2015-01 January

People for the West -Tucson

PO Box 86868, Tucson, AZ 85754-6868 pfw-tucson@cox.net

Newsletter, January, 2015

Free the Land

by Jonathan DuHamel

The federal government owns more than 623 million acres of land, mostly in the western states. The recent defense spending bill included designation of new national parks, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and National Heritage areas. How much land is enough?

Most federal land is administered by four agencies: the Bureau of Land management, 258.2 million acres; the Forest Service, 193 million acres; the Fish & Wildlife Service, 93 million acres; and the National Park Service, 79 million acres. Other federal land ownership include military bases and land held in trust for Indian reservations. The map below shows the concentration of federal lands in the west.

The State of Utah wants 31.2 million acres of its land back. “In an unprecedented challenge to federal dominance of Western state lands, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert in 2012 signed the ‘Transfer of Public Lands Act,’ which demands that Washington relinquish its hold on the land, which represents more than half of the state’s 54.3 million acres, by Dec. 31, 2014.” (Washington Times) We are still awaiting the outcome of this probably quixotic endeavor. But it sets a precedent and more western states should take up the quest.

Besides outright ownership, the feds are wreaking havoc on private property rights through the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act.

In Arizona, for example, the right of Phoenix, the Salt River Project and the Central Arizona Water Conservation District to divert Colorado River and Salt River water to Phoenix and Tucson is being threatened by the US Fish and Wildlife Service because those diversions allegedly endanger everything from gila topminnow, and chiricahua leopard frogs, as well as willow flycatchers.

The Town of Tombstone is forbidden to fix part of its water supply after it was destroyed in a forest fire because the source is in a wilderness area. (See Tombstone versus the United States)

The EPA and Corps of Engineers are attempting to expand the definitions in the Clean Water Act to include the most tenuous connection to “navigable waters” that would encompass private irrigation ditches, ponds and “wetlands” that are wet only one to two days a year.

Perhaps the new Congress can address some of these abuses of federal regulations and free the land for states and private property owners to put the land to productive use.

Climate theology abuses science

Much government policy is predicated on the unproven assumption that carbon dioxide emissions significantly contribute to global warming and such warming is dangerous. An essay in American Thinker shows why the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis (AGW) is more religion than science:

Anthropogenic Global Warming and the Scientific Method

By Betsy Gorisch

Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) alarm has been with us for a good while, now. The matter seems to become more contentious, rather than less, over time. Unhappily, as a result of the mediocre quality of science education, many people do not know how to evaluate either a scientific hypothesis in general, or AGW in particular — and irrespective of whatever anyone might think, because of how it is framed and evaluated, AGW is no more than a hypothesis.

Science is about ruling things out. Any good scientific hypothesis will make predictions about the natural world — ideally, it will predict at least one natural effect whose existence cannot be caused by anything other than the hypothesis being tested. Observations are then made to acquire evidence, and the evidence is evaluated against the hypothesis’s predictions. Evidence can either rule the hypothesis out or not; if the evidence differs from the hypothesis’s predicted effects, then the hypothesis is wrong and is considered to be ruled out, or falsified. That which has not been ruled out by evidence remains possible. If enough confirmatory evidence is accumulated, the hypothesis is elevated to the status of a theory. Scientific Method is, conceptually, no more complicated than that.

Karl Popper, the great philosopher of science, used a simple observational experiment to illustrate the scientific method’s requirement of falsifiability — the requirement that a hypothesis be stated in such a way as to allow its testing against evidence with a view towards ruling it out. He noted that most people had once assumed that all swans are white. This assumption was based on the observation, over time, of uncounted numbers of white swans — and each such observation was taken as evidence supporting the assumption. However, there came a time when a black swan was found in Australia, and its discovery served to disprove the assumption that all swans are white. In generalizing from this discovery, Popper understood that you would not test the hypothesis that all swans are white by undertaking a search for white swans — because no matter how many white swans you found, you would neither have proven, nor even properly tested, the hypothesis. Instead, you must mount an intensive search for a single non-white swan. If you found even one of those, you would have ruled the hypothesis out. Alternatively, and without finding a non-white swan, it remained viable — but because there remained the possibility of a single undetected non-white swan, it could not be regarded as proven.

Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity provides an excellent real-world scientific example of evaluation by falsifiability. The Special Theory makes unique predictions about gravity’s effect on light’s behavior in a vacuum that, as far as anyone knows, could be accounted for by no phenomenon other than that assumed in the theory. When specifically tested for during a total eclipse of the sun in 1919, the gravitational effect Einstein’s theory predicted was both detected and measured to equal precisely his theory’s prediction. Special Relativity was hence verified — although, again, it is not regarded as proven. Instead, it remains possible in the absence of having been falsified by evidence. Now, it is true that Special Relativity is, like other theories, commonly accepted, and spoken of, as having been proven. However, that is merely a shorthand way of saying that it currently has no credible competition as an explanation of the phenomenon it addresses.

The AGW hypothesis that so many people claim accounts for what is essentially pretend global warming has never been treated this way. Initially, its proponents engaged in a search for supporting evidence: Elevated average annual temperatures, local glacial retreats, elevated-temperature indicators in proxy systems such as tree-ring records, measurable coincident increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration, and so on — a search for white swans. But these efforts ignored, and failed even to seek, either any alternative explanations or evidence that would have ruled the hypothesis out. AGW has failed the predictions test again and again; any true scientific hypothesis with so poor an evidence-based evaluation record would have been scrapped by now. Instead, its proponents elevated it to the status of a theory and, ignoring the fact that climate changes continually, renamed it “climate change.”

No other potential causes of AGW have ever been investigated and ruled out. There must be at least one, because evidence shows that there have been times in the pre-human geological past when conditions were warmer and there was no glaciation at all anywhere on Earth. We also know, as a result of ice-core studies, that CO2 has generally been a lagging indicator — that is, atmospheric CO2 concentrations are documented to have increased after, rather than before, atmospheric temperature increases.

Nevertheless, its believers treat AGW as verified, and simply alter its components and predictions to conform to evidence. When the predicted warming did not occur and snows continued to fall during London winters even though it was predicted that they would fail, for example, or when polar ice sheets expanded even though the theory has predicted that they would melt away, the hypothesis should be considered to have been ruled out by evidence.

However, its proponents still treat AGW as though it were true. Otherwise-reputable scientists employ variations on several approaches to their falsification conundrum. The first of these approaches, the use of models, is a legitimate tool in particular scientific applications. Others amount to attempting to fudge the hypothesis to make it match evidence in an unscientific rearguard action.

Models are essentially used as predictive tools, so they are only as good as the information upon which they are constructed. If there are any unknown components in the modeled system, then the model’s predictions will, almost by definition, be unreliable. In the case of a system both as complex and incompletely understood as Earth’s atmosphere, the model’s construction will essentially be required to include untested, incomplete, and/or unproven function assumptions and data. In such a case, the problems and pitfalls of using these models to construct governing policies quickly become self-evident: People trying to rely on the models essentially cannot know what they are doing. When, for example, their model does not predict their real-world observations, they tweak it until it does — which introduces errors-by-expectation into both output and the policies based upon it. These errors increase in magnitude, and therefore in effect, in a non-linear fashion directly proportional both to the size of the system and to the modeled outputs.

AGW’s predictions are not being reliably confirmed by observations. When stasis and/or cooling occur rather than warming — as has been the case over the last decade-and-a-half — atmospheric scientists fudge interpretations by saying that if it is cool, well, that is just weather; if it is warm, though, that is climate. Alternatively, they claim AGW predicts the cooling — as, for example, with the recent polar-vortex outbreaks. However, a theory that predicts everything predicts nothing — because a theory that predicts everything cannot be falsified through testing; nothing will serve to rule it out.

Scientists have also approached the unaccountable stasis and/or cooling by going around and searching for “the missing heat” that their theory assumes exists and claims has already built up. But this is not a search that would test the theory. It is a search that assumes the theory to be true — it begs the question. Further, if the search detects the sought evidence, no one tries to rule out any possible causes other than AGW, assuming instead that if the evidence exists, there are no other possible causes.

In short, the AGW “climate change” debate is not about a hypothesis. Even though no one has investigated it with a view towards falsifying it, evidence has ruled it out repeatedly. It has no useful scientific applications because it has been broadened to predict all possible observations — thereby predicting nothing at all.

Betsy Gorisch is a professional geologist with an interest in current events.

Note: In the December issue of this newsletter, the lead article presented physical evidence that AGW is wrong. AGW hypothesis makes four specific predictions about how carbon dioxide emissions will “intensify” the greenhouse effect. Physical measurements shows that all four predictions are wrong. You can read an expanded version of that article on my Wryheat blog: “Evidence That Co2 Emissions Do Not Intensify the Greenhouse Effect” ((http://wp.me/p3SUNp-1e8http://wp.me/p3SUNp-1e8).

How Obama and His Environmental Base Are Planning to Eradicate the Oil and Gas Industry

by Ron Arnold, Daily Signal

Why does the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory war against hydraulic fracturing look like the Natural Resources Defense Council’s 2007 agenda for eliminating domestic oil and natural gas development?

Because it is.

President Obama is coordinating with far-left environmental activists to wage an all-out assault on American oil and natural gas.

The NRDC’s unjustifiable access to such anti-fracking regulatory power—and the diversion of $8.4 million in taxpayer dollars to its coffers—is highlighted in an October report from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee minority staff titled, “Setting the Record Straight: Hydraulic Fracturing and America’s Energy Revolution.”

The 111-page committee report opens by citing the enormously positive impacts of America’s oil and natural gas renaissance, which has:

Created and sustained millions of jobs and revitalized our manufacturing sector;

Provided greater energy security and geopolitical strength while reducing our trade deficit;

Lowered domestic energy prices both in our homes and at the gasoline pump.

But the emphasis is on those who would obliterate that renaissance. The message to the public is a warning: President Obama is coordinating with far-left environmental activists such as the aggressive NRDC and the Sierra Club, along with their millionaire board members, their Hollywood celebrity boosters and their “philanthropic” funders, such as the rabidly anti-fracking Park Foundation, to wage an all-out assault to shut down domestic production of American oil and natural gas. Read the rest of the article.

How the Government’s Decision to Declare This Species Threatened May Hurt Its Survival

by Katie Tubb, Daily Signal

No good deed goes unpunished. Or at least, such was the case earlier this month when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Gunnison sage grouse as a “threatened” species.

Threats to the bird resulting from drought, disease, and habitat moved the states and particularly Gunnison County, Colo., to find creative solutions to protect and re-establish the bird.

Over the past 20 years, Utah’s and Colorado’s ranchers, conservationists and state and local leaders have worked to protect the Gunnison sage grouse. Utah, Colorado and the citizens of Gunnison County have spent more than $50 million during the past 20 years to conserve the Gunnison sage grouse.

Their mistake? They thought that a stable population in the Gunnison Valley would prevent the bird from being federally listed.

Yet the Fish and Wildlife Service did exactly that.

Despite Coloradans’ efforts, the Wild Earth Guardians—an environmental extremist lobbying organization—pressured the Fish and Wildlife Service to list the bird as endangered under the Endangered Species Act by Nov. 12 in an out-of-court settlement. The Fish and Wildlife Service announced its decision to list the bird as “threatened” and to designate more than 1.4 million acres of potential habitat. Read more

The listing action will remove incentive for land owners to preserve suitable habitat.

EPA’s fibs in its war on coal

By Dennis Mitchell and Willie Soon, Washington Times

Without affordable, reliable energy, life is short and brutal. Visit any place where families struggle to live without cheap electricity, and you will be horrified at the suffering. Without rational stewardship of natural resources, life is on a pathway to destruction. Visit any part of the world where carelessness rules resource utilization, and you will witness a ticking time bomb of misery.

These issues are complex and make it difficult for anyone, expert or not, to see the best path. In contrast, there are plenty of signs that will let you know who is and who isn’t being straight with you. How does the average citizen see clearly when, in fact, the experts are so divided on the complex and confusing issues? You gauge it the same way you choose the people and businesses you deal with on a daily basis.

Most disturbing about the war on coal are the levels and persistence of deception. The trendy, hip, cool approach has been to rush into “renewable energy” sources and shut down traditional sources of energy based on a huge deception called “consensus science.” The infamous “97 percent of all scientists agree” that has been pounded into our memories by President Obama’s campaign is, in fact, a well-funded and perniciously propagated deception. It’s one of many unethical tricks to get folks going along with nonsensical non-science. However, the dirty little secret about “renewables” is there is no magic fix for the nearly insurmountable barriers of storage and distribution of energy. Despite decades of engineering efforts and subsidies, hoped-for success is as elusive as it was during the first giddy green rush.

Here is a list of the falsehoods that just one agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, has been foisting on the American public to help add rainbows to its unicorn-filled coloring book:

The first fib is that the carbon dioxide regulations shutting down U.S. coal-fired power plants will have a measurable effect on carbon dioxide worldwide. In reality, China’s carbon dioxide increases alone will neutralize any advantage. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, each moderate volcanic eruption will negate decades worth of carbon dioxide reductions. The reality is all these radical proposals for carbon dioxide emission cuts cannot and will not lead to any major global temperature change.

The second deception is that new mercury rules, which are tied to U.S. coal-fired power plants, will save 17,000 lives per year. This is a curious claim by the EPA, especially since there is no record of a single documented death from airborne environmental mercury. U.S. power plants release about 42 tons of mercury into the air per year, but volcanoes spew about 10,000 tons per year. If we shut down all coal-electricity generation in the nation, it would barely amount to a 3 percent reduction of mercury in Florida. The Gulf of Mexico, just by being here, contributes about 40 percent of airborne mercury, as it has for several million years. There is zero correlation between airborne mercury and the organic mercury found in some fish.

The EPA has composed a list of 187 “hazardous air pollutants.” On the question of which is responsible for more carbon dioxide and mercury — the United States or Mother Nature — you can decide.

The third tall tale is we can replace all coal-fired power plants with nuclear and renewables by 2030 at virtually no economic impact because of the savings from fuel, health and other environmental issues. One small problem: This claim requires building more than 1,000 nuclear power plants to replace the loss of coal, and the massive economic losses that utilities would face would have to be absorbed by taxpayers. Does anyone really think the EPA would allow the construction of 1,000 nuclear plants in the next 15 years?

The only jobs created by the EPA’s unlawful rule-making would be to the agency’s own employee rolls from about 20,000 to more than 250,000.

Remember, all wind and solar energy must have fossil fuel or nuclear backup because “renewables” have a proven record of unreliable delivery. The U.N. climate conference in Peru this month produced the largest carbon footprint of any U.N. climate conference thus far because it was powered by diesel generators, owing to the organizers’ genuine concern about the reliability of solar panels.

Twenty years ago, renewable zealots convinced Congress that 10 years of taxpayer assistance would be plenty to have a viable competitor for traditional energy. Ask Germany and Spain how that national commitment to renewables has worked out over the past 15 years. Spain’s economy is in a shambles. Germany is shutting down most of its offshore wind program and building coal-fired power plants as fast as possible to ward off financial disaster.

Tyrannical shoving of immature technologies down the throats of the taxpayer, without regard to the consequences, is outrageous. Energy costs from traditional sources have been artificially, and substantially, raised. These are non-market-based increases in the cost of living, and no one suffers more than the poor. The deception about all of the “free energy” has become nothing less than a war on carbon dioxide, gas of life. There has been no greater deception than the panacea of renewable energy, the holy grail of the EPA and the climate alarmist community. Source

Forest Service betrays its heritage, assaults water rights

By Tony Francois, For the Capital Press

Under the proposals, when property owners need a permit from the Forest Service, they could be forced to surrender groundwater rights as the price of receiving it.

As many American farmers and ranchers are aware, these days the U.S. Forest Service is no friend to privately held water rights.

Right now, for instance, the agency is proposing broad new restrictions and controls on groundwater rights in and near national forests. These mandates would apply wherever the exercise of water rights would affect forest resources (a vague concept that allows regulators maximum discretion to pick and choose which water-rights owners they will target).

Under the proposals, when property owners need a permit from the Forest Service, they could be forced to surrender groundwater rights as the price of receiving it. And water-rights holders will be subject to onerous construction, operating, and reporting standards for wells and water pipelines — which many smaller groundwater users will have difficulty meeting.

Many private property owners have weighed in against what amounts to a sweeping attempt to transfer private water rights to public ownership or control.

To the extent these regulations would lead to the confiscation of water rights without compensation, they violate the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Water rights are a form of private property, after all. But there is another basic problem — and fundamental irony — as well: The proposed rules are in tension with the historic mission of the Forest Service itself.

Indeed, the agency’s current adversarial stance toward private water rights represents a 180-degree reversal from its original purpose and objectives. It is time to restate those objectives — and to demand that the agency recommit itself to them. Read more

Researchers Find Northeast Pacific Surface Warming (1900-2012) Caused By Changes in Atmospheric Circulation, NOT Manmade Forcings

by Bob Tisdale

Northeast Pacific coastal warming since 1900 is often ascribed to anthropogenic greenhouse forcing, whereas multidecadal temperature changes are widely interpreted in the framework of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), which responds to regional atmospheric dynamics. This study uses several independent data sources to demonstrate that century-long warming around the northeast Pacific margins, like multidecadal variability, can be primarily attributed to changes in atmospheric circulation. It presents a significant reinterpretation of the region’s recent climate change origins, showing that atmospheric conditions have changed substantially over the last century, that these changes are not likely related to historical anthropogenic and natural radiative forcing, and that dynamical mechanisms of inter-annual and multidecadal temperature variability can also apply to observed century-long trends.

The paper is Johnstone and Mantua (2014) Atmospheric controls on northeast Pacific temperature variability and change, 1900–2012.

The paper notes: “An ensemble of climate model simulations run under the same historical radiative forcings fails to reproduce the observed regional circulation trends. These results suggest that natural internally generated changes in atmospheric circulation were the primary cause of coastal NE Pacific warming from 1900 to 2012 and demonstrate more generally that regional mechanisms of interannual and multidecadal temperature variability can also extend to century time scales.” Read more

Related to above, NOAA opines on the California drought:

“The current drought is not part of a long-term change in California precipitation, which exhibits no appreciable trend since 1895. Key oceanic features that caused precipitation inhibiting atmospheric ridging off the West Coast during 2011-14 were symptomatic of natural internal atmosphere-ocean variability.”

Steve Goddard of Real Science has some New Year’s resolutions for climate scientists. See his post here.

Parting thoughts:

“One of the most obscene acts of the Obama administration, when it first took office, was to launch a criminal investigation of CIA agents who had used harsh interrogation methods against captured terrorists in the wake of the devastating September 11, 2001 aerial attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.” -Thomas Sowell [link]

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” -Isaac Asimov

“[T]he States can best govern our home concerns and the general government our foreign ones. I wish, therefore … never to see all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought and sold at market.” –Thomas Jefferson, letter to Judge William Johnson, 1823

“A society that puts equality … ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom.”– Economist Milton Friedman (1912-2006)

“The essential characteristic of Western civilization that distinguishes it from the arrested and petrified civilizations of the East was and is its concern for freedom from the state. The history of the West, from the age of the Greek polis down to the present-day resistance to socialism, is essentially the history of the fight for liberty against the encroachments of the officeholders.”– Economist Ludwig Von Mises (1881-1973)

HAPPY NEW YEAR

* * *

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.

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