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NWS Warns Atlanta of Upcoming Storm



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Looks like it’s going to get bad for the Atlanta area. Stay safe:

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHARLESTON SC
1041 AM EST TUE FEB 11 2014

...DANGEROUS WINTER STORM EXPECTED TO DEVELOP ACROSS INLAND
PORTIONS OF GEORGIA AND THE CAROLINAS TONIGHT THROUGH THURSDAY...

GAZ087-088-SCZ040-042>045-112345-
/O.CON.KCHS.IS.W.0002.140212T0500Z-140213T1500Z/
JENKINS-SCREVEN-ALLENDALE-HAMPTON-INLAND COLLETON-DORCHESTER-
INLAND BERKELEY-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...MILLEN...SYLVANIA...ALLENDALE...
HAMPTON...WALTERBORO...ST. GEORGE...SUMMERVILLE...MONCKS CORNER
1041 AM EST TUE FEB 11 2014

...ICE STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT TONIGHT TO
10 AM EST THURSDAY...

* ICE ACCUMULATIONS...AROUND ONE QUARTER TO ONE HALF OF AN INCH.

* TIMING...RAIN IS FORECAST TO MIX OR CHANGE TO FREEZING RAIN
  THIS EVENING INTO THE OVERNIGHT HOURS...THEN CONTINUE INTO AS
  LATE AS THURSDAY MORNING.

* IMPACTS...SIGNIFICANT ICE ACCUMULATIONS COULD CREATE DANGEROUS
  OR IMPOSSIBLE DRIVING CONDITIONS...ESPECIALLY ON BRIDGES...
  OVERPASSES AND UNTREATED ROADS. DAMAGE TO TREES AND POWER
  LINES ARE LIKELY AS WELL AS POWER OUTAGES ACROSS THE AREA.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

SIGNIFICANT ICE ACCUMULATION WILL PRODUCE DANGEROUS TRAVEL
CONDITIONS. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DRIVE OR WALK. ICE ACCUMULATION
WILL DAMAGE TREES AND POWER LINES. IF YOU ENCOUNTER DOWNED POWER
LINES...DO NOT TOUCH THE LINES BECAUSE YOU COULD BE ELECTROCUTED.
REPORT DOWNED POWER LINES TO LAW ENFORCEMENT OR THE POWER
COMPANY. PREPARE TO REMAIN IN A SAFE SHELTER WITHOUT ELECTRICITY
FOR MANY HOURS. OBTAIN VITAL SUPPLIES SUCH AS POTABLE WATER...NON-
PERISHABLE FOOD...MEDICINE...BATTERIES...FLASHLIGHTS AND A
BATTERY POWERED RADIO.

How Bad Policy Will Make California’s Drought Worse



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Ben Boychuk writes in the Sacramento Bee:

Drought is a fact of life in California, which explains why so many politicians have been happy to blame nature and duck questions about what role their choices may have played in exacerbating the catastrophe now unfolding across the state.

We’ve had bad droughts before, but never quite like this.

For the first time in 54 years, the California Water Project forecasts “zero allocation” for agencies serving 25 million residents. That means scarcity and rationing are real prospects this summer. Barring a miracle, the effects – economic and political – would be felt well beyond our borders.

Let’s stipulate “government can’t make it rain.” While we’re at it, let’s enter that phrase into the Great Book of Clichés and banish it from public discourse forevermore.

Let’s also stipulate that government cannot make the trains run on time, or make you happy and wise – although, with the right connections, it can make you wealthy.

Might we further stipulate that if government can clean up after a natural disaster, it can also make a natural disaster worse? Judging from much of the indignant demagoguery emanating from Sacramento and Washington, D.C., this week, the answer appears to be a resounding “Yes.”

Republicans in Congress on Wednesday advanced House Bill 3964, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act, which passed largely along party lines. Only 10 House Democrats, including Fresno’s Jim Costa, voted for it.

The brainchild of California’s GOP delegation, the bill will almost certainly meet its demise in the Democratic-controlled Senate, where both Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have denounced the legislation as “divisive.” Feinstein even went so far as to call the bill “ugly” and “partisan.” A partisan piece of legislation debated in a political body. Imagine that.

What exactly would HB 3964 do? Simply stated, it would reallocate water controlled by the federal government from conservation and species protection to agriculture. In other words, it would put the needs of farmers above the needs of the Delta smelt.

Now, the idea that public policy might favor people over a baitfish in the face of an honest-to-goodness emergency may strike some as an odd notion. Coincidentally, Gov. Jerry Brown also used the “d”-word in a sternly worded letter to Congress ahead of this week’s vote. Among his complaints: HB 3964 “would override state laws and protections, and mandate that certain water interests come out ahead of others. It falsely suggests the promise of water relief when that is simply not possible given the scarcity of water supplies.

The rest here.

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Gold-Medal Alarmism



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There’s a new report out titled “The Future of the Winter Olympics in a Warmer World” that has spawned a slew of alarmist reporting on how global warming will negatively affect future Winter Olympics. LiveScience, for example, posted this on February 4:

Sochi Could Be Too Warm to Host Olympics in 50 Years

This year may be the perfect time for Sochi to host the WinterOlympics , as new research suggests that by the middle of this century, the Russian town could be too warm to support many cold-weather sports.

In fact, the new research found that several of the cites that have hosted Winter Olympics in the past — including Vancouver, British Columbia; Squaw Valley, Calif.; and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany — will not be cold enough to host the Winter Games by mid-century, thanks to global warming.

[. . .]

The researchers focused on two major factors that determine whether former and future Winter Olympic  sites would be “climatically reliable” to host the competition again: the probability that daily temperatures would stay below freezing, and the probability that the sites could maintain a snowpack of at least 30 centimeters (11.8 inches). If the site met both criteria for nine out of 10 winters, that site was considered climatically reliable to host the Winter Games.

For starters, can the media stop using Sochi as an example of what global warming will do to future Olympics? NASA describes Sochi as ”the warmest city ever to host the winter games.” Some pre-Olympics events were canceled due to lack of snow. Forget 50 years down the road, it was too warm to have the Olympics in Sochi this year.

And secondly, the report’s scare tactic of showing that some past Olympic venues might not be suitable hosts for future games doesn’t mean much. Here’s the chart from the report that summarizes which past cities would and would not be considered “climatically suitable” for future games under different emissions scenarios:

The four cities researchers find at-risk from global warming in the future, under their rosiest of scenarios, are Sochi (2014), Grenoble (1968), Garmisch-Partenkirchen (1936), and Chamonix (1924). Let’s take a closer look:

In other words, the four sites the researchers think won’t be able to have the Olympics in the future because of a lack of snow probably won’t win the bidding for the Olympics in the future anyway. Cancel the alerts.

Oh, and then there’s this. After all that doom-and-gloom, LiveScience concludes:

It remains unclear how warmer temperatures could influence precipitation. Some recent research shows that because warmer air holds more moisture, climate change may, in fact, increase the amount of precipitation, including snow, in some regions.

Global warming might be great news for the Winter Olympics? Of course it will.

 

Midwest Poor Freeze, Tax Dollars Go Overseas to Fight Warming



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Detroit – Record cold continues to grip the northern United States — Michigan has recorded record low temperatures of -14 degrees Fahrenheit and record January snowfalls. The Winter from Hell is an exclamation point on over a decade of declining global temperatures. The cold has caused one death here in Detroit and 16 total across the region with public-service warnings alerting residents to stay inside. In addition to thousands of dollars spent by local charities to help the homeless cope with the chill, the Michigan Public Service Commission is urging that tax money be budgeted for programs to help low-income Michigan residents pay their energy bills. “Utility bills will reflect this winter’s brutally cold temperatures,” MPSC Chairman John Quackenbush told ABC News Radio.

So naturally, America has sent $7.5 billion overseas in the last three years to help developing countries cope with global warming, according to a federal report to the United Nations.

Why? Because on Planet Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry says it’s “a truly life-and-death challenge.” And because President Obama says we have to act “with more urgency because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods.”

Your tax dollars at work.

Stephen Chu: Keystone XL Is a Political Decision



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Former DOE chief Stephen Chu let this little gem slip while speaking in Spain. Via the Oil and Gas Journal:

The decision on whether to permit the construction of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline is a political one and not one of that is scientific in nature, according to former US Energy Sec. Steven Chu.

Speaking at a news conference in Port of Spain Chu said, “I don’t have a position on whether the Keystone Pipeline should be built. That is for the secretary of State and the president. But I will say that the decision on whether the construction should happen was a political one and not a scientific one.”

Chu then told OGJ that he wanted to expand his statement to say that the studies commissioned by the administration were, in fact, scientific. Late last week, the US State Department said in its long-awaited final supplemental environmental impact statement that the 1,700-mile proposed construction and operations of the Keystone XL line would not have significant environmental impacts (OGJ Online, Feb. 2, 2014).

Chu said, “The entire statement should include that the studies looking into what are the long-term effects are in fact scientific and that is the only scientific part of the decision.”

The rest here.

 

 

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Green Groups Threaten Dems over Keystone XL



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Via The Hill:

Environmental groups are warning President Obama that his liberal base might stay home on Election Day if he approves the Keystone XL  oil pipeline.

Proponents of the $5.4 billion Canada-to-Texas pipeline say their case is buoyed by the State Department’s environmental analysis of the project, which was released to great fanfare last week.

But critics say approval of the project could sow liberal discontent and hurt Democratic chances in 2014 — including a host of contests that will likely decide who controls the Senate during the final years of the Obama White House.

“It is very likely that there will be negative consequences for Democrats if Keystone were approved,” said Kate Colarulli, the associate director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Oil campaign. “This is a tremendous opportunity to protect the climate and build the Democratic base if Obama rejects Keystone XL.”

Green groups are promising acts of “civil disobedience,” if Obama signs off on the project and contend Keystone’s approval could torpedo the president’s broader climate change agenda.

The White House insists the electoral ramifications wouldn’t play a part in the president’s final call on the pipeline, which would carry crude from Alberta oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

“He’s been very clear that he’s going to insulate this process from politics,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said Sunday on “Meet the Press.”

The rest here.

State Dept. Releases its Keystone XL Impact Study



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And it’s bad news for alarmists. USA Today:

Approval or denial of the Keystone XL pipeline is unlikely to have an impact on the rate of extraction of heavy-carbon tar sands oil in Canada, according to a highly anticipated State Department review released Friday.

The release of the review now triggers a 90-day federal process for determining if the project is in the nation’s interest.

The environmental impact study should end the debate on the project, supporters of the controversial pipeline said, and President Obama should back the project that would bring oil from the tar sands of northwest Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Congressional Republicans have been particularly vocal supporters of the pipeline.

“The Keystone XL Pipeline is the single largest shovel-ready project in America, ready to go, but for years President Obama and his hard-left allies have stalled these jobs in a maze of red tape,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. “But if the president meant what he said this week about ‘a year of action,’ he’ll act now on this important project that won’t cost taxpayers a dime to build but will bring thousands of private sector jobs to Americans who desperately need them.”

A 2011 State Department report concluded that several thousand temporary construction jobs would be created by construction, in addition to a few dozen permanent jobs associated with operating the pipeline.

Environmentalists say the 1,700-mile pipeline would have a devastating impact on the environment and have pressured Obama to reject it.

The rest here.

‘Long-Lasting’ Light Bulbs Not So Long-Lasting



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If these light bulbs don’t last as long as advertised, shouldn’t the alarmists who worked to kill the incandescent redo their math and tell us what we’re really going to save? I won’t hold my breath, however. 

The Daily Mail:

Many energy-efficient LED light bulbs failed before their advertised lifespan, tests have found.

Some did not even reach the EU’s new minimum of 6,000 hours which comes into force in March.

LED bulbs from Ikea and Technical Consumer Products (TCP) performed worst, according to Which?

The consumer watchdog and European partners tested five samples of 46 types of bulb. New EU regulations say that from March 1, 90 per cent of any batch of LED (light emitting diode) bulbs should last at least 6,000 hours.

The bulbs were switched on for 165 minutes, then switched off for 15 minutes, in a continuous cycle until they failed.

Five types of bulb, some costing more than £10, stopped working before 6,000 hours in the majority of samples tested.

Another five failed before 10,000 hours for the majority of samples tested, despite claiming lifespans of at least 25,000 hours. In total, 66 of the 230 samples failed before 10,000 hours, though all claimed to last at least 15,000.

Bulbs from TCP and Ikea were the  only ones sold in the UK. Both companies said the types of bulbs tested have now been discontinued.

The rest here.

The Oil & Gas Jobs Recovery



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Via BreakingEnergy.com:

The US oil and gas industry has seen tremendous growth over the past several years, following a period of low oil prices and declining production. And job growth in the sector reflects a robust and growing need to both replace retiring workers and fill new positions.

Forbes’ latest rankings of the 15 most valuable college majors includes geology at #7 and petroleum engineering at #9. Environmental engineering, physics and finance – also integral to the US oil and gas industries – appear on the list as well.

There are job opportunities in oil and gas all across the country, as new unconventional finds have popped up in places like Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  But a good deal of the activity underway is in the Gulf Coast, home to the vast majority of US refining infrastructure, as well as a number of onshore and offshore oil and gas fields. And oil and gas activity in the region suffers from less of the “dirty oil” stigma common on the East and West Coasts. “It’s part of the culture here,” Dr. Jayathi Murthy, Chair of UT Austin’s Mechanical Engineering Department, told Breaking Energy.

“It’s always an attractive option, not least because it pays much better than other specialities,” Murthy said. “Obviously there are ups and downs, but the industry has been doing really well in the last 5-10 years.”

Among the region’s best petroleum engineering programs, University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M feature at or near the top of many of the lists we found, with other Gulf Coast region schools including Louisiana State University’s A&M College, University of Houston and Texas Tech.

The rest here.

‘Why and How We Should Break OPEC Now’



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A good piece by Robert Zubrin in The New Atlantis:

Usually when a country is likened to Saudi Arabia, it is not a compliment — unless of course it concerns vast energy resources. Since the 1970s, American politicians and energy analysts have described the United States as “the Saudi Arabia of coal” — a phrase meant to suggest that, while America’s oil reserves were inferior to those of the desert kingdom, we could take consolation in having the world’s largest coal reserves.

Today, however, America is in the midst of an energy boom that seems to be changing the nation’s energy outlook. Thanks in part to advances in hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as “fracking”), horizontal drilling, and other techniques, the U.S. energy industry is bringing to market vast supplies of oil and natural gas that were previously inaccessible. Consider the statistics for oil: In 2008, U.S. production slumped below 5 million barrels per day, the lowest it had been since the 1940s; by the end of 2013, it exceeded 8 million barrels per day, the highest in more than two decades. By 2016, production is projected to reach or exceed the historic high of 9.6 million barrels per day set in 1970. The rise in natural gas production has been even steeper. In 2007, the United States produced 1.3 trillion cubic feet of shale natural gas; in 2011, it produced 8 trillion cubic feet. That figure is projected to reach 31.9 trillion cubic feet by 2025 and to keep climbing in subsequent decades.

As President Obama put it in 2012, the United States is now “the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.” Indeed, with the United States even projected to become the world’s top oil producer by 2016 or earlier, perhaps such comparisons to Saudi Arabia are becoming outdated.

The rest here.

Global Warming Threatens Pensacola, Fla.



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Brrrrrrr:

The National Weather Service is forecasting snow for parts of the Florida Panhandle thanks to an arctic blast.

Meteorologist Steve Miller says freezing rain and snow could move in later Tuesday afternoon. He says there could be up to an inch of snow in areas north of Interstate 10 in Escambia and Okaloosa counties.

He says a large area of rain is currently moving over Louisiana and Mississippi. It should move in to Florida later Tuesday, brining freezing rain and — for some — snow. That’s unusual for Florida.

 

Polar Bears Unexpectedly Switch Diet to Respond to Melting Ice



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The polar bear is shocking the scientific community by changing it’s diet. NBC News reports:

Arctic polar bears may be adjusting their eating habits as their sea ice habitat melts and the furry white predators stand to lose the floating platform they depend on to hunt seals, their primary food. According to researchers, however, the bears are displaying flexible eating habits as their world changes around them.

Indeed, scientific studies indicate polar bear populations are falling as the sea ice disappears earlier each spring and forms later in the fall. But a series of papers based on analysis of polar bear poop released over the past several months indicate that at least some of the bears are finding food to eat when they come ashore, ranging from bird eggs and caribou to grass seeds and berries.

“What our results suggest is that polar bears have flexible foraging strategies,” Linda Gormezano, a biologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and a co-author of several of the papers, told NBC News. 

The results stem from research in western Hudson Bay, near Chruchill, Manitoba, Canada, which is in the southern extent of polar bear habitat and serves as a harbinger of what the animals are likely to face throughout their Arctic range as the climate continues to warm and sea ice breaks up earlier and earlier each spring.

The flexible foraging strategy of polar bears “means that there may be more to this picture in terms of how polar bears will adjust to changing ice conditions” than indicated by models based on the spring breakup date of the sea ice and thus their access to seals, Gormezano said.

She added that nobody knows for sure how well polar bears will adapt to the changing food supply, but a big step toward an answer is to study what they eat on land “rather than assume that they may just be fasting.” 

Looks like the alarmists will need a news mascot. The rest here.

Fuel Efficiencey Standards Are Raising Costs and Safety Concerns in Detroit



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Henry Payne writes in today’s WSJ on the consequences of  new manufacturing techniques to meet EPA fuel-efficiency standards. The opener:

Fuel-Efficiency Rules Are Already Raising Costs in Detroit
Electric cars are a sideshow. The real story is Ford’s big bet on aluminum and other expensive design changes.

At the dawn of 2014 the federal government has exited General Motors and Chrysler. Both companies have repaid their auto-bailout loans and Fiat is purchasing Chrysler outright. But federal carbon limits imposed on the auto industry in the depths of the Great Recession—when it was powerless to resist—will haunt manufacturers for years to come. The re-election of Barack Obama has cemented EPA fuel-efficiency regulations requiring that, by 2025, auto makers’ products average 54.5 miles per gallon.

On the floor of the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, which is open to the public until Jan. 26, there is ample evidence that the regulations are starting to bite. Detroit temperatures have hovered in the single digits after hitting a record low, minus-14 degrees, in the first week of January—temperatures consistent with a planet that hasn’t warmed in more than a decade. Yet the gods of global warming must be satisfied, and the sacrifices to the EPA’s climate ideology come with a big price.

While auto makers are once again parading cars and trucks their customers want to own, company strategies are nevertheless being driven by government fuel-economy rules. Behind the glitzy displays, gorgeous vehicle introductions and relief that vehicle sales are almost back to 2007 prerecession levels, there is worry about the costs the fuel-efficiency rules impose.

Take the radical, expensive redesign of the Ford F150 pickup, America’s best-selling vehicle. The F150 is the talk of the show because it is the first truck—and the first large-volume vehicle—to have its body made entirely of aluminum to save weight and reduce fuel consumption.

The driving force behind Ford’s decision was the EPA standards that will force full-size trucks to get upward of 30 mpg in 10 years—up from 20 today. Ford had already made significant gains in efficiency by redesigning its powertrains to add less-thirsty turbo V-6s to its lineup, but the step to aluminum is an indication that the EPA rules will require much more than squeezing engines. The switch to costlier, lighter aluminum means a massive capital investment that involves the retooling of factories and the remaking of Ford’s material supply stream as it shifts away from steel sheet for body panels. Ford won’t disclose the investment, but it runs into the billions.

The rest here (behind the paywall).

And one thing Henry didn’t mention in his piece are the trickle-down costs. For example, Bloomberg reports that if you happen to crash your aluminum F150, there aren’t many body-shops that can fix it:

After laboring for five years to develop its aluminum F-150, Ford Motor Co. (F) now confronts a new challenge: preventing higher insurance rates and a dearth of mechanics equipped to repair its body from deterring buyers.

Less than 10 percent of the more than 30,000 independent repair shops in the U.S. are certified and meet training and equipment requirements to work with most aluminum auto-body parts, according to an estimate by Darrell Amberson, chairman of the Automotive Service Association. While some dealerships do in-house body work, independent businesses handle the vast majority of collision repair in the U.S., he said.

This will increase insurance costs too, no?

It’s not just cost. Safety is suffering, too, in a quest to meet EPA standards. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested 11 fuel-efficient minicars using the institute’s ”small overlap front crash test,” which is designed to better simulate a real-life car crash. Their conclusion:

Only 1 minicar out of 11 tested achieves an acceptable rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s small overlap front crash test, making these tiny vehicles the worst performing group of any evaluated so far.

The Chevrolet Spark’s acceptable rating in the test, along with good ratings in the Institute’s four other crashworthiness evaluations, earns the new minicar a 2014 TOP SAFETY PICK award. The Spark was among the initial award winners announced in December. The new small overlap test results for the rest of the minicar group mean that no other models in this size category join the Spark in the winner’s circle yet.

Introduced in 2012, the small overlap test replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole. In the test, 25 percent of a vehicle’s front end on the driver’s side strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph.

The test is more difficult than the head-on crashes conducted by the government or the longstanding IIHS moderate overlap test because most of the vehicle’s front-end crush zone is bypassed. That makes it hard for the vehicle to manage crash energy, and the occupant compartment can collapse as a result. Nevertheless, in many size categories, manufacturers have found ways to improve vehicle structures to meet this challenge.

“Small, lightweight vehicles have an inherent safety disadvantage. That’s why it’s even more important to choose one with the best occupant protection,” says Joe Nolan, IIHS senior vice president for vehicle research. “Unfortunately, as a group, minicars aren’t performing as well as other vehicle categories in the small overlap crash.”

The worst performers were the Honda Fit on the left and the Fiat 500 on the right. Scary looking: 

The best performer and the only one to earn the IIHS’s ”acceptable” designation was the Chevy Spark. (Acceptable is the second highest grade behind “good.”) Video of the crash tests here:

The next obvious test — at lest to me — is to crash an aluminum F150 into a Chevy Spark to see how much it costs to fix both vehicles.

The IIHS does note that the slightly larger cars in the small car category are much safer, with There are “five good ratings and five acceptable ratings among 17 small cars that have been evaluated so far.” 

 

 

Which Global-Warming Alarmists Will Stay at the Igloo Hotel at Davos?



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This hotel in Davos, Switzerland is the perfect spot to discuss the horrors of a warming planet — in the Jacuzzi, of course:

 

Alberta’s Premier To Confront Al Gore on Oilsands at Davos



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Via the Calgary Herald:

Premier Alison Redford says she hopes to make it clear to former U.S. vice-president Al Gore that his inconvenient truths about the oilsands are more than inconvenient — they’re wrong.

Speaking to Alberta reporters in a conference call from Switzerland, Redford said Monday she plans to straighten out the oilsands critic when she encounters him at a World Economic Forum panel in Davos this week.

“I will do what I always do, which is to talk about Alberta’s record and to give him the facts and to suggest that as he draws conclusions which are erroneous with respect to the oilsands, that he take into account the reality of the production — and not the myths of the production,” the premier said.

“I don’t really care who is saying it; we can’t have people out there spreading myths.”

Redford accused Gore of not having science on his side and “providing information to people that isn’t accurate.”

She said one of the reasons she travels frequently to Washington, D.C., and other countries is to make people aware of Alberta’s environmental record and to convince them Alberta is responsibly developing its resources.

Gore has frequently attacked the oilsands. Last spring, he chided Canada for “the reckless spewing of pollution into the earth’s atmosphere as if it’s an open sewer.”

He has also opposed TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline that has been proposed to carry Alberta bitumen to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The noted climate-change crusader and winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize wrote a blog in 2011 urging U.S. President Barack Obama to “block” the pipeline.

“The tarsands are the dirtiest source of fuel on the planet,” Gore wrote.

The rest here.

The Alarmists Are About to Lose the EU



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I shall call the following, “frackenfreude.” Der Spiegel reports. 

Green Fade-Out: Europe to Ditch Climate Protection Goals

The EU’s reputation as a model of environmental responsibility may soon be history. The European Commission wants to forgo ambitious climate protection goals and pave the way for fracking — jeopardizing Germany’s touted energy revolution in the process.

The climate between Brussels and Berlin is polluted, something European Commission officials attribute, among other things, to the “reckless” way German Chancellor Angela Merkel blocked stricter exhaust emissions during her re-election campaign to placate domestic automotive manufacturers like Daimler and BMW. This kind of blatant self-interest, officials complained at the time, is poisoning the climate.
But now it seems that the climate is no longer of much importance to the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, either. Commission sources have long been hinting that the body intends to move away from ambitious climate protection goals. On Tuesday, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported as much.

At the request of Commission President José Manuel Barroso, EU member states are no longer to receive specific guidelines for the development ofrenewable energy. The stated aim of increasing the share of green energy across the EU to up to 27 percent will hold. But how seriously countries tackle this project will no longer be regulated within the plan. As of 2020 at the latest — when the current commitment to further increase the share of green energy expires — climate protection in the EU will apparently be pursued on a voluntary basis.

Climate Leaders No More?

With such a policy, the European Union is seriously jeopardizing its global climate leadership role. Back in 2007, when Germany held the European Council presidency, the body decided on a climate and energy legislation package known as the “20-20-20″ targets, to be fulfilled by the year 2020. They included:

  • a 20 percent reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions;
  • raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20 percent;
  • and a 20 percent improvement in the EU’s energy efficiency.

All of the goals were formulated relative to 1990 levels. And the targets could very well be met. But in the future, European climate and energy policy may be limited to just a single project: reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Commission plans also set no new binding rules for energy efficiency.

The rest here.

Environmental Groups ‘Break’ with Obama



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This isn’t a big deal. President Obama doesn’t need their endorsements — nor their money — and this frees Senate and House candidates to take a harsher stance against the president in the 2014 elections.

From today’s Washington Post:

A group of the nation’s leading environmental organizations is breaking with the administration over its energy policy, arguing that the White House needs to apply a strict climate test to all of its energy decisions or risk undermining one of the president’s top ­second-term priorities.

The rift — reflected in a letter sent to President Obama by 18 groups, including the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund and Earthjustice — signals that the administration is under pressure to confront the fossil-fuel industry or risk losing support from a critical part of its political base during an already difficult election year.

For years, the administration has pushed aggressively to limit pollution from coal-fired power plants and improve fuel efficiency in transportation while also embracing domestic production of natural gas, oil and coal under an “all of the above” energy strategy. This has angered environmental groups, which reluctantly went along until Thursday’s break.

“You can’t have it both ways,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in an interview.

The criticism came on the same day that the fossil-fuel industry and its congressional allies began separate efforts to challenge the administration’s environmental policies. That suggests that the White House will have to marshal additional resources to defend the work it is already doing to address climate change.

The rest here.

The Coming Drought Declaration in California



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This story is just starting to get widespread coverage, helped along by hyped headlines like this one today on WashingtonPost.com:

Explosion in extreme drought in California

But it is a story that’s been coming, no matter how much California hoped otherwise. The state is going through a particularly dry spell and although Governor Brown has yet to officially declare a drought – a move that would lead to water-rationing in the state — it’s expected he will do so shortly.

So, what’s causing the drought? Who knows:

What researchers don’t know, however, is why the current high-pressure ridge is so persistent, or when it is going away, allowing California to enjoy some much-needed rain. A few scientists say that it may be related to climate change, but nobody knows for sure.

“I wish I had a really good answer for this,” said Daniel Cayan, an oceanographer and atmospheric scientist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. “It’s unusual for the pattern to have not broken down to allow some relatively active, vigorous winter storm systems to track across California.”

In other words, ”weather” is causing the drought. And as much as the global-warming crowd will try to say otherwise in the coming weeks, remember that California has always had an issue with droughts. Droughts and floods, to be more specific. Big floods, like the the 1905 flooding of the Colorado River that created the Salton Sea. Floods so big that they built Hoover Dam to contain them.

One interesting wrinkle with the current drought is how water restrictions will go over with Northern California’s new boom-crop, marijuana. Via the Los Angeles Times:

“I shudder to think if rain doesn’t come,” said Carre Brown, a supervisor in Mendocino County, which last week declared a drought emergency. “All our reservoirs are very, very low.”

Willits officials plan to apply for emergency state funding to help cover the estimated $850,000 cost of developing alternative supplies. Moore said a portable treatment system could be used to purify well water normally used to irrigate athletic fields. The town may also drill new wells or tap a local recreational lake.

Residents significantly cut water use even before the rationing went into effect.

“This is an area where people are good at conservation, so they’re geared for that,” Moore said.

But there’s one local faction that could be a problem.

“Quite honestly, the elephant in the room in several different ways in this matter is the marijuana industry,” she said. “They are heavy water users.”

If pot growers don’t cut back, they will be getting a knock on the door from local enforcement officers, who “will address the situation,” she added.

This I’d like to see.

New Study Names ‘Historical Contributors’ to Global Warming



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And no shocker, the United States is No. 1. USA! USA! USA!

Bloomberg:

China, India and Brazil, three of the largest developing nations, joined the U.S. in a list of the biggest historical contributors to global warming, according to a study by researchers in Canada.

Seven nations between them accounted for more than 60 percent of all heat-trapping gas emissions between 1750 and 2005, researchers at Concordia University, Montreal, said today in a statement. Russia, the U.K. and Germany rounded out the list.

The findings are important for diplomats trying to broker a new deal by 2015 to limit fossil fuel emissions. The question of historical responsibility caused friction at talks in Warsaw in November, when richer nations blocked a Brazilian proposal that would use pollution levels dating back to the industrial revolution to help set limits on future emissions.

“A clear understanding of national contributions to climate warming provides important information with which to determine national responsibility for global warming, and can therefore be used as a framework to allocate future emissions,” the researchers said in their paper, to be published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. “Our analysis has the potential to contribute to this discussion.”

The U.S. is the “unambiguous leader,” responsible for about 20 percent of total warming since industrialization. That’s equivalent to about 0.15 degree Celsius (0.27 degree Fahrenheit), according to the researchers. The group was led by Damon Matthews, an associate professor in Concordia’s Department of Geography, Planning and Environment.

Stupid United States. If we had just let Japan destroy China and let Germany, Russia, and the U.K. slug it out in WWII, we could have prevented a lot of global warming. What were we thinking?

The rest here.

Emperor Penguins Unexpectedly Adapting to Warmer Temperatures



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These scientists actually believed that the Emperor Penguin, which has been around for millions of years, never had to deal with melting ice before. Bloomberg:

Penguins in four colonies bred during 2008, 2009, and 2010 on sea ice, their preferred terrain because it’s easier to reach the fish they eat, according to a paper in the journal PLOS ONE. In 2011 and 2012, years when the sea ice formed only after the birds’ breeding season had begun, the penguins moved to the ice shelf, where continental ice floats out over the sea.

“What’s particularly surprising is that climbing up the sides of a floating ice shelf, which at this site can be up to 30 meters high, is a very difficult maneuver for emperor penguins,” Peter Fretwell, the lead author and a scientist at the British Antarctic Survey, said in an e-mailed statement.

The finding is significant because it shows the emperor penguin is capable of adapting from year-to-year to cope with changing conditions, according to the statement. That means it may be more resilient against the effects of global warming.

The rest here.

 

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