News & Views – November 1, 2011

Note to readers: JunkScience Sidebar has moved to a daily News & Views page available here.

Concerns Are Raised About Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes – These mosquitoes are genetically engineered to kill — their own children.
Researchers on Sunday reported initial signs of success from the first release into the environment of mosquitoes engineered to pass a lethal gene to their offspring, killing them before they reach adulthood.
The results, and other work elsewhere, could herald an age in which genetically modified insects will be used to help control agricultural pests and insect-borne diseases like dengue fever and malaria.
But the research is arousing concern about possible unintended effects on public health and the environment, because once genetically modified insects are released, they cannot be recalled. (NYT) | Scientists Tweak Bugs to Zap Disease (WSJ)

BASF applies for EU approval for Fortuna GM potato – BASF has applied for European Union approval for Fortuna, a potato genetically modified to resist a common plant disease, as the German chemicals company tries again to overcome resistance in the region to GM food. (Reuters)

Now we are seven billion, let’s feed the world – Why do we reject the technology that would put food on the plates of the poorest? (TDT)

People-hating Paul Ehrlich still at it and still just as wrong: Population growth sees myths reborn – The news that the human population now numbers more than 7 billion – and the projection that it may grow to 15 billion – has caused the re-emergence of many ancient population fallacies.
Australia is a centre of one of the most dangerous myths to infect civilisation: that population and economic growth have no limits. The “big Australia” fallacy is pushed by unscrupulous developers, politicians, media moguls and their buddies, who will personally profit from growth. (SMH)

Coupling two pretend ‘crises’: Stemming population growth is a cheap way to limit climate change – There’s no one way to suddenly cut carbon emissions, but better family planning where it’s most needed is a cost-effective start (Guardian)

Say what? An acidic ocean threatens shellfish farms – For more than two decades, Rob Saunders grew his shellfish larvae in ordinary seawater drawn from the pristine natural environment of Baynes Sound, one of the most productive shellfish farming areas on B.C.’s West Coast.
Now the water in Baynes Sound is so acidic, Mr. Saunders’ fragile seed stock will die unless he artificially adjusts the PH level in his hatchery tanks. (Globe and Mail)

Hmm… I did a quick online search on Baynes Sound and found plenty of information about shellfish aquaculture but nothing about the water being “acidic” at all. Certainly they have to contend with varying water quality due to significant rainwater runoff but the sea is still alkaline and expected to stay that way. The above article has been published in lots of places but there seems to be no factual basis for it.

Today in settled science – Today in settled science: A bird expert sees blobs in a photo, and promptly declares polar bears headed to extinction. (Don Surber, Daily Mail)

More pre-CoP17 nonsense: Extreme weather pushes up food prices – and unrest? – LONDON – This past year the world has witnessed a spike in food prices, which some experts believe correlate with the rising number of developing countries experiencing societal unrest.
“Climate change increases the probability of extreme weather, which is likely to result in increased scarcity of food, land and water and access to other resources,” said Rob Bailey, an energy, environment and development expert at Chatham House, a London-based international affairs organization. (AlertNet)

No, it wasn’t “climate change” but a weather event which reduced Russia’s wheat harvest and no, regional poor cropping seasons are not the least unusual. What really is within human control and has created an artificial food price pressure is the idiotic move to mandating biofuel usage. Diversion of agricultural effort to deliberate harvest burning is stupid and irresponsible. Stick that in your CoP & smoke it.

Short Life of British Mayfly Halved by Climate Change – New research suggests that mayflies in a UK trout river are getting through their lifecycle in double-quick time in response to warming temperatures. (NatGeo)

 A 5-year study suggests a 1°C change in stream temperature over 20 years which prompts a switch from a two-year to a one-year life cycle…
It is not impossible that this particular site is at the range limit of a trigger point for this species of Mayfly to mode-switch between delayed and accelerated development but to ring in “climate change”? Wow.

Analysis: Climate impasse could kill carbon offset investment – The failure of U.N. climate talks to clarify the future of the Kyoto Protocol and its market-based mechanisms could dry up investment in the carbon offset market, possibly threatening prices that are already trading near record lows. (Reuters)

Kyoto will not be buried in Durban: lawmaker – The Kyoto Protocol cannot be laid to rest at a U.N. climate summit in Durban next month as the legitimacy of the 1997 global climate pact will be undermined, a senior South African lawmaker said on Monday. (Reuters)

Umm… what “legitimacy”?

Scientist who claimed ‘end of scepticism’ on climate change under fire from colleague over ‘huge mistake’ – One of the authors of a scientific study billed as the ‘end of scepticism’ about climate change yesterday threatened to quit after she said the project leader underplayed the fact there has been no global warming for 13 years. (Daily Mail)

Pat Michaels: A Few Observations On The Latest BEST Kerfluffle And Recent Trends – The policy significance of BEST will be nil because the length of time it will take re-establish a warming trend since 1996 is too long to politically support any expensive intervention. (GWPF)

The Climate Scam Continues – Junk Science: In an attempt to revive climate hype, a chart by a Berkeley scientist claims to show global warming has not slowed. In fact, what it shows is no warming for the last 11 years. (IBD)

The incredible  shrinking  growing critters: Bigger birds in central California, courtesy of global climate change – SAN FRANCISCO — Birds are getting bigger in central California, and that was a big surprise for Rae Goodman and her colleagues. (EurekAlert)

Sigh… Alaska’s ‘Age of Glaciers’ will end this century – The long-running era of glaciers — meaning the Pleistocene ice age that has periodically covered North America and Alaska with vast sheets during the past 2.5 million years — may be ebbing to its final close, according to a new analysis out of Poland. (Alaska Dispatch)

Oh the conflict, the conflict! Savannas, forests in a battle of the biomes, Princeton researchers find – Climate change, land use and other human-driven factors could pit savannas and forests against each other by altering the elements found by Princeton University researchers to stabilize the two. Without this harmony, the habitats, or biomes, could increasingly encroach on one other to the detriment of the people and animals that rely on them.

These trees don’t run: Forests not keeping pace with climate change – DURHAM, N.C. — More than half of eastern U.S. tree species examined in a massive new Duke University-led study aren’t adapting to climate change as quickly or consistently as predicted.
“Many models have suggested that trees will migrate rapidly to higher latitudes and elevations in response to warming temperatures, but evidence for a consistent, climate-driven northward migration is essentially absent in this large analysis,” says James S. Clark, H.L. Blomquist Professor of Environment at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. (EurekAlert)

Insoluble Dust Particles Can Affect Global Climate – New information on the role of insoluble dust particles in forming cloud droplets could improve the accuracy of regional climate models, especially in areas of the world that have significant amounts of mineral aerosols in the atmosphere. A more accurate accounting for the role of these particles could also have implications for global climate models. (Irish Weather Online)

Australia CO2 scheme must be scrapped, opposition says – Australia’s main opposition party vowed on Monday to repeal a carbon pricing scheme expected to become law next month as a key plank for polls due by 2013, threatening to prolong uncertainty in energy investments. (Reuters)

Air carbon permit fight escalates – The battle against the European Union’s plans to charge the world’s biggest airlines for their carbon pollution is poised to escalate this week as the US, China and two dozen other countries take their case to the international body that sets global air standards. (Financial Times)

U.S. auto dealers fight Obama fuel rules – U.S. auto dealers are working to undo the Obama administration’s fuel efficiency agenda, replacing car companies that for years kept such mandates at bay with the help of allies in Congress. (Reuters)

Oh noes! People use the cheapest, most reliable energy sources: The Triumph of King Coal: Hardening Our Coal Addiction – Despite all the talk about curbing greenhouse gas emissions, the world is burning more and more coal. The inconvenient truth is that coal remains a cheap and dirty fuel — and the idea of “clean” coal remains a distant dream. (Fred Pearce, e360)

Shale Gas Fuels Legal Boom – Fights Over Underground Rights Confound Companies, Pennsylvania Landowners
The natural-gas boom in Pennsylvania is stoking legal battles over who owns gas that was worthless until a few years ago but now holds the promise of great wealth. (WSJ)

New battlefront opens up in gas debate – The battle to protect Australia’s terrestrial environment from feared effects of coal seam gas mining is at fever pitch.
Some farmers are locking mining companies off their land in gas-rich parts of the country, amid deep concern over the potential effects of coal seam gas mining on underground water stores. (SMH)

The Aussie graziers can perhaps be forgiven on the grounds artesian water supply is the only option for watering their stock and the wackos fear campaign arrived long before any real information on gas extraction. Moreover graziers do not generally hold mineral rights so they have no real incentive to value extractive industry.

Benny Peiser: The Greens Have Been Trumped – The impact of shale exploration on the environment has to be assessed in the context of and in comparison with other energy sources. We must balance the pros and cons, the costs and benefits. Natural gas falls into the low risk category. (GWPF)

Andrew McKillop: Silicon Valley’s Green Geek Scenario Goes Belly Up – Silicon Valley’s green geek scenario, which we can date at around 2005-2009 is now gurgling down the WC pan of history. Its elitist and totally unreal notions of extreme high priced electric cars for Nice People Saving the Planet, and designer Low Energy homes for the same Nice People, and nobody else, has gone down the tube. (GWPF)

Chris Huhne is not merely ignorant but positively dangerous – The ‘energy and climate change’ secretary demonstrates his breathtaking unfitness once again. (Christopher Booker, TDT)

Government Bankrupts Solar Industry – Ministers have been accused of destroying 25,000 jobs and “bankrupting a whole industry”, after the Government unveiled plans to slash subsidies for green energy. Hundreds of solar companies are likely to go bust by Christmas after the Department for Energy and Climate Change confirmed it is looking to halve subsidies for new panels. (TDT)

The Consequences of our Biofuel Policy – Dave Juday, a commodity analyst writing in The Weekly Standard, has a long essay covering the largely negative consequences of our nation’s ethanol policy. He covers many of the familiar arguments, such as rising food costs and the ongoing nonexistence of cellulosic ethanol, but also many topics less often covered by the media, such as the clever ability of corporations to take advantage of these subsidies in ways that were not intended: (Cooler Heads)

2 responses to “News & Views – November 1, 2011

  1. If the mosquitos cannot reproduce, they’re neither going to be very effective, nor can they spread the gene because all the children die. It’s the classic cat’s bell story. It’s a clever idea, but the delivery method has a critical error that completely eliminates the entire point. Mosquitos are just too numerous to attempt this kind of attack on any scale.

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