Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Proprietor of far-left Australian webzine "New Matilda" echoes Trump

Chris Graham is proprietor of a far-left Australian webzine called "new Matilda" with rather shaky finances but he seems to be far more rational than most Leftists.  He defends coal below and hints that nuclear power may be the best of all.  Beat that!  He seems to be on the same page as Trump when it comes to the electricity supply so it's a wonder he can stand the embarrassment.

His main concerns in fact seem to be Aboriginal welfare and Palestinians.  He publishes some pretty one-eyed stuff on those topics.  The Aboriginal stuff probably bores most of his readers.  The Australian Left mostly regards the Aboriginal problem as "too hard", which it is.  Compare the Canadian "first nations" problem or the native American problem.  But Palestinians are red meat to Leftists so that probably keeps Chris's ship afloat

Naomi Klein: Definitely of the left and a powerful advocate for the oppressed; at least when they have two legs and an upright stance. Her first book, No Logo, was a powerful polemic against the branding and bullshit of the modern corporate culture.

Klein is now getting heavily involved in climate change politics, writing one of her characteristically large books on the topic a few years back: This changes everything: Capitalism Vs the Climate.

Here’s a shorter taste of Klein in full flight. It’s an essay adapted from her 2016 Edward Said London Lecture. The essay’s central theme is how Said, a Palestinian born Professor of Literature, thought of environmentalism as a bourgeois playground and missed what Klein thinks is the powerful connection between environmental destruction and oppression.

I think she’s a bit rough on Said; he died in 2003, well before many non-scientists realised the deep gravity of climate destabilisation. The penny hadn’t dropped then with Tim Flannery, for example; or I think, Klein herself. It was 2004 before the penny started falling with me.

But even if Said had realised the seriousness of climate destabilisation, would he have agreed with Klein on the connection between oppression and trashing the climate? Perhaps Klein’s connection is simply the result of moving outside her area of expertise. Science changes everything.

Klein is used to identifying protagonists and telling their stories with events and anecdotes. Science is about numbers, evidence and carefully constructed arguments. Klein’s not comfortable with any of the three.

For example, Klein wants to assert that our fossil fuel problems are the result of our othering of miners and Indigenous peoples. Meaning that we treat them as less than human to justify their exploitation.

Did coal and oil mines displace Indigenous people? Certainly, but were they the biggest driving force or simply a minor footnote in a much more general process?

It’s easy enough to check. I’ll illustrate with some Australian numbers, but they illustrate general principles. We crop about 20 million hectares in Australia and graze another 70 million hectares of improved pasture. Cattle and sheep also graze another 330 million hectares of natural vegetation.

Keep in mind that the entire area of Australia is about 770 million hectares. We also have a couple of million hectares of plantation forests. And our mines? All up, not just coal, they occupy a few tens of thousands of hectares and much of that isn’t the prime area with surface disturbance. So… which activities have done most to dispossess Indigenous people? Mines of any description, or cropping or grazing?

The ratios are similar the world over. Mines are tiny, cropping is big and grazing is huge. Indigenous people have been dispossessed by the sheer weight of numbers of non-Indigenous people and the fact that the latter all eat; with the biggest dispossessors being those who indirectly appropriate the most land… meaning meat eaters… which probably includes both Klein and Said (as far as I can make out).

Now think about the other part of her claim. Coal mining is definitely a filthy business, but a damn site healthier than what it replaced… chopping and burning wood. And what did they use to light the lamps of Europe before oil?

They used whale oil.

Perhaps Klein would like us to return to men in little boats throwing sharp pointy things at whales, but I’d rather drill holes in the ground. And wood isn’t dead yet. Some 3 billion people still cook with solid fuels; mostly wood, but also cow dung or charcoal or even coal itself.

Wood smoke indoors shortens lives and kills children. The death toll from household air pollution is about 4.3 million people a year; and the suffering on top of that is immense. The upside of a coal industry, particularly when it became used to generate electricity, is that by replacing wood, a large number of people benefitted from the toil of a few.

The other great thing about coal mining is that it’s a big compact centralised industry; which means it’s easier to regulate. Think about the difference between a textile factory with a union and regulation compared to people working at home. Highly distributed industries are tough to regulate. Globally between 1990 and 2013, coal production trebled, but deaths from black lung dropped from 29,000 to 25,000.

Black lung is the common name for CWP (Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis). It’s the biggest killer of coal miners and is caused by breathing coal dust. But when you mine coal from big open cut holes while sitting in massive air-conditioned machines, the problem can be eliminated; and the pay is better than many other jobs. But it does take good unions and continued vigilance.

There were 6 cases of CWP in Queensland between May 2015 and February 2016 which prompted calls for action in the Medical Journal of Australia. Science changes everything.

Klein can point to coal mining abuses in various parts of the world, but ignores the benefits of coal over what went before. I don’t know of any studies on how many lives coal has saved in replacing wood, but there are studies on the numbers of premature deaths nuclear power has prevented in replacing coal… about 1.8 million. The number of lives coal has saved by replacing wood would be far greater.

Klein is so closely focused on oppression by big business that she missed the much bigger cause of Indigenous displacement and thus all the subsequent domino progression of problems. She misses that large industries can be regulated and improved and that in many countries that’s exactly what has happened.

Similarly, when she talks about health, she is so focused on laying out her argument that she doesn’t bother to check the facts. Consider:

“Turning all that coal into electricity required another layer of othering too: this time for the urban neighbourhoods next door to the power plants and refineries. In North America, these are overwhelmingly communities of colour, black and Latino, forced to carry the toxic burden of our collective addiction to fossil fuels, with markedly higher rates of respiratory illnesses and cancers.”

Where’s the proof? For females in the US, whites have a higher rate of cancer than blacks, with Latino’s significantly lower again and American and Alaskan native Indians lower still! For men, blacks have the highest cancer rates, with whites a little lower and again Latinos and American and Alaskan native Indians lower again.

There may be pockets around power plants where rates are a little different but where’s the data?

As for respiratory diseases, the biggest most serious of these is COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and yes, rates of COPD are higher for non-whites. But what’s the problem, is it mining?

Here’s what a major 2013 US study says: “Because smoking is the dominant risk factor for COPD and contributed to about 80% of COPD deaths in 2000 to 2004 much of this disease is potentially preventable.”

With regard to cancer, Klein makes the same mistake made over many decades by the anti-nuclear movement. They seized on the fact that radiation can cause cancer and entirely ignored more recent findings that radiation is a much weaker cause of cancer than lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol, red and processed meat, and being fat and inactive.

Climate science is a little different from some sciences in its emphasis on ranking causes. Plenty of science is focused on tiny details but the climate gurus have to look at a vast array of quite different problems and try to rank them.

Klein cites a paper by Hansen on sea level rise; but when she starts discussing climate science she begins with a faux pas.

“Fossil fuels aren’t the sole driver of climate change – there is industrial agriculture, and deforestation – but they are the biggest.”

Industrial agriculture is a very misleading description of a major part of the climate problem. A more accurate description would be simply “methane from sheep and cattle”.

The 1.4 billion cattle on the planet are unprecedented and have driven a considerable component of the deforestation as well as emitting large amounts of methane as they digest their feed. And what about the “industrial” adjective? Cattle in feedlots generate less methane than cattle eating grass. Industrial methods of animal production are horrid for the animals but far less bad for the climate.


Klein assumes that the cause of the dominance of fossil fuels in our energy supply is otherness, oppression and racism. But I’d rank ignorance very high up on the list of reasons. Klein’s shorter essay illustrates her ignorance about cancer and other health issues and this ignorance very clearly misinforms her narrative.

If you want to take part in charting a course to reduce climate destabilisation, then sympathy with the oppressed isn’t enough. Klein’s essay ignores nuclear power and the obvious role of the anti-nuclear movement in the dominance of fossil fuels.

We could have gotten rid of the fossil fuel industry decades ago, back when climate change was first recognised as a serious issue by the world’s climate scientists; the 1990s. But we didn’t.

The fossil fuel industries thrived because they had no competition and were far better than wood. They were safer, cleaner, and yes, even healthier. They thrive today because people like Klein look at nuclear power without bothering to compare its health and safety record with anything else. Not coal, not wood, not anything.

They just say “Oh gosh, this is scary, radiation can damage your genes and nuclear plants are … well … just plain big and built by big companies!”

As it happens food is also energy and it has an environmental impact and it also damages your genes; meaning that some foods and some diets can cause cancer. Foods can shred DNA … quite literally … causing single and double strand breaks; just like radiation; only they are far more potent.

But ignorance about the big causes of cancer meant that fear of the little causes proliferated in a knowledge vacuum, and any nuclear project was hit by demonstrations and legal challenges and a rolling barrage of increasingly bizarre safety requirements.

So the big energy companies said, “Gosh nuclear is hard, let’s just keep on with coal”. And everybody relaxed and got on with building bigger houses and writing bigger books and going on more holidays and generally having a real nice time. Even the coal miners.


London is not bound in toxic smog

The scaremongering about air pollution is blighting innovation in the capital.

Earlier this month, a spate of news stories suggested that London was experiencing an air-pollution crisis. Just one week into 2017, for instance, the Guardian reported that ‘Brixton Road in Lambeth has already broken legal limits for toxic air for the entire year’.

Funnily enough, this same story was published by the Guardian in January 2016, and by the Evening Standard in January 2015. And beyond the headlines, bad science and stats-abuse abound.

According to the scaremongers, the main pollution problem is nitrogen dioxide, or NO2. NO2 is produced by all vehicles but especially those using diesel engines, which produce four times as much NO2 as petrol engines. The great irony here is that green lobbyists encouraged the use of diesel engines and public transport, which is largely diesel powered, because they believed diesel to be less polluting than petrol. So if there is a major cause of NO2 pollution in London, blame the iconic double-decker bus and hackney carriage.

The consequence of air pollution, campaigners argue, is nearly 6,000 premature deaths in London every year. In a city of nearly 8.5million people, that is indeed a shocking figure. But the claim that almost one in 1,000 people is dying as a result of London’s poor air quality is not as straightforward as campaigners suggest.

A 2004 study estimated that London’s 1952 ‘pea soup’ smog had directly caused as many as 12,000 deaths that winter, and left tens of thousands incapacitated by respiratory diseases. The evident scale of the problem at the time prompted the government to draw up the Clean Air Act, which regulated the use of coal. As a result, London’s air is cleaner today than it has been for centuries.

Today, the tool used to detect the current effect of air pollution on public health is not a mortality rate; it’s a statistical model. And such models are highly sensitive to assumptions. The report, from which the current scare stories spring, was produced, and updated in 2015, by researchers at King’s College London, and commissioned by Transport for London and the Greater London Authority. It acknowledges ‘uncertainty in the evidence’, and warns that ‘figures are considered approximate and need to be used with care’. But these cautions have been quickly forgotten in the search for dramatic headlines.

The researchers claim that, should their recommendations be followed, four million life years will be gained by Londoners over 105 years from 2010, whereas, if no action is taken, 13million life years will be lost by Londoners in that time. Such astronomic figures sound dramatic, but the net benefit per Londoner of any intervention is to extend his or her life by hours, rather than years. The report even admits that the difference their recommendations will make to the lifespan people alive today may be less than a week! But don’t expect the Guardian to let that temper its hysterical headlines.

Furthermore, despite London’s much-hyped urban air pollution, the average Londoner born in 2013 has a better chance of living longer than someone of the same age living elsewhere in England. Life expectancy at birth for Londoners is 80 (male) and 84.1 (female), versus 79.3 (male) and 83 (female) nationally.

Plugging estimates of impact and risk into statistical models only creates superficially plausible arguments for action. The obsession with air pollution speaks to the extremely limited debate about the future of London – and the UK – which has for too long been dominated by quangos, NGOs and academics, vying for attention with scare stories underpinned by intangible benefits and opaque statistical methodologies. A better future won’t emerge from this stale network of misanthropic campaigners and miserable green hacks. After all, this was the same contingent that ordered us out of our cars and on to diesel-spewing buses in the first place.

The outcome of this scaremongering is always regulation. The Guardian reports that ‘by law, hourly levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide must not be more than 200 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) more than 18 times in a whole year’. But these limits are arbitrary, and do not permit, much less take account of, London’s climate, geography and history. In short, the record of certain locations in London exceeding these limits does not give a meaningful picture of London’s environmental health.

The legal NO2 limits are being exceeded because London is low-lying and mostly flat. Its main routes are narrow, winding and seemingly chaotic, and were planned long before the invention of the automobile. This is confirmed by a look at the data produced by air-quality monitoring stations located at kerbsides. What they show, as the graph for Brixton Road below indicates, is that the amount of NO2 in the air varies dramatically day to day, week to week, and minute to minute, as a consequence of many factors. Regulating any form of vehicle out of the equation might make as much sense as banning the people, the layout of the road, or the wintery conditions that contribute equally to the excess NO2 in the air.

Just up the A23, at Streatham Green, a very different picture of London’s air emerges to that provided by Brixton Road (note the difference of scale on the Y-axis below).

What this comparison shows is that NO2 is a highly localised problem, the extent of which cannot be understood by kerbside monitoring. Monitoring stations might just as well be located on the exhaust pipes of buses – as indeed they sometimes are.

The situation in Streatham Green is far less dynamic than on Brixton Road. This shows that even if atmospheric NO2 is a problem, it is a problem that Londoners with particular health vulnerabilities can easily escape – it is as simple as being in a different area, or not being on the high street, at busy times of the day. This may be cold comfort for people with asthma or respiratory problems, but it does show that London is far from being trapped under a layer of toxic smog.

Environmental and public-health campaigners, academics and journalists have their own agendas, which means their claims should not be taken at face value. No doubt London will continue to face interrelated public-health and transport problems. But we should respond to these problems with a vision of better future, not panic over faked statistics that, if acted on, might rob London of its vitality.

Even this climate-change-denying, fossil-fuel-loving petrol-head hopes that by 2115, a better alternative to the fossil-fuel-powered engine and London’s narrow streets will have been developed. As well as cleaner air, why not look at how we can improve travel so that it takes less than two hours to travel across the city? Sadly, such innovations will not emerge from public-health quangos, university departments and their bullshit statistical models.


GOP targets landmark Endangered Species Act for big changes

In control of Congress and soon the White House, Republicans are readying plans to roll back the influence of the Endangered Species Act, one of the government's most powerful conservation tools, after decades of complaints that it hinders drilling, logging, and other activities.
Over the past eight years, GOP lawmakers sponsored dozens of measures aimed at curtailing the landmark law or putting species such as gray wolves and sage grouse out of its reach. Almost all were blocked by Democrats and the White House or lawsuits from environmentalists.

Now, with the ascension of President-elect Donald Trump, Republicans see an opportunity to advance broad changes to a law they contend has been exploited by wildlife advocates to block economic development.

"It has never been used for the rehabilitation of species. It's been used for control of the land," said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop. "We've missed the entire purpose of the Endangered Species Act. It has been hijacked."

Bishop said he "would love to invalidate" the law and would need other lawmakers' cooperation.

The 1973 act was ushered though Congress nearly unanimously, in part to stave off extinction of the national symbol, the bald eagle. Eagle populations have since rebounded, and the birds were taken off the threatened and endangered list in 2007.

In the eagles' place, another emblematic species - the wolf - has emerged as a prime example of what critics say is wrong with the current law: seemingly endless litigation that offers federal protection for species long after government biologists conclude that they have recovered.

Wolf attacks on livestock have provoked hostility against the law, which keeps the animals off-limits to hunting in most states. Other species have attracted similar ire - Canada lynx for halting logging projects, the lesser prairie chicken for impeding oil and gas development, and salmon for blocking efforts to reallocate water in California.

Reforms proposed by Republicans include placing limits on lawsuits that have been used to maintain protections for some species and force decisions on others, as well as adopting a cap on how many species can be protected and giving states a greater say in the process.

Wildlife advocates are bracing for changes that could make it harder to add species to the protected list and to usher them through to recovery. Dozens are due for decisions this year, including the Pacific walrus and the North American wolverine, two victims of potential habitat loss due to climate change.

"Any species that gets in the way of a congressional initiative or some kind of development will be clearly at risk," said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife and a former Fish and Wildlife Service director under President Bill Clinton. "The political lineup is as unfavorable to the Endangered Species Act as I can remember."

More than 1,600 plants and animals in the US are now shielded by the law. Hundreds more are under consideration for protections. Republicans complain that fewer than 70 have recovered and had protections lifted.

"That tension just continues to expand," said Jason Shogren, professor of natural resource conservation at the University of Wyoming. "Like a pressure cooker, every now and then, you've got to let out some steam or it's really going to blow."

Congress reconvened last week with two critics of the law holding key Senate leadership positions - Wyoming Senator John Barrasso as the incoming chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works and Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski as chairwoman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Spokesman Mike Danylak said Barrasso will seek to "strengthen and modernize" the management of endangered species but offered no specifics.

Barrasso's predecessor, Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, suggested in an interview that one species should be removed from the list every time another is added. Another Republican, Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan, said he wants to limit applications for protections to one species at a time.

Trump's position is unclear. A strong advocate for energy development, he has lamented environmental policies he says hinder drilling. But his appointment of Montana Representative Ryan Zinke as Interior secretary was seen by some conservationists as a signal that Trump will support protections for public lands to the benefit of fish and wildlife.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said  it isn't allowed to repay damage claims filed against it following a 2015 mine waste spill in Colorado

In a statement, the agency said it consulted with the Justice Department on the question of the claims, which total more than $1.2 billion.

Attorneys determined that the EPA cannot pay for damages because of a legal principle called sovereign immunity, which prohibits lawsuits against the government.

The agency said individuals and businesses who filed claims against the agency can appeal Friday's decision in federal court.
"[The law] does not authorize federal agencies to pay claims resulting from government actions that are discretionary - that is, acts of a governmental nature or function and that involve the exercise of judgment," the agency said in a statement.

"The circumstances surrounding the Gold King Mine incident unfortunately do not meet the conditions necessary to pay claims."

According to The Denver Post, the EPA fielded at least 73 claims totaling $1.2 billion following the August 2015 incident in which a team of agency contractors triggered a waste spill while assessing the condition of the shuttered Gold King Mine. The spill sent 3 million gallons of toxic sludge into Colorado's Animas River.

Conditions in the region have since returned to normal. Even so, the spill incensed local landowners, farmers, tourism officials and tribes, who filed for damages against the agency.

In a separate report released on Friday, the EPA listed 10 steps it could take to bolster its response efforts following incidents like the mine waste spill, including establishing a formal response team and developing new emergency training methods.


Australian push: ‘Dump CO2 target when America walks away from Paris agreement’

A growing number of government MPs, including some on Malcolm Turnbull’s front bench, say Australia should dump the Renewable Energy Target and its carbon emissions reduction commitments under the Paris climate agreement if Donald Trump walks away from the deal.

Conservative MPs have told The Australian they believe there is no point in remaining committed to the Paris accord without the US locked into action on climate change, a phenomenon the new President has previously labelled a Chinese “hoax”.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott and South Australian senator Cory Bernardi have both publicly argued for the scrapping of renewable energy targets, saying that would allow the government to campaign more forcefully against Labor on energy policy.

One conservative MP said the view was “getting a lot of traction very quickly”, while another said that opinion was already “widespread” within the Coalition partyroom.

The push comes as many MPs express frustration that the government has made little political mileage out of Labor’s policy to lift the renewable target to 50 per cent by 2030, believing it is a hot-button cost-of-living issue that should dominate the political debate in the lead-up to the next election.

The government has committed to reducing its emissions by 26 to 28 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030. “I think when Trump walks away from the Paris agreement that will be the perfect opportunity to follow,” one MP said.

“We would grandfather any ­existing investments that have been made under the current scheme, but for new investment, it has got to be economic, it has got to stand on its own two feet.”

But MPs said Mr Abbott’s opinion piece published in The Weekend Australian this month advocating a shift in policy was “not helpful”, saying it would make it more difficult to convince the Prime Minister of the merits of the political strategy.

Another said that regardless of the RET target, the government would seek to incentivise the building of new coal-fired power stations, in a move aimed at wedging Labor on job creation and cost-of-living pressures linked to the new investment.

“There was a lot of absolute dismay that we didn’t actually campaign on Labor’s 50 per cent renewable energy target, because it would impact household budgets and small business and we wouldn’t have had to run a scare campaign on that, it would have been an actual factual campaign,” one MP said.

“Let’s see what Donald Trump does, but it stands to reason that we should not be trying to lead the world on this and if other countries are not going to be playing their part, whether it is right, wrong or indifferent, if we try to sacrifice our economy and household budgets to make no environmental difference we would be doing not only ourselves a great disservice but also the environment.”

But that view is not shared by cabinet, which believes any change to the renewable target would create more policy uncertainty and discourage ­invest­ment. Several senior conservative MPs said there would be no change in position by the Turnbull government, and warned that doing so could create sovereign risk.

They also argued that it would not get through the Senate, and so there was no point advocating the position which could potentially act like a carbon tax given the impact on power prices without new investment.

Another conservative MP said that the RET should be maintained, but other policy levers used to incentivise the next generation of coal-fired power stations to generate more domest­ic electricity.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan said last week that new “ultra-supercritical” coal-fired power stations could be used in Australia to generate electricity with a 40 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions.

The parameters of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation could also potentially be changed to allow for low emissions coal technology. Following Mr Abbott’s call to abolish future renewable targets, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the government had no plans to change the policy which was settled only 18 months ago, providing investor certainty.



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

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Monday, January 23, 2017

The first fruits

With midnight regulation, Obama Energy Department just outlawed your three-way bulb

In the last full day of the Obama administration, the Department of Energy just issued a final rule that will outlaw even more light bulbs.

The 2007 light bulb ban in effect outlawed most incandescent light bulbs by imposing efficiency standards on ordinary light bulbs. Congress exempted a few types of light bulbs, including bug lights, three-way bulbs, "rough service lamps," and some decorative bulbs, such as globe-shaped bulbs.

But that law gave DOE the right to expand the class of bulbs covered by the mandates. In a new rule published today, DOE redefined the words in the law, "general service lamp," to include a lot more types of light bulb. In short, bulb types that Congress had originally exempted are no longer exempted.

Three-way bulbs, which have two different filaments and thus three different brightnesses, are currently exempted. DOE just ruled that they now need to be covered. The Department's reasoning: "DOE expects these sales will likely increase since these lamps could be used as replacements for other regulated lamp types." In other words: People might start buying these bulbs because they want regular light bulbs rather than expensive LEDs or crappy fluorescents.

DOE also spiked the exemption for globe-shaped bulbs. Many manufacturers make, and many retailers sell, globe-shaped bulbs that met the standards, but consumers were left with the option to buy globe-shaped bulbs of the old type. That couldn't stand.

This rule doesn't go into effect for three years, but it could lead pretty quickly to domestic bulb makers ceasing production.

A few bulb types are still exempt, including bug lights and oven lights.


Key Omission Undercuts Attempted New York Times Expose of EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt

In today's New York Times, Eric Lipton and Coral Davenport dropped what was supposed to be a blockbuster expose of "a series of instances in which [Environmental Protectoin Agency (EPA) administrator nominee Scott] Pruitt put cooperation with industry before confrontation as he sought to blunt the impact of federal environmental policies in his state-against oil, gas, agriculture and other interests." According to Lipton and Davenport, "[Pruitt's] antipathy to federal regulation-he sued the Environmental Protection Agency 14 times-in many ways defined his tenure as Oklahoma's attorney general."

In support of these contentions, the article includes an interactive feature that presents the legal briefs from the 14 suits against the EPA in which Pruitt participated on behalf of Oklahoma. Lipton and Davenport note: "In all but one of these 14 cases, regulated industry players also were parties." The obvious implication is that Pruitt is doing the bidding of the industries that funded his political campaigns.

However, there is a gaping hole in the New York Times story. The reporters make it seem as though Pruitt was waging a one-man war against the EPA. In fact, an unprecedented and diverse number of states have challenged the agency during the Obama administration. For example, both of the EPA's signature regulations-the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States rule-were challenged by more than half of all states. By my count, 206 states (attorneys general, governors, or state regulatory bodies) participated in 12 of the 14 lawsuits against the EPA in addition to Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt. That's an average of 18 states per lawsuit. Nor is it the case that only conservative states challenged the EPA. To wit, Michigan, Ohio, and even Delaware have joined Oklahoma in fighting various EPA rules.

It is remarkable that Lipton and Davenport omitted discussion of how many states joined Oklahoma in challenging the EPA during the Obama era. After all, Pruitt has made federalism the touchstone of his opposition to the agency.

Arguably, the breadth of state opposition to Obama-era EPA rules undercuts the thesis implied by Lipton and Davenport-that industry funding influenced Pruitt's prosecutorial discretion. To buy what the Times is selling, you'd have to believe that more than half the state attorneys general in the country are supplicants of industry. That's a sweeping and ill-founded supposition.

Also, the plenitude of state challenges to Obama's EPA cuts against Lipton and Davenport's evident assumption that the underlying rules were important public health safeguards. It defies reason to claim that more than half of all states are against clean air or clean water when they challenge the Clean Power Plan or Waters of the United States rule.

Without question, the state officials who have sued are more accountable to their constituents than are the unelected civil servants at the EPA. Does it make sense to think that citizens in more than half of all states want dirty air and water? Of course not! Rather, these states are fighting highly politicized regulations that would subject more and more state authority to the EPA, in order to achieve health and environmental benefits that are illusory. To this point, consider the following links to previous posts that tell the true story about the rules being challenged by Pruitt, among many other states: Clean Power Plan, Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, Ozone NAAQS, Carbon Pollution Standards, Regional Haze, and the Waters of the U.S. Rule.


Can Trump, Congress Undo EPA's Midnight Fuel Economy Regulation?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized-14 months ahead of schedule-its Mid Term Evaluation (MTE) of greenhouse gas emission standards for model year (MY) 2022-2025 passenger cars and light trucks. The EPA was in such a rush to dump a fait accompli on the incoming Trump administration that it apparently forgot to post anything about this multi-billion dollar decision on the agency website's landing page.

The EPA's action locks in greenhouse gas (GHG) standards the agency tentatively adopted in 2012-more than a decade before millions of the covered vehicles are even manufactured. GHG standards are de facto fuel economy standards, because, as the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) acknowledge, carbon dioxide constitutes 94.9 percent of vehicular greenhouse gas emissions, and "there is a single pool of technologies ... that reduce fuel consumption and thereby CO2 emissions as well" (75 FR 25372).

On December 8, 2016, the Auto Alliance, representing 12 leading manufacturers of passenger cars and light trucks, asked the EPA to withdraw the proposed Mid Term Evaluation, which the agencies in July 2016 told automakers would not be proposed until mid-2017. The Alliance cautioned that the EPA's proposed GHG standards ignore consumer acceptance and are based on "several technical and modeling errors that lead to an overly optimistic view of both technology effectiveness and cost to manufacturers and ultimately to consumers."

The Alliance additionally noted that the proposed MTE conflicts with the EPA's regulatory obligation to implement a "harmonized single national GHG/Fuel Economy program in which the EPA and NHTSA, along with California's Air Resources Board (`ARB'), would issue their draft TAR [Technical Assessment Report] and subsequent MTE determinations at the same time."

Nonetheless, on this Friday before a three-day weekend, the EPA basically told automakers to go pound sand. The affected industries responded with releases today calling on the incoming Trump administration to yank or at least reconsider the EPA's action.

Global Automakers President and CEO John Bozella stated:

The Environmental Protection Agency has still failed to state a compelling reason for rushing its final determination. It unnecessarily truncated public comment and prevented scrutiny of an important policy decision that will affect consumers, investment, public health, and the environment. This can only undermine confidence in the objectivity of policymaking. It merits a serious look by the incoming administration.

National Automobile Dealers Association President and CEO Peter Welch stated:

The Obama Administration today just made new cars and trucks thousands of dollars more expensive for America's working men and women. Expensive and unaffordable new cars will drive Americans into less efficient, less clean and less safe used cars-undermining the very goals of this policy. We urge the incoming Trump Administration to withdraw today's action, and we look forward to working with the new Administration to ensure that working families can choose the cleaner, safer new cars and trucks they need at prices they can afford.

What is to be done?

The EPA's action is either a rule or it is not. If it is a rule, then it is vulnerable to quick repeal via the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which enables Congress to veto regulations adopted within the previous 60 legislative days. CRA resolutions of disapproval cannot be filibustered, as they require only simple majorities to pass. If both chambers of Congress pass the resolution and the President signs it, the targeted rule is overturned.

The EPA and its allies, predictably, claim the MTE is not a rule, only the evaluation of a rule. However, the CRA definition of rule includes any agency statement of particular or general applicability and future effect that interprets, implements, or prescribes policy or law. The MTE easily fits within that capacious definition.

While denying the MTE is a rule, the EPA and its allies also claim President Trump cannot legally withdraw it. Why? Because it has gone through the public notice and comment process. But isn't that tantamount to saying it is a rule?

But let's assume it is not a rule. How then does it legally bind anyone to do or forbear from doing anything?

Also, how does the EPA's premature finalization of the MTE excuse the agency from fulfilling its regulatory commitment under the 2012 joint rulemaking to coordinate its final MTE with NHTSA's? Either the EPA's action is simply unlawful, or the Trump administration would have an opportunity to modify the EPA's MTE in the process of coordinating it with NHTSA's.

Finally, even if we assume the Trump EPA cannot simply nix the MTE by fiat, it would certainly be within its rights to accept a petition to reconsider the MTE. The Trump EPA could then restore the schedule for proposing and finalizing the MTE that the agencies published in July. And on the basis of those additional public comments and technical reviews, it would have until April 2018 to finalize new coordinated MTEs that the agencies consider more consistent with consumer acceptance, technology costs, fuel prices, and employment impacts.


Incoming EPA Chief Gains Ammo Against CO2 Regs

Imagine for a moment you're applying for an executive position at a prestigious capital firm, and during the course of the interview the assessor asks for your ideas on curtailing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Your internal (if not external) response would probably go something like this: "What does CO2 have to do with my potential role as an investment manager?" Now imagine being the nominee for the CIA or HUD and being subjected to the same question. That's exactly what happened during last week's confirmation hearings.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, Sen. Kamala Harris bizarrely tried to corner Mike Pompeo, nominated to head the CIA, on the issue of man-made global warming. To his credit, Pompeo brilliantly deferred, retorting, "I, frankly, as the director of CIA would prefer today not to get into the details of climate debate and science. It just seems - my role is going to be so different." He added, "I do know the agency's role. Its role is to collect foreign intelligence." Bingo.

HUD nominee Ben Carson faced similar consternation. Sen. Elizabeth Warren used a portion of her time urging Carson to lay out "actions . to adapt to or prevent climate change." As entertaining and nonsensical as all this is, none of it provided the kind of fireworks we're bound to witness during EPA nominee Scott Pruitt's hearing this week. Pruitt, of course, is expected to significantly water down the agency by rescinding onerous regulations.

Unfortunately for Democrats, when it comes to the faux war on CO2, Pruitt's job may not be as difficult as they hoped. Cato Institute's Patrick J. Michaels reports on a new paper, "The Art and Science of Climate Model Tuning," that undermines the Obama administration's "finding of endangerment" claim regarding CO2. Because the EPA interprets GHGs as dangerous, Michaels says "any attempt to undo Obama-era EPA regulations will be bitterly contested in court, perhaps for years."

The paper, however, provides strong evidence of EPA gerrymandering, which could negate Democrats' popular legal defense. According to Michaels, it found "that each fiddling of the models . gives a different forecast of how much the earth will warm for doubling atmospheric carbon dioxide, which is called the equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS). If the ECS can be changed to a wide range of values, depending upon the `tuning' of the model, then it is the modeler and not the underlying physics that decides this number. And who defines an `acceptable' ECS? In these cases, it is the very same people jiggling the models in the first place."

The Obama EPA gets away with unlawful acts because it fabricates evidence. In fact, the entire Democrat war on greenhouse gases - including off-script "gotcha" questions at confirmation hearings - is nothing but a political farce. The Left is going to be a whole lot more agitated when Republicans put an end to pursuing nonexistent issues.



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

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


Sunday, January 22, 2017

2016 Global Temperature: The Pause Never Went Away

Interesting to see that someone in the climate establishment has at long last put a number on the influence of the recent El Nino.  And the Met figure of two tenths of a degree is substantial in the context of the very small changes in the climate record.  

Even so, the figure is far too low in the context of the accompanying CO2 stasis, making it difficult to see the figure as anything but a guess.  But David Whitehouse below takes it as read and shows that subtracting those two tenths leaves us with the familiar "hiatus" -- no statistically significant temperature change across this century.  There is NO ongoing global warming.

The [British] Met Office yesterday confirmed that the warm record of 2016 was mainly driven by a very strong El Nino.

Not that you would have heard this fact in the news. But Peter Stott, Acting Director of the Met Office Hadley Centre, said in no uncertain terms that, “a particularly strong El Nino event contributed about 0.2°C to the annual average for 2016.”

By removing this temporary El Nino contribution from the Met Office’s 2016 data, it becomes obvious that global average temperatures would be essentially identical to where they were in 2014 (see fig 1). Since the El Nino warming is fading and global temperatures are dropping rapidly, they are close to being back to where they were before the latest El Nino started.

There are two ways to look at the just released global temperature of 2016 and press releases from NASA, NOAA and the Met Office work hard to reflect only one of them.

The emphasis is on long-term warming with the press releases stressing that we are living in the warmest decade of the past 150 years (since instrumental records began) concluding that global warming is continuing unabated. This is one way of seeing the data, but it is not the main lesson which comes out of studying what 2016 adds to the picture of recent warmth.

2016 was clearly among the warmest of years, but what distinguishes it from the previous years in this century? Everyone agrees it is the strong El Nino. But how strong was its influence?

The NASA GISS dataset has the global temperature of 2016 at 0.99 +/- 0.1°C compared to 0.87 +/- 0.1°C for 2015, a difference of 0.12°C. However, NASA’s Gavin Schmidt said that their estimate of the boost to global temperatures given by the El Nino in 2016 was 0.12°C, that is the difference between 2015 and 2016.

The press release from the Met Office says that 2016 is one of the warmest two years on record and that according to the HadCRUT4 dataset it was 0.77+/- 0.1°C above what it calls the long-term average, which is actually calculated between 1961-1990. 2015 was 0.76+/- 0.1°C making 2016 and 2015 statistically indistinguishable from one another.

However, Peter Stott, Acting Director of the Met Office Hadley Centre said, “A particularly strong El Nino event contributed about 0.2°C to the annual average for 2016.” This means that without the El Nino 2016 would have had a global temperature of about 0.57+/- 0.1°C which is the same as 2014 and within the errors of 2010 (0.56) and 2005 (0.54). It would also have been in the 95% confidence range of 2013, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2003 and 2002. In other words, using the Met Office’s 0.2°C El Nino (ENSO) correction 2016 has not been a record warm year but statistically in the same region as the previous 15 years. Gavin Schmidt of NASA disagrees, saying on Twitter, “Oh my. What tosh. In ENSO corrected data-sets 2016 is still record warm.”

According to NOAA 2016 was 0.07°F warmer than 2015, which is 0.04°C. Considering the error in the annual temperature is +/- 0.1°C this makes 2016 statistically indistinguishable from 2015, making any claim of a record using NOAA data specious.

Fig 1 shows the HadCRUT4 data for the so-called “hiatus” period. The recent El Nino years of 2015-16 are prominent. Also on the graph is the 2016 temperature without the El Nino contribution, as calculated by the Met Office. 2015 – a year with an equally strong El Nino effect – is cautiously interpolated – although the 2016 El Nino estimate is the main datapoint, (NASA Giss says that the correction for 2016 is 0.12°C and 0.05°C for 2015. The Met Office has a figure almost twice as much for 2016 which represents a significant difference of opinion between the Met Office and NASA).

However, even with just the 2016 El Nino compensation the data shows that the pause hasn’t gone away. It has simply been interrupted by two very strong El Nino years. Note that there were moderate El Ninos in 2002-3 and 2009-10.

Compensating for those El Ninos as well as the one in 1998 would make very little difference to the graph, and certainly would not invalidate the pause in the data. In fact it would make the temperature flatter.

Time will tell how far global temperatures will drop in the next couple of years. But there is a good chance that the pause will be re-established once the El Nino warmth tails off.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

RSS Satellite Data Confirm 2016 Is Tied With 1998 As Warmest Year

Source of graph

RSS have also now released their temperature data for December, which, as with UAH, shows a big drop from the month before.

Annually, RSS come to the same conclusion as UAH, that 2016 was 0.02C warmer than 1998.

As Roy Spencer has pointed out, the margin of error is 0.1C, so statistically 2016 is tied with 1998 as the warmest year in the satellite record.

The fact that there has been no warming for the last 18 years is a massive blow to the credibility of climate science.


Colder, not warmer, leads to more conflict:

Contrary to what Warmists always claim

Winter is Coming: The Long-Run Effects of Climate Change on Conflict, 1400-1900

Murat Iyigun et al.

NBER Working Paper No. 23033

We investigate the long-run effects of cooling on conflict. We construct a geo-referenced and digitized database of conflicts in Europe, North Africa, and the Near East from 1400-1900, which we merge with historical temperature data. We show that cooling is associated with increased conflict. When we allow the effects of cooling over a fifty-year period to depend on the extent of cooling during the preceding period, the effect of cooling on conflict is larger in locations that experienced earlier cooling. We interpret this as evidence that the adverse effects of climate change intensify with its duration.


Misleading New Republic Hit on EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Demonstrates Ignorance of Subject Matter

In The New Republic today, Abby Rabinowitz predicts that “you can expect to hear a lot about mercury” during upcoming confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s nominee to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. According to Rabinowitz, the mercury push is “part of a larger strategy by Senate Democrats to frame his nomination as the culmination of a cynical, years-long attack on science and reason whose purpose was to protect the interests of the fossil fuel industry—and his own.”

That’s a big charge to level! Surely the reporter didn’t merely regurgitate political talking points and instead vetted these accusations. After all, this is The New Republic, which at one point long ago was the in-flight magazine of Air Force One. But in the next paragraph, Rabinowitz demonstrates a profound ignorance of her subject:

Opposing mercury pollution is a no-brainer. Its harms include serious damage to the nervous, pulmonary, digestive, and immune systems and developmental brain defects. In 2011, after years of study, the EPA limited how much mercury oil-fired and coal-fired power plants can emit. The agency’s Mercury and Toxic Air Standards (MATS) will save thousands of lives and prevent an estimated 11,000 premature births a year. Great, right? Not according to Pruitt, who joined more than 20 states in suing to block the rule—an appeal that was ultimately declined by the Supreme Court last summer, leaving the rule in place.

Let’s unpack this paragraph. For starters, Rabinowitz claims that the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will “prevent an estimated 11,000 premature births a year.” She apparently didn’t read the source material for this claim, because the hyperlinked EPA fact sheet doesn’t mention “premature births.” Instead, the fact sheet claims that the rule would prevent “11,000 premature deaths.” I can understand why Rabinowitz would make this mistake, because the term “premature death” doesn’t make much sense. To wit, does it count if death is staved off for one second? So I suspect her mind automatically substituted “birth” for “death.”

Whatever it is, a “premature death” is a lot different from “saving lives,” as the latter phrase is understood in the real world. The upshot is that Rabinowitz is wrong twice—over when she claims that the rule would “save thousands of lives and prevent an estimated 11,000 premature births.” The latter assertion is plainly incorrect; the former is misleading.

But she’s even more wrong! In the first three sentences of the paragraph, Rabinowitz makes clear she’s talking about mercury. She says that “opposing mercury pollution is no-brainer,” and notes that mercury can damage “nervous, pulmonary, digestive, and immune systems and developmental brain defects.” She explains that the EPA promulgated the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards to “limit[] how much mercury oil-fired and coal-fired power plants can emit.” After these three sentences, all of which addressed mercury emissions, she botches a claim that the rule would prevent “11,000 premature deaths,” as described above.

Here’s the thing: These supposed “11,000 premature deaths” have nothing to do with mercury! Rather, they are putative “co-benefits” to the rule. As we explain here and here, it is grossly disingenuous for the EPA to trumpet these co-benefits, the existence of which are hotly contested. Suffice it to say for this post, mercury pollution has nothing to do with the alleged benefits of the rule. So Rabinowitz is wrong to connect one to the other.

Again, I can understand why she would make this mistake. “Mercury” is in the name of the rule, and the EPA’s ultra-well-funded public relations shop did its best to mislead the public, media, and policymakers into conflating speculative “co-benefits” with mercury pollution. The reason for all this misdirection is simple: Mercury from power plants did not endanger the public. As I recently noted in the course of debunking a different hatchet job on Pruitt:

EPA’s own analyses demonstrate that the emissions controlled by the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards pose no public hazard. According to EPA, the “benefits” of mercury reductions attendant to the rule were accruable to a supposed population of pregnant subsistence fisherwomen who eat more than 200 pounds of self-caught fish from only the top ten percent most polluted bodies of fresh inland water. Of course, no such woman exists. Indeed, EPA never identified such a voracious pregnant angler. Instead, they were modeled to exist.

The illusory benefits of the mercury rule get to the heart of Rabinowitz’s final big error in this short excerpt. In the last sentence of her woebegone paragraph, she notes that Pruitt “joined more than 20 states in suing to block the rule—an appeal that was ultimately declined by the Supreme Court last summer, leaving the rule in place.” Pruitt et al challenged the rule based on, inter alia, the claim that it was inappropriate for the EPA to refuse to consider the costs and benefits when it decided it was “appropriate and necessary” to regulate mercury emissions from power plants. For its part, the EPA didn’t want to perform such an analysis because doing so would draw attention to the fact that the mercury “benefits” of the mercury rule were nonexistent.

In a landmark 2015 ruling, the Supreme Court agreed, and ordered the EPA to undertake such a cost-benefit review. However, the Court kept the rule in place (in whas is called a “remand without vacatur”) while the agency did so. For her part, Rabinowitz provides a link to a write-up of a subsequent decision by the Supreme Court that denied a request by the states to pause the rule until their legal challenge (to the reasonableness of EPA’s cost-benefits review) runs its course. By omitting this highly relevant legal context, Rabinowitz misses the mark when she implies that the Supreme Court has vindicated the underlying science of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

All told, there were four big errors in the second paragraph of this hit job of Pruitt. I’d present the remaining errors, but you get the idea. This article is as mistaken or misleading as the previous attacks on Pruitt that I’ve blogged about of late.


Australian Greens pressured over Australia-hating protests

Outspoken Coalition MP George Christensen has called for Greens leader Richard Di Natale to expel party members who are planning a seven day campaign of flag burning and barbecue disruption in protest against Australia Day.

Senator Di Natale has refused to condemn radical NSW Greens faction Left Renewal, which has called upon supported to steal and burn the “Aus rag” (Australian flag), disrupt barbecues, erect protest banners and spray paint walls and roads in a week-long show of “resistance” against Australia Day.

The group includes party members­, candidates and polit­ical staffers. Senator Di Natale yesterday declined to comment. The Australian has contacted his office again today.

Mr Christensen said members of the Greens who wanted to disrupt Australia Day should be expelled from the party.

“The far left faction of the NSW Greens are actively promoting disruption of our national day of celebration and I call on Greens leader Richard di Natalie to show some spine and expel party members who are encouraging theft and acts of desecration of our national flag,” he said.

Mr Christensen put up a bill last year to criminalise burning of the Australian flag.  “That bill will need to be reintroduced as we now have a new parliament,” he said.

“The need for such a bill is being demonstrated yet again as the vast majority of Australians get ready to enjoy a day of celebrating this great country of ours, and we have this pack of ratbags wanting to grandstand and denigrate what we stand for.”

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge, whose staffer Tom Raue is a Left Renewal supporter, told the Daily Telegraph the broader party did not support Australia Day anarchy.

However, he said that January 26 was an “extreme­ly controversial day to celebrate Australian nationhoo­d” because “for our first peoples” it ­“commemorates the invasion of their land and two and a quarter centuries of violenc­e, oppression and dispossession”.

Resigning NSW Premier, Mike Baird, condemned Left Renewal’s actions.

“Australia Day is a day for all Australians,’’ he said. “Anybody setting out to disrup­t those celebrations, or promote disrespect for our flag, will be unsuccessful.”

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese, whose inner Sydney seat of Grayndler is being targeted by the Greens, said the radical group was “out of touch”.

Fellow Labor MP Nick Champion said Australia Day should be about the Australian values of liberty, justice, mateship and democracy and condemned both the Left Renewal group and far right groups who had lobbied to have a billboard depicting two Muslim girls celebrating Australia Day taken down.

“Both of these groups are really sort of missing out on that basic tenet of Australian life of mateship, giving people a fair go and treating people as you would want to be treated yourself,” Mr Champion said.

He suggested both groups should “take a chill pill”.  “Don’t try and take your extreme politics into a day that should be about national unity,” he said.



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

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


Friday, January 20, 2017

Media worldwide report another "hottest year"

The report below is from a major Australian news source.  Once again we have an example of how to lie with statistics. It appears to be true that ON AVERAGE, 2016 was unusually warm.  But my favourite graph below shows that the warm months were all at the beginning of the year during the El Nino weather phenomenon.  By the end of the year and the end of El Nino, temperatures had slumped, with December 2016 COOLER than December 2015 -- with an anomaly of 81 compared to 111 -- According to the NASA raw data here

And how sad for Australia's BOM, that they could only report that the year was only 4th hottest for Australia,  Australia is a rather large lump of real-estate so the warming we are looking at is not exactly global is it?

Two amusing things to note below:

1). The high temperatures reported are nowhere in the article attributed to "climate change". The BOM know that what was at work was El Nino and not CO2 and have become too embarrassed to lie outright about it.

2).  The BOM carefully define the record they are dealing with as:  "the 137-year history of modern accurate and standardised meteorological observation".  The point of that, of course is to avoid confronting the careful and validated 1790 observations of Watkin Tench, which show that Sydney has had near-unbearable hot temperatures long before the modern era

It's official: 2016 set another record for being the world's hottest. Three international agencies have confirmed today that last year was the hottest on record.

NASA reported that 2016 was 0.99 degrees Celsius hotter than the 20th-century average, while the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) called it at 0.94 degrees Celsius. NOAA also calculated that global land temperatures were 1.43 degrees Celsius higher. The UK Met Office, using its own data, also reported that 2016 is one of the two hottest years on record.

The figures vary slightly, depending on the baseline reference period used.

Heat records don't linger for long any more. 2016 surpassed the 2015 record, which surpassed the 2014 record. Three record hot years in a row sets yet another record in the 137-year history of modern accurate and standardised meteorological observation.

For Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology described 2016 as a "year of extreme events" and the fourth hottest at 0.87 degrees Celsius above the 1961-1990 average. The warming trend is clear.
BOM's key 2016 climate facts and events

Australia is already on average 8 degrees Celsius hotter than the average global land temperature, so further warming means our heat risk is far greater than for other industrialised countries.

This dangerous warming trend sends a dire warning, as average warming delivers many more extreme heat events, as we're currently seeing in Queensland and New South Wales. These are the killers.

As Australia lurches from heatwave to heatwave, the message is clear: extreme heat is the new norm - so Australia needs to get "heat smart".

Rising extremes

In Australia the number of days per year over 35 degrees Celsius has increased and extreme temperatures have increased on average at 7 per cent per decade.

Very warm monthly maximum temperatures used to occur around 2 per cent of the time during the period 1951-1980. During 2001-2015, these happened more than 11 per cent of the time.

This trajectory of increased temperature extremes raises questions of how much heat can humans tolerate and still go about their daily business of commuting, managing domestic chores, working and keeping fit.


Richard Muller's "Berkeley Earth" at least mentions El Nino

And they also admit that temperatures dropped in the second half of 2016.

But there's still some very squishy language below if you know what is going on.  They say El Nino was "imposed on top of a long-term global warming trend that continues unabated".  How can something be imposed on a trend?  It can't.  You could impose an El Nino effect on another source of warming, such as an increase in CO2, but the pesky fact is that there was a complete stasis in CO2 levels during the whole of the El Nino period. There was NO  temperature rise traceable to anthropogenic global warming.  The "imposed" claim is bunk.

And, rather hilariously, note the proud boast that Arctic temperatures are "interpolated" in their dataset -- "guessed", in other words.  Their entire data body and claims derived from it are rubbish

2016 was the warmest year since humans began keeping records, by a wide margin. Global average temperatures were extremely hot in the first few months of the year, pushed up by a large El Nino event. Global surface temperatures dropped in the second half of 2016, yet still show a continuation of global warming. The global warming “pause”, which Berkeley Earth had always stressed was not statistically significant, now appears clearly to have been a temporary fluctuation.

Robert Rohde, Lead Scientist with Berkeley Earth, said “The record temperature in 2016 appears to come from a strong El Nino imposed on top of a long-term global warming trend that continues unabated.”

In addition, 2016 witnessed extraordinary warming in the Arctic. The way that temperatures are interpolated over the Arctic is now having a significant impact on global temperature measurements. Zeke Hausfather, Scientist at Berkeley Earth said, “The difference between 2015 and 2016 global temperatures is much larger in the Berkeley record than in records from NOAA or the UK’s Hadley Centre, since they do not include the Arctic Ocean and we do. The arctic has seen record warmth in the past few months, and excluding it leads to a notable underestimate of recent warming globally.”

Headlines that claim storms, droughts, floods, and temperature variability are increasing, are not based on normal scientific standards. We are likely to know better in the upcoming decades, but for now, the results that are most solidly established are that the temperature is increasing and that the increase is caused by human greenhouse emissions. It is certainly true that the impacts of global warming are still too subtle for most people to notice in their everyday lives.”


MIT climate scientist on `hottest year'

Dr. Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT and a member of the National Academy of Sciences ridiculed the media hyped claims that 2016 was the "hottest year" on record. Lindzen was on The Howie Carr Show on January 18 to discuss "global warming" and the latest science and the political motivations behind the movement.

"What happens if your body temp goes up a tenth of a degree, how much do you worry about that? To imply that a rise of temperature of a tenth of a degree is proof that the world is coming to an end has to take one back to the dark ages."

"They are talking about temperature data that is rather uncertain. How do you average? You have to make adjustments. That gives them an opening, you can always adjust it up to a quarter of a degree and you will notice that all of the adjustments that are frequently made, always make the temperature seem steeper. They lower the low, they increase the high. In this case (hottest year) they had to depress the high in 1998 to make this one (2016) look a little larger.

But when you are finished you are talking about 2/10ths of degree. No one can feel it.

"As long as you can get people excited as to whether it's a tenth of a degree warmer or cooler, then you don't have to think, you can assume everyone who is listening to you is an idiot," he added, noting that "the temperature of the last 20 years is way below what any of the models predicted."

As to to 2/10ths of degree or a tenth of a degree, nobody can really feel it, not even the New York Times with their immense sensitivity," Lindzen joked. He also noted that "sea level rise has been going on for 10,000 years, what's the big deal?"

Adjusting data: "The whole point is so crazy because the temperature is always going up or down a little. What is astonishing is that in the last 20 years it hasn't done much of anything. What they don't mention is there has been a big El Nino in 2016 and in recent months the temperature has been dropping back into a zero trend level."

"There is a really simple test. If your data is uncertain, there will be corrections and roughly speaking it will be 50/50, one way the other way. When they are all in one direction, you know something is fishy.

"The hysteria over this issue is truly bizarre. It depends on who you are. If you are interested in big government, this is, they hope this is the easy way to nationalize energy. If you are less attuned to these policy issues, I guess it gives you something to believe in. It's a religion.

How long will "global warming" movement last?

"It's got to come to an end. It's doing so much damage. I mean we are really getting to the point where it's trillions of dollars of wasted money."

"I am surprised it lasted this long. I thought in 1988, when I saw this, I thought `this can't last.' I was mistaken. Between 1988 and 1993, the budget for broadly speaking climate science, went from $300 million to about $3 billion.


Greenland Glaciers putting on weight

Or so the latest data from the Danish meteorological organization show.  The Danes take a close interest in Greenland because Greenland is under the Danish crown.  Check the purple line below.  Warmists usually love Greenland because you can at times see various changes there.  So how awkward that Greenland, like Australia, is not co-operating with their claims of global warming


Obama admin injects another $500M into global climate fund

The Obama administration has made a second $500 million payment into an international climate change adaptation fund, the State Department announced Tuesday.

With the announcement, the Obama administration has now spent $1 billion on the Green Climate Fund (GCF) despite broad GOP opposition to U.S. financing for the fund.

The fund is the driving force behind a United Nations' goal to raise $100 billion to help poor countries adapt to the changing climate and cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama in 2014 pledged $3 billion for the program by 2020, but he couldn't get congressional Republicans to agree to the plan.
Congress never appropriated money for the GCF, but lawmakers didn't explicitly block the State Department from finding funding for the program elsewhere in its budget, which is what the Obama administration did to pay for the two $500 million payments.

"The GCF is the world's largest multilateral finance institution dedicated to advancing low-emission, climate-resilient development," State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement Tuesday.

"The GCF was created to help protect vulnerable populations and drive clean energy deployment, all with a special focus on engaging the private sector and mobilizing private capital."

President-elect Donald Trump opposes President Obama's climate work and has said he would "stop all payments of the United States tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs." Senior Republicans on Capitol Hill also oppose the funding, raising doubts about future U.S. payments to the GCF.

Democrats on Tuesday, though, praised the State Department's payment to the GCF.

"These funds will help countries mitigate their climate change impacts and adapt to the devastating droughts, floods, and other weather extremes we are already experiencing," Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement. "In helping to advance this global effort, it will serve our own national security interests."

"The Green Climate Fund is exactly the kind of international partnership we need to tackle this major challenge," Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said.

"I thank President Obama for establishing America as a world leader on the frontlines of climate action and taking another major stride toward fulfilling America's $3 billion commitment to the fund."



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

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


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Are there enough fossil fuels in the ground to do what Warmists predict?

I had my suspicions about this paper but it has been around for 6 months now so if it is a hoax, I think I would have heard of it by now. The claim is that there is not enough hydrocarbons in the ground to generate the volume of CO2 that would be needed to trigger global warming.  If true that is quite a body blow to Warmism.  Not that Warmists would care.  No facts matter to them.

The authors seem to have taken more or less at face value existing estimates of fossil fuel reserves but that is nuts. New oil and gas reserves are being proven up almost daily. So there is NO known upper bound to the amounts that are in the ground.  Nice try but no cigar

The implications of fossil fuel supply constraints on climate change projections: A supply-side analysis

Jianliang Wang et al.


Climate projections are based on emission scenarios. The emission scenarios used by the IPCC and by mainstream climate scientists are largely derived from the predicted demand for fossil fuels, and in our view take insufficient consideration of the constrained emissions that are likely due to the depletion of these fuels. This paper, by contrast, takes a supply-side view of CO2 emission, and generates two supply-driven emission scenarios based on a comprehensive investigation of likely long-term pathways of fossil fuel production drawn from peer-reviewed literature published since 2000. The potential rapid increases in the supply of the non-conventional fossil fuels are also investigated. Climate projections calculated in this paper indicate that the future atmospheric CO2 concentration will not exceed 610 ppm in this century; and that the increase in global surface temperature will be lower than 2.6 °C compared to pre-industrial level even if there is a significant increase in the production of non-conventional fossil fuels. Our results indicate therefore that the IPCC’s climate projections overestimate the upper-bound of climate change. Furthermore, this paper shows that different production pathways of fossil fuels use, and different climate models, are the two main reasons for the significant differences in current literature on the topic.


All hail Donald Trump: slayer of the Great Green Blob

Middle America doesn’t believe in man-made climate change and it will believe it even less now

James Delingpole

Just before Christmas I popped over to Washington DC to test the waters of the Trump administration. I spoke to key members of his transition teams; I hung out with thinktankers, journalists, scientists, conservative activists; I wangled an invitation to a top-secret lunch hosted by card-carrying members of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy; I drank cocktails, lots of cocktails, from the Four Seasons in Georgetown to the new Trump Hotel in the Old Post Office; I went to that Americans for Tax Reform meeting that Grover Norquist hosts every Tuesday. And I came back feeling very positive indeed.

Why? The fact that I even have to ask this question in a conservative publication speaks volumes about anti-Trump prejudice, even from many right-wing commentators who ought to know better. To read some of my fellow scribes — no, scrub that, most of them — you’d imagine that the world would be a better place if instead of the Donald, the raddled, slippery, mendacious, corrupt, politically correct and hypocritical Hillary were about to be inaugurated as US president.

But they’re wrong. Trump is going to be the best US president since Ronald Reagan and for at least one of the same reasons: he was never the GOP establishment’s preferred candidate, which means he has the attitude, the independence and the leeway to be much more radical — and effective — than any of his rivals would have dared to be.

Nowhere will this become more evident than in the fields of energy and climate change. It’s true that there were other climate–sceptical presidential candidates, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio among them, but it’s unlikely that when push came to shove any Republican other than Trump would have had the will to take on the powerful and entrenched green establishment once in office.

Partly it’s down to temperament: Trump relishes confrontation and, unlike most conservative politicians, feels under no pressure to moderate his position on the environment lest he be perceived as nasty or uncaring. Partly it’s because as a property developer he has much personal experience of the way environmental red tape impedes business. Partly, as one admiring DC insider explained to me, it’s because he’s the first US president since Reagan who doesn’t identify with the ‘bicoastal urban elite’.

‘The Democrats have been waging a war on rural America for decades. And the Bushes didn’t do a damn thing to help them. Trump actually promised he would do something and rural America got that. These are his people and he gets their problem. If you dig up stuff, if you make stuff or you grow stuff, then Donald Trump has got your back.’

How does Trump mean to Make America Great Again? He spelled it out in May last year in a speech in North Dakota. As well as withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, he would allow fracking on federal lands, ‘save’ the US coal industry, revoke environmental regulations like the ‘Waters of the US rule’ (a massive assault on property rights by the Environmental Protection Agency), revive the Keystone XL pipeline and put all future regulation to a simple test: ‘Is this good for the American worker?’ If it doesn’t pass this test, the rule will not be approved.

To sophisticated centrists this might come across as empty populist rhetoric; and to those on the green liberal-left as something worse: a scientifically illiterate, ideological recipe for unfettered capitalist greed and ecological disaster. In truth, though, it’s probably the most sensible, courageous and well-informed environmental policy plan articulated by any conservative leader anywhere in the world in decades. If that sounds like hyperbole, you can’t have understood the extent to which environmental policy has damaged the global economy in the past few decades. Obama famously boasted that electricity rates would ‘necessarily skyrocket’ under his rule. The very fact that he thought this a good thing shows just how out of touch the world’s governing elites had grown. Why would any sane person — unless presented with an overwhelmingly compelling reason — think it desirable to have their cost of living ramped up by government fiat?

To the ‘bicoastal urban elite’ the answer might have been a no-brainer: duh, climate change. But middle America doesn’t believe in that (not the man-made variety at any rate) and it’s likely to believe in it even less once Trump has had his wicked way with the various US government-affiliated institutions which have done so much to prop up the global warming scare story.

Take Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: both have been caught red-handed doctoring raw data to make 20th-century global warming look more dramatic, for reasons which probably have more to do with ideology than science. Trump simply won’t tolerate this. Nasa will likely be returned to its day job of exploring space, while NOAA and its climate data will be put in the hands of a sceptical scientist: someone, perhaps, like John Christy of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, who has long infuriated warmists by noting that the satellite records show much less warming than the (-rather patchy) surface temperature records do.

Until now, green propagandists have been able to point to their tame scientists at Nasa, NOAA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Science and Technology and so on, and say: ‘Look. All the experts agree…’ With this option off the table the repercussions will be enormous. I’d go so far as to say it’s the beginning of the end of the Green Blob.

Yes, I appreciate some of your squeamishness about Trump, and if you’re on the greenie liberal left or part of the smug elite whose nose was put out so badly by Brexit, then you’ve good reason to be terrified. Not otherwise, though. He’s going to be great.



At a town hall event in Peterborough, Ontario on Friday, January 13, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to a question concerning his Government’s recent decision to approve the expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline by saying it was a matter of trying to balance economic and environmental concerns. He went on to say that, “We can’t shut down the oil sands tomorrow. We need to phase them out. We need to manage the transition off of our dependence on fossil fuels but it’s going to take time and in the meantime we have to manage that transition.”

One might be forgiven for wondering about the logic that would lead the Prime Minister of Canada to say that, as a matter of national policy, we should phase out one of the most important sources of economic and industrial development in the country, a source of literally tens of billions of dollars annually in government revenues, business and personal incomes, employment and export revenues. The case, one can only surmise, rests on accepting the thesis that humans are causing catastrophic global warming, that Canada’s actions will remove that threat, and that the commitments that Canada made at the December, 2015 Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris oblige the government to make massive reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Each of those points is highly questionable, but let us follow their logic to see where they lead. The COP21 Agreement contained no commitments with respect to emissions reduction targets. It contained only a loose political expression of support for collective action to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2.0 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels and specific commitments to file periodic reports on the nationally-determined actions that governments were taking to achieve that goal. Separately, the Government of Canada agreed to set targets – a 17% reduction from 2005 emission levels by 2020 and a 30% reduction from 2005 emission levels by 2030. Canada has not yet enunciated a goal for 2050, but the targets set to date are consistent with the view propounded by many environmental lobby groups that emissions in the industrialized countries should be reduced by 60 to 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.

Achieving major emissions reductions will be especially difficult given that normal economic growth would lead to their increase. Environment Canada, in its most recently published review of Canada’s GHG emissions trends in 2014, projected that, after declining from 736 megatonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq) in 2005 to 699 Mt in 2012, emissions would grow to 727 Mt in 2020. The fastest growing source of emissions at the sectoral level is the upstream oil and gas industry, including both conventional and non-conventional (i.e. oil sands) sources.

Looking at the numbers, reducing emissions from the projected 2020 levels to the targeted ones would mean a reduction from 727 to 611 Mt, or 116 Mt; reducing emissions from projected 2020 levels (there are no authoritative projections of 2030 levels) by 2030 would mean a reduction from 727 to 515 Mt, or 212 Mt; and reducing emissions from projected 2020 levels by 2050 would mean reductions ranging from 433 Mt (60% target) to 580 Mt (80% target).

Environment Canada projects the emissions from all oil and gas production in Canada to be 204 Mt by 2020. That includes emissions from not only the oil sands but also the conventional oil and gas production in Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and the territories. If that could be done by 2030, it would almost attain the national emissions reduction target for that year. It would not come even close to meeting the much more ambitious targets the environmental lobby seeks for 2050.

But why focus on oil and gas? The logic, one can only presume, arises not only from the fact that present emissions represent a large share of the Canadian total. It is also the fact that, comparatively speaking, the oil and gas upstream industry is considered emissions-intensive.

A great irony is that, viewed on a total fuel cycle (”wellhead to tailpipe”) basis, 80 to 85% of the GHG emissions associated with oil occur at the tailpipe, or point of combustion stage. Yes, it is the downstream use of fossil fuels that causes the most intensive emissions! So, which are some of the other emissions-intensive parts of the Canadian economy? Here’s a list:

Electricity Generation
Freight Transportation
Metal and non-metal mining
Smelting and refining
Fertilizer production
Motor vehicle and parts manufacturing
Pulp and Paper
Iron and Steel

The fact is that governments will not be able to achieve the large emissions reduction now committed to or contemplated unless they address, cut back or “phase out” emissions in all these economic activities.

The next time Prime Minister Trudeau announces in Ontario that, in the national interest, we will have to phase out an emissions-intensive industry, maybe he should substitute “motor vehicle and parts manufacturing” for oil sands. It would only be logical.


'Green guzzler' power plant is blamed after 1,000 fish die at one of Britain's best-loved salmon and trout rivers

A supposedly 'green' power plant has been blamed for killing more than 1,000 fish on one of Britain's best-loved salmon and trout rivers.

Officials are investigating if a fault caused hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic waste to be discharged from an anaerobic digester and into the picturesque River Teifi in West Wales, killing every single fish along an eight-mile stretch.

Two weeks ago The Mail on Sunday highlighted the growing risk to the environment posed by the 'green guzzlers', which convert slurry from dairy herds into methane.

They have been responsible for 12 serious pollution incidents since 2015, but the contamination of the River Teifi just before Christmas could be the worst yet, according to anglers and environmentalists.

Natural Resources Wales confirmed more than 1,000 fish carcasses had been counted following the spillage, and a source told The Mail on Sunday that investigators were focusing on an anaerobic digester in the area.

Local angler Steffan Jones said: 'I don't know what went wrong with the unit but clearly something did for so much effluent to have been discharged. 'This is absolutely tragic.'

The farmers who own the plant have not responded to requests for comment.

Critics of anaerobic digesters claim there is not enough slurry and waste, so thousands of tons of feed, including maize, is used to fuel the digesters as farmers chase massive Government subsidies.


The hypocrisy goes on:  Australian Green party big spenders on air travel

Greens leader Richard Di Natale and the party’s community ­services spokeswoman Rachel Siewert are among the top 10 spenders on taxpayer-funded flights despite loudly condemning excesses by Coalition and Labor politicians.

Senator Siewert claimed more expenses for domestic flights in the first half of 2016 than her fellow West Australians, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

Her travel spending was the fifth highest, while Senator Di Natale’s was 10th of the 226 members of both houses of parliament. Senator Siewert claimed $63,934 in travel expenses in six months while Senator Di Natale racked up $56,526.

The Greens leader has sought the moral high ground on expenses claims following the controversy over Health Minister Sussan Ley’s Gold Coast travel claims, and has called for a new national anti-corruption watchdog to identify and punish politicians rorting the system. Ms Ley, who was forced to stand aside from her portfolio on Monday pending an inquiry into her travel claims, could discover her fate as soon as today, with Malcolm Turnbull keen to bring the travel expenses debate to an end.

Senator Di Natale criss-crossed the country in the lead-up to the July 2 election while the long flight across the Nullabor means West Australian politicians generally have higher expense claims. However, Senator Siewert’s claims exceed those of many of her state counterparts, notably Ms Bishop ($51,212), Senator Cormann ($50,683), fellow Green Scott Ludlam ($46,692), and Assistant Health Minister Ken Wyatt ($46,353).

Her spending was only topped by three West Australians — Justice Minister Michael Keenan ($83,808), Social Services Minister Christian Porter ($77,469), Employment Minister Michaelia Cash ($73,550) — and Labor leader Bill Shorten ($71,182).

Senator Di Natale described the government’s commitment on Tuesday to implement long-promised changes to the parliamentary expense system within the next six months as “anaemic”. “What parliamentarians should recognise is that if they’re going to claim a workplace expense, then they should be working. It’s a pretty basic test,” he told the ABC.

Senator Di Natale told The Australian his flights and those of all the Greens were all work expenses. “They reflect the fact that we have some of the hardest-working senators in the whole parliament,” he said.

“We recognise that it is absolutely critical that expenses are only claimed when members of parliament are doing their jobs, which is why we support much stronger reform measures than those put forward by the government this week.”

A spokeswoman for Senator Siewert, who is overseas, said that as a member for Western Australia, she was required to travel on parliamentary business along the most expensive routes in the country.

“Her work as the Greens’ spokesman for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues often requires her to travel to the country’s most remote and isolated communities,” the senator’s spokeswoman said. Senator Siewert is also chairwoman of the community affairs reference committee and a member of other committees that require travel to attend hearings around Australia.



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