China Bulldozing Mountains to Build Cities
So the U.S. was hoping that our plan to cut CO2 emissions by 30 percent would inspire China and the rest of the world to make cuts, too? Yeah, China will get right on that as soon as they’re done flattening a few mountains. BBC:
China’s campaign to bulldoze mountains to create land to build on could cause extensive environmental problems, scientists say.
Researchers from Chang’an University in China have warned that dozens of mountains have already been flattened – and this is causing air and water pollution, soil erosion and flooding.
They say that this activity is happening on an unprecedented scale.
They report their concerns in the journal Nature.
Prof Peiyue Li, from Chang’an University’s School of Environmental Science and Engineering, said: “Because there have been no land creation projects like this before in the world, there are no guidelines.”
China’s cities are expanding rapidly as its economy grows, and moving mountains is one way to supply more land for development.
About one-fifth of the country’s population lives in mountainous areas.
Around the country, in cities such as Chongqing, Shiyan, Yichang, Lanzhou and Yan’an, dozens of hilltops have been levelled.
The soil and rock is then used to fill in valleys, and overall this has so far created hundreds of square kilometres of flat terrain.
Bonus: the new land created by this environmental destruction might not be safe to build on. . .
Prof Li said: “Mountainous cities such as Yan’an are mostly located in relatively flat valleys.
“The valleys are narrow and limit the development of the cities – and huge population density is also a factor.”
While mountaintop removal is sometimes used by the mining industry, particularly in the US, researchers say the scale of this in China is unparalleled.
They warn that turning hills into plains is throwing dust particles into the atmosphere, polluting waterways, causing landslides and flooding and endangering plants and animals.
They add that the flattened land could also be unsuitable to build on.
The rest here.
Roger Pielke Jr. vs. Paul Krugman
Do read the whole thing, but it looks like Krugman owes Pielke Jr. a correction.
GM Fires 15 Over Recall Issues
General Motors has fired 15 employees and disciplined five others in the wake of an internal investigation into the company’s handling of defective ignition switches, which lead to at least 13 fatalities.
GM CEO Mary Barra says the personnel worked in several areas including engineering, legal and public policy, and that a disproportionate number of them were senior executives or higher.
Barra described the conclusions of the investigation as “extremely thorough, brutally tough, and deeply troubling.”
“Pieces of information and clues didn’t get put together.”
Barra says that the report found no conspiracy to cover up facts or trade-off between safety and cost, but that the problem was misdiagnosed and that the individuals involved simply didn’t do enough, didn’t take responsibility or act with a sense of urgency to address the issue when it came to light.
“Pieces of information and clues didn’t get put together,” Barra said.
The rest here.
Science: DARPA Funded Company Trying to Save the Planet with Gene Manipulation
This is a fascinating article on Twist Bioscience, a San Francisco biotech company that just closed a $31.1 million financing with DARPA. Some excerpts of what they do:
[CEO Emily] Leproust co-founded Twist with Bill Banyai and Bill Peck after recognizing that genetics and chemical companies were going through a very long development process in order to settle on a single gene that is useful to their work.
“If you want to build 10,000 different genes, you can’t. The turnaround time is too high. It takes weeks or even months to get the DNA,” Leproust said. “The building is the bottleneck.”
The solution was simple: Dramatically increase the number of genes that can be made at a time and build a machine that can handle the fluid transfers and other manufacturing steps. Twist’s plates are made on the same silicon manufacturing equipment that is used in the electronics industry, so it is readily available and relatively inexpensive.
And. . .
If Twist succeeds, it could find customers in the chemical, pharmaceutical, diagnostics and agricultural industries. It could help companies genetically engineer microbes that fix ammonia from the air, negating the need for fertilizer in farming. It could boost efforts to use biomass to create plastic instead of relying on oil. Vaccines and personalized medicine would be easier to create. All of these efforts are already underway, but Twist could help make them cheaper.
“It will be a key industry in the 21st century,” Leproust said. “To feed the world, to (create) the energy we need and maintain the health of people, it’s going to have to come from bio. Plants and microbes are going to save the world. That’s where we are going to get our food and our health.”
Amazing stuff, and just one example of why the global warming models can’t be accurate as there’s no way the models can account for technological changes that will mitigate many of their worst predictions.
Obama: New EPA Rules Will ‘Shrink’ Electricity Costs
An excerpt from a conference call the president held with public health groups:
As a result, your electricity bills will shrink as these standards spur investment in energy efficiency, cutting waste, and ultimately we’re going to be saving money for homes and for businesses.
I assume the fact-checkers will rule in his favor as the president said “ultimately,” whenever that may be.
EPA Round-Up Day 3
It looks like the new EPA proposal will be good news for Mitch McConnell in his Kentucky Senate race as his opponent is already running ads against it. . .
WHAS 11: Grimes targets Obama, new EPA coal rules in radio, newspaper ads
One hope initially voiced was that this move by the EPA would somehow pressure China to cut its emissions. Nope. . .
Andrew Revkin, NYT: Behind the mask — A reality check on China’s plans for a carbon cap
David Harsanyi, The Federalist: No, China isn’t following Obama’s lead on carbon emissions
And to top it off, the EPA rules really aren’t enough for the alarmists in America. . .
Puneet Kollipara, Wonkbook: Obama’s new EPA rule won’t save the world, and it won’t kill the economy
Brad Plummer, Vox: Obama’s climate plan is ambitious – and inadequate
Nor are the alarmists in Europe satisfied. Connie Hedegaard, EU Climate Action Commissioner, released this statement:
”This proposed rule is the strongest action ever taken by the U.S. government to fight climate change, which is good news and also shows that the United States is taking climate change seriously. If implemented as planned, this measure will help the country meet its 2020 emissions target. This of course sends a positive signal ahead of the Paris conference to finalise a new global climate agreement next year. But for Paris to deliver what is needed to stay below a 2°C increase in global temperature, all countries, including the United States, must do even more than what this reduction trajectory indicates. Nevertheless, this is an important step for an administration and a President really investing politically in fighting climate change.”
So other than the proposal from the EPA hurting Dems in close senate races, failing to persuade China to act, and generating criticism from the alarmists that the proposal doesn’t go far enough, it’s a perfect political move.
Vox Map of Who Benefits From New EPA Regs
Via Matt Yglesias:
India and China are on their own, as they both have booming economies. So the real cause for concern are the countries of Africa and SE Asia, which if everything the EPA says about the new regulations are true, won’t be helped at all in the near term by the new regulations.
If anything, as Americans become poorer because of these new regulations, the amount of tax dollars available for international aid will be reduced.
Oxfam just tweeted out this ominous warning from the UN:
UN predicts that by year’s end, half of #SouthSudan’s 12m people will flee, face starvation, or die http://bit.ly/1kiPvUJ @UNICEF
What’s the Obama plan for this coming disaster? Because cutting CO2 by a tiny fraction won’t do a damn thing.
Gina McCarthy: Electricity Prices Won’t Skyrocket
From her just concluded speech on the EPA’s new proposal to regulate power plant emissions and its costs:
I know people are wondering: can we cut pollution while keeping our energy affordable and reliable? We can, and we will. Critics claim your energy bills will skyrocket. They’re wrong. Any small, short-term change in electricity prices would be within normal fluctuations the power sector already deals with. And any small price increase—think about the price of a gallon of milk a month—is dwarfed by huge benefits. This is an investment in better health and a better future for our kids.
Los Angeles Times: One recent study predicts the cost of electricity in California alone could jump 47 percent over the next 16 years, in part because of the state’s shift toward more expensive renewable energy.
WSJ: Greenhouse-Gas Emissions Limits Likely to Drive Up Electricity Prices
And from the EPA’s biggest critic, presidential candidate Barack Obama: “Electricity rates will necessary skyrocket.”
Early EPA Round-Up
NRO Editors: The EPA as Super-Legislature
Senator Mike Enzi: “The administration has set out to kill coal and its 800,000 jobs.”
Senator Ed Markey: ”This is the beginning of the end of America’s long, dirty power plant era.”
Grist: Obama’s proposed power plant rules fall slightly short of environmentalists’ hopes
Paul Krugman: “We can be reasonably sure, however, that the economic costs of the proposal will be small, because that’s what the research — even research paid for by anti-environmentalists, who clearly wanted to find the opposite — tells us. Saving the planet would be remarkably cheap.”
Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator (Live Feed): “This is also about environmental justice.”
EPA Releases Proposal to Cut Power Plant Emissions
EPA FACT SHEET: Clean Power Plan
OVERVIEW OF THE CLEAN POWER PLAN
CUTTING CARBON POLLUTION FROM POWER PLANTS
On June 2, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under President Obama’s Climate Action
Plan, proposed a commonsense plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants. The science shows
that climate change is already posing risks to our health and our economy. The Clean Power Plan will
maintain an affordable, reliable energy system, while cutting pollution and protecting our health and
environment now and for future generations.
Our climate is changing, and we’re feeling the dangerous and costly effects right now.
Average temperatures have risen in most states since 1901, with seven of the top 10 warmest years on record
occurring since 1998.
Climate and weather disasters in 2012 cost the American economy more than $100 billion.
Although there are limits at power plants for other pollutants like arsenic and mercury, there are currently no
national limits on carbon.
Children, the elderly, and the poor are most vulnerable to a range of climate-related health effects, including
those related to heat stress, air pollution, extreme weather events, and others.
Nationwide, the Clean Power Plan will help cut carbon pollution from the power sector by 30 percent from
Power plants are the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S., accounting for roughly one-third of all
domestic greenhouse gas emissions.
The proposal will also cut pollution that leads to soot and smog by over 25 percent in 2030.
Americans will see billions of dollars in public health and climate benefits, now and for future generations.
The Clean Power Plan will lead to climate and health benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion in
2030, including avoiding 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children.
States and businesses have already charted the path toward cleaner, more efficient power.
States, cities and businesses are already taking action.
The Clean Power Plan puts states in the driver’s seat to a cleaner, more efficient power fleet of the future by
giving them the flexibility to choose how to meet their goals.
With EPA’s flexible proposal, we can cut wasted energy, improve efficiency, and reduce pollution – while still
having all the power we need to grow our economy and maintain our competitive edge.
The agency’s proposal is flexible—reflecting the different needs of different states.
The proposal will put Americans to work making the U.S. electricity system less polluting and our homes and
businesses more efficient, shrinking electricity bills by roughly 8 percent in 2030.
It will keep the United States—and more importantly our businesses—at the forefront of a global movement
to produce and consume energy in a better, more sustainable way.
Join the conversation
In the coming months, we’ll be listening to feedback and seeking new ideas about the best ways to reduce
carbon pollution from existing power plants: http://www.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan
Billionaire Environmentalist Tom Steyer Puts Party Before Planet
Saving the planet is an important issue, but not important enough to get alarmists to campaign against Democrats. Here’s Reuters on how Dems who are opposed to the president’s plan to use the EPA to impose new restrictions on power-plant emissions needn’t worry about taking fire from their side:
And strategists inside and outside the White House were preparing to fight hard against the onslaught of criticism from industry, Republicans, and even fellow Democrats.
“I can understand how they are positioning themselves in their races. I still think that you end up on the wrong side of history,” said Chris Lehane, a strategist for billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer, referring to defecting Democrats.
But like White House officials, Steyer, who is spending millions of dollars to advance candidates who support green causes, will not attack those Democrats who oppose the new rules.
“We’re certainly not going to be helpful to them and their campaigns, but we’re also not going to target them,” Lehane said.
The whole thing here.
What’s the Carbon Footprint of Your Solar Panel?
Via ScienceDaily, solar panels made in Europe are “greener” than solar panels made in China:
Solar panels made in China have a higher overall carbon footprint and are likely to use substantially more energy during manufacturing than those made in Europe, said a new study from Northwestern University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. The report compared energy and greenhouse gas emissions that go into the manufacturing process of solar panels in Europe and China.
“We estimated that a solar panel’s carbon footprint is about twice as high when made in China and used in Europe, compared to those locally made and used in Europe,” said Fengqi You, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern and corresponding author on the paper.
“While it might be an economically attractive option to move solar panel manufacturing from Europe to China, it is actually less sustainable from the life cycle energy and environmental perspective — especially under the motivation of using solar panels for a more sustainable future,” he said.
The team performed a type of systematic evaluation called life cycle analysis to come up with these hard data. Life cycle analysis tallies up all the energy used to make a product — energy to mine raw materials, fuel to transport the materials and products, electricity to power the processing factory, and so forth. This provides a more accurate picture of the overall energy consumed and produced and the environmental impact of making and using a solar panel.
Assuming that a solar panel is made of silicon — by far the most common solar panel material — and is installed in sunny southern Europe, a solar panel made in China would take about 20 to 30 percent longer to produce enough energy to cancel out the energy used to make it. The carbon footprint is about twice as high.
The whole thing here.
Biden Raising Money with Anti-Keystone Tom Steyer in California
Vice President Joe Biden teams up Wednesday afternoon with one of the biggest Democratic donors: billionaire Tom Steyer.
The vice president will headline a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at Steyer’s home in San Francisco.
The former hedge fund manager has become a leading underwriter of Democratic causes and candidates. Steyer, who was a major supporter of President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, last year spent millions backing the Democratic candidates in the Virginia gubernatorial election and the special Senate contest in Massachusetts.
So far this cycle he’s contributed big bucks to Senate Majority PAC, the leading outside group backing Democratic Senate candidates. And Steyer, who’s a major opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline and who hopes to make climate change a major issue in the midterm elections, could spend more than $100 million this year on NextGen Climate Action, his super PAC. The group plans to target Republicans in seven Senate and gubernatorial races this year.
As Steyer’s involvement in politics grows, so does criticism of him by Republicans. It mirrors the increasing attacks by Democrats on the freewheeling spending of the billionaire industrialist Koch Brothers, who have dished out nearly $40 million so far this cycle backing GOP candidates and causes and attacking Democrats.
The rest here.
Vice President Biden Talks Climate Change at the Air Force Academy
Via the WSJ:
Third, we’re reinforcing international norms that constitute the global rules of the road — international norms regarding nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, international norms regarding the freedom of navigation on both the seas and in the air, and international norms relating to sovereignty and territorial integrity, and establishing international norms that are still taking shape but are badly needed in the 21st century with respect to cybersecurity, climate change and global trading.
That’s why we imposed unprecedented sanctions on Iran, to create the possibility to peacefully address the threat posed by their nuclear program. But whatever means, they will not acquire nuclear weapons.
It’s why we stand up against bullying and aggression in international waters and airspace in the Pacific, why we condemn Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity and the illegal annexation of Crimea, and why we will continue to support a democratic Ukraine, and why we’re determined to complete international trade agreements to raise the standard of economic conduct in the Atlantic and Pacific, and why we believe it’s essential that we make progress on a global framework for climate change.
A “global framework” to fight climate change? Where did I hear that before? Oh, yeah. From the President’s address at West Point earlier in the day:
I intend to make sure America is out front in putting together a global framework to preserve our planet.
Well, at least they’re green enough to recycle their rhetoric.
President Obama Talks Climate Change at West Point
I would love to see a poll of West Point’s graduates on where they think “climate change” fits on America’s list of global challenges:
That spirit of cooperation needs to energize the global effort to combat climate change, a creeping national security crisis that will help shape your time in uniform, as we are called on to respond to refugee flows and natural disasters, and conflicts over water and food, which is why, next year, I intend to make sure America is out front in putting together a global framework to preserve our planet.
You see, American influence is always stronger when we lead by example. We cannot exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else. We can’t call on others to make commitments to combat climate change if a whole lot of our political leaders deny that it is taking place. We can’t try to resolve problems in the South China Sea when we have refused to make sure that the Law of the Sea Convention is ratified by the United States Senate, despite the fact that our top military leaders say the treaty advances our national security. That’s not leadership. That’s retreat. That’s not strength; that’s weakness. It would be utterly foreign to leaders like Roosevelt and Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy.
I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions.
You can read the president’s entire address here.
We’re Calling It Global Warming Again, But Only Because It’s ‘Scarier’
Slate: (emphasis mine)
Study: “Global Warming” Is Scarier Than “Climate Change”
In the deep depths of Slate’s comments sections on extreme weather and climate-related blog posts, there lives a fierce debate: Is it “global warming” or “climate change”? Many people use the terms interchangeably, but a new study suggests that one is more effective in conveying the urgency of the problem.
In general, it’s more scientifically accurate to talk about the problem as “climate change.” That term (which dates back to 1956) was in use scientifically almost 20 years before “global warming” (1975). Global warming—the long-term rise in Earth’s average temperature, brought about by the increasing concentration of heat-trapping gases emitted by human activity—is a subset of climate change, which refers to a broader plethora of effects, like ocean acidification, rising sea levels, and crazier weather.
Lumping all these phenomena into “global warming” risks vaulting global temperature to the status of ultimate arbiter on whether scientists’ assessments are accurate. Turns out, climate skeptics have caught on to this, with a (debunked) conspiracy floating around that for some reason, “they” recently changed the name from “global warming” to “climate change” to account for the slower rate of planetary-scale warming in recent years. Therefore, skeptics argue, we shouldn’t have to shift the world’s economy to phase out our primary energy sources.
Scientists typically prefer to talk about “climate change.” That’s because humans don’t “feel’ temperature on a global scale. For people to want to take action, they’ll have to notice and understand local changes, so the reasoning goes. For decades now, scientists and climate communicators have spent untold effort in demonstrating the link between rising greenhouse gas concentrations and the countless less well-known aspects of “climate change” that are much more personal than numbers on a global temperature chart. But “climate change” is a complex and nebulous term, with less vivid imagery than “global warming.”
Drat. They’re on to us!
Maybe I’ll switch to “Global Climate Disruption,” as per the president’s science adviser John Holdren? This serves the dual purpose of not being as scary sounding as “global warming,” plus it adds “disruption” to “climate change” which insinuates a temporary inconvenience.
Or, if the alarmists prefer, I’ll switch to the technical description used by the IPCC: “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” (IPCC Summary for Policymakers, Fifth Assessment Report. Page 17)
“Extremely-likely-human-dominated-but-not-entirely global warming” does sound better, doesn’t it?
Electric mandates squeeze Chrysler
Automakers’ frustration with government mandates that force them to sell electric vehicles is boiling over.
“I hope you don’t buy (the Fiat 500e electric car) because every time I sell one it costs me $14,000,” said Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne at a Brookings conference last week.
Fiat created the 500e to satisfy bureaucrat — not customer — demands in California and seven other states that automakers make 3.3 million “zero-emission” cars available for sale. The $32,650 Fiat 500e stickers at almost double the base price of a $17,000, gas-powered compact 500. Marchionne went on to joke that Chrysler will need a second auto bailout if he keeps selling such cars.
But the cost to companies like Fiat-Chrysler is no joke.
At a Fiat-Chrysler investor conference on May 6, FCA Powertrain Chief Bob Lee explained to investors that the “overarching driver for powertrain technology change over the next five-plus years” is not customer demand but CO2 regulation.
Get used to the term “compliance vehicle.” Most electric cars are manufactured solely to meet government rules. Lee went on to explain that electric vehicles are not enough, however, because customers won’t buy them.
“Electrification has been overblown by the media,” he said. “With the exception of a relatively small group of early adopters, the market continues to be driven by regulatory requirements.”
That means companies will have to continue to purchase emissions credits. Ultimately, however, sticker prices will rise and engine sizes will shrink as “more costly technologies will be required to meet the regulatory CO2 requirements.” The cost of going green continues to rise — with no discernible benefit.