Quote of the Week:
“To reduce the interpretation of all kinds of climate change and of global warming to one variable, CO2, and to a small proportion of that one variable – human induced CO2- is impossible to accept.” Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, cited by Lord Turnbull, Article #2
Number of the Week: 2%
By Ken Haapala, Executive Vice President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)
A little more than a week after his trip to Brazil announcing the US would become a major importer of oil from the deep water oil fields being developed off Brazil, in a speech at Georgetown University, President Obama announced that his administration would endeavor to reduce US oil imports by one-third. Ever since Nixon in the early 1970s, such speeches have become standard fare for presidents whenever gasoline prices climb significantly. The nation must become independent from unreliable foreign oil. As usual with such speeches, glowing promises are made, but gave few details given.
According to the latest statistics from the Energy Information Administration, January 2011, the five largest suppliers of oil to the US provide over seventy percent of imported oil. They are, in thousands of barrels per day, Canada (2,149), Mexico (1,216), Saudi Arabia (1,099), Nigeria (968), and Venezuela (951). Iraq is six is with only 470.
Mr. Obama made the usual claim of increasing domestic production, but emphasized conservation (government imposed restrictions), alternative energy, and electric vehicles. In the US, oil is primarily a transportation fuel, with other uses being petrochemicals, heating, asphalt, etc. Less than 1% is used to generate electricity. Thus, electricity from alternative sources will do little to reduce the US “addiction to oil” – a phrase used by Mr. Obama’s predecessor Mr. Bush. Since oil is a very valuable commodity that greatly benefits the nation, addiction to oil is a rhetorical term of no significant economic value.
In spite of substantial subsidies, electricity from alternative sources remains expensive and unreliable. Even with producer subsidies and tax credits, electric cars also remain a luxury good beyond the price range of most Americans.
Mr. Obama’s claims of seeking to increase domestic production raised many doubts. He repeated the old political slogan that the US has only 2% of the world’s oil – ignoring the fact that in the US proven reserves are rigidly defined. Further, the Department of Interior continues to throttle oil and natural gas exploration by grudgingly granting permits, imposing ever stringent conditions, taking lands out of consideration with innovative political claims such as ‘wild lands,” mandating major coastal regions “off limits,” and other techniques. No doubt to justify such actions, the Department of Interior released a report claiming that one-half the leases on Federal lands remain unused — as if dry holes can be developed to produce oil.
It remains to be seen if the administration is serious in developing the nation’s energy resources or will it insist on a very expensive, green energy future that will be economically paralyzing. Please see Article # 4 and referenced articles under “Energy Issues.”
The US Congress continues with its budget battles and the issue of removing from EPA the power to regulate greenhouse gases. Last May, the previous Congress announced that it would ignore its fiscal responsibilities and would not pass an annual budget for the fiscal year starting in October. Since October the US government has operated on a set of continuing resolutions. The House has passed a budget that the Senate refuses to consider. The latest continuing resolution is due to expire on April 8. Political games are being played by all parties.
The battle of stripping from the EPA its claimed powers to regulate carbon dioxide continue. The House of Representatives seems determined to restrict the EPA. The Senate support is questionable. Much of the support for the legislation is along party lines.
Many supporters of the EPA claim the legislation will weaken the Clean Air Act, in general, which it will not. Only greenhouse gases are covered, and those that are toxic are not exempt from EPA control by the legislation. Water vapor and carbon dioxide, which are non-toxic, would be exempt from EPA control.
EPA supporters are falsely advertising that the legislation threatens Americans. These supporters include the American Lung Association (ALA), which is a recipient of EPA funding. Advertising by special interest groups for or against legislation is a common practice by special interest groups. Usually the ads indicate the vested interests of the parties – such as the American Petroleum Institute. The ALA ads do not. Further, billboard ads feature a young girl in a gas mask. Some may find these reminiscent of World War I propaganda posters.
As discussed in the March 12, 2011, TWTW, EPA has tried to justify its actions by making preposterous claims of health benefits and costs savings from the amendments to the clean air act. Increasingly, these claims are coming under scrutiny. As the agency makes unsubstantiated claims to justify its actions, it is possible that the public will cease to believe the EPA, similar to the public distrusting the IPCC and its claims of certainty after Climategate.
Legislation is proceeding slowly against the EPA for its “Endangerment Finding,” that greenhouse gases threaten public health and welfare. The Federal court has issued guidelines for additional written pleadings. Those who sued the EPA have been divided into two groups; private entities and public entities, the latter is principally the states of Texas and Virginia. The court significantly restricted the length of the responses to the EPA’s rebuttals. A summary of the scientific documentation challenging the EPA is due on May 20. Unfortunately, new evidence cannot be added. Of course, SEPP is involved in the strictly scientific section. A court decision will probably not be forthcoming until mid 2012.
All this serves to illustrate how poorly written law is used in Washington to expand Federal powers over the general public and to build special interest groups to support such expansion. Please see referenced articles under “EPA and other Regulators on the March.”
In an article carried in the February 26, 2011, TWTW, Fred Singer applauded the BEST project headed by Berkley Professor Richard Muller to reconcile the various historic records of global temperature. Singer admires Muller’s dedication to science but is skeptical about the quality of the surface temperature records. Further, they do not go to the cause of 20th Century warming.
Showing that no good effort goes unpunished, Congress summoned Professor Muller to testify, even before the work was done. Defenders of the orthodoxy immediately attacked Muller for the sources of his funding. Challengers to the orthodoxy hoped that Muller would demolish the temperature sets from NOAA, NASA-GISS, and Hadley-CRU. There were no fireworks. The temperature sets track consistently, which is well-known, but they have not been fully analyzed. In short, the hearing was premature. Of particular interest will an analysis of the effect of the removal of the urban heat island effect from the historic record. Please see comments and articles referenced under “Seeking a Common Ground.”
This week’s NIPCC review of articles contained two of particular interest. The first is by Houston and Dean who analyzed the historic readings from tidal gauges in the US, mostly since the 1930s. They found no increase in the rate of sea level rise, which is contrary to many claims. Further, they found the rate of rise to be consistent to what Fred Singer suggested in the 2008 NIPCC report, Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate. Yet to be resolved is the disparity between physical tidal gauges and the recent measurements from satellites. It is possible that the satellite instruments have not yet been properly calibrated.
The second article is on the changes in snowfall in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California since 1916 by John Christy and J.J. Hnilo. Several years ago Christy et al., published an article tracking, for most of the 20th Century, the temperature trends in the southern Central Valley of California compared with the temperature trends in the nearby southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. They found “greenhouse warming” but not associated with carbon dioxide. The nighttime lows in the valley rose over time, the daytime highs dropped, with a net rise in temperatures. The mountain temperatures showed no change. The warming of the valley is explained by increases in summer and fall irrigation and urbanization.
In this new study, the authors find no trend in snowfall in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. In 2009, Secretary of Energy Chu proclaimed that global warming would destroy agriculture in California because the snow packs of the Sierra Nevada Mountains would disappear. Apparently Secretary Chu was in error. (Actually, most of the water from the snow packs is retained by dams to prevent flooding and permit irrigation – the plants do not care if the water fell as rain or snow.) Please see referenced articles under “The Seas are Changing” and referenced reviews under “Review of Recent Scientific Articles by NIPCC.”
The difficulties at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant continue. As of this writing, the work is focused on, one, continuing to pump water into the reactors and the cooling pools and, two, draining the trenches surrounding the reactors of water with measurements of elevated radioactivity. Fresh water is now being used in the reactors, because sea water, which was used earlier, builds up on the fuel assemblies insulating them from the cooling effects of the water. The reactors that had sea water pumped into them are most likely useless.
Large new pools, away from the reactors, are being constructed to hold the water from trenches surrounding the reactors, which will give workers greater access to the reactors. Reports indicate that the water in the trenches probably came from the tsunami but the source of the increase in radioactive contamination is not fully understood. There is no indication this increase radioactive contamination was from a breach in the reactor vessel or containment structures.
Reports state that the general area has elevated levels of radiation, but not sufficiently high to be considered dangerous by international standards. Also, no workers have been exposed to elevations beyond the international radiation standard for emergency situations.
The willingness of the workers to continue even when many do not yet know the fate of members of their families is a great testament to the workers and the human spirit.
Additional reports show another flaw in the plan for the power plant. Apparently the tanks contain the fuel to run the diesel engines necessary to generate the back-up electricity to run the pumps, once the power plant was off the grid, were placed sea ward of the power plant. The tsunami wiped them out. Also, it appears that there were several waves, the tallest about 15 meters (49 feet).
Among other revelations not reported in the general press, is the effect that the loss of electricity from Fukushima Dai-ichi has on other parts of the Japan not directly affected. The electrical system of Japan has two different frequencies – 50 Hz and 60 Hz. Thus power from one part of the system cannot be easily transferred to different part of the system that now needs it.
Using this great natural disaster, those criticizing nuclear power, and human construction in general, are claiming that the planners should have recognized from the ancient texts that the area experienced a similar earthquake and tsunami over 1,000 year ago. Disaster planning is important, and a better science of the unexpected is appropriate, but should all human activity be conditioned a once in one thousand year event or the strike of the next asteroid? Please see referenced articles under “Nuclear Fears and Responses.”
Using standard statistics from the World Health Organization, in an article published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, researcher Indur Goklany calculates that the push for bio-fuels may result almost 200,000 deaths per year in developing nations. Please see referenced articles under “Food for Fuel.”
TWTW Clarification: After last week’s TWTW, several readers commented that TWTW failed to recognize the Chinese purchase of Russian nuclear reactors and that it seemed to suggest that the US actively compete with the Chinese nuclear program.
The reason why the Chinese purchase of two Russian BN 800 Beloyarsk 4 commercial fast neutron reactors was not mentioned is that the construction is scheduled for some time in 2013 or beyond. Only reactors under construction or construction start announced were mentioned.
TWTW discussed the great strides that the Chinese nuclear power is making not so much to suggest that the US should join in a race, but to illustrate that those politicians in the US, Australia, UK, and elsewhere who claim their countries are in a race with China for wind and solar power are misleading their citizens if they ignore the advancements being made by China in commercial nuclear power.
For now, natural gas and coal provide less expensive alternatives for producing electricity in many countries, especially in the US. But the US, and other countries, must look at replacing its aging fleet of nuclear power plants with more efficient, better designed nuclear power plants. China appears to be leading the way in exploring the mass production of such power plants.
NUMBER OF THE WEEK: 2%. The percentage of the world’s oil resources that President Obama claimed existed in the United States. However, these are “proven reserves” that have been carefully confirmed to be economically recoverable. If the price of oil increases, the quantity of proven reserves increases. In 2008, the Energy Information Administration reported the proven reserves to be 19.1 billion barrel. According to a November 30, 2010, report by the Congressional Research Service, the USGS and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimate an additional 145 billion barrels of “undiscovered” technically recoverable reserves. These do not include the substantial quantities oil in shale formations that are now being developed. Please see articles referenced under “Oil and Natural Gas – the Future or the Past?”
For the numbered articles below please see:
1. Adventures in Federal Budget Cutting
By S. Fred Singer, American Thinker, Mar 31, 2011
2. The Really Inconvenient Truth
By Andrew Turnbull, GWPF, Mar 27, 2011
3. Winning the Argument on Climate Change
By Roger Helmer, MEP, Mar 31, 2011 [H/t Anne Debeil]
4. From Nixon to Obama
Editorial, WSJ, Mar 31, 2011
5. Wind is no energy panacea
By Charles Battig, Letter, Roanoke Times, Mar 28, 2011
6. Climate-Change Propaganda for the Masses
By Vincent Gray, Book Review, The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery.
Previously published in Christchurch Press, November 19, 2005, No URL
[SEPP Comment: Author Tim Flannery is the Climate Change Commissioner for the Australian government. Vincent Gray is a long time expert reviewer of IPCC reports from New Zealand who does not believe everything that IPCC publishes.]
Poem by Cliff Ollier
NEWS YOU CAN USE:
Disinformation from Kerry Emanuel
By Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit, Mar 31, 2011
Challenging the Orthodoxy
Propaganda Courtesy of the Royal Society and the BBC
By Henry Bauer, VA Tech, Mar 2011
Seeking a Common Ground
Berkeley scientists’ climate data review puts them at center of national debate
The head of the study, a longtime critic of the global warming consensus, will testify before a House panel. Leading climate scientists worry that the project, funded in part by an oil billionaire’s foundation, has an agenda.
By Margot Roosevelt, LA Times, Mar 31, 2011
Comments on the Testimony of Richard Muller at the United States House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology
By Richard Pielke, Sr, Pielke Research Group, Apr 1, 2011
Expect the BEST, plan for the worst
By Willis Eschenbach, WUWT, Mar 31, 2011
Berkeley’s Muller goes to Washington and another misleading statement by NOAA CCSP author Thorne
By Joseph D”Aleo, ICECAP, Mar 31, 2011
The Seas are Changing
Al Gore’s seawater swindle
Latest report shows oceans are not rising
Editorial, Washington Times, May 28, 2011
Sea-Level Acceleration Based on U.S. Tide Gages and Extensions of Previous Global-Gage Analyses
By J.R. Houston and R.G. Dean, Journal of Coastal Research, Feb 3, 2011 [H/t WUWT]
Global groundwater depletion leads to sea level rise
By Staff Writers, Deltares, Undated [H/t Pielke Research Group]
Operator of dam ‘invented’ rain data
By Hedley Thomas, Australian, Mar 26, 2011 [H/t WUWT]
[SEPP Comment: If true, appalling. Floods in Australia were intensified by human error.]
Warm Water Causes Extra-cold Winters in Northeastern North America and Northeastern Asia
By Marcus Woo, Press Release, Caltech, Mar 30, 2011 [H/t WUWT]
The Political Games Continue
Webcast of House Committee Hearings
By Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit, Mar 31, 2011
[SEPP Comment: Amusing comments from Steve McIntyre on the Committee Hearings.]
Disorder in the Court: Will Trial Lawyers and Activist Judges ‘Legislate’ Climate Policy
By Marlo Lewis, Global Warming.org, Mar 29, 2011
Lawmakers Urge President To Act On EPA Rulemaking
By Staff Writers, Power News, Mar 30, 2011
Julia Gillard’s tax to make no difference to climate
By Andrew Bold, Herald Sun, Mar 26, 2011 [H/t Des Moore]
[SEPP Comment: The justification for Australia’s proposed carbon tax is questionable.]
Coalition romps to victory in NSW
By Staff Writers, Sydney Morning Herald, Mar 26, 2011
[SEPP Comment: Australia’s proposed carbon tax is not popular with voters.]
Power generator InterGen tells Ross Garnaut to drop ‘rhetoric’
By Dennis Shanahan, Australian, Mar 28, 2011
Angela Merkel’s party defeated by Greens in key vote
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, suffered a humiliating defeat in a vital election last night in a state that had been in her party’s hands since 1953 after a wave of anger over her government’s nuclear policy.
By Staff Writers, Telegraph, UK, Mar 28, 2011
EPA and other Regulators on the March
Happy Birthday EPA?
By Henry Miller, Regulation, Spring 2011 [H/t ACSH]
[“For the foreseeable future, then, American companies and consumers – and our natural environment – will bear the scars of bureaucratic ambition, incompetence, and chicanery.”]
The U.S. EPA’s Regulatory Clean Air Benefit-Cost Estimates (30 free lunches for the price of 1?)
By Garrett Vaughn, Master Resource, Mar 31, 2011
[“We know of no professional economist independent of EPA who takes the EPA’s estimate seriously,” for-if actually true-the sum would equal “roughly the aggregate net worth of all U.S. households.”]
Defund EPA’s enablers
American Lung Association gets big paycheck for packing agency’s agenda
By Steve Milloy, Washington Times, Mar 31, 2011
And the beat-down goes on
Proposed EPA rules will do more harm than good for human health, especially for minorities
By Paul Driessen, Canada Free Press, Mar 30, 2011 [H/t SPPI]
Hassling Electricity: EPA’s Proposed MACT Rules
By Paul Driessen, Master Resource, Mar 30, 2011
How long before Big Green Environmentalists here demand the U.S. ban cars, too?
By Mark Tapscott, Washington Examiner, Mar 28, 2010
Mr. Obama’s Energy Vision
Editorial, NYT, Mar 31, 2011
Obama seeks one-third cut in oil imports
Wants more reliance on U.S. oil, natural gas, renewables, nuclear
Obama Sets Goal of One-Third Cut in Oil Imports
By Jackie Calmes and John Broder, NYT, Mar 30, 2011
Pump and Circumstance
Editorial, IBD, Mar 30, 2011
Former TXU exec said cost too high to build new plants
By Elizabeth Souder, Dallas News, Mar 24, 2011 [H/t Stefan Bjorklund]
[SEPP Comment: All forms of power plants are too expensive?]
Nuclear Fears & Responses
On The Verge Of Safe Reactors That Will Revolutionize World
By Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, IBD, Mar 31, 2011
Guest Post By Professor Kiminori Itoh On The Earthquake and Tsunami In Japan On March 11, 2011
Pielke Research Group, Mar 28, 2011
Pass the Plutonium
By William Tucker, American Spectator, Apr 1, 2011
Japanese Rules for Nuclear Plants Relied on Old Science
By Normitsu Onishi and James Glanz, NYT, Mar 26, 2011
[SEPP Comment: The technology is over 40 years old – it dates back to the age of small screen black and white TV.]
Fukushima: an earthquake for the French nuclear sector
By Yves de Saint Jacob, European Energy Review, Mar 28, 2011
Fukushima Makes Case For Yucca Mountain
Editorial, IBD, Mar 29, 2011
Stop the coal resurgence in its tracks
Editorial, Washington Post, Mar 26, 2011 [H/t David Manuta]
Oil and Natural Gas – the Future or the Past?
U.S. Has Earth’s Largest Energy Resources
By Peter Glover, Energy Tribune, Mar 24, 2011 [H/t Jim Rust]
The Secret to Brazil’s Energy Success
Over the past 20 years the country increased domestic oil production by a whopping 876%
By Steven Hayward, WSJ, Apr 1, 2011
Oil Dependence: An Unnecessary Security Risk
By Herman Cain, IBD, Mar 30, 2011
Post-oil transport needs 1.5 trillion-euro overhaul: EU
By Roddy Thompson, AFP, Mar 28, 2011 [H/t Toshio Fujita]
BP Oil Spill and Administration Control of Drilling
Full-Throttle Drill, Drill, Drill
By Larry Kudlow, Townhall, Mar 31, 2011
Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Energy
Global Clean Energy Investment Reached Record 243 Billion Dollars in 2010
By Staff Writers, SPX, Mar 30, 2011
[SEPP Comment: With such massive investment, why are subsidies and mandates necessary?]
The Green Energy Economy Reconsidered
The last we saw such an economy was in the 13th century.
By Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren, Forbes, Mar 29, 2011
Offshore Wind Backbone Begins to Take Shape
By Matthew Wald, NYT, Apr 1, 2011
[SEPP Comment: Will Google put up the money as previously announced, or will it require major taxpayer subsidies?]
Worldwide Annual Solar Cell Production More Than Doubles In 2010
By Staff Writers, SPX, Mar 31, 2011 [H/t Toshio Fujita]
[“To put things into perspective, the 27.2 GW of PV cells produced last year are roughly equal in capacity to 27 typical nuclear reactors.” SEPP Comment: Except PV cells do not produce electricity 24/7 and cannot be relied upon when needed the most.]
Va. OKs study of wind turbines in Chesapeake Bay
By Scott Harper, Virginian-Pilot, Mar 30, 2011
2 Mass. Utilities make very different power deals
By Staff Writers, AP, Mar 27, 2011 [H/t Glenn Schleede]
[SEPP Comment: The pricing differences between off-shore and on-land wind are striking.]
Questioning the European Green
UK rejects EU call for city centre ban on petrol cars
By Staff Writers, BBC News, Mar 28, 2011 [H/t Malcolm Ross]
Parking permit surcharge to force diesel cars off the roads
Owners of diesel cars face higher charges for annual parking permits in major cities amid growing concern over their effect on air quality.
By David Millward, Telegraph, UK, Mar 25, 2011
[SEPP Comment: The clean answer to gasoline becomes undesirable.]
Bird group calls for end of wind energy due to threats to species
By Caroline May, Daily Caller, Mar 29, 2011 [H/t Timothy Wise]
California Assembly Passes 33% by 2020 RPS
By Staff Writers, Power News, Mar 30 2011
[SEPP Comment: How to go bankrupt faster.]
Review of Recent Scientific Articles by NIPCC
For a full list of articles see
Sea Level Rise by the End of the 21st Century
Reference: Houston, J.R. and Dean, R.G. 2011. Sea-level acceleration based on U.S. tide gauges and extensions of previous global-gauge analyses. Journal of Coastal Research (in press).
Changes in Snowfall in the Southern Sierra Nevada of California Since 1916
Reference: Christy, J.R. and Hnilo, J.J. 2010. Changes in Snowfall in the Southern Sierra Nevada of California Since 1916. Energy & Environment 21: 233-234.
Getting to the “Core” of Output Difference as Produced by Climate Models
Reference: Kondrashov, D., Kravtsov, S. and Ghil, M. 2011. Signatures of Nonlinear Dynamics in an Idealized Atmospheric Model. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 68: 3-12.
Global Warming May Reduce the Risk of Heart Attacks in the United Kingdom
Reference: Bhaskaran, K., Hajat, S., Haines, A., Herrett, E. Wilkinson, P., and Smeeth, L. 2010. Short term effects of temperature on risk of myocardial infarction in England and Wales: time series regression analysis of the Myocardial Ischaemia National Audit Project (MINAP) registry. British Medical Journal 341: c3823 doi: 10.1136/bmj.
Food for Fuel
Could Biofuel Policies Increase Death and Disease in Developing Countries?
By Indur Goklany, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Spring, 2011
Biofuels Policy May Kill 200,000 Per Year in the Third World
By Staff Writers, Yahoo News, Mar 28, 2011
How we engineered the food crisis
Thanks to dysfunctional regulation of genetic engineering and misguided biofuels policy, the world’s poorest are going hungry
By Henry Miller, Guardian, UK, Mar 20, 2011 [H/t WUWT]
Other Scientific News
China set to outstrip US in science research output
By Staff Writers, AFP, Mar 29, 2011 [H/t Toshio Fujita]
Gravity satellite yields ‘Potato Earth’ view
By Jonathan Amos, BBC News, Mar 31, 2011 [H/t Math Pac]
Aircraft contrails stoke warming, cloud formation
By Alister Doyle, Reuters, Mar 29, 2011 [H/t Roger Pielke, Sr, & WUWT]
Antarctic Icebergs Play A Previously Unknown Role In Global Carbon Cycle, Climate
By Staff Writers, SPX, Mar 30, 2011 [H/t Toshio Fujita]
Deep-Sea Volcanoes Don’t Just Produce Lava Flows, They Also Explode
By Staff Writers, Science Daily, Mar 28, 2011 [H/t ICECAP]
U of Minnesota researchers close in on technology from making renewable “petroleum” using bacteria, sunlight and carbon dioxide
By Peggy Rinard, College of Biological Sciences, U. of Minnesota, Mar 23, 2011 [H/t WUWT]
In NASA’s Lens, Mercury Comes Into Focus
By Kenneth Chang, NYT, Mar 30, 2011
BELOW THE BOTTOM LINE:
Cash for Clunkers 2: The Return of Government Motors
By Kerry Picket, Washington Times, Mar 29, 2011
[SEPP Comment: A $7,500 tax credit is not good enough for the Chevy Volt; let’s make it a $7,500 government rebate.]
PLEASE NOTE: The complete TWTW, including the full text of the articles, can be downloaded in an easily printable form at this web site: http://www.sepp.org/the-week-that-was.cfm…