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Misinformed



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You can find the second edition of Energy & the Environment: Myths & Facts here.


More Cooking



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Andrew Revkin of the New York Times has followed up on this article (about how poor people are killing the planet by cooking their food using wood) with a blog post on alternative, Earth friendly cooking methods. Check out the YouTube video on the solar-powered stove — called, predictably, the Kyoto Box — that will supposedly save the planet: 

What a joke. In the first 30 seconds of the video, the announcer talks about how 1.6 million women and children die each year from smoke related cooking injuries, but then the announcer goes on to say that 10 million children die each year of polluted water. Somehow this magic tin-foil covered box will end this?

What these people need is electricity that that can operate things like ovens and refrigerators and sewage treatment plants, not this nonsense that takes ten hours to boil water.

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More Antarctic Ice



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The Australian has a good follow-up today on the Antarctic ice cap, but this section gave me a slight chuckle:

The Antarctic also has an ozone hole above it, which could be acting as a pressure valve, allowing heat to escape the icecap. “It could be that when the ozone hole is fixed, there will be more warming,” Allison says.

Does this mean we can use chlorofluorocarbons again? Create ozone holes to save the planet!

We’re Saved!



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Tom Nelson and the art of juxtaposition.

Heroic Energy Department hopes to replace one in every 8,000 school buses with a plug-in hybrid

Creating a Plug-In Hybrid School Bus – thedailygreen.com
Energy Secretary Stephen Chu (an honoree for a 2009 Heart of Green Award from The Daily Green) focused on how this initiative will reduce global warming pollution by slashing the amount of oil needed to ferry children to and from school. (“By investing in the vehicles of the future,” he said, “we will create new jobs while reducing our dependence on foreign oil and improving our environment.”) But deploying these buses will also clean the air breathed by millions of school children every day.

There will only be 60 buses manufactured under the plan envisioned by the Department of Energy — but over time, this technology should show the way forward, so that old polluting diesel buses become a thing of the past.

National School Bus Fuel Data
ASBC estimates the number of school buses in the U.S. to be 480,000

‘I’m with the Band’



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Drew Thornley is in D.C. today for the release of the second edition of Energy & the Environment: Myths & Facts, a publication he authored for the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Energy Policy and the Environment. (And yes, the Americans polled still think we get most of our oil from Saudi Arabia; in fact, Canada and Mexico top the list.) We’ll have more on the Energy Myths report later, after its embargo is lifted.

If you’re in the capital and want to drop by for the proceedings, the event begins at noon in room 406 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. I’m sure Drew and MI would love to have you. Needless to say (with Drew involved), they are serving BBQ.

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Earth Day Blues



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Everywhere there are signs of green fatigue. The New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert, usually a first-rank alarmist, notes with understatement that “Earth Day has lost its edge and, with that, the sense that a different world is possible”:

Still, there are plenty of reasons to wonder whether serious steps to reduce carbon emissions will be taken this year or, indeed, ever. Regulating CO2 using existing laws will be a laborious, and potentially litigious, exercise. Meanwhile, the Administration has been strangely passive about trying to shape climate legislation — one reason that the Waxman bill is likely to be further watered down. Then, there’s the question of whether even an inadequate bill has the votes to pass.

If someone named Bush were still in the White House, the “strange passivity” at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue would be cause for 100 decibel condemnation. Maybe they don’t want to ponder that perhaps The One isn’t into the issue.

Getting Over Carbon?



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The indispensable Peter Huber, in City Journal’s new Spring issue.

Like medieval priests, today’s carbon brokers will sell you an indulgence that forgives your carbon sins. It will run you about $500 for 5 tons of forgiveness — about how much the typical American needs every year. Or about $2,000 a year for a typical four-person household. Your broker will spend the money on such things as reducing methane emissions from hog farms in Brazil.

But if you really want to make a difference, you must send a check large enough to forgive the carbon emitted by four poor Brazilian households, too — because they’re not going to do it themselves. To cover all five households, then, send $4,000. And you probably forgot to send in a check last year, and you might forget again in the future, so you’d best make it an even $40,000, to take care of a decade right now. If you decline to write your own check while insisting that to save the world we must ditch the carbon, you are just burdening your already sooty soul with another ton of self-righteous hypocrisy. And you can’t possibly afford what it will cost to forgive that.

If making carbon this personal seems rude, then think globally instead. During the presidential race, Barack Obama was heard to remark that he would bankrupt the coal industry. No one can doubt Washington’s power to bankrupt almost anything — in the United States. But China is adding 100 gigawatts of coal-fired electrical capacity a year. That’s another whole United States’ worth of coal consumption added every three years, with no stopping point in sight. Much of the rest of the developing world is on a similar path.

Cut to the chase. We rich people can’t stop the world’s 5 billion poor people from burning the couple of trillion tons of cheap carbon that they have within easy reach. We can’t even make any durable dent in global emissions — because emissions from the developing world are growing too fast, because the other 80 percent of humanity desperately needs cheap energy, and because we and they are now part of the same global economy. What we can do, if we’re foolish enough, is let carbon worries send our jobs and industries to their shores, making them grow even faster, and their carbon emissions faster still.

Not the Nobel for Literature



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Here’s Nobel laureate Steven Chu on the dangers of global warming (emphasis mine):

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago — Caribbean nations face “very, very scary” rises in sea level and intensifying hurricanes, and Florida, Louisiana and even northern California could be overrun with rising water levels due to global warming triggered by carbon-based greenhouse gases, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Saturday.

Whenever I string together a bunch of verys, they get edited out. I hope NRO changes its style manual accordingly now that it seems very, very acceptable to use the multiple-very construction.

Bad News for the Goracle



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In taking note of the surging anthropogenic-climate-change skepticism that Rasmussen reports, Lawrence Solomon (delightfully) lays the blame at Obama’s feet.

Climate change skepticism has soared under Obama’s presidency, with only one third of American likely voters now blaming humans for climate change, according to a Rasmussen poll released today. In contrast, 48% believe that long term planetary trends are responsible, 7% blame other non-man-made factors, and 11% aren’t sure.

The plummeting support for Al Gore’s thesis — the lowest ever — is a complete reversal from one year ago, when 47% blamed humans and only 34% saw long-term planetary trends as the culprits.

The rise in climate change scepticism, and decline in pinning the blame on humans, tracks Obama’s assumption of power. In December, one month after his defeat of John McCain in the presidential race, the number of Americans who blamed people dropped to 43%. By February, the figure had dropped to 38% and it now rests at 34%

Why has Al Gore’s position lost so much credibility with the American public? While the Rasmussen poll does not explore this question, two Obama factors could be at play.

First, public hostility toward George Bush and the Republicans likely expressed itself in part as hostility toward global warming scepticism, with which Bush and the Republicans were identified. As soon as the Republicans lost power, many in the public lost their fervour in opposing climate change scepticism.

Second, the recession, combined with proposals from the new Obama administration to start taxing carbon in one form or another, gave the public new reason to question whether carbon dioxide really is the demon that climate change doomsayers claim. Upon investigation, the public would have found little to support the doomsayer case.

About that Shrinking Southern Ice Cap



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Antarctic ice is expanding. The Australian:

Dr Allison said there was not any evidence of significant change in the mass of ice shelves in east Antarctica nor any indication that its ice cap was melting. “The only significant calvings in Antarctica have been in the west,” he said. And he cautioned that calvings of the magnitude seen recently in west Antarctica might not be unusual.

“Ice shelves in general have episodic carvings and there can be large icebergs breaking off – I’m talking 100km or 200km long – every 10 or 20 or 50 years.”

Ice core drilling in the fast ice off Australia’s Davis Station in East Antarctica by the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-Operative Research Centre shows that last year, the ice had a maximum thickness of 1.89m, its densest in 10 years. The average thickness of the ice at Davis since the 1950s is 1.67m.

A paper to be published soon by the British Antarctic Survey in the journal Geophysical Research Letters is expected to confirm that over the past 30 years, the area of sea ice around the continent has expanded.

The Al Gore Effect, Vegas Style



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Al Gore was in Vegas in early April talking at the wireless show:

Speaking at the International CTIA Wireless 09 in Las Vegas Friday morning, former U.S. vice president Al Gore called for the wireless industry to take the lead in building a “green” infrastructure across several vertical industries including utilities.

And I saw this story up on Drudge today:

A chill moved across Las Vegas late Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing lower temperatures and strong winds to the valley.

Five inches of snow fell Tuesday night on Mount Charleston, and trace amounts of rain were recorded at McCarran International Airport.

The National Weather Service said Wednesday’s high was 59 degrees, which fell short of the record low high of 56 degrees set in 1998.

“This is definitely not your typical April day,” said Barry Pierce, weather service meteorologist.

Flurries were spotted in parts of Summerlin and Henderson, while in other parts of Las Vegas, high winds took shingles off homes.

We’ll have to defer to the judges on this one, but I think a snow storm roughly two weeks after the Goracle’s talk still counts as a Gore-Effect event.

Doing My Part



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A reader e-mailed to remind me of my contribution to the Department of Homeland Security’s effort to provide (undoubtedly, a fair and balanced) assessment of groups whose wingnut agenda and anger are driving them to violence.

The reader suggested that I call DHS’s attention to the book I recently published addressing a political movement that engages in precisely this sort of alarming behavior: death threats, physical attack, and other intimidation tactics aimed at silencing those who stand in their way.

I look forward to having Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud and Deception to Keep You Misinformed sent to local sheriffs and police departments across the country.

You’re welcome, Madame Secretary.

Just What America Needs . . .



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. . . more ethanol in our cars. WSJ:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has opened the door to allowing higher mixes of ethanol in gasoline, a potential boon to farmers and the struggling ethanol industry, but opposed by auto makers whose consumer warranties typically are tied to the current EPA standard.

Warranties are no longer a problem, however, now that President Obama is guaranteeing them.

Another Vetting Issue for Team Obama



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Steve Rattner, head of the auto task force, is in the news. And not in a good way (from over in the Web Briefing):

Steven Rattner, the leader of the Obama administration’s auto task force, was one of the executives involved with payments under scrutiny in a probe of an alleged kickback scheme at New York state’s pension fund, according to a person familiar with the matter.

A Securities and Exchange Commission complaint says a “senior executive” of Mr. Rattner’s investment firm met in 2004 with a politically connected consultant about a finder’s fee. Later, the complaint says, the firm received an investment from the state pension fund and paid $1.1 million in fees.

The “senior executive,” not named in the complaint, is Mr. Rattner, according to the person familiar with the matter. He is co-founder of the investment firm, Quadrangle Group, which he left to join the Treasury Department to oversee the auto task force earlier this year. Neither Mr. Rattner nor Quadrangle has been accused of any wrongdoing. Mr. Rattner did not return calls for comment.

A spokeswoman for the Treasury, which is in charge of the auto task force, said that “during the transition, Mr. Rattner made us aware of the pending investigation.”

In the long-running pay-to-play case, authorities allege that about 20 investment firms made payments in exchange for investments from the $122 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund. The case, being investigated by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and the SEC, has led to three criminal indictments and a guilty plea. The attorney general’s office and the SEC declined to comment.

Update on the Disneyland to Vegas Maglev Train



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Las Vegas Sun:

New life for high-speed train from California

WASHINGTON – Start talking about magnetic levitation trains and people quickly fall into two categories: dreamy-eyed futurists whose eyes widen with the promise of 300 mph travel or dismissive cynics who see the next boondoggle heading down the track.

When it comes to building a maglev train between Las Vegas and Southern California, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has remained a believer. This week, he is risking the wrath of the Senate anti-pork czars to secure $45 million to push the train project along.

The money was approved as part of a massive transportation bill in 2005, but no money was authorized. The House strengthened the bill last year to allocate funds, which would go toward completing an environmental review now underway.

Billions for High Speed Trains



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Gird your wallets:

WASHINGTON–President Obama on Thursday–before leaving for Mexico–highlighted his plans for a massive investment to develop high speed rail networks in the U.S.– a potential very big deal for Chicago.

Under Obama’s “vision” for high speed rail, Chicago is in the running to be the center of a hub network linking Chicago, Milwaukee, Twin Cities, St. Louis, Kansas City, Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Louisville.

“What we’re talking about is a vision for high-speed rail in America. Imagine boarding a train, in the center of a city, no racing to an airport and across a terminal, no delays, no sitting on the tarmac, no lost luggage, no taking off your shoes,” Obama said.

(Yes, because Amtrak has never had a dealy or lost a piece of baggage?)

Obama discussed his high speed plans this morning with Vice President Biden and Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has also been involved in developing high speed rail policy.

Nothing happens without legwork. Chicago’s Environmental Law & Policy Center, founded by Howard Learner has been doing extensive work in pushing the nation forward on high speed rail in Congress and in the Obama administration.

And now the cost . . .

” To make this happen, we’ve already dedicated $8 billion of Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to this initiative, and I’ve requested another $5 billion over the next five years. The Department of Transportation expects to begin awarding funds to ready projects before the end of this summer, well ahead of schedule. And like all funding decisions under the Recovery Act, money will be distributed based on merit — not on politics, not as favors, not for any other consideration; purely on merit.”

The problem is nobody is talking about the total cost of the system. $13 billion gets the nation pregnant.  Raising this baby costs how much more?

Really Bad News For Africa



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A new study suggests that droughts in Africa, without any human causes, have been much worse than the present.  NY Times:

For at least 3,000 years, a regular drumbeat of potent droughts, far longer and more severe than any experienced recently, have seared a belt of sub-Saharan Africa that is now home to tens of millions of the world’s poorest people, climate researchers reported in a new study.

That sobering finding, published in the April 17th issue of Science, emerged from the first study of year-by-year climate conditions in the region over the millenniums, based on layered mud and dead trees in a crater lake in Ghana. Although the evidence was drawn from a single water body, Lake Bosumtwi, the researchers said there was evidence that the drought patterns etched in the lakebed extended across a broad swath of West Africa.

More such mega-droughts are inevitable, the research team that studied the patterns said, although there is no way to predict when the next may unfold.

The lead authors of the report, Timothy M. Shanahan of the University of Texas at Austin and Jonathan T. Overpeck of the University of Arizona, warned that global warming resulting from human-generated greenhouse gases was likely to exacerbate those droughts and that there was an urgent need to bolster the resilience of African countries in harm’s way.

The study said that some of the past major droughts appeared to be linked to a distinctive pattern of increases and reductions in surface temperatures of the Atlantic Ocean, known as the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation.

Typically over the last 3,000 years, a severe drought developed every 30 to 65 years, they researchers said. But several centuries-long droughts in the climate record, the most recent persisting from 1400 to around 1750, are harder to explain, they said.

While that extraordinary drought occurred during a cool spell in the Northern Hemisphere called the “little ice age,” other extreme droughts appear to have hit West Africa at points when the world was relatively warm over all.

The article goes on to say how important it is to lower greenhouse gas emissions to try to smooth out these changes, but the real story is that when the Earth decides to start changing its temperature, there will not be a thing humans can do about it.

Broken record: More bad news for Suzlon



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I’ve posted (here and here) on the financial woes of India’s Suzlon Energy Ltd.  Well, add to them. The  Wall Street Journal reports:

The new concerns come as Suzlon is trying to raise funds, including through selling a stake to private-equity firms. The company may be at risk of breaking debt covenants and has to pay €205 million, or about $275 million, over the next six weeks to complete an acquisition.

The latest issues concern blades for a project in China’s Shandong province. Early last year, Suzlon won a contract with Germany’s REpower Systems AG to produce blades for 75 turbines for the China project and an option on 75 more. But REpower rejected Suzlon’s prototype for the initial blades for not meeting REpower’s quality standards and obtained them from other suppliers, according to people familiar with the matter.

The problems come at a difficult time for the Pune-based company. Suzlon already is spending $100 million to fix blade cracks on its turbines in the U.S., Europe and Brazil. Suzlon’s export-order backlog was down 38% at the end of last year from a year earlier.

New financing has been hard to come by, and as a result, Suzlon may be in danger of breaching its debt covenants, according to analysts and one of the people familiar with the matter.

Other recent efforts to raise capital haven’t borne fruit. Suzlon shelved a $360 million rights issue late last year because its stock price had fallen sharply. Its shares Wednesday were off 79% from a 52-week high reached last May, putting the company’s market value at $2.1 billion. Suzlon also has been attempting to sell a stake to private-equity firms.

An Interview with Secretary Chu



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The Washington Post interviews Secretary Chu.  Here’s an excerpt on what he thinks of Al Gore’s coal plan:

Romano: Al Gore has launched a multimillion-dollar campaign against coal, against coal manufacturing plants. In fact, he’s encouraged civil disobedience in protesting them. What do you think about this?

Chu: The issue here is that if you consider, for example, the countries that have coal, two-thirds of the known coal reserves lie primarily in the United States, China, India and Russia. The United States actually has the most known coal reserves in the world, and over 50 percent of our electricity is generated by coal. Even if the United States turns its back on coal, China and India will not, given the state of affairs. I would prefer to say let’s try to develop technologies that can get a large fraction of the carbon dioxide out of coal. Start with 70, 80 percent and build up to over 90 percent, but start now and try to get it out.

Romano: So is it a little unrealistic for Vice President Gore to think that he can end coal production by protesting these plants?

Chu: Well, Al Gore is a friend of mine, and let’s just say that — I’ll go back to my original statement that we really have to take the lead, the technological lead, and see if this can get done.

EU Sees Easy Mark in Obama



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Juxtapose these statements in different media reports today out of Europe about their aspirations for our adopting measures that would eliminate us once and for all as an economic competitor.

 

First, brought to our attention by OpenEurope, is:

Swedish MEP: “EU climate plan will only achieve one third of what the US will achieve”

At a conference in Brussels on climate change policy, Swedish MEP Anders Wijkman said that the EU climate package which was approved in December will only lead to 4 or 5 percent reductions in emissions, while the US will manage at the same time to achieve a reduction of 16 to 17 percent. Wijkman commented that “us criticising them is possibly not the right thing to do”. He said he was “not convinced” by the EU’s Emissions Trading System, but said that “a lot of revenue and prestige has gotten into the ETS system, so it is not realistic to have another system”.

Then, from ClimateWire (subscription required):

Hope lingers for more ambitious U.S. emission targets
“Finally, [European policymakers] hope that the U.S. Congress will adopt more ambitious mitigation targets than those presented by Obama, and that the bill introduced in the House by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) will not be distorted by amendments.”

Meanwhile, Agence France Presse reports that EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas expects the U.S. to open its wallet to help lead the fight against climate change, which will require some 175 billion euros annually until 2020.

As noted previously in another context — about a different bunch who see the U.S. as suckers, ready to fall for anything in our desperate, post-Bush search for the world’s approval on slaying the Loch Nes . . . er, stopping climate change!: “Yeah. If you could just go ahead and make sure you do that from now on, that would be greeeaat.”   

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