Friday, October 19, 2018

Scientists bet $10K on the climate. Guess who lost

Climate science decided by gambling!  A rather desperate recourse!  There are others better qualified than I to comment on all the matters raised in this but I want to point out a couple of basics.

1). OF COURSE climate skeptics declined to predict a specific climate outcome.  The whole position of climate agnosticism is that the climate is a multivariate product which CANNOT be reliably predicted.  You can only get a prediction right by chance.

2). And the quite glaring fault in Annan's reasoning was that he got his big prediction right because the more recent time period he chose encompassed the biggest El Nino we have seen recently.  So the temperature rise was entirely natural, unrelated to anthropogenic global warming.

Had Annan been a real scientist, he would have corrected his data for the influence of El Nino, which would have shown an essentially flat temperature record -- i.e. no global warming.  Even the simple step of subtracting the leap caused by the previous El Nino would have shown that.

In my research career, I regularly corrected statistically for lots of extraneous factors before I accepted an observed effect as informative.  To make not even an obvious correction is beyond sloppy.  It is non-science

UPDATE: Forecaster Kesten Green writes as follows, putting my point 1 more precisely:

In scientific forecasting terms, what you are saying is don’t expect to beat the no naive no-change forecast of global mean temperatures over longer periods, which Scott, Willie, and I proposed in our 2009 paper in IJF “Validity of climate change forecasting for public policy decision making”.

The logical (and policy-relevant) bet on the predictive validity of “dangerous warming” is not “will it be warmer vs will it be colder” or “will the OLS fitted trend go up or down over the period”, but will the monthly or annual errors from a dangerous warming forecast (the 3C/century that the IPCC have been forecasting for the longest time) be smaller than the errors from a no-change forecast. That was the basis of the Climate Bet that Scott challenged Al Gore to take and that we monitor (as if he had taken the bet) at The initial bet was 10 years to end-2017, which we calculated would be easy for no-change to lose given natural variations over the relatively short period. No-change nevertheless won.

It was a bet any climate scientist would take. It was 2005, and James Annan, a climate scientist at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, had heard enough. Some researchers and conservative thinkers who reject mainstream climate science were arguing that climate models were wrong or that Earth would enter a cooler period after solar flares faded.

So he offered them a bet. The wager was $10,000 that the Earth would continue warming through 2017.

The winner would be decided by comparing global surface temperatures from 1998 to 2003 with those between 2012 to 2017. Annan was confident in the climate models, which showed that it would be warmer. Seven prominent climate contrarians refused to bet. Among them was Richard Lindzen, a physicist associated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has rejected mainstream climate science.

Annan was essentially fighting with one hand behind his back. The comparison started in 1998, an anomalously warm year in the temperature records, partially driven by an El Niño. Still, Annan was confident that his science would outmatch political ideology.

"They didn't believe what they were saying; this was the whole point to the betting," he said. "It has a serious scientific point to it. ... It's one way of making the point that they're playing debating games."

Eventually, Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev, solar physicists at the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics in Russia, agreed to the wager. This week, Annan declared that the contest was over and that Mashnich and Bashkirtsev had lost. It comes as NASA said this week that 2018 could be the fourth-warmest year on record and the fourth year in a row that is 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above the 19th-century average.

The researchers won't pay, Annan said. Neither Mashnich nor Bashkirtsev responded to questions from a reporter. Annan said Bashkirtsev wants a new bet. It would raise the stakes to $100,000 and cover another eight-year period.

Annan has declined that offer because he doesn't think the money will ever arrive. Besides, he said, his point has already been proved.

"It was obvious of course that this settlement risk was the biggest uncertainty right from the start," Annan wrote on his blog, announcing the contest's end Monday. "I had hoped they would value their professional reputations as worth rather more to themselves than the sums of money involved. On the other hand a certain amount of intellectual dishonesty seems necessary in order to maintain the denialist mindset."

Annan has won money on previous climate bets. In 2016, he and climate economist Chris Hope won a £2,000 wager against members of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a U.K.-based group that rejects climate science. The winners said 2015 would be warmer than 2008.

He has also lost.

Once, Annan bet that 2010 would break high temperature records. He was off by a year. The five warmest years since records began in the 19th century have all come after 2011, and the 10 warmest years have all come since 1998. Annan said that year, 1998, broke records, and now "we won't see a year that cold again."


Cockroach Krugman: Donald and the Deadly Deniers

America's leading Leftist economist is at it again. He is an economist and there is no evidence that he knows anything about climate science but that does not restrain him. It is just another area for him to pontificate in.  His idea of wise comments about climate skepticism is, in the usual Leftist way, mere abuse.  He calls our thinking "cockroach ideas".  Charming. Let me do a Trump and shoot back -- by saying he is the biggest cockroach of all:  Worth squashing only.

And his hand-waving arguments, such as they are, are all attacks on a straw man.  Skeptics have always agreed that there does seem to have been a slight warming (no more than one degree Celsius) in the last 150 years or so but regard a warming of no greater than one degree Celsis over that period as trivial and not significant in any important sense. Nothing recent has disturbed that judgement

Climate change is a hoax.

Climate change is happening, but it’s not man-made.

Climate change is man-made, but doing anything about it would destroy jobs and kill economic growth.

These are the stages of climate denial. Or maybe it’s wrong to call them stages, since the deniers never really give up an argument, no matter how thoroughly it has been refuted by evidence. They’re better described as cockroach ideas — false claims you may think you’ve gotten rid of, but keep coming back.

Anyway, the Trump administration and its allies — put on the defensive by yet another deadly climate change-enhanced hurricane and an ominous United Nations report — have been making all of these bad arguments over the past few days. I’d say it was a shocking spectacle, except that it’s hard to get shocked these days. But it was a reminder that we’re now ruled by people who are willing to endanger civilization for the sake of political expediency, not to mention increased profits for their fossil-fuel friends.

About those cockroaches: Details aside, the very multiplicity of climate-denial arguments — the deniers’ story keeps changing, but the bottom line that we should do nothing remains the same — is a sign that the opponents of climate action are arguing in bad faith. They aren’t seriously trying to engage with the reality of climate change or the economics of reduced emissions; their goal is to keep polluters free to pollute as long as possible, and they’ll grab onto anything serving that goal.

Still, it’s worth pointing out how thoroughly all their arguments have collapsed in recent years.

These days, climate deniers seem to have temporarily backed down a bit on claims that nothing is happening. The old dodge of comparing temperatures to an unusually warm year in 1998 to deny that the planet is getting warmer — which is like comparing days in early July with a warm day in May, and denying that there’s such a thing as summer — has been undermined by a string of new temperature records. And massive tropical storms fed by a warming ocean have made the consequences of climate change increasingly visible to the public.

So the new strategy is to downplay what has happened. Climate change models “have not been very successful,” declared Larry Kudlow, the top White House economic adviser. Actually, they have: Global warming to date is well in line with past projections. “Something’s changing and it’ll change back again,” asserted Donald Trump on “60 Minutes,” based upon, well, nothing.

Having grudgingly conceded that maybe the planet is indeed getting a bit warmer, the climate deniers claim to be unconvinced that greenhouse gases are responsible. “I don’t know that it’s man-made,” said Trump. And while he has sort-of-kind-of backed down on his earlier claims that climate change is a hoax concocted by the Chinese, he’s still seeing vast conspiracies on the part of climate scientists, who he says “have a very big political agenda.”

Think about that. Decades ago experts predicted, based on fundamental science, that emissions would raise global temperatures. People like Trump scoffed. Now the experts’ prediction has come true. And the deniers insist that emissions aren’t the culprit, that something else must be driving the change, and it’s all a conspiracy. Come on.

Why, it’s as if Trump were to suggest that the Saudis had nothing to do with the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, who vanished after entering a Saudi embassy — that he was killed by some mysterious third party. Oh, wait.

Finally, about the cost of climate policy: I’ve noted in the past how strange it is that conservatives have total faith in the power and flexibility of market economies, but claim that these economies will be completely destroyed if the government creates incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Apocalyptic claims about the cost of reducing emissions are especially strange given tremendous technological progress in renewable energy: The costs of wind and solar power have plummeted. Meanwhile, coal-fired power plants have become so uncompetitive that the Trump administration wants to subsidize them at the expense of cleaner energy.

In short, while the arguments of climate deniers were always weak, they’ve gotten much weaker. Even if you were genuinely persuaded by the deniers five or 10 years ago, subsequent developments should have made you reconsider.

In reality, of course, climate denial has never had much to do with either logic or evidence; as I said, deniers are clearly arguing in bad faith. They don’t really believe what they’re saying. They’re just looking for excuses that will let people like the Koch brothers keep making money. Besides, liberals want to limit emissions, and modern conservatism is largely about owning the libs.

One way to think about what’s happening here is that it’s the ultimate example of Trumpian corruption. We have good reason to believe that Trump and his associates are selling out America for the sake of personal gain. When it comes to climate, however, they aren’t just selling out America; they’re selling out the whole world.


Where riots will break out because there's no more water. Conflicts would be exacerbated by climate change and rising global populations

The nonsense never stops.  Warming of the oceans would produce MORE rain so warming would ameliorate water shortages, not worsen them.  Junk science in support of junk science below

New research has revealed the areas where real-life 'waterworld' riots are most likely to happen.

Researchers mapped the areas where future global conflict is most likely to break out as a result of climate change-fueled water shortages.

Researchers believe vulnerable areas could face 'hydro-political issues' due to water shortages within the next 50 to 100 years.

Researchers said the areas most likely to be hit by 'hydro-political' issues are those with already stressed water basins.

This includes the Nile, Ganges-Brahmaputra, Indus, Tigris-Euphrates and Colorado rivers.

They believe water-related conflict or cooperation is likely to develop in the next 50 to 100 years as a result of climate change and population growth.

A team of scientists from the European Commission's Joint Research Center (JRC) used a novel machine learning method to identify 'pre-conditions and factors' that might lead to depleting water resources in certain areas, particularly those that contain water sources shared by bordering nations.

They also determined that the two dominant factors leading to 'hydro-political issues' are climate change and increasing population density.

While water scarcity isn't the only trigger for warfare, it's a major contributor.

'Competition over limited water resources is one of the main concerns for the coming decades,' the scientists explained.


Astronaut Dr. Harrison Schmitt rejects UN climate report

The New York Times’ Nicholas St. Fleur: " one of the leading climate change deniers, when there was a huge report that just came out last week [talking about] the risk and what is going to happen … as soon as 2040. I’d love to know if you see any irony in your views on people who denied man walking on the moon vs. your views on climate change.”

Schmitt: “I see no irony at all. I’m a geologist. I know the Earth is not nearly as fragile as we tend to think it is. It has gone through climate change, it is going through climate change at the present time. The only question is, is there any evidence that human beings are causing that change? Right now, in my profession, there is no evidence."

"The observations that we make as geologists, and observational climatologists, do not show any evidence that human beings are causing this. Now, there is a whole bunch of unknowns..."

"I, as a scientist, expect to have people question orthodoxy. And we always used to do that. Now, unfortunately, funding by governments, particularly the U.S. government, is biasing science toward what the government wants to hear. That’s a very dangerous thing that’s happening in science today, and it’s not just in climate. I see it in my own lunar research."...

"If NASA’s interested in a particular conclusion, then that’s the way the proposals come in for funding. So it’s a very, very serious issue, and I hope the science writers in this room will start to dig deeply into whether or not science has been corrupted by the source of funds that are now driving what people are doing in research, and what their conclusions are.”


A vision of the future

Note the huge waste disposal problem it creates.  Not very environmentally friendly.  Video from Finland



Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Global warming will make beer much more expensive, scientists forecast

This is nonsense on stilts. The authors ignore both agricultural economics and plant biology.

Economics: There is no way there will be a barley shortage.  Grain crops tend to glut, not shortage. A small price rise would produce a flood of it.

Plant biology: A warmer climate would produce MORE rain overall, not less, which is good for ALL plants. And higher CO2 levels would also make ALL plants more vigorous and able to thrive even in low rainfall areas.  The area growing barley could EXPAND under global warming.

And it is a temperate climate crop originating in the Middle East so if some areas did become too hot for it, a small move poleward should restore it to congenial conditions. And there would be much more arable land in the North under warming -- in Northern Canada and Southern Siberia, for instance.

Don't expect much science from scientists these days

IF YOU weren’t already worried about the effects of global warming, this should definitely do it.

Scientists have looked at the impact climate change will have on barley — a vital crop for beer making — and come up with a grim prediction: a global beer shortage.

While Australia hit “peak beer” in 1974-75, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, we still rank about 23rd in the world when it comes to beer consumption per capita.

So this is a very concerning forecast indeed.

The study was carried out by a small team of researchers in the US, the UK and China and published this week in the journal Nature Plants.

Scientists behind the study suggest that by the end of the century, increased drought and heat could hurt barley crops enough to cause a genuine shortage for beer makers, driving up the cost of a schooner.

“Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world by volume consumed, and yields of its main ingredient, barley, decline sharply in periods of extreme drought and heat,” researchers wrote.

“Although the frequency and severity of drought and heat extremes increase substantially in range of future climate scenarios by five Earth System Models, the vulnerability of beer supply to such extremes has never been assessed.”

So they set out to look at such a scenario under a range of different climate models.

Worldwide barley is used for all sorts of purposes, mostly feeding livestock. Less than 20 per cent of the world’s barley is made into beer. But in the United States, Brazil and China, at least two-thirds of the barley goes into six-packs, drafts, kegs, cans and bottles.

In Australia, barley has been losing ground to rival crops due, in part, to climate conditions and slowing overseas demand.

Barley is also one of the most heat-sensitive crops, making it particularly vulnerable to global warming and the extreme events brought on by climate change.

“We find that these extreme events may cause substantial decreases in barley yields worldwide,” researchers said.

In their estimation, losses of barley yield could easily be as much as 17 per cent. That means beer prices on average would double, even adjusting for inflation. In countries like Ireland, where cost of a brew is already high, prices could triple.

Study co-author Steve Davis of the University of California, Irvine, said the beer research was partly done to drive home the not-that-palatable message that climate change is messing with all sorts of aspects of our daily lives.

They knew, people like me would write about it and people like you would read about it.

The findings come a week after a dire United Nations report described consequences of dangerous levels of climate change including worsening food and water shortages, heatwaves, sea level rise, and disease.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s early response to the report was to promise that Australia would be not be spending money on climate change conferences and “all that nonsense”.


Global warming will unlock ancient diseases like the plague, scientists say

The human population was very extensively exposed to the Black Death at the time of its prevalence and huge numbers died.  We, however, are descended from the survivors so should share their immunity

GLOBAL warming could reawaken ancient diseases — even the Black Death — according to an Oxford University professor.

Higher global temperatures would melt ice sheets that store long-buried bacteria, spreading disease and potentially causing new global pandemics.

Professor Peter Frankopan offered his prediction at the Cheltenham Literary Festival on Friday, as reported by The Times.

The professor of global history began by stating in his view there was “absolutely no chance” the international community would hit the Paris Agreement’s target of keeping global temperature rises under 1.5C.

“If we go over that degree change, it’s not about the Maldives being harder to visit on holiday or migration of people — it’s about what happens when permafrost unfreezes and the release of biological agents that have been buried for millennia,” he said.

With ancient bacteria released again into the Earth’s ecosystems, there would be a big risk of the global population being hit by diseases it can’t handle.

Chief among such diseases is the bubonic plague, which Prof Frankopan said was spread in the Middle Ages largely due to a rise in global temperatures.

“For example, in the 1340s, a 1.5 degree movement of heating of the Earth’s atmosphere — probably because of solar flares or volcanic activity — changes the cycle of Yersinia pestis bacterium,” he said.

“That 1.5 degree difference allowed a small microbe to develop into the Black Death.”

While bubonic plague still exists, cases worldwide are incredibly rare nowadays.

However, if Prof Frankopan’s predictions are realised, an outbreak could be wide-reaching and devastating.

He said such a possibility should be taken more seriously than a rise in sea levels or droughts, as the Black Death wiped out between 75 and 200 million people in Europe during the pandemics of the 14th and 15th centuries.

“These are the things we should be hugely worried about,” he said.


Banks must prepare climate change plan

They don't seem to be very clear on what the risks are

The Bank of England has told financial institutions that they must have a “credible plan” to cope with the potential costs arising from climate change.

The Bank’s Prudential Regulation Authority said that banks and insurers should show how they will deal with any fallout.

The PRA said that regulated firms would have to start including a list of their most significant exposures to climate-related risks in their reports to the authorities, as well as carrying out internal stress tests to identify problems, including detailed catastrophe modelling.

The Bank has been increasing pressure on the City to prepare for climate change and Mark Carney, the governor, has given several speeches.

Last month Mr Carney spoke about the risks in an interview with Bloomberg, the data company. He called for more sharing of information and urged businesses to “up their game on the quality of information they provide”.

The Financial Conduct Authority, sister agency of the PRA, published a paper on the issue yesterday setting out its concerns.


Nature-Wrecking Machines…Experts Warn Wind Turbines Slowing Wind Speeds, Causing More Warming!

Less and less wind due to more and more wind turbines?

An ever weaker wind is blowing across Germany. For example in the 1960s annual wind speeds of 3.7 meters per second were measured in Osnabrück, but now it’s only 3.2 m/s. That’s a drop of over 13 percent. Almost all weather stations in the country which were analyzed by the Bonn-based meteorologists at found that the trend looks similar.

Wind speed has decreased “very significantly”

“In most places, the mean wind speed has decreased very significantly,” says Dr. Karsten Brandt. And he has a suspicion: “We believe that in the last 15 years more and more massive wind turbines have influenced the wind speed.”

The trend of ever decreasing winds was not observed out on the open sea, however. To the contrary: On the islands of Norderney or Helgoland the wind has in fact increased slightly over the past 20-30 years. Yet in northern Germany, just inland from the coast, i.e. just after the first wind rotors, the meteorologists found a decline in the average annual wind speed: from 3.8 – 3.9 m/s to less than 3.5 m/s.

“Of course, the increase in building construction and especially high-rise buildings in Germany has had a slight braking effect,” admits Brandt. “The braking effect of wind turbines should, however, exceed this.”

Confirmed by other studies

A variety of studies support the meteorologists’ assumption. “Danish research has shown that air flow is weaker than before the turbines even 14 kilometers downstream from a wind farm,” says Dr. Brandt.

This is an effect that the operators of such parks are concerned about. If a new turbine park is built in front of an existing park in the main wind direction, the losses could be over 50 percent, American studies have shown.

In northern Germany, there is now one wind turbine every 10 square kilometers. According to the meteorologists, the North German air flow is generating so much energy that a weaker north wind is now arriving at the north German interior. The situation is similar with westerlies, which are weakened by wind turbines in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Wind park warming…”more heat inland”!

According to Dr. Brandt: “The weaker wind ensures less air exchange. This in turn drives up pollutant concentration in our air. Especially in the summer months, the lack of wind means more heat inland and less land-sea-wind circulation. In addition, the air is heated by the generators, as further studies have shown.”

“Think again before further developing wind energy”

So far the wind has been considered as an almost inexhaustible source of energy – albeit being incalculable and poorly predictable. The fact that you can extract some of your energy from the wind turbines was seen as a pioneering achievement.

“But the fact that man takes so much energy from the wind”, the climatologist concludes, “and considering the consequences, we should probably think again before further developing wind energy.”


Subsidies to Power Plants Are No Substitute for a National-Security Plan

In an effort to deal with the market and non-market forces inflicting economic losses on coal- and nuclear-power plants, the Trump administration is seeking through regulation to force state and regional grid operators to purchase bulk power from coal- and nuclear-power producers to slow the (early) retirements of those facilities. The administration is justifying this policy on national-security grounds: “The Nation’s security and defensive capabilities . . . depend on an electric grid that can withstand and recover from a major disruption, whether from an adversarial attack or a natural disaster.” And: “Resources that have a secure on-site fuel supply . . . are essential to support the Nation’s defense facilities . . . and other critical infrastructure.”

It is true — and unsurprising — that foreign powers would test their ability to disrupt the U.S. power grid, a crucial component of the economy generally and of our national-defense infrastructure in particular. Nor are natural threats to that infrastructure unimportant. The question is whether this indirect measure — federal intervention in wholesale electricity markets — to address this national-security problem is a sound substitute for federal policies designed to deal with those threats directly. Moreover, states have nontrivial incentives to address reliability and resiliency threats so as to minimize the possibility of blackouts or service disruptions. Is it obvious that the federal intervention proposed by the Trump administration would yield an improved national-security outcome?

It is hardly the case that the federal government, state and regional authorities, and the private sector are ignoring this problem. Are there strong reasons to believe that ongoing and expected actions are insufficient? Nowhere has the Trump administration attempted to make that argument. Indeed, even the Department of Energy has responded to the cybersecurity threat, with its “Multiyear Plan for Energy Sector Cybersecurity” (March 2018). Does the federal government’s right hand know what its left hand is doing?

More generally, it is clear that pipeline operators recognize the importance of the cybersecurity threat to the resiliency of the natural-gas/power-grid nexus and are working with federal officials to address cybersecurity threats through planning efforts and investments. The gas industry last year participated for the first time in the GridEx IV training exercise, in which industry participants were tested with a set of simulated cyber and armed assaults on U.S. electric networks. In March, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) released an updated version of its pipeline-security guidelines, in which it outlines the measures that should be taken to protect pipeline assets in the cybersecurity context.

It must be the case that TSA has access to the same classified information on cyber and physical threats that is available to the Department of Energy. It is far from clear that a new DoE regulatory policy on power purchases would improve on the evolving policy of the TSA, particularly since the latter is designed specifically in terms of the threats, while the Energy Department proposal is a far cruder effort, one designed merely to keep the coal and nuclear generating plants open. It is the TSA guidelines that are consistent with the security objectives and standards established by the government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, which in April updated its official framework of cybersecurity objectives and standards that includes protection, defense, resilience, and recovery methods.

Back to ongoing federal efforts: Through the National Energy Technology Laboratory, the Energy Department has implemented a research-and-development program to develop technology for cyber-security protection across the power-generation sector. Representative Fred Upton (R., Mich.) has introduced legislation (HR 5175, the Pipeline and LNG Facility Cybersecurity Preparedness Act) “to require the Secretary of Energy to carry out a program relating to physical security and cybersecurity for pipelines and liquefied natural gas facilities.”

Such a program would address the cyber and physical threat directly. Why would an indirect program of subsidized purchases from coal and nuclear generators be a superior approach? Mandated purchases would not address the stated threats to pipelines at all, at least conceptually; they would merely shift the national electric-generation mix away from gas generation, thereby creating a new class of “stranded” assets with sales smaller than anticipated and therefore unable to earn the economic returns anticipated when the investments were made.

That outcome would create its own set of problems, foremost among them a system less flexible in terms of adjustments to changes in demand and supply driven by such variables as weather and unanticipated outages. The national-security argument promoted by the Trump administration in support of the proposed purchase mandates applies in equal force to that reduced flexibility for the regional and national grids, and it is far from obvious that the net national-security effect of the Trump proposal would prove to be positive. This is particularly the case given that the Trump proposal would increase costs in ways both explicit and hidden. Because industries contributing both directly and indirectly to national security would bear part of those adverse effects, the aggregate cost of national-security efforts would rise. Accordingly, the net effect of the Trump proposal on U.S. national-security endeavors would be unlikely to prove salutary.

The administration claims authority for this regulatory action under the Defense Production Act of 1950 and the Federal Power Act of 1920, both as subsequently amended. Under various interpretations of those laws, the federal government can order that power plants that store 90 days of fuel — that is, coal and nuclear plants — recover all of their (historical) costs, even when selling power in wholesale power markets in which sales and purchases are made at market prices, and which traditionally have been overseen by state and regional power authorities.

Some suspicion about the invocation of the national-security rationale for this proposal is justified. Why not ask Congress to authorize these subsidies explicitly? It is far from obvious that any such proposal would pass Congress, and it is not irrelevant to point out more generally that the legislative process — negotiating, writing, and enacting laws — is hard work. The end result yielded by the compromises and side promises required to move bills through both houses of Congress can be unsatisfying, to say the least. That is the case a fortiori for efforts to subsidize particular economic sectors, in that the scent of such largesse inexorably elicits demands, on the basis of exceedingly creative rationales, from innumerable interest groups and their political representatives for inclusion among the beneficiaries.

In pursuit of objectives viewed as necessary by presidents and executive-branch agencies, a president not devoted viscerally to the separation of powers and the U.S. constitutional system may be disposed to find the use of executive orders an attractive alternative to the messiness and distasteful components certain to characterize actual legislation. In the famous words of a former presidential aide: “Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Kinda cool.”

Barack Obama exemplified such thinking, and the erasure of much of his policy legacy is one predictable result. Ironically enough, even as the Trump administration is the active eraser, it seems to be following much the same path in its approach to the economic problems confronting coal- and nuclear-power generators.

If there are serious cyber and physical threats to the national power grid, and if federal actions to deal with them are appropriate, then those threats should be confronted directly. An attempt to circumvent them by subsidizing some segments of the power-generation sector at the expense of others is likely to yield the usual array of adverse unanticipated consequences for which federal-government machinations are famous. Too clever by half in a national security context, the Trump policy proposal has a real potential for counterproductive outcomes. However messy the process of legislative negotiation, it would be better for the administration to work with Congress to craft policies aimed directly at the problem, rather than attempt to impose a crude solution driven by an executive deus ex machina.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Climatologist: Florida’s Major Hurricane Hits – No Change In 118 Years

Roy Spencer

I’ve updated a plot of Florida major hurricane strikes since 1900 with Hurricane Michael, and the result is that there is still no trend in either intensity or frequency of strikes over the last 118 years:

This is based upon National Hurricane Center data. The trend line in intensity is flat, and the trend line in the number of storms (not shown) is insignificantly downward.

Nevertheless, the usual fearmongers are claiming Hurricane Michael is somehow tied to climate change.

After all, the Gulf of Mexico is unusually warm, right?

Yes, but if you look at the history of Jul-Aug-Sept average sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies over the eastern Gulf (available here, 25N-30N, 80W-90W), you will see that since 1860, this summer is only the 9th warmest in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Even more astounding is that out of the top 10 warmest Gulf years since 1860, 7 occurred before 1970, which is before we experienced any significant warming.

So, all the “experts” can do is make vague claims about how major hurricanes like Michael are what we can expect more of in a warming world, but the data show that – so far at least – the data do not support the theory.

Major hurricanes are part of nature. As evidence of this, I will also remind people of the study of lake bottom sediments in Western Lake in the Florida panhandle, not far from where Michael made landfall.

It showed the last 1,000 years have been relatively quiet for Category 4 to 5 hurricanes, but the period from 1,000 to 3,400 years ago was a “hyperactive” period for intense landfalls at that location.

Hurricane strikes in the U.S. are notoriously variable, as evidenced by the recent (and unprecedented) 11+ year “drought” in major hurricane landfalls, which was finally broken in 2017.

Where were the claims that the hurricane drought was due to global warming?


Attributing the latest hurricane in any way to global warming is the ultimate in cherry-picking the data. In fact, they don’t even show the data.

I also included Michael in the count of ALL U.S. landfalling major hurricanes, again from NHC data. The marked downward trend since the 1930s, 40s, and 50s is quite evident:

Where is the news story about THAT? More crickets.


The BBC on meat

The elite are really coming after us normal folks.  Enjoy that T-bone while you can!

Just a week after scientists said huge cuts in carbon emissions were needed to protect the climate, a UK minister has shown just how hard that will be.

Scientists say we ought to eat much less meat because the meat industry causes so many carbon emissions.

But the climate minister Claire Perry has told BBC News it is not the government's job to advise people on a climate-friendly diet.  She would not even say whether she herself would eat less meat.

Ms Perry has been accused by Friends of the Earth of a dereliction of duty. They say ministers must show leadership on this difficult issue.

But the minister - who is personally convinced about the need to tackle climate change - is anxious to avoid accusations of finger-wagging. She said: "I like lots of local meat. I don't think we should be in the business of prescribing to people how they should run their diets."

When asked whether the Cabinet should set an example by eating less beef (which has most climate impact), she said: "I think you're describing the worst sort of Nanny State ever. "Who would I be to sit there advising people in the country coming home after a hard day of work to not have steak and chips?… Please…"

Ms Perry refused even to say whether she agreed with scientists' conclusions that meat consumption needed to fall.

A dereliction of duty?

Craig Bennett from Friends of the Earth responded: "The evidence is now very clear that eating less meat could be one of the quickest ways to reduce climate pollution.

"Reducing meat consumption will also be good for people's health and will free up agricultural land to make space for nature.

"It's a complete no-brainer, and it's a dereliction of duty for government to leave the job of persuading people to eat less meat to the green groups."

He said the government could launch information campaigns, change diets in schools and hospitals, or offer financial incentives.

Ms Perry said: "What I do think we need to do is look at the whole issue of agricultural emissions and do a lot more tree planting.

"But if you and I eat less meat, with all the flatulent sheep in Switzerland and flatulent cows in the Netherlands - that will just be wiped out in a moment. Let's work on the technology to solve these problems at scale."

She said instead of cutting down on meat, we could use (hugely expensive) equipment that sucks CO2 out of the atmosphere.

Supper with the Perry family

Ms Perry said later that her own typical family meal is not steak and chips, but a stir-fry, which brings the taste and texture of meat into a dish dominated by vegetables. But she did not want to say this on camera.

She agreed it was appropriate for the government to advise people on healthy diets because the obesity epidemic is costing taxpayers more in health bills, but implied that this principle did not apply when considering the health of the planet.

Her fear of being condemned in the media as a bossy politician highlights the difficulty of the next phase of climate change reductions.

Until now, 75% of CO2 reductions in the UK have come from cleaning up the electricity sector. Many people have barely noticed the change.

Will the climate battle get personal?

Experts generally agree that for healthy lives and a healthy planet, the battle over climate change will have to get personal.

That could mean people driving smaller cars, walking and cycling more, flying less, buying less fast fashion, wearing a sweater in winter… and eating less meat.

People will still live good lives, they say, but they'll have to make a cultural shift.

If governments do not feel able to back those messages, they say, the near impossible task of holding global temperature rise to 1.5C will become even more difficult.

Ms Perry's comments came as she launched Green GB week, which aims to show how the UK can increase the economy while also cutting emissions. She will formally ask advisers how Britain can cut emissions to zero.


Trump Signs Bill to Clean Up Oceans from Trash Floating from Foreign Countries

Once again America has to shoulder the burden of problems created by others

President Donald Trump signed into law a bipartisan bill Thursday to clean up oceans from millions of tons of floating debris dumped into the ocean annually.

The president said foreign countries like China and Japan are to blame for dumping 8 million tons of debris each year into the world’s oceans, which then floats to the U.S. coast.

“Every year, over 8 million tons of garbage is dumped into our beautiful oceans by many countries of the world. That includes China, that includes Japan, and that includes many, many countries. This waste, trash, and debris harms not only marine life, but also fishermen, coastal economies along America’s vast stretches. The bad news is it floats toward us,” Trump said.

“I’ve seen pictures recently, and some of you have seen them, where there’s -- a vast, tremendous, unthinkable amount of garbage is floating right into our coast, in particular along the West Coast. And we’re charged with removing it, which is a very unfair situation. It comes from other countries very far away. It takes six months and a year to float over, but it gets here, and it’s a very unfair situation. It’s also unbelievably bad for the oceans,” he said.

The Save Our Seas Act “amends the Marine Debris Act to revise the Marine Debris Program to require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to work with: (1) other agencies to address both land- and sea-based sources of marine debris, and (2) the Department of State and other agencies to promote international action to reduce the incidence of marine debris.”

The measure “also revises the program by allowing NOAA to make sums available for assisting in the cleanup and response required by severe marine debris events.”

“Every year, over 8 million tons of garbage is dumped into our beautiful oceans. And when you think of that number -- I mean, to think 8 million tons -- and I would say it's probably -- Senators, I think it’s probably more than that, based on what I’ve seen and based on the kind of work that I’ve seen being done,” the president said.

“This dumping has happened for years and even for decades. Previous administrations did absolutely nothing to take on the foreign countries responsible. We’ve already notified most of them and we’ve notified them very strongly,” he said.

According to Trump, the Marine Debris Program will be extended for five more years.

The bill also calls on the president to “support funding for research and development of bio-based and other alternatives or environmentally feasible improvements to materials that reduce municipal solid waste” and to “work with foreign countries that contribute the most to the global marine debris problem in order to find a solution to the problem.”

The bill also urges the president to “study issues related to marine debris, including the economic impacts of marine debris; and encourage the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to consider the impact of marine debris in relevant future trade agreements.”

“We also are strengthening that up to improve waste management overseas and clean up our nation’s water. We will boost the federal government’s response to ocean waste by authorizing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to declare severe marine debris events, which happen all the time. It’s incredible. It’s incredible when you look at it. People don’t realize it, but all the time we’re being inundated by debris from other countries,” Trump said.

“This legislation will release funds to states for cleanup and for response efforts, and we will be responding and very strongly. The legislation also encourages the executive branch to engage with those nations responsible for dumping garbage into our oceans. My administration is doing exactly that,” Trump said.

The president said the new trade agreement he brokered between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada is the first to address the issue.

“For example, the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is the first U.S. trade agreement ever to include commitments by the parties to cooperate to address land- and sea-based pollution and improve waste management,” Trump said, adding that it will be put into other agreements as well.

“The United States has some of the most beautiful beaches and oceans in the world, and the coastlines are incredible. As president, I will continue to do everything I can to stop other nations from making our oceans into their landfills.That’s why I’m pleased -- very pleased, I must say -- to put my signature on this important legislation,” he said.


Tesla Buyers Lose $7500 Tax Credit

Tesla has reached the beginning of the end of the $7500 federal tax credit for buyers of the automaker's electric vehicles. The rules of the credit spell out that only the buyers of the first 200,000 electric vehicles sold by each manufacturer are eligible for the full amount; after that point, the credit begins to decrease over time. Tesla hit the 200,000 mark earlier this year, and its credit will expire at the end of 2018. Because of this, Tesla has set a deadline for vehicle orders to be eligible for the credit: October 15.

On Tesla's website, the automaker claims that all vehicle orders placed by that date will be delivered by December 31, 2018, meaning they'll qualify for the full $7500. Deliveries starting January 1, 2019, will only be eligible for a $3750 credit, while deliveries starting July 1, 2019, will drop down to a credit of just $1875. This applies to the Model S, Model X, and Model 3.

This deadline won't affect the typical ordering and delivery process for Tesla vehicles. According to Tesla, those who submit their orders, along with a $2500 deposit, by October 15 will be guaranteed delivery of the vehicle by the end of the year. Final delivery is contingent on the buyer's payment of the full purchase price of the vehicle through leasing, financing, or paying cash (the $2500 deposit is credited toward the final purchase).

We would assume that this deadline will lead to an uptick in orders over the next few days, but Tesla hasn't made any announcements about a plan to ramp up production to make sure all these vehicles get delivered in time to be eligible for the credit.


Former Australian conservative leader John Hewson (The man who lost an "unlosable" election) urges voters to dump conservatives  over climate inaction

Hewson is an embittered man and has drifted Left since he lost. One also wonders whether he is still Chairman of "Port Augusta Graphite Energy" which wants millions in government grants to build a solar thermal plant in SA?  Follow the money? Hewson in fact earns his living by promoting global warming schemes and policies  

Former Liberal leader John Hewson has urged voters to turn on the Liberals in the up-coming Wentworth by-election over climate change, saying it may serve as a wake up call.

Dr John Hewson, who led the Liberal party from 1990 to 1994, said most Australians were disgusted the government had failed to show leadership on climate change.

"It's irresponsible, it's grossly irresponsible - we have politicians playing short-term political games for short-term political gains when they should be delivering a decisive climate action plan," he told SBS News. "It's a national disgrace."

The former Liberal MP for Wentworth stressed he was not endorsing or advocating for any particular candidate but said a political party without a policy on tackling climate change had lost the mandate to form a government. "You lose the right to govern if you do not listen to the electorate on these issues," he said. "This is why the electorate is pissed off."

Independent Kerryn Phelps looks poised to take out Malcolm Turnbull's former seat, based on the latest polling - resulting in a minority federal parliament.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Trump gets it right on ’60 Minutes’

The mainstream media once again attempted to challenge President Donald Trump on “climate change,” but Trump emerged unscathed by refuting typical climate claims with accurate and remarkably scientific comments in an October 14, 2018, 60 Minutes interview. (Even the mainstream media acknowledged Trump’s overall interview victory: See:  Variety: ’60 Minutes’ Was Outmatched by Trump – ‘He won every segment of the interview’)

A Climate Depot analysis finds that President Trump’s climate remarks were scientifically, politically and economically accurate. Finally, the United States has a president who understands “global warming”! See: Full climate transcript: Trump: Scientists who promote ‘climate’ fears ‘have a very big political agenda’ – [As Variety noted, Trump understands how to battle the mainstream media: Reporter Lesley Stahl asked Trump about “the scientists who say [the effects of climate change are] worse than ever,” but was [she] unprepared to cite one; knowing, now, that the human factor will not work on Trump, a broadcaster should be prepared to cite hard facts in a faceoff with the President.]

President Trump to 60 Minutes: “I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a hoax. I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s manmade. I will say this: I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs.” … “I’m not denying climate change,” he said in the interview.

Reality Check: President Trump is frankly giving his assessment of man-made climate change and his understanding is in agreement with some very high profile scientists. Trump has been remarkably consistent with his climate views, demanding that “The Nobel committee should take the Nobel Prize back from Al Gore” in the wake of the Climategate revelations in 2010.

Trump is also correct on so-called climate “solutions” costing “trillions and trillions” of dollars. See: ‘GLOBAL WARMING’ ‘SOLUTIONS”  COULD COST $122 TRILLION  & Bjorn Lomborg on UN climate deal: ‘This is likely to be among most expensive treaties in the history of the world’

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Dr. Ivar Giever told the new book, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change,” that “The Earth has existed for maybe 4.5 billion years, and now the alarmists will have us believe that because of the small rise in temperature for roughly 150 years (which, by the way, I believe you cannot really measure) we are doomed unless we stop using fossil fuels…You and I breathe out at least thirty tons of CO2 in a normal lifespan, but nevertheless, the Environmental Protection Agency decided to classify rising carbon-dioxide emissions as a hazard to human health.”

The claim here is that carbon dioxide can have a warming impact on the atmosphere, but this does not mean CO2 is the control knob of the climate. As the University of London professor emeritus Philip Stott has noted: “The fundamental point has always been this. Climate change is governed by hundreds of factors, or variables, and the very idea that we can manage climate change predictably by understanding and manipulating at the margins one politically-selected factor (CO2), is as misguided as it gets.” “It’s scientific nonsense,” Stott added. Even the global warming activists at acknowledged this in a September 20, 2008 article, stating, “The actual temperature rise is an emergent property resulting from interactions among hundreds of factors.”

Atmospheric scientist Hendrik Tennekes, a pioneer in development of numerical weather prediction and former director of research at the Netherlands’ Royal National Meteorological Institute, has declared (as quoted in my book): “I protest vigorously the idea that the climate reacts like a home heating system to a changed setting of the thermostat: just turn the dial, and the desired temperature will soon be reached.”

Richard Lindzen, an MIT climate scientist, said that believing CO2 controls the climate “is pretty close to believing in magic.” Climate Depot revealed the real way they find the “fingerprint” of CO2.

“We are creating great anxiety without it being justified … there are no indications that the warming is so severe that we need to panic,” award-winning climate scientist Lennart Bengtsson said. “The warming we have had the last 100 years is so small that if we didn’t have meteorologists and climatologists to measure it we wouldn’t have noticed it at all.”

University of Pennsylvania Geologist Dr. Robert Giegengack noted in 2014, “None of the strategies that have been offered by the U.S. government or by the EPA or by anybody else has the remotest chance of altering climate if in fact climate is controlled by carbon dioxide.”

In layman’s terms: All of the so-called ‘solutions’ to global warming are purely symbolic when it comes to climate. So, even if we actually faced a climate catastrophe and we had to rely on a UN climate agreement, we would all be doomed!

Renowned Princeton Physicist Freeman Dyson: ‘I’m 100% Democrat and I like Obama. But he took the wrong side on climate issue, and the Republicans took the right side’ – An Obama supporter who describes himself as “100 per cent Democrat,” Dyson is disappointed that the President “chose the wrong side.” Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere does more good than harm, he argues, and humanity doesn’t face an existential crisis. ‘What has happened in the past 10 years is that the discrepancies between what’s observed and what’s predicted have become much stronger.

Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist Dr. Ivar Giaever, Who Endorsed Obama Now Says Prez. is ‘Ridiculous’ & ‘Dead Wrong’ on ‘Global Warming’ – Nobel Prize Winning Physicist Dr. Ivar Giaever: ‘Global warming is a non-problem’ – ‘I say this to Obama: Excuse me, Mr. President, but you’re wrong. Dead wrong.’

‘Global warming really has become a new religion.’ – “I am worried very much about the [UN] conference in Paris in 2015…I think that the people who are alarmist are in a very strong position.’

Green Guru James Lovelock reverses belief in ‘global warming’: Now says ‘I’m not sure the whole thing isn’t crazy’ – Condemns green movement: ‘It’s a religion really, It’s totally unscientific’ – Lovelock rips scientists attempting to predict temperatures as ‘idiots’: “Anyone who tries to predict more than five to 10 years is a bit of an idiot, because so many things can change unexpectedly.” – Lovelock Featured in Climate Hustle – Watch Lovelock transform from climate fear promoter to climate doubter!

Trump on 60 Minutes: Lesley Stahl tells Trump: “I wish you could go to Greenland, watch these huge chunks of ice just falling into the ocean, raising the sea levels.” – President Trump responds: “And you don’t know whether or not that would have happened with or without man. You don’t know.”

More HERE  (See the original for links)

"Weather cooking"

A presentation worth watching by Dr. Sally Baliunas drawing uncanny parallels between the 14th-15th Century witch hunt and prosecutions for "cooking the weather", and modern attempts to silence rational thought in #climate #science and blame humanity:

UK: Cuadrilla to resume fracking seven years after tremors

Fracking for shale gas is due to resume in the UK today seven years after being temporarily suspended for causing small earthquakes.

About 40 protesters this morning tried to block the entrance to Cuadrilla’s site in a field beside Preston New Road in Lancashire.

However, the company already had all the equipment on site and said the protest would not cause any further delay after Storm Callum had interrupted its plan to start fracking on Saturday.

Cuadrilla will force water, sand and chemicals down a well to hydraulically fracture rock about 1.5 miles below the surface.

The company plans to spend the next three months fracking two exploratory wells, performing the procedure on about 45 horizontal sections of each well.

It will then begin flow testing and should know by Easter whether shale gas will be as productive in the UK as geologists predict. British Geological Survey estimates that extracting only a tenth of the gas in shale rock beneath northern England would meet Britain’s gas needs for 40 years.

Gas production from the North Sea is expected to continue to decline over the next decade and the Oil and Gas Authority forecasts that the UK’s reliance on imported gas could rise from 50 per cent now to 66 per cent by 2030.

Cuadrilla said it hoped to have 100 sites in production in the north of England over the next 20 to 30 years.

The company caused small earthquakes in 2011 at its Preese Hall site in Lancashire 2011 which resulted in a temporary ban on fracking.

The government insists that the problems seen in the US, where communities have blamed fracking companies for contaminating water supplies, will not happen here. The Environment Agency is closely monitoring Cuadrilla’s site for any impacts on air and water quality.

A new early warning system for earthquakes has been introduced since the tremors in 2011. Cuadrilla will have to stop fracking for 18 hours and let the pressure in the well drop if it causes any tremor more than 0.5 in magnitude on the Richter Scale.

It is also forbidden from fracking on Sunday and its permitted hours are 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm on Saturday.

The strongest of the earthquakes Cuadrilla caused in 2011 at its Preese Hall site in Lancashire was 2.3. Earthquakes start to be felt at the surface at about 1.5.

Huw Clarke, a Cuadrilla geoscientist, said the company would publish all its results from its seismic monitoring, with data uploaded to its website by 10am on the day after it was collected. The company has pledged to issue an immediate statement if it hits 0.5.

BGS has a separate array of seismometers within a few miles of the site to verify the results independently.

Eric Vaughan, Cuadrilla’s fracking manager, said the volume of water forced down the well during each frack would only be sixth of that used at Preese Hall, reducing the risk of triggering an earthquake.

The company has also taken three dimensional seismic surveys of the geology and has drilled around faults, unlike at Preese Hall where it hit an undetected one after conducting only two dimensional surveys.

The last of several unsuccessful legal challenges against fracking by environmental campaigners was dismissed by the High Court in London on Friday

Mr Justice Supperstone rejected Bob Dennett’s application for an injunction preventing Cuadrilla from fracking pending his proposed legal challenge.

Mr Dennett had claimed that Lancashire county council’s emergency response planning and procedures at the site are inadequate but the judge ruled that there was not a “serious issue” to be tried which would justify an interim order.

Francis Egan, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, said: “We are delighted to be starting our hydraulic fracturing operations as planned. We are now commencing the final operational phase to evaluate the commercial potential for a new source of indigenous natural gas in Lancashire.

“If commercially recoverable, this will displace costly imported gas, with lower emissions, significant economic benefit and better security of energy supply for the UK.”

Reclaim the Power, an anti-fracking group, blockaded the site with a van from 4.30am this morning. A scaffold structure was erected on top with a banner reading “Stop The Start. Don’t Frack the Climate”

The group said it was hypocritical of the government to be calling for more global action on climate change while overruling Lancashire county council, which had rejected Cuadrilla’s fracking application.

Charlie Edwards, from Reclaim the Power said: “Today the government have launched their ‘Green Great Britain’ week — a tokenistic attempt to hide a series of climate-wrecking decisions such as expanding Heathrow airport and forcing fracking on the local communities.”

Michael Bradshaw, professor of global energy at Warwick Business School, said: “Everyone in the industry, as well as the Conservative government, will now be holding their breath and hoping that nothing goes wrong as the pumps roar.”


British PM reveals bid to cut UK's Greenhouse gas emissions to ZERO following UN warning over 'environmental catastrophes'

She is the complete bureaucrat, with not an original thought in her head

Greenhouse gas emissions need to be slashed to zero across the economy, the Prime Minister signalled yesterday. If adopted, the new targets would mean more radical changes than the country’s existing commitments.

The need to reduce carbon will be across every single sector of the economy, with the Government pointing specifically to industry, homes, transport and agriculture.

For instance, it is likely to mean faster progress in switching to electric power for transport and an increase in planting trees.

Ministers will also set out proposals for new laws for ‘smart energy’ appliances, such as washing machines and electric heating, with the aim of making all new buildings ‘smart’ by 2030.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: ‘On the global stage, the UK is driving forward action on climate change through our work at the UN and with our Commonwealth partners.

‘To ensure that we continue to lead from the front, we are asking the experts to advise on targets for net zero emissions.’

Currently, the Government is committed under the 2008 Climate Change Act to cut emissions by 80 per cent on 1990 levels. But ‘net zero’ – the point at which emissions are balanced by the removal of greenhouse gases – would be even more stringent.

Yesterday, the Government said it wanted advice from the Committee on Climate Change, its advisory body, on how it could cut emissions even further.

Climate Change minister Claire Perry said it would give ‘advice on a roadmap to a net zero economy, including how emissions might be reduced and the expected costs and benefits of doing so’.

Pressure group Plan B has already started legal action against the Government to review its targets in line with the 2014 Paris Agreement.

This commits its 195 signatories to keep temperatures below 2C and try to cut them to 1.5C. Last week, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned a failure to cut to 1.5C would lead to environmental catastrophes, including rising sea levels, heatwaves and droughts.

Ed Matthew, of environment campaigners The Climate Coalition, said: ‘It is not just the target that matters, it’s how fast we get there. The CCC must ensure that this net-zero pathway is compliant with no more than 1.5C of warming.’

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Tim Farron said the Tories had ‘lurched drastically away from supporting green technologies’.

The Labour Party has already indicated it also wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero.


Australia: Renewable investment boom tipped to slow

One of the world's biggest lenders to green electricity projects says rapid growth in Australia's renewable energy investment is likely to slow, as banks become more cautious about the financial impact of electricity grid congestion.

After a record $10 billion poured into renewable projects last year, Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) Bank, a global banking giant and a major lender to renewable energy in Australia, said it was becoming harder for green energy projects to get finance.

Geoff Daley, the bank's head of Australian structured finance, said one reason for this was because the sheer number of renewable projects built in some areas meant the grid lacked the necessary capacity.

This happens because wind farms or solar farms are often located in parts of the power grid that have not previously had large amounts of generation, such as far north Queensland.

One result of congestion, if the grid is not augmented, is that energy generated may not be able to reach the customers.

"There's greater uncertainty at the moment around that issue and that will mean the lenders are more cautious," Mr Daley said.

Earlier this year, a number of renewable projects also suffered big cuts in their revenue because of changes to ratios used by the regulator in an attempt to apportion how electricity is lost as it flows through the distribution network.

Mr Daley said some generators were likely to make less revenue than projected, which was causing banks to be more cautious in their lending decisions.

"What that means for projects now is that it's much, much harder to get finance unless there's a strong contract," he said.

MUFG Bank was the world's largest arranger of renewable energy finance in 2017, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Industry figures show 2017 was a record-breaking year for renewable energy investment in Australia, with more than $10 billion in projects reaching financial close. But Mr Daley said there would be a "slowdown in the speed of investment".

The director of energy finance studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, Tim Buckley, said some slowdown in renewable investment was inevitable, but it was likely to be a "pause." There had been "massive solar boom,"  he said, but little planning around where the projects would be located.

"There's no over-arching plan. If you don't have an over-arching plan, renewables will swamp parts of the grid," Mr Buckley said.

"The willingness of the investment community to invest in renewables in Australia is going to wind back, because we need to take a pause. We've had five years of energy policy chaos which means the grid isn't yet prepared to accommodate ever more renewables."

The government's energy policy was thrown into disarray with the change of prime minister in August. The government has dumped the National Energy Guarantee which aimed to address the problems of high  power prices, carbon emissions and grid reliability.

National Australia Bank's global head of energy, Andrew Smith, acknowledged the bank was monitoring issues raised by grid congestion closely, but he said this was not unique to Australia. "It's certainly an area of focus for banks," he said.

Mr Smith said the issue had not dented the availability of finance for renewable projects. "Certainly now there's significant demand for banks to participate in these projects," he said.

Speaking at the AFR National Energy Summit, AGL interim chief executive Brett Redman said renewable energy investors are concerned about the country’s changing policy landscape and the falling investment costs of renewable generation.

“If I talk about offshore investors, they get very worried over the stability of long-term targets,” Mr Redman told Fairfax Media

Mr Redman said the "biggest issue" for investing in renewables was that costs of developing projects were coming down rapidly.

“So the wind farms we built 10 years ago now look really expensive compared to what it would cost you to build wind now; the solar we built three to four years ago looks really expensive now.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


Monday, October 15, 2018

Huge reduction in meat-eating ‘essential’ to avoid climate breakdown

"It is not a coincidence that climate change appeals to the people who most desire, not to save the world from climate change, but to manage people's private lives and habits. A bit like the Taliban or some other religious police." Apt comment by Ben Pile

Huge reductions in meat-eating are essential to avoid dangerous climate change, according to the most comprehensive analysis yet of the food system’s impact on the environment. In western countries, beef consumption needs to fall by 90% and be replaced by five times more beans and pulses. [But don't beans produce a lot of gas?]

The research also finds that enormous changes to farming are needed to avoid destroying the planet’s ability to feed the 10 billion people expected to be on the planet in a few decades.

Food production already causes great damage to the environment, via greenhouse gases from livestock, deforestation and water shortages from farming, and vast ocean dead zones from agricultural pollution. But without action, its impact will get far worse as the world population rises by 2.3 billion people by 2050 and global income triples, enabling more people to eat meat-rich western diets. [But the population will FALL in developed countries.  It will mostly rise in Africa, where they mostly eat mealie pap (corn porridge).  They can rarely afford meat]

This trajectory would smash critical environmental limits beyond which humanity will struggle to live, the new research indicates. “It is pretty shocking,” said Marco Springmann at the University of Oxford, who led the research team. “We are really risking the sustainability of the whole system. If we are interested in people being able to farm and eat, then we better not do that.”

“Feeding a world population of 10 billion is possible, but only if we change the way we eat and the way we produce food,” said Prof Johan Rockström at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, who was part of the research team. “Greening the food sector or eating up our planet: this is what is on the menu today.”

The new study follows the publication of a landmark UN report on Monday in which the world’s leading scientists warned there are just a dozen years in which to keep global warming under 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods and extreme heat. The report said eating less meat and dairy was important but said current trends were in the opposite direction.

The new research, published in the journal Nature, is the most thorough to date and combined data from every country to assess the impact of food production on the global environment. It then looked at what could be done to stop the looming food crisis.

“There is no magic bullet,” said Springmann. “But dietary and technological change [on farms] are the two essential things, and hopefully they can be complemented by reduction in food loss and waste.” About a third of food produced today never reaches the table.


America now has TOO MANY trees

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Over the past hundred years, the George family’s farm has been sharecropped, grazed by cattle and planted with cotton. By the late 1980s, Clayton George was growing soybeans and struggling to make ends meet.

A new federal program offered farmers money to reforest depleted land. Pine trees appealed to Mr. George. He bought loblolly seedlings and pulled his pickup into a parking lot where hands-for-hire congregated.

“We figured we’d plant trees and come back and harvest it in 30 years and in the meantime go into town to make a living doing something else,” he said.

Three decades later the trees are ready to cut, and Mr. George is learning how many other Southerners had the same idea.

A glut of timber has piled up in the Southeast. There are far more ready-to-cut trees than the region’s mills can saw or pulp. The surfeit has crushed timber prices in Mississippi, Alabama and several other states.

The volume of Southern yellow pine, used in housing and to make paper, has surged in recent decades as farmers replaced cropland with trees and as clear-cut forests were replanted. By 2020, the amount of wood growing per acre of timberland in many counties will have more than quadrupled since 1980, U.S. forestry officials estimate.

It has been a big loser for some financial investors, among them the country’s largest pension fund. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System spent more than $2 billion on Southern timberland, and harvested trees at depressed prices to pay interest on money borrowed to buy. Calpers sold much of its land this summer at a loss. A spokeswoman for the pension fund declined to comment.

It’s also been tough for the individuals and families who own much of the South’s forestland, and who had banked on its operating as a college fund or retirement account. The region has more than six million owners of at least 10 wooded acres, say academics and forestry consultants. Many of the owners were counting on forests as a long-term investment that could be replenished and passed on to heirs.

“If you work and you didn’t want to put all your money in the stock market, you’d buy 40 acres and plant trees and they’d be ready to cut by the time your kid went to college,” said Skip Stead, a timber broker in Lincoln, Ala. “It’s like a 401(k).”

The housing crash 10 years ago worsened the developing timber glut by depressing lumber demand and prompting woodland owners to postpone harvests. Mills closed.

Housing has come back in much of the country, pushing prices for finished forest products such as two-by-fours and plywood to historic highs during the spring and summer building season. Prices for logs, as well, have moved up in the U.S.’s other big timber-producing region, the Pacific Northwest, where supply is kept in check by wood-boring beetles and periodic wildfires.

In the South, timber prices haven’t stopped sliding. Adjusted for inflation, the price of Southern pine is down about 45% since 2007, according to Daowei Zhang, an Auburn University professor of forest economics. So-called saw timber, for making lumber, is at a 50-year low, adjusted for inflation.

Corporate owners of far-flung timber tracts can concentrate logging in regional markets where prices are healthier, such as Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C., which have access to ocean shipping. Timber companies that own saw mills, such as PotlatchDeltic Corp. , can buy local logs on the cheap.

Most Southern woodland owners are stuck with whatever the nearest mill is paying. Hauling logs cross-country chasing better prices isn’t an option. It doesn’t take many tree trunks to fill a truck to its 80,000-pound limit on interstate highways

Some timber harvests are barely worth the effort after the expense of logging, hauling, taxes and replanting. In some areas, there is hardly any margin for the imperfect pines that are pulped for paper and particleboard.


"Drowning in Plastic": a load of rubbish

BBC One’s "Drowning in Plastic", a documentary about the problem of plastic waste in the sea, provoked a predictable flood of environmentalist emotionalism.

No doubt, Liz Bonnin’s journey through rivers of plastic was a visual feast for those inclined to submit themselves to 90 minutes of eco-misery. It would certainly be hard-hearted not to find the images disturbing. There is nothing good about the discovery of plastic detritus in a bird’s digestive tracts. And there is nothing to celebrate about mountains of waste piling up on shorelines. Even if these images and the issues they portray have been exaggerated, nobody is against the proper disposal of plastic waste.

But the programme had barely even started before Twitter was awash with calls for more action to follow the plastic-bag tax and the abolition of single-use plastic items. Some tweeters shared tips on reducing household waste, others openly expressed their disgust for humanity. Yet rather than shedding light on the plastics problem, the documentary and the reactions to it revealed the paucity of green thinking on this issue.

The abolition of plastic in Britain has become a cause célèbre, championed by vapid celebrities and politicians alike, including the prime minister. This is all despite the fact that very little waste from Britain finds its way into the ocean. Drowning in Plastic even alluded to this at one point. But blink and you might have missed it.

It was clearly missed or ignored by the tens of thousands of tweeters who commented while the programme was being broadcast. Most plastic waste finds its way into the oceans when it is disposed of in places where poverty is the norm and local governments lack the resources to provide basic services like refuse collection and processing. In these places, waste of all forms is simply dumped in waterways.

This should be a spur to argue for more development – there are many people in the world who lack the basic services that we should be able to take for granted. Instead, the film appealed to green misanthropy, finding fault with greedy, dirty humans. Rather than making the case for more resources to deal with the problem, the images of animals suffering led to demands for material restraint – for less development and less stuff.

For places that can afford it, waste is very easy to deal with. The cleanest and most effective way of disposing of most waste is incineration, especially when it comes to plastic, which has a high energy content. The controlled burning of waste allows toxic elements to be captured and the useful energy component to be recycled as heat and electricity.

But this simple solution does not appeal to eco-miserablists. Indeed, the group most likely to raise spurious health and environmental objections to waste incineration is, of course, greens. It was greens that objected to the use of landfill and emphasised recycling. The consequences of this have been a substantial rise in fly-tipping and fires at recycling centres that spew thousands of tonnes of toxic smoke into the atmosphere, which are now a near daily occurrence in the UK. Meanwhile, we have to export a great deal of non-recyclable waste to be incinerated in parts of the world where environmental standards are lower.

Reducing the use of plastic, either as a personal choice or a policy goal, is about the emptiest possible gesture one can make. And yet Drowning in Plastic presented this as a profound act. In doing so, it problematised the most basic goods in developed economies and skirted over the need for economic development in the rest of the world. It is a grotesque distortion of priorities that does nothing to solve even the problems it highlights.

The BBC filmmakers were clearly more offended by plastic waste than the miserable conditions endured by millions of people. They offered a shallow, emotional exposition of the horrors of plastic waste when they could have explored the exciting possibility of technical solutions. But to argue that there are simple and effective solutions to the problem of waste would undermine the moral demands made by greens for austerity and restraint.


More Misplaced Environmentalist Outrage

How we long for the good old days! That’s the tone of some environmental industry leaders who are screaming bloody murder (literally, not figuratively) about Department of the Interior actions under President Trump.

The Department’s re-interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is a case in point.

One Washington Post writer carped that “cruelty without consequence” is at “the heart of the Trump era.”

The new rule, she wrote, is “harmful to the weak … but also to the strong, who in the exercise of cruelty become less humane, less human.”

To be clear, for these advocates, the “good old days” under one specific rule were from January 10 to February 6, 2017. That is how long an Obama rule from the Department’s lawyer was in effect: 27 days.

President Obama’s Interior Department Solicitor General had written something called “Opinion M-37041,” which radically changed the way federal officials were to enforce the migratory bird law.

Issued just ten days before the Obama Administration ended, it was suspended less than a month later, pending review by the new Trump Administration.

That review, completed earlier this year, found that Opinion M-37041 was inconsistent with the law. The opinion needed review because M-37041 presumed that all killing of all migratory birds in all places at all times was illegal, and could result in fines or even jail.

It no longer mattered whether birds were killed accidentally or intentionally, by negligence or through no fault. It no longer mattered whether birds inadvertently died as a result of entirely legal activity, or if they died from their own poor navigation skills by flying into man-made structures.

Businesses that built such structures could be fined anyway.

The law was never intended to be used that way. But that interpretation had a clear purpose for environmental activists who dominated the Obama Interior Department.

Migratory birds could be used as a weapon in their ongoing battle against coal and metals mining, oil and gas exploration and production, fossil fuel electricity generation, and even ranching and other despised industries.

Meanwhile, officials could grant waivers to their powerful friends in the wind and solar industries.

Thus, administrators could fine industries they disliked up to $15,000 per bird – but look away when wind generators chopped up eagles, or solar panels in the Mohave Desert fried birds in mid-air.

In fact, the Audubon Society says, 90% of all prosecutions under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act had been against oil companies, though nobody ever claimed they cause anywhere near 90% of all bird deaths.

Indeed, a 2011 million-dollar 45-day helicopter search for dead birds across North Dakota oil fields by the Fish & Wildlife Service found only 28 mallard ducks, flycatchers, and other common birds that were inadvertently killed when they landed in uncovered oilfield waste pits.

Ironically, the Post illustrated its “sky is falling” column with a Gerald Herbert (AP) photo of an oil-soaked bird – but his picture was taken during the Obama era. By definition then, the picture had nothing to do with the issue of reversing M-37041 by the current Administration.

By contrast, studies by wildlife biologists have concluded that US wind turbines are killing hundreds of thousands – and some experts say millions – of raptors and other birds every year, along with numerous bats.

Many of these creatures are threatened or endangered or have been made so by the wind turbines. And yet few environmentalists ever voiced concerns about those deaths.

All the current Administration did was withdraw Opinion M-37041 and return to the previous interpretation, which allowed the use of common sense in determining whether negligence resulted in preventable bird deaths.

The text of the law itself prohibits “pursuing, hunting, taking, capturing, killing, or attempting to do the same” – meaning actions whose purpose is taking or killing migratory birds, their nests, or their eggs. It does not criminalize accidental deaths that happen in the course of otherwise legal and productive activity.

The outcry from some eco-activists has been over the top. They wail that the “new” ruling (which merely reinstates the original understanding) will lead to the wanton destruction of wildlife.

“So many more birds will die now,” the Post writer asserted. Officials will simply no longer care about the destruction of our feathered friends.

Under that twisted reasoning, Woodrow Wilson didn’t care about birds, since he signed the Migratory Bird Treaty Act into law in 1918.

Franklin Roosevelt didn’t care about birds, nor did Ike, Kennedy or even Nixon, who signed the Endangered Species Act into law.

Jimmy Carter didn’t care, nor Bill Clinton and Al Gore. None of them applied Opinion M-37041 reasoning to the law.

It was selective enforcement by the Obama Administration that resulted in conflicting judicial rulings.

Previous Administrations all understood the difference between birds dying accidentally or on purpose. That distinction matters, because birds accidentally die all the time. In fact, a study of albatrosses in the Pacific suggests that the lifespan of many birds is actually unknown because they almost always die of unnatural causes.

One analysis said as many as six billion birds die in the USA every year by flying into things – houses, office buildings, power lines, and other structures – or are killed by animals, especially cats. Does that make every cat or homeowner a criminal?

In judging the inhumanity of our society by the way we treat birds, the Washington Post columnist condescendingly pointed out that “people are a part of the natural world, not distinct from it.” No kidding.

Day-to-day human activities affect our environment in numerous ways, sometimes for the better, occasionally for the worse. That doesn’t mean someone must be punished every time a bird dies.

Most of us abhor deliberate animal cruelty. That’s why it is a crime, and accidents are not.

It’s nice to see our government bringing a little common sense back to our laws and regulations. That shouldn’t be a crime either.


Australian chief scientist Alan Finkel has said he does not necessarily agree with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report’s call to phase out coal power by 2050

He also said the government will need a whole of economy emissions reduction strategy in order to meet the set target of reducing emissions to 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

The IPCC report was written by over 90 scientists and said global emissions of greenhouse gas pollution must reach zero by about 2050 in order to stop global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The scientists recommended that the use of coal for electricity generation would have to drop to between 0 and 2 per cent of current usage.

Dr Finkel said instead the focus should purely be on emissions, as if carbon capture and storage is possible coal power will not produce emissions.

“I actually don’t agree on two basics. I’m not sure the report specifically says that. It says that we need to look at things like coal fired power with carbon capture and storage associated with it,” Dr Finkel told Sky News. “But the main reason for my statement is I feel we’ve got to focus on outcomes. The outcome is atmospheric emissions.”

“We should us whatever underlying technology are suitable for that.” “People paint themselves into an anti-coal corner or a pro-coal corner but the only question of relevance is to look at the atmospheric emissions.”

 Dr Finkel said Australia should be looking to natural gas as a transition fuel. “In the Finkel review we devote a whole chapter and a lot of discussion to the importance of natural gas as a transition fuel. If we use natural gas for the next 20-30 years a lot of it will make it so much easier to use more wind and solar.”

“But we deny ourselves natural gas it makes it more difficult to use wind and solar, so the pursuit of perfection gets in the way of the very good.”

Pressed on his argument that Australia could become the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied hydrogen gas — which was combustible and therefore equivalent to natural gas — Dr Finkel said it was because we have “fabulous resources” here.

The Coalition has struggled with energy policy and has effectively abandoned the emissions reduction component of the national energy guarantee, which was the government’s policy.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the country will be able to meet its Paris climate agreement targets of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 “in a canter”.

Dr Finkel said the government would need a whole new emissions reduction policy in order for that to happen.

“If you go back to the Finkel review where 49 out of the 50 recommendations were accepted, if all of that is done then I think there is a good chance,” he said.

“So one of the recommendations which was accepted by the government was that by the end of 2020 the government should develop a whole of economy emissions reduction strategy. So if you count that as part of the policy development then I think we can.”

Dr Finkel said small modular reactors might reinvigorate the debate about nuclear power in the future.

He also restated his interest in hydrogen as an alternative energy source - which can be produced with hardly any emissions.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here