Day by Day

Monday, September 22, 2014

Imminently Ignorant Democrat Leaders

In my weekly ICO letter two weeks ago I noted that Governor Brown still wants to blow over $68 billion on his bullet train vanity project, that will then operate at a taxpayer–subsidized loss until some hopefully not-distant day when it's replaced by something that makes sense. For those who doubt it will operate at a loss, name me one major public transportation system that breaks even, and in the unlikely event one is found, I can list a hundred that don’t.

If Governor Brown looked at historical California drought records he would see that the past hundred years were unusually wet, and that mega-droughts have been the rule for over 1,300 years in California (http://tinyurl.com/no55jo8). We already have high-speed transportation between San Francisco and Los Angeles; it’s called air travel. While we don’t have an answer for the much bigger problem of endemic drought, a $68 billion investment in desalinization and water storage and distribution would go a long ways towards finding one.

Brown is far from the only highly ignorant prominent Democrat.

On MSNBC (http://tinyurl.com/lsnkz5n): “Hillary Clinton called out climate change ‘deniers’ at a clean energy conference in Las Vegas … Clinton began her remarks at the National Clean Energy Summit by laying out the problems climate change is already causing today, including extreme weather and droughts. ‘[These are] the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face,’ she said. ‘No matter what deniers say.’”

Government studies disprove that the US is experiencing extreme weather and drought, and government organizations provided the following charts. Drought since 1900 is historically low (http://tinyurl.com/nw37e5m). Precipitation is trending up (http://tinyurl.com/m5nlaxp). Land-falling hurricanes are at an all-time low since 1910 (http://tinyurl.com/ms48rtk). So are strong-to-violent tornadoes since 1954 (http://tinyurl.com/ojcytg5). And the annual heat-wave index since 1895 (http://tinyurl.com/otnq8gc).

Hillary, you are clueless.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Veterans Health Administration is a failed single-payer system

On Memorial Day I’m writing this to protest the shabby treatment of fellow veterans and to challenge Liberal support for a single-payer health system.

“The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is America’s largest integrated health care system with over 1,700 sites of care, serving 8.76 million Veterans each year.” It is a single-payer system and has often been held up as a model by Obamacare supporters. Paul Krugman, Vouchers for Veterans, The New York Times, November 13, 2011, put down Mitt Romney’s veterans health privatization plan by touting the VHA as a socialized medicine success story.

Two years earlier, another Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, wrote: “(The VHA) is fully government run, much more ‘socialized medicine’ than is Canadian health care with its private doctors and hospitals. And the system for veterans is by all accounts one of the best-performing and most cost-effective elements in the American medical establishment.”

The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote in 2009 that one of his favorite ideas was expanding VHA to non-veterans, and that the VHA was America’s best-functioning health system.

Nancy Pelosi was quick to blame the emerging VHA scandal on President Bush, speaking as if Democrats had no VHA responsibilities since Bush left office in 2009. 

However, in 2004 the left-leaning Rand Corporation found that: “(T)he VA system delivered higher-quality care than the national sample of private hospitals on all measures except acute care ... In nearly every other respect, VA patients received consistently better care across the board, including screening, diagnosis, treatment, and access to follow-up.”

The Rand Corporation reported that quality improved significantly 2007 to 2009, again during Bush’s presidency.

The VHA, like Obamacare, is another shining example of government incompetently competing with the private sector, and should be privatized. Our veterans deserve better treatment than politicians. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Embarrassed Experts

After our return from Antarctica, a letter writer was embarrassed that I dared argue with the “experts.” Following her lead, I will feign embarrassment for the experts on our trip, James Balog and Dr. Robert Bindschadler. They, along with many glaciology experts, are alarmed by the “collapse” of the West Antarctic Peninsula ice sheet. The source of my embarrassment is that none of the experts mentioned that this ice sheet has been retreating, often at a much greater rate, since the Ice Age ended over 12,000 years ago. Since then it retreated over 545 miles, including a phenomenal 190 miles in only 800 years (7,600 to 6,800 years before present), according to a 1999 study
Dr. Bindschadler is an expert researcher of the Antarctic Pine Island glacier. I doubt  ignorance prevented him mentioning that this glacier retreated similarly 8,000 years ago.

James Balog did most of his “Chasing Ice” work on Greenland’s Jakobshavn glacier, a famously fast moving glacier that retreated 21 miles 1851-1964, and only 9 miles since.

Embarrassingly, all of these periods of previous larger glacier retreat were either not in their expert knowledge base, or the facts were inconvenient since atmospheric CO2 levels were then only 72% of current levels. I asked, and received no answer, how was current glacier retreat caused by increased CO2 when previous greater retreat wasn’t?

Mr. Wiesner writes we should only pay attention to the experts. Presently, the experts’ predictions for temperature and sea level rise are both embarrassingly far higher than observations. Karl Popper, Richard Feynman, and other critical-thinking scientists would have concluded the experts’ predictions have failed.

Charting a course of action “to save the World” based on failed concepts is illogical. Mr. Wiesner and Mr. Landecker, you do agree, don’t you?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

"97%" Surveys Aren't Science

The number 97% should have its own natural climate change deniers’ shrine. As I wrote following our Antarctic cruise, James “Chasing Ice” Balog and Dr. Robert Bindschadler, retired-NASA, both said that 97% of climate scientists agree that climate change due to human activities. They referred to the studies cited in the Ed. Note, page 5, 5/9/14 ICO. I rebutted the first mentioned, M. K. Zimmerman et al, both on the cruise and in the 5/21/14 ICO on my return.

The 2008 Dolan/Zimmerman study asked opinions of 10,257 Earth Scientists at academic and government institutions on two questions, and 3,146 responded. However, only 79 responders were included, meaning 97% were excluded.

Question one (paraphrased): Do you believe global temperature has risen, fallen, or stayed the same since pre-1800 levels? Of course it’s risen since the Little Ice Age ended about 1850AD, so I’m in the 97% too.
  
Opinions are not science. Clear, falsifiable (testable) conclusions based on real evidence are. The self-serving surveys the ICO Editor cited are anti-science; their fraudulent claim that “the science is settled” is the antithesis of the scientific method.

Far more than 3% of scientists disagree with AGW. Over 31,487 American scientists (including 9,029 PhDs) have signed their disagreement

A Legates study (2013) reviewed 11,944 papers on climate published 1991-2011 and found only 64 (0.5%) explicitly endorsed AGW.

Presently 111 of 114 (97%) global climate models significantly overestimate projected warming. Dr. Lüning finds that doubling CO2 only increases temperature 1.0° to 1.5°C. 

Karl Popper would have declared the models failures with such evidence. ()

Lewis and Crok found: “The [climate models] overestimate future warming by 1.7–2 times relative to an estimate based on the best observational evidence.”

With no global warming in 17.75 years; “If you can’t explain the pause, you can’t explain the cause.”

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Hold that tiger! Sea level rise far under experts' predictions

John Wiesner again cast cherry-picking “stones” in a purportedly scientific letter remarkably devoid of science. He said I avoid “an obvious upward sea level trend line”, although in previous letters I’ve noted that San Francisco sea level has risen 4.2” since 1854. My point is simple: since 1983, with unremitting atmospheric CO2 increases, sea levels for six West Coast cities have fallen, not risen.
CO2 up, sea level down. Simple, right?
In previous letters, I've illustrated ad nauseam that sea level rose over 400 feet following the Ice Age 12,000 years ago, that sea levels were higher during the four previous warming periods of the past 10,000 years – sea levels during the Holocene Climate Optimum (8,000-4,000 years ago) were up to ten feet higher – and that current sea level rise is a natural rebound from the drop in sea level during the Little Ice Age (1450-1850AD). 
Mr. Wiesner said I refuse to fit an RMS trend line. Although I can’t find such a refusal, I wonder why Mr. Wiesner hasn’t done it himself? Anyhow, I’m pleased to comply. For San Francisco, the mean sea level trend is 2.01 millimeters/year with a 95% confidence interval of +/- 0.21 mm/yr. The other five cities’ trends are here. Projected increases per century: a modest 1.5” to 8”.
Warmists refuse to debate previous climate change with me; in fact, they seem to avoid all debate. While on our Antarctic trip, James “Chasing Ice” Balog and Dr. Bindschadler both publicly avoided debating previous climate change. You too, Mr. Wiesner?

For Brendan Mobert: I appreciate your comments (Alice agrees with you), but the “other side” owns global warming news (for instance, ICO), and mine doesn’t, so while I’m “riding the tiger”, I can’t get off even though I’ve beaten it nearly to death.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Cherry Picking is the latest Alarmist Mantra


John Wiesner again cast cherry-picking allegations in a purportedly scientific letter remarkably devoid of science. He accuses me of avoiding “an obvious upward sea level trend line”, when my previous letter, and many before it, noted that San Francisco sea level has risen 4.2” since 1854. My point has been, and remains, that in the past three decades (since 1983) of unremitting increase of atmospheric CO2, sea levels for six West Coast cities have fallen, not risen.

In previous letters, I've illustrated ad nauseam that sea level rose over 400 feet in the past 12,000 years following the Ice Age, that sea levels were higher than now during the four previous warming periods of the past 10,000 years – sea levels during the Holocene Climate Optimum (8,000-4,000 years ago) were up to ten feet higher – and that current sea level rise is a natural rebound from the drop in sea level that occurred in the Little Ice Age (1450-1850AD). (Click here for more information about previous higher sea levels.)

Mr. Wiesner wrote that I refuse to discuss fitting an RMS trend line to the data. Although I can’t find any refusal, I wonder why Mr. Wiesner didn’t do it? I’m pleased to add it now. For San Francisco, the mean sea level trend is 2.01 millimeters/year with a 95% confidence interval of +/- 0.21 mm/yr; San Diego, 2.06+/-0.20mm/yr; Los Angeles, 0.83+/-0.27mm/yr; Seattle, 2.06+/-0.17mm/yr; Vancouver, 0.37+/-0.23mm/yr; Victoria, 0.63+/-21mm/yr. Maximum increase per century: a modest 8”.

These are the links to the RMS trend lines:


Using another statistical tool, variation of 50-year mean sea level trends, five cities show a decreasing rate, and one (Victoria) shows no change, for the past half-century. My point, given recent and historical trends, sea level increase this century should be about 8”(or less), just like the past two centuries. 

These are the links to the variations of 50-year mean sea level trends:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Marijuana Growing Water Use is Very High

Larry Jacobs wrote (ICO, 4/25/14) that I “perhaps was hitting the bong” when I wrote that pot growing uses as much water on one day as fracking does in a year. Mr. Jacobs then went on to “prove” I was wrong by stating that each marijuana plant absorbs less than a gallon a day, and projected that would necessitate 200 million pot plants, “over six pounds for every man, woman, and child in California.”

Larry, you chide me that I “can’t just throw figures out there and think no one is going to check on them…” However, if you had gone to the link I provided in my letter: “Marijuana’s thirst depleting North Coast watersheds“, Press Democrat, April 12, 2014, you’d have found that my information came from marijuana experts in the Press Democrat article I cited. Yes, Larry, from the Press Democrat: “Researchers estimate each plant consumes 6 gallons of water a day.” “But Tim Blake, founder of the North Coast's Emerald Cup cannabis competition, said mature, tree-sized plants need closer to 15 gallons a day.”

Larry, I have no idea where you came up with your “less than a gallon a day”, but it’s not credible.

Expert researchers’ numbers indicate California eradicated 4 million plants last year, or 10% of a total 40 million plants grown. On that basis, 36 million pounds of marijuana (one pound per plant) was marketed. Of that, 67% was smuggled out of California, leaving about 12 million pounds for 38 million Californians, or 5.1 ounces/person.

Besides the Press Democrat source, I found supporting information in two Mother Jones articles here and here on damages of illegal pot growing.

Larry, your six pounds per Californian number must have come from the same place you got your less than a gallon of water a day. Your numbers don’t hold water.

The following are my source articles for this post. You can go to the source article by clicking on the link as indicated.

24 Mind-Blowing Facts About Marijuana Production in America (go to link here)
The only thing green about that bud is its chlorophyll.


This is your wilderness on drugs. (go to link here)
The Landscape-Scarring, Energy-Sucking, Wildlife-Killing Reality of Pot Farming


Marijuana's thirst depleting North Coast watersheds (go to link here)
By GLENDA ANDERSON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
April 12, 2014, 3:55 PM


Will Legalizing Pot Wipe Out The Black Market? (go to link here)
by MICHAEL MONTGOMERY, NPR
October 27, 201012:01 AM ET
If pot is legalized in California, but not nationally, the Black Market will persist, even grow.


Central Valley California High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) (go to link here)
June 4, 2010
The following are the highlights of this study:

  • Marijuana production in California
  • California Produces More Marijuana than Mexico
  • California seized more Marijuana than was seized at the U.S. – Mexico Border
  • California’s Law Enforcement Eradicated More Marijuana than was produced in Canada
  • California May Supply 3/4th of all the Marijuana for US Consumers

The following is the complete text of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat article, Marijuana's thirst depleting North coast watersheds (link here)

Streams in Northern California's prime marijuana-growing watersheds likely will be sucked dry this year if pot cultivation isn't curtailed, experts say.

“Essentially, marijuana can consume all the water. Every bit of it,” said state Fish and Wildlife Senior Environmental Scientist Scott Bauer, who specializes in salmon recovery and is working on a study of the issue.

The findings, expected to be released soon, shed new light on a massive, largely unregulated industry in California that has been blamed for polluting streams and forests with pesticides and trash and for bulldozing trees and earth to make clearings for gardens.

A sharp increase in water-intensive pot cultivation, exacerbated by drought conditions, adds to the habitat degradation and threatens to undo decades of costly fish restoration efforts, Bauer said.

“The destruction of habitat is actually quite staggering,” said Patrick Foy, a spokesman with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Last year, 24 North Coast salmon-bearing tributaries were reported to have gone dry, Bauer said, though not all were verified by the agency.

Even without drought, there isn't going to be enough water to meet the pot industry's growing demand, Bauer said.

Just the illegal marijuana plants confiscated in California by law enforcement in recent years — between 2 million and 4 million annually — use upward of 1.8 billion gallons — or about 600,000 water tanker trucks over their five-month growing season, based on the average water usage documented in the study.

That amount is enough to stanch the seasonal flow of many small creeks in the region, potentially stranding the young salmon and steelhead that decades of taxpayer-funded efforts have sought to restore.

“It's really an important issue for fish,” Bauer said. “We've invested a lot of money in these salmon and steelhead stock.”

The North Coast sits at the center of the escalating environmental crisis. Its remote forests and seemingly ample water supplies have long made the region famed territory for West Coast pot cultivation, earning three counties — Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity — the much-trumpeted “Emerald Triangle” moniker.

That notoriety is now marked, however, by the signs of widespread environmental degradation, endangering the region's clear, free-running streams and the wildlife that depends on them.

“I think it's really important that this industry, which has brought so much wealth to our communities and the region, take responsibility for its impacts,” said Scott Greacen, executive director of Friends of the Eel River.

The state study Bauer led examined three watersheds in Humboldt County and one in Mendocino County, all of them renowned for marijuana cultivation. They include two near Redway, one near Orick and one that includes Willits.

The Redwood Creek watershed near Orick drains into the ocean. The other three watersheds feed the Eel River.

Using satellite images, researchers determined that an average of 30,000 plants were growing in each of the four watersheds in 2012, an increase since 2009 of 75 percent to 100 percent, Bauer said.

“We were able to count every plant and measure every greenhouse,” Bauer said. The pot gardens they found ranged in size from 10 plants to hundreds, he said.

The greenhouse-plant counts are estimates, based on the size of the structures.
Researchers estimate each plant consumes 6 gallons of water a day. At that rate, the plants were siphoning off 180,000 gallons of water per day in each watershed — altogether more than 160 Olympic-sized swimming pools over the average 150-day growing cycle for outdoor plants.

“We're still fairly shocked,” by the results, Bauer said.

Some marijuana advocates have taken issue with the 6-gallon-per-plant estimate, saying daily water use is considerably less. But Tim Blake, founder of the North Coast's Emerald Cup cannabis competition, said mature, tree-sized plants need closer to 15 gallons a day.

Plants grown in inland Mendocino County, where it's hot in the summer, will use more water, while those in cooler regions can use less, Blake said. He estimates it takes 60,000 gallons to 75,000 gallons to raise 25 plants, the current limit for medicinal marijuana in Mendocino County.

Sheriff Tom Allman has estimated there are more than 1 million marijuana plants being illegally grown annually just in Mendocino County. That doesn't include medical marijuana gardens.

Water and wildlife officials don't base their investigations on whether the marijuana being grown is for medical purposes. Instead, they look at the violation of laws meant to protect natural resources, including forests, soil and streams.
“If the operator is not in compliance with environmental laws, then they're not legal. That's the way I look at it,” said Stormer Feiler, an environmental scientist with the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The new study escalates scrutiny of North Coast pot cultivation and is likely to inflame a debate that has raged for years among supporters and foes of marijuana farms. The issue has even split growers in the industry, which has an annual estimated value that varies widely, from $10 billion to over $120 billion.

Until now, few official statistics have been available to inform the water-use discussion about marijuana. That is unlike the attention on other land-intensive industries, including the North Coast's famed wine crop, where water use has been documented and watched for years.

But with logging activity on the decline across much of the region and a thriving black market for pot — plus state-sanctioned recreational marijuana sales in Washington and Colorado — the spread of cannabis cultivation is now seen by many environmentalists and government scientists as the greatest threat to forests and streams damaged by decades of heavy human use.

“There's no real question the marijuana industry is now the biggest single sector in terms of our concerns,” said Greacen, Friends of the Eel River director.

He said regulating the industry and its water use would go a long way toward fixing the problem.

If growers collected all their water during the rainy season and stored it in permitted tanks or ponds — like many other farmers — marijuana's water consumption would not be such an issue, Greacen said.

Blake, the Emerald Cup founder, agreed. He said most locally based growers are conscientious, both about staying within plant limits and using their own springs or buying tanks of water. But there are others who buy, rent or trespass on water-short properties and then divert water illegally to grow their crops, he said. Law enforcement officials say such growers also tap into neighbors' springs and water tanks.

“It's the big commercial growers that are giving all the people who have been doing a good job up here a bad name,” Blake said.

Dale Gieringer, state coordinator of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a group that advocates for marijuana legalization, said growers are taking too much of the blame for the state's water woes.

“I don't think marijuana is responsible for most of the water problems in California,” he said. But, if the marijuana plant counts cited in the study are correct, “that could have an impact” in those watersheds, he acknowledged.

Wildlife officials are quick to say that many local marijuana growers are following the rules.

But there are quite a few who don't.

Fish and Wildlife officials last year investigated 264 marijuana-growing operations in the state and helped remove 129 illegal dams being used to irrigate pot, said Capt. Nathaniel Arnold, who runs the department's statewide marijuana team.

Of those operations, about 70 were in Lake and Mendocino counties, he said.

North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board officials investigate about 30 marijuana-related cases a year, said Feiler. The board oversees all or parts of Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Trinity, Humboldt, Glenn, Del Norte, Siskiyou, Shasta and Modoc counties.

Agency officials say they are limited in what they can accomplish because they are outnumbered by marijuana-growing offenders.

“We just don't have enough staff” to investigate every complaint, Feiler said.
The cases often take years to investigate and prosecute.

State regulators recently worked on three cases, each involving an unauthorized dam on one tributary to the Navarro River in Comptche, west of Ukiah.

Another case involves a Willits-area property rented to marijuana growers who used bulldozers to clear several acres of forest.

On Friday, the Oakland landowner, Joung Min Yi, reached a settlement with the state that requires him to pay $56,404 in penalties for state and federal water code violations.

He also is required to restore the land, work that has reportedly cost more than $80,000, Feiler said.

Most cases pursued by water regulators are resolved through civil fines rather than criminal charges, in part because it requires fewer resources, he said.

Marijuana growers aren't the only ones taking water without permission. Last year, a Mendocino County vineyard was fined $33,800 for diverting water from an unnamed creek into its irrigation reservoir.

Legislators have proposed stronger environmental protection measures in response to the problem. Pending state legislation would boost funding for water and wildlife investigations connected to illegal marijuana cultivation.

In Mendocino County, Sheriff Allman has initiated a water theft hotline and said cases are being being vigorously prosecuted. The District Attorney's Office does not have statistics available on water prosecutions, spokesman Mike Geniella said.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has put together a team dedicated to dealing with marijuana, Foy said. Water and wildlife officials also are asking marijuana growers to learn and follow water regulations. The State Water Resources Control Board website has information about obtaining permits to collect and store water.

The permits and requirements apply to any site preparation work, “regardless of crop,” the state website notes.

Still, regulators and environmentalists are concerned that the explosion of marijuana in the region, without greater controls, will ruin the landscape for everyone.

“It's the tragedy of the commons,” Bauer said.

(You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or glenda.anderson@pressdemocrat.com.)