Adam Sandberg

As we have previously noted, the peak bloom date of DC’s cherry blossom trees has been delayed this year. While it was originally predicted to take place during March 23-26, it wasn’t until last Tuesday—April 9th—that it actually started, checking in 20 days later than last year.

Earlier peak blooms in past years have triggered a variety of global warming-related news articles. The Huffington Post characterized the cherry blossom trees as humanity-serving “global warming canaries” and the Washington Post suggested that the trees could one day be blooming in winter. However, this year’s late peak bloom date has not received the same treatment. As a matter of fact, we can’t find any examples of GW being discussed in connection with this year’s late peak bloom. (Are we the only exception?)

Well, today we can definitively announce that peak blooming actually began to plateau in 1998, much like what happened to global warming in general. After the unusually hot year of 1998 (which has been attributed to El Niño), temperatures have actually stopped rising.

Take a look at these cherry blossoms graphs below. The Y-axis measures how early peak bloom occurred; it’s constructed by subtracting the number of days between March 1 and peak bloom from 50, so a higher number on the Y-axis means an earlier peak bloom. These carefully developed graphs have been peer-reviewed by CEI general counsel Sam Kazman, but are hitherto unpublished.
cherry graph

Now compare the graphs to these statistics on global temperatures. If that isn’t conclusive evidence, then I don’t know what is.

[click to continue…]

Post image for An Even Later Peak Cherry Blossom Date – How Unnatural is That?

Back in early March, we wrote about how this year’s cherry blossom peak was predicted to occur a bit later than in 2012—March 26-30 instead of March 20-23. While recognizing that later peak blooms in a single year don’t prove anything either way about global warming, we still raised the question of press reaction—or rather the lack of it. Since the early peak dates in the last three years caused quite a bit of climate alarmism, the same should, theoretically, happen when the peak date is overdue.

As it turns out, the National Park Service’s newest prediction shows that this year’s peak blossom will occur even later—April 3-6—making 2013 the year with the latest cherry blossom peak bloom since 2005. But there were no headlines that screamed “Peak Blossom Delay is Worst In Eight Years!”

Washington Post reporter Jason Samenow reported about the later peak bloom on March 15. He failed to mention, however, his climate change musings in a similar article published one year ago: “D.C.’s cherry blossoms have shifted 5 days earlier: what about global warming and the future?”

In that article, Samenow wrote:

“Based on the build-up of … greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the high likelihood for additional warming in the future … there is no reason to think the shift towards earlier bloom dates will not continue.”

And in another piece that he wrote on cherry blossoms this Monday, Samenow didn’t mention his 2012 predictions either. In the most recent piece, he did call the weather “unseasonably chilly”; I wonder if zipping up his jacket made him forget about his past articles.

This year’s cold March, and the later peak bloom prediction, doesn’t necessarily mean that Samenow should now warn readers about global cooling. But shouldn’t he at least admit to readers that this season is running counter to his predictions? After all, that is the cold (or at least unseasonably chilly) truth.

Post image for Eco-Anxiety Takes a Toll on Global Warming Alarmists

Most global warming alarmists focus on changes  supposedly occurring to the world we live in, but GW is also having an effect on another world—the world inside our heads. For instance, a recent study by the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) showed that 80 percent of Sweden’s young people (ages 15-25) worry about how climate change will affect their future. Moreover, half of the respondents think about climate change once a week or more often, and no less than 25 percent experience stomach pains or unhappiness when they do so.

This is actually not a new phenomenon. In the 1990s, something known as “eco-anxiety” came into existence. It involved feelings of helplessness, despair or of not being able to do enough about climate change. Margaret Anderson, who holds a master’s degree in eco-psychology, calls it “that underlying feeling of fear and anger about the state of the Earth”. One person explained her melancholic feelings this way:

“The sight of an idling car, heat-trapping carbon dioxide spewing from the tailpipe, would send me into an hours-long panic, complete with shaking, the sweats, and staring off into space while others conversed around me.”

Another anxious reporter explained it as follows:

“Whatever steps I take to counter global warming, however well-intentioned my brief bursts of zeal, they invariably end up feeling like too little, too late. The mismatch between the extremely dangerous state of the earth and my own feeble endeavuors seems mockingly large.”

While eco-anxiety might be an unknown concept for most, that hasn’t stopped it from becoming quite a lucrative business for some. One website has compiled a database of people who identify themselves as providing therapeutic or educational services related to ecopsychology. In the U.S. alone, there are over one hundred people listed–charging up to $250 per hour–ranging from ecotherapists and ecologists to shamans.

Climate change/eco-anxiety has an eerie resemblance to another condition that popped up back in 2009: “Avatar blues”. The movie Avatar, which basically showed dirty mankind exploiting beautiful Na’vi people on the beautiful planet Pandora, caused people to experience depression–and in some instances—contemplating suicide. As one viewer said to CNN back in 2010:

“When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first time yesterday, the world seemed … gray. It was like my whole life, everything I’ve done and worked for, lost its meaning … It just seems so … meaningless. I still don’t really see any reason to keep … doing things at all. I live in a dying world.”

The common denominator between eco-anxiety and Avatar blues seems to be the notion that earth is a unclean place, soon-to-be inhospitable to polar bears and on the brink of overall destruction. On its face this is similar to the “nuclear anxiety” that was widespread in the later half of the 20th century; the difference, however, is that fear of nuclear war was rather well-founded, while the alleged mega-catastrophes of GW have yet to appear.

Fortunately, there are ways of overcoming eco-anxiety, such as realizing that earth isn’t such a dull place. Our friends the ecotherapists have constructed more ingenious methods, such as advice on becoming more in tune with nature by always carrying around a small rock or twig. According to Carolyn Baker, a psychotherapist who offers eco-anxiety coaching, it helps to realize that “it’s OK to give yourselves a break for a few weeks or months,” and “focus on positive things, go see a comedy, [or] read a trashy novel”. Thanks, Carolyn. [click to continue…]

Back in 2007, EPA issued a regulation known as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), requiring billions of gallons of corn ethanol to be blended into the U.S. gasoline supply. This mandate is a continuation of the U.S. biofuel policy, and has been celebrated by environmentalists and GW alarmists as a way of reducing greenhouse gases and lowering our dependence on supposedly dangerous foreign oil.

In October of 2011, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and ActionAid USA petitioned EPA to review its position on the impact of its RFS mandates on world hunger. Since a large portion of available farmland is being used to grow corn for ethanol instead of for food, this lowers the food supplies drastically and in turn drives up prices. Our petition was based on the Data Quality Act, which enables anyone to seek correction of data that has been disseminated by a federal agency. The request argued that the information in EPA’s regulatory analysis and on the agency’s website incorrectly downplayed the impacts of the U.S. mandates on world hunger. To support this claim, CEI and ActionAid cited several studies showing that higher food prices from biofuel mandates have caused malnutrition in developing countries, resulting in nearly 192,000 excess deaths annually.

Not being in much of a hurry to examine if whether it might be partly responsible for such carnage, EPA exceeded its 90-day response deadline-three times. Fourteen months would pass before they finally, in December of 2012, denied the petition.

This delay is particularly ironic since the Obama administration and EPA frequently have complained about the slow pace of Congress, issuing executive orders and fuel economy regulations with the slogan “We Can’t Wait.” Apparently, when it comes to assessing whether their policies are killing people, they can.

EPA claimed that assessing deaths due to biofuel programs was beyond the scope of its analysis, which apparently only focused on the incremental effects of the U.S. biofuel mandate. CEI and ActionAid USA filed a request for reconsideration on March 11, providing new evidence of the policy’s devastating effects on food prices and global hunger. A copy of the request is appended to the end of this post. Given EPA’s alleged “global leadership” role and the fact that people in developing countries spend up to 80 percent of their income on food, the new request shows that the U.S. mandate alone has far-reaching negative implications that EPA should address.

The request was fittingly filed during the Government in the Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote the importance of open government. However, given EPA’s notorious lack of transparency on other matters, we wonder what effect our request will have on the agency whose motto is “protecting people and the environment.” We have an in-house joke that EPA ought to take that slogan and insert the phrase “but not in that order” to the end of it.

CEI and Action Aid – March 2013 Data Quality Reconsideration Request by Competitive Enterprise Institute

Post image for Maryland’s Off-Shore Wind Farm Would Be More Dangerous Than You Think

With the Maryland’s Senate passing the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013, it looks as if the U.S. is likely to build its first off-shore wind farm east of the Ocean City. The initiative has been widely endorsed by environmentalist groups, such as the Coalition for Wind Works for Maryland. As the coalition states on its website:

“Bringing offshore wind power to Maryland will effectively stabilize electricity rates, create jobs, reduce pollution, and provide us with a local source of clean, renewable energy.”

According to current plans, any offshore windfarm built pursuant to the legislation would be approximately 10 nautical miles (11.5 miles) from the Atlantic coast and produce 200 megawatts – supposedly providing about 1 percent of the state’s electric needs.

As we’ve frequently pointed out, wind power plants are inefficient, costly and in need of heavy subsidization. But the cost may not only be measured in dollars–reports show that the turbines are in fact quite dangerous as well. For instance, two windmill accidents have been reported in Sweden in the few weeks alone.  In February, a blade fell down while a turbine was being repaired, crushing a parked car. This past Sunday, a windmill spun out of control after a safety mechanism failed, forcing the nearby residents to evacuate for 24 hours until two blades finally came off in the strong winds.

And not every accident leaves people unscathed. Last December, a German crane operator was killed when a blade fell on his cab during the installation of a windmill. A survey performed by RenewableUK, a wind power trade association, estimated that 1,500 accidents had occurred between 2006 and 2011 in the UK alone, including 300 injuries and 4 deaths. Focusing on wind farms, the Health and Safety Executive’s figures showed three fatal accidents between 2007 and 2010 and a total of 53 major or dangerous incidents during the same time frame.

[click to continue…]

Post image for A Later Peak Cherry Blossom Date – Is DC’s Global Warming Indicator Broken?

There’s an ongoing quest to find signs of global warming in every aspect of everyday life. Over the last few years a rather unique kind of local indicator for GW has emerged, namely the predicted peak cherry blossom bloom of Washington DC’s Tidal Basin.

The peak cherry blossom bloom period has been used frequently as a GW indicator for the last three years. In line with GW claims, the predictions for peak blooms were moved ahead in both 2010 and 2011; in 2010, the revised predicted peak dates were April 1 to April 4; in 2011, they were even earlier– March 29 to April 3.  In 2012, the predictions of a peak between March 20 and March 23 were regarded as a first-class sign of GW, with DC’s cherry blossoms being called a “Global Warming Canary” by the Huffington Post. It seemed that the hugely popular cherry blossom festival was in danger of becoming a winter, rather than a spring, event.  As stated in a 2012 Washington Post article “Could cherry blossoms one day be blooming in winter?” there is a future possibility of “a blooming period in February instead of March, and a peak bloom in early March, instead of early April”.

So what are the predictions for this year’s cherry blossom? The National Park Service has announced that the peak bloom for Washington’s Global Warming Canary will be March 26 to March 30 — about one week later than last year. Although the actual bloom dates will be determined by the weather in the coming weeks, this year’s prediction of a later peak period does not fit into the alarming predictions of earlier years, or the notion that the shift towards earlier dates will continue.

Given the decades-long nature of climate trends, later peak blooms in a single year don’t prove anything either way about GW.  But that was just as true of the 2010 to 2012 cherry blossom seasons, and yet those dates triggered quite a bit of GW alarmist commentary.  This year’s prediction hasn’t.  Press coverage of GW “evidence” apparently omits incidents that run counter to alarmism.  Perhaps that’s not a surprise, but it’s not a healthy sign for public understanding.

And no matter when the blossoms appear this year, let’s all enjoy them—even the GW alarmists among us.