Monday, May 21, 2018

Actor Storms Out of Chevron Play Over Politics

Dear Friends,

I'm just going to the airport to catch the plane for the opening weekend of "The $18-Billion Prize" but I wanted to let you now about the very depressing reports circulating about the production.

According to some reports the lead actor has walked out because he doesn't like the politics of the play. You can read the full report HERE.

I don't want to comment on the report but I want you to know that the show is going on as planned and we will have preview tonight and opening night tomorrow night.

We have replaced the leading actor and the truth will be told. It's just like the Ferguson play in LA when nine of the actors walked out because they didn't like the script. This is crazy because both scripts are overwhelmingly verbatim - using eyewitness testimony. What the actors are saying is that they don't like the truth - it seems they would rather promote a fairytale that supports their politics. This has not been the only problem we have faced in the production. It was almost impossible to get a venue in San Francisco and not one publicist or lighting designer in the whole city would work on the production.

It has been a tough few days as we struggle to get a show on the stage but it has been worth it. The $18-Billion Prize is a great story of how one of the world's biggest frauds was carried out by an environmentalist. And it was all aided and abetted by the mainstream media and Hollywood actors. They almost got away with $18 billion.

But we are exposing the fraud on the stage despite the attempts to disrupt the show. Thats why I need your help. It has not been cheap bringing people in from out of town and dealing with all the disruption. I'm crowdfunding the project because the theatrical establishment don't want the truth to be told.

So please give whatever you can - you can donate at

It would be great if you could come to a performance but if you are from out of town think about buying the script or a poster of the play.

It is a stunning tale of malfeasance but also exposes Hollywood celebs going wild in the jungle.

So please go to and give what you can.

Phelim McAleer Via email

A lady with delusions of grandeur

Wild assertions instead of facts and logical reasoning.  And she no doubt wonders why men say women are too emotional.

What the world would be like without fossil fuels needs no imagining. There are many parts of the third world that already do without fossil fuels -- But you wouldn't want to be like them. Their lives are nasty, brutish and short.  So her  claim that women will rid the world of fossil fuels is particularly dumb. She offers a nightmare

At the American Geophysical Union fall meeting in New Orleans last December, Sarah Myhre, PhD, joined with other scientists on a panel presenting and fielding questions on the science, economics, and politics of climate solutions.

Myhre (pronounced my-ree) delivered a message that may have been startling to some in the audience – that climate change cannot fully be addressed without also grappling with the misogyny and social injustice that have perpetuated the problem for decades. Myhre characteristically delivered her talk with a sense of urgency, confidence, and polish.

After the presentations, an audience member directed a comment to panelist Stefan Rahmstorf, PhD, of the Potsdam Institute. Rahmstorf had illustrated just how quickly the world will need to stop burning fossil fuels if warming is to be kept to no more than 2 degrees C, about 3.6 degrees F.

“You show that we’ll need to drop all the way to zero fossil fuel use within the next few decades,” the commenter said. “But I have a hard time even imagining a world without fossil fuels.”

As Rahmstorf prepared to answer, Myhre leaned over to the microphone. “Imagine a world where women are in charge,” she said wryly, “And then you’ll imagine a world without fossil fuels.”

Laughter echoed through the room – some of it no doubt nervous laughter. But Myhre’s comment was more than just a witty comeback. Myhre later mentioned that her intent was not to disrespect men, but to emphasize that only an entirely different leadership could bring about the radical change she says is needed to reverse reliance on fossil fuels.

Her retort appeared to resonate because it acknowledged the potential of women as creative leaders at a time when there’s little optimism for “politics-as-usual” to get a handle on climate change.

Fast forward a few months, and Myhre spoke more about her work over a video call. She recounted that moment at AGU and filled in the backstory.

“I remember that very clearly, it was a laugh line. I was not saying, let’s take every man out of power,” she said. She switched from a tone of conversation to one of oration in explaining the reasoning behind her comment.

What if women were in charge for a decade? Just 10 years – and we would hand it all back to you after 10 years. I’m going to guarantee that after 10 years, you would be in a better place. You, man, would be in a better place if all of us women were running the show. Cause you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to give you health care. We’re going to give you education. We’re going to empower your communities. We’re going to work on affordable housing, we’re going to work on diversity and inclusivity so that your queer son can go to an institution and not be, you know, bullied and harassed. Like … it’s gonna be good for you.

Myhre argues that addressing climate change requires a humanist perspective. In other words, one empathizing with people who are marginalized by the effects of climate change but lacking a powerful voice in brokering solutions. She points to “indigenous people, people from small island nations and polar communities, and the global population of the poor and vulnerable. And to people living in the future – our descendants.”

Women, Myhre posits, are leaders in extending empathy to different populations, in part because many women, particularly women of color, have experienced discrimination themselves.

But Myhre also described the darker side of that AGU moment. “Afterwards, I received two messages from men. Both of the messages were, ‘I was on board with your presentation until you made that joke.’ One was a threatening note: ‘You need to watch your back because people are paying attention to you, and they’re ready to take you down.'”

“It shows you that women making jokes are unpalatable,” Myhre said.

So, here’s what some might see as an inevitable dilemma: On one hand, Myhre fiercely wants the world to be a better, more equal, more caring place. And on the other hand, she finds herself embroiled in controversy for saying so.


In Attacking ‘Uncertainty,’ King County Climate Lawsuit Undermines Fellow Litigants

Last week King County, Washington, became the latest municipality to sue the oil and gas industry in an effort to extract monetary damages for climate change. Like San Francisco, Oakland, and New York City, King County hired the Seattle-based plaintiffs’ firm Hagens Berman to represent it.

Curiously, even after facing heavy skepticism and criticism of its past lawsuits, Hagens Berman doubled down on some of its weakest arguments, and in doing so, may have thrown its fellow plaintiffs under the bus.

King County’s lawsuit criticizes fossil fuel companies for acknowledging the uncertainty inherent in attempting to predict the future. Here is one example from the King County complaint:

“Until approximately early 2017, Exxon’s website continued to emphasize the ‘uncertainty’ of global warming science and impacts: ‘current scientific understanding provides limited guidance on the likelihood, magnitude, or time frame’ of events like temperature extremes and sea level rise. Exxon’s insistence on crystal-ball certainty was clear misdirection, since Exxon knew that the fundamentals of climate science were well settled and showed global warming to present a clear and present danger.” (emphasis added)

It’s an accusation opponents of the oil and gas industry have made before, but it now serves to cast doubt on the lawsuits brought by King County’s fellow climate plaintiffs in California, who recently released a report that praises their own efforts to emphasize the uncertainty of climate projections.

It could also create additional legal headaches for King County and other plaintiffs.

In January, one of the defendants of these climate lawsuits filed a petition in a Texas District Court suggesting that the California municipalities’ claims of climate damages were either exaggerated in their lawsuits or downplayed in their municipal bond disclosures. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was later asked by the Competitive Enterprise Institute and National Association of Manufacturers to investigate the municipalities’ bond disclosures for possible securities fraud.

Seeking to clear their name, five of the municipalities (all represented by Sher Edling LLP) hired a former SEC official to review their bond disclosures. That former SEC official’s conclusion emphasized that the effects of climate change were too far away to have any noteworthy impact on the municipalities, and praised them for emphasizing the uncertainty of climate change modeling. Discussing the bonds of one of the plaintiffs, the report states:

“Furthermore, the disclosure documents for the bonds San Mateo County issued in 2014 and 2016 included general disclosures regarding potential risks from sea level rise and included appropriate cautionary language about the uncertainty of whether or when flooding from sea level rise might occur and of the County’s inability to predict whether such future events would have a material adverse effect on the financial condition and business operations of the County or on the local economy.” (emphasis added)

As Energy In Depth noted at the time, the former SEC official’s report was almost certain to cause headaches for the plaintiffs’ lawsuits, whose very premise relies on the idea that these municipalities have already been harmed by climate change and that the energy industry was inappropriately acknowledging the same uncertainty noted by the municipalities.

So when ExxonMobil acknowledges the uncertainty of climate projections, it’s “clear misdirection.” But when San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Marin Counties and the Cities of Imperial Beach and Santa Cruz do the same, they were acting appropriately? That is a textbook example of hypocrisy.

Further ignoring the former SEC official’s report and throwing caution to the wind, King County’s lawsuit begins with:

“Global warming is here and it is harming King County now as King County is already experiencing the impacts of a changing climate: warming temperatures, acidifying marine waters, rising seas, increased flooding risk, decreasing mountain snowpack, and less water in the summer.”

In its first line, King County’s complaint contradicts the report paid for by the California municipalities, which stated: “in the case of sea-level rise and certain other climate impacts, municipal entities generally will not be greatly affected for decades…”

It is also clear that Hagens Berman has not updated the language in its lawsuits to reflect recent events. In fact, much of King County’s complaint is copied over from the San Francisco and Oakland complaints, with minimal alteration.

The copy of the complaint available on King County’s website is even titled “Template that creates a custom pleading,” providing some of the strongest evidence yet that Hagens Berman is shopping these lawsuits as an off-the-shelf deliverable. The firm stands to make tens of billions of dollars in contingency fees should any of the plaintiffs find success in the courtroom.

But the firm’s inattention to detail and its history of bringing “baseless” cases that give a “new meaning to ‘frivolous’” – as one judge put it – may ultimately prove a legal headache for the firm and the cities and counties it represents.


Here's why Congress and think tanks think a carbon tax would be disastrous

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., recently introduced a resolution that explains why a carbon tax would harm the economy and why it should not be enacted. A similar resolution, introduced by Scalise in 2016, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 237 to 163. Six Democrats joined the entire Republican caucus in supporting the resolution.

I applaud Scalise and McKinley’s unswerving effort to prevent a carbon tax in the U.S., and you should as well. The resolution is important and timely because a group of old-guard, “swamp” Republicans, including Reagan-era luminaries like James Baker and George Shultz, have joined with anti-fossil-fuel zealots such as Obama Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to push a new federal carbon tax.

In addition, a number of states have considered or are still considering carbon taxes in their most recent legislative sessions. In Washington State, for example, activists were unable to con voters into passing a carbon tax initiative in 2016, and, despite support from billionaire Tom Steyer, a carbon tax proposal died in the legislature in March. Despite repeated failure, anti-progress environmentalists are back again, gathering signatures to put another carbon tax initiative on Washington’s ballot.

Scalise and McKinley’s resolution would put Congress on record again opposing the carbon tax, which President Trump also opposes.

The resolution states any carbon tax would result in myriad harms, including an “increase [in] energy prices, including the price of gasoline, electricity, natural gas, and home heating oil.” It would also “mean that families and consumers will pay more for essentials like food, gasoline, and electricity,” causing the most harm for “the poor, the elderly, and those on fixed incomes.” The resolution also claims a carbon tax would “lead to more jobs and businesses moving overseas.”

Scalise says his resolution is meant to combat those “special interests” working to stop Republicans’ plan to make America energy dominant again. McKinley has said that a carbon tax "will take money out of the pockets of middle-class families" and "lead to a decrease in the production of America’s abundant energy resources that would result in lost jobs" and higher energy costs.

A group of 29 research institutes, legal foundations, and grassroots-activist groups, including The Heartland Institute, submitted a letter to Congress expressing support for the anti-carbon-tax resolution.

The letter noted multiple independent analyses have concluded a carbon tax would cost jobs, reduce economic growth, and disproportionately harm the poorest Americans. For instance, the signatories write, “a 2014 Heritage Foundation report found that a $37 per ton carbon tax would lead to a loss of more than $2.5 trillion in aggregate gross domestic product by 2030 … [or] more than $21,000 in income loss per family. In addition, a carbon tax would cost over 500,000 jobs in manufacturing and more than one million jobs by 2030. According to a 2013 CBO report, a carbon tax is highly regressive.”

Neither a carbon tax nor domestic regulations will do anything to prevent global climate change, even if human carbon dioxide emissions are contributing to it. However, carbon taxes will, ironically, increase pollution overall. Facing higher energy costs, some or even many American companies will be forced to move operations overseas to remain profitable. Countries such as China and India, where many companies are likely to relocate to, have weaker environmental standards and less efficient methods of production than in the U.S. As companies fleeing the carbon tax shift production overseas, additional air pollution will spew into the atmosphere.

There is never a good time to enact bad policy, and a carbon tax is one of the worst policies we could adopt.


Climate Derangement Syndrome: Al Jazeera Abandons Science For Dogma And Fake News

THIS Al Jazeera article demonstrates beautifully how belief and dogma have infected much of the mainstream media and the global warming climate change orthodoxy, where groupthink doctrine insists that man-made climate change is responsible for all weather events, regardless of facts, data, empirical evidence or ‘science’.

THIS particular article also displays a troubling shift in climate change reporting where the narrative has progressed from ‘might climate change be affecting the weather?’, to ‘what impact is climate change having on X (cricket)’. There’s a big difference, with the latter presuming that man-made climate change is now a foregone conclusion…

“As recently as the summer of 2012, three of England’s 13 One Day International events were abandoned due to rain, while no result was possible in two of their seven Test matches with West Indies and South Africa.

That’s why the sport must take notice of a report published by Climate Coalition, the UK’s largest climate change action group, in February."

The document names cricket as the sport that will be hardest hit by climate change in England, stating that “wetter winters and more intense summer downpours are disrupting the game at every level”.”

LET’S check the latest Met Office data to see if “wetter winters and more intense summer downpours are disrupting the game at every level”…

ACROSS England, there is no trend, at all, for “wetter winters and more intense summer downpours.”

AL Jazeera is making up climate change falsehoods based on a strange ‘report’ that does not even exist…

CLASSIC fake news that will not be corrected and has already achieved its purpose of further brainwashing the masses into the belief that man-made ‘climate change’ is a foregone conclusion.

WHO are the real science “deniers”, propagandists and deceivers?




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


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Earth just had its 400th straight warmer-than-average month thanks to global warming (?)

This is a classic example of how to lie with statistics.  The 400 month figure is presented as an apparent proof of continued global warming.  It is equally consistent with continued plateauing or anything in between. It is in fact consistent with global warming having stopped. Judging by the satellite data, some initial annual warming was followed by plateauing.  So global warming has in fact stopped.  The annual temperature average rose slightly from about 1975 to 2000 and is now back at about the 2000 level

Amusing that they rely heavily below on monthly temperature levels.  Even in a year with an unchanged annual average temperature, monthly temperatures will vary greatly.  There is this thing called the "seasons", for a start.

It must be embarrassing for them that they have to report "the Earth is seeing its 5th-warmest start to the year".   Only the 5th?  The earth must be COOLING!

Also interesting that in North America the temperature COOLED.  America has a dense network of temperature measuring stations so the temperature there is much harder to "fiddle"  LOL.  As in Orwell's "1984", Warmists revise history a lot, as that disrespectful climate archivist Tony Heller often documents

It was December 1984, and President Reagan had just been elected to his second term, Dynasty was the top show on TV and Madonna's Like a Virgin topped the musical charts.

It was also the last time the Earth had a cooler-than-average month.

Last month marked the planet's 400th consecutive month with above-average temperatures, federal scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.

The cause for the streak? Unquestionably, it’s climate change, caused by humanity's burning of fossil fuels.

"We live in and share a world that is unequivocally, appreciably and consequentially warmer than just a few decades ago, and our world continues to warm," said NOAA climate scientist Deke Arndt. "Speeding by a '400' sign only underscores that, but it does not prove anything new."

Climate scientists use the 20th-century average as a benchmark for global temperature measurements. That's because it's fixed in time, allowing for consistent "goal posts" when reviewing climate data. It's also a sufficiently long period to include several cycles of climate variability.

"The thing that really matters is that, by whatever metric, we've spent every month for several decades on the warm side of any reasonable baseline," Arndt said.

NOAA's analysis found last month was the 3rd-warmest April on record globally. The unusual heat was most noteworthy in Europe, which had its warmest April on record, and Australia, which had its second-warmest.

Portions of Asia also experienced some extreme heat: In southern Pakistan, the town of Nawabshah soared to a scalding 122.4 degrees on April 30, which may have been the warmest April temperature on record for the globe, according to Meteo France.

Argentina also had its warmest April since national records began there in 1961.

North America was the one part of the world that didn't get in on the heat parade. Last month, the average U.S. temperature was 48.9 degrees, 2.2 degrees below average, "making it the 13th-coldest April on record and the coldest since 1997," NOAA said.

For the year-to-date, the Earth is seeing its 5th-warmest start to the year.

A separate analysis of global temperature data from NASA also found last month was the third-warmest April on record.

Another milestone was reached in April, also related to the number "400": Carbon dioxide — the gas scientists say is most responsible for global warming — reached its highest level in recorded history at 410 parts per million.

This amount is highest in at least the past 800,000 years, according to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.


“Evil” GE foods and “eco-friendly” organics

Misrepresentations by radical greens promote myths of GE dangers and organic benefits

Paul Driessen and Vijay Jayaraj

Across the globe, genetically engineered (GE) crops face opposition from environmental and organic food activists, who claim the crops harm the environment and endanger human health.

How factual are their claims? The evidence strongly supports GE over organic crops.

Not long ago, Vijay visited the Sprouts organic food store in San Jose, California. To his surprise, organic vegetables that had shorter shelf-life and higher risk of bacterial contamination and thus serious illness were priced two to ten times more than their GE and conventional food alternatives. The store is famous among millennial techies in the Silicon Valley and enjoys reasonable sales. One possible explanation would be the false notion that GE foods are risky or injurious to health; another is that buyers incorrectly believe organic produce have fewer pesticides, are more nutritious or better protect the environment.

But in science, neither a belief nor even a general “consensus” determines truth. A thousand people could claim the theory of gravity is wrong, but one simple scientific proof would prove their consensus false. Similarly, the safety of genetically modified foods cannot be determined by the increasingly vitriolic voices of anti-GE groups. It requires robust scientific testing by actual experts in various fields.

All the major GE foods currently on the market have been exhaustively tested and found to be safe for people, animals and the environment. Moreover, to date, Americans alone have consumed more than four trillion servings of foods with at least one GE ingredient – without a single documented example of harm to a person or the environment.

That is why more than 100 Nobel Laureates in chemistry, medicine and biotechnology have said GE foods are safe for human and animal consumption. That’s not an uninformed assertion or “consensus.” It is a professional, scientific conclusion based on thousands of risk assessment studies over several decades, as well as numerous real-world experiences.

Anti-GE activists typically use the term “genetically modified organisms” or GMOs, a pejorative coined simply to disparage the use of the most modern techniques. In fact, genetic engineering with molecular techniques is merely a more modern, rapid and precise way than traditional crop breeding methods to change or improve the genetic makeup of plants. It also enables scientists to enhance crops by introducing helpful properties like resistance to droughts, standing water or insects from one organism to another.

For example, corn varieties that integrate the Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) gene right into plant tissue greatly reduce or even eliminate the need for spraying or dusting the crops with pesticides. Golden Rice incorporates two beta-carotene biosynthesis genes (Vitamin A precursors), one from daffodils, one from a soil bacterium, so that even malnourished people get sufficient Vitamin A to prevent blindness and death.

Organic farming prohibits modern manmade pesticides. But some are used surreptitiously anyway – and many organic farmers employ “natural” but still toxic pesticides like copper sulfate and neem oil. Though they oppose Bt-engineered crops, many spray live Bt bacteria on crops, killing good and harmful insects.

Studies by Stanford University and other researchers have found that “organic” fruits and vegetables actually have lower yields and are no more nutritious than conventional or GE alternatives.

However, certain organic practices, such as fertilizing with manure, have led to contamination with dangerous fungal toxins or listeria, salmonella or E. Coli bacteria. These problems are far more common in organic produce and can lead to serious intestinal illness, kidney failure, brain damage or even death.

It can fairly be said that the anti-GE war has reached levels that are ignorant, deceptive, and even fraudulent and lethal. Activist claims about the dangers of GE foods are baseless and without bona fide evidence. They ignore the many benefits of GE crops. Moreover, many of the groups and campaigns are funded, directly or indirectly, by the organic and natural food industries and allied foundations.

GE crops are environment friendly and promote sustainable agriculture, while potentially meeting the daily food demand of seven billion people globally. They allow farmers to produce more food, from less land, using less water and fewer pesticides, and with greater resistance to droughts, floods and climate change, than would be the case with conventional crops – and certainly with organic crops. They enable farmers to grow Golden Rice and other crops that prevent malnutrition, blindness and death in children.

By contrast, organic crops require more land, more water, more labor and higher farming expenses to generate the same produce. Expanding organic farms will thus cause additional loss of wildlife habitats in a time when we are trying to nurture and protect what is left of Earth’s natural habitats.

Tuskegee University professor, dean and biotech expert C.S. Prakash points out that the percentage of land used to grow crops has increased dramatically during the past 200 years, as humanity worked to provide nutritious foods for rapidly growing populations. The ideal solution to avoid deforestation, he says, is to use GE crops, which produce much more food per acre than their non-GE counterparts.

An ardent proponent of GE in the fight against poverty and disease, Dr. Prakash worries that the anti-GE campaigns will impede our efforts to provide sufficient, affordable food in many developing countries. Moreover, non-GE crops are susceptible to many insects and diseases that GE crops are resistant to.

Much of the most important work to improve food crops genetically was done by Norman Borlaug, using pre-molecular techniques. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for developing crop variants that helped billions avoid certain death during the food crises of the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, much of the wheat, maize (corn) and rice now consumed globally are Borlaug’s crops, which are disease resistant and high yielding.

GE crops are also more climate adaptive. New variants of rice and wheat are being designed to withstand extreme climatic and geographical conditions. One important example is wheat variants that withstand a whopping 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), which was practically unimaginable just a decade ago. This can make wheat cultivation far more productive in the 40% of world’s dryland surface where conditions are hostile to normal wheat varieties.

Health Canada and the United States Department of Agriculture recently approved Golden Rice and High Fibre Wheat, respectively, thereby continuing to embrace GE crops, as they have done for years. This pro-GE stance has been echoed by international governing institutions such as the United Nations and governments of major technologically innovative countries like Israel, China and India.

Although the number of organic farms is increasing in India, its food markets are largely dominated by crops that cannot be considered organic. Organic madness has nevertheless invaded parts of India. The Indian state of Sikkim recently branded itself “organic” by banning the entry and sale of more than 25 non-organic horticultural and agricultural products. That decision has caused widespread chaos, leaving families unable to afford cereals, fruits and vegetables that otherwise would be their staple foods.

It is time to progress from unfounded fears about GE foods – and begin educating government leaders and regulators, as well as domestic and global journalists, about the safety and benefits of GE crops.

Let us begin by asking: What actual, replicable, peer-reviewed evidence do environmentalists and organic food producers and advocates have that organic foods are safer, more nutritious or more eco-friendly than conventional or genetically modified varieties? What actual, replicable, peer-reviewed evidence do they have that GE crops have harmed people or the environment in any way?

Neither we nor Dr. Prakash nor any other agricultural experts we have spoken with can find any such evidence. If environmentalists and organic food proponents cannot provide solid evidence, they should end their deceitful pro-organic, anti-GE campaigns – or be compelled to do so by government agencies and courts of law that deal in facts and sound science, instead of allegations, innuendo and intimidation.

The billion dollars spent by radical environmentalists and the organic foods industry on campaigns against GE plants would have been far better spent on approving more GE crops, upgrading agricultural practices, providing more nutritious, affordable food, and improving lives all over the world.

The lies, demagoguery and destructive tactics of anti-GE groups are poisonous to the century-long effort to eradicate food poverty across the globe. These inhumane, lethal tactics can no longer be tolerated.

Via email

Fossil Fuel Funds Have Unlikely Investors: Environmental Icons

The latest dive into the Paradise Papers by U.S. reporters has discovered nonprofits making contradictory investments.

From a 34-foot tall Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton to a herd of taxidermy elephants forever poised to charge, the American Museum of Natural History is a celebration of nature. Through its exhibits, website and other public education efforts, the New York City institution regularly encourages conservation and protecting the planet from climate change.

But, at least since 2009, the museum’s endowment fund has quietly invested millions in the oil and gas industry through an undisclosed stake in a private equity fund, reveals a report by NBC News, which joined the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in a new Paradise Papers investigation examining the offshore investments of nonprofit organizations.

The museum invested $5 million in a fund run by Denham Capital, a private equity firm that invests in oil and gas, mining and power plants. That fund has pumped money into fracking for shale oil in Ohio and Pennsylvania and made an unsuccessful bid to invest in coal in Mongolia.

The museum is one of several prominent environmental nonprofits and foundations, including the World Wildlife Fund, whose investments in fossil fuels were uncovered by NBC and other partners in a collaboration with ICIJ in a new look at the Paradise Papers, a leaked trove of 13.4 million documents, obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with ICIJ. The files revealed how endowments, foundations and other nonprofits use offshore companies and undisclosed investments to obscure where their tax-exempt dollars are flowing.

The investigation showed nonprofits repeatedly making investments that contradict their missions and lobbying in state legislatures to increase the secrecy surrounding their investments.

NBC’s findings are part of a collaboration, dubbed Alma Mater, organized by ICIJ to examine the offshore investments of U.S. tax-exempt charitable organizations. Originally designed to investigate more than 100 universities whose endowments appeared in the Paradise Papers, the project expanded to include nonprofit museums, foundations and advocacy groups. It includes reporters in California, Montana, New York and Tennessee, working for outlets ranging from national television networks to city newspapers to an independent university publication.

Among the most striking findings were the investments by environmental groups in the fossil fuel industry. Not only the American Museum of Natural History, but also World Wildlife Fund, which states publicly that “we must urgently reduce carbon pollution,” invested in the Denham Capital fund, NBC News found.

The museum told NBC News that the investments represent “a small part of our overall program for managing the Museum’s endowment” and has noted in the past that it holds no direct stock in fossil fuel companies. It has been working since 2014 to reduce its fossil fuel investments. The World Wildlife Fund told NBC News that it is trying to unwind investments in oil and gas, and that, in the meantime, it has put money into a counter investment offered by a Deutsche Bank financial instrument which loses money when fossil fuel stocks rise and earns money when they fall.

While the museum and the World Wildlife Fund are working to cut back their investments in fossil fuels, other nonprofits have resisted.

A major foundation that supports environmental causes, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, has also turned to the energy sector. The Packard Foundation invested $50 million in a fund managed by U.S.-based private equity firm Energy Capital Partners that invests in oil and gas-related operations, NBC News found.

The Packard Foundation, which states on its website that it “invests in policies and projects to transform the use of fossil fuels around the world” with its grants, told NBC News that when it comes to its endowment it seeks to maximize gains on its investments and does not avoid fossil fuels.

Universities that have taken public stances in the fight against climate changes have also behaved differently when it came to investing their endowments. Earlier this year, the University of Washington was one of 13 universities that formed the University Climate Change Coalition, an initiative to reduce carbon emissions. Yet it invested $9 million in the Denham Capital fund, NBC News noted.

The University of Washington told NBC News that it had resolved in 2015 to divest from coal, but not from other fossil fuels.

The University of Montana, which has not made similar public pronouncements about climate change, also has invested in fossil fuels. The University of Montana Foundation sent $5 million in 2007 to a fund operated by private equity firm Coller Capital, which in turn invested in a joint venture including Royal Dutch Shell, reported the Montana Kaimin, the University of Montana’s independent student newspaper.

In a previous interview with the Montana Kaimin, University of Montana President Seth Bodnar declined to commit to divesting from fossil fuels but expressed openness to considering social responsibility in judging investments.

The University of Montana Foundation has invested more than $30 million in offshore funds, the Montana Kaimin reported.

Universities go offshore

Investments in private equity firms that finance the oil and gas industry are part of a broader shift in how universities manage their endowments. The search for higher returns has led universities to move away from traditional stocks and bonds and focus on “alternative investments,” which include hedge funds, private equity funds and venture capital.

The University of Tennessee’s turn to offshore alternative strategies includes shares in at least 19 funds with a combined value of more than $200 million as of June 2017, reported ICIJ’s partners at the Memphis Commercial Appeal. These investments represent about 20 percent of the endowment, while its investments in U.S.-based stocks and bonds has dropped to about 5 percent, the Commercial Appeal found.

Overall, the percentage of university endowments in alternative investments jumped from 20 percent in 2002 to 51 percent by 2014, according a 2015 report by the Congressional Research Service.

The push for secrecy

As they have embraced alternative investments and tax havens, some universities have also pushed to keep the activities of their endowments secret. Public universities, which are subject to Freedom of Information laws, have taken some of the strongest steps.

Last year, the Board of Regents of the University of Montana System, comprised of sixteen universities and colleges across the state, signed a new contract between the system and the foundation that manages its endowment. The contract included language allowing the foundation 20 days to block public records requests to the university system in order to seek a protective order, the Montana Kaimin reported.

The University of Tennessee also acted last year to keep its endowment’s activities secret. The university successfully lobbied the state legislature to pass a law allowing the university not to disclose the fees that it pays to the funds that invest its money or the identity of the companies that these funds ultimately invest in, reported the Commercial Appeal.

University of Tennessee Chief Investment Officer Rip Mecherle told the Commercial Appeal that its offshore investments were above board and “plain vanilla.” He said that he had personally helped draft the secrecy provision at the request of the university’s money managers and that some of the best investors insist on such secrecy rules as a condition of accepting a client.

Even without new secrecy provisions like those in Montana and Tennessee, universities and other nonprofits face little scrutiny as they seek to maximize returns on holdings as large as tens of billions of dollars. Sometimes the investments conflict with goals the tax-protected institutions have publicly embraced, the Paradise Papers revealed. More often, the destination of these tax-exempt investments remains hidden from view.


Pruitt’s latest move is making the EPA more efficient in the permitting process with civil service reforms

By Natalia Castro

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been plagued with inefficiency for years. The Partnership for Public Service has ranked the EPA 22 out of 23 ineffective leadership for a mid-sized agency for the last two years in a row. The Resource for the Future, an environmental, energy, and natural resource research institution, found that the average EPA permit process takes 420 days to complete.

But now, under Administrator Scott Pruitt, the EPA is committed to fixing itself. Pruitt is taking the necessary steps to increase accountability and set clear guidelines for action. The EPA has already established over 400 metrics across all EPA programs and regional office that track monthly goals, created standardized methods of communicating monthly targets, integrated monthly business reviews for all senior leaders to review their office’s performance, and initiated new employee training.

Pruitt is also looking to hold the career employees at the agency accountable. The newly created Office of Continuous Improvement (OCI) will ensure the policies that work in some areas of the department are implemented across the agency, and hopefully, act as a model for other agencies.

In a May 14, 2018 press briefing, EPA Chief Operating Officer Henry Darwin explains, the purpose of the new office is to coordinate the agency-wide implementation of the new EPA Lean Management System (ELMS).

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers noted in March 2016 ELMS has its roots in the automotive industry, Toyota created the Lean Management system to eliminate waste from manufacturing operations. Today, engineers and manufacturing leaders use Lean Management to create clear standards of quality and expedite timelines.

The OCI will universalize these ELMS standards across the agency and oversee their success with the goal of instituting full ELMS in 80 percent of agency units by September 30, 2020 and will require programs within the EPA to submit timelines for action and engage in monthly reviews of both regional and national programs to ensure deadlines are being kept.

While this might seem like an ordinary accountability standard in the private sector, Pruitt explained in the press briefing that the EPA has failed to conduct these program reviews for years.

Pruitt further explained, until this year, the EPA did not track the time it took to complete permit requests, did not track legal deadlines set by Congress, did not measure correction and compliance rates following known violations of agency guidelines, and did not measure the number of drinking water systems out of compliance with EPA rules.

Essentially, EPA management has had little to no accountability for when projects must finish or how actions must be corrected when projects are completed inadequately. Pruitt notes, this caused vast inconsistencies between regional branches, created a disengaged workforce, and fueled mismanagement.

The Office of Continuous Improvement will give the EPA the opportunity to rebuild their reputation of waste and inefficiency, and if successful, can be used across the federal government to improve agency efficiency. Our civil service employees must be held accountable for their work the way employees in the private sector are, and what better way to do that than implement a system that has worked for private manufacturers?


Poor People Are Getting Air Conditioning — Some Say That’s Bad For Climate Change

The number of air conditioners across the world is expected to triple by 2050, stoking fears that increasing indoor climate control will spur global climate change.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) released a Tuesday report, “The Future of Cooling,” on increasing demand for in-home cooling in the coming decades. Currently, 10 percent of the world’s energy is used for keeping buildings cool, but that amount is expected to rise as hot, developing countries gain access to air conditioners.

“As incomes and standards of living increase, more people will naturally want to buy and use air conditioners to keep cool,” the report states. “Wider access to cooling is necessary, bringing benefits to human development, health, well-being and economic productivity.”

“But it will have a significant impact on countries’ overall energy demand, putting pressure on electricity grids and driving up local and global emissions,” the report states.

The IEA proposes instituting performance standards on air conditioning units to make them more energy efficient. The cooling revolution can continue simultaneously combating the worst of the increase in emissions.

Instituting standards compliant with the Paris Climate Accords — a non-binding international agreement to cut emissions and combat climate change — could double the efficiency of the world’s fleet of AC units.

The standards may adversely impact those who need air conditioning the most. Implementing energy efficiency standards may cut the cost of energy over time but increases the up-front cost of installing new appliances, according to an April 2017 Heritage Foundation report.

“The up-front costs of a more expensive light bulb or appliance may not acutely impact a wealthy or middle-income family’s budget, but the real-world implications of regulations that increase energy costs and take choices away are nothing to dismiss — especially for the poor, who could be disproportionately and severely affected through these higher up-front costs,” the report states.




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, May 18, 2018

Where have all the babies gone?

Reducing the population is a big Greenie goal and they have convinced some foolish women to make the life-shattering decision to avoid having babies.  Women that foolish  and unnatural are probably not much of a loss from the gene pool however.

And it is not only conservatism that tends to stand athwart the trend to a baby drought.  Many religious people and economists also deplore it.  The Catholic church has an adamantine opposition to contraception -- so adamantine that even the heretical Pope Francis suports it.  But, like many church teachings, that one has largely fallen by the wayside.  There are now few Catholics who heed it.  Thank goodness for the Mormons, I guess.  And a shout-out to the remarkable Duggar family is surely appropriate here too.

As we see below, however, the baby bust has now hit the USA, mainly because minority women too have now caught on to the trend.  Prosperity has now influenced them too.  And it does seem clear that prosperity is the culprit -- enabled by the pill, of course.  When you have a  kindly welfare state to help you when you are sick or old, who needs kids? 

Answer:  Everybody and nobody.  Nobody in the USA now needs kids for economic reasons.  But life is not all economics.  We do have other needs and other pleasures.  And babies are big in both those arenas.  Children are undoubtedly life's greatest pleasure.  As  ever, there is some pain with the gain but it is only the very unlucky where the pain is not well worthwhile.  And for real women, a baby is a need.  The many women who undergo IVF are one testimony to that.

Still there are many women who have one or two children only and I am not going to criticize that decision.  The women who have more than two are the key, however.  We need them to make up the many women who, for good reasons or bad, have no children.

Politicians of course love babies.  They see them as future taxpayers.  So many countries -- France was the first, I think, now have pro-natalist policies of various sorts.  They do what they can to encourage and accelerate baby-making.  Singapore has probably the most extreme of such policies but Russia has made great efforts too.  Australia actually pays for babies.

So  should the USA go down that road too?  Does it all really matter?  I'm doubtful.

As a kid, my hair was so fair that I remember being addressed as "Snowy".  So I like to think that will continue.  I would like to think that there will be many like me in the future.  And, where I hang out most of the time, I do see quite a few mothers with little snowy-haired kids.  And I love to see them.

Intermarriage does of course threaten that.  Australia's big (about 5%) minority is Chinese and the young Chinese ladies go all out to snag a tall Caucasian man.  So a tall Caucasian man with a small Asian lady on his arm is rather frequently seen in my neck of the woods.  And I see the fruit of that too. I myself now have  Chinese relatives -- in that a tall, blue-eyed cousin of mine married a Chinese lady who produced a brilliant and  beautiful Eurasian daughter.  Eurasians are commonly seen as good-looking and tend to be smart too.  So more Eurasians would please me.  But I do regret than none of them will ever be "snowys".

But nonetheless, most people marry others with backgrounds similar to themselves.  Psychologists even have a term for it.  They call it "assortative mating".  So it seems to me that there will always be snowys somewhere, even if in diminished numbers.

But hair color is a side issue.  Are there any other reasons why we should fear population shrinkage? I can't see it.  The USA could end up like Brazil or Mexico, where people of European ancestry rule the roost, despite most of the population being of non-European origin.  And that means that the entire population is ghettoized.  Whites live in walled-off areas in habitations that are much like European habitations elsewhere in the world -- and non-whites live in often very rudimentary accommodation.  In short, people will rise to whatever standard of living that they are capable of.  There will be exceptions to that, of course, but it is averages I am concerned with here.

So if the baby shortage among American whites leads to a demographic overturn that leaves whites in a minority, I think the effect of that on white lifestyles will be small. The crime problem will increase and foolish government restrictions on business will limit prosperity but walled estates and security guards are just some of the measures that can keep crime at bay for the more affluent population segment, while foolish government regulations are regrettably common everywhere. Obama and the Greenies did their best to throttle American prosperity but even under that regime there was some economic growth.

Economic restrictions just lead to ways for circumventing them -- the famous "black markets" are a case in point and successful entrepreneurship just entails a degree of corruption.  Italy today is a very prosperous place with many rich people (and over a thousand admirals!) but by most estimates about a third of the Italian economy is "black".

So I think that even under some fairly dire outcomes of a prolonged baby bust among American whites, a white population will continue to flourish for a long time. 

If the baby bust goes on for a very long time, American whites would of course die out -- to cheers from whatever is left of the Greenies -- but that is not likely.  Even in today's world there are many maternal women who just hunger for a baby so they will continue to reproduce themselves regardless of what others do.  It may be that the white population will come to consist entirely of their progeny  -- in which case we will see a white population INCREASE occurring, even if off a much smaller base than we have today  -- JR.

The United States just hit a 40-year low in its fertility rate, according to numbers just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 2017 provisional estimate of fertility for the entire U.S. indicates about 3.85 million births in 2017 and a total fertility rate of about 1.76 births per women.

These are low numbers: births were as high as 4.31 million in 2007, and the total fertility rate was 2.08 kids back then.


WA: Energy sprawl threatens Kittitas County tourism

Kittitas County has an award-winning tourism sector. Yet the county will struggle to reap the benefits of recent investments when the state’s energy siting council approves its fourth energy project in the Kittitas valley just north of downtown Ellensburg.

A French multinational corporation just asked the council to approve 31 giant turbines. At almost 500 feet, nearly as tall as Seattle’s Space Needle, these will be the tallest seen on U.S. soil. Spanning 4,400 acres along Highway 97, this energy project will threaten tourism efforts, stifling growth in local jobs and tax revenues.

The Chamber of Commerce and other local groups teamed up to create a tourism theme emphasizing the area’s rural roots such as the “Barn Quilt Trail Map”, “Hometown Holidays” and the Ellensburg Rodeo. The county carved a niche that complements more established promotions like Yakima’s wine country and Leavenworth. These strategies depend on the same asset to draw tourists, the scenic attractiveness of rural landscapes.

Gov. Jay Inslee recently recognized tourism as a major vehicle for building stronger rural communities by approving tourism bill SB 5251. Washington’s Tourism Office aims to promote natural wonders, hiking, and outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the state. However, tourism assets become liabilities when energy developments dominate the landscape.

Research from Europe, where wind turbines have operated for 25 years, offers insights for decision-makers here. Studies report wind turbines dramatically decrease the attractiveness of a destination for tourists. A 2015 study of 2200 German communities show taller turbines create the strongest negative impact on tourism. Research from Scotland is making similar headlines that 55 percent of tourists are “less likely to visit areas of the countryside industrialized by giant turbines.” Deploying turbines across Scotland’s scenic highlands also reduced tourism jobs by 7 to 14 percent in affected areas. Scotland’s policy outlines a standard for compensating communities, roughly $7,000 per megawatt from energy developers. Elected officials advocate for “a fair share in the revenues generated from their natural resources.”

Scotland and Germany are not alone in voicing concerns. England’s popular Lake District will dismantle wind turbines this summer. Local groups say dismantling turbines restores views. In the U.S., rural communities face the same dilemma.

Tourism will not flourish when over half of tourists avoid visiting areas with industrial-scale energy.

Tourism is the state’s fourth largest industry and weathers economic downturns better than most. State employment data report tourism delivered the largest increase in Kittitas County jobs from 2004-2016. Tourism jobs increased by 66 percent locally, with accommodations and food services accounting the majority of all new jobs added. By contrast, government jobs, including Central Washington University, decreased by 22 percent during the same period.

“Looking at these data, it is safe to say that tourism is extremely important to the Kittitas County labor market,” said Don Meseck, the state’s regional economist. No other non-farm industry makes as strong a contribution to the local economy.

For tourism to grow in our rural communities, Washington needs a moratorium on permitting new energy projects. Policymakers should consider land-use conflicts that threaten the scenic vistas vital to tourism’s success.

As a state, we could learn from Maine’s moratorium on permits for new wind turbines. Gauging effects on rural tourism is an important issue for our state. “We cannot afford to damage our natural assets in ways that would deter visitors from returning,” according to Gov. Paul LePage.

A moratorium on energy siting is critical here for tourism’s development. A statewide vision of tourism’s future and the long-term economic welfare of our communities is at stake.


Black Plague: Wind Turbine Construction Turning Ontario’s Water Supply to Toxic Sludge

It’s not just that the wind industry is destroying Ontario’s water supplies that peeves people, it’s that they continue to lie about it.

Over the last few months, STT has reported several times on how the wind industry has relentlessly destroyed underground water supplies in Chatham-Kent, lying about the cause all the way along.

Adding insult to injury, the public health authorities have sided with the wind industry; treating its victims with equal, if not greater, cynicism and contempt.

Polite they may be, but these people are not fools. Finally, the disaster is being taken seriously by a few of their elected representatives. And, about time, too.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath stopped in the Dresden area while in Chatham-Kent Wednesday to meet with affected well owners in the North Kent One wind project area to see first hand the sediment-laden water families are dealing with. From left is Lambton-Kent Middlesex NDP candidate Todd Case, Chatham-Kent Essex NDP candidate Jordan McGrail, water well owner Dave Lusk and Horwath.

Just days after information on how deep pile driving methods could impact adjacent water wells was discovered in a company blog, the Hydro One consulting firm pulled down the info from its website.

Brought to the public’s attention by Essex MPP Taras Natyshak, the blog on the EBS Geostructural website referenced the North Kent One wind turbine project in North Chatham and the recommendation to use a micro-piling method of construction for the turbine foundation instead of the deep piling method.

“The potential for driven pile installation to cause issues with nearby active water wells” was given as the first point as to why the company recommended to use the micro pile (drilled) method instead of the deep pile (hammer) method to anchor the foundation.

That sentence was removed from the company blog, causing members of Water Wells First and Natyshak to question why the only reference to potential impact to water wells was removed and who ordered it done.

“It has Erin Brokovich written all over it,” Natyshak said in a phone interview with The Chatham Voice. “It’s the old ‘cover up is worse than the crime’ adage. In this day and age, would they not realize we would screen capture the initial report? Of course we did; we have several copies.”

After reaching out to EBS officials via e-mail, the company marketing director responded quickly, saying the statement was removed from their site, as it wasn’t being used “correctly.”

“We’d like to clarify any confusion that our Chatham-Kent blog post has caused,” Stephanie Aires said in an e-mail. “Our blog posts are for promotional purposes only, and are not intended as reports. Some blog statements are job specific, while others are general statements about the services and technologies we offer.

“EBS Geostructural Inc. has chosen to remove specific statements from the Chatham-Kent blog as they were being used incorrectly. EBS chose to remove the statement on our own accord and were not asked by anyone to remove or alter it. We apologize for the misunderstanding that our promotional blog caused.”

Natyshak found the fact only the sentence referring to water wells was removed “interesting” and wants answers.

“It does raise a whole host of other questions. Who ordered that to EBS Geostructural? Who pressured them to remove that phrase from their website?” Natyshak said. “Ultimately, we know the issue here is liability, when we get down to brass tacks. The minute they assume liability and responsibility for contaminating these wells, the numbers start to escalate in regards to what the recourse is and what reparation looks like.”

The Essex MPP added that there are several options for recourse open to the wind farm company and the government.

“Does it look like bringing out municipal water to those homes – how much will that cost and who pays for it? There’s shutting down those lines until the aquifer returns to normal and those folks can have access to the water they had previous. Does it look like massive ongoing maintenance for home filtration systems for these residents and the costs associated with that? Or the fourth option is shutting them down completely in perpetuity,” he questioned.

One thing the member from Essex is sure of is that he will not be letting up on his questions to the premier.

“We are going to continue to push this issue in the legislature before we enter the election and after. I’m not giving up on these people until there is a solution found. There is no way in Ontario in 2018 that residents in our province shouldn’t have access to clean and safe drinking water – not a chance; not under my watch,” Natyshak said.

The MPP said he wishes he got involved earlier in the issue but didn’t want to step into a neighbouring riding.

“I just wish I could have gotten on it sooner because it’s just devastating. There’s no way this should be happening. This area means a lot to me. I’ve fished and duck hunted in that area my whole life and it’s quintessential southwestern Ontario and Lake St. Clair shoreline and farmland. To make it unlivable and uninhabitable; no way, no chance. Not on my watch,” he added.

While Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath was in Chatham-Kent on Wednesday, Natyshak said she took time out to visit the farm of Dave Lusk, an affected well owner, and Theresa Pumphrey to see first hand what they are dealing with.

“What I saw yesterday was outrageous,” said Horwath in a release. “Dave and his family have lived on that farm for generations and never had an issue with water quality before the pile driving began nearby. These families deserve for their government to take this seriously – Kathleen Wynne needs to direct her ministry of health to complete a health hazard investigation at the contaminated wells immediately.”

Samsung and Pattern Energy had provided the affected families with a temporary water source, but the tanks are now slowly being removed from affected farms. Lusk told Horwath that he has purchased a new water tank at a cost of more than $1,200. In addition to the cost of the tank, he expects to pay another $400 to hook it up to the plumbing system in his home and $60 every two weeks to keep the tank full.

“What used to cost Dave $10 per month will now cost him $120 per month, just so he can have drinkable water at home,” said Horwath. “That’s no way for people to live. It’s ludicrous that Kathleen Wynne is allowing these families to go without safe drinking water.”

Residents have had the black water collected and analyzed by scientific experts who have found the water contains Black Shale sediment. Black Shale is a known environmental hazard because it contains heavy metals which can be released into a person’s body if the water is ingested. Some farmers have reported that they are so reluctant to use this contaminated water that they are feeding their livestock bottled water instead.


Illusion of knowledge warming the planet

In this the 30th anniversary year of the IPCC, we should look back and remember the original sin with which it was born and how that has condemned us to dishonesty in science, ignorance-based policies and social division on a global scale.

Nobel prize-winning theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, in an essay for the New York Times Magazine in 1930, concluded there were limits to science. When the number of factors to consider became too large, the scientific method failed us, he wrote. Like weather patterns, for example. ‘Occurrences in this domain are beyond the reach of exact prediction because of the variety of factors in operation, not because of any lack of order in nature.’

Judging by policies such as the catastrophic renewable energy obsession, the uncertainty of many climate scientists has not alerted politicians. ‘Understanding uncertainty associated with the complex, nonlinear and chaotic climate system, let alone managing it, is a very challenging endeavour. Hence it is tempting for scientists and policy makers to simplify uncertainty to make it appear that the appropriate considerations have been undertaken,’ says acclaimed climate scientist Dr Judith Curry.

She argues that the IPCC ‘oversimplifies the characterisation of uncertainty by substituting “expert judgment” for a thorough understanding of uncertainty. They look at “evidence for” and “evidence against” (but somehow neglect a lot of the “evidence against”), and completely neglect to acknowledge ignorance. The bottom line is that the climate system is too complex with myriad uncertainties for simple reductionist approaches to understanding and managing uncertainty to be useful.’

The challenge, she says with unflinching optimism, is ‘to open the scientific debate to a broader range of issues and a plurality of viewpoints and for politicians to justify policy choices in a context of an inherently uncertain knowledge base.’ Inherently uncertain knowledge base…

The recently deceased and much acclaimed Stephen Hawking held the view that ‘The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.’

So the first challenge is to convince policy makers (and other stakeholders and observers) that it is an illusion of knowledge that has underpinned current energy policies. That illusion has been generated by those in the scientific community for whom certainty in this subject was the irresistible dark side.

There is a perfectly apt quote attributed to Mark Twain (in the movies The Big Short, as well as in An Inconvenient Truth, ironically enough): ‘It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.’

What is known – uncontestably – is that Earth’s climate changes. Warming and cooling periods over the millennia are well understood (even by scientists wishing to hide some of these events in pursuit of an agenda).

What is known for sure ‘but just ain’t so’ is that carbon dioxide is the key driver of global warming (never mind there hasn’t been any warming for two decades). That assertion, so far unquantified and uncertain, has underpinned all climate-related energy policies as if it were known.

The ‘original sin’ 30 years ago that has blighted the study of climate change was the narrow and unscientific framing of its objectives in terms of an anthropogenic cause: burning of fossil fuels, notably coal. Carbon dioxide was pre-selected as the forcing agent for global warming when the IPCC was established.

‘The IPCC produces reports that support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is the main international treaty on climate change. The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC is to “stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic [i.e., human-induced] interference with the climate system’.

So it is evident that ‘greenhouse gas concentrations’ were pre-emptively assumed to be ‘dangerous’ to our climate. Warming and human activity were thus stapled together both in the scientific formulation and in the broader socio-political sense. This approach has doomed scientific study to be hobbled by a presumptive approach that defies genuine science, curtails robust research and leads to disastrous public policies.

Scientists who caution against such certainty about the factors that drive climate change are routinely disparaged, shouted down and insulted. This is so even when they present reasonable and reasoned arguments, such as Australia’s late Bob Carter, whose 2015 book Why scientists disagree about global warming, with co-authors Craig Idso and S. Fred Singer, dares to be balanced, informed and rational.

In the book’s concluding chapter, they write: …climate scientists, like all humans, can be biased. Origins of bias include careerism, grant-seeking, political views, and confirmation bias.

Probably the only ‘consensus’ among climate scientists is that human activities can have an effect on local climate and that the sum of such local effects could hypothetically rise to the level of an observable global signal. The key questions to be answered, however, are whether the human global signal is large enough to be measured and if it is, does it represent, or is it likely to become, a dangerous change outside the range of natural variability? On these questions, an energetic scientific debate is taking place on the pages of peer-reviewed science journals.

Rather than rely exclusively on IPCC for scientific advice, policymakers should seek out advice from independent, nongovernment organisations and scientists who are free of financial and political conflicts of interest.

As Dr Curry points out, the disagreement leads to uncertainty:

The disagreement (among scientists) is not so much about observational evidence, but rather about the epistemic status of climate models, the logics used to link the observational evidence into arguments, the overall framing of the problem and overconfident conclusions in the face of incomplete evidence and understanding.


Renewable energy investment surges as Australia on track to exceed RET

There's nothing like a juicy government subsidy to guarantee your profits.  This is tax mining

Investor appetite for renewable energy projects, such as large-scale solar and wind projects, is set to help Australia exceed its 2020 Renewable Energy Target two years ahead of schedule.

While coal and gas-fired power are still the dominant fuel source in the National Electricity Market, investors are voting with their money and backing more than $20 billion in renewable projects as Australia moves to a less carbon-intensive economy.

But the surge in renewable investment is not expected to remain at record levels unless the Turnbull government becomes more ambitious with its emissions reduction targets under its proposed National Energy Guarantee, which is currently set at 26 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Although conservatives in the Turnbull government party room would like a new coal-fired power station to be built in Australia, the private sector has shown no interest in funding a $5 billion, new, high-efficiency, low-emissions power plant, a fact acknowledged by Treasurer Scott Morrison and federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg.

The Turnbull government is attempting to push through the NEG to replace the RET after 2020. The energy sector is keen to ensure a new mechanism will help keep renewable investment flowing out to 2030 and beyond, and to end 10 years of uncertainty over climate change and energy policy.

The latest update from the Clean Energy Regulator this month found there was 6553 megawatts of capacity from renewable energy projects under construction or already built – this is above the 6400 megawatts of capacity required to meet the RET.

The RET requires 23.5 per cent of Australia's energy – or 33,000 gigawatt hours – to come from clean energy sources by 2020, with key investments to keep flowing out until 2030.

The CER said there was also an additional 1454 megawatts of projects subject to power purchase agreements that are likely to be fully financed and under construction this calender year.

Almost half of the 6553 megawatts under construction has already been accredited and generating large-scale generation certificates (LGCs), with a further 1592 megawatts having applied for accreditation and expected to soon be generating them.

"We expect the 2020 Renewable Energy Target to be exceeded at current build levels," the Clean Energy Regulator said.

"The judgment that the RET will be exceeded takes into account the effect of updated AEMO marginal loss factors and expected curtailment as a result of network congestion. The Clean Energy Regulator is aware of other projects that are likely to be announced in the near term."

The rush to invest in renewable projects past 2020 is also likely to result in a big drop in the price of LGCs, which will embolden clean energy industry advocates to debunk claims that renewable projects can only get off the ground if they have heavily subsidised by taxpayers.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance said there was a record $12 billion in renewables investment in Australia in 2017, with $3.2 billion so far this year. But Green Energy Markets Renewable Energy Index estimated there was more than $20 billion projects under way, contracted or under tender that would add 9691 megawatts of new capacity to the NEM by the early 2020s.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance's Australia head Kobad Bhavnagri said there was likely to be a tapering of renewable investment in the lead-up to 2020 given the target had been met and even exceeded. The price of LGCs were likely to stay low now the RET has been met.

He said the investment was likely to be lower in future years unless the federal government increased the 26 per cent target under the NEG, either from a change of heart from the Coalition or an in-coming Labor administration.

"It's likely to taper in 2018 and then collapse after 2020 because the National Energy Guarantee requires very little investment to be met," Mr Bhavnagri told The Australian Financial Review.

"It's more likely to be stop-start in the future to replace the exit of coal-fired generation [like AGL Energy's Liddell in 2022 and Delta Energy's Vales Point in 2028]."

Surge in solar

Under Bloomberg's projections, Australia will reach 23 per cent below 2005 level emissions by 2020 – meaning Australia will only need to achieve 3 percentage points over a decade to achieve the NEG target, something which Mr Bhavgnari believes will be achieved through the on-going rollout of small-scale solar.

A Climate Council report released this week found there were now 40,000 commercial solar systems installed in Australia, an increase of 60 per cent between 2016 and 2017.

Pacific Hydro's 80 megawatt Crowlands wind farm near Ararat in Victoria, which secured $80 million in project financing this week, is an example of the money flowing into renewable energy projects.

The Crowlands wind farm, which will comprise 39 wind turbines and create enough energy to power the yearly needs of about 50,000 Victorian homes, was financed by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the National Australia Bank. It is the first project to be supported by a long-term power purchase arrangement with a group of corporates through the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project.

Planum Partners managing director Shaun Newing, who helped pull together the finance for the Crowlands project, said there was strong interest from banks to invest in renewable projects.

"We are seeing a lot of activity in that space. These projects are never easy to do. It depends on the quality of the sponsor and the quality of the revenue streams. But all the banks are well set up to finance renewable projects. They are keen to get involved," Mr Newing said.




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, May 17, 2018

Who Turned Off the Lights?

Is anyone paying attention to the crisis that is going on in our electric power markets?

Over the past six months, at least four major nuclear power plants have been slated for shutdown, including the last one in operation in California. Meanwhile, dozens of coal plants have been shuttered as well — despite low prices and cleaner coal. Some of our major coal companies may go into bankruptcy.

This is a dangerous game we are playing with our most valuable resource outside of clean air and water. Traditionally, we've received almost half our electric power nationwide from coal and nuclear power, and for good reason. They are cheap, highly resilient and reliable.

The disruption to coal and nuclear power wouldn't be disturbing if this were happening as a result of market forces. That's only partially the case.

The amazing shale oil and gas revolution is providing Americans with cheap gas for home heating and power generation. Hooray. The price of natural gas has fallen by nearly two-thirds over the last decade, and this has put enormous price pressure on other forms of power generation.

But this is not a free-market story of Schumpeterian creative destruction. If it were, then wind and solar power would have been shut down years ago. They can't possibly compete on a level playing field with $3 natural gas.

In most markets, solar and wind power survive purely because the states mandate that as much as 30 percent of residential and commercial power come from these sources. The utilities have to buy it regardless of price. The California state legislature just mandated solar panels for homes built after 2020 (an added construction cost of about $10,000 per home).

Over $100 billion in subsidies have been doled out to big wind and big solar over the last decade. Even with the avalanche of taxpayer subsidies and bailout funds, many of these companies, such as Solyndra (which received $500 million in handouts), failed.

These industries are not anywhere close to self-sufficiency. Without a continuation of a multibillion-dollar tax credit, the wind turbines would stop turning.

This combines with the left's war on coal through regulations that have destroyed coal plants in many areas. (Thank goodness for the exports of coal, or the industry would be in much bigger trouble.)

Bottom line: Our power market is a Soviet central planner's dream come true, and it is extinguishing our coal and nuclear industries.

Why should anyone care?

First, because government subsidies, regulations and mandates make electric power more expensive. Natural gas prices have fallen by two-thirds, but electric power costs have still risen in most areas.

More importantly, the electric power market isn't accurately pricing in the value of resilience and reliability. What is the value of making sure the lights don't go off? What is the cost to the economy and human health if we have rolling brownouts because the grid doesn't have enough juice?

Politicians and federal regulators are shortsightedly killing our coal and nuclear capacities without considering the risk of future energy shortages and power disruptions. Once a nuclear plant is shutdown, you can't just fire it back up again when you need it.

Wind and solar are notoriously unreliable. Most places where wind power is used, coal plants are needed to back up the system during peak energy use and when the wind isn't blowing.

The first choice to fix energy markets is to finally end the tangled web of layers of taxpayer subsidies and mandates and let the market choose. Alas, that's nearly impossible, given the political clout of big wind and solar.

The second-best solution is for the regulators and utilities to take into account the reliability and safety of our energy. Would people be willing to pay a little more for their power to ensure against brownouts? I sure would. The cost of having too little energy far exceeds the cost of having too much.

A glass of water costs pennies, but if you're in a desert dying of thirst, that water may be worth thousands of dollars.

I'll admit I'm not sure what the best solution is to the power plant closures. But if we have major towns and cities in the country without electric power for stretches of time because of green-energy fixation, Americans are going to be mighty angry, and our economy will take a major hit.

When our manufacturers, schools, hospitals and internet shut down, we're not going to think wind and solar power are so chic.

If the lights start to go out five or 10 years from now, we will look back at what is happening today and wonder how we could have been so darn stupid.


The Government Relies on Flawed Data to Determine Endangered Species

Americans who live in or near a community built around a lake should be careful about stepping outside to mow the lawn if the temperature isn’t just right and the grass isn’t a certain height.

They should keep pets indoors. They should forget about using weed killer. And they should be prepared to pony up a steep homeowners association fee.

That’s because there may be snakes in the area protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which imposes stiff penalties and fines for violating its rules and restrictions.

Rob Gordon, a senior research fellow with The Heritage Foundation, discovered the situation while researching the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 1999 decision to list the Lake Erie water snake as a “threatened” species.

The Fish and Wildlife Service estimated the population of that particular water snake to be somewhere between 1,530 and 2,030 at the time. But just a few years later, the agency revised it to 5,690.

The government either made a “substantial underestimation” with the initial listing or the water snake had “a truly miraculous population growth rate” in a short time, Gordon observes in a recently published research paper that finds the listing process under the Endangered Species Act to be riddled with “erroneous data.”

Gordon concludes that “essentially half of the species” identified by Fish and Wildlife Service officials as “recovered” never should have been listed in the first place.

The regulatory fallout for developers, homeowners, and business owners who run up against the endangered species law is the same regardless of whether federal officials used sound science or flawed methodology, Gordon told The Daily Signal in an interview.

“Once a species is listed, it is regulated and the way it’s regulated doesn’t vary dependent upon the quality of the data the agency used,” Gordon said. “If one listing is legitimate and another listing is illegitimate based on erroneous data, the practical consequences are the same to the property owner or the business owner. He or she still faces the same restrictions whether or not these restrictions are legitimately based on science.”

After reviewing the Fish and Wildlife Service’s documentation in the case of the Lake Erie water snake, Gordon found the agency worked to impose “surreal regulatory hurdles” against a developer who sought to build seven houses on 15 acres.

The Fish and Wildlife Service called for easements to be placed on over five acres of lakefront property that would be donated to a nonprofit organization. The agency also sought a $50,000 “contribution” from the developer to cover construction of a hibernation habitat for the snakes, and creation of a homeowners association that would impose additional restrictions.

‘Federally Funded Fiction’

The case of the Lake Erie water snake “is a small example of the heavy-handed regulatory process for just one of the nearly 1,700 listed species to which landowners and businesses are repeatedly subject across the nation,” Gordon writes in his paper.

Although the government delisted the snake in 2011, numerous restrictions popped up in the meantime.

Homeowners association restrictions stipulated that residents make sure no snake was within 20 feet when applying weed killer to poison ivy, that they not allow cats outside, and that they abide by seasonal height and temperature guidelines for mowing lawns. Collectively, residents also had to provide up to $18,750 for snake research, and allow researchers to have access to their properties.

“This seems really over the top, doesn’t it?” Gordon asked in the interview with The Daily Signal. “And keep in mind that the snake’s actual population numbers were probably undercounted in the first place.”

Gordon describes the recovery figures that Fish and Wildlife officials cite as “federally funded fiction” that dramatically inflate the number of species that genuinely were endangered and subsequently preserved.

“With all the ESA’s costs and burdens, it should perhaps come as no surprise that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is fabricating success stories to cover up this unsustainable mess and substituting fluff for statutorily required reporting regarding the recovery program,” he writes of the law in his paper.

The errors that result in listing species that are not genuinely endangered stem in large part from the “low bar for scientific data” set by the agency, Gordon concluded.

The Endangered Species Act calls for the “best available scientific and commercial data” to be used in the listing process. But here’s the problem, from Gordon’s point of view: Fish and Wildlife officials interpreted this directive to mean the information underpinning a listing doesn’t need to be complete or accurate.

“The agency has not set a high enough bar and sometimes they are using scant or even nonexistent data to list species,” Gordon told The Daily Signal. “They are using speculation and surmise as opposed to verifiable data, and in some instances they won’t even share the data. It’s no wonder that consequently all sorts of species are erroneously listed. That’s what happens when you have weak data standards.”

How bad is the problem?

Of 1,662 plants and animals listed by the Fish and Wildlife Service as either “endangered” or “threatened” in the past 45 years, the government had removed 68 before Gordon published his paper in April.

Of those 68, 11 were removed from the list because they had gone extinct and 19 were removed because of errors in the original data. That leaves 38 species delisted because they were “recovered.”

Taxpayers on Hook for ‘Deceitful Practices’

Under the Endangered Species Act, the conservation process involves “the use of all methods and procedures which are necessary to bring any endangered species or threatened species to the point at which the measures provided … are no longer necessary.”

Endangered species are considered to be at the brink of extinction, while threatened species are considered likely to be so in the near future.

Gordon initially determined that “almost half” of the 38 species listed as “recovered” were actually “false recoveries” because they were based upon original data error.

However, since his paper was published three more species have been delisted and he has concluded that two—the lesser long-nosed bat and the black-capped vireo—were listed based on erroneous data.

For this reason, he now says “essentially half” of the species the Fish and Wildlife Service identified as recovered are not genuine recoveries.

Gordon says he also found other examples of “recovered” species that are really “mixed bags,” meaning the number of recoveries resting on erroneous data could be much higher.

The Daily Signal sought comment from the Interior Department and the Fish and Wildlife Service on Gordon’s findings and whether Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke might consider his recommended reforms. Officials had not responded as of publication.

Unfortunately, U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill for “deceitful practices that portray mistakes as successes,” Gordon told The Daily Signal.

That’s because each listing sets in motion mandatory actions and government expenditures under federal law, he said.

For instance, according to Gordon’s paper, the Fish and Wildlife Service reported in 2014 that the “median cost for preparing and publishing a 90-day finding is $39,276; for a 12-month finding, $100,690; for a proposed rule with critical habitat, $345,000; and for a final listing rule with critical habitat, $305,000.”

“These are just the paperwork costs and the bureaucratic costs of listing species whether they were legitimately listed or if they were listed based on erroneous data,” he told The Daily Signal. “But they are a drop in the bucket compared to the costs borne by private parties such as companies, farmers, and ranchers who have to comply with all kinds of mandates and have to absorb the loss in the value of their land because of their inability to use it and other significant opportunity costs.”

Special Interest Groups Drive Litigation

Gordon points to restrictions the Fish and Wildlife officials sought to impose to protect the Lake Erie water snake as an example of excessively burdensome costs.

Gordon’s paper was the subject of a panel discussion April 25 at The Heritage Foundation where he was joined by Rob Roy Ramey, a wildlife biologist based in Denver, and Jonathan Wood, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation who specializes in environmental and constitutional law.

Ramey called for greater openness and transparency on the part of federal officials and suggested that all the data Fish and Wildlife officials use in their decisions to list species should be made public.

“That way we have a common currency of accountability available to the entire nation,” Ramey said at the Heritage event. Without access to the data, he said, “there’s no opportunity for reproducibility,” which means listing and delisting decisions may not be based on the best scientific information.

Ramey cited several examples of responses from government officials who resisted information requests. His personal favorite came from a “rogue recovery team member” who said:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service data was deliberately provided in a format that would not facilitate detailed analysis by those unfamiliar with the manner in which the data was collected.

Other examples included “the data you requested are proprietary,” “we are still using this data,” and “those data may no longer exist.”

Ramey warned that Fish and Wildlife officials who have “cherry-picked” and “fabricated” data to list species as endangered or threatened drew resources away from creatures in genuine need of protection, such as blue whales, California condors, rhinoceroses, and gorillas.

Wood, the lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit headquartered in Sacramento, California, credited Gordon with research that shows how often examples of species recovery touted as successes for the Endangered Species Act “are little more than fake news.”

Special interest groups play a role in the listing process, Wood said at the Heritage event.

“What really drives the Endangered Species Act is litigation,” he said. “The reality is that the listing process is fundamentally broken, it is completely litigation driven, and it is a problem for administrations regardless of party.”

The Obama administration sought to develop a work plan to “seize some control back” over the listing process, Wood told the audience, so that key factors such as a species’ actual vulnerability would be considered and a listing would not be the result of “which special interest group is yelling the loudest.”

Potential Reforms for Interior Department

In his research, Gordon highlighted examples of listings where the initial count of a species population was dramatically off based on flawed methodology. He cited the Monito gecko during his talk at Heritage.

This lizard resides on Monito Island off the coast of Puerto Rico, which spans about 40 acres surrounded by 217-foot cliffs. The initial search Fish and Wildlife officials used as the basis to list the species in 1982 was organized during the day, when 18 lizards were found.

“The problem here is that the lizard is nocturnal,” Gordon told The Daily Signal. “So, if you are walking around during the middle of the day, you are not going to find it. The creature burrows down into rocks. In 2016, they finally did a proper survey during the evening and they came up with an estimate of about 5,000 to 10,000 geckos. That’s what you call a big difference.”

Gordon spelled out several potential reforms that the Trump administration’s Interior Department could embrace under Zinke’s leadership.

For starters, Zinke could issue an order directing the Fish and Wildlife Service “to accurately identify the data that forms the bases for removing or downlisting species,” Gordon writes in his report.

He also recommends that the agency correct the record and acknowledge instances where a species was wrongly declared to have “recovered.”

“Right now, the Fish and Wildlife Service asserts that the listings are driven by science, but in truth the listings are often driven by litigation and the scientific standards are so weak that they are often listing species as endangered when they should never have been listed,” Gordon said, adding:

The first step in correcting the problem is to admit that it exists. What needs to be done now is to go back and look at species that were claimed as recovered and to put your foot down and acknowledge that many of them were not really recoveries and they were based on erroneous data. Then, going forward, they need to make sure future listings are not based on speculation.


Second Study: Fracking Doesn't Contaminate Groundwater

Once again, the ecofascist dogmatic narrative against fracking isn't supported by the facts

A new study on the practice of hydraulic fracturing (otherwise known as fracking) recently published in the Springer corroborates an earlier study conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Both studies found that fracking to extract oil or natural gas resulted in no contamination of groundwater, a charge popularly leveled against the oil and gas industry by environmentalists.

Using a form of radiocarbon dating to detect traces of natural methane gas (CH4) in groundwater near fracking sites, the study concluded, “We found no relationship between CH4 concentration or source in groundwater and proximity to active gas well sites. No significant changes in CH4 concentration, CH4 isotopic composition, pH, or conductivity in water wells were observed during the study period. These data indicate that high levels of biogenic CH4 can be present in groundwater wells independent of hydraulic fracturing activity.” To sum it up, the study found no evidence of any groundwater contamination from fracking activity.

And while environmentalists and ecofascists are typically quick to dismiss any studies that don’t comport with their desired narrative, including attacking the source of the study’s funding (often claiming the bill was footed by profit-driven oil companies), that dodge of relevant science will not be possible with this study. The two organizations that funded the study were the David & Sara Weston Foundation, whose mission is to “enrich and strengthen underserved communities in … the arts, environmental conservation and social services,” and the Deer Creek Foundation, whose objective is to “enrich the cultural and artistic quality of life in St. Louis metropolitan area.” Will environmentalists listen or does their commitment to ecofascist dogma prevent objective analysis? We think we know the answer. But we suppose they can always try raw water instead…


Anti-Pruitt Leaker Identified As Trump’s Former WH Scheduler Caroline Wiles

Caroline Wiles, President Donald Trump’s original White House scheduler, has been identified as a leaker involved in the scheme to knock out Cabinet members Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke.

Big League Politics has learned that Wiles worked with anti-Scott Pruitt EPA leaker Kevin Chmielewski, who was fired from the Trump administration for driving around a fake police car in traffic. They worked together in Florida governor Rick Scott’s office.

Chmielewski was the advance man for Paul Manafort on sketchy Ukraine trips. His plot was exposed when one of his comrades, Alex Hinson in the Department of the Interior, lost his government cell phone and his personal cell phone became subject to federal government review.

Wiles was dismissed by the White House in February shortly after taking office, according to the Fox affiliate in Jacksonville, because she failed an FBI background check. She is the daughter of Trump campaign strategist Susie Wiles.

Sources confirm the impression within the White House that Caroline Wiles was having an affair with Rick Gates, the Trump campaign adviser who was forced to plead guilty in the Robert Mueller case. Gates agreed to “cooperate.”

Wiles is identified as an engineer of a misleading Atlantic piece by Elaina Plott claiming that Michael Abboud, an EPA official close to Pruitt, was responsible for negative leaks against Zinke. It was a head fake to distract attention from the real conspirators.

The real conspirators: Kevin Chmielewski, Caroline Wiles of the White House personnel office, and Alex Hinson at the Department of the Interior (who is now said to be living with his parents as Ryan Zinke tries to figure out what to do about the young man’s leaking).


Study finds Australian weather experts have been getting it wrong preparing for severe events

Yet they reckon that they can tell us what will happen in 100 year's time

From scientific research to the community response, a new study out today outlines just how at risk Australians have been — and will continue to be — because of the “bad job” experts have been doing predicting and preparing for extreme weather.

The research warns events can often come as a “double whammy” and stress now is the time to realise most major weather and climate catastrophes are caused not by one hazard at a time, but by a combination of processes.

In their paper published in Nature Climate Change, the scientists say we may be underestimating the risks and a better understanding of the combination of factors contributing to a weather event may improve projections.

The research comes as the country is hit with an autumnal big chill, with temperatures forecast to drop again this week.

Both Adelaide and Darwin recorded their coldest starts to the day this year on Monday morning, a shiver inducing 5.9C in the South Australian capital but an almost balmy 19.7C in the tropical Top End.

University of Adelaide lecturer in civil and environmental engineering, Dr Michael Leonard, said traditional planning and modelling had looked at one weather event occurring on its own rather than multiple factors.

Dr Leonard highlighted the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria and the Brisbane floods of 2011 as examples.

He said while the fires were brought about because of drought and a heatwave, they were driven by a high pressure system and resulted in hospitals being stretched, so there were multiple considerations.

“With the floods it was two storms in quick succession and there wasn’t enough appreciation for the quick succession of storms,” Dr Leonard said. “The problem is we need to look at multiple extreme things happening together.

“There’s something that catches us off guard and as a professional community, we could do it better and try come up with these possible combinations to avoid getting caught out like that.

“It’s very easy to invent a doomsday scenario and dismiss it because it’s not practical, saying: ‘I can’t plan for that, then what’s the point?’ so people are reluctant.”

Dr Leonard said in terms of being prepared for floods, planning could be better and systems updated because computing power to test the variability of storms had come a long way.

He also said the risks of hazards needed to be better understood.  “There’s really a need to revise our critical infrastructure and use computing power to come up with events that are possible to get a better idea of what can possibly go wrong,” he said. “I think we do a bad job with that.

“People have not done as good a job of ‘what’s the chance of some of these things happening together?’”

The international paper was led by the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science in Switzerland with Australian researchers from the University of Adelaide and ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes with the University of New South Wales.

They recommend ways climate scientists, engineers, social scientists, impact modellers and decision-makers can work closely together to understand complex weather events.

“Usually when we experience these catastrophic failures it’s not one thing that’s gone wrong, it’s a whole sequence of things that have gone wrong and we need to guard against that,” Dr Leonard said.

“But there's also lots of practical challenges if we have multiple extremes happening together. “When hazards impact communities we’ll hear, ‘the one that caught us by surprise’ and ‘we didn’t see it coming’ or ‘this wasn’t like the ones we’ve seen before’.

“We need to appreciate the variability in conditions we can experience and therefore avoid false complacency or false security — last time there was a fire it didn’t come near us, we got out with plenty of time — the next time there’s an alert it can diminish the implications of it.”




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