Monthly Notes

Green Notes: May, 2012

From the “never let a crisis go to waste” file, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) used a string of tornado storms that ravaged the Dallas, Texas area in early April to plea for more carbon taxes. According to Durbin, man-made global warming is responsible for tornadoes, and much else besides. “It’s your money or your life,” Durbin lectured. “We are either going to dedicate ourselves to a cleaner, more livable planet and accept the initial investment necessary or we’re going to pay a heavier price in terms of loss of human life, damage and costs associated with it.” Durbin’s comments are shameful, but not surprising.

Unfortunately for Durbin, evidence keeps mounting that Earth’s warming cycles may be altogether natural, and have nothing to do with our SUV emissions. The latest blow to the anthropogenic global warming theory: A new study by geochemist Zunli Lu from Syracuse University in New York state found that the infamous “Medieval Warm Period”, which saw unusually warm temperatures in Europe 1,000 years ago, was actually far more extensive and significant than scientists previously thought. In fact, it was a worldwide event and even extended down to Antarctica. The team studied a rare mineral called ikaite, which forms in cold waters, as a record of past climate conditions. “We showed that the Northern European climate events influenced climate conditions in Antarctica,” said Lu. “More importantly, we are extremely happy to figure out how to get a climate signal out of this peculiar mineral. A new proxy is always welcome when studying past climate changes.” This new proxy shows conclusively that the Earth warmed dramatically a millennium ago, without the help of man-made carbon emissions.

Your tax dollars at work: On April 5th, the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $100,000 cash prize for software companies to develop mobile applications (i.e., for a smart phone or tablet computer) that help consumers track their energy usage. Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the DOE that such apps already exist, in abundance. As the Daily Caller reports, “A quick scan of the iTunes and Android markets shows nearly two dozen existing applications that accomplish the same purpose — helping users keep track of their energy consumption at home. The uMeter app, for example, allows consumers with Wi-Fi-enabled home energy meters to ‘manage and optimize their energy consumptions, in order to reduce their expenses and carbon footprint,’ according to the description.” The Daily Caller notes that all of these applications were created by private developers, who somehow managed without DOE subsidies or incentives.

If there’s a bigger scam out there than wind power, Green Notes hasn’t seen it. Case in point: Nevada’s disastrous wind turbine program created by the state legislature in 2007 and implemented by NV Energy. To date, about 150 wind turbines have been installed throughout the state, mostly in the north and rural areas. The $46 million program promised to produce both abundant clean electricity and lower energy bills for Nevada consumers. Unfortunately, it has produced little power and even less savings. In Reno alone, for example, “one turbine that cost the city $21,000 to install saved the city $4 on its energy bill. Overall, $416,000 worth of turbines have netted the city $2,800 in energy savings,” reports the Las Vegas Sun.

On April 9th, Sierra Club’s Ohio chapter filed suit in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court against the Ohio Department of Natural Resource, claiming the agency has ignored Sierra’s request for documents pertaining to a new program allowing oil and gas drilling in Buckeye State parks. “Ohioans have the right to know about the backroom deals being made to bring fracking into our state parks,” said Jed Thorp, manager of Sierra’s Ohio chapter. “The reckless natural gas industry has no place fracking on some of our state’s most beautiful public lands.” But Carlo LoParo, a spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources, says that Sierra is not being ignored, but that some of the requested documents do not yet exist “because the drilling program is still developing,” reports the Plain Dealer. “It’s not an issue of public records being denied,” said LoParo in a statement. “The documents are being assembled where they exist; being finalized where they’re not yet complete.” In 2011 Ohio lawmakers passed House Bill 133, which opened parks for oil and gas drilling and created the Oil and Gas Leasing Commission to lease state-owned land for exploration.