April 13, 2009

Governments and Journalist Waste Time and Resources on Mythical Sea Level Rises; CT Paper’s Readers Not Amused

HIghTides0409.jpgTo keep up with what has happened in the aftermath of the odious Kelo v. New London Supreme Court eminent domain ruling nearly four years ago (quick answer: nothing that has to do with actually building anything), your truly gets alerts relating what is going happening in that Connecticut town. As a result, I occasionally get alerts concerning things about the affected Fort Trumbull area that while not directly tied to eminent domain, are nonetheless amusing.

Here’s one: Did you know that we have government boards in many states wrestling with what to do about the supposedly imminent rises in ocean sea levels? Indeed we do, and poor, gullible Judy Benson of the New London Day decided to write about it.

Reactions from readers of the Day were justifiably less than uniformly kind.

Here are key paragraphs from Benson’s report (Day link won’t work without paid subscription after seven days):

Climate change poses challenges for the Connecticut coast

Buffers or barricades? Coastal development or coastal retreat? Marsh loss or marsh replacement?

Tough choices like these confront Connecticut, especially its shoreline, as the planet inches toward what experts say is inevitable: swelling seas and intensifying storms as the effects of climate change are felt over the coming decades.

”It’s a risk problem,” said Gary Yohe, economics professor at Wesleyan University in Middletown and a member of climate change adaptation panels in New York City and Connecticut. “You can’t write a guarantee that it’s not going to happen, but you can reduce your exposure and lessen your sensitivity.”

Yohe is also a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations-sponsored international scientists group that authored a series of authoritative reports on climate change evidence, effects and needed actions.

….. Much of the talk about climate change thus far has focused on finding ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the most extreme projections of runaway warming. But adaptation – figuring out how to cope with the effects that can’t be avoided – is also part of the discussion.

Climate scientists say that while reducing future emissions is a needed strategy, the effects of the heat-trapping gases already released by fossil fuel burning and other human actions over the last 150 years can’t be reversed, and will intensify in the coming decades.

Connecticut is among at least eight states and six major U.S. cities that have established panels to begin tackling adaptation. Connecticut’s panel, under the wing of the state Department of Environmental Protection, is charged with making recommendations for next steps by the end of this year.

….. ”Connecticut has some large challenges,” DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy said, because of its coastal infrastructure, including 32,000 homes in the 100-year floodplain. Ultimately, the state may even have to consider buying up some particularly vulnerable neighborhoods to move residents out of harm’s way, she said.

This sea-level hype, like the rest of what I like to refer to as globaloney, is so much nonsense. In fact, two weeks ago in the UK Telegraph, in the face of lots of strong competition, Christopher Booker called it “The greatest lie ever told”:

If one thing more than any other is used to justify proposals that the world must spend tens of trillions of dollars on combating global warming, it is the belief that we face a disastrous rise in sea levels. The Antarctic and Greenland ice caps will melt, we are told, warming oceans will expand, and the result will be catastrophe.

Although the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) only predicts a sea level rise of 59cm (17 inches) by 2100, Al Gore in his Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth went much further, talking of 20 feet, and showing computer graphics of cities such as Shanghai and San Francisco half under water.

….. But if there is one scientist who knows more about sea levels than anyone else in the world it is the Swedish geologist and physicist Nils-Axel Mörner, formerly chairman of the INQUA International Commission on Sea Level Change. And the uncompromising verdict of Dr Mörner, who for 35 years has been using every known scientific method to study sea levels all over the globe, is that all this talk about the sea rising is nothing but a colossal scare story.

Despite fluctuations down as well as up, “the sea is not rising,” he says. “It hasn’t risen in 50 years.” If there is any rise this century it will “not be more than 10cm (four inches), with an uncertainty of plus or minus 10cm”. And quite apart from examining the hard evidence, he says, the elementary laws of physics (latent heat needed to melt ice) tell us that the apocalypse conjured up by Al Gore and Co could not possibly come about.

Day readers gave Ms. Benson and Nutmeg State politicians an earful in the story’s comments. Here are just a few examples:

“Let’s see, we used to have Global Warming but unfortunately for the Eco-Fascists who make up all of these wasteful and nonsensical government environmental agencies, Global Warming has been proven to be a complete and total farce. Now a new marketing campaign is underway by the same folks who tried to take over and control our lives under the lie of “protecting the planet” from Global Warming, and we now have Climate Change.”

“Let us build a visual marker of this global warming – literally a yard stick stuck in a concrete block at some prominent point that records the ever increasing height of the sea. In fact, you will never do it because it would show little or no increase.”

“The key statement in this article is ‘existing conceptions of property rights and regulatory authorities must be reevaluated.’ Watch out property owners it looks like CT is not only willing to take your property and give it to those who will pay more taxes it will also give it to science.”

“The panel would be more effective investigating the UFO and Bigfoot sighting. Global warming, climate change or whatever the fanatics are calling it today is a myth. The claim that most scientists believe the myth is also a myth.”

Here’s the ultimate irony: If the sea really is to rise as much as Ms. Benson, the IPCC apparatchik, and others fear it might (but won’t), New London’s elders could defend never building on the properties of those they so ignominiously evicted. In fact, maybe they should just condemn the area permanently and tell the world they were just doing everyone a big advance favor.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Pencil-Ready Projects: Ohio Is Spending $57 Million of ‘Stimulus’ on Highway Studies, Including a Long-Discredited Metro Cincy Idea

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:34 am

A report by the Associated Press’s Matt Leingang about how Ohio is going to spend about 7% of its highway-related stimulus money not on roads, but on studies, is good as far as it goes.

But one of the studies listed should surely raise eyebrows in Greater Cincinnati. The pie-in-the-sky nature of that study, and the eye-popping projected cost of the construction project(s) being considered, make me wonder if the other studies Governor Ted Strickland wishes to fund are similarly silly and potentially costly. I’ll get to that in a moment.

Here is how Leingang’s report opens:

Ohio wants to spend $57 million in federal stimulus money on highway projects that won’t begin for years, an unusual strategy for money that President Barack Obama said should be used to give the economy an immediate job-creating jolt.

Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland and the state’s transportation officials passed over some ready-to-go construction projects and steered about 7 percent of their $774 million share for planning and preliminary studies.

That infuriated some local leaders who hoped the money would build even more new bridges or resurface roads in the cash-strapped state, where unemployment recently hit a 25-year high of 9.4 percent.

“I could have dug the darn thing myself, that’s how shovel-ready we were,” said Fostoria Mayor John Davoli, who sought $10 million to build bridges over two railroad crossings and was denied.

The Federal Highway Administration has no other examples of states using stimulus money for planning, although some states haven’t completed their project lists and the agency hasn’t approved Ohio’s request, spokeswoman Nancy Singer said.

Here’s Leingang’s kicker for those of us in Greater Cincinnati:

The two-year, $20 million engineering and environmental study in Cincinnati will lay the foundation for a $1 billion highway, bus, bike and rail system that will open up economic development in the city and its eastern suburbs, eventually leading to 10,000 new jobs, said Hamilton County deputy engineer Theodore Hubbard.

Red flags:

  • $1 billion for 10,000 jobs is $100,000 per job. That’s pretty expensive, even before considering the normal government cost overruns.
  • The use of the word “eventually” is code for “I have absolutely no idea if this will ever happen, but it sure sounds nice.”
  • Around here, any time a transportation proposal includes the word “bike” in an area as spread out as this one, you know that there’s something in there that has absolutely nothing to do with getting people to and from work, shopping, or other activities. If you want bike trails for the fitness crowd, just say so, but don’t pretend it has anything to do with “transportation” (how bike trails stimulate the economy is also an open question).

But the biggest problem is that what is being studied looks suspiciously similar to, or is at least a large element of, a 2002 ballot proposal that would have greatly expanded bus service in Hamilton County and created a light rail network. It would have been funded by a countywide sales-tax increase. Voters in Hamilton County decisively rejected this ballot proposal by 68%-32%, and quite validly. The idea that there would be anything resembling an acceptable level of utilization was a sheer, transparent fantasy. Voters knew that they would be buying into endless subsidies and said “forget it.” Conditions have not materially changed in the intervening seven years.

Supposedly, the 2002 voter rejection “end(ed) a decade-long effort to bring light rail and improved mass transit to the area.” That was true until stimulus money could get misused (as Barack Obama appears to define it) by our governor to bring the carcass back to life. Here’s a better mass transit improvement idea the urban planning politburo loves to hate, but has always worked: Build the needed roads.

Do Strickland’s other pencil-ready projects also relate to ideas voters have rejected, or that are similarly financially flawed?

Aside: From this Google News search on “Strickland stimulus studies” (not in quotes), it looks like AP has totally scooped Ohio’s media on this story. How did that happen?

Lucid Links (041309, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:40 am

Noteworthy Net-Worthies:

In Friday’s news“President Barack Obama said the U.S. government will buy 17,600 new, fuel-efficient vehicles from ailing American automakers by June 1. …. The decision was made to buy the vehicles on the short timetable to help give a boost to the economy, as well as demonstrating the Obama administration’s support of the U.S. auto industry.” My guess is that the White House has seen the daily sales figures since Obama fired Dick Wagoner and engineered de facto nationalizations of GM and Chrysler, that those figures are not good, and that Team Obama trying to shore them up. “Somebody” is going to remember to subtract these vehicles out of the totals when May’s sales are released to reflect how much real consumers are buying — which is, I believe, not much. P.S. – Does anyone else think that not bailed-out Ford, though mentioned in the article, will be shut out? P.P.S. – The $285 million cost cited in the article is about $16,200 per vehicle. That seems pretty low, especially as it includes 2,500 not-cheap hybrids. P.P.P.S. – Does the government have a real use for them, or is it just going to park them somewhere?

It’s still too early to be conclusive, but recent events on the ground in Iraq are not reassuring. Lefties are going to hate this assertion, but too bad — This is probably a side-effect of an administration that spent an entire week in Europe, and most of the time before that, projecting weakness in other foreign-policy areas, treating things like North Korea’s missile launch as “distractions” to be dealt with by an impotent UN (which then didn’t deal with it) instead of addressing them directly as the world’s lone superpower. Now it seems that for the first time in well over a year, the enemies of representative government in Iraq are emboldened, and that Obama has allowed a terror-encouraging progression that could lead to losing what we’ve won to begin. Obama’s yesterday takedown of the pirates who kidnapped Richard Phillips is a welcome exception that will hopefully begin a trend in the other direction.

In the UK, the blog-driven resignation of one of Gordon Brown’s top aides, Damian McBride, with accompanying demands for a personal apology from Brown himself, is being likened to Rathergate (HT Instapundit). It’s not even close. Rathergate was a group effort that brought down an alleged “newsman” who had been in reality a fundamentally dishonest leftist propaganda meister for decades, and possibly saved George W. Bush’s reelection campaign. That’s impressive, but British blogger Guido Fawkes (key blog post; home page) got wind of a government-inspired smear campaign “to post lurid allegations  -  mainly sex slurs  -  about four Tory MPs on an internet ‘blog’ to be known as Red Rag.” Fawkes, apparently almost singlehandedly, got the goods, got his man (perhaps with more to come), and has decidedly, deservedly, and perhaps permanently weakened Brown’s government.

Now here’s an example of possibly human-caused global warming, according to NASA (HT Hot Air) — “Arctic warming has been caused in large part by laws introduced to improve air quality and fight acid rain.” Note that this news is in a UK and not a US newspaper.

Gay Patriot –  “(Obama) can’t say he won a mandate to increase spending as he has proposed in his budget because he didn’t campaign for such increases.” In fact, he notes that Obama, in his third debate with John McCain last year, said that “there is no doubt that we’ve been living beyond our means and we’re going to have to make some adjustments. Now, what I’ve done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut.” Instead we have a largely Obama-driven deficit through the first six months of the fiscal year of $957 billion. This BizzyBlog commenter nicely and correctly pegs Obama’s involvement in and major responsibility for the spending side of said deficit. The POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy that began in June of last year gets the “credit” for the downturn that has resulted in drastically reduced receipts to the Treasury.

From the New York Times, reporting in Columbus, Ohio — “In wide-ranging remarks here, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg defended the use of foreign law by American judges, suggested that torture should not be used even when it might yield important information and reflected on her role as the Supreme Court’s only female justice.” In other words, Ginsburg’s constitution, which she respects so little (despite her swearing an oath to uphold it) that she’s okay violating it by referencing foreign law, is a suicide pact.

Did you know that the Vatican has nixed THREE candidates floated by Team Obama for the position of U.S. ambassador to the Holy See because of their views on abortion? Further, “the lack of a U.S. ambassador “could become embarrassing” for the White House, if the position remains vacant when Obama goes to Italy for the G8 meeting this July. The White House is trying to arrange a time before or after the summit for Mr. Obama to meet the Pope.” If I were Benedict, I’d close the window right now and tell the world that the US has refused to name an acceptable candidate. Obama knows full well what the Vatican’s standards have always been. The problem seems to be that the most stridently anti-life president in US history seems to have an anti-life litmus test for anyone who works in his administration. P.S. – Any comments on this, Steve Driehaus?

Positivity: The castaway dog who swam SIX miles through shark-infested waters, then survived FOUR months on a desert island

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Australia, and St. Bees Island (HT Jonah Goldberg at the Corner):

Last updated at 11:30 AM on 07th April 2009

When Jan Griffith’s beloved dog, Sophie Tucker fell overboard from her family’s yacht she feared her pet had drowned.

But Sophie Tucker, a grey and black cattle dog, wasn’t going to give up that easily.

The determined pet swam six miles through ferocious shark-infested seas to an island, where she survived for more than four months by hunting wild goats for food.

The extraordinary story of the castaway hound emerged today when Miss Griffith was reunited with her beloved pet.

‘I thought I’d never see her again, but she’s proved to be a dog who can really look after herself,’ said Miss Griffith.

Sophie Tucker, named after the American vaudeville comedian, fell overboard from the family’s yacht when they ran into bad weather off the Queensland coastal town of Mackay.

Miss Griffith and her friends searched the area, putting their own lives at risk in the rough seas, but there was no sign of Sophie Tucker.

Unknown to them, the dog swam towards remote St Bees Island, a quiet volcanic strip of land fringed with reefs. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.