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.

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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

Abuse of the Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed with good intentions, but in practice it has many problems. The ESA actually encourages private property owners to rid their properties of endangered species and their habitats because of the restrictions in beneficial use the Act imposes on property owners. The ESA is very expensive to taxpayers (regulatory costs exceed $1.2 billion per year). Besides trampling on property rights, the ESA destroys industries (remember the timber industry in the northwest?).

The ESA is easy to “game,” a characteristic that radical environmental groups take full advantage of through their “sue and settle” tactics. According to attorney Karen Budd-Falen, “Species are listed by a petition process, which means that anyone can send a letter to the federal government asking that a species, either plant or animal, be put on the ESA list. The federal government has 90 days to respond to that petition, no matter how frivolous. If the federal government fails to respond in 90 days, the petitioner – in the vast majority of cases, radical environmental groups – can file litigation against the federal government and get its attorneys fees paid. The simple act of filing litigation does not mean the species will get listed or that it is warranted to be protected; this litigation is only over whether the federal government failed to respond to the petition in 90 days. Between 2000 and 2009, in just 12 states and the District of Columbia, 14 environmental groups filed 180 federal court complaints to get species listed under the ESA and were paid $11,743,287 in attorneys fees and costs.” The act of responding to lawsuits causes government biologists to spend much less time on conservation work.

An example of this tactic was published last Monday by ADI in their article: “Absurd Sue And Settle Lawsuit Launched To Protect Borderlands Moth.” (Link) “Serial litigators, Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, and Patagonia Area Resource Alliance filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Patagonia eyed silkmoth under the Endangered Species Act.”

In my opinion, while these enviros are gaming the system for money, their main purpose is to stop development of new mines in the Patagonia Mountains of Southern Arizona. These properties have the potential to become a major source of lead, zinc, and silver, and the only U.S. source of manganese.

See related stories:

New Zinc-lead-silver mineral deposit discovered in SE Arizona

Silver project may become only US source of manganese

The other major problem with the Endangered Species Act is that, through bureaucratic bungling and bad science, the ESA is particularly poor at recovering endangered species.

The Heritage Foundation has recently published an assessment of the Endangered Species Act entitled: Correcting Falsely “Recovered” and Wrongly Listed Species and Increasing Accountability and Transparency in the Endangered Species Program by Robert Gordon (Read full report)

Abstract

Numerous administrative actions should be taken to correct the record of species that are falsely claimed to have “recovered” and that have been declared endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) using erroneous data. It is crucial to improve implementation, accountability, and transparency in the administration of the ESA. The recommendations and information here will help correct the record, provide guidance as to some of the species that may be suitable for delisting on the grounds of data error or extinction, improve the likelihood that future delistings are appropriately categorized, eliminate unnecessary regulations and further waste, and ensure scarce conservation dollars are better spent.

In five years the Endangered Species Act will reach the half-century milestone—and yet only 40 U.S. species have graduated from the program as “recovered,” slightly less than one species per year. If not one more bird, beetle, or bear were added to the list of federally endangered animals and plants and somehow species recovered at 10 times that rate, it would take well over a century and-a-half to work through the current list.

There is, however, no indication that the list of regulated species will stop growing. Even worse, almost half of the “recovered” species—18 of 40— are federally funded fiction. They were never really endangered; like many species that remain on the endangered list, they were mistakes. With all the ESA’s costs and burdens, it should perhaps come as no surprise that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is fabricating success stories to cover up this unsustainable mess and substituting fluff for statutorily required reporting regarding the recovery program.

 

My opinion: It is time to consider repealing the ESA and replacing it with a more effective system that encourages conservation with positive incentives.

 

Related:

Endangered Species paperwork to cost $206,098,920

Endangered species act could halt American energy boom

Endangered Species Act administration changes bode ill for property rights

Endangered species listings based on questionable science and lack of independent review

Repeal the Endangered Species Act

Rosemont and the Cuckoo scam

Arizona Game & Fish Department against critical habitat for jaguar

Pygmy owls and property rights

People for the West newsletter for June-July 2018 now online

The June-July, 2018, issue of the People for the West newsletter is now online at:

https://wryheat.wordpress.com/people-for-the-west/2018-archive/2018-06-07-june-july/

Major topics are:

Local control for Conservation

This article highlights the The Pima Natural Resources Conservation District, a local branch of a state agency for conservation and property rights. I am one of the supervisors of Pima NRCD.

The Real State of Climate Science – A rebuttal of Climate Alarmism

This article summarizes and links to several past articles which review climate science and brings together some main points on the state of the climate debate. These articles show that the politically correct, carbon dioxide driven climate claim is wrong. These articles should provide you with ammunition to counter climate alarmism.

Abuse of the Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed with good intentions, but in practice it has many problems. The ESA actually encourages private property owners to rid their properties of endangered species and their habitats because of the restrictions in beneficial use the Act imposes on property owners. The ESA is very expensive to taxpayers (regulatory costs exceed $1.2 billion per year). Besides trampling on property rights, the ESA destroys industries (remember the timber industry in the northwest?).

Forest Thinning Needed to Save Water

Dense forests suck up surface and groundwater and dump it into the atmosphere through the process of evapotranspiration. This means that there is less water for other uses.

Forest thinning needed to save water

Dense forests suck up surface and groundwater and dump it into the atmosphere through the process of evapotranspiration. This means that there is less water for other uses.

“There are too many trees in Sierra Nevada forests, say scientists affiliated with the National Science Foundation (NSF) Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory (CZO).”

A new study supported by the National Science Foundation published in the journal Ecohydrology (see press release) proclaims “Billions of gallons of water saved by thinning forests.” The study of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California notes that “excessive evapotranspiration may harm a fragile California water system, especially during prolonged, warm droughts.”

The primary methods of good forest thinning are fire and logging.

Forest Service policy exacerbated sound forest management. Remember Smokey the Bear, “only you can prevent forest fires?” But fire is nature’s way of managing forests. Logging was largely reduced for misguided environmental reasons such as saving the spotted owl.

From the NSF study:

“Forest wildfires are often considered disasters,” said Richard Yuretich, director of NSF’s CZO program, which funded the research. “But fire is part of healthy forest ecosystems. By thinning out trees, fires can reduce water stress in forests and ease water shortages during droughts. And by reducing the water used by plants, more rainfall flows into rivers and accumulates in groundwater.”

Using data from CZO measurement towers and U.S. Geological Survey satellites, researchers found that over the period 1990 to 2008, fire-thinned forests saved 3.7 billion gallons of water annually in California’s Kings River Basin and …17 billion gallons of water annually in the American River Basin — water that would otherwise have been lost through evapotranspiration.

Forest thinning has increased in recent decades in an effort to stave off disastrous wildfires fueled by dense forests. This study shows that restoring forests through mechanical thinning or wildfire can also save California billions of gallons of water each year.

Perhaps we should take guidance from the first land managers in North America, the Indians. In my article “The Pristine Myth” I note the following:

Archaeological and anthropological research during the last 25 years or so, shows that much of what we thought was pristine in the Western Hemisphere, even the Amazon rain forest, is actually human-formed landscape created by the first New World inhabitants, the Indians. It seems that American Indians, from North America, Mexico and South America, were the ultimate land managers, and they transformed the land to suit their needs. They constructed the world’s largest gardens.

American Indians built cities and civilizations, cultivated forests and farms, and developed more than half of the crops grown worldwide today. Indians, rather than subsist passively on what wild nature provided, instead survived by cleverly exploiting their environment. Their principal tool was fire. They did not domesticate animals for meat, but instead used fire to change whole ecosystems to raise deer, elk, and bison.

Related story:

Forest thinning may increase runoff and supplement our water supply

A new study (“Effects of Climate Variability and Accelerated Forest Thinning on Watershed-Scale Runoff in Southwestern USA Ponderosa Pine Forests” published October 22, 2014) conducted by The Nature Conservancy and Northern Arizona University recommends accelerated forest thinning by mechanical means and controlled burns in central and northern Arizona forests. The study estimates that such thinning will increase runoff by about 20 percent, add to our water supply, and make forests more resilient.

A summary of climate change principles and state of the science – a rebuttal of climate alarmism

This post collects several past articles which review the science and bring together some main points on the state of the climate debate. These points show that the politically correct, carbon dioxide driven meme is wrong. Readers can use these articles to counter climate alarmist. Read each article for more details.

Climate change in perspective

Climate change is a major issue of our times. Concern is affecting environmental, energy, and economic policy decisions. Many politicians are under the mistaken belief that legislation and regulation can significantly control our climate to forestall any deviation from “normal” and save us from a perceived crisis. This post is intended as a primer for politicians so they can cut through the hype and compare real observational data against the flawed model prognostications.

The data show that the current warming is not unusual, but part of a natural cycle; that greenhouse gases, other than water vapor, are not significant drivers of climate; that human emissions of carbon dioxide are insignificant when compared to natural emissions of greenhouse gases; and that many predictions by climate modelers and hyped by the media are simply wrong.

 

A simple question for climate alarmists – where is the evidence

“What physical evidence supports the contention that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are the principal cause of global warming since 1970?”

(Remember back in the 1970s, climate scientists and media were predicting a return to an “ice age.”)

I have posed that question to five “climate scientist” professors at the University of Arizona who claim that our carbon dioxide emissions are the principal cause of dangerous global warming. Yet, when asked the question, none could cite any supporting physical evidence.

 

Carbon dioxide is necessary for life on Earth

Rather than being a “pollutant.” Carbon dioxide is necessary for life on Earth as we know it. Earth’s climate has been changing for at least four billion years in cycles large and small. Few in the climate debate understand those changes and their causes. Many are fixated on carbon dioxide (CO2), a minor constituent of the atmosphere, but one absolutely necessary for life as we know it. Perhaps this fixation derives from ulterior political motives for controlling the global economy. For others, the true believers, perhaps this fixation derives from ignorance.

 

Carbon Dioxide and the Greenhouse Effect

The “greenhouse effect,” very simplified, is this: solar radiation penetrates the atmosphere and warms the surface of the earth. The earth’s surface radiates thermal energy (infrared radiation) back into space. Some of this radiation is absorbed and re-radiated back to the surface and into space by clouds, water vapor, methane, carbon dioxide, and other gases. Water vapor is the principle greenhouse gas; the others are minor players. It is claimed that without the greenhouse effect the planet would be an iceball, about 34∘C colder than it is.* The term “greenhouse effect” with respect to the atmosphere is an unfortunate usage because it is misleading. The interior of a real greenhouse (or your automobile parked with windows closed and left in the sun) heats up because there is a physical barrier to convective heat loss. There is no such physical barrier in the atmosphere.*There is an alternate hypothesis:

 

What keeps Earth warm – the greenhouse effect or something else?

Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell proposed in his 1871 book “Theory of Heat” that the temperature of a planet depends only on gravity, mass of the atmosphere, and heat capacity of the atmosphere. Temperature is independent of atmosphere composition. Greenhouse gases have nothing to do with it. Many publications since, have expounded on Maxwell’s theory and have shown that it applies to all planets in the Solar System.

The Grand Canyon of Arizona provides a practical demonstration of this principle.

 

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

The U.S. government’s National Climate Assessment report and the UN IPCC both claim that human carbon dioxide emissions are “intensifying” the greenhouse effect and causing global warming. The carbon dioxide driven global warming meme makes four specific predictions. Physical evidence shows that all four of these predictions are wrong.

“It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is; it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.” – Richard Feynmann

 

An examination of the relationship between temperature and carbon dioxide

In this article, we will examine the Earth’s temperature and the carbon dioxide (CO2) content of the atmosphere at several time scales to see if there is any relationship. I stipulate that the greenhouse effect does exist. I maintain, however, that the ability of CO2 emissions to cause global warming is tiny and overwhelmed by natural forces. The main effect of our “greenhouse” is to slow cooling.

 

How much global warming is dangerous?

The United Nation’s IPCC and other climate alarmists say all hell will break loose if the global temperature rises more than an additional 2º C (3.6ºF). That number, by the way, is purely arbitrary with no basis in science. It also ignores Earth’s geologic history which shows that for most of the time global temperatures have been much warmer than now. Let’s look back at a time when global temperatures are estimated to have been as much as 34ºF warmer than they are now. Hell didn’t break loose then.

 

Effects of global warming on humans

The EPA’s “endangerment finding” classified carbon dioxide as a pollutant and claimed that global warming will have adverse effects on human health. Real research says the opposite: cold is deadlier. The scientific evidence shows that warming is good for health.

 

Geology is responsible for some phenomena blamed on global warming

Melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets have been blamed on global warming, but both have a geologic origin. The “Blob” a recent warm ocean area off the Oregon coast, responsible in part for the hot weather and drought in California, has been blamed on global warming, but that too may have a geologic cause.

 

The 97 percent consensus for human caused climate change debunked again

It has been claimed that 97% of climate scientists say humans are causing most of the global warming. An examination of the numbers and how those numbers have been reached show that only 8.2% of scientists polled explicitly endorse carbon dioxide as the principal driver.

Read also a more general article: On consensus in science

Conclusion:

The basic conclusion of this review is that carbon dioxide has little effect on climate and all attempts to control carbon dioxide will be a futile and expensive exercise to no end. All the dire predictions are based on flawed computer models. Carbon dioxide is a phantom menace.

 

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” – H. L. Mencken

Nitrogen in rocks identified as major plant fertilizer not considered by climate models

Organic nitrogen compounds such as ammonia (NH3) act as plant fertilizers. Robust plant growth consumes more atmospheric carbon dioxide during the process of photosynthesis. However, atmospheric nitrogen (N2) is relatively inert. It is converted to organic nitrogen compounds by bacteria in the top soil layers. (See nitrogen fixation) Climate models have assumed that the atmosphere is the only source of nitrogen and have therefore underestimated its fertilization effect and also underestimated the capability of plants to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. New studies show that much nitrogen comes from rocks, some already in useable organic form. Weathering of rocks releases this organic nitrogen.

“A considerable amount of the nitrogen in igneous and sedimentary rocks exists as ammonium ions held within the lattice structures of silicate minerals. In sedimentary rocks, the ammonium is held by secondary silicate minerals; in igneous rocks, the ammonium is contained largely within potassium-bearing primary minerals. Analyses indicated that most of the nitrogen in igneous rocks, and from one-tenth to two-thirds of that in sedimentary rocks (shales) occurred as fixed ammonium.” (Source)

Nitrate deposits in arid and semi-arid regions provide another source of nitrogen.

“Nitrogen bearing rocks are globally distributed and comprise a potentially large pool of nitrogen in nutrient cycling that is frequently neglected because of a lack of routine analytical methods for quantification. Nitrogen in rock originates as organically bound nitrogen associated with sediment, or in thermal waters representing a mixture of sedimentary, mantle, and meteoric sources of nitrogen.” (Source)

A new study, reported by Science Daily, concerns research conducted by University of California – Davis published April 6, 2018.

“For centuries, the prevailing science has indicated that all of the nitrogen on Earth available to plants comes from the atmosphere. But a study from the University of California, Davis, indicates that more than a quarter comes from Earth’s bedrock.”

“The discovery could greatly improve climate change projections, which rely on understanding the carbon cycle. This newly identified source of nitrogen could also feed the carbon cycle on land, allowing ecosystems to pull more emissions out of the atmosphere, the authors said.”

“Geology might have a huge control over which systems can take up carbon dioxide and which ones don’t.”

“While there were hints that plants could use rock-derived nitrogen, this discovery shatters the paradigm that the ultimate source of available nitrogen is the atmosphere. Nitrogen is both the most important limiting nutrient on Earth and a dangerous pollutant, so it is important to understand the natural controls on its supply and demand. Humanity currently depends on atmospheric nitrogen to produce enough fertilizer to maintain world food supply. A discovery of this magnitude will open up a new era of research on this essential nutrient.”

Study citation: B. Z. Houlton, S. L. Morford, R. A. Dahlgren. Convergent evidence for widespread rock nitrogen sources in Earth’s surface environment. Science, 2018; 360 (6384): 58 DOI: 10.1126/science.aan4399.

Looks like “climate science” is still not settled. For instance, a 2003 study published in the same Science journal claimed, “there will not be enough nitrogen available to sustain the high carbon uptake scenarios.” Investor’s Business Daily opines: “with more nitrogen available, plant life might be able to absorb more CO2 than climate scientists have been estimating, which means the planet won’t warm as much, despite mankind’s pumping CO2 into the atmosphere.”

 

See also:

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

An examination of the relationship between temperature and carbon dioxide

A Simple Question for Climate Alarmists