States Cracking Down on Energy Disrupters

Anti-fossil fuel activists and pipeline protesters are dismayed as the penalties for obstructing lawful commerce are getting serious in the case of energy infrastructure. The story of developments in several US states is reported in the pro-protester website truthout Under Louisiana Bill, Peaceful Protesters Could Face 20 Years in Prison Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

On April 12, 2018, in the chambers of the Louisiana State House of Representatives, Rep. Major Thibaut Jr. stepped up to the microphone before the Speaker to introduce seemingly benign House Bill 727. According to his testimony, the bill was humble — almost technical — in scope and aimed primarily to add “pipelines” to the list of what the state considers “critical infrastructure.” It had faced no opposition in committee, Thibaut added, and had “over sixty-something authors.”

“It’s a good bill,” he said, then motioned for favorable passage. Ninety-seven legislators voted yay, three voted nay, and just like that, all 4.6 million residents of Louisiana took a step toward losing their First Amendment rights. Should the bill become law, it would impose severe penalties on peaceful protesters engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience actions at sites considered “critical infrastructure” by Thibaut’s bill. In fact, simply planning to take such an action, considered “conspiracy” by HB 727, could be punishable by fees of up to $10,000 and prison sentences as long as 20 years.

With the crack of a gavel, Louisiana joined the growing number of states across the nation with similar “critical infrastructure” bills moving swiftly through the courts and onto governors’ desks.

The first appeared in Oklahoma in May 2017. According to the bill’s author, Rep. Mark McBride, it was an attempt to keep Oklahoma from paying costs related to any Diamond Pipeline protests. The law beefed up penalties for protesters who trespassed on property containing a “critical infrastructure facility.” The definition of such facilities varies by state but tends to include energy-industry sites like pipelines, refineries and electrical power facilities.

Shortly after Oklahoma signed the bill into law, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate-funded group that holds annual meetings with state legislators and lobbyists to vote on “model” legislation, took the measure up itself at its summit in Nashville, Tennessee, in December 2017. ALEC calls its model bill “The Critical Infrastructure Protection Act,” claiming the bill drew its “inspiration” from laws enacted in 2017 by the State of Oklahoma.

Since the ALEC Summit, bills like Louisiana’s HB 727 have cropped up all over the country. In Ohio, where construction on the Rover pipeline resulted in repeated spills of toxic drilling material, Senate Bill 250 suddenly appeared. Its language reflects the ALEC-inspired bill, aiming to “prohibit criminal mischief … on a critical infrastructure facility.” It would also impose fines on organizations “complicit” with said activity.

In Iowa, Senate Study Bill 3062 penalizes those who’d commit “sabotage” of critical infrastructure facilities with fines of up to $100,000 and 25 years in jail.

In March 2018, lawmakers in Minnesota introduced HF 3693, which would, among other things, criminalize anyone who “recruits, trains, aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with” a trespasser at an infrastructure site. Minnesota courts could use the law to punish these “conspirator” groups or individuals with a full year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine.

Louisiana House Bill 727, introduced in late March, is even more severe than the original ALEC-inspired legislation. If enacted, the law could potentially penalize people who never even set foot on one of its protected sites. Under the bill as written, simply discussing a possible trespass action could result in prison sentences of five years and fines up to $10,000. Actually damaging pipeline infrastructure could lead to 15 years in jail, and it could lead to 20 years if the damage interrupts construction site operations or endangers human life.

It remains unclear how the conspiracy clause of this bill would be enforced in Louisiana, should the measure become law. In a phone interview with Truthout, Alicia Cooke of the volunteer climate activist group 350 New Orleans wondered aloud, “How do you prove that someone is conspiring to trespass on property? Versus conspiring to gather near property?”

Now that the Louisiana bill has passed through the House, it will travel to the Senate for debate. Meanwhile, in Ohio, Iowa and Minnesota, state lawmakers are pushing their versions of the ALEC-inspired bill through committees and legislative chambers.

Protester Alicia Cooke is arrested at a Bayou Bridge Pipeline construction site in St. James Parish on Thursday, May 24. (Louisiana Bucket Brigade)

“It’s the ultimate irony,” said Cooke. “We’re considering critical infrastructure to be pipelines, oil refineries, and oil wells. But we’re not considering our own water, our own forests, our own wetlands to be critical infrastructure.”

Cooke, who continues to organize with 350 New Orleans against the bill, said she felt sad about it all, adding, “It just shows what we’ve chosen to prioritize in Louisiana.”

Rolfes, however, sees reason for hope. “Resistance to fossil fuels in general and oil specifically is growing,” she said. “Although it’s disheartening to see these bills, it shows you the status of their industry. Their future is on shaky footing.

August 22, 2018  First Felony Arrests Near Bayou Bridge Construction Made Under New Louisiana Law Penalizing Pipeline Trespass  Source: DeSmogBlog

Comment

Protesters intend to stop fossil fuel usage because of their belief in global warming/climate change.  Acts of civil disobedience are by definition legal transgressions and incur penalties.  Energy infrastructure is essential to our civilized society, and everyone is at risk if supply of fuels and power are restricted or blocked.

The problem here is people disrupting others’ lives due to their fears of the future (unfounded IMO). There are rules  and places for legal protests to attempt to convince others of your concerns.  The First Amendment does not permit trespassing on property where access is prohibited, and penalties are appropriate since the possibility of vandalism is involved. States are wise to prepare against eco-terrorism until CO2 hysteria loses its grip on impassioned believers.

See also: Upping the Stakes for Ecoterrorists

Highlights of EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE)

With 60 days for public comment before the rule goes into force, expect a lot of howling from those who wanted the Clean Power Plan despite its illegality (why the Supremes stopped it). Here are some excerpts from the overview in Powermag intended to inform energy providers. Trump Emissions Plan Aims to Boost Coal-Fired Power

What Coal Generators Should Know About the EPA’s Proposed ACE Rule

The EPA, in an impact analysis of the Trump plan reviewed by The Washington Post, said the plan would affect more than 300 U.S. power plants and provide operators with incentives to keep coal plants operating rather than replacing them with natural gas or renewable energy projects.

The agency also has acknowledged the rule likely will lead to an increase in airborne pollutants that could contribute to health issues, although EPA officials have said other regulations are in place to handle those.

Mandy Gunasekara, principal deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the new rule would require states to submit their plans to the EPA for regulating power plants over a three-year period after the proposal is finalized, which is expected next year. It specifically asks for “patterns of performance” for existing coal plants. The EPA would then have one year to determine whether a state’s plan is sufficient. If the EPA determines it is not, the agency would then design a plan for that state, according to Gunasekara.

“Instead of [the federal government] putting out a strict standard of performance, we’re allowing the states to determine that strict standard of performance,” Gunasekara told the MEGA audience, including POWER. “No two coal plants are the same. It should be up to the states to ensure that everyone has access to reliable and affordable energy in that state.”

Source: 2017 EIA statistics.

‘Ensure Coal Has a Place on the Grid’

Replacing the CPP has been one of Trump’s priorities. “The president has constantly recognized the importance of coal,” said Steven Winberg, assistant secretary of fossil energy for the DOE, who also spoke Tuesday morning at MEGA. “We need to ensure that coal has a place on the grid.”

Said Winberg: “We need to get moving on the next generation of coal plants that are cleaner, more efficient, and have a small footprint. We’re looking at 50-to-350-MW plants that are much more efficient. And they need to be able to ‘load follow’ due to the increased amount of intermittent power [mostly wind and solar] coming onto the grid. Coal plants have traditionally [provided] baseload power, and new plants need to be able to load follow.”

Gunasekara said the ACE rule is really “presenting guidelines for states to address CO2 from coal plants. States can determine the best system for emissions reduction.” She said the plan is designed to encourage coal plant operators to focus on “heat rate efficiency improvements,” and decide “whether a technology works, or whether it doesn’t.”

EPA Sticking to Endangerment Finding

EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Bill Wehrum told reporters in a press briefing on August 21 that the ACE rule “is a regulation of GHGs, no doubt about it.” But the rule seeks to bring the EPA back to its “core function” of regulating emissions from “things that emit—in this case power plants—and not regulate other aspects of the industry like the electricity grid.” He added: “So we are not regulating dispatch of power plants, we are not trying to impose a requirement to implement renewable energy resources. Those are things the Clean Power Plan did.”

However, with the ACE rule, the EPA also isn’t proposing to rescind the “endangerment finding,” in which the Obama-era EPA found GHGs are a danger to public health and welfare, Wehrum said. “We’re not proposing to find that power plants do not contribute to come to that endangerment. We are proposing, though, to revise [the Clean Power Plan] to bring it back within the legal authority that we have under the Clean Air Act,” Wehrum said.

Asked whether combating climate change is a priority for the EPA, Wehrum said that Congress “made the decision for us under this part of the Clean Air Act.” But Congress also said that states have primary authority for regulating their emissions. “So we have a responsibility to set up a framework; states have a responsibility to regulate, and Congress gave states a lot of latitude to decide what it is they’re going to do. And so we are faithfully implementing the law this way.”

Coal groups have been vocal in their support of the administration’s effort. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), a trade group representing coal producers, earlier this year said, “The CPP is illegal because the rule greatly exceeds EPA’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil-fueled power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. Even if the CPP were determined to be lawful (which it is not), it would establish bad environmental policy that would have substantial adverse energy and economic impacts.”

Michelle Bloodworth, who was named the new president and CEO of the ACCCE in July, told the Times: “I certainly think we are supportive of what the administration is doing and we applaud their efforts.”

Thomas J. Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, also applauded the president’s plan, saying in a statement: “The Clean Power Plan (CPP) grew EPA power in unprecedented and harmful ways, marking a clear deviation from the agency’s traditional role by grossly misapplying the Clean Air Act. The ‘Affordable Clean Energy Rule’ proposed by the Trump Administration corrects some of the CPP’s worst flaws. By reining in the EPA, the ‘Affordable Clean Energy’ rule limits the negative economic impacts a back door federal renewable mandate would have on American families. However, we still maintain that only a full repeal of the Obama era regulation will fully protect ratepayers.”

Environmentalists attacked the new proposal from all sides. Lissa Lynch, staff attorney for federal policy in the Climate & Clean Energy Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said: “The Clean Power Plan replacement proposed today by Acting EPA Administrator [Andrew] Wheeler demonstrates the Trump EPA’s unflagging commitment to propping up polluters. The proposal is designed to require power plants to do nothing to reduce their carbon pollution, and it could even result in greater climate-polluting emissions – a worse than do-nothing replacement for the Clean Power Plan.

Winberg, though, countered that argument, saying coal remains important to the U.S. He said the nation must focus on “upgrading the coal fleet, transforming technology, and reducing the cost of CO2.” He acknowledged the nation “has an aging coal fleet, and we need to do something about that. Coal is going to be part of the U.S. energy mix for decades to come. Boosting U.S. energy production is important for national security, and we are seeing a new focus on policies that level the playing field for coal.”

Footnote:

The ACE plan was well received by CAGW (Citizens Against Government Waste)

Citizens Against Government Waste Applauds EPA Affordable Clean Energy Plan  August 22, 2018

WASHINGTON: Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) applauded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for proposing the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. The rule would reverse the Obama administration’s 2015 Clean Power Plan, which was blocked by the Supreme Court in 2016 due to regulatory overreach.

Full text of proposed EPA rule:  Emission Guidelines for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Existing Electric Utility Generating Units

See also the world context regarding coal power Climate Change Battle Report

The Dog That Didn’t Bark

This post gets into political territory, but continues a theme on the importance of evidence in attesting whether a claim is true or false.  The topic of course is the investigation into election collusion (itself not a crime) between Russia and Trump.  Here is a status report following convictions yesterday.  George Neumayr writes in American Spectator Ignore the Noise, Mueller Still Has Nothing  Excerpts below with my bolds.

For all of the media’s oohing and ahhing over Robert Mueller’s legal victories on Tuesday, his impeachment case remains hopelessly threadbare. In terms of his Department of Justice mandate, he has made no progress whatsoever. He is presiding over a “collusion” probe that has absolutely nothing to do with collusion.

Let him keep indicting and convicting ham sandwiches. Most Americans won’t care. It just underscores the superfluous and abusive character of his probe. He is not compiling an air-tight legal case for impeachment; he is simply using abusive prosecutorial tactics to foment an anti-Trump political firestorm.

Rod Rosenstein is the Dr. Frankenstein in this political horror show. He birthed a monster in Mueller, who is now rampaging through the streets of Manhattan in search of pre-presidential dirt. Let’s, for the sake of argument, say that all of his claims about Trump-Cohen corruption are true. Is that impeachable material? No, it is not. The American people voted for Trump knowing full well that his pre-presidential record was checkered. Does anybody really think the American people are going to rise up and demand that not only the House but most of the Senate expel Trump from the presidency over an alleged campaign finance violation that doesn’t bear in the slightest upon the collusion question?

Mueller is expert at finding flaky witnesses. Cohen is his latest. His memories of conversations and meetings with Trump are no more reliable than Jim Comey’s. Cohen has given baldly contradictory accounts of his payments to Stormy Daniels. The notion that Trump could lose the presidency owing to the testimony of a sleazy casino lawyer strains all plausibility.

Mueller’s report will culminate in nothing more than an epic political food fight — a mode of combat Trump has perfected. Through his relentless tweeting, Trump has thoroughly educated the American people on the raw politics of Mueller’s probe — that he inherited a hopelessly tainted investigation from Trump haters ensconced in the Obama administration, that Mueller assembled a team of Hillary supporters to continue the probe, and that he has abandoned his DOJ mandate for a partisan fishing expedition of staggering proportions. The unfairness of it all has not been lost on the American people.

The media routinely calls Trump a “bully” even as it forms a mob encircling him, bellowing about this or that utterly trivial offense. None of it adds up to anything even close to impeachable material. From the fulminating, one would think that a foreign occupier had invaded Washington. Trump’s great crime was colluding not with Russians but with neglected American voters, with whom he ended the Clinton dynasty. While Hillary was waiting with bated breath for dirt from Russians conveyed to her British spy, Trump plunged into the American heartland, winning the election the old-fashioned way, by simply outhustling Hillary in places like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

I just got back from the latter state. Not a single mechanic, trucker, or waitress I met in Pennsylvania ever showed the slightest bit of interest in Mueller’s probe. Most of them probably don’t even know who Mueller is. That the media is staking its demolition of Trump on this gray, little-known ruling-class darling is a measure of its alienation from the American people. They simply don’t care about Trump’s pre-presidential sins, political screw-ups, and minor law-bending, if that even occurred.

Mueller is desperately trying to stitch together an impeachment case based on these thin threads. He struck out on collusion, then turned to obstruction of justice, only to realize that his star witness, Comey, is himself under investigation. So he resorted to a search for pre-presidential dirt and papered over the nothingness of his probe with indictments and convictions on matters far afield. Only members of the ruling class and media, who devote every waking moment to studying all things Trump at the granular level, could portray this probe as “momentous.” To most Americans, it remains a giant bore — an inside-the-Beltway parlor game of no particular interest to them or relevance to their lives.

Trump on Tuesday night resumed his mockery of the probe, asking at a rally in West Virginia, “Where is the collusion? You know, they’re still looking for collusion! Where is the collusion? Find some collusion. We want to find the collusion.” Mueller called off that search a long time ago, shifting to a Cohen, rather than collusion, probe, to which the America people will ask upon the release of his report: Why are we supposed to care?

Summary

Neumeyr is probably right forecasting that the long-awaited Mueller report will throw the kitchen sink garbage against POTUS hoping something will stick, thereby starting yet another food fight.  It seems too much for Team Mueller to come out exonerating Trump on the original issue.  But they have turned over every rock in vain to find damning evidence against the null hypothesis:  Trump campaign did not collaborate with the Russians.

Footnote:

“Silver Blaze” is the story of the disappearance of the titular race horse. It is believed that a stranger stole the horse, but Sherlock Holmes is able to pin the horse’s disappearance on the horse’s late trainer, John Straker, because a dog at the horse’s stable did not bark on the night of his disappearance. The following exchange takes place in the short story:

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

 

Attesting Environmental Scares

Attesting refers to a process evaluating the truth of a claim. In metallurgy, a laboratory will perform attestation procedures to measure the purity and quality of an ore sample or an alloy material. In legal terms, a witness provides evidence or proof attesting to a version of events.

Francis Menton, the Manhattan Contrarian, raises an important question in his recent post How to Approach a Scientific Issue in the Public Arena.

So how can you, as a reasonably informed citizen, hope to come to a rational view as to which scary scientific claims to credit and which to dismiss? Unfortunately, most people’s default approach to dealing with scientific issues as to which they have no personal expertise is to defer to the asserted authority of a “consensus” of experts.

I have a proposed framework for you to apply. It’s a little more complicated than either the “follow the consensus” or “reject them all” approaches. But the good news is that it’s not all that much more complicated. And the even better news is that I think you will get the right answer in nearly every case; with, however, the proviso that that “right” answer may be ambiguity in many cases.

The Manhattan Contrarian Guide To Evaluating Environmental Scares can be summarized in four words: Follow The Scientific Method. Unfortunately, almost no journalist knows the basics of the Scientific Method (even though probably all of them were exposed to it somewhere in high school or even junior high school); and therefore, almost everything you read about environmental scares claiming the mantle of science is at the minimum misleading, if not downright wrong. Following the Scientific Method really directs you to looking at only three key questions to lead you to the right answer: 

1. What is the falsifiable hypothesis? The Scientific Method requires a falsifiable hypothesis. A falsifiable hypothesis requires a statement of the proposition at issue that by its nature can be falsified and thereby invalidated by some evidence that it is possible to acquire, and also a recognition by the proponents of the hypothesis as to what evidence, if it emerged, would be sufficient to falsify and invalidate the hypothesis. Without a statement of a falsifiable hypothesis, it is not science, no matter what the proponents may say, and therefore any claims of “scientific” consensus or “scientific” validity are an obvious fallacy.

2.What is the most damning adverse evidence against the falsifiable hypothesis? The Scientific Method provides that no hypothesis can ever be definitively proved, although accumulation of evidence consistent with the hypothesis can give increasing confidence over time of its correctness. However, one piece of adverse evidence can disprove a scientific hypothesis; and indeed, if an advocate of a scientific hypothesis does not concede that proposition, then you know that this is not real science. In any event, it is always much more important to look to adverse evidence challenging a hypothesis, no matter how little of it there may be, than to whatever reams and reams of evidence there may be allegedly consistent with the hypothesis. That stuff can regularly be used by advocates to mislead and misdirect you.

3.How do advocates of the hypothesis respond to the most damning adverse evidence? If they have an answer to it, let’s see it! It is particularly telling if advocates just refuse to address the best points of their opponents. If that is going on, you are completely justified in concluding that they have no answers, and that their proposition is false.

Now, let us apply these three questions to the cases of glyphosate and climate change.

Glyphosate.

What is the falsifiable hypothesis? I would say that it is this: “High levels of exposure to glyphosate are associated with increased risk of developing blood cancers, particularly non-Hodgkins lymphoma.” It’s easy and clear. And clearly falsifiable.

What is the most damning adverse evidence against the falsifiable hypothesis? Well, there is this from the statement of Monsanto VP Scott Partridge after the jury verdict: “More than 800 scientific studies and reviews—and conclusions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. National Institutes of Health and regulatory authorities around the world—support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer.” That’s a start. To pick just one of the 800, in my November 2017 post I cited the U.S. Agricultural Health Study, which followed 89,000 farmers and their wives for 23 years from 1993 to 2016, and found “no association between glyphosate exposure and all cancer incidence or most of the specific cancer subtypes we evaluated, including NHL [non-Hodgkins lymphoma]. . . .”

How do the advocates respond to the most damning evidence? In this case, the answer is, basically, they have little in response. My understanding is that, rather than addressing the mountain of adverse studies (mostly done by people having no association with Monsanto), they principally relied on one outlier UN report, produced by a guy who promptly became a consultant to the plaintiffs’ lawsuit industry, and which reached its ambiguous conclusion in significant part by altering the conclusions of the underlying work that it cited. For more details, read my November 2017 post. But the most significant point is that, under the Scientific Method, the adverse evidence is far more important than any evidence that might be cited as consistent with the hypothesis, even if extensive. In this case, a falsifiable hypothesis has been quite definitively invalidated.

As you can see, if you just follow the Scientific Method, you quickly find that those on the side that glyphosate does not cause cancer have far the better side of the argument. Perhaps it is not 100% definitive, but it is close.

Climate Change

What is the falsifiable hypothesis? There isn’t one! And good luck trying to find a statement of the official falsifiable hypothesis from any advocate of climate alarmism. I have previously invited readers and commenters on this blog to give me a statement of the falsifiable hypothesis on which climate alarmists claim there is a “consensus,” and I have never gotten even an attempt of any kind. I hereby make the invitation again. To get an idea of the shell game you are dealing with, try going to this NASA web page titled “Global Climate Change/Facts.” (What is that page still doing there over a year and a half into a Trump presidency??!!) Here’s the leading headline: “Scientific Consensus: Earth’s climate is warming.” Is that a falsifiable hypothesis? Absolutely not! It’s a trivial non-falsifiable statement whose result can be manipulated by whoever gets to pick the start date of the analysis. See my post of August 9 here. And then they provide a list of some dozens of pooh-bah “scientific” organizations that supposedly subscribe to this non-falsifiable non-scientific proposition, everything from AAAS, to ACS, to AGU, to AMA, to AMS, to APS, to NAS, and on and on and on. It’s embarrassing! How stupid do they think you are? (Another question is, how stupid are they? Do our scientific leaders even understand what the Scientific Method is?) Any other candidates for the falsifiable hypothesis? Now this is me trying to help these guys out, rather than them speaking for themselves, but how about “the climate is warming and we are the cause”? Or maybe, “accumulating greenhouse gases from human sources are causing catastrophic warming of the atmosphere”? OK then, what is the evidence that, if it emerged, would be conceded to invalidate whichever of these hypothesis (or some other one) that you pick? You will never get that out of them.

What is the most damning adverse evidence against the falsifiable hypothesis? This is a little tough to deal with when no one will tell you the falsifiable hypothesis, but let’s assume it is the last one there (“accumulating greenhouse gases from human sources are causing catastrophic warming of the atmosphere”). Well, there is the clear demonstration that natural factors such as solar effects, ocean currents (El Niño/La Niña), and volcanoes are more than sufficient to explain all global temperature variations since reasonably accurate data are available (the 1950s) without the need to take into account any effects from human greenhouse gas emission. And then there is the demonstration that the so-called “tropical hot spot” (decreased lapse rate of temperatures with increasing altitude in the tropics that would necessarily accompany any hypothesized greenhouse warming caused by human emissions) does not exist in the data. And then there is the demonstration that the earth’s temperatures were warmer in early years (Medieval Warm Period, Roman Warm Period, Holocene Climate Optimum, etc.) — when human greenhouse gas influences could not have played a part — than they are today. And then there is the demonstration of alteration of the global temperature record by the advocates of alarmism to remove the peak of temperatures that previously existed in the early 1940s. I could go on.

How do the advocates respond to the most damning evidence against the hypothesis? And here the answer is, they don’t and they won’t. Go to anything resembling an official defense of the “global warming consensus” and see if you can find any kind of answer to any of these damning points. For example, try NASA’s Global Climate Change site, under the heading “Evidence.” You will just find point after point of evidence supposedly consistent with the hypothesis (stated here as “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” — again, obviously non-falsifiable). Temperatures have risen! The oceans have warmed! Ice sheets have shrunk! Less snow! Sea levels have risen! OK, guys, but how do you know that slightly higher temperatures underlying all of these things have not been caused by something natural like increasing solar activity, shifting ocean currents, or temporarily low volcanic activity? They just won’t address these things! Why not? Really, it’s embarrassing.

If you arm your brain with the basics of the Scientific Method, it is immediately obvious that this whole thing is a charade.

Comment

Menton’s approach resembles “evidence-based” medicine and law, as I have discussed in the article Objection: Asserting Facts Not in Evidence! There as here, the deliberation starts with an “answerable question”, meaning a conclusion of yes or no, based upon all relevant evidence.

With respect to global warming/climate change, I have posed the question this way: Are rising fossil fuel emissions causing rising global temperatures? When a claim involves correlation between two variables, asserting that one causes the other, the legal profession applies the Bradford Hill protocol to assess causation factors. The deliberation requires evidence concerning the strength and certainty of the correlation. That discussion is in the article Claim: Fossil Fuels Cause Global Warming

For the history of environmental scares see Progressively Scaring the World (Lewin book synopsis)

Taxing Carbon More Dangerous Than Not

A new study has fossil fuel activists twisting in the wind. The paper is Risk of increased food insecurity under stringent global climate change mitigation policy

The paper is behind a paywall, but some detail is available from carbonbrief Global carbon tax in isolation could ‘exacerbate food insecurity by 2050’ Excerpts in italics with my bolds and some comments.

The research finds that using a blanket “carbon tax” to restrict global warming to 2C above pre-industrial levels – which is the limit set by the Paris Agreement – would put an additional 45 million people at risk of hunger by 2050.

The new study, published in Nature Climate Change, zooms in on how implementing a uniform tax on greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and other types of land use, in particular, could impact food security worldwide.

The introduction of a carbon tax could threaten food security in three main ways, the researchers say.

First, the tax would raise the cost of food production, especially for carbon-intensive products such as meat.

Second, the tax would raise the costs associated with agriculture expansion, which would lead to higher land rents.

Third, the tax would incentivise the production of biofuels – which would compete with food crops for space, further driving up land rates.

All three of these consequences could drive up food prices, which would be costly for the world’s lowest earners – who spend up to 60-80% of their income on food.

The new study compares how levels of hunger would differ in a world with climate change alone to a world with climate mitigation, including a uniform carbon tax.

The results show that a blanket carbon tax “would have a greater negative impact on global hunger and food consumption than the direct impacts of climate change”, the scientists say in their research paper.

Instead, policies that can help slash emissions from agriculture while aiding development should be prioritised, says lead author Dr Tomoko Hasegawa, a researcher at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and Japan’s National Institute for Environment Studies. In a statement, she said:

Carbon pricing schemes will not bring any viable options for developing countries where there are highly vulnerable populations. Mitigation in agriculture should instead be integrated with development policies.”

To understand the impacts of mitigation efforts, the researchers compared a world where warming is limited to 2C to a world where no efforts to tackle climate change are made before 2050.

The former scenario assumes that the world shifts from a reliance on fossil fuels to low-carbon sources of energy, and that a uniform carbon price is rapidly introduced “across all sectors and regions” and is steadily increased in the coming decades.

(The scenarios use three different “socio-economic pathways” to make assumptions about how factors, such as population growth, are likely to change by 2050.)

The results show that, by 2050, the risk of hunger in some of the world’s least developed countries could be higher in the scenarios with mitigation than in the scenarios without mitigation – despite the fact that these scenarios expect greater declines in crop yields.

In the scenarios without mitigation, the number of people at risk of hunger by 2050 is expected to increase by 5-56 million.

In the scenarios with mitigation, an additional 13-170 million people could face hunger. The increase in those at risk is expected to be largest in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of South Asia, including India and Bangladesh.

The charts below show the expected changes in the number of people at risk of hunger (left) and the number of calories consumed per person per day (right) by 2050 under the mitigation (RCP2.6) and “no-mitigation” (RCP6.0) scenarios.

The expected changes in the number of people at risk of hunger (left) and the number of calories consumed per person per day (right) by 2050 under a mitigation (RCP2.6) and “no-mitigation” (RCP6.0) scenario. The average impacts of climate change (green) and mitigation via the introduction of a carbon tax (orange) are shown. Symbols show the results from different models Source: Hasegawa et al. (2018).

Comment Regarding Climate Direct Effects upon Food Security

The impacts shown in green are hypothetical, though assumed as baselline truth by the researchers. The supposition is: Climate change could threaten global food security by increasing the chance of staple crop failures in many parts of the world, such as across Africa and the US.

The fact is, staple crops are booming with increasing CO2 and the warm temperatures enjoyed by plants and humans alike. Some researchers have been working frantically to claim CO2 damages plant productivity, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. One line of attack claims CO2 doesn’t make plants grow larger in the face of other limiting conditions like moisture or soil nutrients. True enough, but reducing CO2 is not the cause or the answer when that happens.  See Researchers Against CO2 for the details

Another line of attack is claiming the plants are larger but are not as nutritious. Studies showed that plants can have lower concentrations of some nutrients owing to their large size from CO2 enrichment, but the take up of soil nutrients was not diminished by more CO2 or warmth. See CO2 Destroys Food Nutrition! Not.

Summary

In their research paper, the scientists say the findings “should not be interpreted to downplay the importance of future GHG emissions mitigation efforts, or to suggest that climate policy will cause more harm than good”.

Nothing could be farther from the obvious implications of this analysis.  The supposed crop failures are nowhere to be seen with every year setting new records for productivity.  So the future negative effects from rising CO2 are totally speculation.  While the economic impacts from taxing carbon pose a real and present danger to food security.

H/T GWPF BENEFITS OF GLOBAL WARMING: RECORD HARVESTS REPORTED IN NUMEROUS COUNTRIES

 

Autumn Will Save Us from Climate Change

Hot, Hot, Hot.  You will have noticed that the term “climate change” is now synonymous with “summer”.  Since the northern hemisphere is where most of the world’s land, people and media are located, two typical summer months (June was not so hot) have been depicted as the fires of hell awaiting any and all who benefit from fossil fuels. If you were wondering what the media would do in the absence of hurricanes to heap upon our heads, you are getting the answer.

Fortunately, Autumn is on the way and already bringing cooler evenings in Montreal where I live. Once again open windows provide fresh air for sleeping, and mornings are starting to show condensation. This year’s period of “climate change” is winding down.  Unless of course, we get some hurricanes the next two months.  Below is a repost of seasonal changes in temperature and climate for those who may have been misled by the media reports of a forever hotter future.

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Autumnal Climate Change

Seeing a lot more of this lately, along with hearing the geese  honking. And in the next month or so, we expect that trees around here will lose their leaves. It definitely is climate change of the seasonal variety.

Interestingly, the science on this is settled: It is all due to reduction of solar energy because of the shorter length of days (LOD). The trees drop their leaves and go dormant because of less sunlight, not because of lower temperatures. The latter is an effect, not the cause.

Of course, the farther north you go, the more remarkable the seasonal climate change. St. Petersburg, Russia has their balmy “White Nights” in June when twilight is as dark as it gets, followed by the cold, dark winter and a chance to see the Northern Lights.

And as we have been monitoring, the Arctic ice has been melting from sunlight in recent months, but will soon begin to build again in the darkness to its maximum in March.

We can also expect in January and February for another migration of millions of Canadians (nicknamed “snowbirds”) to fly south in search of a summer-like climate to renew their memories and hopes. As was said to me by one man in Saskatchewan (part of the Canadian wheat breadbasket region): “Around here we have Triple-A farmers: April to August, and then Arizona.” Here’s what he was talking about: Quartzsite Arizona annually hosts 1.5M visitors, mostly between November and March.

Of course, this is just North America. Similar migrations occur in Europe, and in the Southern Hemisphere, the climates are changing in the opposite direction, Springtime currently. Since it is so obviously the sun causing this seasonal change, the question arises: Does the sunlight vary on longer than annual timescales?

The Solar-Climate Debate

And therein lies a great, enduring controversy between those (like the IPCC) who dismiss the sun as a driver of multi-Decadal climate change, and those who see a connection between solar cycles and Earth’s climate history. One side can be accused of ignoring the sun because of a prior commitment to CO2 as the climate “control knob”.

The other side is repeatedly denounced as “cyclomaniacs” in search of curve-fitting patterns to prove one or another thesis. It is also argued that a claim of 60-year cycles can not be validated with only 150 years or so of reliable data. That point has weight, but it is usually made by those on the CO2 bandwagon despite temperature and CO2 trends correlating for only 2 decades during the last century.

One scientist in this field is Nicola Scafetta, who presents the basic concept this way:

“The theory is very simple in words. The solar system is characterized by a set of specific gravitational oscillations due to the fact that the planets are moving around the sun. Everything in the solar system tends to synchronize to these frequencies beginning with the sun itself. The oscillating sun then causes equivalent cycles in the climate system. Also the moon acts on the climate system with its own harmonics. In conclusion we have a climate system that is mostly made of a set of complex cycles that mirror astronomical cycles. Consequently it is possible to use these harmonics to both approximately hindcast and forecast the harmonic component of the climate, at least on a global scale. This theory is supported by strong empirical evidences using the available solar and climatic data.”

He goes on to say:

“The global surface temperature record appears to be made of natural specific oscillations with a likely solar/astronomical origin plus a noncyclical anthropogenic contribution during the last decades. Indeed, because the boundary condition of the climate system is regulated also by astronomical harmonic forcings, the astronomical frequencies need to be part of the climate signal in the same way the tidal oscillations are regulated by soli-lunar harmonics.”

He has concluded that “at least 60% of the warming of the Earth observed since 1970 appears to be induced by natural cycles which are present in the solar system.” For the near future he predicts a stabilization of global temperature and cooling until 2030-2040.

For more see Scafetta vs. IPCC: Dueling Climate Theories

A Deeper, but Accessible Presentation of Solar-Climate Theory

I have found this presentation by Ian Wilson to be persuasive while honestly considering all of the complexities involved.

The author raises the question: What if there is a third factor that not only drives the variations in solar activity that we see on the Sun but also drives the changes that we see in climate here on the Earth?

The linked article is quite readable by a general audience, and comes to a similar conclusion as Scafetta above: There is a connection, but it is not simple cause and effect. And yes, length of day (LOD) is a factor beyond the annual cycle.

Click to access IanwilsonForum2008.pdf

It is fair to say that we are still at the theorizing stage of understanding a solar connection to earth’s climate. And at this stage, investigators look for correlations in the data and propose theories (explanations) for what mechanisms are at work. Interestingly, despite the lack of interest from the IPCC, solar and climate variability is a very active research field these days.

For example Svensmark has now a Cosmosclimatology theory supported by empirical studies described in more detail in the red link.

A summary of recent studies is provided at NoTricksZone: Since 2014, 400 Scientific Papers Affirm A Strong Sun-Climate Link

Ian Wilson has much more to say at his blog: http://astroclimateconnection.blogspot.com.au/

Once again, it appears that the world is more complicated than a simple cause and effect model suggests.

Fluctuations in observed global temperatures can be explained by a combination of oceanic and solar cycles.  See engineering analysis from first principles Quantifying Natural Climate Change.

For everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 1:9)

Footnote:

marching-orders

 

 

Climate Change Battle Report

Anyone paying attention knows this summer the media has assaulted the public with many climate scares, both old and new. Each week we see new ones like “marine heat waves” added to threats that 2018 summer temperatures will be repeated and increased until 2022. All sorts of dire consequences are proclaimed, and for what purpose? It can only be the intent to recruit us to join the “fight against climate change.”

Curious as to what jurisdictions might be doing, I went searching for news about actions to strike blows against the climate change nemesis. Media headlines frequently announce that this or that nation, province or city is stepping up to “Fight Climate Change.”  The results are informative.

What Actions Count as Fighting Climate Change

For example a report Ireland will raise carbon tax to tackle climate change. In the text it is announced the nation is not reducing emissions on schedule, and is taking three actions: Setting and raising a tax on carbon, spending more on fuel efficiencies, renewables and climate adaptation projects, and divesting from fossil fuel companies.

Then there is an article Mexico and Canada Join Growing Under2 Climate Coalition  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The growing Under2 Coalition is a global pact of cities, states and countries pledging to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius, the level of potentially catastrophic consequences.

With Canada and Mexico’s endorsements, the Under2 Coalition now includes 170 jurisdictions on six continents that collectively represent more than 1.18 billion people and $27.5 trillion GDP – equivalent to 16 percent of the global population and 37 percent of the global economy.

The governments in the Under2 coalition, like California, are leading the fight against climate change. They know that investing in clean growth will help all members reach their ambitious climate change goals and grow their countries’ economies. I applaud their leadership in reducing emissions and supporting clean innovation. Canada is proud to endorse their actions today,” said Minister McKenna.

Coalition members pledge to limit greenhouse gas emissions to 2 tons per capita or 80-95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

This action builds on landmark legislation Governor Brown signed in October 2015 to generate half of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and double the rate of energy efficiency savings in California buildings. Governor Brown has also committed to reducing today’s petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent within the next 15 years; make heating fuels cleaner; and manage farm and rangelands, forests and wetlands so they can store carbon.

What is the Climate Battleground

Some of these actions are purely symbolic virtue signaling and will have no effect on either CO2 emissions or global warming. Divestment for example is a transfer of shares to other investors with no impact upon the value of the target companies. The virtue is not free, in that the portfolio loses diversity (energy being counter cyclical to other businesses), and other industries often generate lower returns. And if the reinvestment is into renewables, those companies’ performance depends on government subsidies that are presently being withdrawn. Another sham is purchasing carbon free electricity credits from a grid mostly supplied by coal and gas plants.

In short there seem actually to be Three Lines of Attack
1.Adaptation and Resilience
2.Improving Energy Efficiencies
3.Transition to Zero Carbon Energy

The first two are worthy initiatives. History proves that future periods are likely to be both colder and warmer than the present, and cold times are the greater threat to human life and prosperity. Prudent public officials should invest in robust infrastructure and reliable, affordable energy. The rub is powering a modern society with windmills and solar panels.

How Goes the Transition Away from Fossil Fuels

The first objective in the Great Green Transition is to stop the use of Coal, Climate Enemy #1. An update report on that front comes from Vijay Jayaraj, Aug 18, 2018, at Townhall The Dawn of Climate Realism: Coal Surges Amid Climate Rhetoric  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Many countries have been at the crisscross of warfare between anti-coal establishments and the traditional coal industry. Despite the elite-empowered and politically motivated worldwide campaign to phase out coal, demand for coal is on the rise!

Coal has been “enemy No. 1” for the climate establishment. In fact, it would seem that the entire global warming movement is hinged upon the singular aim to eliminate coal from use.

Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) is a notion that cites a popular scientific hypothesis and concludes that the global temperatures have risen, or will soon rise, to dangerous levels in the post-industrialized era due to human activity.

The proponents of CAGW believe that the primary contributor to this increase in temperature is the combustion of coal and the subsequent release of carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere.

However, peer-reviewed scientific journals by hundreds of scientists render many of these claims dubious at best. Here are just three of them.

Firstly, contrary to the claim that carbon dioxide is the primary driver of global warming, global temperatures have not risen proportionately to carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. In other words, an increase in carbon dioxide emission has not resulted in an increase in temperature.

Secondly, most of the current “consensus” on climate change is based on forecasts from computer climate models. But the wide divergence between observed temperature and model predictions makes it apparent that the models were programmed incorrectly to be over-dependent on carbon dioxide concentration to predict temperature changes.

In what was a major embarrassment to United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), top climate scientists admitted these flaws in the climate models when they failed to reflect real-world temperatures during the last 19 years. The same was widely publicized and even testified to the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space & Technology.

Thirdly, contrary to the claim that recent warming is historically unprecedented, today’s temperature levels are similar to the temperatures the earth experienced in the first and eleventh centuries. Also known as Roman Warm Period and Medieval Warm Period, these were times when, though as warm as today or warmer, the earth’s ecosystems flourished. The notion that “today’s temperature levels are at unprecedented levels” is completely false.

Despite these (and many more) straight-forward evidences against the CAGW hypothesis, the climate establishment continues to advocate for the ban of coal and coal-fired power plants. Global climate treaties like the Paris Agreement were set out to target and close down coal plants in developing countries.

But to their surprise, coal use is rising.

This financial year, Coal India—India’s largest state-controlled coal mining company—saw its first-quarter profits jump 61 percent and its coal production rise 15.23 percent. India has a long-term vision to increase its coal output and has been vocal about “carbon imperialism”—a term it uses to define the attitude of the anti-coal climate establishment.

In 2017, coal accounted for 60.4 percent of total energy consumption in China. The country’s coal production outputs for the first seven months of 2018 was 1.98 billion tons, 3.4 percent higher than the same period last year. China’s coal imports surged this July and hit a record high (29 million tons), beating the previous highest recorded monthly volume import (January 2014).

But the surge in coal is not just limited to Asia.

Russia’s coal production of 410 million tons was its highest since the Soviet era and is expected to reach 420 million tons this year. The coal industry is set to expand in the coming years with massive infrastructure upgrades.

U.S. coal output reached a 16-year high in 2017 (701 million tons), after a change in leadership that saw the lifting of heavy restrictions on coal from the previous administration. Coal output in 2017 was 40.8 million tons higher than in 2016, and India was the top importer of U.S. coal in Asia (13 million tons).

The trend continued in 2018, and the month of April recorded the highest coal export in five years. U.S exports to India reached 6.2 million tons in just the first half of 2018, which is nearly the entire export (6.8m tons) to India in 2017! And coal is expected to do fairly well in the U.S. despite the disruption from the natural gas boom.

The situations for coal in India, China, and the U.S. are prime examples of the coal industry’s strength. It can also be said that the climate rhetoric has failed to break the world’s dependence on coal. And for good reason. Coal remains among the cheapest, and technically simplest, sources of the abundant, affordable, reliable electricity indispensable to the modern industry and technology that are indispensable to lifting and keeping whole societies out of poverty.

Leaders across the globe understand the indispensable role of coal in their economies. They are also beginning to understand the exaggerated nature of climate-change dangers promoted heavily in the mainstream media.

The climate establishment’s doomsday prophecies failed to come true in the last 20 years, which saw global temperature remain largely stable. Arctic ice remained stable, global agricultural outputs increased, more people rose out of poverty, and the forests in Europe grew instead of shrinking.

Clearly, there is no reason why the coal industry should slow down, and it won’t. Overblown climate-change rhetoric is leading rapidly to the downfall of the climate establishment, and nations are moving past it at a rapid pace.

Postscript:

Chicxulub asteroid Apocalypse? Not so fast. August update

The Daily Mail would have you believe Apocalyptic asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago triggered 100,000 years of global warming
Chicxulub asteroid triggered a global temperature rise of 5°C (9°F).

This notion has been around for years, but dredged up now to promote fears of CO2 and global warming. And maybe it’s because of a new Jurassic Park movie coming this summer.  But it doesn’t take much looking around to discover experts who have a sober, reasonable view of the situation.

Princeton expert Gerta Keller, Professor of Geosciences at Princeton, has studied this issue since the 1990s and tells all at her website CHICXULUB: THE IMPACT CONTROVERSY Excerpts below with my bolds.

Update August 17, 2018

This is a repost as background for a fresh article in the Atlantic The Nastiest Feud in Science H/T Warren Meyer.  As noted, the parallels with global warming/climate change are notable.

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Introduction to The Impact Controversy

In the 1980s as the impact-kill hypothesis of Alvarez and others gained popular and scientific acclaim and the mass extinction controversy took an increasingly rancorous turn in scientific and personal attacks fewer and fewer dared to voice critique. Two scientists stand out: Dewey McLean (VPI) and Chuck Officer (Dartmouth University). Dewey proposed as early as 1978 that Deccan volcanism was the likely cause for the KTB mass extinction, Officer also proposed a likely volcanic cause. Both were vilified and ostracized by the increasingly vocal group of impact hypothesis supporters. By the middle of the 1980s Vincent Courtillot (Physique de Globe du Paris) also advocated Deccan volcanism, though not as primary cause but rather as supplementary to the meteorite impact. Since 2008 Courtillot has strongly advocated Deccan volcanism as the primary cause for the KTB mass extinction.

(Overview from Tim Clarely, Ph.D. questioning the asteroid) In secular literature and movies, the most popular explanation for the dinosaurs’ extinction is an asteroid impact. The Chicxulub crater in Mexico is often referred to as the “smoking gun” for this idea. But do the data support an asteroid impact at Chicxulub?

The Chicxulub crater isn’t visible on the surface because it is covered by younger, relatively undeformed sediments. It was identified from a nearly circular gravity anomaly along the northwestern edge of the Yucatán Peninsula (Figure 1). There’s disagreement on the crater’s exact size, but its diameter is approximately 110 miles—large enough for a six-mile-wide asteroid or meteorite to have caused it.

Although some of the expected criteria for identifying a meteorite impact are present at the Chicxulub site—such as high-pressure and deformed minerals—not enough of these materials have been found to justify a large impact. And even these minerals can be caused by other circumstances, including rapid crystallization4 and volcanic activity.

The biggest problem is what is missing. Iridium, a chemical element more abundant in meteorites than on Earth, is a primary marker of an impact event. A few traces were identified in the cores of two drilled wells, but no significant amounts have been found in any of the ejecta material across the Chicxulub site. The presence of an iridium-rich layer is often used to identify the K-Pg (Cretaceous-Paleogene) boundary, yet ironically there is virtually no iridium in the ejecta material at the very site claimed to be the “smoking gun”!

In addition, secular models suggest melt-rich layers resulting from the impact should have exceeded a mile or two in thickness beneath the central portion of the Chicxulub crater. However, the oil wells and cores drilled at the site don’t support this. The thickest melt-rich layers encountered in the wells were between 330 and 990 feet—nowhere near the expected thicknesses of 5,000 to 10,000 feet—and several of the melt-rich layers were much thinner than 300 feet or were nonexistent.

Finally, the latest research even indicates that the tsunami waves claimed to have been generated by the impact across the Gulf of Mexico seem unlikely.

Summary from Geller

The Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary (KTB) mass extinction is primarily known for the demise of the dinosaurs, the Chicxulub impact, and the frequently rancorous thirty years-old controversy over the cause of this mass extinction. Since 1980 the impact hypothesis has steadily gained support, which culminated in 1990 with the discovery of the Chicxulub crater on Yucatan as the KTB impact site and “smoking gun” that proved this hypothesis. In a perverse twist of fate, this discovery also began the decline of this hypothesis, because for the first time it could be tested directly based on the impact crater and impact ejecta in sediments throughout the Caribbean, Central America and North America.

Two decades of multidisciplinary studies amassed a database with a sum total that overwhelmingly reveals the Chicxulub impact predates the KTB mass extinction. It’s been a wild and frequently acrimonious ride through the landscape of science and personalities. The highlights of this controversy, the discovery of facts inconsistent with the impact hypothesis, the denial of evidence, misconceptions, and misinterpretations are recounted here. (Full paper in Keller, 2011, SEPM 100, 2011).

Chicxulub Likely Happened ~100,000 years Before the KTB Extinction

Figure 42. Planktic foraminiferal biostratigraphy, biozone ages calculated based on time scales where the KTB is placed at 65Ma, 65.5Ma and 66Ma, and the relative age positions of the Chicxulub impact, Deccan volcanism phases 2 and 3 and climate change, including the maximum cooling and maximum warming (greenhouse warming) and the Dan-2 warm event relative to Deccan volcanism.

Most studies surrounding the Chicxulub impact crater have concentrated on the narrow interval of the sandstone complex or so-called impact-tsunami. Keller et al. (2002, 2003) placed that interval in zone CF1 based on planktic foraminiferal biostratigraphy and specifically the range of the index species Plummerita hantkeninoides that spans the topmost Maastrichtian. Zone CF1. The age of CF1 was estimated to span the last 300ky of the Maastrichtian based on the old time scale of Cande and Kent (1995) that places the KTB at 65Ma. The newer time scale (Gradstein et al., 2004) places the KTB at 65.5Ma, which reduces zone CF1 to 160ky.

By early 2000 our team embarked on an intensive search for impact spherules below the sandstone complex throughout NE Mexico. Numerous outcrops were discovered with impact spherule layers in planktic foraminiferal zone CF1 below the sandstone complex and we suggested that the Chicxulub impact predates the KTB by about 300ky (Fig. 42; Keller et al., 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009; Schulte et al., 2003, 2006).

Time scales change with improved dating techniques. Gradstein et al (2004) proposed to place the KTB at 65.5 Ma, (Abramovich et al., 2010). This time scale is now undergoing further revision (Renne et al., 2013) placing the KTB at 66 Ma, which reduces zone CF to less than 100ky. By this time scale, the age of the Chicxulub impact predates the KTB by less than 100ky based on impact spherule layers in the lower part zone CF1. See Fig. 42 for illustration.

Unfortunately, this wide interest rarely resulted in integrated interdisciplinary studies or joint discussions to search for common solutions to conflicting results. Increasingly, in a perverse twist of science new results became to be judged by how well they supported the impact hypothesis, rather than how well they tested it. An unhealthy US versus THEM culture developed where those who dared to question the impact hypothesis, regardless of the solidity of the empirical data, were derided, dismissed as poor scientists, blocked from publication and getting grant funding, or simply ignored. Under this assault, more and more scientists dropped out leaving a nearly unopposed ruling majority claiming victory for the impact hypothesis. In this adverse high-stress environment just a small group of scientists doggedly pursued evidence to test the impact hypothesis.

No debate has been more contentious during the past thirty years, or has more captured the imagination of scientists and public alike, than the hypothesis that an extraterrestrial bolide impact was the sole cause for the KTB mass extinction (Alvarez et al., l980). How did this hypothesis evolve so quickly into a virtually unassailable “truth” where questioning could be dismissed by phrases such as “everybody knows that an impact caused the mass extinction”, “only old fashioned Darwinian paleontologists can’t accept that the mass extinction was instantaneous”, “paleontologists are just bad scientists, more like stamp collectors”, and “it must be true because how could so many scientists be so wrong for so long.” Such phrases are reminiscent of the beliefs that the Earth is flat, that the world was created 6000 years ago, that Noah’s flood explains all geological features, and the vilification of Alfred Wegner for proposing that continents moved over time.

Update Published at National Geographic February 2018 By Shannon Hall Volcanoes, Then an Asteroid, Wiped Out the Dinosaur

What killed the dinosaurs? Few questions in science have been more mysterious—and more contentious. Today, most textbooks and teachers tell us that nonavian dinosaurs, along with three-fourths of all species on Earth, disappeared when a massive asteroid hit the planet near the Yucatán Peninsula some 66 million years ago.

But a new study published in the journal Geology shows that an episode of intense volcanism in present-day India wiped out several species before that impact occurred.

The result adds to arguments that eruptions plus the asteroid caused a one-two punch. The volcanism provided the first strike, weakening the climate so much that a meteor—the more deafening blow—was able to spell disaster for Tyrannosaurs rex and its late Cretaceous kin.

A hotter climate certainly helped send the nonavian dinosaurs to their early grave, says Paul Renne, a geochronologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the study. That’s because the uptick in temperature was immediately followed by a cold snap—a drastic change that likely set the stage for planet-wide disaster.

Imagine that some life managed to adapt to those warmer conditions by moving closer toward the poles, Renne says. “If you follow that with a major cooling event, it’s more difficult to adapt, especially if it’s really rapid,” he says.

In this scenario, volcanism likely sent the world into chaos, driving many extinctions alone and increasing temperatures so drastically that most of Earth’s remaining species couldn’t protect themselves from that second punch when the asteroid hit.

“The dinosaurs were extremely unlucky,” Wignall says.

But it will be hard to convince Sean Gulick, a geophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin, who co-led recent efforts to drill into the heart of the impact crater in Mexico. He points toward several studies that have suggested that ecosystems remained largely intact until the time of the impact.

Additionally, a forthcoming paper might make an even stronger case that the impact drove the extinction alone, notes Jay Melosh, a geophysicist at Purdue University who has worked on early results from the drilling project. It looks as though the divisive debate will continue with nearly as much ferocity as the events that rocked our world 66 million years ago.

Summary:

So if the Chicxulub asteroid didn’t kill the dinosaurs, what did? Paleontologists have advanced all manner of other theories over the years, including the appearance of land bridges that allowed different species to migrate to different continents, bringing with them diseases to which native species hadn’t developed immunity. Keller and Addate do not see any reason to stray so far from the prevailing model. Some kind of atmospheric haze might indeed have blocked the sun, making the planet too cold for the dinosaurs — it just didn’t have to have come from an asteroid. Rather, they say, the source might have been massive volcanoes, like the ones that blew in the Deccan Traps in what is now India at just the right point in history.

For the dinosaurs that perished 65 million years ago, extinction was extinction and the precise cause was immaterial. But for the bipedal mammals who were allowed to rise once the big lizards were finally gone, it is a matter of enduring fascination.

This science seems as settled as climate change/global warming, and with many of the same shenanigans.

Footnote:

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the-extinction-dinosaurs

Why the Left Coast is Burning

It is often said that truth is the first casualty in the fog of war. That is especially true of the war against fossil fuels and smoke from wildfires. The forests are burning in California, Oregon and Washington, all of them steeped in liberal, progressive and post-modern ideology. There are human reasons that fires are out of control in those places, and it is not due to CO2 emissions. As we shall see, Zinke is right and Brown is wrong. Some truths the media are not telling you in their drive to blame global warming/climate change. Text below is excerpted from sources linked at the end.

1. The World and the US are not burning.

The geographic extent of this summer’s forest fires won’t come close to the aggregate record for the U.S. Far from it. Yes, there are some terrible fires now burning in California, Oregon, and elsewhere, and the total burnt area this summer in the U.S. is likely to exceed the 2017 total. But as the chart above shows, the burnt area in 2017 was less than 20% of the record set way back in 1930. The same is true of the global burnt area, which has declined over many decades.

In fact, this 2006 paper reported the following:

“Analysis of charcoal records in sediments [31] and isotope-ratio records in ice cores [32] suggest that global biomass burning during the past century has been lower than at any time in the past 2000 years. Although the magnitude of the actual differences between pre-industrial and current biomass burning rates may not be as pronounced as suggested by those studies [33], modelling approaches agree with a general decrease of global fire activity at least in past centuries [34]. In spite of this, fire is often quoted as an increasing issue around the globe [11,26–29].”

People have a tendency to exaggerate the significance of current events. Perhaps the youthful can be forgiven for thinking hot summers are a new phenomenon. Incredibly, more “seasoned” folks are often subject to the same fallacies. The fires in California have so impressed climate alarmists that many of them truly believe global warming is the cause of forest fires in recent years, including the confused bureaucrats at Cal Fire, the state’s firefighting agency. Of course, the fires have given fresh fuel to self-interested climate activists and pressure groups, an opportunity for greater exaggeration of an ongoing scare story.

This year, however, and not for the first time, a high-pressure system has been parked over the West, bringing southern winds up the coast along with warmer waters from the south, keeping things warm and dry inland. It’s just weather, though a few arsonists and careless individuals always seem to contribute to the conflagrations. Beyond all that, the impact of a warmer climate on the tendency for biomass to burn is considered ambiguous for realistic climate scenarios.

2. Public forests are no longer managed due to litigation.

According to a 2014 white paper titled; ‘Twenty Years of Forest Service Land Management Litigation’, by Amanda M.A. Miner, Robert W. Malmsheimer, and Denise M. Keele: “This study provides a comprehensive analysis of USDA Forest Service litigation from 1989 to 2008. Using a census and improved analyses, we document the final outcome of the 1125 land management cases filed in federal court. The Forest Service won 53.8% of these cases, lost 23.3%, and settled 22.9%. It won 64.0% of the 669 cases decided by a judge based on cases’ merits. The agency was more likely to lose and settle cases during the last six years; the number of cases initiated during this time varied greatly. The Pacific Northwest region along with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had the most frequent occurrence of cases. Litigants generally challenged vegetative management (e.g. logging) projects, most often by alleging violations of the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Forest Management Act. The results document the continued influence of the legal system on national forest management and describe the complexity of this litigation.”

There is abundant evidence to support the position that when any forest project posits vegetative management in forests as a pretense for a logging operation, salvage or otherwise, litigation is likely to ensue, and in addition to NEPA, the USFS uses the Property Clause to address any potential removal of ‘forest products’. Nevertheless, the USFS currently spends more than 50% of its total budget on wildfire suppression alone; about $1.8 billion annually, while there is scant spending for wildfire prevention.

3. Mega fires are the unnatural result of fire suppression.

And what of the “mega-fires” burning in the West, like the huge Mendocino Complex Fire and last year’s Thomas Fire? Unfortunately, many decades of fire suppression measures — prohibitions on logging, grazing, and controlled burns — have left the forests with too much dead wood and debris, especially on public lands. From the last link:

“Oregon, like much of the western U.S., was ravaged by massive wildfires in the 1930s during the Dust Bowl drought. Megafires were largely contained due to logging and policies to actively manage forests, but there’s been an increasing trend since the 1980s of larger fires.

Active management of the forests and logging kept fires at bay for decades, but that largely ended in the 1980s over concerns too many old growth trees and the northern spotted owl. Lawsuits from environmental groups hamstrung logging and government planners cut back on thinning trees and road maintenance.

[Bob] Zybach [a forester] said Native Americans used controlled burns to manage the landscape in Oregon, Washington and northern California for thousands of years. Tribes would burn up to 1 million acres a year on the west coast to prime the land for hunting and grazing, Zybach’s research has shown.

‘The Indians had lots of big fires, but they were controlled,’ Zybach said. ‘It’s the lack of Indian burning, the lack of grazing’ and other active management techniques that caused fires to become more destructive in the 19th and early 20th centuries before logging operations and forest management techniques got fires under control in the mid-20th Century.”

4. Bad federal forest administration started in 1990s.

Bob Zybach feels like a broken record. Decades ago he warned government officials allowing Oregon’s forests to grow unchecked by proper management would result in catastrophic wildfires.

While some want to blame global warming for the uptick in catastrophic wildfires, Zybach said a change in forest management policies is the main reason Americans are seeing a return to more intense fires, particularly in the Pacific Northwest and California where millions of acres of protected forests stand.

“We knew exactly what would happen if we just walked away,” Zybach, an experienced forester with a PhD in environmental science, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Zybach spent two decades as a reforestation contractor before heading to graduate school in the 1990s. Then the Clinton administration in 1994 introduced its plan to protect old growth trees and spotted owls by strictly limiting logging.  Less logging also meant government foresters weren’t doing as much active management of forests — thinnings, prescribed burns and other activities to reduce wildfire risk.

Zybach told Evergreen magazine that year the Clinton administration’s plan for “naturally functioning ecosystems” free of human interference ignored history and would fuel “wildfires reminiscent of the Tillamook burn, the 1910 fires and the Yellowstone fire.”

Between 1952 and 1987, western Oregon saw only one major fire above 10,000 acres. The region’s relatively fire-free streak ended with the Silver Complex Fire of 1987 that burned more than 100,000 acres in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness area, torching rare plants and trees the federal government set aside to protect from human activities. The area has burned several more times since the 1980s.

“Mostly fuels were removed through logging, active management — which they stopped — and grazing,” Zybach said in an interview. “You take away logging, grazing and maintenance, and you get firebombs.”

Now, Oregonians are dealing with 13 wildfires engulfing 185,000 acres. California is battling nine fires scorching more than 577,000 acres, mostly in the northern forested parts of the state managed by federal agencies.

The Mendocino Complex Fire quickly spread to become the largest wildfire in California since the 1930s, engulfing more than 283,000 acres. The previous wildfire record was set by 2017’s Thomas Fire that scorched 281,893 acres in Southern California.

While bad fires still happen on state and private lands, most of the massive blazes happen on or around lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and other federal agencies, Zybach said. Poor management has turned western forests into “slow-motion time bombs,” he said.

A feller buncher removing small trees that act as fuel ladders and transmit fire into the forest canopy.

5. True environmentalism is not nature love, but nature management.

While wildfires do happen across the country, poor management by western states has served to turn entire regions into tinderboxes. By letting nature play out its course so close to civilization, this is the course California and Oregon have taken.

Many in heartland America and along the Eastern Seaboard often see logging and firelines if they travel to a rural area. This is part and parcel of life outside of the city, where everyone knows that because of a few minor eyesores their houses and communities are safer from the primal fury of wildfires.

In other words, leaving the forests to “nature,” and protecting the endangered Spotted Owl created denser forests––300-400 trees per acre rather than 50-80–– with more fuel from the 129 million diseased and dead trees that create more intense and destructive fires. Yet California spends more than ten times as much money on electric vehicle subsidies ($335 million) than on reducing fuel in a mere 60,000 of 33 million acres of forests ($30 million).

Rancher Ross Frank worries that funding to fight fires in Western communities like Chumstick, Wash., has crowded out important land management work. Rowan Moore Gerety/Northwest Public Radio

Once again, global warming “science” is a camouflage for political ideology and gratifying myths about nature and human interactions with it. On the one hand, progressives seek “crises” that justify more government regulation and intrusion that limit citizen autonomy and increase government power. On the other, well-nourished moderns protected by technology from nature’s cruel indifference to all life can afford to indulge myths that give them psychic gratification at little cost to their daily lives.

As usual, bad cultural ideas lie behind these policies and attitudes. Most important is the modern fantasy that before civilization human beings lived in harmony and balance with nature. The rise of cities and agriculture began the rupture with the environment, “disenchanting” nature and reducing it to mere resources to be exploited for profit. In the early 19thcentury, the growth of science that led to the industrial revolution inspired the Romantic movement to contrast industrialism’s “Satanic mills” and the “shades of the prison-house,” with a superior natural world and its “beauteous forms.” In an increasingly secular age, nature now became the Garden of Eden, and technology and science the signs of the fall that has banished us from the paradise enjoyed by humanity before civilization.

The untouched nature glorified by romantic environmentalism, then, is not our home. Ever since the cave men, humans have altered nature to make it more conducive to human survival and flourishing. After the retreat of the ice sheets changed the environment and animal species on which people had depended for food, humans in at least four different regions of the world independently invented agriculture to better manage the food supply. Nor did the American Indians, for example, live “lightly on the land” in a pristine “forest primeval.” They used fire to shape their environment for their own benefit. They burned forests to clear land for cultivation, to create pathways to control the migration of bison and other game, and to promote the growth of trees more useful for them.

Remaining trees and vegetation on the forest floor are more vigorous after removal of small trees for fuels reduction.

And today we continue to improve cultivation techniques and foods to make them more reliable, abundant, and nutritious, not to mention more various and safe. We have been so successful at managing our food supply that today one person out of ten provides food that used to require nine out of ten, obesity has become the plague of poverty, and famines result from political dysfunction rather than nature.

That’s why untouched nature, the wild forests filled with predators, has not been our home. The cultivated nature improved by our creative minds has. True environmentalism is not nature love, but nature management: applying skill and technique to make nature more useful for humans, at the same time conserving resources so that those who come after us will be able to survive. Managing resources and exploiting them for our benefit without destroying them is how we should approach the natural world. We should not squander resources or degrade them, not because of nature, but because when we do so, we are endangering the well-being of ourselves and future generations.

Conclusion

The annual burnt area from wildfires has declined over the past ninety years both in the U.S. and globally. Even this year’s wildfires are unlikely to come close to the average burn extent of the 1930s. The large wildfires this year are due to a combination of decades of poor forest management along with a weather pattern that has trapped warm, dry air over the West. The contention that global warming has played a causal role in the pattern is balderdash, but apparently that explanation seems plausible to the uninformed, and it is typical of the propaganda put forward by climate change interests.

Sources: 

https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/271044/junk-science-and-leftist-folklore-have-set-bruce-thornton

https://www.4baseball.com/westernjournal.com/after-libs-blame-west-coast-fires-on-global-warming-forester-speaks-out/

https://sacredcowchips.net/tag/bob-zybach/

https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2017/10/13/ecological-imbalance-wildfires-us-rangelands/

http://dailycaller.com/2018/08/08/mismanagement-forests-time-bombs/

Footnote:  So how do you want your forest fires, some small ones now or mega fires later?

 

Children’s Climate Lawsuit Tossed

Now this is interesting. This week another children’s climate lawsuit has been dismissed, this time in Seattle Washington, hotbed of climatists as rabid as California. According to AP, Judge Michael Scott gave away his personal bias by telling the plaintiffs not to be discouraged by his ruling granting the motion to dismiss from defendant Governor Inslee. Methinks that leftward justices in the lower courts are realizing they can no longer make policy from the bench and expect higher courts to let it pass. With Gorsuch sitting on the highest court, and Kavanaugh soon to be added, liberal grandstanding opinions may become much rarer.

The story from Washington Examiner Washington judge throws out children’s climate change lawsuit Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

A judge in Washington state on Tuesday dismissed a climate change lawsuit filed against the state by a group of child activists.

King County Superior Court Judge Michael Scott ruled in favor of the State of Washington’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Aji P. v. State of Washington. The 13 young activists in the suit argue that the state is violating their constitutional rights through actions that cause climate change.

Judge Scott ruled that issues brought up in the case are political questions that cannot be resolved by a court, and must be addressed by Congress and the president.

Attorneys representing the children said they would make a formal statement on the judge’s decision on Wednesday morning. An initial statement by Our Children’s Trust, the group representing the children, suggested Judge Scott erred in his decision.

“Given the significance of the Court’s decision and the pronounced departures from proper judicial procedure and consideration of Plaintiffs’ claims, Our Children’s Trust will issue a formal statement regarding the decision tomorrow,” the initial statement read.

The child plaintiffs in the lawsuit said they were both “saddened” and heartbroken” by the judge’s decision.

The same group of child activists has also sued the federal government on the same constitutional grounds in Juliana v. United States. But that lawsuit has had better luck in federal appeals court, which rejected the Trump administration’s several attempts to have the case thrown out.

More recently, the Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch attempt by the Trump administration to block the climate change lawsuit filed by children, meaning the lawsuit will have its day in court later this fall.

“The Government’s request for relief is premature and is denied without prejudice,” read the high court’s decision.

The case will be heard in federal district court in October.

Note: The article omits the caution directed by the supremes in their decision not to intervene.  The brief unsigned order said the Trump administration’s request was premature. The court did, however, note that the claims made in the ambitious lawsuit are “striking” and the question of whether they can be considered by a jury “presents substantial grounds for difference of opinion.”  As such, the lower court should take those concerns into account in handling the case, the order said.

“Without prejudice” suggests the highest court is open to hearing the case should the lower court get it wrong.

Footnote: The Fable of Political Success

A provincial political leader won the parliamentary election and on the day to take the oath was greeted by the outgoing premier.  Wishing him well, his predecessor gave him three envelopes, explaining it was a tradition.  The envelopes contained advice to be consulted later on if difficulties were encountered.

Not long after taking office, criticisms started up, and the new premier opened the first envelope.  It explained:  “Blame it on the previous administration.”  He followed that advice pointing to past financial mismanagement, and the difficulty undoing bad policies and programs he had inherited.

That calmed things down for awhile, but a year later the excuses were wearing thin.  So he turned to the second envelope which gave the advice:  “Blame it on the federal government.”  A new campaign of announcements focused on delays and shortfalls of federal funding, poor coordination and liaison by federal counterparts, and counterproductive federal policies.

This quieted critics for more than a year, but alas it too began to fall on deaf ears.  It was time to open the third envelope:  ” Blame it on climate change, or else prepare three envelopes.”