Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Heartland Institute's Climate Change Weekly # 168

Obama's Climate/Public Health Threat Claim
Right out of EPA Faux Scare Playbook

Following a playbook designed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as described in memos the Obama administration fought to keep secret, on April 7 President Barack Obama announced efforts to highlight the alleged public health impacts of climate change on children and minorities. Obama made the announcement personal, noting he was terribly frightened once when he had to rush his daughter Malia to the emergency room when she couldn’t breathe due to asthma.

As an asthma sufferer myself, I can attest such an attack is frightening. However, as a recent study (one in a long line of studies) shows, asthma attacks and the increasing rates of asthma have nothing to do with global warming, and everything to do with poverty, increasingly sedentary lifestyles, and indoor air quality. It is shameless of Obama to exploit his daughter’s asthma to push his politically unpopular climate agenda.

The recent study, authored by a research team led by Dr. Corrine Keet of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, found no link between outdoor air quality and childhood asthma. Rather, the study points to indoor air pollution, from secondhand smoke, mold, rodents, and the like, as a significant factor in childhood asthma cases. EPA does not have authority over indoor air pollution.

Discussing the study in Environment & Climate News, Paul Knappenberger, assistant director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, said, “Clearly, I think it undermines one of the primary excuses used by the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and some types of air pollutants as well.”

Since science has not established a link between climate change and public health, much less a specific link between global warming and the health of children or minorities, one cannot help but wonder why the administration is pushing this line of argument.

A memo released as part of an ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request examining EPA rule-making reveals the administration’s motives. The March 2009 memo shows EPA feared it was losing support for its climate efforts because opinion polls consistently showed the public ranked fighting global warming very low on its list of priorities. The memo describes EPA’s decision to shift the debate from concerns about melting ice caps and declining polar bear populations, to promoting the idea global warming poses a direct threat to public health, especially children’s and minorities health. Quoting the memo,

Most Americans will never see a polar ice cap, nor will [they] ever have a chance to see a polar bear in its natural habitat. Therefore, it is easy to detach from the seriousness of the issue. Unfortunately, climate change in the abstract is an increasingly “and consistently” unpersuasive argument to make. However, if we shift from making this issue about polar caps [to being] about our neighbor with respiratory illness we can potentially bring this issue home to many Americans.

According to the memo, EPA took steps to raise concerns about climate change among minority groups and women, using headline-catching “hooks” concerning social justice and children’s health.

Per the memo, “We must begin to create a causal link between the worries of Americans and the proactive mission we’re pushing.”

Chris Horner, an attorney and senior fellow of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, obtained the memo through FOIA. Horner said, “This memo shows EPA’s recognition the global warming case is consistently an unpersuasive argument to make, and thus required a facelift, from a pro-scarcity movement of wealthy white elites to a racial and “social justice issue.”

Considering how the mainstream media unquestioningly parrots every claim made by the Obama administration concerning climate change, it did not surprise me reporters failed to link the president’s April 7 announcement to the recently uncovered EPA memos. Evidently bad climate news, as opposed to the truth, sells papers.

-- H. Sterling Burnett






IN THIS ISSUE

Asia, UK foil carbon-reduction efforts ¦ West Virginia allows school climate debate ¦ Steyer, Bloomberg, anti-energy political funding go big(ger) ¦ Warm blob in Pacific alters climate ¦ India cracks down on Greenpeace ¦ Planet Earth is greening

ASIA, UK FOIL CARBON-REDUCTION EFFORTS

Climate activists must be pulling out their hair in light of energy news coming out of Asia and the UK. Bloomberg Business reports China intends to cut prices for electricity generated by coal-fired plants in an attempt to lower companies operating costs and aid a struggling economy. This move would seem to undermine the country’s commitment to cap carbon dioxide emissions and to rein in coal use to improve the nation’s air quality. In addition, Japan, long a leader in commitments to cut carbon dioxide, expects to build at least 43 new coal-fired power plants in the coming decade. While the country will continue to use nuclear power, post-Fukushima, the amount of power from nuclear plants will fall. Coal-generated electricity will replacing a portion of nuclear power’s present share of power and support future growth in the Japanese economy.

In a further blow to anti-fossil fuel activists, UK Oil & Gas Investments claims to have made a significant oil find close to Gatwick Airport in West Sussex, possibly yielding up to 158 million barrels of oil per square mile. If the estimate proves accurate, the site could hold more than 8.6 billion barrels of oil – almost a fifth of the amount oil pumped out of the UK’s North Sea holdings in the past 40 years. Development of the field would boost England’s relatively moribund economy, where living standards have fallen below 2008 levels, and also increase the country’s carbon dioxide emissions.






WEST VIRGINIA ALLOWS SCHOOL CLIMATE DEBATE

West Virginia’s state board of education has taken a stand for sound science in the classroom. By a vote of 6 to 2, the board approved amended standards for the discussion of climate change. As the Charleston Daily Mail reports, where the original standards required students to ask questions only about the rise in global temperatures, ignoring temperature declines, the new standards require them to discuss changes “ temperature increases, declines, and relative stasis. In addition, the amended standards add “natural forces” as an area of study for their possible influence on climate change.

As a result of these changes, West Virginia’s standards break with the rest of the nation in no longer solely pushing the unsupportable claim the debate is over, humans are causing catastrophic global warming. Rather, students in West Virginia will learn multiple evidence-based points of view exist concerning the causes and consequences of climate change, and they will be encouraged to explore those points of view.






STEYER, BLOOMBERG, ANTI-ENERGY POLITICAL FUNDING GO BIG(GER)

It seems the well-funded green lobbying group Sierra Club and billionaire, anti-freedom, anti-market activists Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer are doubling-down on their political spending in hopes of making the fight against global warming a winning issue in 2016.

Through his NextGen Climate project, Steyer spent more than $74 million trying to make climate change a central issue in the 2014 midterm election. He and the Sierra Club threw millions of dollars at the 2014 election in a spectacularly failed effort to keep pro-fracking climate skeptic candidates from winning senate and house seats. Though polls showed neither climate nor fracking were critical wedge issues in 2014, in key races candidates publicly backing fracking and questioning the danger of climate change won.

Steyer has committed to spending additional millions in the 2016 elections to defeat climate skeptics. The Sierra Club, with a $30 million kick-in from Bloomberg and $30 million in matching grants, pledged to spend up to $60 million to promote candidates who work to close coal-fired power plants and defeat candidates who don’t hew to the alarmist party line. Bloomberg has supported the Sierra Club’s anti-fossil fuel political efforts for a number of years. In 2011, for example, through his Bloomberg Philanthropies, he pledged $50 million to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

Based on its lack of success in previous elections, and recent polling data showing climate change remains far down the list of the public’s concerns, I harbor hope this triumvirate of energy evil will wind up throwing more good money after bad in the next election.

SOURCES: Grist.com and Politico.com





WARM “BLOB IN PACIFIC ALTERS CLIMATE

Nature dominates climate and weather once again. Science Daily reports a common element in recent weather: oddness. The West Coast has been warm and parched; the East Coast has been cold and snowed under. Fish are swimming into new waters, and hungry seals are washing up on California beaches. Human-caused climate change is not the culprit. Rather, a large, relatively long-lived warm area of surface water, nicknamed “the blob” in 2014, apparently part of a natural Pacific Ocean pattern, is affecting everything from West Coast fisheries and water supplies to East Coast snowstorms.

According to two University of Washington papers appearing in Geophysical Research Letters, the blob, currently stretching more than 1,000 miles in each direction and 300 feet deep from Mexico to Alaska, emerged in the fall of 2013, raising ocean temperatures 1 to 4 degrees Celsius (2 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal. The blob’s origins, while yet to be explained, were traced to a persistent high-pressure ridge resulting in a calmer ocean for the past two winters, so less heat was lost to cold air above.

SOURCE: Science Daily





INDIA CRACKS DOWN ON GREENPEACE

India has stepped up its fight against Greenpeace. As does the rest of the world, India needs fossil fuels to sustain and improve its economy, in order to bring its millions of people out of poverty. Yet Greenpeace is dedicated to eradicating fossil fuel use.

Greenpeace recently organized large protests against a coal mining project in central India, critical to electrifying rural regions of the country and kickstarting a number of stalled industrial projects. The government claims Greenpeace violated rules about how it is allowed to spend foreign funds it receives. In early April, India suspended Greenpeace India’s ability to receive foreign funds and froze its bank accounts, arguing the group had “prejudicially affected the economic interest of the state.”

The current skirmish with Greenpeace is not the first time the Indian government has accused radical Western environmental groups of interfering with the country’s internal development. The Washington Post notes, “In 2012, the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had accused American and Scandanavian groups of obstructing the commissioning of a nuclear power plant in the southern state of Tamil Nadu and mounting a campaign against genetically modified crops. At the time, Singh stated the foreign groups did not appreciate ‘the need for our country to increase the energy supply.”

India’s tolerance of foreign-funded activist groups appears to have reached a breaking point.





PLANET EARTH IS GREENING

A new study in Nature details the greening of the Earth. According to the study, despite ongoing, though slowing, deforestation in tropical regions, the world added vegetation cover overall between 2003 and 2013. The team of scientist used satellites to measure naturally emitted radiation to measure the amount of vegetation worldwide. They found government reforestation in China, forest regrowth in deindustrialized parts of the former Soviet Union, and an increase in greenery in the savannas, shrublands, and desert edges in Africa, Australia, and South America. Overall, the changes resulted in a more-than-4-billion-ton increase in carbon-gobbling vegetation since 2003.

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