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Climate change: Mr. Obama, 97 percent of experts is a bogus number

Obama pen phoneNinety-seven percent of scientists agree: Climate change is real, man-made and dangerous. President Obama tweeted that, and it has been repeated by countless others. It is tempting for a politician to claim that 97 percent of experts agree with you. But do they?

The 97 percent claim was taken from a study paper by Australian John Cook, Climate Communications Fellow for the Global change Institute at the University of Queensland, and his colleagues, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters in May, 2013. The paper says nothing about the would-be dangers of climate change and it counts the number of publications, rather than the number of scientists, in support of human-made climate change. Never let facts get in the way of a good story.

The paper is a treasure trove of how-not-to lessons for a graduate class on survey design and analysis: the sample was not representative, statistical tests were ignored, and the results were misinterpreted.

Some of the mistakes in the study should be obvious to all. There are hundreds of papers on the causes of climate change, and thousands of papers on the impacts of climate change and climate policy. Cook focused on the latter. A paper on the impact of a carbon tax on emissions was taken as evidence that the world is warming. A paper on the impact of climate change on the Red Panda was taken as evidence that humans caused this warming. And even a paper on the television coverage of climate change was seen by Cook as proof that carbon dioxide is to blame.

Cook and Co. analysed somewhere between 11,944 and 12,876 papers ‚Äì they can’t get their story straight on the sample size ‚Äì but only 64 of these explicitly state that humans are the primary cause of recent global warming. A reexamination of their data brought that number down to 41. That is half a per cent or less of the total, rather than 97 percent.

The remainder of Cook’s “evidence” is papers that said that humans caused some climate change and, more importantly, papers that Cook’s colleagues thought said as much.

There is vigorous debate about how much humans have contributed to climate change, but no one argues the effect is zero. By emitting greenhouse gases, changing the landscape, rerouting rivers, and huddling together in cities, we change the climate – perhaps by a little, perhaps by a lot – but not one expert doubts we do. However, a true consensus – 100 per cent agreement – does not serve to demonize those experts who raise credible concerns with the state of climate research.

The trouble does not end there. Cook has been reluctant to share his data for others to scrutinize. He has claimed that some data are protected by confidentiality agreements, even when they are not. He was claimed that some data were not collected, even when they were. The paper claims that each abstract was read by two independent readers, but they freely compared notes. Cook and Co. collected data, inspected the results, collected more data, inspected the results again, changed their data classification, collected yet more data, inspected the results once more, and changed their data classification again, before they found their magic 97 percent. People who express concern about the method have been smeared.

We would hope that the president of the United States of America does not spend time checking such trivia. That is the job of the editor of the journal, Dan Kammen of the University of California at Berkeley, who unfortunately has chosen to ignore all issues I and others raised about them. Similarly, the journal’s publisher, the Institute of Physics, and Cook’s employer, the University of Queensland, have turned a deaf ear to my concerns. What was an incompetent piece of research has become a highly influential study, its many errors covered up.

And for what? If Cook’s results are to be believed, 97 percent of experts agree that climate change is real and largely human-made. This does not tell us anything about the risks of climate change, let alone how these compare to the risks of climate policy.

That is a difficult trade-off, and it should be informed by the best possible science rather than dodgy work like Cook’s.

Richard Tol is a professor of economics at the University of Sussex and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He has been involved in the IPCC since 1994.

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The real climate threat to our national security

Greenpeaces-time-for-chan-010Greenpeace destroying another environmental wonder.President Obama had it all wrong in his recent commencement address at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. He warned that climate change “deniers” endanger our national security ‚Äì insisting that denial “undermines the readiness of our forces.”

In fact, climate change true believers are the real threat to our national security. That includes the notorious Seattle mob of Greenpeace “kayaktivists” who were recently paddling around Puget Sound, in kayaks made from petroleum, trying to stop Shell Oil’s Polar Pioneer Arctic drilling rig from making a layover at the Port of Seattle to gear up for Alaskan waters.

When thwarted by the Coast Guard’s 500-foot no-approach cordon, the Greenpeace canoe crowd left the harbor and took to the streets, where they blocked supplier access to the rig until city police dispersed them.

These angry picketers are the threat. They undermine America’s share of the Arctic Ocean’s estimated 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 13 percent of its oil reserves. That fuel could power the military as well as civilians.

How can slogan shouters endanger America’s national security when their targets are civilian oil rigs? Shell’s rigs will draw needed attention to the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in an ocean filling with Russia’s growing Arctic supremacy. This month, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told a Senate appropriations committee hearing that the U.S. military Arctic defense policy is falling short.

The United States lacks ships able to operate in or near Arctic ice. We have only two medium icebreakers, one of which is nearly a decade past pull date. Russia has 40 big icecap-crunchers, 25 of them nuclear-powered, including one battleship-size beast ominously named 50 Years of Victory (but it takes tourists to the North Pole for 15-day cruises at $30,000 and up).

Our entire Alaskan Arctic coast has no U.S. military base, not one. Russian jets make nearly monthly incursions to the Air Defense Identification Zones off the coast of Alaska. Interceptors have to fly to the north coast from Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks (500 miles) or all the way from Elemendorf AFB in Anchorage (725 miles).

President Putin strategically laid claim to great swaths of Arctic oil and gas with deployed rigs. He has activated the Northern Fleet – two-thirds of the entire Russian Navy – as a strategic military command. And he has assigned a 6,000-soldier Russian Arctic warfare unit to the archipelago of Novaya Zemlya, with next generation fighter aircraft in addition to advanced S400 Triumf anti-aircraft systems. An Arctic military reconnaissance drone base 420 miles off mainland Alaska is operational.

In February, President Obama seemed to have adopted the Greenpeace strategy of roll over and play dead, when he stripped Alaska of vast stores of its oil and gas wealth, by reducing offshore drilling and declaring most of the 19.6-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge off limits to oil production. Yet his administration approved a conditional permit for Shell’s Arctic oil exploration.

The United States “may be 40 years behind” Russia, Alaska’s Senator Lisa Murkowski told Defense Secretary Carter. This spring, the U.S. Northern Command is supposed to release a report that is expected to militarize the existing 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region. However, according to the strategy, as reported by Foreign Policy Journal, “the Navy’s role will primarily be in support of search and rescue, law enforcement, and civil support operations.”

Shell’s oil rigs provide peaceful reasons for our warships and planes to patrol the Arctic in counterbalance to Russia. Carter told Murkowski, “The Arctic is going to be a major area of importance to the United States strategically and economically to the future.”

Research by Chicago-area Heartland Institute found a secret beneath Greenpeace’s anti-oil ruckus: it is funded by oil-drenched millions from investments in ExxonMobil, Chevron, PetroChina and dozens of other fossil fuel firms, ironically including shares of Royal Dutch Shell, owner of the rig docked in Seattle.

According to Foundation Search, the top Greenpeace donor is the leftist-run David and Lucile Packard Foundation, which paid them a total of $2,146,690 since 2000. The deceased electronics mogul’s foundation managers boast 2013 assets of $6.9 billion.

They have invested enormous working capital into Anadarko Petroleum, Apache Corporation, Arch Coal, Carrizo Oil and Gas, Chevron, ConocoPhilips, Devon Energy, Duke Energy, ExxonMobil, Marathon Oil, Occidental Petroleum, Phillips66, Questar, Tesoro, Valero Energy, World Fuel Service (a defendant in lawsuits over the 2013 oil train explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec that killed 47 people), and many others. They pay Greenpeace from the profits.

Second-ranked Greenpeace donor is the leftist-funding Arcus Foundation, which gave the Rainbow Warrior security threats $1,055,651 since 2007. Established by ultra-green billionaire Jon Stryker, Arcus’ 2013 assets totaled $169,472,585 ‚Äì with working capital injected into China Petroleum, ExxonMobil, PetroChina, Royal Dutch Shell and TransCanada (the “tar” sands pipeline company). It also paid Greenpeace from its fossil fuel profits.

The list of foundations giving oil profits to Greenpeace goes on and on ‚Äì and Greenpeace goes on and on hypocritically taking those oil profits to undermine America’s real energy future.

This cabal could redeem itself instantly: they could just stop using any fossil fuels right now.

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Ron Arnold is Executive Vice President of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise. This article originally appeared in The Daily Caller.

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Harper’s climate pledge is hot air

stephen harperIn announcing the Stephen Harper government’s new greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets earlier this month, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said Canada will “work with our international partners to establish an international agreement in Paris that includes meaningful and transparent commitments from all major emitters.”

But Canadians are being tricked.

Any GHG emission reduction pledges made by developing countries in Paris later this year will almost certainly not be enforced.

Written in bureaucratese, the convoluted first sentence in last December’s “Lima Call for Climate Action,” the United Nations’ last major climate change agreement, indicated exactly that.

It reads: “The Conference of the Parties, Reiterating that the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) shall be under the Convention and guided by its principles…”

The ADP is the group of back room negotiators who are drafting the text for the big climate deal to be signed in Paris in December.

The “Convention” refers to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), signed by former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and hundreds of other world leaders at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992.

And the ADP’s work will adhere to the UNFCCC, including its critical Article 4: “The extent to which developing country Parties will effectively implement their commitments under the Convention will depend on the effective implementation by developed country Parties of their commitments under the Convention related to financial resources and transfer of technology and will take fully into account that economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country Parties.”

Translated, this means that, under any treaty based on the UNFCCC (which all UN climate agreements are), developing countries will keep their emission reduction commitments only if we in the developed world pay them enough and give them enough of our technology.

Also implied in the article is that, even if we give them everything we promise, developing countries may simply forget about their GHG targets if they interfere with their “first and overriding priorities” of “economic and social development and poverty eradication.”

Developed nations like Canada, on the other hand, do not have this option. We must keep our emission reduction commitments no matter how severely it impacts our economies.

It is not as if the UN has been hiding this “firewall” between developing and developed nations.

It has told us repeatedly in UN climate change agreements in Copenhagen, Cancun, Durban and Lima that, “development and poverty eradication,” not emission reduction, takes top billing for developing countries.

Actions to significantly reduce GHG emissions would entail dramatically cutting back on the use of coal, the source of 81% of China’s electricity and 71% of India’s.

As coal is by far the least expensive source of electric power in most of the world, reducing GHG emissions by restricting coal use would unquestionably interfere with development priorities.

So, developing countries simply won’t do it, citing the UNFCCC in support of their actions.

Some commentators have speculated that tougher requirements will be imposed by the UN on poor nations over time as they develop.

The only way this can happen is if there are substantial revisions to the UNFCCC treaty.

China, India and other developing countries have clearly indicated that they will not allow this to happen any time soon.

Chinese negotiator Su Wei summed up the stance of developing nations when he explained that the purpose of the Paris agreement is to “reinforce and enhance” the 1992 convention, not rewrite it.

Canada withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol in part because it lacked legally binding GHG targets for developing countries.

So why is the Harper government supporting a process that will result in our country being stuck in another Kyoto?

____________

Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa-based International Climate Science Coalition, which challenges the hypothesis that carbon dioxide emissions from human activities are known to cause climate problems. This article originally appeared in the Toronto Sun.

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Exxon on renewable energy: ‘We choose not to lose money on purpose’

Rex Tillerson, Wikimedia, William MunozRex Tillerson Source: Wikimedia, by William MunozIn a move on Wednesday that didn’t surprise industry analysts, the shareholders of the two largest oil companies resoundingly said no to proposals that would have put climate change experts on Exxon and Chevron’s boards and impose unrealistic goals on cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from their products. Exxon’s CEO also remarked that investing in renewable energy is akin to losing ‘money on purpose.’

This isn’t the first time that activists, embedded in big oil as shareholders, have tried to steer the companies into unprofitable waters with meaningless gestures. With crude oil prices at all-time lows due to vast improvements in fracking, profits at the largest oil producers are modest at best. Exxon’s CEO Rex Tillerson told shareholders that the company is well positioned to withstand the fluctuations in oil prices and still produce a return on their investments. He also said the company does not intend to lose money by investing in renewable energy. Something Tillerson may have gleaned after seeing Al Gore’s un-green corporate investment portfolio.

Tillerson forecasts that the next two years will be particularly difficult because of the vast supplies of oil on the world market and the anemic economic growth that’s been persistent for the past six years. The explosion of new wells from fracking is also adding to big oil’s woes, as more oil is flooding the market and driving prices down. With ISIS selling millions of barrels of crude on the black market to finance its Middle East takeover, oil prices have dropped in lockstep. Exxon believes that cost-cutting measures and a reduction in capital spending will help it remain profitable and is adjusting itself accordingly.

Shareholders also rejected a proposal by a Catholic Priest organization from Milwaukee to put a ‘climate change expert’ on the board of directors. Exxon’s board opposed the idea saying it had “several board members have engineering and scientific backgrounds and can handle climate issues.” The proposal garnered only 21 percent support and the outcome of that proposal was similar at Chevron’s board meeting.

According to the Missoulian, Michael Crosby, who sponsored the resolution at Exxon’s meeting, said the company is too focused on oil and gas and should be more focused on renewable energy and climate change. “This company has to be making plans for the future,” he said. “Let’s get an expert on the board to deal with a critical question.”

Worse still for activists, less than 10 percent of the shareholders at Exxon and Chevron thought proposals for reducing CO2 emissions from its products was important. Vermont’s state treasurer Beth Pearce believes institutional stakeholders are growing more concerned about the topic, and thinks Exxon’s strategy is “wholly inadequate.”

Tillerson also noted that the computer models used to predict the effects of global warming haven’t been very good and it would be “very hard” to meet the aggressive CO2-reduction targets that environmentalists are clamoring to have put in place.

In fact, an April 2015 study published in the peer-reviewed journal ‘Scientific Reports’ revealed that global warming was not progressing at the rate suggested by the worst-case computer models released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The study examined 1,000 years of temperature records and it showed global warming was not progressing as fast as it would even under the most severe emissions scenarios as outlined by the IPCC.

The Exxon CEO said that technology can help the world cope with any foreseeable sea level rise “that may or may not be induced by climate change. Mankind has this enormous capacity to deal with adversity,” Tillerson said, noting that his answer may likely be an “unsatisfactory answer to a lot of people.” When asked at the meeting why Exxon doesn’t invest in renewable energy, Tillerson replied, “We choose not to lose money on purpose.” Shareholders at the meeting then broke out into thunderous applause.

Exxon made “$32.5 billion last year, down less than 1 percent from 2013, even though oil prices had fallen by half as much in late 2014.” The first quarter of 2015 showed Exxon dropping “46 percent when compared to the same period in 2014,” but still earning $4.9 billion. Both companies lost shares when the markets closed on Wednesday.

Stuart Varney, host and analyst of Fox Business’ Varney & Company, appeared on Fox News Channel this morning and reported that Exxon is also lobbying Pope Francis ahead of the looming climate encyclical expected to be released ahead of the U.N. Paris Climate talks, in which President Obama has promised the U.S. will make massive CO2 cuts even though China and India have opted out of this ‘treaty.’

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NOAA announces weak hurricane season as Obama talks climate change

obamaPresident Obama will be in Miami today to get a briefing on the upcoming hurricane season and to warn the public about the dangers of climate change. A day earlier, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said this hurricane season will be below-normal, with only a six to 11 storms predicted and three perhaps making landfall. Obama is using this annual visit to pander his long-standing climate change beliefs that historically simply haven’t come to pass.

In the past ten years, no Category-3 or higher hurricane has made landfall, and those that have gone ashore have hit unusually dense areas with large populations and seaside structures, a formula for disaster when any hurricane strikes. It’s been the longest dry spell of hurricanes since the Civil War, even though computer models predicted hurricanes would increase in number and intensity in a world that includes warmer ocean temperatures.

During his visit to Miami, Obama will talk about how the federal government and local communities are doing to prepare for climate change. According to WTVD, “the news of a below average season came as local and state emergency managers, meteorologists, and researchers gathered Wednesday at East Carolina University’s 6th annual Hurricane Conference.”

Using executive fiat and the regulatory agencies at his disposal, Obama has acted to limit carbon dioxide “emissions from vehicles and power plants that are blamed for global warming.” But according to NOAA, carbon dioxide levels have reached a new global level of 400 parts per million for March, even though global temperatures have not risen for nearly 19 years.

Scientists also believe that in years in which an El Ni√±o occurs, hurricanes are not as strong and are fewer in number, though history has shown otherwise. So far this year, a small El Ni√±o is already occurring in the Pacific ocean, though its strength and length has not yet been determined.

Last week, the president addressed the Norfolk Naval Academy during its commencement and warned them that climate change is the nation’s greatest security threat. These remarks came as Ramadi, Iraq, was being captured by ISIS and the juxtaposition of the two left both Democrats and Republicans exasperated that climate change would take precedence over a terrorist organization.

While in Miami, Obama is likely to bring up examples of recent natural events to highlight his climate change narrative, once more shining a spotlight on Miami and flooding in previous years. As reported here, the so-called flooding in the streets of Miami is nothing new as the land mass the city sits on has actually gotten larger in the past 50 years. Sea level rise around Florida as measured by tidal gauges show it has leveled off to about 1 mm per year.

Flooding in the streets of Miami and elsewhere has nothing to do with higher sea levels and more to do with a higher density of people living near the coast and outdated drainage systems unable to accommodate Miami’s growing population. Miami is on track to have its ancient drainage system overhauled under Governor Rick Scott’s multi-year program to update Florida’s aging infrastructure systems.

The annual hurricane briefing is usually done in Washington, D.C., but the president remained in Miami overnight after a pair of Democratic fundraisers late Wednesday. White House spokesman Eric Schultz said, “We thought that this year it would be appropriate to go down to the Hurricane Center in person, take a look at a lot of the new technologies they’ve been employing.”

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Pope Francis on the environment vs. Pope Francis on the family

Believing that human activity causes global warming, aka climate change, may soon be an official article of faith.

That appears to be the premise of leaders of Catholic social action groups in the wake of the announcement that Pope Francis will issue an encyclical on the subject in June, and address the United Nations on its importance while in the United States later this year.

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Scientists Don’t Actually Know What’s Causing ‘Extreme Weather’

Eleven inches of rain drenched Houston on Memorial Day. The Texas metropolis is among the areas hardest-hit by a storm system that has soaked much of Texas, Oklahoma, and northern Mexico since the weekend, resulting in more than 30 deaths and a dozen missing persons. Naturally, Bill Nye the Science Guy had an explanation:

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<p dir=”ltr” lang=”en” xml:lang=”en”>Billion$$ in damage in Texas &amp; Oklahoma. Still no weather-caster may utter the phrase Climate Change. <a href=”http://t.co/9J10deVQ7S”>pic.twitter.com/9J10deVQ7S</a></p>
— Bill Nye (@BillNye) <a href=”https://twitter.com/BillNye/status/603229369243410432″>May 26, 2015</a></blockquote>
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The severe flooding, following as it does a years-long drought in the Lone Star State, has seemed to many an obvious demonstration of the dangerous consequences of climate change: “A steadily escalating whipsaw between drought and flood is one of the most confident predictions of an atmosphere with enhanced evaporation rates — meaning, global warming,” writes meteorologist Eric Holthaus at Slate. “Texas’s quick transition from drought hellscape to underwater theme park was egged on by both El Ni√±o and climate change.”

“Going from one extreme to another is a hallmark of climate change,” writes Samantha Page at ThinkProgress, who loses no time fingering the culprits: “Texas and Oklahoma both face intensifying drought and flooding, although politicians in both states have denied climate change.”

As with any major weather event, though, two questions arise: 1) Is the event caused by anthropogenic global warming? and 2) If it is, could we do anything about it?

“Science does not say that climate change is CAUSING the extreme rain and drought we’re seeing across the U.S. today, and in recent years,” Katharine Hayhoe, of the Texas Tech University Climate Science Center, told Scientific American. “Just like steroids make a baseball player stronger, climate change EXACERBATES many of our weather extremes, making many of them, on average, worse than they would have been naturally.”

Among such weather extremes is El Ni√±o, which NOAA recently announced has made its return this year, and which may last through the end of 2015. Eric Holthaus is right to point out that El Ni√±o is linked to the Texas storm system — but he is exactly wrong when he writes that El Ni√±o’s “most important feature is its predictability.” Noteworthy about El Ni√±o, which is caused by abnormally warm water in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, is its unpredictability. “For reasons still not well understood,” writes Jon Erdman at the Weather Channel’s website, “every 2-7 years, this patch of ocean warms for a period of 6-18 months.” In fact, predicting a new El Ni√±o has become something of a meteorological pastime in recent years: In 2012, 2013, and 2014 confident predictions were dashed. “Waiting for El Ni√±o is starting to feel like waiting for Godot,” wrote U.S. Climate Prediction Center scientist Michelle L’Heureux last year.

Part of the reason for scientists’ errant predictions is the complicated interplay of conditions — wind and water — that allows El Ni√±o to take shape. But it is also the case that, as Erdman writes, “no two El Ni√±os are exactly alike.” It is one thing to correctly predict that El Ni√±o will take form; it is another entirely to predict what effects it will have.

Consider the link between El Ni√±o and hurricane activity. It is generally agreed that El Ni√±o tends to decrease Atlantic hurricane activity; however, the least active recent hurricane season — 2013 — did not follow an El Ni√±o, and in 2004, when 15 storms and nine hurricanes formed — and Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne all made landfall in the U.S. — a weak El Ni√±o preceded them.

From this chronicle of scientific disagreement it should be clear just how insupportable are the easy links being drawn by climate-change alarmists in the media.

Additionally, despite claims to the contrary, it is not clear that El Ni√±os are gaining significantly in frequency or strength. El Ni√±o is part of a large-scale oscillation in the ocean-atmosphere nexus called the El Ni√±o-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). A research team led by Georgia Tech climatologist Kim Cobb studied climate-change indicators in coral to study ENSO activity over the past 7,000 years (N.B.: Much longer than mankind has been using aerosol sprays). “The corals document highly variable ENSO activity, with no evidence for a systematic trend in ENSO variance,” Cobb’s team wrote in Science in January 2013. “Twentieth-century ENSO variance is significantly higher than average fossil coral ENSO variance but is not unprecedented.” Their conclusion: “Our results suggest that forced changes in ENSO, whether natural or anthropogenic, may be difficult to detect against a background of large internal variability.”

At NOAA’s Climate.gov, meteorologist Tom Di Liberto puts scientists’ confusion bluntly: “In short, if you are someone who wants more or stronger ENSO events in the future, I have great news for you — research supports that. If you are someone who wants fewer or weaker ENSO events in the future, don’t worry — research supports that too.”

From this chronicle of scientific disagreement it should be clear just how insupportable are the easy links being drawn by climate-change alarmists in the media. And, more important, the ignorance of scientists is the reason that sweeping public-policy addressing climate change is wrongheaded.

By linking the storms in Houston and climate change, Slate and ThinkProgress and their ilk are implicitly claiming that changes in public policy could spare Americans similar devastation in the future. But that is nonsense. Science is not yet capable of predicting when El Ni√±o will occur, let alone what consequences it is likely to have on human populations. There is not much reason to think that even the most dramatic public-policy changes would reduce the intensity or frequency of catastrophic weather events — and even if we suppose that public-policy changes could make a difference, it is quite possible that the cost would far outweigh the benefit. Those advocating policy changes should ask themselves: According to their own hypotheses, how many power plants would need to be shut down to turn Houston’s next perilous deluge into a tolerable drizzle?

Among the great triumphs of scientific inquiry over the past 300 years is the ability of man to insulate himself against nature’s vicissitudes, and even to channel, to an astonishing degree, the forces of nature to his benefit. Perhaps our understanding of climate will rise to the same heights someday. But that day is not now, and those who believe that they can legislate solutions to problems they do not fully understand are certain to create more troubles than they will prevent.

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Queen’s Speech 2015: UK Energy Bill To Boost Oil And Gas Production

queens speechThe UK aims to maximize domestic oil and gas production and curb the spread of onshore wind farms as the government leans toward maintaining energy security over cutting carbon emissions. The measures form part of an Energy Bill announced by Queen Elizabeth II in a speech to Parliament in London on Wednesday that outlines the first legislative program of Prime Minister David Cameron’s majority Conservative government. —Bloomberg, 27 May 2015

The North American oil boom is proving resilient despite low oil prices, producer group OPEC said in its biggest and most detailed report this year, suggesting the global oil glut could persist for another two years. A draft report of OPEC’s long-term strategy, seen by Reuters ahead of the cartel’s policy meeting in Vienna next week, forecast crude supply from rival non-OPEC producers would grow at least until 2017. It also said that since 1990, most of the forecasts concerning future non-OPEC oil supply have been pessimistic and often erroneous. —Reuters, 28 May 2015

For months Saudi Arabia was cagey about its oil strategy. The kingdom claimed its decision not to cut production and stop the slide in prices was solely about letting the oil market reset itself. That charade is over. The Saudis now openly boast that their strategy to let oil prices collapse was an attempt to kill U.S. shale production. Citing the nearly 60% drop in the U.S. oil rig count since October and the slowing of U.S. oil production, they are claiming a brilliant triumph. But rather than kill the U.S. shale revolution, the Saudis have only made it more resilient, sped up its rate of technological innovation and capped oil prices for at least a half-decade or more. –Mark Perry, Investor’s Business Daily, 26 May 2015

Note to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s country, the United States is poised to begin exporting huge amounts of liquefied natural gas produced from shale fracking. It will obviously pose a significant threat to Russia‘s dominance in the European gas market. This may be a direct result of the Russian invasion of Crimea and its continued interference in Ukraine. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said four LNG export terminals are under construction and the first exports may be shipped overseas as early as this year. –Dwight L Schwab Jr, The Examiner, 26 May 2015

A new study, by scientists from the University of Southampton and National Oceanography Centre (NOC), implies that the global climate is on the verge of broad-scale change that could last for a number of decades. Since this new climatic phase could be half a degree cooler, it may well offer a brief reprise from the rise of global temperatures, as well as resulting in fewer hurricanes hitting the United States. —University of Southampton, 27 May 2015

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Institutional Left Exploiting Texas Floods for Political Gain

floodsWith devastating floods ravaging counties across Texas, the establishment Left isn’t waiting for rescue workers to finish cleaning up the mess before they declare the culprit: climate change deniers.

The eco-doomsayer Think Progress will explain it to you:

Texas and Oklahoma both face intensifying drought and flooding, although politicians in both states have denied climate change. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Texas “has yet to formally address climate change preparedness” — one of only 12 states to not have taken any steps toward addressing the impacts of climate change on water resources.

“Between more intense rainstorms and sea level rise, flooding will only increase if we don’t address climate change,” according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Of course, the usual suspects have chimed in on social media:

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<p dir=”ltr” lang=”en”>Billion$$ in damage in Texas &amp; Oklahoma. Still no weather-caster may utter the phrase Climate Change. <a href=”http://t.co/9J10deVQ7S”>pic.twitter.com/9J10deVQ7S</a></p>
<p>— Bill Nye (@BillNye) <a href=”https://twitter.com/BillNye/status/603229369243410432″>May 26, 2015</a></p></blockquote>
<p><script src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” async=”” charset=”utf-8″></script>New York University sociologist Eric Klinenberg gets a double liberal score by managing to pack in both climate change AND infrastructure:</p>
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Add Texas &amp; Oklahoma to list of states where infrastructure isn&#8217;t ready for extreme weather climate change will bring <a href=”http://t.co/oToLPCqYPb”>http://t.co/oToLPCqYPb</a></p>
<p>— Eric Klinenberg (@EricKlinenberg) <a href=”https://twitter.com/EricKlinenberg/status/603274097745862656″>May 26, 2015</a>
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Let’s look at some Texas history to see if 2015’s extreme weather is a sure sign climate change deniers are leading us to towards a disaster movie ending.

Back in 2007 before President Obama wanted to warn us about global warming, there was another big flood in Texas, which caused 11 deaths. An incredible 18 inches of rain fell in just a few hours in Marble Falls, Texas.

As Fox News reported in 2007:

When we rolled in to Marble Falls, the first thing we noticed was buckled pavement. Huge chunks looked like big jigsaw pieces ripped from the road. We stopped at a cement business that had been flooded. Water rolled up sections of the metal like you might pop the top of a tuna can. A woman standing by was clutching her baby boy. She worried the cement shop might not open again and leave the boy’s father out of work. About 150 businesses and homes were damaged or destroyed here. Governor Rick Perry says the damage alone could reach more than $100 million.

Sure, but maybe global warming was already well underway in 2007. Let’s skip the Texas droughts in the 1970s and look at the 1981 flooding.

A news conference Tuesday in Austin tells us that more water fell during the 1981 flooding that also happened on a Memorial Day weekend.

Watershed Protection supervising engineer Kevin Shunk said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon that about 3 inches of rain fell during a three- to four-hour period Monday. During the Memorial Day storm of 1981, about 10 inches of rain fell in three hours, Shunk said.

He added that while the city did not see as much rain on Memorial Day this year as it did in 1981, the ground was already saturated, so more of that rain became runoff

Back to the droughts. You’ll remember that Think Progress lectured us about extreme changes being a gauge of climate change. According the Texas State Historical Society, is seems that the 1950s were a harbinger of the climate crisis, along with…well, every other decade.

There has been at least one serious drought in some part of the state every decade of the twentieth century. The most catastrophic one affected every part of the state in the first two thirds of the 1950s. It began in the late spring of 1949 in the lower valley, affected the western portions of the state by fall, and covered nearly all Texas by the summer of 1951. By the end of 1952 the water shortage was critical; Lake Dallas for instance held only 11 percent of its capacity. Spring rains in 1953 gave some brief respite to Northeast Texas. In the Trans-Pecos, however, only eight inches of rain fell the entire year of 1953, and the drought grew worse from 1954 to 1956. Streams only trickled or dried up completely. The drought ended abruptly in the spring of 1956 throughout Texas with slow soaking rains

Prior to the 1950s, the extreme weather still existed as we learn from looking at the Great Texas Floods of 1935.

An article on TexasEscapes.com has details and photos on the floods that ravaged the state. Of course, applying the same ‘correlation equals causation’ fallacy, one might be tempted to blame that flooding on FDR and The New Deal… but let’s just look at facts.

First, about that infrastructure that the sociologist from New York focused on: apparently infrastructure actually improves over time, even in a mixed economy. As the same article points out:

The 2007 flooding around Burnet, Marble Falls and Cedar Park brought nearly 20 inches of rain in a 24-hour period which is far more than the 9.21 inches of rain Austin received for the month of May 1935 or the 9.71 inches that June. But when one factors in ground saturation and no run-off channels, the resulting damage of the 1935 rains was far worse.

Okay, but the weather in 2015 must be a lot more extreme because… Republicans or something. Not according to history.

In 1935, while Austin was receiving its deluge, San Antonio was hit even harder with 14.07 inches in May with 8.41 inches the next month. The stores around Alamo Plaza were flooded in late May and tiny D’Hanis, Texas reported a hard-to-believe 20-24 inches of rain in just 2 Hours and 45 Minutes.

Early to mid-June rains approached 20 inches in many other smaller communities from Uvalde to Austin. The Llano, Colorado and Pedernales Rivers all reached flood stage, affecting the cities of Junction, Llano, and Fredericksburg. On June 14 and 15 the Colorado River was just 1 foot below the record reached in July of 1869.

Oh, no. The record was in 1869?

Now we know the problem: Ulysses S. Grant.

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When It Comes to Global Warming, the News Media Only See What They Want

stormThe global warming debate is over!”

That has been a common battle cry from the political left and the news media for years now. As a conservative who is inherently skeptical of any media-driven “conventional wisdom” (mostly because they almost always turn out wrong), this declaration has always made me chuckle for several reasons.

First, as I recently asked Democratic congressman John Yarmuth on my syndicated radio show: If the left is so confident that they’ve “won” this debate (personally, I don’t recall that we ever really even had one), why in the world would they want so badly for it to be over? If I was really humiliating my opponents on an issue both in reality and in perception, I would want to keep that discussion going as long and as often as I possibly could.

The fact that the left refuses to engage in any debate on global warming — and wants the matter closed yesterday — makes me extremely suspicious that they aren’t actually so confident that they are right, or that they are winning. When they go a step further and call those who disagree with them “deniers” and equate them with “blasphemers” or those who claim the Holocaust didn’t really happen, like a bully who has nothing to back up his bravado, it makes me think they have some extreme insecurities.

But last week broke new grounds in the lengths people will go to cut off any dissent on this issue, which many have used to hinder business production in extremely significant ways. And the news media’s curious lack of a negative reaction is also telling.

President Obama, while speaking to the graduating class of the Coast Guard Academy, declared “climate change” to be one of the primary threats to our national security. Given the precarious state of the world, that would have certainly elevated the topic way beyond what it deserved even if it was based reality, but the president hardly stopped there. He went on to utter what I consider the single-most absurd statement a president has made in prepared remarks in my memory:

If you see storm clouds gathering or dangerous shoals ahead you don’t just sit back and do nothing. You take action to protect your ship, to keep your crew safe. Anything less is negligence. It is a dereliction of duty. So to with climate change. Denying it or refusing to deal with it endangers our national security. It undermines the readiness of our forces.

There is simply no other rational way to interpret those words than that the commander-in-chief of our armed forces told those entering into a branch of our military that it is a “dereliction of duty” just to even “deny” the existence of man-made climate change. So there is no confusion, he had to be referring to the man-made variety of climate change because presumably there is nothing any of us can do to “take action” against “normal” climate change, which has happened since the beginning of time.

What the president did there was outrageous even if he was somehow completely correct on the underlying issue. He was telling future members of our military that it is effectively a “thought crime” to disagree with him on a topic that is both inherently extremely political as well currently impossible to prove either way.

I would like you to consider what the media reaction to similar statement made by George W. Bush would have been like. Can you imagine if Bush had told the graduating class at West Point that it was a “dereliction of their duty” to “deny” the existence of Jesus Christ? Twitter would have broken and the cable networks would still be in a 24/7 frenzy.

While most on the left will scoff at such an analogy, I would maintain that belief in catastrophic anthropogenic climate change has all the hallmarks of a religion. Regardless, what even the left cannot dispute is that the mainstream news media almost completely overlooked the ludicrousness of Obama’s statements. A simple Google search of “Obama Deny Climate Change Dereliction of Duty” shows that only news sources considered “conservative” made a big issue out of his words.

This type of omission is usually the tactic the news media uses most effectively to maintain the status quo in the climate debate. After all, how can a debate that is “over” ever be reversed when any and all data points which would lead one in the other direction are aggressively ignored?

This past week provided two other classic examples of the omission phenomenon. The most dramatic occurred in the Texas/Oklahoma area where massive flooding drenched an area which had been in a severe drought since 2011.

I am quite sure that some of the global warming believers, much like religious zealots, will see the two water-logged states as further proof that their faith in man-made climate chaos is justified. However, I believe the opposite is true.

In 2013, USA Today, among many major news outlets to focus on the issue, published a special report on how global warming was exacerbating the supposedly historic drought in Texas and that “likely do more damage in the future.” Well, that drought is amazingly now officially over less than two years later.

This, in a remotely logical world, would leave only two options: 1) Global Warming has been fixed; or 2) The report was a piece of garbage using a natural cycle to promote a political agenda. I asked the reporter via Twitter if she intended on retracting the piece now that the supposedly global warming-caused drought is over so incredibly quickly, but shockingly I got no response.

Nowhere in the news media was there any indication that this drought data point, which has recently been used to score points in the global warming debate, had been effectively been proven to have been illegitimate. The news media ignored the same development with regard to Florida’s horrific drought of 2006-07 which has since been doused, except for the very southern tip of the state (which is ironically still drier than normal because of the pronounced lack of hurricanes produced by Global Warming lately).

Also this past week, most of the news media managed to somehow overlook a report by Forbes which indicated that one of the basic foundations of the global warming religion is based in a falsehood. It turns out that NASA satellite data now indicates that the polar ice caps have not actually receded at all since that information started to become available in 1979 (all data pools in this realm are so incredibly shallow as to be roughly the equivalent to trying to determine the final baseball standings based on only the first game of the season). Making this even more remarkable is the fact that 1979 was at the end of a cooling period and therefore should have been a year from which icecap reseeding would be more obvious.

But see, the global warming fanatics will tell you that it is all much more complicated than it appears. That one must be an “expert” (preferably one who owes their career progression to being part of the global warming “pack’) to properly interpret the data. That common sense has no place in this discussion. That extreme weather examples are only allowed to used if they support one side of the argument (and ALL unusual weather somehow fits perfectly into global warming theory). That you are humiliating yourself if you dare to “deny” or even question the obvious reality and imminent danger of man-made climate change.

Sorry. I am not buying it. And the more the news media pretends the other side doesn’t exist, and the political left continues to intimidate and scare instead of engaging in legitimate debate, the more confident I will be that this whole issue is mostly just hot air.

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Why Coral Reefs and Shellfish Will Not Die From “Ocean Acidification”

coralSource=Wikimedia, Date=April 2004,
Author=Brocken Inaglory
The hypothesis that “ocean acidification” will kill corals and shellfish due to higher levels of carbon dioxide dissolved in the sea is often used to stoke fear in the hearts of nature lovers.

Here’s why I don’t believe there is a shred of evidence to support these claims.

When the slight global warming that occurred between 1970 and 2000 came to a virtual standstill, the doomsayers adopted “climate change”, which apparently means all extreme weather events are caused by human emissions of CO2.

Cold, hot, wet, dry, wind, snow and large hailstones are attributed to humanity’s profligate use of fossil fuels. But the pause in global warming kept on and became embarrassing around 2005.

Something dire was needed to prop up the climate disruption narrative. “Ocean acidification” was invented to provide yet another apocalyptic scenario, only this one required no warming or severe weather, just more CO2 in the atmosphere.

The story goes that as CO2 increases in the atmosphere the oceans will absorb more of it and this will cause them to become acidic — well, not exactly, but at least to become less basic. This in turn is predicted to dissolve the coral reefs and kill the oysters, clams, mussels and algae that have calcareous shells. It was named “global warming’s evil twin”.

Seawater in the open ocean is typically at a pH of 8.0-8.5 on a scale of 0-14, where 0 is the most acidic, 14 is most basic and 7 is neutral. Ocean acidification from increased CO2 is predicted to make the ocean less basic, perhaps to pH 7.5 under so-called worst-case projections.

How do I know that increased CO2 will not kill the coral reefs and shellfish? Let me count the ways.

First, contrary to popular ­belief, at 400 parts per million (0.04 per cent), CO2 is lower now in the atmosphere than it has been during most of the 550 million years since modern life forms emerged during the Cambrian period. CO2 was about 10 times higher then than it is today.

Corals and shellfish evolved early and have obviously managed to survive through eras of much higher CO2 than present levels. This alone should negate the “predictions” of species extinction from CO2 levels nowhere near the historical maximum.

Second, due to its high concentration of basic elements such as calcium and magnesium, sea­water has a powerful buffering capacity to prevent large swings in pH due to the addition of CO2.This self-correcting capacity of seawater will ensure the pH will remain well within levels conducive to calcification, the process whereby shells and coral structures are formed. Marine shells are largely made of calcium carbonate, the carbon of which is derived from the CO2 dissolved in the seawater.

Third, and most interesting, there are freshwater species of clams and mussels that manage to produce calcareous shells at pH 4-5, well into the acidic range. They are able to do this because a mucous layer on their shell allows them to control the pH near the surface and to make calcification possible beneath the mucous layer.

The “ocean acidification” story depends only on a chemical hypothesis whereas biological factors can overcome this and create conditions that allow calcification to continue. This is corroborated by the historical record of millions of years of success in much higher CO2 environments.

Fourth, ocean acidification proponents invariably argue that increased CO2 will also cause the oceans to warm due to a warming climate. Yet they conveniently ignore the fact that when water warms the gases dissolved in it tend to “outgas”.

It’s the same phenomenon that happens in a glass of cold water taken from the fridge and placed on a counter at room temperature. The bubbles that form on the inside of the glass as it warms are the gases that were dissolved in the colder water. So in theory a warmer sea will have less CO2 dissolved in it than a cooler one.

This is one of the Achilles Heels of the ocean acidification hypothesis and the “CO2 controls temperature” hypothesis in general. Many who believe CO2 is the “control knob” of climate point to the 420,000-year record of climate from the Vostok ice cores taken in Antarctica. They show a strong correlation between CO2 and temperature, but it is clear that changes in CO2 tend to follow changes in temperature rather than preceding them. This makes sense as the four major periods of glaciation, interrupted briefly by interglacial periods like the one we enjoy today, are highly correlated with the 1,000,000-year Milankovitch Cycles that are linked to cycles in the Earth’s orbit, tilt, and other variables. It is much more likely that these variations would cause changes in temperature than changes in CO2 levels. This makes a strong case that the changes in temperature are the cause of the changes in CO2 due to outgassing when it is warmer and absorption when it is cooler.

Finally, it is a fact that people who have saltwater aquariums sometimes add CO2 to the water in order to increase coral growth and to increase plant growth. The truth is CO2 is the most important food for all life on Earth, including marine life. It is the main food for photosynthetic plankton (algae), which in turn is the food for the entire food chain in the sea.

For some reason, the proponents of catastrophic global warming ignore this fact. They talk of “carbon pollution” as if CO2 is a poison. If there were no CO2 in the global atmosphere there would be no life on this planet. Surely, that should be enough to permit questioning the certainty of those who demonize this essential molecule.

Many climate activists are telling us ocean acidification is already decimating coral reefs and shellfish. Have they read the story of remote Scott Reef off Western Australia? The ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies reports that in a brief 15 years this huge reef recovered completely from massive bleaching in 1998. Reefs go through cycles of death and recovery like all ecosystems.

We are told CO2 is too high and we will suffer for it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We should celebrate CO2 as the giver of life it is.

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Inside the war on coal

coalThe war on coal is not just political rhetoric, or a paranoid fantasy concocted by rapacious polluters. It’s real and it’s relentless. Over the past five years, it has killed a coal-fired power plant every 10 days. It has quietly transformed the U.S. electric grid and the global climate debate.

The industry and its supporters use “war on coal” as shorthand for a ferocious assault by a hostile White House, but the real war on coal is not primarily an Obama war, or even a Washington war. It’s a guerrilla war. The front lines are not at the Environmental Protection Agency or the Supreme Court. If you want to see how the fossil fuel that once powered most of the country is being battered by enemy forces, you have to watch state and local hearings where utility commissions and other obscure governing bodies debate individual coal plants. You probably won’t find much drama. You’ll definitely find lawyers from the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, the boots on the ground in the war on coal.

Beyond Coal is the most extensive, expensive and effective campaign in the Club’s 123-year history, and maybe the history of the environmental movement. It’s gone largely unnoticed amid the furor over the Keystone pipeline and President Barack Obama’s efforts to regulate carbon, but it’s helped retire more than one third of America’s coal plants since its launch in 2010, one dull hearing at a time. With a vast war chest donated by Michael Bloomberg, unlikely allies from the business world, and a strategy that relies more on economics than ecology, its team of nearly 200 litigators and organizers has won battles in the Midwestern and Appalachian coal belts, in the reddest of red states, in almost every state that burns coal.

“They’re sophisticated, they’re very active, and they’re better funded than we are,” says Mike Duncan, a former Republican National Committee chairman who now heads the industry-backed American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. “I don’t like what they’re doing; we’re losing a lot of coal in this country. But they do show up.”

Coal still helps keep our lights on, generating nearly 40 percent of U.S. power. But it generated more than 50 percent just over a decade ago, and the big question now is how rapidly its decline will continue. Almost every watt of new generating capacity is coming from natural gas, wind or solar; the coal industry now employs fewer workers than the solar industry, which barely existed in 2010. Utilities no longer even bother to propose new coal plants to replace the old ones they retire. Coal industry stocks are tanking, and analysts are predicting a new wave of coal bankruptcies.

This is a big deal, because coal is America’s top source of greenhouse gases, and coal retirements are the main reason U.S. carbon emissions have declined 10 percent in a decade. Coal is also America’s top source of mercury, sulfur dioxide and other toxic air pollutants, so fewer coal plants also means less asthma and lung disease—not to mention fewer coal-ash spills and coal-mining disasters. The shift toward cleaner-burning gas and zero-emissions renewables is the most important change in our electricity mix in decades, and while Obama has been an ally in the war on coal—not always as aggressive an ally as the industry claims—the Sierra Club is in the trenches. The U.S. had 523 coal-fired power plants when Beyond Coal began targeting them; just last week, it celebrated the 190th retirement of its campaign in Asheville, N.C., culminating a three-year fight that had been featured in the climate documentary “Years of Living Dangerously.” 

Beyond Coal isn’t the stereotypical Sierra Club campaign, tree-huggers shouting save-the-Earth slogans. Yes, it sometimes deploys its 2.4 million-member, grass-roots army to shutter plants with traditional not-in-my-back-yard organizing and right-to-breathe agitating. But it usually wins by arguing that ditching coal will save ratepayers money.

Behind that argument lies a revolution in the economics of power, changes few Americans think about when they flick their switches. Coal used to be the cheapest form of electricity by far, but it’s gotten pricier as it’s been forced to clean up more of its mess, while the costs of gas, wind and solar have plunged in recent years. Now retrofitting old coal plants with the pollution controls needed to comply with Obama’s limits on soot, sulfur and mercury is becoming cost-prohibitive—and the EPA is finalizing its new carbon rules as well as tougher ozone restrictions that should add to the burden. That’s why the Sierra Club finds itself in foxholes with big-box stores, manufacturers and other business interests, fighting coal upgrades that would jack up electricity bills, pushing for cheaper renewables and energy efficiency instead. In a case I watched in Oklahoma City, every stakeholder supported Beyond Coal’s push for a utility to buy more low-cost wind power—including a coalition of industrial customers that reportedly included a Koch Industries-owned paper mill.

“They’re not burning bras. They’re fighting dollar to dollar,” says attorney Jim Roth, who represented a group of hospitals on Beyond Coal’s side in the Oklahoma case. “They’ve become masters at bringing financial arguments to environmental questions.”

As the affordability case for coal has lost traction, the industry’s defenders have portrayed the war on coal as a war on reliability, an assault on 24-hour “baseload” plants that provide juice when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. They ask how the Sierra Club expects America to run its refrigerators around the clock—since it also opposes nuclear power and has a separate Beyond Gas campaign. Duncan’s group started a Twitter meme warning that Americans could end up #ColdInTheDark, and even Bloomberg suggested to me in a recent interview that the Club’s leaders seem to want Americans to wear loincloths and live in caves.

In fact, neither the decline of coal, nor the boom in renewables has blacked out the grid, and Beyond Coal’s leaders are confident electricity markets can handle much more intermittent power. In any case, they see coal as the lowest-hanging fruit in the struggle to stabilize the climate, not only our dirtiest fossil fuel but the one with the cheapest alternatives. In the long run, combating global warming will depend a multitude of factors, from electric vehicles to carbon releases from deforestation to methane releases from belching cows, but for the next decade, our climate progress depends mostly on reducing our reliance on the black stuff. Coal retirements have enabled Obama to pledge U.S. emissions cuts of up to 28 percent by 2025, which has, in turn, enabled him to strike a climate deal with China and pursue a global deal later this year in Paris.

“We’ve found the secret sauce to making progress in unlikely places,” says Bruce Nilles, who leads Beyond Coal from the Club’s San Francisco headquarters. “And every time we beat the coal boys, people say: ‘Whoa. It can be done.'”

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