Monday, December 11, 2017



Worst global warming predictions likely the most accurate, study finds

Just another prophecy, and an act of faith.  They think that models which provide the best fit to the past will predict the future.  Yet that is exactly what does NOT happen.  Fitting a model to the past does NOT predict the future.  All the Warmists' troubles would be over if it did

The worst-case predictions regarding the effects of global warming are the most likely to be true, a new study published this week has warned.

"Our study indicates that if emissions follow a commonly used business-as-usual scenario, there is a 93 per cent chance that global warming will exceed 4°C by the end of this century," Dr. Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, who co-authored the study told The Independent.

This research shows a dramatic increase over previous estimates, which placed the likelihood of such a drastic increase at just 62 percent.

Since the Earth's climate system is incredibly complex, different scientists have put forward different models to determine how fast the planet is warming. This has resulted in a range of predictions, some more dire than others.

The new study, published in the academic journal "Nature", aimed to determine whether the upper or lower-end estimates are more reliable.

Caldeira and co-author Dr. Patrick Brown looked at models that proved to be the best at simulating climate patterns in the recent past. They reasoned that these models would present the most accurate estimates.

"It makes sense that the models that do the best job at simulating today's observations might be the models with the most reliable predictions," Caldeira explained.

According to the researchers' conclusions, models with higher estimates are more likely to be accurate, meaning the degree of warming is likely 0.5°C higher than previously accepted.

Scientist that weren't involved with the research have come out in support of the findings as well.

"There have been many previous studies trying to compare climate models with measurements of past surface-temperature, but these have not proved very conclusive in reducing the uncertainty in the range of future temperature projections," Professor William Collins, a meteorologist at the University of Reading, said.

Professor Collins explained that the new study "breaks the issue down into the fundamental building blocks of climate change."

While the overwhelming majority of climatologists and environmental scientists agree that climate change is a problem accelerated by human activity, representatives from the fossil fuel industry and the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump have dismissed such claims.

However, with more and more research backing worst-case predictions, complete dismissal of such findings becomes increasingly difficult. This study in particular addresses one key point climate change deniers often seize upon: the uncertainty that comes with so many different climate models.

"This study undermines that logic," Dr. Brown told MIT Technology Review. "There are problems with climate models, but the ones that are most accurate are the ones that produce the most warming in the future."

SOURCE




Susan Crockford on the starving polar bear story



I saw this story when it first came out and thought it was too shallow to be worth comment.  Bears die.  How do we know what this one was dying of?  Nobody made any attempt to find out.  It was just asserted that global warming was the culprit.  Anyway, it may be useful to present some comments from a bear expert -- JR


In August, this bear would have been only recently off the sea ice: since most bears are at their fattest at this time of year, something unusual had to have affected his ability to hunt or feed on the kills he made when other bears around him did not starve and die. It could have been something as simple as being out-competed for food in the spring by older animals.

But if sea ice loss due to man-made global warming had been the culprit, this bear would not have been the only one starving: the landscape would have been littered with carcasses. This was one bear dying a gruesome death as happens in the wild all the time (there is no suggestion that a necropsy was done to determine cause of death, just like Stirling’s bear that supposedly died of climate change.)

In fact, research done by polar bear specialsts that work in the field shows that the most common natural cause of death for polar bears is starvation, resulting from one cause or another (too young, too old, injured, sick) (Amstrup 2003):

“Starvation of independent young as well as very old animals must account for much of the natural mortality among polar bears… Also, age structure data show that subadults aged 2-5years survive at lower rates than adults (Amstrup 1995), probably because they are still learning hunting and survival skills.”


“I once observed a 3-year-old subadult that weighed only 70 kg in November. This was near the end of the autumn period in which Beaufort Sea bears reach their peak weights (Durner and Amstrup 1996), and his cohorts at that time weighed in excess of 200 kg. This young animal apparently had not learned the skills needed to survive and was starving to death.” [my bold]

But as Mittermeier has made clear, facts don’t matter in cases like this Somerset Island bear’s death: it’s all about the message.

I’ve asked this question before because it speaks to the present political climate: where were the appeals to help the many starving polar bears back in the spring of 1974 when females with newborn cubs were starving in the Eastern Beaufort Sea because the thick spring ice drove ringed seals away before they gave birth (Stirling 2002)?

Here is what Stirling and Lunn (1997:177) had to say about the mortality event of 1974 that they witnessed:

“…in the spring of 1974, when ringed seal pups first became scarce, we capture two very thin lone adult female polar bears that had nursed recently, from which we deduced they had already lost their litters. A third emaciated female was accompanied by two cubs which were so thin that one could barely walk. We have not seen females with cubs in this condition in the Beaufort Sea, or elsewhere in the Arctic, before or since.”

What Stirling and Lunn witnessed and documented is scientific evidence that natural variation in spring sea ice can have devastating effects on polar bears, including mass mortality events (Crockford 2017). However, we have not seen any similar mass starvation events that have been conclusively shown to be caused by low summer sea ice.

One starving bear is not scientific evidence that man-made global warming has already negatively affected polar bears but it is evidence that some activists will use any ploy to advance their agenda and increase donations.

UPDATE: In an interview yesterday published in the Victoria Times-Colonist (my home town) with photographer Nicklen stated:

“Nicklen is careful about drawing conclusions from his pictures, noting that many people look to poke holes in what’s being said about things like the disappearance of sea ice from the North.... “Ice is melting earlier every spring and freezing later every fall,” Nicklen said. “Bears are designed to go as much as two months without ice, but they are not designed to go four or five months without ice.  “Well, this [the video] is what it actually looks like when polar bears are stranded on land.”

Nicklen should do a bit more reading: polar bears in Western Hudson Bay routinely go four to five months without ice. Four months was normal in the good old days (ca. 1980) and almost five months in some recent years (Castro de la Guardia et al. 2017; Cherry et al. 2013; Ramsay and Stirling 1988; Stirling and Lunn 1997). WHB pregnant females spend 8 months or more on land with no ill effects that can conclusively be blamed on a slightly longer time without ice (Crockford 2017). Southern Hudson Bay polar bears spend a similar amount of time without ice (Obbard et al. 2016), see this post (with references).

REFERENCES

Amstrup, S.C. 2003. Polar bear (Ursus maritimus). In Wild Mammals of North America, G.A. Feldhamer, B.C. Thompson and J.A. Chapman (eds), pg. 587-610. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Castro de la Guardia, L., Myers, P.G., Derocher, A.E., Lunn, N.J., Terwisscha van Scheltinga, A.D. 2017. Sea ice cycle in western Hudson Bay, Canada, from a polar bear perspective. Marine Ecology Progress Series 564: 225–233. http://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v564/p225-233/

Cherry, S.G., Derocher, A.E., Thiemann, G.W., Lunn, N.J. 2013. Migration phenology and seasonal fidelity of an Arctic marine predator in relation to sea ice dynamics. Journal of Animal Ecology 82:912-921. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2656.12050/abstract

Crockford, S.J. 2017. Testing the hypothesis that routine sea ice coverage of 3-5 mkm2 results in a greater than 30% decline in population size of polar bears (Ursus maritimus). PeerJ Preprints 2 March 2017. Doi: 10.7287/peerj.preprints.2737v3 Open access. https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.2737v3

Obbard, M.E., Cattet, M.R.I., Howe, E.J., Middel, K.R., Newton, E.J., Kolenosky, G.B., Abraham, K.F. and Greenwood, C.J. 2016. Trends in body condition in polar bears (Ursus maritimus) from the Southern Hudson Bay subpopulation in relation to changes in sea ice. Arctic Science, in press. 10.1139/AS-2015-0027

Ramsay, M.A. and Stirling, I. 1988. Reproductive biology and ecology of female polar bears (Ursus maritimus). Journal of Zoology London 214:601-624.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1988.tb03762.x/abstract

Stirling, I. 2002. Polar bears and seals in the eastern Beaufort Sea and Amundsen Gulf: a synthesis of population trends and ecological relationships over three decades. Arctic 55 (Suppl. 1):59-76. http://arctic.synergiesprairies.ca/arctic/index.php/arctic/issue/view/42

Stirling, I. and Lunn, N.J. 1997. Environmental fluctuations in arctic marine ecosystems as reflected by variability in reproduction of polar bears and ringed seals. In Ecology of Arctic Environments, Woodin, S.J. and Marquiss, M. (eds), pg. 167-181. Blackwell Science, UK.

SOURCE



Does Bitcoin Really Cause Global Warming?

The green movement has found many things in modern life that cause global warming, but the latest really left us scratching our heads: Trading Bitcoins.

At this point it might be easier to ask, is there anything that doesn’t cause global warming?

No, it’s not a joke. Just about anything these days (Hat tip: The Daily Caller) even remotely connected to civilization, human flourishing, and comfort is, we’re told, a “cause” of global warming. It’s a crucial element of the Global Warming religion, which has only waxed even as real religion has waned.

Both Vox and The New Republic pointed out that in order to “mine” Bitcoins on the computer, it takes a lot of energy. The argument goes that, since most Bitcoins now are mined by Chinese citizens and since China derives a growing amount of its energy from cheap-but-dirty coal, Bitcoins are increasing the amount of CO2 in the air.

And more CO2 equals more warming, QED.

“Bitcoins are contributing to the warming of the atmosphere without providing a significant public benefit in return,” writes The New Republic’s Emily Atkin.

Of course, Atkin must possess special, recondite knowledge about exactly how warm the Earth should be at all times, and also about what precisely constitutes a “significant public benefit” from Bitcoins.

Meanwhile, over at Vox, warming worrier Umair Irfan frets that Bitcoin mining on the web uses huge amounts of energy, “on par with the energy use of the entire country of Morocco, more than 19 European countries, and roughly 0.7% of total energy demand in the United States, equal to 2.8 million U.S. households.”

Sounds like a lot. But the energy estimates he uses are in dispute, as Irfan, to his credit, points out.

The important point is that people find Bitcoins useful, or they wouldn’t exist. That’s one of the reasons why a single Bitcoin is today priced at over $16,000 — up from $1 in April of 2011.

With a global value now estimated a $167 billion, Bitcoins are clearly viewed as a worthwhile expenditure of time, money and energy.

Moreover, the total number of Bitcoins is, by rule, capped. So the amount of “mining” of Bitcoins on the internet — Bitcoins are “mined” when market participants use their own computer and a special algorithm to validate certain highly secure transactions, thereby earning Bitcoins for doing it — will at some point inevitably begin to decline. It will just take too much effort and cost too much.

Even so, these writers’ views really go to the heart of the global-warming belief system: Since human civilization requires lots of energy, and it does, everything associated with human civilization must cause global warming. Everything.

You can take this to its absurd ends, and that’s exactly what they do. Nothing humans do, no matter how valuable or life-enhancing it is, is immune from criticism.

Some global warmists would even forcibly limit population in order to prevent warming. Some have even wistfully hoped for a mass human extinction.

Of course, those who now issue jeremiads about the climate change threat posed by Bitcoins likely won’t give up their electric cars soon, which are only as clean as the power plants that charge them.

Nor will they stop flying on fuel-guzzling commercial jets to attend the next global-warming conference, wherever it is.

Nor will they stop swiping their ATM card at the local Starbucks to buy their daily triple-soy-latte, which, by requiring energy, also contributes to global warming.

No, the fact is, human civilization and all the wonderful things it entails requires massive amounts of energy to work. And that’s not bad: Next time you’re in a hospital or in an elevator in a super-tall building, give silent thanks for the steady, reliable supply of energy that helps make it all possible.

As for concerns about global warming, the science behind them is rather dubious. Even so, those concerns would pretty much disappear if the greenies would embrace the latest, and extremely safe, technology for nuclear energy.

It’s a nearly endless supply of clean electricity that produces no CO2. So the supposed “threat” of global warming could end, while the rest of us could keep our civilization. Win-win!

Meanwhile, for those of you in the Bitcoin world, don’t be green-shamed into stopping your activities. You’re not the real enemy of these warming fanatics; civilization is.

SOURCE





Keystone is anti-hydrocarbon zealotry in microcosm

Radical environmentalists prefer dangerous, inhumane, ecologically destructive alternatives

Paul Driessen

The Nebraska Public Service Commission (NPSC) recently voted to approve the state’s segment of the 1,200-mile Keystone XL Pipeline. While that would appear to allow construction to move forward, more obstacles loom before KXL can finally bring North Dakota and Canadian crude oil to Texas refineries.

Commissioners who voted against approval have raised objections, some landowners still object to the pipeline crossing their lands, other landowners were not aware that the new route will cross their properties, and environmentalists plan more lawsuits to stop TransCanada’s plans to finish Keystone.

Further complicating matters, the NSPC-approved route is not the company’s preferred path through the Cornhusker State. A spokesman said project engineers will have to assess how much the newly revised route will affect construction schedules and costs, on top of the $3 billion it already spent on KXL.

The imbroglio is a tiny facet of the ideological green movement’s implacable opposition to carbon-based energy. Rooted in climate change dogma, its “keep it in the ground” mantra has become a rallying cry for nasty campaigns against pipeline construction, existing pipelines, drilling and even sand destined for fracking operations. Police increasingly have to deal with masked thugs, mountains of toxic trash, murder threats and even the possibility of improvised bombs hidden in “peaceful protesters” encampments.

The attitudes and actions underscore the increasing power and recalcitrance of $13-billion-per-year Big Green industry, and how little fundamental facts affect its thinking. If the radicals believe there is an ecological or climate risk, they feel justified in using intimidation, criminal sanctions, and even force, violence and eco-terror to impose their will. Whatever they cannot make off limits via Antiquities Act, wilderness or other land use designations, they intend to lock up or shut down by other means.

The most delayed and litigated pipeline in U.S. history, KXL has stirred controversy for over a decade. Proponents say it is a necessary, safe, effective way to transport crude oil to refineries that produce fuel for vehicles and raw materials for countless petrochemical products. In fact, segments of Keystone have already been in operation for several years, delivering crude oil to refineries in Illinois and Texas.

A new, shorter, more direct route – Keystone XL, running diagonally through Wyoming, the Dakotas and Nebraska – would be less expensive and safer. The northern portions were approved years ago, but the Nebraska section encountered prolonged opposition from climate alarmists and President Obama.

TransCanada had already agreed to move the route away from environmentally sensitive wetlands known as the Nebraska Sandhills. The NPSC decision shifted the pipeline further away from Sandhills. Diehard opponents say all pipelines are inherently unsafe, prolong the use of “climate-damaging” fossil fuels, and will become obsolete relics as America shifts entirely to renewable energy in a utopian decade or so.

The United States already has 160,000 miles of liquid petroleum pipelines, 300,000 miles of natural gas transmission pipelines, and 2,200,000 miles of local gas distribution pipelines. Skilled builders will use the latest steel, valve, monitoring and other technologies to build the KXL segment and prevent spills.

No one can guarantee that spills will never occur. A recent older Keystone pipeline break in South Dakota caused a 5,000-barrel leak. However, the Keystone and KXL lines traverse mostly rural areas, whereas truck and rail alternatives go along busy, congested highways and through towns and urban areas – with far greater potential for loss of human life and property.

A fiery 2013 derailment in Quebec killed 47 people and left many more badly burned; rail accidents in Colorado and Virginia resulted in significant oil spills but fortunately no deaths. By carrying 830,000 barrels of light and heavy crude every day, Keystone XL would eliminate the need for 1,225 railroad tanker cars per day (450,000 per year) or 3,500 semi-trailer tanker trucks daily (1,275,000 annually)!

More than 99.9% of oil moved by pipeline arrives safely at its destination, the Wall Street Journal notes. Rail transit is 2.5 times more likely to have an accident resulting in an oil spill, and trucks are six times more likely to do so – with both far more likely to injure, burn or kill many people. Indeed, the 5,000-barrel spill happened after the Keystone pipeline had safely delivered more than 1.5 billion barrels of oil, and TransCanada isolated the affected pipeline section within 15 minutes. No serious damage occurred.

Equally important, wind and solar substitutes for fossil fuels have their own major ecological impacts – which few environmentalists ever acknowledge. Using wind power to replace current US electricity generation and charge batteries for just seven windless days of backup power would require some 14 million towering 1.8-MW bird-and-bat-killing turbines, across acreage twice the size of California. The backup power would require over 650 million 100-kWh Tesla battery packs on still more acreage.

This does not consider what it would take to replace vehicles with electric versions – or coal and gas fuel in foundries, refineries and factories. The steel, copper, lithium, cobalt, rare earth elements, fiberglass and other raw materials to build all those turbines, batteries and transmission lines would require massive quantities of earth removal, mining, processing, smelting and manufacturing – much of it in developing countries under dangerous, inhuman conditions. Renewable energy is not ecological or sustainable.

Activists who cry Climate Armageddon attempt to tie every temperature rise, hurricane and other extreme weather event to human greenhouse gas emissions. They ignore the record 12-year drought in Category 3-5 hurricanes striking the U.S. mainland, prior to Harvey – and the “warming hiatus” that has prevailed since 1998, except during the 2015-16 El Niño temperature spike.

Climate computer models falsely assume that plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide drives climate change … and predict average global temperatures a full 1 degree F higher than have actually been observed by satellites and weather balloons, a gap that is widening every year. It now appears that Western Antarctic ice shelf instability is due to volcanic and magmatic activity beneath it – not climate change.

Heavily subsidized, sporadic, unreliable wind and solar combined provide less than 3% of all U.S. energy. One day, they (or some other as yet unimaginable energy source) may replace the fossil fuels that still account for 81% of the energy that makes US livelihoods, living standards and life spans possible – and is lifting billions out of abject poverty, malnutrition and disease. But that day has not yet arrived.

Fossil fuels provide feed stocks for paints, plastics, pharmaceuticals and other products that enrich and safeguard our lives. They keep our lights, heat and air conditioning on, and power the manufacturing centers that create computers, smart phones, healthcare technologies, vehicles and batteries. They take patients to hospitals, people to work and events, products to retailers and homes.

They are the most efficient, most affordable power source for the modern civilization which we Americans enjoy and take for granted – and to which all humans aspire. Pipelines are the fastest, safest, most direct, most economical way to get oil and natural gas supplies where they are needed.

Keystone XL is a vital addition to America’s pipeline system. It’s not perfect. But it is essential for a healthier, safer, more prosperous United States. Building it will create tens of thousands of jobs.

As to handling anarchists who think they are above the law, these suggestions may help. Ensure that there are sufficient police and National Guardsmen to maintain control. Require permits and multi-million-dollar surety bonds for every encampment, to ensure safety, lawful activities, and cleanup of human and other wastes. Prohibit wearing of ski masks and collect IDs, fingerprints and photos of every activist.

To prevent hypocrisy in anti-fossil fuel anarchist camps, prohibit all petroleum-based synthetic fibers (clothing, tents, sleeping bags); clothing derived from fibers grown, harvested and/or manufactured using fossil fuels; computers and cell phones with plastic housings; and transportation from protest sites in vehicles fueled or manufactured with hydrocarbons, in aircraft, or on asphalt roadways.

Allow only growing, harvesting, garment manufacturing, food, cooking and travel using all-natural pre-1900 technologies – so that campers can learn how wonderful life was back in the “good old days.”

Via email





It is time to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard

Can King Corn be defeated?

By Printus LeBlanc

Two political powerhouses are getting ready to do battle. Texas and Louisiana are the hub of U.S. energy production, and Iowa and Nebraska are the hub of U.S. ethanol production. The two groups are battling over a law passed over a decade ago that made one region of the country the king of subsidies. Those subsidies are now putting pressure on large swaths of the economy and must be addressed.

On Dec. 1, Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt requesting a waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandate for Texas.

First, a quick primer on the RFS. In 2005, the RFS was established under the guise of helping the environment with the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The program requires fuel sold in the U.S. to contain a minimal amount of renewable fuels, the majority being corn ethanol. To track the renewable fuel, a Renewable Identification Number (RIN) is assigned to each batch of biofuel. The RINs count towards the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO), an amount designated to each refinery by the EPA.

Seems somewhat simple, but there is a problem for exporters and refiners that do not have the ability to blend. The rule for a gallon of ethanol consumed in the U.S. is different for a gallon consumed outside the country. The rule states, “if a gallon of ethanol is produced in the U.S. but consumed outside of the U.S., the RIN associated with that gallon is not valid for RFS compliance purposes since the RFS program is intended to require a specific volume of renewable fuel to be consumed in the U.S.”

The rule forces exporters of ethanol and fuel blended with ethanol to lose the RIN credit. The refiner had to purchase the credit to make the fuel, now has to buy another credit to go towards the RVO. This is the point of Governor Abbott’s letter.

The RINs have now become Wall Street speculators’ weapon. Big banks are buying the credits from producers and hoarding them in dark markets, driving up the price. The increase in cost is being passed up the supply chain.

RINs are having a detrimental effect on refiners across the nation. Many are spending more on RINs than labor. The cost has already caused one refinery to close in Delaware and is threatening a closure in Pennsylvania.

The cost is also being passed up the supply chain. Alex Holcomb, professor of finance at The University of Texas-El Paso, studied the impact of high RINs prices on employment nationwide, finding that: “The RIN mandate, as its currently structured, puts refiners at higher risk of bankruptcy, placing at risk a significant number of jobs that are tied to the refinery sector both directly and indirectly. As is usually the case in bankruptcy, workers end up suffering the most acute economic hardship, especially if they are unable to quickly find comparable re-employment. From steelworkers to truckers, to the men and women earning minimum wage at their local gas station, an estimated 75,000 to 150,000 American jobs are potentially at risk if U.S. independent refiners go out of business.”

However, there is a middle ground everyone can agree on. Allowing RINs attached to exported biofuels to be counted towards the RVO benefits almost everyone:

The refiners no longer must pay twice for RINs;

The corn producers still produce the same amount of corn, and will have greater access to overseas markets;

Increases American exports;

There is one group the compromise does not benefit, Wall Street speculators. Since they did such a bang-up job with the housing market, no one is worried about them not profiting from a compromise.

It would behoove King Corn to pay attention. Yes, they are a potent political force, but several influential groups are drifting together to oppose them. More and more studies being done show the RFS does more harm than good to the environment. Environmentalists are starting to turn on the mandate. King Corn could soon be facing a united front of environmentalists (California, Oregon and Washington) and refiners (Texas, Pennsylvania and Louisiana), a lot more than the four Senators and seven House members in Iowa and Nebraska.

For over a decade the corn lobby has been getting billions in subsidies. It is time for them to allow the EPA to level the playing field for all in the fuel business. No one is trying to remove the mandate, yet. Iowa and Nebraska should get on board with reforming the RFS for the good of every American.

SOURCE

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For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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Sunday, December 10, 2017



Vicious Greenies get respected IPCC scientist charged because he mapped glaciers as is standard, not as they wanted

A prominent geoscientist in Argentina is facing criminal charges over accusations that he manipulated a government survey of glaciers at the behest of mining interests.

On 27 November, a federal judge in Buenos Aires charged Ricardo Villalba, the former director of the Argentinian Institute of Snow, Ice and Environmental Research (IANIGLA) in Mendoza, with abusing his authority and violating his duty as a civil servant. Villalba appealed against his indictment on 4 December — but if he loses, the case will go to trial. In the meantime, the court has ordered Villalba to stay in the country, and has authorized the seizure of his assets up to 5 million pesos (US$289,000).

The case hinges on the definition of a glacier as viewed from space. When Villalba began the government survey in 2011, he determined that it would include glaciers of 1 hectare or larger — following international norms for satellite analyses. But environmental activists in Argentina’s San Juan province argue that he excluded some smaller glaciers to prevent tougher regulation of adjacent mines operated by the Barrick Gold Corporation of Toronto, Canada. Villalba’s scientific colleagues in Argentina and abroad say the charges against him are baseless and political.

International support

“It’s surreal and kind of ridiculous,” says Bruce Raup, a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, who co-authored a letter of support for Villalba. Raup maintains an international glacier database that includes information from the ongoing Argentinian survey. He says that many scientists set a minimum glacier size of 1 hectare to reduce the risk of incorrectly counting ephemeral snow and ice.

Villalba rejects the idea that he or his colleagues at IANIGLA failed to carry out their duties properly. “There is no other institution in Argentina that has done more for the knowledge, care and protection of glaciers than IANIGLA,” he says. The allegation that the glacier surveys were designed to promote mining interests "is totally wrong", he says, and a blow to science in Argentina generally.

Fellow scientists have rushed to his defence. Villalba's co-workers at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) in Mendoz protested on his behalf as he entered his appeal on 4 December. And scientists in other countries who have worked with Villalba are collecting signatures on a letter defending him and his glacier survey. Many of these researchers see parallels between Villalba's case and that of six seismologists who were found guilty of manslaughter for misleading the public about the dangers of an earthquake, although their convictions were later overturned.

The charges against Villalba stem from a lawsuit by environmental activists in San José de Jáchal, a community in the northwestern part of the country. They argue that the glacier survey conducted by Villalba and his colleagues at IANIGLA did not comply with a law enacted in 2010 that was designed to give extra protections to Argentina's glaciers, which provide the bulk of the country's water. The law also directed the government to conduct a survey of Argentina's land ice — the work that Villalba, who had advocated for the law's passage, later coordinated.

Environmental impact

The environmental activists argue that Villalba and his colleagues should have documented all glaciers, no matter the size — including ice in the vicinity of Barrick Gold’s Veladero gold mine, near San José de Jáchal. "The law did not distinguish glaciers by surface or size," says Diego Seguí, a lawyer who is representing the activist group, the Asamblea Jachál No Se Toca.

Once the ice near the mine had been mapped, the activists say, the law would have required the scientists to audit the Barrick facility's impact on glacial resources. They claim that this would have halted activities there, thus preventing the three cyanide spills that have taken place at the mine over the past two years.

Villalba and his allies reject that idea. They say that as a science agency, IANIGLA is not responsible for enforcing environmental rules. Instead, they argue that the responsibility of maintaining environmental safety at the Veladero mine is the duty of Barrick and of Argentina’s environmental regulators.

“Clearly there is no relationship between the actual mapping and the spill of cyanide,” says Tom Veblen, a geographer at the University of Colorado Boulder who was Villalba’s graduate adviser. “Ricardo is being used as a scapegoat, without a doubt."

SOURCE
                                                         




Moody's Climate Change Delusion

Moody's might downgrade themselves if they push too hard on this

Coastal cities and towns across the United States are now facing significant pressure from Moody's Investors Service, one of the world's most important credit agencies, to battle climate change. Failing to do so, Moody's warns, could result in downgraded credit ratings.

In a recent report to clients, Moody's outlined several indicators its analysts use to assess "the exposure and overall susceptibility of U.S. states to the physical effects of climate change" while crafting credit ratings for state, city, and regional government bonds. Among the indicators Moody's listed is the share of a community's economy that's linked to the coast.

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Moody's says cities with large ports or an extensive fishing industry, for instance, are at a greater risk of climate change-related disasters.

"Extreme weather patterns exacerbated by changing climate trends include higher rates of coastal storm damage, more frequent droughts, and severe heat waves," Moody's wrote in a press release accompanying the report. "These events can also cause economic challenges like smaller crop yields, infrastructure damage, higher energy demands, and escalated recovery costs."

Moody's claims state and local governments that don't adequately prepare for these increased risks will likely face credit downgrades in the future. Moody's identified Texas, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi as the states with greatest risks, and thus as the states that must urgently spend more money preparing for what Moody's seems to think is inevitable climate change disaster.

If the evidence were to clearly show that future climate change is inevitably going to create additional extreme weather events and damage to coastal areas, then Moody's analysis would make perfect sense. Increased risks should be met with more preparedness.

However, the climate change assumptions Moody's has built into its forecasts aren't based on the existing evidence, which shows dire extreme weather events have not substantially increased in recent years.

Prior to Hurricane Harvey making landfall in Texas in August as a Category 4 hurricane, the United States experienced an historic major-hurricane drought. From November 2005 to August 2017, not a single hurricane that measured as Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale made landfall along an American coast — the longest such drought since modern hurricane records were first created in 1851.

Evidence of a substantial growing danger posed by other kinds of extreme weather events is also virtually nonexistent.

In testimony given before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology in March 2017, Roger Pielke, Jr., Ph.D., a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and formerly a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, noted, "There is little scientific basis in support of claims that extreme weather events — specifically hurricanes, floods, drought, tornadoes — and their economic damage have increased in recent decades due to the emission of greenhouse gases. In fact, since 2013 the world and the United States have had a remarkable stretch of good fortune with respect to extreme weather, as compared to the past."

Moody's is basing its analysis of future climate change risks on the credit agency's commitment to climate change alarmist dogma, not on scientific data, and this isn't the first time it's happened. In June 2016, Moody's urged countries around the world to ratify the Paris climate agreement and said it planned to use the Paris agreement commitments to guide future credit analyses.

Moody's embrace of the extremely costly Paris agreement is telling, especially since even those supportive of the accords have said they would have a relatively minimal impact on global temperature.

Researchers at MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change estimated that compared to the 2009 Copenhagen agreement, the Paris agreement would likely only prevent an additional 0.2 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100. Even without the Copenhagen agreement, the MIT researchers estimated it would prevent only 1 degree C of warming by 2100.

These figures are truly remarkable considering fulfilling all the obligations of the Paris agreement would cost the U.S. economy about $3 trillion and 6.5 million industrial jobs by 2040, according to an analysis by NERA Economic Consulting.

By coercing communities to spend billions more to prepare for natural disasters that may never come, Moody's is attempting to impose its climate change fantasies on the millions of American families who would have to shoulder the burden of added government costs made to prevent a downgraded credit rating.

Rather than indulge in climate alarmist fiction, Moody's should instead stick to what the available data actually reveals when creating its credit assessments.

SOURCE




End the ‘war on coal’

Far from being a threat, coal continues to bring health, welfare and prosperity to billions

Bryan Leyland and Tom Harris

At the recent Environmental Protection Agency public hearing in Charleston, West Virginia, on withdrawing the “Clean Power Plan,” anti-coal activists were out in force: the Climate Justice Alliance, Sierra Club, Citizens Climate Lobby, Natural Resource Defense Council and many others.

The New York Times reported that several groups also met at the University of Charleston, to discuss the purported “environmental, health and climate benefits of reducing coal consumption.”

They apparently do not understand that the abundant, low-cost energy provided by coal laid the foundations of the industrial revolution and modern society. It provided power for trains that transported raw materials and factories that turned them into vital products.

In the twentieth century coal-fired power stations provided the reliable, inexpensive electricity that is the lifeblood of modern economies. It still does today.

The world has vast coal reserves. The USA alone still has a 380-year supply at current usage rates. It could be burned in modern clean power plants.

Sadly, in the Western world, radical environmentalists are working to shut down existing coal-fired stations, and prevent new ones from being built. Meanwhile, hundreds of new coal-fired stations are being built annually in the rest of the world, to power expanding economies and bring improved health, welfare and prosperity to billions of people who until recently had no access to electricity.

Developing countries must build new coal-fired stations to provide their poverty-stricken populations with reliable low-cost electricity. But environmentalists have convinced international development banks that coal is evil and persuaded the banks to squander vast sums on expensive wind and solar power that keeps a few lights burning a few hours a day.

For commercial and industrial development, hospitals, schools and families, developing nations need abundant, continuous, low-cost electricity. In many cases, coal is by far the best option.

So why is coal vilified? It is because of the mistaken belief that man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) is causing dangerous global warming. Indeed, coal stations are a major source of CO2 emissions. However, this climate change connection rests entirely on the output of computer models that are programmed to predict warming if CO2 increases. The models assume what they are supposed to prove!

Speaking at the recent America First Energy Conference in Houston, Texas, University of Delaware climatology professor Dr. David Legates showed that climate models consistently predict far greater temperature rises than are actually observed: a full degree Fahrenheit difference by 2017.

Models are “tuned” to give the results desired for political purposes, he explained. “This is not science!”

Yet, the benefits of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide – the only gas controlled by the Clean Power Plan – are clear. CO2 is essential for plant growth. Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change expert Dr. Craig Idso told the Houston audience, “The entire terrestrial biosphere is reaping incredible benefits from an approximately 40% increase in atmospheric CO2 since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.”

If it were true that man-made CO2 caused dangerous global warming, the best option would be nuclear power that is proven, safe and environmentally friendly. But environmental extremists claim that nuclear power is too dangerous, even though the only recorded deaths from nuclear power generation occurred at the obsolete and mal-operated Chernobyl station in Ukraine.

The next best option is natural gas. This has been spectacularly successful in the United States, and hydraulic fracturing is producing abundant supplies of this vital fuel. Yet, despite its excellent safety record, activists violently oppose fracking.

Instead, they push wind and solar power that exist only because they are heavily subsidized, and their health and environmental impacts are ignored. The huge expansion of wind and solar power has massively increased electricity costs because of subsidies, mandated purchases and the high cost of providing backup power whenever the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine.

Reliability is also a problem, especially with wind power. For example, extensive blackouts occurred recently in South Australia when their wind power went offline in a gale and so overloaded the backup supply that it also shut down.

Few people understand that the war against coal is actually a war against people and a cleaner environment.

Modern highly efficient coal-fired power plants with stack gas cleanup – the kind that can be built all over the world – are as clean as they can be. Their emissions consist of water, CO2 and nitrogen. The stack gas cleanup removes virtually all the real pollutants, especially sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxides.

The only pollution left behind is coal ash, which freezes pollutants in its glassy matrix and can be stored safely in disposal facilities.

The USA is not building modern coal-fired power plants because EPA regulations set allowable CO2 emissions per megawatt of electricity far below what can be achieved using the best technology. If it had been set slightly higher – or better still, if no limit had been imposed on CO2 emissions – the United States would be still leading the world in building modern, clean, efficient, economical coal-fired stations. That’s exactly what Europe, China, India and dozens of other countries are doing.

It’s clearly high time to end the war on coal!

Via email




EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is reining in the out of control radical environmentalists

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been Republicans least favorite agency for quite some time. The Obama administration allowed the EPA to expand their influence far past nearly any other executive agency, imposing unprecedented regulatory burdens on the American people. Under the leadership of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, President Donald Trump’s EPA has taken a dramatic turn to foster innovation within the private sector and remove stifling regulations from state and corporation.

The EPA made waves in October when it followed up the U.S. departure from the Paris climate accord and announced the Trump administration would be rescinding the Clean Power Plan, which placed strict regulations on carbon emissions. The removal of this rule removes significant economic burdens from U.S. industries and will allow coal to remain a resilient energy source for millions of Americans, but this is just one example of the EPA’s success during the Trump Administration.

Congress has worked with the EPA through the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to remove elements of executive overreach the Obama Administration pushed into place.

Under the CRA law, Congress has 60 legislative days to offer joint resolutions of disapproval for any executive regulation; once passed through both legislative branches and the presidency, the statute is nullified and cannot be reinstated without a vote of Congress. Congress has used the CRA to rescind 13 regulations under the Trump Administration, many dealing with overreach from the EPA and Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS).

Congress used H.J. Res. 69 to rescind the FWS Wildlife Management Rule. Under this rule Alaskan citizens faced increase hunting restrictions, costing communities $5.9 million annually.

Congress used H.J. Res. 38 to rescind the Stream Protection Rule. This rule targeted coal companies in order to “minimize disturbances and adverse impacts on fish, wildlife, and related environmental values” as deemed necessary by the EPA. This devastated industry across the country, the final rule of the regulation explains, “Of the $81 million in increased annual costs to industry, surface mining operations will bear an estimated $71 million, while underground mining operations will absorb $10 million.”

The House reaffirmed this interest in reining in burdensome EPA guidelines with the inclusion of section 113 of the omnibus bill. The bill passed the House on a 211-198 vote, including a provision targeting the Endangered Species Act due to their protections of the greater Sage Grouse. Despite not listing this bird as an endangered species, the EPA and the FWS have classified 5.5 million acres of privately owned land across 11 states as conservation areas.

Within the EPA, Administrator Scott Pruitt has taken steps to remove regulations that harm industry without producing significant benefit to the United States.

The Water of the United States Rule was imposed by President Obama to require a federal permit for any activity resulting in a distarch of water into small streams and wetlands, placing a new barrier to expansion for farmers across America’s heartland. President Trump ordered an executive order to review the rule in February 2017, and in July the EPA began with a proposed withdrawal.

Glider vehicles, old, heavy-duty trucks, were regulated out of existence in the Obama administration for causing too much carbon emissions. Pruitt has defended the trucks, “Gliders not only provide a more affordable option for smaller owners and operators, but also serve as a key economic driver to numerous rural communities.” Under his leadership, the EPA has taken steps to repeal these restrictions.

The Obama Administration also wanted the EPA to place additional restrictions on the hard rock mining industry. Pruitt concluded the environmental risks were not worth further federal requirements and refused to “impose an undue burden on this important sector of the American economy and rural America, where most of these mining jobs are based.”

Scott Pruitt has taken significant steps to return the EPA to its true purpose, to enforce the rules of Congress in order to protect the interests of the American people best. While the Obama Administration transformed the agency into one with overarching power, Pruitt is empowering the American people without the restrictions of the federal government.

SOURCE




Britain Starts Dismantling Wind Farms After Successful Lake District Campaign

A dozen 140ft wind turbines on the edge of the Lake District are due to be dismantled next summer after a decision which could result in many more being removed to restore views.

The wind farm on Kirkby Moor on the Furness peninsula in Cumbria would be the first large one to be taken down since they began appearing around Britain in 1991

The wind farm on Kirkby Moor on the Furness peninsula in Cumbria would be the first large one to be taken down since they began appearing around Britain in 1991.

South Lakeland district council refused an application by the wind farm operator to keep the turbines operating for another ten years until 2027.

Under the original planning permission, granted in 1992, the turbines have to be removed by August 26 next year.

The council’s decision follows a campaign by the Friends of the Lake District (FLD) and the Open Spaces Society (OSS), which argued that the turbines blighted views from within the Lake District National Park.

The distance to the park boundary from the nearest turbine is 800 metres. Laura Fiske, FLD planning officer, said the decision set a precedent which would make it easier to resist applications from other wind farm operators to extend the life of visually intrusive turbines for which planning permission will soon expire.

She said: “This decision is a victory for the local communities who live in the shadow of this development imposed on them by the government in the early 1990s. This decision reflects the tireless effort they have put in to make their voices heard.”

Kate Ashbrook, OSS general secretary, said: “We objected because the turbines are a severe intrusion in a wild landscape, highly visible from many directions and in particular from the Lake District national park.

“Furthermore, the turbines occupy a significant area of registered common land, where the public has the right to walk and commoners have the right to graze stock. The moor is also criss-crossed with public rights of way.

“Now we need to make sure that every trace of the turbines is removed when the current consent expires next year, so that this magnificent common is restored to its former glory.”

SOURCE

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For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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Friday, December 08, 2017



Tidalgate: Climate Alarmists Caught Faking Sea Level Rise

Alarmist scientists have been caught red-handed tampering with raw data in order to exaggerate sea level rise.

The raw (unadjusted) data from three Indian Ocean gauges – Aden, Karachi and Mumbai – showed that local sea level trends in the last 140 years had been very gently rising, neutral or negative (ie sea levels had fallen).

But after the evidence had been adjusted by tidal records gatekeepers at the global databank Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) it suddenly showed a sharp and dramatic rise.

The whistle was blown by two Australian scientists Dr. Albert Parker and Dr. Clifford Ollier in a paper for Earth Systems and Environment.

The paper – Is the Sea Level Stable at Aden, Yemen? – examines the discrepancies between raw and adjusted sea level data in Aden, Karachi and Mumbai.

Kenneth Richard at No Tricks Zone reports:

    "The authors expose how PSMSL  data-adjusters make it appear that stable sea levels can be rendered to look like they are nonetheless rising at an accelerated pace.

    The data-adjusters take misaligned and incomplete sea level data from tide gauges that show no sea level rise (or even a falling trend).  Then, they subjectively and arbitrarily cobble them together, or realign them.   In each case assessed, PSMSL data-adjusters lower the earlier misaligned rates and raise the more recent measurements.  By doing so, they concoct a new linearly-rising trend."

The authors do not mince their words. They refer to these adjustments as “highly questionable” and “suspicious.”  That’s because they can find no plausible scientific explanation for the adjustments.

As they explain at the beginning of their paper, it is hard to put together consistent sea level records covering a long time period. This is because tide gauges are often the result of multiple sets of data, taken over different time periods using different instruments, which are then spliced together.

    "What is proposed as a single record in databases such as the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) (PSMSL 2017a) is often the composition of data collected by different instruments, sometimes in different locations or over different time windows, with significant gaps in between one measurement and the others. This is the case of the Aden, Yemen tide gauge that is the only tidal location of the Arabian Peninsula spanning a time window long enough to infer a trend and acceleration of the relative sea level (assuming there was continuous measurement and no quality issue).

In Aden, similar to Karachi and Mumbai and other tide gauges of the area, a single-tide gauge record is the result of multiple sets of data subjectively coupled together. While a new tide gauge is recording since about 2007, the alignment of the previous data is continuously changing."

So there is nothing per se wrong with PSMSL making adjustments in order to make the different datasets align.  What is wrong is the way that the scientists at PSMSL have adjusted them. In every case, they have revised them in order to make them produce a sharp upward trend in sea level rise – despite the fact that global records do not support this.

The truth, Parker and Ollier conclude in their paper, is that sea level has changed very little in the three sites examined:

    "The reconstructed tide gauge records of Aden, Mumbai and Karachi are perfectly consistent with multiple lines of evidence from other key sites of the Indian Ocean including Qatar, Maldives, Bangladesh and Visakhapatnam. The sea levels have been stable since the start of the twentieth century in Aden similar to Karachi and Mumbai."

But the official PSMSL data – as used by other global data-keeping bodies such as NOAA – claims that there has been a sharp increase.

In Aden, for example, the alarmists have turned a modest 1.21 mm/year rise into a 3.02 mm/year rise.   In Aden, with data 1880–1969, the trend was + 1.21 mm/year.

    "Per the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Centre for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (NOAA 2017a), with data from an intermediate version of a single-tide gauge record by PSMSL we may call (n-1), the sea-level trend in Aden is + 3.02 mm/year based on the monthly average mean sea-level (MSL) results 1879–2011, Fig. 6a (image from NOAA(2017b) downloaded on September 13, 2017).

    Using the online analysis tool of Burton’s sealevel.info (Sealevel.info 2017a), with data from the latest update of the PSMSL database that we may call version n, with 2 more years of data, but also with some other corrections, see the data before the year 1900 shifted up, the sea-level trend in Aden is + 1.35 mm/year based on the MSL results 1879–2013, Fig. 6b (image from Sealevel.info (2017b) downloaded on September 13, 2017). Worthy of note, the acceleration is now large and positive."

 Again, there is no plausible scientific explanation for these adjustments. As the authors put it:

    “It is always highly questionable to shift data collected in the far past without any proven new supporting material.”

Indeed, but it is perfectly consistent with the behavior of alarmist scientists in other fields, notably those concerning surface temperature data records. As we have reported here before, there is copious evidence to suggest that the gatekeepers of global warming have consistently and shamelessly cooked the books and rigged the data in order to give the impression that “climate change” is a major and unprecedented phenomenon.

A major part of the global warming scare narrative is that melting ice caps will cause sea levels to rise at a dangerous and unprecedented rate, enveloping low-lying Pacific islands, flooding vulnerable countries like Bangladesh and perhaps one day drowning even places like Manhattan.

There is little if any scientific evidence that this is actually happening.

What’s extraordinary is the desperation of scientists at what ought to be impeccably neutral and trustworthy institutions such as NASA, NOAA and PSMSL to pretend that it is.

When alarmists in charge of surface temperature datasets make dishonest adjustments to exaggerate the appearance of global warming, it looks like corruption.

When alarmists in the entirely separate field of sea level measurement make precisely the same sort of dishonest adjustments in order to accord with the same global warming narrative, it starts to look like a conspiracy.

SOURCE





EU Member States Abandon Legally Binding Targets For Renewable Energy

For the past ten years, EU member states have been obliged to meet national targets for renewable energy. From 2020, they will be free of these constraints.

The 2020 targets were adopted in 2008, when EU lawmakers were in a very different mood. It was before the economic crisis, and the EU’s crisis of confidence.

By 2014, in the second commission of President José Manuel Barroso, the zeitgeist had changed. Under Secretary-General Catherine Day, a new focus was placed on being less intrusive, and allowing more flexibility for national governments. And so new post-2020 targets were proposed that were far less proscriptive.

For renewables, the Commission has proposed a 27% share target for 2030, up from 20% in 2020. But it will only be binding at EU level. Individual EU countries will not be punished if they fail to meet the goal, because there are no binding national targets in the proposal.

Environmental groups have pointed out that without the national targets, there is no legally enforceable way to ensure the EU meets its goal. The Commission can take an EU member state to court if it misses a target. But it cannot take itself to court.

To allay concerns about the less-proscriptive approach, the Commission introduced the concept of ‘energy governance’ – a framework that will set milestones and rules that are meant to keep everyone on track and make the various pieces of energy legislation work together. It is an umbrella legislation, setting the rules for a bundle of laws.

This energy governance regulation, put forward by the Juncker commission last year, will be voted on by MEPs on Thursday, and by member states on 18 December. It is one part of a broader Clean Energy Package.

Negotiations for the third version of the Clean Energy for all Europeans package have officially begun.

A new regime

Green MEPs Michèle Rivasi and Claude Turmes are serving as co-rapporteurs leading the file, which will be voted on in a joint session of the Parliament’s environment and energy committees on Thursday. The importance of the legislation is reflected in the 1,700 amendments which have been tabled.

“Because we lost the national binding targets, this part of the governance is now getting really essential,” Turmes says. “If it isn’t watertight, you may have a high renewable target, but you have no instruments to get you there.”

Turmes says the governance legislation needs to solve three problems that have arisen because of the lack of binding national targets.

It needs to close the “ambition gap” between the existing targets and the EU’s commitment under the Paris agreement.
It needs to close the “delivery gap” – the ability for new governments to reneg on the commitments of the previous government.

And it needs to close the “trajectory gap” – the ability for countries to delay action in the early part of the decade, coasting on their 2020 targets until 2030 starts drawing near.
“We don’t want a hockey stick trajectory, we want a linear trajectory,” The Luxembourgish MEP explained.

Several member states who are advanced in renewables have also identified this as a concern, because they fear that they will have to do all the work and make up for the laggards. These countries, which include Germany, France, Portugal and Sweden, have convinced the Estonian presidency to table a proposal which would add interim targets in 2023 and 2025.

The European Parliament says the EU’s proposed 2030 target for renewable energy needs to be raised in order to speed up deployment early in the next decade. But EU member states have a different idea.

Contentious issues

The biggest areas of disagreement ahead of Thursday’s vote have emerged around long-term goals for 2050, interim targets and multi-level governance.

The parliament is expected to pass amendments giving cities and regions a greater role in energy governance. But this is expected to be resisted by member states who worry about diluting national authority.

There is also disagreement both within the Parliament and within the Council on whether governments should be able to keep regulated energy prices, and whether they should be able to continue subsidising coal plants in order to guarantee stand-by power capacity. This is part of related legislation on electricity market design.

The Commission has proposed to forbid capacity mechanism subsidies to go to any new plant that has a carbon intensity threshold of more than 550gCO2 per KWh of electricity, which would effectively ban subsidies to coal plants. It also wants a ban on giving such subsidies to existing plants from five years after the legislation comes into force.

A European Commission proposal to put an emissions limit on what power plants can be subsidised continues to divide the member states but the EU executive and the European Parliament stand united in supporting the CO2 cap.

But after fierce opposition by Poland and other countries heavily reliant on coal, the Estonian presidency has drafted a compromise which would allow such subsidies for existing plants indefinitely, and start the ban for new plants only five years after entry into force. Member state representatives will discuss the issue on Wednesday.

In the Parliament, a different compromise has been tabled as an amendment by Polish center-right MEP Jerzy Buzek, who chairs the energy and industry committee. Under the amendment, countries that produce more than 20% of their electricity from solid fuels would be exempt from the cap. These would be Poland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and Romania.

SOURCE




Time to Ditch the Renewable Fuel Standard, Save Americans Money

Politicians don’t have a crystal ball that can predict the future of energy prices, energy supplies, or demand for electricity and gasoline.

But they pretend to, and that’s a problem. It leads to market-distorting policies that harm Americans as consumers and taxpayers.

Take the Renewable Fuel Standard. Congress and the George W. Bush administration established the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005 and expanded the program in 2007. The standard sets volumetric requirements (peaking at 36 billion gallons in 2022) to mix biofuels into the country’s fuel supply.

Ethanol, the most common biofuel, is made from corn, sugarcane, potatoes, soybeans, and other biomass. The Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to set yearly obligations to be met, which the agency recently did for 2018.

One of the main reasons the federal government enacted the Renewable Fuel Standard was to lessen U.S. dependence on oil and foreign sources of energy. In January 2007, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said, “We can’t produce our way out of the problems we have with oil. The only alternative we have is to look to alternative fuels: the sun, the wind, geothermal, biomass.”

In other words, let’s replace oil with homegrown corn-based ethanol and soy bean-based biodiesel.

As dubious as the goal of energy independence is, the Renewable Fuel Standard is failing to achieve it. The large majority of transportation fuel is petroleum, and biofuels’ impact on the overall transportation fuel market is minimal.

In 2016, ethanol contributed a paltry 5 percent of the overall transportation fuel market. Natural gas provided 4 percent of the nation’s transportation fuel with no mandate in place. Instead, the market is at work and the abundance of cheap natural gas is spurring the growth of natural gas vehicles.

The growth of biofuels as a result of the mandate is minuscule compared to the country’s overall demand for fuel. Yet ethanol consumes a large share of the corn crop and an increasing amount of the soybean crop. The ethanol quota diverts valuable cropland away from other agricultural uses and increases feed prices for cattle and poultry farmers.

Even within the mandate, we’re relying on cheaper biofuels from foreign sources to meet the requirements. The U.S. consumed 2.85 billion gallons of biodiesel in 2016 while producing only 1.568 billion gallons of biodiesel in 2016. Over 708 million gallons were imported in 2016, with 448 million gallons imported exclusively from Argentina.

Practically one-quarter of all biodiesel consumed in the U.S. in 2016 was imported from other countries. An overall net exporter of ethanol last year, the U.S. was a net importer of biodiesel.

What’s the government’s solution? Just like it did for cheaper Brazilian ethanol years ago, the Commerce Department is imposing a 71.45 percent to 72.28 percent tariff on Argentinian biodiesel.

If the federal government is going to force a biofuel mandate on Americans, at the very least it should be able to buy the cheapest biofuels on the market.

The problem is not the importation and exportation of ethanol. Freely traded energy, no matter the source, will benefit households and businesses with competitive prices and more choices.

The issue is that the mandate was sold on the false promise of ethanol being the silver bullet to end our dependence on foreign oil, as well as claims of imminent resource exhaustion to justify the program.

For instance, Ken Salazar, then Colorado senator and later secretary of the interior for President Barack Obama, stated in November of 2005 that “by 20 to 25 years from now, we will be importing 70 percent of our oil from foreign countries. … The problem that we face for sure is due in part to dwindling resources here in America. Domestic reserves of oil and natural gas are declining while our demand continues to grow.”

While there’s still time for Salazar’s prediction to come true, the evidence and trends certainly aren’t pointing that way.

We’re not running out of natural resources. In fact, from the time Salazar made that prediction to now, America has reduced imports from over 307 million barrels of crude oil a month to 244 million barrels. The higher production of domestic oil as a result of the tracking boom has reduced net imports far more than ethanol has in the past decade.

Government programs like the Renewable Fuel Standard are ineffective because they cannot account for human ingenuity that can unlock new reserves of energy and innovations that breed new technologies.

The market will take care of America’s energy needs. Catering to rent seekers and special interests incentivizes more lobbying and government dependence, and stifles innovation.

Politicians like to make promises they can’t keep and make predictions that sound like an impressive feat of prognostication. But politicians feel no repercussions when the market proves them wrong.

It’s long past time to recognize the Renewable Fuel Standard has failed to deliver on its promises, and that the market predictions upon which it was based are not today’s energy reality.

SOURCE





The blessings of climate change

by Jeff Jacoby

POINT HOPE, ALASKA, is tiny and ill-provisioned, an Arctic backwater so inaccessible that basic groceries have to be flown in and gasoline can only be brought in by barge during the summer. The town is remote not only geographically, but also digitally: Its internet connection is so slow that teachers must spend hours downloading course material that most of us could pull off the internet in minutes.

But Point Hope's luck is changing. High-speed internet is coming, and with it the benefits of ties to the world: Improved education and health care, more options for consumers, new customers for local artists, and a chance to attract tourists.

All thanks to global warming.

The New York Times reported Sunday that Quintillion, a global communications company, is taking advantage of melting sea ice to build a faster digital link between Europe and Asia by positioning high-speed internet cables beneath the Arctic Ocean. Until recently, cable-laying ships couldn't get too far north, but climate change has meant less ice north of the Bering Strait. Consequently, Point Hope is now a stop on Quintillion's shipping route, and the company is supplying the town with broadband service. That means a better life for residents of one of the nation's most isolated communities.

In the church of climate alarmism, there may be no heresy more dangerous than the idea that the world will benefit from warming. Zealous preachers seek to scare their flock with forecasts of catastrophe, horror, and threats to civilization. Anyone who demurs is denounced as an apostate: an anti-science "denier."

But the truth — the inconvenient truth, to coin a phrase — is that while climate change brings negatives, it brings positives too. Polar melting may cause dislocation for those who live in low-lying coastal areas, but it will also lead to safe commercial shipping in formerly inhospitable northern seas, and to economic opportunity for high-latitude residents in places like Point Hope.

Shifts in climate are like shifts in the economy: They invariably spell good news for some and bad news for others. Falling interest rates are a blessing to homebuyers but a curse to savers; a strong dollar helps consumers buying imports but hinders exporters selling abroad. In the same way, changes in climate generate winners and losers. Some of global warming's effects will be disagreeable; others will be very welcome.

Worldwide, cold kills 20 times as many people as heat, so a warming planet will save lives. A plethora of data confirms the greater deadliness of cold weather, even in countries with very different climate patterns. One study of mortality rates, for example, found that deaths from cold outnumbered those from heat by a ratio of 33-to-2 in Australia, and 61-to-3 in Britain. Of 2,000 weather-related deaths in America tallied by the Centers for Disease Control, 63 percent were caused by excessive cold vs. 31 percent caused by excessive heat.

A warming planet will also be a greener planet. Is a greener planet. Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have already led to "persistent and widespread increase" in leaf cover — i.e., greening — across as much as half of the world's vegetated regions, according to a study published in Nature last year.

Alarmists mindlessly condemn atmospheric CO2 as "carbon pollution," but carbon dioxide is essential to the health and grown of plant life.

NASA satellites show that over the past 35 years, there has been an increase in world greenery equal in area to twice the continental United States. Climate change has been a particular blessing in Africa, where the "Sahel greening" has significantly reduced famine.

The effects of climate change range from the obvious (lower heating bills) to the subtle (more habitat for moose and endangered sharks). Territory formerly deemed too forbiddingly cold will grow more temperate — and valuable. Delicacies from lobster to blueberries may become more plentiful.

Bottom line? Global warming will bring gains as well as losses, upsides no less than downsides. Climate science isn't a black-and-white morality tale. Our climate discourse shouldn't be either.

SOURCE




Greenies wrong: Benefit to plants of CO2 rise not limited by nitrogen availability

The Relationship Between CO2-induced Plant Growth Stimulation and Nitrogen Acquisition
 
Paper Reviewed: Feng, Z., Rütting, T., Pleijel, H., Wallin, G., Reich, P.B., Kammann, C.I., Newton, P.C.D., Kobayashi, K., Luo, Y. and Uddling, J. 2015. Constraints to nitrogen acquisition of terrestrial plants under elevated CO2. Global Change Biology 21: 3152-3168.

In a paper published in the journal Global Change Biology, the ten-member research team of Feng et al. (2015) set out to investigate the relationship between CO2-induced plant growth stimulation and nitrogen acquisition by conducting a meta-analysis of the subject using data from 35 peer-reviewed journal articles. All of the data they utilized were derived from studies using Free-Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) technology and represented observations obtained from grassland, forest and cropland ecosystems.

Results of their analysis revealed that "across all data, elevated CO2 increased aboveground net primary production by 16% and nitrogen acquisition by 8%." Similar findings were observed when narrowing the data down into a smaller subset of grasslands and forests that had been subjected to CO2 enrichment for a minimum of seven -- and maximum of eleven -- years. As shown in the figure below, aboveground net primary production remained relatively stable at around 15 percent as the length of experiment years increased. Nitrogen acquisition, on the other hand, increased with time, as did the nitrogen concentration of aboveground annual biomass, which became less negative. And in projecting the slope of the line fit to the nitrogen concentration data forward in time, it can be estimated that within 9 years of additional CO2 enrichment, this parameter will no longer be negative, as it will cross into positive territory at that time. Similarly, if the trend in nitrogen acquisition continues its advancement upward (dashed blue line), it would not be unrealistic to project a future increase in aboveground net primary production, as illustrated in the dashed green line.

The significance of the above findings was not lost on the authors of this study, who remark in the discussion section of their paper that "the expectation that the magnitude of positive ecosystem productivity responses to elevated CO2 will decline over time due to [the progressive nitrogen limitation (PNL) hypothesis] was not supported by our analysis of long-term (7-11 years) responses of plant productivity, nitrogen acquisition and nitrogen concentration in FACE experiments." The PNL hypothesis has long been championed by climate alarmists, who claim that low concentrations of soil nitrogen will curtail the ability of the productivity-enhancing effect of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations to maintain increased plant growth and ecosystem carbon sequestration rates over the long term. Clearly, however, as illustrated by the data in this study, such limitation is not taking place.

SOURCE

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For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here

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Thursday, December 07, 2017



Blue Planet 2: David Attenborough grieved by plastic pollution in the oceans

He obviously knows a lot about wildlife but knows little about people.  It is not "us" who are to blame for plastic in the oceans.  Developed countries go to great lengths to dispose of their rubbish properly.  The source of nearly 100% of that plastic in the ocean is poor countries where people simply throw their rubbish into their rivers -- which flow into the oceans

If Attenborough and his Greenie friends were  really concerned about marine pollution, they would be agitating to set up booms across the mouths of major Asian and African rivers to trap and remove the pollution before it reaches the sea.  But since when did Greenies ever do anything practical?


Over the last few weeks, Blue Planet II has been impressing viewers around the country, quickly becoming the most-watched television show of 2017.

Of course, the show wouldn’t exist without fascinating wildlife populating the ocean. Yet, mankind has put the inhabitants of the Big Blue under threat.

During the last episode of the series, David Attenborough issues a warning to viewers, detailing how overfishing, plastic pollution, and climate change are all damaging ocean habitats.

“For years we thought the oceans were so vast and the inhabitants so infinitely numerous that nothing we could do could have an effect upon them. But now we know that was wrong,” Attenborough says.

“It is now clear our actions are having a significant impact on the world’s oceans. [They] are under threat now as never before in human history. Many people believe the oceans have reached a crisis point.

“Surely we have a responsibility to care for our blue planet. The future of humanity, and indeed all life on Earth, now depends on us.”

The BBC were reportedly nervous certain viewers would see the series as too politicised by taking a stand, ordering a fact check. “We just couldn’t ignore it – it wouldn’t be a truthful portrayal of the world’s oceans,” producer Mark Brownlow told The Guardian. “We are not out there to campaign. We are just showing it as it is and it is quite shocking.”

Brownlow also revealed that the team saw albatross chicks being killed after eating plastic they mistook for food — they decided the scenes were too upsetting to broadcast.

SOURCE




Global Temperature Increases Are Lower and Slower, Says New Study

"We calculated that value as 1.1 C (almost 2° Fahrenheit), while climate models estimate that value as 2.3 C (about 4.1° F)"

A new study using more than 38 years satellite and weather balloon temperature data hypothesizes that global temperatures are going up more slowly than projected by most climate models.

And right on time, these results were challenged by other researchers who defend the scientific climate consensus as embodied in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports.

The new study done by University of Alabama in Huntsville climatologists John Christy and Richard McNider published in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Science argues consensus models may not have accurately captured how storms in the tropics expel excess heat back into space and/or that they have failed to account for how heat is absorbed by the world's oceans.

Christy and McNider took into account the effects of volcanic eruptions (cooling) and El Nino (heating) and La Nina (cooling) perturbations on global temperatures during the past 38 years.

What they found was warming in the lower troposphere where the bulk of our planet's atmosphere is located at a rate of about 0.096 degrees Celsius per decade. This trend implies that global temperatures will be about 1.1 (± 0.26) degrees Celsius warmer at the time carbon dioxide produced from burning fossil fuels and land use changes doubles in the atmosphere. This is about half of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) estimate of 2.31 (± 0.20) degrees Celsius warmer for a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

"From our observations we calculated that value as 1.1 C (almost 2° Fahrenheit), while climate models estimate that value as 2.3 C (about 4.1° F)," Christy said in a press release. "Again, this indicates the real atmosphere is less sensitive to CO2 than what has been forecast by climate models. This suggests the climate models need to be retooled to better reflect conditions in the actual climate, while policies based on previous climate model output and predictions might need to be reconsidered."

John Abraham, a professor of thermal and fluid sciences at the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering in Minnesota, asserted in The Daily Mail that Christy and McNider have "manipulated the raw measurements to decrease warming by about 38 percent."

If by manipulate, Abraham means that Christy and McNider have tried to take into account the effects of volcanic eruptions sending cooling sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere and the large swings in global average temperatures caused by the natural El Nino and La Nina phenomenon, then yes. They have done nothing underhanded or wrong.

It is hard not conclude that Abraham is being disingenous when he accuses Christy and McNider of data manipulation. Abraham must know the surface temperature datasets relied upon by IPCC are also "manipulated," using homogenization procedures to take into account weather station moves, instrument changes, time of observation changes, and urban heat island biases.

If the amount of warming expected from a doubling of carbon dioxide is much lower than most climate models project that implies that catastrophic climate outcomes are less likely and that humanity will have extra time to adjust to whatever warming eventually results from the increase in the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

SOURCE





Vatican Issues Far-Left Declaration on Climate Change, ‘Very Fabric of Life on Earth at Grave Risk’

Popey should stick to religion.  He probably knows something about that.  But prohecies of doom do go back a long way in religious circles.  See Matthew 24, as one instance

In a dramatic declaration punctuated by dire threats and warnings, the Vatican is urging the world to “decarbonize the energy system as early as possible and no later than mid-century” to avoid irreversible damage to humans and ecosystems.

In its newly released “Final Declaration: Our Planet, Our Health, Our Responsibility” from a November workshop on climate change, air pollution and health, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences warns that “there is less than a decade” to put in place a series of sweeping measures to counteract the effects of human-induced climate change. “The time to act is now,” it reads.

Surprisingly for a statement coming from an academy of “science,” the document is riddled with unscientific assertions in a bizarre mix of political ideology and apocalyptic hyperbole.

“With unchecked climate change and air pollution, the very fabric of life on Earth, including that of humans, is at grave risk,” the text begins. “We propose scalable solutions to avoid such catastrophic changes. There is less than a decade to put these solutions in place to preserve our quality of life for generations to come.”

In what can only be termed an attempt to generate mass hysteria, the statement envisions a dark scenario not unlike those depicted by past doomsday fads such as the supposed population explosion and catastrophic oil shortages of the 1970s.

“With accelerating climate change, we put ourselves at grave risk of massive crop failures, new and re-emerging infectious diseases, heat extremes, droughts, mega-storms, floods and sharply rising sea levels,” the text reads.

Of course, no declaration of this kind would be complete without an indictment of capitalism and an assertion of the profound guilt of the wealthier nations for causing such a deplorable state of affairs.

“The poorest of the planet, who are still relying on 19th century technologies to meet basic needs such as cooking and heating, are bearing a heavy brunt of the damages caused by the economic activities of the rich,” the document alleges.

There is of course no mention of the fact that access to cheap abundant fossil fuels is exactly what allowed modern nations to emerge from the deep poverty in which the vast majority of the world lived for centuries. Nor is there any mention of the fact that with economic development comes a cleaner environment, as history attests.

In an Orwellian exercise in doublespeak, the authors of the text, including well-known proponents of abortion and population control like the UN’s Jeffrey Sachs, make an attempt to conflate the bogeyman of extreme anthropogenic global warming with the very real problem of environmental pollution.

As Breitbart News reported in October, environmental pollution—particularly air pollution—is responsible for millions of deaths each year, while “climate change” is responsible for none. For all intents and purposes, the two phenomena are unrelated, since the scourge of air pollution relates to the presence of dangerous fine particulate matter in the air while global warming propaganda focuses on carbon dioxide emissions.

Human exposure to fine particulate matter increases the risk of acute lower respiratory infection, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, while exposure to carbon dioxide—a colorless, odorless, non-toxic gas—produces none of these effects and is in fact essential for life on earth.

“Climate change caused by fossil fuels and other human activities poses an existential threat to Homo sapiens and contributes to mass extinction of species,” the Vatican text states. “In addition, air pollution caused by the same activities is a major cause of premature death globally.”

While the second part of this statement is true, the first part is not.

First-world nations like the United States have learned to control pollution through ever cleaner and more efficient energy production using fossil fuels and alternative energy sources. As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that the air in the U.S. is among the cleanest of any nation on the planet.

In the most recent WHO report on air pollution, the United States was listed as one of the countries with the cleanest air in the world, significantly cleaner in fact than the air in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the UK, Japan, Austria and France.

Countries like China and the Central African Republic, on the other hand, have a level of air pollution seven times worse than that of the United States, while India’s is eight times as bad and Egypt’s is more than twelve times as bad.

Undaunted by these facts, the authors of the Vatican text propose “moving rapidly to a zero-carbon energy system – replacing coal, oil and gas with wind, solar, geothermal and other zero-carbon energy sources, drastically reducing emissions of all other climate altering pollutants and by adopting sustainable land use practices.”

By doing so, “humanity can prevent catastrophic climate change, while cutting the huge disease burden caused by air pollution and climate change,” they insist.

Yet in point of fact, most first-world nations have already achieved remarkably low levels of pollution without switching to inefficient alternative energy sources.

As researcher Mario Loyola pointed out in his groundbreaking 2016 essay titled “The Twilight of the Climate Change Movement,” little international attention is being paid to the real health risks faced by many nations, “for the simple reason that they don’t fit snugly into the environmentalists’ essentially anti-industrial agenda.”

“Man-made climate change, on the other hand, is the perfect vehicle for advancing that agenda,” he noted. “Dealing with it requires choking off fossil fuels, a top-down reorganization of economic activity, and income redistribution.”

In other words, there are ideological and political interests that make CO2 reduction extremely attractive, while real dangers are ignored.

If alarmists were really interested in protecting humans against climate change, he added, “they would be helping Bangladesh adapt to monsoon floods and thereby avoid thousands of deaths every few years, instead of insisting on green energy boondoggles that will never save a soul there or anywhere else.”

The real shame is that the Vatican is lending itself to advance such a base and ideologically driven agenda.

SOURCE





Obama warns the "climate is changing faster than our efforts to address it"

But offers no evidence to support that assertion

Former President Obama on Tuesday warned that the climate is "changing faster than our efforts to address it," and while he derided the Trump administration for pulling out of the Paris climate accords, he said it's ultimately up to every individual to tackle the issue.

Speaking in Chicago to mayors at a climate summit, the former president noted the "conveyor belt" of hurricanes this year and western cities dealing with "longer and harsher" wildfire seasons.

"Climate is changing faster than our efforts to address it," said Obama, who noted that his administration's effort to deal with the issue "wasn't because of some ideological notions about the environment." "It was a very practical understanding, based on the science, that if we did not get this issue right, then just about every other issue would be adversely affected."

Obama ratified the Paris agreement in 2015, and President Trump said in June that the U.S. would pull out of it. Syria recently said that it planned to join the accord, making the U.S. the only nation in the world that doesn't belong to it, which Obama said is a "difficult position to defend."

"[The] good news is the Paris agreement -- it was never going to solve the climate crisis on its own," he said, adding it was going to be "up to all of us."

The former president said that climate change should be an "obsession" for Americans and having a plan to address it, he said, should be a "prerequisite" for anyone running for office. He also warned about people listening to news that doesn't come from a neutral source.

"We live in a time when everything is contested -- and so often because of the splintering of our media, it is possible to only occupy a world in which the facts that come in conform to your pre-existing conceptions," he said. "And that's a challenge particularly for democracies."

Obama said that as people get older, you become more aware of your mortality and want to make sure that "your kids and their kids are going to be OK."

While he said that people can't protect their children and grandchildren from heartbreak or mistakes in life, "this is something we can do something about."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a number of other mayors have signed onto the Chicago Climate Charter, committing to reduce emissions.

SOURCE




Trump casts a long shadow on the solar industry
   
In Costa Nicolaou’s 10 years running a North Andover-based solar company, he never chose to invest his time and money on Washington lobbying.

But now that President Trump is weighing tariffs that could deal a blow to his business, Nicolaou, whose PanelClaw company makes mountings for solar panels, now spends hours each day navigating the politics of his industry.

If the president chooses to slap new tariffs on imported solar panels, as the US International Trade Commission has recommended, many executives predict their businesses will take a hit as the price of solar panels rises and demand for the renewable energy source drops.

“Our message to the president and the president’s advisers is: Don’t walk the president into a trap,” Nicolaou said. “Don’t give him a false victory that comes back to cost him jobs.”

The president’s ruling on this case could become his first major trade policy decision in office. But the battle over the future of the US solar industry shows that intervening in complex global trade issues defies the simplicity of Trump’s hard-nosed, protectionist rhetoric.

In deciding the fate of this case, Trump must consider the divided interests of the nation’s solar industry: the dwindling manufacturers who make solar panels on US soil and a broader universe of companies who sell or install the systems and make accessory products like PanelClaw equipment.

Trump’s upcoming decision to tariff or not to tariff concerns a case filed earlier this year with the ITC, an independent federal agency that recommends trade policy to the president. In the case, two US manufacturers of solar panels — Suniva and SolarWorld Americas— asked for relief from the damage they say low-cost “dumping” of Chinese panels has inflicted on their business.

In October, the ITC issued recommendations that included up to a 35 percent tariff on imported solar panels for a period of four years, as well as limits on imports, and the president has until January to decide the companies’ fate. Trump, who once threatened to impose a 45 percent tariff on imports from China, could choose to enforce an even higher rate than advised.

In his testimony to the ITC, Suniva lawyer Matthew McConkey argued that tariffs would revive American solar panel manufacturing, breathing life into depleted companies like the one he represents by attracting business to the United States.

“This is about bringing investment back to the American solar manufacturing sector and creating a healthy solar industry overall,” said Suniva spokesman Mark Paustenbach, in a prepared statement.

The case has already roiled the rest of the domestic solar industry, with the main trade association warning that approval of the petitioners’ initial request for a 40 cents-per-watt duty on imported solar cells and a floor price for modules could eliminate 88,000 solar jobs in the country.

The $154 billion US solar industry claimed about 260,000 jobs in 2016, according to the non-profit Solar Foundation.

Massachusetts, which has the second highest number of solar industry jobs in the country after California, stands to lose from tariffs. The Solar Energy Industries Association estimates that, if Trump fulfills the petitioners’ demand, Massachusetts could lose up to 2,000 solar industry jobs in two years.

In response, solar business owners in the state say they’re planning for the worst.

“The man does not act rationally or consistently, and so we’re hoping that he feels good the morning he wakes up when he has this decision to make,” said Bill Stillinger, owner of a small-scale solar panel installer based in Western Massachusetts. Stillinger expects new tariffs would harm his business.

McConkey, the Suniva lawyer, called the solar trade group’s predictions “doomsday outcomes.” These dueling narratives mean Trump will have to decide which part of the industry he wants to support, said Joseph Aldy, an associate professor of public policy at Harvard.

If Trump decides in favor of the tariff, he’ll also be pitting himself up against some prominent conservative voices, including The Heritage Foundation think tank and the Koch brothers-backed American Legislative Exchange Council. These right-leaning opponents of the tariff argue it is a protectionist measure that would invite retaliation from trading partners and destroy American jobs in a growing sector.

On the whole, solar industry jobs are on the rise in the United States, with a 25 percent increase in the workforce in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But fewer than 20 percent of those jobs are in manufacturing. The bulk of them are in construction, installation, and professional services.

Even fewer are in manufacturing of solar panels, considering the United States claims only a sliver of solar panels production worldwide. In 2015, the US produced just 2 percent of the world’s solar panels, while China made nearly 70 percent.

It’s just the type of imbalance that Trump could be expected to lament. During his campaign, Trump said China was “raping” the United States on trade, and harped on a pattern of US manufacturing jobs moving overseas.

Trump’s tone changed dramatically on his recent trip to Asia. After meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping in Beijing, Trump told reporters he does not blame China for the multibillion-dollar trade imbalance with his country. “Who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of their citizens?” Trump asked.

Still, analysts say Trump could view slapping tariffs on Chinese solar imports as a fulfillment of a campaign promise that would please his base. Trump may see little consequence in disadvantaging the bulk of the solar industry, said Jonas Nahm, an assistant professor of energy, resources, and environment at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He already took a step down that path in October, when the Trump administration announced a rollback of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which would have given a boost to renewable energies like solar.

“The one thing where Trump has been very consistent is reversing any policy progress Obama has had,” Nahm said. “This is a way to get back at China, which would be politically popular, and to sort of harm an industry that is not supported by the administration.”

Tom Werner, chief executive of SunPower, a California-based company that manufacturers high-efficiency solar cells overseas, knew a Trump presidency wouldn’t bode well for his industry.

But Werner, who opposes the tariff because it would raise the price of his product, said he did not see anything like this coming. Because of the case filed with the International Trade Commission, Werner said the company lost a roughly $100 million deal with a utility company in Florida because he could not guarantee the stability of their prices.

Unlike with past presidential administrations, Werner said he isn’t sure which advisers Trump will listen to. His solution: Cast a wide net. Meeting with officials in the Department of Commerce, the National Economic Council, and the Office of the United State Trade Representative are just the start.

Despite his efforts, Werner’s confidence about which way Trump will lean on the tariff remains muddy. “Very uncertain would be an understatement,” he said.

SOURCE

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For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here

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