The Hothouse Horror (Ho Hum)

A new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) speculates on major warming in our future. It has sent the gullible, alarmist press into a twitter of claiming that we must do something immediately. Trouble is, this very speculative paper says major warming may, might, could, perhaps occur sometime within the next few centuries to thousands of years.

Here is the abstract:

We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a “Hothouse Earth” pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene. We examine the evidence that such a threshold might exist and where it might be. If the threshold is crossed, the resulting trajectory would likely cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies. Collective human action is required to steer the Earth System away from a potential threshold and stabilize it in a habitable interglacial-like state. Such action entails stewardship of the entire Earth System—biosphere, climate, and societies—and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values. [full paper here]

 

What? Me worry? Dr. Judith Curry (retired Professor and Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology) opines: “A paper about climate outcomes on a millennial time scale would seem to be completely irrelevant to any conceivable policy. Even if our understanding of all of these climate processes were certain (reality check: we are dealing with deep uncertainty with regards to future climate outcomes), geologic and solar wild cards will almost certainly come into play to produce climate surprises.”

The horrid hothouse described in the paper is actually the normal temperature for planet Earth according to geological evidence (except during ice ages). Current global average surface temperature is about 57°F (14°C) versus a “normal” temperature of 77°F (25°C) as shown on the graphic below:

 

During times of “normal” (very warm) temperatures life was abundant and robust. If (or when) we return to those temperatures we will have to adapt as it gets warmer and sea level rises.

My impression of this paper is that its sixteen co-authors are taking advantage of the political climate to get their names on a paper published in a professional journal, something very important to academics.

On the other hand, we might first have to adapt to colder temperatures. Scientists who pay attention to solar cycles have noticed that the magnetic strength of the sun is declining with each cycle. This means that more cosmic rays will enter the atmosphere and produce more clouds and hence more cooling. The graphic below shows the gradual decline of temperature during our current inter-glacial period and the cyclic nature of warm-cold periods. Speculation is that we are about to enter one of the cold spells of the Holocene or even that the relatively benign inter-glacial period is coming to an end.

Here is an example:

The Next Ice Age

By Dr. S. Fred Singer

While most people still worry about global warming, I am more concerned about the next Ice Age. A glaciation would present a serious problem for survival of our present civilization, akin to a nuclear winter that many worried about 30 years ago.

Natural warming of the Earth reached a peak 65 million years ago. The climate has been generally cooling ever since. Antarctic ice sheets started growing 25 million years ago. In the last 2.5 million years, the Earth entered the period of Ice Ages [the geological name is The Pleistocene] and has been experiencing periodic glaciations where much of the land was covered by miles-thick ice sheets.

There have been about 17 glaciations, each lasting approximately 100,000 years, separated by short inter-glacials lasting about 10,000 years.

We are approaching the likely end of the present warm inter-glacial, called the Holocene. It’s time to prepare for the next glaciation to see how we can overcome it – or at least postpone its onset. Read more (Singer is a physicist and a Professor emeritus of environmental science, University of Virginia.) I’m with Fred.

If Dr. Singer is right, then we all should triple our “carbon footprints” assuming you believe that carbon dioxide emissions play a significant role in controlling global temperature.

An article in Science 2.0: “Not As Scary As It Seems: Planet At Risk Of Heading Towards “Hothouse Earth” State” [link] Gives a summary and comments on the paper. They say “Hothouse earth does not make us extinct – still a very habitable planet” and “In short, it is a hypothesis not yet supported by evidence.”

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Eminent Domain versus Private Property Rights

Can the government take your private property? Yes, the federal government can take private property under certain conditions. The last clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” This has become known as the “taking clause.”

The original intent of this clause was that the federal government can buy private property if it was needed to build something like a fort in time of war. However, over the years this “taking clause” (aka “public use clause”) has morphed into licence for states and local governments to take private property for any reason they see fit.

This came to a head when the city of New London, Connecticut, appropriated private land so that a private developer could build on it. The owners sued and in 2005 the case went to the supreme court. In Kelo v. City of New London, the Supreme Court held that “economic development” constituted a “public use” that justified the taking of private property through eminent domain. According to this decision, the government can utilize eminent domain to seize your property whenever the government deems it necessary for “economic development.”

This was, in my opinion supremely wrong (see my 2005 essay below). The U.S. House of Representatives has made several tries to make things right, but the U.S. Senate never followed through. The most recent try was in July, 2018, when the House unanimously passed the Private Property Rights Protection Act (see summary and full text). We should write to our senators (and senatorial candidates) urging them to take up this legislation when they return from August recess.

Here is my essay, written at the time of the Supreme Court decision:

Supremely Wrong

by Jonathan DuHamel

The United States Supreme Court, by its recent decision in Kelo vs. The City of New London, has just put your house up for sale, and your business, and your church.

The U.S. Constitution says “.. nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation,” and “nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

In the past “public use” has meant things like highways, reservoirs, or other public works. But now, according to the “Kelo” decision, “public use” can mean anything a local government says it means.

The Kelo decision says that government, any government, has the right to condemn your private property and transfer titles to another private party simply to encourage economic development and a larger tax base.

The implications of this decision are made clear in the dissent written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: “Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms. As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more.”

This is not what the founders intended for “public use.”

Justice Thomas wrote, “Today’s decision is simply the latest in a string of our cases construing the Public Use Clause to be a virtual nullity, without the slightest nod to its original meaning. In my view, the Public Use Clause, originally understood, is a meaningful limit on the government’s eminent domain power. Our cases have strayed from the Clause’s original meaning, and I would reconsider them.” Thomas goes on, “The Constitution’s text, in short, suggests that the Takings Clause authorizes the taking of property only if the public has a right to employ it, not if the public realizes any conceivable benefit from the taking…. The Takings Clause is a prohibition, not a grant of power….”

Increasingly, the cost of perceived societal goals are not borne by society as a whole, but by individual property owners. This has long been the case under the Endangered Species Act and increasingly so under the principle of Eminent Domain.

This situation is nothing more than legal plunder, or as Frederic Bastiat put it, “See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”

With the “Kelo” decision, municipalities, counties, and states seem to have a license for legal plunder, especially since the term “public use” is now so vague. Beware whenever government proposes a project “for the public good” because usually all the “public” does not share equally in all the “good.”

The “Kelo” decision is supremely and fundamentally wrong because it subjects us to the tyranny of the majority, or the whim of a city council, rather than protect our individual rights as guaranteed by our republican form of government.

Justice O’Connor points out that now “The specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.”

 

Related articles:

Federal land grabs hurt economy and trample property rights

Private Property Rights vs Environmental Feudalism

Property Rights and Freedom

Vegan energy – greener than green

Only in England. A British energy company, Ecotricity, is promoting “vegan energy.”

So called “green energy” is that produced by harnessing power from solar, wind, wave and tidal sources. Ecotricity claims that some green energy companies, mostly those that burn biomass, also burn animal byproducts. The horror. The Ecotricity website lists those offending British companies.

Ecotricity claims, “We’re the only energy supplier in the UK that’s registered with The Vegan Society for our green electricity. We’ve verified all of the energy sources that go into making our electricity to ensure we aren’t inadvertently using animals in our energy production.” Read more

See more madness here:

Climate Madness 1

Climate Madness 2

Climate Madness 3

Climate Madness 4  

Climate Madness 5

Climate Madness 6

Climate Madness 7

Climate Madness 8

Climate Madness 9

Climate Madness 10

Water and Irrigated Agriculture in Arizona

The Water Resources Research Center of the University of Arizona has just published “Arroyo 2018″ which is devoted to the title subject. You can download the 16-page report at:

https://wrrc.arizona.edu/sites/wrrc.arizona.edu/files/attachment/Arroyo-2018-revised.pdf

Here are some excerpts and highlights:

Archeological evidence suggests that irrigated agriculture first arrived along the Santa Cruz River in southern Arizona around 1200 BCE. During this time, irrigation canals were constructed along the river near the current Interstate-10 corridor just west of Tucson. These early farmers irrigated corn, tobacco, and squash.

Between 300 BCE and 1450 AD, native people constructed a network of canals near the Salt and Gila Rivers in South Central Arizona, where they developed a distinct culture known as “Hohokam”. Evidence of these canals exists today near the sites of the Pueblo Grande Village on the east side of Phoenix, and the Casa Grande village west of Florence. The disappearance of this civilization may have been due to changes and variability of the local climate.

Following the demise of the Hohokam, the Xalychidom Piipaash (Maricopa) and Onk Akimel O’odham (Pima) tribes became established in southern and central Arizona. These tribes continued using irrigated agriculture, but with simpler canal systems.

By the mid-19th century, when American and Europeans made the trip across the deserts of the Southwest to reach the California gold fields, the Gila River people diverted water from the river to agricultural fields in the valley of the Middle Gila, creating a virtual breadbasket in Arizona. They supplied large quantities of wheat to the U.S. military and traded farm products, such as beans and squashes, to travelers and newcomers.

By the late 1800s, American settlers had diverted much of the water of the Gila and Salt Rivers that supported native agriculture, causing the Pima and Maricopa tribes to lose their livelihood and ushering in an era of extreme hardship for the tribes.

According to the Arizona Department of Water Resources, agriculture accounts for 68 percent of water use in Arizona. A 2017 study by University of Arizona economists estimated that agriculture contributes $23.3 billion to the Arizona economy.

Arroyo 2018 discusses the milestones in water use and development:

The Reclamation Act of 1902 allowed the federal government to fund construction of dams and other irrigation projects.

The Central Arizona Project (CAP), initiated in 1968, diverts water from the Colorado River for use in agriculture and municipalities.

The Groundwater Management Act of 1980 regulated extraction of groundwater. Southern Arizona was divided into Active Management Areas where extraction of groundwater for agricultural use is limited. Agriculture has transitioned to more CAP water. By 2014, groundwater accounted for 40 percent of the state’s annual water use.

Arroyo 2018 notes that farmers have been able to reduce water use, while increasing yields, by making improvements to irrigation systems. Several of those improvements are discussed.

Also, the introduction of genetically modified crops that are resistant to herbicides has made possible the adoption of no-till farming in Arizona. With no-till agriculture, farmers can leave biomass from harvested crops on fields, which lowers soil temperature, reducing soil evaporation and soil salinity. It can also prevent soil erosion.

Arizona farmers are also exploring new crops which use less water: Agave can be marketable for tequila, fiber, and biofuel. Industrial hemp can provide fiber. Guayule can yield rubber and biofuel.

The report concludes:

The agricultural industry has a significant impact on Arizona’s economy, and it is a dominant force in many rural communities across the state. Because different regions have different water conditions, farmers must consider location-specific factors in their water management decisions. Along the Colorado River and Lower Gila River, growers hold some of the oldest and most secure water rights in the state. With this water they have developed a nationally important region for vegetable production. In Central Arizona, CAP water has alleviated groundwater overdraft problems, but the potential for shortage in CAP’s supply is increasing uncertainty in this region. Here, farmers and irrigation districts face the real possibility of being forced to go back to the groundwater pumps or to take lands out of production. Beyond the reach of the CAP, agriculture reliant on groundwater is watching water levels fall as communities struggle to find acceptable regulatory solutions to the threat of depletion.

Growing demands for water, food, and fiber, coupled with near-term likelihood of Colorado River shortage, have led to increased focus on Arizona’s agricultural water use. Water efficiency gains have been substantial in recent decades, reducing total water use while increasing agricultural production statewide. There is still room for efficiency improvements, with the help of science and technology and financial assistance. As they continue to grow, cities and other water users will continue to look for ways to supplement their water supplies through voluntary water transactions with farmers that include attention to impacts on rural communities. Although sometimes contentious, this process can yield mutual benefits. The need for food and fiber will grow locally and globally; and because it is more reliable and productive than dryland farming, irrigated agriculture will supply this need. Finding the right balance among competing water demands in Arizona will take continued collaborations among growers, government, the scientific community, and concerned citizens.

Related articles:

Tucson transitioning to a renewable water supply

Guayule, a desert rubber plant

Why replacing fossil-fuel generation of electricity with solar or wind is dangerous

Renewable energy for generation of electricity (solar and wind) is the politically correct panacea to fight the bogeyman of global warming. However, experience has shown that replacing electrical generation by fossil fuels with wind or solar generation makes the power supply unreliable and leads to electrical grid instability, much higher electricity costs, environmental problems, and very little decrease in carbon dioxide emissions. The renewable energy industry would probably not exist without mandates and subsidies. Fossil-fuel generated electricity responds to demand and is available 24/7; solar or wind generated electricity is not.

There is currently a campaign by the Arizona Corporation Commission to mandate that 50 percent of electricity be generated from renewable sources. This is very dangerous as noted below.

Experience from Europe shows that the more installed solar and wind capacity per capita a country has, the higher the price people pay for electricity. In some European countries, electricity prices are three times higher than the average price in the U.S., see:

https://wryheat.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/the-high-cost-of-electricity-from-wind-and-solar-generation/ 

Also, there is no physical evidence that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels intensifies the greenhouse effect. On the other hand , there are several lines of physical evidence that such emissions do not enhance the greenhouse effect, the alleged cause of global warming:

https://wryheat.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/evidence-that-co2-emissions-do-not-intensify-the-greenhouse-effect/

Following are some articles on this issue. Perhaps these stories will convince Arizona voters and Arizona legislators of the foolishness of renewable energy mandates.

AZ Clean Energy Constitutional Amendment Would Shut down Nuclear Power in State

By H. Sterling Burnett, Heartland Institute

California hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer is pushing a ballot measure in Arizona to amend the state’s constitution requiring utilities to get 50 percent of their electricity from favored renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, by 2030.

The Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona, HCR 2017 increases the current renewable power mandate from its present requirement of 15 percent by 2025, in an attempt to reduce the carbon dioxide generated from electric power production in the state to fight climate change.

Effect on Nuclear Power

Arizona Public Service Company (APS), the owner of the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station (Palo Verde), warns if voters approve this constitutional amendment, its nuclear plant would have to close in six years instead of continuing to generate electricity for 27 years as its current operating license permits.

Palo Verde is the largest source of electric power in Arizona, providing 36 percent of the state’s electricity. By comparison, non-hydro renewables in Arizona, dominated by solar power, generate about 4 percent of the state’s electricity. Coal produces about 25 percent and natural gas about 30 percent of the state’s electric power.

Palo Verde just received a 20-year extension from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate the plant until 2045. Attempting to build sufficient renewable power to take the place Palo Verde, as well as also replacing the electricity from coal-fired power plants in the state, which will also have to be closed prematurely, will require almost 30 times the amount of electricity from renewable sources as they produce now, to be online in less than 12 years.

APS officials say under the measure solar and wind development would produce more electric power than is needed during half the year when Arizonans are not using their air conditioners, with the oversupply forcing the closure of baseload nuclear and coal-fired power plants, which provide a constant flow of electricity. APS also says the cost of electricity would rise significantly if this measure passes. Read more ☼

Why Proposed Wind and Solar Power Projects Should Be Rejected Nationwide

by Alan Carlin

While USEPA is trying to reduce the number of regulations it has, the climate industrial complex (CIC) is busy making use of Federal and other subsidies to promote their inefficient, unreliable, and expensive “renewable” sources of electric power. America, however, is more and more dependent on reliable and inexpensive electric power for almost everything it does. One problem is that each proposed new “renewable” site has its own environmental problems such as killing birds or offensive sounds bombarding humans. They are also all very high cost when the costs of turning intermittent, unreliable electric power into useful, continuous, reliable energy are taken into account.

And now that it has been rigorously shown that higher levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) have no significant effect on global temperatures in the real world it is long past time to bring a halt to the use of taxpayer and ratepayer money to build additional wind and solar generating plants in addition to removing all regulations which have the effect of killing existing “non-renewable” power plants without a solid environmental justification. The case that the CIC has long made that CO2 has a significant effect on temperatures has always been shaky at best and has never been proved. Now we know that it is simply wrong. Yet the CIC is continuing to try to spend other people’s money–that of ratepayers and taxpayers–to build ever more wind and solar power plants. If this is allowed to continue, it will hobble America’s future just as it already has Germany’s and other Western European nations who have bought into the climate alarmist scam. Read more ☼

All-Renewable Energy Is a Prescription for Disaster

by Robert Bryce, Manhattan Institute

Last year, an all-star group of scientists thoroughly debunked the work of Mark Jacobson, the Stanford engineering professor who for years has been claiming the US can run solely on renewables.

In a paper last June in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists — including Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution, Dan Kammen of the University of California, Berkeley, former EPA Science Advisory Board chairman Granger Morgan and Jane Long of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory — concluded that Jacobson’s all-renewable scheme used “invalid modeling tools, contained modeling errors, and made implausible and inadequately supported assumptions.”

Those errors “render it unreliable as a guide about the likely cost, technical reliability, or feasibility of a 100-percent wind, solar and hydroelectric power system.”

The scientists also concluded that Jacobson’s all-renewable proposal would require covering about 500,000 square kilometers — a land area larger than the state of California — with nothing but wind turbines.

The idea of covering that much land with wind turbines is preposterous on its face, particularly given that rural residents from New York and numerous other states are already rejecting the encroachment of Big Wind.

The high cost of renewables can also be seen in California, which has mandated 50 percent of the state’s electricity be sourced from renewables by 2030. In February, Mark Nelson and Michael Shellenberger of the Berkeley-based think tank Environmental Progress reported California’s electricity rates rose at more than five times the rate of electricity prices in the rest of the US between 2011 and 2017. Californians now pay about 60 percent more for their electricity than residents of other states. Read more ☼

30-years later, James Hansen blasts renewables

The liberal news media lauded James Hansen, former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute, on the 30-year anniversary of his U.S. Senate testimony bringing global warming into the American political consciousness. Conveniently, however, most of the media failed to note Hansen’s criticisms of the environmental impacts of wind and solar power, while also failing to note his strong support for nuclear power. If not for Hansen taking matters into his own hands by writing multiple editorials on the topic, Hansen’s criticisms of wind and solar power may have never been known to anybody other than his close personal associates.

In a column this Wednesday in the Boston Globe, Hansen savaged the Paris climate accord and its predecessor the Kyoto Protocol as “wishful thinking” that allowed most countries to continue business-as-usual energy and environment policies. Sounds a little like President Trump, doesn’t it?

Hansen adds, “The notion that renewable energies and batteries alone will provide all needed energy is fantastical. It is also a grotesque idea, because of the staggering environmental pollution from mining and material disposal, if all energy was derived from renewables and batteries.” He follows that up by referring to the notion of an economy powered entirely by renewable energy a “fantasy.” (Source) ☼

A Trove Of New Research Documents The Folly Of Renewable Energy Promotion

By Kenneth Richard

The advocacy for widespread growth in renewable energy (especially wind, solar, and biomass) usage has increasingly become the clarion call of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) movement. And yet more and more published research documents the adverse effects of relying on renewables. Over the course of the last year, at least 30 papers have been published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature detailing the fatuity of promoting renewable energy as a long-term “fix” for climate change mitigation. (This article gives summaries and links to the research, read more) ☼

UK Study Debunks Efficiency of Rooftop Solar Battery Backup Power

by Bonner R. Cohen

A new study from Great Britain refutes claims backup battery storage systems can cost-effectively offset the intermittency of residential rooftop solar power.

In assessing the cost-effectiveness of backup battery systems for rooftop solar panel arrays, the study concludes “such an installation is unlikely to provide any financial benefit.”

“Battery Wastage: Why Battery Storage for Rooftop Solar Doesn’t Pay,” was written by Capell Aris, a fellow at the Institute for Engineering and Technology in the UK, and published by the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation. Read more Read full study ☼

If Renewables Are So Great for the Environment, Why Do They Keep Destroying It?

By Michael Shellenberger, Forbes

If solar and wind farms are needed to protect the natural environment, why do they so often destroy it?

Consider that:

New offshore wind turbines in Germany could “lead to the extinction of individual species” including the rare, intelligent, and highly-threatened harbor porpoise, according to Friends of the Earth-Germany (BUND).

Migratory bat populations, including the hoary bat, could could go extinct, say scientists, if the expansion of wind energy in North America continues.

A single California solar farm, Ivanpah, required the killing of hundreds of desert tortoises, the state’s threatened reptile, and annually kills six thousand birds by lighting them on fire. Wind turbines on California’s Altamont Pass killed an estimated 4,700 bird kills annually including Golden Eagles. “Some lose their wings,” says the Audubon Society, “others are decapitated, and still others are cut in half.” Read more ☼

A Crisis In Electric Power Everyone Is Ignoring

by Stephen Moore

Is anyone paying attention to the crisis that is going on in our electric power markets?

Over the past six months, at least four major nuclear power plants have been slated for shutdown, including the last one in operation in California. Meanwhile, dozens of coal plants have been shuttered as well — despite low prices and cleaner coal. Some of our major coal companies may go into bankruptcy.

But this is not a free-market story of Schumpeterian creative destruction. If it were, then wind and solar power would have been shut down years ago. They can’t possibly compete on a level playing field with $3 natural gas.

In most markets, solar and wind power survive purely because the states mandate that as much as 30% of residential and commercial power come from these sources. The utilities have to buy it regardless of price. The California state legislature just mandated solar panels for homes built after 2020 (an added construction cost of about $10,000 per home).

Over $100 billion in subsidies have been doled out to big wind and big solar over the last decade. Even with the avalanche of taxpayer subsidies and bailout funds, many of these companies, such as Solyndra (which received $500 million in handouts), failed.

These industries are not anywhere close to self-sufficiency. Without a continuation of a multibillion-dollar tax credit, the wind turbines would stop turning. Read more ☼

Junk generators: 2 million expensive solar panels cut Australian total CO2 emissions by 1% Read story ☼

People for the West newsletter for August 2018 now online

The August 2018 of the People for the West newsletter is online at:

https://wryheat.wordpress.com/people-for-the-west/2018-archive/2018-08-august/

This issue examines “The Danger of Renewable Energy”

Renewable energy for generation of electricity (solar and wind) is the politically correct panacea to fight the bogeyman of global warming. However, experience has shown that replacing electrical generation by fossil fuels with wind or solar generation makes the power supply unreliable and leads to electrical grid instability, much higher electricity costs, environmental problems, and very little decrease in carbon dioxide emissions. The renewable energy industry would probably not exist without mandates and subsidies.

There is currently a campaign by the Arizona Corporation Commission to mandate that 50 percent of electricity be generated from renewable sources. This is very dangerous as noted by articles in the newsletter.

Don’t recycle plastic – burn it or bury it

Plastic in the oceans has been deemed an environmental problem and a danger to wildlife. Where does this plastic come from? According to a new report from the Global Warming Policy Foundation, much of the plastic comes from “leakage” from recycling operations. Some of that “leakage” is deliberate dumping in oceans and rivers by shippers in order to avoid fees.

The report: Save the Oceans – stop recycling plastic may be read in full here:

https://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2018/06/Save-the-oceans.pdf

The report is just ten pages, but it cites 50 scientific studies and articles.

Here is the executive summary:

A marine plastic litter crisis has been declared and the mass media around the world has given their front pages over to the story for a while now. The European Union – among other actors – has declared a war against marine litter. Annually over 10 million metric tons (Mt) of plastic litter end up in oceans, harming wildlife. The International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) – the most competent specialist organization in the field – has summarized the origins of the marine litter crisis:

75% of land based marine litter in low to upper-middle income economies comes from litter and uncollected waste, while the remaining 25% of the land-based sources is plastic which leaks from within the waste management system.

In other words, the ISWA report shows that 25% of the leakage is attributable to the waste management option preferred by green ideologues; meanwhile, waste incineration can prevent any leakage of plastic if municipal solid waste (MSW) is incinerated along with sewage sludge. Despite this, incineration is vehemently opposed by green ideologues and also by the EU, which chooses to believe in the mirage of a circular economy.

The vast majority of the marine litter problem is attributable to poor waste collection and other sanitary practices in Asian, and to a lesser extent African, towns and cities in coastal areas and along rivers. The problem is particularly acute in China. The neglect of urban sanitary policy – the backbone of development agendas until that time – started when the ‘mother of sustainability’, Norway’s Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, personally refused to have it be part of her World Commission’s work program and ultimately its 1987 report, which famously led to the adoption of ‘sustainable development’ goals by the UN General Assembly.

This report describes the absurdities, inefficiencies, double or even triple waste management structures and horrible consequences of the EU’s erratic green waste policy, its fact-free claim that its waste policy helps to implement the Paris climate agreement, and its dumping of 3 Mt of plastic in China each year, with horrific consequences for the marine environment and health.

The EU has now started to sideline – in the name of circular economy – the highly successful waste incineration policy implemented in seven EU member states – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden – which all have major waste incineration capacity and now landfill less than 3% of their MSW.

The study notes the best thing to do is bury plastic in landfills or burn it. However, these methods don’t fit into the environmentalist’s scheme of sustainable development. Burning plastic along with other material has very few undesirable emissions. The resulting ash can be sent to landfills or used for applications such as road-building materials.

The study’s author, Mikko Paunio, opines: “that ideologically motivated environmentalists in the 1980s and their dreams of recycling and a ‘circular economy’ are the ultimate cause of the marine waste problem, because they have discouraged development of municipal waste schemes in Asia and Africa, and because they have encouraged developed nations to use management schemes that make it hard or expensive to deal with waste and therefore tend to ‘leak’ to the environment, sometimes catastrophically so.”

Recycling plastic poses some problems. First much plastic has to be washed which uses large amounts of water. Plastic also has to be sorted from other waste and by type of plastic because recycling processes are different for different types of plastic.

Save time, water, energy, and expense by burning or burying plastic. Don’t recycle it.

The plastics in the ocean problem has spawned some dumb regulations. For instance, silly in Seattle:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/07/02/seattle-bans-plastic-straws-utensils-becoming-first-major-us-city-to-do-so.html

The solution is to have more-careful waste collection and management.

Related:

Plastic bags and global warming

Guayule, a desert rubber plant

Guayule ((Parthenium argentatum) is a small woody, flowering shrub native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Latex can be produced from the bark of this plant. Unlike rubber produced from tropical plants, the latex in guayule is hypoallergenic, i.e., it does not contain certain proteins found in tropical plants that cause latex allergies. (See photos here)

According to Purdue University:

Guayule has been known as a source of rubber since the pre-Columbian times when Indians of Mexico used it to form balls for their games. There were several efforts beginning in 1900 to commercially produce rubber from guayule. A major effort occurred during World War II.

Guayule is adapted to hot desert environments, and sites with well-drained calcareous soils and relatively low concentrations of nutrients. Sandy-loam soil is most suitable since root diseases, which are exacerbated by standing water, are one of the few problems encountered in guayule cultivation. (Source)

The University of Arizona, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been studying guayule for about 15 years. That research included growing the plant at several sites in Arizona.

According to the UofA:

Guayule is a renewable, low-water use industrial crop. Products from guayule are made using non-polluting, water-based processes that require no toxic chemicals. Guayule-based products are also biodegradable, high-performing substitutes for many synthetic, petroleum-based products that are often expensive to dispose of and hazardous to the environment.

The Yulex Corporation has the exclusive license to a patented process to produce latex and products from Guayule. One patent covers a novel method for extracting and manufacturing Guayule natural rubber latex. The second patent covers rubber products made from such novel methods.

Extracting latex from Guayule involves homogenizing the entire hedged Guayule plant. Rubber is found primarily in the bark and must be released in the processing. Branches are ground into a kind of “Guayule milkshake” by gently breaking open the cells in the plant, releasing intact rubber particles and creating an aqueous suspension which is placed in a centrifuge for separation. Since the Guayule rubber particles are lighter than the aqueous solution, they are separated from the suspension. The rubber portion of the mixture is culled off the top (much the same way that cream is skimmed off milk) and purified into latex. (Source)

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Guayule may also prove to be an economical, environmentally friendly source of yet another prized commodity: energy. That energy can be made from the ground-up stems and branches, called “bagasse,” that are left after their latex has been removed. Guayule bagasse would provide 8,000 to 9,000 Btu per pound, about the same as charcoal. (Source)

Guayule is being considered as a new commercial crop in Arizona (along with agave and hemp) because it uses less water than traditional crops.

 

Some Basic Science about “Toxic Molds”

This article is written by Blair King  a Professional chemist and biologist. He resides in the Township of Langley, British Columbia, Canada. He writes a  blog: A Chemist in Langley. I am reblogging the article here because it is very interesting and informative. It busts some myths about mold.

See the complete article in the original here: https://achemistinlangley.net/2018/05/14/some-basic-science-about-toxic-molds/

 

Let’s start with some mold basics. Mold is a non-scientific term for a varied group of fungi. Molds are literally everywhere. Molds existed on the planet long before humans and will likely exist long after the last humans are gone. Humans evolved in a world heavily populated by molds. What does this mean? Well that that we, as a species, have mostly evolved to live side-by-side with molds and to filter out their spores. That is lucky because virtually every breath we take, indoors or out, brings us in contact with mold spores.

In order to grow, mold only needs warmth, moisture and food (often called “the mold triangle“…the mold version of “the fire triangle“). Molds will thrive at temperatures over 5 degrees C (and under about 45 degrees C) and humidity over about 50 per cent. Molds have evolved to live on pretty much anything organic in nature so can grow almost anywhere. To make it worse some molds, like Penicillium or Cladosporium, can tolerate colder temperatures. This is why you tend to find these two molds growing on rotting veggies in your fridge or on the cold grout in your windows in winter time.

Molds absolutely love places that are wet and dusty. Most mold spores travel with the wind and deposit (stick) to places that are wet. That means that a well-designed air-conditioning system will filter out mold spores but that means the drop trays in your air conditioning system should be regularly cleaned because that is where the spores went. This will also mean that indoor air concentrations of mold spores should be lower than outdoor concentrations. If the opposite is true that means you likely have mold growing in your house that needs to be cleaned up. A big warning for people with flooded homes is that molds also grow pretty quickly. Within 24-48 hours of water intrusion mold will start growing, but on the bright side if you eliminate the water the molds will stop growing and dry up.

Given its ubiquity, you might wonder why one would spend so much time testing for mold? Well in the last 20 years an industry has built up around the idea of “toxic molds.” This industry preys on our fears and ignorance with mold being described as “black gold” in some circles. The reality is there is no such thing as “toxic mold.” There are some mold species that are “toxigenic,” that is they produce “mycotoxins.” Mycotoxins are metabolites produced by molds that are capable of harming other living organisms. Molds evolved these metabolites as part of their strategy to battle bacteria (and each other). Molds have spent the last billion years in an ongoing arms race against bacteria; their primary competition for living space and food. One of the most famous of these mycotoxins is a compound we call penicillin. Penicillin is produced by the mold Penicillium (one of the supposedly “toxic molds”) and is essentially harmless to non-allergic humans in the concentrations encountered in our day-to-day lives.

Certainly, there are people who can be deathly allergic to penicillin but even these people are exposed to the mold Penicillium on a daily basis with no ill-effect. As for allergies, approximately five per cent of individuals have some allergic airway response to elevated mold spore concentrations. That is, these people will get runny noses, itchy eyes and some wheezing when encountering high concentrations of mold spores. But let’s put that number into perspective, about 10 per cent of people are allergic to household pets.

Now I am not saying that mold is good for you as that is clearly not the case. Molds can and do produce spores that can act as human allergens. I can personally attest that at high enough concentrations mold spores can even induce headaches in people who are not directly allergic to mold. In addition I have to include this important proviso, individuals with illnesses that decrease their immune response (immunosuppressed individuals) should be especially careful to reduce their exposure to molds as molds can cause them serious harm. From a physical perspective, molds can also damage and weaken structures. But on a day-to-day basis, molds and mold spores are not a significant risk to a healthy individual.

As for ingesting mold. Issues with mold have been known since biblical times and everyone knows that you should not eat moldy food as it can make you sick. Moreover, it is not unheard of for horses to actually die from eating moldy hay. But for people to die from eating mold is incredibly rare.

The question you are probably asking is: if mold is so harmless why has this industry grown so big? It has been argued that our current generation of mold panic can be directly linked to U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) studies in 1994 and 1997. At that time, the CDC incorrectly linked lung damage in children to the presence of Stachybotrys chartarum mold. In 2000, this linkage was retracted by the CDC. Unfortunately, by then the damage was done and a few very lucrative lawsuits later, the “toxic mold” industry was born.

So what is the truth about “toxic mold”? The fact that is understood now, that was not fully recognized in the 1990s, is that it is not the mold in your house that is making you sick. Rather it is living in conditions where mold can thrive that actually causes illnesses. As explained by the World Health Organization in 2009

Sufficient epidemiological evidence is available…to show that the occupants of damp or mouldy buildings, both houses and public buildings, are at increased risk of respiratory symptoms, respiratory infections and exacerbation of asthma. Some evidence suggests increased risks of allergic rhinitis and asthma. Although few intervention studies were available, their results show that remediation of dampness can reduce adverse health outcomes.

As for the mycotoxins, the research is also clear:

Current scientific evidence does not support the proposition that human health has been adversely affected by inhaled mycotoxins in home, school, or office environments (Hardin Kelman and Saxon, 2003)

and

Currently, there is no supportive evidence to imply that inhaling mold or mycotoxins in indoor environments is responsible for any serious health effects other than transient irritation and allergies in immunocompetent individuals (Fung and Clark, 2004).

So what are the take-home messages about “toxic molds”? It is not “toxic mold” that is making people sick, it is living in conditions conducive to mold growth that is bad for human health. If you are living in a house with high humidity and low temperatures then you are going to get sick irrespective of the presence or absence of “toxic molds”. As such mold can serve as a useful indicator. If you see mold growing in your house it is time to deal with the conditions that are likely to make you sick sometime in the future.

Some Thoughts On The Philosophy Of Religion And Civil Society

There seems to be a kerfuffle claiming that Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas wants to eliminate (or downplay) teaching the Theory of Evolution and substitute “intelligent design” or Creationism as part of the school curriculum.

See the claim from the Arizona Daily Star: Arizona’s schools chief seeks limits on teaching evolution, Big Bang theory (link to story).

And a rebuttal from ADI’s Loretta Hunnicutt: Fake News Claims Evolution Stripped Out Of Arizona Science Standards (link to story).

Before getting to the philosophy, I have some (tongue-in-cheek) questions for hard-core “intelligent design” folks:

1) Why do human males have nipples? How intelligent is that?

2) What if some entity figuratively snapped its fingers and precipitated a “big bang” that created a universe with the precise chemical and physical properties that led to evolution of life. That’s the ultimate “intelligent design.”

3) Is God a tinkerer? The Genesis story of creation contains this phrase several times: “And God saw that it was good.” Didn’t He know it would be good beforehand, or was He experimenting and evolving?

The philosophy of religion and secularism:

Do you know the difference between right and wrong? How do you know? Upon what principles do you base your judgment? In this age of politically-correct, moral relativism, many of us think that many others don’t know the difference, or, at the very least, are operating on a different system of moral justification. Does the end justify the means, and is the end itself justifiable? Let’s review, very briefly, the theories of what is right.

There are four general theories used to justify the rules for civil society, one religious and three secular.

All religions, aside from their various creeds and rituals, have two common characteristics. 1)They attempt to explain the origin of the world and man. Almost all religions have creation stories. (see one from a Native American at the end of this post). 2) Religions attempt to provide justification for a system of ethics and social mores. The first characteristic has provided many interesting stories; the second has often led to trouble and intolerance. Religious doctrine has been used to justify the “divine right of kings” and to support systems which give little respect to or cognizance of individual rights.

The first of the secular systems, Natural Law theory, supposes that there are certain principles “discovered,” not “invented” by all societies, practical principles which work. In Western civilization, these principles derive from Greek and Roman law; especially the latter, since the Romans had to adjudicate cases in many cultures, and they noticed that disparate societies had some principles in common. Our founding fathers embraced Natural Law theory in the Declaration of Independence, when they wrote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights ….” Natural Law confers rights to the individual, and individuals form a society with a social contract based on those rights.

Natural Law theory has always had two problems, however. How can you identify a “natural” law? And, how do you make it work in society? The observations of the Romans answered the first: find the common principles which work in a variety of cultures. Our founding fathers found a solution to the second: the U.S. Constitution.

The second secular system, called the “Organic Theory” or “Historicism,” was a rejection of natural law. It was a reaction among European thinkers who thought that events such as the French revolution and breakdown of monarchies were getting too messy. Organic theory attempted to find a unifying doctrine that could conform all of society to some static model of perfection. This theory sought to identify a “collective will” manifested by majority rule, but it essentially ignored individual rights. Organic theory evolved into National Socialism in Germany, and into Communism.

The third secular theory is Utilitarianism. This, too, is a product of 18th century Europe and a rejection of natural law. Utilitarians think they can design a system of government to maximize the happiness of the citizens based on scientifically determined principles of governance. They attempt to show how a citizen’s self-interest can be reconciled with social responsibility without resorting to any lofty metaphysical assumptions. To reach this happy state, Utilitarians are loath to compare the values of one person with another. They think that goals, and means toward those goals, are so obvious to the enlightened, that they need not be justified with actual evidence. This theory has led to welfare economics and moral relativism.

Our educational system should visit all of these views and let the students decide for themselves which makes the most sense.

Finally, evolution is a scientific concept but science is not set in stone because:

“Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis: you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory. On the other hand, you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory.” –Stephen Hawking

A creation story:

Coyotes feature large in Native American folklore.  One of the most interesting stories to me was told by professional storyteller and author Gerard Tsonakwa during a lecture at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.  Mr. Tsonakwa is a Native American from the Abenaki people who inhabited Quebec and northern New England.  He now resides in Tucson.

Of the many stories he told us, I found his creation story a most interesting parable. The written word can’t convey the nuances of delivery nor gestures, so you will have to be satisfied with the plain narrative of what I remember of his story, and even this will be an abridged version.

The Lord of Creation was lonely, so he gathered all the energy of the universe into a small space so that, with much noise and fire, it exploded to create the world.  On the world, the Lord of Creation made plants and animals and humans, and all the animals and humans could talk to each other.  The Lord of Creation provided food for man and beast and some animals understood that they were to provide food for other animals, and for that, the animals and humans would give thanks to those they ate.

So it was on the first day.  On that first day, there was the Sun to provide light and warmth and the whole world was beautiful.  The first night was a different story.  There was only darkness with no stars to punctuate the black sky.  So on the second day, the Lord of Creation set out to do something about that.  He collected certain bright flowers called Tundra Stars and put them in a big bag.  On the second night, the Lord of Creation, using a long stick, carefully placed each Tundra Star in the sky.  The Lord of Creation was very meticulous and placed the stars in patterns like a bead design.  This was hard work and before the night was over, the Lord of Creation fell asleep.

As the Lord of Creation slept, Coyote happened upon him.  Now, Coyote was a curious beast, and although he was well fed from the fruits of the world, he was always looking for something else, and he saw the bag of Tundra Stars.  Coyote sniffed around the bag, then took it and ran off.   But as he was running he tripped and dropped the bag which opened and spilled its contents all around the night sky.  This commotion awoke the Lord of Creation who saw what Coyote had done.   The Lord of Creation chastised Coyote for scattering his stars and obscuring  his meticulous patterns with a random array of stars.  Coyote began to cry, then howl.  And from that day,  Coyote and his kin howl at the night sky as penance.

So here, in a short narrative, we have an explanation of the big bang theory, of why constellations appear in a random star field and of why coyotes howl at the night sky.

See also:

The Urban Coyote and a Creation Story

Environmental Sophistry