Economic Literacy 101

sandersAmerica’s 18- to 34-year-old “millennials” have been tutored in group-think schools that extol socialism. Now they lionize liberal politicians whose class-warfare prescriptions include taxing away all but maybe 1% of the nation’s 0.0001% billionaires’ wealth, then going after Wall Street, Big Business, millionaires and upper middle classes ‚Äì and giving the “revenue” to those who “need” or “deserve” it more.

The entire process revolves around three central questions. Which ruling class elites get to determine who loses, who wins, by how much? Who grants them the power to do so, and holds them accountable? And what happens when the inevitable discontent over their autocratic decisions boils over?

Interestingly, many of the same generation have flocked to see films that glorify individual liberty and defiance of centralized government control. In The Hunger Games, a few small gestures of disobedience grew into a revolution against Capital elites who lived well and ruled imperiously, while subjugated masses in the Districts starved in poverty and sent their children to die in televised “hunting games.”

In Divergent, a Faction system preserves a society that primarily benefits the ruling Erudites by stifling individuality. The heroes and heroines refuse to confine their lives and ambitions to only one of the other four factions in which they were placed at age sixteen. Again, the ruling class lives far better than the ruled masses. (Ponder the politicians, bureaucrats and lobbyists in counties around Washington, DC.)

Are so many millennials really willing to let ruling classes confiscate wealth, impose penalties, determine appropriate welfare payments, and dole out favors? Has their “education” made them incapable of understanding the blessings of liberty, free enterprise capitalism, reliable and affordable fossil fuel energy, and entrepreneurial opportunities? Have instructors so brilliantly presented socialism through rose-colored glasses that young voters are blissfully unaware of its abject failures and horrid excesses?

Are millennials perhaps a little schizophrenic ‚Äì loving liberty in theory and celluloid, but content to live reality in the Districts, among the Amity and Abnegation Factions, enjoying the bread and circuses (welfare payments and show trials for humbled banker and corporate bigwigs) bestowed upon them? Or perhaps they assume they will be among the Capital’s Erudite and Candor classes, governing the rest of America, in the name of justice, fairness, diversity and equality?

They seem to view free or low-cost college tuition, child care, healthcare, food and housing ‚Äì along with $15-per-hour “living wages” for entry-level jobs … six-figure incomes after college … and “safe zones” ‚Äì as “basic constitutional rights.” But when they “feel the Bern,” have they pondered how this system must necessarily work in the Real World, where they will feel the actual burn?

As the late Southern Baptist pastor and author Adrian Pierce Rogers succinctly explained, the hard reality is that “government cannot give anything to anybody that it doesn’t first take from somebody else. What one person receives without working for another person must work for without receiving.”

That is precisely what Senator Sanders’ wealth taxation and redistribution scheme proposes to do. The problem, as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher astutely observed, “is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” Even in the wealthy United States, “eventually” would come quickly, because socialism destroys the incentive to work, innovate, invest, take risks and create new wealth.

Ultimately, nations are left with a large and growing population of have-nots who demand more ‚Äì when there is no “more” to be had. That is what Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela and other socialist, populist, egalitarian paradises have been discovering.

They used to provide all kinds of free stuff. Today they are basket cases ‚Äì struggling with anemic growth, recession, bankruptcy and government “junk” bonds that no sane investor wants.

Today, 59% of young Greeks are unemployed. Youth unemployment is 56% in Spain, 42% in Italy, 38% in Portugal. In Brazil, electricity rates soared 51% last year, food prices rose 15% and overall inflation stood at 11% – a vast improvement over its 5000% annual inflation rate (!) in the early 1990s but still awful. In all of Latin America, only Argentina at 27% and Venezuela at 200% had worse inflation.

American students are immersed in “sustainability” studies and projects, mostly based on still persistent notions that we are running out of essential resources and destroying Planet Earth. Those ideas are the foundation of policies and regulations that perpetuate what really is unsustainable: unemployment, government spending, anti-growth policies, and the anger and unrest they cause.

It may be, as Winston Churchill once observed, that “the inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of its blessings.” However, he continued, “the inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery and scarcity.” Unfortunately, simple, basic truths like this are rarely taught in our schools.

Students today want equality of outcomes, rather than of opportunities that yield positive outcomes and potentially rich rewards by dint of hard work. If millennials applied their socialist principle to grades ‚Äì with all scores on exams and projects averaged out among the smart and less talented, the hard-working and deadbeat ‚Äì shiftless classmates would be happy to coast along, once ambitious scholars would exert far less effort, and all would soon flounder in a sea of F’s.

Similarly, socialist policies stifle the innovation, economic growth and job creation that young people need if they are to get beyond minimum-wage service jobs, and out of their parents’ basements.

Free tuition? City University of New York had that for awhile, until 1976, when it ran out of money and the city nearly went bankrupt. Even Sanders admits his plan would cost yet another $750 billion over ten years. But perhaps it would work if half of the administrative positions were eliminated, faculty salaries got a 25 or 35% trimming, and sabbaticals came just once a decade.

Surely the “progressives” who rule our campuses ‚Äì and try to ban and silence contrarian speakers like Ben Shapiro ‚Äì would support this to ensure “free stuff.” Surely, the next Erudite and Candor egalitarians in The Capital would be content with salaries that are no higher than those of the masses they govern.

Bottom line, the bills must eventually be paid. Millennials may get free stuff today. But they and their children and grandchildren will pay for their freebies many times over, through higher taxes, increasing control over their lives, higher inflation, fewer jobs at reduced salaries, and lower living standards.

As to accountability, government excels at fining and jailing citizens and businessmen for violating any of the thousands of regulations that carry criminal sanctions, even if the “perpetrator” did not intend to violate the rule or had no clue that such a rule could possibly exist. But the ruling elites apply very different standards when the incompetent or criminal actions of their own agents are involved.

Thus a rancher is prosecuted for “terrorism” for accidentally burning 139 acres of national forests, but government officials get off scot-free when they torch 160,000 acres mere miles away. Citizens go to prison for inadvertently “impacting” wetlands, but EPA bureaucrats receive get a pass cards when they deliberately open an abandoned mine and unleash 3,000,000 gallons of toxic sludge. IRS directors simply “take the Fifth” after targeting conservatives and destroying records, and an OPM director resigns rather than testify about how her screw-ups let hackers get personnel records ‚Äì while private citizens are hounded and threatened until they cave in or run out of money to defend themselves.

The more government control and socialist wealth redistribution we get, the worse these abuses become. Will the socialist voters demand accountability? Or do they simply not care when ruling elites and their cronies violate laws and abuse their public trust, to advance agendas or enrich and protect themselves?

All these questions would generate very interesting discussions with socialist candidates and voters.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.

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Energy Price War Spreads To Gas As US Shale Storms Global Market

shippingThe US has exported its first shipment of natural gas in a historic move that shifts the balance of power in the global energy market and kicks off a struggle with Russia for market share. Surging US supply over the next five years threatens to break the Kremlin’s dominance over Europe’s gas market, and is already provoking talk of a “Saudi-style” counter attack by Moscow to drive US shale gas frackers out of business before they gain a footing. At the very least, it sharpens a global price war as liquefied natural gas (LNG) bursts onto the scene, and closes the chapter on the 20th century system of pipeline monopolies. –Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Daily Telegraph, 26 February 2016

The shale fracking revolution in the US oil and gas industry has achieved a milestone: the first export of liquefied natural gas from the country outside of Alaska. The tanker Asia Vision was loaded with a cargo of LNG by Texas firm Cheniere Energy at the Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana late Wednesday and immediately left for Brazil. “This historic event opens a new chapter for the country in energy trade and is a significant milestone for Cheniere,” said chairman and interim chief executive Neal Shear in a statement. In 2008 Cheniere was still banking on the opposite strategy of gas imports. But the gush of gas from shale fields, enabled by developments in hydraulic fracturing or fracking technology, turned the tables. —AFP, 26 February 2016

The future of Europe’s energy supply is to rely heavily on natural gas for the coming two decades and beyond, according to a new strategy set out on Tuesday by the European commission. The plans were immediately attacked by green campaigners, who contrasted the continued role of fossil fuels with commitments to cut carbon dioxide made by the EU at the Paris climate summit two months ago. –Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 16 February 2016

Now that gas prices are at record lows, the argument that these eco-friendly vehicles save consumers money at the pump seems weak. In 2015, car makers sold an unprecedented 17.5 million vehicles, up 5.7% from the prior year and 0.4% from the record set in 2000. Overall electric vehicle sales declined year-over-year between 2014 and 2015,  falling 5.2% from 122,438 to 116,099 . According to data from HybridCars.com, hybrid sales plummeted 14.9% from 451,702 in 2014 to 384,404 in 2015. While low gas prices have allowed Americans to return to gas-guzzling behemoths, there may still be hope for electric cars and vehicles. If gas nears $4 a gallon in the future, history suggests consumers will once again flock to the Prius, Leaf, Model S and other electrified cars. –Mary-Lynn Cesar, NASDAQ, 19 February 2016

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Leading Authority on Sea Levels Disputes Study Asserting Sea Level Rise Is Fastest in 27 Centuries

coast sea (h/t Climate Depot) A newly released study led by Bob Kopp, a climate scientist at Rutgers University and nine colleagues from several U.S. and global universities claims: “The 20th century rise [in sea levels] was extremely likely faster than during any of the 27 previous centuries.”

However, the findings of the study were immediately challenged by Dr. Nils-Axel Morner, the former head of the paleogeophysics and geodynamics department at Stockholm University and a leading world authority on sea levels and coastal erosion.

“The PNAS paper is another sad contribution to the demagogic anti-science campaign for AGW. It is at odds with observational facts and ethical principles,” Morner wrote to the Climate Depot news service. “The paper is full of very bad violations of observational facts,” Morner continued. For instance, the Kopp paper says that the tide gauges at Christmas Island, Kiribati, show increases, yet as Morner notes, while showing the tide gauge record from that island for the past 40 years, “How can anyone find a rapidly rising trend in this tide gauge record? It is flat or rather slowly falling — but in no way rising.” He added that nowhere are there records of true “acceleration.”

The disputed study, “Temperature-driven global sea-level variability in the Common Era,” was published on February 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

An article about the study in the Washington Post noted: 

Unsurprisingly, the study blames the anomalous 20th-century rise on global warming — and not just that. It also calculates that, had humans not been warming the planet, there’s very little chance that seas would have risen so much during the century, finding that instead of a 14 centimeter rise, we would have seen somewhere between a 3 centimeter fall and a 7 centimeter rise.

Climate Depot called attention to statements about the sea-level study made by another climate expert, Judith Curry, Ph.D., who was profiled in a recent article posted by The New American, “Meet the Climate Realists.” (Curry is the former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.) Curry wrote on her blog on February 23:

So, what to make of all this?

Sea level rise is the main “danger” from human caused climate change (any increase in extreme weather events is hypothesized rather demonstrated using historical data, with possible exception of heat waves in a few regions).

At a presentation that I made earlier this year to CEOs of small electric cooperatives, one participant was surprised by what I had to say about sea level rise — he hadn’t realized that there had been sea level rise prior to 1950.  I.e., like “climate change”, all sea level rise has been sold as caused by humans.

Sea level has overall been rising for thousands of years; however, as the Kopp et al. paper points out, there have been century scale periods of lowering sea level in the recent millennia. It is not clear from my cursory reading as to whether meaningful decadal and multi-decadal variations in sea level can be discerned from their data.

The key issue is whether the sea level rise during the past 50 years reflect an acceleration in sea level rise.  The IPCC figure 3.14 suggests that there is no acceleration, given the large rates of sea level rise in the first half of the 20th century. Until we have an understanding of variations in decadal and multi-decadal sea level rise, we can’t make a convincing argument as to acceleration. [Emphasis added.]

Some names in the ongoing debate between those climate scientists who dispute that naturally cyclical environmental phenomena such as climate change, global warming, and changes in sea levels are caused by human activity (i.e., anthropogenic) and those who maintain that human activity is responsible tend to keep popping up. We found that Pennsylvania State University professor Michael Mann of discredited hockey-stick graph fame recently tweeted that Curry is “#AntiScience.” (Mann’s “hockey stick” graph warning of pending global warming eco-catastrophe was found by a congressional investigation to be fraudulent.)

Mann and his “hockey stick” graph were referred to in the Post’s article about the Kopp, et al. sea-level report, which noted:

The new work is particularly significant because, in effect, the sea level analysis produces a so-called “hockey stick” graph — showing a long and relatively flat sea level “handle” for thousands of years, followed by a “blade” that turns sharply upwards in very recent times.

The discovery of such patterns itself has a long history, going back to a 1998 study by climate researcher Michael Mann of Penn State University and two colleagues — who found a “hockey stick” graph for the planet’s temperature, rather than for its sea level. Since then the “hockey stick,” in its various incarnations, has come in for voluminous criticism from skeptics and doubters of human-caused climate change — even as multiple scientists have continued to affirm the conclusion that the last 100 years or so are way out of whack with what the planet has seen in the past thousand or more.

Though the Post may assert that “multiple scientists” “affirm” that we are presently undergoing “human-caused climate change,” there are also multiple scientists who just as adamantly insist just the opposite. Several of these scientists were profiled in the aforementioned article in The New American, “Meet the Climate Realists.” We have mentioned Judith Curry, whose research has earned her appointments to and awards from the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, NASA, NOAA, and the National Science Foundation.

When the 2009 “Climategate” e-mail scandal revealed that correspondence between UN researchers suggested fraudulent reporting of data to favor their political agenda (and also discredited Mann’s “hockey stick” graph), Curry said she “saw it as a threat to the IPCC [the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] and all of climate science, largely because of this trust issue.”

Curry told David Rose of The Spectator: “I started saying that scientists should be more accountable, and I began to engage with skeptic bloggers. I thought that would calm the waters. Instead, I was tossed out of the tribe.”

Being “tossed out of the tribe,” noted Van Jensen in the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine, meant: “Curry lost her place in the IPCC clique.” Suddenly, “her opinions were called ‘unconstructive,’ full of ‘factual misstatements,’ and ‘completely at odds’ with her previous position on global warming.”

Another climate expert profiled in the article was Richard S. Lindzen, Ph.D., an emeritus professor of meteorology at MIT, whose credentials are too numerous to list here, but who is a distinguished senior fellow at the Cato Institute and has served as consultant to NASA and was lead author of the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report on climate change in 2001.

Lindzen stated his opinion of anthropogenic global warming at a November climate summit hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation quite bluntly: “It’s just nonsense. Demonization of CO2 is irrational at best, and even modest warming is mostly beneficial.”

His protestations against the climate-change alarmists has made Lindzen the target of attacks, including a baseless “investigation” and smear campaign launched by U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) Such retribution against climate-change “deniers” is more common than most people realize. 

Many articles in The New American over the years have described and quoted from respected scientists who have gone against the establishment by countering the climate change, global warming alarmists. As far back as 2008, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Pubic Works announced a 231-page U.S. Senate Minority Report containing statements from over 650 dissenting scientists challenging man-made global-warming claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former Vice President Al Gore.

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Ten dire polar bear predictions that have failed as global population hits 20-31k

polar bearsGrim predictions of the imminent demise of polar bears ‚Äì their “harsh prophetic reality” as it’s been called ‚Äì have been touted since at least 2001. But such depressing prophesies have so widely missed the mark they can now be said to have failed.

While polar bears may be negatively affected by declines in sea ice sometime in the future, so far there is no convincing evidence that any unnatural harm has come to them. Indeed, global population size (described by officials as a “tentative guess“) appears to have grown slightly over this time, as the maximum estimated number was 28,370 in 1993 (Wiig and colleagues 1995; range 21,470-28,370) but rose to 31,000 in 2015 (Wiig and colleagues 2015, [pdf here] aka 2015 IUCN Red List assessment; range 20,000-31,000).

These ominous prophesies have been promoted primarily by Ian Stirling, Steven Amstrup, Andrew Derocher and a few other IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) members but ironically, it’s data collected by their colleagues that’s refuted their message of doom.

Here are the predictions (in no particular order, references at the end):

Prediction 1. Western Hudson Bay (WHB) polar bear numbers will continue to decline beyond 2004 due to ever-earlier breakup and ever-later freeze-up of sea ice.

FAIL – An aerial survey conducted by Seth Stapleton and colleagues (2014) in 2011 produced an estimate of about 1030 bears and their report stated:

This figure is similar to a 2004 mark‚Äìrecapture estimate but higher than projections indicating declining abundance since then.”

This 1030 figure is the one being used by the IUCN PBSG and Environment Canada for WHB, as a limited mark-recapture study conducted the same year (Lunn and colleagues 2014) did not survey the entire WHB region and therefore not comparable to the 2004 count.

Prediction 2. Breakup of sea ice in Western Hudson Bay (WHB) will come progressively earlier and freeze-up dates progressively later (after 1999), as CO2 levels from burning fossil fuel increase global temperatures.

FAIL – Researchers Nick Lunn and colleagues (2014) determined that there has been no trend in breakup or freeze-up dates between 2001 and 2010. While no analyses of breakup or freeze-up dates for WHB since 2010 have been published, this pattern seems to have continued to at least 2015.

Prediction 3. Chukchi Sea polar bears will be the most harmed by summer sea ice declines because they experience some of the largest sea ice losses of any subpopulation (and thus, the longest open-water season each year).

FAIL – A recent study of Chukchi bears (2008-2011) found them in better condition than they were in the 1980s when summer open-water seasons were short – indeed, only Foxe Basin bears were fatter than Chukchi bears. They were also reproducing well (Rode et al. 2010, 2013, 2014), with some females raising litters of triplets (see lead photo), a rare sight outside Western Hudson Bay.

Prediction 4. Cannibalism will increase as summer sea ice extent declines worsen.

FAIL – Cannibalism is a natural phenomenon in polar bears and none of the few incidents reported recently have involved obviously thin or starving polar bears (even the most recent example, filmed in mid-August 2015 in Baffin Bay when sea ice levels in the region were high), despite the fact that 2012 recorded the lowest summer ice extent since 1979. Incidents of cannibalism cannot be said to be increasing because there is no scientific baseline to which recent occurrences can be compared.

Prediction 5. Drowning deaths of polar bears will increase as summer sea ice continues to decline (driven home by a high-profile incident in 2004).

FAIL ‚Äì There have been no further confirmed reports of polar bear drowning deaths associated with extensive open water swimming since that contentious 2004 event, even though the two lowest extents of summer sea ice have occurred since then (2007 and 2012). A more rigorous study of swimming prowess found polar bears, including cubs, are capable of successfully making long-distance swims.  Indeed, challenging open-water swims don’t happen only in summer: in late March 2015, a polar bear swam through open water from the pack ice off Newfoundland to the Hibernia oil platform well offshore.

Prediction 6. There will be more and more problems onshore in summer with starving polar bears because of reduced sea ice.

FAIL ‚Äì There have been more problem bears in summer over the last few years in Western Hudson Bay as well as other regions but few of those bears were shown to be thin or starving.  A well-publicized attack occurred in Churchill in the fall of 2013 but was not associated with an especially early break-up of sea ice nor a late freeze-up. Incidents last summer in the Kara Sea (Russia) involved bears in good condition. Polar bears are potentially dangerous no matter what their condition but death by starvation of young or old bears (or injured ones) are natural events that occur often, not evidence of declining sea ice.

Prediction 7. Southern Beaufort Sea polar bears can be used to predict how bears living in the Chukchi Sea and the Barents Sea are doing because they are similar ‘sea ice ecoregions’, says the Circumpolar Action Plan for future research proposed by Dag Vongraven and colleagues in 2012.

FAIL – Recent research has shown that Chukchi Sea bears actually fared better with the long open-water seasons of the late 2000s than in the short seasons of the 1980s. In contrast, Southern Beaufort Sea bears have suffered profoundly from periodic episodes of thick spring ice (every 10 years or so since the 1960s), a phenomenon that is unique to that region. In fact, sea ice conditions for Chukchi Sea and Southern Beaufort bears could hardly be more different. With Southern Beaufort bears the more vulnerable to decline from natural variations in sea ice, the plan to treat these two regions as equivalent is a farce and totally undermines the Circumpolar Action Plan proposed by the IUCN PBSG.

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The dreaded global warming “bee-pocalypse” that wasn’t

beesNot too long ago, climate alarmists were predicting “bee-pocalyse”.

A spate of reports about American bee colonies being wiped-out for no apparent reason had people worried about the total loss of one of nature’s most important species.

There were numerous theories bandied about for bee colony collapse (e.g., GMO’s, climate change, pesticides). But usually it was mankind that was the root cause of another impending global crisis.

The experts predicted that the consequences to global food production would be unimaginable. We were all going to starve to death!

Now it appears as the bee-pocalypse has been called-off!

[T]he number of honeybee colonies has actually risen since 2006, from 2.4 million to 2.7 million in 2014, according to data tracked by the USDA. The 2014 numbers, which came out earlier this year, show that the number of managed colonies — that is, commercial honey-producing bee colonies managed by human beekeepers — is now the highest it’s been in 20 years.

So if CCD is wiping out close to a third of all honeybee colonies a year, how are their numbers rising? One word: Beekeepers.

A 2012 working paper by Randal R. Tucker and Walter N. Thurman, a pair of agricultural economists, explains that seasonal die-offs have always been a part of beekeeping: they report that before CCD, American beekeepers would typically lose 14 percent of their colonies a year, on average.

So beekeepers have devised two main ways to replenish their stock. The first method involves splitting one healthy colony into two separate colonies: put half the bees into a new beehive, order them a new queen online (retail price: $25 or so), and voila: two healthy hives.

I look forward to seeing even more “consensus” science refuted by reality.

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Ship of hypocrites: burn some carbon with Tim Flannery

flanneryNo, not a parody. The Climate Council really has invited Australian warmists to spend more than $7500 for a luxury cruise, gassing with Tim Flannery:

As part of this adventure, you will join renowned scientist and former Australian of the Year, Professor Tim Flannery ‚Äì the Climate Council’s Chief Councillor ‚Äì on the adventure of a lifetime along the remote Kimberley coast…

Best of all, by taking part in this expedition, you’ll be stepping up to help provide Australians with a vital source of correct and informed information on climate change…

Our custom-built vessel is fully air-conditioned, equipped with a helipad, spa, large en-suited cabins and offers indoor and outdoor alfresco areas …

Plus more gassy extras, none solar-powered:

– Courtesy vehicle to/from your Broome accommodation

– Light aircraft from Broome to Mitchell Plateau

– Return helicopter flight from Mitchell Plateau to Hunter River

UPDATE

Another frequent-flying warmist hypocrite:

Taxpayers have forked out ­almost $13,000 for South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill, his department’s chief executive and two political staffers to stay in a five-star hotel for the Paris climate change talks in December.

This comes after taxpayers outlaid more than $185,500 for a private film crew to follow the Labor Premier on two overseas trips, including to Paris, to produce promotional videos.

Government figures showed it cost about $53,600 for two people from Adelaide company 57 Films to follow Mr Weatherill on the Paris trip.

(Via Tim Blair, who has more hot offers. Thanks also to reader Gab.)

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Australian ship with 68 researchers aboard stranded off Antarctica

auroraIt’s bad enough being stuck in a blizzard. It’s worse when you’re on a ship that has run aground. But it’s a whole new level of distress when that ship is stuck during a blizzard in one of the world’s most remote locations, Antarctica.

Two years after coming to the rescue of dozens similarly stranded on a Chinese ship off Antarctica, the Aurora Australis has found itself in rough, icy waters in the same general region.

The good news Thursday is that all 68 expeditioners and crew aboard the grounded icebreaker ship are “safe and well,” according to the Australian Antarctic Division, a government agency that conducts Antarctic research. Even better, there’s a plan in the works to help them.

The Aurora Australis was resupplying at Mawson station — one of the research centers on the icy, expansive continent that’s home to the South Pole — when it “broke free of its mooring lines” during a blizzard Wednesday morning, the Australian government said. The vessel then ran aground at West Arm in Horseshoe Harbor.

The episode occurred at the tail end of summer in Antarctica, though that doesn’t mean anyone in their right mind would be lounging beachside in their bathing suits. To the contrary, high temperatures maxed out Thursday at 22.6 degrees Fahrenheit (-5.2 Celsius), though wind chills were appreciably lower.

The cold wasn’t so much a problem as were snow and winds, steady at 80 mph (130 kph) and gusting up to 112.5 mph, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology.

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Cheap Oil Is Killing The Electric Car

teslaDespite huge taxpayer support, the electric car just can’t get off the ground.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance announced Thursday it reduced growth forecasts for electric cars by half due to low oil prices, prompting drastically lower sales.

The group reduced its estimate of the number of electric cars and hybrids purchased by 2020 from 1 million to 500,000, even though the market for cars is expected to grow substantially. Electric cars and plug-in hybrids combined represent less than 0.5 percent of all American vehicles sold since 2011. Market share for hybrid vehicles dropped by 15 percent in 2015 and fully electric vehicles experienced the first year without sales growth.

The price of oil would need to be above $350 a barrel to make an electric vehicle cheaper to operate than a conventional car, according to a study published Wednesday by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The average price of a barrel of oil today is hovering around $30.

Gas prices today are below $2 a gallon and likely to stay there, which makes buying an electric car a hard sell.

“We’d all like to save the environment, but maybe not when it costs hundreds of dollars per year,” Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis for Edmunds.com, told The New York Times. Low gasoline prices are leading even owners of electric vehicles to “defect” to gasoline cars.

The MIT study states that electric vehicles aren’t helping the environment either. Only 12 percent of conventional power plants are green enough that charging an electric car from them leads to fewer emissions than the gasoline power vechiles they replace. 

Even though electric cars can be eligible for up to a $7,500 tax credit, the are still incredibly expensive. Bloomberg projections estimate that it will take until 2040 for electric cars to cost less than $22,000. There are still huge barriers to electric cars, according to a 2015 report by the National Research Council.

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Lawmakers Blast EPA For Holding A Closed-Door Meeting On One Of The Costliest Regulations Ever

Gina McCarthy and kittyGina McCarthy and kittyFederal lawmakers lambasted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for holding a closed-door meeting with state officials over the agency’s new ozone regulations — which could be one of the most expensive regulations ever.

Lawmakers claim the EPA rejected requests to allow the public to participate in its ozone meeting in Arizona Wednesday to avoid embarrassment. Basically, they didn’t want the public to see how mad state officials were over the agency setting new ozone standards that may be impossible for some states to fully comply with.

“As is typical of the Obama EPA, refusing to allow folks into a public meeting to discuss one of the most expensive rules in history is not just ‚Äédisturbing ‚Äì it’s laughable,” Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter told The Daily Caller News Foundation of EPA’s closed-door meeting.

“‚ÄéEPA shuns all accountability, oversight, and transparency, and today’s episode is another example of why this troubled agency urgently needs top-down reform,” Vitter added.

He wasn’t alone, other lawmakers took swipes at EPA for sticking to its closed-door meeting despite calls for transparency.

“This is just another shocking example of the lack of transparency at EPA,” Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith told TheDCNF. “Now, the EPA has chosen to conduct closed-door, secret meetings about its costly ozone regulations, intentionally blocking those impacted by the rule from voicing their opinions.”

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake also called for the EPA to allow the public to participate in its two-day meeting on the agency’s pending ozone regulation. Flake argued the ozone rule could “devastate Arizona’s economy.”

“I share stakeholders’ concerns that some of the most important discussions are set to take place behind closed doors,” Flake said in a statement issued Wednesday.

EPA is holding a two-day meeting to discuss agency ozone standards, specifically issues related to what’s called “background ozone” — smog that’s naturally-occurring or originates from pollution from areas outside a state, like China.

EPA proposed lowering its ozone, or smog, standard last year from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion. The regulation sparked huge backlash from states, particularly in the western U.S. where high elevation and pollution from China make achieving a lower ozone standard virtually impossible.

State officials form Arizona and Colorado were concerned they wouldn’t be able to meet the new standards — indeed, some areas of these states had trouble meeting the previous ozone mandate.

For example, Colorado Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper was “very concerned” his state would not be able to comply with tightened ozone standards. Hickenlooper told CBS Denver last year that “obviously we’re at a unique disadvantage because we’re a mile high.”

EPA confirmed Hickenlooper’s concerns in a white paper released earlier this year that found the Denver metro region would likely not be able to comply with ozone standards. This finding was released after the agency proposed tightening smog limits.

EPA’s alleged lack of transparency on the practicality and cost of new ozone limits has only made state officials and federal lawmakers more irate with the Obama administration.

“This lack of transparency is also demonstrated when the EPA provided documents filled with redactions in response to legitimate questions from the Science Committee about the science behind the ozone regulation,” Smith said. “Why would the EPA go to such lengths to hide information from the American people?”

It’s not just Colorado officials who are worried about complying with stricter EPA rules, most state air regulators have expressed concerns background ozone levels will make compliance extremely difficult.

“A majority of state agency comments raised concerns about the role of background ozone, including both naturally-occurring and internationally-transported contributions to ground-level ozone, as an achievability or implementation challenge,” according to a June 2015 report by the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies.

“There are a number of implementation issues that are of particular concern to western states including background levels and transported ozone, and policies for addressing exceptional events outside of state control,” the Western Governors Association wrote to EPA last year.

These concerns have only amplified calls for increased transparency from EPA. The agency’s two-day meeting includes a closed-door meeting with state, tribal and local air officials for the first day, and the second day will only be open to those who pre-registered for the event.

“Yesterday was the first day of a two-day workshop to advance the collective understanding of technical and policy issues associated with background ozone,” EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison told TheDCNF.

“During the two days, EPA and attendees will be discussing the tools available to states for addressing background ozone and the application of those tools. We will be using the same presentation both days,” Harrison said. “EPA will prepare summaries of the discussions from both days and will post those to its website.”

But assurances of public transcripts wasn’t enough to convince a former EPA science advisor.

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NOAA In Trouble As Scientists Debunk Attempt To Eliminate The Hiatus

twainA new paper put out by a group of scientists — including Michael Mann of “hockey stick” curve fame — has debunked a controversial National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report from last year claiming global warming has accelerated faster than surface temperature readings have shown. The debunking comes as congressional investigators demand government climate bureaucrats turn over emails and documents related to the “hiatus”-busting study. House science committee Republicans sent a letter to NOAA, slamming the agency for dragging its feet and trying to skirt transparency. –Michael Bastasch, The Daily Caller, 25 February 2016

A new paper published yesterday in Nature Climate Change confirms that the so-called global warming hiatus between 1997 and 2014 was real and that claims that it has been overstated or never existed are untrue. “It has been claimed that the early-2000s global warming slowdown or hiatus, characterized by a reduced rate of global surface warming, has been overstated, lacks sound scientific basis, or is unsupported by observations. The evidence presented here contradicts these claims.” Most of the world’s major news outlets that reported last year that the warming hiatus never existed have so far ignored the new findings. It will be interesting to see how long they will keep mum. —Global Warming Policy Forum, 25 February 2016

Last June, Pennsylvania State University climatologist Michael Mann crowed: “Just out in Science is a new article by Tom Karl of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center and colleagues driving another stake through the heart of the supposed “hiatus” or “pause,” i.e. what I like to call the “Faux Pause.” I expect this article will be attacked by climate change deniers who are unhappy to see the demise of a narrative they helped frame, a narrative that arguably took hold due in part to the “seepage” of contrarian framing into mainstream climate science discourse.” Mann is now a co-author on the new study that pulls that stake out. Has Mann become climate change “denier” now? Hardly. — Ronald Bailey, Reason Online, 24 February 2016

You know all that money we have been spending on developing economic models of the effects of climate change? Well apparently it has mostly been wasted. At least that’s the case according to Lord Stern, whose article in the sociology journal Nature says that we should be moving onto something more reliable. It’s also interesting to see stochastic modelling being touted in a week when climatologists have been outraged by a suggestion that such an approach might be useful in their own field. — Andrew Montford, Bishop Hill, 25 February 2016

Over the last decade, Nick Stern has received tens of millions of pounds in research funding. Why did he not just build the models he wants? Where did all that money go? The leading researchers in the economics of climate change have turned their backs on model building. Research has decidedly moved to empirical analyses. –Richard Tol, Bishop Hill, 25 February 2016

Social psychology is in crisis because no one knows what to believe anymore. The journals are now filled with failed replication after failed replication. Published studies once believed to demonstrate all sorts of amazing world-changing pervasive effects have not been replicated by other researchers. Some of the most famous and most influential effects in social psychology have been called into question not only by failed replication after failed replication, but by revelations of questionable methodological, statistical, and interpretive practices. How will we figure out what, from the vast storehouse of nearly a century of social psychological research, is actually valid and believable? To me, there is a single, crucial ingredient for figuring this out: Diversity of viewpoints and deep skepticism of one another’s claims. Groupthink and deference to prestigious scientific “authorities” and to repeated “scientific” stories resting on empirical feet of unclear firmness is the enemy. –Lee Jussim, Heterodox Academy, 23 February 2016

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NOAA says El Nino causing widespread coral bleaching event

coralreef-noaaNOAA’s Coral Reef Watch is sounding the alarm today about the global die off of coral from the very strong El Ni√±o that has warmed sea surface temperatures. The scientists that rank El Ni√±os say the current one is as strong as the El Ni√±o of 1998. In that instance, there were widespread algae die-offs that occurred along some of the largest coral reefs. And based on satellite imagery, it appears the same event is happening again. But current die-off estimations may be two times too high.

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New Report: Planet may be no hotter at the end of the century than it is now

earth spaceGlobal warming is unlikely to take hold before the end of the century according to a controversial new statistical study.

The report, published by the think-tank the Global Warming Policy Foundation, claims that while winters are likely to be slightly warmer, there will be no change in the summer.

Using statistical forecasting methods, the report, written a statistician at Loughborough University, contradicts predictions made by climate scientists.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has previously warned the planet was on course to experience warming of between 1°F (0.6°C) and 7.2°F (4°C) by the year 2100 based on climate models.

But Professor Terence Mills claims statistical forecasting methods, which uses data from the past to predict the future by identifying patterns and trends, suggests temperatures will change little.

However, he does warn in his report that the forecasts contain ‘rather large measures of imprecision’.

Climate scientists have also described the study as ‘silly’ and pointed out it failed to take account of basic atmospheric physics.

Professor Mills used statistical models that are more commonly used to forecast economic and financial changes and applied them to three climate data sets.

These included records of global surface temperatures, the global lower troposphere temperatures and the Central England Temperature series, which dates back to 1660.

Writing in his paper, Professor Mills argues that climate scientists may have made errors in their predictions by focusing on recent uplifts in global temperatures.

He said such an approach can be ‘highly misleading’.

‘There is simply no substitute for analysing the entire temperature record using a variety of well-specified models,’ he wrote.

Professor Mills work was seized upon by climate change sceptics as evidence that the predictions being made by climate models are exaggerating the risk posed by global warming.

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