Patterico's Pontifications


Administration alters Endangered Species Rules

Filed under: Environment,Politics — DRJ @ 12:00 pm

[Headline/Link from DRJ]

Trump rolls back endangered species protections:

The Trump administration on Monday announced it has finalized a controversial rollback of protections for endangered species, including allowing economic factors to be weighed before adding an animal to the list.

The Interior Department has scaled back other provisions within the law, including protections for threatened species and the review process used before projects are approved on their habitat.

There is also a pending change “to meaningfully distinguish species that are likely to be exposed to and affected by the assessed pesticides from those that are not likely.”

In general, environmentalists fear these changes will further endanger habitats and species, while businesses adversely impacted by the EPA view these as reasonable balancing. That makes this a partisan issue since the former are often Democrats and the latter are often Republicans.

I am curious why it took a GOP President 2 years and 204 days to do this.



Government Spending Choices

Filed under: Environment,Government — DRJ @ 5:20 am

[Headline from DRJ]

Alaska village will install new river power generator:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A tiny Native village in southwest Alaska has turned to an emerging technology to transform the power of a local river into a sustainable energy source that’s expected to free residents from dependency on costly diesel fuel.

The village council in Igiugig is the first tribal entity in the nation licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to harness river water that’s not connected to a dam. That means the community of 70 is authorized to proceed with the complex project and that the system went through rigorous reviews by state and federal agencies, according to a U.S. Department of Energy official working with the village.

“It’s a huge milestone,” said DOE engineer Steve DeWitt, who manages the agency’s water power projects. He said a similar non-tribal system will be installed next year in New York City’s East River. But that river is tidal, not continuously flowing like the Kvichak River in Igiugig, he said.

The $4.4 million project is being paid for by state and federal funds, matching funds from the village and a development investment from Ocean Renewable, according to participants. Participants say U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, strongly supported the project and helped secure funding for it. Murkowski is the chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Committee spokeswoman Tonya Parish said Wednesday that Murkowski, fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King wrote to Energy Secretary Rick Perry last year to urge the Energy Department to fund the project.

Read the whole thing.

I don’t have the expertise to tell if this is a PC government boondoggle or a worthwhile and creative attempt to provide reliable energy to appropriate areas. I hope it is the latter but the Bridge to Nowhere (which may have been overblown) has made me think twice about government spending, so I want to know more.

By the way, I am not trying to pick on Alaska. This is an interesting project and, to me, it makes an interesting post.



California Earthquakes (UPDATED)

Filed under: Environment — DRJ @ 8:00 am

[Headline from DRJ]

Following up on yesterday’s earthquake near Ridgecrest, California, I found this section in an AP News’ article interesting:

Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the California Institute of Technology’s seismology lab, said the earthquake was the strongest since a 7.1 quake struck in the area on October 16, 1999. “This has been an extremely quiet abnormal time,” Jones said. “This type of earthquake is much more normal … The long term average is probably once every five or 10 years somewhere in Southern California.”

Jones said that the 6.4 quake was preceded by a magnitude 4.2 temblor about a half hour earlier. The epicenter was in the arid expanse of Searles Valley, a sparsely populated region. “This is an isolated enough location that that’s going to greatly reduce the damage,” she said.

The quake was detected by California’s new ShakeAlert system and it provided 48 seconds of warning to the seismology lab well before the shaking arrived at Caltech in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena but it did not trigger a public warning through an app recently made available in Los Angeles County. USGS seismologist Robert Graves said the ShakeAlert system worked properly. Graves said it calculated an intensity level for the Los Angeles area that was below the threshold for a public alert. The limits are intended to avoid false alarms.

It sounds like California has so many earthquakes that officials worry about giving too much notice and people tuning out notices.

UPDATE 7/5/2019 — Another, larger quake.



Tampa Bay Times: Florida Bar opens investigation into Clearwater lawyer …

Filed under: Environment,Law — DRJ @ 7:30 pm

[Headline from DRJ]

Florida Bar opens investigation into Clearwater lawyer … who shooed raccoon off his boat:

The video that Cope posted showed a man, presumably Cope, yelling at a raccoon that he said had hidden away on the boat for several hours before revealing its presence after the boat was “well offshore” — or about 20 miles out, he wrote on Facebook.

“Get off my f—— boat,” the man yelled at the raccoon, which was scurrying around the bow. “We’re just going to have to push him off.” The man shouted more while approaching the animal. Then the raccoon appeared to fall off the boat. The video zoomed in on the raccoon paddling in the water, trying to stay afloat. “So long, sucker,” the man said.

The raccoon is presumed to have drowned.

There is also a pending wildlife investigation/complaint.



More Deception from the L.A. Times on Global Warming

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Environment,General — Patterico @ 6:48 pm


During a four-day period earlier this month, 47% of the surface of the Greenland ice sheet melted, bringing the total melted area to 97% of the surface, according to NASA.

The melting is the worst that has been observed since researchers have been monitoring the ice sheet, the agency said in a statement posted on its website. According to records from ice cores, it is the worst melt since 1889.

Holy crap! And there’s this SCARY picture to go with it:

It’s MELTING!!!!!!!!

So what’s the source for this? Well, the good folks at the L.A. Times, where this fine article appears, have placed the useful link to the NASA statement right there in the article! See there, where it says “website“? Look how convenient that is! Just click on that!

. . . and you get:

. . . the NASA website. Yup, that’s it all right.

Is there a reason they didn’t provide the direct link to the press release? Well, the cynic in me says: yeah there is. And here’s the reason: if you went and found the actual link to the actual press release (hint: I did and it’s here), you might see this:

“Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time,” says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data.

So: it’s the worst melt since 150 years ago . . . but what they don’t tell you is, a really bad melt happens every 150 years or so.

Does that mean we’re totally in the clear? Not necessarily. She goes on to say: “But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome.”

Well, yeah. If Halley’s Comet returned one year after its next appearance, I guess that would be worrisome. But it would be kind of irresponsible for journalists around 2060 to suggest that we needed to be SUPER WORRIED ABOUT THIS BIG BALL OF FIRE IN THE SKY because nothing like this had appeared in the sky for 75 years . . . without telling you that this particular ball of fire in the sky appears every 75 years or so — and thus, is “right on time.”

If anyone knows how the editors of this rag could possibly justify such rank deception, let me know.

Thanks to Gary H.


Los Angeles Times Distorts Evidence on Public Opinion Regarding Global Warming

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Environment,General — Patterico @ 7:30 am

The Los Angeles Times recently opened a story on climate change opinion in the following manner:

After several years of finding that fewer and fewer Americans believed in man-made climate change, pollsters are now finding that belief is on the uptick.

The newest study from the National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change, which is a biannual survey taken since fall 2008 and organized by the Brookings Institute, shows that 62% of Americans now believe that man-made climate change is occurring, and 26% do not. The others are unsure.

There’s one slight problem with those opening paragraphs: they are absolutely 100% false. The survey in question reported on public opinion regarding global warming . . . not man-made global warming.

Click on the link above to the word “study.” It goes to a short description of the survey. The description is titled “Belief in Global Warming on the Rebound: National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change.” There is a link to a .pdf of the report on the survey. I have gone ahead and uploaded it to my site, so you can read it here.

Feel free to search for any evidence that the survey deals with man-made global warming. You won’t find it. The opening paragraph of the report states:

After a period of declining levels of belief in global warming there appears to be a modest rebound in the percentage of Americans that believe temperatures on the planet are increasing. . . . The survey, which was fielded in December of 2011, found 62% of Americans agreeing that there is solid evidence that average temperatures on earth have been getting warmer over the past four decades, with 26% of U.S. residents maintaining an opposing view on the matter.

These statistics are the same ones mentioned in the opening paragraphs of the L.A. Times article. The problem is that there is no reference to the concept that the survey relates to man-made global warming — the claim made by the L.A. Times. The questions asked in the survey included questions like: “Is there solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past four decades?” and “What is the primary factor that has caused you to believe that temperatures on earth are increasing?” (The latter question does not address what people thought was the cause of warmer temperatures, but what was the cause of their change in beliefs. Answers included factors like melting ice caps, Al Gore’s documentary, and the like.)

The difference is huge. The evidence that the planet has been warming, while disputed by some, seems to me be quite strong. Whether that warming is man-made; whether humans significantly contribute to the warming trend; whether the evidence backs up the scientists’ contentions . . . these are questions that are far more subject to dispute.

Ironically, the study observes:

While Americans who think the planet is warming largely disagree with the premise that the media and climate scientists are overstating evidence about global warming, most citizens who do not see evidence of increasing temperatures on Earth believe that the scientists and the press are distorting evidence about the matter.

And they’re right . . . as evidenced by the distortions in this article regarding their opinions!

This comes to us via reader G.H., who says he has brought the matter to the attention of the Readers’ Representative. Apparently in vain, since there is no correction appended to the article.

I believe this is a black-and-white factual error. The article claims that the survey measures changes in beliefs on man-made global warming, and it just doesn’t. So I’ll make this another of my quixotic battles. This post is the opening salvo. It would be nice if it were the only shot I have to fire, as my time and energy are short. If any of you want to take up the next step and write a letter to the Readers’ Rep, that would be fantastic. I will publish every single one you write, together with any response you receive.


Proposition 23 and AGW; UPDATED with Harold Lewis Resignation Letter

Filed under: Environment — Patterico @ 2:19 pm

Tell me why I should support Proposition 23.

Which gets us into a bigger question: tell me why I should be skeptical of the concept of man-made global warming. Because it’s my impression that the scientific consensus supports it.

I hate it when scientific questions become political issues — because I think politics causes people to lose rationality. And i think this has become a virtual religion for both sides.

So I am looking for evidence.

This thread will employ the rule of excessive politeness. Nothing even remotely disparaging will be permitted. And I’m not keeping any part of a comment that violates the rule. Your comment that opens: “I’m surprised you would fall for AGW” followed by 10 paragraphs of polite and well researched material gets nuked, entirely. I could end up deleting 90-99 percent of all the comments, leaving only comments by Bradley J. Fikes. I don’t care. This is such a hot-button issue that I’m not putting up with even a milligram of B.S. or invective.

I will probably play devil’s advocate in the threads. The goal is to hash out the issues and put the religious faith aside.

So: why should I doubt what appears to be a scientific consensus?

UPDATE: Looks like the timing of this post is lucky given this letter of resignation linked by commenters below, written by Hal Lewis, which became public just today.

I never heard of him before and it’s one guy, but it’s timely . . .

UPDATE x2: To clarify: I consider myself agnostic on this subject, but I interested in learning the arguments on both sides. I consider myself an “AGW skepticism skeptic” — meaning that I am not willing to simply accept AGW skepticism because it is conservative dogma, any more than I will accept AGW because it is liberal dogma.

I believe we pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and that doing so contributes to warming. How much, I have no idea. That’s about as much as I feel I “know.” But I’m willing to play devil’s advocate to tease out the arguments.


BP Caps Leaking Macondo Well

Filed under: Environment — DRJ @ 12:59 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

BP announced it successfully stopped the oil leak, which is good news. You can watch a live ROV feeds here. I’m also curious about the status of the bottom kill. However they did it, I’m sure there are lots of happy engineers in Houston and even more happy Gulf Coast residents.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reports BP may conclude as early as next week its all-cash sale of assets to Apache, including half of BP’s interest in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay.



NRC: Obama Can’t Close Yucca Mountain

Filed under: Environment,Government,Obama — DRJ @ 4:26 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A 3-judge Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel has ruled the Obama Administration can’t unilaterally close the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository site:

“Unless Congress directs otherwise, DOE may not single-handedly derail the legislated decision-making process by withdrawing the (Yucca repository) application. DOE’s motion must therefore be denied,” the judges wrote, adding that the DOE had weakened its arguments by “conceding that the application is not flawed nor the (Yucca) site unsafe.”

I doubt this will help Senator Harry Reid’s re-election chances unless the appeal lasts past November.



Day 74: Waiting on the A-Whale

Filed under: Environment,Government,Obama — DRJ @ 1:32 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Day 74 after the Oil Spill and the A-Whale is still waiting in the Gulf for the Coast Guard to give it permission to start skimming oil:

My partial transcript (emphasis supplied):

“Right now the crew of this ship is waiting on final permission from the Unified Command to start skimming oil in the Gulf of Mexico. There’s a couple of issues that are being looked at right now. First of all, one of them is a safety issue. A ship this big out on the Gulf of Mexico needs about a half mile radius all the way around to operate safely, so they are trying to figure out if that’s possible.

There’s also some environmental concerns. Part of the way this ship works is that it brings in oil and water. It separates that and the water gets thrown back out into the Gulf of Mexico and they keep the oil. They’re also looking into whether or not that water that’s going to be discharged, what are the environmental impact of that. So that’s one of the things slowing it down.

But everyone aboard here thinks that it’s just a matter of time before this vessel is put in to fight the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and the crew told us that they were being dispatched out into the Gulf of Mexico last night. They are waiting to see if they can at least do some tests for the Coast Guard to show them what that ship can do. Admiral Thad Allen said that he’s not quite ready to put this into play, that there are still some more questions that they want to look into. But he says he is hopeful that this will be a valuable tool in the fight to clean up this oil.”

This is beyond ridiculous. That the ship may be too big to easily turn or that it may not get 100% of the oil are clearly frivolous reasons to prevent it from deploying. The Obama Administration may be Hopeful things will Change but it isn’t doing much to make that happen.

Meanwhile, the newest models say there is a high chance oil will reach South Florida.


UPDATE: The U.S. also missed its June 30th 90% containment goal. Also, the skimmers returned to the Gulf after a 48-hour downtime for Hurricane Alex. Will the A Whale return with them?

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