Turtles Vs. Trump

Apologies for the image; I couldn’t find one with turtles wearing lawyers suits.  Again it is ambulance chasers with legal training targeting deep pockets, as explained in USA Today article Trump administration sued for failing to protect green sea turtles from climate change.  Excerpts on this latest example of climate derangement syndrome are in italics with my bolds.

Several environmental groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday claiming several agencies in the Trump administration have failed to protect green sea turtle habitat as required by the Endangered Species Act.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, says the turtles’ nesting beaches in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as their ocean habitat, face threats from sea level rise brought on by climate change and plastic pollution, according to a news release from the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the plaintiffs.

Other plaintiffs are the Sea Turtle Oversight Protection and the Turtle Island Restoration Network. The lawsuit asks the court to rule that several federal agencies are in violation of the Endangered Species Act and order them to designate sites – unspecified as yet –as critical habitat for the turtles.

Defendants include:

Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross
Margaret Everson, principal deputy director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Chris Oliver, assistant administrator for fisheries at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration
National Marine Fisheries Service
A UPS driver started posting dog pictures in 2013:It’s now a viral sensation with 1.6M likes

Climate change, sea level rise
The lawsuit acknowledges that green sea turtle populations have been on a general increase over the last few years, but notes the National Marine Fisheries Service and Fish & Wildlife Service found in 2016 that threats from climate change and sea level rise mean the turtles still need protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The act prohibits federal agencies from authorizing activities that will destroy or harm a listed species’ critical habitat.

Floridians should be proud of how far we’ve come with green sea turtle recovery, but the fight’s not over yet,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Now the feds have to step up and ensure that sea turtles have safe passage to nest on our beaches. These imperiled animals can’t afford any more delays.”

Green turtle populations around the world are listed as either endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

 

 

A 144-pound sea turtle was rescued by Indian River County police after being struck by a boat.

2020 Green Obstruction Targets

The remarkable turnaround in the US economy was achieved despite large and expensive Green efforts to stop economic projects and infrastructure. While needed energy pipelines and power plants remain unbuilt in coastal places like New York and California, the heartland will be a battleground for activists wanting to leave the best sources underground in favor of aboveground dilute and intermittent wind and solar power.

Walker Orenstein writes at the Minnesota Post The five environmental stories to watch in 2020. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Next year will be a pivotal one for many of Minnesota’s most controversial environmental debates, from mining to climate change and the 2020 elections. Here’s a look at some of the big questions heading into 2020:

File photo courtesy of the Timberjay PolyMet Mining has won state and federal approval to break ground on its $1 billion copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes.

1. Will PolyMet move forward?
PolyMet Mining has won state and federal approval to break ground on its $1 billion copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes. But the project now faces serious questions after Minnesota courts put several permits on hold by this year.

First, The Minnesota Court of Appeals ordered a lower court to examine if state regulators hid concerns the federal government had with a key water safety permit. The Court of Appeals is also investigating whether Glencore, the Swiss mining giant that owns a majority of PolyMet’s shares, should be named on state permits, and whether the plan for a tailings dam at the mine is safe enough.

On top of the permit issues, PolyMet’s majority owner Glencore is now facing a bribery investigation in the United Kingdom and is in the midst of a leadership change.

After a year of turmoil, 2020 could be pivotal for a project that has faced 15 years of environmental review and could bring hundreds of jobs to the Iron Range. If built, it would be the first copper-nickel mine in the state.

2. Will the Line 3 pipeline get built?

Another controversial project on the brink of construction is Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline. The Canadian energy company is hoping to build a 337-mile pipeline through northern Minnesota to replace an aging and corroding one that is operating at half capacity. State regulators on the Public Utilities Commission granted the $2.6 billion project a Certificate of Need and approved its route.

In July, however, the Court of Appeals ruled the PUC failed to consider the impact an oil spill could have on Lake Superior’s watershed, setting the project back months. A new environmental assessment was completed earlier this month by the Department of Commerce, modeling a spill into a tributary of the St. Louis River. In a worst case-type scenario, the research found oil would be unlikely to reach Lake Superior.

Final Line 3 Replacement Project routek

The five-member PUC now needs to vote again on whether to approve Line 3, which also needs federal permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to move forward.

Opponents of Line 3, who argue building new fossil fuel infrastructure would further contribute to climate change, have protested the Walz administration at many public events and have taken steps to disrupt Enbridge’s existing infrastructure. Will wide-scale protests follow if Line 3 does get approved for construction?

3. Will the Legislature pass any climate change policy?

The 2019 session ended with very little new climate and energy policy, despite a Democratic push to make Minnesota’s power grid carbon-free by 2050 and GOP support for a measure to make it tougher to build new fossil fuel projects.

While 2019 was ultimately focused on writing a two-year budget, such debates could find new life at the Legislature in 2020. Especially since lawmakers will have a healthy pot of unused money from Xcel Energy, from the funds the energy company pays to store nuclear waste in Minnesota.

4. Will there be a showdown over the study of mining near the Boundary Waters?

Ever since the Trump administration canceled a study that could have led to a 20-year ban on copper-nickel mining in the Rainy River watershed, some Democrats have tried to finish the research or at least get the federal government to disclose what it found.

While U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum and others have not been successful in Congress, the state Department of Natural Resources has asked for the information to include in its environmental review of a mine Twin Metals Minnesota wants to build just outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The DNR won’t say if it will proceed with its review if the federal government stonewalls the agency. But the state has left open the possibility of a showdown with the pro-mining Trump administration. “We will request the information, we expect to get it,” Barb Naramore, an assistant DNR commissioner, told reporters. “If for some reason it’s not forthcoming we’ll need to evaluate the implications of that at that point in time.”

5. How will environmental issues play in the 2020 elections?

The 2020 elections carry massive stakes for local environmental issues. If Trump is re-elected, his administration is likely to continue support for Twin Metals. Many of the Democratic frontrunners have said they oppose mining in the Rainy River watershed, including Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Joe Biden has not, although the Obama-Biden administration launched the study on a 20-year mining ban in the Rainy River watershed and took other steps to stymie Twin Metals.

Trump has generally supported pipelines, while Warren and Sanders have also opposed Line 3.

At the Legislature, Republicans would likely need to keep a majority in the state Senate to head off the most aggressive parts of Gov. Tim Walz’s climate change agenda in 2021. While not all DFLers support the governor’s measures, minority Democrats in the Senate recently launched a “Clean Energy and Climate Caucus” with an eye on passing some form of Walz’s legislation.

Ocean Oxygen Misdirection

Warmists consistently do recycling, especially alarming stories coming back for encore media appearances.  This week it’s the suffocating ocean meme, which taps into our caring about the seas, but conflates impacts from human maritime activities with subtle temperature changes, i.e climate change (AKA emergency, chaos, crisis etc.).  Of course COP 25 is the trigger for this.  I won’t list the alarming headlines since they are little different from last time, covered in a previous post reprinted below.  Below are two typical recent quotes showing how an actual ocean concern is exploited for fossil fuel activism.

“A healthy ocean with abundant wildlife is capable of slowing the rate of climate breakdown substantially,” said Dr Monica Verbeek, the executive director of the group Seas at Risk. “To date, the most profound impact on the marine environment has come from fishing. Ending overfishing is a quick, deliverable action which will restore fish populations, create more resilient ocean ecosystems, decrease CO2 pollution and increase carbon capture, and deliver more profitable fisheries and thriving coastal communities.”

“Ending overfishing would strengthen the ocean, making it more capable of withstanding climate change and restoring marine ecosystems – and it can be done now,” explained Rashid Sumaila, professor and director of the fisheries economics research unit at the University of British Columbia. “The crisis in our fisheries and in our oceans and climate are not mutually exclusive problems to be addressed separately – it is imperative that we move forward with comprehensive solutions to address them.”

Previous post from last year

The climate scare machine is promoting again the fear of suffocating oceans. For example, an article this week by Chris Mooney in Washington Post, It’s Official, the Oceans are Losing Oxygen.

A large research synthesis, published in one of the world’s most influential scientific journals, has detected a decline in the amount of dissolved oxygen in oceans around the world — a long-predicted result of climate change that could have severe consequences for marine organisms if it continues.

The paper, published Wednesday in the journal Nature by oceanographer Sunke Schmidtko and two colleagues from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, found a decline of more than 2 percent in ocean oxygen content worldwide between 1960 and 2010.

Climate change models predict the oceans will lose oxygen because of several factors. Most obvious is simply that warmer water holds less dissolved gases, including oxygen. “It’s the same reason we keep our sparkling drinks pretty cold,” Schmidtko said.

But another factor is the growing stratification of ocean waters. Oxygen enters the ocean at its surface, from the atmosphere and from the photosynthetic activity of marine microorganisms. But as that upper layer warms up, the oxygen-rich waters are less likely to mix down into cooler layers of the ocean because the warm waters are less dense and do not sink as readily.

And of course, other journalists pile on with ever more catchy headlines.

The World’s Oceans Are Losing Oxygen Due to Climate Change

How Climate Change Is Suffocating The Oceans

Overview of Oceanic Oxygen

Once again climate alarmists/activists have seized upon an actual environmental issue, but misdirect the public toward their CO2 obsession, and away from practical efforts to address a real concern. Some excerpts from scientific studies serve to put things in perspective.

k2_g_sauerstoffmischung_meer_2_e_en

2.14 > Oxygen from the atmosphere enters the near-surface waters of the ocean. This upper layer is well mixed, and is thus in chemical equilibrium with the atmosphere and rich in O2. It ends abruptly at the pyncnocline, which acts like a barrier. The oxygenrich water in the surface zone does not mix readily with deeper water layers. Oxygen essentially only enters the deeper ocean by the motion of water currents, especially with the formation of deep and intermediate waters in the polarregions. In the inner ocean, marine organisms consume oxygen. This creates a very sensitive equilibrium.

How the Ocean Breathes

Variability in oxygen and nutrients in South Pacific Antarctic Intermediate Water by J. L. Russell and A. G. Dickson

The Southern Ocean acts as the lungs of the ocean; drawing in oxygen and exchanging carbon dioxide. A quantitative understanding of the processes regulating the ventilation of the Southern Ocean today is vital to assessments of the geochemical significance of potential circulation reorganizations in the Southern Hemisphere, both during glacial-interglacial transitions and into the future.

Traditionally, the change in the concentration of oxygen along an isopycnal due to remineralization of organic material, known as the apparent oxygen utilization (AOU), has been used by physical oceanographers as a proxy for the time elapsed since the water mass was last exposed to the atmosphere. The concept of AOU requires that newly subducted water be saturated with respect to oxygen and is calculated from the difference between the measured oxygen concentration and the saturated concentration at the sample temperature.

ocean oxygen

This study has shown that the ratio of oxygen to nutrients can vary with time. Since Antarctic Intermediate Water provides a necessary component to the Pacific equatorial biological regime, this relatively high-nutrient, high-oxygen input to the Equatorial Undercurrent in the Western Pacific plays an important role in driving high rates of primary productivity on the equator, while limiting the extent of denitrifying bacteria in the eastern portion of the basin. 

Uncertain Measures of O2 Variability and Linkage to Climate Change

A conceptual model for the temporal spectrum of oceanic oxygen variability by Taka Ito and Curtis Deutsch

Changes in dissolved O2 observed across the world oceans in recent decades have been interpreted as a response of marine biogeochemistry to climate change. Little is known however about the spectrum of oceanic O2 variability. Using an idealized model, we illustrate how fluctuations in ocean circulation and biological respiration lead to low-frequency variability of thermocline oxygen.

Because the ventilation of the thermocline naturally integrates the effects of anomalous respiration and advection over decadal timescales, shortlived O2 perturbations are strongly damped, producing a red spectrum, even in a randomly varying oceanic environment. This background red spectrum of O2 suggests a new interpretation of the ubiquitous strength of decadal oxygen variability and provides a null hypothesis for the detection of climate change influence on oceanic oxygen. We find a statistically significant spectral peak at a 15–20 year timescale in the subpolar North Pacific, but the mechanisms connecting to climate variability remain uncertain.

The spectral power of oxygen variability increases from inter-annual to decadal frequencies, which can be explained using a simple conceptual model of an ocean thermocline exposed to random climate fluctuations. The theory predicts that the bias toward low-frequency variability is expected to level off as the forcing timescales become comparable to that of ocean ventilation. On time scales exceeding that of thermocline renewal, O2 variance may actually decrease due to the coupling between physical O2 supply and biological respiration [Deutsch et al., 2006], since the latter is typically limited by the physical nutrient supply.

k2_wk_sauerstoffmangel_e_en

2.15 > Marine regions with oxygen deficiencies are completely natural. These zones are mainly located in the mid-latitudes on the west sides of the continents. There is very little mixing here of the warm surface waters with the cold deep waters, so not much oxygen penetrates to greater depths. In addition, high bioproductivity and the resulting large amounts of sinking biomass here lead to strong oxygen consumption at depth, ­especially between 100 and 1000 metres.

Climate Model Projections are Confounded by Natural Variability

Natural variability and anthropogenic trends in oceanic oxygen in a coupled carbon cycle–climate model ensemble by T. L. Frolicher et al.

Internal and externally forced variability in oceanic oxygen (O2) are investigated on different spatiotemporal scales using a six-member ensemble from the National Center for Atmospheric Research CSM1.4-carbon coupled climate model. The oceanic O2 inventory is projected to decrease significantly in global warming simulations of the 20th and 21st centuries.

The anthropogenically forced O2 decrease is partly compensated by volcanic eruptions, which cause considerable interannual to decadal variability. Volcanic perturbations in oceanic oxygen concentrations gradually penetrate the ocean’s top 500 m and persist for several years. While well identified on global scales, the detection and attribution of local O2 changes to volcanic forcing is difficult because of unforced variability.

Internal climate modes can substantially contribute to surface and subsurface O2 variability. Variability in the North Atlantic and North Pacific are associated with changes in the North Atlantic Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation indexes. Simulated decadal variability compares well with observed O2 changes in the North Atlantic, suggesting that the model captures key mechanisms of late 20th century O2 variability, but the model appears to underestimate variability in the North Pacific.

Our results suggest that large interannual to decadal variations and limited data availability make the detection of human-induced O2 changes currently challenging.

The concentration of dissolved oxygen in the thermocline and the deep ocean is a particularly sensitive indicator of change in ocean transport and biology [Joos et al., 2003]. Less than a percent of the combined atmosphere and ocean O2 inventory is found in the ocean. The O2 concentration in the ocean interior reflects the balance between O2 supply from the surface through physical transport and O2 consumption by respiration of organic material.

Our modeling study suggests that over recent decades internal natural variability tends to mask simulated century-scale trends in dissolved oxygen from anthropogenic forcing in the North Atlantic and Pacific. Observed changes in oxygen are similar or even smaller in magnitude than the spread of the ensemble simulation. The observed decreasing trend in dissolved oxygen in the Indian Ocean thermocline and the boundary region between the subtropical and subpolar gyres in the North Pacific has reversed in recent years [McDonagh et al., 2005; Mecking et al., 2008], implicitly supporting this conclusion.

The presence of large-scale propagating O2 anomalies, linked with major climate modes, complicates the detection of long-term trends in oceanic O2 associated with anthropogenic climate change. In particular, we find a statistically significant link between O2 and the dominant climate modes (NAO and PDO) in the North Atlantic and North Pacific surface and subsurface waters, which are causing more than 50% of the total internal variability of O2 in these regions.

To date, the ability to detect and interpret observed changes is still limited by lack of data. Additional biogeo-chemical data from time series and profiling floats, such as the Argo array (http://www.argo.ucsd.edu) are needed to improve the detection of ocean oxygen and carbon system changes and our understanding of climate change.

The Real Issue is Ocean Dead Zones, Both Natural and Man-made

Since 1994, he and the World Resources Institute (report here) in Washington,D.C., have identified and mapped 479 dead zones around the world. That’s more than nine times as many as scientists knew about 50 years ago.

What triggers the loss of oxygen in ocean water is the explosive growth of sea life fueled by the release of too many nutrients. As they grow, these crowds can simply use up too much of the available oxygen.

Many nutrients entering the water — such as nitrogen and phosphorus — come from meeting the daily needs of some seven billion people around the world, Diaz says. Crop fertilizers, manure, sewage and exhaust spewed by cars and power plants all end up in waterways that flow into the ocean. Each can contribute to the creation of dead zones.

Ordinarily, when bacteria steal oxygen from one patch of water, more will arrive as waves and ocean currents bring new water in. Waves also can grab oxygen from the atmosphere.

Dead zones develop when this ocean mixing stops.

Rivers running into the sea dump freshwater into the salty ocean. The sun heats up the freshwater on the sea surface. This water is lighter than cold saltier water, so it floats atop it. When there are not enough storms (including hurricanes) and strong ocean currents to churn the water, the cold water can get trapped below the fresh water for long periods.

Dead zones are seasonal events. They typically last for weeks or months. Then they’ll disappear as the weather changes and ocean mixing resumes.

Solutions are Available and do not Involve CO2 Emissions

Helping dead zones recover

The Black Sea is bordered by Europe and Asia. Dead zones used to develop here that covered an area as large as Switzerland. Fertilizers running off of vast agricultural fields and animal feedlots in the former Soviet Union were a primary cause. Then, in 1989, parts of the Soviet Union began revolting. Two years later, this massive nation broke apart into 15 separate countries.

The political instability hurt farm activity. In short order, use of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers by area farmers declined. Almost at once, the size of the Black Sea’s dead zone shrunk dramatically. Now if a dead zone forms there it’s small, Rabalais says. Some years there is none.

Chesapeake Bay, the United State’s largest estuary, has its own dead zone. And the area affected has expanded over the past 50 years due to pollution. But since the 1980s, farmers, landowners and government agencies have worked to reduce the nutrients flowing into the bay.

Farmers now plant cover crops, such as oats or barley, that use up fertilizer that once washed away into rivers. Growers have also established land buffers to absorb nutrient runoff and to keep animal waste out of streams. People have even started to use laundry detergents made without phosphorus.

In 2011, scientists reported that these efforts had achieved some success in shrinking the size of the bay’s late-summer dead zones.

The World Resources Institute lists 55 dead zones as improving. “The bottom line is if we take a look at what is causing a dead zone and fix it, then the dead zone goes away,” says Diaz. “It’s not something that has to be permanent.”

Summary

Alarmists/activists are again confusing the public with their simplistic solution for a complex situation. And actual remedies are available, just not the agenda preferred by climatists.


Waste Management Saves the Ocean

 

Untrustworthy Enivronmental Science

Of Republicans with high levels of science knowledge, less than half trust environmental scientists.ELENA LACEY; GETTY IMAGES

Adam Rogers writes at WIRED Americans Trust Scientists Until Politics Gets in the Way.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds

Nothing’s more American than a science-hero—an indomitable, big-brained hasher-out of ideas that change the world, that make the impossible possible. At least since Ben Franklin sat with the founders, and certainly since Vannevar Bush explicitly connected the US’ future to federal funding of science after World War II, the idea of sciencing the shit out of everything has been core to the American character. Like many surveys and studies before it, a new report from the Pew Research Center confirms this truth: Americans love and trust scientists. In 2019, 86 percent of Americans said they had a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in them—up 3 percent from the year before.

That’s higher than confidence in the military (82 percent), or even in public school principals (80 percent)! It’s even higher than, can you believe it, the news media (47 percent, ahem) or elected officials (35 percent).

Except, like the polling nerds say, you have to check the cross-tabs—the particulars of who answered what question, and how. This particular survey compared trust in specific types of scientists. Specifically, it covered dietitians and nutrition scientists, clinicians and biomedical researchers, and (here we go) environmental health specialists and environmental scientists. In other words: nutrition, doctors, and climate change.

And then the pollsters asked for the respondents’ political affiliations. Which: Uh oh.

Of Democrats with high levels of science knowledge (which turns out to be a thing you can pop-quiz for), just about nine out of 10 people trust environmental scientists. Of Republicans with high levels of science knowledge? Less than half. “We often see that public attitudes around climate, energy, and environmental issues are strongly correlated with party ideology, where other kinds of science issues are not,” says Cary Funk, a social scientist and lead author of the new study. This is called “motivated reasoning,” Funk says. “The idea is that your partisan identity kind of trumps the role of knowledge in your beliefs.”

It’s an outcome familiar to climate communication researchers. The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, for example, has found rising belief among Republicans that climate change is human-caused and policy steps should be taken to combat it, but that program’s research still consistently finds a party disparity. “We’re starting to see the signal appear out of the noise and say, yeah, my direct experience reflects climate change,” Anthony Leiserowitz, the Yale program director, told me late last year. “But that’s still a small influence compared to the dominant factor, which is politics.”

Put aside Evangelicals, who often vote Republican and stereotypically express skepticism in a range of scientific conclusions. The people in the Pew study, by and large, accept the conclusions of medicine, of basic physics, of organic chemistry. But even though the methods and philosophies that produced those conclusions are the exact same methods and approaches climate scientists use, if you’re a Republican, odds are you don’t buy it.

Other research, from Pew and elsewhere, has found divides in the amount of trust people have in scientists who study other fields with policy valances, such as genetically modified foods or vaccines. But those divides don’t fall along party lines. It’s just climate.

Why? What powers this motivated cognition? It’s one thing to believe that which confirms your priors, but how do people acquire priors for climate science? At a time when “climate science” means everything from wildfires to emerging diseases to mass migration, how do people still see it as merely an environmental issue?

[Comment:  The author seems oblivious to the history of progressively more extreme environmental scares, trumpeted in the media, then later dropped in favor of a new and different one.  Bernie Lewin’s book provides the story of how each one was promoted taking the public in, and adding to the erosion of confidence.  The sequence of expanding scares was:
Synopsis of the environmental scare history (lest we forget) is at Progressively Scaring the World ]

Some researchers blame the 1970s. See, before then, most of the science that Americans so loved was, in one terminology, “production science.” Even the basic, research work led to cool new stuff, which could become salable new products. Corporations love that. But with the rise of modern environmentalism in the middle and late 20th century came “impact science” that looked at the harms of those industrial-era products—asbestos, DDT, dioxins, chlorofluorocarbons, nuclear waste, and more recently greenhouse gases and plastics. “Environmentalism and the conservation movement take off really at about the same time, the 1970s … but originally those think tanks didn’t pay too much attention to environmentalism,” says Riley Dunlap, an emeritus sociologist at Oklahoma State University.

Thomas Edison in his Menlo Park Lab.

Then, just as international environmentalism started to peak in the early 1990s, the Soviet Union fell apart. Conservatism lost its Big Bad. “We think the conservative movement really substituted a Green Scare for the declining Red Scare,” Dunlap says. The party’s funders turned to fighting the regulatory apparatus that would come with more environmentally sensitive policies.

To Dunlap and others, that’s why Republicans scoff at climate science while embracing, say, particle physics. “They haven’t heard Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity talking about physics,” Dunlap says. “But they’ve had a constant barrage saying global warming is the mother of all environmental issues, the one with the most dire consequences, and in the eyes of the conservatives, the most serious consequences for regulations.”

[Note: The author is also unaware of how alarmists reduce away the complexity of climate science down to their simple pre-determined assertion: Humans are making the world dangerously warmer. Explanation is at Climate Reductionism
That’s why those cross-tabs keep showing the Republicans think climate science is a grift. They mostly trust nutrition science, even though in reality lots of nutrition science (and certainly the mass media coverage of it) is, according to at least one high-powered science watchdog, in need of radical reform. They mostly trust physicians, even though study after study shows that attention and gifts from pharmaceutical reps have a profound influence on what drugs physicians prescribe. These folks aren’t as infallible as we all might hope.

In fact, call me cynical, but I was actually heartened by some of the parts of the Pew study that suggested broad-based skepticism.

“Overall views of scientists are generally positive, but it tends to be a soft support,” Funk says. “It tends to be lower when it comes to counting on scientists to do their job well, on working in the public interest. And then you see the low degree or widespread skepticism around issues of scientific integrity.” Only about one in five Americans thought scientists were as up front about their own conflicts of interest as they should be. And 71 percent of African American respondents, and 63 percent of Latinx respondents, reported professional or research misconduct as a moderately or very big problem. That was higher than what white people said by 20 points and seems worth following up given the scientific establishment’s frankly crummy history with minorities in research.

On a more positive front, people reported trusting scientists more when the data they used was more open—a major goal of the open science and reproducibility movements. Good science works on fixing science.

More Republicans than Democrats thought that scientists’ policy decisions are no better than anyone else’s and that scientists are just as likely to be biased as non-scientists. The thing is, that’s true.

Scientists are human beings. The practice of science, though, remains the single best way for humans to acquire information about how the universe actually works, and then to act on it. If it’s the case that a well-funded conservative movement found a way to convince people that climate change—the single biggest existential threat humanity faces—simply wasn’t happening, they could do it again. The same thing could work with telling people that vaccines violate their personal autonomy or that environmental protections are too stringent.

The cautionary tale here isn’t about petrochemical donors to Republicans enhancing the motivated cognition of their base. It’s about how little Americans know about how science is actually supposed to work as a practice. If they did, they’d make the connection between the broad, informed skepticism that in fact drives science to improve, to continually reach toward the fundamental truths that allow deeper understanding and, candidly, cooler stuff—across every subfield. Those are the results that lead to better policy for everyone instead of higher profits for a few.

See also: Eco Footprint Nonsense

 

Trudeau’s Empty Plastic Gesture

Bjorn Lomborg writes in the Globe and Mail about Canadian PM Justin Treudeau showing off by proposing to ban single-use plastics. Sorry, banning plastic bags won’t save our planet. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a plan to reduce plastic pollution, which will include a ban on single-use plastics as early as 2021. This is laudable: plastics clog drains and cause floods, litter nature and kill animals and birds.

Of course, plastic also makes our lives better in a myriad of ways. In just four decades, plastic packaging has become ubiquitous because it keeps everything from cereals to juice fresher and reduces transportation losses, while one-use plastics in the medical sector have made syringes, pill bottles and diagnostic equipment more safe.

Going without disposable plastic entirely would leave us worse off, so we need to tackle the problems without losing all of the benefits.

The simplest action for consumers is to ensure that plastic is collected and used, so a grocery bag, for example, has a second life as a trash bag, and is then used for energy.

But we need to be honest about how much consumers can achieve. As with other environmental issues, instead of tackling the big-picture problems to actually reduce the plastic load going into oceans, we focus on relatively minor changes involving consumers, meaning we only ever tinker at the margins.

More than 20 countries have taken the showy action of banning plastic bags, including even an al-Qaeda-backed terrorist group which said plastic bags pose “a serious threat to the well-being of humans and animals alike.”

But even if every country banned plastic bags it would not make much of a difference, since plastic bags make up less than 0.8 per cent of the mass of plastic currently afloat on the world’s oceans.

Rather than trying to save the oceans with such bans in rich countries, we need to focus on tackling the inferior waste management and poor environmental policies in developing regions.

Research from 2015 shows that less than 5 per cent of land-based plastic waste going into the ocean comes from OECD countries, with half coming from just four countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. While China already in 2008 banned thin plastic bags and put a tax on thicker ones, it is estimated to contribute more than 27 per cent of all marine plastic pollution originating from land.

Moreover, banning plastic bags can have unexpected, inconvenient results. A new study shows California’s ban eliminates 40 million pounds of plastic annually. However, many banned bags would have been reused for trash, so consumption of trash bags went up by 12 million pounds, reducing the benefit. It also increased consumption of paper bags by twice the saved amount of plastic – 83 million pounds. This will lead to much larger emissions of CO₂.

When Kenya banned plastic bags, people predictably shifted to thicker bags made of synthetic fabric – which now may be banned. But Kenya had to relent and exempt plastics used to wrap fresh foods such as meat and other products.

We also need to consider the wider environmental impact of our bag choices. A 2018 study by the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food looked not just at plastic waste, but also at climate-change damage, ozone depletion, human toxicity and other indicators. It found you must reuse an organic cotton shopping bag 20,000 times before it will have less climate damage than a plastic bag.

If we use the same shopping bag every single time we go to the store, twice every week, it will still take 191 years before the overall environmental effect of using the cotton bag is less than if we had just used plastic.

Even a simple paper bag requires 43 reuses to be better for the environment – far beyond the point at which the bag will be fit for the purpose.

The study clearly shows that a simple plastic bag, reused as a trash bag, has the smallest environmental impact of any of the choices.

If we want to reduce the impact of plastic bags while still allowing for their efficient use, a tax seems like a much better idea. A 2002 levy in Ireland reduced plastic bag use from 328 bags a person per year to just 21 bags.

And if we really want to make a meaningful impact on ocean plastics coming from land, we should focus on the biggest polluters such as China, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam, and emphasize the most effective ways to cut the plastic load, namely better waste management in the developing world.

We should also recognize that more than 70 per cent of all plastics floating on oceans today – about 190,000 tonnes – come from fisheries, with buoys and lines making up the majority. That tells us clearly that concerted action is needed to clean up the fishing industry.

If our goal is to get a cleaner ocean, we should by all means think about actions we can take as consumers in rich countries to reduce our use of unnecessary plastic bags. But we need to keep a sense of proportion and, if we’re serious, focus on change where it’s really needed.

Bjorn Lomborg is president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center.

See Also Plastic Trash Talking

Waste Management Saves the Ocean

Plastic Trash Talking

Following a viral video of a turtle with a straw in his nose, plastics suddenly went from the “greatest thing since sliced bread” to environmental villain. This post first summarizes the waste plastic problem discussed in a recent GWPF paper. As in other cases of environmental issues, plastic trash talking conflates several problems, including littering, waste recycling and plastics disposal. Secondly, we shall see that the obvious advantages of incineration are resisted out of (can you guess?) fear of global warming from CO2.

As reported in GWPF, Dr. Mikko Paunio of the University of Helsinki has warned that the UN’s decision to regulate waste plastic as hazardous and restrict exports will unleash a “surge of waste” on many EU countries. Paunio urges a rapid expansion of waste incineration capacity to stop the plastic waste problem turning into a public disaster. His paper is Saving the Oceans and the Plastic Recycling Crisis. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Executive Summary

The United Nations has just decided to add mixed and contaminated plastic waste to the schedule of materials that are regulated under the Basel Convention. This decision will have major implications.

Firstly, it represents a major victory for the environment because it will effectively prevent a large proportion of exports of plastic waste to developing countries. Much of this material ends up in the oceans, so the UN decision does away with a major contribution to the problem of marine waste.

However, it will also mean that the problem of what to do with plastic waste will return to countries that produce it. What is worse, the EU is putting in place stringent new rules on plastic recycling, which will only increase the size of the problem, as will its new rules on landfill.

As a result, EU countries will find themselves faced with a growing mountain of plastic waste, and with few means at their disposal to deal with it. The EU has previously been deeply opposed to incineration of waste because of green dogma: they believe that recycling is virtuous in its own right, as well as seeing it as part of the fight against climate change.

And even if they were to change their views, there could still be major problems because the incineration capacity available falls far short of what is required.

A rapid expansion of waste incineration capacity is urgently required to stop the plastic waste problem turning into a disaster.

The global waste crisis

The Campania (Naples 1990s) trash crisis is a clear warning to governments about the problems that can be caused by blindly following green ideology. Now, it has become clear that a much larger crisis, global in scale, may almost be upon us. The global plastics ‘recycling’ industry is already on the verge of meltdown as a result of China’s import ban. Not only the biggest plastic waste exporter – the European Union – but also the rest of the English-speaking world, Japan and even Brazil, a developing country, are now witnessing rapidly growing mountains of plastic waste. In all these countries, the people who have in good faith been sorting their plastic waste for recycling can quite rightly feel betrayed.

Wealthy countries have tried to deal with China’s import ban by exporting waste to countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. However, waste management in these places is often primitive, and the result has been severe problems with marine pollution. So even though these imports bring much-needed revenue, the situation is becoming so bad that legislative barriers are being raised to prevent them.

plastic_paper_straws

One of the most important developments, which has received little international attention,
is the silent decision of hundreds of municipalities in the US to stop recycling solid waste altogether. These are not ‘Trumpian’ decisions, but decisions made by both Democrats and Republican administrations at local level across the country.

The EU’s confused position on incineration

So the EU’s policy response to the marine plastic waste problem has been to adopt policies that will do little to reduce plastic waste, and which will probably cause the problem to become worse. The example of the Campania crisis, which was only resolved by extensive use of incineration, is therefore likely to become important. Incineration is superior to all other waste management options in terms of climate change mitigation, because it avoids the complex and resource-hungry schemes involved in, for example, turning it into diesel fuel or converting it to some other product. Meanwhile, incineration directly reduces demand imports of coal used in large quantities to produce heat and electricity. Recycling is certainly worse on other fronts too, not least the fact that recycling plants release microplastics in their wastewater streams, while only delivering low-quality recycled material that cannot
be used in important applications like food packaging.

The Commission has argued in favour of incineration, but only very rarely. In a paper entitled, ‘A Clean Planet for All’, released before UNFCCC COP 25 in Katowice, it argued for a carbon-neutral economy fuelled by biomass, although it was reticent about explaining where this biomass should come from. The answer is found in an accompanying document, which explains that it will actually be waste that is burned, and suggests that waste incineration capacity should increase to 100 million tons in 2050.

However, mostly it has been strongly against the idea. For example, in reference to the Circular Economy proposal, it said that of the possible approaches to waste management, recycling was to be preferred, apparently on climate change mitigation grounds, although it presented no evidence to support this claim. It also said that reprocessing waste into fuels is not recycling, but is, like waste incineration, ‘material recovery’. As a result, it has declared that its new cohesion fund will not fund waste incineration plants.

Advantages of  Burning Plastic

You will read in alarmist media about the dangers of incineration releasing chemicals such as hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, dioxins, furans and heavy metals, as well as particulates. It is true that incomplete combustion of any hydrocarbon is to be avoided. But mainly detractors are using chemophobia against plastic incineration because of their obsession with CO2. Some common sense is provided by Flo-Bro The surprising benefits of burning plastics. Excerpt below with my bolds.

The plastic revolution

Whilst travelling, we’ve witnessed how several Asian countries such as Cambodia and Indonesia have turned into plastic junkyards. Inland and coastal areas are littered with a colourful mixture of bags, bottles, cups, trays and everything else, it is truly a sad and terrible sight. A lot of countries, not just in Asia, suffer from bad solid waste management. Moreover, littering seems to be a deep engrained cultural element. Whilst care for the environment seems to be on the last stage of people’s and the government’s interests, the nature is suffering and people too.

Reaction to Vermont proposal requiring clear plastic trash bags.

Owing to the favourable properties of plastic – strength, durability and light weight, we embraced them in all areas of life. Plastics have created a revolution and improved the quality of life immensely, however, nowadays they seem to be one of greatest plagues of our planet. I can’t enumerate the number of times I came across an article talking about the great plastic vortex the size of Europe in the Pacific, and that the ocean will soon contain more plastic than fish.

The chemical elements of plastic

Most of the packaging plastics which pollute the environment are based on two to four chemical elements. Polystyrene, polyethylene and polypropylene are made of carbon and hydrogen, whilst PET (polyethylene terephthalate), used for bottles, contains also oxygen. Nylon, a polyamide, which is used to make fibres, also contains oxygen and nitrogen in its structure. These elements are essentially the same ones that fossil fuels are made of. This should be of no surprise, since plastics (long chain hydrocarbons) are also made of the same crude oil, as their “short chain” relatives- gasoline and diesel.

In other words: if burned well, plastics create the same products as wood and fossil fuels -> water and carbon dioxide

Recycle or burn plastics?

In conventional terms, it is environmentally more sound to recycle plastics than dispose them. This approach, however, has so far proven quite challenging and more frequently results in “downcycling”.  But even downcycling requires large centralised facilities with advanced sorting lines and plastic recovery processes, which is very expensive and not applicable to solve the pollution problem.

So, you were always told that burning plastics is bad for the environment. Indeed, incomplete combustion of any hydrocarbon creates noxious smoke. As the above image depicts, burning plastics can create the same products as fossil fuel and wood. In waste incineration facilities, thousands of tons of plastic burn worldwide daily, generating heat and electricity.

Burning any material well and without smoke and noxious fumes needs a high temperature and plenty of oxygen. This is best achieved in a stove, where the heat is concentrated and can be put to good use.

As with most solutions, this one is not free of flaws. Plastics such as PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which is used for plumbing, can create more dangerous products of decomposition – such as corrosive HCl gas; and several plastics. Usually the hard plastic used in motorbikes and cars contain flame retarders, which are too not the friendliest chemicals and may create toxic fumes when burned. Based on what I’ve seen, these plastics are a minority and PVC and hard plastics are denser than water and will sink If they end up in the sea. What you see washed up on the shore are light packaging materials and foams.

Conclusion

Plastic pollution is unfriendly to animals and is undoubtedly aesthetically damaging the environment. Burning them might be the best way to quickly improve the situation. If people recognize the benefit of burning plastics in the right stove, it will save them money on fossil fuels, stop plastic pollution, limit deforestation, and improve the quality of life. Combustion of low value packaging plastics is not a totally new idea and a company has already received an award for it.

See also Fighting Plasticphobia

Duped into War on Plastic

Intro to Award Winning Book Population Bombed

Far from being a catastrophe, population growth and carbon fuel-based development are the best means to lift people out of poverty, the authors write.NASA

Update April 3, 2019

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) is delighted to announce that our book Population Bombed! by Canadian authors Pierre Desrochers and Joanna Szurmak has been shortlisted for the prestigious Donner Book Prize.  For those who would like an overview of the case made by the authors, below are some excerpts from their articles and interviews at the time of the book launching. At the end is posted a recent statement by a US politician taking a similar position, Yes, Babies Are a Better Solution to Climate Change Than the Green New Deal by Senator Mike Lee.

Control the Population, Control the Climate?  Not.

A recent book explains what’s mistaken about climate alarmists/activists thinking human numbers must be reduced in order to save the planet from us (H/T Master Resource). The Title is Population Bombed! by Pierre Desrochers and Joanna Szurmak who provide an introduction to their assessment in an article at Financial Post For 200 years pessimists have predicted we’d ruin the planet. They’re still wrong.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

In Avengers: Infinity War, the villain Thanos said: “If life is left unchecked, life will cease to exist.” Johns Hopkins University philosopher Travis N. Rieder apparently agrees, as he views each new child as an environmental externality putting “irreparable stress on the planet” in a way that “exacerbates … the threat of catastrophic climate change.” Similar ideas have been expressed by the likes of Al Gore, Hillary Clinton and Bill Gates. Feminist icon Gloria Steinem put it best: “What causes climate deprivation is population. If we had not been systematically forcing women to have children … for over the 500 years of patriarchy, we wouldn’t have the climate problems that we have.”

Population-growth catastrophism has been around for centuries. In the English-speaking world it is generally associated with economist Thomas Robert Malthus’ 1798 edition of his Essay on the Problem of Population and U.S. biologist Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb. Ehrlich and his co-author and wife Anne predicted imminent environmental collapse followed by mass starvation. What they didn’t see coming was that, to the contrary, hundreds of millions of people would soon be lifted out of grinding poverty while parts of the planet became greener and cleaner in the process.

In our new book Population Bombed! Exploding the Link between Overpopulation and Climate Change we mark the 50th anniversary of the Ehrlichs’ book by explaining that their predictions bombed because their basic assumptions are flawed.

First, the Ehrlichs assume that human numbers cannot exceed the limits set by a finite system. Bacteria in a test tube of food are used to model such a system: Since the levels of food and waste limit bacterial growth, human population growth, by analogy, ultimately cannot exceed the carrying capacity of test tube Earth.

Second, they assume that wealth and development unavoidably come with larger environmental damage. This assumption is still at the core of pessimistic frameworks, which maintain that physical resource throughputs, not outcomes, matter. So, countries such as Haiti where deforestation and wildlife extermination are rampant are inherently more “sustainable” than richer and cleaner countries like Sweden and Switzerland.

Third, Ehrlich does not acknowledge that, unique among this planet’s species, modern humans: transmit information and knowledge between individuals and through time; innovate by combining existing things in new ways; become efficient through specialization; and engage in long-distance trade, thus achieving, to a degree, a decoupling from local limits called the “release from proximity.” And the more brains there are, the more solutions. This is why, over time, people in market economies produce more things while using fewer resources per unit of output. Corn growers now produce five or six times more output on the same plot of land as a century ago while using less fertilizer and pesticide than a few decades ago.

Fourth, the Ehrlichs and other pessimists also fail to understand the uniquely beneficial roles played by prices, profits, and losses in the spontaneous and systematic generation of more sustainable — or less problematic — outcomes. When the supply of key resources fails to meet actual demand, their prices increase. This encourages people to use such resources more efficiently, look for more of them, and develop substitutes. Meanwhile, far from rewarding pollution of the environment, the profit motive encourages people to create useful by-products out of waste (our modern synthetic world is largely made out of former petroleum-refining waste products). True, in some cases dealing with pollution came at a cost — building sewage-treatment plants, for example — but these are the types of solutions only a developed society can afford.

Fifth, pessimists are also oblivious to the benefits of unlocking wealth from underground materials such as coal, petroleum, natural gas and mineral resources. Using these spares vast quantities of land. It should go without saying that even a small population will have a much greater impact on its environment if it must rely on agriculture for food, energy and fibres, raise animals for food and locomotion, and harvest wild animals for everything from meat to whale oil. By replacing resources previously extracted from the biosphere with resources extracted from below the ground, people have reduced their overall environmental impact while increasing their standard of living.

Why is it then that after two centuries of evidence to the contrary, the pessimistic narrative still dominates academic and popular debates? Why are so many authors and academics still focusing on the Malthusian collapse scenario — now bound to come from carbon dioxide emissions and the teeming populations that produce them?

The prevalence of apocalyptic rhetoric may be, arguably, due to factors ranging from financial incentives among academics and activists to behavioural heuristics that dictate why worrying is a motivator, and why even well-meaning people rarely change their mind given new evidence. Short-termism may also take some of the blame: Population control and climate activists take for granted the non-scalable benefits of a carbon-fuel economy in which large numbers of people collaborate and innovate. The cognitive biases at the root of our thinking may shape, and in the end distort, the impulse to question “consensus,” particularly in an intellectual climate lacking the motivation to achieve what social psychologist Jonathan Haidt called “institutional disconfirmation.”

Far from being the catastrophe that Thanos, the Ehrlichs and other pessimists would have us believe, population growth and carbon fuel-based development in the context of human creativity and free enterprise are the best means to lift people out of poverty, to build resilience against any climate damage that increased anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions might have, and to make possible a sustained reduction of humanity’s impact on the biosphere.

Pierre Desrochers, a geography professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga, and Joanna Szurmak, a doctoral candidate at York University, are the authors of Population Bombed! Exploding the Link Between Overpopulation and Climate Change. The book was launched at an event on Oct. 15th in Toronto.

More at their website: Population Bombed!

Update October 17,2018

Master Resource just posted an interview with Desrochers (here)

What we need in order to fight environmental degradation is to make sure that people in less advanced parts of the world can also be the beneficiaries of these processes. There is no doubt in my mind that these beneficial substitutions will happen more quickly the cheaper carbon fuels are. Of course, the argument is even more powerful when you think of the social consequences of less affordable energy.

Now, as with everything else, bad political institutions in some parts of the world will result in greater pollution as more carbon fuels are burned. The solution, however, is not to ban or tax everything from coal to plastic bags, but rather to improve standards of living and public governance. In my opinion, our guiding principle as far as carbon fuels are concerned should be the creation of lesser problems than those that existed before.

Yes, Babies Are a Better Solution to Climate Change Than the Green New Deal by Senator Mike Lee. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

But what was surprising about the reaction to my speech on the Green New Deal is which chart garnered the most vehement anger. It wasn’t Reagan riding a dinosaur or Utah Gov. Gary Herbert battling tornado-propelled sharks or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asserting that the resolution’s own supporters don’t know what’s in it.

No, the most controversial poster of the 14-minute speech turned out to be a simple image of six smiling babies.

Why such an aggrieved reaction to such a heart-warming image?

I’ll let Emily, a 28-year-old woman who talked to FiveThirtyEight from Spokane, Washington, explain.

We have physical proof that we cause a lot of harm to the planet, and I think the statistics show an imperative to reduce the footprint of our population, which has grown so fast. I think that having children can be immoral for a lot of reasons.

Emily is not alone in suggesting that having children is immoral. An author of the Green New Deal [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.] recently said on Instagram, “Our planet is going to hit disaster if we don’t turn this ship around, and so it’s basically like, there’s a scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult. And it does lead, I think, young people to have a legitimate question, you know, ‘Is it OK to still have children?’”

Emily and the authors of the Green New Deal are not the first people to believe that bringing children into this world is a morally questionable act. Quite the opposite. The belief that the human population must be limited and controlled by government is a founding principle of the environmental movement.

As far back as 1798, when scholar Thomas Malthus published “An Essay on the Principle of Population,” utopian-seeking elites have made the case that human population growth must be controlled in order to ensure a sustainable society. These well-intentioned beliefs led to policy changes like the Corn Laws, which raised taxes on grain imports to the United Kingdom.

Opposed by classical economists like David Ricardo, who warned that such laws would make food more expensive, the Corn Laws were eventually repealed after they worsened the Great Famine in Ireland, when over 1 million people died of hunger.

Fast forward to 1968 when American biologist Paul Ehrlich published “The Population Bomb,” a book arguing that the government must take urgent action to limit population growth or humanity would face imminent ecological disaster. Ehrlich’s gloom-and-doom prophecies were quite popular with a segment of the American public as the book went on to be a best-seller.

But many economists pushed back—including University of Maryland professor Julian Simon who believed that humanity, if left free to innovate, could find new ways to make limited resources provide for an ever-expanding world population.

Simon and Ehrlich even made a bet testing their beliefs in 1980, picking five commodities to track over a 10-year period. In 1990, Ehrlich was forced to admit he lost, mailing a check to Simon in the amount that the commodities had fallen in price over that 10-year span.

Since that time, the earth has added billions more people, all while global poverty continues to fall.

What Malthus, Ehrlich, Emily, and the authors of the Green New Deal keep failing to understand is that human consumption and production patterns are not static.

Since the beginning of our species, humans have constantly been innovating and changing the world around them. In fact, it is our ability to function as a collective learning brain that sets us apart from every other animal on earth.

And, as Harvard University Department of Human Evolutionary Biology Chairman Joseph Henrich explains in his book “The Secret of Our Success,” the size of our population does matter:

The most obvious way the size of a group can matter is that more minds can generate more lucky errors, novel recombinations, chance insights, and intentional improvements. … So, bigger groups have the potential for more rapid cumulative cultural evolution.

Now the size of a population is not the only thing that matters. A society must also have in place institutions, cultural norms, and a legal framework that encourages experimentation, innovation, and creativity.

And here is where the failure of the Green New Deal as a serious response to climate change is the clearest. Instead of fostering an open-ended approach to addressing climate change, it demands top-down policy programs that forbid certain avenues of exploration, like nuclear energy, while also tacking on irrelevant policy goals, like universal health care, that have nothing to do with the issue the authors of the plan claim is so urgent.

Climates change. It’s what they do. There is even evidence that humans have been affecting the climate since at least the Neolithic era. And these changes to the climate have always presented a challenge to humanity. Today is no different.

We have always survived, and even thrived, in new environments. Just look at California. Left in its natural state, the Los Angeles river basin can support maybe 100,000 people. Today, thanks to a creative web of dams, aqueducts, canals, and pipelines, there is enough water for over 10 million people to live there.

This is the creative, practical, life-affirming path that will help us solve the climate change challenge. Instead of looking to limit and even shrink humanity’s footprint on the world, we should be looking to improve and expand it.

And yes, this means more babies.

Listen Up Kids: Bad Drinking Water Bigger Danger Than Global Warming

Clean drinking water a bigger global threat than climate change, EPA’s Wheeler says From CBS News, excerpts in italics with my bolds and images.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler says that unsafe drinking water — not climate change — poses the greatest and most immediate global threat to the environment.

In his first network interview since his confirmation last month, Wheeler told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett that while the administration is addressing climate change, thousands are dying everyday from unclean drinking water. Wheeler is announcing the EPA’s global clean water push in a speech at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., Wednesday morning.

“We have 1,000 children die everyday worldwide because they don’t have safe drinking water,” Wheeler told Garrett. “That’s a crisis that I think we can solve. We know what goes into solving a crisis like that. It takes resources, it takes infrastructure and and the United States is working on that. But I really would like to see maybe the United Nations, the World Bank focus more on those problems today to try to save those children. Those thousand children each day, they have names, we know who they are.”

Diseases with the largest absolute burden attributable to modifiable environmental factors included: diarrhoea; lower respiratory infections; ‘other’ unintentional injuries; and malaria.

The U.S., Wheeler said, has a number of clean water financing programs that provide grants and loans. He wants those to be models for international organizations like the United Nations to provide money to third-world countries.

The World Health Organization estimates that at least 2 billion people globally use a drinking water source contaminated with feces. It’s unclear what, if any, new funding the Trump administration might be providing for the clean water push.

Wheeler also insists his EPA is working to combat climate change, a phenomenon to which he says man “certainly contributes.” He said the Trump administration will roll out two major regulations later this year in an effort to reduce CO2 emissions in the U.S. Those measures would replace rules limiting carbon emissions from power plants and clean car standards.

Climate change, Wheeler said, “is an important change we have to be addressing and we are addressing.” But he added that “most of the threats from climate change are 50 to 75 years out,” while unsafe drinking water is killing people right now.

Wheeler noted that the U.S. has already cut CO2 emissions, which are thought to be the primary driver of climate change, by “14 percent since 2005.” He argued that the U.S. is “doing much better than most westernized countries on reducing their CO2 emissions, but what we need to do is make sure that the whole world is focused on the people who are dying today, the thousand children that die everyday from lack of drinking water. That is something where we have the technology, we know what it will take to save those children. And internationally, we need to step up and do something there.”

Asked if he views the EPA’s mission as protecting both the environment and business, Wheeler didn’t mention business.

“Well, the mission of our agency is to protect public health and the environment and that’s what we do and we do that every day. You know, it’s public health and the environment and that is our mission,” Wheeler told Garrett.

Wheeler says that’s why he thinks the Green New Deal, the proposal championed by progressive Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is an “aspirational” but unrealistic idea. He claims the proposal could actually jeopardize clean drinking water.

“In fact, on the drinking water side, the Green New Deal does not value — at least nowhere in the documents does it value — having reliable electric grid,” Wheeler said. “A reliable electric grid is absolutely necessary to provide drinking water. You have to have the electricity. When we go, as a first responder, when we go into a community that’s been hit with a hurricane, or some other natural disaster, the first thing we do is try to make sure the electric grid is back up and running in order to provide the drinking water for those communities.”

As the recent crisis in Flint, Michigan, painfully brought to light, clean drinking water isn’t only a global issue. CBS News has reported that lead in America’s water system is a national problem, with warning signs surfacing in cities including Newark, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore and Milwaukee.

Wheeler said the EPA is looking at what it can do to require regular testing for water in schools and daycares later this year.

“First of all, I want to make sure the American public understands 92 percent of the water everyday meets all the EPA requirements for safe drinking water,” Wheeler said.

“We have the safest drinking water in the world. We are working to update a number of regulations, one of which is our lead and copper rule, which takes a look at the pipes. The lead pipes that we have around the country. As part of that, we’re looking at what we can do to require regular testing for schools and daycares, so that would be part of that regulation when it comes out later this year.”

Wheeler also said that the water in Flint now meets EPA standards.

“Part of the problem with Flint was there was a breakdown in once they got the data, once the city of Flint, the state of Michigan, the Obama EPA – they sat on it,” Wheeler said. “We’re not doing that. As soon as we get information that there’s a problem, we’re stepping in, we’re helping the local community get that water system cleaned up.”

Summary

Septic drinking water is dangerous in every way global warming is not.  It is killing people right now, every day.  It is world wide.  It harms the most vulnerable and impoverished people.  It is a threat multiplier, potentially harming crops and risking violent conflicts over clean water access.  If you want to march for something that is needed, get some of the almost 2 Trillion US$ spent annually on global warming alarm diverted to save lives now.

 

Control Population, Control the Climate. Not.

Far from being a catastrophe, population growth and carbon fuel-based development are the best means to lift people out of poverty, the authors write.NASA

A recent book explains what’s mistaken about climate alarmists/activists thinking human numbers must be reduced in order to save the planet from us (H/T Master Resource). The Title is Population Bombed! by Pierre Desrochers and Joanna Szurmak who provide an introduction to their assessment in an article at Financial Post For 200 years pessimists have predicted we’d ruin the planet. They’re still wrong.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

In Avengers: Infinity War, the villain Thanos said: “If life is left unchecked, life will cease to exist.” Johns Hopkins University philosopher Travis N. Rieder apparently agrees, as he views each new child as an environmental externality putting “irreparable stress on the planet” in a way that “exacerbates … the threat of catastrophic climate change.” Similar ideas have been expressed by the likes of Al Gore, Hillary Clinton and Bill Gates. Feminist icon Gloria Steinem put it best: “What causes climate deprivation is population. If we had not been systematically forcing women to have children … for over the 500 years of patriarchy, we wouldn’t have the climate problems that we have.”

Population-growth catastrophism has been around for centuries. In the English-speaking world it is generally associated with economist Thomas Robert Malthus’ 1798 edition of his Essay on the Problem of Population and U.S. biologist Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb. Ehrlich and his co-author and wife Anne predicted imminent environmental collapse followed by mass starvation. What they didn’t see coming was that, to the contrary, hundreds of millions of people would soon be lifted out of grinding poverty while parts of the planet became greener and cleaner in the process.

In our new book Population Bombed! Exploding the Link between Overpopulation and Climate Change we mark the 50th anniversary of the Ehrlichs’ book by explaining that their predictions bombed because their basic assumptions are flawed.

First, the Ehrlichs assume that human numbers cannot exceed the limits set by a finite system. Bacteria in a test tube of food are used to model such a system: Since the levels of food and waste limit bacterial growth, human population growth, by analogy, ultimately cannot exceed the carrying capacity of test tube Earth.

Second, they assume that wealth and development unavoidably come with larger environmental damage. This assumption is still at the core of pessimistic frameworks, which maintain that physical resource throughputs, not outcomes, matter. So, countries such as Haiti where deforestation and wildlife extermination are rampant are inherently more “sustainable” than richer and cleaner countries like Sweden and Switzerland.

Third, Ehrlich does not acknowledge that, unique among this planet’s species, modern humans: transmit information and knowledge between individuals and through time; innovate by combining existing things in new ways; become efficient through specialization; and engage in long-distance trade, thus achieving, to a degree, a decoupling from local limits called the “release from proximity.” And the more brains there are, the more solutions. This is why, over time, people in market economies produce more things while using fewer resources per unit of output. Corn growers now produce five or six times more output on the same plot of land as a century ago while using less fertilizer and pesticide than a few decades ago.

Fourth, the Ehrlichs and other pessimists also fail to understand the uniquely beneficial roles played by prices, profits, and losses in the spontaneous and systematic generation of more sustainable — or less problematic — outcomes. When the supply of key resources fails to meet actual demand, their prices increase. This encourages people to use such resources more efficiently, look for more of them, and develop substitutes. Meanwhile, far from rewarding pollution of the environment, the profit motive encourages people to create useful by-products out of waste (our modern synthetic world is largely made out of former petroleum-refining waste products). True, in some cases dealing with pollution came at a cost — building sewage-treatment plants, for example — but these are the types of solutions only a developed society can afford.

Fifth, pessimists are also oblivious to the benefits of unlocking wealth from underground materials such as coal, petroleum, natural gas and mineral resources. Using these spares vast quantities of land. It should go without saying that even a small population will have a much greater impact on its environment if it must rely on agriculture for food, energy and fibres, raise animals for food and locomotion, and harvest wild animals for everything from meat to whale oil. By replacing resources previously extracted from the biosphere with resources extracted from below the ground, people have reduced their overall environmental impact while increasing their standard of living.

Why is it then that after two centuries of evidence to the contrary, the pessimistic narrative still dominates academic and popular debates? Why are so many authors and academics still focusing on the Malthusian collapse scenario — now bound to come from carbon dioxide emissions and the teeming populations that produce them?

The prevalence of apocalyptic rhetoric may be, arguably, due to factors ranging from financial incentives among academics and activists to behavioural heuristics that dictate why worrying is a motivator, and why even well-meaning people rarely change their mind given new evidence. Short-termism may also take some of the blame: Population control and climate activists take for granted the non-scalable benefits of a carbon-fuel economy in which large numbers of people collaborate and innovate. The cognitive biases at the root of our thinking may shape, and in the end distort, the impulse to question “consensus,” particularly in an intellectual climate lacking the motivation to achieve what social psychologist Jonathan Haidt called “institutional disconfirmation.”

Far from being the catastrophe that Thanos, the Ehrlichs and other pessimists would have us believe, population growth and carbon fuel-based development in the context of human creativity and free enterprise are the best means to lift people out of poverty, to build resilience against any climate damage that increased anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions might have, and to make possible a sustained reduction of humanity’s impact on the biosphere.

Pierre Desrochers, a geography professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga, and Joanna Szurmak, a doctoral candidate at York University, are the authors of Population Bombed! Exploding the Link Between Overpopulation and Climate Change. The book was launched at an event on Oct. 15th in Toronto.

More at their website: Population Bombed!

Update October 17,2018

Master Resource just posted an interview with Desrochers (here)

What we need in order to fight environmental degradation is to make sure that people in less advanced parts of the world can also be the beneficiaries of these processes. There is no doubt in my mind that these beneficial substitutions will happen more quickly the cheaper carbon fuels are. Of course, the argument is even more powerful when you think of the social consequences of less affordable energy.

Now, as with everything else, bad political institutions in some parts of the world will result in greater pollution as more carbon fuels are burned. The solution, however, is not to ban or tax everything from coal to plastic bags, but rather to improve standards of living and public governance. In my opinion, our guiding principle as far as carbon fuels are concerned should be the creation of lesser problems than those that existed before.

Attesting Environmental Scares

Attesting refers to a process evaluating the truth of a claim. In metallurgy, a laboratory will perform attestation procedures to measure the purity and quality of an ore sample or an alloy material. In legal terms, a witness provides evidence or proof attesting to a version of events.

Francis Menton, the Manhattan Contrarian, raises an important question in his recent post How to Approach a Scientific Issue in the Public Arena.

So how can you, as a reasonably informed citizen, hope to come to a rational view as to which scary scientific claims to credit and which to dismiss? Unfortunately, most people’s default approach to dealing with scientific issues as to which they have no personal expertise is to defer to the asserted authority of a “consensus” of experts.

I have a proposed framework for you to apply. It’s a little more complicated than either the “follow the consensus” or “reject them all” approaches. But the good news is that it’s not all that much more complicated. And the even better news is that I think you will get the right answer in nearly every case; with, however, the proviso that that “right” answer may be ambiguity in many cases.

The Manhattan Contrarian Guide To Evaluating Environmental Scares can be summarized in four words: Follow The Scientific Method. Unfortunately, almost no journalist knows the basics of the Scientific Method (even though probably all of them were exposed to it somewhere in high school or even junior high school); and therefore, almost everything you read about environmental scares claiming the mantle of science is at the minimum misleading, if not downright wrong. Following the Scientific Method really directs you to looking at only three key questions to lead you to the right answer: 

1. What is the falsifiable hypothesis? The Scientific Method requires a falsifiable hypothesis. A falsifiable hypothesis requires a statement of the proposition at issue that by its nature can be falsified and thereby invalidated by some evidence that it is possible to acquire, and also a recognition by the proponents of the hypothesis as to what evidence, if it emerged, would be sufficient to falsify and invalidate the hypothesis. Without a statement of a falsifiable hypothesis, it is not science, no matter what the proponents may say, and therefore any claims of “scientific” consensus or “scientific” validity are an obvious fallacy.

2.What is the most damning adverse evidence against the falsifiable hypothesis? The Scientific Method provides that no hypothesis can ever be definitively proved, although accumulation of evidence consistent with the hypothesis can give increasing confidence over time of its correctness. However, one piece of adverse evidence can disprove a scientific hypothesis; and indeed, if an advocate of a scientific hypothesis does not concede that proposition, then you know that this is not real science. In any event, it is always much more important to look to adverse evidence challenging a hypothesis, no matter how little of it there may be, than to whatever reams and reams of evidence there may be allegedly consistent with the hypothesis. That stuff can regularly be used by advocates to mislead and misdirect you.

3.How do advocates of the hypothesis respond to the most damning adverse evidence? If they have an answer to it, let’s see it! It is particularly telling if advocates just refuse to address the best points of their opponents. If that is going on, you are completely justified in concluding that they have no answers, and that their proposition is false.

Now, let us apply these three questions to the cases of glyphosate and climate change.

Glyphosate.

What is the falsifiable hypothesis? I would say that it is this: “High levels of exposure to glyphosate are associated with increased risk of developing blood cancers, particularly non-Hodgkins lymphoma.” It’s easy and clear. And clearly falsifiable.

What is the most damning adverse evidence against the falsifiable hypothesis? Well, there is this from the statement of Monsanto VP Scott Partridge after the jury verdict: “More than 800 scientific studies and reviews—and conclusions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. National Institutes of Health and regulatory authorities around the world—support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer.” That’s a start. To pick just one of the 800, in my November 2017 post I cited the U.S. Agricultural Health Study, which followed 89,000 farmers and their wives for 23 years from 1993 to 2016, and found “no association between glyphosate exposure and all cancer incidence or most of the specific cancer subtypes we evaluated, including NHL [non-Hodgkins lymphoma]. . . .”

How do the advocates respond to the most damning evidence? In this case, the answer is, basically, they have little in response. My understanding is that, rather than addressing the mountain of adverse studies (mostly done by people having no association with Monsanto), they principally relied on one outlier UN report, produced by a guy who promptly became a consultant to the plaintiffs’ lawsuit industry, and which reached its ambiguous conclusion in significant part by altering the conclusions of the underlying work that it cited. For more details, read my November 2017 post. But the most significant point is that, under the Scientific Method, the adverse evidence is far more important than any evidence that might be cited as consistent with the hypothesis, even if extensive. In this case, a falsifiable hypothesis has been quite definitively invalidated.

As you can see, if you just follow the Scientific Method, you quickly find that those on the side that glyphosate does not cause cancer have far the better side of the argument. Perhaps it is not 100% definitive, but it is close.

Climate Change

What is the falsifiable hypothesis? There isn’t one! And good luck trying to find a statement of the official falsifiable hypothesis from any advocate of climate alarmism. I have previously invited readers and commenters on this blog to give me a statement of the falsifiable hypothesis on which climate alarmists claim there is a “consensus,” and I have never gotten even an attempt of any kind. I hereby make the invitation again. To get an idea of the shell game you are dealing with, try going to this NASA web page titled “Global Climate Change/Facts.” (What is that page still doing there over a year and a half into a Trump presidency??!!) Here’s the leading headline: “Scientific Consensus: Earth’s climate is warming.” Is that a falsifiable hypothesis? Absolutely not! It’s a trivial non-falsifiable statement whose result can be manipulated by whoever gets to pick the start date of the analysis. See my post of August 9 here. And then they provide a list of some dozens of pooh-bah “scientific” organizations that supposedly subscribe to this non-falsifiable non-scientific proposition, everything from AAAS, to ACS, to AGU, to AMA, to AMS, to APS, to NAS, and on and on and on. It’s embarrassing! How stupid do they think you are? (Another question is, how stupid are they? Do our scientific leaders even understand what the Scientific Method is?) Any other candidates for the falsifiable hypothesis? Now this is me trying to help these guys out, rather than them speaking for themselves, but how about “the climate is warming and we are the cause”? Or maybe, “accumulating greenhouse gases from human sources are causing catastrophic warming of the atmosphere”? OK then, what is the evidence that, if it emerged, would be conceded to invalidate whichever of these hypothesis (or some other one) that you pick? You will never get that out of them.

What is the most damning adverse evidence against the falsifiable hypothesis? This is a little tough to deal with when no one will tell you the falsifiable hypothesis, but let’s assume it is the last one there (“accumulating greenhouse gases from human sources are causing catastrophic warming of the atmosphere”). Well, there is the clear demonstration that natural factors such as solar effects, ocean currents (El Niño/La Niña), and volcanoes are more than sufficient to explain all global temperature variations since reasonably accurate data are available (the 1950s) without the need to take into account any effects from human greenhouse gas emission. And then there is the demonstration that the so-called “tropical hot spot” (decreased lapse rate of temperatures with increasing altitude in the tropics that would necessarily accompany any hypothesized greenhouse warming caused by human emissions) does not exist in the data. And then there is the demonstration that the earth’s temperatures were warmer in early years (Medieval Warm Period, Roman Warm Period, Holocene Climate Optimum, etc.) — when human greenhouse gas influences could not have played a part — than they are today. And then there is the demonstration of alteration of the global temperature record by the advocates of alarmism to remove the peak of temperatures that previously existed in the early 1940s. I could go on.

How do the advocates respond to the most damning evidence against the hypothesis? And here the answer is, they don’t and they won’t. Go to anything resembling an official defense of the “global warming consensus” and see if you can find any kind of answer to any of these damning points. For example, try NASA’s Global Climate Change site, under the heading “Evidence.” You will just find point after point of evidence supposedly consistent with the hypothesis (stated here as “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” — again, obviously non-falsifiable). Temperatures have risen! The oceans have warmed! Ice sheets have shrunk! Less snow! Sea levels have risen! OK, guys, but how do you know that slightly higher temperatures underlying all of these things have not been caused by something natural like increasing solar activity, shifting ocean currents, or temporarily low volcanic activity? They just won’t address these things! Why not? Really, it’s embarrassing.

If you arm your brain with the basics of the Scientific Method, it is immediately obvious that this whole thing is a charade.

Comment

Menton’s approach resembles “evidence-based” medicine and law, as I have discussed in the article Objection: Asserting Facts Not in Evidence! There as here, the deliberation starts with an “answerable question”, meaning a conclusion of yes or no, based upon all relevant evidence.

With respect to global warming/climate change, I have posed the question this way: Are rising fossil fuel emissions causing rising global temperatures? When a claim involves correlation between two variables, asserting that one causes the other, the legal profession applies the Bradford Hill protocol to assess causation factors. The deliberation requires evidence concerning the strength and certainty of the correlation. That discussion is in the article Claim: Fossil Fuels Cause Global Warming

For the history of environmental scares see Progressively Scaring the World (Lewin book synopsis)