Category Archives: Global Warming

God, Don’t confuse us with facts. Please!

Notable & Quotable – WSJ.com.

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It is possible to fight a forest fire and not be distracted by how the calamity was caused, and whether the cause taints the integrity of the people who deal with it. But oil spills are saturated in blame and political confusion—and opportunity. There is a sense that they are not accidents but accidents waiting to happen, and thus acts of greed. As a result, oil-soaked birds and fish come to symbolize a reviled industry’s heedless behavior.

Every year, as many as four hundred thousand birds are killed in America by electricity-generating wind turbines, but they do not make the cover of Time.

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Nuclear clarity about Japan

Got this from my friend Mike Barrett, who proabably picked it up from another source, but I think it is worth sharing.  Good url-link, although I am not vouching for that source either.
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The frustrating part about writing on this stuff is that people don’t seem to have any middle setting between “everything is fine” and “run in circles scream and shout”. So saying “no, it’s not Chernobyl” is interpreted as “it’s nothing.”
So let’s go ahead and make this clear: no, it’s still not Chernobyl. But no, it’s not nothing.
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No one can tell you that there will absolutely not be a catastrophic failure — really catastrophic, like Chernobyl or worse — at one or more of the Fukushima reactors. At the absolutely worst case, some combination of accidents and failures could break through all three major containments and release a large amount of radiation through the “China Syndrome” or something like it.
It’s very likely that there has been at least a partial meltdown in one or more of the reactors — but “meltdown” doesn’t mean “catastrophic release.” The reactor would not just have to melt down, but also penetrate both the still containment vessel and the concrete outer layer, and both were designed explicitly to keep that from happening.
What we can say is that it’s not very likely to be a catastrophic accident, and gets less likely with every minute. The Japanese are cooling the reactors down, and adding boron, which “poisons” the nuclear reaction by absorbing neutrons, the “sparks” that make the reaction go.
The amount of radiation that has been released is, so far, actually very minor. Instead of being “another Chernobyl,” which the IAEA put at INES level 7, this is INES level 4 — and Three Mile Island was level 5. So far, Fukushima is not just not another Chernobyl, it’s not even another Three Mile Island.
And finally, when you hear someone in the media giving one of these catastrophic predictions, check who it is. So far, the catastrophic predictions are consistently coming from people who have been professionally and personally committed to shutting down nuclear weapons and nuclear power for decades.

http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/fear-the-media-meltdown-not-the-nuclear-one/?singlepage=true

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The Weather Isn’t Getting Weirder

The Weather Isn’t Getting Weirder – WSJ.com.

Al?

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Last week a severe storm froze Dallas under a sheet of ice, just in time to disrupt the plans of the tens of thousands of (American) football fans descending on the city for the Super Bowl. On the other side of the globe, Cyclone Yasi slammed northeastern Australia, destroying homes and crops and displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

Some climate alarmists would have us believe that these storms are yet another baleful consequence of man-made CO2 emissions. In addition to the latest weather events, they also point to recent cyclones in Burma, last winter’s fatal chills in Nepal and Bangladesh, December’s blizzards in Britain, and every other drought, typhoon and unseasonable heat wave around the world.

But is it true? To answer that question, you need to understand whether recent weather trends are extreme by historical standards. The Twentieth Century Reanalysis Project is the latest attempt to find out, using super-computers to generate a dataset of global atmospheric circulation from 1871 to the present.

As it happens, the project’s initial findings, published last month, show no evidence of an intensifying weather trend. “In the climate models, the extremes get more extreme as we move into a doubled CO2 world in 100 years,” atmospheric scientist Gilbert Compo, one of the researchers on the project, tells me from his office at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “So we were surprised that none of the three major indices of climate variability that we used show a trend of increased circulation going back to 1871.”

In other words, researchers have yet to find evidence of more-extreme weather patterns over the period, contrary to what the models predict. “There’s no data-driven answer yet to the question of how human activity has affected extreme weather,” adds Roger Pielke Jr., another University of Colorado climate researcher.

Some climate alarmists claim that cyclones, such as Cyclone Yasi, are a result of man-made CO2 emissions.

We do know that carbon dioxide and other gases trap and re-radiate heat. We also know that humans have emitted ever-more of these gases since the Industrial Revolution. What we don’t know is exactly how sensitive the climate is to increases in these gases versus other possible factors—solar variability, oceanic currents, Pacific heating and cooling cycles, planets’ gravitational and magnetic oscillations, and so on.

Given the unknowns, it’s possible that even if we spend trillions of dollars, and forgo trillions more in future economic growth, to cut carbon emissions to pre-industrial levels, the climate will continue to change—as it always has.

That’s not to say we’re helpless. There is at least one climate lesson that we can draw from the recent weather: Whatever happens, prosperity and preparedness help. North Texas’s ice storm wreaked havoc and left hundreds of football fans stranded, cold, and angry. But thanks to modern infrastructure, 21st century health care, and stockpiles of magnesium chloride and snow plows, the storm caused no reported deaths and Dallas managed to host the big game on Sunday.

Compare that outcome to the 55 people who reportedly died of pneumonia, respiratory problems and other cold-related illnesses in Bangladesh and Nepal when temperatures dropped to just above freezing last winter. Even rich countries can be caught off guard: Witness the thousands stranded when Heathrow skimped on de-icing supplies and let five inches of snow ground flights for two days before Christmas. Britain’s GDP shrank by 0.5% in the fourth quarter of 2010, for which the Office of National Statistics mostly blames “the bad weather.”

Arguably, global warming was a factor in that case. Or at least the idea of global warming was. The London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation charges that British authorities are so committed to the notion that Britain’s future will be warmer that they have failed to plan for winter storms that have hit the country three years running.

A sliver of the billions that British taxpayers spend on trying to control their climes could have bought them more of the supplies that helped Dallas recover more quickly. And, with a fraction of that sliver of prosperity, more Bangladeshis and Nepalis could have acquired the antibiotics and respirators to survive their cold spell.

A comparison of cyclones Yasi and Nargis tells a similar story: As devastating as Yasi has been, Australia’s infrastructure, medicine, and emergency protocols meant the Category 5 storm has killed only one person so far. Australians are now mulling all the ways they could have better protected their property and economy.

But if they feel like counting their blessings, they need only look to the similar cyclone that hit the Irrawaddy Delta in 2008. Burma’s military regime hadn’t allowed for much of an economy before the cyclone, but Nargis destroyed nearly all the Delta had. Afterwards, the junta blocked foreign aid workers from delivering needed water purification and medical supplies. In the end, Rangoon let Nargis kill more than 130,000 people.

Global-warming alarmists insist that economic activity is the problem, when the available evidence show it to be part of the solution. We may not be able to do anything about the weather, extreme or otherwise. But we can make sure we have the resources to deal with it when it comes.

Miss Jolis is an editorial page writer for The Wall Street Journal Europe.

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Obama’s Rule-Making Loophole

I need some help here….

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President Obama’s executive order to sweep out the regulatory chimneys deserves the benefit of the doubt, if only on the chance that it does some modest good. But now that we’ve had a chance to inspect the fine print, there’s reason to believe this is less than meets the press release.

No sooner had Mr. Obama told the bureaucracies to subject all regulations to a cost-benefit test than the bureaucrats began telling reporters that they are already a model of modern efficiency, thank you very much. Among many others, the Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement that it was “confident” it wouldn’t need to alter a single current or pending rule. “In fact, EPA’s rules consistently yield billions in cost savings that make them among the most cost-effective in the government.”

Perhaps the EPA’s confidence owes to a little-noticed proviso in Mr. Obama’s order. When the agencies weigh costs and benefits, the order says, they should always consider “values that are difficult or impossible to quantify, including equity, human dignity, fairness, and distributive impacts.”

Talk about economic elasticities. Equity and fairness can be defined to include more or less anything as a benefit. Under this calculus, a rule might pass Mr. Obama’s cost-benefit test if it imposes $999 billion in hard costs but supposedly results in a $1 trillion increase in human dignity, whatever that means in bureaucratic practice. Another rule could pass muster even if it reduces work and investment, as long as it also lessens income inequality.

Any cost-benefit analysis depends to some extent on matters of judgment, but typically the criteria are more economically tangible, such as how to price risk or the discount rate. No business would recognize Mr. Obama’s version, since his “values” loophole boils down to a preference for bigger government. The danger is that his executive order will transform an important tool to check excessive regulation into a way to justify whatever rule the permanent bureaucracy wants.

The current EPA is a perfect case study. One of Administrator Lisa Jackson’s top priorities is “explicitly integrating environmental justice considerations into the fabric of the EPA’s process,” as a July 2010 memo to all senior regulators put it.

“Environmental justice” is the left-wing grievance movement that claims pollution has a disproportionate effect on minorities and the poor. Ms. Jackson’s memo introduced new regulatory guidance—that is, rules about how to make rules—so every EPA action has “a particular focus on disadvantaged or vulnerable groups.”

Ms. Jackson wrote that a new goal for rulemaking, enforcement and permitting is to have “a measurable effect on environmental justice challenges.” But these amorphous concepts are not measurable at all. According to this guidance, EPA must nonetheless consider them when estimating the “economic impacts of regulations,” and even its scientific analysis should “encompass topics beyond just biology and chemistry.” So put on your lab coat and complete a randomized controlled experiment in politics.

Sure enough, EPA justifies its 2009 carbon “endangerment finding” by noting that climate change will “add further stress to an existing host of social problems that cities experience, including neighborhood degradation, traffic congestion, crime, unemployment, poverty, and inequities in health and well-being.” Oh, and it will “accentuate the disparities already evident in the American health care system, as many of the expected health effects are likely to fall disproportionately on the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and the uninsured.”

So while Mr. Obama wants the country to think a new rigorous empiricism is guiding his government, his appointees can justify any rule that fits their ideological goals. This sounds more like the end of cost-benefit analysis than the beginning.

via Review & Outlook: Obama’s Rule-Making Loophole – WSJ.com.

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