Thursday, April 11, 2019

GWPF Newsletter: EU Plans To Transfer Energy Powers From Capitals To Brussels

GWPF Paper Refutes Walrus-Climate Scare

In this newsletter:

1) EU Plans To Transfer Energy Powers From Capitals To Brussels
Forbes, 9 April 2019

2) EU Wants Members To Drop National Veto Over Possible Carbon Tax
Associated Press/Washington Post, 9 April 2019 

3) Has Netflix’s Our Planet Hidden The Real Cause of Walrus Deaths?
The Spectator, 9 April 2019

4) Netflix Series Our Planet Accused Of Fake Climate Change Claims
The Australian,9 April 2019

5) GWPF Paper Refutes Walrus-Climate Scare

6) Netflix Defends Graphic Walrus Scene In 'Our Planet'
TMZ, 9 April 2019

7) Skeptics Press White House To Keep Proposed Climate Panel Independent
Valerie Richardson - The Washington Times, 8 April 2019

Full details:

1) EU Plans To Transfer Energy Powers From Capitals To Brussels
Forbes, 9 April 2019
Dave Keating

EU Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action Miguel Arias Cañete wants to end a requirement for unanimous voting on energy issues in the European Council (Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Though power has steadily flowed from national capitals to Brussels over the past two decades in the European Union, there have been key areas which the EU can’t touch according to its treaties. These include diplomacy, defence, education, healthcare, energy and taxation.

Today, the European Commission risked crossing these red lines by proposing more EU control over the latter two areas.

As part of an annual review of the bloc’s ‘Energy Union’ – plans to unite the countries disjointed energy systems – the Commission set out plans to end the requirement for a unanimous vote by all 28 countries in the EU to make changes to energy taxation rules. Under the proposal, such votes would move to qualified majority voting, which gives each country voting power based on its population. This is the system used for most EU lawmaking outside of the red line areas.

Speaking at a press conference, EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete called the requirement for unanimity “absolutely outdated”.

“In the last years it’s become very urgent to align energy union objectives to the taxation framework,” he said. “For example, the polluter pays principle doesn’t exist in the world of energy taxation. We are giving €5 billion of subsidies a year to fossil fuels. And there’s no system of taxation that incentivises renewables”.

The Commission has tried several times to change the EU’s Energy Taxation Directive, but each time it has been vetoed by fossil-fuel-reliant countries such as Poland, even though it could pass under qualified majority rules.

“We can’t have the most ambitious framework to develop an energy union, and at the same time have a palaeolithic energy taxation system,” he fumed. “This is unbelievable!”

However Cañete noted that since the current term of Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is ending later this year, it will be for the next president to decide whether to pull the trigger on this plan. He said the change could be made without altering the EU’s treaties, by using new “passarelle” clauses introduced by the 2009 Lisbon Treaty.

Candidates running in May’s European election to replace Juncker as Commission President reacted positively to the idea.

Full story

2) EU Wants Members To Drop National Veto Over Possible Carbon Tax
Associated Press/Washington Post, 9 April 2019 

BERLIN: The European Union’s executive branch is proposing that individual member countries drop their right to veto decisions on energy taxes, a move that could facilitate the introduction of a carbon tax across the whole bloc.

The EU’s energy commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete, said Tuesday that no longer requiring unanimous votes would allow “the potential of energy taxation to foster the clean energy transition can be freed.”

Approval of energy tax decisions instead would need a qualified majority, or 16 of the current 28 countries representing at least 65 percent of the EU’s population.

Full story

3) Has Netflix’s Our Planet Hidden The Real Cause of Walrus Deaths?
The Spectator, 9 April 2019
Andrew Montford

Over the weekend, social media and the newspapers were full of stories of Pacific walruses plunging over sea cliffs to their deaths. Heart-wrenching film of the corpses of these magnificent beasts piled up on the shore have been driving many to tears.

This all came about as the result of the latest episode of Our Planet, the new wildlife extravaganza from Netflix. As is normal for such programmes, the story that accompanies the animal eye-candy is told by Sir David Attenborough and, as is positively compulsory, it is spiced with multiple references to the horrors of global warming.

In fact, we are told, it is us who should shoulder the blame for the slaughter of the walruses, because shrinking sea ice caused by climate change forces them to haulout – leaving the water to take refuge on the shore instead.

The programme ends with Attenborough directing viewers to a website run by WWF, the co-producers of the series. It is therefore, in essence, an eight-part, multi-million pound fundraiser.

Which is a pity, because there is now considerable evidence emerging that the story is not quite what it seems.

For a start, as the zoologist Susan Crockford has documented for the GWPF, walrus haul out behaviour may not be related to global warming. In her 2014 paper On the Beach, she cites examples as far back as the 1930s, long before global warming. She also explains that there doesn’t appear to be a strong correlation between sea-ice levels and haulout behaviour.

Nor is the phenomenon of walruses falling to their deaths from sea cliffs new. American TV recorded the same phenomenon in 1994 and the New York Times reported 60 deaths in a single incident in 1996. Attempts were made to install a fence at one site, while another employs rangers whose sole job is to keep the walruses away from the cliffs. At the time, scientists explained that the most likely explanation  was overcrowding at the water’s edge.

Crockford thinks that the footage on the Netflix show comes from a well-documented incident that took place in the village of Ryrkaypiy, in eastern Siberia, in October 2017. September and October are the peak period for walrus haulouts, and there are numerous examples, which date back to the 1960s, of the cliff phenomenon taking place on Wrangel Island, a few hundred kilometres to the north.

However in 2017, as the Siberian Times reported, the colony attracted polar bears that frequent – and indeed at the time terrorise – the area. The bears drove several hundred walruses over the cliffs to their deaths, before feasting on the corpses. They continued to frequent the area right through into the winter.

I’ve been able to show that Crockford’s supposition about the geographical origin of the footage is correct: analysis of the rock shapes in the film and in a photo taken by the producer/director both match archive photos of Ryrkaypiy. The photo was taken on 19 September 2017, during the events described by the Siberian Times.

But whereas the Siberian Times and Gizmodo website, which also reported on the 2017 incident, were both quite clear that the walruses were driven over the cliffs by polar bears, Netflix makes no mention of their presence. Similarly, there is no mention of the fact that walrus haulouts are entirely normal. Instead, Attenborough tells his viewers that climate change is forcing the walruses on shore, where their poor eyesight leads them to plunge over the cliffs.

This is all very troubling as it raises the possibility that Netflix and the WWF are, innocently or otherwise, party to a deception of the public. Exactly who was aware of the presence of polar bears remains unclear, but it seems doubtful that no one at the WWF and the production team was unaware. And given that one of the prime objectives of the show seems to have been to raise funds for WWF, that seems… problematic.

Andrew Montford is deputy director of the Global Warming Policy Forum

4) Netflix Series Our Planet Accused Of Fake Climate Change Claims
The Australian,9 April 2019

Netflix’s acclaimed Our Planet series has come under fire for “tragedy porn” over images of walruses falling to their deaths from cliff tops, allegedly because of climate change.

The Our Planet footage, narrated by David Attenborough, showed dozens of the animals climbing up 80 metre high outcrops in northeast Russia because of a lack of sea ice.

They were shown plunging onto the rocks below, with hundreds of dead animals piled on the shoreline. A voice-over by Attenborough claimed their poor eyesight made it hard for them to return safely to the ocean.

But a Canadian zoologist has dismissed the claims as “contrived nonsense” and said the walruses were most likely driven over the cliffs by polar bears.

Susan Crockford, of the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, told The Telegraph UK: “This powerful story is fiction and emotional manipulation at its worst.”

The polar bear expert said that at the time the footage was shot in 2017 at Kozhevnikova Cape, Ryrkaypiy, in eastern Russia, the town was being besieged by polar bears. According to The Siberian Times, 20 bears had surrounded the town, attracted by 5000 walruses that had appeared at a local protection zone.

Head of WWF Project Polar Bear Patrol, Viktor Nikiforov, told The Siberian Times: “Many (walruses) crashed, falling from a height. Their rookery had attracted polar bears.

“The walruses were obviously frightened by the predators, panicked and fell from the top to their deaths.”

In 2015 the WWF reported that walruses had been coming ashore at Cape Kozhenikov every year since 2007 but had started arriving earlier in the season because of the retreat of ice “far to the north.”

Dr Crockford told The Telegraph: “We know that walruses reach the top of cliffs in some locations and might fall if startled by polar bears, people or aircraft overhead, not because they are confused by shrinking sea ice cover”.

In the documentary about the making of Our Planet, director Sophie Lanfear described the scenes of falling walruses as “heartbreaking.”

“They would be on the ice now if they could be but there is no option but to come to land. It’s really hard to watch and witness this.

“It’s not like a quick death, they just like tumble and then get internal injuries and just lie there.”

Asked about Dr Crockford’s claims, Ms Lanfear said the crew had seen no polar bears near where they were filming.

“They were not being driven off the cliffs by the polar bears and we know this because we had two team members watching the cliffs from afar who could see the polar bears and were in radio communications with us to warn us about any bears approaching the crew closer to the walrus and the cliffs,” she told The Telegraph.

“Fundamentally, the reason walrus used this haul out location is because of a lack of sea ice in the region, meaning they are coming ashore more frequently than they did in the past.”

Attenborough’s Planet series has attracted controversy in the past. In 2011 the makers of the BBC’s Frozen Planet admitting faking the birth of a polar bear in the wild after filming it in a German zoo and two years ago Blue Planet II was accused of misleading viewers by placing hundreds of plastic ducks in the sea to highlight the crisis of plastic in the oceans.

5) GWPF Paper Refutes Walrus-Climate Scare
Global Warming Policy Foundation, October 2014

A briefing paper published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation in 2014 refutes claims that Arctic walruses are in distress and danger due to global warming.

The paper, written by Canadian zoologist Dr Susan Crockford, assesses the recent mass haulouts of walrus females and calves on the beaches of Alaska and Russia bordering the Chukchi Sea. The events have been blamed by US government biologists and WWF activists on lack of summer sea ice, amplified into alarming scare stories by news media around the world.

Such claims ignore previous haulouts that suggest a different cause. Scientific reports about large walrus haulouts that have occurred repeatedly over the last 45 years show that they are not new phenomena for this region.

At least two documented incidents of similar magnitude have occurred in the recent past: one in 1978, on eastern St. Lawrence Island and the other in 1972, on the western end of Wrangel Island. The 1978 event involved an estimated total of almost 150,000 walrus hauled out within in a small geographic area.

Figure 1. Walrus females and calves hauled out on a beach in Svalbard, photo accompanying an October 6, 2014 news report in “Eye on the Arctic” of the rapidly increasing Atlantic walrus population there. (Photo: Thomas Nilsen/Barents Observer).

Walrus females and calves hauled out on a beach in Svalbard, photo accompanying an October 6, 2014 news report in “Eye on the Arctic” of the rapidly increasing Atlantic walrus population there. (Photo: Thomas Nilsen, Barents Observer).

Moreover, sea ice maps for the months when known mass haulouts occurred, compared to years when they did not, suggest no strong correlation with low sea ice levels.

“The WWF and American walrus biologists have categorically linked the Point Lay mass haulout event to global warming, but available evidence suggests that’s alarmist nonsense,” Dr Crockford said.

“Blaming lack of sea ice for recent events ignores the documented factor – large population size – that drove walruses onto beaches en masse in the past, when plenty of ice was available. Conservation measures have almost certainly led to a spectacular recovery of walrus numbers over the last few years. This suggests that recent mass haulouts are more an indicator that Chukchi walrus are nearing maximum capacity than a sign of impending global warming catastrophe,” Dr Crockford added.

Full briefing paper (PDF) available here

see also GWPF TV:  The Walrus Fuss - Walrus haulouts are nothing new
6) Netflix Defends Graphic Walrus Scene In 'Our Planet'
TMZ, 9 April 2019

The new Netflix series "Our Planet" is pissing off some viewers distraught about graphic images of walruses falling to their deaths -- but the studio is standing behind the filmmakers and the disturbing scene.

In case you haven't heard, Netflix dropped the multi-episode series Friday. It documents the effects of climate change on wildlife around the globe. One episode focuses on Russian walruses that are dying off (sic) due to receding ice levels.

In covering the epidemic (sic), filmmakers recorded several walruses scaling rocky cliffs near the ocean, and some of them fell over the ledge ... leaving them seriously injured or even dead from the impact.

The scene left tons of viewers traumatized.

Some critics accuse the producers of emotional manipulation and twisting facts ... and that includes some zoologists and prominent environmentalists, who claim the walrus scene is out of context.

For instance, Dr. Susan Crockford went public this week saying the walruses filmed for this scene were falling off the cliff to escape polar bears ... not because climate change is reducing their natural icy habitat. Patrick Moore, the co-founder of Greenpeace, backed that up too.

Worth noting the clip doesn't show any polar bears, and you also don't see any of the walruses attempting to flee a predator.

Netflix is standing firm behind what they say is a documented fact -- that walruses are being forced to gather on land because there's less ice available ... which leaves them in unfamiliar, dangerous territory.

Additionally, Netflix tells us the "Our Planet" team worked with a seasoned Russian biologist who's worked on that stretch of coastline -- and with those walruses -- for 35 years.

Bottom line ... the walruses stay in the picture.

7) Skeptics Press White House To Keep Proposed Climate Panel Independent
Valerie Richardson - The Washington Times, 8 April 2019 

If you’re going to set up a presidential panel to review federal climate research, say supporters, it should probably consist of people other than federal climate researchers.

Behind the scenes at the White House, however, the debate is playing out over whether to create a Presidential Committee on Climate Security stocked with independent scientific experts, or a working group of government scientists drawn from federal agencies.

Advocating for an independent panel is Princeton physicist Will Happer, National Security Council senior director for emerging technologies, who met two weeks ago with President Trump and National Security Advisor John Bolton in the Oval Office, according to two sources close to the discussions.

There is no timetable for a decision, but an announcement by the Trump administration could come as early as this month.

Roy Spencer, principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, described the idea of creating a review group comprised of federal researchers as redundant.

“Regarding the idea of only having government employees: The committee is a red team effort, which is by definition adversarial,” said Mr. Spencer, former NASA scientist and author of “Climate Confusion” and “An Inconvenient Deception.”

“There are few if any adversaries in the government, since government researchers are dependent upon climate alarmism for their programs to stay funded,” he said. “It would be like having only tobacco company executives on a committee to look into the connection between smoking and cancer. Or like the EPA (until recently) having their Science Advisory Committee made up of only researchers who received tens of millions of dollars in EPA grants.”

There are advantages to keeping such a panel in-house. Federal employees would not be subject to the same broad disclosure requirements as outsiders under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, including that they meet in public.

Using government researchers could also provide some political cover from attacks by Democrats and climate activists accusing the administration of trying to discredit federal reports on climate change, starting with the dire Fourth National Climate Assessment released in November.

House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has already vowed to defund the “fake science panel,” while the Union of Concerned Scientists decried Mr. Happer, who holds a Ph.D. in physics, as “a climate denier with a longstanding history of ignoring scientific facts.”

One of those who co-authored the National Climate Assessment, UCS director of climate science Brenda Ekwurzel, said the report prepared by a dozen federal agencies and some outside experts had already been reviewed exhaustively by the National Academy of Sciences and undergone public comment.

“It seems completely superfluous to have another panel,” said Ms. Ekwurzel, who holds a Ph.D. in isotope geochemistry.

The call for an additional layer of scrutiny “really sounds like a disinformation playbook play called ‘the fix,’ where you manipulate a process to inappropriately influence policy,” she said. “Because there already is a process for getting the best information.”

Skeptics argue that federal research has become tainted by the involvement of activists and a grant process that rewards climate-disaster scenarios.

Full story

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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