Friday, April 27, 2018

More medical madness

A long-time correspondent writes as follows:

As a retired anesthesiologist I am embarrassed to say that my own colleagues have joined the greenie bandwagon.

Some of them want to "capture” nitrous oxide, a widely used anesthetic gas, to “save the earth".

The amounts of gas escaping are trivial, and the process would increase already inflated medical costs.


Global Warming Likely to Be 30 to 45 Percent Lower Than Climate Models Project:  Study

Climate researchers have spent decades trying to pin down the planet's equilibrium climate sensitivity. Also known by the initials ECS, that figure represents how much it would ultimately increase global average temperatures if the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubles above the pre-industrial level.

Figuring out the ECS has huge implications for policy. If future warming is at the low end, humanity has more time to adapt and to shift energy production away from the fossil fuels that are loading up the atmosphere with extra carbon dioxide. If at the high end, efforts to adapt and shift energy production to low-carbon sources would need to be speeded up. The current assessment of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that ECS is likely to be in the range of 1.5°C to 4.5°C, extremely unlikely to be less than 1°C, and very unlikely to be greater than 6°C.

But a new study in the Journal of Climate suggests that the IPCC's estimates are much too high. In calculating their rival figures, authors Nicholas Lewis and Judith Curry take into account historical atmospheric and ocean temperature trends since the mid-19th century. Their estimates also draw on new findings since 1990 of how atmospheric ozone and aerosols are likely to affect global temperature trends. (They also address other researchers' concerns about an earlier ECS study that they published in 2015.)

"Our results imply that, for any future emissions scenario, future warming is likely to be substantially lower than the central computer model-simulated level projected by the IPCC, and highly unlikely to exceed that level," Lewis says in a press release from the Global Warming Policy Forum.

How much lower? Their median ECS estimate of 1.66°C (5–95% uncertainty range: 1.15–2.7°C) is derived using globally complete temperature data. The comparable estimate for 31 current generation computer climate simulation models cited by the IPCC is 3.1°C. In other words, the models are running almost two times hotter than the analysis of historical data suggests that future temperatures will be.

In addition, the high-end estimate of Lewis and Curry's uncertainty range is 1.8°C below the IPCC's high-end estimate.

Lewis and Curry's estimates are in line with the similarly low estimates reported by climatologists Thorsten Mauritsen of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology and Robert Pincus of the University of Colorado in the July 2017 issue of Nature Climate Change. Using historical temperature data, those two researchers calculated an ECS of 1.5°C (0.9–3.6°C, 5th–95th percentile).

If these two studies turn out to be right, that will be good news for humanity.


If Solar And Wind Are So Cheap, Why Are They Making Electricity So Expensive?

Renewables are only cheap relative to their maximum output.  But their normal output is only a small fraction of that

Over the last year, the media have published story after story after story about the declining price of solar panels and wind turbines.

People who read these stories are understandably left with the impression that the more solar and wind energy we produce, the lower electricity prices will become.

And yet that’s not what’s happening. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Between 2009 and 2017, the price of solar panels per watt declined by 75 percent while the price of wind turbines per watt declined by 50 percent.

And yet — during the same period — the price of electricity in places that deployed significant quantities of renewables increased dramatically.

Electricity prices increased by:

51 percent in Germany during its expansion of solar and wind energy from 2006 to 2016;

24 percent in California during its solar energy build-out from 2011 to 2017;

over 100 percent in Denmark since 1995 when it began deploying renewables (mostly wind) in earnest.

What gives? If solar panels and wind turbines became so much cheaper, why did the price of electricity rise instead of decline?

One hypothesis might be that while electricity from solar and wind became cheaper, other energy sources like coal, nuclear, and natural gas became more expensive, eliminating any savings, and raising the overall price of electricity.

But, again, that’s not what happened.

The price of natural gas declined by 72 percent in the U.S. between 2009 and 2016 due to the fracking revolution. In Europe, natural gas prices dropped by a little less than half over the same period.

The price of nuclear and coal in those place during the same period was mostly flat.

Another hypothesis might be that the closure of nuclear plants resulted in higher energy prices.

Evidence for this hypothesis comes from the fact that nuclear energy leaders Illinois, France, Sweden and South Korea enjoy some of the cheapest electricity in the world.

Since 2010, California closed one nuclear plant (2,140 MW installed capacity) while Germany closed 5 nuclear plants and 4 other reactors at currently-operating plants (10,980 MW in total).

Electricity in Illinois is 42 percent cheaper than electricity in California while electricity in France is 45 percent cheaper than electricity in Germany.

But this hypothesis is undermined by the fact that the price of the main replacement fuels, natural gas and coal, remained low, despite increased demand for those two fuels in California and Germany.

That leaves us with solar and wind as the key suspects behind higher electricity prices. But why would cheaper solar panels and wind turbines make electricity more expensive?

The main reason appears to have been predicted by a young German economist in 2013. In a paper for Energy Policy, Leon Hirth estimated that the economic value of wind and solar would decline significantly as they become a larger part of electricity supply.

The reason? Their fundamentally unreliable nature. Both solar and wind produce too much energy when societies don’t need it, and not enough when they do.

Solar and wind thus require that natural gas plants, hydro-electric dams, batteries or some other form of reliable power be ready at a moment’s notice to start churning out electricity when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining.

And unreliability requires solar- and/or wind-heavy places like Germany, California and Denmark to pay neighboring nations or states to take their solar and wind energy when they are producing too much of it.

Hirth predicted that the economic value of wind on the European grid would decline 40 percent once it becomes 30 percent of electricity while the value of solar would drop by 50 percent when it got to just 15 percent.

In 2017, the share of electricity coming from wind and solar was 53 percent in Denmark, 26 percent in Germany, and 23 percent in California. Denmark and Germany have the first and second most expensive electricity in Europe.

By reporting on the declining costs of solar panels and wind turbines but not on how they increase electricity prices, journalists are — intentionally or unintentionally — misleading policymakers and the public about those two technologies. 

The Los Angeles Times last year reported that California’s electricity prices were rising, but failed to connect the price rise to renewables, provoking a sharp rebuttal from UC Berkeley economist James Bushnell. 

“The story of how California’s electric system got to its current state is a long and gory one,” Bushnell wrote, but “the dominant policy driver in the electricity sector has unquestionably been a focus on developing renewable sources of electricity generation.”

Part of the problem is that many reporters don’t understand electricity. They think of electricity as a commodity when it is, in fact, a service — like eating at a restaurant.

The price we pay for the luxury of eating out isn’t just the cost of the ingredients most of which which, like solar panels and wind turbines, have declined for decades.

Rather, the price of services like eating out and electricity reflect the cost not only of a few ingredients but also their preparation and delivery.

This is a problem of bias, not just energy illiteracy. Normally skeptical journalists routinely give renewables a pass. The reason isn’t because they don’t know how to report critically on energy — they do regularly when it comes to non-renewable energy sources — but rather because they don’t want to.

That could — and should — change. Reporters have an obligation to report accurately and fairly on all issues they cover, especially ones as important as energy and the environment.

A good start would be for them to investigate why, if solar and wind are so cheap, they are making electricity so expensive.


Germany’s Wind Energy Mess: As Subsidies Expire, Thousands Of Turbines To Shut Down…Environmental Nightmare!

As older turbines see subsidies expire, thousands are expected to be taken offline due to lack of profitability. Green nightmare: Wind park operators eye shipping thousands of tons of wind turbine litter to third world countries – and leaving their concrete rubbish in the ground.

The Swiss national daily Baseler Zeitung here recently reported how Germany’s wind industry is facing a potential “abandonment”.

Approvals tougher to get

This is yet another blow to Germany’s Energiewende (transition to green energies). A few days ago I reported here how the German solar industry had seen a monumental jobs-bloodbath and investments had been slashed to a tiny fraction of what they once had been.

Over the years Germany has made approvals for new wind parks more difficult as the country reels from an unstable power grid and growing protests against the blighted landscapes and health hazards.

Now that the wind energy boom has ended, the Baseler Zeitung reports that “the shutdown of numerous wind turbines could soon lead to a drop in production” after having seen years of ruddy growth.

Subsidies for old turbines run out

Today a large number of Germany’s 29,000 total turbines nationwide are approaching 20 years old and for the most part they are outdated.

Worse: the generous subsidies granted at the time of their installation are slated to expire soon and thus make them unprofitable. After 2020, thousands of these turbines will lose their subsidies with each passing year, which means they will be taken offline and mothballed.

The Baseler Zeitung writes:

In many cases the earnings will not be able to cover the continued operation costs of the turbines. After 20 years of operation, the turbines require more maintenance and some expensive repairs.”

The Baseler Zeitung adds that some 5700 turbines with an installed capacity of 45 MW will see their subsidies run out by 2020. The Swiss daily reports further:

The German Windenergie federal association estimates that approximately 14,000 megawatts of installed capacity will lose their subsidies by 2023, which is more than a quarter of the German wind energy capacity.”

So with new turbines coming online only slowly, it’s entirely possible that wind energy output in Germany will recede in the coming years, thus making the country appear even less serious about climate protection.

Wind turbine dump in Africa?

So what happens to the old turbines that will get taken offline?

Windpark owners hope to send their scrapped wind turbine clunkers to third world buyers, Africa for example. But if these buyers instead opt for new energy systems, then German wind park operators will be forced to dismantle and recycle them – a costly endeavor, the Baseler Zeitung  reports.

Impossible to recycle composite materials

The problem here are the large blades, which are made of fiberglass composite materials and whose components cannot be separated from each other.  Burning the blades is extremely difficult, toxic and energy-intensive. So naturally there’s a huge incentive for German wind park operators to dump the old contraptions onto third world countries, and to let them deal later with the garbage.

Sweeping garbage under the rug

Next the Baseler Zeitung brings up the disposal of the massive 3000-tonne reinforced concrete turbine base, which according to German law must be removed.

Some of these concrete bases reach depths of 20 meters and penetrate multiple ground layers, the Baseler Zeitung reports, adding:

The complete removal of the concrete base can quickly run up to several hundreds of thousands of euros. Many wind park operators have not made the corresponding provisions for this expense.”

Already wind park operators are circumventing this huge expense by only removing the top two meters of the concrete and steel base, and then hiding the rest with a layer of soil, the Baseler writes.

In the end most of the concrete base will remain as garbage buried in the ground, and the above-ground turbine litter will likely get shipped to third world countries.

That’s Germany’s Energiewende and contribution to protecting the environment and climate!


Australia Set To Have Its Coldest Winter On Record

While we've all been freezing our arses off in the Northern hemisphere over the past few months, folk in Australia have been busy enjoying the summer sun and sticking shrimp on the barbie.

Well, Aussies, it's probably time to invest in some thermals - the land down under is set to be hit by its coldest winter on record, an amateur weather forecaster has confirmed.

David Taylor, who runs the East Coast Weather Facebook page, has said that temperatures and snowfall may be worse than previous years and impact huge swathes of the country, the Daily Mail has reported.

"It will be slightly cooler than normal in the north but the real cold will be in the southern states and southeast Queensland," Taylor told the Cairns Post. "I wouldn't be surprised if there is snow in places where it hasn't snowed for a long time."

Taylor makes his forecast using a formula which considers changes in sunspot activity, Global Forecast System modelling, and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast.

If you're wondering why you should listen to the advice of some bloke off Facebook, Taylor has been right about meteorlogical events in the recent past - putting his success down to his sunspot tracking.

Taylor was the only person to correctly predict the massive weather event that hit Townsville last week which saw the north-east coast hit with 600m of rain on 28 February.

He also predicted that this week a 'decent cyclone' will cross the Queensland coast between Cairns and Gladstone, backing his assertion up by pointing to other forecasters who are saying the same thing. "It's looking pretty scary," he said.

Europe and America have already endured a hard winter this year with huge parts of the world seeing historic amounts of snowfall and freezing temperatures.

Back in January, Storm Grayson battered the eastern coast of the United States, sending temperatures in some areas plummeting to an unfathomable -69C.

The arrival of the 'bomb cyclone' brought with it a massive blizzard, freezing lakes and rivers across the north-east of the US and making -39C temperatures feel twice as cold due to icy winds.

The weather was so cold that it even temporarily froze Niagara Falls, turning the famous waterfalls into giant icicles.

Over the past few weeks Europe's been bearing the brunt of the weather too thanks to the arrival of Storm Emma and the Beast from the East.

The weather was so bad in the UK that the Met Office were forced to announce red severe weather warnings for snow, high winds and ice in some areas - the first time that's happened since 2013.




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


Thursday, April 26, 2018

A global warming manifesto in a medical journal

Under the heading "Health, Faith, and Science on a Warming Planet" the manifesto below appeared in JAMA for no apparent reason.  It appears to be authored by an Hispanic Catholic, an American Jew and a South Indian -- so maybe that is meant to be an impressive "consensus"

It is basically a religious document. It makes no mention of any scientific fact that would indicate global warming but relies entirely on appeals to authority -- in this case the opinions promulgated by various scientific societies.

With solid brass hypocrisy, however they declare that "disciplined, critical thinking, and an unfailing commitment to distinguish what is verifiable from what is not" characterizes the way they work.  But they show no sign of it.

What for instance do their critical faculties make of the long hiatus from 1945 to 1975 (where temperatures flatlined --  showed no upwards trend) precisely at the time they should have been soaring -- when CO2 levels were soaring as an outcome of post-WW2 industrialization.  Clearly such a spectacular departure -- 30 years is no "blip" -- from what Global Warming theory predicts does not bother them.  They pay lip-service to scholarship and science but in practice ignore it. They are intellectual pygmies. Platitudes are the best they can do

Global change presents humanity with unprecedented challenges. Climate change, altered natural cycles, and pollution of air, water, and biota threaten the very conditions on which human civilization has depended for the last 12 000 years. While human health is better now than ever before in human history, climate change is undermining many public health advances of the last century and ultimately may be associated with the unprecedented extinction of species. The increasing gap between the wealthy and poor—already unconscionable, and the cause of profound preventable morbidity and mortality—amplifies the effects of climate change on health and deepens health disparities.

These challenges call for global collaboration. Innovative partnerships are essential. The emerging alignment of health professionals, climate scientists, and the faith community is one such partnership. This alignment is based on a great deal of common ground.

First, there are certain truths. This is a time when many people are questioning even established facts. Untruths are promulgated with disturbing frequency and are disseminated efficiently through social media. But disciplined, critical thinking, and an unfailing commitment to distinguish what is verifiable from what is not, characterize the best of the health, science, and faith communities.

Second, scientific evidence is a primary basis for distinguishing what is verifiable from what is not. Science is both an epistemology (ie, a way to establish truth) and a set of institutional arrangements, including universities and research institutes, science academies, expert committees, and government science advisors. Scientific evidence provides invaluable policy guidance to political leaders, to members of the public, and to religious leaders. In the United States, for example, the National Academies have provided extensive guidance on climate science and on the influence of climate change on human health and well-being.1 The Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican, which was founded in 1936 by Pope Pius XI but which traces its origins to the much older Accademia dei Lincei (established in 1603 and led by Galileo Galilei), has a similar important role. For example, the Academy provided scientific support to the 2015 Papal encyclical, Laudato Si’, which laid out a global approach to environmental stewardship. Laudato Si’ identified climate change as “one of the principal challenges facing humanity,” recognized the grave implications for health and equity, and grounded this assessment in “the scientific consensus that changes in the climate are largely man-made.”2

Third, “with unchecked climate change and air pollution, the very fabric of life on Earth, including that of humans, is at grave risk.”3(p5) Data collected in recent years have revealed that worldwide warming can expose billions of people to deadly heat waves, floods, droughts, and fires. The pollutants released by the burning of fossil fuels and nonrenewable biomass that lead to climate change are associated with an estimated 7 million premature deaths each year.4 In response, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences convened a group of political and faith leaders, climate scientists, and public health experts in 2017, to review data on health effects of climate change. The group affirmed the seriousness of the threat. It proposed scalable solutions such as transitioning to a decarbonized energy system, providing financial support to poor nations for climate adaptation, and ending deforestation. The group also recommended an alliance of scientists, policy makers, private donors, and faith leaders to implement these solutions.

Fourth, there is a role for reverence and awe. These responses may come more easily to religious than to scientific thought, but in truth they are common to both domains. “You must have experienced it, too,” Werner Heisenberg wrote to Albert Einstein, “One is almost frightened in front of the simplicity and compactness of the interconnections that nature all of a sudden spreads before him and for which he was not in the least prepared.”5(p108) The impulse to address climate change, to protect people, and to seek justice is not only a response to danger. It also reflects profound appreciation for the sanctity of individuals, the beauty of community, the gift of health, and the majesty of the natural world.

Fifth, there is a moral obligation to safeguard the earth for future generations. Scientists, health professionals, and people of faith all understand that contemporary actions have future consequences. Climate scientists model and forecast these consequences. Health professionals understand them through the lenses of genetics and epigenetic effects. Religious traditions are grounded in the intergenerational transmission of faith and values. Together, these perspectives support a robust moral claim that each generation has a responsibility to the generations that follow.6

Sixth, there is a moral obligation to care for the most vulnerable. Health professionals recognize that social inequities are among the strongest predictors of poor health. The world’s major religious traditions, even if they interpret God in different ways, must share a commitment to human dignity, the pursuit of justice and peace, and the exercise of charity, and must act together accordingly. Pope Francis’s reminder that “there is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor”7 is as clear and compelling, in its domain, as are the health data in their domain. All people are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, but the poor and disenfranchised are especially vulnerable.8 Strategies for climate mitigation and adaptation, for health promotion and disease prevention, and for economic and social development, must center on serving these populations.

These 6 areas of common ground represent a broad and deep foundation, and a powerful opportunity. They establish a path to innovative and productive partnerships among health professionals, scientists, and the faith community as they work together safeguarding both the global environment and human health—and leveraging their moral authority, expertise, and influence—to address climate change urgently, effectively, and equitably.


American Ingenuity Defies Carbon Emissions Orthodoxy

"No major industrial economy on Earth has made as much progress as the U.S." in reducing emissions

A few months ago The Washington Post begrudgingly reported, “Countries made only modest climate-change promises in Paris. They’re falling short anyway.” As we noted at the time, there’s absolutely nothing surprising about the report because the entire Paris Climate Accords façade was predicated on a pipe dream. That’s why President Donald Trump dumped it.

In a free market like the one upon which America was built, innovation, not reckless government mandates, must be the policy centerpiece of the economy. Maintaining a clean environment is important, no doubt, but statist decrees will inevitably do more harm than good.

The benefits of natural human innovation are far too often taken for granted. That’s a shame because much heartache could otherwise be avoided — including when it comes to emissions control. According to Investor’s Business Daily, “The latest report from the Environmental Protection Agency shows that the emission of so-called greenhouse gases declined by 2% in 2016 from 2015 and 11% from 2005. No major industrial economy on Earth has made as much progress as the U.S. And no, we’re not claiming this as a victory for Donald Trump or anyone else in government. It’s due to fracking and the replacement of high-CO2 fuels like coal with far-cleaner natural gas.”

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt succinctly responded, “This report confirms the president’s critics are wrong again: One-size-fits-all regulations like the Clean Power Plan or misguided international agreements like the Paris Accords are not the solution. The U.S. has reduced greenhouse gas emissions more than any country on Earth over the last decade.”

Moreover, he proclaimed, “American ingenuity and technological breakthroughs, not top-down government mandates, have made the U.S. the world leader in achieving energy dominance while reducing emissions — one of the great environmental successes of our time.”

For the record, foreign nations are actually purchasing U.S. coal at increasing rates, with nearly 100 million short tons of it being shipped from the U.S. in 2017. However, this is a mutually beneficial arrangement — it bolsters the U.S. economy while helping foreign nations meet their energy needs, which, ironically, underscores just how flawed the Paris accord is; these foreign nations’ energy problems were mostly created by their reliance on renewables.

But it gets even better: These countries’ embrace of U.S. coal in the meantime will hopefully put them on a path toward finding their own innovative solutions to carbon emissions like we are here in the U.S. As Investor’s adds, “American companies are reducing our greenhouse gas output without being ordered to do so by dictatorial green bureaucrats. That’s a lesson the rest of the world could learn from.” The results speak for themselves.


An Earth Day Meditation for Millennials

April 22 marks Earth Day and millennials might think it goes back at least 100 years, or maybe all the way to the nation’s founding. Actually, Earth Day started only 48 years ago in 1970, but it was an occasion of significance. As Randy Simmons, Ryan M. Yonk and Kenneth J. Sim showed in Nature Unbound: Bureaucracy versus the Environment, Earth Day launched the modern environmental movement. The core belief of this movement was that human beings were a kind of invasive species and that if humans are not around, nature returns to a pristine state of harmony and balance. As the authors show, disturbance and change, not balance and harmony, best describe nature.

Earth Day prompted legislators to pass the Clean Water Act (1972), the Clean Air Act (1973), the Endangered Species Act (1973) and to create bureaucracies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, with a current budget of $6.1 billion. This Earth Day, millennials might ponder how in 2015 the EPA spilled three million gallons of toxic wastewater in southern Colorado’s Animas River, polluting an entire river system and creating a certified ecological disaster. Millennials might wonder why EPA boss Gina McCarthy did not get fired. That is because, whatever damage they may cause to the environment, federal agencies are essentially a no-fire zone, with little if any accountability. So powerful bureaucracies and their unelected bosses are not exactly worthy of celebration.

All age groups might think of Earth Day as a religious holiday because it hails a kind of fundamentalist pantheism. In effect, it immanentizes the eschaton with a secular version of Biblical prophecies. This new religion also issues commandments that have little to do with empirical inquiry and marshals considerable hostility to human rights, especially property rights.

As Nature Unbound shows, human beings are part of nature. The environment does better when public policy respects that reality and protects property rights instead of violating them. When Earth Day recognizes that reality, it will truly be worthy of celebration.


Geophysical, archaeological, and historical evidence support a solar-output model for climate change

Charles A. Perry and Kenneth J. Hsu


Although the processes of climate change are not completely understood, an important causal candidate is variation in total solar output. Reported cycles in various climate-proxy data show a tendency to emulate a fundamental harmonic sequence of a basic solar-cycle length (11 years) multiplied by 2N (where N equals a positive or negative integer). A simple additive model for total solar-output variations was developed by superimposing a progression of fundamental harmonic cycles with slightly increasing amplitudes. The timeline of the model was calibrated to the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary at 9,000 years before present. The calibrated model was compared with geophysical, archaeological, and historical evidence of warm or cold climates during the Holocene. The evidence of periods of several centuries of cooler climates worldwide called “little ice ages,” similar to the period anno Domini (A.D.) 1280–1860 and reoccurring approximately every 1,300 years, corresponds well with fluctuations in modeled solar output. A more detailed examination of the climate sensitive history of the last 1,000 years further supports the model. Extrapolation of the model into the future suggests a gradual cooling during the next few centuries with intermittent minor warmups and a return to near little-ice-age conditions within the next 500 years. This cool period then may be followed approximately 1,500 years from now by a return to altithermal conditions similar to the previous Holocene Maximum.

The debate on the cause and the amount of global warming and its effect on global climates and economics continues. As world population continues its exponential growth, the potential for catastrophic effects from climate change increases. One previously neglected key to understanding global climate change may be found in examining events of world history and their connection to climate fluctuations.

Climate fluctuations have long been noted as being cyclical in nature, and many papers have been published on this topic (1). These fluctuations also can be quite abrupt (2) when climate displays a surprisingly fast transition from one state to another. Possible causes of the cyclic variations and abrupt transitions at different time intervals have been theorized. These theories include internal drivers such as CO2 concentrations (3), ocean temperature and salinity properties (4), as well as volcanism and atmospheric-transmissivity variations (5). External drivers include astronomical factors such as the Milankovitch orbital parameters (6), which recently have been challenged (7), and variations in the Sun's energy output (8–10).

The most direct mechanism for climate change would be a decrease or increase in the total amount of radiant energy reaching the Earth. Because only the orbital eccentricity aspect of the Milankovitch theory can account for a change in the total global energy and this change is of the order of only a maximum of 0.1% (11), one must look to the Sun as a possible source of larger energy fluctuations. Earth-satellite measurements in the last two decades have revealed that the total energy reaching the Earth varies by at least 0.1% over the 10- to 11-year solar cycle (12). Evidence of larger and longer term variations in solar output can be deduced from geophysical data (13–17).

In an extensive search of the literature pertaining to geophysical and astronomical cycles ranging from seconds to millions of years, Perry (18) demonstrated that the reported cycles fell into a recognizable pattern when standardized according to fundamental harmonics. An analysis of the distribution of 256 reported cycles, when standardized by dividing the length of each cycle, in years, by 2N (where N is a positive or negative integer) until the cycle length fell into a range of 7.5 to 15 years, showed a central tendency of 11.1 years. The average sunspot-cycle length for the period 1700 to 1969 is also 11.1 years (19). In fact, the distribution of the sunspot cycles is very nearly the same as the distribution of the fundamental cycles of other geophysical and astronomical cycles. Aperiodicity of the cycles was evident in two side modes of 9.9 and 12.2 years for the geophysical and astronomical cycles and 10.0 and 12.1 years for the sunspot cycle. The coincidence of these two patterns suggests that solar-activity cycles and their fundamental harmonics may be the underlying cause of many climatic cycles that are preserved in the geophysical record. Gauthier (20) noted a similar unified structure in Quaternary climate data that also followed a fundamental harmonic progression (progressive doubling of cycle length) from the 11-year sunspot data to the major 90,000-year glacial cycle.


Wind turbines delivering next to nothing to Australian grid despite hysteria

Are we completely insane? Well, almost our entire political class and the overwhelming majority of – self-believing – “clever people” seemingly certainly are.

As I write this Wednesday evening, all those wonderful “clean” wind turbines across Victoria and South Australia are pumping out all of 30MW of electricity.

They are supposed to have the capacity to produce more than 3400MW – that’s 1½ Hazelwoods. They were operating at less than 1 per cent of capacity.

How many times do you have to say and write “when the wind don’t blow (and the sun don’t shine) the power don’t flow” to break through the thick skulls of “clever people” from PMs and premiers, through company chairman and CEOs being paid salaries in the millions and all the way down to academics and media idiots?

If the wind doesn’t blow then no power is generated.

Oh wait, sorry; all those turbines across SA and Victoria have now kicked up to producing 74MW. That’s a much more impressive 2 per cent of capacity.

Supply – more accurately, non supply – of electricity is one aspect of the insanity. The other is price. The wholesale price in SA was running at over $130 a MW hour. Victorians were doing a little better at around $108 a MW hour.

As the wind picked up, the SA price plummeted to $126 a MWh and Victoria’s to $106.

In the “bad old days” – all the way back to around 2000 – when we had wicked old, coal-fired power stations chugging away reliably pumping out electricity, irrespective of wind and sun, we paid $20-$30 a MWh, day in and day out.

It was so terribly boring – there’s so much more excitement, indeed real frisson, when prices can change by as much as that in a matter of minutes, as the wind chooses to blow or not.

And of course back then Gaia was crying tears of blood.

Never mind, as the AFR’s renewables (and Tesla) fanboy Ben Potter breathlessly informed us this week, a mammoth 9691 megawatts of new wind and solar capacity would be added to the national energy market by the early 2020s.

One can assume that Potter is as mathematically challenged as energy minister Josh Frydenberg; that like most of our 2018 “clever people” they’ve never had explained to them that any number multiplying zero still gives you zero.

We now have 3400MW of installed – OK, I’ll go along with the joke and call it – “capacity” – wind in Victoria and SA. As I wrote, that was producing all of 30MW, according to the market operator AEMO.

You can add that mammoth 9691MW, but if the wind is blowing as the same gentle zephyr, you’ll kick the relative output up to all of 115 MW.

Pity, that Victoria and SA alone need around 7500MW pretty much every hour, all day. Although, true, presumably the two states will need less by the early 2020s as more and more factories are shuttered as a consequence of crippling power prices.

To emphasise for Josh and Ben and all the others “clever people”/idiots: if you’ve got 3400MW of wind “capacity” and the wind don’t blow you will get zero or close to zero electricity.

You can have 13,000 MW of wind “capacity” and if the wind don’t blow you will still get zero or close to zero electricity.




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, April 25, 2018

It's no small irony that Nelson founded "Earth Day" on the centenary of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin's birthday 

Today is Earth Day, the ecofascists’ favorite day of the year. Here are some excerpts from Mark Alexander’s 2010 essay on the real origin and use of this socialist celebration.

It’s that time of year again — that time when the northern hemisphere will be warming, as it has for millions of years, except during ice ages.

Since most of the world’s industrial capacity and economic wealth is located north of the equator, this means that the now-perennial onset of global warming hysteria is about to sprout into full bloom.

On 22 April 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) founded “Earth Day” in order to launch an annual “teach in” about conservation and environmental concerns.

Of course, conservation is not a bad word — it even shares the same root word as “conservative.” Indeed, our family makes every effort to use energy and resources wisely. The “waste not, want not” principle is good economic practice.

However, the Left’s motives for “Earth Day” don’t stop at educating folks about conservation and environmental preservation. Those objectives provide cover for a much more sinister purpose — using ecological concern to justify all manner of government regulation and intervention.

It’s no small irony that Nelson founded “Earth Day” on the centenary of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s birthday, as it was the impetus for creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Nelson modeled his anti-capitalist protests after anti-Vietnam War demonstrations of that era, and the so-called “environmental movement” he helped spawn has devolved from a pack of unwashed adolescent peaceniks and malcontents into a slick, influential and well funded cadre of Lefty politicos. (This would be the same movement that protested against nuclear energy, which yields no carbon dioxide as a byproduct of energy production.)

Nelson’s cadre has managed, by way of the EPA, to implement an enormous hidden tax burden on the American people — more than a trillion dollars last year — in the form of runaway environmental regulations, which surreptitiously increase the prices of products and services.

And as far as climate change?

Bottom line: Human activity does affect the climate. Every time you exhale CO2, you increase the concentration of that minuscule greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, but if you want to make a positive impact upon the environment, don’t hold your breath. Roll up your sleeves and promote liberty and free enterprise, because, per capita, it is the free nations of the world that have the cleanest environments, and those with Socialist governments that have the worst.


The Connection Between Russia and 2 Green Groups Fighting Fracking in US

New Yorkers who are missing out on the natural gas revolution could be victims of Russian spy operations that fund popular environmental groups, current and former U.S. government officials and experts on Russia worry.

Natural gas development of the celebrated Marcellus Shale deposits has spurred jobs and other economic growth in neighboring Pennsylvania. But not in New York, which nearly 10 years ago banned the process of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, to produce natural gas.

Two environmental advocacy groups that successfully lobbied against fracking in New York each received more than $10 million in grants from a foundation in California that got financial support from a Bermuda company congressional investigators linked to the Russians, public documents show.

The environmental groups Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club Foundation received millions of dollars in grants from the San Francisco-based Sea Change Foundation.

“Follow the money trail, and this [New York] ban on fracking could be viewed as an example of successful Russian espionage,” Ken Stiles, a CIA veteran of 29 years who now teaches at Virginia Tech, told The Daily Signal.

To Stiles and other knowledgeable observers, this looks like an actual case of knowing or unknowing collusion with Russia.

Both Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club Foundation also accepted tens of millions from the Energy Foundation, the top recipient of grants from Sea Change, according to foundation and tax records.

When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, renewed his state’s ban on fracking three years ago, the Natural Resources Defense Council issued a statement supporting the ban. So did the Sierra Club, the primary recipient of grants from its sister organization, the Sierra Club Foundation.

Environmental activists associated with the groups receiving Sea Change Foundation grants continued to pressure Cuomo and other public officials to maintain and expand New York’s fracking ban.

Most recently, the two environmental groups scored another victory when the Delaware River Basin Commission, an interstate regulatory agency that includes the governors of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, proposed a ban on fracking within the Delaware River Basin cutting across all four states.

The Sierra Club and the Natural Resource Defense Council have pressed the regional commission to impose the ban, issuing statements (here and here) calling for  restrictions that are tighter than what the commission proposed.

PennEast Pipeline Co. is set to begin construction on a 120-mile-long pipeline to transport natural gas from the Marcellus Shale across Eastern Pennsylvania into New Jersey. In a new public relations campaign, PennEast asks New Jersey residents if they would rather obtain their energy from Pennsylvania or Russia.

PennEast cites media reports describing how anti-pipeline policies in Massachusetts forced the state into a position where it had to rely on Russian imports of liquified natural gas during peak cold periods this past winter.

More HERE 

Hit climate target or we will ditch your shares: LGIM's threat to dirty companies

Good for private investors who get cheaper shares.  No concern to a company who holds it's shares

One of Europe’s biggest investment managers is preparing to name and shame companies which behave unsustainably – and to ditch billions of pounds of investment in their shares.

Legal and General Investment Management (LGIM), which manages assets worth almost £1 trillion, has stepped up efforts to push the firms in which it invests to clean up their act with a "climate change pledge".

Those who have done well will be "named and famed" next month, said Helena Morrissey, LGIM's head of personal investing. But those who have not listened to the investor will be named and shamed. On top of that, some LGIM funds will dump their shares.

“We work with 90 or so of the world’s largest companies across six sectors whose actions we think will have the biggest implications for climate change in the future,” she told the City Week conference.

“Next month we will be naming and faming, and naming and shaming. The reason we are shaming [the worst performers] is that we gave them a number of years and they did not take any notice.

“There comes a time when we should vote with our feet. We will be divesting from those companies.”

LGIM will initially apply the policy to its entire "future fund" range. It comes as part of a growing campaign to improve corporate behaviour.

Last week LGIM said it would vote against the chairman of any company in the FTSE 350 if female directors make up less than 25pc of the board – bringing personal pressure on the top names at the biggest companies in the country.

Ms Morrissey said the aim is to be both profitable and socially effective.

“Climate change risk is a financial risk – in the last six years, coal companies have lost 75pc of their value,” she said.

She cited the example of HSBC UK which moved its default defined contribution pension scheme to LGIM on the basis that it could simultaneously get strong returns while meeting environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets in its investments.

LGIM is not alone in moving in this direction. Last week Deutsche Bank published a major report showing that investors who use ESG criteria outperform those who invest in companies which fail to meet those non-financial goals.

Earlier this year a UBS study found that investors backing companies with a strong female presence at senior levels will outperform those who do not.

Meanwhile Lord Blackwell, the chairman of Lloyds Banking Group, told the conference that access to EU markets is “not life and death” for Britain’s financial services sector, and that the UK should avoid becoming a rule-taker from an EU which is “less friendly” towards finance.

While trading across the Channel “is important”, it represents just 20pc of the City’s work, the veteran financier said, with domestic business and global non-EU trade both being substantially more important.

In retail and small business banking, Lord Blackwell said the UK may well want to diverge from EU rules – which should not overly concern Brussels as it relates almost entirely to domestic industry.

Corporate and investment banking is a more international business, but even here the Lloyds’ chairman believes the UK would not be sunk without a Brexit deal, as major European companies can use their British operations to access the City.

He did, however, warn of “very significant costs” to the UK and EU if no deal is reached on financial infrastructure for clearing houses and settlement operations.

“The UK will need to be wary of seeking equivalence under a regime that makes the UK adopt all the EU’s directives, as the EU without the UK may have a less friendly attitude towards market activities,” he said.

“The UK’s primary objective must be to preserve its global competitiveness, even if that means some loss of activity in Europe in the long-term.”


Solar panels could be a source of GenX and other perflourinated contaminants

A scientist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency confirmed Friday that certain perfluorinated compounds are used in the production of solar panels. In response to a request from the North State Journal, EPA physical scientist Dr. Mark J. Strynar provided 39 records from the SciFinder database used by the EPA to identify applications of PFAS (perfluorinated alkylated substances) with solar panels.

“It appears PFAS are included in solar panel production and thus have the capacity to be sources of PFAS,” Strynar said, via e-mail, after reviewing the records.

Strynar and colleague Andy Lindstrom started research five years ago that first identified GenX contamination in the Cape Fear area downstream from a DuPont chemical plant that operated from the 1970s until 2015. The discovery sparked public outrage in the Wilmington area, resulted in multiple lawsuits over GenX contamination, and the N.C. General Assembly passed a bill to address GenX contamination.

When asked if solar panels contain GenX, Strynar explained that GenX technically is not a chemical but rather a chemical process. The GenX process produces two PFAS compounds commonly referred to as FRD903 and FRD902. Stryman also confirmed that the GenX chemicals are included in the broad classification of PFAS compounds.

According to the EPA, PFASs (which include GenX precursers PFOA and PFOS and the GenX chemical) are a class of man-made chemicals not found naturally in the environment. PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. Both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body when exposure occurs. Because the chemicals help reduce friction, they are also used by a variety of industries such as aerospace, automotive, construction and electronics factories or businesses. The long-term health effect of chemicals related to the GenX process in humans is unknown, but studies submitted to the EPA by DuPont from 2006 to 2013 show that it caused tumors and reproductive problems in lab animals.

According to a report provided by the EPA, the GenX chemicals are used as processing aids in the manufacture of Teflon PTFE and Teflon FEP by Chemours. DuPont markets Teflon films for photovoltaic modules that contain Teflon PTFE and Teflon FEP. Chemours was founded in July 2015 as a spinoff from DuPont.

Strynar could not confirm the exact types of PFAS chemicals used in N.C. or U.S. solar panels. Strynar also said he could not confirm whether the EPA or state agencies were investigating solar panel installations as a potential source of PFAS contamination.

“I sure have not heard anything on solar panels.” said Linda Culpepper, interim director of the Division of Water Resources at the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. “There is a lot of research going on, we are looking at ambient monitoring right now that we started in Jordan Lake the first week of January. Some of the water utilities are looking around.” Culpepper added that there is speculation that some of the PFAS contamination is coming from municipal waste water due to washing clothes that contain PFAS.

The Environmental Working Group released an interactive map showing 11 counties in N.C. with levels of PFAS from EPA monitoring programs, and several are not near the Cape Fear region or the old DuPont facility.


Australia: Wind turbines delivering next to nothing to grid despite hysteria

Are we completely insane? Well, almost our entire political class and the overwhelming majority of – self-believing – “clever people” seemingly certainly are.

As I write this Wednesday evening, all those wonderful “clean” wind turbines across Victoria and South Australia are pumping out all of 30MW of electricity.

They are supposed to have the capacity to produce more than 3400MW – that’s 1½ Hazelwoods. They were operating at less than 1 per cent of capacity.

How many times do you have to say and write “when the wind don’t blow (and the sun don’t shine) the power don’t flow” to break through the thick skulls of “clever people” from PMs and premiers, through company chairman and CEOs being paid salaries in the millions and all the way down to academics and media idiots?

If the wind doesn’t blow then no power is generated.

Oh wait, sorry; all those turbines across SA and Victoria have now kicked up to producing 74MW. That’s a much more impressive 2 per cent of capacity.

Supply – more accurately, non supply – of electricity is one aspect of the insanity. The other is price. The wholesale price in SA was running at over $130 a MW hour. Victorians were doing a little better at around $108 a MW hour.

As the wind picked up, the SA price plummeted to $126 a MWh and Victoria’s to $106.

In the “bad old days” – all the way back to around 2000 – when we had wicked old, coal-fired power stations chugging away reliably pumping out electricity, irrespective of wind and sun, we paid $20-$30 a MWh, day in and day out.

It was so terribly boring – there’s so much more excitement, indeed real frisson, when prices can change by as much as that in a matter of minutes, as the wind chooses to blow or not.

And of course back then Gaia was crying tears of blood.

Never mind, as the AFR’s renewables (and Tesla) fanboy Ben Potter breathlessly informed us this week, a mammoth 9691 megawatts of new wind and solar capacity would be added to the national energy market by the early 2020s.

One can assume that Potter is as mathematically challenged as energy minister Josh Frydenberg; that like most of our 2018 “clever people” they’ve never had explained to them that any number multiplying zero still gives you zero.

We now have 3400MW of installed – OK, I’ll go along with the joke and call it – “capacity” – wind in Victoria and SA. As I wrote, that was producing all of 30MW, according to the market operator AEMO.

You can add that mammoth 9691MW, but if the wind is blowing as the same gentle zephyr, you’ll kick the relative output up to all of 115 MW.

Pity, that Victoria and SA alone need around 7500MW pretty much every hour, all day. Although, true, presumably the two states will need less by the early 2020s as more and more factories are shuttered as a consequence of crippling power prices.

To emphasise for Josh and Ben and all the others “clever people”/idiots: if you’ve got 3400MW of wind “capacity” and the wind don’t blow you will get zero or close to zero electricity.

You can have 13,000 MW of wind “capacity” and if the wind don’t blow you will still get zero or close to zero electricity.




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, April 24, 2018

More childish reasoning from the NYT

They have up an article headed:  "We Are Conservatives and We Believe Climate Change Is Real".  And everything they say in that connection is perfectly correct -- but irrelevant.

Their modus operandi is to find one conservative in a number of countries who does believe in climate change and put up a whole series of short videos in which these selected people rom different countries affirm their belief in climate change.

But it is an unutterably childish exercise.  If they had asked me whether I believed in climate change I too would have said "Yes". So it is not the answer that is wrong but the question. If they had asked me "Do you believe that climate change is caused by humans?", I would have said "No".

So they only looked like they had addressed what is at issue in the climate debate.  They have in fact completely slip-slided away from it.

They also say that climate change is controversial in America only.  I could introduce them to a lot of Australian Federal politicians who think climate change panic is all hokum.  Australia once had a carbon tax -- introduced by a Leftist government.  The next government was a conservative one  -- who made it their first order of business to abolish the carbon tax.  So pretending that climate skepticism is unique to the USA is quite simply a lie.

In any case the whole exercise falls foul of Logic 101.  It is an argument by example.  And you can prove anything by example.  If, for instance, there were only one conservative in a country who  believed in climate change, you could could interview him and him only and create the impression that many or most conservatives in the country believed in climate change -- a conclusion which would be grossly erroneous.  Isolated examples cannot be used to prove a generality.

But Leftists have to use such invalid arguments.  Science, logic and the facts are not kind to them -- JR.

In an hilarious example of Green/Left logic, New England built a lot of natural-gas fired electricity generators but then blocked contruction of the pipelines needed to supply them all with gas!

Pipelines are evil!

Mass.: COMING SOON to your electric bill: a pipeline tax.

When members of the Legislature, egged on by Attorney General Maura Healey, blocked financing for a new natural gas pipeline into New England in 2016, they claimed to be saving money for ratepayers and helping the environment.

But nearly the opposite has happened instead. And now the damage — environmental and financial — is starting to pile up.

The environmental toll this year has been eye-popping: Greenhouse gas pollution exploded during this winter’s cold snap, leading generators to burn 2 million barrels of oil, forcing the region to rely on imported Russian gas, and sparking a mini-revival for the region’s moribund coal industry. In January New Hampshire burned more coal than New York, according to federal statistics.

All that extra pollution was also expensive. Energy cost totaled more than $700 million compared with the same period last year; if past cold winters are any guide, that premium will trickle down to consumers’ electric bills next winter.

Now, in a potential additional cost, a power plant and liquefied natural gas importer in Everett is demanding extra financial support to stay in business — a foretaste of what’s likely to come as long as Massachusetts continues to block regional efforts to relieve pipeline shortages.

The costs to the region’s consumers, and the needless environmental damage, are the direct result of Massachusetts elected officials’ decisions. And those costs should lead the Legislature to rethink its stance and join efforts by other New England states to expand the region’s pipelines — before federal regulators and the region’s grid operator start taking decisions into their own hands.

THE PROBLEM STEMS from a success story: Massachusetts, and the rest of New England, built a fleet of cleaner gas-burning plants over the last two decades, which have lowered electricity prices, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and made renewables like solar and wind more viable by providing an on-demand, dispatchable fallback on days when it’s not sunny or windy. Emissions from the power sector have plummeted, outpacing reductions from cars and houses.

But when there’s not enough natural gas available, those newer plants don’t operate — and suddenly 1999’s energy grid wheezes back to life. On cold days, including the extended frigid period this winter, the region snaps back to dirtier coal- and oil-burning power plants.

Many of those coal and oil plants are financially marginal and overdue for retirement. Yet by keeping pipeline constraints in place, Massachusetts has ensured that New England still needs those dinosaurs. That has forced the region’s electricity grid operator, ISO New England, to look for ways to cajole them into staying in business.

That’s what just happened in Everett. In late March, the owner of the money-losing Mystic Generating Station announced that in 2022 it would mothball the 2,000 megawatt plant, which runs off oil and liquefied natural gas imported by ship, both of which are unaffected by pipeline constraints — unless it got a rescue commitment. “We’re not in a position to continue to suffer losses while we wait for a long-term fix,” Joe Dominguez, an executive vice president of the owner, Chicago-based Exelon, told the Globe.

ISO quickly stepped in and said it would rescue the plant — with ratepayers footing any costs. Mystic is the Commonwealth’s single biggest generating facility. Losing it in 2022, said Vamsi Chadalavada, the grid’s chief operating officer, would pose “an unacceptable fuel security risk to the region during the winter months.”

The costs of that intervention are unclear, and will depend partially on the weather. The difference between what the company bid in the last capacity auction — the annual process whereby power plants name the minimum price they would need to stay in business — and the actual market-based price would amount to about $15 million annually.

But there’s a wildcard: Exelon also just announced it would buy the liquefied natural gas import terminal in Everett from the French energy giant Engie, and Dominguez said Exelon would also seek to recover the costs of operating the terminal, since they’re part of the cost of fueling the plant. (Exelon, he said, had nothing to gain, since any revenues would also be passed back to ratepayers. “We’ll have no incremental profit opportunity. We’re in a pure treading water standpoint,” Dominguez said.)

By itself, any additional costs to keep the Mystic plant operating might be a drop in the bucket. But a cost-recovery arrangement there could give other generators in New England ideas. And the long-term fix in the works may leave lawmakers wishing they’d okayed the pipeline.

THE LONG-TERM fix is a market reform ISO New England is expected to consider this year that would provide new incentives for generators that offer “fuel security” to the electric grid. That’s a hazily defined term that generally means generators either keep their fuel on site or have firm arrangements to get it on demand. By definition, intermittent renewables like solar and wind don’t qualify, since there’s no way they can promise the wind will be blowing or sun will be shining at the moment they’re needed. Instead, under most definitions of “fuel security,” coal, nuclear, and oil generators would cash in.

Potentially, such reforms could also provide an incentive for those new gas-fired power plants to contract for pipeline capacity, so that they’d be considered secure. Right now, almost all those generators just buy whatever is left over from the interstate pipelines that already serve New England. That’s why their supplies get so precarious during cold snaps: Gas utilities have first dibs on pipeline gas, and use almost all of it when homeowners crank up their thermostats. Algonquin, one of the major pipelines serving New England, said last year that less than 4 percent of the natural gas supplied to gas-fired electric generators in New England came under firm contracts.

But many gas-fired generating plants also have the ability to burn oil, and the ISO’s rules are fuel neutral; generators might also just take any incentives for greater fuel security as a cue to stock up on oil.

The better strategy would be for Beacon Hill to do what it failed to do in 2016: Join with Connecticut and Rhode Island, which have already authorized pipeline financing, to ensure that the region’s fuel security problem is solved in ways that mitigate the environmental damage as much as possible. Until battery storage capacity becomes viable on a much bigger scale, that means natural gas. A ratepayer-financed pipeline would cost money, but would also result in lower energy costs; even opponents like Healey concluded that ratepayers would come out ahead.

Opponents of the ratepayer-financed pipeline plan have argued that it would both lock the region’s electric grid into fossil fuels deep into the future and become stranded assets. Both criticisms can’t be valid, and neither need be. The state’s electric utilities are legally required to obtain an increasing share of electricity from renewables, new pipeline or not; state-sponsored projects like the ongoing hydro and offshore wind procurements would be unaffected.

And if demand for natural gas for electricity generation declines in the future, any capacity that’s freed up could still be put to good use: About a third of homes in New England, and about a quarter in Massachusetts, still heat with oil, and states across the region want to switch homeowners from oil to gas as part of their climate mitigation plans. Unlike emissions from electricity, which are way below 1990 levels, emissions from buildings have barely budged.

Blocking pipelines was pure symbolism. But the resulting emissions — and the resulting costs that Massachusetts legislators imposed on their constituents and the rest of New England — are all too real.


Correcting Falsely “Recovered” and Wrongly Listed Species and Increasing Accountability and Transparency in the Endangered Species Program

 SUMMARY Numerous administrative actions should be taken to correct the record of species that are falsely claimed to have “recovered” and that have been declared endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) using erroneous data. It is crucial to improve implementation, accountability, and transparency in the administration of the ESA. The recommendations and information here will help correct the record, provide guidance as to some of the species that may be suitable for delisting on the grounds of data error or extinction, improve the likelihood that future delistings are appropriately categorized, eliminate unnecessary regulations and further waste, and ensure scarce conservation dollars are better spent.

KEY TAKEAWAYSIn 45 years, only 40 U.S. species have graduated from the Endangered Species Act as “recovered.” However, 18 of them were really never endangered. If somehow species recovered at 10 times that inflated rate, it would take nearly two centuries to work through the current list, which is still growing. The ESA is so ineffective that taxpayer dollars are used to fabricate successes—and many species now listed should be removed from the list as mistakes or extinct


In five years the Endangered Species Act (ESA) will reach the half-century milestone—and yet only 40 U.S. species have graduated from the program as “recovered,” slightly less than one species per year. If not one more bird, beetle, or bear were added to the list of federally endangered animals and plants and somehow species recovered at 10 times that rate, it would take well over a century-and-a-half to work through the current list.1
For brevity, “endangered” as opposed to “threatened and endangered” is used in some instances. In many respects, the Service has eliminated much of the distinction between endangered and threatened species through regulation. See Robert Gordon, “Take It Back: Extending the Endangered Species Act’s ‘Take’ Prohibition to All Threatened Animals Is Bad for Conservation,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 3267, December 7, 2017,

 There is, however, no indication that the list of regulated species will stop growing.

Even worse, almost half of the “recovered” species—18 of 40—are federally funded fiction. They were never really endangered; like many species that remain on the endangered list, they were mistakes. With all the ESA’s costs and burdens, it should perhaps come as no surprise that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (hereafter “Service”) is fabricating success stories to cover up this unsustainable mess and substituting fluff for statutorily required reporting regarding the recovery program.

The ESA was ostensibly designed to conserve species threatened or endangered with extinction.2+

The term “species” is used here and in some other instances in a legal, not a biological, sense. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 incorporates “sub-species” and the non-taxonomic unit “distinct population segment” within the term “species.” See Endangered Species Act, “Definitions,” Section 3(16), (accessed January 24, 2018).

Additionally, the Department of Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) also uses the term evolutionarily significant unit (ESU), which is not found within the ESA. See National Marine Fisheries Service, “Policy on Applying the Definition of Species Under the Endangered Species Act to Pacific Salmon,” Federal Register, Vol. 56, No. 224 (November 20, 1991), pp. 58612–58618, (accessed September 20, 2017).

Authority for implementation of the ESA resides with the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce, who have, respectively, delegated the FWS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Marine Fisheries Service the tasks of administering the ESA. (NMFS is now more commonly referred to as NOAA Fisheries.) The agencies divvy up authority for different species based on taxonomic and geographical characteristics established in a memorandum of understanding.

 When a species has been recovered that species is supposed to be removed from the list of federally threatened and endangered species (“list”) by a regulation citing “recovery” as the grounds for removal of the species (delisting). Species may also be delisted if it is determined that they are extinct or that the original data used to justify listing the species were in error.

The Service routinely falsely declares that a species that should have been delisted because of original data error has “recovered.” This deceitful practice portrays mistakes as successes, distorting the most important measure of the program. It also triggers other mandatory actions further wasting taxpayer dollars, serves as a justification for the adoption of more restrictive land management practices by other agencies, obscures significant problems with the data used to justify listing species, and erodes the overall credibility of both the Service and the program.

The Secretary of the Interior should administratively correct these false successes, appropriately identify the primary grounds for delisting these species as original data error, prioritize the delisting of wrongly listed and extinct species, and ensure that future delistings are attributed to the appropriate grounds. Any post-delisting monitoring efforts implemented for falsely recovered species should be terminated, and post-delisting special management regimes implemented by agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for such species should be terminated as well.

Ultimately, measures need to be taken to raise the standards for data used in the designation of “threatened” and “endangered” species. Some actions that can be accomplished administratively are identified here. Additionally, the Secretary should return to incorporating meaningful data on the “status” of listed species into the biannual report to Congress that prior administrations stopped providing. Little meaningful data are now available for congressional oversight of recovery under the ESA. These and several other administrative reporting requirements could significantly improve accountability and transparency.

Much More HERE

Ore. Paper Credits ‘Clean-Energy Skeptic Donald Trump’ with Saving 350 Solar Jobs

“Credit clean-energy skeptic Donald Trump with rescuing a Hillsboro solar energy factory,” the first line of an article in The Oregonian declares.

“SolarWorld's sale saves hundreds of Hillsboro jobs,” the Wednesday headline read. On Wednesday, SunPower, which currently manufacturers its solar panels in the Philippines and Malaysia, announced the purchase of the financially-failing SolarWorld facility in Hillsboro, Oregon.

SunPower purchased SolarWorld and its manufacturing plant in order to escape President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported solar panels, thus saving about 350 jobs at the Oregon facility, which had already laid off half its staff:

"The catalyst for this was the solar tariffs and the direction the current administration was going in terms of domestic solar manufacturing," SunPower chief executive Tom Werner said in an interview with The Oregonian/OregonLive.”

While Trump is a “clean-energy skeptic,” his solar panel tariffs have been applauded by staunch climate alarmists like former Vice President Al Gore, The Oregonian says:

“Trump has derided the widely accepted science underpinning climate change. He imposed the tariffs in January at the behest of SolarWorld and another bankrupt American solar manufacturer, both of which argued that Chinese manufacturers were undercutting U.S. producers by dumping solar panels on the domestic market.

“While Trump's solar tariffs alarmed some in the environmental community, others, including former Vice President Al Gore, defended the decision. U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, had long advocated for tariffs to protect domestic solar manufacturers.”


New air pollution report: "Green" California is the worst. So, don’t come here

The American Lung Association has released its annual report on ozone pollution. And would you believe, eight of the worst places in the country for ozone pollution are in California?

So, you definitely wouldn’t want to move here from outside the state. No, sir.

In fact, if you’re already among the 39.5 million folks who try to exist here, you probably want to load up both cars, get on I-15 or I-10 and head out for cleaner air. Get out of here while the getting is good.

Word is, according to the new report, you can find the cleanest air in Casper, Wyoming if you can find it. Or Wilmington, N.C., Bellingham, Wash. or Melbourne, Florida. Burlington, Vermont is a possibility too, though they talk funny there. Grand places all. Less traffic, cheaper housing, cleaner air.

Oh, sure, you won’t have as much time to read in traffic. Fewer freeway police chases monitored from dueling news choppers. And you will have to do without California’s one party state rule and 10 percent sales tax. But the sacrifices are worth it.

Also on the plus side, the snow is free up north. And the air, oh, the air is not to die for.

Of course, the association warns that the city you will most want to flee or avoid is Los Angeles, where I happen to drive. I agree. LA traffic is so bad that half the drivers are trying to get somewhere, while the other half have given up and are trying to get home.

Not one additional person should want to come here. Also Bakersfield, Fresno, Sacramento and San Diego. Terrible places for ozone. So, stay the hell out, people.

California is known for its strict environmental laws and regulations. It’s killing off coal power plants, clamping down on exhaust emissions and supporting the smog-check industry by requiring one every year. Wait, so if California is so strict about the environment, how come it’s the worst place for air pollution?

The association says, well, yes, that’s kinda true. But, see, it would be so much worse without all the government rules.

So, there’s really only one answer to air pollution: More government.




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


Monday, April 23, 2018

Ozone Depletion, Not Greenhouse Gases Cause for Global Warming, Says Researcher

I don't have access to the facts and dastasets behind this theory but it can't be a worse fit to reality than that of the Greenhouse theory

Chlorofluorocarbon gases (CFCs) became widely utilized in the mid-1960s—as refrigerants such as Freon, as fire retardants such as Halon, as spray-can propellants, as solvents, and as foam-blowing agents. CFCs were far more stable, far more chemically inert than alternatives and were, therefore, much safer to use. Unfortunately, they are so stable that they are likely to last in the atmosphere for more than 100 years.

Within three to five years, the time we now know it takes for CFCs to reach the stratosphere, annual average global temperatures began rising. By 1973, James Lovelock, using his new electron capture detector, found significant amounts of CFC-11 in all 50 air samples collected pole to pole. Stimulated by Lovelock’s work, Mario Molina and Sherwood Rowland discovered in 1974 that when CFCs reach the stratosphere, they can be broken down by solar ultraviolet radiation ultimately freeing atoms of chlorine. One atom of chlorine can destroy 100,000 molecules of ozone by catalytic processes that are particularly effective in polar stratospheric clouds.

Ozone is created when solar ultraviolet-C radiation dissociates an oxygen molecule into two oxygen atoms, which then combine with oxygen molecules to form ozone (O3). Ultraviolet-B solar radiation then dissociates ozone back into an oxygen atom and an oxygen molecule. This ozone-oxygen cycle, known as the Chapman cycle, is continuous so that a molecule of ozone only lasts, on average, about 8.3 days. The ozone layer, 12 to 19 miles above Earth, is the region of the atmosphere where the physical-chemical conditions are most favorable for the ozone-oxygen cycle.

When a molecule such as oxygen or ozone is dissociated, the molecular pieces fly apart at high velocity, instantly converting all the bond energy into kinetic energy of translation. Average kinetic energy of translation of all atoms and molecules making up a gas is, according to the kinetic theory of gases, directly proportional to the temperature of a gas. Thus, high concentrations of ozone show regions of localized warming that were first observed to affect weather and climate by Gordon Dobson in the 1920s.

When ozone is depleted, less ultraviolet-B is absorbed within the ozone layer, cooling the ozone layer, as observed from 1970 to 1998. More ultraviolet-B is then observed to reach Earth, where it penetrates tens of yards into oceans and is thus absorbed very efficiently. Increased ultraviolet-B also dissociates ground-level ozone pollution, warming air in industrial regions. This explains why global warming from 1970 to 1998 was twice as great in the northern hemisphere, containing 90% of world population, than in the southern hemisphere. Ozone depletion is greatest in polar regions during the winter, explaining why the greatest warming observed from 1970 to 1998 was of minimum temperatures in polar regions, a phenomenon known as polar amplification.

In 1985, Joe Farman, Brian Gardiner, and Jon Shanklin discovered depletion of the ozone layer over Antarctica by as much as 70% in austral spring. Scientists suddenly realized that ozone depletion was a much bigger problem than had been thought. Within two years, scientists and political leaders developed the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer mandating cutbacks in CFC production beginning January 1989.

By 1993, increases of CFCs in the atmosphere stopped. By 1995, increases in ozone depletion stopped. By 1998, increases in average global temperatures stopped. The ozone layer remains depleted, the ocean continues to warm, ice continues to melt, and sea-level continues to rise, but global temperatures did not change significantly from 1998 through 2013. They also had not changed much from 1945 to 1970. Thus, humans appear to have accidently caused the warming starting around 1970 by manufacturing large amounts of CFCs and to have accidently stopped the warming of air in 1998 while trying to limit ozone depletion.

Meanwhile, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide rose linearly, but at ever-increasing rates, showing no direct relationship to the details of observed global warming. Dozens of peer-reviewed scientific papers by leading atmospheric scientists have tried to explain, based on greenhouse-warming theory, why global temperatures did not change much from 1998 through 2013, a phenomenon dubbed the global warming hiatus. While they suggest many interesting ideas, there has been little agreement.

In 2014, the volcano Bárðarbunga, in central Iceland, extruded basaltic lava covering 33 square miles of terrain in six months, the largest basaltic lava flow since 1783. These types of lava flows, covering tens to millions of square miles, have been contemporaneous with periods of greatest global warming, ocean acidification, and mass extinctions throughout all of geologic time. For example, 251 million years ago, the Siberian basalts covered an area of 2.7 million square miles, the size of the continental United States less Montana and Texas. Imagine basaltic lava extending from New York to San Francisco—from Seattle to Miami. Eruption of these basalts warmed the ocean to hot tub temperatures, killing 95% of all species living at the time. Basalts emit prodigious amounts of chlorine and bromine that seem to cause ozone depletion, although the precise chemical path has yet to be deciphered. The eruption of Bárðarbunga appears to have caused very rapid global warming from 2014 to 2016, which began to decrease in 2017 and should return to 2013 values within a decade.

In the 1980s, many leading scientists were convinced that greenhouse gases were the cause of global warming, that Earth was in danger of overheating during the 21st century as emissions of greenhouse gases increase, and that scientists must demonstrate consensus in order to convince political leaders to take the expensive steps necessary to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Through the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme, they helped form the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. The IPCC has involved thousands of climate scientists writing tens of thousands of pages of thoughtful science supporting greenhouse-warming theory. The IPCC never did question the widespread assumption, however, that greenhouse gases were the primary cause of global warming. In December 2015, this effort reached fruition with the Paris Agreement where leaders of nearly all countries agreed to work together to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

Science, however, is not done by popular vote. Science is not done by consensus. Consensus is the stuff of politics; debate is the stuff of science. Science is never settled. As Michael Crichton put it at Caltech in 2003: “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. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period.”

IPCC scientists are so convinced by their consensus and so tired of arguing with climate skeptics, that they refuse to even think about ozone depletion. Their models calculate that greenhouse gases absorb a lot more terrestrial infrared radiation than the small amount of solar ultraviolet-B radiation reaching Earth when ozone is depleted. Yet what they fail to realize is that the energy in thermal radiation is not a function of amount; it is a function of frequency. Ultraviolet-B radiation has 48 times the frequency of infrared radiation absorbed most strongly by carbon dioxide, 48 times the energy—has the potential to make the temperature of the absorbing body 48 times hotter. Ultraviolet-B radiation has enough energy to cause sunburn, skin cancer, and cataracts, something no amount of infrared energy can do. After all, you get much warmer standing in sunlight than standing outside at night with terrestrial infrared radiation welling up around you. I can now show that greenhouse gases do not absorb enough heat to be the primary cause of observed global warming.

Climate models based on greenhouse-warming theory have not predicted temperatures correctly since 1998. The major warming they predict later this century is highly unlikely to occur. As political leaders try to find ways to reduce greenhouse-gas concentrations with anticipated costs running in the trillions of dollars, they need to understand that this may have zero effect on reducing global warming.

Meanwhile, as long as ozone remains depleted relative to 1970 levels, the ocean will continue to warm. Recovery of the ozone layer is being slowed by a considerable  black market in CFCs because people in poorer countries cannot afford to replace their refrigerators and air conditioners that depend on CFCs. Plus, shorter-lived substances such as dichloromethanes are having more of a negative effect on ozone levels than previously realized. If we really want to reduce our negative effect on climate, we need to focus on reducing ozone depletion. We also need to start thinking about our options when large flows of basaltic lavas start forming.


Climate adaptation, reparation and restoration

Boulder, CO wants oil companies to restore snowy winters of an idyllic past – and pay it billions

Paul Driessen

This Earth Day (April 22) we need to ask whether environmentalism has gone completely bonkers.

Back in the 1970s, I skied Colorado’s cross-country and downhill slopes pretty regularly. Some years were incredible: many feet of snow as glorious to behold as to ski on. Other years, like 1977, I’d come around a bend on my XC skis, see nothing but rock in front of me, and just ditch.

Who knew the industry I worked for in the later 70s was causing these climate and weather mood swings – even then, long before carbon dioxide levels hit the cataclysmic 400 ppm mark? Who knew profit-hungry oil companies were already preventing the Centennial State from having endless seasons of perfect ski conditions, followed by ample spring meltwater for cities, agriculture and trout streams?

I ask this because the People’s Republic of Boulder, CO has joined Oakland, San Francisco, New York and other liberal enclaves in suing for “climate relief.” Boulder doesn’t share the CA/NY worries about rising seas. Even Al Gore doesn’t claim the Pacific Ocean will reach the Mile High City anytime soon.

Boulderites want the courts to force ExxonMobil and Suncor to pay treble damages for causing too much snow and thus floods in some years, too little snow and thus droughts and poor ski conditions in other years; multiple heat waves in some years, bitter cold in others. They seek unspecified cash for climate adaptation, repair and reparation expenses – and restoration of idyllic conditions of selected past years.

Their 106-page, 478-paragraph complaint (with scores of sub-paragraphs) alleges that oil companies have committed public and private nuisance, trespass, continued sales of “huge amounts of fossil fuels,” and willful concealment of known harm from those sales – all to the great detriment of Boulder citizens.

These are the same fuels that saved whales from imminent extinction and gave Boulder and humanity prosperity, technology, health and longevity no one could even imagine when Colorado became a state in 1876. But now they’re suing the companies that have provided reliable, affordable fuels and raw materials that have brought them lights, heat, livelihoods, living standards, and countless products from paints, plastics, pharmaceuticals and fertilizers to skis, ski parkas, and vehicle fuel and asphalt roads to ski areas.

No wonder Para. 476 pointedly says “plaintiffs do not seek to enjoin any oil and gas operations or sales in Colorado.” To paraphrase Para. 453: plaintiffs received immense benefits from defendants’ products and actions, and it would be unconscionable and contrary to equity for plaintiffs to retain those benefits. Before collecting a dime, plaintiffs should reject future benefits and pay Exxon for past benefits received.

As to alleged fossil fuel damages in the form of wildfires and beetle kills, perhaps Boulder and its Sierra Club allies could employ better forest management – such as thinning trees, removing dead and diseased trees, and spraying to control pine bark beetles. It would be equally salubrious if they would stop abusing gullible children – by having little Sequoia berate Exxon for causing floods, fires and less snow.

As to the allegation that Exxon and Suncor have deprived Boulder of its once-snowy climate, the area’s annual snowfall records demonstrate how ludicrous the claim is.

Its heaviest calendar year snow was 159 inches in 1997; the worst was 36 inches in 1904. It had over 100 inches 20 times since 1897, including 11 times since 1970 and four times over 125 inches since 1985. It had under 50 inches 11 times since 1897: six times 1904 to1943, just three since 1970, and none under 61 inches since 1982. Anyone who sees a rising CO2/lower snowfall connection is smoking too much ganja.

So where does Boulder get the evidence to back up its allegations? As Alfonso Bedoya might have told Humphrey Bogart in a climate change version of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, “We don’t have to show you any stinking evidence!” Instead of evidence, the city has assertions, a phony 97% consensus that fossil fuels are causing dangerous manmade climate change, a report saying Boulder will have more heat waves and less snow by 2050, and computer models that supposedly back up the report.

In the real world, the 20-year temperature “pause” is back, the sun’s “quiet phase” may be reaching a “grand solar minimum,” and actual temperature, hurricane and other data contradict climate model predictions and scenarios. In fact, the models are little more than high-tech circular reasoning.

Since they are based on the assertion that rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels drive global warming, Garbage In-Garbage Out models will always generate the calamities that alarmist researchers and Boulder lawyers are blaming on Big Oil. Where reality contradicts models, reality must be wrong – and actual temperature measurements must be adjusted to reflect model outputs and dominant climate theory.

When did the sun and other natural forces cease being a factor? What caused the ice ages, interglacial periods, Medieval Warm Period, Little Ice Age and Anasazi drought? Questions like these are off limits.

Indeed, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and dominant, government-funded climate research have gone from seeking to identify human influences on Earth’s climate … to decreeing that only human influences matter, natural forces no longer play a meaningful role, and humans can control climate and weather by eliminating fossil fuels and regulating atmospheric greenhouse gas levels.

Those assertions now have the unwavering support of an entire industry – the $1.5-trillion-per-year Climate Industrial Complex: politicians, regulators, researchers, industrialists and activists, who protect and advance alarmist claims, promote allegedly “renewable” energy, resist examination and reform, and denounce anyone who questions climate chaos orthodoxy as “planet-threatening climate change deniers.”

Arrayed against the contingency fee seeking Boulder legal team is an oil industry whose spokesmen offer timid tripe: “Lawsuits like this do not solve the global problem of climate change.” It should be up to “appropriate regulatory agencies,” instead of judges, to decide how much CO2 a company may emit. Oil companies “should not be subject to liability for engaging in acts of commerce while adhering to our already stringent state and federal laws.” Can’t we have a more robust defense on the merits?

Boulder and its allied cities and counties have little reason to worry that their absurd assertions will be challenged on the merits in court. But they don’t even care about winning their case. They just hope Exxon and Suncor will pay them a few hundred million bucks – and pave the way for more lawsuits.

In fact, a 2016 “Lawyers for Better Business” report said climate lawsuits will soon “dwarf all other litigation in terms of the number of plaintiffs and the timeframe in which it can happen.” It’s likely to become a global industry, “with much bigger damages than seen with tobacco and asbestos.”

How else will profligate progressive politicians pay for all the welfare programs that keep them in power?

Such is the sorry state of US and international politics, education, science and jurisprudence.

What alternatives do these litigants and activists offer for the fossil fuel, nuclear and hydroelectric energy they want to ban? They seem to think the billions of tons of lithium, cobalt, iron, copper, manganese, rare earth metals, concrete and other raw materials needed for millions of wind turbines and solar panels are somehow “renewable” – and blanketing the planet with wind and solar installations is eco-friendly.

They seem convinced that it’s better for Planet Earth to ban drilling, and instead convert another billion acres of crop and habitat land into gigantic biofuel plantations. In fact, this year’s Earth Day organizers want future plastics to come from non-hydrocarbon sources – which would mean plowing under hundreds of millions more acres to grow crops for petrochemical feed stocks.

This is sheer lunacy. It’s the product of the fear, loathing, despair, intolerance and groupthink that pervade Big Green environmentalism today.

Will the Scott Pruitt EPA finally reverse the ridiculous Endangerment Finding that is yet another foundation for this climate nonsense? Will Neil Gorsuch be the deciding vote that brings a modicum of sanity back to our Supreme Court and legal system? Only time will tell.

Via email

Trial Lawyers Still Don't Have a Winning Case Against Monsanto

Trial lawyers hoping to take a big bite out of food producer Monsanto’s bottom line with a lawsuit over its most popular weed-killer have run into a problem – the judge who they need to convince their arguments are valid is not buying it.

In 2015, the International Agency for Research and Cancer, based in Lyon, France, declared glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, the world’s most popular weed-killer, a “probably human carcinogen.”

No other scientific body has reached that conclusion. Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency says glyphosate is safe for humans when used in accordance with label directions, the National Institute of Health has concluded it is not a carcinogen and, as a Monsanto official pointed out, more than 800 scientific, medical, peer-reviewed articles have been published saying there is no association whatsoever between glyphosate and any form of cancer.

But armed with the finding of the body in France, trial lawyers have filed 2,400 lawsuits in American courts – about 2,000 at the state level – that allege their clients have contracted non-Hodgkins lymphoma from exposure to Roundup.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria began to assess the expert witnesses plaintiffs plan to call at trial in the more than 300 federal cases, involving more than 700 farmers, landscapers and gardeners, that have been combined in his court to determine if their findings were supported by sufficient science to be permitted to testify. He was not impressed.

A dozen expert witnesses for the plaintiffs – including toxicologists, statisticians, an oncologist and a couple of epidemiologists, who study how humans contract disease – labeled the evidence glyphosate causes cancer “shaky” and indicated he was unlikely to permit more than one of the witnesses to testify.

“I do have a difficult time understanding how an epidemiologist in the face of all the evidence that we saw and heard last week” can conclude that glyphosate “is in fact causing” non-Hodgkins lymphoma,” the judge said. “… The evidence that glyphosate is currently causing NHL in human beings” at current exposure levels is “pretty sparse.”

Judge Chhabra said his objective in the weeklong series of presentations by scientists for the plaintiffs was not to determine whether glyphosate causes cancer but rather whether the testimony they would offer is within the “range of reasonableness.”

It was not reasonable, he said, to conclude glyphosate causes cancer based only on the findings of the body in France. It relied on a study that showed cancer incidence increased in mice exposed to glyphosate, but the judge pointed out not everything that causes cancer in mice causes it in humans as well. Therefore, he indicated, all the witnesses that relied on their IARC findings for their testimony will be rejected.

Chhabra said he may allow one witness – Beate Ritz, a public health professor at UCLA – to testify because she conducted her own research, based on a study of the literature. But he said even her testimony is “dubious,” pronounced her entire field “loosey goosey” and “highly subjective,” and indicated he would permit her testimony only because he suspects Ritz is “operating within the mainstream of the field” and “maybe that means it’s up to the jury to decide if they buy her presentation.”

This is not good for the plaintiffs. “It’s game over … if they can’t get over this hurdle,” David Levine, an expert in federal court procedure at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, told the New York Daily News.

Their lawyers say the judge should not reject out of hand those who rely on the report from the group in France and should instead “dissect” and consider a “subset of opinions.” They say the science strongly supports their conclusions, their experts have used valid methodologies and “ultimately, we think courts will agree.”

But so far what they have are 12 witnesses, only one of whom, at most, seems likely to be declared qualified to testify. And the judge thinks that one person’s field is loosey goosey and her findings dubious and can’t help but have noticed that another federal judge, in Sacramento, has ruled California cannot force Monsanto to put cancer warnings on Roundup labels because the state can’t prove glyphosate causes cancer.

That’s always been the problem for those who sought to bring down Monsanto and Roundup. They simply have not been able to scientifically make the case in U.S. courts glyphosate causes cancer. The new strategy – relying on a study from a French group aligned with the World Health Organization – does not appear to be working either.

Maybe it’s time to give up.


President Trump Can Counter OPEC and Achieve Energy Dominance

President Trump, in a recent tweet, has drawn attention to a pernicious threat against American interests that has persisted for decades: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its alliance with other petrostates as they seek to control the price and supply of oil.

With its stated goal of reducing the world’s oil glut in sight, the cartel and its unofficial members should have spent their meeting in Jeddah discussing an exit plan for this pact. However, with oil at three-year highs and rising, the group has moved the goalpost yet again, with discussions on extending the cuts even further as well as indefinite coordination on oil production with Russia.

Let’s be clear: OPEC has wrapped its actions in rhetoric about stabilizing oil prices to help the global economy. Now that they’ve institutionalized their cooperation with Russia and other states—expanding the group’s market share to include countries that represent 55 percent of daily supply—and whittled down excess oil inventories, they can go about their real agenda: Juicing the books for Saudi Aramco’s pending IPO, and inflating government revenues to support everything from military spending to lavish lifestyles for their ruling elites. Is this how American motorists want to spend their money?

President Trump is right to say this market manipulation is unacceptable. Gasoline prices are also now at their highestin three years, and analysts see them wiping out the benefits of the president’s historic tax cuts as U.S. households will spend $400 moreon average at the pump in 2018 alone. Endemic instability in key oil-producing regions—particularly the Middle East and Venezuela—combined with the reduction of global crude oil inventories from 400 to 43 million barrels mean that there is little to insulate Americans from an oil price spike.

Oil dependence is a global problem, but Americans are disproportionately affected. Every year, the United States spends $67.5 billion to ensure the worldwide free flow of oil, as we assume the burden of patrolling oil supply lines and engaging in unstable oil producing regions. Even though this commodity is the lifeblood of the world economy, it is priced on an unfree global market subject to OPEC’s collusion. No matter how much oil we drill at home, we will always be vulnerable to the price spikes and slumps brought about through the actions of countries that don’t share our democratic or free-market principles. As we know, an oil supply disruption anywhere impacts prices everywhere.

In addition to these geopolitical challenges, OPEC’s actions have a very real impact on household budgets. The last time Americans received tax cuts, the benefits were wiped out by oil price spikes. The cumulative impact of the Bush-era tax cuts from 2001 to 2008 increased household income by $1,900, yet household spending on gasoline increased by $2,000 in the same period. Similarly, in 2011, record gasoline prices cost American households an additional $104 billion compared to 2010, offsetting the $108 billion in additional take-home pay from the Obama-era payroll tax cut.

Will we let this happen again?Policy solutions are available, and President Trump can take clear and concrete steps to achieve his goal of energy dominance and mitigate our exposure to OPEC’s behavior. First, we must continue to develop more of our oil resources here at home—the President has already taken steps to achieve this objective. Second, Trump’s EPA must maintain strong fuel economy standards, and use the current rulemaking period to strengthen and modernize fuel efficiency rules that have been effective in saving consumers money for decades. Third, we must encourage the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles running on diverse sources of domestic energy, including electricity, natural gas, and hydrogen. Finally, we must have an honest assessment of our ability to respond to OPEC’s actions to influence oil prices. President Trump can establish an OPEC commission that will investigate how the cartel’s actions undermine American interests and propose solutions to counter their influence.

Following these steps lays a clear path towards the energy dominance that Americans deserve.


The Lack of Integrity in Science and What to Do About It

Many scientific studies are not reproducible, which misleads the public and yields bad policy 

Anything that begins with the line, “Current research reveals that…” sounds authoritative, indisputable and true. But what if it’s not?

The newest report by the National Association of Scholars (NAS), “The Irreproducibility Crisis of Modern Science,” released Tuesday, reveals a systemic integrity problem within modern science. When scientists are unable to reproduce their results, it means that those results may have been a fluke, manipulated or even fabricated for a specific outcome.

Yet those results are often advertised as “clinical research proves…” or “the latest study confirms that…” — which not only misleads the public but also dilutes the place of scientific research in society at large. This use and abuse of statistics affects not just the sciences but the entire culture’s perception of reality.

Consider a 2012 study that sought to reproduce the results of 53 landmark studies in hematology and oncology but could only reproduce six (11%). Or the “groundbreaking” research in microplastics performed by postdoc Oona Lönnstadt and her supervisor Peter Eklöv of Uppsala University in Sweden. The research, published in the June 2016 issue of Science claimed that microplastic particles in the ocean were endangering fish. In reality, Lonnstadt fabricated her data and was later reprimanded by the university. But by this time, it didn’t matter. She was an environmental crusader, researcher and celebrity.

And scientific journalism isn’t helping. In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released information that 400,000 Americans die from obesity every year, which the media thoroughly publicized. Later, a 2005 study by the CDC revealed that the number may be closer to 112,000. But by that time no one cared to thoroughly publish the retraction.

The integrity issue in the sciences can be found both on the supply (researcher) side and the demand (media and research institutions) side. Positive, groundbreaking and glamorous research gains publication in scientific journals, magazines and other media. Publication means greater clout within your discipline, pay raises, tenure at a university, and the ability to secure grants for further projects. Replicating old research to see if the results still stand isn’t going to land you on the front page of Science magazine or get you an interview on NPR.

The lack of accountability and unbridled researcher freedom means that the researcher can change his or her hypothesis midcourse, leave out data or manipulate the outcome. When researchers do not face accountability, they are more apt to manipulate results to make their hypothesis correct. NAS notes that a “survey of more than 2,000 psychologists found that 38% admitted to ‘deciding whether to exclude data after looking at the impact of doing so on the results.’” Additionally, in this same survey, “36% of those surveyed ‘stopped data collection after achieving desired results,’” rather than completing the data sets.

Further, academic groupthink adheres to an ideology and ignores or ostracizes research that contradicts it. For example, climatologist Judith Curry’s 2017 testimony before Congress revealed the systemic of problem of groupthink in her field:

The politicization of climate science has contaminated academic climate research and the institutions that support climate research, so that individual scientists and institutions have become activists and advocates for emissions reductions policies. Scientists with a perspective that is not consistent with the consensus are at best marginalized (difficult to obtain funding and get papers published by “gatekeeping” journal editors) or at worst ostracized by labels of “denier” or “heretic.”

In history, scientific groupthink resulted in incorrect but “widely accepted” beliefs. Most notable among these was the acceptance of the world as flat and the ignoring of Ignaz Semmelweis’ advice that doctors and birth attendants should wash their hands before delivering a baby. Could the same ignorance be the fate of the modern scientific community as a result of their own groupthink? Science ought to be objective and data-based, not repurposed to conform to a particular ideology.

In spite of the crisis, several trends are shaping the future of science in a positive way. New journals emphasizing the publishing of negative results include The All Results Journal, the Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine, the Journal of Pharmaceutical Negative Results, the International Journal for Re-Views in Empirical Economics, and others. That means contrary studies receive a hearing.

In addition, the World Health Organization has called for more data openness and the publishing of negative results, saying, “Researchers have a duty to make publicly available the results of their research. … Negative and inconclusive as well as positive results must be published or otherwise made publicly available.”

As society seeks to make the integrity of science a priority, we must reform the incentive structure within academia as well as scientific journalism that rewards “creative” and politicized science with media coverage. Ultimately, a commitment by the scientific community to truth, rather than manipulated statistical models, restores the integrity of the sciences and its beneficial place in society.




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