions of American jobs and causes US living standards to plummet, any remaining support for wind, solar and other “renewable” technologies will plummet or evaporate.

Pension funds and publicly owned companies should therefore be compelled to disclose the risks to their operations, supply chains, “renewable energy portfolio” mandates, subsidies, feed-in tariffs, profits, employees, valuation and very existence from embarking on or investing in renewable energy technologies or facilities. They should be compelled to fully analyze and report on every aspect of these risks.

The White House, Treasury Department, Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Reserve, Committee on Financial Stability, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and other relevant agencies should immediately require that publicly owned companies, corporate retirement plans and public pension funds evaluate and disclose at least the following fundamental aspects of “renewable” operations:

* How many wind turbines, solar panels, batteries, biofuel plants and miles of transmission lines will be required under various GND plans? Where? Whose scenic and wildlife areas will be impacted?

* How will rural and coastal communities react to being made energy colonies for major cities?

* How much concrete, steel, aluminum, copper, cobalt, lithium, rare earth elements and other materials will be needed for every project – and cumulatively? Where exactly will they come from?

* How many tons of overburden and ore will be removed and processed for every ton of metals and minerals? How many injuries and deaths will occur in the mines, processing plants and factories?

* What per-project and cumulative fossil fuel use, CO2 and pollution emissions, land use impacts, water demands, family and community dislocations, and other impacts will result? Where will they occur?

* What wages will be paid? How much child labor will be involved? What labor, workplace safety, pollution control and other laws, regulations, standards and practices will apply in each country?

* What human cancer and other disease incidents and deaths are likely? How many wildlife habitats will be destroyed? How many birds, bats and other wildlife displaced, killed or driven to extinction?

* For ethanol and biodiesel, how much acreage, water, fertilizer, pesticides and fossil fuels will be required? For power plant biofuel, how many forests will be cut, and how long they will take to regrow?

* What “responsible sourcing” laws apply for these materials, to ensure that all materials are obtained in compliance with US wage, child labor and environmental laws – and how much will they raise costs?

* How will home, business, hospital, defense, factory, grid and other systems be protected against hacking and power disruptions caused by agents of overseas wind, solar, battery and grid manufacturers?

* What costs and materials will be required to convert existing home and commercial heating systems to all-electricity, upgrade electrical grids and systems for rapid electric vehicle charging, and address the intermittent, unpredictable, weather-dependent realities of Green New Deal energy sources?

* What price increases per kWh per annum will families, businesses, offices, farms, factories, hospitals, schools and other consumers face, as state and national electrical systems are converted to GND sources?

* How often and severely will industrial wind and solar installations (and household solar panels linked to the grid) cause uncontrolled surges and power interruptions? With what economic and health impacts?

* How many power interruptions will occur every year, how will they hurt families, factories and other users – and what will be the cumulative economic and productivity damage from those power outages?

* To what extent will policies, laws, regulations, court decisions, and citizen opposition, protests, legal actions and sabotage delay or block wind, solar, biofuel, battery, mining and transmission projects?

* How many solar panels, wind turbine blades, batteries and other components (numbers, tons and cubic feet) will have to be disposed of every year? How much landfill space and incineration will be required?

These issues illustrate the high risks associated with Green New Deal energy programs. They underscore why it is essential for lenders, investment companies, pension funds, manufacturers, utility companies and other industries to analyze, disclose and report renewable energy risks – and why significant penalties should be assessed for failing to do so or falsifying any pertinent information.


Spotting the Spotted Owl

When the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of the dusky gopher frog in 2018, it attracted press coverage around the world, because of two details that fascinated observers everywhere. One was the frog itself, a cute little thing smaller than the palm of your hand. Second, the court’s ruling – in an era noted for divisive party-line splits – was unanimous.

The dusky gopher frog was listed as endangered in 2001, and is found only at one pond in Mississippi. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) had designated 1,544 acres of private land in Louisiana as “critical habitat,” even though no dusky gopher frog had lived anywhere in Louisiana for at least 50 years. Previously, federal courts generally “deferred” to the agency’s judgment on what constitutes “critical habitat,” but the unanimous court said this time the agency went too far. They issued an unusual opinion, essentially a grammar lesson, explaining that “critical” is the adjective and “habitat” is the noun. Land cannot be “critical habitat” if it is not “habitat” at all.

The Court’s unanimous “scolding” of the USFWS was the subject of many editorials and columns, but only a few of us actually speculated, at the time, about the ripple effects it might have on other cases. In fact, USFWS has designated “critical habitat” on over 200 million acres of land across the country for various species – an area larger than Texas – very often in areas where the protected species does not actually live.

Some might remember the government declaring critical habitat in the heart of San Francisco for an endangered shrub called the Franciscan manzanita. Previously thought extinct, one plant was discovered in 2009, and before most people knew what was happening, almost 300 acres had been designated, including some federal land and some local parks, but also a number of private back yards. The shrub didn’t actually exist in any of those areas, and several lawsuits are still pending.

Lynx habitat was designated on 11,584 square miles across a six-state region, virtually none of which was actually occupied by lynx. In Mesa and Garfield Counties, 54,000 acres were designated critical habitat for plants like the Parachute beardtongue (including two areas where no such plants live). Obviously, the Supreme Court has opened the door for re-evaluation of such habitat designations, and made clear that agency “deference” will not be automatic.

Sure enough, that re-evaluation is beginning now, and starting with one of the most high-profile and consequential endangered species of all – the spotted owl. Since the 1990s the northern spotted owl has been the major excuse for drastic reductions in timber harvesting throughout the Pacific Northwest. The USFWS increased the protected “critical habitat” by almost 40 percent in 2012, and that designation now includes 9.6 million acres across Washington, Oregon and Northern California – including vast swaths of timberlands where no spotted owls have ever been spotted. National Forest plans were then adopted, setting aside 20 million acres reserved from any timber activities.

A coalition of businesses, local governments, and labor unions sued the government in 2012, because the critical habitat included 1.1 million acres of federal lands specifically designated for active forest management (which was stopped because of the spotted owl), and because it failed to consider the economic impact of shutting down the forest products industry there. The law requires the government to take “into consideration the economic impact, the impact on national security, and any other relevant impact, of specifying any particular area as critical habitat.” USFWS had not done so there, and has not done so in dozens of other cases.

The spotted owl case has languished in courts ever since. But this spring, because of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the dusky gopher frog case, USFWS agreed to officially re-evaluate its habitat designation, which will inevitably lead to other re-evaluations. In this case, a new rulemaking process will include the usual opportunities for public comment.

It is unfortunate that lawsuits are so often needed to call attention to the obvious. Common sense dictates that many of these habitat designations ought to be re-examined. When Supreme Court justices as different as Clarence Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg easily agree on such a serious and far-reaching legal issue, it is clear that something went terribly wrong. The effort to stop legitimate business activity, by declaring land as habitat for a species that does not live there, went too far.

My guess is that many existing critical habitat designations will be re-evaluated, and scaled back, in the next few years. And in the future, before walling off the forest for spotted owls, someone ought to ask, “Has anyone actually spotted one?”



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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