Sunday, April 19, 2015




Stinky kids: EPA Tells Kids to Avoid Baths and Asks them to Check Toilets for Leaks

As part of its effort to help save the planet from the dangers of taking too many baths, the EPA’s WaterSense program is trying to convince kids they should avoid bathtubs in favor of showers, which it says is a far more efficient use of water.

“To save even more water, keep your shower under five minutes long—try timing yourself with a clock next time you hop in!” the “WaterSense for Kids” website says.

In addition to convincing kids to stay away from the tub, the EPA’s website instructs children to be careful not to give plants or the yard too much water, to ask parents to use car washes that recycle used water, and to avoid using hoses whenever possible. The EPA even suggests kids conduct experiments with parents to test toilets for leaks.

When kids aren’t busy timing their showers to ensure they remain as unclean as possible and training to be future plumbers, they can “test” their “water sense” by playing EPA’s Pac-Man-inspired online game starring the “water-efficiency hero,” Flo. The goal of the game is to move Flo, a cartoon water drop, “through water pipes and answer water-efficiency questions while avoiding water-wasting monsters.”

There’s nothing kids hate more than those darn water-wasting monsters.

You can add this pathetic attempt by the EPA to brainwash kids into feeling guilty every single time they flush the toilet to the long list of ridiculous efforts the federal agency has made recently to control every aspect of Americans’ lives.

In February, the EPA announced it had serious concerns over the expansion of the Keystone Pipeline, a project projected to create thousands of jobs. “Construction of the pipeline is projected to change the economics of oil sands development and result in increased oil sands production, and the accompanying greenhouse gas emissions, over what would otherwise occur,” the EPA said.

Citing EPA’s findings, President Barack Obama vetoed a bill that would have finally approved the pipeline expansion in late February.

In March, it was revealed the EPA provided a $15,000 grant to the University of Tulsa to develop a device that could “modify” hotel guests’ behavior by monitoring shower times and water use, adding a whole new creepy dimension to the concept of “big brother.”

The EPA has a responsibility to ensure the United States’ environment is not absolutely destroyed by human development, and it’s reasonable to say all Americans have a legitimate right to ask its government to protect certain lands, waterways, and natural resources from abuse. But the EPA has consistently gone far beyond what’s reasonable, entering into a realm of regulation development that attempts to bring the nation back to the 17th century.

For instance, the EPA recommends businesses consider installing “composting toilets,” which are just as disgusting as they sound, to save the maximum amount of water.

Teaching our children to conserve nature is important, but unreasonable and unsanitary mandates from bureaucrats in Washington, DC—who, by the way, expel countless tons of carbon dioxide in their behemoth urban office buildings—hinder economic and cultural growth and mislead impressionable kids into believing it’s a grave sin to take a bath or wash the family car with a garden hose.

SOURCE





Will there be a National Conversation after environmentalist shoots energy worker?

Get ready for a week of introspection from the press, particularly the left-leaning media, as a wave of tortured self-criticism characterizes coverage of what is sure to dominate the news cycle for the foreseeable future… LOL. Just kidding!

A disturbing story flagged by The Washington Free Beacon’s Lachlan Markay out of West Virginia indicates that a man, enraged by the drilling taking place in his state, shot an employee of an energy exploitation company on Monday.

A man dressed in camouflage with his face painted black approached Mark Miller, an employee with HG Energy LLC, on Joe’s Creek near Sod, Napier said.

“At that time he played Mr. Miller a recording that said ‘Stop the drilling’ and then stuck a gun through the window of the passenger side of the truck,” [Lincoln County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy J.J.] Napier said.

A reporter with The Charleston Gazette called a member of the West Virginia Sierra Club for comment and received unequivocal condemnation of this violent incident, but the episode has received little attention in the national press.

For a media culture that is quick to blame conservatives for every episode of violence with a potential political motive, the commentary community’s silence on this incident is deafening.

The Washington Examiner’s T. Becket Adams, formerly of The Blaze, has a solid set of examples of the media’s lamentable impulse to link conservative rhetoric to episodes of violence.

It was this impulse that led ABC News reporter Brian Ross to link a 52-year-old tea party member to the mass murder of Colorado theater-goers in 2012. It was this impulse that led some to ponder whether “racism” and “the tea party movement” led University of Alabama in Huntsville professor Dr. Amy Bishop to shoot 12 of her colleagues in 2010. It was this impulse that prompted some accused Andrew Joseph Stack of being an ardent conservative when he flew a small plane into an IRS building in Austin. It was this impulse that inspired editorialists like Paul Krugman, Matthew Yglesias, and Dana Milbank to blame Sarah Palin for Jared Lee Loughner’s attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her staff.

Nor would this episode in West Virginia constitute the only example of violence committed in the name of ecological consciousness in recent memory. In 2010, James Lee took two starter pistols and an explosive device into the Maryland headquarters of Discovery Communication where he took three people hostage for several hours. “Humans are the most destructive, filthy, pollutive creatures around and are wrecking what’s left of the planet with their false morals and breeding culture,” Lee wrote in his manifesto. Police shot and killed Lee, but not before he terrorized Discovery employees because he was allegedly enraged by Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

This incident didn’t seem to inspire many on the environmental left to lead a “national conversation” about the “culture of hate” their zealotry had wrought.

But for all the left’s efforts to impugn the tea party movement as replete with violent sociopaths, they often find it impossible to fathom the notion that their rhetoric could be prompting the violent to behave violently.

When Floyd Lee Corkins attacked the Family Research Council and shot a security guard because, as he told investigators, the group was listed as an anti-gay organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the left did not blame the SPLC for Corkins actions. When two police officers were assassinated in Brooklyn following weeks of anti-law enforcement hysteria on the left, liberals did not castigate their own for demanding posthumous justice for Eric Garner and Michael Brown. And the left will not raise much of a peep over this episode of terroristic violence in West Virginia.

As the right has been pointing out for the better part of half a decade, the only people responsible for acts of violence are those who commit violent acts. If conservatives think the Sierra Club is responsible for this attack in some way, they will find a rather onerous burden of proof on their shoulders. But it isn’t a trait native to the right to blame others for the actions of one criminal individual. Too often, it is the left that is consumed with identifying societal explanations for the behavior of a deranged few. Maybe identifying those societal causes, however dubious, provides progressives with a sense of control over what are fundamentally chaotic developments that can neither be predicted nor prevented. Maybe they merely want to tar their political opponents. Who knows? But it is clear now that the root causes for violence don’t seem to bother the left so long as those roots are embedded in liberal soil.

SOURCE






The American people aren’t stupid enough to buy the man-made climate change crisis narrative

By Marita Noon

climate changeLate last year, the name Jonathan Gruber became part of the public consciousness for his newly public declarations that Obamacare passed due to the “stupidity of the American voter.” While there are many cases one can cite affirming that most Americans don’t closely follow politics and/or the political process and, therefore, may be called “stupid,” the campaign to sell the man-made climate change crisis narrative proves otherwise.

We are smarter than they think. We are not buying what they are selling.

Global warming has been the most expensive and extensive “public relations campaign in history” — as David Harsanyi calls it in his post at TheFederalist.com. He identifies the “25 years of political and cultural pressure,” as including “most governmental agencies, a long list of welfare-sucking corporations, the public school system, the universities, an infinite parade of celebrities, think tanks, well-funded environmental groups and an entire major political party.” Yet, despite all the “gentle nudging,” “stern warnings,” and “fear mongering,” Harsanyi states: “Since 1989, there’s been no significant change in the public’s concern level over global warming.”

Based on new polling data from Gallup, Harsanyi points out that with the past 25 years of messaging, even among Democrats those who “worry greatly” about global warming has only increased “by a mere four percentage points” — with no change in the general public in the past two years.

A Pew Research Center poll on the Keystone pipeline — also the target of years of intense messaging and fearmongering — offers similar insights: “Support for the Keystone XL pipeline is almost universal,” reads the Washington Post headline. The poll results report that only those who self-identify as “solid liberals” oppose the pipeline.

Clearly, Americans aren’t that stupid after all. We can smell a rat.

It isn’t that we don’t believe the climate changes — it does, has, and always will — but, as Harsanyi states, “There is a difference in believing climate change is real and believing that climate change is calamitous.” He continues, “As the shrieking gets louder, Americans become more positive about the quality of their environment and less concerned about the threats.” He adds, “As the fear-mongering becomes more far-fetched, the accusations become more hysterical, and the deadlines for action keep being pushed right over the horizon, fewer people seem to really care.”

Harsanyi concludes, “If you haven’t been able to win over the public in 25 years of intense political and cultural pressure, you are probably down to two options: You can revisit your strategy, open debate to a wide range of ideas, accept that your excited rhetoric works on a narrow band of the Americans (in any useful political sense), and live with the reality that most people have no interest in surrendering prosperity. Or, you can try to force people to do what you want.”

With the huge investment of time and money, it appears the fearmongers have chosen the latter option. The regulatory scheme coming out of Washington reflects an acknowledgement that the PR campaign has failed, but that the effort is continually being forced on people who don’t want it — though they may not be following it closely or they may not be politically engaged.

The climate campaigners are continuing to do that which hasn’t worked for the past 25 years—somehow believing they’ll get different results (Isn’t that the definition of insanity?).

On March 6, Merchants of Doubt, “a documentary that looks at pundits-for-hire,” was released. It aimed to smear the reputations of some of the most noted voices on the realist side of the climate change debate — specifically Fred Singer who has been one of the original climate skeptics. But nobody much wanted to see it. In its opening weekend, BoxOfficeMoJo.com reports Merchants of Doubt took in $20,300.

A week later, former Vice President Al Gore, as reported in the Chicago Tribune, called on attendees at the SXSW festival in Austin, TX to “punish climate change deniers” — which is the tactic being used now.

We’ve seen it in the widely-publicized case of Dr. Willie Soon, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who claims “that the variations in the sun’s energy can largely explain recent global warming.” The New York Times accused him of being tied to funding from “corporate interests.”

Similar, though less well-known, attacks have been made on Henrik Moller — Denmark’s leading academic expert on noise research, who was fired by his university after exposing a wide-reaching cover-up by the Danish government of the health risks caused by wind turbine noise pollution. And on eminent meteorologist Lennart Bengtsson, who received worldwide pressure after he stated, “I believe it is important to express different views in an area that is potentially so important and complex and still insufficiently known as climate change.”

Even Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) and Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) recently joined the crusade. Paul Driessen draws attention to a letter they sent to “institutions that employ or support climate change researchers whose work questions claims that Earth and humanity face unprecedented man-made climate change catastrophes.” The lawmakers warn of potential “conflicts of interest” in cases where evidence or computer modeling emphasizing human causes of climate change are questioned — but no such warning is offered for its supporters.  Driessen states, “Conflicts of interest can indeed pose problems. However, it is clearly not only fossil fuel companies that have major financial or other interests in climate and air quality standards — nor only man-made climate change skeptics who can have conflicts and personal, financial or institutional interests in these issues.” He quotes Dr. Richard Lindzen, MIT atmospheric sciences professor emeritus and one of Grijalva’s targets: “Billions of dollars have been poured into studies supporting climate alarm, and trillions of dollars have been involved in overthrowing the energy economy.”

But somehow, only those who may receive funding from “fossil fuel companies” are suspect. The anti-fossil fuel movement has been vocal in its funding for candidates who support its agenda.

I’ve experienced this on a small scale. I wrote an op-ed for the Albuquerque Journal warning New Mexico residents about concerns over SolarCity’s arrival in the state — which included offering 30-year financing for rooftop solar panels. A week later, the paper published an op-ed that didn’t discount my data, but accused my organization of receiving funding from the fossil-fuel industry. The op-ed was written by an employee of SolarCity — but this didn’t seem incongruous.

The little attack on me allowed me to ask for people to counteract the claim that the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy is not an “alliance of citizens.” The outpouring of support astounded me—though the newspaper didn’t post every comment.

Others, with whom I have been in contact, while doing research for this writing, provided similar stories of support following the attacks.

In a Desmog post titled: “Climate deniers double down on doubt in the defense of Willie Soon,” the author states that Soon’s supporters “circled the wagons.”

In a Scientific American story about the Merchants of Doubt, Andrew Hoffman, a professor at the University of Michigan, who studies the behavior of climate skeptics, says, “Tit-for-tats between mainstream and contrarian researchers tend to raise the profile of skeptical scientists.” He concludes, “Frankly, this degradation benefits the skeptics.”

Because of the failure of the man-made climate-crisis campaign to capture the hearts and minds of the average American — who, after all, isn’t that stupid — we can expect the Gore-ordered attacks to continue. Expect the fearmongering to become more far-fetched, the accusations to become more hysterical, and the deadlines for action to keep being pushed right over the horizon. When this happens, “fewer people seem to really care.”

Like the mythical Hydra, when one “skeptic” is cut down, supporters “double down” — two more grow to take its place. While designed to silence, the attacks draw attention to the fact that there is another side to the “debate.”

SOURCE





Ship engine complexities after Green regulations

Since the implementation of Emission Control Areas (ECAs) on January 1, 2015, ships entering waters in the Baltic Sea; the North Sea; the North American ECA, including most of the U.S. and Canadian coast, as well as the French overseas collectivities of St. Pierre and Miquelon; and the U.S. Caribbean ECA, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands Sea had to use fuels with up to 0.1% sulphur content.

Shell Marine Products (SMP) was the first to introduce a complete line of ECA-approved marine lubricants in September 2014.  This complete portfolio includes Shell Alexia S3, formulated for use in two-stroke engines with low sulphur and distillate fuels up to 0.5% sulphur.  SMP also offers Shell Gadinia for medium-speed four-stroke engines like the one in the Harvey Energy, Shell’s new chartered offshore supply vessel (OSV) in the Gulf of Mexico.  Shell Mysella for gas-powered engines is used on Shell’s chartered barge Greenstream, the world’s first 100-percent LNG-powered barge which carries goods along Europe’s Rhine River.

“We have been pleasantly surprised by the demand that our ECA-approved lubricants have gotten.  We have been quick to expand availability of our product range throughout our port network.  Today, Shell Alexia S3 is available in over 330 ports in 20 countries, while Shell Gadinia and Shell Mysella are available throughout our global port network,” said Jan Toschka, General Manager of Shell Marine Products.

The combination of newer high-performance engines, practices like slow steaming and now, ECA zone implementation have presented increased complexity among ship operators, who tend to switch fuels and engine oils as they go in and out of ECA zones.

SOURCE





Why Environmentalists Will Eventually Hate Renewable Power

The proliferation of renewable energy will never please environmentalists. In fact, the more efficient and inexpensive energies like solar and wind become, the more environmentalists will fear and eventually hate them.

Currently, arguments against renewable energy are based on the accurate claim they are too inefficient to become widespread. The technology behind solar and wind power are just not where they need to be to justify widespread use.

In October 2014, data revealed the massive Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert fell well short of its anticipated output. During an eight-month period in 2013, the solar plant missed its goal by a whopping 40 percent.

Because of stories like these, many are reluctant to support large government subsidies for renewable energy projects. The lackluster performance of alternative energies have led several states to reconsider legislation requiring a portion of their energy to come from renewable sources. In January, West Virginia made headlines when the state ended its mandate in full.

The inability of alternative energies to compete with fossil fuels does not deter environmentalists. They see renewables as a solution to the problem of rising CO2 in the atmosphere and the climate change they say inevitably results from it. Their goal is to save Earth from climate disruption.

But what happens when renewable technology does become efficient enough to replace fossil fuels? What if another energy technology is developed that supplies us with abundant and pollution-free energy? The resulting scenario is one environmentalists fear the most: Civilization growth unconstrained by the threat of climate disruption.

This fear was exposed in 1989, when two scientists announced they produced excess energy through the process of cold fusion. This revelation, which turned out to be false, would have the potential to produce inexpensive and inexhaustible energy. People believed we were on the verge of creating free energy. This concept caused many environmentalists to show their true colors.

While people rejoiced at the prospect of free energy, author and activist Jeremy Rifkin was quoted by the Los Angeles Times saying, “It’s the worst thing that could happen to our planet.” Rifkin envisioned a world filled with waste—a world where people were free to use up Earth’s resources.

Biologist Paul Ehrlich said, “[It’s] like giving a machine gun to an idiot child.”

These environmentalists and many others reacted this way because the real threat, in their eyes, is human development and growth.

In the same article referred to above, environmentalists voiced concerns that abundant energy would open the door to an increase in population growth, the result being a “crowded earth.” This fear is still held today by environmentalists like Bill McKibben.

McKibben, considered to be “America’s most important environmentalist” by the Boston Globe, became a big name in the global warming debate in 1989 with the publishing of End of Nature. Since then, McKibben has written several more books about mankind’s impact on the environment, such as Maybe One: A Personal and Environmental Argument for Single Child Families.

In Maybe One, McKibben makes the case for potentially painfulpopulation control. Population control is necessary in the minds of many environmentalists like McKibben because large populations inevitably lead to more homes, office buildings, cars, shopping centers, and trash. This is why McKibben wrote in his two books Deep Economy (2007) and Eaarth(2010) that he did not want to see an increase in development but rather a “controlled decline.”

Environmentalists do not see fossil fuels and CO2 as a threat to mankind; they see mankind as a threat to the environment. Advocating for renewable energy is just an excuse to implement a constriction of fossil-fuel use and development across the world. If the time comes where renewable, clean, and abundant energies become a reality, environmentalists will surely withdraw their support in the name of protecting the planet.

SOURCE





Cornel West warns of 'Planetary Selma' at Harvard fossil fuel  protest



West is primarily an entertainer, though his comment on Mr Obama has something to be said for it. He has called Obama "a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats."

The outspoken civil rights activist and academic Cornel West said Harvard University risked being on the wrong side of a “planetary Selma”, culminating a week-long campaign by students and prominent alumni campaigning for the most prominent university in the US to divest from fossil fuels.

The sit-in protest shut down the campus building that houses the president’s office for the entirety of so-called “heat week”, and forced the closure of another administration building for two days.

Harvard’s administration – despite a reported $79m worth of direct investments in coal, oil and gas companies and likely much more indirectly – has stayed relatively quiet on the growing issue of divestment, but there were signs that the movement had made progress.

Drew Faust, the university’s president, had been “moved” by the protest, said Bill McKibben, a Harvard alumnus and leading environmentalist who has worked closely with fossil fuel divestment initiatives across US college campuses and with the Guardian’s “Keep it in the Ground” campaign.

Faust, who has rejected divestment as “neither warranted or wise”, even reached out to a leader of the student protest movement for a one-on-one meeting.

The student, McKibben said, told the president she wanted a public meeting instead.

“It’s climate justice, more than anything,” McKibben said in an inteview with the Guardian. “And no one has stood on the side of reason and justice more than Cornel West.”

West, in a final protest organised by the student group Divest Harvard, pushed even further on Faust.

“Ecological catastrophe is as evil as white supremacist catastrophe, anti-Jewish catastrophe, anti-gay catastrophe, anti-Muslim catastrophe,” West said to loud applause on Friday. “Doctor Faust, we now have a planetary Selma. We want you on the right side.”

McKibben said he was realistic but hopeful about the long-term effect of the week’s protests and others at universities such as Yale and Syracuse.  “I don’t believe it’ll lead to Harvard divesting right away,” he said. “But the world around Harvard is moving, and the people here making such a noise are the reason it is moving.”

West, the longtime activist and academic who was recently arrested while protesting in Ferguson, said environmental activism had parallels to a new civil rights movement.

“We’re fighting against injustice,” he told the Guardian before his remarks at the protest on Friday. “We have to get a handle on the impending ecological catastrophe.”

SOURCE

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

For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here

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



Friday, April 17, 2015



Indian government crackdown on anti-development Greenies hindered by the courts

The Indian government has stepped up its campaign against Greenpeace’s subcontinental arm by freezing the organisation’s bank accounts after a Delhi High Court twice fended off government attacks on the NGO.

The account Greenpeace India uses to store international funds has already been frozen once - purportedly because Greenpeace’s advocacy had “prejudicially affected the national interest” - but was restored by the courts earlier this year.

In January, Justice Rajiv Shakdher reversed the government’s “untenable” decision, because “there [was] no material whatsoever on record which would justify declining [Greenpeace’s] request for allowing it access to its bank account”.

“Non-Governmental Organisations often take positions which are contrary to the policies formulated by the Government of the day,” he noted. “That by itself, in my view, cannot be used to portray [Greenpeace’s] actions as being detrimental to national interest.”

Greenpeace said the government is trying to shut it down because it has been critical of its development agenda, which it argues is inequitable and damaging to the environment due to its reliance on coal and other polluting activities.

Human rights groups, as well as the courts, have met the government’s financial interventions with scepticism.

“It is clear that Greenpeace is being targeted because its strong views and campaigns question the government’s development policies,” G.Ananthapadmanabhan, the Executive Director at Amnesty International India, said.

One campaign in particular, which aims to shine a light on alleged human rights abuses connected with a mining development in Madya Pradesh province, has embarrassed the government.

The development - known as the Mahan Coal Block - would have destroyed 400,000 trees and the livelihoods of 50,000 people, Greenpeace said.

In a bid to draw attention to the issue a Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai was due to fly to London in January to meet with British MPs. When she got to the airport, though, she discovered she had been blacklisted and was not permitted to leave the country.

The government’s interference was slammed by Amnesty International India, which described the move as a further attempt “to disable an organisation for promoting the voices of some of the country’s most powerless people”.

Ms Pillai took the government to the Delhi High Court which, in January, found her fundamental rights had been infringed.

Criticism like Pillai’s may not be “palatable” to the government, Justice Shakdher ruled, but “it cannot be muzzled”.

“The State may not accept the views of the civil right activists, but that by itself, cannot be a good enough reason to do away with dissent,” he said in his judgement.

He ruled that the travel restrictions violated fundamental rights and noted that there was nothing on the record to suggest that Greenpeace’s activities “have the potentiality of degrading the economic interest of the country”.

Allowing the government to form a “subjective view” of activists as “anti-national”, Justice Shakdher said, “would result in conferring un-canalised and arbitrary power in the executive”.

Ironically, the government has since backed down on its Mahan Coal Block plans, and will only clear three of the 74 blocks it had originally intended to.

"Even as we celebrate this win for thousands of Indians, we are painfully aware that Mahan is just one of hundreds of coalmines planned in forested India,” Pillai said at the time.

Just under three weeks later, on Apirl 9, Greenpeace received a notice advising that both its domestic and international fund bank accounts would be frozen.

The notice alleges a range of tax infringements, unapproved relocation of its offices and, again, that Greenpeace International funds were used in a way prejudicial to the national interest.

The green group now has 30 days to respond, and will be forced back to the courts to have its funds unblocked.

SOURCE





£1 billion lagoon that could be Britain's pottiest ever green scheme

By CHRISTOPHER BOOKER

Just when it seemed that our national energy policy — alongside defence of the realm, an absolute priority, to keep the lights on — couldn’t be managed in a madder or more alarming way, along comes the most bizarre project of all.

This is a £1 billion scheme to build a colossal U-shaped stone breakwater, six miles long, enclosing the whole of Swansea Bay in South Wales, containing 16 giant submerged turbines, whose blades would be seven metres across.

The idea is that these would be driven by the water pouring through them from both directions by the 30ft daily rise and fall of the Bristol Channel’s tides, the second highest in the world.

This mammoth scheme, recently given a glowing plug on the BBC’s Countryfile, is said to have everything going for it.

It is backed by an array of financial investors, led by the giant Prudential insurance company. Also behind it are our most influential ‘green’ lobby groups, such as Friends of the Earth, the World Wildlife Fund and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

The ‘tidal lagoon’ project, which would be like nothing else built anywhere before, is favoured by politicians of all parties, led by Lib Dem Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey, who can barely contain his excitement, saying that tidal power offers Britain ‘fantastic economic opportunities’.

The plan was given positive mention in George Osborne’s recent Budget speech, and has now been included in the Conservative manifesto.

On the internet, there is a picture of David Cameron meeting the chief executive of Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP), the company behind the scheme. So, the project certainly has friends in high places.

Fast-tracked through the planning process, it has already been approved by government inspectors, so all that remains to start construction is a final go-ahead from the energy minister.

In fact, the man responsible for the scheme, TLP’s Mark Shorrock, hopes five more such schemes will follow — including one six times as big which he is planning for Cardiff Bay up the coast.

Between them, it is claimed, these lagoons will not just ‘power every home in Wales’ but will put the Principality ‘at the heart of a hugely lucrative global tidal lagoon industry’.

However, when one looks carefully at the figures used to support this wave of euphoria, some rather large and troubling doubts begin to emerge.

For a start, the immense capital cost means that TLP is asking the Government to agree to it being given a uniquely high subsidy.

The project will only work, it says, if the power produced can be sold to the National Grid at the so-called ‘strike price’ of a staggering £168 per megawatt hour.

This is well over three times the wholesale price of unsubsidised electricity from coal or gas-fired power stations.

It is even more costly than the £155 per megawatt hour given to the hugely subsidised offshore wind farms the Government is erecting round our coasts. Even more than the £92.50 offered to the proposed nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

It would make Swansea’s tidal power easily the most expensive electricity in the world, paid for by every UK householder through green surcharges on our electricity bills.

But more astonishing is how little electricity the turbines are likely to produce. Although their full capacity, if they could produce at full power 24 hours a day, is rated at 320 megawatts, in fact they would turn, at varying speeds, for only some 14 hours a day, as the tides flow in and out.

So the figure coyly given by the project’s backers is merely that they will produce about ‘500,000 megawatt hours’ a year, enough supposedly to power ‘155,000 homes’.

But divide that by the number of hours in the year (8,760) and it means the average output of all the turbines would be only 57 megawatts, or 18 per cent of their capacity.

Compared with other power stations, this is peanuts. By comparison, the gas-fired power station being built by a French firm at Carrington in Manchester for the same capital cost of £1 billion will be capable of generating 880 megawatts — that’s 15 times as much.

Of course, lagoon-energy fans will point out that this Manchester power station will have to pay millions of pounds for its gas supply, while Swansea’s tides are free. But in economic terms it still makes no sense to plunge into such a colossal capital investment simply to obtain a pitiful dribble of electricity.

It is predicted that, even with a mind-boggling subsidy, the scheme would give a return of only £83 million a year. For anything less, this would surely be a total economic non-starter.

Project boss Mark Shorrock claims that if the go-ahead is given, his other plans — two more in South Wales, one across the Bristol Channel in Bridgwater Bay, others in North Wales and Cumbria — would be on a bigger scale and so generate energy more efficiently.

This, he argues, would reduce their need for subsidies and make electricity as cheap as that from nuclear or even gas-fired power plants.

But any idea that, between them all, they could generate enough electricity to power ‘every home in Wales’ is pure fantasy — not least because they will still need back-up from conventional power stations during all those hours when the tidal power falls as low as zero.

There are other aspects of the plans that seem worrying.

Since Mr Shorrock got into ‘renewable’ energy 14 years ago, he has made millions from wind and solar farms and loves to talk about how we must save the planet from global warming.

His empire’s holding company, of which he is chief executive officer and sole shareholder, is Shire Oak Energy.

Shire has a commercial arrangement whereby he sells all his heavily subsidised electricity to a firm called Good Energy — of which his wife is chief executive — which sells it on to the public.

A company document reveals that, as reward for Good Energy hiring Shire Oak to find ‘renewable’ sites and arranging their financing, her firm has, in recent years, promised commission to her husband’s company of up to £3 million.

Meanwhile, one of Shire Oak’s subsidiaries, of which Mr Shorrock is also the boss, has run into a controversy in Cornwall over its plan to reopen a disused quarry next to the little village of St Keverne, on the Lizard.

Here, Mr Shorrock hopes to create a mini-port from which 10,000-ton barges can take 1.2 million tons of stone a year to build his planned breakwater in Swansea Bay.

When he went to St Keverne in January to explain his plans, he was startled to find the hall packed with several hundred angry locals, concerned about the disruption and environmental damage quarrying would cause.

But the real £1 billion question is, how could Mr Shorrock have won top-level political backing for his project?

The answer, alas, is that politicians of all parties have become so obsessed with their commitment to cut our ‘carbon emissions’ by four-fifths under the Climate Change Act of 2008 that they have totally lost touch with any practical reality.

They can never hope to build the tens of thousands of wind turbines they dream of to meet that absurd target, as ministers wrongly continue to close down the ‘fossil fuel’ power stations which supply 70 per cent of the electricity we all need.

Lost in ‘green’ make-believe, they have fallen for as dotty an energy project as this country has seen. All that stands in its way is the final say-so of whoever becomes Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change after the election.

Tragically, anyone with such a cumbersome job title will, I fear, be so obsessed with the second part of their responsibilities that he or she will happily forget their duty towards the first.

SOURCE




Global Warming in Hot Water

Mark Steyn

I know the (Aussie) ABC are a bunch of doctrinaire lefties for the most part, but I always enjoy my appearances thereon and Tony Jones is a not un-agreeable host, all things considered. Still, it's sad to see them providing a platform for serial litigant and Clime Syndicate warmano Michael E Mann.

As you know, Mann is suing me for describing his famous scary "hockey stick" graph as "fraudulent", which it is. The graph shows a straight-line "shaft" of the stick representing 900 years of stable global temperature, followed by a sharp upturned blade representing the 20th century temperature rocketing up and out the top right-hand corner. The "message" (which Mann and his colleagues were concerned not to "dilute" with any subtleties or qualifications) was simple: We're all outta graph paper. This thing's off the charts with nowhere to go but up through the ceiling at an unprecedented rate. Give us all your money or the planet's gonna fry.

Instead, from the very moment Mann joined the global-warming A-listers, the actual, real-world temperature flatlined and his hockey stick got the worst case of brewer's droop since records began. As I've said before, if you graduated from college last summer, there's been no "global warming" since you were in kindergarten; if you graduated from high school, there's been none since you were born. For the generation that had Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth (heavily reliant on the hockey stick) shoved down its throat from K through 12, it doesn't feel like that, but nevertheless it's a fact: The "pause" in global warming is about to enter its third decade, and simply being a climate-pause denier (to coin a phrase) is no longer tenable.

So Mann has been given space by the dear old ABC to explain why the pause in global warming is merely, as he calls it in an ill-advised attempt at wit, a "faux pause":

"A new article co-authored by the other of us (Michael Mann), shows that natural ocean oscillations have recently acted to temporarily slow the warming of the Earth's surface temperatures, in combination with a relatively quiet sun, and active volcanoes."

The planet is still broiling, but the oceans are disguising it. In effect, the Big Global Warming Monster is hiding with Godzilla in the chilly depths of the Pacific waiting to spring to the surface when you least expect it. As Mann's paper puts it:

"Using this method, the AMO [Atlantic Multidecadal Variability] and PMO [Pacific Multidecal Variability] are found to explain a large proportion of internal variability in Northern Hemisphere mean temperatures. Competition between a modest positive peak in the AMO and a substantially negative-trending PMO are seen to produce a slowdown or "false pause" in warming of the past decade."

Ah, right. As Judith Curry politely asks:

"How can the pause be both "false" and caused by something?"

Mann, of course, is the guy whose "science" more or less abolished in the impressionable layman's mind the very notion of "natural climate variability" (his line is that the planet's climate was unvarying for millennia, and then came the Industrial Revolution), so it's interesting to find him now relying on natural (ocean) variability to explain why his surface scaremongering hasn't panned out. As Professor Richard Muller wrote, very presciently, way back in 2004:

"If you are concerned about global warming (as I am) and think that human-created carbon dioxide may contribute (as I do), then you still should agree that we are much better off having broken the hockey stick. Misinformation can do real harm, because it distorts predictions. Suppose, for example, that future measurements in the years 2005-2015 show a clear and distinct global cooling trend. (It could happen.) If we mistakenly took the hockey stick seriously--that is, if we believed that natural fluctuations in climate are small--then we might conclude (mistakenly) that the cooling could not be just a random fluctuation on top of a long-term warming trend, since according to the hockey stick, such fluctuations are negligible. And that might lead in turn to the mistaken conclusion that global warming predictions are a lot of hooey. If, on the other hand, we reject the hockey stick, and recognize that natural fluctuations can be large, then we will not be misled by a few years of random cooling."

Mann now demands we believe in both natural fluctuations and his broken hockey stick.

But, as usual, he's more concerned with the politics of climate:

"Such is the profound nature of human-caused global warming, that it has overcome these many short-term natural cooling influences.

Yet a purported global warming 'pause' (more aptly named the 'faux pause') is often used as an excuse by those who oppose taking action to curb climate change. For example, Republican Senator and US presidential candidate Ted Cruz recently said on American TV:

"Many of the alarmists on global warming, they've got a problem because the science doesn't back them up. In particular, satellite data demonstrate for the last 17 years, there's been zero warming."

This assertion is problematic for several reasons.

As all assertions by "Republican Senators" surely are, no?

"The faux pause has nonetheless been used by political partisans like Senator Cruz to cast doubt on the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are causing rapid global warming, simply because they find the political implications of that scientific reality inconvenient — to their ideological views and the views of the special interests who fund their campaigns."

But you don't need to assert "political partisans like Senator Cruz" kowtowing to "the special interests who fund their campaigns", do you? If Mann wants to hoot and jeer at rubes who keep yakking about this "faux pause", why not cite, say, his close buddy and fellow climate scientist Kevin Trenberth? Six years ago Trenberth emailed Mann:

"The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate."

And because they couldn't "account for the lack of warming" they hushed it up, carrying on - golly, almost like a "special interest". Four years before Trenberth - July 5th 2005 - another close colleague and head of the Climatic Research Unit Phil Jones emailed Mann:

"The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. Okay it has but it is only seven years of data and it isn't statistically significant."

"Seven years of data" isn't "statistically significant", but 17 years is harder to slough off. Hence, the scramble to come up with an explanation. But why should we accept an "explanation" that, by its very nature, says Mann's scary hockey stick is no big deal (hey, forget that graph; most of the action's underwater) and is from the same "hockey team" who denied "the lack of warming" for at least the last decade? Maybe there's something to this ocean theory, or maybe it's as worthless as emanations from Michael Mann's Magic Bristlecone. But why would you buy it from this guy?

Mann appeals as usual to authority - the "overwhelming scientific consensus". There may, indeed, be a broad scientific consensus that supports the idea of global warming ...but it certainly doesn't support fake Nobel Laureate Michael Mann and his opportunistic "pseudo-science" (as a genuine Nobel Laureate, Ivar Giaever, calls it).

Mann and his work have been called "scanty" (by Professor Mike Hulme), "simply unscientific" (Professor Tim Osborn), "truly pathetic" (Mann's original co-author Ray Bradley), "obvious drivel" (Professor Jonathan Jones), "a scientific forgery" (Professor Atte Korhola), "rubbish" (Professor Curt Covey), "worthless" (Professor Barry Cooke), "Orwell's Ministry of Information" (Professor William Happer), "shitty" (Professor Wallace Smith Broecker), "a crock of shit" (Professor Rob Wilson), and "a disgrace to the profession" (Professor Hendrik Tennekes).

Whoops, I'm giving away my witness list. I could go on, but I'll leave it with Professors Sebastian Lüning and Fritz Vahrenholt:

"It is difficult to fathom how the main players and proponents of the Hockey Sticks are still able to act as experts".

Indeed. To go back to that statistically "insignificant" seven years of data, we're now another ten years on. And 30 years is the official distinction between "climate" and "weather". In other words, as I look out the window right now,"Ha! Snow on the ground in mid-April. So much for global warming!" is merely today's weather. But three decades of non-warming is an official WMO climate. If you think Mann's a joke now, he's going to be a lot more of a laughingstock in 2027.

~Kathy Shaidle notes a supposed new publishing trend, the emergence of the climate-change memoir. I may have to corner a piece of that action myself. In the meantime, I'm honored to join some of the world's most eminent scientists as co-authors of Climate Change: The Facts. I like to think of this tome as the antidote to Mann and his Big Climate alarmism, but Brandon Shollenberger says:

"Anyone whose work is included in this book should be embarrassed by how bad a book it is."

Fortunately I don't embarrass easily. Mr Shollenberger is assiduously promoting his pan of Climate Change, so I thought we'd help him out. Here he is over in Judith Curry's comment section:

"Last week, a user here recommended the book Climate Change: the Facts. After reading a preview of it, I concluded the book denies global warming and concluded it was a bad book. A bit later, a user gave me a free copy of the book so I could read the whole thing. Now that I've done so, I can say it is as bad as I thought".

"As bad as I thought". We'll be slapping that on the cover of the second edition.

SOURCE





The Climate Change War Heats Up‏

By Alan Caruba

There is so much at stake for the charlatans that have foisted the failed “global warming” hoax, followed by the equally dubious claims and predictions regarding “climate change”, that it should come as no surprise that they have begun to wage a propaganda war on the courageous scientists who led the struggle to educate the public about the truth and the organizations who supported their efforts.

Along the way, many groups and publications claiming scientific credentials abandoned those standards to pump out global warming and climate change propaganda. Scientists discovered they could secure grant money for “research” so long as it supported claims that the North and South Poles, as well as all the world’s glaciers were melting. “Research” that predicted vast hurricane activity or a massive rise in ocean levels became routine headlines. None of it occurred. Both the government and liberal foundations provided millions to maintain the hoax.

Now we have a President claiming that his daughter’s asthma was due to “climate change.”  It is obscene nonsense. If this was just a disagreement between scientists, we could look on as the facts determine the outcome, but there are vast agendas as stake so we have to keep in mind that billions have been wasted on “renewable energy” alternatives to replace fossil fuels; the oil, coal, and natural gas that are the heart’s blood of modern nations and our lives.

We have to ask why the United Nations Framework on Climate Change takes such a dim view of the world’s population that it cites its use of energy and other resources as a reason to reduce it instead of celebrating it. Hard-core environmentalists do not like humans because they build houses, start businesses, need roads, and generally consume a lot and then create trash. Climate change is also the platform the U.N. is using to "transform" the world's economy.

We have to ask why our government is engaged in shutting down the coal-fired plants that provide the bulk of the electricity we use. This isn’t just a war on coal. It is a war on our entire economic system, capitalism. It is a war on Americans by their own government.

Lately, politicians at the federal level have declared war on those scientists whose research and findings have helped the public conclude, along with eighteen years of a natural cooling cycle, that “global warming” is no threat and that we have far greater threats to address than the vague notion that “climate change” is a problem we humans can affect in any way. We can’t and we don’t.

A recent example has been letters sent to seven university presidents by Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee asking for information on scientists and professors who had given congressional testimony that raised questions about “climate change.”  Grijalva had no legal authority to request such information, but his intention was intimidation. In 2013, when asked about his legislative agenda by These Times, he replied “I’m a Saul Alinsky guy” referring to the activist whose book, “Rules for Radicals”, spells out ways to attack one’s political enemies.

Pete Peterson, the executive director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy, identified Grijalva’s letters as “scare tactics” concluding that we have come to a time when “The inability of politicians to confront another’s argument much less to attempt to persuade the other side, has become standard operating procedure. Now this toxic approach is extending to the broader world of policy—including scientific research.”

Around the same time, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Sen. Barbara Boxer, and Sen. Ed Markey sent a letter to a hundred companies, grade groups and other organizations “affiliated with the fossil fuel industry asking whether they spent money to support climate research.”  The message was simple: do not sponsor research that would reveal inaccuracies or falsehoods regarding claims that “climate change” was a threat. The inference was that scientific research receiving such funding would betray scientific standards in ways that government or foundation funding would not.

Suffice to say the letters evoked outrage. As a policy advisor to the free market think tank, The Heartland Institute, I was aware of the response of its president, Joe Bast who called the letters something that “fascists do.” He was not alone. The Washington Times called the Senators “climate change Toquemadas” and The Wall Street Journal said the letters were nothing more than an effort to silence science.

When Sen. Whitehouse aired his unhappiness in an April 14 blog post the Huffington Post, “Right-Wing Groups Get Overheated on Climate Questions”, Bast responded asking, “If the Senator’s letter wasn’t intended as harassment of individuals who disagree with his extremist views on the climate, why the overly broad demand, the ridiculous deadline, the implied threat of action, and the news release saying it was intended to expose a diabolical conspiracy of ‘right-win groups’?”

When “climate change” reaches the political heights of Congress and the White House, it should come as no surprise that the charlatans who want to use this hoax for their own benefit and agendas are going to unleash efforts to smear and intimidate those scientists who have put true facts before the public.

In late March, Michael Bastash of The Daily Caller reported that “A new Gallup poll shows that Americans’ concern about warming has fallen to the same level it was in 1989. In fact, global warming ranked at the bottom of a list of Americans’ environmental concerns, with only 32 percent saying they were worried about it a ‘great deal.’”

That’s what has the politicians and U.N. officers on the offensive to silence scientists and defame think tanks and other organizations that have helped Americans come to the sensible conclusion that a “warming” isn’t happening and the planet’s climate is something over which they have no control.

SOURCE  





Scientific neutrality?

A major publisher of scholarly medical and science articles has retracted 43 papers because of "fabricated" peer reviews amid signs of a broader fake peer review racket affecting many more publications ...

Science, according to scientists, is about facts and evidence. These brave truth seekers prove their hypotheses with rigorous experimentation, and then share the newfound knowledge to make the world better.

That's the theory. Reality is different.

Scientists are no more neutral than journalists are. Some try to expand human knowledge without regard for their own self-interest. Most are like everyone else; they just want to pay the bills and find meaning in their work.

The core problem is the idea that acting in one's own self-interest is somehow wrong or shameful. This causes scientists to hide their true motivations and possibly mislead the public. The fabricated peer reviews reported in the Washington Post are a good example. The only surprise is that publishers are finally resisting.

Many great scientific breakthroughs are the direct result of profit-seeking behavior. Is this wrong? Of course not. If someone invents a product that makes your life better, you are happy to pay for it. Widely useful inventions draw bigger profits. This is perfectly natural.

Of course, the world needs purely altruistic research. Society benefits from having smart people think about long-range, remote challenges. Visionary patrons have long funded such work for their own gratification. This hurts no one, and may help us all.

Today's institutions too often fail to distinguish between pure scientific research and the practical application of their discoveries. University professors and think-tank fellows pretend to be interested only in knowledge for its own sake. Many are in fact servants of profit-seeking corporations that fund their work.

The public doesn't know the difference; we just see people with impressive credentials. They sound smart, and the media tells us they are, so we believe them.

Often we shouldn't believe them. We would all be much better off if the scientists simply admitted their motivations.

Nowhere is this truer than in the dismal "science" of economics. The mush that university economists plant in young minds is only the tip of an iceberg. The real damage occurs on Wall Street and in Washington, D.C.

Here is what happens: Large banks hire credentialed economists to give supposedly useful advice to bank clients. Those who are particularly skilled at this move through a revolving door to Washington, where bureaucrats greatly admire private sector experience.

In fact, this private sector experience offers little or no useful knowledge. This does not stop them from influencing public policy, usually for the worse. Then they go back to work for banks at much higher salaries. This cycle can repeat several times over a career.

Incidents like the peer-review scandal occur because lower-tier economists want to break into the top tier. Since the top tier should not exist in the first place, they are grasping at straws. They grow frustrated. Some will cheat – and a few cheaters will reach the top tier, making it even less valuable to anyone.

Such cheating will continue as long as people think it will reward them. The academic journals can and should crack down when they see it, but the dishonesty will re-emerge in a different form.

In one respect, scientific neutrality is almost impossible. Deciding to investigate Hypothesis A instead of Hypothesis B is not a neutral act. Maybe B has more potential benefit, but A gets attention because it has a more generous funding source. (We see a similar dynamic in the news media. Editors slant the news by publishing some stories and ignoring others.)

More transparency would benefit all branches of science. There is nothing wrong with wanting to succeed and get ahead. Scientists should simply admit it and let everyone know their angle. Consumers will reward those who deserve it.

SOURCE  





GREENIE ROUNDUP FROM AUSTRALIA

Three current reports below

Get Them Young, Make Them Green

Education ministers do not seem troubled that a  green propaganda machine, Cool Australia, has garnered the support of thousands of teachers and schools, happily peddling slick scare campaigns and nudging students towards its militant allies and dark-green partners. If governments won't object, maybe parents should

Australian schools are handing over the  all-pervasive ‘sustainability’ syllabus to a militant green organisation, Cool Australia, whose curriculum material and projects have enjoyed a red-carpet ride into the state and private education systems, with accolades from the Australian Education Union and the Independent Education Union.

Much of Cool Australia’s program for schools is benign: recycle trash, don’t waste electricity, plant trees, embrace reconciliation. But the rest of the agenda tirelessly advances the supposedly impending global-warming catastrophe, plus, inevitably, preaching the evils of fossil fuels.

The impression of what some might see as brainwashing is enhanced by the featured endorsements of hard-line carbon-phobic groups like the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and civil disobedience advocate/ex-NASA scientist James Hansen [1]. Beyond that, there are links to Bill McKibben, of the 350.org climate-zealot lobby group[2], and the Skeptical Science website, which devotes itself to pummelling ‘deniers’ while declining to publish their demurrals on its comments threads. Such groups’ videos are  offered to students to watch in their own time, leaving more time in class for ‘discussion’ of the messages.

The success of the Cool Australia in planting its deep-green message in the minds of school children suggests a growing and structural obstacle to any rational discussion of climate matters in the future, as green-indoctrinated voters emerge from the education system and join the ranks of voters. Sadly, while green-dyed propaganda becomes a fixture in the classroom, there is not much chance that, say, the coal-mining members of the Minerals Council of Australia or a Big Four bank lending for fossil fuel  projects, will be invited to contribute a measure of balance by providing curriculum modules that deviate from the green orthodoxy.

Cool Australia claims that 42% of Australia’s 10,000-odd schools had a teacher registered with it. From early childhood to Year 10, some 500,000 students were engaged, and 120,000 “learning activities” downloaded for their use. Roughly 20,000 teachers are signed on (that’s 1-in-15 nationally) and the number is growing at the rate of 1400 a month. Teacher sign-ups more than doubled in 2013-14. Targets for 2015 are “more than 50%” of Australian schools, 30,000 registered teachers, and 600,000 children from age 3 upwards (about 20% of all students). Penetration rates are about equal in the government, private and Catholic sectors.

One Cool Australia partner and donor is the magazine Dumbo Feather. Here’s inspiration, kids, from a current Dumbo article by Paul Yacoumis, an RMIT tutor (Environment Economics), Melbourne University tutor (“Reshaping Environments”) and acolyte of the university’s nutty Sustainable Society Institute:

“This year I will be further experimenting with self-sufficiency and minimising my participation in the corporate economy. I’m delving into urban foraging, trying my hand at dumpster diving[3] [getting food from rubbish skips] and cultivating a small garden in my front yard—although the food gods have not been especially kind so far… Fortunately for friends and family, I drew the line at hemp clothing.”

“In my darker moments, I’ve even found myself hoping for some kind of global cataclysm—at least then the human race may have the chance to start anew.”

“We can choose to allow the “evil” of social or ecological collapse to fall upon our future kin, or we can start to shift the power away from this unsustainable economic system that’s caused it and build a better one in its place.”

As Cool Australia founder Jason Kimberley puts it[4]: “We understand … that all information at Cool Australia must be science-based, never politically or ideologically driven.” Regard Cool Australia and its partners as a team, however, and more than a whiff of ideology does seem to be wafting  around the classroom. Indeed, the Cool Australia material quite specifically encourages students to become political activists. In its main textbook, We Are the Weather Makers, we read:

“Tim Flannery says that community leaders ‘need to hear your voice’. Write a letter to a public figure or other influential member of the community [code for local member, TT] explaining your concerns about global warming and climate change.”[5]

Cool Australia’s long march into schools begins with three-year-olds in "early learning centres", what previous generations knew as day-care and kindergartens, where “our youngest learners" are "a long term investment in shaping our future”.[6] Make no mistake, activism is the end-goal. “Information and awareness are critical, but it’s more important to build young people’s skills and capacity to innovate and implement these solutions…" and this as well, "we educate and engage future generations in the critical thinking required for them to become the revolutionaries we need to tackle the challenges of the twenty-first century.”[7]

Despite its pleas for reduced consumerism, Cool Australia is, ironically, the brainchild of the Kimberley family, once the proprietors of the Just Jeans chain.  Craig Kimberley, who netted $64m from his group's sale  in 2001, is a director, and his son, Jason, is founder and CEO. Consumerism is bad, apparently, once you have sold your chain of stores devoted to consumerism.

Jason Kimberley endlessly recycles the story of his ‘eco-epiphany’, which happened during a 2005 visit to Antarctica. He returned an ardent eco-warrior. While he may not yet have noticed that Antarctic sea-ice  is at record levels for the satellite era, school principals love his shtick.

Kimberley claims to have spoken personally with 50,000 students, at the impressive rate of 10,000 a year. The people running Armadale Primary School in Melbourne were so impressed that, in August, 2013, they declared Jason “Principal for a Day”, with an address to the school assembly thrown in.

The Australian Education Union’s (former) National President, Angelo Gavrielatos, puts the case:

“I don’t know if the Cool Australia team fully understands what they are achieving… an incredible achievement in just six years. Only UNICEF has a greater schools penetration, and they had a 50-year head start… You are, quite seriously, the good guys in education.”

Cool Australia last year partnered with the AEU and Independent Teachers’ Union (ITU) on the “AEU/IEU Greens Conference”, featuring such activists as the global warming scholar Rod Quantock (B.Arch, Melbourne University [failed]), the comedian whose more recent laughter-generating moments are quite unintentional. The AEU called it “Greens Conference”; Cool Australia called it “Green Schools Conference”. Perhaps they’re both right.

Jason  Kimberley has scruples. According to one account, he “delights in reports from teachers of younger children who say their students see the Cool Australia learning activities more like games than serious learning. But he’s less inclined to talk global warming with his own kids: Florence, 8, Cooper, 6 and Olive, 3. ‘I don’t want to shove the environmental stuff down their throats.’ he says.”

Other wealthy backers of Cool Australia include:

Ex-Wotif tycoon and Greens Party mega-funder Graeme Wood, worth around $350m.

Aged-care tycoon Robert Purves,  WWF  president,  former board member of WWF International and Governor of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.  Purves’ foundation has distributed more than $10 million to environment, climate-change and activist causes.

A major donor (possibly THE major donor) to Cool Australia since 2012 has been Bendigo Bank, whose Bendigo Wealth executive John Billington is on the Cool Australia board and endorsed a three-year sponsoring deal in 2014.   In a cosy double-deal, Bendigo says, “Cool Australia will deliver the Bendigo Wealth brand to thousands of teachers, children and their families.”

And Cool Australia’s report re-pays the praise with interest: “[Bendigo Bank] have a conscience and a heartbeat. They are far bigger than a bank.”[8] To suggest the scale of things, bear in mind that Cool Australia’s and Bendigo Bank’s national Enviroweek in 2013 involved 1200 schools and 162,000 students who adopted 500,000 “challenges”.[9]

Here’s how Bendigo Bank gets a free kick against the Big Four:

Cool Australia strongly endorses the Australian Youth Climate Coalition's (AYCC) juvenile activists, who battle for Gaia by jumping around in  fish costumes at Lend Lease annual meetings, to name but one of their stunts, while denouncing coal financing.

AYCC boasts that it “can provide speakers and group facilitators to schools around the country. The AYCC draws on the significant experience of many of its member groups, as well as its own ‘Climate Messenger’ program to deliver excellent presentations concerning a broad range of issues surrounding climate change. To find out more visit http://www.aycc.org.au/ or call (02) 9247 7934.”[10]

A current AYCC campaign is Dump Your Bank. “Could your bank use your money to fund the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef and our climate?” it asks, going on to urge readers to “Take the Pledge. ‘I pledge to dump my bank  because they’ve refused to rule out funding coal ports on the Great Barrier Reef’." AYCC has made a slick little video, featuring photogenic moppets, that specifically targets the Commonwealth, a Bendigo Bank competitor, for allegedly financing the Great Barrier Reef's destruction.

SOURCE

France urges Australia to keep climate commitment ahead of UN summit

What the bungling and unpopular French government says won't butter many parsnips in Australia  -- or anywhere else, I would think

The French government is urging Australia to stick to an international commitment to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.

The appeal comes just a week before Prime Minister Tony Abbott sits down for talks with French president Francois Hollande in Paris, where climate is expected to be among the top issues discussed.

French ambassador to Australia Christophe Lecourtier told the ABC that France, which will host the pivotal UN Summit on Climate later this year, wanted Australia to put an "ambitious" commitment on the table sooner rather than later.

"Your country is a very influential country in the Asia Pacific region and you know that climate change is having tremendous consequences in the region," he said.

"We do believe Australia has a very important role to play during this conference, first of all because Australia has always been a strong promoter of the fight against climate change.

Have your say: do you think Australia should follow French advice and stick to the international commitments on climate change?
"Keeping temperature increase below two degrees in the coming years is a commitment and it's the commitment of 196 countries, so we do believe that it's the ultimate ambition for the world community if we want to leave a liveable planet for the next generation."

But it is unclear if the Federal Government remains committed to keeping long-term temperature rises below the two degree goal as agreed in Cancun in 2010.

The website for the Department of Foreign Affairs states that "governments agreed that emissions need to be reduced to ensure global temperature increases are limited to below two degrees Celsius".

However, the Federal Government's issues paper for the post 2020 targets released two weeks ago made no mention of the two degree goal.

Its Energy White Paper released last week highlighted the economic opportunities from predicted increases in fossil fuel use that the International Energy Agency forecasted could lead to a temperature increase of up to four degrees.

The Climate Action Tracker predicts that on current trends, the global mean temperature is expected to rise between 2.9 and 5.2 degrees Celsius by 2100.

When asked by the ABC, neither the Foreign Minister nor the Environment Minister would directly respond to the question of "whether Australia remains committed to the goal of keeping long-term temperature rises below two degrees".

On Friday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australia would play a "positive" role in the lead-up to the Paris talks.

"Australia contributes about 1 per cent of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions and so we will take action that is proportionate to our global greenhouse gas emissions," she said.

One target the Government is talking about is its 2020 Kyoto emissions reduction goal.

To meet it, Australia will need to reduce emissions from 2000 levels by 5 per cent.

It is a target the Government has been extremely confident about meeting and even potentially exceeding.  "Australia is on track to meet our 2020 targets," Ms Bishop said.  "Not every country, in fact not many countries can claim they will meet their 2020 targets.

"So Australia will attend Paris in a very good position having, I believe, made significant progress towards meeting our 2020 target."

The Government's confidence is based on the fact that Australia has met its previous international targets.

SOURCE

Victoria's government settles East West Link deal for $339m

Green/Left anti-roads zealots hit the pockets of Victorians hard

Victoria has actually sunk up to $900 million into the dumped East West Link, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy says.

The state government announced a $339 million deal to axe the $6.8 billion road project this morning.

Mr Guy said as well as the $339 million already spent by the East West Connect consortium and the $81 million in finance costs, another $400-$500 million has been spent by the state government. “These sunk costs by government include land acquisitions, project development and bid costs,” Mr Guy said.

The decision was economic vandalism that would set back Australia’s fastest growing city, he said.

“There will be no major infrastructure project underway in Victoria for years.” Former treasurer Michael O’Brien said the state government spent $190 million in 2013/14 on land acquisition and project costs, with another $290 million set for 2014/15.

The Federal Government slammed the deal with the East-West Link consortium not to build the road as “an obscenity’’ that will cost 7000 jobs.

The Victorian government this morning announced it had brokered a deal with the companies involved in the project, taking on a $3 billion credit facility while the road’s proposed builders walk away with $339m in already incurred costs.

A further $81 million in fees will be absorbed by the state government, after it was spent to set up a credit facility to borrow the project costs.

Federal Social Services Minister Scott Morrison described the payment as “an obscenity” when there were more pressing community needs, such as combating youth homelessness.

“For the Victorian government to spend $420 million to pay to a company not to build a road is an obscenity, and Bill Shorten is linked up with that obscenity in his support for Daniel Andrews’ decision on this,” Mr Morrison said.

“Taxpayers in Victoria and right around the country, when there are so many more worthy needs, would just be shaking their heads.”

The Prime Minister said he was dismayed by Victoria’s decision to not proceed with the project, accusing the Labor state government of damaging investor confidence in Australia.

“The Victorian Government’s decision to abrogate contractual responsibilities sets a dangerous precedent for future projects and threatens further investment in much-needed infrastructure in our country,’’ Tony Abbott said in a joint statement with Jamie Briggs, the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure.

“Australia can’t afford to discourage private investment in infrastructure because government alone cannot afford to build the infrastructure that our country needs. There is no alternative to the East West Link in Victoria. The East West Link is the only major shovel-ready project in Victoria. It is the only answer to easing Victoria’s traffic congestion.

“The Victorian Premier has today destroyed 7000 jobs. And the Victorian Government’s actions today mean that Melbourne’s daily traffic gridlock simply gets worse.

“Victorians should feel let down by Daniel Andrews who promised before the election that no compensation would be paid.

“The tearing up of this contract damages Victoria’s reputation as a place to do business — as has been proven by revelations this week that the French and Spanish Governments have made direct representations of concern to Victoria.’’

The Victorian Premier said the deal would mean Victorians pay no compensation and legal opportunities for the consortium to seek compensation through the courts has been extinguished.

“This concludes the matter,” Mr Andrews said. “This extinguishes any claims for the future.”

The group has already been handed and spent $339m on design and pre-construction, including buying a number of properties which the government will now own.

Mr Andrews said the costs could not be recovered, but the government will review it to see if there has been any overspending within it. A further $110m held in cash by the consortium has not been spent and will be refunded.

Mr Andrews said Victoria would benefit from a $3bn credit facility established for the road project (with the $81m in fees already incurred) which would now be used for the Melbourne Metro rail project.

The government also released a redacted version of the East West Link’s contract and confirmation from Treasury that the total cost of the road’s eastern section would have been $10.7 billion over 30 years.

Treasurer Tim Pallas attacked his predecessor Michael O’Brien for having the “insufferable arrogance” to lock Victoria into the contract when it could have been held over until after last November’s election.

He pledged Victoria would maintain its AAA credit rating in next month’s budget.

Mr Andrews said he accepted there would have been serious consequences for Victoria’s business reputation if his government had followed through on its threat to use legislation to kill the contract, but said that had never been his first preference.

“It was always preferable for us to negotiate in good faith and to reach a good faith outcome,” he said. “That is exactly what we have done.

“As part of the settlement there is no compensation for profits forgone, no compensation for any losses that might have been incurred or will be in the future and this notion of opportunity cost all of those matters are settled once and for all as part of this agreement.”

He revealed the government is now planning to introduce legislation that would block future governments from signing significant contracts close to an election without bipartisan support, saying the Napthine government had recklessly rushed into a project “in an act of complete vandalism”.

Asked if the government would consider building the western part of the link — considered by many to be the most vital part of the project — Mr Andrews said he would not rule anything out and further infrastructure announcements would be made in the weeks ahead.

The Australian Industry Group welcomed the end of uncertainty surrounding the East West Link contract, said the group’s Victorian director Tim Piper.

“The completion of an agreement on the East West Link ensures a crisis of confidence in Government contracts has been averted,’’ he said.

“Ai Group welcomes the agreement being reached as it had the potential to cast a pall over the Victorian economy. The sanctity of these contracts is vital to business and the uncertainty around this deal had sent a terrible message to industry, both locally and around the world.

“Ai Group had not supported the contract being rescinded but it is important that both the Government and industry are now able to move forward with certainty. The Victorian Government needs to act quickly to get other projects under way in Victoria, to utilise the skills available and boost the economy.

“The way is now clear, to enable the Government to pursue its projects and regenerate confidence. This should be the end of such contracts being breached.’’

Greens MP Ellen Sandell said the hefty compensation could have been avoided if the Labor government had opposed the East West Link earlier.

“If the Labor Party had come out and opposed this project earlier on rather than flipping and flopping with their position we could have avoided over $300 million of taxpayer funds going to the consortium,” Ms Sandell told reporters. “But it’s a good outcome overall.”

Greens senator Janet Rice said Victorians should “savour this win for the community” and urged the federal Coalition to fund metropolitan public transport.

“Victoria’s traffic woes are never going to be solved by more and more polluting toll roads. The fact is that the only way to reduce congestion is to give people the choice of fast, frequent, affordable, reliable and safe public transport,” Senator Rice said.

SOURCE

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

For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here

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


Thursday, April 16, 2015


Love that chartmanship!

Chartmanship is a sub-branch of how to lie with statistics.  In the example below the trick is to put up a long series that makes recent years look trivial. You are supposed not to notice that, while there was some warming in the 20th century, temperatures in the 21st century have been flat.  The facts are there in the chart but are swamped by other details.  But you can see it if you look carefully.

And note that the "record" temperature is only higher than the previous "record" by three one hundredths of one degree.  Utterly trivial and highly artificial.  The accuracy of global temperature measurement is just not that good.  Warmists are very devious folks



Global temperature records keep melting as Japan declares March the hottest on record

The average air temperature over land and sea was 0.31 degrees above the 1981-2010 average, eclipsing the previous record anomaly of 0.28 degrees set in 2010.

Compared with the 20th century, temperatures last month were 0.76 degrees above average, the agency said.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is likely to release its March readings in coming days. Last month, the agency said both the first two months of 2015 and the 12 months to February were the hottest in 136 years of records.  [But by how much?  By less than one degree]

SOURCE





The great God MAY is worshipped again

Sightings of dolphins in Scottish waters up  -- and that MAY be due to global warming.  But it MAY not be too.  Why do science when you can guess?  Many marine species show wide population fluctuations from time to time -- usually for unknown reasons.  The waters around the British Isles seem to be warming more than waters elsewhere but again nobody knows why.  Something to do with cycles in ocean currents, most probably. The only thing clear is that it is NOT a global phenomenon

Encounters with common dolphins off the west of Scotland have more than doubled over a decade, according to experts.

And now research is under way to find out why, with scientists proposing that climate change may have caused the surge in numbers.

Common dolphins were once a rare sight in the Hebrides, preferring warmer waters found further south, leading experts to believe that global warming has led to pods moving north.

Monitoring by Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust teams has seen the number of encounters with common dolphins increase by 68 per cent over the past 12 years.

The dolphins come to the Hebrides in spring to take advantage of seasonal food stocks, travelling in large groups and sometimes forming ‘super-pods’ of thousands of individuals.

While they were once drawn to warmer waters above 10°C south of the area, climate change is causing sea surface temperatures in the Hebrides to rise by around 0.5 °C a decade.

And warmer water species appear to be colonising new areas further north or closer to shore, the trust said.

The shift north could be creating new opportunities for the common dolphins to find food in new areas, but may mean the species is competing for fish with other types of dolphin or seabirds.

SOURCE






No, global warming is not going to take away your fish and chips

Chris Mooney is a science popularizer who can be relied on to put a Green/Left spin on what he writes.  This time however there is only about a 2% spin, with a Warmist scare being competently debunked below

Nowhere do people love fish and chips more than in the United Kingdom, where the National Federation of Fish Friers calls it “the undisputed National dish of Great Britain” and claims sales of 1.2 billion pounds Sterling per year.

No wonder, then, that when a new study came out yesterday seeming to suggest that the dramatic warming of North Sea waters due to climate change could threaten stocks of fish like haddock — one of the leading “fish” components of the dish, along with cod — there was something of a media freakout.

“Global warming could make haddock and chips a thing of the past,” blared the UK Mirror. “Fish and chips on the brink of extinction due to warming seas,” added International Business Times. Many other headlines suggested more or less the same.

The study itself didn’t say this — and a key fact raises considerable reason for doubt about these headlines. Namely, whatever happens in the North Sea, much of the fish that winds up in UK servings of fish and chips isn’t caught there at present. Most of the cod and haddock consumed in the form of fish and chips in the UK instead come from the Barents Sea and Iceland, according to Seafish, a joint industry and government organization set up to ensure sustainable fish stocks.

That doesn’t mean the new research is unimportant — and it is indeed bad news, when interpreted properly. But the alarmist media headlines call to mind the buzz last year about Chipotle supposedly considering discontinuing guacamole because of climate-related changes in food costs — a story the company had to debunk on Twitter.

Let’s first go to the research itself. The study was published in a top journal, Nature Climate Change, by University of Exeter biosciences researcher Louise Rutterford and her colleagues. It doesn’t say anything directly about the loss of fish and chips.

Instead, the study begins with some crucial background observations: The North Sea has seen a staggering warming since the 1980s, “four times faster than the global average.” And this has already meant that catches of “cold-adapted” fish species, like haddock, have declined by half — even as catches of warm water loving intruders have gone up by “a factor of 2.5.”

But we’re only at the beginning of the projected warming. So the researchers used a novel model that took into account both climate projections and fisheries and other environmental data to study how distributions of the top ten most common North Sea bottom dwelling fish would change as warming of the North Sea continues over the next 50 years.

The fish species studied were cod, dab, haddock, hake, lemon sole, ling, long rough dab, plaice, saithe, and whiting. They accounted for 68 percent of fish caught commercially in the area in the last three decades, the study says. And the paper found that many of these species would not be able to shift their habitats to deeper, cooler waters in order to weather the changes that were coming — simply because they had already tried that adaptive strategy in past decades and it had been “largely exhausted.”

The study instead found that the fish might have to, in effect, weather in place, and face an additional 3.2 degrees Celsius of potential warming by 2100. ”The ecological consequences are unknown,” the study noted, especially since the fish could face invasions of competing warmer water species.

“Fish will either need to change their ecology (e.g. diet and habitat) to move, their physiology (e.g. metabolism and reproduction) to stay put and acclimate to a further 2 C warming, or decline,” explains study co-author Stephen Simpson, a biologist at the University of Exeter, by email.

Based on the research, then, many of these North Sea species could indeed face serious challenges. And that’s surely why the study was newsworthy, especially in the UK. But where did people read into this the idea that this would take away fish and chips?

The answer appears to the press release for the study — “Warming seas pose habitat risk for fishy favorites” — which was fairly cautious, but did set journalists down this path with a quotation at the end from Simpson:

Our models predict cold water species will be squeezed out, with warmer water fish likely to take their place. For sustainable UK fisheries, we need to move on from haddock & chips and look to Southern Europe for our gastronomic inspiration.

Note the phrase “sustainable UK fisheries” – if seafood in the UK is to be sourced from the North Sea, then yes, the new research might suggest a looming challenge to making fish and chips from fish caught in these waters.

But this ignores the matter of imports: Cod and haddock for fish and chips in the UK today mostly do not come from the North Sea. According to the website of the UK’s National Federation of Fish Friers:

"A total of 62% of fish sold in fish and chip shops is cod and 25% is haddock. 90% of shops use FAS [Frozen at Sea] fillets – these fish are caught by large modern trawlers operating in carefully managed fishing grounds in the icy, clear Arctic waters of the Barents Sea and North Atlantic, caught by Icelandic, Norwegian, Russian and Faroese vessels. Stringent, science-based and strictly enforced regulations have ensured good management of cod and haddock stocks in these waters, and the catches from this area accounts for 97% of the total Northern Hemisphere cod quota."

To check into this further, I contacted the Edinburgh-based Seafish, a UK-based body funded by industry through a levy on catch, but originally set up by government to ensure sustainable fisheries. The answer was consistent with the above statement.

“Cod and haddock stocks in the North Sea are at very healthy levels and the UK fishing industry places great importance on careful management of fish stocks for future generations,” said the organization’s trade marketing manager Andy Gray. “However, to meet demand, approximately 95% of the cod that we consume in the UK is actually imported from Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.”

As for haddock, a Seafish fact sheet explains that except for in Scotland, most of what is consumed tends to come not from the North Sea but from Iceland and the Barents Sea. Indeed, both cod and haddock count among the UK’s top five imported fish species, according to Seafish.

So it looks like whatever happens in the North Sea, the UK is bringing in a large volume of fish imports from different regions, especially colder and more northerly ones. That’s not to say that other fisheries aren’t also potentially subject to impacts from climate change — but that wasn’t the focus of the current research.

I also contacted the original researchers, noting that I was having a hard time directly connecting their research with the issue of fish and chips availability, due to the fact that most fish served as fish and chips in the UK seems to come from abroad.

Lead author Louise Rutterford responded by email, noting that the fish that she studied do represent 68 percent of the commercial North Sea catch. So there could indeed be a need for dietary shifts as climate change progresses. Rutterford also called the North Sea a “canary in the coalmine” since it is seeing such a rapid change in climate.

However, she acknowledged that “in terms of where fish and chips come from you’re right, since we still want to eat traditional colder water fish much of it has to be imported since the North Sea has experienced massive stock reductions due to fishing pressure and now much tighter management means less is landed.”

“The current situation is that most of what we eat in the UK we import, and most of what we catch we export to mainland Europe,” added Simpson by email. “Our diet has remained static while the fish have moved.”

So, in sum — global warming is going to change the world in many ways. And that often won’t be good for flora and fauna — those we eat, and also those we don’t. Moreover, as species shift ranges in response to changing temperatures, what counts as “local” food in a given place may also change, perhaps a great deal.

But that doesn’t mean every media doom story about climate change is true. The research in question does present cause for concern — and warmer seas will surely imperil many species. But it seems doubtful, based in this study alone, that fish and chips is going anywhere any time soon.

SOURCE






The Arctic methane story yet again

A refreshing change below.  The authors say that subsurface methane gas will NOT act as a greenhouse gas

Methane, the principle component in natural gas, is usually produced by organic material decomposing.

But there is another form of the deadly gas, dubbed abiotic methane, that is created by chemical reactions in the crust beneath the seafloor.

Now scientists have found vast deep water gas hydrates in the Arctic that are reservoirs for abiotic methane – a gas which is 20 times more effective in trapping heat than carbon dioxide.

The reservoirs are secure, and scientists don't believe they will impact climate change. Instead, they say similar formations could someday be used to store methane, that can later be used as fuel.

One reservoir was recently discovered on the ultraslow spreading Knipovich ridge, in the deep Fram Strait of the Arctic Ocean.

'This ultraslow spreading ridge shows that the Arctic environment is ideal for this type of methane production,' said Joel Johnson associate professor at the University of New Hampshire.

The Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Climate and Environment (Cage) estimates that up to 15,000 gigatonnes of carbon may be stored in the form of hydrates in the ocean floor.

'But this estimate is not accounting for abiotic methane. So there is probably much more,' said Cage director Jürgen Mienert.

Methane produced by serpentinisation can escape through cracks and faults, and end up at the ocean floor, causing a concern for future global warming.

But in the Knipovich Ridge it is trapped as gas hydrate in the sediments.

'In other known settings the abiotic methane escapes into the ocean, where it potentially influences ocean chemistry,' says Johnson.

'But if the pressure is high enough, and the subsea floor temperature is cold enough, the gas gets trapped in a hydrate structure below the sea floor.'

Bünz says that there are many places in the Arctic Ocean with a similar tectonic setting as the Knipovich ridge.

Rather than causing a concern, the study claims that active tectonic environments may serve as a stable area for long-term storage of methane carbon in deep-marine sediments.

SOURCE





Universities: the environmentalist enemy within

Most students and lecturers are confident they can spot threats to academic freedom. In the UK, there have been petitions, letters to the press and Twitter campaigns against the government’s proposed anti-terror legislation and the onus it will put on universities to monitor external speakers and supposedly vulnerable students. Similar proposals in Canada are also being met with protest. In America, there are longstanding complaints against tighter restrictions placed on the allocation of research funds post 9/11. In Hong Kong, the threat to academic freedom is said to come from the Beijing government. All around the world, many in higher education are quick to decry the undue influence of big business or wealthy private donors on the direction of scholarship. The verbal tic of ‘neoliberalism’ is used to alert fellow sympathisers to the potential danger.

Everywhere, threats to academic freedom that emerge from outside the university are triumphantly exposed and, thankfully, challenged. However, the satisfaction that comes with signing a petition or a bit of forceful re-tweeting can give a false sense of mission accomplished. In reality there are many restrictions on what can and can’t be said in higher education today. Academics often compromise and conform to satisfy the demands of student customers, peer reviewers and funding councils. They self-censor so as not to breach institutional equality and diversity policies, speech codes and safe spaces. Thinking out loud, and ultimately thinking itself, is checked and brought into line with the dominant green, feminist, state-enamoured perspective.

Pressure to self-censor and conform is rarely outed as a threat to academic freedom because it emerges from within universities, and more specifically from well-meaning fellow staff and students. A recently published report from the American National Association of Scholars (NAS) raises important questions about the threat to academic freedom that comes from the orthodoxies built up around the issue of environmentalism. As James Woudhuysen explored on spiked, Sustainability: Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism reveals how, ‘over nearly 25 years’, the campus sustainability movement (CSM) and its elite backers have ‘succeeded in transforming much of the curriculum and the practice of US higher education’.

Sustainability provides a comprehensive account of the many ways often well-funded green interest groups pose a threat to academic freedom. It suggests green-backed restrictions are not accidental but integral to the politics of sustainability, which assumes ‘curtailing economic, political, and intellectual liberty is the price that must be paid now to ensure the welfare of future generations’. The report’s central argument is that sustainability on campus has become an all-consuming tyranny that aims to shape the thinking and behaviour of academics and students. Furthermore, it is a movement that brooks no dissent.

The authors of Sustainability are careful not to take any position on the existence of anthropomorphic global warming. Instead they argue that ‘all important ideas ought to be open to reasoned debate and careful examination of the evidence’. Indeed, for over a century scepticism and the ultimate contestability of all truth claims underpinned not just the scientific method but the entire liberal academic project. Advancing and challenging truth claims made criticism a meaningful exercise and intellectual progress possible.

The sustainability movement, ‘whose declared position is that the time for debate is over and that those who persist in raising basic questions are “climate deniers”’, adds to the myriad attacks on the pursuit of knowledge that have come from within universities over the past four decades. Campus environmentalists can easily jettison fundamental tenets of the academic project because, as the NAS report reminds us, ‘sustainability is not a discipline or even a subject area. It is an ideology.’ As such, the intellectual liberty to question everything is not welcomed as the way to advance knowledge but rather poses a threat to the central beliefs and values of environmentalism.

When higher education becomes separated from the aims of advancing new knowledge and rigorously critiquing existing understanding, it is left in search of a mission. This is where the campus sustainability movement comes into its own with a raft of values for students and academics alike to take on board, with success measured in the inculcation of behaviour changes. Sustainability outlines numerous ways that campus busybodies seek to nudge everyone into making eco-friendly lifestyle choices, from doing away with trays in the canteen to the edict that students should study in well-populated areas of the library so as to minimise the use of lighting.

Green league tables that rank universities in a national competition to promote recycling and minimise resource use are now common in the UK as well as in the US. In Britain, the NUS-backed Green Impact Project encourages teams of staff and students to compete for points gained through making behaviour changes such as ‘meat-free Monday’ and ‘walk-on Wednesday’. The NAS are absolutely correct to demand universities stop nudging and ‘leave students the space to make their own decisions about sustainability’ because ‘the decision of a college to “nudge” rather than persuade sounds a note of disdain for the right of students to make up their own minds’. At present the peer pressure of eco-nudging carries weight because instead of hearing counterarguments to the sustainability movement in their lectures, students see faculty succumbing to the requirement that they ‘report yearly on their efforts to advance sustainability’ through their teaching.

Scholars seeking to challenge such restrictions on their academic freedom and the orthodoxies that have built up around the sustainability movement more broadly often face difficulties from their own colleagues. The NAS report points out the long ‘history of efforts to suppress the publication and expression of contrary views’ through processes of peer review. Academics soon learn that securing publications and promotion depend upon conforming to disciplinary and institutional norms.

The NAS report notes that those who do raise difficult questions often face a ‘tyranny of transparency’ where freedom of information requests are used to get ‘deniers’ to reveal details of private email exchanges and funding sources. Ironically, such demands are frequently made under the guise of academic freedom. These attempts to redefine academic freedom enact a double standard: scholars who go along with the consensus and receive funding from climate-change charities and campaign groups are held to a different standard than those who do not. If knowledge, and not values, was the driving force of the academy then ideas would be judged on their merit and not on the context in which they were produced.

The NAS report provides a timely and badly needed corrective to the illiberal campus sustainability movement. It reminds faculty and students of the imperative to question everything rather than accept ‘doctrinaire declarations’. We need to be suspicious of all attempts to promote values antithetical to intellectual liberty. Most important of all, Sustainability reminds us that sometimes threats to academic freedom do not come from outside the academy but from within.

SOURCE





What’s the True Cost of Wind Power?

Depending on which factors are included, estimates for the cost of wind power vary wildly. On the low end, the financial advisory firm Lazard claims wind costs $59 per megawatt-hour. On the high side, Michael Giberson at the Center for Energy Commerce at Texas Tech University suggests the it’s closer to $149. Our analysis in an upcoming report explores this wide gap in cost estimates, finding that most studies underestimate the genuine cost of wind because they overlook key factors.

All estimates for wind power include the cost of purchasing capital and paying for operations and maintenance (O&M) of wind turbines. For the studies we examined, capital costs ranged from $48 to $88 per megawatt-hour, while O&M costs ranged from $9.80 to $21 per megawatt-hour.

Many estimates, however, don’t include costs related to the inherent unreliability of wind power and government subsidies and mandates. Since we can’t ensure the wind always blows, or how strongly, coal and natural gas plants must be kept on as backup to compensate when it’s calm. This is known as baseload cycling, and its cost ranges from $2 to $23 per megawatt-hour.

This also reduces the environmental friendliness of wind power. Because a coal-fired or natural gas power plant must be kept online in case there’s no wind, two plants are running to do the job of one. These plants create carbon emissions, reducing the environmental benefits of wind. The amount by which emissions reductions are offset by baseload cycling ranges from 20 percent to 50 percent, according to a modeling study by two professors at Carnegie Mellon University.

While the backup plants are necessary to ensure the grid’s reliability, their ability to operate is threatened by wind subsidies. The federal dollars encourage wind farm owners to produce power even when prices are low, flooding the market with cheap electricity. That pushes prices down even further and makes it harder for more reliable producers, such as nuclear plants, that don’t get hefty subsidies to stay in business.

For example, the Kewaunee Nuclear Plant in Wisconsin and the Yankee Nuclear Plant in Vermont both switched off their reactors in 2013. Dominion Energy, which owned both plants, blamed the artificially low prices caused by the PTC as one of the reasons for the shutdown.

As more reliable sources drop off and wind power takes their place, consumers are left with an electrical infrastructure that is less reliable and less capable of meeting demand.

Lost in transmission

Another factor often overlooked is the extra cost of transmission. Many of America’s wind-rich areas are remote and the turbines are often planted in open fields, far from major cities. That means new transmission lines must be built to carry electricity to consumers. The cost of building new transmission lines ranges from $15 to $27 per megawatt-hour.

In 2013, Texas completed its Competitive Renewable Energy Zone project, adding over 3,600 miles of transmission lines to remote wind farms, costing state taxpayers $7 billion.

Although transmission infrastructure may be considered a fixed cost that will reduce future transmission costs for wind power, these costs will likely remain important. Today’s wind farms are built in areas with prime wind resources. If we continue to subsidize wind power, producers will eventually expand to sub-prime locations that may be even further from population centers. This would feed demand for additional transmission projects to transport electricity from remote wind farms to cities.

The final bill comes to…

Finally, federal subsidies and state mandates also add significantly to the cost, even as many estimates claim these incentives actually reduce the cost of wind energy. In fact, they add to it as American taxpayers are forced to foot the bill. According to Giberson, federal and state policies add an average of $23 per megawatt-hour to the cost of wind power.

That includes the impact of state mandates, which end up increasing the cost of electricity on consumer power bills. California is one of the most aggressive in pushing so-called Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), requiring the state to consume 33 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020. Overall electricity prices in states with RPS are 38 percent higher than those without, according to the Institute for Energy Research, a non-profit research group that promotes free markets.

The best estimate available for the total cost of wind power is $149 per megawatt-hour, taken from Giberson’s 2013 report.

It is difficult to quantify some factors of the cost of wind power, such as the cost of state policies. Giberson’s estimate, however, includes the most relevant factors in attempting to measure the true cost of producing electricity from wind power.

In future reports, Strata will explore the true cost of producing electricity from solar, coal, and natural gas. Until those reports are completed, it is difficult to accurately compare the true cost of wind to other technologies, as true cost studies have not yet been completed.

Blowing in the wind

The high costs of federal subsidies and state mandates for wind power have not paid off for the American public. According to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, wind energy receives a higher percentage of federal subsidies than any other type of energy while generating a very small percentage of the nation’s electricity.

In 2010 the wind energy sector received 42 percent of total federal subsidies while producing only 2 percent of the nation’s total electricity. By comparison, coal receives 10 percent of all subsidies and generates 45 percent and nuclear is about even at about 20 percent.

Wind gobbles up the largest share of subsidies yet produces little power.

But policymakers at the federal and state level, unfortunately, have decided that the American people will have renewable energy, no matter how high the costs. As a result, taxpayers will be stuck paying the cost of subsidies to wealthy wind producers.

Meanwhile, electricity consumers will be forced to purchase the more expensive power that results from state-level mandates for renewable energy production. Although such policies may be well intended, the real results will be limited freedom, reduced prosperity and an increasingly unreliable power supply.

SOURCE

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

For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here

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