Archive for the ‘Ecology’ Category
The workers call them “streamers.” Hapless birds that fly over a massive California solar array, only to be immolated in midair, leaving a brief plume of smoke and a medium-well carcass.
BrightSource’s Energy’s state-of-the-art plant in the Mojave Desert is the largest solar thermal power plant on earth — and the deadliest.
Federal wildlife officials counted an average of one “streamer” every two minutes. The energy company estimates that only 1,000 birds are scorched each year, while a prominent environmental group puts the number at 28,000.
The facility has concerned environmentalists in the past, as its construction bladed over 3,500 acres of virgin desert. Being California, the state government required BrightSource to relocate a bunch of desert gopher tortoises to the tune of $22 million. The installation also endangers pilots flying the busy Los Angeles–Las Vegas corridor; they can be dazzled by the intense light.
It remains to be seen if regulators will stop the plant’s operation, but at least the world’s largest bug zapper should educate environmentalists and green energy boosters.
For too long, the public has been told that energy production is less a matter of physics than one of morality. Renewable energy like solar and wind are sold as “good” while reliable energy sources like oil and coal are “evil.” Methods like hydroelectric, nuclear and natural gas all were initially sold as clean and green, but became demonized the instant they turned a profit or revealed unintended consequences.
For thousands of years, Australian Aborigines have lit fires to help them hunt for animals like sand monitor lizards; burning the grassland helps expose the reptiles’ holes. It doesn’t exactly sound like a “sustainable” practice, but research has shown that these burns have a number of beneficial effects on the environment.
Specifically, the fires make the landscapes more “patchy” (compared to un-torched terrain), creating a more diverse mix of habitats. This means different types of plants and animals can flourish, offering a wider variety of food sources for beasts and humans alike. Believe it or not, recent research has shown that this burning counteracts the hunting of lizards and actually increases the animals’ populations, compared to areas without any Aboriginal burning. “Paradoxically, [sand monitor lizard] populations are higher where Aboriginal hunting is most intense,” a December 2013 study found.
Climate models relied upon by scientists and governments may be greatly overstating the warming that has occurred since the late 1950s, argues a paper analyzing the discrepancies between modeled and observed temperatures.
The paper, which was published in the journal Environmetrics, found that observed temperatures differed greatly from modeled temperatures in the tropical lower troposphere and mid-troposphere.
“Over the 55-years from 1958 to 2012, climate models not only significantly over-predict observed warming in the tropical troposphere, but they represent it in a fundamentally different way than is observed,” says Ross McKitrick, economist with the University of Guelph in Canada and co-author of the study.
According to McKitrick, all climate models predict that rising carbon dioxide levels will cause rapid warming in the troposphere over the tropics. But that’s not what has happened, as neither satellites nor weather balloons have detected much warming in the tropical troposphere — meaning something is likely wrong with the models.
The best way to protect rainforests is to keep people out, right? Absolutely not. The best way to keep the trees, and prevent the carbon in them from entering the atmosphere, is by letting people into the forests: local people with the legal right to control what happens there.
Given the chance, most communities protect rather than plunder their forests, says a new study by the World Resources Institute and Rights and Resources Initiative, both in Washington DC. The forests provide food, water, shelter, medicines and much else.
The report, Securing Rights, Combating Climate Change collates many existing studies. It concludes that forest communities only have legal control over one-eighth of the world’s forests. The rest is mostly controlled by governments or leased for logging or mining, often in defiance of community claims.
But community-owned forests are often the best-protected. In the Amazon rainforest, deforestation rates in community-owned areas are far lower than outside.
“No one has a stronger interest in the health of forests than the communities that depend on them for their livelihoods and culture,” says Andy White of the Rights and Resources Initiative. “It is tragic that this has not yet been fully adopted as a climate change mitigation strategy.”
Give forests to local people to preserve them.
Energy prices are rising for Americans because Barack Obama wants it that way. He told the San Francisco Chronicle that he would use energy prices hikes to socially engineer energy use, and that is one promise on which he is following through. His EPA’s war on coal alone stands to jack up power prices 70 to 80 percent, according to Dr. Julio Friedmann, of the US Department of Energy.
In recent remarks to the League of Conservation Voters, Obama said that he expects the rest of the world, including developing countries and the largest economies, to do what he is doing to their own energy consumers.
“[W]e’ve got to lead by example. They’re waiting to see what America does.” Obama said on June 25. “And I’m convinced when America proves what’s possible, other countries are going to come along.”
Asia’s two largest economies are not waiting to see what America does, and they’re showing no sign of following Obama’s anti-coal lead.
China says it shares Obama’s goal, but it is following its own lead.
China’s chief climate official Xie Zhenhua said China should not be subject to the same rules for greenhouse gas emissions as the United States and other rich countries, signaling that Beijing will oppose any attempt to impose them at next year’s world climate conference.
“We are in different development stages, we have different historical responsibilities and we have different capacities,” Xie told reporters.
They’re not buying the Luddite, anti-energy radicalism that Barack Obama is selling on energy.
Australia has become the first nation in the developed world to wind back legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, after the Senate voted to scrap the controversial carbon tax on Thursday.
The vote has delivered a major victory to the conservative government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who went into last year’s election promising to abolish the “toxic tax” which he said threatened the nation’s economy, the world’s 12th largest.
After days of tense negotiations the repeal bill passed the Senate 39 to 32.
The scrapping of the carbon tax comes as Australia prepares to host the G20 summit in Brisbane in November. United States President Barack Obama, who recently unveiled a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels, wants climate change to be one of the main items on the G20’s agenda.
But Mr. Abbott, who has questioned the science of human-caused climate change, is resisting the move. The issue was a major sticking point during his first meeting as prime minister with Mr. Obama in Washington last month, with Abbott saying he would not support any measure aimed at reducing greenhouse gases that would “clobber the economy.”
Under the guise of fighting “climate change,” United Nations and World Bank “carbon” programs in Africa are leading to massive land grabs, the forced relocation of indigenous people at gunpoint, and even what some critics are calling “cultural genocide.” Now, a coalition of activist organizations is demanding an end to the controversial UN-linked plots that are devastating communities while endangering indigenous peoples and cultures already at risk of extinction. Criticism surrounding the ongoing promotion of “carbon credits” is also escalating worldwide from across the political spectrum.
The latest accusations of terror and brutality perpetrated against innocent civilians to supposedly battle “global warming” — on “pause” for 18 years and counting, according to undisputed temperature data — come from Kenya. While the UN-linked forced evictions are not new, they are accelerating. Just last year, the UN also unveiled a massive eugenics program for the East African nation aimed at slashing the population. Whether the ruthless carbon-dioxide machinations by the UN and the World Bank are related remains unclear.
The victims in the most recent abuses are the Sengwer communities in Kenya’s Embobut forest and Cherangany Hills. According to reports by the Forest Peoples Programme, a U.K.-based non-profit organization that supports the rights of forest dwellers, more than one thousand Sengwer homes were torched by World Bank-funded authorities earlier this year as the Kenyan government works to evict some 15,000 members from their ancestral lands. Inaccurately referring to the indigenous peoples as “squatters,” officials claim the effort is aimed at promoting “sustainability.”
“We saw dozens of houses burning as we moved through Sengwer community lands,” the forest peoples’ organization said in a statement about the atrocities. “We saw well over a hundred homes either burning or that had been burnt, and the area was eerily empty of people. People have run away out of fear…. When their homes are burnt, blankets, food and cooking utensils are also burnt, so children and the elderly are exposed to the cold and go hungry.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s most accurate, up-to-date temperature data confirm the United States has been cooling for at least the past decade. The NOAA temperature data are driving a stake through the heart of alarmists claiming accelerating global warming.
Responding to widespread criticism that its temperature station readings were corrupted by poor citing issues and suspect adjustments, NOAA established a network of 114 pristinely sited temperature stations spread out fairly uniformly throughout the United States. Because the network, known as the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN), is so uniformly and pristinely situated, the temperature data require no adjustments to provide an accurate nationwide temperature record. USCRN began compiling temperature data in January 2005. Now, nearly a decade later, NOAA has finally made the USCRN temperature readings available.
According to the USCRN temperature readings, U.S. temperatures are not rising at all – at least not since the network became operational 10 years ago. Instead, the United States has cooled by approximately 0.4 degrees Celsius, which is more than half of the claimed global warming of the twentieth century.
Expect global warming alarmists, now and for the foreseeable future, to howl in desperation claiming the USCRN temperature data are irrelevant.
Of course, to global warming alarmists, all real-world data are irrelevant.
The scientist whose findings environmentalists used to shame us into bringing our own reusable bags to the grocery store now says that his estimate of one million tons of plastic floating in the ocean may have been off by a factor of perhaps 143. His latest estimate ranges from 7,000 to 35,000 tons, and even most of that has biodegraded into granules.
Cózar’s team didn’t find country-size islands of plastic bags strangling baby birds and sea turtles. It found “micro plastics.” What people think of as a dump doesn’t look like floating junk. Instead, ocean current “convergence zones” are swirling with flecks of plastic – like a snow globe half a minute after shaking – and with considerably less plastic trash than expected.
Also doubtful: The environmentalist claim that 1.5 million marine animals choke to death each year on plastic bags that ran away from home for a life at sea. They’ve revised their estimates downward to 6.6 percent of that, but even the new figure has no empirical support.
n California, many cities have actually banned single-use plastic bags as a result of the successful PR campaign conjuring islands of floating plastic and animals who desperately need a Heimlich maneuver.
And let me add that I’ve never believed the tales that birds frequently gag to death on plastic bags and balloons.
First of all, growing up in the woods, I saw just how fussy birds are about what they’re willing to swallow. They pick up all kinds of detritus, but they eat only the food.
Secondly, at the Wal-Mart near our home in Texas, the birds have actually tidied up the parking lot by recycling discarded plastic bags as nesting material, no doubt reducing moisture incursion and boosting the R-value of their insulation in the process.
I’m all for following President Obama’s inaugural exhortation to “restore science to its rightful place.”
In this case, that place is Fantasy Island.
“Fracking has succeeded where Kyoto and carbon taxes have failed. Due to the shale boom in the US, the use of clean burning natural gas has replaced much more polluting coal by ten per cent. In 2012, the shift to gas has managed to reduce CO₂ emissions by about 300 megatonnes (Mt).
“Compare this to the fact that all the wind turbines and solar panels in the world reduce CO₂ emissions, at a maximum, by 275 Mt. In other words, the US shale gas revolution has by itself reduced global emissions more than all the well-intentioned solar and wind in the world.”
Oil and Gas Online reports that Faulker also called on Europe to follow America’s lead, saying that if other nations are serious about reducing carbon emissions, they should look beyond renewable energy:
“Many countries in Europe, and across the world, have similar opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint, and to experience the same economic benefits.”
“These are not opportunities governments should overlook, or discount, as carbon reduction targets will not be achieved through renewables or any other current energy generation technology.