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Archive for the ‘Environmental Hall of Shame’ Category

Oklahoma SB 1456: It’s Not Really a Sun Tax

Sun ,15/06/2014

asolar Oklahoma just passed and signed into law SB 1456, meant to allow power companies to assess an extra fee on customers who install renewable energy and hook to the power grid for backup. It is not really a tax as the extra fee will go to the power company instead of the state. The law was designed to discourage the investment in renewable energy by private individuals, but it may have unintended consequences for the power companies pushing the law.

Fairness: SB 1456 allows the addition of an infrastructure fee on those who install solar panels and use the grid for backup. The main rationales for the bill were to make it fair to customers who pay for the infrastructure, and to protect our power grid. Some research (see below) indicates that distributive energy generation may require fewer upgrades to the power grid, benefiting all customers. And, what is fair depends greatly upon one’s point of view. Customers who use the grid for backup are required to have a net energy metering (NEM) contract with the power company. Under those agreements, they still pay a customer fee, which defrays the cost of infrastructure, and they are usually not reimbursed for any extra power they produce, essentially providing free energy for the other customers. The power companies agree that we should encourage people to use less energy as AEP/PSO’s states its mission is to “help customers use less energy and spend less for it”. Is it fair then that customers who cut their energy use in half by installing extra insulation are appreciated while those who cut their energy use in half by installing solar energy are charged an infrastructure fee?  

ALEC: Since the author the law is AJ Griffin, my State Senator, I contacted her about the rationale for the law. She provided me with a document called Facts and Fiction, which was very similar to the rationale developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to discourage the development of renewable energy. At their Chicago meeting last year, ALEC adopted discouraging the spread of renewable energy as one of its goals. Their plan to do this was by weakening renewable portfolio standards (RPS), by claiming that it would make electric rates go up, and by promoting the idea that those who install their own solar panels were “free riders” who did not pay their fair share of infrastructure costs.

When I asked Senator Griffin if she was a member of ALEC, she said that it she had attended one of their events, which turned out to be a trip to Alberta, but she did not know if she was a member or not. ALEC is apparently a very secretive organization. She denied that ALEC had anything to do with the bill, and I believe her, as she is apparently unaware of the connection.  Sen. Griffin told me the Facts and Fiction rationale, which was distributed to the legislators in support of the bill, was prepared by a group of people who represent the electric cooperative and the investor owned power companies. It is no wonder that it was very biased toward the position of the power companies.

Senator Griffin told me she had help writing SB 1456 from Kenny Sparks at the Oklahoma Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives. When I contacted him, he told me that the idea of the bill had grown out of discussions with a consortium of power producers in Oklahoma which included representatives from investor owned companies. He said electric companies were worried that distributive generation might eventually increase their costs. One of the investor owned companies was AEP/ PSO, which is a member of ALEC, and the impetus and the rationale for SB 1456 likely came from them. Mr. Sparks told me that neither the consortium, nor the group which developed the Fact and Fiction rationale for SB1456, had a representative from any renewable energy group, nor did it  consider the research which shows that private investors in renewable energy provide a net benefit to the other customers.

Research: There has been credible research which establishes that there is a net benefit to all electric customers in states where net energy metering has been encouraged. A study by Crossborder Energy in 2014 found NEM allows utilities to avoid costs of generation and fuel, maintenance and upgrade of transmission and distribution infrastructure, transmission losses (which account to 7% of losses), capacity purchases, and compliance with renewable energy standards. The study concluded,” The cost which utilities avoid when they accept NEM power exported to their grid shows that NEM does not produce a cost to nonparticipating ratepayers; instead it creates a small net benefit on average across the residential markets.” While it does cause power companies to have to adjust their loads accordingly, NEM reduces peak loads, transmission losses, and the need for new power plants.  In California, the study found NEM “delivers more than $92 million in annual benefits to non-solar customers”.

Another important study, which no one can accuse of bias, was performed at the request of the Vermont legislature and carried out by the Vermont Department of Public Service. They were charged with determining if there is a cross-subsidization with net metering and other retail customers and to examine any benefits or cost of net metering systems to the distribution and transmission system.  The report addressed the specific ratepayer benefit as well as the statewide, societal benefit of solar net as: “Avoided energy costs, including costs of line loses, capacity costs, and avoided internalized greenhouse gas emission costs.; Avoided regional transmission costs.; Avoided in-state transmission and distribution costs.; Solar coincided with times of peak demand and market price suppression.; And an additional benefit explicitly not covered in the study is the economic multiplier associated with the local investment and job creation created from the local manufacturing and installation of net metering systems. “ Even considering subsidies, the report found that solar net metering was a net-positive for the state of Vermont.

It appears from these studies that net energy metering provides a benefit to the states which encourage the installation of solar and wind generation by private individuals. That benefit even extends to other customers.

Unintended Consequences: Though SB 1456 was an anticompetitive bill designed to discourage private investment in renewable energy, it may not turn out that way. Upon signing the bill Gov. Fallin attached a letter requiring “the Corporation commission to conduct a transparent evaluation of distributed generation consistent with the Oklahoma First Energy Plan. It also said, ” This evaluation mandates inclusion of all stakeholders including representatives of the solar distributed wind energy industries and utilities.” and “A proper and required examination of these other rate reforms will ensure an appropriate implementation of the Oklahoma first energy plan while protecting future distributed generation customers.”

The Oklahoma First Energy Policy encourages development of wind and solar energy, but it relies heavily on the increasing development of our natural gas resources. However, fracking and the associated disposal wells may be related to the increased incidences of earthquakes in Oklahoma. Oklahoma is now in the process of replacing some of its coal-fired power plants with natural gas plants. It would be prudent to encourage a greater development of renewable resources in case a definite link was established between fracking activities and earthquakes, which might greatly curtail Oklahoma’s production of natural gas.

Some electric co-ops , such as Oklahoma’s Indian Electric Cooperative, apparently recognize the value of net energy metering. The company allows net metering customers to accumulate credit for excess power and pays them at the end of the year for any excess credit at the wholesale rate, essentially treating them as any other power provider. If the Oklahoma Corporation Commission would adopt a similar model and require that NEM customers be compensated for the excess power they produce, it would greatly encourage private investments in renewable energy installation. It seems it would be in Oklahoma’s best long-term interest to encourage private investment in renewable energy, and SB 1456 may be the vehicle for that to happen.

(C) 2014 J.C. Moore

The 2013 Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame Winners

Thu ,08/05/2014
Moon
The 2013 Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame contest was carried out on three websites and the votes were combined to determine those who have most affected the environment through word or action.

The 2013 Environmental Hall of Fame Winners:

Bill McKibben (44%): He is the founder of 350.org , an international grassroots organization whose goal is to cut CO2 levels to 350 ppm in order to minimize the damage from global warming. His weekly newsletter keeps followers updated on the latest research and issues in climate science. Award:  many new members, so please check out his newsletter.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (Tie, 25%): He a strong advocate in the Senate for legislation to reduce our carbon emissions, often countering Senator Inhofe’s anti climate rhetoric.  Award:  more support from fellow Senators for action on climate change, so please vote for  those who will help him.

The Candu Engineers (Tie, 25%): They designed the Candu nuclear reactor to run on thorium. The reactors are very fuel efficient and have been adapted to use thorium in existing reactors that already have regulatory approval. http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/2…  Award:  regulatory approval of new designs for thorium reactors.

Kevin Cowtan and Robert G. Way (7%): They found  the ‘missing heat’ in the climate system.  Their research published in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society shows that the Arctic is warming at about eight times the pace of the rest of the planet. Award:  the acclaim of having a link to their paper attached to every article which says: “Global warming has stopped”.

 

The Hall of Shame Selection:

The Koch Bothers (67%): They are pushing Keystone XL pipeline as they own almost 2 million acres of Alberta tar sands land.  The Kochs,  one of the largest funders of AGW denier groups, have been using their extensive wealth to lobby politicians to let the KXL pipeline go through. Award: A boycott of their products: less money, less lobbying.

The Executive Producers and Hosts of the five Sunday Morning talk shows (16%): They have done a terrible job of covering climate change. Their coverage of the topic dropped from an inadequate 61 minutes in 2009 to a four-year low of 8 minutes in 2012. They are:

  • NBC – Meet The Press – Rob Yarin, Executive Producer, David Gregory, Host
  • CBS – Face The Nation – Mary Hager, Executive Producer, Bob Schieffer, Host
  • ABC – This Week- Jonathon Greenberger, Producer, George Stephanopolus, Host
  • FOX – News Sunday – Jay Wallace, Executive Producer, Chris Wallace, Host
  • CNN – State of the Union – Rick DiBella, Producer, Candy Crowley, Host

        Award for each : a copy of the booklet recently published jointly by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the British    Royal Society “Climate Change – Evidence and Causes.”

 James Delingpole (8%): He is not a scientist, yet he wrote columns for the Telegraph denying climate change and personally attacking climate scientists, comparing them to Nuremberg criminals and suggesting they be tortured.  Award: A job on Fox news.

The George C. Marshall Institute(8%):  They espouse “Science for a Better Public Policy” but they specialize in churning out misinformation about Climate Change. They developed the strategy of “Doubt Is Our Product”, i.e. creating doubt about the scientific evidence and the scientific consensus to keep effective action from being taken.  Award: required reading of Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes, who exposed their strategy.

It is important that we keep in mind those who are heroes and villains to the environment. I wish to thank those who provided the nominations, the prize suggestions, the insightful and often humorous comments, and the votes to determine the winners. As this year goes by, please take note of those you wish to nominate for the 2014 awards.

(C) 2014 J.C. Moore

 

Poll: Vote for the 2013 Hall of Fame/Shame Awards

Mon ,31/03/2014

 

Earthrise

Thanks  to those of you who entered your nominations. The four top nominees for each award have been selected from those nominated by readers. Please help select the winner by voting  for the nominee who you think has most affected the environment for good or ill.  If you wish, please post a reason for your vote and a suggestion for other suitable gifts for your favorite candidate. Some great gifts have already been proposed. The author will buy the gifts from his copious blogging earnings, so please don’t worry about the expense.

Please take the poll HERE or put your choice as a comment.

Hall of Shame Nominees:

The Executive Producers and Hosts of the five Sunday Morning talk shows: They have done a terrible job of covering climate change. Their coverage of the topic dropped from an inadequate 61 minutes in 2009 to a four-year low of 8 minutes in 2012. They are:

 

  • NBC – Meet The Press – Rob Yarin, Executive Producer, David Gregory, Host
  • CBS – Face The Nation – Mary Hager, Executive Producer, Bob Schieffer, Host
  • ABC – This Week- Jonathon Greenberger, Producer, George Stephanopolus, Host
  • FOX – News Sunday – Jay Wallace, Executive Producer, Chris Wallace, Host
  • CNN – State of the Union – Rick DiBella, Producer, Candy Crowley, Host

Their award should be the booklet recently published jointly by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the British Royal Society “Climate Change – Evidence and Causes.”

 James Delingpole: He is not a scientist, yet he wrote columns for the Telegraph denying climate change and personally attacking climate scientists, comparing them to Nuremberg criminals and suggesting they be tortured.  Thinkprogress suggests that the Telegraph should retract and apologize for Delingpole’s articles as they violate their policies against “obscene, threatening, menacing, offensive, defamatory, and  abusive” material.  Award??
The Koch Bothers: They own almost 2 million acres of Alberta tar sands land where the Keystone XL pipeline originates. If approved, much of the tar sands products will be shipped to other countries after refining, but it will put the central United States at risk for oil spills and leave environmentally hazardous residue behind after refining. The Kochs,  one of the largest funders of AGW denier groups, have been using their extensive wealth to lobby politicians to let the KXL pipeline go through.

Award??

The George C. Marshall Institute:  They espouse “Science for a Better Public Policy” but they specialize in churning out misinformation about Climate Change.  Realizing they could not dispute the scientific evidence, they developed the strategy of “Doubt Is Our Product”, i.e. creating doubt about the scientific evidence and the scientific consensus to keep effective action from being taken.  Their Award should be a copy of Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes, who exposed their strategy.

Hall of Fame Nominees:

Bill McKibben: He is the founder of 350.org , an international grassroots organization whose goal is to raise awareness about anthropogenic climate change, to confront climate change denial, and to cut CO2 levels to 350 ppm in order to minimize the damage from global warming. His weekly newsletter keeps followers updated on the latest research and issues in climate science.

His Award should be many new members, so please check out his newsletter.
Kevin Cowtan and Robert G. Way: They found  the ‘missing heat’ in the climate system, casting doubt on suggestions that global warming has slowed or stopped over the past decade. Observational data on which climate records are based cover only 84 per cent of the planet – with Polar regions largely excluded. They reconstructed the ‘missing’ global temperatures using a combination of observations from satellites and surface data from weather stations and ships on the peripheries of the unsampled regions.  Their research published in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society shows that the Arctic is warming at about eight times the pace of the rest of the planet.

Their Award should be the acclaim of having a link to their paper attached to every article which says: “Global warming has stopped”.

The Candu Engineers: They designed the Candu nuclear reactor to run on thorium. The reactors are very fuel efficient and have been adapted to use thorium in existing reactors that already have regulatory approval. http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/2…

Their Award should be regulatory approval of new designs for thorium reactors.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: He a strong advocate in the Senate for legislation to reduce our carbon emissions.  He addressed claims made by fellow Senator Jim Inhofe; “The bottom line is when Senator Inhofe says global warming is a hoax, he is just dead wrong”, adding “research shows the climate is changing in response to man’s activities. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing, the temperature of the Earth is rising, the oceans are becoming more acidic, glaciers and polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, the probability of severe weather events is increasing, and weather-related natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more costly “.

His Award should be more support from fellow Senators for action on climate change.

Nominations were taken from three sites, and the poll set up HERE.  Please vote for your choice for each award. The poll will close on April 30, 2014.

You may also post your choices as comments.

(c)2014  J.C. Moore

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Nominate Your Candidates for the 2013 Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame Awards

Mon ,03/02/2014

It is important that we keep in mind those who are heroes and villains  in our efforts to protect the environment. Each year, this site Earthrise2takes a poll to find those most deserving to be in the Environmental Hall of Fame and the Environmental Hall of Shame. Nominations are now open for awards for those who have most affected the environment by words or action. With the ongoing  debate about  global warming and environmental regulations,  nominees should be easy to find.  Please send  your nominations  for  each category by e-mail through the “Contact” link or put it in the comment section . If you would, please include a short reason that your nominee should be chosen and suggest a suitable gift if they win.

Nominations will be taken until March 31st, 2014. The nominees will then be  listed  and this site will conduct a poll to determine the winner in each category.   You may suggest a suitable prize for your nominee. Please be imaginative, as particularly thoughtful or humorous  nominations will  be recognized and published on this site

The 2012 Environmental Hall of Fame winner was President Barack Obama for his efforts to protect the environment through executive action, such as  mileage standards and addressing air pollution through EPA action.

The 2012 Hall of Shame award went to Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, both who fund climate denial activities while allowing donors to remain anonymous and hide their vested interests.  

Past years winners and their gifts were:

Hall of Fame - Gift 

2012       President Barack Obama - A little coöperation from Congress, so please write your Representatives.

2011        James Hansen – A massive presence at the 2012 Citizen’s Climate Lobby 

2010        RealClimate.org  - A recommendation from this site. ( Priceless)

2009       Benno Hansen,  ThinkAboutIt Blogger - A Subscription to Science News.

Hall of Shame    

2012       Donors Trust and Donors Capital FundAn IRS investigation of their of their tax-exempt status.

2011        Halliburton (Cheney) -  A big glass of water from a well next to a hydrofracking operation.

2010        Koch Brothers - A petition to the Wizard of Oz for  the grant of a social conscience.

2009       SpaceGuy,  Newsvine Blogger - The movie Wall-E,  representing his view of the future of Earth.

 

(C) 2014  J.C. Moore

The 2012 Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame Winners

Mon ,16/09/2013
Earthrise2
This year the Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame contest was carried out on three websites and the votes were combined to determine those who have most affected the environment through word or action.

The 2012 Environmental Hall of Fame Winners:

The winner is President Barack Obama, with 45% of the votes, for his efforts to protect the environment through executive action, such as  mileage standards and addressing air pollution through EPA action.  Award: A little coöperation from Congress, so please write your Representatives.

Runner-up was Dr. Jennifer Francis(36%) for her ground-breaking work tying the loss of Arctic sea ice to a slowing jet stream, deep Rossby Waves, and the resulting (rapid) rise in stalled weather patterns. Article  here.  Paper here: Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes Award: A growing awareness of the link between global warming and severe weather events.

Tied for 3rd and 4th was Neven ( 9%), an amateur scientist, for his Arctic Sea Ice blog . It is a highly accessible blog  focused like a laser on a major planetary system in rapid collapse - bringing it to the attention of an increasing number of people and the media. It includes some amazing computer animations of Arctic satellite imagery and scores of insights from a good number of researchers. Award: A massive number of visitors to his blog.

 The tie was with Arnie Gundersen (9%), for having the courage to broadcast information being censored by main stream media about environmental problems caused by Fukushima nuclear reactors.  Award: A picture of Japanese girls with a signed note thanking him for standing up for them.

The 2012 Hall of Shame Selections:

First place goes to Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund  (56%), both who fund climate denial activities while allowing donors to remain anonymous and hide their vested interests. According to Robert Brulle on PBS Frontline , “by 2009, about one-quarter of the funding of the climate countermovement of climate change denial is from the Donors Trust and the Donors Capital Fund.”   Prize: An IRS investigation of their of their tax-exempt status.

Runner up was  Dr. James Wanliss (Cornwall Alliance) (22%) ”for equating people who consider the Earth more important than SUVs with those who consider the Earth to be more important than God or our fellow human beings”. The Cornwall Alliance, who published Dr. Wanliss’ book , claims that stewardship is a Green Dragon trying to corrupt the true meaning of religion.  Prize: An opportunity to clean up the mess they helped make of the Earth, as described in this article.

There was a tie for 3rd and 4th place between The Professional ENGO, Green Washer/Opportunists (9%), that use climate change as an agenda tool for political gain. Particularly those on this list which still invest in fossil fuels.  Prize: Worthless paper as their investments lose value as we switch to sustainable resources.

and

Japanese Prime Minister Noda (9%),  for dumping the “Zero Nuke” policy.Prize: A partly filled out employment application for work at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 where there is a labor shortage. 

It is important that we keep in mind those who are heroes and villains to the environment. I wish to thank those who provided the nominations, the prize suggestions, the insightful and often humorous comments, and the votes to determine the winners. As this year goes by, please take note of those you wish to nominate for the 2013 awards.

(c) 2013 J.C. Moore

 

Nominate Your Picks for the 2012 Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame Awards

Sun ,16/12/2012

Earthrise over the Moon from Apollo 11.

It is important that we keep in mind those who are heroes and villains  in our efforts to protect the environment. Each year, this site takes a poll to find those most deserving of recognition in the Environmental Hall of Fame and the Environmental Hall of Shame. Nominations are now open for those  awards to those who have most affected the environment by words or action. With the ongoing  debate about  global warming and environmental regulations,  nominees should be easy to find.  Please send  at least one nomination  for  each category by e-mail through the “Contact” link or put it in the comment section . If you would, please include a short reason that your nominee should be chosen and suggest a suitable gift if they win.

Nominations will be taken until June 31st, 2013. The nominees will then be  listed  and this site will conduct a poll to determine the winner in each category.   You may suggest a suitable prize for your nominee. Please be imaginative, as particularly thoughtful or humorous  nominations will  be recognized and published on this site

The 2011 Environmental Hall of Fame Winners  was James Hansen for  playing a pivotal role in delaying a decision on the XL pipeline  whose construction  would greatly accelerate global warming. The 2011 Hall of Shame award went to Halliburton (Cheney),  for the Halliburton clause in the Clean Water Act. This clause provided a loophole that allows the composition of fracking chemicals to remain secret, thanks to Cheney. Past years winners and their gifts were:

Hall of Fame    - Gift    

2011        James Hansen – A massive presence at the 2012 Citizen’s Climate Lobby 

2010        RealClimate.org  - A recommendation from this site. ( Priceless)

2009       Benno Hansen,  ThinkAboutIt Blogger - A Subscription to Science News.

Hall of Shame    

2011        Halliburton (Cheney) -  A big glass of water from a well next to a hydrofracking operation.

2010        Koch Brothers - A petition to the Wizard of Oz for  the grant of a social conscience.

2009       SpaceGuy,  Newsvine Blogger - The movie Wall-E,  representing his view of the future of Earth.

 

(C) 2012  J.C. Moore

 

The 2011 Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame Winners

Thu ,01/03/2012
This year the contest was carried out on three websites and the votes were combined to determine those who have most affected the environment through word or deed.

The 2011 Environmental Hall of Fame Winners:

The winner is James Hansen, with 51% of the votes. His efforts opposing the XL pipeline played a pivotal role in delaying a decision and hopefully preventing the construction of the pipeline . Award: A massive presence at the 2012 Citizen’s Climate Lobby International Conference, July 22 – 24, in Washington D.C. . Make your travel plans now.

Runner-up was the EPA  (31%)  for standing firm in its efforts to protect the environment in spite of the political pressure it has received. Award: A duplicate of Captain America’s Shield. Though Captain America’s Shield was fictional, the EPA’s need for a shield is not. Please write your representatives about the need to protect the EPA from political attacks.

The Tulsa World (14%) was 3rd for showing great courage in defending  climate science and refuting Sen. Jim Inhofe’s claim of ”victory in his efforts to debunk man-made global warming as a hoax.” Their editorial stated:” While there are scientists and politicians on both sides of the issue, those who see climate change as a genuine threat are mostly scientists and most of those who deny it are politicians.” Award: I’m renewing my subscription and I hope that if you live in the Tulsa area you will also.

Joe Romm (3%), Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he writes and maintains Climate Progress , an outstanding source of accurate climate science information. Award: Apparently, not many who took the poll read Joe Romm’s columns. As an award we should correct that, so please click the link above and read some of his well-written articles.

The 2011 Hall of Shame Selections:

First place goes to Halliburton (Cheney), with 57% of the votes - for the Halliburton clause in the Clean Water Act. This clause provided a loophole that allows the composition of fracking chemicals to remain secret, thanks to Cheney. Apparently, voters were dismayed that Congress could be manipulated to provide an exception to the law for a special interest at the expense of protecting the public. Prize: A big glass of water from a well next to a hydrofracking operation.

Runner up was Congressman Joe Barton of Texas,( 17%) for his apology to BP about how they were treated after the Gulf Oil spill and for trying to ban energy-efficient light bulbs because they contain mercury, even though he had fought efforts to stop mercury pollution by industries. Prize: A copy of his failing grades on the League of Conservation Voters Scorecard and, hopefully, a decline in the number of votes he receives in the next Congressional election.

There was a tie for 3rd and 4th place between Dr. Jane Lubchenco,(13%) for using bad data to set fishing catch limits and for not adequately policing BPs drilling plans or their cleanup operations in the Gulf. Prize: A corexit oil shake. If you live on or near the gulf, please shake up a sample of the gulf water and mail it to her. It won’t hurt if she gets several. 

                                                                                    and

Forbes Magazine (James Taylor)(13%) for a ridiculously misleading article, New NASA data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism, that described climate scientists as “alarmist” 15 times. Award: A copy of the book Ethics And Journalism and a complete ban on ever using the words ‘alarmist’ again. I will see that they get a copy of the book and I hope you will write Forbes (readers@forbes.com) about the ban and express your opinion of the article.

It is important that we keep in mind those who are heroes and villains to the environment. I wish to thank those who provided the nominations, the prize suggestions, the insightful and often humorous comments, and the votes to determine the winners. As this year goes by, please take note of those you wish to nominate for the 2012 awards.

Poll: Help Pick the 2011 Hall of Fame/Shame Awards

Tue ,07/02/2012
 

Thank you for your nominations for the awards. The four top nominees for each award have been selected from those nominated by readers. Please help select the winner by voting  for the nominee who you think has most affected the environment through word or deed. If you wish, please post a reason for your vote and a suggestion for other suitable gifts for your favorite candidate. Some great gifts have already been proposed. The author will buy the gifts from his copious blogging earnings, so please don’t worry about the expense.   Click here for poll.

Hall of Shame Nominees:

Ø     Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Head of NOAA – For using bad data to set fishing catch limits and for not adequately policing BP’s drilling plans or their cleanup operations in the Gulf. Prize: A corexit oil shake.

Ø     Halliburton (Cheney), for the Halliburton clause in the Clean Water Act. It is a loophole in the Clean Water Act that allows the fracking chemicals to remain secret, thanks to Cheney. Prize: A big glass of water from a well next to a hydrofracking operation.

Ø     Congressman Joe Barton of Texas, for his apology to BP about how they were treated after the Gulf Oil spill and for trying to ban energy-efficient light bulbs because they contain mercury, even though he had fought efforts to reduce industrial mercury pollution. Prize: A copy of his failing grades on the League of Conservation Voters Scorecard .

Ø     Forbes Magazine (James Taylor) for a ridiculously misleading article, New NASA data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism, that described climate scientists as “alarmist” 15 times. At was classified as news, though it was clearly an opinion article. Award: A copy of the book Ethics And Journalism and a complete ban on ever using the words ‘alarmist’ again.

Hall of Fame Nominees:

Ø     James Hansen, whose efforts opposing the XL played a pivotal role in delaying a decision and hopefully preventing the construction of the pipeline (see, for example, here, here, here, and here). Award: A massive presence at the 2012 Citizen’s Climate Lobby International Conference, July 22 – 24, in Washington D.C.

Ø     The Tulsa World, for showing great courage in defending  climate science and refuting Sen. Jim Inhofe’s claim of ”victory in his efforts to debunk man-made global warming as a hoax.” Their editorial board’s statement is classic:” While there are scientists and politicians on both sides of the issue, those who see climate change as a genuine threat are mostly scientists and most of those who deny it are politicians.” Award: (Suggestion?)

Ø     The EPA, for standing firm in its efforts to protect the environment in spite of the political pressure it has received. Award: A duplicate of Captain America’s Shield.

Ø     Joe Romm, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he writes and maintains Climate Progress , an outstanding source of accurate climate science information. Award: (Suggestion?)

Nominations were taken from three sites, and the poll was set up below.

Click here for poll.

The poll will close on February 28th.

Gaming the Peer Review System: Part 2. Exploiting Loopholes

Fri ,03/02/2012

There is evidence that the authors of a recent paper may have gamed the peer review system to publish a biased climate science paper.

The Review Process: When a paper is submitted to a journal for publication, the editor removes the name of the author and sends the manuscript to several experts in the area, usually three, for review. The editor keeps the names of the reviewers confidential. If an error is found, the reviewer’s comments are returned to the author with suggestions for corrections. It is a good system for ensuring the quality of research publications, but even then papers are sometimes published that contains errors. The reviewers may miss an error, a biased editor may publish the paper in spite of flaws, or authors may exploit loopholes in a journal’s rules to get a paper published. Some journals allow the author to suggest names of reviewers and the editor often picks reviewers from the list. Most scientists submit names of reliable reviewers as it is an embarrassment to have errors found in their paper after publication. However, even if the papers are properly reviewed, the practice can bring accusations of “pal” review. Since reviewer’s names are kept confidential by the editor, it is difficult to know for sure whether that may have happened. However, there is evidence that the authors of a recent paper may have gamed the system by suggesting a set of reviewers that shared their bias. See what you think.

The paper: Last July 25th, Roy Spencer and Danny Braswell authored a paper in the rather specialized technical journal, Remote Sensing, titled “On the Misdiagnosis Of Surface Temperature Feedbacks From Variations In Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance“.  The paper claimed “The sensitivity of the climate system to an imposed radiative imbalance remains the largest source of uncertainty in projections of future anthropogenic climate change. Here we present further evidence that this uncertainty from an observational perspective is largely due to the masking of the radiative feedback signal by internal radiative forcing, probably due to natural cloud variations.”  It seems that only an expert in climatology would know what that means or what its implications were, but in three days a sensationalized version of the paper appeared on internet sites, in major business magazines, and in news articles in major newspapers. Millions of people likely read about the paper.

The Publicity: The renewed public interest in science should have made climate scientists pleased; however, they were not. Beneath the technical language is a claim that the climate sensitivity to CO2 has been misinterpreted by climate scientists because of natural cloud variations. Were it true, it would mean that natural forces, not man, were responsible for much of the observed global warming. That idea had been examined before and found to be inconsistent with the evidence, but the idea is one that some climate skeptics have been promoting. And, they are part of a well-funded pipeline that carries misinformation about climate science to major news outlets before all the facts can be known.

Forbes: One main branch of the misinformation pipeline runs through the Heartland Institute, where James Taylor is listed as a senior fellow. James Taylor once wrote articles for the tobacco industry suggesting that secondhand smoke was not harmful, and he has now turned his talents to denying the ties between rising CO2 levels and global warming. Inexplicably, James Taylor has been hired by Forbes magazine to write on energy and environmental topics. James Taylor picked up on Spencer’s paper and wrote an article for Forbes titled, New NASA Data Blows Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism. Not only was the title inaccurate and misleading, but the article was clearly an opinion article, miscategorized as news.  The editors of Forbes might not have known that Spencer’s “NASA Data” was the same data that climate scientists use to reach a very different conclusion, but perhaps they should have noticed that no reasonable news story would describe climate scientists as “alarmists” 15 times. The business community considers legislation that would reduce our carbon emissions to be anti-business, and business newspapers such as Investors Business Daily, the Wall Street Journal, and Forbes often are biased toward the skeptic’s position. The bias shows up in story selection, opinions miscategorized as news, a disproportionate number of skeptics articles on opinion pages, and  in sensationalized headlines. From Forbes, the article was picked up as a news story by other business magazines, Yahoo! News, MSNBC, and skeptic’s blog sites, which had a field day with the article. It is sad that millions will have read the distorted article, but few will ever read the climate scientist’s rebuttal. The article will soon sink into obscurity,  but it will have accomplished it’s purpose, which was to spread doubt about climate change.

Reproducibility: Publication in a peer-reviewed journal is not the only requirement for a paper to become accepted as part of the science literature. The research must stand up to the scrutiny of other experts in the field and it must be reproducible by other scientists with comparable knowledge and skill. Spencer’s paper reached the news media before climate scientists had a chance to respond, but they soon found a number of obvious errors in the paper. Trenberth and Fasullo summed it up:”The model has no realistic ocean, no El Niño, and no hydrological cycle, and it was tuned to give the result it gave. The bottom line is that there is NO merit whatsoever in this paper.”  Given time, A.E. Dessler analyzed Spencer’s paper in detail and published a rebuttal. The abstract in Geophysical Review Letters reports the key points of his paper:

  • Clouds are not causing climate change;
  • Observations are not in disagreement with models on this point;
  • Previous work on this is flawed;  ( referring specifically to Spencer’s paper in Remote Sensing).

Clearly, Spencer’s paper had serious methodological flaws and was not reproducible. How did the paper get through Remote Sensing’s peer review process? The answer would likely not have been found, except for the publicity.

The Catastrophe: The editor of Remote Sensing, who had been trying to build the reputation of the Journal, considered the publicity a catastrophe. The instructions in Remote Sensing asks authors to suggest five reviewers, and it is possible that Spencer could choose five skeptics.  The editor would not have to pick from those, but apparently in this case he did.  In the next issue of Remote Sensing, the editor, Dr. Wolfgang Wagner, resigned and issued a public apology for this article saying, “With this step I would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate skeptics have much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions in public statements.” “The problem is that comparable studies published by other authors have already been refuted in open discussions and to some extent also in the literature, a fact which was ignored by Spencer and Braswell in their paper and, unfortunately, not picked up by the reviewers. “ And he concluded, “But, as the case presents itself now, the editorial team unintentionally selected three reviewers who probably share some climate sceptic notions of the authors.”

© 2012 J.C. Moore

 

Nominate Your Favorites for the 2011 Environmental Hall of Fame/Shame

Tue ,03/01/2012

Each year, this site takes a poll to find those most deserving to receive recognition in the Environmental Hall of Fame and the Environmental Hall of Shame. Nominations are now open for those who have most affected the environment by words or action. With the ongoing  debate about environmental regulations, a number of possible nominees should be easy to find.  Please send your nominations  for the Environmental Hall of Fame and for the  Hall of  Shame by e-mail through the “Contact” link.  You also may place your nomination in the comment section ,  but if it includes a link, the spam blocker may catch it. If you wish, you may  include a short reason that your nominee should be chosen and suggest a suitable gift if they win. 

For example, Congressman John Sullivan might be nominated in the Hall of Shame category for introducing a bill in Congress that would require the EPA to do a cost-benefit analysis on for every rule it makes. His legislation would create a huge amount of paperwork for the EPA and would make its job impossible to do, which seems to be his goal. A suitable gift might be a large piggy bank in which to keep the donations that action has earned him. Or, Congressman Frank Lucas may be nominated in the Hall of Fame category for acknowledging that climate change might affect our food supply. A suitable gift might be a crystal ball, so that he can show other members of the Congress what the future might look like if we do not act to mitigate climate change.

Nominations will be taken until January 31st, 2012. The nominees will then be  listed  and this site will conduct a poll in February to determine the winner in each category.   The  2011 year’s winner in the Environmental Hall Fame category will receive the “Most Noble Prize in Environmental Science” and a  suitable gift. The winner in the Hall of  Shame category will receive the “Ignoble Prize”and a gift also.  Past years winners and their gifts were:

                      Hall of Fame    -    Gift                                             

2010        RealClimate.org  - A recommendation from this site. ( Priceless)  

2009        Benno Hansen,  ThinkAboutIt Blogger - A Subscription to Science News.           

                      Hall of Shame    

2010         Koch Brothers - A petition to the Wizard of Oz for a social conscience.

2009         SpaceGuy,  Newsvine Blogger - The movie Wall-E, his view of the future of Earth.

You may suggest a suitable prize for your nominee. Please be imaginative, as particularly thoughtful or humorous  nominations will  be recognized and published on this site.

(C) 2012  J.C. Moore