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Ed Markey and the Settled Science of Daylight Savings Time



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Here’s Senator Markey talking up yesterday’s manipulation of the clock and how it will save energy:

“After this long, dreary winter, people are ready to go from polar to solar. Instead of most of the United States still being covered in snow, our evenings will be bathed in sunlight a little longer, and a little sooner than before,” said Senator Markey. “In addition to the benefits of energy savings, fewer traffic fatalities, more recreation time and increased economic activity, Daylight Saving Time helps clear away the winter blues a little earlier. Government analysis has proven that extra sunshine provides more than just smiles. Daylight Saving Time saves consumers money and also curbs the nation’s energy consumption, which means lower energy bills, less pollution, and more reasons to enjoy the outdoors. We all just feel sunnier after we set the clocks ahead.”

Um, not so fast. The latest research shows that DST does not curb “energy consumption or  mean ” lower energy bills” and “less pollution.” It is good for the grilling and golfing industries, however. Via Tufts Now of Tufts University:

The reason we spring forward each year has more to do with what we spend on summer fun than with lowering our consumption of energy

With the switchover to daylight saving time just around the corner, you might wonder why we go to the trouble of springing forward and falling backward every year.

It turns out that more daylight gives us more time to shop, drive, grill and perfect our golf game. What it doesn’t do is cut our energy use, as is the intent, says Michael Downing, a lecturer in English and author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time.

In fact, when we lose an hour’s sleep at 2 a.m. on March 9—beginning the eight-month DST season—it will not reduce our electricity use even by one half of 1 percent, says Downing, contrary to the most recent study by the Department of Energy.

While the government continues to claim that the country reduces electricity use for each day during DST, Downing says we come nowhere near that.  Some studies do report small reductions in electricity use, but the most comprehensive study of household energy demand and many others report an increase in overall energy consumption ranging from 1 to 4 percent during DST.

“The barbeque grill and charcoal industries say they gain $200 million in sales with an extra month of daylight saving—and they were among the biggest lobbies in favor of extending DST from six to seven months in 1986,” he says. Lobbying alongside them that year was the golf industry, which says that additional month of daylight has meant more time on the links and an additional $400 million in revenue.

But what’s good for retail is bad for overall energy use, says Downing. “If it’s light when we leave work and we decide to go to the mall or a restaurant or head for a summer night at the beach, we don’t walk there; we get in our cars,” he says.

And as the article goes on to point out, we now have eight months of DST and four months of standard time. Why not just spring-forward all year? 

The rest here.

Some Senate Dems Plan Climate ‘All-Nighter’



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Note the list of Dems who will be skipping the pajama-party. I guess a good night’s sleep is more important to their reelection efforts. Via The Hill:

Senate Democrats are pulling an all-nighter on the chamber floor Monday night to stir up the climate change debate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) will be among those participating in the talk-a-thon, along with Sens. Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii) and 24 others. 

Notably absent from the marathon session will be the four most endangered Senate Democrats up for reelection this year. Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Mark Begich (Alaska) are not scheduled to take part, according to a list of speakers. 

The point of the all-night climate change push is to “break the pattern of the Senate,” Whitehouse said last month. 

“The cost of Congress’ inaction on climate change is too high for our communities, our kids and grandkids, and our economy,” he said in a statement on Friday. “On Monday we’ll be sending a clear message: It’s time for Congress to wake up and get serious about addressing this issue.” 

I look forward to hearing if they ever come up with the actual cost, not just the “the cost of inaction is too high” boilerplate.

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Sec. Kerry to U.S. Diplomats: Make Fighting Climate Change a Priority



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Kerry and Team Obama really think this will work? Good luck. AFP:

US Secretary of State John Kerry has called on American ambassadors around the world to make the fight against climate change a top priority ahead of new UN talks next year.

In his first department-wide policy guidance statement since taking office a year ago, he told his 70,000 staff: “The environment has been one of the central causes of my life.”

“Protecting our environment and meeting the challenge of global climate change is a critical mission for me as our country’s top diplomat,” Kerry said in the letter issued on Friday to all 275 US embassies and across the State Department.

“It’s also a critical mission for all of you: our brave men and women on the frontlines of direct diplomacy,” he added in the document seen by AFP.

He urged all “chiefs of mission to make climate change a priority for all relevant personnel and to promote concerted action at posts and in host countries to address this problem.”

The clarion call comes ahead of key UN-led talks in Paris next year when the international community is due to try to set new emissions goals for greenhouses blamed for global warming.

The emission levels will be applicable to all countries, not just the developed world, and will come into effect in 2020.

The new agreement will replace the Kyoto treaty which is due to expire in 2015.

The rest here.

Tesla’s New Battery Plant Won’t Be in California



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California is out of the running for Tesla’s new $5 billion battery plant. Los Angeles Times:

California loves Tesla Motors.

The Palo Alto electric car maker’s Model S sedan is the state’s new eco-luxury status symbol. Californians bought more than a third of Teslas sold globally last year. Residents of the state pack the order list for Tesla’s next offering, a sport utility vehicle.

California pollution-control policies enable Tesla to rake in tens of millions of dollars each year from selling environmental credits to other automakers — a key source of Tesla’s revenue.

But is this a case of unrequited love? When it comes to building a $4-billion to $5-billion battery factory that will employ 6,500 workers, Tesla is shunning the Golden State.

The automaker is looking at 500- to 1,000-acre sites in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas. Although the location hasn’t been determined, Tesla has crossed California off the list. The company declined to comment on the reasons.

State officials aren’t saying much either. A spokesman in Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration said the state presented a proposal to the automaker with several possible sites, but that the automaker didn’t bite.

Brown’s office provided no other details.

“The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development maintains a strong partnership with Tesla and continues to work with them on future opportunities in California,” the office said in a statement.

When Tesla’s “gigafactory” opens in about three years, it will be large enough to manufacture more lithium-ion batteries than the entire industry produces now. The automaker said it expects the advanced technology plant will slash the cost of the battery packs for its cars by almost a third, enabling Tesla to introduce a car that will sell for roughly half of its $70,000 to $100,000 Model S sedan.

Cost and politics are the two biggest reasons Tesla is looking elsewhere.

Land prices alone make a project of this scope more expensive than in the other states, said Michael Bernick, the former head of California’s Employment Development Department. Wages are also higher than in the other regions, he said.

“Tesla should have no difficulty finding skilled workers wherever it locates,” Bernick said.

The rest here.

 

Think Progress Warns of Sea Level Rise 2,000 Years from Today



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Think Progress is serious about this, which could make it the stupidest thing ever written on climate change:

Almost 200 cultural heritage sites, including the Statue of Liberty and the Sydney Opera House, could be compromised if global warming reaches 3 degrees above pre-industrial levels, a new report in Environmental Research Letters shows.

The research released Tuesday from Austria and Germany used both sea-level estimates for the next 2000 years and high-resolution topography data to compute which of the more than 700 listed UNESCO World Heritage sites would be affected by sea-level rise at different levels of sustained future warming. The report found that if warming reaches 3 degrees Celsius, sea level would rise six feet in the next 2,000 years, and 170 of those sites would be drowned.

“After 2000 years, the oceans would have reached a new equilibrium state and we can compute the ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica from physical models,” co-author Anders Levermann, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, told Red Orbit. “At the same time, we consider 2000 years a short enough time to be of relevance for the cultural heritage we cherish.”

Some cultural heritage sites will be at risk even if warming is more mild. If global average temperatures rise by 1 degree Celsius in the next two millennia, the report said approximately 40 of the sites would be threatened by the water. If temperatures were worse — if the climate warmed 3 degrees — 20 percent of the cultural sites in places like Naples, Italy and Istanbul, Turkey would be affected.

The rest here.

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Guacamole Alarmism and Hypocrisy at Think Progress



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Think Progress is warning of a pending guacamole-crisis fueled by climate change: 

It’s your choice, America. Fix the climate, or the guac gets it.

Chipotle Inc. is warning investors that extreme weather events “associated with global climate change” might eventually affect the availability of some of its ingredients. If availability is limited, prices will rise — and Chipotle isn’t sure it’s willing to pay.

“Increasing weather volatility or other long-term changes in global weather patterns, including any changes associated with global climate change, could have a significant impact on the price or availability of some of our ingredients,” the popular chain, whose Sofritas vegan tofu dish recently went national, said in its annual report released last month. “In the event of cost increases with respect to one or more of our raw ingredients we may choose to temporarily suspend serving menu items, such as guacamole or one or more of our salsas, rather than paying the increased cost for the ingredients.”

Chipotle did say that it recognizes the pain it (and its devotees) would have to go through if it decided to suspend a menu item. “Any such changes to our available menu may negatively impact our restaurant traffic and comparable restaurant sales, and could also have an adverse impact on our brand,” the filing read.

The guacamole operation at Chipotle is massive. The company uses, on average, 97,000 pounds of avocado every day to make its guac — which adds up to 35.4 million pounds of avocados every year. And while the avocado industry is fine at the moment, scientists are anticipating drier conditions due to climate change, which may have negative effects on California’s crop. Scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, for example, predict hotter temps will cause a 40 percent drop in California‘s avocado production over the next 32 years.

“Fix the climate, or the guac gets it,” however, just isn’t true. The language Think Progress quoted is from the risk factors (page 13) in Chipotle’s annual report. I e-mailed Chipotle for a comment and here’s what thy said: 

. . .with regard to the Think Progress post and the 10-K note that inspired it, I wouldn’t read too much into that. 
We use fresh ingredients, and things like weather or climate can impact upon supply of those ingredients. We are required to disclose issues that could present risks to our business – like supply constraints or higher food costs – and we are very thorough in making those disclosures. 
With regard to avocados, we saw similar issues in 2011 and incurred higher prices for the avocados we used, but never stopped serving guacamole. 
This is nothing more than routine “risk factor” disclosure. 

In other words, Think Progess is full of it.

I should also note that Chipotle uses avocados from Mexico and Chile when avocados from California are not in season. For many Chipotle restaurants, this means there’s no such thing as a locally grown avocado – ever. So, unless Think Progress has invented a new form of carbon-free transportation, the very supply of avocados from California, Mexico, and Chile to Chipotle’s restaurants around the country  is contributing to the climate change that Think Progress believes is a risk to their beloved guacamole.

If Think Progress really wanted to be honest and true to their alarmism, they’d call for a guacamole boycott or a carbon tax on avocado shipments. 

Note: A side-story to all of this is the criminal element involved with Mexico’s exportation of avocados to America. At the end of January, the WSJ ran this excellent piece titled, “The Violent Gang Wars Behind Your Super Bowl Guacamole.” It’s paywall’d, but I posted a long excerpt up on The Feed:

Four of every five avocados sold in the U.S. originate in Tancítaro’s home state of Michoacán, the only Mexican state certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to export avocados, mostly the creamy, dip-friendly Hass variety that locals here call “oro verde” or green gold.

Michoacán, which last year exported more than 500,000 tons of avocado to the U.S., expects a $1 billion haul in 2014. Tancítaro alone produced 157,000 tons last year, said Jose Ayala, a local agricultural official, “more than any other municipality in the world.”

Some say the fruit was tainted. “They are ‘blood avocados,’ ” said Raul Benitez, a security expert at UNAM, the National Autonomous University of Mexico In Mexico City. “They are the Mexican equivalent of the conflict diamonds that are sold from war-torn parts of Africa.”

What is it with the American Left that climate change always seems to be the biggest part of any story? Whether it’s John Kerry calling climate change WMD or Think Progress ignoring how America’s taste for avocados fuels “extortion, kidnapping, rape and homicide,” the climate-change alarmists are increasingly willfully blind to the horrors of the world today as they prophesy a dystopian future for a slightly warmer Earth. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cancel the Alarm over Ocean Pollution



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It seems there are a lot more fish in the ocean than previously estimated. Via the Daily Mail:

Scientists have vastly underestimated the number of fish in the sea -  and say the majority of them have never been fished.

Australian researchers found that mesopelagic fish, which live between 100 and 1000m below the surface, constitute 95 per cent of the world’s fish biomass and are untouched by fishing.

They say the secret to the animal’s success may be its ability to evade fishing nets.

’This very large stock of fish that we have just discovered, that holds 95 per cent of all the fish biomass in the world, is untouched by fishers,’ the researchers say.

The international team of marine biologists say mesopelagic fish in the earth’s oceans constitute 10 to 30 times more biomass than previously thought.

UWA Professor Carlos Duarte says mesopelagic fish – fish that live between 100 and 1000m below the surface – must therefore constitute 95 per cent of the world’s fish biomass.

They believe the finding could dramatically change our understanding of how the ocean’s operate.

’Because the stock is much larger it means this layer must play a more significant role in the functioning of the ocean and affecting the flow of carbon and oxygen in the ocean,’ he says.

Now here’s where it gets interested. Fish play a vital roll in regulating the acidity of the oceans. If the number of fish have been dramatically undercounted, this could explain why the ocean acidification models aren’t showing what the alarmists want them to show, foremost that the ocean is dying. Now, seeing that fish fight climate change and now we have ten times as many fish as previously estimated, shouldn’t the climate scientists start updating their models? Via the New Scientist from 2009:

An unlikely ally may have been found in the fight against the effects of climate change. Fish excretions seem to play a key role in maintaining the ocean’s delicate pH balance, says a study that also reveals that there are 2 billion tonnes of fish in the world’s oceans.

Bony fish excrete lumps of calcium carbonate, known as “gut rocks” which are thought to dissolve in the upper layers of the ocean. A team led by Rod Wilson of the University of Exeter in the UK has now shown that the sheer amount of gut rocks produced plays a key role in buffering the carbon dioxide that acidifies seawater.

“This study really is the first glimpse of the huge impact fish have on our carbon cycle – and why we need them in the ocean,” says Wilson’s colleague Villy Christensen of the University of British Columbia in Canada.

Professor Duarte’s research means the number is now around 10 billion tons of fish

Oh, and there’s this: these previously uncounted fish thriving in areas like the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” Via Phys.org:

Prof Duarte says research into the five ocean gyres, where vast amounts of flotsam collect, turned up surprising results.

“We actually called them oceanic deserts,” he says.

“They are not desert at all, they are very vibrant ecosystems that support a very high .

“The largest fish stock in the ocean is not in the coastal areas … but actually in the central gyres of the oceans.

“The food web … in the central gyres of the ocean … it’s a lot more efficient than we thought.”

He says the survey also showed the oceans were healthier than previously thought.

“This very large stock of fish that we have just discovered, that holds 95 per cent of all the  in the world, is untouched by fishers,” he says.

“They can’t harvest them with nets.

“In the 21st Century we have still a pristine stock of fish which happens to be 95 per cent of all the  in oceans.

“And that also changes our views on ocean health.”

So much for settled science on fish and ocean health. Which alarmist domino will be the next to fall?

EPA Rule: All Pain, No Gain



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In President Obama’s Year of Action, the EPA levied another unilateral tax on America’s struggling economy Monday with expensive new sulfur standards. The new mandates will cost the energy industry an estimated $10 billion, impact small refineries most, and goose gas prices by 6 to 9 cents per gallon.

And all for no benefit to human health.

“The benefits far outweigh the costs,” claimed EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. “These standards will reduce pollution, they’ll clean the air we breathe and protect the health of American families.” There’s no evidence to support that statement.

“It’s made up science,” says Steve Milloy, a regulatory scholar with the Competitive Enterprise Institute and publisher of JunkScience.com, of the restriction on gasoline’s sulfur content — part of EPA’s so-called Tier 3 rules.

EPA administrators justify the reduction of smog-inducing PM2.5 particulates to 12 micrograms (from 15 mcg) because they say there is no safe level of PM2.5 exposure. That is absurd. In fact, the EPA routinely funds lab tests that expose humans to diesel fumes containing PM2.5 particulates. The air Americans breath today is clean. Our worst metropolitan areas rarely exceed 15 mcg a day — as compared with the estimated 10,000-40,000 mcg that a smoker inhales from a single cigarette, says Milloy.

“Saying that there is no safe exposure gives EPA carte blanche to regulate whatever they want,” says Milloy.

That regulation inflicts real pain. Higher gas prices hurt low-income Americans most. And EPA regs have made the U.S. refinery business a regulatory thicket — resulting in the closure  of over 100 refineries in the last 40 years — mostly small businesses that can’t afford the regulatory costs. So much for White House claims that it backs the little guy.

The EPA’s rule pitted refineries against Big Auto, which had lobbied hard for the costs to be borne by the energy sector to help autos meet their own stringent government mandates. “This rule’s biggest impact is to increase the cost of delivering energy to Americans,” protested Bob Greco of the American Petroleum Institute. “But it will provide negligible, if any, environmental benefits.”

“This rule is all pain and no gain,” says House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R., Mich.). An apt summary of the Obama presidency.

Tags: Oil , auto , Tier 3 , EPA

Did Fracking in the U.S. Cause the Ukraine Conflict? Possibly



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From today’s Washington Post:

Shifting energy trends blunt Russia’s natural-gas weapon

While Russia flexes its military might at its Black Sea naval base in Crimea, Moscow has another weapon that it has wielded against Ukraine in the past: natural gas supplies.

Russia provides more than half of Ukraine’s natural-gas needs and since 2006 has twice curtailed supplies in disputes over politics, price and late payments. Those supply cuts rattled countries across Europe that depend on the Russian pipelines that run through Ukraine.

But changes in the global trade in natural gas have blunted Moscow’s weapon, forcing the Russian pipeline monopoly Gazprom to cut prices worldwide and giving Ukraine slightly more bargaining power.

The boom in U.S. shale gas has left gas-exporting countries shopping for other customers. Europe, as it adds terminals to handle liquefied natural gas, will be able to offset its own declining production with supplies from countries such as Qatar. And in 2012, Norway’s Statoil sold more gas to other European nations than Russia’s Gazprom.

“Since the Russian supply cuts in 2006 and 2009, the tables have totally turned,” said Anders Aslund, a fellow at the Peterson Institute of International Economics who has advised Russia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. Aslund said Ukraine once rivaled Germany as Gazprom’s biggest customer. Now, he said, “Gazprom’s challenge is to stay in the Ukrainian market.”

The rest here.

Fact-Checking Bill Maher on Climate Change



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Friday’s Real Time with Bill Maher, featuring National Review’s Charles Cooke as a guest, included discussion of climate change and Charlie’s recent article “Green Drought: For the sake of the smelt, California farmland lies fallow.”

Maher was joined by Rachel Maddow and former Representative Jane Harman (D., Calif.), and, as you might imagine, all three found fault with Charles’s piece. You can watch the video of the entire discussion here.

However, and this won’t be a shock to NR readers, Charles was right and they were wrong. The following is a fact-check of the Charles Cooke fact-checkers.

First up was a discussion of the tiny fish that’s causing so much disruption to California’s famers, the Delta smelt. When Charles dared to suggest that regulations that divert water from the farmers according to the number of smelt in the water supply might be onerous or ill conceived, Maher quickly came to the defense of the tiny fish. He called it “bait for salmon.” He declared it an important part of “the food chain.” He warned that “you pull one string out of the sweater and the whole thing comes apart.”

Maher added: “We either divert the water for the farmers or for the fishermen. If we do this for the farmers — the people who are starving, you say — then we hurt the fishermen. But the farmers have a better lobbyist, don’t they? They have better lobbyists than the fishermen.”

But none of what Maher said is true. The following is from a fact sheet on the smelt from the California Natural Resources Agency: “Although the Delta smelt does not support a commercial or recreational fishery, its range is restricted to the Delta, and many people consider its population an indicator of the precarious ecological health of the Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast.”

Got that? It’s an “indicator” — in other words, a measuring tool — and has nothing to do with the overall food chain for humans, or with salmon, or with a sweater. Charlie discusses smelt metrics at length in his piece.

I should note that, while the smelt isn’t part of the protein portion of the human food chain, what is part of it are the crops from California that aren’t being grown today. Why Bill Maher and his panel think one food chain is more important than the other is a mystery to me.

To his credit, Maher does touch on the real problem in California. It’s that there are too many people and businesses with claims on California’s limited water resources. Maher’s quip that “we don’t have enough water because we stupidly built cities in deserts” was spot-on, but he never expanded on that.

And the panel never did get around to describing what happens to the smelt now that they’re not eaten by salmon. The answer is, they get to swim out into San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean and live an idyllic life, free of pumps, salmon, and fishermen. The smelt are the big winners in all of this.

Now this isn’t to say that the smelt aren’t important indicators of the overall health of the ecosystem or that I am saying salmon are immune to the current drought, but that’s not what was discussed on Friday, nor is it anywhere close to what Maher said to make his argument.

Maher’s errors above make me question how much he really wants to fully explain the problem to his viewers rather than just get a good sound bite out of the debate. It’s a remarkably complex issue, on which even environmentalists don’t agree. Just ask Governor Jerry Brown, who has been heavily criticized by the Left for his support of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, a “comprehensive conservation strategy aimed at protecting dozens of species of fish and wildlife, while permitting the reliable operation of California’s two biggest water delivery projects.”

The simple fact is that somebody is going to lose in California’s water war. As of today, it’s the people in California’s San Joaquin Valley who scrape together a living growing food. Charlie in his piece asks why other interests are being put ahead of the farmers’. Maher and the other panelists never answered.

The panel then moved on to the larger question of whether the current drought in California is a result of climate change. Maher during his monologue defined climate change as “extreme weather,” and Rachel Maddow added, much to the delight of the Maher and Harman, that “2013 was the driest year on record in California in recorded history. And, in some parts of the state, it was less than 50 percent of the previous record total of the low precipitation. The fish didn’t do it. This is climate change.”

#more#Maybe Maddow would be so kind as to define “recorded history”? Yes, the drought is bad, but it’s nowhere near as bad as droughts that have hit California in the past. There is a detailed history of droughts much worse than today’s and, although not recorded by human hand, this data is part of the “settled science” that the Left likes to reference when making their global-warming claims. From the Los Angeles Times:

How extreme is this year in California’s climate history? To answer this, we need to look back further than the 119 years we have on record, to the geologic past. Based on the growth rings of trees cored throughout the Western United States, AD 1580 stands out as the driest year in the last half a millennium, drier than 1976-77. It was so devastatingly dry in 1580 that the giant sequoias in the Sierra Nevada essentially failed to grow at all; the cores show either extremely thin or absent tree rings. If the current drought continues in California through Oct. 1, this water year will be the driest not only in our modern records but in half a millennium. . . .

Tree rings, lake and ocean sediments, and other earth materials provide natural archives that reveal our region’s climate history. And the history of the Western United States is one apparently plagued with deep and prolonged droughts on a fairly regular basis. Multi-year droughts have recurred every 20 to 70 years over the last several thousand years, related to changes in ocean temperature in the North Pacific.

How long can these multi-year droughts last? In the modern historic record, they lasted only six years: from 1928 to 1934 and from 1987 to 1992. But the climate archives going further back reveal that droughts often lasted much longer than a decade, causing large lakes to shrink or dry up completely, more frequent wildfires and native populations to embark on massive migrations. A particularly dry stretch occurred between AD 900 and 1400 (during the Medieval Warm Period), with two 100-year droughts in California and the Southwest. Throughout the Southwest, archaeological remains show that flourishing civilizations all but disappeared as their agricultural bases withered.

Charlie dared to suggest otherwise, and Maher, Maddow, and Harman all jumped in with a collective “No, no, no.” I guess Maher, Maddow, and Harman missed this piece from the New York Times last week, “Science Linking Drought to Global Warming Remains Matter of Dispute”:

In delivering aid to drought-stricken California last week, President Obama and his aides cited the state as an example of what could be in store for much of the rest of the country as human-caused climate change intensifies.

But in doing so, they were pushing at the boundaries of scientific knowledge about the relationship between climate change and drought. While a trend of increasing drought that may be linked to global warming has been documented in some regions, including parts of the Mediterranean and in the Southwestern United States, there is no scientific consensus yet that it is a worldwide phenomenon. Nor is there definitive evidence that it is causing California’s problems.

In fact, the most recent computer projections suggest that as the world warms, California should get wetter, not drier, in the winter, when the state gets the bulk of its precipitation. That has prompted some of the leading experts to suggest that climate change most likely had little role in causing the drought.

“I’m pretty sure the severity of this thing is due to natural variability,” said Richard Seager, a climate scientist who studies water issues at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

Again, climate change may create events that look like the drought in California, but what’s going on in California today isn’t because of what humans have done to the environment. And that’s not me or Charlie saying that but the scientists who believe in anthropogenic climate change.

One thing I think is important to add: If climate change really is a problem of WMD proportions, as John Kerry suggested, then the people who believe what Kerry said need to start behaving as if it’s true. For example, Bill Maher was kind enough to fly Charlie and Rachel Maddow out to Los Angeles to appear on the program. Air travel, according to the New York Times in 2013, is a “serious environmental sin,” and for people “in New York City, who don’t drive much and live in apartments, this is probably going to be by far the largest part of their carbon footprint.”

In other words, the most damage Charlie and Rachel Maddow will do to the environment this year was through appearing on Bill Maher’s show. If Maher is so concerned with the environment, he’d teleconference in his guests. His ratings might suffer, but are ratings more important than the planet?

As of today, yes, they are.

‪Postscript: As I write this, huge rainstorms are headed toward California. I expect Maher, Maddow, et al. will call this, too, extreme weather?

South Africa Delays Carbon Tax and Embraces Fracking



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Good for them. Bloomberg:

South Africa’s government delayed the implementation of a planned carbon tax to 2016, while saying it may impose new levies on mining companies to help fund the treatment of acid water seeping from disused gold mines.

The National Treasury two years ago said it planned to charge 120 rand ($11) on every metric ton of carbon emitted above a 60 percent threshold from 2014 and raise the rate by 10 percent a year for the following six years. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan last year announced a delay in the tax, first proposed in December 2010, until 2015.

“The National Treasury and the Department of Environmental Affairs have agreed that a package of measures is needed to address climate change and to reduce omissions,” Gordhan said in his budget speech in Cape Town today. “To allow for further consultation, the implementation of the carbon tax is postponed by a year to 2016.”

The government will probably raise 8 billion rand to 30 billion rand a year from the proposed tax, according to Cecil Morden, the Treasury’s chief director of tax policy. Companies including steelmaker ArcelorMittal South Africa Ltd. (ACL) and gold producer AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (ANG) said the additional charges are not affordable and will deter investment

The rest here.

Israel an Energy Superpower?



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Could be. Via Commentary:

Tamar sits 56 miles off the coast of Israel, an offshore gas platform rising up from the Mediterranean like a white steel beacon whose roots reach down 1,000 feet to the seabed. Named for the natural-gas field beneath the sea floor, Tamar is the symbol of a bright future for Israel if Israel is ready for it: as the newest energy producer and exporter in the Middle East, and potentially the most important.

A classic quip since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 has been that Moses brought his people out of Egypt to the one spot in the Middle East that didn’t have oil. “We proved that joke to be wrong,” says Gideon Tadmor, chairman of the Delek Group, one of a consortium of companies that built the Tamar platform. Delek and its partners began extracting gas from Tamar in March 2013 and has been doing so with the natural gas from three other fields as well. Ten years ago, Israel was a country 80 percent powered by coal, with the remaining 20 percent from oil—all of which had to be imported. Now, natural gas supplies half those energy needs. The known fields could contain more than 900 billion cubic meters of natural gas. In global terms, that’s not much—roughly the amount the United States consumes in a year. But for a country of only 8 million people, it’s an energy bonanza. And, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Levant basin in which Israel’s fields sit may contain a total of 3.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas—about half the reserves in the United States with a fraction of the demand.

Nor is that all. Even before the first discoveries of natural gas in 1999, geologists had determined there were huge oil-shale fields stretching along Israel’s coastal plain. Those fields contained recoverable reserves, according to the latest estimate, of up to 250 billion barrels—almost equal to Saudi Arabia’s.

The rest here.

Salon Is Now a Science Skeptic



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On food:

7 foods that were supposed to be incredibly unhealthy — but are actually anything but
We were warned by experts to avoid these edibles at all costs. Turns out the experts were wrong

Just remember, the modeling of what happens to your body when you ingest coconut oil, coffee, whole milk, salt, chocolate, popcorn, and eggs is a whole lot easier than modeling the climate.

110,000 People Angry at Charles Krauthammer



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Over his latest column titled, “The Myth of Settled Science.” Via Howard Kurtz:

Charles Krauthammer says it right up front in his Washington Post column: “I’m not a global warming believer. I’m not a global warming denier.”

He does, however, challenge the notion that the science on climate change is settled and says those who insist otherwise are engaged in “a crude attempt to silence critics and delegitimize debate.”

How ironic, then, that some environmental activists launched a petition urging the Post not to publish Krauthammer’s column on Friday.

Their response to opinions they disagree with is to suppress the speech.

Brad Johnson (@ClimateBrad), the editor of HillHeat.com and a former Think Progress staffer, boasted on Twitter that 110,000 people had urged the newspaper “to stop publishing climate lies” like the Krauthammer piece.

And here’s Charles’s opener. This is what the alarmists are mad at?

I’m not a global-warming believer. I’m not a global-warming denier. I’ve long believed that it cannot be good for humanity to be spewing tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I also believe that those scientists who pretend to know exactly what this will cause in 20, 30, or 50 years are white-coated propagandists.

Or maybe the alarmists are angry that Charles pointed out that the president doesn’t know what he’s talking about?

Last Friday, Obama ostentatiously visited drought-stricken California. Surprise! He blamed climate change. Here even the New York Times gagged, pointing out that far from being supported by the evidence, “the most recent computer projections suggest that as the world warms, California should get wetter, not drier, in the winter.”

 

 

 

Judge Halts Keystone XL in Nebraska



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Bloomberg:

TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL pipeline route through Nebraska was ruled illegal by a state court judge in a decision seen as setting back the project by as long as a year as U.S. officials consider approving it.

The ruling resets the pipeline approval process in Nebraska as the Obama administration studies the northern portion of the international project. President Barack Obama has been urged by some Democratic supporters to reject the project as too big a contributor to global warming while Republican leaders have pressured him to approve it and Canadian officials have criticized him for taking too long to decide.

“This gives the U.S. State Department and Obama an out,” said Bob Schulz, a University of Calgary business professor, who predicted there will be an appeal of the ruling. “Why would they decide if they don’t have to decide? I think he’s going to push it back another year.”

Judge Stephanie Stacy in Lincoln, the state’s capital, today struck down legislation that shifted the power to approve the pipeline route to Governor Dave Heineman, a Republican, from the state’s Public Service Commission. Legislation depriving the commission of that power violates the Nebraska Constitution, Stacy said, declaring the measure “unconstitutional and void.”

And Judge Stephanie Stacy was appointed by Heineman in 2011. The rest here.

Manhattan Institute: ‘Small Businesses Unleash Energy Employment Boom’



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The Manhattan Institute is out with a new report detailing the incredible jobs growth in the energy sector. 

Key findings:

America continues to suffer from a post–World War II record slow recovery in employment as well as record worker anxiety. Meanwhile, the brightest corner of the economy, the oil & gas sector, has seen stunning growth in creating jobs across the nation and in dozens of domains. With the right policies, much more is possible to encourage and accelerate the small-business-centric oil & gas revolution.

  • Overall U.S. employment has yet to return to its prerecession level, but the number of oil & gas jobs has grown 40 percent since then.
  • In the 10 states at the epicenter of oil & gas growth, overall statewide employment gains have greatly outpaced the national average.
  • A broad array of small and midsize oil & gas companies are propelling record economic and jobs gains—not just in the oil fields but across the economy.
  • America’s hydrocarbon revolution and its associated job creation are almost entirely the result of drilling & production by more than 20,000 small and midsize businesses, not a handful of “Big Oil” companies. In fact, the typical firm in the oil & gas industry employs fewer than 15 people.
  • The shale oil & gas revolution has been the nation’s biggest single creator of solid, middle-class jobs—throughout the economy, from construction to services to information technology.
  • Overall, nearly 1 million Americans work directly in the oil & gas industry, and a total of 10 million jobs are associated with that industry.
  • Oil & gas jobs are widely geographically dispersed and have already had a significant impact in more than a dozen states: 16 states have more than 150,000 jobs directly in the oil & gas sector and hundreds of thousands more jobs due to growth in that sector.
  • In recent years, America’s oil & gas boom has added $300–$400 billion annually to the economy—without this contribution, GDP growth would have been negative and the nation would have continued to be in recession.
  • The resources, technology, infrastructure, and thousands of small and midsize businesses are capable of producing even more growth and many more jobs, so long as policymakers do not obstruct progress in the oil & gas sector.

How soon until Team Obama takes full credit for this? The whole report here.

From Aluminum Trucks to Eliminating Coal: The Economic Costs of Obama’s CO2 Edicts



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Why is the U.S. economic recovery struggling? Consider major stories from the Wall Street Journal and New York Times this Wednesday alone.

“General Motors is accelerating efforts to field a largely aluminum-bodied pickup truck by late 2018, under pressure from federal fuel efficiency standards,” reports the Journal.

Under the Obama administration’s unilateral edict that cars and trucks must average 54.5 mpg by 2025, GM will spend billions converting its Chevy and GMC pickups to aluminum bodies — as Ford has done before it with this year’s F150 pickup — in order to save weight and meet the federal standards. Not customer demands, mind you (fuel efficiency is well down the list of truck-buyer priorities). Government demands. Though industry insiders will not confirm an exact number,  replacing steel with  aluminum will add over a thousand dollars in variable costs (costs above standard materials needs) to each pickup, the best-selling vehicles in America.

To put that in context, the Chevy Volt’s plug-in electric/gas drive train adds about $8,000 in variable costs above the standard, gas-engine Chevy Cruze (the model upon which the Volt is based). Manufacturers are all developing money-losing electrics in order to help their fleets meet the 54.5-by-2025 mandate.

Story #2: “President Obama on Tuesday ordered the development of tough new fuel standards for the nation’s fleet of heavy-duty trucks as part of what aides say will be an increasingly muscular and unilateral campaign to tackle climate change,” reports the New York Times.

“Shock and awe may be the best way to describe what’s happening to the vast majority in trucking with these proposed regulations,” said Todd Spencer, executive VP of the the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, in a statement lamenting regulations that the EPA estimates will cost nearly $6,000 a truck. With 97 percent of trucking companies owning 20 trucks or fewer, Obama’s CO2 obsession will do serious harm to small business.

And for what?

“Experts said (the White House’s cumulative global warming edicts) should enable Mr. Obama to meet his target of cutting carbon pollution in the United States by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. But they said he would still be far short of his goal of an 80 percent reduction by 2050,” says the Times.

Yet climate scientists say that 80 percent-by-2050 would be meaningless. Such economy-crippling regulations of 20 percent CO2 reduction per decade for the next four decades – three times the CO2 reduction caused by the Great Recession’s economic slowdown – would only reduce the predicted rise in temperatures by 7 percent.

All pain, no gain. Now add to these restrictions Obama’s diktat to eliminate coal plants and thousands more jobs; raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour at a cost of half-a-million jobs by 2016; and Obamacare’s health costs — the number one concern of small business.

In sum, President Obama’s regulations are suffocating American job creation.

Tags: Coal , GM , trucks

Why are U.K. Politicians Ignoring the IPCC?



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Matt Ridley has a great piece in the Times of London titled, ”The Skeptics Are Right. Don’t Scapegoat Them.” Ridley goes on to question why politicians are ignoring the science in the latest IPCC report and blaming the horrific flooding in the U.K. on climate change:

There is no evidence, Mr Miliband, Lord Stern and others, that our floods and storms are related to climate change

In the old days we would have drowned a witch to stop the floods. These days the Green Party, Greenpeace and Ed Miliband demand we purge the climate sceptics. No insult is too strong for sceptics these days: they are “wilfully ignorant” (Ed Davey), “headless chickens” (the Prince of Wales) or “flat-earthers” (Lord Krebs), with “diplomas in idiocy” (one of my fellow Times columnists).

What can these sceptics have been doing that so annoys the great and the good? They sound worse than terrorists. Actually, sceptics have pretty well all been purged already: look what happened to Johnny Ball and David Bellamy at the BBC. Spot the sceptic on the Climate Change Committee. Find me a sceptic within the Department of (energy and) Climate Change. Frankly, the sceptics are a ragtag bunch of mostly self-funded guerrillas, who have made little difference to policy — let alone caused the floods.

What’s more, in the row over whether climate change is causing the current floods and storms, the sceptics are the ones who are sticking to the consensus, as set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — you know, the body that the alarm-mongers are always telling us to obey. And it is the sceptics who have been arguing for years for resilience and adaptation, rather than decarbonisation.

Mr Miliband says: “This winter is a one-in-250-year event” (yet it’s nothing like as wet as 1929-30 if you count the whole of England and Wales, let alone Britain) and that “the science is clear”. The chief scientist of the Met Office, Dame Julia Slingo, tells us “all the evidence” suggests that climate change is contributing to this winter’s wetness. (Why, then, did she allow the Met Office to forecast in November that a dry winter was almost twice as likely as a wet winter?) Lord Stern, an economist, claimed that the recent weather is evidence “we are already experiencing the impact of climate change”.

All three are choosing to disagree with the IPCC consensus. Here’s what the IPCC’s latest report actually says: “There continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale.” Here’s what a paper published by 17 senior IPCC scientists from five different countries said last month: “It has not been possible to attribute rain-generated peak streamflow trends to anthropogenic climate change over the past several decades.” They go on to say that blaming climate change is a politician’s cheap excuse for far more relevant factors such as “what we do on or to the landscape” — building on flood plains, farm drainage etc.

Alarmists, let me introduce you to the inconvenient truth of settled science. The rest here via the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Media Matters Not Happy with the Sunday Shows and Global Warming



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Here’s the latest outrage from Media Matters via their Twitter feed. . .

An excerpt:

This week, all four major broadcast networks covered extreme weather and climate change on their Sunday morning political talk shows. Those programs have largely ignored global warming in recent years, making their effort to address the issue unusual and laudable. But several of the segments also demonstrated the vulnerability inherent in treating science as a political debate where both sides receive a platform to air their positions.

Major winter storms across the U.S. in the month of February, drought in California, and President Obama’s call for a $1 billion climate change “resilience fund” sparked debates this week over the need for action against climate change. The science of global warming is settled: according to one survey, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and that “humans are causing global warming.” But the Sunday shows, because they are built on a model of showing political conflicts, have difficulty putting that fact in context.

ABC’s This Week and NBC’s Meet the Press both featured debates between individuals who support and oppose the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change, creating a false balance that could serve to confuse their viewers. Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, meanwhile, hosted a discussion in which no panelist stated that human-caused climate change is occurring while several claimed that it is not. CBS’ Face the Nation, by contrast, featured an interview with a scientist who explained that “we know that climate change is happening and humans are contributing.”

The broadcast Sunday shows devoted a paltry 27 minutes of coverage to climate change in 2013, according to a Media Matters study. Nearly 60 percent of that coverage came on Face the Nation; Meet the Press did not mention the issue all year. Face the Nation also featured the first interview of a scientist to discuss global warming by any of the programs in five years.

It’s a good sign that the Sunday shows are addressing global warming, but treating it as just another political issue causes new complications.

But climate change is just another political issue. Even if you believe the science behind the alarmist predictions is 100 percent accurate, then there still is the messy political process of whether taxpayer money should be used to address climate change, and if so how much.

 

 

Edict Watch: Obama T-Bones the Small-Trucking Industry



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President Obama issued yet another edict on Tuesday that requires semi-trucks to meet federal fuel-economy standards. And, like other edicts choking coal plants and hiking the federal minimum wage, the little guy will suffer most.

Fuel efficiency is a major concern in the trucking industry. No surprise then, that the truck market — without any federal intervention — has favored diesel engines for decades. Nevertheless, the Trucker-in-Chief has decided that the EPA must now set mpg standards for commercial vehicles just as it does for cars and SUVs as Obama continues his relentless expansion of the regulatory state.

“Improving gas mileage for these trucks . . . reduces carbon pollution even more, cuts down on businesses’ fuel costs, which should pay off in lower prices for consumers,” said Obama at a Safeway store in Maryland. “So it’s not just a win-win, it’s a win-win-win. You’ve got three wins.”

Actually, it’s only a win for politically connected Big Business — and a lose-lose for small truckers and consumers.

Independent truckers have vehemently protested the edict as costly to small business since EPA first announced the proposal in 2011.

“The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and its members are warning that the Obama administration’s proposed fuel-economy standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks could put the cost of new trucks out of reach for many of America’s hard-working professional truckers,” said the trucking industry’s trade group in a statement today.

The EPA itself estimates that the mpg rules will hike the cost of trucks by nearly $6,000, making it harder for small operators to buy new equipment. Larger operators will pass the costs on to consumers. But most conspicuous in the president’s announcement were Big Business supporters of his unilateral order — companies like Safeway, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, UPS, and FedEx. All operate their own trucking fleets and have been bought off by the Obama White House courtesy of the National Clean Fleets Partnership which provides federal alternative fuel subsidies to these member giants.

Oh.

Not surprisingly, none of these inconvenient truths was reported by Obama’s media parrots, especially the global warm-mongers at the Associated Press which repeated the president’s spin almost word-for-word.

With the economy limping along, the Obama administration continues to pile regulations on the back of business. The result is fewer jobs, higher costs, and more pain for small business — the very folks the president says he is in office to defend.

Tags: trucks , mpg , Obama

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