PROTECT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE: MORATORIUM ON COAL PLANT CLOSURES ESSENTIAL

June 27, 2014

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Recent events in New England and elsewhere in the U.S. have demonstrated that policies which hurt the U.S. coal fleet are placing the reliability, affordability, and security of America’s electric supply system at risk:

• These policies will significantly increase wholesale electric rates – and could increase them by as much as 80 percent – according to Dr. Julio Friedmann, Assistant Secretary for Clean Coal at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).1

• The increases will be especially harmful in certain states – such as Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wyoming (Figure EX-1).

• Severe economic hardship will be imposed on people who can least afford it – low income families, minorities, children, and the elderly.
Therefore, policymakers, regulators, and electric utilities should institute an immediate moratorium on the premature closure of coal power plants and should reverse planned closures where possible.

Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 8.18.35 AM
Figure EX-1: Potential 2020 Electric Rate Increases From Coal Plant Closures

During the winter of 2014, coal was the only fuel with the ability to meet demand increases
for electricity, providing 92 percent of incremental electricity in January/February, 2014
versus the same months in 20132 (Figure EX-2).

Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 8.18.44 AM
Figure EX-2: What Showed Up for Work During the Polar Vortex?

During the winter of 2013 – 2014:

• Businesses in New England and other parts of the U.S. were curtailed because of a lack of gas infrastructure.

• Natural gas power plants also had a problem getting fuel due to infrastructure issues and at one point many of them had to go offline.

• Gas-based electricity prices increased 1,000 percent as coal and oil plants scheduled for closure picked up the load.

• Without coal, parts of New England, the Midwest, and other regions would have experienced brownouts and blackouts that would have been economically
disastrous and would have compromised public health and safety; in many instances it could have been life threatening.

This past winter demonstrated in real time the value of the existing coal fleet. Americans were harmed as the relentless cold indicated that prudent utility practices require large, baseload coal plants to stabilize the grid, keep society functioning, and maintain electricity availability. Many regions suffered; for example, in late January and early February 2014 some locations in the Midwest experienced gas prices as high as $35/MMBtu, and the Chicago Citygate price exceeded $40/MMBtu (Figure EX-3).

Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 8.18.52 AM
Figure EX-3: Chicago Citygate Natural Gas Prices, February 2013 – 2014 (Dollars per MMBtu) Source: NGI nationalgasintel.com

Government policies that drive over-dependence on natural gas to replace baseload coalput the U.S. electric supply at risk and also endanger:

• The 60 million households who need gas for heating.

• A vast array of firms that use gas in daily operations.

Recent experience in New England and elsewhere represents a troubling indication of the implications of removing coal plants from the electricity generation mix:

• Spot prices of natural gas and electricity may spike significantly.

• Utility bills become unaffordable for many families during price spikes.

• Energy shortages could occur.

• What little industry is left in the Northeast may be forced to leave.

• Average electricity rates in New England are already more than 40 percent higher than the national average and may be headed to be 150 percent higher.

• New York’s electricity prices are now the second highest in the country – only the geographically isolated state of Hawaii has higher prices.

New England is merely the precursor to the national problem which is emerging. With the projected closure of 60 gigawatts (GW) of coal plant capacity, virtually the entire U.S. is rapidly reaching the brink of significantly higher prices for electricity and being unable to meet either the summer or winter peak demand for power. Unless immediate steps are taken to halt coal plant closures:

• Within the decade entire regions (New England, Florida, California, the Southwest) may be at risk.

• Vast areas of the American Heartland from the Southeast to the Plains could face the difficult choice of using gas for either electric power or meeting the heating needs of millions of families, businesses, and farms.

• Forecasts indicate that by 2020, natural gas capacity will exceed coal, nuclear, and hydro capacity combined, creating a lack of diversity of supply issue.

The American Public Power Association has demonstrated the difficulties of replacing coal in electricity generation, and found that there must be continued reliance on America’s largest energy resource:

• The U.S. has by far the world’s largest coal supply, nearly 30 percent of the global total.

• Most existing coal-fueled power plants are less expensive than natural gas for electricity generation.

• The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that coal’s price advantage will continue and grow larger for the next three decades.

• U.S. coal used for electricity generation has increased 170 percent since 1970 as key emission rates (SO2, NOX, PM10) have been reduced by 90 percent.3 Greater use of advanced technologies will continue this progress.4

• Advanced “supercritical” technology is highly efficient, and other state-of-the-art technologies result in a key emissions rate that is two-thirds lower than the existing fleet with carbon dioxide (CO2) emission rates as much as 25 percent lower than the oldest plants. Current policies are driving reduction of coal generation creating increased dependence on natural gas. However, activist groups and government officials have indicated their desire to reduce natural gas usage as well.

• Activist groups supporting the “Beyond Coal” campaign have initiated a “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign to oppose hydraulic fracturing.5

• Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz contends that natural gas is “too carbon intensive” and must be phased out of electricity generation by 2050. 6

• White House Senior Counselor John Podesta has endorsed the phase-out of natural gas in the electric power sector beginning in 2020. 7

• Ronald Binz, recent nominee to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), said of gas: “On a carbon basis, you hit the wall in 2035 or so with gas. I mean, you do. And it’s certainly helping my state [Colorado]…but we also have to understand that without [carbon capture and storage],
I think that’s a dead end, a relative dead end – it wouldn’t dead end until 2035 or so – but that’s when we’re going to have to do better on carbon than even natural gas can do.” 8

Current policies for electrical generation threaten the abundant, reliable and affordable electricity Americans have come to rely upon; they drive coal out as a source of electrical generation, creating heavy reliance on natural gas. In the next phase, natural gas will be driven out as well. This will affect natural gas availability for direct use and power, making electricity more expensive and scarce to Americans and hurting economic growth.
In sum, policies that erode the U.S. coal fleet are placing the reliability, affordability, and security of America’s electric supply system at risk. Prudence requires an immediate moratorium on coal power plant closures and planned closures should be reversed where possible.

References:
1. Aaron Larson, “CCS Could Increase Coal-Fired Electric Generation Costs By 70%–80%,” Power Magazine, February 13, 2014.
2. U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Electric Power Monthly, February 2014.
3. U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Monthly Energy Review, Feb 2014; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “National Air Pollutant Emission Trends, 1900-1998 and 1970-2013;” EPA Air Markets Program Data; EIA Electric Power Monthly, March 2014.
4. EPA “National Air Pollutant Emission Trends, 1900-1998 and 1970-2013;” EPA Air Markets Program Data; EIA Electric Power Monthly, March 2014; EIA, 2012 data on coal plant heat rates.
5. http://content.sierraclub.org/campaigns/beyond-natural-gas.
6. Lisa Song, “Moniz: Shale Gas Boom a Low-Carbon Solution – for Now,” InsideClimate News, February 21, 2013.
7. Darryl Banks and Gwynne Taraska, “U.S. Natural-Gas Use Must Peak by 2030,” Center for American Progress, Washington, D.C., July 2013.
8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAOTt_rR0lo&feature=youtu.be&t=30m17s.5

Obama Climate Report Finds Sky Falling

May 28, 2014

images (1)

By Larry Bell

If you thought Chicken Little was a little chicken, perhaps he was just a little ahead of his time. As trumpeted in The Third National Climate Assessment (NCA) released by the White House earlier this month, “Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present.”

Even if you somehow imagined that dramatic climate changes haven’t been going on throughout our planet’s history, have no doubt that this ain’t just any old ordinary climate change conditions they’re talking about. Nope, you can be certain that it’s about global warming influences that our fossil-fueled smokestacks and SUVs are causing. And you can also bet your bippy that they’re all considered to be bad.

As Dr. Judith Curry, chairwoman of the Georgia Institute of Technology School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences observes: ”The report effectively implies that there is no climate change other than what is caused by humans, and that extreme weather events are equivalent to climate change.” She continues, “Worse yet, is the spin being put on this by the Obama administration.”

Dr. Roy Spencer, principal research scientist at the University of Alabama-Huntsville takes this “spin” criticism a bit farther. He states that part of the report “is just simply made up. There is no fingerprint of human-caused versus naturally caused climate change.”

Meteorologist and Weather Channel co-founder John Coleman doesn’t have a very high opinion of the NCA either. He refers to the report as a “litany of doom”, calling it a “total distortion of the data and an agenda-driven, destructive episode of bad science gone berserk.”

The 829-page report’s oft-quoted banner headline is that “extreme weather events with links to climate change have become more frequent and/or intense.” The summary overview asserts that evidence confirming that this trend which is already “disrupting people’s lives” tells an “unambiguous story.”

Well, at least that’s the big message until you get to the fine print in the body of the report which acknowledges that, oops, maybe that evidence is a lot more ambiguous than they wish to have us believe. Here they admit “trends in severe storms, including the intensity and frequency of tornados, hail, and damaging thunderstorm winds, are uncertain and are being studied intensively.”

The report also observes: “There has been no universal trend in the overall extent of drought across the continental U.S. since 1900.”

In fact, many of those claims are more than uncertain. They are most certainly wrong.

Take hurricanes for example, where a century-long trend is actually down. In 2013 the National Hurricane Center stated: “There were no major hurricanes in the North Atlantic Basin for the first time since 1994. And the number of hurricanes this year was the lowest since 1982.” The U.S. is experiencing the longest period without major Category 3, 4, or 5 hurricane landfall strikes since the Civil War era. The global frequency of tropical hurricanes is now also at a historical low.

As for tornadoes, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that Dorothy is safer than ever back in Kansas. They tell us: “There has been little trend the frequency of the stronger tornadoes over the past 55 years.” NOAA’s U.S. Climate Extremes Index of unusually hot or cold temperatures finds nothing to be alarmed about either. Five years during the past 10 have recorded temperatures below the historical mean, and five have been recorded above.

But what about that catastrophic CO2-induced global warming all those really “sophisticated climate models” have warned us about? Well, apparently it has taken a cool shady siesta. Even NOAA admits that there has been a “lack of significant warming at the Earth’s surface in the past decade” and a pause “in global warming since 2000.”

Last year they stated: “Since the turn of the century, however, the change in Earth’s global mean surface temperature has been close to zero.”

And those “abnormal” extreme drought and moisture conditions we have been witnessing? Well again, maybe not so much after all. Floods have been occurring since the writing of the Old Testament, and California is no stranger to droughts.

While parts of the country have indeed experienced higher than average drought/moisture conditions over the past 10 years, four of those years have been below average and six have been above. Conditions during the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s when atmospheric CO2 levels were higher were more extreme. And by the way, U.S. floods haven’t increased in frequency or intensity since at least 1950.

Wouldn’t you think that instead of urging us to build arks in our back yards, the Obama administration would wish to take some credit for all this good news? Perhaps remember that this is the president who promised on the night he won the Democratic nomination that it was “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

You gotta hand it to him for modesty.

Larry Bell is a professor and endowed professor at the University of Houston, where he directs the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and heads the graduate program in space architecture. He is author of “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax,” and his professional aerospace work has been featured on the History Channel and the Discovery Channel-Canada.

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/LarryBell/Obama-Climate-Report-NCA/2014/05/27/id/573515#ixzz32xqRsq9J

America’s power grid at the limit: the road to electrical blackouts

April 26, 2014

CHICAGO, April 23, 2014 — Americans take electricity for granted. Electricity powers our lights, our computers, our offices, and our industries. But misguided environmental policies are eroding the reliability of our power system.

Powerlines-CA-Article

This past winter, bitterly cold weather placed massive stress on the US electrical system―and the system almost broke. On January 7 in the midst of the polar vortex, PJM Interconnection, the Regional Transmission Organization serving the heart of America from New Jersey to Illinois, experienced a new all-time peak winter load of almost 142,000 megawatts.

Eight of the top ten of PJM’s all-time winter peaks occurred in January 2014. Heroic efforts by grid operators saved large parts of the nation’s heartland from blackouts during record-cold temperature days. Nicholas Akins, CEO of American Electric Power, stated in Congressional testimony, “This country did not just dodge a bullet―we dodged a cannon ball.”

Environmental policies established by Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are moving us toward electrical grid failure. The capacity reserve margin for hot or cold weather events is shrinking in many regions. According to Philip Moeller, Commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, “…the experience of this past winter indicates that the power grid is now already at the limit.”

EPA policies, such as the Mercury and Air Toxics rule and the Section 316 Cooling Water Rule, are forcing the closure of many coal-fired plants, which provided 39 percent of US electricity last year. American Electric Power, a provider of about ten percent of the electricity to eastern states, will close almost one-quarter of the firm’s coal-fired generating plants in the next fourteen months. Eighty-nine percent of the power scheduled for closure was needed to meet electricity demand in January. Not all of this capacity has replacement plans.

In addition to shrinking reserve margin, electricity prices are becoming less stable. Natural gas-fired plants are replacing many of the closing coal-fired facilities. Gas powered 27 percent of US electricity in 2013, up from 18 percent a decade earlier. When natural gas is plentiful, its price is competitive with that of coal fuel.

But natural gas is not stored on plant sites like coal. When electrical and heating demand spiked in January, gas was in short supply. Gas prices soared by a factor of twenty, from $5 per million BTU to over $100 per million BTU. Consumers were subsequently shocked by utility bills several times higher than in previous winters.

On top of existing regulations, the EPA is pushing for carbon dioxide emissions standards for power plants, as part of the “fight” against human-caused climate change. If enacted, these new regulations will force coal-fired plants to either close or add expensive carbon capture and storage technology. This EPA crusade against global warming continues even though last winter was the coldest US winter since 1911-1912.

Nuclear generating facilities are also under attack. Many of the 100 nuclear power plants that provided 20 percent of US electricity for decades can no longer be operated profitably. Exelon’s six nuclear power plants in Illinois have operated at a loss for the last six years and are now candidates for closure.

What industry pays customers to take its product? The answer is the U.S. wind industry. Wind-generated electricity is typically bid in electrical wholesale markets at negative prices. But how can wind systems operate at negative prices?

The answer is that the vast majority of U.S. wind systems receive a federal production tax credit (PTC) of up to 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for produced electricity. Some states add an addition credit, such as Iowa, which provides a corporate tax credit of 1.5 cents per kw-hr. So wind operators can supply electricity at a pre-tax price of a negative 3 or 4 cents per kw-hr and still make an after-tax profit from subsidies, courtesy of the taxpayer.

As wind-generated electricity has grown, the frequency of negative electricity pricing has grown. When demand is low, such as in the morning, wholesale electricity prices sometimes move negative. In the past, negative market prices have provided a signal to generating systems to reduce output.

But wind systems ignore the signal and continue to generate electricity to earn the PTC, distorting wholesale electricity markets. Negative pricing by wind operators and low natural gas prices have pushed nuclear plants into operating losses. Yet, Congress is currently considering whether to again extend the destructive PTC subsidy.

Capacity shortages are beginning to appear. A reserve margin deficit of two gigawatts is projected for the summer of 2016 for the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), serving the Northern Plains states. Reserve shortages are also projected for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) by as early as this summer.

The United States has the finest electricity system in the world, with prices one-half those of Europe. But this system is under attack from foolish energy policies. Coal-fired power plants are closing, unable to meet EPA environmental guidelines. Nuclear plants are aging and beset by mounting losses, driven by negative pricing from subsidized wind systems. Without a return to sensible energy policies, everyone must prepare for higher prices and electrical grid failures.

Steve Goreham is Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of the book The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism: Mankind and Climate Change Mania.

Read more at http://www.commdiginews.com/business-2/legal-insurance-marketing/americas-power-grid-at-the-limit-the-road-to-electrical-blackouts-15826/#Rk3EBgH3Vtaxsqbr.99

Examiner Editorial: American energy independence in sight despite Obama

April 21, 2014

BY WASHINGTON EXAMINER | APRIL 16, 2014 AT 6:51 AM

Booming oil and natural gas production made possible by technological advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling has been the lone bright spot in the U.S. economy throughout President Obama’s tenure in the Oval Office. The U.S. Energy Information Administration released data last week that effectively illustrates the boom, saying “total U.S. net imports of energy, measured in terms of energy content, declined in 2013 to their lowest level in more than two decades. Growth in the production of oil and natural gas displaced imports and supported increased petroleum product exports, driving most of the decline. A large drop in energy imports together with a smaller increase in energy exports led to a 19% decrease in net energy imports from 2012 to 2013.”

The EIA also made public its latest long-term projections, including the U.S. achieving energy independence by 2037 — that is, zero net oil imports from the Middle East and other foreign producers — under the most optimistic of those scenarios. Driving the increasingly optimistic projections from the EIA is growing productivity in the Eagle Ford Shale area of Texas and North Dakota’s Bakken Shale area. The new-rig count in Texas, for example, has zoomed from less than 100 in mid-2009 to more than 300 today, while oil production has gone from a mere 30 barrels per day in 2009 to more than 500 today, according to EIA data. No wonder an EIA spokesman told Bloomberg News “this is the first time the Annual Energy Outlook has projected that net imports’ share of liquid fuels consumption could reach zero.”


Since Obama took office, total federal oil production has declined 7.8 percent and federal natural gas production has declined 21 percent.

It’s not all good news on the energy front, however, thanks to Obama. The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management released new data showing the federal government’s issuance of new onshore oil and natural gas leases and permits crawling along at levels that in some respects are the lowest since President Reagan was in office:

• BLM leased 1.2 million acres in 2013, down from 1.8 million acres leased the year before and the smallest area since at least 1988, the earliest year BLM reported data.

• BLM issued 1,468 oil and natural gas leases in 2013, down from 1,729 issued the year before.

• BLM issued 3,770 drilling permits in 2013, down from 4,256 permits issued the year before and the lowest level since 2002.

“This data confirms that the Obama administration is purposely stifling American energy production wherever it can. Since Obama took office, total federal oil production has declined 7.8 percent and federal natural gas production has declined 21 percent. This is unacceptable and forfeits the opportunity to create good-paying jobs and grow our economy,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings.

A Washington state Republican, Hastings is retiring at the end of the current Congress, so he is perhaps in a position to be more candid on these issues than other congressmen who are seeking re-election. The BLM data makes clear, though, that the American energy boom is happening despite, not because, of the man in the White House.

Death by solar farms: 71 species of birds killed, ‘entire food chains’ disrupted

April 15, 2014

By Douglas Ernst -The Washington Times

A new report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finds that solar facilities in California are acting like “mega traps” that kill and injure birds. As a result, “entire food chains” are being disrupted.

USFWS’s National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory studied three solar farms in Southern California: Desert Sunlight, Genesis Solar and Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS). Two-hundred and thirty-three different birds from 71 species were found over the course of a two-year study.

The three main causes of death were:

1. Solar flux: Exposure to temperatures over 800 degrees F.

2. Impact (or blunt force) trauma: The birds’ wings are rendered inoperable while flying, causing them to crash into the ground. Birds that do not die are often injured badly enough to make them vulnerable to predators.

3. Predators: When a bird’s wings are singed and it can not fly, it loses its primary means of defense against animals like foxes and coyotes.

Hummingbirds, swifts, swallows, doves, hawks, finches, warblers and owls were just some dead birds found at the solar facilities’ “equal opportunity” mortality hazards.
In one instance, lab staff observed a “falcon-type bird with a plume of smoke arising from the tail as it passed through [a] flux field.”

The study found that besides the intense heat, birds may be mistaking large solar panels for bodies of water. The injured birds then attract insects and other predators to the area. They, too, are then vulnerable to injury or death.

In one instance, researchers found “hundreds upon hundreds” of butterfly carcasses (including Monarchs). The insects were attracted to the light from the solar farms, which in turn attracted birds and perpetuated a cycle of death and injury.

One of the recommendations of the study, which stated that the number of deaths was likely underrepresented, was to retrofit solar panels to discourage birds and insects from congregating in the area.
California’s KCET, a public television station, reported the findings of the USFWS’s report may affect the state’s decision to proceed with the Palen Solar Electric Generating System, “a much larger version of Ivanpah proposed for the Chuckwalla Valley in Riverside County.”

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/apr/11/death-calif-solar-farms-71-species-bird-found-enti/#ixzz2yy0YGGG7
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

Global Cooling – The REAL Inconvenient Truth: Part 1

April 4, 2014

Three months ago, it snowed in Cairo, Egypt for the first time in 112 years.

GlobalCooling-snow-in-Cairo

2013 was the largest one-year temperature drop ever recorded in the United States.

The extent of the Antarctic sea ice is at record highs.

It’s the Real Inconvenient Truth—right now the world is getting colder. And it’s likely to get even colder for the next 20 years—before a new, stronger cycle of sunspots begins, as they have for eons. They are statistically very, VERY accurate.

But there’s more, and it’s A Sad Truth: there is ample evidence that suggests private scientists and public servants have been manipulating the basic raw data that most everyone relies on to calculate climate change. (This story has great timing as the IPCC–International Panel on Climate Change–just released Part 5 of their most recent major assessment on climate science (even they can’t bring themselves to call it Global Warming anymore).)

There are some investment trends that come out of this new Truth, and some of it is as simple as get long snowmobile makers and get short lawn mowers. One trend is that Global Cooling should bring more seasonality in oil and gas prices, making energy ETF and commodity traders happy.

All of this is part of a new ground-breaking study completed by Unit Economics, an investment think-tank from Boston. They are a non-partisan group with no axe to grind on this issue; like me, they are here to make money for their clients. Show us a trend and we’ll figure out how to profit from it.

In Part I, you’ll understand the big swings in temperature the earth has experienced in the last million years, and the last thousand years, and the last 50 years. In Part II I’ll explain how sunspot activity directly correlates to ALL these temperature changes. And I’ll give you a hot, near-term investment trend to capitalize on this cool idea.

And in Part III, I’ll show you how some original research by Unit Economics has uncovered some disturbing data about the integrity of Global Warming science. And really, all they’re doing is adding to an already big pile.

BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT

Satellites first started measuring earth’s temperature in 1979. Over the next 20 years, temperatures did rise, by roughly 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9°F). In the 15 years since, that trend has reversed–rendering the total temperature increase since 1979 a mere 0.35°C (0.6°F), well within the range of statistical noise.

The real culprit for climate change is simply—the sun, through a complicated but predictable set of cycles.

Those cycles predicted today’s cooling trend – and they predict it will continue for another two decades and may well lead to the coldest period on earth in the last 1,200 years.

The Earth, the Sun, and the Temperature

The earth’s cycle around the sun stretches and contracts, creating 100,000-year temperature cycles. Our planet also slowly tilts one way and then the other, resulting in 41,000-year temperature cycles.

We know this because scientists have several methods to estimate historic weather, an effort that has produced this general result:

View gallery
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A few things jump out.

1. The 100,000-year temperature cycles are very apparent – and the current one is peaking.
2. The timeframe of this chart covers ice ages and tropical periods, which means it takes only a small change in global temperatures – only two to four degrees – to separate a very warm world from a very cold one.
3. Through the cycles of the last 800,000 years, the average global temperature is creeping upwards.
4. The magnitude of each cycle seems to be increasing.

Now, this chart should be taken with a grain of salt because the methods we use to conjure these numbers are not perfect. But at least the chart lets us put recent climate changes into historic context – a context that deserves a closer look.

The key takeaway is that the earth has been through some very warm periods and some pretty cold ones. Take the years between 800 and 1200 AD, for example. During these 400 years it was so warm that vineyards spread across central England and bountiful harvests almost doubled Europe’s population.

Then it all changed. By the mid-1300s England’s vineyards were gone and sea ice expanded so much that polar bears crossed to Greenland. This short cold snap was truncated in about 1400, when warmer weather returned for 150 years. Get the idea? Up, then down, then up, then down. And then came the Little Ice Age.

Lasting from 1550 right until 1850, the Little Ice Age froze Austria’s vineyards, forcing parched Austrians to switch from wine to beer. Winter fairs were held on the frozen Thames River for 20 years (you’ve all seen the paintings) and Hudson Bay was littered with ice chunks in mid-summer.

This period of time was so cold it earned the moniker The Dalton Minimum—a reference to the very low number of sunspots then. In the year 1816, storms dumped snow across New England and Quebec in June, lake ice lasted until August in Pennsylvania, and failed crops led to food riots in Britain and France.

So when you get asked, is the world warmer over the last 200 years, since the Industrial Revolution started? Yes, but it has squat to do with industry. That just happens to co-incide with the smallest sunspot activity in “modern” times.

Eventually the world started to warm again. From 1890 to 1934 central Europe barely saw any snow. Another warm spell from 1942 to 1953 had scientists predicting the death of Europe’s glaciers, a forecast invalidated when the world once again cooled.

Here’s some interesting data as we get closer to the present day:

1. Temps continued to fall from 1953 until the mid-1970s – despite rising CO2 levels. This was during the single most industrializing time on earth—and temperatures fell while CO2 levels rose.

2. Another point: if CO2 emissions cause global warming the layer of the atmosphere 5 to 10 km (3-6 miles) above the earth where CO2 interacts with sunlight should be warming more quickly than the earth’s surface. In fact, temperatures at these levels have been unchanged since accurate balloon measurements became available 50 years ago.

3. There has been a large outcry about the decline of Arctic Ice. While Arctic sea ice extent is just above average levels, Arctic sea ice is near record thickness: the volume of ice in the Arctic last fall was 50% higher than 12 months prior, following a very cold summer in 2013 in which temps climbed above freezing only 45 days compared to an average of 90 days.

I bet you didn’t read about that.

4. There’s a lot of ice at the other end of the globe too. In eight of the last ten years global sea ice extent has bested the 30-year average, aided by an Antarctic sheet that in October hit its highest extent since record keeping started in 1979.

5. The Northern Hemisphere had its second, third, and fourth highest snow extents on modern record in 2010, 2011, and 2013. In the United States 2013 brought the largest year-over-year drop in temperature on record and the winter is on track to be labeled the third coldest in 200 years.

Evidence of this cooling is everywhere – even if politicians and the media try to pretend it isn’t. Of course, the media has short memories. Only 40 years ago, in mid-1974 Time magazine ran a cover story entitled “Another Ice Age?” noting a 12% increase in New Hampshire snow cover in 30 years.

Conclusion: over the last 1,200 years the earth has been through several pretty extreme temperature swings. What gives?

The answer lies with the sun. Cold periods coincide with solar minimums, which generally happen every 150 to 200 years. Warm periods coincide with solar maxima, which happen every 700 years or so.

In Part II, you will read about how accurately sunspot activity relates to earth’s temperatures, why the signs are indicating a deep cooling trend for the next 20 years (brrrrrr……), and one near term investment idea in the energy patch that should prosper greatly from this new trend.

Climate Activists Uncaged

April 4, 2014

3 April 2014
By Jonah Goldberg

Finally, someone has come up with a way to settle the debate over climate change: Put the people on the wrong side of the argument in cages.

A writer for the website Gawker recently penned a self-described “rant” on the pressing need to arrest, charge and imprison people who “deny” global warming. In fairness, Adam Weinstein doesn’t want mass arrests. (Besides, in a country where only 44 percent of Americans say there is “solid evidence” of global warming and it’s mostly due to human activity, you can’t round up every dissenter.) Fact-checking scientists are spared. So is “the man on the street who thinks Rush Limbaugh is right. … You all know that man. That man is an idiot. He is too stupid to do anything other than choke the earth’s atmosphere a little more with his Mr. Pibb burps and his F-150’s gassy exhaust.”

But Weinstein’s magnanimity ends there. Someone must pay. Weinstein suggests the government simply try the troublemakers and spokespeople. You know, the usual suspects. People like Limbaugh himself as well as ringleaders of political organizations and businesses that refuse to toe the line. “Those malcontents must be punished and stopped.”

Weinstein says that this “is an argument that’s just being discussed seriously in some circles.” He credits Rochester Institute of Technology philosophy professor Lawrence Torcello for getting the ball rolling. Last month, Torcello argued that America should follow Italy’s lead. In 2009, six seismologists were convicted of poorly communicating the risks of a major earthquake. When one struck, the scientists were sentenced to six years in jail for downplaying the risks. Torcello and Weinstein want a similar approach for climate change.

This is a great standard for free speech in America. Let’s just agree that the First Amendment reads, “Nothing in this clause shall be considered binding if it contradicts legal practices in the Abruzzo region of Italy.”

The truth is this isn’t as new an outlook as Weinstein suggests. For instance, in 2009, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman insisted that “deniers” in Congress who opposed the Waxman-Markey climate change bill were committing “treason” while explaining their opposition on the House floor. (That same year, Krugman’s fellow Timesman Thomas Friedman wrote that China’s authoritarian system was preferable to ours, in part, because it lets “enlightened” leaders deal with climate change.)

“The fact is that the planet is changing faster than even pessimists expected,” Krugman insisted. How fast the earth is changing is open to all kinds of debate, but short of an asteroid strike it won’t change as fast as the global warming pessimists have claimed. For example, in 2008, Al Gore predicted that the North Pole ice cap would be ice-free by 2013. Arctic ice, which never came close to disappearing, has actually been making a bit of comeback lately.

Gore’s prediction — echoed by then-Sen. John Kerry and countless others — was always ridiculous hyperbole. But even most serious, non-hyperbolic, computer-modeled predictions have overestimated the amount of warming we’ve experienced. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has had to retract several histrionic predictions, such as its erroneous prophecy that the Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035.

Its new report, out on Monday, contains a new raft of dire prophecies requiring trillions in new spending. If I greet it with skepticism, shall I pack a toothbrush for my trip to jail?

Climate-change activists insist that in science, revisions are routine, and that such corrections prove the good faith of scientists. Even if that’s true, one might still note that incentives are unhealthily arranged so that even well-intentioned researchers are encouraged to exaggerate the dangers of climate change and discouraged to criticize hyperbole. Moreover, were it not for the skeptics and deniers, many such corrections would never have been brought to light. (My own view is that man plays some role in warming, but the threat is overblown and the popular remedies range from trivial to unaffordable to ridiculous.)

The real problem is that political activists and many leading institutions, particularly in the news media and academia, are determined to demonize any kind of skepticism — about the extent of the threat or the efficacy of proposed solutions — as illegitimate idiocy.
That attitude is unscientific and undemocratic enough. But it sure beats calling for your opponents to be thrown in the gulag for disagreeing with you.

http://townhall.com/columnists/jonahgoldberg/2014/04/03/climate-activists-uncaged-n1817948/page/full

Why Mass. Lags On Patrick’s Wind Power Goal

March 29, 2014

By Bruce Gellerman March 24, 2014

0318_ap-turbine-620x413

A wind turbine is seen at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in Hancock in late 2008. (Stephan Savoia/AP)

Five years ago, Gov. Deval Patrick set an ambitious goal: He declared that by 2020 the state should develop enough wind-generated electricity to power 800,000 homes. Patrick said a quarter of that wind power should come from turbines located on Massachusetts land.

But with half the time gone, we’re still far from reaching the governor’s goal for wind power.

After Delay, Hoosac’s Built

Dec. 3, 2012, was an overcast day in Berkshire County, but that didn’t dampen Patrick’s enthusiasm. He went to the rural northwest corner of Massachusetts to mark the near-completion of the Hoosac Wind Power Project, the largest in the state — 19 huge turbines built on two mountain ridges in the towns of Monroe and Florida.

“You don’t want them everywhere, but when you think about what they’re doing in terms of a clean, renewable and reliable source of electricity, it adds to the beauty,” Patrick said. “I think they’re quite elegant.”

But when it comes to wind power, beauty is in the eye — and ear — of the beholder. Opponents sued Hoosac, calling the 330-foot-tall turbines eyesores, loud and unhealthy. The lawsuits doubled the permitting time and the initial cost estimates.

After eight years of delay, the state’s highest court settled the matter. The $90 million Hoosac wind farm was built.

And Patrick was finally able to claim Massachusetts was on its way to meeting his ambitious wind energy goal.

“When I first took office, there were three wind turbines in the commonwealth and three megawatts of wind energy capacity installed, all throughout the state,” he said. “Since then, Massachusetts has experienced one of the fastest rates of wind energy development in the whole nation — more than 30-fold increase in our wind energy capacity. In fact, more this year alone than all previous years combined.”

But in the year since Patrick gave this speech, only one new wind turbine has been built in Massachusetts. And if the governor’s ambitious goal is to be met, we’ll need a dozen wind farms the size of Hoosac.

But Paul Copleman — a spokesman for Iberdrola Renewables, which owns Hoosac — says the Spanish company has no plans to build more wind farms in Massachusetts, even though under state law utilities are required to buy an increasing share of their electricity from clean, renewable sources like wind.

NStar buys all the electricity Hoosac produces. It’s enough to power 10,000 homes a year, saving 100 million pounds of carbon dioxide annually, compared to a fossil fuel plant.

“Our fuel is free,” Copleman said. “The wind is always free, so what that enables us to do is to deliver a fixed source of power for as long as the wind is blowing. So there are very few variable costs to the operation of the facility.”

Dozens Of ‘Dead Wind’ Projects

Hoosac’s 19 turbines make it by far the largest wind farm in the state. But if Virginia Irvine has her way, it’ll also be the last.

“To be honest I thought that wind was really great myself,” she said.

That was until Boston-based First Wind announced plans to build a 10-turbine wind farm on a mountaintop in Brimfield, in Irvine’s backyard.

“I moved here for the quiet, for the rural character, and to be able to go out my backdoor, put on my cross-country skis, and go into the woods,” she said at her home.

The steady breeze on West Mountain caught First Wind’s attention in 2010 — enough wind, it estimated, to power 15,000 homes.

The company studied the site, held meetings with residents, and designed plans to erect the 400-foot-tall turbines less than a mile from Irvine’s home. She fought back, and helped organize the group called No Brimfield Wind.

But it was profit, not protesters, that sealed First Wind’s fate in Brimfield. The company pulled the plug on the project when it discovered there wasn’t enough wind on the mountain to make it financially feasible.

“Oh yeah, we won,” Irvine said. “First Wind has not, you know, put in a project in Massachusetts. They only do big projects. They went up to Maine.”

And Irvine went on to co-found Wind Wise, a statewide organization to help others fight against land-based wind projects.

Irvine says she’s not against wind farms, that they’re great in Texas and Iowa, but not Massachusetts, which ranks 35th in potential land-based wind — most along the coastline.

“It doesn’t fit,” she said. “We’re the fifth most-densely populated state in the country. And wind turbines generate very little electricity. It takes a thousand wind turbines to equal the Pilgrim nuclear plant.”

There are 44 wind projects currently operating in Massachusetts. They generate less than 0.6 percent of the state’s electricity needs and just a fifth of the terrestrial wind energy goal set by Patrick. By Irvine’s calculations, there are 49 wind projects that never got off the ground; she calls them dead wind. And 13 projects are in limbo, or still in the permitting process.

INTERACTIVE MAP: NOTES: Locations are approximate; only includes projects greater than 100 kilowatts. SOURCE: Virginia Irvine, co-founder of Wind Wise Massachusetts, a grassroots anti-wind organization; the state would not confirm these map items.

Wind farms decimate world’s endangered bird populations

March 23, 2014

eagle-Sweden-2014-300x181

Hat tip to Quixotes last Stand: http://quixoteslaststand.com

Original article, in Swedish:

http://www.natursidan.se/nyheter/bilder-fran-nar-en-havsorn-kolliderar-med-vindkraftverk/

March 12 2014

Google Translation:
August Thomasson, young birder and photographer from Sösdala in central Skåne, was at his job Monday out riding in the plains west of Kristianstad. When he walked around the Vinnö meadows, along came an eagle gliding low over him. It slips away for a moment towards a wind turbine but turns shortly thereafter back at him.

- “But soon afterwards it flies slowly away towards the turbine again. As it turned the last time I start slowly walking towards the bike, says August. I give the eagle a last look and see that it just passes the turbine. Then it happened that should not happen. The eagle getting hit by a wind blade underneath and plunges downward. A little bit panicked I bring out the camera and manage to get off a few pictures.”

Unaware that it guts were hanging out from the falling bird and in the belief that the small pieces that came off in the collision were feathers, he bikes in panic until reaching it, to possibly help the injured bird.

- “My hopes sank fast when I got to the eagle and found it in four parts.”

A tragic end for an eagle in just its second year of life.

Link to August Thomasson’s blog: http://augustthomasson.weebly.com/

Beware of the strong images:

eagle-Sweden-2014-3

eagle-Sweden-2014-5

Comments from Save the Eagles International:

The raptor in the above pictures is a young white-tailed (sea) eagle.

A very substantial number of eagles from various species has been killed by wind turbines around the world. Here is just a tiny sample: http://www.iberica2000.org/Es/Articulo.asp?Id=3071

Various eagle species are being extirpated from Scotland, Spain and other countries where wind turbines are being built en masse. Yet many reports from independent engineers show that intermittent wind farms are not reducing CO2 emissions because they force fossil fuel power stations to operate less efficiently or on stand by, burning fuel for nothing. And economists have demonstrated that they destroy far more jobs than they create, mainly because of their high cost which causes power bills to rise.

Other ill effects of wind farms include the Wind Turbine Syndrome, the decimation of birds and bats in general, substantial financial losses to neighbors (drop in property values), loss of amenity of the countryside and resulting negative effects on tourism, water contamination (from lubricating oil, detergents for the blades, rare earth components), fires, blade throws, ice throws, effects on the national debt, fuel poverty, etc.

In short, wind farms are a calamity, whose only purpose is to finance political parties – see: http://wcfn.org/2014/02/28/wind2050-a-dystopian-society/

Note: President Obama gave a dispensation for the wind industry from any penalties for killing endangered or protected species. It is estimated 600,000- 900,000 birds and a similar number of insect controlling bats are killed by wind turbines. Can you image a similar action by the President if even a small number were being killed by fossil fuel plants?

Occam’s Razor and Climate Change

March 22, 2014

The simplest explanation is usually the correct explanation

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Professor Keven Trenberth once campaigned for the scientific world to accept the alarmist view of climate change as the “null hypothesis”, the baseline theory against which all other theories must be measured.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/03/trenberth-null-and-void/

The reason Trenberth faced an uphill battle to have his view accepted, and ultimately failed, is that the simplest explanation of contemporary climate change does not involve Anthropogenic CO2.

As Professor Phil Jones of the CRU once admitted in an interview with the BBC, the instrumental record contains periods of warming which are statistically indistinguishable from the 1990s warming – periods of warming which cannot have been driven by anthropogenic CO2, because they occurred before humans had made a significant changes to global CO2 levels.

Between 1860 and 1880, the world warmed for 21 years, at a similar rate to the 24 year period of warming which occurred between 1975 and 1998. There was simply not enough anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere to have driven the 1860s warming, so it must have been driven by natural variation.

So how does Occam’s Razor apply to this observation?

According to the definition in Wikipedia, the principle of Occam’s Razor states “that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove correct, but—in the absence of certainty—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better.”

From Wikipedia, the reason why Occam’s razor is important:

“To understand why, consider that, for each accepted explanation of a phenomenon, there is always an infinite number of possible, more complex, and ultimately incorrect alternatives. This is so because one can always burden failing explanations with ad hoc hypothesis. Ad hoc hypotheses are justifications that prevent theories from being falsified. Even other empirical criteria like consilience can never truly eliminate such explanations as competition. Each true explanation, then, may have had many alternatives that were simpler and false, but also an infinite number of alternatives that were more complex and false. However, if an alternate ad hoc hypothesis were indeed justifiable, its implicit conclusions would be empirically verifiable. On a commonly accepted repeatability principle, these alternate theories have never been observed and continue to not be observed. In addition, we do not say an explanation is true if it has not withstood this principle.

Put another way, any new, and even more complex theory can still possibly be true. For example: If an individual makes supernatural claims that Leprechauns were responsible for breaking a vase, the simpler explanation would be that he is mistaken, but ongoing ad hoc justifications (e.g. “And, that’s not me on film, they tampered with that too”) successfully prevent outright falsification. This endless supply of elaborate competing explanations, called saving hypotheses, cannot be ruled out—but by using Occam’s Razor.”

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam’s_razor

In other words, if we reject the principle of Occam’s Razor, we open the door to accepting theories of arbitrary, ultimately infinite complexity. A theory created by researchers who do not accept the principle of Occam’s Razor cannot be falsified, because the theory can always be tweaked in arbitrary ways to avoid falsification.

So why does applying the principle of Occam’s Razor force us to reject the theory that anthropogenic CO2 is the main driver of contemporary climate change? The reason is that nature has produced periods of warming similar to the recent warming, without any significant contribution from Anthropogenic CO2.

So we have two competing hypothesis for what is driving contemporary climate change:-

1. Observed natural variation, which has produced periods of warming statistically indistinguishable from the warming which ended in 1998.

2. Observed natural variation + an unproven assumption that Anthropogenic CO2 is now the main driver of Climate Change.

Clearly the second hypothesis fails the test of Occam’s Razor. In the absence of compelling evidence that anthropogenic CO2 has overridden natural variation, we have to accept hypothesis 1 – that observed climate change is the result of natural variation.

The climate is not hotter than it was in the past, periods such as the Holocene Optimum, or looking further back, the Eemian Interglacial. The warming which ended in 1998 was not faster, or of significantly longer duration, than similar natural warmings which occurred in the recent past.

Nothing about the current climate is outside the bounds of climatic conditions which could reasonably be produced by natural variation – therefore, according to the rules of science, we have to reject hypothesis which unnecessarily embrace additional unproven assumptions, unless or until such assumptions can be tested and verified, in a way which falsifies the theory that natural variation is still in the driver’s seat.


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