Translation

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Richard Wolff interview with RT International on global oil prices

RT | Oct 23, 2014


‘Fracking loophole’ allows drilling companies to use unregulated toxins – report

Reuters / Mario Anzuoni
RT | Oct 23, 2014

A number of US oil companies are taking advantage of the so-called “Halliburton Loophole” to circumvent federal legislature regulating diesel-based fluids in fracking, instead exploiting the environment with even more toxic chemicals, new report says.
 
“Because of a gap in the Safe Drinking Water Act, companies are allowed to inject other petroleum products (beyond diesel) without a permit, and many of these non-diesel drilling fluids contain even higher concentrations of the same toxins found in diesel,” report by the Environmental Integrity Project released on Wednesday reads.

Titled “Fracking’s Toxic Loophole”, the report says that the 2005 Energy Policy Act authorities the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) to “regulate diesel-based fracking fluids because of the toxicity of BTEX compounds” found in diesel.

However due to the so-called “Halliburton loophole” in the legislature the federal government is not applying the same protection standards to other fracking fluid other than diesel-based.

Overall, the Halliburton Loophole represents a significant reduction in federal oversight of drilling and fracking operations, the report claims.
 
“This double standard illustrates what happens when Congress manipulates environmental statutes for the benefit of polluters, instead of allowing EPA to make public health decisions based on the best available science,” the report reads.

Looking at the limited data available through FracFocus, Material Safety Data Sheets, and state agency websites the study discovered that at least six fracking fluid additives available on the market contain more benzene than diesel fuel. In addition another at least 21 fluids have much higher concentrations of ethylbenzene than benzene. Chemicals on the market also have high levels of xylene and toluene, which can lead to increased health risks.

Citing FracFocus data, the study points out that at least 153 wells in 11 states were fracked with fluids “containing ethylbenzene between January 2011 and September 2014.” Of those, 77 wells were found in Oklahoma, 23 in North Dakota, followed by Texas with 20 wells. The report says that it is not clear how often these toxic petroleum products are being used.

Reuters / Jonathan Ernst
The documented cases include the injection of a mix of crude oil, butane, and other fluids with up to 48,000 gallons of 4.1 percent benzene into a well in Dimmit County, Texas by BlackBrush O&G, LLC. While Discovery Operating Services, reported using nearly 1,000 gallons of benzene in eleven wells in Midland and Upland Counties in Texas.
 
“Benzene is known to increase cancer risk, and the Safe Drinking Water Act Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) is designed to limit exposure to no more than five parts per billion. However, thanks to the Halliburton loophole, the Safe Drinking Act regulates diesel-based fluids but no other petroleum products with much higher benzene concentrations,” the report reads.

The study also cites a case in Oklahoma where Citation Oil and Gas Corporation of Texas injected mix containing up to 4,538 gallons of ethylbenzene, “equivalent to the amount found in nearly half a million gallons of diesel fuels.”
 
“Ethylbenzene is classified as a probable carcinogen, and cancer risk is considered significant when concentrations exceed the Maximum Contaminant Level of 0.7 parts per million in drinking water,” the report says.

Eric Schaeffer Executive Director of the Environmental Integrity Project and former Director of Civil Enforcement at EPA says that the loophole must be repealed.
 
“To protect public health, Congress should repeal the Halliburton Loophole and EPA should broaden the categories of fracking fluids that require Safe Drinking Water Act permits,” said Schaeffer. 

“Without these reforms, we are perpetuating a loophole that allows the unregulated injection of unlimited quantities of highly toxic pollutants into the ground.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Yucca Mountain Radioactive Waste Dump Not Dead Yet

image
CounterPunch | Oct 22, 2014 | John LaForge

Zombie Alert

Just in time for Halloween, a real zombie.

Although the Obama Administration cancelled the Yucca Mountain project for disposing high-level radioactive waste (uranium fuel rods) in 2009, the scheme stays amazingly undead.

Last Thursday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued the third in a series of reports in which it declared that the deep, engineered cavern inside the mountain — 90 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada — meet the commission’s ever-changing (Eric Pianin, “Rules changed for Nevada nuclear waste site plan,” Wash. Post, Dec. 12, 2001) requirements.

Still pending are two more reports and a final NRC ruling on the site’s suitability. Actual operation of the dump also requires approval from the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Transportation and Energy (DOE). Of course, lawsuits by the State of Nevada and dozens of environmental groups would follow a decision to start burying waste.

In spite of 70 years of head scratching, science and industry have not found a cheap way to “dispose” of high-level radioactive waste. In 2008, the plan was estimated to cost at least $90 billion.

The DOE’s 1999 draft environmental impact statement for Yucca, says that leaving the wastes at 72 US reactor sites in 39 states is just as safe as moving it thousands of miles toward Yucca Mt. — as long as it is repackaged every 100 years. There is no need to rush the opening a dumpsite, except that reactor operators want to free-up storage space for freshly produced waste so they can keep running old reactors.

Yucca Mt. Project Cancelled for Hundreds of Reasons

While Republicans from nuclear-heavy states are pushing to revive the Yucca project and hoping for a November take-over of the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., broadcasts the science-based disqualifiers that prove Yucca unsuitable. Among them are fast flowing water inside the mountain, earthquake faults, lava flows, and the risk of exploding waste canisters — like the one that burst and wrecked the Energy Department’s Waste Isolation Pilot Project in New Mexico last February. Joonhong Ahn, an engineering professor at the U. of Calif., Berkeley, said in an e-mail to ScienceInsider.com, “… there are still numerous hurdles ahead.”

Indeed, the Government Accounting Office concluded in 2001 that 293 unresolved scientific and engineering problems hinder the plan. (“GAO Challenges Plans for Storage of Nuclear Waste,” Wash. Post, Nov. 30, 2001) Responding to the new report, Nevada state officials made the same point. “The NRC licensing board has admitted more than 200 Nevada contentions challenging the safety and environmental impacts of the proposed repository, and Nevada is prepared to aggressively prosecute these challenges. It is not apparent that the [NRC report] specifically addressed these and other safety contentions,” said Bob Halstead, Executive Director of Nevada’s Agency for Nuclear Projects, in a prepared statement.

“For the NRC staff to publically release just this one volume of the 5-volume Safety Evaluation Report outside the proper context of an ongoing licensing proceeding, and in the absence of a complete SER, is unprecedented,” Halsted said. “It creates a false impression that the safety review has been completed. It is difficult to see what reason there could be for such a release except to provide political support and encouragement for Yucca Mountain supporters in Congress and elsewhere.”

This false impression was spectacularly exaggerated by Rep. John Shimkus, R-Mich., who told the New York Times Oct. 17, “[N]uclear waste stored under that mountain … will be safe and secure for at least a million years.”

Nuclear Waste Production is Kept Alive by Yucca Supporters

Yucca Mt. wouldn’t begin to address the country’s vast nuclear waste problem. There already are about 70,000 tons of it stored at reactor sites. This stockpile would fill Yucca to capacity and force the start of a search for Dump No. 2. Waste that must be containerized for a million years is the “animated corpse” that will forever haunt our clean, cheap too-safe-to-meter nuclear power complex.

The Yucca Mt. “mobile Chernobyl” idea — and alternate plans for regional “interim” dumps — also explodes the risks of radiation accidents contaminating waste handlers and the people along transport routes. The DOE’s planning maps show the waste passing through 40 states, 40 Indian Reservations and 100 major cities. In January 2008, former state transportation analyst Fred Dilger caused alarm when he told a Hillary Clinton campaign rally that if waste trains go through Las Vegas, “All of the casinos on the west side of Las Vegas Boulevard would be bathed in gamma radiation.”

The shipments, using as-yet-untested waste casks, would expose between 138 and 161 million Americans to the risks of dangerous levels of radiation and to the consequences of inevitable truck, train and barge accidents. Even the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement predicts between 150 and 250 rail or truck crashes over the plan’s 25-year span — about 10 crashes every year for 25 years.

That’s an undying prospect scary enough for a million Halloweens.

John LaForge writes for PeaceVoice, is co-director of Nukewatch—a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group—and lives at the Plowshares Land Trust out of Luck, Wisconsin.

“Never heard of so much sickness & death in such a short period” says Fukushima evacuee — Writes about strange diseases in young people, deadly tumors and hemorrhages, pets missing hair, child losing all their fingernails, polydactyl baby — Doctor: My friends are dying of cancer, one after another

ENE News | Oct 21, 2014

Excerpts from message by a Fukushima evacuee, translated by World Network for Saving Children from Radiation, Oct. 15, 2014: Mrs. Junko Honda… was a successful beauty salon owner who ran two salons… She recently [compiled the] unusual symptoms that she had heard about over the past three years… whose veracity she has been able to ascertain.

“I had never heard of so much sickness and death in such a short period of time” -Honda


Babies, Children, Young Adults
Sep ’11: Child… had nosebleeds very often… many others at school who had nose bleeding
Jun ’12: Child had headaches and nausea since the accident
Apr ’13: Friend of an evacuee gave birth to a polydactyl child [birth defect, extra fingers/toes]
Jul ’13: Younger friend of an evacuee… got ill with cancer
Mar ’14: Relative [in] middle school… got ill with rheumatism [and] medicine doesn’t work

Lymph, Thymus, Thyroid Gland Problems
Apr ’11: I felt strange feeling in my lymph nodes… salon staff also felt the same
Sep ’11: My friend’s father died with a tumor in the lymph glands
Sep ’11: Gynecologist mentioned there was an increase of lymph tumors
Jan ’13: Child of an evacuee [had] unsubsidized thyroid exam… thymus gland was swollen
Jan ’13: Several children… from Fukushima [also diagnosed with swollen] thymus gland
Sep ’13: Child of an evacuee had an unsubsidized thyroid examination… they found many cysts
Oct ’13: Friend, an evacuee age 35, developed thyroid cancer
Mar ’14: Friend of an evacuee, in her 30s, had thyroid surgery

Unusual Skin, Hair, Nail Problems
Apr ’11: Hair of our pets [dog & cat] become uneven because of hair loss to an unusual degree
Apr ’11: Reddish eczema on my daughter’s face [which] stayed until we evacuated
Sep ’11: Hairdresser friend and her sister have suffered dermatologic eczema since the accident
Jun ’12: [Child's mother] experienced hair loss and… had sparser hair
Jun ’12: All the fingernails of a child evacuee from Sugakawa fell off after the accident

Adults Under Retirement Age
Sep ’11: Customer in her 40s got ill with a disease that cannot renew blood
Sep ’11: Woman in her 30s died from cardiac arrest
Aug ’12: My relative died suddenly of subarachnoid hemorrhage… in his 30s
Dec ’12: Resident in his 30s developed a tumor
Dec ’12: Resident in her 40s developed a tumor and died
Jan ’13: Doctor [said] his friends have been dying with cancer one after another
Mar ’13: Man in his 30s died suddenly
Mar ’13: 5 customers… had funerals of close family in very short period… 3 were in their 50s
Oct ’13: Male friend who was doing decontamination work died suddenly

See Video: ‘Hell of Fukushima in the immediate vicinity of the children’ (only in Japanese)

Chemical contamination in environment, including pharmaceuticals, are 'growing at exponential rate'

© Natural News
Natural News | Oct 21, 2014 | Julie Wilson

The "innovative" and "challenging new compounds" created each day by commerce are threatening the planet in which we live, scientists say. More and more traces of pharmaceuticals are being discovered in our lakes, rivers and soil daily, and their effects are pretty much completely unknown.

For once, a lack of regulation on the government's part is largely to blame. The "environmental spread of pharmaceuticals" is totally ignored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), allowing these man-made pills to end up everywhere, including our drinking water.

The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, which hasn't been updated since its creation, excludes drugs and pesticides. Under the law, the EPA is required to maintain a registry of industrial compounds that may be potentially toxic, but advanced safety testing of those materials is not required, according to a report by The New York Times.

"Congress has not sent an environmental law to the president's desk in 18 years"

Only a fraction of the estimated 84,000 compounds registered have been tested for their safety on humans, prompting scientists and environmental groups to call for serious revisions, in which the risk assessments of suspect compounds are performed.

"Our chemical safety net is more hole than net," said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group. "Where does that leave us in terms of scientific understanding of what drugs to regulate?"

Anne Womack Kolton, vice president for communications at the American Chemistry Council, which represents chemical manufacturers said, "Think about the world 40 years ago. It was a vastly different place. It's common sense to revise the law and make it consistent with what we know about chemicals today."

The American Chemical Society maintains a database of chemical substance information containing more than 89 million organic and inorganic substances and 65 million sequences dating back to 1957. An estimated 15,000 new substances are added each day, many of which are poorly understood, scientists say.

In an essay published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, Dr. Jerald L. Schnoor, a University of Iowa professor of civil and environmental engineering, wrote about the way older compounds are altered in the environment. Some substances become even more toxic after they are broken down by plants or animals.

Chemical contamination in the environment is growing at an exponential rate, scientists say

For example, polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs (which are banned in the U.S. but keep showing up in the environment), are broken down into even more "toxic metabolites," reported the Times.

Another example is chlorpyrifos, a highly toxic organophosphate insecticide that when ingested by animals become 3,000 times more potent, according to Beyond Pesticides [PDF].

Minnesota Zumbro River laced with traces of prescription pills

While investigating the chemistry of the Minnesota Zumbro River, environmental health scientists were surprised at the "sheer range and variety" of prescription drugs they found. Relatively high levels of acetaminophen, an over-the-counter painkiller that causes liver damage in humans, the antibiotic anti-convulsive carbamazepine, caffeine and pesticides were among the contaminates found.

"We don't know what these background levels mean in terms of environmental or public health," said Deborah Swackhamer, the investigation's lead scientist.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) tracks chemicals in waterways, sediments, landfills and municipal sewage sludge, which are often converted to fertilizer. Steroid hormones and triclosan (an antibacterial agent banned in Minnesota) were found in sewage.

The antidepressant Prozac has shown up in fish, causing them to be anxious, anti-social and even homicidal, reported the Scientific American.

"We're looking at an increasingly diverse array of organic and inorganic chemicals that may have ecosystem health effects," said Edward Furlong, a USGS chemist. "Many of them are understudied and unrecognized."

Sources:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com

http://www2.epa.gov

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

http://www.scientificamerican.com

http://www.cas.org

http://www.beyondpesticides.org

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.beyondpesticides.org

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

14 California communities now on verge of waterless-ness; mass migration out of California seems imminent

© Natural News
Natural News | Oct 20, 2014 | Jonathan Benson

Unless California gets some heavy rain, and soon, the state's roughly 38 million residents will eventually be up a creek without a paddle -- or without a creek, for that matter. The latest media reports indicate that some 14 communities throughout the state are now on the verge of running completely dry, and many more could join them in the coming year if conditions remain as they are.

A few months ago, the official count was 28 communities bordering on complete waterless-ness, according to the Water Resources Control Board. Those that have since dropped off the list were able to come up with a fix, at least for now. The other 14, though, face an unprecedented resource collapse that could leave thousands of Californians with no other choice but to pack their bags and head to greener pastures.

"It's a sign of how severe this drought is," verbalized Bruce Burton, an assistant deputy director for the board, to the Los Angeles Times about some of the drastic measures being taken. For the first time ever, the water board has begun tracking communities throughout the state that are bordering on complete water loss, a situation that has never before occurred.

Most of the communities on the brink are located in California's Central Valley, the "food basket" of America that The New York Times (NYT) once declared to be the nation's greatest food resource. Most of America's carrots are grown there, as are the bulk of salad greens, almonds and citrus fruits that we all take for granted -- but that could soon disappear due to the continued drought.

'Larger, more sophisticated communities' face total water depletion

In some stricken areas, water facilities have been able to secure temporary supplies from neighboring communities as they figure out longer-term solutions. In Siskiyou County near the Oregon border, the city of Montague was actually able to construct a brand-new irrigation ditch to transport water from a lake 25 miles away, replacing an old ditch that had run dry back in April.

While most of the communities facing total water depletion are relatively small in size, with only a few thousand residents each, the prospect of larger communities also becoming affected is increasingly likely. Tom Quinn, the executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, says that, if the drought continues, many of the more iconic regions of California will suffer.

"If this drought keeps on going, some larger, more sophisticated communities are going to be in trouble next year," he told the LA Times.

Mountains shifting due to water losses 

It isn't just that no new water is coming into California -- underground aquifers and other former backup sources are also running dry. According to research published in the journal Science, the entire Western United states has lost an astounding 240 gigatons of water since 2013, an amount equivalent to 1 billion tons.

In spatial terms, this amount of water could be spread out across the entire Western U.S. in a solid 10-centimeter sheet, constituting about 63 trillion gallons, or enough to fill 75,000 football stadiums. This loss has not only altered the gravitational field of California, according to the study, but also caused mountains throughout the state to rise up out of the ground in some areas.

"100 percent of the state is in drought, with 82 percent of the land designated as in 'extreme' or 'exceptional' drought, the highest levels on the U.S. Drought Monitor scale," explains the National Journal. "Thirty-seven million people are affected by the drought."

Secret Food: Monsanto Spends Millions in Bid to Defeat Local GMO Labeling Initiative

A sign at a 2013 rally in Connecticut.
(photo: CT Senate Democrats/flickr /cc)
Common Dreams | Oct 17, 2014 | Sarah Lazare

This is not the first time the biotech giant has funneled millions into efforts to defeat labeling laws

Monsanto, the largest genetically-modified seed corporation in the world, has so far spent over $4 million in a bid to crush an Oregon initiative, up for vote in November, to mandate the labeling of genetically engineered food.

Records from the Oregon Secretary of State's office show that the company, on October 8, made a contribution of $2.5 million to opponents of the bill, bringing the company's total contributions to $4,085,150.

The initiative—ballot measure 92—would require manufacturers and retailers to label "genetically engineered raw and packaged food." Backers of the provision say that Oregonians "have the right to know" what is in their food.

This is not the first time Monsanto has poured its funds into efforts to crush such measures. Earlier this month, it was revealed that the company has spent $4.7 million to defeat a similar initiative in Colorado, also up for vote in November.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Once a Sea - now it's the Aral Desert

What was once the Aral Sea at Muinak,
Qoraqalpoghiston, Uzbekistan.
Photo: so11e via Flickr.
The Ecologist | Oct 16, 2014 | Anson Mackay

The Aral Sea is a well known environmental disaster zone. But this year, it got a whole worse, writes Anson Mackay, as its biggest basin dried up completely to expose a toxic, salty wasteland. With continuing irrigation and declining river flows due to climate change, the desert is only set to expand

The Aral Sea has reached a new low, literally and figuratively. New satellite images from NASA show that, for the first time in its recorded history, its largest basin has completely dried up.

However, the Aral Sea has an interesting history - and as recently as 600-700 years ago it was as small, if not smaller, than today.

The Aral recovered from that setback to become the world's fourth largest lake, but things might not be so easy this time round.

Today, more people than ever rely on irrigation from rivers that should instead flow into the sea, and the impact of irrigation is compounded by another new factor: climate change.

Really a lake - but now, a wasteland

Sandwiched between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the Aral Sea is actually a lake, albeit a salty, 'terminal' one. It is salty because evaporation of water from the lake surface is greater than the amount of water being replenishing through rivers flowing in.

It is terminal because there is no outflowing river. This makes the Aral Sea very sensitive to variations in its water balance caused either by climate or by humans.

Indeed, the sea has long been a cause celebre in the world of environmental catastrophes, an exemplar of the devastating harm that ill thought-out economic policies can have on the environment.

Intensive irrigation of cotton plantations in the deserts of the western Soviet Union prevented water reaching the Aral Sea, leading to the drastically low levels we see today. This in turn meant the highly-salty waters killed off many plants and animals.

During early Soviet Union times, the Aral Sea and its fringing wetlands were a significant resource for the fishing industries, agriculture, animal husbandry and fur trapping.

Six decades of profligate cotton irrigation

But in the 1950s, the extent of irrigated land used for 'white gold' (cotton) increased dramatically from 4 billion to 8 billion hectares, with Uzbekistan becoming one of the world's largest cotton producers. To feed cotton's insatiable demand for water, the Karakum Canal was built out of the desert sands and because it was unlined, water losses were extremely high.

During the late 1960s, the amount of water evaporating from the Aral Sea become greater than the amount of water entering the lake, so lake levels declined dramatically in the 1970s and 1980s. More than 75% of the surface area and more than 90% of the lake's volume has been lost.

In 1987-1988, the lake split into two, and the Large and Small Aral Sea basins were created. International efforts have been made to protect the Small Aral Sea through the construction of dams, and this has meant that lake levels here have increased.

The Large Aral Sea continued to shrink and subsequently split itself into two basins; a deeper, smaller west Large Aral and a more shallow, but expansive, east Large Aral. And it is this latter basin which NASA images show had dried out completely this summer.

Toxic, salty dust storms causing disease and death

The environmental impact of the drying Aral has been devastating. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and hundreds of species have disappeared. Toxic metals and agrochemicals (herbicides, pesticides, insecticides), used to prevent disease and pests from lowering cotton yields, found their way into the sea through its rivers.

But because the Aral is a terminal lake, the pollutants were never washed out, and they instead sunk to the bottom sediments.

Now these bottom sediments are exposed to the air, they are blown up into the atmosphere as toxic, salty dust storms, which can spread for many hundreds of kilometres causing increased deaths and chronic disease, especially the young.

However, lower lake levels have also exposed ancient irrigation systems and mausoleums surrounded by settlements (some remains of which are still under water), built during the late Middle Ages. This means that in certain parts of the Aral, lake levels during 13th-14th century must have been lower.

We still aren't sure exactly what caused such extreme regression, but a cooler, drier climate played a role. The 13th century Mongol invasion of central Asia also led to the Amu Dar'ya, one of two major rivers that feed the Aral, being diverted to the Caspian Sea. Clearly humans were a major factor in the Aral's previous dry spell.

By the late 16th century, the Aral Sea started to fill up again, in part because irrigated channels meant the Amu Dar'ya once more flowed into the lake.

With climate change and continuing irrigation, water flows will cease

A key question that remains today therefore is how much of the lake's current regression is due to intensive irrigation and how much may be due to climate change over the past 50 years. Recent studies suggest only 14% of the shrinking of the Aral Sea since the 1960s was caused by climate change, with irrigation by far the biggest culprit.

Researchers looking at what will happen to Aral Sea levels with global warming over the next few decades have combined several model predictions together and expect net water loss to increase as more evaporation leads to less river inflow.

However, if irrigation of the rivers continues, then net water loss will be even greater as river flow into the Aral Sea will essentially cease.

Climate change may be one of the world's great problems but over-irrigation is at least possible to reverse with the right policy changes. But the two issues together make a disastrous combination.

The future for much of the Aral Sea does not look great.



Anson Mackay is Professor of Environmental Change at University College London. He received funding from INTAS between 2003-2005 to research water level change in the Aral Sea over recent millennia.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

A Simple Truth; Computer Climate Models Cannot Work

Watts Up With That | Oct 16, 2014 | Dr. Tim Ball

Ockham’s Razor says, “Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.” Usually applied in making a decision between two competing possibilities, it suggests the simplest is most likely correct. It can be applied in the debate about climate and the viability of computer climate models. An old joke about economists’ claims they try to predict the tide by measuring one wave. Is that carrying simplification too far? It parallels the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) objective of trying to predict the climate by measuring one variable, CO2. Conversely, people trying to determine what is wrong with the IPCC climate models consider a multitude of factors, when the failure is completely explained by one thing, insufficient data to construct a model.

IPCC computer climate models are the vehicles of deception for the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) claim that human CO2 is causing global warming. They create the results they are designed to produce.

The acronym GIGO, (Garbage In, Garbage Out) reflects that most working around computer models knew the problem. Some suggest that in climate science, it actually stands for Gospel In, Gospel Out. This is an interesting observation, but underscores a serious conundrum. The Gospel Out results are the IPCC predictions, (projections), and they are consistently wrong. This is no surprise to me, because I have spoken out from the start about the inadequacy of the models. I watched modelers take over and dominate climate conferences as keynote presenters. It was modelers who dominated the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), and through them, the IPCC. Society is still enamored of computers, so they attain an aura of accuracy and truth that is unjustified. Pierre Gallois explains,
If you put tomfoolery into a computer, nothing comes out but tomfoolery. But this tomfoolery, having passed through a very expensive machine, is somehow ennobled and no-one dares criticize it.
Read more..

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Data indicates pattern of fewer tornado days in U.S. - but more tornados!

© Matt Coker
Emerging pattern: fewer tornado
days in U.S. - but more tornados!
SOTT | Oct 17, 2014 | Bob Yirka, Phys.org

A trio of researches with the U.S.'s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has found that though there are fewer total days per year when tornados occur in the U.S., the number that occur on days when there are tornados has increased over the past couple of decades. In their paper published in the journal Science, Harold Brooks, Gregory Carbin and Patrick Marsh describe how they studied weather data over the past half century and what they found when looking for trends.

Tornados happen in many places, but because of its unique geography, the U.S. has more than any other country - mainly due to the lack of a large mountain dividing east and west. There has been speculation recently, that global warming is causing more tornados to occur - though it has also been suggested it only seems that way because of how quickly information about tornadic events disseminates in the modern era. The trio at NOAA decided to let hard facts tell the story. They collected weather data from the national storm database, which goes back to 1954, to see if they could coax out any patterns (they only included tornados at least as strong as an F1).

As it turns out, the trio did find a pattern, they say the data shows very clearly that the U.S. actually has a trend of having fewer days in which there is a tornado over the past two decades - that's the good news. The bad news is that on days when there is a tornado, there are more than there used to be. The data shows that back in the 1970's there were just .6 days a year that had 30 or more tornados - after the turn of the century, that number had risen to 3 days per year. Curiously, the numbers suggest that the country still experiences on average, the same number of tornadoes each year, approximately 1,200 - they're just spread out differently. They also noted that the beginning and end of the tornado "season" in recent years has fluctuated more wildly than the years prior to that.

The researchers cannot say of course why the spread of tornados has changed in the U.S., though some might suggest it's due to global warming or even changes in atmospheric conditions in parts of the country due to pollution or other unknown factors. What is clear, is that something is causing a change, and there is now evidence of it, providing a path for moving forward for better understanding what is really going on.

More information: Science 17 October 2014: Vol. 346 no. 6207 pp. 349-352. DOI: 10.1126/science.1257460
 
Also read: US study finds tornadoes coming in swarms rather than isolated occurrences and
SOTT Earth Changes Video Summary - September 2014