A Colorado landowner ignites his cigarette lighter and holds it close to tap water running from a faucet in his home. A few seconds pass, and the single flame bursts into a ball of fire that sends the man reeling backward.
This shocking scene appears in the 2010 documentary Gasland, produced and directed by filmmaker Josh Fox, which he touts as an exposé on the evils of a particular method of drilling for natural gas called hydraulic fracturing or “fracing,” pronounced “fracking.” Fox claims that nearby drilling contaminated area groundwater, causing the fireball to burst from that Colorado tap.
What Fox ignores is the fact that the landowner, Mike Markham, lodged a complaint with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) in May of 2008, and while investigators did find methane in Markham’s well water, they determined it to be strictly from natural sources. “There are no indications of oil and gas related impacts to [the] water well,” reads the report, and the regulatory agency declared the issue resolved in September of the same year.
The UN's list of climate-change tricks continues to grow with news this week from the World Climate Report. It accuses the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of predicting exaggerated risks of extreme weather attributed to anthropogenic global warming (AGW).
In its 2007 Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), IPCC made the claim that "intense precipitation events" have been increasing in severity across more than half of the globe since 1950. It based the finding on a method called the fixed bin approach, which categorizes average daily rainfall into ranges or "bins" (e.g., one-half to one inch, one to two inches, or more than two inches) and ranks these bins as a percentile of all precipitation events.
However, when used to determine trends in annual precipitation, the fixed bin method can produce false results indicating extremely severe storms that were not actually so harsh. Long before AR4's publication, researchers with the University of Virginia, the University of Colorado, the Cato Institute, and New Hope Environmental Services exposed fixed bin flaws in the 2004 International Journal of Climatology.
Political contention over TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline is rife with rhetoric and claims of environmental apocalypse, as the paperwork for the proposed 1,700-mile Canada-U.S. pipeline gathers dust on President Obama’s in-tray. If approved, the $7 billion expansion will transport Canadian crude oil from the Athabasca Oil Sands in northeastern Alberta, Canada, southeast through the U.S. Midwest, and then on to the Gulf Coast.
The Keystone pipeline was originally proposed on February 9, 2005. The privately funded, shovel-ready project has endured intermittent delays over the years, but it began piping oil to Illinois and Missouri in 2010. Phase II of the project, launched in February 2011, would extend the pipeline from Steele City, Nebraska, to Cushing, Oklahoma — a pivotal crude oil refining and pipeline hub.
Though the pipeline has been in operation for almost a year, a new segment of the project, the Keystone Gulf Coast Expansion, also known as Keystone XL — which would originate in Hardisty, Alberta, and run southeast through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, while incorporating Phase II of the pipeline to extend to Texas and Oklahoma markets — is facing formidable hurdles. The Canadian government’s National Energy Board approved the expansion in 2010, but is awaiting final approval from the Obama administration.
Forecasters at Britain's national weather service are predicting another frigid winter in the Northern Hemisphere due to sunspot activity. Their recent findings, published in Sunday's issue of the journal Nature Geoscience, show that low-level solar radiation is likely responsible for Europe's past three harsh winters and probably holds the same in store for the upcoming season. Met Office head of Seasonal to Decadal Prediction Dr. Adam Scaife bragged, "Our research establishes the link between the solar cycle and winter climate as more than just coincidence," as reported by the Daily Mail.
On the contrary, scientists have known about the more-than-coincidental relationship for two centuries. Last month Larry Bell, professor of space architecture at the University of Houston, outlined the history in a Forbes article entitled, "Sorry, But With Global Warming, It's the Sun, Stupid." In 1801 William Herschel correlated the number of sunspots to the price of grain in London. German astronomer Heinrich Schwabe proved the 11-year cycle of sunspot activity in 1843. Bell noted the absence of sunspots during the Little Ice Age that spanned the 17th and 18th centuries. And for the past two decades scientists have been publishing research based on the satellite record available since 1979 pointing to the overwhelming influence of solar activity on Earth's temperature. Their research has been very unpopular with, and routinely ignored by, climate change alarmists.
Developments relating to the Solyndra debacle continue to surface as newly-surfaced internal government emails reveal that an Obama administration appointee at the Department of Energy (DOE) — and major Obama fundraiser — pushed to expedite a $535-million loan guarantee to the now-defunct solar firm. The emails expose "a disturbingly close relationship" among the White House, top campaign donors, and prominent Solyndra investors, according to a senior congressional Republican.
Steve Spinner, an adviser to the Department of Energy, actively endorsed the loan after agreeing to avoid any "active participation" in the application process, because his wife, Allison, was working for Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, a law firm which represented Solyndra. Due to his wife’s association with the company, the DOE had ensured that Spinner would refrain from engaging in "any discussions" relating to the loan details because of a "conflict of interest." In a September 23, 2009 email to a DOE ethics officer, Steve Spinner described active participation as "solicitation, due diligence, [and] negotiations."
Energy Department spokesman Damien LaVera affirmed that Spinner was "authorized [only] to oversee and monitor the progress of applications, ensure that the program met its deadlines and milestones, and coordinate possible public announcements," because of his wife’s relations with Solyndra.
Europeans are more concerned about climate change than they are about their financial affairs, according to a new Eurobarometer poll conducted on behalf of the Climate Change Programme of the European Commission (EC). More than two-thirds of the public believe climate change is a serious problem, and nearly 80 percent say that tackling it will boost the economy and create jobs.
Pollsters tallied responses from almost 27,000 residents of the 27 European Union countries. They found that most Europeans view climate change as second only to poverty, hunger, and lack of drinking water (counted as a single concern) in terms of serious problems facing today's world. The global economic recession placed third on the list. In addition, 68 percent of respondents support the idea of taxing people based on energy use.
EU policy makers are jubilant, especially because these numbers are all up from a similar survey in 2009. "The fact that more than 3 out of 4 Europeans see improving energy efficiency as a way to create new jobs is a strong signal to Europe's decision makers," said Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action. "I see this poll very much as an encouragement also for us in the Commission to continue fighting for ambitious and concrete climate action in Europe."
As federal prosecutors confirmed in a court filing Wednesday that a criminal investigation involving the recent raid on Gibson Guitar Corporation is now in motion, other American guitar makers are expressing concern for their own business operations. Gibson facilities in Memphis and Nashville were raided by federal agents on August 24, leaving the company with an estimated loss of $2 to $3 million.
Gibson’s alleged crime was a violation of the Lacey Act, a conservation law that aims to protect plants and wildlife from endangerment by enacting civil and criminal penalties for a throng of violations. Gibson is being charged for allegedly importing wood from a foreign country in violation of a 2008 amendment to the law that makes it unlawful "to import certain plants and plant products without an import declaration."
U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin declined to provide specific details on the investigation, but the prosecutor’s documents identify that the federal government can "seek criminal fines and imprisonment for knowing violations of the Lacey Act." The imported wood seized by federal agents came from India, and authorities are deeming the wood illegal ebony and rosewood.
Time Magazine is accusing climate change deniers of a vast right-wing conspiracy of deceit that threatens to subvert efforts protecting the Earth from eco-catastrophe. In "Who's Bankrolling the Climate-Change Deniers?" Bryan Walsh bemoans the fact that only a few years ago Republicans such as John McCain and Mitt Romney supported government cap-and-trade programs to restrict industrial emissions of so-called greenhouse gases (GHG) but are now backpedaling. He cites polls showing a growing number of conservatives in the deniers' camp. "That's deeply troubling," Walsh laments, "... despite an overwhelming scientific consensus" confirming imminent calamity.
He highlights two sociologists who blame "climate denialism" on long-term efforts of "conservative groups and corporations to distort global-warming science." Walsh quotes their article in The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society, in which the sociologists claim, "Contrarian scientists, fossil-fuel corporations, conservative think tanks and various front groups have assaulted mainstream climate science and scientists for over two decades. The blows have been struck by a well-funded, highly complex and relatively coordinated denial machine."
Missing from Walsh's diatribe is any actual proof of a well-heeled denial machine or the "settled scientific truth" of climate change.
The science journal Nature is making headlines this week with news of the largest hole in the ozone layer over the North Pole in history, rivaling the size of its well known Antarctic cousin. Researchers credit this "unprecedented Arctic ozone loss" to "unusually long-lasting cold conditions" in the stratosphere at a time when their colleagues are in turmoil over melting Arctic sea ice a few miles below, supposedly caused by man-made global warming. Of course, humans are also responsible for the chilly stratosphere, they say. With sky-is-falling overtones the article's authors warn, "We cannot at present predict when such severe Arctic ozone depletion may be matched or exceeded."
Nor do they know when such levels have been matched or exceeded in the past. The NASA satellite record goes back only to 1979, according to meteorologist and weather technology expert Anthony Watts. That amounts to little more than 30 years of data, which can hardly be considered a baseline for making doomsday predictions and framing public policy.
A report released last week by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Inspector General questions the procedural policy of the EPA’s 2009 decision that greenhouse gas emissions pose a threat to public health and welfare. The report, entitled "Procedural Review of EPA’s Greenhouse Gases Endangerment Finding Data Quality Processes," does not decry the science of greenhouse gas emissions, but observes that the procedures conducted by the agency to make its "scientific" determination were askew. The release "calls the scientific integrity of EPA’s decision-making process into question and undermines the credibility of the endangerment finding," asserted Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
After a 2007 Supreme Court decision ruling that greenhouse gas emissions are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act, the EPA was instructed to determine whether greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare, or if alleged global warming science is too uncertain to make an adequate conclusion.
The IG’s office emphasized that their analysis did not explore the EPA’s scientific "evidence" that greenhouse gas emissions are in fact harmful to health and welfare.