Sunday, May 27, 2018


Doing the numbers on renewable energy

Wind and solar are still currently small in global terms. Which is why advocates never mention absolute size or even relative size, but focus on growth rates. They also never talk about the wildlife impacts.

In Australia, there is little research on such matters, but some figures are coming in from the US. The Gibson paper cites estimates that wind farms are killing 600,000 to 880,000 bats a year, which now makes them the second biggest risk to bats behind White Nose Syndrome. Birds are also getting killed in large numbers, but not large enough to rate next to motor vehicles and transmission lines; unless you are a bird.

But intermittent renewables like wind and solar need a much bigger transmission network than traditional grids, so they will also increase the avian transmission line death and injury toll. How much bigger does the transmission network need to be for wind and solar? 5-10 times. And those 600,000+ bats killed annually in the US are being killed for a power source that generates just 6.3 percent of US electricity.

The Jacobson plan (see Part I or critique here) calls to expand the 82 GW of wind turbine capacity in the US to 2449 GW; so we can expect this to also cost 18 to 26 million dead bats a year. We can also expect the current wind farm toll of half a million birds annually, including 83,000 raptors, to rise by perhaps a factor of 32.

But all these animal and environmental problems wouldn’t be so bad if the technology could both provide a reliable grid while also solving our climate problem… but it can’t.

In Germany, solar power is still only about 6 percent of electricity, but is already stuck.

The following figure shows that solar power growth is levelling off in all the key European countries who spent big on subsidising solar growth. The German data for solar output in 2017 is available and is much the same as for 2016.

Some of this is due to simply running out of money. But the much bigger problem is structural. It doesn’t matter how cheap it is if you can’t sell it. Solar power output in Germany will certainly rise a little more, but it’s unlikely to pass its predicted maximum of about 11 percent of German electricity.

Prediction? What prediction? I don’t know who spotted it first, but this article contains a description of why intermittent renewables will tend to level of at around what’s called the capacity factor… 11 percent for solar power in Germany, and 16 percent for solar power in sunny Australia.

Why? Put briefly, and using wind power, as an example, when you have enough wind turbines to meet 100 percent of the electricity demand on windy days, then the incentive to build more turbines starts to decline. Why? Think about what will happen on windy days after you double the amount of wind power? You’ll simply have to throw half of your electricity out; you can’t sell it.

How much electricity will you get from wind over a year if you satisfy 100 percent of the demand on windy days? This number is called the capacity factor. It’s just the annual average output divided by the theoretical maximum if every day was maximally windy at all turbine locations. It’s about 33 percent, give or take a bit.

So without large amounts of storage, profitability ceases and growth gradually stops, rather like what you can see in the graph.

The largest battery in the world was recently installed with great fanfare in South Australia, but can it store large amounts of energy? No. That was never the intention; as an energy storage device, it’s tiny.

SA typically uses 1,500 megawatt-hours of energy each hour, and the battery could store about 4 minutes worth of this. The battery was never intended to store energy; that’s just a side effect. Its purpose is to reduce frequency fluctuations during generator outages. Not that it will do that particularly well either. ACOLA reckoned it would need to be 6 times bigger to have prevented the September 2016 blackout.

So it won’t store much energy and won’t be much use to stop blackouts; so what’s it for? As a means of securing votes from renewable energy junkies, it’s priceless.

The only available technology which can store significant amounts of electricity to allow renewables to expand beyond their capacity factor is… can you guess? … flooded valleys; otherwise known as pumped-hydro.

So while renewable advocates cheered early exponential growth of solar and wind power, the rates were always destined to be logistic… meaning that they grow exponentially until hit by limiting factors which cause an equally fast levelling off.

If I had included China in the graph, you’d see a massive solar increase during the past few years, because she’s still on the exponential growth segment of the curve. But the limiting factors will eventually kick in, exactly as they have done in the EU countries. In fact, at a local level throwing out excess wind power in China is already a problem.

A few years back AEMO did a study on how to meet Australia’s electricity demand with 100 percent renewable sources. They put forward two plans, both involved putting a baseload sub-system underneath wind and solar; one plan was based on burning forests and the other on geonuclear.

Geonuclear is where you drill a hole in the earth’s crust deep enough to tap into the heat generated by radioactive decay in the earth’s mantle and crust. You might know it as geothermal, but it’s a power source based on radioactive decay so why not call a spade a spade? And did I mention the radioactive material being bought to the surface and spread over the landscape by this industry?

Is it a problem? Absolutely not. Meaning that it is a well understood micro-problem which people solve in many similar industries. But could I construct a true but totally misleading scare story about it?

For some people, I probably just did. Not everybody appreciates the irony of opposition to digging big holes to drop radioactive material down (nuclear waste repositories) while supporting digging big holes down to where extraordinary quantities of radioactive material is generating heat.

And what if you don’t want burning forests or geonuclear? A recent study of the US showed what happens when you try and power the US with just wind, solar and storage. It quantifies the lack of end game with these technologies. It’s like trying to build a 10-story building with inadequate materials and design. Things may go brilliantly until level 9 and then you suddenly realise you are screwed.

The US electricity grid is currently about 99.97 reliable, ours is generally even better. The study found that that you can get an 80 per cent reliable grid with wind and solar without too much trouble. And then it starts getting hard; really quickly. By without too much trouble, I mean lots of overbuilding and extra transmission lines.

Look at the bottom graph, which assumes 75 per cent wind and 25 per cent solar. The black line shows how big an overbuild you need if you want a grid of specified reliability. The reliability is given along the X axis and the overbuild factor on the right.

Draw a horizontal line with your eyes from the overbuild factor of 10 and see where it hits the black line. Somewhere about 99.8 percent reliability. So if you want a 99.8 percent reliable supply of 1 gigawatt, then you need to build 7.5 gigawatts of wind and 2.5 gigawatts of solar.

This is very much an optimistic estimate. There are plenty of unrealistic assumptions here, like a perfect transmission system and all your turbines in the best spots. It’s the best you can do; it’s just that the best isn’t really very good.

Now draw a horizontal line with your eyes from the overbuild factor of 5 to the 12 hour storage line. This shows that you can get a 96 per cent reliable supply of 1 gigawatt by building 3.75 GW of wind and 1.25 GW of solar if you have 12 gigwatt-hours of storage.

You’d have to repeat the study with Australian data to see what happens here, but it’s worth thinking about what 12 hours of storage looks like. In Australia, our average power use is about 28 gigawatts, so to store 12 hours worth of energy would require about 3,100 of those ‘biggest battery in the world’ devices in South Australia. There are plenty of other tiny storage systems that it’s fun to pretend might one day scale to the sizes required, but only flooded valleys have a proven track record.

As it happens, someone has done a very similar study using Australian data. The recently released ACF report A Plan to Repowe Australia lists the study (by Manfred Lenzen of UNSW and others) among its evidence base. It finds pretty much what the US study found; namely that you could power Australia, meaning supply our 28 gigawatts worth of demand) with wind, sun and storage and all you’d need to do is build 160 gigawatts worth of wind and solar farms, including 19 gigawatts worth of biomass burning backup.

A one gigawatt power plant is a large structure, whether it’s burning wood, coal or gas. The 19 biomass burners would be doing nothing for 90 percent of the time, but we’d need them just to plug the holes when there are low wind and sunshine periods. Oh, and they also postulate 15 hours of storage for the 61 gigawatts of solar farms.

How would this be provided? The main paper didn’t say, and I didn’t buy the Supplementary material. But you could do it with about 8,000 “biggest battery in the world” Li-ion batteries. Alternatively you could use fertiliser; otherwise known as molten salt. This is a mix of sodium and potassium nitrate. All you’d need would be about 26 million tonnes, which is over 8 years worth of the entire planet’s annual global production (see here and here); all of which is currently ear marked to grow food.

In South Australia, our wind energy supplies us with a little over the capacity factor percentage of energy; which means we are starting to throw away electricity when it’s windy, while relying on gas or coal power from Victoria when it isn’t.

Which is why the new Liberal Government wants to build another inter-connector. That’s fine as a short-term fix, but eventually the whole NEM will saturate with wind and solar. And then where do you build an inter-connector to?

The statewide blackout of 2016 was also a wakeup call that the automatic frequency control delivered by synchronous energy sources but not by wind and solar actually mattered; big time. Without it you are in trouble when events of any kind take out some of your generation capacity.

But ignoring the problems and assuming the US results apply, then we could surely plough on and build another 6.5 times more wind power plus considerably more solar and also buy another 180 of those Elon Musk special batteries and we could have a working, but sub-standard, grid.

This assumes we added all the rest of the required transmission infrastructure to connect all those wind and solar farms. That’s the thing with solar and wind. It may seem attractive when you kick the problems down the road and rave about the short-term successes. But the devil is in the detail and the total lack of end-game.

SOURCE  (See the original for links, graphics etc.)






Global warming could produce MORE farming land, scientists admit

CLIMATE change could increase the overall amount of boreal land ready for farming by up to 44 percent, a study has claimed

The threat of global warming and rising sea levels is increasingly likely, scientists have warned.

But a team of international scientists may have now found a potential upside to rising global temperatures. A study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, claims the impacts of global warming could unlock boreal regions for farming by 2099.

Currently, only 32 percent of the world’s boreal areas in the northern hemisphere are arable.

Study co-author Professor Joseph Holden, University of Leeds, explained: “Climate change will have a profound impact on our agricultural regions.

“A projected consequence is the loss of farmland and crops from areas that are currently productive, which is cause for concern regarding long-term global food security.

“Therefore we need to know whether in northern high latitudes new areas will become suitable for crops."

The world’s boreal regions are found in great swathes of the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

But the study also warned increasing the world’s arable land could have a negative impact on agriculture in other parts of the globe by upsetting climatic water balance. [Rubbish!  A warmer world would evaporate more moisture off the oceans, meaning that overall rain and snowfall would INCREASE]

Study lead author Dr Adrian Unc, from Memorial University Canada, said: "We must not forget that any changes in land use has extensive impacts on the entire natural ecosystem, impacts that must be understood and included in any planning effort."

SOURCE 




EPA’s Pruitt is far cleaner than critics claim

His security, DC bedroom and policies are legitimate and defensible, under any fair standard

Deroy Murdock

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been hounded lately by allegations of rich spending and poor judgment. While he could have detonated himself during recent congressional-oversight hearings, the former Oklahoma prosecutor seems to have survived those tests. Nonetheless, EPA’s inspector general, the Government Accountability Office, and various congressional panels continue to probe Pruitt’s official conduct. While Pruitt has plenty for which to answer, on at least three key counts, he seems to be cleaner than his critics claim.

Pruitt’s foes have attacked him for allocating too much on bodyguards. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) slammed Pruitt for “taking 30 EPA enforcement officers away from investigating polluters to serve as his round-the-clock personal security detail.” The Associate Press counts 20, not 30, in Pruitt’s full-time protective detail. Its cost, AP reports, “approached $3 million when pay is added in travel expenses.”

But an August 16 EPA report suggests that Pruitt’s personal-defense outlays are fueled by genuine safety concerns rather than self-aggrandizement. This document cites 14 threats against Pruitt and his family in Fiscal Year 2017. Among them:

* Pruitt’s daughter has been menaced via Facebook. e.g., “I hope your father dies soon, suffering as your mother watches in horror for hours on end.”

* An e-mail sent to the Washington, D.C. office of Senator James Lankford (R - Oklahoma) threatened to assassinate Pruitt, President Trump, and Vice President Pence.

* One message to EPA said, “I hope your head administrator (Scott Pruitt), dies a very painful and horrible death through poisoning. Please explain the scientific method to this freaking neanderthal [sic].”

* Another spooky character stated via Twitter, “Pruitt, I am gonna find you and put a bullet between your eyes. Don’t even think I’m joking. I’m planning this.”

* A postcard sent to Pruitt read, “Get out while you still can, Scott, you are evil incarnate you ignorant fuck.”

* “Dear Mr. Pruitt,” another postcard began. “CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL!! We are watching you. For the sake of our planet, our children & our grandchildren, will you be a reasonable man? I repeat, we are watching you! Myrna, Michele, Chris, Signe, Lucy, Olivia and Isabel.”

* A trespasser entered EPA headquarters on March 6, CBS News reported. He claimed to be a student attending a “Microsoft event,” said EPA Assistant Inspector General Patrick Sullivan. “The person asked about Scott Pruitt and wanted to know where Pruitt’s office was and if Pruitt ever walked in the hallway outside the room.” Although the intruder was escorted off the premises, he later phoned an employee’s office number and left voicemails in which he said, as Sullivan explained, “he can gain entry into EPA space anytime he wants.”

* Not content simply to write, one critic showed up in person. An EPA sentry stopped him. “During the confrontation, the subject was able to acquire the security officer’s duty weapon and discharge a round into a nearby chair.” The guard disarmed the visitor, who later was indicted for assaulting a federal officer/employee.

These and other concrete provocations justify Pruitt’s focus on security. The Left’s hatred of President Donald J. Trump and his supporters, including Pruitt, is incandescent. One cannot fault Pruitt’s caution, especially after James T. Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer, shot and nearly killed Rep. Steve Scalise (R - Louisiana) and four others at the GOP congressional baseball team’s practice last June in Alexandria, Virginia.

Just a few days ago, Miami-Dade Police arrested Jonathan Oddi. Officers say they nabbed Oddi after he fired gunshots in the lobby of the Trump National Doral, one of the chief executive’s golf resorts. Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said Oddi shouted “anti-Trump, President Trump rhetoric.”

A similar attack that maimed or killed Pruitt – and perhaps EPA personnel and innocent bystanders – is hardly fanciful. Such a scenario is worth devoting resources to prevent.

Also under review: Pruitt’s 2017 housing arrangements in Washington, DC. Pruitt’s accusers claim he got a special, below-cost deal in some sort of bed-for-bribe swap. Had Pruitt been billeted for pennies in a Georgetown townhouse or an Embassy Row mansion, these worries would be legitimate. However, Pruitt rented a room in a Capitol Hill condominium and paid only for the evenings when he actually slept there. He shelled out $50 per night, equal to $1,500 per month. According to Pruitt’s lease, “Enjoyment is limited to one bedroom that cannot be locked. All other space is controlled by the landlord.”

In an April 4 EPA memorandum, Designated Agency Ethics Official Kevin S. Minoli stated that “within a six-block radius” of Pruitt’s crash pad, there were “seven (7) private bedrooms that could be rented for $55 or less/day.” Minoli, who also is EPA’s principal deputy general counsel, also found 38 such rooms “across a broader section of Capitol Hill.” As a result of its research, Minoli explained, “the ethics office estimated $50/day to be a reasonable market value of the use authorized by the terms of the lease. As such, the use of the property according to the terms of the lease would not constitute a gift under the Federal ethics regulations.”

No gift, no graft.

Some also have fretted about the fact that this property is owned by energy lobbyist Steven Hart and his wife Vicki. Pruitt told the Washington Examiner that they were old friends from Oklahoma. “I’ve known him for years,” Pruitt said. “He’s the outside counsel for the National Rifle Association, has no clients that are before this agency, nor does his wife have any clients that have appeared before this agency.”

Pruitt reportedly requested and was given multiple extensions on his lease until last summer. Having overstayed his welcome, the Harts eventually asked Pruitt to make way for an incoming renter. The Harts changed the locks behind Pruitt. If this couple wanted to curry special favor with the EPA chief, this seems like a rather fruitless strategy.

It’s no surprise that these and other actions by Pruitt are under a microscope. For many on the Left, battling so-called “global warming” borders on religion. As they see it, the science is “settled,” this creed is beyond debate, and the heretics who question this faith should be jailed, as Bill Nye the Science Guy has suggested, or executed, as University of Graz, Austria Professor Richard Parncutt has proposed.

Someone like Pruitt, who rejects manmade-global-warmist alarmism and is powerful enough to implement his ideas (e.g. persuading President Trump to junk Obama’s Clean Power Plan and withdraw America from the Paris Climate Treaty) embodies the Left’s worst nightmares. To the warmists, Pruitt is a torch-bearing arsonist, scurrying maliciously through their Vatican. And he must be stopped.

Even if Pruitt winds up scot-free, his situation should serve as a cautionary tale for every member of Team Trump – from the president on down: Their margin of error is thinner than Saran Wrap. President Trump and all who work for him should act as if their every action and utterance were being broadcast live on MSNBC, with Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough offering scathing, bitter and unforgiving commentary. No one on Team Trump ever will get the benefit of the doubt. When the First Lady gets slammed, even for unveiling an anti-cyberbullying initiative, it is safe to assume that everyone in this administration will be scrutinized with the deepest suspicions.

As much as these actions by Scott Pruitt can be defended, these days require an even higher level of purity. It may be as physically unobtainable as 250-proof alcohol. Regardless, and unfair as it may be, this must be the ideal to which every member of the Trump Administration, the Republican Congress, and pretty much each American conservative must aspire.

SOURCE 





Liberals Upset by superhero movie's Message: Environmentalism = Mass Murder

Progressives are worried about Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War. They think its villain Thanos, whose solution to the overpopulation problem is to wipe out half the planet, gives the wrong impression that environmentalists are evil.

At Yale Climate Connections, Michael Svoboda complains: By ascribing selfless motives to Thanos, AIW tacitly delivers this toxic message: environmentalism = mass murder.

Solitaire Townsend, co-founder of the environmental PR agency Futerra, also finds the movie’s message too close for comfort. At Forbes, she writes: The Mad Titan sounds worryingly like some environmentalists. Over the years the need for ‘population control and reduction’ has been widely called for as the necessary solution to our resource and sustainability crisis. Thanos is the ultimate Malthusian. After he fulfills his purpose, crumbling half of life in the universe into dust, he retires to an idyll many environmentalists would enjoy – a simple rural hut set in sunlit dappled fields. He had promised “not suffering, but salvation,” and in the final shot a tiny smile is playing on his face after a job well done. Ouch.

For Svoboda, this is a horrible distortion of the essential goodness with which environmentalists are imbued. Not only is it “repugnant” but it fails to take into account all the many wonderful possibilities that greens are now considering as part of their plan to save the world.

In AIW, no one ever points to a country or world that has learned to live sustainably, even though at least two places in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Asgard and Wakanda, appear to have been moving in that direction.

Neither does anyone point out other ways to solve the problem of environmental degradation, or even other ways to pursue Thanos’s preferred solution. Empowering women, for example, is a peaceful way to constrain and then reverse population growth.

Except, as Maddie Stone argues here, Thanos’s attitude is actually a pretty accurate representation of how many environmentalists think.

To me at least, it came across as a clear denouncement of a certain breed of solutions-oriented environmentalism that centers planetary “balance” over people.

The early history of environmentalism is festooned with warnings of a population apocalypse, beginning with 18th century scholar Thomas Malthus’ An Essay on the Principle of Population, which concluded that rising human numbers would inevitably lead to widespread poverty and famine. As Malthus’ pessimistic predictions failed to materialize, he was declared a false prophet.

But his ideas stuck around, re-emerging with force in the mid-20th century following the viral popularity of works like Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb(1968), which predicted “hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death” in the 1970s, and The Limits to Growth (1972), an MIT research report that concluded “The basic behavior of the world system is exponential growth of population and capital, followed by collapse.”

So yeah, Thanos’ concern about galactic population control? Definitely something we’ve thought about here on Earth. And while the most dire doomsday predictions haven’t come true—thanks largely to industrialization and the green revolution in agriculture—this school of thinking has had real-world consequences, including racist campaigns to sterilize millions of women in the developing world, and China’s fraught one-child policy.

Avengers: Infinity War isn’t the first movie to buck Hollywood’s “environmentalism = fluffy and good” trend. One of the first to do so was Michael Crichton’s State of Fear (2004) in which eco-terrorists plot mass murder to raise awareness of global warming.

The evil mastermind in Kingsman: The Secret Service was also an environmentalist. Richmond Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) is a billionaire philanthropist who believes the only way to save humanity from overpopulation is to wipe out everybody except his favorite celebrities and politicians.

SOURCE 





Democrats Blame Trump for High Gas Prices

Meanwhile, Dems regularly call for more tax hikes on gasoline

Gas prices across the nation have been steadily rising and have now reached levels not seen since November 2014. The average price of gas this week is $2.92 per gallon, 55 cents higher than this time last year. And while summer gas price hikes are nothing unusual, the fact of the matter is it’s an election year and Democrats are looking for any political narrative to spin in their favor.

Lobbing baseless accusations from the political peanut gallery, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) bloviated, “President Trump’s reckless decision to pull out of the Iran deal has led to higher oil prices.” He continued, “These higher oil prices are translating directly to soaring gas prices, something we know disproportionately hurts middle and lower income people.” Ah, so “controlling” the inherently uncontrollable and regularly fluctuating price of gas is more important than pulling out of a terrible deal that did nothing but give cover to a villainous, terror-funding regime on its march toward nuclear weapons? Schumer’s simply trying to kill two birds with one stone. That’s because he’s worried that the widely anticipated “blue wave” may prove to be nothing more than a ripple.

So why do gas prices fluctuate so regularly, and why in particular do they rise during the summer months? First, the leading factor in the price of gas is OPEC. In November 2016, OPEC decided to limit oil production with the express purpose of increasing the price. Second, the EPA requires refiners to change their gas formulas in the spring to accommodate air-quality regulations, driving up production costs, which are then passed on to the consumer. And finally, economics 101 — America’s growing economy has increased the demand for gas, which in turn raises the price. None of these factors are directly controlled by this or any president.

In fact, the only real direct control politicians have over the price of gas is via taxation. Ironically, while Schumer and his fellow Democrats are running around blaming Trump and Republicans for higher gas prices, the fact is Democrats have for years advocated raising gas taxes. As Investor’s Business Daily notes, “As recently as 2015, Democrats were pushing to nearly double the federal gasoline tax. At the time, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that it was the perfect time to do so because ‘if there’s ever going to be an opportunity to raise the gas tax, the time when gas prices are so low — oil prices are so low — is the time to do it.’” Democrat-controlled states like California already have raised gas taxes.

So the next time you fill up and wince at the price, remember just how much of the price is already due to Democrat taxes, and how much higher they’d prefer those prices to be.

SOURCE 

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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.  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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Friday, May 25, 2018


Air pollution scare debunked

Greenies love to condemn urban air pollution and say how bad for us it is. Faulty science on fine particulate pollution (PM2.5) was the bedrock of the Obama EPA’s war on coal. Particulates don’t just make you sick; they are directly related “to dying sooner than you should,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson falsely told Congress. There is no level “at which premature mortality effects do not occur,” Mr. Obama’s next Administrator Gina McCarthy dishonestly testified. See also some of my previous comments here

The latest research findings below are very powerful evidence on the question. The study included the entire Medicare population from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2012. And their finding that only one in a million people die from particulate air pollution is pretty decisive. If you bother about that tiny risk, you should never get out of bed.

The authors pretend that their findings support the Greenies but they would have been reviled if they had said the truth:  That their findings show that air pollution is not dangerous.

Air pollution from smoky cooking-fires has probably been part of the human experience for something like a million years and we have adapted to it.  We just cough it up.


Association of Short-term Exposure to Air Pollution With Mortality in Older Adults

Key Points

Question:  What is the association between short-term exposure to air pollution below current air quality standards and all-cause mortality?

Finding:  In a case-crossover study of more than 22 million deaths, each 10-μg/m3 daily increase in fine particulate matter and 10–parts-per-billion daily increase in warm-season ozone exposures were associated with a statistically significant increase of 1.42 and 0.66 deaths per 1 million persons at risk per day, respectively.

Meaning:  Day-to-day changes in fine particulate matter and ozone exposures were significantly associated with higher risk of all-cause mortality at levels below current air quality standards, suggesting that those standards may need to be reevaluated.

Abstract

Importance:  The US Environmental Protection Agency is required to reexamine its National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) every 5 years, but evidence of mortality risk is lacking at air pollution levels below the current daily NAAQS in unmonitored areas and for sensitive subgroups.

Objective:  To estimate the association between short-term exposures to ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone, and at levels below the current daily NAAQS, and mortality in the continental United States.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  Case-crossover design and conditional logistic regression to estimate the association between short-term exposures to PM2.5 and ozone (mean of daily exposure on the same day of death and 1 day prior) and mortality in 2-pollutant models. The study included the entire Medicare population from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2012, residing in 39 182 zip codes.

Exposures:  Daily PM2.5 and ozone levels in a 1-km × 1-km grid were estimated using published and validated air pollution prediction models based on land use, chemical transport modeling, and satellite remote sensing data. From these gridded exposures, daily exposures were calculated for every zip code in the United States. Warm-season ozone was defined as ozone levels for the months April to September of each year.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  All-cause mortality in the entire Medicare population from 2000 to 2012.

Results:  During the study period, there were 22 433 862 million case days and 76 143 209 control days. Of all case and control days, 93.6% had PM2.5 levels below 25 μg/m3, during which 95.2% of deaths occurred (21 353 817 of 22 433 862), and 91.1% of days had ozone levels below 60 parts per billion, during which 93.4% of deaths occurred (20 955 387 of 22 433 862). The baseline daily mortality rates were 137.33 and 129.44 (per 1 million persons at risk per day) for the entire year and for the warm season, respectively. Each short-term increase of 10 μg/m3 in PM2.5 (adjusted by ozone) and 10 parts per billion (10−9) in warm-season ozone (adjusted by PM2.5) were statistically significantly associated with a relative increase of 1.05% (95% CI, 0.95%-1.15%) and 0.51% (95% CI, 0.41%-0.61%) in daily mortality rate, respectively. Absolute risk differences in daily mortality rate were 1.42 (95% CI, 1.29-1.56) and 0.66 (95% CI, 0.53-0.78) per 1 million persons at risk per day. There was no evidence of a threshold in the exposure-response relationship.

Conclusions and Relevance:  In the US Medicare population from 2000 to 2012, short-term exposures to PM2.5 and warm-season ozone were significantly associated with increased risk of mortality. This risk occurred at levels below current national air quality standards, suggesting that these standards may need to be reevaluated.

SOURCE





Putting U.S. Energy Production in Perspective

"The increase in oil and gas production is equal to seven times the energy output of all domestic solar and wind." 

As we previously reported, oil production in the U.S. is truly something to behold. It doesn’t get much attention, but in February the Energy Information Administration calculated that more than 10 million barrels’ worth of oil is generated every single day in the U.S. — a five-decade high. However, you might be wondering how oil and natural gas production together fare in comparison to some of the Left’s coveted renewable energy projects. In a recent op-ed, the Manhattan Institute’s Robert Bryce provides the fascinating answer:

Over the past decade, merely the increase — I repeat, just the increase — in US oil and gas production is equal to seven times the total energy production of every wind turbine and solar project in the United States. … In 2008, US oil production was about 5.2 million barrels per day. Today, it’s about 10.2 million barrels per day. In 2008, domestic gas production averaged about 55.1 billion cubic feet per day. Today, it’s about 87.6 billion cubic feet per day. That’s an increase of about 32.5 billion cubic feet per day, which is equivalent to about 5.5 million barrels of oil per day. Thus, over the past decade, US oil and gas output has jumped by about 10.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Let’s compare that to domestic solar and wind production which, since 2008, has increased by 4,800 percent and 450 percent, respectively. While those percentage increases are impressive, the total energy produced from those sources remains small when compared to oil and gas. In 2017, according to the Energy Information Administration, US solar production totaled about 77 terawatt-hours and wind production totaled about 254 terawatt-hours, for a combined total of 331 terawatt-hours. That’s the equivalent of about 1.5 million barrels of oil per day. Simple division (10.5 divided by 1.5) shows that since 2008, the increase in energy production from oil and gas is equal to seven times the energy output of all domestic solar and wind.

That’s an incredible statistic. Consider just how many billions of taxpayer dollars have been thrown at renewable energy projects, and then compare the relatively lackluster results with what the free market has accomplished on its own. As we opined in February, America’s robust energy production is emblematic of the positive developments that occur when onerous regulations are repealed and innovation takes hold. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that prices at the pump will reflect U.S. production. In New York, for example, some drivers are facing $5/gallon gas.

To help explain some of this discrepancy, our own Michael Swartz recently wrote, “While it isn’t as much of a factor on the supply side, OPEC can still be a price driver. In this case, both Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC Russia have put aside their foreign policy differences and enforced an 18-month-long production cut between themselves — a slowdown that has eliminated the supply glut (and low prices) we enjoyed over the last few years. And since those two nations are the second- and third-largest producers of crude oil (trailing only the U.S.), their coalition significantly influences the market.”

But if anything, this should actually encourage the U.S. to pursue oil and gas extraction to an even greater degree. The limit to what energy companies can do here in America has always been underappreciated, so providing a good environment for them to further flourish should be a high priority if our goal is genuine energy independence. The less we have to worry about what OPEC is doing behind the scenes, the better off consumers — and our national security — will be. Based on the numbers alone, wind and solar energy production aren’t going to get us there.

SOURCE





Out Of Sight, Out Of Mines

As a generalization, it’s safe to say that there are few things in this world more odious to an environmentalist than the mining of metals and minerals, except if those activities are conducted in an obscure, faraway place, and if the fruits of those activities bear the cool, sleek moniker of “clean.”

There’s a modern-day “Heart of Darkness” being perpetrated in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where tens of thousands of children as young as four are forced to haul rocks to the surface from mines dug by hand as part of a cobalt-mining operation, under conditions that would make Upton Sinclair, or, for that matter, Joseph Conrad, blush.

Last August, the Daily Mail printed an article describing these conditions, where they also reported that each electric car requires an average 15 kg (33 lbs) of cobalt in its batteries.

To give credit where due, according to Benchmark Minerals, Panasonic has enabled Tesla to reduce its cobalt consumption by 60% over the last six years by utilizing nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) technology versus nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM), which remains the standard for the electric vehicle (E.V.) industry.

Nevertheless, replacement technology for cobalt is still at least ten years out, and the projected “EV surge is far more significant than the reduction of cobalt intensity which is close to its limit[.] … [M]ore cobalt will be needed and the reliance on the Democratic Republic of Congo as the primary supplier [60% of worldwide production] will increase.”

On May 17, 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that “prices of lithium and cobalt more than doubled from 2016 through last year, but the rally has cooled off recently amid worries about oversupply.”

The market responded in typical fashion by ramping up worldwide production (i.e., mining) of lithium and, to a lesser extent, cobalt.  Consumption levels of nickel, manganese, and aluminum are no doubt on the rise as well.

E.V.s and plug-in hybrids are eligible for federal tax credits up to $7,500, depending upon the battery capacity, and most E.V.s are eligible for the maximum amount.  Some states offer additional subsidies.  Colorado is the most generous.  This from Complete Colorado:

Currently those with EV or AFV [Alternative Fuel] vehicles receive up to $20,000 in Colorado income tax credits over and above the $7,500 the federal government already grants.  The credit is based on size and weight of vehicle.  Light passenger vehicles get $5,000, which, unlike most states and the federal credit, can be used as a rebate, and trucks get $7,000-$20,000.

As of 4/18/2018, a bill to repeal this electric vehicle subsidy (S.B. 18-047) was postponed indefinitely by the Colorado House Committee on Transportation and Energy.

All such subsidies should be eliminated.  If we stopped subsidizing electric trucks and buses, for example, we would likely see more conversions of truck and bus fleets to compressed natural gas (CNG), which is cheaper; more efficient; and, I argue, more environmentally desirable than the electric alternative.

All are imperfect, but the market is not the insidious spawn of Darth Vader.  We’re better off if complex, dynamic solutions have to prove their worth by competing on many levels in the real world, as opposed to a having a few masterminds (at the prodding, or shall we say incentivizing, of parties with vested interests) distort the field with edicts from above.

SOURCE




NY Dems’ Anti-Energy Policies Forced New Yorkers To Pay 46 Times More For Power

Natural gas prices in the New York City region skyrocketed in January, costing New Yorkers roughly 46 times more than the 2017 average for the area, according to a Tuesday report from the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA).

Despite neighboring natural gas-rich Pennsylvania, New York residents pay 44 percent more for energy than the national average. A lack of transportation infrastructure between the two states has effectively cut off New Yorkers from a large supply of fuel.

“Spot market prices in the New York City region jumped to a record high of $140.25 for natural gas, as compared to the average natural gas spot market price for New York in 2017 was $3.08,” CEA found. “New Yorkers were subjected to prices that were $137 higher due to self-inflicted capacity constraints created by their own elected officials.”

Due largely to a lack of oil and gas infrastructure, much of New England was forced to rely on imported natural gas from Russia to keep neighborhoods heated during over the winter.

Parts of New England sit on one of the largest deposits of shale oil in the U.S., the Marcellus shale formation that covers parts of New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Natural gas makes up a significant part of the energy mix in New York, despite the limits to infrastructure imposed by state officials. More than half of all New York residents heat their homes with natural gas, and the sector supports nearly 200,000 jobs in the state.

“This report highlights the often-overlooked benefits New York’s communities are receiving because of the U.S. energy revolution, enhanced infrastructure, and pipelines,” CEA Mid-Atlantic Director Mike Butler said in a statement.

“However, New York families, businesses, and households will not be able to realize the full potential of these benefits until natural gas plays a larger role in the state to offset intermittency issues and the physical realities of the state’s electric grid.”

SOURCE




Scott Pruitt’s Mission to Make EPA Operate More Efficiently

The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced the creation of an Office of Continuous Improvement to implement a lean management system. It’s part of Administrator Scott Pruitt’s effort to make the EPA—a government agency known for its expansive reach—work more efficiently on behalf of American taxpayers.

EPA Chief of Operations Henry Darwin spoke exclusively to The Daily Signal about the new office and the work that its director, Serena McIlwain, would be doing. A lightly edited transcript of the interview is below.

Rob Bluey: Administrator Scott Pruitt recently announced a new Office of Continuous Improvement at the EPA. Can you tell us what it’s going to do and why it matters?

Henry Darwin: The Office of Continuous Improvement is a group of EPA staff that will be helping me, as the chief of operations, deploy a new management system based upon lean principles. Initially, the vast majority of their time will be spent on deploying the new system, but over time, their time will be spent more so on performing problem solving and process improvements as we identify opportunities under the new management system.

Bluey: Let’s take a step back. What is lean management and how exactly are you applying it at EPA?

Darwin: Lean management is a system that is specifically designed to help identify opportunities for improvement and then to monitor performance to see whether or not there are additional opportunities for improvement. And also to make sure that, as we make improvements, that they’re sustained over time.

Typically what happens with most lean organizations, or organizations who say they’re lean, is they do a series of projects that result in theoretical process improvements. Without a system that is specifically designed to make sure that those processes do in fact improve and that there’s measurement in place to make sure that those processes improve, it’s often the case that those projects are not as successful as they would have otherwise been, had there been a system in place to support them.

Bluey: So how would you say that this is making the EPA operate more efficiently?

Darwin: EPA has a long history of using lean to improve processes. What it was lacking, and what we’re trying to implement for the first time, is a system that helps us identify strategic opportunities for us to use lean to improve our processes.

So whereas the previous administration merely asked or required the programs to perform lean events, we’re actually setting very strategic goals and objectives with high targets and we’re asking the programs and regional offices to meet those targets using lean. And then through the management system, we’re monitoring whether or not those improvements are actually occurring.

If they’re not, then we have the group of people now, the Office of Continuous Improvement, that can come in and analyze as to why those improvements aren’t happening or if there’s additional process improvements using lean that are needed in order to get them to where we want them to be as the administrator that sets forth goals and objectives for the agency.

Bluey: Under the Trump administration, you’ve made it a priority to track permitting, meeting legal deadlines, and correcting environmental violations. What did you find when you first took the job and how have things changed since then?

Darwin: The EPA has a history of measuring very long-term outcomes—outcomes that aren’t measurable on a regular basis. And what they had failed to do and what we’re starting to do is to measure those things that we can measure on a more frequent basis, those things that are important to our customers.

“Just like businesses have investors, we have investors. And our investors expect a return on their investment, which is clean air, clean land, clean water, and safe chemicals.”

Now, there are a lot of people out there that suggest we shouldn’t be calling those who we regulate our customers, but I’m not one of them. I believe that we do and should recognize our regulated community as our customers so we can apply business-related principles to our work.

With that said, we always have to remember that we have investors. Just like businesses have investors, we have investors. And our investors expect a return on their investment, which is clean air, clean land, clean water, and safe chemicals.

We always have to be mindful of the fact that even though we want to be paying attention to our customers’ needs as they get permits or licenses, or we’re working with them to achieve compliance, we also have to remember that our taxpayer investors expect a return on our investment. So we also have to be measuring those outcomes, those mission-related outcome measures, related to clean air, clean land, and safe chemicals.

Bluey: Let’s take permitting, for example. I know it’s something that Administrator Pruitt has talked about. He says that he wants to get permitting down to a certain period of time because in past administrations there was an indefinite period where people just didn’t get an answer, a yes or a no. He wants you to be able to say yes or no. What are some of the goals that you’re trying to do with regard to permitting specifically?

Darwin: When we arrived here in this administration, what we found was that we had heard anecdotally, from our customers, that the permitting process was simply taking too long.

What we also found was that the EPA did not have a system for tracking the amount of time it took to issue permits. So we simply went to the programs that issue permits and asked them for the last six months, how long was it taking for us to issue permits? And what we found was fairly surprising, that in some areas they were as long as three years to issue permits, which is simply unacceptable.

In having conversations with the administrator and talking about what a reasonable target or goal would be initially we agreed, he set the standard, or the goal, for issuing permits within six months. So that’s our goal.

Our goal is to, for every permit that’s directly issued by EPA, our goal is to reduce the amount of time it takes from whatever it is right now, which could be upwards of three years, down to six months.

Henry Darwin, the EPA’s chief of operations, discusses the agency’s lean management system at the announcement of the Office of Continuous Improvement on May 14. (Photo courtesy of EPA)
Bluey: In an interview with The Daily Signal, Administrator Pruitt spoke about what you’re doing as the Darwin Effect, named after you. How did you come to embrace these management principles in your line of work?

Darwin: I’m a lifelong environmental professional. I have 18 years of experience working for a state environmental agency. I became the director of that state environmental agency in Arizona about seven years ago and was the director there for five years. Over the course of my experience there, I found an appreciation for lean and a system that could support lean efforts.

We were able to, in my agency, reduce permitting timeframes on the order of 70 percent, 80 percent, and in some instances, 90 percent using lean principles and as supported by a lean management system. I, after that experience, was asked by the governor of Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey, to do the same lean management system deployment for the entire state.

Over the course of two years, I was in the process of deploying a lean management system in 35 state agencies with 35,000 employees and we were seeing the same types of results. They continue to see those same types of results in Arizona using the same business processes and principles.

Bluey: Like Administrator Pruitt, who was prior to his appointment the attorney general of Oklahoma, you come from state government as well. How would you say that experience, both working in the environmental field and then working as Arizona’s chief of operations, prepared you for the job that you’re doing today?

Darwin: I hope that it did prepare me. But there are some significant differences between state government and the federal government. The federal government, rightly or wrongly so, is a much bigger bureaucracy. So the efforts that we had been undertaking at the state level, although not impossible, is actually more difficult now that we’re here doing this work at the federal level. But with that said, it’s more rewarding.

The zone of influence, or the impact that we are making here, it’s to the benefit of not just a single state but the entire country. So even though it may be more difficult, it’s more rewarding. And I can’t think of a better place to be right now.

Bluey: Can you talk about the reaction to the Office of Continuous Improvement within the agency? And also the lean management system.

Darwin: I’m very fortunate in the fact that before I arrived there was a pretty strong appreciation for what lean could be. With that said, EPA had not found a way of making lean all it could be.

I received a lot of support internally for this idea of bringing a system to EPA that could be used to realize, and bring to life, a lot of those improvement ideas that had been identified under previous administrations.

This is as much about carrying forward the work that had been done previously and bringing discipline to actually executing on the plans and the improvements that had been identified but not necessarily followed through on from previous administrations. It has received a lot of positive feedback, a lot of energy and positive energy around the work that we’re here to do.

Bluey: Who are you going to have directing the new office?

Darwin: The director of the Office of Continuous Improvement is a woman named Serena McIlwain. She comes most recently from a region in San Francisco, Region 9. She has a lot of experience, not only at EPA but also in the federal government. So she can help me navigate some of those bureaucracies.

She was the person at EPA who was probably the biggest proponent of lean. She was actually teaching lean tools and principles from Region 9 to the entire agency. She’s been a fantastic fit so far and I know that she’s going to do a great job.

Serena McIlwain, the EPA’s director of the Office of Continuous Improvement, explains her new role. (Photo courtesy of EPA)
Bluey: As a conservative, I have to ask this because any time government is creating a new office, you might have Americans out there who are skeptical and believe in smaller government. What’s your message to those who say, “How is this going to improve performance and not create more bureaucracy?”

Darwin: As a conservative myself, I would share those concerns or sentiments. What I will say is that even though this is a new office, this is not new employees.

We have not grown the size of the EPA. Those who are performing this work were already EPA employees. We have pulled these staff members and managers from within the agency, so we’re just redirecting them to what I believe to be higher value or more value-added work.

Instead of focusing their efforts on performing lean projects that had questionable or limited results, we’re focusing them on areas where we actually will see results. So they’re actually providing higher value, not only to the EPA but our taxpayer investors.

Bluey: And finally—I’ve posed this question to Administrator Pruitt as well—how do you ensure that the changes you’re making at EPA today last many, many years into the future?

Darwin: A lot of it is institutionalizing the work that I’m doing. And not to get too technical, but there are methods and means by which we can institutionalize the work.

It’s really connected back to your question about pulling people from within the agency. We’re not bringing in a bunch of new people, we’re not bringing in a bunch of consultants to do this work. We’re trying to learn from within EPA. We’re trying to use career staff that have a lot of experience at EPA and have a lot of influence at EPA in order to manage the office, in order to lead the office, but also to staff the office.

Because we want them to believe in the new system, we want them to carry this forward beyond our existence here.

Bluey: Henry, thanks so much for taking the time to speak to The Daily Signal.

Darwin: Thank you.

SOURCE

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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.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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Thursday, May 24, 2018



Groundbreaking assessment of all life on Earth reveals humanity’s surprisingly tiny part in it as well as our disproportionate impact

This is a very silly article, replete with implicit but unargued assumptions  -- such as the implicit claim that "we" are in some way responsible to make good -- or at least apologize for -- all the damage that all humans throughout history have ever done.

From Trilobites to the dinosaurs, extinctions are what nature does.  Of all species that have existed on Earth, 99.9 percent are now extinct. And, of all the extinctions that ever happened, most by far happened long before human beings were on the scene. Humans were NOT reponsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs, for instance.

And even in the human era, modern sensitivities were virtually unknown.  The megafauna of Australia were extinguished by Australian Aborigines, for instance.  I feel no guilt over that. Primitive people are often hard on the environment (pace the fictional Chief Seattle) but how am I responsible for that? It's a basic principle of natural justice that I am not to blame for the deeds of others.

Nonetheless, I am enough of a modern man to feel some regret about some recent extinctions (passenger pigeons anyone?).  But should I?  That leads us into very rarefied areas of moral philosophy that are not all congenial.  Peter Singer, for instance, is an eminence in that field and his cogitations lead him to some very objectionable conclusions, like the permissibility of infanticide.

So feeling that recent extinctions are bad is just that: feelings. A more intellectual justification for concern awaits.  Excerpts only below:


Humankind is revealed as simultaneously insignificant and utterly dominant in the grand scheme of life on Earth by a groundbreaking new assessment of all life on the planet.

The world’s 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things, according to the study. Yet since the dawn of civilisation, humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants, while livestock kept by humans abounds.

The transformation of the planet by human activity has led scientists to the brink of declaring a new geological era – the Anthropocene. One suggested marker for this change are the bones of the domestic chicken, now ubiquitous across the globe.

The new work reveals that farmed poultry today makes up 70% of all birds on the planet, with just 30% being wild. The picture is even more stark for mammals – 60% of all mammals on Earth are livestock, mostly cattle and pigs, 36% are human and just 4% are wild animals.

The destruction of wild habitat for farming, logging and development has resulted in the start of what many scientists consider the sixth mass extinction of life to occur in the Earth’s four billion year history. About half the Earth’s animals are thought to have been lost in the last 50 years.

But comparison of the new estimates with those for the time before humans became farmers and the industrial revolution began reveal the full extent of the huge decline. Just one-sixth of wild mammals, from mice to elephants, remain, surprising even the scientists. In the oceans, three centuries of whaling has left just a fifth of marine mammals in the oceans.

The researchers calculated the biomass estimates using data from hundreds of studies, which often used modern techniques, such as satellite remote sensing that can scan great areas, and gene sequencing that can unravel the myriad organisms in the microscopic world.

The researchers acknowledge that substantial uncertainties remain in particular estimates, especially for bacteria deep underground, but say the work presents a useful overview.

SOURCE




Ordinary British motorists face being priced out of driving if the Government goes ahead with proposals demanding that by 2040 every car can cover 50 miles on electric power.

The warning came from Toyota to the business select committee as it heard from car chiefs about the future of electric vehicles.

A leaked government consultation called “Road to Zero” proposes the 50-mile zero emission requirement for cars in 22 years’ time.

However, Toyota Motor Europe managing director Tony Walker warned such a measure could put driving beyond the budgets of most people, saying that batteries capable of hitting the 50-mile requirement are too expensive.

“The point is that every car, from the biggest to smallest, whether it costs £10,000 or £250,000, for every car to be able to do 50 miles [on electricity] is not wise, it is reckless,” Mr Walker. “It will price the ordinary customer out of the market.”

Toyota introduced hybrid cars to the mass market with its Prius. However, Mr Walker said the company’s current hybrids are not capable of doing 50 miles on the batteries currently used, and could be wiped out by the proposal.

To meet the target he said a more expensive battery used in plug-in hybrid cars would be required - and the economics do not stack up.

“It would make the hybrid vehicles we make in the UK currently unsaleable in the UK,” he said, adding that it would be “very difficult” to keep building cars and engines in Britain if government policy had made them impossible to sell here.

Mr Walker also questioned the government arbitrarily picking dates for targets the industry must achieve.

“Are you are saying somehow you know battery costs will come down?” he asked the committee. “How come you know that and we don’t? It’s too academic and not so practical on battery cost.”

Professor David Bailey, a car industry expert at Aston University, warned that the 50-mile requirement could kill off hybrids. “Electric cars are still expensive and will remain so for at least the next 10 years, when they will start to compete with petrol and diesel,” he said. “If Government is serious about improving air quality it needs to get drivers into hybrid cars as an interim measure rather than kill them off early.”

MP on the committee were told a “technology neutral” approach should be implemented, where Government sets targets to improve air quality for the car industry to achieve and lets them find ways to achieve it, without proscribing how they should do it.

The approach was backed by BMW, with Ian Robertson, the company’s UK representative, warning consumers are “sitting in the sidelines”, with many of them afraid to buy an electric car because of uncertainty about it.

He pointed to research saying that 90pc of drivers do short trips which are easily manageable on current electric technology.  Mr Robertson called the 50-mile zero emission target for 2040 “probably achievable” for a majority of drivers.

However, he added: “But it’s against a backdrop of some customers who need to do a 500-mile drive.

“Rather than take certain technology step that says we will have no combustion engines, let’s go for the target which we all agree on which is having a very low emission target and for majority of customer a zero emission target.”

Nissan, which builds the electric Leaf car at its giant Sunderland plant, said that the biggest challenge to battery vehicles was infrastructure. Gareth Dunsmore, the company’s electric vehicles director, said there was a “chicken and egg situation” with electric cars at the moment with people worried about whether they will be able to charge them.

However, with a comprehensive recharging infrastructure he said the 2040 target would be achievable. “If you get to wherever you park and there’s charging points the discussion about whether it is a challenge to move to electrification might be a moot point,” Mr Dunsmore said. “Customer demand could take over.”

The Government said it was “categorically untrue” it plans to ban vehicles incapable of meeting the 50-mile zero-emission target, saying the Road to Zero strategy was “yet to be finalised” and that it “would not comment on leaked draft documents”.

SOURCE




Yes, a Drop in Global Temperatures, But...

A recent editorial from a typically reputable conservative publication touted a sharp global temperature drop between February 2016 and February 2018. There's no disputing the fact that records indicate a temperature drop on a global scale during that time. However, the editorial — the purpose of which was to lambast the nefarious mainstream media for purposefully ignoring this inconvenient fact — did not explain fully what is actually happening. Here's why:

Global temperature drops are typical after El Niños, which naturally warm the globe. La Niñas do the opposite. Moreover, the last El Niño (2015-16) was exceptionally strong — a.k.a. a Super Niño. Therefore, it only makes sense that a significant global temperature drop would follow, as we've just registered back-to-back La Niña years. That being the case, the fact of the matter remains that global temperatures remain above normal two years after the last El Niño and above where they were two years after other El Niños. A higher threshold is seemingly being established following each Super Niño. Before 2015-16, the last one occurred in 1997-98. A pause ensued, but that baseline was higher than the average temperature over the previous 20 years. This doesn't prove ecofascists' rationale (not to mention justify their "solutions") for global warming, but it also doesn't do conservatives any favors to borrow from the Left's playbook by cherry-picking statistics simply for the benefit of aiding a narrative.

The cause may have to do with the immense amounts of water vapor that are released during Super Niños. These events result in a longer-lasting effect in Arctic regions years later, as tiny amounts of water vapor most affect temperatures where they are climatologically lowest and the air is driest. A glance at temperatures where most life occurs reveals that temperatures have returned to near normal, but the warmer polar regions are leading to the above-normal global temperatures, primarily during the coldest times of the year. It's still very cold, but even slight warming there can skew the entire global temperature a few tenths of a degree higher. Regardless, global temperatures are still higher than they were after previous El Niños.

To its credit, the editorial in question does note that the latest temperature drop could be entirely meaningless. However, a little basic research would have precluded the editorial altogether. As meteorologist Joe Bastardi said in an email to The Patriot Post, "This is like saying you scored a couple of touchdowns and instead of being down 56-0 you are now losing only 56-14." He added, "The point is that until temperatures return to or below normal, what is all the hoopla about? The other side can rightly point to a two-year post-El Niño record high." The mainstream media should be criticized for how it handles reporting global warming. Conservative media should avoid falling into the same trap.

SOURCE





Now's the Time to Restore Integrity to EPA Regulatory Science

For decades the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has gotten away with creating regulations that lack sound scientific basis, costing Americans hundreds of billions of dollars without solid evidence that those costs were justified.

It’s done this in two ways.

Sometimes it’s simply thrown out scientific results and regulated to satisfy a political pressure group. That was largely the case when in 1972, contrary to its own scientific findings but under heavy pressure from environmentalists, it banned the use of DDT, the most effective, least expensive, safe pesticide by which to control or eradicate disease-carrying insects like mosquitos and lice.

The U.S. had already largely eliminated malaria by widespread spraying of DDT from the 1940s into the 1960s, so the ban didn’t have immediate, large-scale negative consequences here. But it has made it more difficult to combat the recent spread of other insect-borne diseases like West Nile Virus, Zika, Lyme, and spotted fever, and even malaria is making a comeback.

The greater impact of the DDT ban has been in developing countries. The EPA persuaded other federal agencies to withhold foreign aid from countries that used DDT. Most developing countries complied. The result has been hundreds of millions of cases of malaria every year and tens of millions of malaria-caused deaths over the last 45 years.

At other times the EPA has built new regulations on “secret science” — studies whose authors refuse to grant other scientists access to the data, computer code, and methodology behind them. Such studies are not subject to replication by other scientists. Yet replication is the acid test of scientific research.

“Secret science” has been especially common as the basis for pollution regulation dependent on dose/response relationships and for regulation related to anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

Last month EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt requested public comment on a new rule, “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” (STRS), designed to solve that problem.

STRS provides that “When promulgating significant regulatory actions, the Agency shall ensure that dose response data and models underlying pivotal regulatory science are publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent validation.” It codifies what was intended in the Secret Science Reform Act of 2015 and the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act of 2017 (HONEST Act), both of which passed the House but never came up for a vote in the Senate.

The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation — a network of scientists, economists, and religious leaders dedicated to environmental stewardship and economic development for the poor — has issued and is gathering signatures to an open letter supporting the STRS that calls the proposed rule “badly needed to assure American taxpayers that the EPA is truly acting in their best interests.”

Opponents of STRS raise three common, and at first sight credible, objections.

The first is that peer review ensures the quality of studies published in refereed journals. But there is actually no empirical evidence that peer review works well. Drummond Rennie, deputy editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association and intellectual father of the international congresses of peer review held quadrennially starting in 1989, has said, “If peer review was a drug it would never be allowed on the market.” In fact, as John P.A. Ioannidis demonstrated in a celebrated article in PLOS/Medicine, “most scientific research findings are false.”

The second common objection is that the rule would prevent the EPA from using studies that involved confidential information, such as personal health data or corporate proprietary information. In an open letter to Pruitt, the leftist, political-activist Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) argued, “There are multiple valid reasons why requiring the release of all data does not improve scientific integrity and could actually compromise research, including intellectual property, proprietary, and privacy concerns.”

Yet Section 30.5 of the rule expressly states: “Where the Agency is making data or models publicly available, it shall do so in a fashion that is consistent with law, protects privacy, confidentiality, confidential business information, and is sensitive to national and homeland security.” Section 30.9 allows the administrator to make exceptions when compliance isn’t feasible.

A third common objection, also expressed in the UCS letter, is that “many public health studies cannot be replicated, as doing so would require intentionally and unethically exposing people and the environment to harmful contaminants or recreating one-time events (such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill).” But what need to be replicable in studies of such events are not the events themselves but the procedures used to collect and analyze data and make inferences from them.

Consider, for example, a study that used tree rings as proxy temperature measurements and purported to find that neither the Medieval Warm Period nor the Little Ice Age had occurred but that a rapid and historically unprecedented warming had begun in the late 19th century. The study became iconic for claims of dangerous AGW driven by human emissions of carbon dioxide.

No one needed to use a time machine to return to the 11th through 20th centuries and regrow trees to recognize that the authors had committed confirmation fallacy by excluding certain data and misused a statistical procedure, resulting in false results. All anyone needed was access to the raw data and the computer code used to analyze it.

Yet the lead author’s long refusal to allow access to raw data and computer code delayed discovery of these errors for years, during which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the public, and governments all over the world were led to believe its claims and formulate expensive policies based partly on them.

The UCS letter asserted that concerns about transparency and certainty raised by supporters of the rule “are phony issues that weaponize ‘transparency’ to facilitate political interference in science-based decision making, rather than genuinely address either.” But the irreproducibility crisis is real, not phony. Furthermore, enhanced transparency works against politicization, not for it. This objection is so patently invalid as to suggest that those who offer it are themselves weaponizing confidentiality to facilitate their own political interference in science-based decision making.

STRS will improve, not harm, the EPA’s mission to protect Americans from real environmental risks. It will also reduce the risks caused by unjustified but costly regulations. It should be adopted.

Via email from E. Calvin Beisner




Seventh Largest River Still Covered In Thick Ice. Blame Your SUV

News from Siberia

By this time of year, boats are usually plying the ice-free Ob, but in 2018, while the winter covering the river has begun to move like a giant monster – but it has not cleared.

Far from it. Here the thick ice is slowly drifting downstream in a northerly direction towards the Arctic yet with temperatures still of an unseasonal -5C, this could go on a while.

As our remarkable videos show, this is an awesome and eerie sight, magnetic to those lucky enough to be in the vicinity.

In Surgut, people come here before work just to glimpse the natural wonder and listen to the gentle creaking and cracking of the shifting ice. Then they come back again after work.

‘Sometimes it sounds like a rustle,’ said Anya, an enthusiastic Ob-watcher. ‘Then you hear a rumble as the ice breaks. Often it is a calm silence.’

At one moment this week, ice from the Ob literally broke out of the river from the sheer force of this natural annual pilgrimage to the direction of the end of the world (the Ob flows up the eastern coast of Yamal, a gas-rich peninsula the name of which literally means the ‘end of the world’).

It smashed the railings in Surgut with its phenomenal power. It was as if a column of ice was making an escape bid from the mighty Ob, intent on invading this famous oil city. Or as a local newspaper put it: ‘If you fail to go and watch the Ob River, the Ob will come to you!’

Not all cities on Siberia’s major rivers are so lucky with such sights. Upstream on the Ob, Novosibirsk  – the largest metropolis in Russia between Moscow and the Pacific – does not get such spectacular scenes because of a dam which tempers the water so that, although it freezes, the ice is not as thick as elsewhere.

Similarly, in Krasnoyarsk, the impact of a hydro-electric plant and huge dam on the Yenisei River – the world’s fifth longest including its tributaries – acts to take the chill out of the water. So much so it doesn’t even freeze.

The ice is closely monitored by the authorities because if it gets trapped and clogs the rivers as the melt starts and floes move downstream, a frozen dam is formed. Then flooding hits riverside settlements.

Explosives are regularly used to avoid such circumstances, but as we have seen this week on the Lena River – the planet’s 11th longest – even 17 tons of TNT is not enough.

For now, though, the folks of Surgut astride the Ob are the lucky ones.

As Eldar Zagirov, a business coach, marveled: ‘We’re in the age of new technologies – super-fast internet, Instagram, and much more. ‘And yet the inhabitants of Surgut … every day after work are rushing to the embankment, families with kids, couples, just not to miss the great ice drift. ‘It’s like the first inhabitants of these places for many centuries ago.

‘And there is something here. Something primordial, real, strong and sincere …’

SOURCE

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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.  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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Wednesday, May 23, 2018



Media laments Trump/North Korea summit ‘could have a negative effect on global warming’ – Would increase coal exports

Sounds like they fear global warming more than nuclear war.  What monomaniacs!

The May 21, 2018 article in E&E News by Jean Chemnick, reports:

“The anticipated meeting between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un could put the former real estate tycoon eye to eye with a reviled autocrat who appears more in line with global thinking on one issue: climate change. North Korea is a party to the Paris Agreement, the 2015 pact that Trump plans to withdraw the United States from despite an uproar from allies around the world.

That’s because if sanctions against North Korea are lifted, the hermit nation’s coal could flow onto the world market, with the bulk of it ending up in South Korea, Japan and China.

The E&E article notes that North Korea is making very impressive commitments to reduce it’s CO2 emissions and featured Kim hurling insults at Trump for not staying in the UN Paris agreement:

E&E News: North Korea — whose carbon emissions rank in the bottom half of nations worldwide — put forward a hefty commitment to cut its greenhouse gases 37.4 percent compared with 1990 levels. And as Trump was pulling the United States out of the agreement last June, Kim described Trump’s decision as “the height of egotism.’

Of course, it is not surprising that Kim supports the UN Paris agreement which purports to control the climate of the earth.  Kim believes he can control the weather:

According to North Korea’s state media, Kim Jong Un controlled the weather when he scaled a sacred mountain…The state media claimed that it was snowing because the mountain wanted to give a “warm welcome” to Kim Jong Un. According to the report, Mount Paektu wanted to “show joy at the appearance of the peerlessly illustrious commander who controls the nature.”

SOURCE




Tom Steyer Spends $2 Million To Force Expensive Green Energy On Mich. Power Customers

Michigan residents will likely be paying more for their electricity after a well-funded ballot initiative prompted the state’s largest utilities to adopt higher renewable energy usage.

On Friday, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy — Michigan’s two biggest utility companies — announced a compromise with a ballot committee to dramatically increase their renewable portfolio standards.

DTE and Consumers have agreed to establish a goal of at least 50 percent clean energy by 2030, which includes a pledge that 25 percent of their electricity sales originate from renewable sources by that same year.

In return, Clean Energy, Healthy Michigan will essentially drop its campaign to require at least 30 percent of a provider’s electricity sales come from renewable energy by 2030.

The agreement raises the bar for electricity providers in Michigan. Under the state’s current mandate, utilities were expected to reach 15 percent renewable energy by the end of 2021.

Environmentalists launched Clean Energy, Healthy Michigan in February to collect enough signatures to bring the ballot initiative to voters. The group was prepared to submit over 350,000 signatures it had collected over the past few months.

Assuming enough petitions were valid, the measure would have gone to Michigan Legislature then the November ballot if lawmakers did not act.

Under pressure, DTE and Consumers agreed to the slightly more flexible mandate of 25 percent.

The compromise comes as a major win for billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer. NextGen Climate Action, an organization he funds and operates, burned over $1.8 million in direct and in-kind contributions into the initiative.

“The agreement between Clean Energy, Healthy Michigan and DTE Energy and Consumers Energy is a win for the people of Michigan,” Steyer said in a statement Friday. “Every American deserves the right to clean air and water. With this agreement, Michigan has become a national example of how consumers, public interest advocates, and energy companies can work together to find real solutions to combat climate change.”

Clean Energy, Healthy Michigan is led by John Freeman, a former Democratic state legislator and union organizer who has led other progressive initiates in the past — such as leading a failed attempt in 2008 to put a universal health care proposal on the Michigan ballot. Freeman will continue to push renewables in the state, he said.

However, the sweeping agreement is being set without input from Michigan lawmakers, the Michigan Public Service Commission or even Michigan voters, critics argue.

“It’s disconcerting that Michigan’s monopoly utilities have become so confident in their ability to independently establish energy policy for the state that they don’t appear to have sought approval for this groundbreaking agreement from the Michigan Public Service Commission before going public with it,” Jason Hayes said in a statement to Detroit News.

Hayes serves as director of environmental policy for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, a free market group. “I am left wondering: who granted Steyer, [Consumers] and [DTE] the authority to single-handedly set Michigan’s energy policy in this fashion, especially when the people of Michigan are the ones who will have to foot the bill for all of this?”

Over 62 percent of voters in the state already rejected a 25 percent renewable standard ballot proposal back in 2012, Hayes also noted.

Beyond spending his fortune on climate change initiatives all across the country, Steyer is also leading a campaign to impeach President Donald Trump.

His Need to Impeach campaign aims to elect enough Democrats in 2018’s midterms in order to flip the House of Representatives and begin impeachment proceedings.

SOURCE




Someone in Asia (guess who!) is making a banned chemical that destroys the ozone layer, scientists suspect

Emissions of a banned, ozone-depleting chemical are on the rise, a group of scientists reported Wednesday, suggesting someone may be secretly manufacturing the pollutant in violation of an international accord.

Emissions of CFC-11 have climbed 25 per cent since 2012, despite the chemical being part of a group of ozone pollutants that were phased out under the 1987 Montreal Protocol.

“I’ve been making these measurements for more than 30 years and this is the most surprising thing I’ve seen,” said Stephen Montzka, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who led the work. “I was astounded by it really.”

It’s a distressing result for what’s widely seen as a global environmental success story, in which nations – alarmed by a growing “ozone hole” – collectively took action to phase out chlorofluorocarbons.

The finding seems likely to prompt an international investigation into the mysterious source.

Officially, production of CFC-11 is supposed to be at or near zero – at least, that is what countries have been telling the United Nations body that monitors and enforces the Protocol. But with emissions on the rise, scientists suspect someone is making the chemical in defiance of the ban.

“Somebody’s cheating,” said Durwood Zaelke, founder of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development and an expert on the Montreal Protocol, in a comment on the new research. “There’s some slight possibility there’s an unintentional release, but . . . they make it clear there’s strong evidence this is actually being produced.”

But for now, the scientists don’t know exactly who, or where, that person would be. A U.S. observatory in Hawaii found CFC-11 mixed in with other gases that were characteristic of a source coming from somewhere in east Asia, but scientists could not narrow the source down any further.

Zaelke said he was surprised by the findings, not just because the chemical has long been banned, but also because alternatives already exist, making it hard to imagine what the market for CFC-11 today would be.

The research was led by researchers with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with help from scientists in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Their results were published in the journal Nature.

There is a small chance that there is a more innocent explanation for the rise in CFC-11 emissions, the scientist say.

They considered a range of alternative explanations for the growth, such as a change in atmospheric patterns that gradually remove CFC gases in the stratosphere, an increase in the rate of demolition of buildings containing old residues of CFC-11, or accidental production.

But they concluded these sources could not explain the increase, which they calculated at about 13 billion grams per year in recent years. Rather, the evidence “strongly suggests” a new source of emissions, the scientists wrote.

“These considerations suggest that the increased CFC-11 emissions arise from new production not reported to UNEP’s Ozone Secretariat, which is inconsistent with the agreed phase-out of CFC production in the Montreal Protocol by 2010,” the researchers wrote.

CFC-11, used primarily for foams, can lasts up to 50 years in the atmosphere once it’s released. It is only destroyed in the stratosphere, some 9 to 18 miles above the planet’s surface, where the resulting chlorine molecules engage in a string of ozone-destroying chemical reactions. That loss of ozone, in turn, weakens our protection from UV radiation at the Earth’s surface.

The chemical is also a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

The paper’s findings are “environmentally and politically quite serious,” said Robert Watson, the former NASA scientist who organized bracing flights high into the Antarctic stratosphere to study ozone depletion in the 1980s, in an emailed statement.

“It is not clear why any country would want to start to produce, and inadvertently release, CFC-11, when cost effective substitutes have been available for a long while,” Watson continued.

“It is therefore imperative that this finding be discussed at the next Ministerial meeting of Governments given recovery of the ozone layer is dependent on all countries complying with the Montreal Protocol (and its adjustments and amendments) with emissions globally dropping to zero.”

Watson suggested that aircraft flights might be necessary to better identify the source of the emissions.

Keith Weller, a spokesman for the United Nations Environment Program, which administers the Montreal Protocol, said the findings will have to be verified by the scientific panel to the Protocol, and then would be put before the treaty’s member countries.

“If these emissions continue unabated, they have the potential to slow down the recovery of the ozone layer,” Weller said in a statement. “It is therefore, critical that we take stock of this science, identify the causes of these emissions and take necessary action.”

Unreported production of CFC-11 outside of certain specific carve-out purposes in the treaty would be a “violation of international law,” Weller confirmed, though he said that the Protocol is “non-punitive” and the remedy would probably involve a negotiation with the offending party, or country.

But Zaelke thought the finding could promote tougher action.

“This treaty cannot afford not to follow its tradition and keep its compliance record,” he said.

“They’re going to find the culprits. This insults everybody who’s worked on this for the last 30 years. That’s a tough group of people.”

Overall, it is important to underscore that the ozone layer is slowly recovering and ozone-depleting substances are still declining. But the apparent increase in emissions of CFC-11 has slowed the rate of decrease by about 22 percent, the scientists found. This, in turn, will delay the ozone layer’s recovery, and in the meantime leave it more vulnerable to other threats.

“Knowing how much time and effort and resources have gone into healing the ozone layer, and to see this is a shocker, frankly,” said Montzka.

SOURCE





Owner seeks extra charge to keep Massachusetts power plant running

They can't compete with subsidized "renewables"

Think your electricity bill is high now? Another charge could be on the way, but it’s one that might be crucial to keeping the lights on.

That’s because the massive Mystic power plant in Everett is on track to be shut down. Its owner, Exelon, says it’s no longer economical to run. But ISO New England, which oversees the region’s electric grid, fears that supplies could be compromised on frigid days — think rolling blackouts — and it has asked Exelon to keep the fires burning beyond a projected closure date in mid-2022.

The Chicago-based company says it needs more money to do so. So this week it sought approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for an extra charge that could be baked into electric bills to cover its costs, if necessary — one that the company says probably won’t exceed $1 a month for a typical residential customer in New England. The goal: to keep its two main gas-fired Mystic turbines operating through mid-2024, with the hope that reforms to electricity market rules could keep Mystic operating beyond that date.

Exelon says it can’t calculate its revenue for that time period, so it’s impossible to know the size of any operating shortfall now.

The two Mystic units together can generate about 1,400 megawatts of power, or enough electricity for more than 1 million homes. Exelon plans in 2022 to retire a third turbine, with 575 megawatts of capacity, and a much smaller oil-fired unit used only at peak times.

A spokeswoman said Exelon is already in talks with developers to acquire most of the 69-acre property, land it won’t need when the plant is reduced to two turbines.

The Mystic plant is integral to the region’s grid. It’s the largest in Massachusetts and is in a strategic position, at Boston’s doorstep.

There’s something else that makes the two units at Mystic so unusual: Their fuel comes directly from imported liquefied natural gas that arrives by ship, not pipeline. This reliance is a liability because LNG is often much more expensive than domestic gas. Exelon recently decided to buy the nearby Distrigas terminal to avoid a protracted contract dispute. But the LNG fuel is also an asset: On chilly winter days, much of the region’s pipeline gas gets consumed for heating purposes, not electricity. LNG acts as a hedge, an insurance policy of sorts, during cold snaps.

SOURCE



Birds are dropping dead off Australia's coast, and it's all our fault (?)

There is no doubt of the problem but its real cause is getting the Nelson's telescope treatment.  The marine plastic debris does NOT come from developed countries such as Australia.  Such countries have efficient waste collection systems (garbage trucks) which take the waste to a place where it can be dissposed of responsibly. So the debris is not from Western countries.  It comes from AFRICA and ASIA -- where people dispose of their rubbish by tossing it into their local river -- whence it flows to sea.

But reforming Africans and Asians is "too hard" so the do-gooders pretend that the problem is where it is not.  To admit its real source would be politically incorrect.

If they could bear for any length of time to admit reality, they MIGHT be able to do something useful for the problem -- putting garbage collection barriers across the mouths of the major African and Asian rivers.  But that would be too practical, of course.  Much more attractive to go around finger-pointing and criticizing your own society.


Deep in their burrows, hungry shearwater chicks on Lord Howe Island await a meal. Their parents have been scouring the sea in search of fish and squid. Instead, they return to feed their babies clothes pegs, bottle tops and Lego pieces.

The flesh-footed sheerwater population at Lord Howe Island is dwindling due to a tidal wave of marine plastic being mistaken for food.

After 90 days the fledglings emerge from their burrows, stomachs bulging with plastic. They prepare for their first flight. Many are so malnourished they die outside the nest. Others make it to the beach, but their undeveloped wings flap in vain and waves engulf them.

Ian Hutton, a naturalist and museum curator on Lord Howe Island, pulls the bodies off the beach. Researchers slice open their stomachs to confirm the cause of death. Once, they found 274 plastic fragments.

“It’s so upsetting to think this bird has been reared by its parents, it’s been fed and it should have a chance to go to sea but it’s died,” he said.

‘When you cut the stomach open and pull out the plastic, some people actually cry when they see it.”

The flesh-footed shearwaters embody what the United Nations has called a “planetary crisis” posed by an unremitting tide of marine plastic.

In the few decades since mass production began in the 1950s, plastic waste is overwhelming rivers and oceans – tossed into waterways, carried by stormwater and winds, and lost overboard from boats.

In Australia 1.5 million tonnes of plastic were used in the year to June 2013 - about 65 kilograms for each person. Only 20 per cent was recycled [The rest went to a proper tip]

Brisbane City Council this week committed to banning plastic straws, single-use plastic bottles and helium balloons from all council events. Environmentalists say other federal, state and local governments can do much more.

University of Tasmania marine eco-toxicologist Jennifer Lavers said the birds “are not picky eaters” and easily tricked by ocean plastic. She said the birds’ numbers are declining due to a range of pressures.

NSW Greens MP Justin Field, who travelled to Lord Howe Island this month, said single-use plastic items such as straws or utensils were often unnecessary and could be limited through stronger regulation.

“It is going to require much more than a recycling mentality. It might even include banning single-use plastics,” he said. “It wasn’t that long ago that food courts had ceramic plates and stainless steel knives and forks. We need to return to that type of thinking.”

A Senate report in 2016 presented 23 recommendations, including developing alternatives to plastic packaging and urgently putting marine plastic pollution on the Council of Australian Government agenda.

The federal government has not responded to the report. It is developing a threat abatement plan to reduce the impact of debris on marine life – a draft version of which Mr Angel described as “unbelievably weak”.

A NSW Environment Protection Authority spokeswoman said the government’s Return and Earn scheme will help meet the state goal of reducing litter volumes by 40 percent by 2020, and 320 million drink containers had so far been returned.

Most major supermarkets will voluntarily phase out lightweight plastic shopping bags this year and NSW was taking part in a national microbead phase-out. The mass release of gas filled balloons is against the law in NSW.

The federal Department of the Environment and Energy said a recent meeting of environment ministers agreed all Australian packaging should be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025 or earlier, that Australia’s recycling capabilities be increased and waste reduction be encouraged through consumer awareness, education and industry leadership. A national waste policy will be updated this year and government agencies will prioritise projects that convert waste to energy.

SOURCE

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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.  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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