Friday, December 15, 2017



New paper questions Paris Agreement’s dubious temperature limits

It turns out that the temperature target of the agreement was never properly defined,/i>

The Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015 during the COP21 climate conference stipulates that the increase in the global average temperature is to be kept well below 2°C above “pre-industrial levels” and that efforts are pursued to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above “pre-industrial levels.”

Closer inspection of the treaty text, however, reveals that the term “pre-industrial levels” is nowhere defined in this epochal UN-document, that has meanwhile been ratified by 170 Parties.

This is particularly odd because the “pre-industrial” temperatures of the past 10,000 years have varied quite significantly, as meticuloulsy documented by hundreds of paleoclimate studies.

Puzzled by this apparent gap in the Agreement, Fritz Vahrenholt went out and researched the history of the temperature limit definition.

The former renewable energy manager and current head of the German Wildlife Foundation was surprised to find that the initial description of this important climate goal dates back to the mid 1970s, proposed by an economist, by the name of William Nordhaus.

Nordhaus’ idea was as simple as effective: He looked at the maximum temperatures recorded during the past several hundred thousand years and warned that this natural range should not be exceeded in the future. Two decades later, in 1995, the German Advisory Council for Global Change further refined this concept, but kept Nordhaus’ original idea of a tolerable ‘temperature window’.

Vahrenholt: “Unfortunately this important palaeoclimatological perspective was lost in subsequent key papers on the subject that paved the way to the Paris Agreement. Reports by the World Bank and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2014 and 2015 narrowed their view to the last 200 years which does not do justice to the enormous natural temperature fluctuations on a multi-millennial perspective.”

In order to better understand the complex pre-industrial temperature history of the past, Vahrenholt teamed up with Sebastian Lüning, a professional resources geologist who in his spare time works on paleoclimatological studies with the Switzerland-based Institute for Hydrography, Geoecology and Climate Sciences.

Lüning researched the literature and integrated the Paris Agreement 2.0°C and 1.5°C temperature limits into the climate development of the past 2000, 10,000 and 120,000 years.

Lüning: “Comparing the modern warming to reference levels at the end of the Little Ice Age about 150 years ago does not really make much sense because this period represents one of the coldest times of the past 10,000 years. The choice of a baseline near the lower extreme of a variable parameter is uncommon in science. The temperature level that was reached during the interval 1940-1970 may serve as a better reference level because it appears to roughly correspond to the average pre-industrial temperature of the past two millennia.”

On an even longer time scale, it is found that current temperatures have not yet even exceeded the warmest temperatures of a natural warm phase that globally occurred some 7000 years ago, the so-called ‘Holocene Thermal Maximum’.

SOURCE




Green-Russian Anti-Fracking Campaign Paying Off As Britain Turns To Russian Gas

With gas supplies crippled amid a freezing winter by the shutdown of a major pipeline, the UK has apparently turned to a Russian project targeted by US sanctions, with reports indicating that a deal was struck for a shipment of gas by the end of December.

Some 170,000 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) carried by the Christophe de Margerie ice-class tanker, the first vessel of the Novatek-operated Yamal project in the Arctic, has been bought by a British energy company. It is now heading to the Isle of Grain terminal in the UK, the Telegraph reported.

One of the largest Russian natural gas producers, Novatek, revealed Monday that the cargo was sold to Petronas LNG UK Limited (PLUK), the UK branch of Malaysia’s Petronas.

PLUK has a 50 percent stake in the Dragon LNG Terminal at Milford Haven, so that’s where the tanker could also be heading, S&P Global Platts reports.

Novatek has so far issued no comment on the vessel’s ultimate destination.

As a deep freeze settles over Britain, the shutdown of the North Sea’s most important fuel transport route has left authorities in a precarious position. Ineos, a private company which owns a key refinery near Aberdeen, said it discovered a crack in a vital 42-year-old oil and gas pipeline, which will require at least two weeks’ maintenance work.

The disruption was compounded by an explosion at a major processing facility in Austria, the combination of which has caused wholesale gas prices to hit their highest level for six years, increasing by more than 50percent in the space of 24 hours.

To add to the problems, the Morecambe gas field in the Irish Sea is processing half its usual supply and there have also been stoppages in the Dutch and Norwegian operations that supply the UK’s energy needs.

And all this comes as temperatures in central England have plummeted to minus 13 degrees Celsius: almost 15 degrees chillier than the usual average December low.

All this come as British Prime Minister Theresa May has escalated her anti-Russian rhetoric in recent weeks, accusing Moscow of interfering in elections and looking to “weaponise information to challenge the West.” And the Conservative-led British government has been among the loudest voices calling for penalties and embargoes against Russia.

Ironically, the Christophe de Margerie which might now be carrying gas to the UK was loaded at the personal command of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

SOURCE





Daily Telegraph Falls For Lord Deben’s Extreme Weather Scare

To the long list of naive young Telegraph journalists, we can add the name of Ashley Kirk.

Last week he penned an article called “What is Britain doing to tackle flooding in the face of extreme weather? “ (Unfortunately behind the paywall).

Apparently primed by Lord Deben, he goes on to make apocalyptic predictions that the UK will be hit by a vicious combination of extreme storms, intense downpours and rising sea levels as it faces the next century. This is all apparently predicated on a couple of wet winters in recent years.

Because of climate change he claims that our flood defences simply won’t be able to cope with the extreme flooding coming our way.

He quotes Deben as saying that periods of intense rainfall could increase in frequency by a factor of five this century as global temperatures rise, and then goes on to describe all of the problems this could cause in England, with winters being wetter.

There’s one slight problem though, which young Mr Kirk might have spotted if he had bothered to check the facts. Winters in England are not becoming wetter. And even the extremely wet winter of 2013/14 had just 8mm more rain than 1914/15.

Worse still for Deben’s little bit of disinformation, there have been several winter months which were much wetter than anything seen recently. The wettest of the lot was in December 1914.

And when we look at all months of the year, we find a similar pattern. Again, the 1910s and 20s stand out as much more extreme.

Kirk also reminds us that the Met Office concluded last year that there is around a 10% chance in any given year of existing monthly rainfall records, over any of the large regions, being matched and/or broken.

Unfortunately it did not occur to him that there are 10 UK regions, as classified by the Met Office, and 3 winter months. In other words, there are 30 possible combinations of regions/months, for which records could be set.

Given that the Met Office data only dates back to 1910, there is statistically about a 1 in 3 chance of such a record being set every year.

If Kirk had bothered to read the Met Office report which he links to, “Met Office science behind the National Flood Resilience Review”, he would have discovered this statement near the start:

"The flooding in 2013/14 and again in late 2015 was driven by large-scale frontal rainfall, a weather pattern that is often associated with river flooding and typically seen in the UK during winter months. The focus of our work was therefore on looking for synoptic weather patterns that give rise to large accumulations of rainfall that are likely to drive high river flows and flooding."

We also assessed whether climate change has played a clear role in recent rainfall and flooding events and concluded that natural variability is by far the dominant cause and will continue to be so for the next 10 years

The floods of 2013/14 and 2015 were natural variability was the dominant cause, and not climate change.

As for the rising sea levels he is panicking about, he might like to know that they have been rising at a pretty steady 7 to 8 inches a century since 1900, with no sign of acceleration.

The rate of rise was highest prior between 1920 and 1970. In the last fifty years, the rate of rise has fallen to 1.57mm/year. Indeed, at North Shields there has been no rise at all for more than a decade.

SOURCE




Virtue signalling by Bill Gates and Richard Branson

A cheap way for businessmen to gain praise

Famous faces turned up to show their support to world leaders at a major environmental summit in the fight against global warming.

More than 50 world leaders will be joined by big names including Leonardo Di Caprio, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sean Penn as part of the One Planet summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Man filmed himself killing 13 cats with blowtorch

The global meeting comes two years to the day that the historic Paris Climate Accord was signed – and there was one very noticeable absence.

US President Donald Trump – who has rejected the Paris agreement – was not invited to the summit, where participants are expected to announce billions of dollars’ worth of projects to help poor countries reduce emissions.

Trump – who is sceptical of global warming – said the Paris Accord would hurt US business.

In June, hours after Trump announced he would withdraw from it, Macron announced a contest for multi million-euro grants.

On Monday, he awarded 18 climate scientists – most of them based in the US – the grants to relocate to France for the rest of Trump’s term.

The French leader said Trump’s decision to withdraw was a ‘deep wake-up call for the private sector’ to take action.

‘If we decide not to move and not change our way to produce, to invest, to behave, we will be responsible for billions of victims,’ he told CBS News.

Developing nations say the rich are not on track to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 – from public and private sources – to help them switch from fossil fuels to greener energy sources and adapt to the effects of climate change.

The summit is expected to focus on how public and private financial institutions can invest more money and put pressure on corporate giants to shift towards ecologically friendly strategies.

‘The missing piece of the jigsaw is the funding to help the world’s poorer countries access clean energy so they don’€t follow the fossil fuel-powered path of the rich world,’ said Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid’s lead on climate change.

‘Without adequate finance, there is no way developing countries can deal with climate change or decarbonise fast enough to deliver the Paris goals.’

SOURCE




Fracking Protesters ‘Fake Police Injuries For The TV Cameras’

There is no morality in the Green/Left

Ambulance staff have accused anti-fracking protesters of faking injuries and making false allegations of police brutality in publicity stunts aimed at preventing drilling for shale gas.

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) was called out ten times in July to attend to protesters outside a site near Blackpool where Cuadrilla intends to carry out hydraulic fracturing of wells.

Graham Curry, the ambulance service’s area manager, said that seven of the protesters refused to go to hospital and were found to have no injuries or illnesses.

In an email seen by The Times he wrote: “I can say that the seven cases who refused seemed to be more for effect and the cameras rather than for any clinical need.”

He added that in another incident, on August 1, a protester claimed that his neck had been broken by the police. When crews arrived he became “very aggressive” towards them, prompting Mr Curry to attend.

“I found the patient was walking around and swearing at my paramedics and me. He refused to go to hospital,” he added in the email, sent to the office of Clive Grunshaw, police and crime commissioner for Lancashire.

He said protests that blocked the main road beside the fracking site had delayed ambulances responding to genuine emergencies in a nearby village on at least two occasions.

SOURCE

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Thursday, December 14, 2017



Ho Hum!  Another  Melting Arctic report

When Arctic temperatures rise well above baseline, Warmists seem to get erections.  The fact that the earth as a whole at the same time changes only minutely should tell them that they are looking at a local phenomenon, not a global one.  But it never does.  The reason Arctic temperatures sometimes rise dramatically simply reflects the varying activity of the many underwater volcanoes around the North Pole. Because most of the Arctic is sea ice (floating ice), those volcanoes can have a big effect on the ice above them and on Arctic waters generally.  The changes have nothing to do with CO2 or human activity


In 2017, winter sea ice around the Earth's northern pole cover fell to the smallest extent on record, said the Arctic Report Card, released annually by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The year was the second warmest in modern times for the fragile Arctic, said the peer-reviewed report compiled by 85 scientists from 12 nations.

And while Arctic temperatures this year weren't record-breaking hot, scientists are still concerned.

Jeremy Mathis, head of NOAA's Arctic research program, says the region is a different place than just a decade ago.

He says a warming Arctic can cause problems like extreme weather that affects the rest of the world.

In 2017, winter sea ice around the Earth's northern pole cover fell to the smallest extent on record, said the Arctic Report Card, released annually by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The year was the second warmest in modern times for the fragile Arctic, said the peer-reviewed report compiled by 85 scientists from 12 nations.

'The magnitude and pace of the 21st century sea ice and surface ocean warming decline is unprecedented in at least the last 1,500 years and likely much longer,' said the report.

'There are many strong signals that continue to indicate the Arctic environmental system has reached a 'new normal.''

The consequences of this continued warming are dire -- harming valuable fisheries in the eastern Bering Sea, compromising roads, homes and infrastructure due to permafrost thaw and risking increasing wildfires at high altitudes, said the report.

Warmer air temperature. Average annual air temperature over land was the second highest after 2016 in the observational record, with a temperature 2.9 degrees Fahrenheit (1.6 Celsius) above the average for 1981 to 2010.

Declining sea ice. This year's maximum winter sea ice area, measured each March, was the lowest ever observed, while this year's minimum area, measured each September, was eighth-lowest on record. Sea ice is also getting thinner each year, with year-old ice comprising 79 percent of coverage, and multi-year ice just 21 percent. In 1985, multi-year ice accounted for 45 percent of sea ice.

Above average ocean temperature. Sea surface temperatures in August 2017 were 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 Celsius) above the average in the Barents and Chukchi seas. Surface waters of the Chukchi Sea have warmed 1.26 degrees Fahrenheit (0.7 Celsius) per decade since 1982.

Arctic ocean plankton blooms increasing. Springtime melting and retreating sea ice which allows sunlight to reach the upper layers of the ocean, continues to stimulate increased chlorophyll as measured by satellite, which indicates more marine plant growth across the Arctic. This increase has occurred since measurements began in 2003.

Greener tundra. Overall vegetation, including plants getting bigger and leafier, and shrubs and trees taking over grassland or tundra, increased across the Arctic in 2015 and 2016, as measured by satellite. The greatest increases over the last three decades are occurring on the North Slope of Alaska, Canada's tundra and Taimyr Peninsula of Siberia. The annual report on vegetation is based largely on data from sensors aboard NOAA weather satellites.

Snow cover up in Asia, down in North America. For the 11th year in the past 12, snow cover in the North American Arctic was below average, with communities experiencing earlier snow melt. The Eurasian part of the Arctic saw above average snow cover extent in 2017, the first time that's happened since 2005.

Less melt on Greenland Ice Sheet. Melting began early on the Greenland Ice Sheet in 2017, but slowed during a cooler summer, resulting in below-average melting when compared to the previous nine years. Overall, the Greenland Ice Sheet, a major contributor to sea level rise, continued to lose mass this past year, as it has since 2002 when measurements began.

Even though fewer heat records were shattered than in 2016, the 'Arctic shows no sign of returning to the reliably frozen region it was decades ago,' it said. 'Arctic temperatures continue to increase at double the rate of the global temperature increase.'

Scientists released the Arctic Report Card, now in its 12 year, at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

'The rapid and dramatic changes we continue to see in the Arctic present major challenges and opportunities,' said retired Navy Rear Adm. Timothy Gallaudet, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator, who led the press conference to release the report card.

'This year's Arctic Report Card is a powerful argument for why we need long-term sustained Arctic observations to support the decisions that we will need to make to improve the economic well-being for Arctic communities, national security, environmental health and food security.'

SOURCE




Global Agricultural Boom: A Million Thanks to Climate Change!

Global cereal (grain) production has reached record levels in 2017. Credit for the increase usually goes to agrochemicals and other advanced agricultural technology. However, there are two other key contributors — carbon dioxide and climate change.

World cereal production for 2017 is projected to reach 2,613.3 million tons, 5.8 million tons above 2016’s level and nearly one-fourth higher than 2008’s. Despite population growth, production per capita rose 13 percent over the last decade, from 0.31 to 0.35 tons per person.

Production of all the world’s staple food crops — such as rice, wheat, and other coarse grains like millet — has risen in the past decade.

Comparison with the period before 2008 is even more startling.

The global food production index — an index of crops considered edible and nutritious — has risen steadily in the past six decades. Doubling from 1983 to 2008, it grew more than twice as fast as population and has continued to rise.

Rice production, for example, rose almost 30 percent from 361.33 million tons in 1990 to around 506.5 million in 2017.

Yet climate alarmist scientists, politicians, and mainstream media claim that climate change would hinder global agricultural production.

There are two key reasons their claims are false — exaggeration of climate change and misconceptions regarding the biological impact of carbon dioxide.

The change in global average temperature has in fact been beneficial to life during the past 2,000 years. Global temperatures during the Roman Warm Period (around 0 A.D.) and the Medieval Warm Period (around 1000 A.D.) greatly aided human life by enhancing crop growth. The Modern Warm Period we are experiencing is in fact very similar to these earlier warm periods.

Global agricultural production suffered only during cold periods, including the Little Ice Age, which ended around the late 18th or early 19th century.

Since the 1800s, the earth has been warming — returning to levels ideal for crop production. It is remarkable that the mainstream media can claim that temperatures are killing crops when they have actually contributed to exponential growth of crop yields.

A second major reason for unprecedented growth in global vegetation, including crop yields, has been the increase in carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere during the past few centuries.

Increasing carbon dioxide has been a major driver of plant growth since the Little Ice Age. It contributed roughly $3.2 trillion worth of crop yield in 1960–2011 and can be expected to contribute another $9.8 trillion by 2050.

In other words, carbon dioxide is the elixir of life. But climate alarmists wrongly brand it a pollutant.

Studies in the fields of chemistry, physics, agro-science, and climatology all indicate that increased carbon dioxide is the major reason for the greening of the earth in the past two centuries, including substantially high growth in the past few decades.

The historic growth patterns of global vegetation, their real-time impact on agricultural output, and crop-specific studies all prove that the current climate patterns have aided in the progress of human civilization.

Claims of the adverse impact of global warming are myths propagated by global warming elites and radical environmentalists. They cannot be defended scientifically.

Both global warming and carbon dioxide have benefitted plant growth, and both are important contributors to the success of modern civilization.

If anything, the Modern Warm Period, with its high carbon dioxide concentration, has given us reason to celebrate this winter, not to fear.

SOURCE




Litigation — Ecofascists' New Weapon Against Dissent

Believe it or not, there are a large number of climate researchers who refuse to become ecofascist henchmen. Unfortunately, their nonconformity on man-made global warming means there’s a significant price to pay, which is inflicted upon them with the help of the Leftmedia. Over the last several years, leftists have resorted to an increasingly radical approach to shutting down climate skepticism — for example, by dragging dissenters to court. The latest victims are the National Academy of Sciences and Christopher Clark.

The duo are the current targets of Stanford professor Mark Jacobson, who has initiated a $10 million defamation lawsuit because Clark and 20 fellow researchers recently presented an alternative view on renewable energy’s less-rosy potential via literature that appears at the National Academy of Sciences. According to Investor’s Business Daily, “The paper … was a robust critique of work done by Stanford professor Mark Jacobson, whose widely cited research claimed that the U.S. could easily switch to 100% renewable energy in as few as 35 years.” Sadly, we live in the age of litigiousness. So why rebut when you can simply sue? And that’s exactly what Jacobson did.

Such dragging through the mud is the Left’s new modus operandi. Prominent climatologist Michael Mann claimed defamation too when he sued Tim Ball, a fellow climatologist with whom he disagreed. Moreover, according to IBD, “Now another scientist finds himself being sued by environmentalists because his results failed to conform to what they wanted. In this case, the highly respected geoscientist Ricardo Villalba conducted a scientific survey of Argentina’s glaciers. Green groups said that his survey favored mining interests, and so filed suit against him. Villalba now faces criminal charges for violating a 2010 law meant to protect Argentina’s glaciers.” And lest we forget, AGs United for Clean Power wants to see climate skeptics prosecuted. Yet a new study by two Australian scientists points to evidence of sea level measurement malpractice. This is but a small sample of what the litigious Left doesn’t want the public to see.

The esteemed author Michael Crichton once said, “The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.” Unfortunately, ecofascists want to ensure consensus-breakers aren’t able to do so without suffering severe consequences.

SOURCE





The Blue Planet movie: RIGHT ON PLASTICS AND PCBS, WRONG ON ACIDIFICATION

Matt Ridley

The BBC's Blue Planet II is superb, but got a few things wrong
My Times column on the BBC's Blue Planet II:

Nothing that Hollywood sci-fi screenwriters dream up for outer space begins to rival the beauty and ingenuity of life under water right here. Blue Planet II captured behaviour that was new to science as well as surprising: giant trevally fish eating sooty terns on the wing; Galapagos sea lions herding yellowfin tuna ashore; an octopus wrapping itself in shells to confuse sharks.

The series also preached. Every episode had a dose of bad news about the ocean and a rebuke to humanity, while the entire last episode was devoted to the environmental cause, featuring overfishing, pollution, climate change and ocean acidification. The team behind the incomparable Sir David Attenborough has acceded to demands that it should push more environmentalism.

Bottlenose dolphins in South Africa on the BBC’s Blue Planet II
Bottlenose dolphins in South Africa on the BBC’s Blue Planet IIPA

Mostly, these sermons were spot on. It is a scandal that eight million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year, though 95 per cent of it comes from just ten rivers, all in Asia and Africa, so that’s where the main effort is needed. Plastic kills albatross chicks and even whales.

The series has been accused of cheating in the sequence in which a pilot whale is shown carrying its decomposing calf. The commentary implied, without actually saying, that the calf might have died from ingesting plastic, or from pollutants in its mother’s milk. Yet there was no evidence of how it died. I think that’s unfair on the BBC. The commentary was careful and raised a valid worry.

Why are there still so few killer whales, bottlenose dolphins and great white sharks in European waters, now that seal numbers have hugely increased? There is only one resident pod of killer whales in British waters, and it is dwindling, with no calves born for years.

In conclusion, this pan-European meta-analysis of stranded or biopsied cetaceans demonstrates that several European cetacean species, specifically BNDs, SDs, and KWs, currently have markedly elevated blubber PCB concentrations. Particular “PCB hotspots” included the western (SDs and BNDs) and central (BNDs) Mediterranean Sea and SW Iberia, the Gulf of Cadiz (BNDs) and the Strait of Gibraltar (BNDs and KWs). Despite an EU ban on the use and manufacture of PCBs in the mid-1980s, blubber PCB concentrations are still very high, possibly having reached a “steady state” between environmental input and degradation, meaning that high PCB exposures are set to continue for the long-term in cetacean top predators in Europe.

These high and stable PCB exposures are associated with small populations, long-term population declines or contraction of range in several dolphin species in Europe (NE Atlantic and Mediterranean Seas) that were not adequately explained by other factors (e.g. bycatch or other anthropogenic causes of mortality).

Bycatch is common in the most abundant cetacean species in Europe, but is comparatively rare in BNDs and virtually unrecorded in recent years for KWs, suggesting that the ongoing population declines in these two species are predominantly driven by other processes, with bioaccumulation of PCBs through marine food chains being the predominant factor.

A lack of recruitment in monitored KW and BND populations is also consistent with PCB toxicity as the likeliest cause of their declines. In the Mediterranean Sea, the SD has suffered recurrent CeMV mortalities, which may have been exacerbated by the high and immunotoxic level of PCB exposure. Without significant mitigation, PCBs will continue to drive population declines or suppress population recovery in Europe for many decades to come.

Measures to significantly reduce inputs of PCBs into the marine environment from terrestrial and other sources are urgently needed. Further studies are also needed to better assess PCB exposure and quantify toxic effects in marine apex predator populations in Europe. Finally, the potential impact of PCB bioaccumulation in marine ecosystems may extend beyond European waters, particularly in globally distributed marine apex predators such as KWs, false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) and great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias).

Being at the top of the food chain, these mammals concentrate PCBs in their fat and it renders them sterile (killer whales that eat fish, rather than seals, are doing better).

PCBs were used mainly in electrical equipment until they were banned in the 1980s. Off America, this problem is fading: PCB levels have fallen and animals have “offloaded” the pollutants in milk, such that after several births they can bear and feed healthy calves. PCB levels in European waters fell but have now stabilised, implying that they are still getting into the sea somehow.

I was glad to see these issues given more attention, at last, than global warming, having long argued that the obsession with climate change (increasingly recognised as gradual) is diverting attention and money from more urgent environmental issues such as overfishing, pollution and invasive species.

It was good, too, to hear Attenborough’s recognition, rare on the BBC, that we are living through an unexpectedly bountiful renaissance in some marine ecosystems. Too often we are told only the bad news. The last episode featured the recovery of turtles, as well as the resurgent herring, killer whales and humpback whales of Norway, and the vast concentrations of sperm whales now being seen for the first time since the era of Moby Dick. Many populations of sperm, right, grey, bowhead, fin, blue and humpback whales are now high again, and rising at 5 to 10 per cent a year, something I never dreamt would happen in my lifetime.

The series could have made the same point about the penguins, fur seals and elephant seals of South Georgia, an island denuded of almost all wildlife about 75 years ago, but now once again teeming. Or about walruses, an Arctic species that has rebounded after centuries of exploitation. When I first visited Spitsbergen in the 1970s there were about 100 walruses there. Today there are about 4,000 and the population is still increasing rapidly.

Walruses were brought to the brink of extinction in Svalbard (Norway) during 350 years of unregulated harvesting. They became protected in 1952, when few remained. During the first 30 years of protection, approximately 100 animals became established within the archipelago, most of which likely came from Franz Josef Land, to the east. A marked recovery has taken place since then. This study reports the results of a photographic aerial survey flown in summer 2012, covering all current and historical haul-out sites for walruses in Svalbard. It provides updates regarding the increasing numbers of: (1) landbased haul-out sites (from 78 in 2006 to 91 in 2012); (2) occupied sites (from 17 in 2006 to 24 in the 2012 survey); (3) sites with mother-calf pairs (which increased from a single site with a single small calf in 2006 to 10 sites with a total of 57 small calves in 2012) and (4) a 48% increase in abundance in the six-year period between the two surveys to 3886 (confidence interval 3553-4262) animals, including animals in the water at the time of the survey.

Future environmental change might reduce benthic production in the Arctic, reducing the prey-base for walruses, and also impact walruses directly via declines in their sea-ice breeding habitat. But, currently the Svalbard walrus population is growing at a rate that matches the theoretical maximum rate of growth that has been calculated for recovering walrus populations under favourable environmental conditions with no food limitations.
Walruses recovering after 60+ years of protection in Svalbard, Norway

So it was naughty of Blue Planet II, in showing a sequence in which a mother and calf walrus desperately try to find a bit of ice big enough to bear their weight but not already occupied by other walruses, to imply that this was evidence of climate change threatening a species with extinction. Most of the ice in the Arctic Ocean disappears each summer and reappears each winter. Walruses have hauled out on shore, or on what’s left of the ice at that season, forever. The main thing that has changed is that there are now more walruses, and more polar bears feasting on them, throughout the Arctic.

So the climate change obsession is still sometimes getting in the way of telling the truth. The most dishonest sequence in the series was when Attenborough watched shells dissolving in a tank of acid, to a soundtrack of fizzing noises, and was told by Professor Chris Langdon that although this was “more dramatic than what’s happening in the oceans”, nonetheless “the shells and the reefs are really truly dissolving”.

This is highly misleading in several different ways. Was it carbonic acid, or another acid? The reduction in alkalinity will get nowhere near neutral, let alone actual acidity, even by the end of the 22nd century, so “dissolving” is false, let alone happening now. The changes in ocean pH expected even by the end of this century are minuscule compared with what was shown in that tank, and by comparison with the daily and seasonal changes that an average reef experiences. (Coral bleaching, a different issue, is more serious, but more temporary.)

A 2010 analysis of 372 studies of 44 different marine species found that the world’s marine fauna is “more resistant to ocean acidification than suggested by pessimistic predictions” and that it “may not be the widespread problem conjured into the 21st century”:

"Ocean acidification has been proposed to pose a major threat for marine organisms, particularly shell-forming and calcifying organisms. Here we show, on the basis of meta-analysis of available experimental assessments, differences in organism responses to elevated pCO2 and propose that marine biota may be more resistant to ocean acidification than expected.

Calcification is most sensitive to ocean acidification while it is questionable if marine functional diversity is impacted significantly along the ranges of acidification predicted for the 21st century. Active biological processes and small-scale temporal and spatial variability in ocean pH may render marine biota far more resistant to ocean acidification than hitherto believed."

And recent work has established that corals’ ability to make skeletons is “largely independent of changes in seawater carbonate chemistry, and hence ocean acidification...the relevance of their commonly reported finding of reduced coral calcification with reduced seawater pH must now be questioned”. Indeed, one study found that calcifying plankton “respond positively to acidification with CO2enrichment”,

"As a result, cell growth and cellular calcification of E. huxleyi were strongly damaged by acidification by HCl, but not by acidification by CO2 enrichment...The present study clearly showed that the coccolithophore, E. huxleyi, has an ability to respond positively to acidification with CO2 enrichment, but not just acidification."

another that the growth rate of corals also increases with higher carbon dioxide up to 600 parts per mllion and concluded:

"Furthermore, the warming projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the end of the twenty-first century caused a fivefold decrease in the rate of coral calcification, while the acidification projected for the same interval had no statistically significant impact on the calcification rate—suggesting that ocean warming poses a more immediate threat than acidification for this important coral species."

The producers of Blue Planet II claim every word of the commentary was based on solid scientific evidence. Not in this case. In a magnificent series, they got that one wrong.

SOURCE




Australia: NSW govt won't back down on shark nets

Once again the Green/Left want to toy with people's lives by introducing unproven safety measures.  The whole point behind their activism is to save the lives of other creatures that get caught in the nets.  Who cares if a few people get attacked?  Greenies think people are pollution

The NSW government won't stop its shark net meshing program despite a Senate inquiry report finding nets provide a false sense of safety.

A shark expert has called on the NSW government to change its approach to shark prevention, insisting shark nets can't be relied upon to provide safety to beachgoers.

The criticism follows the release of a Senate inquiry report on Tuesday, which had been charged with examining shark mitigation and deterrent measures.

The report recommended shark nets across NSW beaches be phased out as their effectiveness was difficult to evaluate, but the significant damage caused to other marine wildlife was clear.

The NSW government has refused to put an end to its controversial netting program, noting on Wednesday there had only been one shark attack fatality at a meshed beach in NSW since the 1930s.

University of Sydney shark bite researcher Christopher Neff has slammed the government's decision, insisting the nets are not a "reputable approach" to beach safety. "If the government ignores the most comprehensive study on shark prevention in Australia, they need to rethink their approach," Dr Neff told AAP on Wednesday. "There is absolutely no evidence to support that shark nets are the leading beach safety option."

He urged the government to consider drones as an inexpensive early warning direction system that would work "phenomenally" with shark shields on surfboards.

The Greens-dominated Senate committee found the measures implemented by some governments, including mesh nets in NSW, provided beachgoers with a false sense of security.

But NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair has remained firm in the government's decision to keep the meshed nets in place.

"I find it insulting to the staff that have been researching this area, insulting to the investment we've put in and more importantly it's insulting to the communities that have been affected by shark attacks," Mr Blair told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

Following concerns about the amounts of by-catch caught up in the nets, the government made modifications to reduce the effects on marine wildlife and continues to investment in SMART drumlines and drone technology as part of a suite of measures to make beachgoers safe, Mr Blair said.

Marine conservationist and drone operator Dean Jefferys also championed the use of drones as a "ridiculously cheap" option but said it was about time the government came on board and phased out the nets.

"If the government refuses to implement the recommendation of the Senate inquiry, we will launch an international social media campaign urging tourists and locals to not swim at beaches with shark nets," Mr Jefferys told AAP on Wednesday.

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

*****************************************

Wednesday, December 13, 2017



Investigation finds Swedish scientists committed scientific misconduct

Probe centered on controversial paper that claimed microplastic pollution harms fish

Two Swedish scientists have been found guilty of "misconduct in research" in a paper that they published in Science1 and later retracted. Their highly publicized work had suggested that tiny particles of plastic in the ocean harm fish.

The misconduct ruling was made by an investigative board from Uppsala University in Sweden, where the researchers work.

Marine biologist Oona Lönnstedt and limnologist Peter Eklöv originally reported in their 2016 paper that microplastic particles had negative effects on young fish, including reducing their efforts to avoid predators. The duo's report described a series of experiments on an island in the Baltic Sea. After other researchers raised questions about data availability and details of the experiments, Uppsala conducted an initial investigation and found no evidence of misconduct.

However, an expert group of Sweden’s Central Ethical Review Board, which was also tasked with vetting the study, concluded in April 2017 that Lönnstedt and Eklöv “have been guilty of scientific misconduct”. The researchers defended the paper but requested that Science retract it in light of questions about their findings.

To settle the controversy, the university’s vice-chancellor, Eva Åkesson, subsequently handed over the case to the newly established Board for Investigation of Misconduct in Research at Uppsala University for further scrutiny.

Charges made

In its decision, announced on 7 December, the board finds Lönnstedt guilty of having intentionally fabricated data; it alleges that Lönnstedt did not conduct the experiments during the period — and to the extent — described in the Science paper.

Eklöv, who was Lönnstedt's supervisor and co-author, failed to check that the research was carried out as described, the board says. However, by the rules in force at Uppsala at the time of the work, which required that misconduct findings apply only to intentional acts, the board said that Eklöv's failure to check the research "cannot entail liability for misconduct in research" .

Both researchers, the board concluded, "are guilty of misconduct in research by violating the regulations on ethical approval for animal experimentation".

On the basis of the board's report, Åkesson rendered a decision that “Oona Lönnstedt and Peter Eklöv are guilty of misconduct in research.”

It was only when the new board looked into the matter again that the university fully realized the seriousness of the allegations, says Erik Lempert, chair of the board.

“That long and arduous battle has finally concluded with a reasonable outcome,” says Timothy Clark, an ecologist at Deakin University in Geelong, Australia, who was one of the researchers to initially raise concerns about the paper

Eklöv wrote in an e-mail to Nature that he takes full responsibility for the errors in the animal ethical permit. “But most of all I am very disappointed on my colleague to find out that she actually had fabricated data,” he says. “At the same time, it is very good that the committee was able to clarify these circumstances to whether she actually was guilty.”

SOURCE





Feds Urge Court To Dismiss ‘Children’s’ Lawsuit Backed By Deep-Pocketed Foundations

A test case for a national effort to bring so-called “children’s” lawsuits backed by deep-pocketed philanthropic foundations in more than a half dozen states reached federal court Monday.

Underwritten by several foundations, including the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and with most of the 21 young people who filed the lawsuit in attendance, the plaintiffs argued for the case to move forward to trial.

“Children are disproportionately experiencing the impacts of climate change, and will going forward,” said Julia Olson, Executive Director of Our Children’s Trust. Allowing the case to continue, Olson argued, would allow “these young people [to] present their historic and scientific evidence and make their case.”

Federal lawyers asked the court to halt the suit, calling all aspects of the case “unprecedented.”

“It is really extraordinary. Plaintiffs seek unprecedented standing to pursue unprecedented claims in pursuit of an unprecedented remedy,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Eric Grant told the three-member panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The three-member panel includes two Clinton appointees and a Reagan appointee.

All three judges expressed skepticism of the lawsuit’s potential for success to varying degrees, though the Clinton-appointed judges—Judge Marsha Berzon and Chief Judge Sidney Thomas—appeared hesitant to grant the administration’s lawyers’ request to halt the lawsuit before reaching trial.

Dr. James Hansen, former director of the U.S. NASA Goddard Space Institute, also attended the proceeding. Hansen helped connect Olson with another child plaintiff previously, when Olson was looking to find children who would act as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against government agencies. Hansen, inspired by his own grandchildren, believed that a turn to the courts would provide relief.

“The judicial branch is much less influenced by special interests such as the fossil fuel industry,” Hansen told The Atlantic in 2012.

Olson’s inspiration for inviting children to bring lawsuits stems from her colleague Mary Christina Wood, law professor at the University of Oregon, who first introduced “Atmospheric Trust Litigation” as a brand of the public trust doctrine in law.

In a 2012 report, “Establishing Accountability for Climate Change Damages: Lessons from Tobacco Control” issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Climate Accountability Institute, Wood outlined “her involvement with so-called atmospheric trust litigation, a legal strategy she pioneered that is now unfolding in all 50 states. The goal of the litigation—to force massive reforestation and soil carbon sequestration that would return the planet to a sustainable level of atmospheric carbon dioxide (350 parts per million)—is grounded in the internationally recognized principle known as the Public Trust Doctrine, first enunciated by the Roman Emperor Justinian.”

“Under this doctrine, a state or third-party corporation can be held liable for stealing from or damaging a resource—in this case, the atmosphere—that is held as a public trust. The beneficiaries in the case are citizens—both current and future—who claim that the defendants (the state or federal government or third-party corporations) have a duty to protect and not damage that resource, which they oversee or for which they bear some responsibility,” the report’s authors wrote.

“Wood noted that this legal action has several promising features: it is being brought by children, can highlight local impacts of climate change because it is being brought in every state, and is flexible enough to be brought against states, tribes, the federal government, or corporations,” the report continued.

A landmark 2009 lawsuit brought against utilities by six states was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court in a unanimous decision in 2011. The nation’s highest court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency held the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, not federal judges. This reversed a lower court decision that would have allowed the lawsuit to proceed to trial.

“In a world filled with silly, frivolous, and undeserving lawsuits, these plaintiffs take the cake.  It is difficult to imagine one that—to even the lay person on the street—is more ridiculous,” said William Perry Pendley, President of Mountain States Legal Foundation. “We have confronted and defeated similar claims in Colorado where one plaintiff said she had standing because her grandchildren would no longer be able to ski in Colorado.  There are much better things for federal courts to do than hear foolish lawsuits like this.  Let us hope the Ninth Circuit does the right thing,” Pendley told Western Wire.

Marc Morano, publisher of Climate Depot and author of upcoming book, “Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change,” told Western Wire, “Climate activists have shamelessly stooped to using children for their PR efforts. Shame on these parents for allowing their kids to be used as cheap publicity pawns in the climate debate.”

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund lists $180,000 in grants to Our Children’s Trust since 2014 to “Advance Solutions to Climate Change: Public and Policymaker Awareness of Climate Change.”

The Leonardio DiCaprio Foundation (LDF) sent $1.3 million to a host of recipients, including Our Children’s Trust, as part of $15.6 million effort.

“LDF believes in supporting innovative approaches to galvanize action on climate change. Our Children’s Trust (OCT), is taking a novel litigation approach by representing the voice of youth in a groundbreaking climate change lawsuit against the U.S. federal government. The case has achieved notable success thus far and will be heading to trial shortly. OCT hopes to secure a legally binding ruling wherein the federal government would be required to act on climate change,” LDF wrote in a recent marketing brochure.

The foundation has also established a $1 million rotating litigation fund.

“This important grant will help Our Children’s Trust advance the global climate campaign in which more and more young people around the globe are exercising their fundamental constitutional and public trust rights to demand urgent reductions in carbon and methane pollution to stabilize our climate system and protect our oceans,” Olson wrote to LDF. “Where political branches of governments have failed us, these youth are bringing landmark actions in their state and federal courts to secure the legally binding right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate, in accordance with current science, for the benefit of all present and future generations.”

SOURCE






Under Trump, EPA slows actions against polluters
     
Which most likely reflects a less hysterical definition of pollution

Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator, has said the Trump administration’s high-profile regulatory rollback does not mean a free pass for violators of environmental laws. But the Trump administration has taken a turn in the enforcement of federal pollution laws.

An analysis of enforcement data by The New York Times shows that the administration has adopted a more lenient approach than the previous two administrations — Democratic and Republican — toward polluters like those in East Liverpool.

The Times built a database of civil cases filed at the EPA during the Trump, Obama, and Bush administrations.

During the first nine months under Pruitt’s leadership, the EPA started about 1,900 cases, about one-third fewer than the number under president Barack Obama’s first EPA director and about one-quarter fewer than under president George W. Bush’s during the same time period.

In addition, the agency sought civil penalties of about $50.4 million from polluters for cases initiated under Trump. Adjusted for inflation, that is about 39 percent of what the Obama administration sought and about 70 percent of what the Bush administration sought over the same time period.

The EPA, turning to one of its most powerful enforcement tools, also can force companies to retrofit their factories to cut pollution. Under Trump, those demands have dropped sharply.

The agency has demanded about $1.2 billion worth of such fixes, known as injunctive relief, in cases initiated during the nine-month period, which, adjusted for inflation, is about 12 percent of what was sought under Obama and 48 percent under Bush.

Resolving complicated pollution cases can take time, and the EPA said it remained committed to ensuring companies obeyed environmental laws.

“EPA and states work together to find violators and bring them back into compliance, and to punish intentional polluters,” the agency said in a statement. Officials said Pruitt was less fixated on seeking large penalties than some of his predecessors were.

“We focus more on bringing people back into compliance than bean counting,” the statement said.

Confidential internal EPA documents show that the enforcement slowdown coincides with major policy changes ordered by Pruitt’s team after pleas from oil and gas industry executives.

The documents, which were reviewed by The Times, indicate that EPA enforcement officers across the country no longer have the authority to order certain air and water pollution tests, known as requests for information, without receiving permission from Washington. The tests are essential to building a case against polluters.

At at least two of the agency’s most aggressive regional offices, requests for information involving companies suspected of polluting have fallen significantly under Trump, according to internal EPA data.

In the last two complete fiscal years of the Obama administration, the EPA’s office in Chicago sent requests for testing that covered an average of 50 facilities per year, or about 4.2 each month. By comparison, after the policy changes, one such request for a single facility was made in the subsequent four-month period.

The enforcement slowdown has been compounded by the departure of more than 700 employees at the EPA since Trump’s election, many of them via buyouts intended to reduce the agency’s size.

Separately, Pruitt’s team has told officials and industry representatives in Missouri, North Dakota, and other states that EPA enforcement officers will stand down on some pollution cases, according to agency documents.

The retrenchment is said to be part of a nationwide handoff of many enforcement duties to state authorities, an effort Pruitt calls cooperative federalism but critics say is an industry-friendly way to ease up on polluters.

The Times asked top EPA enforcement officials from the Obama and Bush administrations to review The Times’ data, analysis, and methodology. They said the slowdown signaled a sea change in enforcement under Trump.

“Those kinds of numbers are stark,” said Granta Nakayama, a lawyer who served in the Bush administration as assistant administrator for the EPA’s enforcement office and who now represents companies facing EPA enforcement actions for the law firm King & Spalding.

“If you’re not filing cases, the cop’s not on the beat,” he said. “Or has the cop been taken off the beat?”

Some enforcement experts suggested that the EPA under Pruitt might have filed fewer cases because it was going after larger penalties. But according to the Times analysis, most of the top penalties were smaller than those in the previous two administrations.

SOURCE





U.S. transit agencies cautious on electric buses despite bold forecasts

Communities across the United States are looking to replace their dirty diesel buses, ushering in what some analysts predict will be a boom in electric fleets.

But transit agencies doing the buying are moving cautiously, an analysis by Reuters shows. Out of more than 65,000 public buses plying U.S. roads today, just 300 are electric. Among the challenges: EVs are expensive, have limited range and are unproven on a mass scale.

A typical 40-foot electric bus costs around $750,000, compared with about $435,000 for a diesel bus. Cheaper fuel and maintenance expenses can lower the overall costs over the 12-year life of the vehicles. But those costs can widely depending on utility rates, terrain and weather.

The technology is still a gamble for many cities at a time when bus ridership is falling nationwide and officials are trying to keep a lid on fares, says Chris Stoddart, an executive at Canadian bus maker New Flyer Industries Inc. A top supplier of conventional buses to the U.S. market, the company has just a handful of pure battery electrics in service.

“People worry about being an early adopter. Remember 20 years ago someone paid $20,000 for a plasma TV and then 10 years later it was $900 at Best Buy,” said Stoddart, senior vice president of engineering and customer service for New Flyer. “People just don’t want a science project.”

Rival electric bus manufacturers expect dramatic growth; the most ambitious forecasts call for all bus purchases to be electric by 2030.

But even green-energy advocates are skeptical of such rosy predictions. CALSTART, a California-based nonprofit that promotes clean transportation, figures 50 percent to 60 percent of new buses will be zero emissions by 2030. Market research firm Navigant Research expects electric buses to make up 27 percent of new U.S. bus sales by 2027.

Transit agencies have found EV performance lags in extreme conditions. In environmentally friendly San Francisco, officials have resisted electrics over concerns about the city’s famously steep hills. “The technology isn’t quite there yet,” Erica Kato, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said in a statement.

Weather is also a major challenge.

An electric bus tested last year near Phoenix wilted in the summer heat due to the strains of running the air conditioning. The vehicle never achieved more than 89.9 miles on a charge, less than two-thirds of its advertised range, according to a report by the Valley Metro Regional Public Transportation Authority.

In Massachusetts, two agencies running small numbers of electric buses - the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority in Springfield and Worcester’s Regional Transit Authority - say the vehicles weaken in extreme cold and snow. They have no plans to acquire additional EVs, officials at those agencies said.

Even places with successful pilots have downplayed expectations. Seattle’s King County Metro transit agency soon will be operating more than a dozen vehicles by three manufacturers, according to Pete Melin, director of zero emission fleet technologies. The agency likes what it has seen so far.

Still, Melin said, high electricity rates from the local utility at peak demand periods are a concern. And the lack of a uniform charging system among bus makers has complicated Seattle’s goal of running an all-electric fleet by 2034.

“We have caveats to becoming zero emissions,” Melin said in an interview.

Another worry is government funding. Federal money for bus purchases is about 25 percent lower than it was five years ago, according to Rob Healy, vice president of government affairs for the American Public Transportation Association......

Winnipeg-based New Flyer, meanwhile, has won some big orders, including a deal to supply up to 100 electric buses to Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Still, company executives view electrification as a gradual transformation.

“It’s going to be a slow, methodical rather than an absolute disruption type environment,” CEO Paul Soubry said on a conference call with analysts last month.

SOURCE





Australia: Electricity and gas bills take up to 12 per cent of household budgets

Large low-income families, pensioners and indigenous Australians have been hardest hit by the rise in energy costs and face increasing difficulty paying electricity and gas bills that could consume 12 per cent of their household budgets.

Research to be released today by KPMG, using census data and the Household Expenditure Survey published this year, pinpoints the impacts of “energy poverty’’, suggesting about 42,000 families are struggling to deal with rising power costs.

The paper, authored by demographer Bernard Salt, who acted as special adviser on the research, and Cassandra Hogan, KPMG’s national sector leader for power and utilities, suggests that spending on energy rises only modestly as income rises.

Per-person spending in the lowest income bracket averaged $15.57 a week compared with $18.91 in the highest income bracket. This meant low-income families had limited ways of reducing energy costs and large families and pensioners were most vulnerable to rising bills.

A low-income family of five with an estimated weekly energy cost of $77.85 would be spending about 12 per cent of their weekly income of about $650 on energy. A pensioner couple’s weekly energy costs of about $31 would be 5 per cent of a weekly income of $650.

Ms Hogan said the rising cost of energy could affect a household’s quality of life “in a very real way since energy is a fixed, as opposed to a discretionary, cost’’. “And the reason why it is devastating is because it exposes no less than 1 per cent of the Australian nation, including no less than 200,000 kids, to the bruising effects of energy poverty,” Ms Hogan said. “Poor households with big families in the public housing estates of our biggest cities are most exposed. For these Australians there is no defence.’’

The impact of energy poverty includes about 10,000 low-income families in the western Sydney suburbs of Fairfield and Liverpool. Energy poverty hot spots in Melbourne include about 9700 families in the city’s north at Hume and the southeast at Dandenong. In Brisbane, the impact is clustered around Logan to the south of the city, affecting 3700 families. In Perth about 3000 families, centred on Gosnells, are affected. And in Adelaide, the impact is on about 2400 families around Salisbury.

The research found that weekly average household spending on domestic energy had risen 26 per cent over six years to $40.92 from $32.52 in 2010.

Ms Hogan said better targeting of relief payments and hardship schemes was required from government and retailers. She said customers facing hardship could be automatically placed on the best available energy offers. She also called for improved efforts to offer early assistance to customers struggling to pay.

“The federal and state governments need to develop a national concessions framework to ensure a consistent and transparent approach to customer assistance that minimises costs for retailers and hence consumers,’’ she said.

Smarter technology enabling customers to understand where costs were escalating quickest would help them manage. They would also benefit if retail plans were made easier to understand and to compare like-for- like.

While new technology such as gas and battery storage and more energy-efficient appliances could help, gas remained a potential problem. There were insufficient options to alleviate gas consumption, which represented a large proportion of household energy usage.

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

*****************************************



Tuesday, December 12, 2017



George Monbiot as a neo-Nazi

The continuity between Hitler's Nazism and modern-day eco-Fascism is amazing and disconcerting.  The whole point of Hitler's "Drang nach Osten" was to secure "Lebensraum" for Germany.  Hitler felt that Germans were in danger of starving unless he seized Russian farmlands to feed them.

And the Greenies today continue over and over to predict food shortages unless we return to a primitive past in which lots of inferior people are killed off.  It's a recurrent theme but the latest exponent of the theory is George Monbiot, a "Guardian" columnist.  Maybe George could think of nothing else to write so fell back on something out of the Warmist catechism.

To make his argument, he lists a whole lot of things that SHOULD be reducing food production. ACTUAL trends in food production he does not consider.  And the actual trends are very clear and consistent: Food production keeps rising -- to the point  where many basic crops are in glut.  There is so much food that prices have been pushed down to historic lows.  Once upon a time poor families had to struggle to put food on the table.  Now food is so cheap that the only worry is whether your income can support your drug habit.

So, by using normal extrapolation, food will tend to become more plentiful, not less.  Farmers do face challenges but with the aid of modern science and technology, they mostly rise well above those challenges.

And final proof that George is as unrealistic as Hitler is the fact that a warmer world would open up vast lands in Siberia and Northern Canada for food production. Canadian farmers already push their farms right up to the climate limit so another hundred miles of newly arable land would be a bonanza to them.  They already export huge volumes of grains.  Give them more land to cultivate and they would really show you what they can do


Brexit; the crushing of democracy by billionaires; the next financial crash; a rogue US president: none of them keeps me awake at night. This is not because I don’t care – I care very much. It’s only because I have a bigger question on my mind. Where is all the food going to come from?

By the middle of this century there will be two or three billion more people on Earth. Any one of the issues I am about to list could help precipitate mass starvation. And this is before you consider how they might interact.

The trouble begins where everything begins: with soil. The UN’s famous projection that, at current rates of soil loss, the world has 60 years of harvests left, appears to be supported by a new set of figures. Partly as a result of soil degradation, yields are already declining on 20% of the world’s croplands.

Now consider water loss. In places such as the North China Plain, the central United States, California and north-western India – among the world’s critical growing regions – levels of the groundwater used to irrigate crops are already reaching crisis point. Water in the Upper Ganges aquifer, for example, is being withdrawn at 50 times its recharge rate. But, to keep pace with food demand, farmers in south Asia expect to use between 80 and 200% more water by the year 2050. Where will it come from?

The next constraint is temperature. One study suggests that, all else being equal, with each degree celsius of warming the global yield of rice drops by 3%, wheat by 6% and maize by 7%. These predictions could be optimistic. Research published in the journal Agricultural & Environmental Letters finds that 4C of warming in the US corn belt could reduce maize yields by between 84 and 100%.

I am plagued by visions of starving people seeking to escape from grey wastes

The reason is that high temperatures at night disrupt the pollination process. But this describes just one component of the likely pollination crisis. Insectageddon, caused by the global deployment of scarcely tested pesticides, will account for the rest. Already, in some parts of the world, workers are now pollinating plants by hand. But that’s viable only for the most expensive crops.

Then there are the structural factors. Because they tend to use more labour, grow a wider range of crops and work the land more carefully, small farmers, as a rule, grow more food per hectare than large ones. In the poorer regions of the world, people with fewer than five hectares own 30% of the farmland but produce 70% of the food. Since 2000, an area of fertile ground roughly twice the size of the UK has been seized by land grabbers and consolidated into large farms, generally growing crops for export rather than the food needed by the poor.

While these multiple disasters unfold on land, the seas are being sieved of everything but plastic. Despite a massive increase in effort (bigger boats, bigger engines, more gear), the worldwide fish catch is declining by roughly 1% a year, as populations collapse. The global land grab is mirrored by a global sea grab: small fishers are displaced by big corporations, exporting fish to those who need it less but pay more. About 3 billion people depend to a large extent on fish and shellfish protein. Where will it come from?

All this would be hard enough. But as people’s incomes increase, their diet tends to shift from plant protein to animal protein. World meat production has quadrupled in 50 years, but global average consumption is still only half that of the UK – where we eat roughly our bodyweight in meat every year – and just over a third of the US level. Because of the way we eat, the UK’s farmland footprint (the land required to meet our demand) is 2.4 times the size of its agricultural area. If everyone aspires to this diet, how exactly do we accommodate it?

The profligacy of livestock farming is astonishing. Already, 36% of the calories grown in the form of grain and pulses – and 53% of the protein – are used to feed farm animals. Two-thirds of this food is lost in conversion from plant to animal. A graph produced last week by Our World in Data suggests that, on average, you need 0.01m2 of land to produce a gram of protein from beans or peas, but 1m2 to produce it from beef cattle or sheep: a 100-fold difference.

It’s true that much of the grazing land occupied by cattle and sheep cannot be used to grow crops. But it would otherwise have sustained wildlife and ecosystems. Instead, marshes are drained, trees are felled and their seedlings grazed out, predators are exterminated, wild herbivores fenced out and other life forms gradually erased as grazing systems intensify. Astonishing places – such as the rainforests of Madagascar and Brazil – are laid waste to make room for yet more cattle.

Because there is not enough land to meet both need and greed, a global transition to eating animals means snatching food from the mouths of the poor. It also means the ecological cleansing of almost every corner of the planet.

The shift in diets would be impossible to sustain even if there were no growth in the human population. But the greater the number of people, the greater the hunger meat eating will cause. From a baseline of 2010, the UN expects meat consumption to rise by 70% by 2030 (this is three times the rate of human population growth). Partly as a result, the global demand for crops could double (from the 2005 baseline) by 2050. The land required to grow them does not exist.

When I say this keeps me up at night, I mean it. I am plagued by visions of starving people seeking to escape from grey wastes, being beaten back by armed police. I see the last rich ecosystems snuffed out, the last of the global megafauna – lions, elephants, whales and tuna – vanishing. And when I wake, I cannot assure myself that it was just a nightmare.

Other people have different dreams: the fantasy of a feeding frenzy that need never end, the fairytale of reconciling continued economic growth with a living world. If humankind spirals into societal collapse, these dreams will be the cause.

There are no easy answers, but the crucial change is a shift from an animal- to a plant-based diet. All else being equal, stopping both meat production and the use of farmland to grow biofuels could provide enough calories for another 4 billion people and double the protein available for human consumption. Artificial meat will help: one paper suggests it reduces water use by at least 82% and land use by 99%.

The next green revolution will not be like the last one. It will rely not on flogging the land to death, but on reconsidering how we use it and why. Can we do this, or do we – the richer people now consuming the living planet – find mass death easier to contemplate than changing our diet?

SOURCE




Why did climate scientists emit 30,000 tonnes of C02 this weekend?

Peter Kalmus appears to be a sincere Warmist.  He says there are not many like him

This weekend, 25,000 Earth, Sun, and planetary scientists from across the US and abroad flew to New Orleans for the annual American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting. These scientists study the impact global warming is having on Earth. Unfortunately, their air travel to and from the meeting will contribute to that warming by emitting around 30,000 tonnes of CO2.

As an Earth scientist and AGU member myself, I know the importance of their work. Still, there’s something wrong with this picture. As scientists, our work informs us – with dreadful clarity and urgency – that burning fossil fuel is destroying the life support systems on our planet. There’s already more than enough science to know we need to stop. Yet most scientists burn more than the average American, simply because they fly more.

I haven’t flown since 2012, nor have I wanted to

Few people know how harmful it is to fly in planes, including scientists. In 2010, I sat down and estimated my climate emissions. It turns out that, hour for hour, there’s no better way to warm the planet than to fly. I’d flown 50,000 miles during the year, mostly to scientific meetings. Those flights accounted for 3/4 of my annual emissions. Over the next two years, I gradually decreased my flying.

Eventually, there came a day when I was on the runway about to take off and felt an overwhelming desire not to be on the plane. I saw too clearly the harm it was doing to the world’s children, to all the beings on our planet. I haven’t flown since 2012, nor have I wanted to.

Climate activists tend to fly a lot. This sends its own contradictory message

Today, while I know that my career could progress slightly faster if I flew, I find it hard to imagine a scenario that would make flying seem worthwhile to me. (If I really want to attend a conference in person, I take the train.) And I’ve realized that the main impact of reducing our emissions isn’t the emissions reduction itself: by modeling change, we tell a new story of what’s possible, shifting the culture and opening space for large-scale change.

In becoming scientists, we didn’t sign up to burn less fossil fuel or to be activists. But in the case of Earth science, we have front row seats to an unfolding catastrophe. Because of this, the public takes our temperature: if the experts don’t seem worried, how bad can it be?

When we make a conscious effort to contribute less to global warming, we can better communicate the urgency of the Earth system changes we’re seeing. As a citizen and a father, I know I feel a responsibility to sound the alarm. Not to do so, for me, would be a kind of denial.

I’m not alone. Over 400 academics have signed a petition at flyingless.org, and a few Earth scientists have joined me in telling their stories at noflyclimatesci.org. Together, we’re pushing for increased use of web-based and regional meetings, more remote support from the AGU, and more support from our academic institutions, which ostensibly exist to make the world a better place.

Like academics, climate activists also tend to fly a lot. This sends its own contradictory message: if the people urging us to burn less can’t even do it, then it must be impossible. But in reality, many of us could cut our emissions in half with little effort.

People who’ve gone even further than this report that their lives become more abundant and satisfying as a result, not less.

I’d love to see what would happen if prominent climate activists and outspoken celebrities would consciously, publicly, and radically reduce their own fossil fuel use. They could begin by flying less.

Burning fossil fuel causes real harm, and will become socially unacceptable sooner or later. Those of us who know the seriousness of global warming must do everything we can to stop it, and like it or not, AGU scientists play a key role. Once this shift gains momentum, policy and systems-level change will follow more quickly than we can imagine.

SOURCE



California Governor Jerry Brown said the wildfires ravaging the greater Los Angeles area are part of a “new normal” residents can expect due to man-made global warming

“This is kind of the new normal,” said Brown, a Democrat, on Saturday while touring Ventura County neighborhoods wrecked by the Thomas Fire, that is already one of the largest in state history.

“With climate change, some scientists are saying that Southern California is literally burning up,” Brown said, according to CNN. “So we have to have the resources to combat the fires and we also have to invest in managing the vegetation and forests … in a place that’s getting hotter.”

Brown’s statements, though ominous, aren’t in line with the scientific consensus. The latest National Climate Assessment report put a “low” to “medium” confidence on claims global warming was making wildfires worse across the western U.S.

Wildfires could increase in severity in the coming decades, but parsing out the driving factors behind fire trends is complicated, since so much of it depends on land management policies and year-to-year variations in temperature and rainfall.

Despite this, environmental activists and news outlets have eagerly linked the wildfires to man-made warming. For example, Rolling Stone published a lengthy piece titled “California’s Climate Emergency,” referring to the fires.

Several fires are ripping across the southland, engulfing thousands of acres and forcing residents to flee. So far, one death has been blamed on the Thomas Fire in Ventura County and hundreds of structures have been damaged or destroyed.

The Thomas fire had only been 15 percent contained, burning 155,000 acres, state officials reported  as of Saturday. Officials ordered evacuations for parts of Santa Barbara County on Sunday morning.

On the other hand, the Rye fire west of Valencia is about 90 percent contained, according to CAL FIRE, and the Creek fire north of the city of Los Angeles is 90 percent contained. Both fires combined now cover more than 21,000 acres.

The Lilac fire near San Diego is 60 percent contained, CAL FIRE reported on Sunday. The fire is now 4,100 acres, and crews are working to keep it from spreading.

Despite the progress, fire conditions are expected to continue. The warm, dry Santa Ana winds will continue to blow on Sunday. Gusts could reach 55 miles per hour, allowing fires to spread quickly among the dried out vegetation.

The National Weather Service reported two new record temperatures set at the Long Beach airport and the Los Angeles International Airport on Saturday, with temperatures at or above 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

SOURCE




Meat tax ‘inevitable’ to beat climate and health crises, says report

Just another Greenie prophecy, based on demonstrably wrong assumptions about atmospheric gases.  It will go the way of all past Greenie prophecies

“Sin taxes” on meat to reduce its huge impact on climate change and human health look inevitable, according to analysts for investors managing over $4tn of assets.

The global livestock industry causes 15% of all global greenhouse gas emissions and meat consumption is rising around the world, but dangerous climate change cannot be avoided unless this is radically curbed. Furthermore, many people already eat far too much meat, seriously damaging their health and incurring huge costs. Livestock also drive other problems, such as water pollution and antibiotic resistance.

A new analysis from investor network Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (Fairr) Initiative argues that meat is therefore now following the same path as tobacco, carbon emissions and sugar towards a sin tax, a levy on harmful products to cut consumption. Meat taxes have already been discussed in parliaments in Germany, Denmark and Sweden, the analysis points out, and China’s government cut its recommended maximum meat consumption by 45% in 2016.

“If policymakers are to cover the true cost of human epidemics like obesity, diabetes and cancer, and livestock epidemics like avian flu, while also tackling the twin challenges of climate change and antibiotic resistance, then a shift from subsidisation to taxation of the meat industry looks inevitable,” said Jeremy Coller, found of Fairr and chief investment officer at private equity firm Coller Capital. “Far-sighted investors should plan ahead for this day.”

Maria Lettini, director of Fairr, said: “As implementation of the Paris climate agreement progresses we’re highly likely to see government action to reduce the environmental impact of the global livestock sector. On the current pathway we may well see some form of meat tax emerge within 5-10 years.”

Nations begin to implement sin taxes as consensus forms over the harm caused by the product, the analysis notes, and today more than 180 jurisdictions tax tobacco, more than 60 tax carbon emissions and at least 25 tax sugar.

The first global analysis of meat taxes done in 2016 found levies of 40% on beef, 20% on dairy products and 8.5% on chicken would save half a million lives a year and slash climate warming emissions. Proposals in Denmark suggested a tax of $2.70 per kilogram of meat.

Meat taxes are often seen as politically impossible but research by Chatham House in 2015 found they are far less unpalatable to consumers than governments think. It showed people expect governments to lead action on issues that are for the global good, but that awareness of the damage caused by the livestock industry is low. Using meat tax revenues to subsidise healthy foods is one idea touted to reduce opposition.

“It’s only a matter of time before agriculture becomes the focus of serious climate policy,” said Rob Bailey at Chatham House. “The public health case will likely strengthen government resolve, as we have seen with coal and diesel. It’s hard to imagine concerted action to tax meat today, but over the course of the next 10 to 20 years, I would expect to see meat taxes accumulate.”

Marco Springmann, at the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food at the University of Oxford, said: “Current levels of meat consumption are not healthy or sustainable. The costs associated with each of those impacts could approach the trillions in the future. Taxing meat could be a first and important step.”

The need for a high meat tax could be reduced if breakthrough technologies emerge to drastically cut the emissions from livestock, said Lettini, but none exist today. Another, more promising option is the nascent but fast-growing industry in plant-based meat alternatives, such as the meat-free Impossible burger. Bill Gates has invested, and major meat and dairy companies are now piling in with investments and acquisitions.

“There are huge opportunities in the market,” said Lettini. “If we can start replacing meat protein with plant-based protein that has the same look, taste and feel as meat, where real red-blooded meat eaters are happy to dig into a burger that is plant-based, we are changing the world.”

SOURCE




UA ordered to surrender emails to skeptics of human-caused climate change

Greenie crookedness being forced ever so slowly into the light of day

The University of Arizona has been ordered to surrender emails by two UA scientists that a group claims will help prove that theories about human-caused climate change are false and part of a conspiracy.

Pima County Superior Court Judge James Marner rejected arguments by the Board of Regents that disclosure of the documents would be “contrary to the best interests of the state.”

Marner said it may be true that some of the documents sought by Energy & Environment Legal Institute might be classified as unpublished research, manuscripts, preliminary analyses, drafts of scientific papers and plans for future research.

But the judge said the subject matter of the documents has become available to the general public. And that, Marner said, does not allow the university to withhold disclosure under a separate section of the law governing university records.

There was no immediate response from the university.

The ruling is a turnabout for Marner, who had previously ruled that some emails were properly withheld because they contained things like confidential information or attorney work product. He said at the time that the university did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in withholding other documents, including unpublished data, research, drafts and commentary.

But last year the state Court of Appeals told Marner to take another look.

Appellate Judge Joseph Howard, writing for the unanimous court, said it’s legally irrelevant what university officials thought was appropriate to disclose.

He said everyone involved in the case acknowledges that the emails from Malcolm Hughes, who is still with the UA, and Jonathan Overpeck, who left earlier this year, are public records. Howard said state law carries a presumption that all public records are subject to disclosure, with certain exceptions.

That, Howard said, required Marner to examine the records to determine whether making them public would harm “the best interests of the state,” as the university has claimed.

Craig Richardson, president of E & E, said the request relates to so-called “hockey stick” research. It drew its name from graphs that climate scientists say show a long-term decline in global temperatures over most of the last 150 years followed by a sharp rise.

“It’s the foundational argument for really this whole climate change industry and their focus,” he said.

In 2009, some computer servers at the University of East Anglia in Britain were hacked and emails stolen, with the names of the two UA scientists found in the mix. Some of what was found was labeled “climategate” and is being used by groups to show that global warming is a conspiracy.

“They showed there were a lot of games being played with the data,” Richardson said.

He said that getting all the emails, including from the two scientists, will reveal “an unvarnished view of how the process works ... and how climate scientists on the other side of this have been shut out.”

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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Monday, December 11, 2017



Worst global warming predictions likely the most accurate, study finds

Just another prophecy, and an act of faith.  They think that models which provide the best fit to the past will predict the future.  Yet that is exactly what does NOT happen.  Fitting a model to the past does NOT predict the future.  All the Warmists' troubles would be over if it did

The worst-case predictions regarding the effects of global warming are the most likely to be true, a new study published this week has warned.

"Our study indicates that if emissions follow a commonly used business-as-usual scenario, there is a 93 per cent chance that global warming will exceed 4°C by the end of this century," Dr. Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, who co-authored the study told The Independent.

This research shows a dramatic increase over previous estimates, which placed the likelihood of such a drastic increase at just 62 percent.

Since the Earth's climate system is incredibly complex, different scientists have put forward different models to determine how fast the planet is warming. This has resulted in a range of predictions, some more dire than others.

The new study, published in the academic journal "Nature", aimed to determine whether the upper or lower-end estimates are more reliable.

Caldeira and co-author Dr. Patrick Brown looked at models that proved to be the best at simulating climate patterns in the recent past. They reasoned that these models would present the most accurate estimates.

"It makes sense that the models that do the best job at simulating today's observations might be the models with the most reliable predictions," Caldeira explained.

According to the researchers' conclusions, models with higher estimates are more likely to be accurate, meaning the degree of warming is likely 0.5°C higher than previously accepted.

Scientist that weren't involved with the research have come out in support of the findings as well.

"There have been many previous studies trying to compare climate models with measurements of past surface-temperature, but these have not proved very conclusive in reducing the uncertainty in the range of future temperature projections," Professor William Collins, a meteorologist at the University of Reading, said.

Professor Collins explained that the new study "breaks the issue down into the fundamental building blocks of climate change."

While the overwhelming majority of climatologists and environmental scientists agree that climate change is a problem accelerated by human activity, representatives from the fossil fuel industry and the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump have dismissed such claims.

However, with more and more research backing worst-case predictions, complete dismissal of such findings becomes increasingly difficult. This study in particular addresses one key point climate change deniers often seize upon: the uncertainty that comes with so many different climate models.

"This study undermines that logic," Dr. Brown told MIT Technology Review. "There are problems with climate models, but the ones that are most accurate are the ones that produce the most warming in the future."

SOURCE




Susan Crockford on the starving polar bear story



I saw this story when it first came out and thought it was too shallow to be worth comment.  Bears die.  How do we know what this one was dying of?  Nobody made any attempt to find out.  It was just asserted that global warming was the culprit.  Anyway, it may be useful to present some comments from a bear expert -- JR


In August, this bear would have been only recently off the sea ice: since most bears are at their fattest at this time of year, something unusual had to have affected his ability to hunt or feed on the kills he made when other bears around him did not starve and die. It could have been something as simple as being out-competed for food in the spring by older animals.

But if sea ice loss due to man-made global warming had been the culprit, this bear would not have been the only one starving: the landscape would have been littered with carcasses. This was one bear dying a gruesome death as happens in the wild all the time (there is no suggestion that a necropsy was done to determine cause of death, just like Stirling’s bear that supposedly died of climate change.)

In fact, research done by polar bear specialsts that work in the field shows that the most common natural cause of death for polar bears is starvation, resulting from one cause or another (too young, too old, injured, sick) (Amstrup 2003):

“Starvation of independent young as well as very old animals must account for much of the natural mortality among polar bears… Also, age structure data show that subadults aged 2-5years survive at lower rates than adults (Amstrup 1995), probably because they are still learning hunting and survival skills.”


“I once observed a 3-year-old subadult that weighed only 70 kg in November. This was near the end of the autumn period in which Beaufort Sea bears reach their peak weights (Durner and Amstrup 1996), and his cohorts at that time weighed in excess of 200 kg. This young animal apparently had not learned the skills needed to survive and was starving to death.” [my bold]

But as Mittermeier has made clear, facts don’t matter in cases like this Somerset Island bear’s death: it’s all about the message.

I’ve asked this question before because it speaks to the present political climate: where were the appeals to help the many starving polar bears back in the spring of 1974 when females with newborn cubs were starving in the Eastern Beaufort Sea because the thick spring ice drove ringed seals away before they gave birth (Stirling 2002)?

Here is what Stirling and Lunn (1997:177) had to say about the mortality event of 1974 that they witnessed:

“…in the spring of 1974, when ringed seal pups first became scarce, we capture two very thin lone adult female polar bears that had nursed recently, from which we deduced they had already lost their litters. A third emaciated female was accompanied by two cubs which were so thin that one could barely walk. We have not seen females with cubs in this condition in the Beaufort Sea, or elsewhere in the Arctic, before or since.”

What Stirling and Lunn witnessed and documented is scientific evidence that natural variation in spring sea ice can have devastating effects on polar bears, including mass mortality events (Crockford 2017). However, we have not seen any similar mass starvation events that have been conclusively shown to be caused by low summer sea ice.

One starving bear is not scientific evidence that man-made global warming has already negatively affected polar bears but it is evidence that some activists will use any ploy to advance their agenda and increase donations.

UPDATE: In an interview yesterday published in the Victoria Times-Colonist (my home town) with photographer Nicklen stated:

“Nicklen is careful about drawing conclusions from his pictures, noting that many people look to poke holes in what’s being said about things like the disappearance of sea ice from the North.... “Ice is melting earlier every spring and freezing later every fall,” Nicklen said. “Bears are designed to go as much as two months without ice, but they are not designed to go four or five months without ice.  “Well, this [the video] is what it actually looks like when polar bears are stranded on land.”

Nicklen should do a bit more reading: polar bears in Western Hudson Bay routinely go four to five months without ice. Four months was normal in the good old days (ca. 1980) and almost five months in some recent years (Castro de la Guardia et al. 2017; Cherry et al. 2013; Ramsay and Stirling 1988; Stirling and Lunn 1997). WHB pregnant females spend 8 months or more on land with no ill effects that can conclusively be blamed on a slightly longer time without ice (Crockford 2017). Southern Hudson Bay polar bears spend a similar amount of time without ice (Obbard et al. 2016), see this post (with references).

REFERENCES

Amstrup, S.C. 2003. Polar bear (Ursus maritimus). In Wild Mammals of North America, G.A. Feldhamer, B.C. Thompson and J.A. Chapman (eds), pg. 587-610. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Castro de la Guardia, L., Myers, P.G., Derocher, A.E., Lunn, N.J., Terwisscha van Scheltinga, A.D. 2017. Sea ice cycle in western Hudson Bay, Canada, from a polar bear perspective. Marine Ecology Progress Series 564: 225–233. http://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v564/p225-233/

Cherry, S.G., Derocher, A.E., Thiemann, G.W., Lunn, N.J. 2013. Migration phenology and seasonal fidelity of an Arctic marine predator in relation to sea ice dynamics. Journal of Animal Ecology 82:912-921. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2656.12050/abstract

Crockford, S.J. 2017. Testing the hypothesis that routine sea ice coverage of 3-5 mkm2 results in a greater than 30% decline in population size of polar bears (Ursus maritimus). PeerJ Preprints 2 March 2017. Doi: 10.7287/peerj.preprints.2737v3 Open access. https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.2737v3

Obbard, M.E., Cattet, M.R.I., Howe, E.J., Middel, K.R., Newton, E.J., Kolenosky, G.B., Abraham, K.F. and Greenwood, C.J. 2016. Trends in body condition in polar bears (Ursus maritimus) from the Southern Hudson Bay subpopulation in relation to changes in sea ice. Arctic Science, in press. 10.1139/AS-2015-0027

Ramsay, M.A. and Stirling, I. 1988. Reproductive biology and ecology of female polar bears (Ursus maritimus). Journal of Zoology London 214:601-624.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1988.tb03762.x/abstract

Stirling, I. 2002. Polar bears and seals in the eastern Beaufort Sea and Amundsen Gulf: a synthesis of population trends and ecological relationships over three decades. Arctic 55 (Suppl. 1):59-76. http://arctic.synergiesprairies.ca/arctic/index.php/arctic/issue/view/42

Stirling, I. and Lunn, N.J. 1997. Environmental fluctuations in arctic marine ecosystems as reflected by variability in reproduction of polar bears and ringed seals. In Ecology of Arctic Environments, Woodin, S.J. and Marquiss, M. (eds), pg. 167-181. Blackwell Science, UK.

SOURCE



Does Bitcoin Really Cause Global Warming?

The green movement has found many things in modern life that cause global warming, but the latest really left us scratching our heads: Trading Bitcoins.

At this point it might be easier to ask, is there anything that doesn’t cause global warming?

No, it’s not a joke. Just about anything these days (Hat tip: The Daily Caller) even remotely connected to civilization, human flourishing, and comfort is, we’re told, a “cause” of global warming. It’s a crucial element of the Global Warming religion, which has only waxed even as real religion has waned.

Both Vox and The New Republic pointed out that in order to “mine” Bitcoins on the computer, it takes a lot of energy. The argument goes that, since most Bitcoins now are mined by Chinese citizens and since China derives a growing amount of its energy from cheap-but-dirty coal, Bitcoins are increasing the amount of CO2 in the air.

And more CO2 equals more warming, QED.

“Bitcoins are contributing to the warming of the atmosphere without providing a significant public benefit in return,” writes The New Republic’s Emily Atkin.

Of course, Atkin must possess special, recondite knowledge about exactly how warm the Earth should be at all times, and also about what precisely constitutes a “significant public benefit” from Bitcoins.

Meanwhile, over at Vox, warming worrier Umair Irfan frets that Bitcoin mining on the web uses huge amounts of energy, “on par with the energy use of the entire country of Morocco, more than 19 European countries, and roughly 0.7% of total energy demand in the United States, equal to 2.8 million U.S. households.”

Sounds like a lot. But the energy estimates he uses are in dispute, as Irfan, to his credit, points out.

The important point is that people find Bitcoins useful, or they wouldn’t exist. That’s one of the reasons why a single Bitcoin is today priced at over $16,000 — up from $1 in April of 2011.

With a global value now estimated a $167 billion, Bitcoins are clearly viewed as a worthwhile expenditure of time, money and energy.

Moreover, the total number of Bitcoins is, by rule, capped. So the amount of “mining” of Bitcoins on the internet — Bitcoins are “mined” when market participants use their own computer and a special algorithm to validate certain highly secure transactions, thereby earning Bitcoins for doing it — will at some point inevitably begin to decline. It will just take too much effort and cost too much.

Even so, these writers’ views really go to the heart of the global-warming belief system: Since human civilization requires lots of energy, and it does, everything associated with human civilization must cause global warming. Everything.

You can take this to its absurd ends, and that’s exactly what they do. Nothing humans do, no matter how valuable or life-enhancing it is, is immune from criticism.

Some global warmists would even forcibly limit population in order to prevent warming. Some have even wistfully hoped for a mass human extinction.

Of course, those who now issue jeremiads about the climate change threat posed by Bitcoins likely won’t give up their electric cars soon, which are only as clean as the power plants that charge them.

Nor will they stop flying on fuel-guzzling commercial jets to attend the next global-warming conference, wherever it is.

Nor will they stop swiping their ATM card at the local Starbucks to buy their daily triple-soy-latte, which, by requiring energy, also contributes to global warming.

No, the fact is, human civilization and all the wonderful things it entails requires massive amounts of energy to work. And that’s not bad: Next time you’re in a hospital or in an elevator in a super-tall building, give silent thanks for the steady, reliable supply of energy that helps make it all possible.

As for concerns about global warming, the science behind them is rather dubious. Even so, those concerns would pretty much disappear if the greenies would embrace the latest, and extremely safe, technology for nuclear energy.

It’s a nearly endless supply of clean electricity that produces no CO2. So the supposed “threat” of global warming could end, while the rest of us could keep our civilization. Win-win!

Meanwhile, for those of you in the Bitcoin world, don’t be green-shamed into stopping your activities. You’re not the real enemy of these warming fanatics; civilization is.

SOURCE





Keystone is anti-hydrocarbon zealotry in microcosm

Radical environmentalists prefer dangerous, inhumane, ecologically destructive alternatives

Paul Driessen

The Nebraska Public Service Commission (NPSC) recently voted to approve the state’s segment of the 1,200-mile Keystone XL Pipeline. While that would appear to allow construction to move forward, more obstacles loom before KXL can finally bring North Dakota and Canadian crude oil to Texas refineries.

Commissioners who voted against approval have raised objections, some landowners still object to the pipeline crossing their lands, other landowners were not aware that the new route will cross their properties, and environmentalists plan more lawsuits to stop TransCanada’s plans to finish Keystone.

Further complicating matters, the NSPC-approved route is not the company’s preferred path through the Cornhusker State. A spokesman said project engineers will have to assess how much the newly revised route will affect construction schedules and costs, on top of the $3 billion it already spent on KXL.

The imbroglio is a tiny facet of the ideological green movement’s implacable opposition to carbon-based energy. Rooted in climate change dogma, its “keep it in the ground” mantra has become a rallying cry for nasty campaigns against pipeline construction, existing pipelines, drilling and even sand destined for fracking operations. Police increasingly have to deal with masked thugs, mountains of toxic trash, murder threats and even the possibility of improvised bombs hidden in “peaceful protesters” encampments.

The attitudes and actions underscore the increasing power and recalcitrance of $13-billion-per-year Big Green industry, and how little fundamental facts affect its thinking. If the radicals believe there is an ecological or climate risk, they feel justified in using intimidation, criminal sanctions, and even force, violence and eco-terror to impose their will. Whatever they cannot make off limits via Antiquities Act, wilderness or other land use designations, they intend to lock up or shut down by other means.

The most delayed and litigated pipeline in U.S. history, KXL has stirred controversy for over a decade. Proponents say it is a necessary, safe, effective way to transport crude oil to refineries that produce fuel for vehicles and raw materials for countless petrochemical products. In fact, segments of Keystone have already been in operation for several years, delivering crude oil to refineries in Illinois and Texas.

A new, shorter, more direct route – Keystone XL, running diagonally through Wyoming, the Dakotas and Nebraska – would be less expensive and safer. The northern portions were approved years ago, but the Nebraska section encountered prolonged opposition from climate alarmists and President Obama.

TransCanada had already agreed to move the route away from environmentally sensitive wetlands known as the Nebraska Sandhills. The NPSC decision shifted the pipeline further away from Sandhills. Diehard opponents say all pipelines are inherently unsafe, prolong the use of “climate-damaging” fossil fuels, and will become obsolete relics as America shifts entirely to renewable energy in a utopian decade or so.

The United States already has 160,000 miles of liquid petroleum pipelines, 300,000 miles of natural gas transmission pipelines, and 2,200,000 miles of local gas distribution pipelines. Skilled builders will use the latest steel, valve, monitoring and other technologies to build the KXL segment and prevent spills.

No one can guarantee that spills will never occur. A recent older Keystone pipeline break in South Dakota caused a 5,000-barrel leak. However, the Keystone and KXL lines traverse mostly rural areas, whereas truck and rail alternatives go along busy, congested highways and through towns and urban areas – with far greater potential for loss of human life and property.

A fiery 2013 derailment in Quebec killed 47 people and left many more badly burned; rail accidents in Colorado and Virginia resulted in significant oil spills but fortunately no deaths. By carrying 830,000 barrels of light and heavy crude every day, Keystone XL would eliminate the need for 1,225 railroad tanker cars per day (450,000 per year) or 3,500 semi-trailer tanker trucks daily (1,275,000 annually)!

More than 99.9% of oil moved by pipeline arrives safely at its destination, the Wall Street Journal notes. Rail transit is 2.5 times more likely to have an accident resulting in an oil spill, and trucks are six times more likely to do so – with both far more likely to injure, burn or kill many people. Indeed, the 5,000-barrel spill happened after the Keystone pipeline had safely delivered more than 1.5 billion barrels of oil, and TransCanada isolated the affected pipeline section within 15 minutes. No serious damage occurred.

Equally important, wind and solar substitutes for fossil fuels have their own major ecological impacts – which few environmentalists ever acknowledge. Using wind power to replace current US electricity generation and charge batteries for just seven windless days of backup power would require some 14 million towering 1.8-MW bird-and-bat-killing turbines, across acreage twice the size of California. The backup power would require over 650 million 100-kWh Tesla battery packs on still more acreage.

This does not consider what it would take to replace vehicles with electric versions – or coal and gas fuel in foundries, refineries and factories. The steel, copper, lithium, cobalt, rare earth elements, fiberglass and other raw materials to build all those turbines, batteries and transmission lines would require massive quantities of earth removal, mining, processing, smelting and manufacturing – much of it in developing countries under dangerous, inhuman conditions. Renewable energy is not ecological or sustainable.

Activists who cry Climate Armageddon attempt to tie every temperature rise, hurricane and other extreme weather event to human greenhouse gas emissions. They ignore the record 12-year drought in Category 3-5 hurricanes striking the U.S. mainland, prior to Harvey – and the “warming hiatus” that has prevailed since 1998, except during the 2015-16 El Niño temperature spike.

Climate computer models falsely assume that plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide drives climate change … and predict average global temperatures a full 1 degree F higher than have actually been observed by satellites and weather balloons, a gap that is widening every year. It now appears that Western Antarctic ice shelf instability is due to volcanic and magmatic activity beneath it – not climate change.

Heavily subsidized, sporadic, unreliable wind and solar combined provide less than 3% of all U.S. energy. One day, they (or some other as yet unimaginable energy source) may replace the fossil fuels that still account for 81% of the energy that makes US livelihoods, living standards and life spans possible – and is lifting billions out of abject poverty, malnutrition and disease. But that day has not yet arrived.

Fossil fuels provide feed stocks for paints, plastics, pharmaceuticals and other products that enrich and safeguard our lives. They keep our lights, heat and air conditioning on, and power the manufacturing centers that create computers, smart phones, healthcare technologies, vehicles and batteries. They take patients to hospitals, people to work and events, products to retailers and homes.

They are the most efficient, most affordable power source for the modern civilization which we Americans enjoy and take for granted – and to which all humans aspire. Pipelines are the fastest, safest, most direct, most economical way to get oil and natural gas supplies where they are needed.

Keystone XL is a vital addition to America’s pipeline system. It’s not perfect. But it is essential for a healthier, safer, more prosperous United States. Building it will create tens of thousands of jobs.

As to handling anarchists who think they are above the law, these suggestions may help. Ensure that there are sufficient police and National Guardsmen to maintain control. Require permits and multi-million-dollar surety bonds for every encampment, to ensure safety, lawful activities, and cleanup of human and other wastes. Prohibit wearing of ski masks and collect IDs, fingerprints and photos of every activist.

To prevent hypocrisy in anti-fossil fuel anarchist camps, prohibit all petroleum-based synthetic fibers (clothing, tents, sleeping bags); clothing derived from fibers grown, harvested and/or manufactured using fossil fuels; computers and cell phones with plastic housings; and transportation from protest sites in vehicles fueled or manufactured with hydrocarbons, in aircraft, or on asphalt roadways.

Allow only growing, harvesting, garment manufacturing, food, cooking and travel using all-natural pre-1900 technologies – so that campers can learn how wonderful life was back in the “good old days.”

Via email





It is time to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard

Can King Corn be defeated?

By Printus LeBlanc

Two political powerhouses are getting ready to do battle. Texas and Louisiana are the hub of U.S. energy production, and Iowa and Nebraska are the hub of U.S. ethanol production. The two groups are battling over a law passed over a decade ago that made one region of the country the king of subsidies. Those subsidies are now putting pressure on large swaths of the economy and must be addressed.

On Dec. 1, Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt requesting a waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandate for Texas.

First, a quick primer on the RFS. In 2005, the RFS was established under the guise of helping the environment with the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The program requires fuel sold in the U.S. to contain a minimal amount of renewable fuels, the majority being corn ethanol. To track the renewable fuel, a Renewable Identification Number (RIN) is assigned to each batch of biofuel. The RINs count towards the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO), an amount designated to each refinery by the EPA.

Seems somewhat simple, but there is a problem for exporters and refiners that do not have the ability to blend. The rule for a gallon of ethanol consumed in the U.S. is different for a gallon consumed outside the country. The rule states, “if a gallon of ethanol is produced in the U.S. but consumed outside of the U.S., the RIN associated with that gallon is not valid for RFS compliance purposes since the RFS program is intended to require a specific volume of renewable fuel to be consumed in the U.S.”

The rule forces exporters of ethanol and fuel blended with ethanol to lose the RIN credit. The refiner had to purchase the credit to make the fuel, now has to buy another credit to go towards the RVO. This is the point of Governor Abbott’s letter.

The RINs have now become Wall Street speculators’ weapon. Big banks are buying the credits from producers and hoarding them in dark markets, driving up the price. The increase in cost is being passed up the supply chain.

RINs are having a detrimental effect on refiners across the nation. Many are spending more on RINs than labor. The cost has already caused one refinery to close in Delaware and is threatening a closure in Pennsylvania.

The cost is also being passed up the supply chain. Alex Holcomb, professor of finance at The University of Texas-El Paso, studied the impact of high RINs prices on employment nationwide, finding that: “The RIN mandate, as its currently structured, puts refiners at higher risk of bankruptcy, placing at risk a significant number of jobs that are tied to the refinery sector both directly and indirectly. As is usually the case in bankruptcy, workers end up suffering the most acute economic hardship, especially if they are unable to quickly find comparable re-employment. From steelworkers to truckers, to the men and women earning minimum wage at their local gas station, an estimated 75,000 to 150,000 American jobs are potentially at risk if U.S. independent refiners go out of business.”

However, there is a middle ground everyone can agree on. Allowing RINs attached to exported biofuels to be counted towards the RVO benefits almost everyone:

The refiners no longer must pay twice for RINs;

The corn producers still produce the same amount of corn, and will have greater access to overseas markets;

Increases American exports;

There is one group the compromise does not benefit, Wall Street speculators. Since they did such a bang-up job with the housing market, no one is worried about them not profiting from a compromise.

It would behoove King Corn to pay attention. Yes, they are a potent political force, but several influential groups are drifting together to oppose them. More and more studies being done show the RFS does more harm than good to the environment. Environmentalists are starting to turn on the mandate. King Corn could soon be facing a united front of environmentalists (California, Oregon and Washington) and refiners (Texas, Pennsylvania and Louisiana), a lot more than the four Senators and seven House members in Iowa and Nebraska.

For over a decade the corn lobby has been getting billions in subsidies. It is time for them to allow the EPA to level the playing field for all in the fuel business. No one is trying to remove the mandate, yet. Iowa and Nebraska should get on board with reforming the RFS for the good of every American.

SOURCE

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