Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

15 June 2018

Using Heat Transport Powers of the NASA Earth Energy Budget to Prove that Carbon Dioxide has an Insignificant Effect on Surface Temperatures

In my recent post A Summary of Some of the Physics Errors of the NASA Earth Energy Budget, I discussed a number of problems with the energy budget shown below in which heat transport powers are given as a percentage of the solar insolation at the top of the atmosphere. I demonstrated in that post or referred to earlier posts that demonstrated that the following NASA heat transport power values were very wrong:

1) Back radiation of 100%, which is fictitious when the atmosphere is cooler than the surface

2) Surface Infrared Emission of 117%, which is hugely exaggerated

3) The Surface Absorbed Solar Radiation minus Surface Convection Loss minus Water Evaporation Surface Cooling = 48% - 5% - 25% = 18% in this energy budget. If those values are correct then this sum is also equal to the Surface Infrared Emission. However, I went on to show that this 18% value is too high and/or the 12% of the Earth’s surface radiation emitted through the atmospheric window into space is too low.



In conclusion there is virtually no heat transport power in the NASA Earth Energy Budget which is correct. However, given the stridency with which the so-called settled science of the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis is said to be unquestionable, let us run through an exercise using some of their own heat transport powers to prove that carbon dioxide has a negligible effect on surface temperatures and that increases in that concentration will also have negligible effects on the surface temperature. Remember that this calculation that I will be doing is based on the values provided as an integral and essential part of the so-called consensus science which also is often claimed to be the settled science.

I am going to ask the question what would the surface temperature be if there were no infrared-active gases in the atmosphere, these being the gases commonly called greenhouse gases. In order to tackle this situation, we need to look at another somewhat earlier NASA schematic diagram of heat transport in the atmosphere so that we can separate out the solar insolation reflected from the atmosphere and that part reflected from clouds. We must also be able to use NASA values to separate the portions of the solar insolation absorbed by the atmosphere from that part absorbed by clouds. Of course we expect this alternative NASA Energy Budget to agree with the one above because when the energy budget was promulgated it was already being claimed that the science was settled.




















           








Note that 51% is absorbed by the surface instead of 48%, that the sum of the solar insolation reflected from clouds and the atmosphere is 26% instead of 23%, that 19% of solar insolation is absorbed by the atmosphere or by clouds rather than 23%, that solar insolation reflected from the surface is 4% instead of 7%, that conduction is 7% instead of 5%, that water evaporation is 23% instead of 25%, that the surface radiation emitted through the atmospheric window into space is 6% rather than 12%, and that the surface infrared radiation absorbed by the atmosphere is 15% instead of 105%. The second schematic was the viewpoint before that of the first schematic. One has to wonder what the claimed consensus does agree upon and how that agreement is deemed sufficient to make the scientific issues so settled.

If one removes water vapor from the atmosphere, there are no clouds and the mechanism of putting water vapor into the atmosphere has to be removed, namely the evaporation of water. Some solar insolation will still be reflected from the atmosphere or scattered from it with little loss of energy, but most of the reflection is from clouds. The second energy budget tells us that 6%/26% = 0.23 is the fraction of atmospheric reflection not by clouds. The total reflection of both clouds and the atmosphere in the first energy budget is 23%, so the percentage still reflected by the atmosphere with no clouds is (0.23)(23%) = 5.3%. Thus the portion of the solar insolation no longer reflected by clouds is 23% - 5.3% = 17.7%. The fraction of the atmosphere plus clouds absorption of solar insolation which is absorbed by the clouds is 3%/19% = 0.158. The portion of the solar insolation absorbed by clouds is then (0.158)(23%) = 3.6%. Thus the portion of the solar insolation still absorbed with no clouds is 23% - 3.6% = 19.4%.

The removal of the infrared-active gases from the atmosphere also requires us to remove the absorption of incoming solar radiation in the atmosphere by the infrared-active gases. We need additional information to estimate the fraction of the solar insolation absorbed by the infrared absorbing gases. Let us consider these two graphics:



















It appears that of the total absorption of solar insolation by the atmosphere, about one-third is absorbed by the infrared-absorbing gases. We just determined that the atmosphere absorbs about 19.4% of solar insolation when we remove clouds, but still have water vapor and other infrared-active gases in the atmosphere. One-third of this is about 6.5%.

Now let us add up the solar insolation power incident upon the surface, PSI, based on the power values of the first NASA Earth Energy Budget:

PSI = 55% + 17.7% + 3.6% + 6.5% = 82.8%,

so the solar insolation incident upon the surface when water vapor, clouds, and all infrared-active gases are removed is much increased relative to the current 55% with them present.

At present, 7%/55% is reflected according to the first NASA energy budget above. Let us assume this fraction of reflected solar incident radiation is unchanged, so that the power of solar insolation now absorbed by the surface, PABS, is:

PABS = (1 - {7%/55%})(82.8%) = 72.3%

This power absorbed by the surface is now going to be dissipated by convection and by radiation. In the NASA Earth Energy Budget, 5% is dissipated by convection. Given that water evaporation is not now occurring, it would be reasonable to think the energy dissipation rate by means of convection might go up, but let us do the calculation with a 5% value. The power radiated by the surface to space, PSRS, is then

PSRS = 72.3% - 5% = 67.3%

Now apply the Stefan-Boltzmann Law with an emissivity of 0.95 for the surface and we have

PSRS = (0.673)(340 W/m2) = (0.95) σ TS4,

where TS is the surface temperature with no clouds and no greenhouse gases. Solving for TS,

TS = 255.3K

Which is the effective radiation temperature of the Earth today with clouds and infrared-active gases in the atmosphere. So, if the NASA power numbers we used from the NASA Earth Energy Budget are right, then water vapor and clouds and other infrared active gases cause the Earth to be 33K warmer than it would be without them. This is consistent with a common claim of the so-called settled science.

Now I will put carbon dioxide back into our atmosphere and observe the effect of doing so.

Nearly all of the absorption of solar insolation by the atmosphere in the infrared spectrum is due to water vapor. How much is absorbed by carbon dioxide is little addressed by the settled science beyond a determination to ignore this cooling effect. To eye-ball the last figure above, it appears that the absorption by CO2, is about one-fifteenth that by water vapor. Since the total infrared absorption of solar insolation by the atmosphere was estimated above to be 6.5%, the part due to carbon dioxide is then about 0.46%.

In the first NASA Earth Energy Budget above, the infrared radiation from the surface absorbed by the atmosphere is given by (117% - 100%) - 12% = 5%, where the difference of the first two powers in parentheses is the real surface infrared emission and 12% is lost through the atmospheric window into space. Most of the 5% of the atmospheric absorption of the surface infrared emission is due to water vapor. It is also important here to only add in that part of the surface emission absorption that carbon dioxide adds to that absorption normally done by water vapor if we would find the relevant net effect of carbon dioxide. From the figure immediately above, this additional CO2 absorption effect relative to that of water vapor is about one-eighth, or about 0.62%.

I am looking to modify the calculation for the surface temperature that we did above after removing water vapor, clouds, and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to accommodate the return of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere to see how the surface temperature changes. It is clear that one needs to subtract the insolation power lost to surface absorption due to CO2 absorbing it in the atmosphere and one wants to add some power due to some additional absorption in the atmosphere of the longwave radiation emitted from the Earth’s surface. Using the full values of these absorptions is actually going to make the respective cooling and warming effects on the surface temperature larger than they are. Most of the heating they do stays in the atmosphere and does not cause the surface heat supply to change. It is also likely that the cooling effect on the surface operates at a greater efficiency than does the warming effect.  Consequently, what we will be calculating here is an exaggerated, upper limit on the magnitude of the effect of having CO2 in the atmosphere and may even have the wrong sign.

Upon subtracting the insolation power lost by CO2 absorption and adding the power of surface infrared emission absorbed by the atmosphere, we get

PSRS = (0.673 - 0.0046 + 0.0062)(340 W/m2) = (0.95) σ TS4,

and we must observe that each of the cooling and warming effects of carbon dioxide are already the equivalent of mere rounding errors and the difference between them is still more piddling. Nonetheless, let us carry out the calculation to obtain what is surely an upper limit on the surface temperature:

PSRS = (0.6746)(340 W/m2) = (0.95) σ TS4,

TS = 255.45K,

making the total warming effect of carbon dioxide all of about 0.15K at most at its present concentration. This implies that a doubling of the present CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will produce a temperature increase much smaller than 0.15K due to the logarithmic decrease of absorption with increased concentration.  Even at this upper limit of a 0.15K temperature increase due to the present levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, the fraction of the greenhouse gas warming due to carbon dioxide is only about

0.15K / (288.15K - 255.3K) = 0.0046 or 0.46%

Meaning that the so-called greenhouse effect is about 99.5% attributable to water vapor and the clouds that result from water vapor.

What is more, in the real world in which there is water vapor, there is a negative, not a positive, feedback response by water vapor which would erase a portion of the fraction of 0.15K that a doubling of the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere would produce according to these approximations using NASA Earth Energy Budget values.

 As I have maintained since 2010, the net effect of carbon dioxide on the surface temperature is entirely negligible. Great increases in the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere will have no significant effect on the surface temperature of the Earth. For all intents and purposes, only water vapor has significant effects on the surface temperature of the Earth and most of its effect is due to clouds and the water evaporation-condensation cycle.  There is no real reason for alarm about the effects of using fossil fuels based on added emissions of CO2.

It is unfathomable that after governments around the world have spent well over $100 billion on the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis that relatively few scientists are pointing out the errors and contradictions that riddle the so-called settled science. It would appear that government funding of science corrupts science absolutely and/or makes scientists incompetent. It is an interesting parallel to what government power does to government employees.

08 June 2018

A Summary of Some of the Physics Errors of the NASA Earth Energy Budget

         I have previously discussed many errors in the physics of the NASA Earth Energy Budget which are critical to the argument backing the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis. These errors are essentially the same in the Earth Energy Budgets of the UN IPCC reports, though there are minor variations in the values of the heat transport powers in the Earth system consisting of its surface and its atmosphere. The NASA Earth Energy Budget is shown below, where the heat transport is denoted as a percentage of the average solar insolation at the top of the atmosphere:



















Among these errors are:

•         The transport of heat in the atmosphere does not address the critical role in the temperature profile played by the action of gravity on air molecules. This is not an actual error in the Earth Energy Budget, but that budget does serve to misdirect attention toward a completely radiation and heat transport dominated view of the problem.

•         The 117% surface radiation from the Earth’s surface requires the Earth’s surface to directly interface to vacuum, with no atmosphere present. The Earth’s surface must be at 289.4 K, be a black body radiator with an emissivity of 1.00, and be surrounded only by space at very nearly 0 Kelvin (K). Note that 289.4 K is a higher temperature than that usually taken to be the Earth’s average surface temperature and that the Earth’s surface emissivity is usually said to be about 0.95. The lack of vacuum at the interface with the Earth’s surface is a serious problem because the surface oscillating dipoles that radiate infrared energy cannot provide that same kinetic energy that creates radiated energy to evaporating water or transfer it to air molecules colliding with the surface. Energy must be conserved. The higher temperature and emissivity used for the surface is a smaller error, but indicative of a cavalier attitude to the science.

•         The Conservation of Energy in a system in equilibrium does not allow the flow of energy into the Earth’s surface to exceed the rate at which energy enters the system. Energy enters this system at 100%, yet this NASA Earth Energy Budget claims it is incident upon the Earth’s surface at a rate of 7% reflected solar insolation plus 48% absorbed solar insolation plus 100% back radiation from the atmosphere for a total of 155%.

•         The atmosphere cannot possibly absorb as much radiation from the surface of the Earth as is claimed to be absorbed, because the atmosphere is not as absorbing as would be a black body absorber and a black body absorber would have to be at a lower temperature than any temperature in the Earth’s atmosphere to absorb as much radiation as the so-called settled science Earth Energy Budget claims is absorbed. This is because the power absorbed by a black body absorber at temperature TA from a black body emitter at a temperature of TE at equilibrium is P = σTE4 - σTA4. In the above schematic diagram, it is not possible for the surface to emit 1.17 PSI, where PSI is the solar radiation at the top of the atmosphere, and have (1.17 - 0.12) PSI = 1.05 PSI be absorbed by the atmosphere. See my discussion of this issue in A Critical Lesson from the NASA Earth Energy Budget.

•         In Solving the Parallel Plane Black Body Radiator Problem and Why the Consensus Science is Wrong, I proved that the consensus science method of applying the Stefan-Boltzmann Law of Thermal Radiation causes the essential characteristic energy density of a black body cavity in equilibrium to double relative the energy density given by Stefan’s Law. Stefan’s Law states that the electric field energy density in a black body cavity is e = aT4, where T is the temperature in Kelvin and a is Stefan’s constant. The correct energy density is maintained in the case of two parallel planes at temperatures TW and TC with TW > TC in the limit that TC approaches TW, if the radiation from the warmer plane toward the cooler plane is given by PW = σTW4 - σTC4 and the radiation from the cooler plane toward the warmer plane is given by PC = 0. The settled science thinks PW = σTW4 and PC = σTC4, which causes there to be many more photons with real energy between the planes than there really are and causes the doubling of the energy density known in Stefan’s Law. Applying this result to the NASA Earth Energy Budget one realizes that there is no equilibrium back radiation from the cooler atmosphere to the warmer surface, so the 100% back radiation is fictitious. Equally important, if the atmosphere were a black body, the radiation from the surface would also be much reduced to the extent that the atmosphere were absorbing some of it. Other critics have made the claim that cooler bodies do not radiate toward warmer bodies using a simple argument based on the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which by itself is not sufficient. However, coupling that law with a minimization of the total energy in the system, which provides the correct result to many a physics problem, does provide a pretty good argument for the same result that I worked out from electromagnetic field thermodynamics. Note that the elimination of back radiation eliminates a power incident upon the surface of 100% and therefore eliminates the violation of the Conservation of Energy at the Earth’s surface discussed in the third bullet above. There are serious consequences of using black body radiation theory in a manner that doubles the energy density of a black body cavity.


Further Discussing the Diminished Role of Radiation in the Lower Atmosphere

          Let us consider the equilibrium condition now at the Earth’s surface that the flow of energy into the surface per unit area must equal the flow of energy out of the surface per unit area. The power absorbed by the surface from solar insolation, PABS, according to the NASA Earth Energy Budget is 48%. We now know that the other input to the surface they claim from back radiation is zero in the equilibrium case in which the air cools with increasing altitude from the surface. This is not quite true on average for the real Earth system since there are occasions, commonly in the dawn hours and shortly afterwards, when the air temperature just above the surface is warmer than the surface. This is easily recognized as the cause of dew and ground fog. Consequently, I will allow that back radiation might be 1 or 2%, but the upcoming discussion will ignore this small effect.

          The flow of energy out of the Earth’s surface according to NASA is given by the sums of 5% power lost in convection, 25% power loss through evaporation, and the radiated power PR. Consequently, we have

PABS = (0.48)(340 W/m2) = (0.05 + 0.25)(340 W/m2) + PR

Solving for PR, we get
 PR = (0.18)(340 W/m2)

From the NASA Earth Energy Budget we know that radiation passing through the atmospheric window into space from the surface without any atmospheric absorption is a power, PAW, of 12% of the top of the atmosphere solar insolation. The remaining power radiated from the Earth’s surface is absorbed by the atmosphere and converted into an upward power loss as convection, RCC. Thus we have

PR = PAW + PCC

(0.18)(340 W/m2) = (0.12)(340 W/m2) + PCC

PCC = (0.06)(340 W/m2)

          Consequently, if NASA has correctly measured the radiation emitted from the surface through the atmospheric window into space, the absorption of solar insolation by the surface, and the sum of the heat loss from the surface due to convection and water evaporation, then the fraction of the radiation from the surface which is absorbed in the atmosphere is only half that of the radiation from the surface that escapes into space without absorption in the atmosphere and it is one-third of the total radiation emitted by the surface. According to the NASA Earth Energy Budget the radiation emitted by the surface of 117% has all but 12% absorbed by the atmosphere, which means that water vapor and carbon dioxide and the various minor infrared-active gases, the greenhouse gases, are playing a huge role in absorbing a power of 105%. In the next to last bulleted item above, I showed that the atmosphere cannot possibly absorb so much infrared radiation from the surface. In reality, we see above that these gases only absorb 6% according to the NASA numbers after we eliminate those that are clearly wrong. The role of infrared-absorbing gases has thus been falsely magnified by a factor of

(105%) / (6%) = 17.5

In light of these observations, is it not interesting that so many are claiming that the science is settled and that there is a scientific consensus that mankind is faced with catastrophic global warming resulting from his generation of carbon dioxide and the use of fossil fuels?

          Given the errors in the science of climate change that I have pointed out here, one should wonder how accurate any of the NASA and the similar values used in the UN IPCC reports might be.

          There is another way in which the NASA Earth Energy Budget is quite misleading with respect to the atmospheric absorption of infrared radiation from the surface. In reality, in most of the world the main part of the surface radiation that is absorbed is absorbed within a very few meters of the surface and not far up into the atmosphere as the diagrams for energy budgets picture the absorption. There are some areas such as the polar regions and a few deserts where the distance for absorption is significant, but in most of the world the humidity is high enough that the absorption length is very short based on laboratory measurements of absorption cross sections or mean free path lengths. Surface radiation in the colder polar regions is substantially less than that from the warmer regions of the Earth, so the longer absorption lengths in those polar regions are also of less importance to the energy budget. That much smaller part of the absorption of surface radiation performed by carbon dioxide is also occurring very close to the surface, though it is a few times greater than the average distance for water vapor, but is also more uniform over the Earth since the concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are more uniform.

          If the surface infrared emission is 18% and the atmosphere absorbs 6%, then the temperature a black body absorber in the atmosphere, TA, would have to be at to absorb so much infrared radiation can be calculated from:

(0.06)(340 W/m2) = (0.18)(340 W/m2) - σTA4

TA = 163.8 K

This is a temperature lower than that found in the Earth’s atmosphere, so even a black body absorber cannot absorb such a large fraction of the infrared radiation emitted from the Earth’s surface as is implied by the NASA values in the Earth Energy Budget after we have eliminated the errors I pointed out in the bullets at the start of this post. The infrared-active gases can only absorb a fraction of what a black body absorber can, so they certainly cannot remove as large a fraction of the surface-emitted infrared as could a black body absorber.

          I expect the easiest power value for NASA to measure accurately is the 12% surface-emitted radiation through the atmospheric window into space. But, I expect that their measurements of the surface absorption of solar insolation, the loss of surface energy due to convection, and the loss of surface energy due to the evaporation of water are not very well-established numbers. Clearly, the fraction of the surface-emitted infrared energy absorbed by the atmosphere cannot be as high as one-third. NASA has probably substantially underestimated the sum of the heat loss of the surface by means of water evaporation and convection.

          Such is the sad state of the so-called settled science of man-made global warming and such is the foolishness of the scientific consensus on climate change, insofar as that exists.

18 May 2018

"Evil" GE foods and "eco-friendly" organics by Paul Driessen and Vijay Jayaraj


Misrepresentations by radical greens promote myths of GE dangers and organic benefits

Across the globe, genetically engineered (GE) crops face opposition from environmental and organic food activists, who claim the crops harm the environment and endanger human health.
How factual are their claims? The evidence strongly supports GE over organic crops.
Not long ago, Vijay visited the Sprouts organic food store in San Jose, California. To his surprise, organic vegetables that had shorter shelf-life and higher risk of bacterial contamination and thus serious illness were priced two to ten times more than their GE and conventional food alternatives. The store is famous among millennial techies in the Silicon Valley and enjoys reasonable sales. One possible explanation would be the false notion that GE foods are risky or injurious to health; another is that buyers incorrectly believe organic produce have fewer pesticides, are more nutritious or better protect the environment.
But in science, neither a belief nor even a general “consensus” determines truth. A thousand people could claim the theory of gravity is wrong, but one simple scientific proof would prove their consensus false. Similarly, the safety of genetically modified foods cannot be determined by the increasingly vitriolic voices of anti-GE groups. It requires robust scientific testing by actual experts in various fields.
All the major GE foods currently on the market have been exhaustively tested and found to be safe for people, animals and the environment. Moreover, to date, Americans alone have consumed more than four trillion servings of foods with at least one GE ingredient – without a single documented example of harm to a person or the environment.
That is why more than 100 Nobel Laureates in chemistry, medicine and biotechnology have said GE foods are safe for human and animal consumption. That’s not an uninformed assertion or “consensus.” It is a professional, scientific conclusion based on thousands of risk assessment studies over several decades, as well as numerous real-world experiences.
Anti-GE activists typically use the term “genetically modified organisms” or GMOs, a pejorative coined simply to disparage the use of the most modern techniques. In fact, genetic engineering with molecular techniques is merely a more modern, rapid and precise way than traditional crop breeding methods to change or improve the genetic makeup of plants. It also enables scientists to enhance crops by introducing helpful properties like resistance to droughts, standing water or insects from one organism to another.
For example, corn varieties that integrate the Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) gene right into plant tissue greatly reduce or even eliminate the need for spraying or dusting the crops with pesticides. Golden Rice incorporates two beta-carotene biosynthesis genes (Vitamin A precursors), one from daffodils, one from a soil bacterium, so that even malnourished people get sufficient Vitamin A to prevent blindness and death.  
Organic farming prohibits modern manmade pesticides. But some are used surreptitiously anyway – and many organic farmers employ “natural” but still toxic pesticides like copper sulfate and neem oil. Though they oppose Bt-engineered crops, many spray live Bt bacteria on crops, killing good and harmful insects.
Studies by Stanford University and other researchers have found that “organic” fruits and vegetables actually have lower yields and are no more nutritious than conventional or GE alternatives.
However, certain organic practices, such as fertilizing with manure, have led to contamination with dangerous fungal toxins or listeria, salmonella or E. Coli bacteria. These problems are far more common in organic produce and can lead to serious intestinal illness, kidney failure, brain damage or even death.
It can fairly be said that the anti-GE war has reached levels that are ignorant, deceptive, and even fraudulent and lethal. Activist claims about the dangers of GE foods are baseless and without bona fide evidence. They ignore the many benefits of GE crops. Moreover, many of the groups and campaigns are funded, directly or indirectly, by the organic and natural food industries and allied foundations.
GE crops are environment friendly and promote sustainable agriculture, while potentially meeting the daily food demand of seven billion people globally. They allow farmers to produce more food, from less land, using less water and fewer pesticides, and with greater resistance to droughts, floods, insects and climate change, than is possible with conventional crops – and certainly with organic crops. They enable farmers to grow Golden Rice and other crops that prevent malnutrition, blindness and death in children.
By contrast, organic crops require more land, more water, more labor and higher farming expenses to generate the same produce. Expanding organic farms will thus cause additional loss of wildlife habitats in a time when we are trying to nurture and protect what is left of Earth’s natural habitats.
Tuskegee University professor, dean and biotech expert C.S. Prakash points out that the percentage of land used to grow crops has increased dramatically during the past 200 years, as humanity worked to provide nutritious foods for rapidly growing populations. The ideal solution to avoid deforestation, he says, is to use GE crops, which produce much more food per acre than their non-GE counterparts.
An ardent proponent of GE in the fight against poverty and disease, Dr. Prakash worries that the anti-GE campaigns will impede our efforts to provide sufficient, affordable food in many developing countries. Moreover, non-GE crops are susceptible to many insects and diseases that GE crops are resistant to.
Much of the most important work to improve food crops genetically was done by Norman Borlaug, using pre-molecular techniques. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for developing crop variants that helped billions avoid certain death during the food crises of the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, much of the wheat, maize (corn) and rice now consumed globally are Borlaug’s crops, which are disease resistant and high yielding.
GE crops are also more climate adaptive. New variants of rice and wheat are being designed to withstand extreme climatic and geographical conditions. One important example is wheat variants that withstand a whopping 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), which was practically unimaginable just a decade ago. This can make wheat cultivation far more productive in the 40% of world’s dryland surface where conditions are hostile to normal wheat varieties. 
Health Canada and the United States Department of Agriculture recently approved Golden Rice and High Fibre Wheat, respectively, thereby continuing to embrace GE crops, as they have done for years. This pro-GE stance has been echoed by international governing institutions such as the United Nations and governments of major technologically innovative countries like Israel, China and India.
Although the number of organic farms is increasing in India, its food markets are largely dominated by crops that cannot be considered organic. Organic madness has nevertheless invaded parts of India. The Indian state of Sikkim recently branded itself “organic” by banning the entry and sale of more than 25 non-organic horticultural and agricultural products. That decision has caused widespread chaos, leaving families unable to afford cereals, fruits and vegetables that otherwise would be their staple foods.
It is time to progress from unfounded fears about GE foods – and begin educating government leaders and regulators, as well as domestic and global journalists, about the safety and benefits of GE crops.
Let us begin by asking: What actual, replicable, peer-reviewed evidence do environmentalists and organic food producers and advocates have that organic foods are safer, more nutritious or more eco-friendly than conventional or genetically modified varieties? What actual, replicable, peer-reviewed evidence do they have that GE crops have harmed people or the environment in any way?
Neither we nor Dr. Prakash nor any other agricultural experts we have spoken with can find any such evidence. If environmentalists and organic food proponents cannot provide solid evidence, they should end their deceitful pro-organic, anti-GE campaigns – or be compelled to do so by government agencies and courts of law that deal in facts and sound science, instead of allegations, innuendo and intimidation.
The billion dollars spent by radical environmentalists and the organic foods industry on campaigns against GE plants would have been far better spent on approving more GE crops, upgrading agricultural practices, providing more nutritious, affordable food, and improving lives all over the world.
The lies, demagoguery and destructive tactics of anti-GE groups are poisonous to the century-long effort to eradicate food poverty across the globe. These inhumane, lethal tactics can no longer be tolerated.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy and environmental science and policy. Vijay Jayaraj (MSc in Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in Coimbatore, India.


My Comments:

I have posted this article because of the importance of the topic for avoiding diseases and hunger, especially among the many people of the world with moderate and low incomes who are most of the world's 7.6 billion people.  There is one aspect of the article that I adamantly oppose.  Let me quote the statement that I oppose:
If environmentalists and organic food proponents cannot provide solid evidence, they should end their deceitful pro-organic, anti-GE campaigns – or be compelled to do so by government agencies and courts of law that deal in facts and sound science, instead of allegations, innuendo and intimidation.
However wrong the anti-GE and pro-organic proponents may be, they have the right to be wrong.  If there is no right to be wrong, then there is no right to freedom of speech and in this case, no right to the ownership of their own bodies.  The fact that they have a right to be wrong, does not give them a right to use force to impose their beliefs, whether right or wrong, on others.  The fact that we are right in claiming them wrong does not mean that we should use governments and courts to shut them up.  Similarly, the Indian state of Sikkim is wrong to ban GE foods in whole or in part without the most rational and proven of reasons, which that government is lacking.  While the organic food movement has many bad consequences, people should be free to eat organic foods if they choose to do so and if they can afford them.  It is a good thing to make more people aware of the consequences of such a choice, however.

14 May 2018

The ethanol gravy train rolls on by Paul Driessen


Opponents make compelling case but can’t derail or even slow this well-protected industry

Like most people I’ve spoken with, I have no innate, inflexible antipathy to ethanol in gasoline. What upsets me are the deceptive claims used to justify adding mostly corn-based ethanol to this indispensable fuel; the way seriously harmful unintended consequences are brushed aside; and the insidious crony corporatist system the ethanol program has spawned between producers and members of Congress.

What angers me are the legislative and regulatory mandates that force us to buy gasoline that is 10% ethanol – even though it gets lower mileage than 100% gasoline, brings none of the proclaimed benefits (environmental or otherwise), drives up food prices, and damages small engines. In fact, in most areas, it’s almost impossible to find E-zero gasoline, and that problem will get worse as mandates increase.

My past articles lambasting ethanol (here, here, here and here) addressed these issues, and said ethanol epitomizes federal programs that taxpayers and voters never seem able to terminate, no matter how wasteful or harmful they become. That’s primarily because its beneficiaries are well funded, motivated, politically connected and determined to keep their gravy train rolling down the tracks – while opponents and victims have far less funding, focus, motivation and ability to reach the decision-making powers.

Ethanol got started because of assertions that even now are still trotted out, despite having outlived their time in the real-world sun. First, we were told, ethanol would be a bulwark against oil imports from unfriendly nations, especially as the USA depleted its rapidly dwindling petroleum reserves. Of course, the fracking (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) revolution has given America and the world at least a century of new reserves, and the US now exports more oil and refined products than it imports.

Second, renewable fuels would help prevent dangerous manmade climate change. However, with the 2015-16 El Niño temperature spike now gone, average global temperatures are continuing the 20-year no-increase trend that completely contradicts alarmist predictions and models. Harvey was the first major hurricane in a record twelve years to make US landfall. And overall, the evidence-based scientific case for “dangerous manmade climate change” has become weaker with every passing year.
Moreover, the claim that ethanol and other biofuels don’t emit as much allegedly climate-impacting (but certainly plant-fertilizing) carbon dioxide as gasoline has also been put out to pasture. In reality, over their full life cycle (from planting and harvesting crops, to converting them to fuel, to transporting them by truck, to blending and burning them), biofuels emit at least as much CO2 as their petroleum counterparts.
Ironically, the state that grows the most corn and produces the most ethanol – the state whose Republican senators had a fit when EPA proposed to reduce its 2018 non-ethanol biodiesel requirement by a measly 315 million gallons, out of 19.3 billion gallons in total renewable fuels – buys less ethanol-laced gasoline than do average consumers in the rest of the USA. That state is Iowa.

In fact, Iowans bought more ethanol-free gasoline in 2016 than what EPA projects the entire United States will be able to buy in just a few more years, as the E10 mandates ratchet higher and higher.

And so this past week, after months of battles, debates and negotiations, President Trump hosted a White House meeting with legislators The purpose was to address and compromise on at least some of the thorny issues that had put Ted Cruz, Joni Ernst and other politicians at loggerheads, as they sought to reform some aspects of the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) system while protecting their constituents.

In an effort to expand the reform agenda, by making legislators and citizens better informed in advance of the meeting, 18 diverse organizations wrote a joint letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, underscoring why they believe broad and significant RFS reform is essential. Signatories included major national meat and poultry producers and processors, restaurants, marine manufacturers, small engine owners, consumer and taxpayer organizations, and conservation and environmental groups. They were especially worried about the prospect that the Congress and Administration might allow year-round sales of 15% (E15) ethanol blends in gasoline, but they raised other pressing concerns as well.

* As large shares of domestic corn and soy crops are now diverted from food use to fuel production, poultry, beef, pork and fish producers (and consumers) face volatile and increasing prices for animal feed.

* Ethanol wreaks havoc on the engines and fuel systems of boats, motorcycles and lawn equipment, as well as many automobiles, which are not capable or allowed to run on E15. Repair and replacement costs are a major issue for marine and small engine owners (as I personally discovered when I owned a boat).

* Consumers and taxpayers must pay increasing costs as biofuel mandates increase under the RFS.

* Millions of acres of native prairie and other ecosystems have been turned into large-scale agricultural developments, because the RFS encourages farmers to plow land, instead of preserving habitats. This endangers ecosystems and species, exacerbates agricultural run-off and degrades water quality.

* Biofuel demand promotes conversion of natural habitats to palm oil and other plantations overseas, as well as domestically. Their life-cycle carbon dioxide emissions rival or exceed those of oil and gas.

* Expanding markets for corn ethanol by increasing E15 sales ignores and exacerbates these problems – while benefiting a small subset of the US economy but negatively impacting far more sectors, including the general public and the industries and interests represented by signatories to the Pruitt letter.

Following the meeting, several signatories expanded on these concerns – and noted that the compromise did increase E15 sales, while reducing the RFS impact on small refineries that were being forced to buy paper biofuel certificates because they weren’t making enough gasoline to need mandated real biofuel.
   
Requiring every American to buy ethanol gasoline “isn’t good enough” for biofuel companies anymore, the National Council of Chain Restaurants remarked. “Now they want a waiver from federal clean air laws so they can sell high blends of ethanol, which pollutes the air in warm weather months, year round.”

“Arbitrarily waiving the E15 [ozone emissions] restriction and permitting year-round E15 sales, without comprehensive reform of the RFS,” merely boosts ethanol sales and justifies future government-imposed increases to the ethanol mandate, the National Taxpayers Union noted. These “hidden taxes,” damage to small engines, and lower gas mileage are “a direct hit” on family budgets, especially for poor families.

The new year-round E15 policy will “cause serious chaos for recreational boaters,” the National Marine Manufacturers Association stated. Over 60% of consumers falsely assume any gasoline sold at retail gas stations must be safe for their equipment. It is essential that EPA launch “a public awareness campaign, improved labeling standards, and new safeguards at the pump that protect American consumers.”

“Granting a Clean Air Act waiver for the corn ethanol industry … would mean doubling down on a policy that has already been a disaster for the environment,” the National Wildlife Federation said. Congress needs to … reform the ethanol mandate before it does more damage.”

“US farmers are in a severe crisis and millions of people around the world are forced to go without food,” ActionAid USA pointed out. “We need policies that guarantee everyone enough food to eat, fair prices for farmers, and protect our environment. Biofuels don’t do that.” In fact, they make the situation far worse.

Unfortunately, a deal was struck. The noisiest and best-connected warring factions got what they wanted. These other pressing concerns were ignored, as the can once again got kicked down the road.

Refiners will now save hundreds of millions of dollars a year, by not having to buy ethanol that they don’t need to blend into the smaller quantities of gasoline they are refining. Corn farmers and ethanol producers will rake in hundreds of millions more a year. All that is good for those industries, their workers and investors, and the politicians who get their campaign contributions.

But what about the rest of America? The Congress, White House and EPA need to address our environmental and pocketbook concerns, too. When will the next negotiating session be held?

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy and environmental policy.

My Comments:

I have noted over and over that such special interest legislation and rulings are the standard once the People have accepted the idea that government should hurt some to help others, whether those others are a majority,  underdogs in a society, or the well-connected to government power-holders.  This ancient vision of the purpose of government was replaced in our Declaration of Independence with the principle that government derives its powers from the People for the purpose of protecting their equal, inalienable rights.  By preventing some of the People from exercising their rights for the benefit of some others of the People, the government is violating its legitimate purpose of protecting everyone's equal rights.  Once that principle of equal protection of individual rights is abused, one will always get government destructive of the interests of most of the people most of the time as special interests become the customary beneficiaries, just as they usually were before the American Principle of equal rights for everyone.

The ethanol mandates are one particularly clear case of special interests taking advantage of most of the people and violating their broad right to purchase the goods of their own choosing in a free market.  The fact that the government is so willing to violate this critical principle and impose higher costs, greater inconvenience, and greater environmental damage on the People generally so that some businesses might make more money is an especially egregious example of government that has lost its way.  It is all too clear that this is an example in which many Republicans are very guilty of failing to understand the legitimate function of government.  While I think the Democrats are worse in abusing government power, the Republicans are plenty bad themselves.  Good government only results from a strong commitment by the People to the recognition that government's only legitimate function is to protect every individual's equal right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.  We all have very broad rights to engage in trade, to freedom of conscience, and to freedom of association.  We all have the right to choose our own values and to manage our own lives.  Government exists to prevent the initiated use of force and to minimize the overall use of force within our society.  That is how it achieves the General Welfare -- that is the welfare of each and every American.

As I have proven many times and many ways, the science behind the claims of the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis is clearly wrong.  Before such an idea is used to destroy American industries, American jobs, investment value, and to greatly increase consumer costs and inconveniences, it ought to have to prove itself true beyond any reasonable doubt.  It ought to have to answer my critical analysis of its failures to abide by known physics.  The proponents of that theory have never addressed my arguments, though they have called me many names which are meant to be unflattering.




11 May 2018

Now they're waging war on plastics! by Tom Harris


Earth Day Network’s misguided anti-plastic campaign is a sign of more nonsense to come

Earth Day Network (EDN) chose “End Plastic Pollution” as their theme for this year’s April 22 Earth Day. It is just the tip of the anti-plastic activism that now consumes environmental extremists. A Google search  on “Plastic Pollution Coalition” (a group claiming to represent “more than 500 member organizations” dedicated to “working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts”) yields almost 90,000 hits, including a video actor Jeff Bridges made for the campaign.
Even the United Nations has joined in, making “Beat Plastic Pollution” the theme of its June 5 World Environment Day, a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries.”
But demanding heavy-handed action on the comparatively minor problems that plastics present makes no sense. To help the public assess these attacks against this miracle material, let’s consider what leading environmental thinkers have to say about issues EDN raised on Earth Day, beginning with its use of the term “Plastic Pollution.”
Canadian ecologist and Greenpeace cofounder Dr. Patrick Moore stresses that plastic is not toxic. “It’s litter, not pollution. Many people find it unsightly, and the solution is to educate people not to discard it into the environment and to organize, as is done on highways, to have it removed.”
EDN also says plastics are “poisoning and injuring marine life.” As Moore notes, “Plastic does not ‘poison’ anything. It’s non-toxic. Do they think our credit cards, made with PVC plastic, are ‘toxic’?” Of course, plastics can release toxins when burned, but not when they are simply littered into the general environment. So burning should be done under careful emission control standards.
“The main reason birds and fish eat bits of plastic is to get the food that is growing on them,” Moore adds. “But they’re both quite capable of passing bones and other fairly large objects through their digestive systems.” Plastics are no exception.
Paul Driessen, senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and author of books and articles on energy and environmental policy, points out that “some animals do ingest plastics or get caught in plastic loops and nets. But the notion that marine life (and people) are being poisoned by chemicals in plastics has no scientific basis.”
EDN next complained about “the ubiquitous presence of plastics in our food.” Moore responded, “This is complete nonsense. If a bit of plastic gets in our food it is passed right through the digestive system.”
“Plastic wraps and containers help preserve food and keep bacteria out,” Driessen emphasized. “Which is worse? Barely detectable trace amounts of chemicals in our bodies, or serious bacterial outbreaks?”
“The debunking of hormone disruptor researchers and their claims has been definitive and devastating,” Dunn notes. “JunkScience.com director Steve Milloy also has been prolific in his criticisms of hormone disruptor junk science,” as this excellent article explains.
Bizarrely and unbelievably, EDN proclaimed plastic as “threatening our planet’s survival.” Reminiscent of how Comedian George Carlin poked fun at the plastics scare, Driessen dismisses this hyperbole. “Earth has survived huge meteor strikes, massive ice ages, Devonian and other mass extinctions, and other planetary calamities. Now plastics have usurped dangerous manmade climate change’s role as the threat to planetary survival!?”
EDN promotes “a global effort to eliminate primarily single-use plastics.” Steve Goreham, executive director of the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of “Outside the Green Box – Rethinking Sustainable Development,responds: “Single use plastics are a boon for humanity. Packaging food in plastics instead of animal skins, wood, metal, glass and paper brings major sanitation, convenience and health benefits, as well as lower cost. The solution is biodegradable plastics for single-use products, not elimination of plastic.”
In keeping with their climate alarmism, EDN said they want “alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials.” Driessen replies: “It is absurd to suggest that non-oil and gas sources would make plastics better – or that it could be done without turning nearly the entire planet into a massive biofuel farm to provide energy and plastics. The impacts on water supplies, croplands and wildlife habitat lands would be devastating.”
As retired NASA-JSC engineer Alex Pope explains, “fossil fuels and fossil fuel products have made life better for billions of people on this Earth…. This better life is due to energy from fossil fuels and to fossil fuel products, especially plastic products.… The war against fossil fuels and fossil fuel products is all the same war. I think they know they are losing many parts of the war against using fossil fuels for energy,” so now they are cranking up the war against vital fossil fuel products that enhance and safeguard lives.
EDN wants “100% recycling of plastics.” Goreham brushed this idea aside. “100% recycling of plastics is not an economically sound policy. Either landfilling, incinerating, composting or recycling plastics is best, based on cost and applicability.  Today’s landfills are environmentally friendly in modern nations.”
EDN wants people to “reduce, refuse, reuse, recycle and remove plastics.” Driessen says “this will work in some places and cultures. But where people have no food, sanitation, clean water, jobs, electricity or real hope for the future, do you really think they will worry incessantly about plastics?”
The first Earth Day was held on 22 April 1970 in response to the legitimate concerns of millions of people that reducing air, land and water pollution needed to happen more quickly. The movement grew, until today Earth Day Network president Kathleen Rogers estimates that “more than 1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.”
This should surprise no one. All sensible people are environmentalists. We want to enjoy clean air, land and water, and we like to think future generations will live in an even better environment. These were the original Earth Day objectives, and I am happy to have presented at Earth Day events in the early 1990s.
However, as Henry Miller and Jeff Stier observe in a Fox News article, In recent years, Earth Day has devolved into an occasion for professional environmental activists and alarmists to warn of apocalypse, dish up anti-technology dirt, and proselytize. Passion and zeal now trump science, and provability takes a back seat to plausibility.” That is sending science and rational thinking backward hundreds of years.
All this demonstrates the wisdom of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposed rule to require that data underlying scientific studies used to justify federal environment and energy policies be open to public inspection and criticism. This means actual evidence, full independent peer review, and data, methodologies, computer codes and algorithms will no longer be kept secret.
Sterling Burnett, senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, calls Pruitt’s proposal “one small step for regulatory reform, one giant leap for scientific integrity and political transparency.” EDN and its allied groups should have to prove plastics are dangerous pollutants, before governments take any actions against them.
Meanwhile, Goreham reminds us how important plastics are to health and safety in modern societies. “They are a miracle material. We fabricate food containers, boat pad­dles, shoes, heart valves, pipes, toys, protective helmets and smart phones from plastic.”
Even EDN and some other anti-plastics groups seem to recognize that plastics are indispensable for numerous applications, since they also call for manufacturing these products. They just want them made from manmade hydrocarbons (biofuels, et cetera), instead of from the oil and natural gas that Mother Nature created and left beneath Earth’s surface for humanity to use to improve our lives in countless ways.
Hopefully, applying Pruitt’s new rule, and ignoring the groundless claims of extreme eco-activists, will ensure that plastics are with us for a long time to come.

Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa, Ontario-based International Climate Science Coalition.