News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Temperature dips below freezing on Aug. 29 in Maine, only a few Alaska locations were colder per NWS

8/29/14, "Maine sees first below freezing temperatures since spring,", Craig Smith, Estcourt Station, Maine

"Estcourt Station one of coldest locations in nation Friday."

"Parts of northern Maine saw the first below freezing temperatures since spring, according to the National Weather Service in Caribou.

Estcourt Station had a low of 31 degrees Friday morning, which was one of the coldest temperatures in the nation.

Only a few locations in Alaska were colder.

It's the first time since June 1 that the temperature at Estcourt Station dropped below freezing, according to the NWS.

Other chilly temperatures included 36 degrees at Big Black River, 37 degrees at Clayton Lake and 44 degrees in Caribou.

Temperatures did not reach nearly that low in southern parts of the state.

The low in Portland was 52 degrees." via Drudge

Thursday, August 28, 2014

CBO blames US 2014 GDP of only 1.5 on cold spring weather. World Bank blames entire 2014 global economy slowdown partly on cold US winter. Unless the US can get some global warming the world economy could collapse

8/27/14, "US Economy Growing Slower than White House Predicted," ABC News Radio,

"The U.S. economy has grown just 1.5 percent in the 2014 fiscal year -- far slower than White House projections -- while more than $500 billion of deficit spending was added to the national debt, according to projections released Wednesday by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

Just last month the Obama administration forecast 2.6 percent GDP growth in 2014....

In its report released Wednesday,  the CBO said growth was stymied partly by “bad weather” during the cold months of spring.
The report said that $506 billion was added to the national debt this year, but that was almost $170 billion less than last year. The CBO also estimated the annual deficit will shrink to $459 billion in 2015 if taxes and spending law remains the same. But the deficit would rapidly grow in years to follow, hitting a ceiling of $960 billion by 2024 unless Congress enacts changes to alter the trajectory.

In total, CBO says current law would create $7.2 trillion in unfunded liabilities over the next 10 years....

The CBO had some good economic news, predicting that the GDP will rebound and expand by 3.4 percent over the next two years due to increased demand for goods and services, businesses investments in new structures and equipment, improved consumer spending and improving on the housing front....
CBO’s latest data also predicts the national unemployment rate will average 5.6 percent from 2018 through 2024."
via Lucianne


Cold US winter partly to blame for entire globe having slow 2014 says World Bank:

 6/11/14, "World Bank: Global Economic Growth to Slow in 2014 After Cold US Winter and Political and Financial Unrest Worldwide," International Business Times, Maria Gallucci

"Global economic growth is expected to dip this year, following the fiercely cold winter that plagued the United States and turbulence in Ukraine and the world’s financial markets....The U.S. forecast was cut to 2.1 percent from 2.8 percent."...


First a cold winter was to blame, now it's a cold spring. Two more cold winter citations:

3/5/14, "US economy hampered by severe winter weather, Federal Reserve says," UK Guardian, Dominic Rushe

"Federal Reserve’s ‘beige book’ report notes that consumer spending lessened because of cold, snow, and storms in winter"."...


4/30/14, "U.S. economy slows to stall-speed,", Annalyn Kurtz

"Economists think the slowdown is merely a temporary phenomenon due to harsh winter weather. If that theory holds true, the economy should bounce back in the spring.

"Take this report with a grain of salt," said Brett Ryan, U.S. economist for Deutsche Bank. "It's certainly not a good report, but there's plenty of evidence of a weather impact.""...



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Scientists say ongoing non-existence of global warming is part of 20-35 years of cooling and was predictable, Science Magazine peer reviewed study-BBC

Peer reviewed study published in Science finds ongoing global warming "pause" could last until 2034 which would be 35 years of no warming. Per BBC and NOAA, current pause began in 1999.

8/22/14, "We found that the slowdown is mainly caused by heat transported to deeper layers in the Atlantic and the Southern oceans, initiated by a recurrent salinity anomaly in the subpolar North Atlantic. Cooling periods associated with the latter deeper heat-sequestration mechanism historically lasted 20 to 35 years."...


8/22/14, "Varying planetary heat sink led to global-warming slowdown and acceleration,"
  1. Ka-Kit Tung2,*


    NOAA source: In 1999 NOAA said 1998 global temperatures were highest in 119 years of reliable records. Of US temperatures, NOAA said 1998 was second highest since 1934 per US records dating from 1895:

    "Global temperatures in 1998 were the warmest in the past 119 years, since reliable instrument records began, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today....

    The United States average temperature in 1998 was 54.62°F (12.57°C), which placed the year in a virtual tie with1934 as the warmest year in records dating to 1895. The average temperature in 1934 was 54.67°F (12.59°C) and the third warmest year on record was 1921 with an average of 54.42°F (12.46°C)....

    Global Precipitation

    The 1998 global average precipitation anomaly for the land surface was less than 0.1 inches (2.5 mm) above the 1900-1997 mean. However, considerable differences were evident in precipitation departures across latitude bands with an average surplus of precipitation in the majority of the Northern Hemisphere, and a deficit elsewhere."...

    "The 1998 statistics are available at:"


    BBC source for NOAA citation: 
    8/21/14, "Global warming slowdown 'could last another decade'," BBC, Matt McGrath

    "Scientists have struggled to explain the so-called pause that began in 1999, despite ever increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. 

    The latest theory says that a naturally occurring 30-year cycle in the Atlantic Ocean is behind the slowdown....

    The world's overall temperatures haven't risen beyond the record set in 1998....[subhead, 'Ice age fears']



    Tarp on the field in Detroit v Yankees, lack of excess CO2 brings one hour and eight minute rain delay

    8/26/14, "Tarp has just been put on field in Detroit as thunder rumbles in the distance. Erik Boland twitter. final 5-2 Tigers, one hour and 8 minute rain delay.

    8/26/14, "Partido iniciarĂ¡ a las 8:15pm / game will start at 8:15pm ,"
    Marly-ESPN Deportes, via Erik Boland twitter, final 5-2 Tigers.


    Monday, August 25, 2014

    Hot air from fossil-fuel enriched billionaire Tom Steyer gets cool response from fact-checkers though fact-free emotional appeals may get results-San Jose Mercury News

    8/21/14, "Bay Area billionaire's climate-change ads leave fact-checkers cold," San Jose Mercury News, Josh Richman

    "Bay Area billionaire Tom Steyer's blitz against candidates who are soft on climate change is underway in seven states, but some prominent fact-checking groups say he's emitting enough hot air to melt a few glaciers.

    Negative reviews from watchdogs like PolitiFact, and the Washington Post are dogging one of the nation's biggest political donors, a former hedge fund manager who ditched his ties to fossil fuels and presented himself as a transparent antidote to the conservative Koch brothers' semi-clandestine funding network....

    Steyer, 57, of San Francisco, was unavailable for an interview this week. But Bobby Whithorne, spokesman for Steyer's NextGen Climate Action super PAC, said: "We stand by our ads."

    The Washington Post's Fact Checker blog in January, however, awarded its dreaded "four Pinocchios" rating to a NextGen ad citing Chinese investment in Canada's tar sands and claiming the controversial Keystone XL pipeline would produce oil only for other countries. The Chinese investment is small, the Post found, and NextGen took an oil executive's words out of context to imply that no oil carried by the pipeline will remain in the U.S.

    The ad "relies on speculation, not facts, to make insinuations and assertions not justified by the reality," the Post said. Last October, PolitiFact -- a renowned fact-checking project run by the Tampa Bay Times -- gave its "pants on fire" rating to a NextGen ad claiming Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, then running for governor, wanted to "eliminate all forms of birth control." Cuccinelli has repeatedly said he has no interest in restricting contraception, PolitiFact noted.

    This month, PolitiFact gave "half-true" ratings to a pair of NextGen ads attacking Florida Gov. Rick Scott's ties to energy companies and polluters., a project of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center, said it didn't dispute the statement of critics that one of the Florida ads was "total fiction," though the GOP response had "glaring factual problems" too.

    And PolitiFact this month deemed "false" a NextGen ad accusing Iowa U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst of having signed a pledge that "protects tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas." The pledge was a broad vow to oppose all tax hikes.

    But Whithorne, Steyer's spokesman, noted that an Iowa television station had determined that the ad was "mostly true."

    And he is quick to defend all of NextGen's ads: "The facts are there, and we provide extensive backup to substantiate the claims. With less than 80 days until the midterms, we'll continue to keep the pressure on the anti-science candidates and highlight their extreme positions."

    Steyer is used to political battles. He took lead roles in California ballot-measure campaigns to defend the state's landmark greenhouse-gas emissions law and to close a $1-billion-per-year corporate tax loophole.

    Two years ago, he announced he would step down from his business and turn to public policy. He founded NextGen and said he hoped to spend $100 million -- half from his own pocket, half raised from others -- to challenge candidates across the nation on climate-change issues. Steyer says the Koch brothers are out to enrich themselves, while he's putting the planet first.

    In Iowa, Ernst's campaign is urging television stations to take down NextGen's ad. In Florida, Scott's legal counsel issued cease-and-desist letters telling stations to stop airing one of the ads; at least one, in Fort Myers, complied. And Californians Against Higher Oil Taxes, founded earlier this year by oil-industry trade groups and other business organizations, says Steyer's ads help make a case against him.

    "It just goes to show that if the public understands the truth about his policies, they're not going to support it because it's going to drive up their cost of living," spokeswoman Sabrina Lockhart said. 

    "So it seems he's pivoted to lies and distortions of the truth to sell the public on something they're not buying."

    (Larry) Sabato, however, said the ads are meant more to mobilize already-sympathetic voters than to change minds. And Tom Hollihan, a University of Southern California political communications expert, agreed.

    "For the people for whom the ads are the primary audience, the fact-checking might not have much consequence," Hollihan said, adding that the fact checks have more effect in correcting the record for media and policymakers.

    Steyer doesn't seem to have raised enough money to reach his $100 million spending goal but has spent more than $20 million so far in this election cycle.

    Dan Schnur, director of USC's Unruh Institute of Politics and former chairman of California's Fair Political Practices Commission, said the ads' targets have little choice but to up their own antes.

    "Until someone decides to spend just as much money in opposition to these messages as NextGen has spent broadcasting them," he said, "most voters will never hear a doubting word."

    Tom Steyer's TARGETS

    San Francisco hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer's NextGen Climate Action has targeted seven Republicans across the nation who question the role of humans in causing climate change or have ties to the oil industry. They are:
    FLORIDA -- Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who is being challenged by Democrat Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor.

    COLORADO -- U.S. Senate candidate Corey Gardner, a Republican congressman challenging incumbent Democrat Mark Udall.

    IOWA -- U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst, a Republican state senator running against Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley.

    PENNSYLVANIA -- Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who is being challenged by Democratic businessman Tom Wolf.

    NEW HAMPSHIRE -- U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown, a Republican and former Massachusetts senator (one of two Republicans vying to challenge incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen).

    MAINE -- Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who is being challenged by Democratic Congressman Mike Michaud.

    MICHIGAN -- U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land, a Republican former secretary of state running against Democratic Congressman Gary Peters." via Free Rep.


    Fossil fuel billionaire Tom Steyer says his only motivation today is "saving the world" but he has major financial interests in "renewables" which means US taxpayer dollars:

    9/26/13, "Climate Skeptics Against Global Warming," Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger,

    "The Left, in these ways, has been every bit as guilty as the Right of engaging in "post-truth" climate politics. Consider New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza's glowing profile of Tom Steyer, the billionaire bankrolling the anti-Keystone campaign. After Lizza suggested that Steyer and his brother Tom might be the Koch brothers of environmentalism, Steyer objects.  The difference, he insists, is that while the Koch brothers are after profit, he is trying to save the world.

    It is telling that neither Lizza nor his editors felt it necessary to point out that Steyer is a major investor in renewables and stands to profit from his political advocacy as well. Clearly, Steyer is also motivated by green ideology. But it is hard to argue that the Koch brothers haven’t been equally motivated by their libertarian ideology. The two have funded libertarian causes since the 1970s and, notably, were among the minority of major energy interests who opposed cap and trade. Fossil energy interests concerned about protecting their profits, including the country's two largest coal utilities, mostly chose to game the proposed emissions trading system rather than oppose it as the Koch brothers did."....


    Unelected billionaires have made elections superfluous:

    8/14/14, "Florida Fracking Fracas,"

    "Steyer’s NextGen Climate Action started the fracas with an ad that first aired Aug. 11. It claims Scott received a “fountain” of campaign cash from “the company that profited off pollution” by using a “dangerous” type of oil drilling near the Everglades.

    Actually, Scott’s administration isn’t doing the driller any favors as the ad implies. Quite the contrary.

    The Florida Department of Environmental Protection says it denied permission for the company drilling the well to use the so-called “acid fracking” procedure last December, and when the driller used the procedure anyway it fined the company $25,000. The agency later revoked the company’s drilling permits, and has taken it to court seeking additional penalties in excess of $100,000. The company shut down the well as of July 15.

    According to the court papers filed by the state, environmental officials last December notified the company verbally that it would not approve use of an “enhanced acid stimulation” method (which has been called a “fracking-like” procedure) to stimulate oil flow from the well, a method not previously used in Florida. But the company conducted the operation anyway, starting last Dec. 30 and ending Jan. 1. The state filed a formal, written “cease and desist” order on Dec. 31, after the operation had started, but the company ignored the order and completed the operation, the DEP stated. The state then extracted a $25,000 fine, and got the company to sign a formal consent order on April 7 in which the company also agreed to monitor groundwater for possible pollution violations.

    The state made no public announcement of all this until May 2, after it says the company failed to come up with an acceptable independent expert to conduct the groundwater monitoring, as it had agreed to do. The company’s relations with the Scott administration have only gone downhill since then, culminating in the state’s lawsuit alleging that the company wasn’t living up to the terms of the original $25,000 settlement.

    No Pollution Found

    So far state officials have not found that the “acid stimulation” procedure the ad refers to has resulted in any contamination of groundwater, however. Environmental officials even installed their own groundwater monitors, and said preliminary results showed no evidence of contamination. Calling somebody a “polluter” before there’s any sign of pollution is like calling somebody a “robber” before there’s evidence that anybody has been robbed.

    And in any case, the driller is not even the source of the $200,000 that the ad says came from “oil interests.” Though one would never know this by simply watching the ad, the money actually came in last year from four members of the wealthy Collier family, whose interests include Collier Resources

    The Collier company partnered with the driller — the Dan A. Hughes Co. — which was leasing the drilling site. The Collier family, we should note, has interests far beyond oil. It also owns shopping centers and office parks, and develops planned communities on its vast land holdings, where it also grows citrus and vegetables, and raises cattle, not to mention sod and palm trees sold for landscaping.

    A Vanishing ‘Connection’

    This ad even drags in an erroneous news report about a third company in its hodgepodge of citations. The opening clip is from a June 16 report by an Orlando TV station. An anchor is seen referring to “a significant financial connection between one of the drilling companies and Gov. Rick Scott.” But the connection has nothing to do with the $200,000 mentioned later, and it no longer existed at the time of the report.

    The reporter refers to a personal investment by Scott in Schlumberger Ltd., the international oilfield technology supplier. The investment was valued at $135,000 in 2010 when Scott put it into a blind trust. But when Scott recently ended the trust and publicly listed all the assets he owned at the end of last year, there was no sign of the Schlumberger stock he once held.

    The connection would have been a thin one even if it still existed. 

    The station quoted a Schlumberger spokesman as saying the company’s role was assisting Hughes in getting permits for saltwater injection wells and providing information to a consultant who put the Hughes permit application together. It’s hard to imagine that this would have a significant impact on Schlumberger’s global profits, one way or the other, much less on the financial well-being of its stockholders, even if Scott were still among them.

    In summary, NextGen cobbles together citations about three different companies, one of them incorrect, to support a claim that Scott somehow favored “the” company that “profited off pollution,” when no pollution or profits are in evidence, and when Scott’s administration actually took the lead in shutting down the Hughes well and revoking the company’s permits."...

    Sunday, August 24, 2014

    Projected Tappan Zee Bridge Tolls withheld by Obama administration in legal violation of Freedom of Information Act requests, sent single blacked out page to recent Tappan Zee FOIA request-Journal News

    8/23/14, "Tappan Zee tolls: Feds ignore appeal for estimates," Journal News, by Theresa Juva-Brown

    "Officials are required to respond within 20 business days. Appeal was filed in June."

    "Federal officials continue to remain silent on whether they will release key documents that contain future toll estimates for the Tappan Zee Bridge.

    In December, the state Thruway Authority secured a $1.6 billion low-interest loan from the federal government for the $3.9 billion bridge replacement project.

    Earlier this year, The Journal News filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the financial section of the state's loan application to the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program.

    U.S. Department of Transportation officials, after consulting with Thruway leaders, denied The Journal News' request in May, arguing that releasing "hypothetical toll revenues and financing scenarios both for the Project and for the entire NYSTA system" could damage the Thruway's credit rating and increase its borrowing costs.

    The Journal News filed an appeal in June and officials acknowledged it June 10. A public agency has to answer an appeal within 20 business days, according to law.

    As of Friday, it had been 52 business days. Several DOT officials assigned to the case did not respond to emails last week.

    The delay has prompted The Journal News to seek help from the Office of Government Information Services, a federal agency that oversees Freedom of Information Act policies and compliance. Nikki Gramian, deputy director of OGIS, said she is looking into the matter.

    The Journal News is not the only organization seeking financial details on the Tappan Zee project. Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a mass-transit advocacy group, recently received a single blacked-out page in response to its request for the same documents.

    "We've been asking for the financial plan, and we think they should make it public," said Vincent Pellecchia, general counsel for Tri-State. "Not being able to see it is frustrating.""

    Image: "A recent view of the Tappan Zee Bridge and ongoing construction on the replacement span. Photo: Theresa Juva-Brown/The Journal News.


    6/26/12, "Faulting a Plan to Replace the Scorned Tappan Zee," NY Times, Peter Applebome

    "It was unloved from the start, built on the cheap, located improbably at the broadest stretch of the Hudson River, its improvised design derided by its own engineers as “one of the ugliest bridges in the East.”"...Tappan Zee Bridge map from NY Times. 


    Saturday, August 23, 2014

    To prevent criticism of government, Communist China authorities close down independent film festival, confiscate documents and film, take organizers into custody, turn off electricity-AP. (China gets things done)

    8/24/14, "Film festival crackdown in China," AP via TVOne, New Zealand TV

    "Chinese authorities on Saturday blocked an annual independent film festival from opening, seized documents and films from its organizers' office and hauled away two event officials. The move against a rare venue where films critical of the government could be screened is seen as a sign that Beijing is stepping up its already tight ideological controls.

    Li Xianting, a film critic and founder of the Li Xianting Film Fund, the organizer of the Beijing Independent Film Festival, said police searched his office and confiscated materials he had gathered over more than 10 years. Mr Li and the festival's artistic director, Wang Hongwei, were later detained by police, according to their supporters.

    The festival, which began in 2006, has seen severe police obstruction over the past few years, but this year's crackdown is far more serious, Wang said earlier Saturday.

    "In the past few years when they forced us to cancel the festival, we just moved it to other places, or delayed the screenings," he said. 

    "But this year, we cannot carry on with the festival. It is completely forbidden."

    Over the past week, Mr Li posted memos saying government security personnel were pressuring him to cancel the festival, and that he had come under police surveillance.

    The shutdown is a sign that Beijing is tightening ideological controls under President Xi Jinping, said Chris Berry, professor of film studies at King's College London in England.

    "It's very clear that the Xi Jinping regime is determined to control the ideological realm, which has not been emphasized so much for a long time," he said....

    Hu Jie, a movie director who traveled from the eastern city of Nanjing to attend the festival, was upset at the cancellation.

    "The audience for my films is already quite small, perhaps because I make documentaries that talk about history," Mr Hu said. "If one of the rare film festivals, like the Beijing Independent Film festival, is shot down, then it will be very difficult for us to survive as filmmakers."...

    In 2012, electricity was cut off shortly after the festival opened, but organizers still managed to show some new movies. Last year, the festival went on, although public screenings were banned.

    In the memos that he posted, Mr Li said police put him and the fund's office under surveillance Aug. 18, when this year's festival's poster and schedule were released online.

    He said local authorities initially agreed to a compromise that the festival be moved to a town farther out in neighboring Hebei province, but that the management of the hotel where reservations had been made informed the fund on Friday that police were not allowing it to host the festival.

    Mr Li said the festival's executive director, Fan Rong, and Wang were taken away by Songzhuang police on Friday afternoon and forced to sign a letter of promise to cancel the festival, before being freed five hours later. He said employees of the film fund were also informed that the electricity to the office would be cut off starting Saturday."


    8/23/14, "China's Beijing Independent Film Festival shut down," BBC

    "The Chinese government keeps a tight control on information and the media - and is suspicious of independent films that could contain criticism of the Communist party and its policies, says BBC World Service Asia analyst Charles Scanlon. 

    President Xi Jinping has stepped up repression of government critics since coming to office, our correspondent says, with the arrest of hundreds of bloggers."...(end of article)


    Friday, August 22, 2014

    Wearing black hoods, Hamas executes 18 of its own citizens suspected of collaborating with Israel, some in front of central Gaza mosque-BBC

    8/22/14, "Gaza: Hamas says 18 suspected informants executed," BBC

    Hamas executions, 8/22/14, Reuters

    "Hamas sources in Gaza say 18 people suspected of collaborating with Israel have been executed.

    The killings came after an Israeli airstrike left three senior Hamas leaders dead on Thursday.

    Officials in Gaza say at least two more Palestinians were killed in Israeli airstrikes overnight, and Israel said more rockets were fired from Gaza. More than 2,070 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 66 Israelis, mostly troops, have been killed in six weeks.

    A Thai national in Israel was also killed by rocket fire early on in the conflict. No-one was injured by the rockets which hit Israel on Friday morning.

    Hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza resumed on Tuesday, scuppering efforts in Cairo to achieve a long-term ceasefire deal.

    Hamas has insisted on a lifting of the economic blockade of Gaza as part of any longer-term deal.

    Israel has vowed to pursue its campaign until "full security" is achieved through the disarmament of Hamas and other groups in Gaza.

    'Forced by circumstances'
    Hamas sources said Friday's executions had been carried out by what it called the Resistance, which may suggest the involvement of other armed Palestinian factions.

    Hamas officials told Reuters that the first 11 executions were carried out at an abandoned police station.

    Witnesses said another seven people were shot by men in Hamas uniforms outside the Al-Umari mosque in central Gaza.

    After the first 11 executions, Hamas warned that "the same punishment will be imposed soon on others".

    It added that "the current circumstances forced us to take such decisions", suggesting a link between the executions and the killing of the three senior Hamas leaders.

    Image above: "Aug. 22, 2014: Hamas militants grab Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel, before executing them in Gaza City. (REUTERS)," via Fox News, "Hamas kills 18 suspected Israel informants".


    8/22/14, "Gazans Suspected of Collaborating With Israel Are Executed," NY Times, Fares Akram and Jodi Rudoren, Gaza City

    "One day after an intelligence coup enabled Israel to kill three top commanders of Hamas’s armed wing, as many as 18 Palestinians suspected of collaboration with Israel were fatally shot in public on Friday, in what was seen as a warning to the people of the Gaza Strip."...


    Greenland Summit WebCam

    8/22/14, "Summit WebCam,"

    "Conditions: -11C, 12F, 8/22/14, 8:15. 9.0 knots, 206 degrees SSW." "Green House Fuel Pit." Greenland Summit Station


    "Flags of the US, Greenland, and Denmark fly at Summit Station"

    via commenter at Steven Goddard


    Natural gas production falls short in China. Shale gas in US lies 'flat like a stack of pancakes,' different geology in China requires much deeper digging with pre WWII era machinery despite China gov. support-NY Times

    8/21/14, "Natural Gas Production Falls Short in China," NY Times, Keith Bradsher, Shouyang, China

    Nat. gas prod. 2000-2013
    "Faced with severe air pollution from coal and a rising dependence on energy imports, China has been eager to follow the United States by rapidly increasing natural gas output. Replacing coal with natural gas has also been central to Beijing’s hopes to limit emissions of global warming gases in China, the world’s largest producer of carbon dioxide by a wide margin.

    But China’s ability to extract sufficient natural gas is in serious doubt. Despite heavy investment and strong government support, China’s natural gas production is growing at a slower pace than its decelerating economy. China’s production of natural gas increased just 6 percent last year and 4.4 percent in 2012.
    China’s main problem is that shale gas production has fallen far short of expectations. That has left the country relying on alternative methods considered also-rans by American standards, like pumping natural gas from coal fields.

    Now, the Chinese government appears to be acknowledging the shortfall. Wu Xinxiong, the director of the National Energy Administration of China, unexpectedly said in a speech this summer that China’s target for domestic natural gas production in 2020 was only 30 billion cubic meters for shale gas and another 30 billion cubic meters for coal seam gas. Just two years ago, the National Energy Administration estimated that China would produce 60 billion to 100 billion cubic meters of shale gas alone by 2020.

    If Mr. Wu’s forecast comes true, shale gas and coal field gas would each supply only 1 percent of China’s electricity generation needs in 2020.

    “If the population and economy keep growing, and extensive energy use continues, sustaining China’s energy supply will be hard,” Mr. Wu warned.

    Gas production has been slow to rise despite energetic efforts by Beijing to make it financially attractive for energy companies, including direct subsidies for shale gas production. The Chinese government also announced on Aug. 13 that it would raise urban wholesale prices for natural gas at the end of the month by roughly 18 percent for industrial users.

    With domestic supplies increasing slowly, China has been looking elsewhere. It agreed in May to buy gas from Russia under a 30-year, $400 billion deal. And it has begun importing liquefied natural gas from Qatar, Australia and Yemen.

    The natural gas is sorely needed. Beijing plans to retire four coal-fired power plants by the end of this year and replace them with gas-fired plants in an effort to reduce air pollution.

    But China does not have enough gas for a larger-scale conversion of power plants to gas. So the national government has already told smaller, less influential cities to stick with coal for now, and has discouraged businesses from investing heavily in gas-fired equipment.

    Gas had looked like one of the few remaining ways for China to reduce its addiction to coal. China’s nuclear power program slowed after Japan’s triple meltdown in Fukushima. Efforts to expand hydroelectric power have run into environmental concerns as well as the huge cost of resettling people from areas flooded when dams are built to make artificial lakes. Solar power and wind power are growing rapidly, but from small bases.

    The revised figures from Mr. Wu represented China’s first official acknowledgment of what Western experts have been saying for many months: The country will not approach the success of the United States in shale gas anytime soon.

    Shale gas deposits lie much deeper in China than in the United States, which greatly increases drilling costs. Chinese shale also tends to be laden with clay and is much wetter than American shale, making it harder to crack the shale and release the gas through pumping liquids and sand underground, the process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

    After 40 million years of powerful earthquakes as the Indian subcontinent plowed into southern Asia, the main shale gas seams in western China are jumbled underground, instead of lying flat like a stack of pancakes, as in the United States, said Jeff Layman, a partner in the Beijing office of Baker Botts, the big Houston energy law firm.

    In March, Sinopec, a Chinese oil giant, announced the country’s first commercially viable shale gas deposit, located outside Chongqing, and predicted annual production would reach a hefty 10 billion cubic meters by 2017. But the company has released few details, prompting foreign energy experts to begin asking whether all of the seams are truly shale, although Sinopec insists they are.

    Neither Sinopec nor its rival, PetroChina, has announced any other large fields despite extensive drilling. Both of these state-controlled companies said in March that they were still drilling actively for shale gas in China even as they cut their worldwide exploration budgets for oil and gas after weak results.

    Sinopec and PetroChina, which will hold earnings conferences on Monday and Thursday, respectively, are targets of broad government inquiries into possible corruption, including in their contracts with outside vendors. This has made their executives reluctant to approve further shale drilling contracts, said a Chinese oil industry executive who insisted on anonymity because of the legal issues involved.

    China needs to develop better technology before tackling many of its shale deposits, said another executive, Yin Shenping, the chairman and chief executive of Recon Technology, a shale gas services company based in Beijing. “It’s obvious that the country has now decided to slow down the drilling process,” he said.

    Lower expectations for shale gas have resulted in greater interest in another category of unconventional gas, so-called coal bed methane. In this process, natural gas is gathered by drilling into underground coal seams.

    The United States, Australia and other countries have used this method for several decades. But they often tap the natural gas before coal extraction begins, to reduce the risk that gas will explode in coal mines.

    China’s problem is that many of its coal fields already have working mines. China has 13 percent of the world’s coal reserves but 47 percent of the world’s production. Many Chinese coal mine operators have opposed nearby coal bed methane production, fearing that pumping sand and chemicals into wells to liberate gas might have the unintended effect of driving gas into their mines.

    The Chinese government has negotiated with mine operators and villages here in Shouyang, 220 miles southwest of Beijing, to authorize a large coal bed methane project, led by Far East Energy Corporation, based in Houston. Michael R. McElwrath, chief executive of Far East Energy, said he believed the project would improve coal field safety by removing explosive gas from subterranean seams.

    But the Shouyang coal field is unusual within China because the coal is fairly permeable, allowing gas to flow underground. If there are no more discoveries of permeable coal, Mr. McElwrath said, “we will have a nice little project but the industry will not take off.”

    Far East Energy faces its own issues. In June, the company announced that it had shut a quarter of its 160 wells for various reasons, such as gummy gels or a lack of gas-gathering pipelines; it plans to restart most of those wells later. “We are considering a variety of strategic transactions to fund the coming year’s drilling activities,” Mr. McElwrath said, declining to elaborate.

    Crews have been working here over the last several years, laboring in a countryside of yellow dirt so soft that even small streams cut steep-flanked gorges 50 feet deep or more. Some of the locally rented equipment uses designs seldom seen in the United States since World War II, an indication that China still lags in drilling rig technology. At each location, workers struggle with the many idiosyncrasies.

    “In the United States, it comes to the surface easier,” said Robert Hockert, a longtime Wyoming shale gas and coal bed methane drilling manager who is now the China country manager for Far East Energy. “Here, you’ve got to work at it.”"

    Image: "Lagging the Need"

    "Despite heavy investment and government backing, natural gas production in China has grown more slowly than the economy for the last three years, leaving the country still heavily dependent on imports and coal." "Source: National Bureau of Statistics, via CEIC Data."
    Dark line: China natural gas production, 2000-2013
    Light line: China GDP, 2000-2013

    Monday, August 18, 2014

    35,000 elephants slaughtered yearly in Africa for ivory, illegal trade in tusks has soared, species could be wiped out in 100 yrs., PNAS Study-BBC

    8/18/14, "Elephant poaching deaths reach tipping point in Africa," BBC, Rebecca Morelle

    "Africa's elephants have reached a tipping point: more are being killed each year than are being born, a study suggests. 

    Researchers believe that since 2010 an average of nearly 35,000 elephants have been killed annually on the continent.

    They warn that if the rate of poaching continues, the animals could be wiped out in 100 years.

    The work is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Lead author George Wittemyer, from Colorado State University, said: "We are shredding the fabric of elephant society and exterminating populations across the continent."

    Dramatic loss

    The illegal trade in elephant tusks has soared in recent years, and a kilogram of ivory is now worth thousands of dollars. Much of the demand has been driven by a rapidly growing market in Asia. While conservationists have long said the outlook was bleak, this study provides a detailed assessment of the impact this is having on Africa's elephants. 

    The researchers have found that between 2010 and 2013, Africa lost an average of 7% of its entire elephant population each year.

    Because elephant births boost the population by about 5% annually, this means that overall more of the animals are being killed than are being born. 

    Julian Blanc, who also worked on the study, from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), said: "If this is sustained, then we will see significant declines over time.

    "The other thing to bear in mind is that different areas are affected differently. 

    "There are still healthy growing populations in parts of Africa, Botswana for example. But in other places the poaching levels are devastatingly high, and that is particularly the case in Central Africa."
    In Central Africa it is estimated that elephant numbers have fallen by about 60% in a decade.

    Prof Wittemyer added: "We are talking about the removal of the oldest and biggest elephants.

    "That means removal of the primary breeding males and removal of family matriarchs and mothers. This leaves behind orphaned juveniles and broken elephant societies." Conservationists said urgent action was needed. 

    John Scanlon, secretary-general of Cites, said: "The world needs to decide how much further effort it wants to put into the conservation of this magnificent species and, if so, be prepared to mobilise the necessary human and financial resources to deliver - and we are seeing some encouraging signs in this regard. 

    "In terms of concrete actions, we need to move to focus on the front-line and tackle all links in the illegal ivory trade chain - improve local livelihoods (for those living with elephants), strengthen enforcement and governance and reduce demand for illegal ivory.""


    8/14/14, "Illegal killing for ivory drives global decline in African elephants,"



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