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Global Warming Strikes the White House on St. Patrick’s Day



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I hope the dyed-green fountains honoring St. Patrick don’t freeze. Brrrrr:

 

Boo, Hoo: Tesla is Having Problems Selling Cars in New Jersey



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My friend A. J. Delgado has a good piece over on the homepage on the problems electric car maker Tesla is having with Governor Chris Christie and the New Jersey legislature as the company challenges state law that protects the antiquated dealer model preventing car companies from selling their products directly to consumers.

I’m of two minds on this. One, I agree with A. J. that New Jersey is treating Tesla unfairly, but two, as Tesla is a company that owes its existence to government welfare and environmental edicts, I find it quite amusing that they’re now complaining about the U.S. leviathan that gives them life. A. J. notes Tesla’s duplicity in her piece:

New Jersey is just the latest state seeking to block Tesla. Although the company has received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal and state subsidies — in the form of loans, air-pollution credits, and tax breaks for buyers — Tesla finds itself on the side of the free market when it comes to the state-by-state struggle against America’s patchwork of car-dealer protections.

Let’s check out the recent headlines to help further explain my apathy to Tesla’s predicament.

  • US News & World Report, 12/30/13: “Tesla’s Government Handouts Are the Gift That Keeps On Giving; The company is profitable, yet keeps receiving tax subsidies.”
  • Slate, 5/29/13: “How the U.S. government’s bungled investment in the car company cost taxpayers at least $1 billion.”
  • Washington Post’s “Wonk Blog, 5/30/2103: “Should the government have made more money off Tesla?” (Responding to the Slate piece above)

And Tesla owes its “profitability” to the great Sate of California’s regulatory zealotry and generous taxpayer base. First there’s the state’s regulatory scheme that gives Tesla environmental tax credits which it then sells to the legacy car companies who can’t meet California’s emission regulations . . .

  • Los Angeles Times, 5/5/2013: “Tesla drives California environmental credits to the bank”

. . . and then some more breaks, this time to “boost production”:

And how does Tesla repay California? With a kick to the groin:

  • Los Angles Times, 3/7/14: Tesla has already ruled out California for the plant costing as much as $5 billion and employing 6,500 workers. Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas are in the running.

Tesla has been playing both sides of the system for far too long. The company survives because of onerous regulations that put a boot to the throat of the legacy car companies. Now that the regulatory boot is aimed at Tesla, the company expects a pass? 

As bad as Chris Christie may be acting on this, Tesla has long used politicians for its own gain. And now, it’s payback time. 

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Midwest: Record Global Freezing



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“To the surprise of no one, the winter of 2013–14 has shaped up to be one of the coldest on record,” report my colleagues at the Detroit News, of this year’s record-breaking Michigan temps. “The average temperature for (December, January, February) was 20.9 degrees, making it the coldest winter since 1977–78 and securing it the No. 8 spot for all-time cold winters.”

To the surprise of no one?  

Democratic pols, lefty climatologists, and their media parrots have been predicting to us Midwesterners that the Atlantic Ocean would be lapping at our ankles by now thanks to melting ice caps (thus the tens of billions Detroit automakers have already spent to meet the EPA global warming mandate of 54.5 mpg-by-2025).

More records fell this week. Wednesday’s March Madness dumped 6.5 inches of snow on Detroit, breaking the previous March 12 record of 1984. “Nighttime lows could dip near zero, plummeting past the previous records of 4 and 5 from 1896,” reports the News.

Yes, we are back to the 1970s when  the “scientific consensus” claimed a global freezing crisis. The solutions?  ”Melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers,” claimed Newsweek in 1975.

But the Green Left  is boxed in. After an enormous investment in films, legislation, and media propaganda, they cemented “global warming” as their Armageddon of choice. Desperate to continue their choke hold on industrial CO2 emissions, Gore and his media allies have tried to rename the crisis “climate change.”

But how do you whitewash the title of your bible, “An Inconvenient Truth: The Crisis of Global Warming”?

Tags: Al Gore , Global Warming , Climate Change

Al Gore Speaks at Climate-Activist Training Conference in Johannesburg



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You’d think that “environmental thinkers and activists from around the continent” would be more cognizant of the carbon-footprint of such an event. An online event, live-streamed, isn’t good enough? Obviously not:

Al Gore, the former American vice-president and Nobel Peace prize winner, spoke on the second day of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Johannesburg on Thursday. The event drew environmental thinkers and activists from around the continent. The corps is a global movement to teach people about climate change and help them adapt to a changing world. 

In his presentation, Gore gave an overview of how humans were driving climate change and how it was affecting conditions around the world right now.

“Whenever any important question is ultimately resolved into a choice between right and wrong, the outcome becomes inevitable.” The current global system was destroying the habitability of the planet by burning fossil fuels, Gore said, adding that it was wrong and needed to change. “We can see the pathway ahead very clearly and we are going to prevail.”

Showing a timelapse map of world temperatures since 1884 – when most modern records began – he illustrated how the entire globe was getting hotter on average. Last year was the 37th consecutive year where the average temperature was above the 20th century average. “As the average goes up, the extremes go up,” he said. The last decade was the hottest on record. 

’Man-made pollution’
This was, according to him, because humans were pumping gases into the atmosphere and driving global warming – 90-million tonnes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases every day. With the atmosphere being as thin as a coat of varnish on a globe, the impact was devastating. “The accumulated man-made pollution in the atmosphere traps as much heats as 400 000 Hiroshima-scale atomic bombs every day. It is a big planet, but that is a lot of heat energy,” he said. 

Al Gore’s number about the 400,000 Hiroshima-scale atomic bombs comes from James Hansen, but it’s really no big deal. An explanation of the math via Watts Up With That:

1 ton of TNT = 4.184e+9 joules (J) source

Hiroshima bomb = 15 kilotons of TNT = 6.28e+13 joules (ibid)

Hansen says increase in forcing is “400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day”, which comes to 2.51e+19 joules/day.

A watt is a joule per second, so that works out to a constant additional global forcing of 2.91e+14 watts.

Normally, we look at forcings in watts per square metre (W/m2). Total forcing (solar plus longwave) averaged around the globe 24/7 is about 500 watts per square metre.

To convert Hansen’s figures to a per-square-metre value, the global surface area is 5.11e+14 square metres … which means that Hansens dreaded 400,000 Hiroshima bombs per day works out to 0.6 watts per square metre … in other words, Hansen wants us to be very afraid because of a claimed imbalance of six tenths of a watt per square metre in a system where the downwelling radiation is half a kilowatt per square metre … we cannot even measure the radiation to that kind of accuracy.

And this is the reason we call these people alarmists. They can’t make their point without scary sounding, but dubious, statements. 

What Was the Carbon Footprint of the President’s Visit to NYC?



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I only ask because Senate Democrats want America to focus on climate change issues and if we’re to take them seriously, then cutting carbon emissions should start at home. 

For example, President Obama traveled to New York City yesterday, first landing at JFK airport on his 747, and then helicoptering to Manhattan for two fundraisers and a shopping trip at the GAP. That’s a lot of carbon emissions for a trip that wasn’t necessary. And yet, I can find no criticism from the pajama-party caucus of climate-alarmist Senate Democrats criticizing the president’s carbon-spewing trip. Since one of the president’s fundraisers was to help raise money for Senate Democrats in 2014, I’m inclined to believe that maybe — just maybe – Dems put raising money for their reelection campaigns ahead of climate change.

But Senate Dems are not alone in putting other issues ahead of climate change. Gallup has a new poll out that lists climate change second-to-last on a list of issues that worry Americans. Like the alarmist Dems, Americans don’t really care about climate change, either.

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Curb Global Warming to ‘Prevent Russia From Becoming a Superpower’



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Journalist Matthew Fleischer argues in today’s Los Angeles Times that if we don’t curb climate change, Russia will control our food supply:

Melting of permafrost will further open up previously marginal or even unworkable lands to agriculture. Melting Arctic ice will create new shipping routes along Russia’s northern coast and will open up previously inaccessible oil and gas reserves. Russia’s warming has already helped the country hit record harvests of ricecorn and sunflower seeds in recent years. Continued warming could conceivably allow the country to become the world’s bread basket — and control the planet’s food supply.

Russia is, of course, fully aware of these possible rosy global warming scenarios. Putin has said that “two or three degrees” of climate change could be good for Russia, in that it would reduce heating costs and increase crop yields.

So we’re now using carbon reductions as a WMD? Fleischer doesn’t mention that other parts of the world, like the northern continental United States, Alaska, Greenland, and Canada will also benefit from a warmer world and keep Russia’s power in check. 

And, actually, if UN population projections are to be believed, the world will need as much food and oil as it can get. Bring on global warming to save the starving children of the future!

Bailout Turnabout: Jeep SUVs the Planet



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In 2009 President Barack Obama handed bankrupt Chrysler Corporation to Fiat so that the Italian maker would educate Detroit’s SUV-dependent heathens on how to make small cars in order to save the world from global warming. Five years later and Fiat has announced in Geneva that the new Jeep Renegade will be built in Italy and exported to markets around the world, including the United States.

Save the planet? SUV the planet is more like it.

Fiat’s announcement came one day after Chrysler posted an industry-leading, 11 percent sales increase thanks to record February sales for Jeep SUVs and a 26 percent leap in RAM truck sales.

Those sales records were thanks in large part to frigid winter temperatures that have increased the demand for gas-guzzling, all-wheel-drive vehicles. Indeed, Detroit – Fiat’s U.S. headquarters –  recorded the coldest winter since 1978 when the America’s media claimed a scientific consensus for global freezing (solutions, reported Newsweek at the time, included “melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot’).

“The severe weather has been ideally suited for our legendary Jeep 4×4 capability as Jeep brand sales were up 47 percent,” said Reid Bigland, head of Jeep North America sales.

Jeep unit sales of 46,000 dwarfed purchases of Obama’s preferred Fiat small cars (3,500) and the Dodge Dart compact (4,900) — the 40 mpg car that Fiat was required to build in the U.S. in order to complete its takeover of the Detroit automaker. What’s more, Jeep and RAM are much more profitable vehicles than the Italian-designed sedans.

Which is why Detroit’s heathens are now exporting Jeep designs to Italian assembly plants.  

Jeep sales saved Chrysler and CEO Sergio Marchionne hopes that they will save struggling Fiat as well. In defiance of their political betters, consumers have made SUVs the hottest-selling vehicles in the world – particularly in emerging markets like South America and China. Sure, they are smaller than the hulking Jeep Cherokees found in the U.S. — but they ain’t global warming-fighting Smart cars either. Even Europeans can’t help themselves — SUV sales have increased there even as total auto sales have declined. Fiat expects Jeep Renegade sales will hit 1 million in over 100 markets around the globe.

Naturally, White House policies will work to trim these Jeep profits. Convinced the earth is hotting up, the EPA’s 54.5 mpg-by-2025 mandate is forcing Jeep to equip its SUVs with expensive nine-speed transmissions. Meanwhile, Ford and GM are already investing billions to convert their trucks to lighter-weight aluminum skins to meet the pie-in-the-sky rules — and industry experts expect Jeep will have to follow suit.

The king must have his sacrifice.

Tags: Fiat , Jeep , SUV

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.

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.

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.

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