Thursday, July 28, 2016



"Climate models are accurately predicting ocean and global warming: A new study from my colleagues and I vindicates climate models, which are accurately predicting the rate of ocean heat accumulation"

It's good old Prof. Abraham back at the barrow below.  He says that the estimates of global warming yielded by climate models are validated by measurements of ocean heat present.  But the measures of heat are themselves estimates -- so all he has shown is that two sets of estimates tally.   Not hard to do of course but it proves nothing.  It's not even a good con trick


For those of us who are concerned about global warming, two of the most critical questions we ask are, “how fast is the Earth warming?” and “how much will it warm in the future?”.

The first question can be answered in a number of ways. For instance, we can actually measure the rate of energy increase in the Earth’s system (primarily through measuring changing ocean temperatures). Alternatively, we can measure changes in the net inflow of heat at the top of the atmosphere using satellites. We can also measure the rate of sea-level rise to get an estimate of the warming rate.

Since much of sea-level rise is caused by thermal expansion of water, knowledge of the water-level rise allows us to deduce the warming rate. We can also use climate models (which are sophisticated computer calculations of the Earth’s climate) or our knowledge from Earth’s past (paleoclimatology).

Many studies use combinations of these study methods to attain estimates and typically the estimates are that the planet is warming at a rate of perhaps 0.5 to 1 Watt per square meter of Earth’s surface area. However, there is some discrepancy among the actual numbers.

So assuming we know how much heat is being accumulated by the Earth, how can we predict what the future climate will be? The main tool for this is climate models (although there are other independent ways we can study the future). With climate models, we can play “what-if scenarios” and input either current conditions or hypothetical conditions and watch the Earth’s climate evolve within the simulation.

Two incorrect but nevertheless consistent denial arguments are that the Earth isn’t warming and that climate models are inaccurate. A new study, published by Kevin Trenberth, Lijing Cheng, and others (I was also an author) answers these questions.

The study was just published in the journal Ocean Sciences; a draft of it is available here. In this study, we did a few new things. First, we presented a new estimate of ocean heating throughout its full depth (most studies only consider the top portion of the ocean). Second, we used a new technique to learn about ocean temperature changes in areas where there are very few measurements. Finally, we used a large group of computer models to predict warming rates, and we found excellent agreement between the predictions and the measurements.

According to the measurements, the Earth has gained 0.46 Watts per square meter between 1970 and 2005. Since, 1992 the rate is higher (0.75 Watts per square meter) and therefore shows an acceleration of the warming. To put this in perspective, this is the equivalent of 5,400,000,000,000 (or 5,400 billion) 60-watt light bulbs running continuously day and night. In my view, these numbers are the most accurate measurements of the rate at which the Earth is warming.

What about the next question – how did the models do? Amazingly well. From 1970 through 2005, the models on average showed a warming of 0.41 Watts per square meter and from 1992-2005 the models gave 0.77 Watts per meter squared. This means that since 1992, the models have been within 3 % of the measurements. In my mind, this agreement is the strongest vindication of the models ever found, and in fact, in our study we suggest that matches between climate models and ocean warming should be a major test of the models.

SOURCE





Exactly What's Wrong With Cliff Mass' Approach to Global Warming

Cliff Mass is a Washington State meteorologist who sticks to meteorology. The Solon below, Ethan Linck, thinks Mass should link weather to global warming.  And Linck seems to think he has made a great point by saying that one part of Antarctica is cooling while the rest warms.  He probably should have asked Cliff Mass about that -- because ALL of Antarctic is cooling -- as Zwally's study showed.  Linck is a clown.  He thinks he knows it all when he actually knows nothing

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of climate change denialism is the willful idiocy of using local exceptions to a widely supported trend as evidence that trend is false. Climate science—like meteorology, biology, and political science—is a field defined by intrinsic variation of its object of study, and is reliant on statistical tools with the power to infer signal from noise.

The inherent uncertainty of this pursuit can lead some researchers (like UW’s Cliff Mass) to avoid attributing any single weather event to climate change, even if the event itself is consistent with predictions of weather under future climate regimes, for fear of discrediting climate research more broadly.

(It will not surprise regular Puget Sound news readers to learn this is not a universally supported position. Which is why a recent Nature study highlighting one such local exception—the absence of 21st century warming on the Antarctic Peninsula in the face of overall increasing temperatures elsewhere across the continent—is both good, necessary science, but at the same time it's sure to be seized upon from predictable quarters, the deniers of a widely supported trend, global warming.

SOURCE





Researchers can now monitor global warming due to human activity in real time

Amusing confidence below.  All they have done is a careful back-cast.  But lots of models look good in back casts.  But they still don't yield accurate forecasts. It's just hope below, not accurate prediction

A research team including a Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego climate scientist simulated in a computer model, for the first time, the realistic evolution of global mean surface temperature since 1900.

In doing so, the researchers also created a new method by which researchers can measure and monitor the pace of anthropogenic global warming, finding that the contribution of human activities to warming in the surface waters of the Pacific Ocean can be distinguished from natural variability.

Former Scripps researcher Yu Kosaka, now at the University of Tokyo, and Shang-Ping Xie, the Roger Revelle Chair in Environmental Science at Scripps, created the simulation by forcing sea surface temperature over the tropical Pacific to follow the observed variability.

“The climate system includes naturally occurring cycles that complicate the measurement of global warming due to the anthropogenic increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases,” said Xie. “We can isolate the anthropogenic warming by removing the internally generated natural variability.”

Climate policymakers have sought to limit the rise of global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels. That figure is considered a threshold beyond which society and natural systems are virtually assured of experiencing significant and dangerous instability. Scientists have estimated that the planet is already roughly 1 degree Celsius warmer at the surface than before the Industrial Revolution.

The 2 degrees Celsius target was reaffirmed during the 2015 Conference of the Parties, known as COP21, that was held in Paris in December. Kosaka and Xie’s research could provide an easily generated and more accurate means to measure society’s success in keeping temperatures below that threshold.

The research is further confirmation of the primary importance of the Pacific in controlling global-scale climate that researchers have come to understand in recent decades. Kosaka and Xie plotted the rise of global mean temperatures over the past 120 years. The rise of temperatures ascends in a staircase fashion with the steps becoming larger over the past 50 years.

When Kosaka and Xie removed as a variable the natural warming and cooling of the Pacific Ocean, the rise of global mean surface temperature became a more linear increase, one that began to accelerate more sharply in the 1960s. It had been natural Pacific decadal variations that temporarily slowed down or speeded up the warming trend, leading to the staircase pattern.

For example, global mean surface temperature has not changed much for 1998-2014, a time period known as the hiatus that has been tied to naturally occurring tropical Pacific cooling. Raw data show a warming of 0.9 degrees Celsius for the recent five-year period of 2010-2014 relative to 1900 while Kosaka and Xie’s calculation yields a much higher anthropogenic warming of 1.2 degrees Celsius after correcting for the natural variability effect.

Observed global mean surface temperature (GMST) based on three datasets (black curves in degree C), and the new estimates of anthropogenic global warming (AGM). The simulated GMST change without considering tropical Pacific internal variability is plotted as reference (white curve with blue shading indicating the uncertainty).

“Most of the difference between the raw data and new estimates is found during the recent 18 years since 1998,” said Xie. “Because of the hiatus, the raw data underestimate the greenhouse warming.”

Kosaka and Xie suggest that though Pacific Ocean trends are an essential variable control on global temperature rise, the accuracy of their warming estimate will be improved in the future as other climate modes are added as variables. An international initiative involving more than a dozen climate models is being planned to improve the estimates included in upcoming assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The paper, "The tropical Pacific as a key pacemaker of the variable rates of global warming," appears in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The National Science Foundation and NOAA supported Xie’s contribution to the research. The Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology supported Ko

SOURCE





You couldn't make it up.  Warmists are treating Inhofe's grand-daughter as an authority

The heading on the article excerpted below was: "Jim Inhofe’s Granddaughter Asked Him Why He Didn’t Understand Global Warming" -- implying that she was the one in the right.

And the temperature rise they refer to was due to El Nino, not carbon dioxide. CO2 did NOT rise in 2015


Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is a famous climate denier. He has written a book about global warming, arguing it is a hoax.
Like many Americans — 64 percent of which are concerned about climate change — Inhofe’s granddaughter wants to know why he does not understand the science.

On the last day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last week, Inhofe told radio host Eric MeTaxas about a conversation he had with one of his granddaughters, Right Wing Watch reported on Tuesday.

"You know, our kids are being brainwashed? I never forget because I was the first one back in 2002 to tell the truth about the global warming stuff and all of that. And my own granddaughter came home one day and said “Popi (see “I” is for Inhofe, so it’s Momi and Popi, ok?), Popi, why is it you don’t understand global warming?” I did some checking and Eric, the stuff that they teach our kids nowadays, you have to un-brainwash them when they get out"

Right now, the United States, including Oklahoma, is in the middle of a record-breaking heat wave that has left at least six dead. This month, the world learned that the first half of 2016 was the hottest start to a year on record, building on 2015’s record as the hottest year on record — data that strengthen the longer trends signifying the reality of climate change.

Famously, Inhofe brought a snowball onto the senate floor last year in an effort to prove that global warming was a hoax, citing the cold “unseasonable” temperatures. This was in February.

SOURCE






U.S. Hits Record 129 Months Since Last Major Hurricane Strike

No major hurricane has made landfall in the continental United States for a record-breaking 129 months, according to data going back to 1851 compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The last major hurricane to make landfall on the continental United States was Hurricane Wilma, which slammed into Florida on Oct. 24, 2005--129 months ago.

The 2016 hurricane season--which officially opened on June 1 and ends on November 30--is expected to be “near normal”, with more hurricane activity than last year’s “below normal” season.

“The outlook calls for a 45% chance of a near-normal season, a 30% chance of an above-normal season, and a 25% chance of a below-normal season,” according to NOAA’s 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook.

The agency predicts that there will be “10-16 named storms” this season--including “4-8 hurricanes” and “1-4 major hurricanes.” A "major hurricane" is defined as one that is Category 3 or above on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which means it has sustained wind speeds of more than 111 miles per hour and is capable of causing “devastating” or “catastrophic” damage.

But because of several “competing climate factors” this year, “there is reduced confidence in predicting whether the season will be above normal or below normal,” NOAA stated.

At a May 27 press conference, NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan told reporters that due to the cooling phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO), there is “uncertainty about whether the high-activity era of Atlantic hurricanes has ended.”

“During the past three years, weaker hurricane seasons have been accompanied by a shift towards the cool signature of the AMO, cooler Atlantic Ocean temperatures, and a weaker West African monsoon,” Sullivan said.

“If this shift proves to be more than short-lived, if it’s not just a temporary blip, then it could be signaling the arrival of a low activity era for Atlantic hurricanes.”

The last time the AMO entered a cold phase was the 23-year period between 1971 and 1994, when there were only two above-normal hurricane seasons and half were below normal, said Dr. Gerry Bell, head of NOAA’s hurricane forecasting team.

In 2005, four major hurricanes – Dennis, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma– struck the mainland of the United States, killing nearly 4,000 people and causing nearly $160 billion in damages, according to NOAA.

Since 2005, no Category 3 or above hurricane has made landfall in the continental United States.

President Obama is the longest-serving president to have no major hurricanes strike during his time in office.

During Obama's presidency, four hurricanes have made landfall, but all were at lower than Category 3 intensity: Irene (2011), Isaac and Sandy (2012) were all Category 1 when the hit the mainland, and Arthur (2014) was a Category 2.

SOURCE  




Clinton’s VP Pick Targeted Global Warming Skeptics On Senate Floor

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate targeted global warming skeptics on the Senate floor in July, potentially hurting claims the nominee is someone constitutional conservatives can support.

Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, was tasked with heaping scorn on conservative nonprofit groups in early July for opposing Democratic policies addressing man-made global warming.

Kaine was chosen as Democratic presidential nominee Clinton’s running mate on July 22, no more than a week after the Virginia senator was tasked with criticizing Virginia-based nonprofit groups for not toeing the line on Democratic policies addressing climate change.

There is a cabal of organizations that “knowingly try to misrepresent the status of climate science, and suggest that climate change is not occurring,” Kaine said July 11 on the Senate floor.

The Virginia Institute for Public Policy “makes statements that are promoting a false point of view,” he said, adding, that the free market group “promotes the idea that ‘oh, well, we shouldn’t do anything about it (global warming).”

It is one thing to disagree about how climate change should be approached, Kaine argued, it is quite another to openly deny that the climate is changing.

The inquisition began when Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat, directed 19 of his fellow Democratic senators to attack conservative and libertarian organizations such as Americans for Prosperity and the Cato Institute on the chamber floors for engaging in what the senators call a “web of denial.”

Sens. Harry Reid of Nevada, as well as Chuck Schumer of New York joined Kaine on July 11 targeting groups like Mercatus Center.

Emily Enderle, a top environmental policy adviser to Whitehouse, who is leading the hit parade, constructed the strategy in an internal email with several leading environmental groups — some of the groups include the Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Clean Water Action.

Conservative groups argued the move by Kaine, among others, is an example of senators unfairly targeting the free speech rights of organizations not falling in lock step with global warming orthodoxy.

“It’s unbelievable the level of coordination the Senate Democrats have taken to political intimidate free market organizations,” Molly Drenkard, a spokeswoman with the American Legislative Economic Exchange (ALEC), told The Daily Caller News Foundation on July 11. ALEC was one of the conservative groups targeted by the senators.

But now some conservatives are attempting to paint a different picture of Kaine, who is currently running against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, a candidate many conservatives feel is not fit to be president.

Washington Post columnist George Will, for one, has begun laying down a coda suggesting Kaine might be the most palatable candidate for constitutional conservatives.

“There probably is no Democratic governor or senator more palatable than Kaine to constitutional conservatives,” Will wrote in an editorial Tuesday. “Such conservatives are eager to bring presidential power back within constitutional constraints, and Kaine is among the distressingly small minority of national legislators interested in increased congressional involvement in authorizing the use of military force.”

SOURCE

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016




Another clunk-headed academic who can't read



Jarrod Gilbert, a New Zealand sociologist no less, says climate denial ought be seen as a crime.  Sociologists are generally far-Left so a bit of Stalinism from one is no surprise.  And in true Stalinist style he is a good Trofim Lysenko too.  Lysenko had the basics of biology wrong and this guy has the sociology of climate science wrong.

How so?  Because his basic "97%" claim shows he can't read.  The paper usually quoted in support of the 97% in fact says that only ONE THIRD of climate scientists supported global warming.  The other two thirds took no position on the matter.

Since Jarrod has such bad eyes, I reproduce the Cook et al. abstract below  and highlight the bit that jarring Jarrod missed.  What a clown! He might one day learn the importance of doing your research before you open your mouth. But he does admit to being a liberal wanker so maybe he won't


"We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics 'global climate change' or 'global warming'. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers. Compared to abstract ratings, a smaller percentage of self-rated papers expressed no position on AGW (35.5%). Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus. For both abstract ratings and authors' self-ratings, the percentage of endorsements among papers expressing a position on AGW marginally increased over time. Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research"



There is no greater crime being perpetuated on future generations than that committed by those who deny climate change. The scientific consensus is so overwhelming that to argue against it is to perpetuate a dangerous fraud. Denial has become a yardstick by which intelligence can be tested. The term climate sceptic is now interchangeable with the term mindless fool.

Since the 1960s, it has been known that heat-trapping gasses were increasing in the earth's atmosphere, but no one knew to what effect. In 1979, a study found "no reason to doubt that climate changes will result and no reason to believe that these changes will be negligible". Since then scientists have been seeking to prove it, and the results are in.

Meta studies show that 97 per cent of published climate scientists agree that global warming is occurring and that it is caused by human activities. The American Association for the Advancement of Science compared it to the consensus linking smoking to cancer. The debate is over, yet doubt continues.

For decades, arguments denying the harms caused by smoking were made. A tobacco executive once said: "Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy."

Such doubts can be highly effective, particularly if they allow people to support agendas that are politically or economically useful to them.

One person who has managed to successfully merge expert and popular opinions is English physicist Professor Brian Cox, whose books and television programmes explain complex scientific phenomena in highly accessible ways. He recently said that ignoring best evidence and turning against experts is "the road back to the cave".

Modern civilisation, he says, has grown not because of gut instinct and guesswork but because of scientific understanding and thinking. "Being an expert does not mean that you are someone with a vested interest; it means you spend your life studying something. You're not necessarily right - but you're more likely to be right than someone who's not spent their life studying it."

If 100 of the best-qualified engineers were asked to assess the structural integrity of a house and 97 of them said it was unsafe, who would listen to the other three engineers and buy the house? Yet that is the foolishness of climate change denial. Furthermore, the basis for these decisions is often arbitrary and variable.

We all believe in the expertise at Nasa when it launches a rocket into earth's orbit then flicks it into space and lands it on a rock, but so many people conveniently ignore the organisation's knowledge and expertise when it confirms humans created climate change.

All of this might be a strange curiosity if the ramifications weren't so serious. Whether it is the erosion of coastal properties, an influx of climate refugees from the Pacific, or the economic impacts on our primary industries from severe weather events, New Zealand must prepare for some significant realities.

The worst of these problems will impact more greatly on generations to come, but to ignore them now is as unconscionable as it is selfish. It ought be seen as a crime.

One way in which everyday crime can be discouraged is to ensure that "capable guardians" are around to deter criminal activity. When it comes to climate change, the capable guardians are educated members of the public who counteract the deniers.

There may be differing opinions on what policies to pursue, but those who deny that climate change exists ought be shouted down like the charlatans that they are. Or better yet, looked upon with pitiful contempt and completely ignored.

There is no room to sit on the fence and say, "I don't know if it's true". Ignorance of the law excuses no one - and so it is with the laws of science.

SOURCE  





Could climate change lead to a WAR? Global warming will increase the risk of armed conflict between ethnic groups (?)

The headline above is just speculation.  The study below was of natural disasters, not global warming.  The authors admit that they cannot link the two

Man-made climate change is expected to increase the risk of natural disasters around the world from severe droughts to more intense tropical storms.

But the impact of these may go far beyond the immediate suffering of those caught up in them.  Researchers believe that climate disasters could increase the risk of armed conflict in countries where different ethnic groups live side by side.

The research, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany, suggests that climate-related natural disasters could exacerbate tensions between different ethnic groups.

Dr Carl Schleussner, who led the study, said: 'Devastating climate-related natural disasters have a disruptive potential that seems to play out in ethnically fractionalized societies in a particularly tragic way.'

The researchers found that almost one quarter of conflicts in ethnically divided countries happen at the same time as climatic problems - even without taking climate change into account.

Dr Schleussner added: 'Climate disasters are not directly triggering conflict outbreak, but may enhance the risk of a conflict breaking out which is rooted in context-specific circumstances.

'As intuitive as this might seem, we can now show this in a scientifically sound way.'

Previous studies have focused on variables in climate, such as temperature increase. However it was not possible to use this information to see the direct impact it had on societies.

Instead, the new study focuses directly on the economic damage caused by natural disasters, based on data from Munich Re from 1980-2010.

The researchers used computer models to analyse the data, to see how conflict within countries coincided with natural disasters.

Dr Jonathan Donges, who worked on the study, said: 'We've been surprised by the extent that results for ethnic fractionalised countries stick out compared to other country features such as conflict history, poverty, or inequality.

'We think that ethnic divides may serve as a predetermined conflict line when additional stressors like natural disasters kick in, making multi-ethnic countries particularly vulnerable to the effect of such disasters.'

The researchers used the internal conflict within Iraq as an example. In their paper, they write: 'Although not highly ethnically fractionalised, ethnic identities appear to play a prominent role in the ongoing civil wars in Syria and Iraq.

'It is clear that the roots of these conflicts, as for armed conflicts in general, are case specific and not directly associated with climate-related natural disasters.

'Nevertheless, such disruptive events have the potential to amplify already existing societal tensions and stressors and thus to further destabilize several of the world's most conflict-prone regions.'

However, the results of the study cannot be used to predict the risk in specific states.

Dr Hans Joachim Schnellnhuber, co-lead of the study, said: 'Armed conflicts are among the biggest threats to people, killing some and forcing others to leave their home and maybe flee to far-away countries.

'Human-made climate change will clearly boost heatwaves and regional droughts.

'Our observations combined with what we know about increasing climate-change impacts can help security policy to focus on risk regions.'

Many of the world's most conflict-prone regions, including North and Central Africa as well as Central Asia, are both vulnerable to human-made climate change and characterized by deep ethnic divides.

The researchers hope that their findings can help in the design of security policies in these high-risk areas.

Dr Schellnhuber added: 'Our study adds evidence of a very special co-benefit of climate stabilization - peace.'

SOURCE  






Oakland Coal Ban Won’t Protect Vulnerable

Good intentions don’t necessarily make good public policy. Yet last week the Oakland City Council unanimously fell into the same tired old “feel good” political trap.

On a 7-0 vote, council members passed an ordinance prohibiting the storage and handling of coal and petroleum coke within city limits and then followed up by approving a resolution extending the ban to the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal (OBOT), a new facility being built on a former U.S. Army base.

Fortunately, the ordinance and resolution will come back for a second reading on July 19, so the City Council has an opportunity to reverse or amend its decision. If the ban is upheld, City Council members will have chosen to sacrifice an opportunity to boost economic development on the mistaken premise that doing so is in the best interest of the public.

City councilman Abel Guillen stated that last week’s vote was meant to “protect the health and safety of our most vulnerable population.” That is a noble goal but who are the vulnerable members of Oakland’s population that the council is trying to protect?

In assessing the health and safety risks of importing coal and petroleum coke, primarily from Utah, and then transshipping it to Asia, the City Council relied on a report by Zoe Chafe, Ph.D. Chafe’s report referred to the Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of vulnerable citizens, namely, “children, older adults, people with heart or lung diseases, and people living in poverty.”

The problem in acting to protect Oakland’s “most vulnerable population” is that doing so leads to a contradiction. The council members’ decision pits the interests of one group of vulnerable people against those of others.

“The public” is not a single entity, but rather an aggregation of many individuals, each having his or her own interests and preferences.

Concerns about moving coal and petroleum coke through Oakland’s port facilities certainly can be raised. No one wants to live where a child or elderly parent would have trouble breathing.

On the other hand, no one wants to struggle to feed their family because they can’t find a job. The economic growth that accompanies a project like OBOT, which will create an estimated 2,400 jobs, can help alleviate the problems of poverty faced by members of Oakland’s most vulnerable population.

Terminal Logistics Solutions (TLS), which will operate the $500 million OBOT facility, has indicated that it is determined to comply with the standards prescribed by the California Environmental Quality Act. These standards allow Oakland’s citizens to hold TLS responsible for any air- or water-quality violations.

This means that Oakland can both protect its environment and remain committed to raising living standards—a proverbial win-win option. Instead, City Council members are hung up on creating a feel-good policy that may hurt the very people they think they are protecting.

SOURCE  




EPA Plans to Address Pollution 'From Engines Used on Large, Commerical Jets'

The Environmental Protection Agency already sets pollution limits on cars and trucks, and now it plans to do the same thing with new commercial jets.

Invoking the Clean Air Act, the EPA on Monday announced its finding that greenhouse gas emissions from certain types of aircraft engines "contribute to the pollution that causes climate change and endangers Americans' health and the environment."

"These particular GHGs come primarily from engines used on large, commercial jets," EPA said.

The agency is not yet ready to issue emissions standards for aircraft engines, but that will come, now that it has determined that those engines contribute to climate change.

“Addressing pollution from aircraft is an important element of U.S. efforts to address climate change," said Janet McCabe, EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation. "Aircraft are the third largest contributor to GHG emissions in the U.S. transportation sector, and these emissions are expected to increase in the future."

The EPA said its endangerment" findings do not apply to small piston-engine planes (often used for recreational purposes) or to military aircraft, including Air Force One.

The new rules are still years away, and any proposed standards would be open to public comment and review before they take effect.

For the record, the EPA announcement came one day after Sen. Bernie Sanders described Republican Donald Trump as "a guy who rejects science, doesn't even believe that climate change is real, let alone that we have to take bold action to transform our energy system."

SOURCE  




Has Global Warming Influenced Large-Scale Atmospheric Variability?  No.
 
Paper Reviewed:

Sardeshmukh, P.D., Compo, G.P. and Penland, C. 2015. Need for caution in interpreting extreme weather events. Journal of Climate 28: 9166-9187.

Introducing their work, Sardeshmukh et al. (2015) note there is great scientific and public interest in discerning the influence (if any) of global warming on extreme weather events, writing that "it is tempting to seek an anthropogenic component in any recent change in the statistics of extreme weather." What is more, they note that, for many people, "the occurrence of any extreme event not previously observed 'within living memory' or 'since records began' (in both cases, about 100 years) immediately becomes a candidate for attribution to global warming."

Sardeshmukh et al., however, are quick to caution that such efforts may well "lead to wrong conclusions if the distinctively skewed and heavy-tailed aspects of the probability distributions of daily weather anomalies are ignored or misrepresented." And it was against this backdrop that they began their study, which involved the development of a protocol to adequately detect and attribute changes in extreme weather events. Thereafter, they tested this protocol in an effort to assess changes "in the observed distributions of daily wintertime indices of large-scale atmospheric variability in the North Atlantic and North Pacific sectors over the period 1872-2011."

With respect to their protocol (see the original paper for details), the authors presented a series of mathematical and statistical procedures that ultimately produced, in their words, "a sharper tool for investigating the statistical significance of observed changes in extremes over the twentieth century and of projected changes over the twenty-first century." And in applying that protocol to two indices of atmospheric variability (North Atlantic Oscillation Index and North Pacific Index), Sardeshmukh et al. report they found "no significant changes either in the mean or in the entire probability density functions of these indices over the last 140 years" despite "an apparent upward trend in the NAO index and a downward trend in the NP index during much of the second half the twentieth century."

In discussing the significance of this finding, Sardeshmukh et al. say it "has important implications for understanding the atmospheric circulation response to global warming, and casts doubt on inferences about this response drawn in studies that focus only on the second half, or other subsets, of the full record."

SOURCE  





Hawaii Phasing Out Solar Subsidies For Cost Reasons

Hawaii’s taxpayer support for solar power is set to end in July due to cost and reliability concerns.

The state government repealed its previous programs to boost solar power last October and replaced them with a much more limited subsidy system that caps the total number of users to reduce the cost to the state and minimize power grid damage. That cap will probably be reached this month or in early August. The cap was essential to maintaining the states’ power grid, despite the state’s goal of using only green energy by 2045.

“It comes down to a financial issue,” Democratic state Rep. Chris Lee, the chairman of the state House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, told The Associated Press. “The more distributed generation, the more power that individuals generate themselves, the less of a customer base the utility ultimately has in the long run.”

Hawaii and many other states enacted net-metering subsidies for homeowners with solar panels in 2010, but are now backing away from them. Rooftop solar companies supported these subsidies as a way to encourage solar power and fight global warming. This, however, shifted the costs of maintaining the electrical grid onto households that don’t have solar panels, effectively transferring money from the poor to the rich.

Hawaii gets 3.66 percent of its electricity from solar, a higher portion than any other state, but already has the nation’s highest electricity costs. Last year, solar power only accounted for 0.6 percent of all electricity generated in America, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

A 2015 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) concluded rooftop solar subsides are inefficient and costly, and that rooftop solar companies simply cannot compete without government support.

Solar power by itself receives more federal subsidies than all fossil fuel sources combined, according to the EIA. Green energy in the U.S. got $13 billion in subsidies during 2013, compared to $3.4 billion in subsidies for conventional sources and $1.7 billion for nuclear, according to EIA data. Solar companies simply cannot maintain their current high levels of growth without government support.

Most state solar subsidies go to rooftop solar panels and include a 30 percent federal tax credit, while industrial scale solar is thus somewhat more efficient per dollar spent. Solar-leasing companies install rooftop systems, which cost a minimum of $10,000, at no upfront cost to the consumer. Companies do this because the state and federal subsidies are so massive that such behavior is actually profitable.

TheDCNF previously used statistical analysis to show that the more pro-green energy policies a state has, the less likely it was to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

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 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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Tuesday, July 26, 2016



The latest environmental scare

Do you notice the dog that didn't bark in the report below?  Did you notice that there is no EVIDENCE about how harmful microparticles are?  It's all theory and falls into the category of things that are OBVIOUSLY bad and so must be discouraged.

All to often, however, things that are OBVIOUSLY bad turn out not to be bad at all -- with dietary fat being the most recent major example of that.  So you need to be able to put numbers on just HOW bad a thing is.  Doing so can generate surprising revelations  -- such as the fact that dietary fat can be GOOD for you.

So what DO the numbers say?  What is the research evidence on how bad these things are?  And how come there was no mention of any such evidence below?  I think I know.  In just ten minutes of searching I found the following sentence in a review article on the subject:  "Bioavailability and the efficiency of transfer of the ingested POPs across trophic levels are not known and the potential damage posed by these to the marine ecosystem has yet to be quantified and modelled".

In other words, nobody knows how harmful they really are.  The article is from 2011 so much knowledge my have accumulated since then but I am not hopeful.  I suspect that microbeads are a very minor problem in the great scheme of things

I note that I searched the "Marine Pollution Bullein" which did have lots of up to date articles on the subject -- but they were all about how prevalent the beads were in various locations. That they were just obviously bad seemed to be taken for granted.  Nowhere could I see any quantification of harms

And if there is a seminal article quantifying harms I would be delighted to scrutinize its metholoogy.  As a former university teacher of research methods and statistics, and as as frequent practitioner of same, much that seems plausible to others seems hilarious to me.  I can often tell where the bodies are buried, even with no knowledge of the particular field.  As is now widely recognized, junk science is in epidemic proportions these days


Facial scrubs are used daily by millions of people to exfoliate their skin - but scientists have exposed the tiny toxic plastic beads hidden in the products.

Each wash contains up to 94,500 microbeads, while one tube comprises up to 2.8million of the beads, which experts at Plymouth University extracted.

Microbeads, among the fastest-growing forms of marine pollution, can cause physical damage or poison sea life with the chemicals and microbes on their surface.

Richard Thompson, professor of marine biology at Plymouth University, published a photograph of the amount of microbeads extracted from popular facial scrubs.

He told The Sunday Times: 'It can be hard to convey in words how small these beads are and how many are released by one wash, but the picture shows the scale of the impact much better.'

He said the beads ranged in size from from a 0.01mm up to 1mm. 'Their size means they can pass through sewage treatment screens and be discharged into rivers and oceans,' he explained.

When the facial scrubs are washed away, they are washed into sewage sludge and can spread onto farmland. Smaller beads can escape filters and are subsequently washed out to sea.

Experts say the size of the beads looks like food to plankton and baby fish - and can poison them when eaten. This is then passed up the food chain to larger fish and birds.

Mary Creagh, the Labour MP and chairwoman of the environmental audit committee, which is holding an inquiry into microplastics, told the Sunday Times: 'Most of us would be horrified to learn how many bathroom products contain this plastic rubbish.'

The Plymouth researchers only examined facial scrubs but microbeads are widely found in many cosmetics.

The US government has banned microbeads in consumer products under a law that will go into full effect in 2017.

This month Waitrose announced it will ban microbeads from all products sold in its shops. The supermarket chain has already removed them from its own beauty products and has promised that from September it will stock only branded products which do not contain them.

Banning microbeads makes sense, campaigners say, because they are not necessary for washing products. Their abrasive effect can be replicated by natural exfoliants such as tiny fragments of rice, apricot seeds, walnut shells and bamboo.

Banning microbeads, however, will not end microplastic pollution. All plastic items that end up in lakes, rivers and the sea tend to disintegrate, creating tiny scraps of plastic with a similar effect.

Synthetic fabrics, such as nylon and polyester, also disintegrate, and tiny plastic ‘microfibres’ are also eaten by marine life, with a similar effect to microbeads.

SOURCE





John Kerry claims air conditioner chemicals are as dangerous as ISIS at climate conference

Many gases can be used in refrigeration but their efficiency varies greatly.  With the phasing out of HFCs we are getting a long way away from the most efficient one, which means that more electricity will have to be used to get the same cooling effect.  But aren't we supposed to be reducing demand for electricity?  More Greenie foot-shooting, it seems.  And there is general agreement that HFCs make only a trivial contribution (1% is often quoted) to global warming so that foot could reasonably have been left unshot

Chemicals used in refrigerators and air conditioners pose as big of a threat as ISIS, John Kerry said.

The Secretary Of State traveled to Vienna, Austria on Friday to negotiate an amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, created to protect the ozone layer.

The amendment phases out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), compounds that are mostly used as refrigerants and act as potent greenhouses gases.

Kerry went to Vienna with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Gina McCarthy and compared the fight against climate change to the fight against terrorism during talks with parties to the Montreal Protocol.

'Yesterday, I met in Washington with 45 nations — defense ministers and foreign ministers — as we were working together on the challenge of [the Islamic State], and terrorism,' Kerry said according to the Washington Examiner.

'It's hard for some people to grasp it, but what we — you — are doing here right now is of equal importance because it has the ability to literally save life on the planet itself.'

Amending the Montreal Protocol to phase out HFCs is one of the most cost-effective and consequential ways to combat climate change, the Department Of State said in a statement.

HFCs became widely used in the late 1980s, after a previous Montreal Protocol agreement led countries to stop using ozone-depleting chemicals in the air conditioning and refrigeration sectors.

This helped protecting the ozone layer, but companies began using HFCs as an alternative to the banned chemicals.

While HFCs do not harm the ozone layer, they have a strong potential to warm the planet - more so than carbon dioxide.

Reducing the use of HFCs could help limit the global temperature rise and avoid the most severe consequences of climate change.

HFCs can now be replaced with more climate-friendly materials.

California announced earlier this week that it would give half a million dollars to a $6 million project to research alternatives to HFCs.

'We have the technologies and chemicals to get this done, and are confident we can produce an HFC amendment that works,' the EPA said on its blog.

The EPA hopes to pass the amendment to the Montreal Protocol by the end of the year.

SOURCE





Obama Administration Continues Regulatory Assault on Offshore Oil and Gas

Last week the Obama administration released yet another regulation intended to undermine the viability of the offshore oil and gas industry in the United States. On July 7, the Department of Interior announced its new rules for drilling offshore in Alaska.

For the first time ever, the administration decided to create special rules for Alaska, more onerous than the rules that apply to offshore production in the rest of the country. No accidents or incidents have occurred to warrant these new aggressive rules, but then for a regulator when it comes to regulation, there never seems to be a need to ask why.

The Beaufort and Chukchi Seas in Alaska are estimated to hold about 23 billion barrels of oil and more than 2.8 trillion cubic meters of natural gas according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. This vast bounty has drawn significant interest from oil and gas companies for many years. However, the technical challenges of drilling in the Arctic are significant: freezing temperatures, floating ice, storms, and the like. These challenges make offshore drilling in Alaska quite expensive from the outset. These high costs have been on display since oil prices crashed as leaseholders in the Arctic have delayed drilling activity to wait until prices rebound.

But this pause in activity was not enough for the regulators and their environmentalist allies; they want to choke off any possibility of future development in the Arctic. Thus, last week’s rules. These stringent new rules follow the administration’s decision last year to cancel offshore lease sales in the Arctic and refusal to extend existing leases. As Sen. Murkowski of Alaska commented recently, “above all, it is the chaotic federal regulatory regime that is discouraging investment.” Regulators are designing and implementing a de facto ban on offshore drilling in Alaska, usurping the role of Congress and ignoring the free market .

These actions in the Arctic are just another entry in the Obama administration’s regulatory attack on offshore drilling. In April of 2016, the administration issued new well control rules that industry associations warned would force many small operators out of business due to increased regulatory costs. In March 2016, reversing his own administration’s decision of just a few years ago, the president announced that he would ban offshore drilling in the Atlantic. In 2011, the Obama administration was held in contempt of court for slow-walking offshore permits in an illegal effort to prevent development by not acting, just one skirmish in the months-long “permitorium” imposed by regulators.

Over the Obama presidency, this hostility has had predictable results: oil and gas production offshore has fallen throughout, even as oil and gas production on state and private land has boomed. That decrease has meant less revenue for the federal government, fewer jobs for Americans, and more oil supplies that must come from foreign countries. All to make far left environmentalists feel good. This is the danger of an unaccountable regulatory state captured by left-wing special interests: the power of the government wielded against an industry viewed as the enemy.

SOURCE  






US says fuel economy likely won't meet 2025 targets

The U.S. government says the nation's cars and trucks are well on their way to meeting fuel economy and emissions standards set for 2025, but cheaper gas prices could ultimately lower those targets by encouraging consumers to buy less-efficient vehicles.

A report on the standards was issued Monday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the California Air Resources Board. The report kicks off a two-year review that will determine whether to keep the 2025 fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions targets in place or change them.

Under standards set in 2012, automakers' fleets were expected to get an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. That's not the real-world mileage vehicles will get; it includes credits for things like more efficient air conditioning systems. The real-world mileage is closer to 40 miles per gallon.

The government calculates an automakers' average based on the vehicles it sells. A company could fail to meet standards on pickup trucks but exceed them with fuel-efficient cars and still meet the requirements, said Alan Baum, a consultant in Detroit who advises automakers on fuel-economy regulations. But if it fails to sell those cars, it could wind up being fined.

As gas prices have fallen, SUV sales have risen, and that could wind up lowering the averages that automakers are expected to meet, the report said. The government now forecasts average fuel economy between 50 mpg and 52.6 mpg in 2025, depending on the price of gas.

The report noted that in October 2012, when the fuel economy standards were finalized, U.S. average gas prices were $3.87 per gallon. They ended 2015 at $2.15 per gallon. So far this year, sales of the Toyota Prius hybrid are down 25 percent while sales of SUVs and other light trucks are up 9 percent, according to Autodata Corp.

But gas prices alone aren't likely to convince the government to weaken the standards adopted in 2012. The report says automakers can meet the original 2012 targets by continuing to make more advanced gasoline engines; the EPA says only about 2 percent of vehicles would need to be hybrids or electric vehicles to meet the standards.

"Today's draft report shows that automakers are developing far more technologies to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, at similar or lower costs, than we thought possible just a few years ago," said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation.

The government says 100 car, SUV, and pick-up truck versions on the market today already meet fuel economy standards targeted for 2020 or later. Automakers also have been making more use of lightweight materials, like aluminum, and improving vehicles' aerodynamics. They're also adding features like stop-start technology, which automatically shut down the engine and save fuel while a vehicle is stopped in traffic.

Those advances come at a cost. The EPA estimates the fuel economy standards will cost $1,017 per vehicle between 2021 and 2025, while NHTSA estimates they will cost up to $1,245 per vehicle. The agencies differ on how much consumers would save in gas, but they estimate it's between $680 and $1,620 per vehicle.

Those costs, and consumers' reluctance to buy the smallest, most fuel-efficient vehicles, mean the auto industry will likely argue that the standards should be relaxed. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a lobbying group that represents 12 automakers, including BMW, Toyota and General Motors, says meeting the standards is "a daunting challenge."

"Absent a vigorous commitment to focus on marketplace realities, excessive regulatory costs could impact both consumers and the employees who produce these vehicles," the alliance said in a statement.

But environmental groups will urge the government to strengthen the standards. In a statement, Sierra Club President Andrew Linhardt said the report proves that the standards are working.

"Due to technological innovation, our cars are cleaner and more efficient than ever before," he said.

SOURCE




Former NASA Scientist Dispels Notion Global Warming Is ‘Settled’ Science

A former NASA climate scientist has put out a new report criticizing the argument that global warming is settled science.

“It should be clear that the science of global warming is far from settled,” said Dr. Roy Spencer, a former NASA scientist who now co-runs a major satellite temperature dataset at the University of Alabama-Huntsville.

“Uncertainties in the adjustments to our global temperature datasets, the small amount of warming those datasets have measured compared to what climate models expect, and uncertainties over the possible role of Mother Nature in recent warming, all combine to make climate change beliefs as much faith-based as science-based,” Spencer wrote in a report published by the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation.

“Until climate science is funded independent of desired energy policy outcomes, we can continue to expect climate research results to be heavily biased in the direction of catastrophic outcomes,” Spencer wrote.

Spencer’s report covers a wide swath of climate science topics from the factors behind global warming, to how scientists make adjustments to climate data, to the “97 percent” consensus figure often cited by politicians and environmentalists.

“Besides, if global warming is settled science, like gravity or the Earth not being flat, why isn’t the agreement 100 percent?” Spencer asked. “And since when is science settled by a survey or a poll? The hallmark of a good scientific theory is its ability to make good predictions.”

“From what we’ve seen, global warming theory is definitely lacking in this regard,” Spencer wrote.

Spencer also explained why climate models tend to over-predict how much warming will occur as greenhouse gas emissions rise. Spencer argues a warming bias is built into the models themselves.

“Since climate models can be ‘tuned’ to produce a rather arbitrary amount of warming, they were tuned to be ‘sensitive’ enough so increasing carbon dioxide alone was sufficient to cause the observed warming,” he wrote.

“It was assumed that there was no natural component of the warming, since we really don’t know the causes of natural climate variations,” he wrote. “As a result, none of the models were prepared for the global warming “hiatus” we have experienced since about 1997, because their climate sensitivity was set too high. The models continued to warm after 2000, while the real climate system essentially stopped warming.”

Indeed, Spencer’s satellite data, which measures the average temperature of the lowest few miles of the atmosphere, showed no significant global warming trend for more than 21 years before an incredibly powerful El Nino warming event hit late last year.

El Nino is a naturally occurring warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean and tends to warm the planet. Satellite temperatures are extremely sensitive to El Ninos (and La Nina cooling events), so mid-tropospheric readings spiked in early 2016.

But temperatures have come down after El Nino faded, and now it looks like a La Nina is setting in. Some even expect the so-called “hiatus” in global warming to return after this year’s La Nina ends.

SOURCE




Australia: Conflict of interests over wind and solar power

Changing to "renewables" without conventional backup is a recipe for disaster -- and it's happening in South Australia right now.  The Green/Left S.A. government just ignored the risks and forced its coal-fired stations to close down. And South Australians are now paying the price of that.  The response of the S.A. energy minister?  Blaming other states for not sending enough of their backup power to S.A.  Blaming everyone but yourself is childish but common

With electricity prices spiralling as South Australia struggles to digest a world-breaking build of wind farms without firm power backup, federal Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg is facing a challenge that defines the conflict and mixed signals of his new super portfolio.

The challenge was delivered on a windswept blustery paddock about 200km west of Melbourne where Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced state approval for the $65 million, 96-turbine Dundonnell wind farm.

What the Premier did not tell reporters was that the 300 megawatt project, claimed to be the state’s biggest, had yet to receive federal government approval under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

If Frydenberg does not give EPBC approval for Dundonnell he can expect a fiery backlash and accusations of turning his back on renewables and new economy jobs.

If he does give EPBC approval Frydenberg will be accused of grand-scale environmental vandalism against the Victorian brolga, which is listed as threatened and nests at the proposed wind farm site.

The New Zealand wind farm developer, Trustpower, claims to have accommodated the brolga in its layout plans. But the planning process for Dundonnell has been long and tortured with accusations of hidden records and dodgy environmental investigations.

The complaints have not come from peak environment groups but local bird enthusiasts because — rather than endangered fauna — organised environmental activists such as Friends of the Earth have preferred to concentrate on the need for renewable energy and a long-running campaign to make permanent the existing moratorium on coal-seam gas exploration in the state.

In the great circle of energy and environmental politics it is all connected.

For Frydenberg, the gas ban is as significant as the brolgas and the windmills.

And it has all been supercharged by the parlous state of South Australia’s electricity network and what it may portend for the rest of the nation, under pressure to roll out of renewable power.

Frydenberg is clearly aware of the scale of the challenge. He argued for amalgamation of energy and environment portfolio responsibilities and he knows Australia must respond to a fundamentally changing energy world.

In an address to the Brookings Institution in the US earlier this year, Frydenberg said “technology will be the swing factor to achieving the world’s climate goals”.

“Home batteries, carbon capture and storage, high-efficiency, low-emissions coal-fired plants, large-scale solar, are all likely to feature going forward,” he said.

But, politically, Frydenberg’s task is to avoid becoming known as the minister for sky-high electricity prices.

Events in South Australia — where wholesale power prices have spiked, household electricity costs are the highest in the nation and industry is threatening to quit— provide a good opportunity for a reality check.

Wholesale prices are usually below $100 per megawatt hour but in South Australia they have repeatedly spiked past $10,000 and sometimes touching the $14,000 limit.

There are many reasons advanced for the unstable electricity situation in South Australia.

These include high demand for electricity and gas during a cold snap, restricted competition, limited interconnector capacity to the national grid and the high costs of transporting gas. The gas squeeze has been exacerbated by fierce objections to coal-seam gas exploration in NSW and Victoria as the giant liquefied natural gas export projects in Queensland suck vast quantities of what used to be domestic supplies.

Clean Energy Council network specialist Tom Butler says the reasons for South Australia’s high power prices compared with the rest of the country remain the same as they were before a single wind turbine or solar panel was installed.

A briefing paper released by the Australian Conservation Foundation says renewable energy wrongly is being blamed.

“In fact the problem is not a failure of renewable energy; it is a failure of the national electricity market,” the ACF says. This may be true. But it is disingenuous to suggest renewable energy is not having a leading impact.

The Australian Energy Market Operator conducted a survey of why wholesale prices spiked during the same period last year.

An analysis of the findings by Frontier Economics says the common denominator was a low level of wind generation at the time.

“As has been long predicted, increasing penetration of wind, and its inherent intermittency, appears to be primarily responsible for the (price spike) events,” the Frontier Economics report says.

“While the events have coincided with relatively high demand conditions in South Australia and some minor restrictions on imports of electricity from Victoria, low wind production levels are the key common feature of every event.

“The market response at such times has been to offer higher-priced capacity to the market, leading to high prices, just as the National Electricity Market was designed to do under conditions of scarcity.”

The Frontier report says the level of wind and solar penetration in South Australia presents a fascinating natural experiment in the impact of intermittent generation on wholesale prices.

“Unfortunately, this test is anything but academic and the people of South Australia are increasingly likely to bear increased electricity costs as wind makes up a greater proportion of South Australian generation,” Frontier says.

“While policymakers may be tempted to act to force thermal and/or wind to behave uneconomically, the likely outcome means South Australian consumers will bear more costs.”

Fast forward 12 months and the same weather conditions have produced the same outcomes in the wholesale market, with higher prices to consumers starting to flow through as well.

In the meantime, Alinta Energy has been forced to close its two coal-fired power stations in South Australia early because their business model has been wrecked by the introduction of low-cost, subsidised wind generation into the wholesale market.

Renewable energy champions have always argued the so-called merit order effect, in which abundant cheap renewable energy suppresses the wholesale market, is a positive for consumers. But the evidence is that there are limits.

South Australia is being watched closely by traditional energy companies and renewable energy specialists worldwide as a test case for what happens when high levels of intermittent energy, such as wind and solar, are introduced into a system that is not fully covered by other sources of readily available power.

Elsewhere, such as Denmark, where there is a high percentage of wind power in a national market there is also access to sufficient baseload power from hydro, nuclear or coal from neighbouring countries available to cover the fluctuations.

In South Australia the backup from the Victorian interconnection is 23 per cent.

Modelling by Deloitte Access Economics suggests that by 2019 the interconnector will be importing all the Victorian electricity it can handle into South Australia for almost 23 hours a day. It does not leave much margin for error if things go wrong.

“The last few weeks in South Australia have been a perfect storm but it shows that we have to be very careful how we design markets and policies to decarbonise,’’ Australian Energy Council policy specialist Kieran Donoghue says.

This is the real challenge for Frydenberg in his new portfolio.

The ACF wants a national plan to manage the transition to clean energy. It says this plan should “deal with intermittent generation and energy security, appropriate interconnections, careful placement of renewable facilities to maximise flexibility, an orderly closure of coal-fired power plants and detailed strategies to help affected communities with the transition”.

“The benefits of renewable energy are numerous, but without national leadership and a national plan to transition our energy sector we are certain to see a rocky transition with more price fluctuations,” the ACF says.

Powerful South Australian senator Nick Xenophon has said he will support a Senate inquiry to examine the mix of renewable energy in Australia.

Australian energy ministers are due to meet soon to consider exact­ly these issues. But no one has yet put forward a credible plan of how this should be done or what the cost would be.

At best, there will be a Band-Aid solution to the immediate problems in South Australia.

Industry specialists say the Council of Australian Governments certainly will look at options for additional intercon­nectors to deepen ties between states in the national electricity market.

The cheapest option will be to expand the connection to Victoria, but that is unlikely to give South Australia the sort of diversity of supply it is seeking.

It is further complicated by Victoria’s own plans to lift renewables — through projects such as Dundonnell — and the desire of environment groups nationally that Victoria’s big baseload brown coal generators, which underpin the system, be forcibly retired as soon as possible.

Another option would be to connect to NSW or Tasmania.

The cost of a new interconnector is high, with estimates of up to $3.75 billion for a connection between NSW and South Australia. Experience shows costs can blow out by almost double.

Meanwhile, rapid advances in technology, particularly in battery storage and grid management, make it uncertain whether expensive interconnectors are the right solution for the long term.

South Australian Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis wants the ability to ship his state’s wind power to other states, something coal-fired generators in NSW and Queensland would resist.

The challenge is to stop what is happening in South Australia from occurring elsewhere as the amount of intermittent power is expanded nationally to meet the state-based and federal renewable energy targets.

Already, existing generators are arguing for greater payment for the ancillary services they provide to keep the electricity network stable.

Payments for standby reserve power and voltage regulation that cannot be provided by wind and solar would lessen the dependence of baseload plants on the spot electricity market.

But is this not a Band-Aid solution rather than long-term vision?

Central planning can be a slippery slope.

“It is important to be clearer that this transition is not costless,” Donoghue says.

“Instead of thinking that the wind and sun are free, it would be better to give a more realistic understanding of what the costs will be.”

The more governments mandate things such as the amount of renewable energy in the market, the likelier they are to find themselves having to also support remaining dispatchable generators.

“If they (governments) want to direct the transition they are going to be on the hook for all the infrastructure as well,” Donoghue says.

And under the pathways put forward by the ALP and Greens they are also going to be on the hook for the heavy social transition costs as well.

It remains uncertain what pathway Frydenberg intends to take.

In his Brookings Institution address in February, Frydenberg said it was clear the global energy supply dynamic was moving to lower emission energy sources.

He said country comparisons showed that lowering emissions from the energy sector could not be one-dimensional because countries were starting from different positions and faced different challenges.

“One such challenge will be the need to question traditional energy supply” and “such a discussion is currently taking place in South Australia”, he said.

He was talking about the South Australian royal commission into nuclear energy, which he said had “revived the discussion about the role nuclear power could play in a low carbon economy”.

“Given South Australia has 78 per cent of Australia’s uranium reserves and the stable geology to store high-level waste, this debate is shifting community attitudes and has some way to run,” he said.

The Environment and Energy Minister has a substantial challenge ahead.

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 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

*****************************************


Monday, July 25, 2016



The Arctic is leaking methane 200 times faster than usual: Massive release of gas is creating giant holes and 'trembling tundras'

It has long been known that different parts of Siberia burp CH4 from time to time and it may perhaps be in response to warming -- either a local warming event or an El Nino warming.  It is not however due to anthropogenic global warming because there has been none of that for many years.

The present eruptions seem to be confined to the Yamal peninsula area, which is only a very small part of Siberia.  See Here regarding the inability of CH4 to affect global temperatures

And let me be really pesky by noting the finding:  "No significant increase in long-term CH4emissions on NorthSlope of Alaska despite significant increase in air temperature".  Alaska is geologically and climatically continuous with Siberia so if warming does not elevate  methane levels in Alaska it seems likely that it is not doing so in Siberia either.  So warming is NOT the cause of the CH4 burps presently being observed


Strange bubbles have been discovered in the Arctic permafrost - adding to mysterious behaviour seen in the region, including the sudden appearance of giant holes in northern Siberia.

Now Russian scientists have revealed the bubbles in the wobbly Earth are are leaking methane gas some 200 times above the norm in the atmosphere.

The 'trembling tundra' also contains concentrations of carbon dioxide 20 times higher than usual levels.

The extent of the harmful greenhouse gases buried in this new phenomenon of jelly-like bubbles poses 'very serious alarm' concerning the impact of global warming, expert Alexander Sokolov warned.

Some 15 examples of this swaying Siberian ground were revealed this week on Belyy Island, a polar bear outpost 475 miles (764km) north of the Arctic Circle in the Kara Sea.

One account from a Russian research team at the scene said: 'As we took off a layer of grass and soil, a fountain of gas erupted.'

'An early theory is that warm summer heat has melted the permafrost causing the release of long-frozen gases,'The Siberian Times reported.

The newspaper was the first to report the weird sight and has now shared the gas readings.

Startling video footage shows the ground wobbling under the feet of scientists.

'It was like a jelly,' said one researcher, who continued: 'We have not come across anything like this before.'

He warned there is 'serious reason to be concerned if gas bubbles appear in the permafrost zone' with 'unpredictable' consequences.

Dr Sokolov said he first saw the spectacle during an expedition on this Siberian island last year.

'I've been working in Yamal for twenty years now - some of my peers have been working here even longer - and it's the first time I have ever seen this,' said the ecological expert with the Urals Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

He explained: 'The day after seeing this bubble, we came across another one. 'As shown on our video, we punctured it and, let's say, "air" starting coming out quickly - it had no smell - and there was no liquid (eruption).'

The researchers went back and measured the gas that was released when the thin layer of grass and soil sealing in the methane and carbon dioxide was punctured.

'Gases are typically measured in parts per million or ppm,' he said.

'The gas analyser showed that one of these gases was dozens of times higher and another was hundreds of times higher than normal.'

The peak carbon dioxide measurement was 7750 ppm, while the methane reading was 375 ppm.

The island - which lies in the Kara Sea off the Yamal Peninsula - has had unusually warm weather this summer, including temperatures in the 20ºC (68ºF).

'It is likely that 10 days of extraordinary heat could have started some mechanisms, (and the) higher level of permafrost could have thawed and released a huge amount of gases,' Dr Sokolov said.

Three feet (one metre) down there is 'solid permafrost' so he believes the greenhouse gases are caused by the thawing of the surface layer only.

'It is evident even to amateurs that this is a very serious alarm,' he said, continuing: 'As for the future, we are interested in further study of the bubbles. 'We have discovered over a dozen of them. We need interdisciplinary study.'

South of Belvy Island, another phenomenon is being closely observed by scientists - the sudden formation of craters, caused by eruptions or explosions of methane gas, which has melted below the surface.

These Siberian craters are believed to have been caused by the release of gas previously frozen in the permafrost.

When the craters first appeared on the Yamal Peninsula - known to locals as 'the end of the world' - they sparked bizarre theories as to their formation.

They ranged from meteorites to stray missiles fired by Vladimir Putin's military machine, and from man-made pranks to the work of visiting aliens.

Most experts now believe they were created by explosions of methane gas unlocked by warming temperatures in the far north of Russia.

On Yamal, the main theory is that the craters were formed by pingos - dome-shaped mounds over a core of ice - erupting under pressure of methane gas released by the thawing of permafrost caused by climate change.

The Yamal craters, some tiny but others large, were created by natural gas filling vacant space in ice humps, eventually triggering eruptions, according to leading authority Professor Vasily Bogoyavlensky, of Moscow's Oil and Gas Research Institute.

Recently there were accounts of a 'big bang' leading to the formation of a crater on the Taimyr Peninsula. However, there was no pingo on this spot before the eruption in 2013.

The noise could be heard up to 60 miles away and one resident saw a 'glow in the sky' after the explosion, it was recently revealed.

SOURCE






Keeping the poor impoverished

Callous eco-imperialists use lies, scare stories to deny poor countries better living standards

Paul Driessen

We are just now entering the age of industrialization, newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte said recently, explaining why the Philippines will not ratify the Paris climate accords. “Now that we’re developing, you will impose a limit? That’s absurd. It’s being imposed upon us by the industrialized countries. They think they can dictate our destiny.”

More developing nations are taking the same stance – and rightly so. They increasingly understand that fossil fuels are needed to modernize, industrialize, electrify, and decrease poverty, malnutrition and disease. Many supported the 2015 Paris climate treaty for three reasons.

They are not required to reduce their oil, natural gas and coal use, economic development and greenhouse gas emissions, because doing so would prevent them from improving their people’s living standards.

They want the free technology transfers and trillions of dollars in climate “adaptation, mitigation and reparation” funds that now-wealthy nations promised to pay for alleged climate transgressions. But they now know those promises won’t be kept – especially by countries that absurdly insist on slashing their energy use, economic growth and job creation, while developing countries surge ahead.

Climate has always changed. It is far better to have energy, technology, modern housing and wealth to adapt to, survive, recover from and even thrive amid inevitable warming, cooling and weather events, than to forego these abilities (on the absurd assumption that humans can control climate and weather) – and be forced to confront nature’s onslaughts the way previous generations had to.

The November 7-18 Marrakech, Morocco UN climate conference (COP-22) thus promises to be a lot of hot air, just like its predecessors. Officially, its goal is to accelerate GHG emission reductions, “brainstorm” with government and business leaders to achieve “new levels of cooperation and technology sharing” (and subsidies), and embrace “urgent action” to help African and small island nations survive the supposed ravages of manmade droughts and rising seas.

The true purposes are to pressure industrialized nations to end most fossil fuel use by 2050; intentionally replace free enterprise capitalism with a “more equitable” system; “more fairly” redistribute the world’s wealth and natural resources; and ensure that poor countries develop “sustainably” and not “too much” – all under the direction and control of UN agencies and environmentalist pressure groups.

We might ask: Replace capitalism with what exactly? Dictatorial UN socialism? Redistribute what wealth exactly? After we’ve hobbled developed countries’ energy use, job creation and wealth creation, what will be left? As poor countries get rich, do you UN bureaucrats intend to take and redistribute their wealth to “less fortunate” nations that still fail to use fossil fuels or get rid of their kleptocratic leaders?

Africans are not endangered by manmade climate change. They are threatened by the same droughts and storms they have confronted for millennia, and by the same corrupt leaders who line their own pockets with climate and foreign aid cash, while doing nothing for their people and nothing to modernize their countries. Africa certainly does not need yet more callous outsider corruption dictating its future.

Pacific islanders likewise face no greater perils from seas rising at seven inches per century, than they have from seas that rose 400 feet since the last Ice Age glaciers melted, and their coral islands kept pace with those ocean levels – unless they too fail to use fossil fuel (and nuclear) power to modernize.

The Morocco-Paris-Bali-Rio manmade climate chaos mantra may protect people and planet from climate hobgoblins conjured up by garbage in-garbage out computer models. But it will perpetuate energy and economic poverty, imposed on powerless populations by eco-imperialist US, EU and UN functionaries.

Virtually every other environmentalist dogma has similar effects.

Sustainability precepts demand that we somehow predict future technologies – and ensure that today’s resource needs “will not compromise” the completely unpredictable energy and raw material needs that those unpredictable technologies will introduce. They require that we safeguard the assumed needs of future generations, even when it means ignoring or compromising the needs of current generations – including the needs, aspirations, health and welfare of the world’s poorest people.

Resource depletion claims fail to account for hydraulic fracturing and other new technologies that increase supplies, reduce their costs – or decrease the need for previously essential commodities, as fiber optic cables reduced the need for copper. The Stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stones. If we run out of something, it’s generally because governments prevented us from developing the resource.

Precautionary principles say we must focus on the risks of using chemicals, fossil fuels and other technologies – but never on the risks of not using them. We are required to emphasize minor, alleged, manageable, exaggerated or fabricated risks that a technology might cause, but ignore the risks it would reduce or prevent.

Because of illusory risks from biotechnology, we are to banish GMO Golden Rice and bananas that are rich in beta-carotene (which humans can convert into Vitamin A), and continue letting millions of children go blind or die. We are to accept millions more deaths from malaria, Zika, dengue, yellow fever and other diseases, because of imagined dangers of using DDT and insecticides. Must we also accept millions of cancer deaths, because of risks associated with radiation and chemo therapies?

Over the past three decades, fossil fuels helped 1.3 billion more people get electricity and escape deadly energy and economic poverty – over 830 million because of coal. China connected 99% of its population to the grid, also mostly with coal, enabling its average citizens to be ten times richer and live 32 years longer than five decades previously.

But another 1.2 billion people (the US, Canadian, Mexican and European populations combined) still do not have electricity. Another 2 billion have electrical power only sporadically and unpredictably and must still cook and heat with wood, charcoal and animal dung. Hundreds of millions get horribly sick and five million die every year from lung and intestinal diseases, due to breathing smoke from open fires and not having refrigeration, clean water and safe food. Because of climate “risks,” we are to let this continue.

Or as former Earth Island Institute editor Gar Smith so charmingly put it: “African villagers used to spend their days and evenings sewing clothing for their neighbors on foot-peddle-powered sewing machines.” Once they get electricity, they spend too much time watching television and listening to the radio. “If there is going to be electricity, I would like it to be decentralized, small and solar-powered.”

Of course, as a young black California mother reminded me a few years ago, eco-imperialism is not just a developing country issue. It is a global problem. “Because of their paranoid fear of sprawl,” LaTonya told me, “elitist eco-imperialists employ endless regulations and restrictions that prevent upwardly-mobile people of color from improving their lot in life. Only we, the wealthy and privileged, they seem to insist, can live in nice homes and safe neighborhoods, have good jobs and enjoy modern lifestyles.”

These ideologies and policies are absurd, callous, immoral, eco-imperialistic and genocidal. They inflict unconscionable crimes against humanity on the poorest among us. They can no longer be tolerated.

Rich nations used fossil fuels to advance science, create wondrous technologies beyond previous generations’ wildest imaginings, eradicate killer diseases, increase life expectancy from 46 in 1900 to 78 today, and give even poor families better living standards than kings and queens enjoyed a century ago.

Instead of holding poor countries and billions of less fortunate people back for still more decades, we are ethically bound to do everything we can to encourage and assist them to throw off their shackles, and join the world’s wealthy, healthy, technologically advanced nations.

Via email




Golden Rice: the miracle crop greens love to hate

Rice is the staple food of over 3.5 billion people, most of whom live in the poorest parts of the world. But the world’s staple does come with one major drawback. Despite being loaded with other nutrients, rice is naturally lacking in vitamin A.

The Lancet estimates that, every year, around 670,000 children under the age of five die as a result of vitamin-A deficiency. Imagine, then, the development potential of a genetically modified, mass-market strain of rice that is packed with all the typical nutrients you’d expect, but which also comes loaded with vitamin A.

Golden Rice is such a crop, and it’s the genetically modified organism (GMO) the South has been waiting for. Unfortunately, certain groups are agitating against Golden Rice over claims it is dangerous – despite it having passed every test and safety check it has ever faced. This resistance is largely thanks to environmental organisations like Greenpeace, who have spent decades campaigning relentlessly against GMOs on the basis of unfounded health concerns.

This is despite the fact that GM foodstuffs are commonplace in the US, where the crops are needed far less than they are in the poorest parts of the world. Yet Greenpeace continues to wage war on these revolutionary new foodstuffs, batting away study after study that emerges in defence of GMOs like Golden Rice.

Greenpeace has become so blindly dogmatic in its approach that, late last month, 110 Nobel Laureates signed an open letter condemning its rejection of GMOs. The signatories, who account for one third of living Nobel laureates, went so far as to suggest that Greenpeace’s demonisation of perfectly healthy GMOs, particularly Golden Rice, is akin to a ‘crime against humanity’. They estimate that many of the two million annual deaths attributed to vitamin-A deficiency could be prevented by Golden Rice.

In its response, Greenpeace claimed that its opposition to Golden Rice is down to the failure of manufacturers to produce it cheaply and plentifully. This is a bit rich, considering obstructions by environmentalists has made production of Golden Rice difficult. In 2013, green activists destroyed trial plots of Golden Rice in the Philippines – setting its development back by years.

Perhaps eco-alarmists genuinely believe, in their own paternalistic way, that they are helping the global poor by restricting their access to these new crops. However, their dogmatic resistance to scientific progress is doing more damage than all the GMOs in the world ever could.

Greenpeace should consider looking at the facts. Throughout the history of their existence, nobody has died as a result of eating GMOs. Countless lives have certainly been lost in that time, however, and many development opportunities have been stifled, thanks to hunger.

It’s time organisations like Greenpeace ended their ingrained opposition to Golden Rice and other GM crops. It’s time we all embraced the life-changing potential of such crops.

SOURCE





Court Sinks Navy Over Whales

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that federal rules don’t give enough protection to inhabitants of the world’s oceans. This ruling was a reversal of a lower court’s ruling in 2012 that had approved of rules for naval peacetime operations. It was not that the Navy had gone beyond the regulations. The court stated, “We have every reason to believe that the Navy has been deliberate and thoughtful” in keeping the rules, but the court believed that the rules did not go far enough in protecting marine mammals — specifically whales.

The ruling on the federal regulations dealt specifically with the Navy’s use of low-frequency sonar, which is used by the Navy primarily in the detection of submarines. What environmental groups have contested is that the use of this sonar technology is dangerous to various mammal sea life, specifically whales. It is known that sonar activity affects whales, but it is not well established specifically how dangerous the activity is to the whales.

In 2008 a California judge had ruled that naval ships using sonar had to stay clear of a 12-mile wide stretch along the coast. This ruling was challenged by the Navy and later that year the U.S. Supreme Court rule in favor of the Navy, concluding that national security was of greater importance than specious environmental concerns.

This latest ruling once again pits environmental groups and their interests against that of national security. While it is rarely a good idea to dismiss environmental concerns out right, the ability of the U.S. to defended itself is of a higher priority. For without the security secured by our nation’s military forces, Americans would not enjoy the freedom to engage in promoting protections for the environment.

SOURCE





Australia: Business angry as S.A. wind turbines suck more power than they generate

Wind turbines in South Australia were using more power than they generated during the state’s electricity crisis, which has prompted major businesses to threaten shutdowns and smaller firms to consider moving interstate.

The sapping of power by the turbines during calm weather on July 7 at the height of the ­crisis, which has caused a price surge, shows just how unreliable and ­intermittent wind power is for a state with a renewable ­energy mix of more than 40 per cent. Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox ­yesterday said the rise in prices, ­already the highest in the country, had disrupted industry and served as a warning for the rest of the ­­­­nat­ion. “That is a serious blow to energy users across SA and has disrupted supply chains upon which thousands of jobs depend,” he said.

“The real risk is if this volatility becomes the norm across the ­National Electricity Market.

“In June, electricity cost South Australia $133 per megawatt hour on average — already a high price. But since July 1, electricity prices have spiked above $10,000 per MWh at times.”

Mr Willox echoed warnings of the South Australian government on the weekend, saying “We will see similar episodes again, and not just in SA”, and backing calls for major reform of the NEM.

“Changes in the pattern of ­energy demand and the ongoing build-up of wind and solar make life increasingly difficult for ‘baseload’ electricity generators across the country,” he said.

The power crisis comes amid growing pressure from independent senator Nick Xenophon to invest hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into struggling South Australian businesses to save jobs, and as the Turnbull government attempts to establish a hi-tech ­submarine manufacturing industry in the state.

An analysis of data from the Australian Energy Market Operator, responsible for the administration and operation of the wholesale NEM, shows the turbines’ down time on July 7 coincided with NEM prices for South Australia reaching almost $14,000 per MWh

NEM prices in other markets have been as low as $40 per MWh with the AI Group estimating this month’s power surge in South Australian electricity prices had cost $155 million.

While all wind farms in South Australia were producing about 5780MW between 6am and 7am, by 1pm the energy generation was in deficit as the turbines consumed more power than they created. By mid-afternoon, energy generation by all wind farms was minus-50MW.

The situation forced several major companies, including BHP Billiton and Arrium, to warn the state government of possible shutdowns because of higher energy prices, forcing Treasurer and ­Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis to intervene by asking a private operator of a mothballed gas-fired plant in Adelaide for a temporary power spike.

BHP, which employs about 3000 people at its Olympic Dam mine in the state’s far north, said its operations in South Australia were under a cloud.  “The security and reliability of power have been a significant ­concern for BHP Billiton and the sustainability of Olympic Dam,” the miner’s head of corporate ­affairs, Simon Corrigan, said.

Opposition energy spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the snapshot of wind power operations in the state showed the Labor government’s energy policies had created an oversupply of cheap wind energy at times but that forced it to import from interstate when prices shot up.  “This wouldn’t be a problem if we still had a reasonable amount of base load generation but we don’t,” he said.

Mr Koutsantonis yesterday said improved interconnection for a “truly national electricity ­market” would drive prices down immediately. Federal Energy Minster Josh Frydenberg declined to be interviewed yesterday, but said he would convene a Council of Australian Governments meeting as soon as possible.

Not everyone is unhappy — farmer Peter Ebsary hosts four turbines from the Snowtown wind farm in South Australia’s mid north. The wind farm, owned by TrustPower, is the state’s largest.

“We get a financial return and don’t have to do anything ... we just sit back and collect the money as long as the wind blows,” he said.

SOURCE





‘Quintessential Insider Deal’: Taxpayers Finance Family Ties of 2 Failing Green Companies

Grassroots conservative activists who run a reboot of Ronald Reagan’s political action committee want to know why the government allows one failing company to buy another failing company while both get taxpayer subsidies.

They also want to know why corporate executives with friends in high places have not been subjected to more scrutiny after receiving a multimillion-dollar compensation package at a time when their company remains heavily subsidized at taxpayer expense.

“This is the quintessential insider deal,” one taxpayer advocate said in an interview with The Daily Signal.

Citizens for the Republic, a nonprofit, grassroots lobbying group, posed the two questions in a July 15 letter to members of the House and Senate as the lawmakers left Washington for summer recess.

The group calls on Congress to investigate the CEO and the chief technology officer of SolarCity, a renewable energy company based in San Mateo, California. The two SolarCity executives happen to be brothers; Lyndon and Peter Rive also happen to be first cousins to Elon Musk, chairman and co-founder of SolarCity.

Musk is also chairman and founder of Tesla Motors Inc., an electric car company based in Palo Alto, California. In June, Tesla Motors offered to buy SolarCity.

Musk is the largest shareholder in both companies, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

The proposed $2.8 billion deal would provide Musk and his cousins, the Rive brothers, with an additional $700 million in Tesla stock, according to media reports.

Musk anticipates a “supermajority of shareholders” will approve his bid, The Wall Street Journal reported. The 45-year-old business mogul was expected to unveil a new master plan for the combined companies as early as this week.

“Elon Musk has been getting bailout after bailout to prop up his companies that never succeed,” Diana Banister, partner in Shirley & Banister Public Affairs and executive director of Citizens for the Republic, told The Daily Signal in an interview, adding of Musk:

    "Why is the government bailing him out and giving him taxpayer money when last year he said he doesn’t need subsidies? Musk is bailing out his own company with taxpayer dollars. That’s how much of a racket this is. Musk is getting subsidies for one company and then using those subsidies to bail out another company that’s also subsidized".

Questioning Compensation Packages

Its letter to Congress is an extension of Citizens for the Republic’s Sunlight Project, set up in 2015 “to monitor and expose corruption and cronyism at the nexus of government and business.”

Sunlight Project keeps tabs on Musk’s corporate enterprises at the Stop Elon From Failing Again website, unveiled in June. The site says it is devoted to “challenging the waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer money by the failures of Elon Musk.”

The Daily Signal obtained a version of the July 15 letter addressed to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. It reads in part:

    "As heads of grassroots organizations devoted to fiscal responsibility and government accountability, we urge Congress to launch an immediate investigation of Lyndon Rive, the chief executive officer of SolarCity, and his brother Peter Rive, the company’s chief technology officer, for their $128.9 million cumulative compensation package while the company is simultaneously receiving more than half a billion dollars in federal direct grants and just as much, if not more, from state and local governments"

The letter is signed by Banister and Craig Shirley, her partner in Shirley & Banister Public Affairs and chairman of Citizens for the Republic, which is a nonprofit under 501(c)(4) of the tax code.  Shirley is the founder, chairman, and CEO of the pair’s public relations and marketing company, where Banister is president.

Also signing the letter were David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, a nonprofit focused on government’s effects  on the economy and tax burden, and Seton Motley, president of Less Government, a nonprofit seeking to reduce government’s power and  safeguard First Amendment rights

Reagan originally established Citizens for the Republic in 1977, three years before he won the presidency. Conservative activists rebooted the political action committee in 2010, with Banister and Shirley as board members. Shirley is the author of three books on Reagan, including one on his unsuccessful 1976 campaign for the White House.

‘Taking a Hard Look’

With Congress on recess, the political action committee has not received any official response to its letters regarding Musk and the Rive brothers.

Banister, however, said she received encouraging feedback from a few key lawmakers, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services.

Banister said she sees an opportunity for lawmakers to revisit and review the merits of the Solar Investment Tax Credit if they press ahead with investigations into the Rive brothers and their compensation package.

“Once congressional investigations get started, they could possibly start a conversation about public policy reforms that could better protect taxpayer interests,” Banister said. “This means taking a hard look at the Solar Investment Tax Credit.”

The tax credit was extended as part of the 2015 omnibus spending package that passed Congress late last year. The PAC’s letter says:

    "The solar leasing industry is propped up by the Solar Investment Tax Credit, which subsidizes every panel that they lease. The [credit] was intended to provide subsidies for the growth of renewable technology, but we are concerned that it is being used to pad the paycheck of solar executives, like the Rive brothers"

The letter claims SolarCity “lost more than 50 percent of its value” over the past year, but persists because of government subsidies and the intervention of Musk.

“Doesn’t this all seem a little incestuous and little corrupt?” Banister asked. “I’d say it’s actually extremely corrupt, and it’s time for Congress to start paying attention.”

‘Corporate Favoritism’

The Daily Signal contacted both Tesla Motors and SolarCity, inviting both companies to comment on the letter calling for congressional investigations. Tesla has not yet responded.

In an email, Will Craven, SolarCity’s director of policy and electricity markets, said the “compensation numbers” are “tied to ambitious goals that will take years to achieve, and will only be paid out should SolarCity hit those goals, for example a stock price of $400 per share.”

Craven also referred to a blog post from Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s CEO, addressing the compensation issue. In it, Rive writes:

    "My own compensation is based on this principle: If SolarCity does not significantly increase value for shareholders and employees and deliver a better experience for customers, then I do not deserve more than my base salary, and that’s the only pay I will receive"

“If this wasn’t a green energy company, you would have both Democrats and Republicans screaming about this,” Williams, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance president, told The Daily Signal, adding:

    "This is the quintessential insider deal. But because this involves green energy you have the left overlooking corporate welfare and corporate favoritism because it’s something they like. But if it involved a big bank or some other company, the left and the right would be up in arms about this".

Tesla is the subject of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of the fatal crash of its Model S car. The driver was using the car’s autopilot when it crashed.

The investigation appears to be focused on finding out whether the crash was material to Tesla’s $2.3 billion secondary offering May 18, a few weeks later.

SOURCE

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