Is Man-Made Global Warming Real? – The Number of Skeptics is Swelling – Many Scientists Beg to Differ…


Steve Fielding recently asked the Obama administration to reassure him on the science of man-made global warming. When the administration proved unhelpful, Mr. Fielding decided to vote against climate-change legislation.

If you haven’t heard of this politician, it’s because he’s a member of the Australian Senate. As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to pass a climate-change bill, the Australian Parliament is preparing to kill its own country’s carbon-emissions scheme.  Why? A growing number of Australian politicians, scientists and citizens once again doubt the science of human-caused global warming.

[POTOMAC WATCH] Associated PressSteve Fielding

Among the many reasons President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority are so intent on quickly jamming a cap-and-trade system through Congress is because the global warming tide is again shifting. It turns out Al Gore and the United Nations (with an assist from the media), did a little too vociferous a job smearing anyone who disagreed with them as “deniers.” The backlash has brought the scientific debate roaring back to life in Australia, Europe, Japan and even, if less reported, the U.S.

In April, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a document challenging man-made global warming. In the Czech Republic, where President Vaclav Klaus remains a leading skeptic, today only 11% of the population believes humans play a role. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to tap Claude Allegre to lead the country’s new ministry of industry and innovation. Twenty years ago Mr. Allegre was among the first to trill about man-made global warming, but the geochemist has since recanted. New Zealand last year elected a new government, which immediately suspended the country’s weeks-old cap-and-trade program.

The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. — 13 times the number who authored the U.N.’s 2007 climate summary for policymakers. Joanne Simpson, the world’s first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak “frankly” of her nonbelief. Dr. Kiminori Itoh, a Japanese environmental physical chemist who contributed to a U.N. climate report, dubs man-made warming “the worst scientific scandal in history.” Norway’s Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner for physics, decries it as the “new religion.” A group of 54 noted physicists, led by Princeton’s Will Happer, is demanding the American Physical Society revise its position that the science is settled. (Both Nature and Science magazines have refused to run the physicists’ open letter.)

The collapse of the “consensus” has been driven by reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth’s temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02. Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon.

Credit for Australia’s own era of renewed enlightenment goes to Dr. Ian Plimer, a well-known Australian geologist. Earlier this year he published “Heaven and Earth,” a damning critique of the “evidence” underpinning man-made global warming. The book is already in its fifth printing. So compelling is it that Paul Sheehan, a noted Australian columnist — and ardent global warming believer — in April humbly pronounced it “an evidence-based attack on conformity and orthodoxy, including my own, and a reminder to respect informed dissent and beware of ideology subverting evidence.” Australian polls have shown a sharp uptick in public skepticism; the press is back to questioning scientific dogma; blogs are having a field day.

The rise in skepticism also came as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, elected like Mr. Obama on promises to combat global warming, was attempting his own emissions-reduction scheme. His administration was forced to delay the implementation of the program until at least 2011, just to get the legislation through Australia’s House. The Senate was not so easily swayed.

Mr. Fielding, a crucial vote on the bill, was so alarmed by the renewed science debate that he made a fact-finding trip to the U.S., attending the Heartland Institute’s annual conference for climate skeptics. He also visited with Joseph Aldy, Mr. Obama’s special assistant on energy and the environment, where he challenged the Obama team to address his doubts. They apparently didn’t.

This week Mr. Fielding issued a statement: He would not be voting for the bill. He would not risk job losses on “unconvincing green science.” The bill is set to founder as the Australian parliament breaks for the winter.

Republicans in the U.S. have, in recent years, turned ever more to the cost arguments against climate legislation. That’s made sense in light of the economic crisis. If Speaker Nancy Pelosi fails to push through her bill, it will be because rural and Blue Dog Democrats fret about the economic ramifications. Yet if the rest of the world is any indication, now might be the time for U.S. politicians to re-engage on the science. One thing for sure: They won’t be alone.

Source:  Wall Street Journal

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467,000 Jobs Cut in June – National Jobless Rate at 9.5 Percent


Employers cut a larger-than-expected 467,000 jobs in June, driving the unemployment rate up to a 26-year high of 9.5 percent, suggesting that the economy’s road to recovery will be bumpy.

The Labor Department report, released Thursday, showed that even as the recession flashes signs of easing, companies likely will want to keep a lid on costs and be wary of hiring until they feel certain the economy is on solid ground.

June’s payroll reductions were deeper than the 363,000 that economists expected and average weekly earnings dropped to the lowest level in nearly a year.

However, the rise in the unemployment rate from 9.4 percent in May wasn’t as sharp as the expected 9.6 percent. Still, many economists predict the jobless rate will hit 10 percent this year, and keep rising into next year, before falling back.

All told, 14.7 million people were unemployed in June.

If laid-off workers who have given up looking for new jobs or have settled for part-time work are included, the unemployment rate would have been 16.5 percent in June, the highest on records dating to 1994.

“We were on the road of things getting less bad in the jobs market, and that has been temporarily waylaid,” said economist Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics. “But this doesn’t change my view that the recession will end later this year. We’re probably two months away.”

Since the recession began in December 2007, the economy has lost a net total of 6.5 million jobs.  As the downturn bites into sales and profits, companies have turned to layoffs and other cost-cutting measures to survive. Those include holding down workers’ hours and freezing or cutting pay.  The average work week in June fell to 33 hours, the lowest on records dating to 1964.

Layoffs in May turned out to smaller, 322,000, versus the 345,000 first reported. But job cuts in April were a big deeper — 519,000 versus 504,000, according to government data.

Even with higher pace of job cuts in June, the report indicates that the worst of the layoffs have passed. The deepest job cuts of the recession came in January, when 741,000 jobs vanished, the most in any month since 1949.  And there was some other encouraging job news Thursday.

In a separate report, the department said the number of newly laid-off workers filing applications for unemployment benefits fell last week to 614,000, in line with economists’ predictions. The number of people continuing to draw benefits unexpectedly dropped to 6.7 million.  Still, job losses last month were widespread.

Professional and business services slashed 118,000 jobs, more than double the 48,000 cut in May. Manufacturers cut 136,000, down from 156,000. Construction companies got rid of 79,000 jobs, up from 48,000 the previous month. Retailers eliminated 21,000, up from 17,600. Financial activities cut 27,000, following 30,000 in May. The government cut 52,000 jobs, up from 10,000 the previous month. Leisure and hospitality cut 18,000 jobs, erasing a gain of the same size in May.  One of the few industries adding jobs: education and health services, which added 34,000 positions last month and 47,000 in May.

Mayland and other economists said a good chunk of June’s job losses likely were affected by shutdowns at General Motors Corp. and fallout from the troubled auto industry, which should let up later this summer. The government said employment at factories making autos and parts fell by 27,000 last month.  Payroll losses and the unemployment rate are derived from two separate statistical surveys. The jobless rate probably would have moved higher if not for people dropping out of the labor force.

With the weakness in the job market, workers didn’t see any wage gains in June. Average hourly earnings were flat at $18.53. Average weekly earnings fell from $613.34 in May, to $611.49 in June, the lowest level in nearly a year and the first drop since March. That raises fresh questions about consumers’ willingness to spend in the months ahead.  The worst crises in the housing, credit and financial markets since the 1930s have plunged the country into the longest recession since World War II.

Many think the jobless rate could rise as high as 10.7 percent by the second quarter of next year before it starts to make a slow descent. Some think the rate will top out at 11 percent. The post-World War II high was 10.8 percent at the end of 1982, when the country had suffered through a severe recession.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke predicts the recession will end this year, with many economists forecasting that the economy will start to grow again as soon as the current July-September quarter.  But recoveries after financial crises tend to be slow, which is why economists predict it will take years for the job market to return to normal. Some predict the nation’s unemployment rate won’t drop to 5 percent until 2013.

An elevated unemployment rate could become a political liability for President Barack Obama when congressional elections are held next year. The last time the unemployment rate topped 10 percent, the party of the president — then Ronald Reagan’s GOP — lost 26 House seats in midterm elections in 1982.  So far, many people are saving — rather than spending — the extra money in their paychecks from Obama’s tax cut, blunting its help in bracing the economy. Much of the economic benefit of Obama’s increased government spending on big public works projects won’t kick in until 2010, analysts say.

The White House last week said federal money was being shoveled out of Washington quickly, but states aren’t steering the cash to counties that need jobs the most.

Large job cuts have continued this week. Newspaper publisher Gannett Co. said it plans to cut 1,400 jobs in the next few weeks, about 3 percent of the work force, as it faces a prolonged slump in advertising revenue. Farm machinery company Deere & Co. said 800 salaried employees, or 3 percent of its salaried work force, took a voluntary buyout offer.

Source:  United States Labor Department Report – Released July 1, 2009

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Clean Energy Opens World’s Largest LNG/CNG Truck Fueling Station at Long Beach/Los Angeles Ports


The world’s largest natural gas truck fueling station, designed and built by Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (Nasdaq: CLNE), is now open for business on a 2.9-acre site adjacent to the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. 

The new public access station, configured to fuel trucks on a 24/7 basis, features two 25,000-gallon liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage tanks, six LNG dispensers, and two compressed natural gas (CNG) dispensers.  The Clean Energy station is located on property leased from the Port of Long Beach at Anaheim and I streets. It is specifically designed to support the goals of the San Pedro Bay Ports’ Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) and Clean Truck programs.

Andrew Littlefair, Clean Energy President and CEO, said, “Clean Energy is proud to support the ports and their quest for cleaner air and a clean fuel future by building this landmark LNG/CNG truck fueling station that can provide fuel for several hundred natural gas Port trucks daily.”

He added, “We have seen demand for LNG and CNG fuel grow significantly as major trucking companies secure and deploy new natural gas-powered trucks at the ports. As demand for the environmentally-friendly fuel continues to increase, Clean Energy plans to add 50,000 gallons of fuel storage to the new station’s current capacity, as well as four more LNG/CNG fueling lanes.”

The Ports’ CAAP and Clean Truck programs call for the retirement or conversion of old diesel trucks entering the ports in favor of new diesel and alternative fuel (natural gas) trucks.  Natural gas vehicle fuel provides lower emissions than gasoline and diesel, including up to a 23% reduction in greenhouse gases in medium- and heavy-duty applications and up to 30% reductions for light-duty vehicles. The domestic natural gas used by the trucks also reduces America’s dependence on imported oil.

The new station is the second that Clean Energy has opened in the area to serve port drayage trucks. The first, operational since December 2007, is located near the ports at Southern Counties Express, a major port-trucking firm. This station currently supplies approximately 10,000 LNG gallons of fuel on a daily basis.

Source: Clean Energy & Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach

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Anheuser-Busch Taps Landfill Gas for Houston Brewery


The Anheuser-Busch brewery in Houston will begin using landfill biogas as an alternative fuel source.  The gas will be carried through a six-mile pipeline from the McCarty Road landfill to the Anheuser-Busch brewery to help generate steam energy for the brewery’s power plant. More than 55 percent of the brewery’s fuel demand will be supplied by biogas.

Landfill biogas, which is created when organic material in a municipal solid waste landfill decomposes, consists of about 50 percent methane.

“In addition to utilizing this alternative source of fuel, through active conservation efforts at our Houston brewery we’ve reduced our fuel usage by 15 percent and our electricity use by more than five percent in the last 18 months,” said Richard Wohlfarth, general manager of Anheuser-Busch’s Houston brewery.

The project, developed as part of a partnership with Ameresco that constructed and operates a biogas processing facility on the landfill’s property, broke ground in March of 2008 and was completed in May of 2009.  The McCarty Road Landfill gas project is one of 75 alternative energy projects at Republic Services’ landfills nationwide.

Source: Anheuser-Busch

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Biogas from Sewage and Landfills – Glamorous? No, but a Renewable Fuel? Yes.


In the last of the “Mad Max” movie, the one that prominently featured Tina Turner, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, the post-apocalyptic world depended on “pigsh_t” for energy.

That idea, albeit the invention of a Hollywood screenwriter, may not, however, be as outlandish as it might originally appear. In India, for example, there are myriad small methane producers throughout the country that produce just enough methane for home uses, using small methane generators powered mostly by cow dung.

In September of 2008, San Antonio, Texas set into motion an ambitious plan that would make it the first US city ever to convert sewage into methane gas on a large scale. The plan calls for the complete recycling of at least 90% of the approximately 140,000 tons a year of “biosolids” produced by the citizens of San Antonio into water for agricultural irrigation, solid compost and now, methane gas, which will be used for the generation of electrical power.

The facilities for extracting methane gas from sewage will be built by Ameresco, a Massachussetts based natuiral gas company.  Steve Claus, the CEO of the San Antonio project expects the city to realize about $250,000 annually when the facilities are completed in 2010. The facilities are projected to generate between 900,000 and 1.5 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.

The idea of sewage derived biogas is being tried, on a significantly smaller scale in a number of other localities throughout the nation including Berkeley, California and West Lafayette, Indiana near Purdue University. The Indiana facility started up on June 6, 2009 and is part of an $8.2 million project to upgrade the plant’s digesters. The digesters, in turn, process sewage, grease and food waste into methane which is then used to run two microturbines. The microturbines produce a portion of the electricity needed to run the plant, representing an eventual savings of $18,000 a year for the city.

As part of its “Green Switch” program the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) extracts methane from the City of Memphis’ wastewater treatment facility. The methane is “co-fired” with coal to produce eight megawatts of power at the TVA’s Allen Fossil Plant. The TVA estimates that the methane produces energy equivalent to 20,000 tons of coal per year.

The municipality of Lille, France began running city buses on a form of modified diesel fuel derived from sewage sludge treated at the Lille-Marquette municipal sewage treatment plant in 1994. Approximately 12.5% of the energy derived from the biogas produced is used for refinining. The initial costs of the project were 4.7 million French Francs (FF) for the biogas scrubbing unit (that cost included design and research costs) and 3.4 million FF for bus engine conversion (PDF file). The first bus cost 600,000 FF to convert.

Based on an operational estimate of 4000 hours per year, the estimated cost per unit of biogas is 2.9 FF per cubic meter of biogas, which although higher than the cost of natural gas currently should become more competitive if, as expected, natural gas, diesel and gasoline prices rise in the future. Fuel efficiency of the biogas burning bus engines was approximately 60% that of diesel burning engines.

Landfill Gas

Another source of methane emissions that shows steady growth, both in the source and it’s utilization, is landfill gas.  As the name suggests, landfill gas is methane produced by the anaerobic decomposition of waste into methane and by-products such as carbon dioxide, sulfur and other chemicals which are often referred to as volatile organic compounds.

Although somewhat more controversial than using sewage as a biogas source, proponents point out that landfills will release methane regardless of what we do. It is better, they argue, to convert that gas primarily into energy and carbon dioxide than to simply allow it to enter the atmosphere. The fact that methane is 21 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and that half the gas emitted by landfills is, in fact, methane would seem to clinch that argument.

Furthermore, landfills produce more man-made methane than any other source in the US. If, in fact, landfill gas production can properly be classified as a renewable energy project, it has quietly become the one of the most prolific and widespread use of renewables. Texas alone, a relative newcomer to landfill gas utilization has 24 landfill gas energy projects and, according to the EPA, sites suitable for such projects at another 57 locations.

The total production figures for landfill gas can be difficult to ascertain as the EPA combines production figures for landfill gas with production figures for the direct burning of municipal waste.  While properly classified as a renewable energy source, burning municipal waste without safeguards presents a potential source of airborne toxins including heavy metals which can hardly be considered green.

According to those figures five states, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachussetts and California all produced greater than 1 billion kWh of electrical power from the combination of the two sources in 2006. Of those, the greatest production came from Florida which produced 1.9 billion kWh that year.

Source: Green Nation Today

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From Refuse to Refueling: Linde and Waste Management Discuss Landfill Gas to LNG Plant


Construction on the world’s largest plant to convert landfill gas into clean vehicle fuel is nearing completion. As start-up approaches, joint venture partners Linde North America and Waste Management will share project details during a presentation and discussion today at the National Biomethane Summit in Sacramento, California.

Linde North America is a member of The Linde Group, one of the world’s leading gases and engineering companies; Waste Management is North America’s largest waste management company. The companies are installing systems to purify and liquefy landfill gas, a source of renewable biomethane fuel, at the Altamont Landfill near Livermore, California. When the plant begins operating later this year, it is designed to produce up to 13,000 gallons a day of liquefied natural gas that could fuel hundreds of waste collection trucks in California.

Media are invited to attend the summit, which is being held at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel. Legislators, researchers, scientists, practitioners and other stakeholders are convening to discuss the latest biomethane information, applications, success stories and technologies.

Attendees will be able to see “From Refuse to Refueling,” a multimedia presentation from Linde and Waste Management about the Altamont project, which offers a unique opportunity to “close the loop” by fueling collection trucks with clean fuel produced from garbage. The presentation also is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjCjWVY3MOw

The Altamont project is one of several LNG and biomethane projects around the world in which Linde is participating, and is an industry Linde says is ripe for growth. “Biomethane is a truly renewable and readily available green source of high quality fuel. Although it is still an emerging commodity, its economic and environmental value is rapidly being recognized,” said Bryan Luftglass, manager of Linde North America’s energy segment. Kent Stoddard, vice president of public affairs for Waste Management’s West Group said, “Waste Management’s partnership with Linde will allow us to tap into a valuable source of clean energy while greatly reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Natural gas is already the cleanest burning fuel available for our collection trucks and the opportunity to use recovered landfill gas offers enormous environmental benefits to the communities we serve.”

Experts from Linde and Waste Management also will be on hand at the summit to discuss project details during a separate panel discussion, “Down and Dirty Case Studies and Examples of Creating Biomethane from Landfills and Dairy Farms.” Landfill gas is produced by the breakdown of organic waste under anaerobic conditions. Once purified, biomethane can be compressed or liquefied to fuel cars and heavy transport vehicles. As a replacement for natural gas, biomethane is becoming an increasingly desirable alternative fuel — far more environmentally friendly than existing fuels — emitting up to 90 percent lower carbon dioxide and 75 percent less particulates and nitrogen oxides (NOx) into the atmosphere than diesel fuel.

The Linde Group is a world leading gases and engineering company with almost 52,000 employees working in around 100 countries worldwide. In the 2008 financial year it achieved sales of EUR 12.7 billion (USD 15.9 billion). The strategy of The Linde Group is geared towards sustainable earnings-based growth and focuses on the expansion of its international business with forward-looking products and services. Linde acts responsibly towards its shareholders, business partners, employees, society and the environment – in every one of its business areas, regions and locations across the globe. Linde is committed to technologies and products that unite the goals of customer value and sustainable development.

For more information, see The Linde Group online at http://www.linde.com.

Waste Management, based in Houston, Texas, is the leading provider of comprehensive waste management services in North America. Our subsidiaries provide collection, transfer, recycling and resource recovery, and disposal services. We are also a leading developer, operator and owner of waste-to-energy and landfill gas-to-energy facilities in the United States. Our customers include residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal customers throughout North America. To learn more visit http://www.wm.com or www.thinkgreen.com.

Source: The Linde Group and Waste Management

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US EPA Issues Clean Energy Action Guide for States


The US EPA issued a report that outlines a strategy to deliver clean, low-cost, and reliable energy to state residents through the use of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean distributed generation.

The intent is to provide states with the information they need to determine what energy options would be the most beneficial, practical, and cost-effective. The potential energy savings achievable through state actions is significant. EPA estimates that if each state were to implement cost-effective clean energy-environment policies, the expected growth in demand for electricity could be cut in half by 2025, and more demand could be met through cleaner energy supply.

This would mean annual savings of more than 900 bil­lion kilowatt-hours (kWh) and $70 billion in energy costs by 2025, while preventing the need for more than 300 power plants and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equivalent to emissions from 80 million of today’s vehicles.

Opportunities for State Action State governments are increasingly developing poli­cies and programs that address their energy chal­lenges and spur greater investment in energy effi­ciency, renewable energy, and clean distributed resources. For example, states are: Leading by example by establishing programs that achieve substantial energy cost savings within their own state facilities, fleets, and operations and encouraging the broader adoption of clean energy by the public and private sectors.

State governments across the country are collaborating with state agencies, local governments, and schools to identify and capture energy savings within their facilities and operations, purchase or generate renewable energy, and use clean DG/CHP in their facilities. Establishing ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs (e.g., public benefits funds) to help over­ come a variety of first-cost, informational, split-incentive, and other market barriers that limit greater reliance on energy efficiency.

Seventeen states and Washington, D.C. have adopted public benefits funds (PBFs) for energy efficiency, and 16 states have developed PBFs for clean energy sup­ply. Adopting state minimum appliance efficiency stan­dards for products not covered by the federal gov­ernment that yield net cost savings to businesses and consumers. Ten states have adopted appliance standards covering 36 types of appliances (Delaski 2005, Nadel et al. 2005).

Establishing renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that direct electric utilities and other retail electric providers to supply a specified minimum percent­ age (or absolute amount) of customer load with eligible sources of renewable electricity. Twenty-one states and Washington, D.C. have adopted RPS requirements, which are expected to generate more than 26,000 MW of new renewable energy capacity by 2015 (Navigant 2005).

Reviewing utility incentives and planning processes and designing policies that accurately value ener­gy efficiency, renewables, and distributed resources in a way that “levels the playing field” so public utility commissions and consumers can make fair, economically based comparisons between clean energy and other resources. More than 12 states have developed approaches that remove disincentives for utilities to invest in demand-side resources.

For more information: http://epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-programs/state-and-local/state-best-practices.html#leadbyexample

Source: EPA

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