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NY Times targets renewable energy

By Dennis T. Avery
web posted July 13, 2009

Just as Congress is set to tax fossil fuels out of the U.S. economy, the New York Times has reasserted its utterly foolish demand that we tear out existing hydroelectric dams—the dams that  provide most of our renewable energy in the form of water-generated electricity..

Hydroelectric dams produce 8.5 percent of our power, and it's all carbon-free. That's nearly five times the deliveries from our erratic solar panels and wind turbines. Now we're supposed to tear out hydroelectric dams just as every other key energy source is ripped away by a rapacious congress? 

What in the name of glitzy/ditzy Manhattan is the former "national paper of record" trying to do to the American people?   

The Times anguished on July 7th that we've only torn out "only" 430 of the nation's evil river-killing dams. It specifically mentions tearing down four power dams on the lower Snake River. The reason?  The Times says that will "protect salmon on the West Coast." 

Nonsense. Hasn't Andrew Revkin, the Times' science writer, heard yet about the Pacific Decadal Oscillation discovered in 1996? Salmon numbers dropped radically in the Columbia after 1977— as the salmon catch surged upward in the Gulf of Alaska. The ocean currents had redistributed the fish food in the open ocean, delivering the food species to different destinations in a 50–60 year cycle that shows up brilliantly in the salmon catch records of both fisheries. The PDO also impacts catches of halibut, sardines, anchovies and other fish Pacific-wide. The fish species weren't in danger, though some of the fishermen's livelihoods were.

The PDO is highly correlated with sea temperatures in the northern California Current, and linked with prevailing winter wind direction in the northern Pacific. Southeast winds are warming. Northeastern winds cool.

Mr. Revkin should be up on this, because the PDO has also dictated recent global temperatures; the Pacific is the planet's largest heat sink. When the Pacific and Atlantic cycles are in sync, as they were from 1976–98, the earth's temperatures soar.

What drives the cycles? Let's take a wild guess that it might be the sun. The sunspots began predicting the 2007 global temperature decline eight years before it happened. Since 2007, world temperatures have lost 30 years worth of their previous warming, snowpacks have increased, and ski seasons have lengthened.

  • June in Manhattan averaged 3.7 degrees cooler than the recent norm—the coldest average since 1958. [1]
  • Phoenix was 8.5 degrees below the recent norm. [2]
  • New Zealand's National Climate Center announced, "Temperature:  Lowest ever for May for many areas, colder than normal for all. [3]
  • The satellite temperatures? "June 2009 saw another — albeit small — drop in the global average temperature anomaly, from +0.04 deg. C in May to 0.00 degrees C in June, with the coolest anomaly in the Southern Hemisphere." [4]  
  • Global temperatures are down 0.74 degree C since Gore' movie opened in 2006. [5]

The PDO fell from 1890–1924, rose from 1925–1946, fell from 1947–1976, and rose strongly from 1976–1999. Global temperatures followed the shifts. Both the PDO and the Columbia salmon have been stuttering since 1999, but NASA's Jason satellite confirmed last year the PDO has now shifted cool. These short-term shifts are superimposed on the moderate, solar-linked 1,500-year Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles that run back at least a million years.

The planet has been through all this before—without any cap-and-tax penalties on human endeavor. ESR


1. National Weather Service, July 8, 2004.www. forecast.weather.gov.

2. National Weather Service, July 1, www. forecast.weather.gov.

3. New Zealand National Climate Center, press release, June 2.

4. Roy Spencer, University of Alabama/Huntsville, drroyspencer.com

5.  Roy Spencer, University of Alabama/Huntsville, drroyspencer.com

Dennis T. Avery is an environmental economist, and a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Hundred Years, Readers may write him at PO Box 202, Churchville, VA 24421 or email to cgfi@hughes.net.

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