Almost eight months after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami struck Japan, killing or injuring more than 25,000, the death toll from radiation exposure at Japan's storm-ravaged Fukushima Daiiche nuclear power plant stands at zero. Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, admitted as much on Monday in Washington during a roundtable discussion entitled "Fukushima: Lessons Learned," an event sponsored by Georgetown University and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
When a reporter from CNSNews.com asked him about radiation exposure deaths, Jaczko first jokingly tried to pass the question off to another panel expert but then acknowledged, "There have been no fatalities that we're aware of that are directly related to radiation exposure." He went on to explain that some workers received abnormally high levels of radiation after the disaster both at the plant and through contact with contaminated water, but "nothing that is going to lead to an immediate loss of life."
These results prove what experts have predicted since the quake and tidal wave hit Japan's Pacific coast in March: No one would die from radiation as a result of the incident.
California has enacted the nation’s first cap-and-trade program, designed to provide financial incentives to companies to help curb greenhouse-gas emissions. After an exhausting eight-hour meeting last Thursday with union leaders, industry representatives, and various supporters and opponents of the plan, the California Air Resources Board voted unanimously to implement the first state-administered system that would stick a price tag on carbon emissions and permit the state’s industries to trade carbon credits. The plan is an integral component of the state’s ambitious 2006 global-warming law, signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, which looks to slash emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
The new air regulations will commence in 2013, and then only for the state’s largest carbon emission entities, typically electrical utility companies and large industrial plants; the program will expand in 2015 to include 85 percent of "pollution" emitters. The plan will first institute a cap on emissions, and then allow businesses that are under their carbon limit to sell their excesses to companies that have exceeded their carbon allowance. Businesses will have an initial requirement to pay 10 percent of their credits, and they will be able to purchase carbon offsets, which will comprise emission containment projects such as investments in forestry, to comply with eight percent of their annual emission obligations.
State officials expect other state and federal officials to observe the California model, hoping that similar programs — or, as they would prefer, a national program — will be employed throughout the country. "When Washington considers how to address climate change, as I think it will, California’s climate plan will serve as a role model for the national program," asserted Stanley Young, the board’s spokesman.
Researchers at the University of California claim they have conclusively proven the reality of global warming. The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) study analyzed more than 1.6 billion land temperature records dating back to the 1800s from more than 39,000 temperature stations around the world. Results show warming of nearly 1°C since 1950.
At a news conference in Washington yesterday, a group of U.S. solar panel makers accused China of dumping Chinese-made solar panels on the U.S. market and asked the government for protection by raising tariffs on the offenders. Executives from SolarWorld, which makes its panels in Oregon, were at the conference along with both Oregon Senators.
Said SolarWorld President Gordon Brinser, his company “can compete with anyone in the world [but] illegal subsidies in China [are allowing] the Chinese solar industry to come in and gut and own the U.S. solar industry.” Because the alleged dumping has caused prices to decline, it has put several panel makers into financial difficulty, and was a proximate cause of the disintegration of Solyndra. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) claimed that because of the dumping of panels at below-market prices, “the American solar industry has been collapsing.” Part of the reason is that the Chinese government has been extending low-interest loans to Chinese panel makers, which Wyden called “cheating,” thus allowing them to offer panels for sale below the production costs of U.S. makers.
The group wants the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission to impose a duty on all panels imported from China sufficient to bring the price back up to where the U.S. makers can be competitive, and profitable, again.
Although since the Climategate scandal the science of manmade (anthropogenic) climate change has generally fallen into disrepute, that has not kept some researchers from speculating on the effect of climate change on different species.
According to a UPI report yesterday:
The size of polar bears is diminishing because of the myriad effects brought on by global climate change, researchers from Singapore determined.
A report published by the journal Natural Climate Change finds that lower levels of sea ice have led to smaller sized polar bears.
The authors of the article in Natural Climate Change, Jennifer Sheridan and David Bickford of the National University of Singapore, were quoted by London's Daily Telegraph explaining their findings: "The consequences of shrinkage [of polar ice] are not yet fully understood but could be far-reaching for biodiversity and humans alike.”
However, Fox News reports:
The Obama Administration is conspiring with the scandal-ridden UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to cover up official correspondence and screen it from national transparency laws, according to breaking news from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). Writing for the climate website Watts Up With That?, CEI Senior Fellow Christopher Horner announced his institute has today requested records from Obama's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) that reveal a "backchannel 'cloud' established to hide IPCC deliberations from" Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. He stated a federal inspector general confirmed the correspondence is subject to FOIA.
"This 'cloud' serves as a dead-drop of sorts for discussions by U.S. government employees over the next report being produced by the scandal-plagued IPCC, which is funded with millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars," Horner declared. According to CEI, the plan involves creation of a secret "FOIA-free zone" by setting up non-governmental accounts for official business.
CEI maintains the "cloud" was pre-meditated. In 2009 shortly after taking office, President Obama appointed his controversial science advisor John Holdren as head of the OSTP and put him in charge of dealings with IPCC. At first, OSTP claimed its IPCC information was the property of the UN and therefore not subject to FOIA, but the Department of Commerce ruled it unlawful to withhold information on that basis. Horner reports the "plan to create a FOIA-free zone was then implemented."
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and ActionAid USA decided to mark World Food Day on Sunday, October 16, by submitting (three days earlier) a formal complaint against Obama's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The organizations blame EPA's ethanol and biofuel programs for driving up global food prices by diverting important grains from food supplies, thereby exacerbating hunger and starvation worldwide.
CEI and ActionAid filed their complaint under the federal Data Quality Act, claiming that EPA glossed over the negative human and economic impacts of its recent biofuel regulations. In fact, the complaint points out that EPA's published analysis of its ethanol mandates does not even mention resulting hunger and starvation. Moreover, the claimants attest the analysis erroneously minimizes the mandates' economic impacts.
For example, EPA predicted a decrease in world food consumption of only 0.04 percent and "a relatively modest increase in annual household food costs associated with the higher prices commanded by corn and soybeans." Yet the complaint cites a peer-reviewed study published earlier this year that found EPA's biofuel mandates have severely aggravated chronic hunger and poverty in poor areas.
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.