Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Shutting down middle and blue-collar America

From Biden to Warren, Democrat president wannabes push job-killing pseudo-green policies

Paul Driessen

Vocal activists increasingly drive Democrat Party positions across the public policy spectrum. Print, television, social and click-bait media generally support them, while permitting little debate on liberal proposals or their potential ramifications. Even semi-moderate Joe Biden has been pressured into shifting or flipping his positions on abortion, energy, climate change and other issues, to satisfy far-left factions.

Their policy prescriptions often find ready acceptance in coastal, urban, academic, media and big government circles. But factory workers, blue collar families and Middle America better pay very close attention to how climate change scare stories and proposed Green New Deal programs will impact their energy costs and reliability, jobs, living standards, mobility and personal choices. Warning signs abound.

Reflecting heavy dependence on wind and solar power, German and British electricity prices are already three to four times higher than what the vast majority of American households currently pay – and rising. The exorbitant prices have largely shuttered the UK’s aluminum industry and what’s left of its steel industry. Combined with ever-tougher carbon dioxide emission limits, factory operating costs similarly “threaten the very existence” of Germany’s automobile industry, Volkswagen’s CEO laments.

Nearly 350,000 German families have had their electricity cut off because they cannot afford to pay their power bills. German families and businesses had to cope with 172,000 localized blackouts in 2017. The country has banned fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and imports US coal and Russian natural gas.

In Britain more than 3,000 elderly people die every year because they cannot heat their homes properly, exposing them to constant chilly temperatures that make them more likely to contract and succumb to respiratory or heart disease. The situation is likely to get even worse. In stark contrast, abundant natural gas supplies from the fracking revolution have driven prices down in the USA, saving some 11,000 American lives each winter, according to a recent National Bureau of Economic Research study.

Multiple widespread blackouts over a three-month period in South Australia were caused by the elimination of coal-fired power, 52% reliance on wind turbines, storms, grid instability, and an inability to predict weather conditions or peak power demand. In May 2019, they helped persuade Aussie voters to replace their climate-obsessed government with a conservative coalition that supports fossil fuels.

China, India and other overseas aluminum, steel and vehicle exporters to the EU and US face no climate-driven energy price or emission obstacles. The Paris Climate Agreement does not obligate them to reduce their fossil fuel use or emissions for decades to come, if ever. Indeed, China’s annual increase in “greenhouse gas” emissions is greater than Australia’s total annual nationwide emissions!

Asia’s total GHG emissions now dwarf the USA’s. So even total, painful, job-killing, economy-shackling elimination of US fossil fuels would do nothing to end the steady rise in atmospheric CO2 levels.

Unfortunately, these hard realities have had no effect on people or companies that expect to benefit politically or financially from legislated energy upheavals rooted in manmade climate change alarmism.

New Mexico recently joined California and Hawaii in mandating “renewable” electricity: 50% by 2030, 80% by 2040 and 100% by 2050. Despite the absence of any state mandate, the Northern Indiana Public Service Company wants to replace 1,850 megawatts of affordable 24/7 coal-based electricity with 1,650 MW of expensive, intermittent, weather-dependent wind and solar, plus 1,500 MW of backup batteries.

Modern factories, offices, hospitals, schools, households and cities cannot function or survive on starvation energy diets like these. Moreover, claims that wind, solar and battery technologies are clean, climate-friendly, renewable and sustainable are little more than useful fairy tales.

Wind and solar energy are certainly renewable and perpetual. However, the massive amounts of land and raw materials required to harness, store and utilize that energy certainly are not. And many rare earth elements, lithium, cadmium, cobalt and other high-tech metals are extracted and processed by Chinese companies under zero to minimal child labor, fair wage, worker safety and environmental standards.

But all this generally gets swept under the rug, while tsunamis of climate chaos scare stories terrorize children and even a lot of adults into believing human civilization, wildlife and even our planet face annihilation in less than twenty years, unless the world quickly rids itself of fossil fuels.

From Kamala Harris to Bernie Sanders, and now Joe Biden, every Democrat presidential candidate supports some version of the Green New Deal and would have us believe its authoritarian edicts and multi-trillion-dollar price tag are affordable and necessary.

Helping to drive this narrative is billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg – proud owner of twelve houses, a private jet and helicopter, and a fleet of pricey cars. He intends to give the Sierra Club and other activist groups $500 million to conduct new campaigns to eradicate coal power and block construction of natural gas-fired generators that would otherwise replace coal-fired plants.

In fact, no sooner is one example of climate nonsense debunked, than another dozen take its place.

After decades of frightening visitors with tall tales that Glacier National Park glaciers would all melt away by 2020 or soon thereafter, park rangers are finally acknowledging that the Grinnell, Jackson and other glaciers have actually been growing since 2010. They are now (quietly) removing signs, videos and brochures that featured the (Al) Gorey claims about catastrophic (Michael) Mann-made global warming.

Even the Washington Post has acknowledged that the number of violent (F4-5) tornadoes has declined 40% between the 1950-1984 period and 1985-2018 interval – with not one violent tornado recorded in the USA in 2018, for the first time in history. The United States also enjoyed a record 12-year absence of Category 3-5 hurricanes making landfall, between Wilma in 2005 and Harvey in 2017. Overall, actual evidence shows no upward trend in extreme weather, floods, droughts or sea level rise.

So now we’re being told plant and animal species are disappearing 100 times faster than historic rates, because of manmade climate change – and a million or more are at risk of extinction … out of some eight million that a new UN report claims exist on Earth. There are serious problems with this latest hysteria.

Scientists have actually identified and named only 1.8 million plant and animal species. The other 6.2 million “have no names, have never been identified,” and exist only as bits and bytes in computer models and fear-mongering reports and news stories, forestry ecologist and Greenpeace cofounder Dr. Patrick Moore observed during recent testimony before the House Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee.

Only 800 or so species have gone extinct in the last five centuries, Dr. Moore added – and most of them were victims of cats, rats, foxes and other invasive species introduced by European colonizers, or on small islands where native species had no defenses and could not escape.

Assuming this pattern will be repeated on a global scale, across entire continents, because of climate change, for a mythical 8 million species ... and plugging those assumptions into computer programs ... isn’t science. It’s garbage – designed and intended to justify eliminating the fossil fuels that provide over 80% of the energy that the United States and world use to produce food, jobs, health and prosperity.

We’re also supposed to swallow pseudo-scientific claims that “surging levels” of plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide are creating dangerous hybrid puffer fish, making salmon unable to detect danger, making sharks right-handed and unable to hunt, making Arctic plants “too tall,” making coffee growing impossible in many countries, causing pigs to get skinnier, turning Earth into a super-heated Venus, causing the demise of tropical birds, and many other fearsome stories of White Walkers and Days after Tomorrow.

Sadly, all too many people soak up this nonsense like sponges. (Unkind comedians might suggest they have the brain cells of a sponge.) But to have these tales ... and the voters and politicians who believe and propagate them ... drive our energy and economic policies would be the cruelest joke of all.

Via email

Place blame for recent tornadoes where It belongs

Tragically, there is nothing unique about the number or severity of more than 55 devastating tornadoes that tore through the outskirts of Kansas City, swept through Indiana and Ohio, and stretched eastward from Idaho and Colorado across eight states late last month.

Nor, unfortunately, is there anything unique regarding all-too-alluring temptations for some politicos to blame such events on “climate change,” a term that has come to replace “global warming” in name only.

Flash back to Al Gore lamenting during a June 2013 Rhode Island energy and environment conference following a destructive Moore, Oklahoma twister that scientists “won’t let us yet” link tornadoes to climate change. Gore claimed that shoddy historical statistics resulted in failures to connect “these record-breaking tornadoes and the climate crisis.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., wasted no time attributing this latest raft of tornadoes to climate change after a hazard warning was issued for Washington, D.C. The New York Democrat immediately released an Instagram video. “The climate crisis is real y’all,” she said. “Guess we’re at casual tornadoes in growing regions of the country?”

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez added, “Other regions deal with wildfires, tornadoes, droughts, etc. But ALL of these threats will be increasing in intensity as climate crisis grows and we fail to act appropriately.”

Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., blamed climate change for two tornadoes that hit eastern Alabama. Sanders posted a May 28 statement on his Senate Facebook account. Sanders wrote:

“This is insane: As Oklahoma and Arkansas face catastrophic flooding, and Ohio and Indiana reel from tornados, Trump is trying to undermine the very science that proves climate change is real. We need policy based on facts, not rightwing ideology.”

So okay. Let’s review some real scientific facts.

For starters, the 2019 tornado season wasn’t a result of unusually warm spring temperatures, but rather, just the opposite conditions.

As explained by meteorologist Dr. Roy Spencer at the University of Alabama, tornado conditions exist only when cool and warm air masses collide. Writing in Fox News, he notes that the perfect conditions for this existed this year after winter has refused to lose its grip on the western United States.

May temperatures across the nation were close to 2 degrees Fahrenheit below normal. In addition, atypical snow conditions extended from Northern Michigan through Colorado to the Sierra of California into late May. Together, these circumstances produced a persistently lingering cold air mass.

Tornadoes occur when severe thunderstorms known as supercells create spiraling updrafts causing strong wind shear at the boundaries between colliding warm and cold air masses. The warm air rotates upwards at increasing speeds until it punches through the colder air layer.

However, thunderstorms rarely produce tornadoes, and lacking cold air protagonists, they are virtually unknown altogether in hot and humid tropical regions.

Every year, springtime thunderstorms in Central and Southeast U.S. have plenty of warm, moist air to draw on from the Gulf of Mexico. This year, a large field of cold air hung around longer than usual.

Roy Spencer notes that a very slow U.S. warming trend in recent decades has been accompanied by fewer of these cold springtime air masses over the West. According to National Weather Service statistics, the long-term trend of strong (EF3) to violent (EF5) tornadoes has been decidedly downward, with 2018 experiencing record low activity.

This year’s spike in tornadoes is made far more dramatic in comparison with 2018 which was the first year recorded without a single violent tornado since record-keeping first began during the late 1800s.

Last year also experienced near-lows in terms of overall tornado damage.

The only better ones were 2017, 2016, and 2015.

Although NOAA reported a slow decline in tornado frequencies between 1954 and 2012, the actual annual numbers — those of weaker ones in particular — are uncertain prior to the advent of radar-detection technology.

Nevertheless, Patrick Marsh, a Storm Prediction Center meteorologist, reported that outbreaks of 50 or more tornadoes really aren’t uncommon, having happened 63 times in U.S. history. There are even three instances of more than 100 twisters in single years.

Roy Spencer reminds us once again not to conflate three decade or- longer climate cycles with seasonal weather which naturally varies from year to year. He writes, “The alarmist claims of AOC, Gore, and Sanders are not just speculative; they are opposed by our observations and by meteorological theory.”

As for that all too ever popular Trump-blaming mantra, perhaps he instead deserves some credit for making America’s very recent climate great again. According to the U.S. Natural Hazard statistics, last year also witnessed a below 30-year average in deaths caused not only by tornadoes, but also from hurricanes, flooding and summer overheating.

On the other hand, don’t count on the president getting cut any cool-headed climate slack either way. Staunch critics will probably still complain that the U.S. experienced a rise in deaths due to extra cold and long winter weather.


Climate security confusion abounds

The news media has been reporting what looks like a conflict within the Trump Administration, over the national security implications of climate change. Supposedly the conflict is between military and intelligence reports describing serious security implications and the Administrations position that climate change is not a serious threat.

There may in fact be no conflict. Here is how I see it. Hypothetical security vulnerability is the big confusion!

The military has a practice called “vulnerability analysis” in which a facility, region or system is assessed via a hypothetical thought experiment. The hypothesis can be extreme and often is. I have done a few that were completely unrealistic, but these analyses can still be useful.

These climate alarmist military and intelligence reports are just this sort of vulnerability analysis. They are all of this logical form:

“Suppose an extreme case of climate change happens, what adverse security effects might it cause?”

Approached in this way it is no surprise that many facilities, regions and systems are classified as vulnerable to some form of hypothetical extreme climate change or other (there being so many).

There are certainly regions that would be hard hit by extreme droughts, naval bases unprepared for fantastic sea level rise, airfields that would be damaged by catastrophic floods, etc. in the endless list of hypothetical extreme climate change impacts it might be hard to find one that had no security implications.

The point is that these hypothetical vulnerability analyses are in no sense realistic threat assessments. Not if these myriad extreme climate changes are not going to occur, and there is no reason to think that they will.

This is the Trump Administration’s position. Actionable national security threat assessments are based on what is actually happening or very likely to happen. They are never based on speculation, worst case scenarios, etc.

That these are not threat assessments calling for actual action needs to be made clear. As extreme hypothesis vulnerability analyses they might be okay.

The difference between a real threat assessment and a hypothetical vulnerability assessment is a huge confusion. (Confusion is my field.)

Note that we have pretty much the same deep confusion with the National Climate Assessment. The authors were specifically instructed to look at worst case scenarios, which are not a basis for action. Unfortunately these hypothetical scenarios were reported as real predictions, in part because some people actually believe them.

In the case of the IPCC’s October 2018 report that has generated the “climate crisis” or “climate emergency” scare, the confusion is different. The Paris Accord has targets that range from 2 degrees C of warming down to 1.5 degrees. The IPCC was tasked with saying what that difference looked like as far as the computer models were concerned.

Predictably the IPCC reported that there would be more damage with 2 degrees than with 1.5 degrees. But the differences were relatively small, certainly not catastrophic, which is why 2 degrees is still the target. They also said that hitting the 1.5 degree target would be very difficult.

In the “climate crisis” scare these small differences have morphed into 1.5 degrees of warming being the threshold to catastrophe. There is no basis for this whatever in the IPCC report, but the political stampede is on, led by the Green New Deal.

In short, climate change policy is a sea of confusion, especially with regard to national security.


Saving elk with coal mine reclamation

Contrary to what radical environmentalists would have you believe, rural property owners care deeply about the environment.

They’ve lived on their property oftentimes for generations. They see more wildlife in a year than many city dwellers may see in an entire lifetime.

Thus it’s sad to see when leftists, the vast majority urbanites, impugn their character as being callous toward the environment.

In episode 2 of CFACT’s “Conservation Nation” YouTube series, host Gabriella Hoffman interviews Leon Boyd and his volunteers who have been working to make reclaimed coal fields in Virginia suitable habitat for growing numbers of elk.

Private landowners have leased land to create habitat, while local volunteers and visitors from far and wide come to lend a helping hand with their efforts. Even the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy has pitched in, allowing for these formerly-mined lands to be used for conservation purposes.

The program has been so successful that from 2014 to 2019, the elk herd has actually grown from 71 elk to now around 200. A stunning free-market success story, thanks to Leon’s and his volunteers’ work with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

In the video, Leon Boyd explains how the region has been working hard to recover from Obama’s disastrous “war on coal” – an ill-conceived political effort that hammered many hard working folks.

Notes Leon, “Southwest Virginia has thrived on coal for so many years and depended on coal, and with the last few years with the coal and the gas industry being on a downturn and a lot of jobs lost from our area and people leaving, by having the elk and the deer in places that we’re trying to put together, we see a lot folks travel here now to spend the weekend and either ride the trails or birdwatch or just wildlife enthusiasts out here seeing whatever may be on the properties.”

The mantra of the green agenda for America’s forests and wilderness is “don’t touch!” But history tells us that environmental solutions are best fostered when humans are empowered with market incentives and strong protections of their property rights — not when they are prohibited from having any interaction with the natural world whatsoever.


Skeptical Australian Radio commentator slammed over climate change remarks on TV science panel

That weed Karoly has been a Warmist from wayback.  He is far from an unbiased scientist.  Note that all he points to is raised levels of CO2.  But nobody disputes that.  What about the global temperature? Is that rising? Crickets. (It's falling). Typical Greenie deviousness

His argument that Australia is contributing more than its "fair share" of global warming is also  faulty.  What he is referring to is again CO2 emissions. And skeptics see CO2 as being primarily plant food  -- which it undoubtedly is -- and not as any significant influence on global temperature.  There have been long periods when CO2 has shot up while temperatuers remained stable -- the 30 relatively recent years of 1945 to 1975, for instance. Karoly has his head in an unmentionable place

Alan Jones copped an absolute roasting on tonight’s episode of Q&A — despite not even being on the panel.

The radio shock jock was slammed by a panel of science experts for downplaying human impact on climate change, after he said we only contribute three per cent to greenhouse gas emissions during his own Q&A appearance last month.

“I saw the radio commentator Alan Jones on TV recently, and he said that 0.04 per cent of the world’s atmosphere is CO2,” the questioner said. “‘Three per cent of that human beings create around the world, and of that, 1.3 per cent is created by Australians’. Is that correct, and if so, is human activity really making a difference?”

Professor David Karoly, an Australian atmospheric scientist based at CSIRO, bluntly responded: “Not everything Jones says is factually accurate.”

Prof Karoly said that, while it’s correct that 0.04 per cent of the world’s atmosphere is carbon dioxide, Jones’ statistics around humans causing climate change — and the role Australians specifically play — is completely false.

“I am a climate scientist, and Alan Jones is wrong. The reason he’s wrong is because we know that yes, the greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere is 400 parts per million … and that corresponds to about 0.04 per cent.

“All his other numbers were wrong. We know that carbon dioxide concentration 100 years ago was about 280 parts per million, or 0.028 per cent, but it’s grown 120 parts per million — or about 40 per cent — and that 40 per cent increase is due to human activity. We know that for absolute certain.” [Real scientists never know anything for absolute certain]

In other words, Prof Karoly was saying we’ve technically increased greenhouse gases by 40 per cent, not the three per cent figure Jones used.

The scientist also slammed the radio host for implying that Australians contribute a negligible amount to global warming.

“Australians have contributed about 1.5 per cent. Now that sounds like a small amount, but Australia only makes up 0.3 per cent of the population, and we’re contributing 1.5 per cent roughly of greenhouse gases,” said Prof Karoly. “So is it fair that 0.3 per cent of the global population has contributed 1.5 per cent? We’ve contributed much more than our fair share.”

Particle physicist Brian Cox said people think the climate is overly “simple”, which is a big part of the problem. “But actually, the climate is extremely complicated. These models are very, very complicated and constantly evolving.

“I think many people assume you can just work out what the climate’s going to do, like it’s common sense. But it’s actually a very complex system.” [Too complex to support any firm prediction, in fact]



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Lord Monckton accuses the Pope of supporting genocide – And says Carbon dioxide is NOT a ‘satanic gas’

An open letter to His Holiness Pope Francis about the weather, by Christopher Monckton of Brenchley – Former advisor to UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and a clever Latinist

Christopherus Monachorum Brencleiensis servus Servi servorum Dei Servi servorum Dei salutem pluriman dat.

Now that the amiable British habit of talking about the weather – like so much that originates in these inventive islands – has been adopted worldwide, perhaps I may sound a respectful cautionary note.

A few days ago, at yet another meeting about global warming, er, climate change, um, climate disruption, aargh, climate emergency at the elegant palace of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Vatican gardens, Your Holiness saw fit to stray from the missio canonica of the successors of St Peter, which is to uphold the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith.

Your Holiness is reported as having told chief executives of oil companies and investment houses that inflicting heavy taxes on their corporate emissions of the satanic gas carbon dioxide was “essential” to prevent dangerous “global warming”. With respect, that was off message.

What is more, Your Holiness proclaimed that “we have collectively failed to listen to the fruits of scientific analysis, and doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain.”

Well, I have listened carefully, and I can inform Your Holiness that science is divided on the climate question. A small number of totalitarian profiteers of doom in various self-serving national academies have issued pompous statements about it, but a large number of papers from reputable scientists, and a larger amount of hard data, suggest that global warming is and will continue to be a non-event.

Consider the warming from 1850-2011. It was just 0.75 degrees, equivalent to 1 degree of warming in response to doubled CO2 concentration. That is less than a third of the 3.35 degrees that is the totalitarian scientists’ grossly inflated midrange prediction.

The totalitarians got the science wrong. They made a strikingly elementary error of physics. They forgot the Sun was shining. So they misallocated the feedback response to the Sun, erroneously counting it as part of the feedback response to greenhouse gases. Their predictions should be one-third of their current midrange estimates.

What that means, Your Holiness, is that the global warming that will happen between now and the exhaustion of accessible resources of coal, oil and gas will be small, slow, harmless and net-beneficial.

The same cannot be said of the insane policies currently being inflicted upon the world’s blameless population by crazed Western extremists, now unwisely supported by Your Holiness.

Why has Your Holiness never spoken out in condemnation of the World Bank, which, from 2010 onward, refused and still refuses – citing global warming as their rationale – to lend to developing countries so that they can build coal-fired power stations? This dismal institution has decided that from this year it will not lend for oil or gas projects either, for the same reason.

And what is the effect of this wicked policy? Let me repeat the figures I gave recently here. According to the International Energy Agency, 1.3 billion people – one in six worldwide – has no access to electrical power, even though the Agency defines “access” as the ability to turn on no more than one 60-Watt lightbulb for an average of just four hours a day.

The World Health Organization estimates that 4.3 million people die every year from particulate pollution in open cooking fires because they have no mains electricity or gas, and that another 500,000 women die in childbirth each year because they have no electricity. These are just a small fraction of the tens of millions who die in developing countries each year because they cannot so much as turn on a light.

In darkest sub-Saharan Africa, where there is hardly any electricity, life expectancy is about 65 years, compared with 80 years in the electrified West. And it’s no good telling third-world countries they should install solar panels and windfarms: the electricity produced by these boondoggles is up to five times costlier than proper electricity from coal-fired power stations. They can’t afford it (and nor, come to that, can we).

A few more scientific facts. First, sea level, the mother of all scares. The sea is not rising at a rate equivalent to 33 cm/century, as the totalitarians claim. It is rising at only 11 cm/century.

Floods? Schumds. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, neither the frequency nor the intensity of flooding has changed or will change as a result of global warming.

Droughts, then? The most comprehensive survey ever conducted, just five years ago, showed that in the previous 35 years the percentage of global land area under drought had declined.

Food production? Output of all staple crops is increasing rapidly worldwide. Warmer weather is good for them, because they breathe in carbon dioxide. CO2 is not a satanic gas. It is plant food.

Forest fires? The acreages destroyed in forest fires have been declining worldwide for 30 years.

Hurricanes, tropical cyclones and tornadoes? All in decline. Why? Because warmer weather reduces the temperature differentials that power such storms.

Deaths from extreme weather? Over the past 100 years, the number of weather-related deaths has plummeted worldwide. What is more, research for the EU Commission found – to the unelected Kommissars’ horror – that in the next 100 years deaths from global warming will be comfortably outstripped by lives saved from cold weather. More people will live than will die if the world continues to warm, because warm weather is better than cold weather.

Cuddly polar bears? They’re not cuddly, but there are now thought to be 35,000 of them, compared with just 5000 in the 1940s. Hardly the profile of a species at imminent threat of extinction.

Given the egregious lack of evidence for harm caused by warmer weather, and the overwhelming evidence that current global-warming policies are killing tens of millions, I invite Your Holiness to speak up for the poor who are poor, and dying, because the policies Your Holiness imprudently advocates are not just scientifically unjustifiable, not just theologically off message. They are – not to put too fine a point on it – actually genocidal.


Markets can handle climate change

Despite the concern about manmade climate change, surprisingly little attention is paid to emerging technology that could extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turn it into useful products like petrochemicals and synthetic fuels.

Top-down policy solutions like carbon taxes and the recently defeated “Green New Deal” plausibly could reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, but, as with all government mandates, would be costly to implement and would undoubtedly generate unintended consequences that do more harm than good.

While environmental lobbyists push their favorite plans for doing something — anything — to avert catastrophe, the private sector is quietly finding innovative ways to limit the rise in the average global temperature to 1.5 degrees centigrade (compared to pre-industrial times).

According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 100 billion to 1,000 billion tons of carbon dioxide must be removed from the atmosphere this century to meet that warming target. At first glance, extracting carbon might seem like a pipe dream, but a process for doing just that is nearing commercialization. 

Three startup companies seeking to deploy direct-air-capture systems have attracted substantial capital since global emissions hit a new high last year. One of the startups, a Canada-based company, has raised $68 million in private equity from investors, including multibillionaire Bill Gates, the venture arms of oil companies Chevron and Occidental Petroleum, the mining company BHP Billiton, several equity firms, and private family foundations.

While the precise technologies being developed vary among the startups, they all share the basic concept of giant fans pulling air across a contact surface that binds with carbon-dioxide molecules. The contact material is then heated to unbind the carbon dioxide so that it can be collected and used. The Canadian firm is developing a process for using carbon dioxide to achieve industrial-scale production of synthetic fuel.

A Switzerland startup has raised $50.1 million and now operates 14 plants around the world. A New York-based company has raised $42 million and is in the middle of further fundraising. 

Until recently, extracting one ton of carbon cost $600 to $700 per ton, but the Canadian company says its process can reduce the cost to less than $100. It expects further cost reductions as the systems are deployed and the manufacturing process scales up. The company plans to announce the sites of two commercial direct-air-capture plants later this year. It says facilities can be placed in any country and in any climate.

While other ways of reducing carbon dioxide are possible — for instance, planting more trees and storing carbon in topsoil or the sea — direct-air-capture plants offer cost-effective options, though an estimated 20 or 30 very large facilities would be needed to pull 5 billion to 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the air every year.

While converting carbon dioxide into synthetic fuel itself requires considerable energy, the process could be powered with renewables to reduce its cost. Any carbon dioxide remaining after conversion would be pumped underground into geologic formations and depleted oil and gas wells.

Global consumption of fossil fuels is increasing, especially in India, China and other industrializing nations, along with atmospheric carbon dioxide. But environmental alarmists tend to forget that CO2 has benefits as well as costs. It is essential for plant life, and more of it promises to raise global crop yields, thereby increasing food production. Nowadays, CO2 is being piped directly from a petroleum refinery in Holland to grow roses in a nearby greenhouse.

The bottom line is that the information that price signals transmit about climate change supplies alert entrepreneurs with incentives to search for innovative ways to adapt to projected rising sea levels, droughts, wildfires and other predicted disasters. It is often better for governments to do nothing, especially if what they do is impose new taxes and heavy-handed regulations to address perceived collective-action problems.

But government inaction doesn’t mean that nothing will be done. Figuring out ways to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is just one of many examples showing that, left to their own devices, market processes can discover solutions that even well-intended policymakers predictably miss.


Biden Not Alone: All Dem Climate Policies Are Plagiarized

Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., tells Capitol Hill reporters in Washington Wednesday, Sept. 23, 1987 that he is quitting his campaign disclosures that he committed plagiarism. Mrs. Jill Biden, his wife stands beside him. (AP Photo/John Duricka)
Besides his obvious affinity for plagiarism, it should be no surprise that Joe Biden stole his ideas for dealing with climate change. He couldn't possibly have any of his own. He doesn't have anywhere near the background or, to be honest, the intelligence to comprehend the necessary physics and chemistry. He could barely make it through law school (without plagiarizing). And, all apologies to attorneys, a Ph.D. in physics or chemistry is somewhat more of a heavy lift than an LLD.

Undoubtedly it was the former vice president's staff that placed the stolen material in the unwitting candidate's hands. (One can only wonder how long this clueless crew will last.) But they weren't alone, I would wager. The process was probably similar to virtually every other politician in our government with a very few exceptions, like Rand Paul, who is an ophthalmologist and we can assume made it through a number of upper-level science courses. The rest of our pols are simply relying on what others tell them and, even more, of course, what's popular—the very opposite of science.

Nevertheless, the myriad Democratic presidential aspirants are all busy trying to out-green each other, oblivious to the actual situation on that ground known as Earth. Facts don't matter. Armageddon is twelve years away or, in Biden's case (or his "researchers"), coming to us by 2050. I wonder if any of them have read anything by Denmark's Bjorn Lomborg—a longtime genuine climate researcher—who wrote in the New York Post only last week:

Ever notice how, in the last decade or so, we quietly stopped just having storms and started having “extreme weather events”? It feels like no temperature drop or seasonal downpour is too small for the media to slap a scary name on it and issue minute-by-minute warnings. Well, now some news outlets and campaigners are trying to do the exact same thing for climate change itself.
“Global warming” isn’t scary enough to push through the expensive bills campaigners want. Instead of “climate change,” The Guardian has now decided to call it “climate emergency.” And the British newspaper isn’t alone: Democratic presidential candidates including Beto O’Rourke and Kamala Harris use similar language, as does Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

What the Democratic candidates are doing is exploiting climate for political gain and actually hurting the environment in the process, not to mention the economy. Not only is their approach anti-science, but it is also a dumbing down of our culture, especially our all-too-gullible young people who already have had their brains drilled by a ridiculously biased educational system.

The candidates and everybody else—especially AOC—might want to have a look at another Lomborg column in the Australian: "A mountain of money won't change the climate."

As for plagiarism, as a professional writer for fifty years, you can assume I'm not very fond of it. I would rather flunk my Wasserman test than vote for Joe Biden—or listen to a word he says for that matter. In fact, I won't listen to or read the words of any plagiarist (like that creep on the Scarborough show and the historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Stephen Ambrose) for even one minute. It's an unforgivable sin for me.

But on the general subject, the great  (not LATE) Tom Lehrer had the last word in his immortal "Lobachevsky." (Click and play, if you haven't heard it. And if you have, I know you will want to hear it again. Who wouldn't?)

Plagiarize, Let no one else's work evade your eyes, Remember why the good lord made your eyes, So don't shade your eyes, But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize - Only be sure always to call it please "research."


How NPR, Washington Post, Bloomberg and other media botched reporting on EPA’s ‘ban’ of 12 ‘bee-killing’ neonicotinoid insecticides

If recent headlines are the measure, advocacy groups making a case that bees are endangered because of the misuse of pesticides just scored a significant victory. On May 20, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that after a 6-year-long legal battle with anti-pesticide activists, it endorsed a voluntary withdrawal of 12 insecticides by a group of agri-chemical companies that a coalition of environmental groups had blamed for causing health problems in bees.

George Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety legal director and lead counsel in the case against the EPA, immediately claimed that that the settlement represented a massive victory in support of his claims that neonics are ‘harmful’ and ‘toxic’ chemicals. According to a post on the CFS site:

[The] cancellation of these …. pesticides is a hard-won battle and landmark step in the right direction,’ said …. Kimbrell …. ‘But the war on toxics continues: We will continue to fight vigilantly to protect our planet, bees, and the environment from these and similar dangerous toxins.

Facts aside—we will address that—Kimbrell’s casting of the court agreement as a victory for anti-pesticide campaigners was the narrative angle adopted by much of the media. According to reports that flooded the Internet, from the Washington Post to fringe activist sites, the EPA ‘banned’ 12 ‘dangerous’ neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides that environmental activists blame for bee health issues.

Unsurprisingly, CFS acolytes like Care2 crowed in its headline and blog about the success in bringing American regulators to heel. VICTORY! EPA Cancels 12 Bee-Killing Pesticides, Care2 wrote on its activist social community site:

The environmentalists, food safety organizations and beekeepers spent the last 6 years holding the EPA accountable for its lack of diligence in preventing or addressing bee Colony Collapse Disorder and to demand that the EPA protect livelihoods, rural economies and the environment.

Most mainstream media outlets parroted the CFS line. Business Insider’s Aria Bendix told readers, The US just banned 12 pesticides that are like nicotine for bees. Bloomberg reported, EPA Curbs Use of 12 Bee-Harming Pesticides. According to Washington Post energy reporter Dino Grandoni,”EPA now blocks a dozen products containing pesticides thought harmful to bees. The respected publication The Scientist headlined its article, EPA Cancels Registrations for 12 Neonicotinoid Pesticides, noting in the first line:

Out of concern for bees, the Environmental Protection Agency announced on May 20 that the registrations for 12 neonicotinoid-based products used as pesticides in agriculture would be canceled…

But not one of those articles, or dozens of others in news sites across the world, accurately represented what the EPA actually said or the actions that it took.

What did the EPA say and do

The EPA brokered a settlement between activists and companies that manufactured the pesticides: Syngenta, Valent and Bayer. As the agency noted to the GLP in an email, this action amounted to a voluntary withdrawal by the manufacturers; there was no ‘cancellation’ initiated by EPA and no ‘blocking’ of products as has been widely claimed.

The EPA also rejected the claim made by Kimbrell that the 12 neonicotinoid insecticides pose significant harm to bees as The Scientist and many other media outlets claimed; in fact in an email exchange with the Genetic Literacy Project, the agency took pains to underscore that no research supported that allegation.

There are two approaches for cancelling pesticide registrations under federal law: voluntary cancellation of a pesticide product or use and pesticide cancellation under EPA’s own initiative. Voluntary cancellations are by far the most common. Cancellation under EPA’s own initiative [which did not occur in this case] begins when the Agency has identified unreasonable adverse effects from registered uses, and the registrants have not made necessary changes (to the extent changes are possible) to the terms and conditions of the registration to address the unreasonable adverse effects. EPA has not identified unreasonable adverse effects associated with the 12 voluntarily cancelled products.

Biased or botched representations from fringe environmental groups is standard operating practice. That’s not surprising. After all, these professional protestors often promote an ideological agenda even if it conflicts with science. They sometimes do get the science right, but often the bottom line is whether its position on an issue serves its institutional interests, helps with fund raising or otherwise stirs its activist base.

But here’s the disappointing twist: Many reputable journalists and globally respected news organizations fumbled the story as well, acting more like enablers rather than skeptical inquirers with a commitment to truth, ideology be damned. Perhaps that is ‘old school.’ In this case, many journalists parroted the claims in news releases sent out by anti-pesticide ideologues, such as CFS, distorting what the EPA and the presiding judge actually decided in this case.

Celebratory comments from Kimbrell aside, an expensive multi-year court battle initiated by environmental activists to try to force the EPA to ban or heavily restrict neonicotinoids on the basis of their alleged harm ended with a whimper—an affirmation by the judge in the case that there is no evidence that the pesticides cause demonstrable harm. No ban was ordered. The ‘perpetrating’ companies voluntarily agreed to halt the marketing of 12 of the least used neoncotinoids that they sold in the US.

A balanced reading of the EPA’s action is that the brokered settlement was a major blow to activist anti-neonicotinoid efforts. The voluntary agreement was reached on the basis of what amounted to a technical process violation: the EPA had failed to consult other federal agencies in what is a truly byzantine process before it originally approved 59 neonic insecticides. The various companies involved in the settlement agreed to withdraw 12 of the approved neonics. Two aren’t even sold in the US and five were never commercialized. Most of the rest are barely in use. The court pointedly rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that neonics threaten pollinators. The effective impact on the companies and on farmers who rely on these insecticides: essentially zero.


We Shouldn't Be Surprised Renewables Make Energy Expensive Since That's Always Been The Greens' Goal

It's a feature, not a bug</>

Michael Shellenberger

The Green Party’s success in last weekend’s European elections will likely result in demands to expand and extend decades-old subsidies to renewables.

Like a lot of people, I used to think that subsidies to promote the switch from fossil fuels to solar and wind would be a one-time thing. Once a solar or wind farm was built, I thought, it would produce electricity forever, without further subsidy, because sunlight and wind are free. Renewables would thus allow a “sustainable” and even “circular” economy without waste or mining because everything would be recycled.

But it turns out that only nuclear can produce sufficient clean energy to power a circular economy.

That’s partly because nuclear plants have seen their efficiency increase dramatically. Nuclear plants used to operate for just 50% of the year. Now, thanks to greater experience in operations and maintenance, they operate 93% of the year.

Nuclear plants were expected to run for 40 years, but thanks to greater experience, they’re expected to run for 80. And simple changes to equipment allowed the amount of power produced by existing nuclear plants in the US to increase the equivalent of adding eight full-sized reactors. 

By contrast, the output of solar panels declines one percent every year, for inherently physical reasons, and they as well as wind turbines are replaced roughly every two decades.

As for circularity, solar panels and wind turbines are rarely recycled because the energy and labor required to do so are much more expensive than just buying raw materials.

As a result, the vast majority of solar panels and wind turbines are either sent to landfills or join the global electronic waste stream where they are dumped on poor communities in developing nations.

And that’s just at the level of the solar and wind equipment. At a societal level, the value of energy from solar and wind declines the more of it we add to the electrical grid.

The underlying reason is physical. Solar and wind produce too much energy when we don’t need it and not enough when we do.

In 2013, a German economist predicted that the economic value of solar would drop by a whopping 50% when it became just 15% of electricity and that the value of wind would decline 40% once it rose to 30% of electricity.

Six years later, the evidence that solar and wind are increasing electricity prices in the real world, often without reducing emissions, is piling up.

In 2017, The Los Angeles Times reported that California’s electricity prices had risen sharply, and hinted it might have to do with the deployment of renewables.

In 2018, I reported that renewables had contributed to electricity prices rising 50% in Germany and five times more in California than in the rest of the US despite generating just 17% of the state’s electricity.

And in April, a research institute at the University of Chicago led by a former Obama administration economist found solar and wind were making electricity significantly more expensive across the United States.

The cost to consumers of renewables has been staggeringly high.

Two weeks ago, Der Spiegel reported that Germany spent $36 billion per year on renewables over the last five years, and yet only increased the share of electricity from solar and wind by 10 percentage points.

It’s been a similar story in the US. "All in all,” wrote the University of Chicago economists, “consumers in the 29 states had paid $125.2 billion more for electricity than they would have in the absence of the policy."

Some renewable energy advocates protest that more evidence is needed to prove that it is renewables and not some hidden factor that is making electricity expensive.

But there is a growing consensus among economists and independent analysts that solar and wind are indeed making electricity more expensive for two reasons: they are unreliable, thus requiring 100% back-up, and energy-dilute, thus requiring extensive land, transmission lines, and mining.

After The Los Angeles Times failed to plainly connect the dots between California’s simultaneous rise in electricity prices and renewables, a leading economist with the University of California pointed out the obvious. 

“The story of how California’s electric system got to its current state is a long and gory one,” James Bushnell wrote, but “the dominant policy driver in the electricity sector has unquestionably been a focus on developing renewable sources of electricity generation.”

Renewables Are For Degrowth

We shouldn’t be surprised that renewables are making energy expensive. For as long as Greens have been advocating renewables they have viewed their high cost as a feature, not a bug.

Environmentalists have for decades argued that energy is too cheap and must be made more expensive in order to protect the environment.

Greens viewed energy as the source of humankind’s destruction of the natural world and sought to restrict energy supplies in order to slow and eventually reverse the destruction.

Indeed, the reason environmentalists turned against nuclear energy in the 1960s was that it was cheap and effectively infinite.

In the early 1970s, the Sierra Club’s Executive Director advocated scaring the public about nuclear to increase regulations to make it more expensive. And that’s what his organization, and many others, proceeded to do over the next four decades.

But Greens got the relationship between energy and the environment backward.

As people consume higher levels of energy the overall environmental impact is overwhelmingly positive, not negative. As we consume greater amounts of energy we can live in cities, stop using wood as fuel, and afford to have fewer children.

And as humans use more energy for agriculture in the form of tractors and fertilizers, we are able to grow more food on less land, allowing marginal lands to return to grasslands, forests, and wildlife.

Over time, rising electricity consumption, such as for high-speed trains in population-dense places like Europe and Asia, drives the transition from fossil fuels to zero-emissions nuclear.

Engineers and other critics of renewables often assume Greens are simply misinformed. Many if not most of them are. I certainly was.

Few university environmental studies students today, for example, ever learn of the mostly positive relationship between rising energy consumption and environmental protection.

Fewer learn that the energy density of the fuel, whether wood, coal, sunlight, wind or uranium, determine energy’s environmental impact.

Because sunlight is energy-dilute, solar panels are the most extractive of all energy resources, requiring 17 times the resources as nuclear while returning just 2% the energy invested.

But the ideologically-driven leadership of European Greens and American environmentalists knows renewables make energy expensive and view raising energy prices as a high priority.

In 1994, then-Vice President Al Gore pushed an energy tax as a central plank in the Clinton administration’s environmental agenda, which later evolved into a complicated and corrupt “cap and trade” proposal. Such taxes hurt the poor the most and were wildly unpopular.

As energy taxes failed politically, environmentalists in the US and Greens in Europe focused instead on subsidizing or mandating renewables.

At bottom, renewables make electricity expensive by returning so little energy relative to the energy invested. For instance, solar panels with storage deliver just 1.6 times as much energy as is invested as compared to the 75 times more energy delivered with nuclear.

Greens and environmentalists also seek to make food, another form of energy, more expensive. They do so by making agriculture more labor-intensive, land-intensive, and resource-intensive.

Moving to organics, as Greens demand, and away from synthetic fertilizer to manure, would require doubling the amount of land required for agriculture. Currently, humans use a whopping 38% of the ice-free surface of the earth for agriculture.

Moving to organics would thus decimate the 15% of the ice-free surface of the Earth that humans have to date protected for wildlife conservation, and destroy much beyond that, too.

Making farming more labor-intensive would take humankind back toward an agrarian economy where far more people work in farming, and everybody is much poorer.

Unlike the original New Deal, a Green New Deal would thus result in what Greens call “de-growth,” not growth.

The idea of de-growth came out of efforts by Malthusian Greens in the 1960s and 70s to persuade developing nations to cede control of their natural resources to Earth scientists under the auspices of the United Nations.

Originally the Green Party in Britain advocated “deindustrialization, a return to living in small peasant communities, the sterilization of women and an end to all immigration.”

It was only in the last decade that Greens started insisting that the renewables transition would “create jobs” as part of a Green New Deal.

What they rarely mention is that the jobs are usually low-paying and low-skill, like spreading low-yield solar and wind collectors across landscapes, or collecting and spreading manure at organic farms.

Circling Down

There is a perfect fit between the abstract physical theories, economic predictions, and real-world effects of renewables.

It was predictable that energy-dilute renewable fuels like sunlight and wind would require far more land than either fossil fuels or nuclear, and they do.

It was predictable that renewables with such a low return-on-energy-invested would fail to produce enough energy to make recycling worthwhile, and they have.

And it was predictable that such unreliable technologies would make energy so expensive, and they did.

Consider that while our high-energy economy can produce solar panels and wind turbines, a low-energy economy cannot.

Imagine solar panels powering the mining, trucks, and factories needed to manufacture solar panels. There would hardly be any energy left over for society’s other needs.

In that sense, the renewables-powered economy is circular, but not in a way that produces abundant energy for infinite recycling.

Rather, renewables-powered economies are circular in the sense of spiraling downward, as in a drain, or like a snake eating its tail until there is nothing left.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Syrup Is as Canadian as a Maple Leaf. That Could Change With the Climate

Another NYT scare below. It is highly likely that the changing seasons noted below are part of a natural fluctuation. Nobody is even trying to correlate the changes with CO2 levels. And even if there is a real decline in syrup production, it's not going to bother anybody much. Most syrup sold is ersatz, a factory product. We read: "In the United States, consumers generally prefer imitation syrups, likely because of the significantly lower cost and sweeter flavour"

UPDATE: It seems that the "decline" fears did not work out. We read: "Maple syrup production rises, despite shorter season. US maple syrup production increased slightly this year, even though the sap-collecting season was shorter than last year’s, the US Department of Agriculture said. The country produced 4.2 million gallons, up 1 percent from 2018."

A growing body of research suggests that warming temperatures linked to climate change may significantly shrink the range where it’s possible to make maple syrup.

In fact, climate change is already making things more volatile for syrup producers. In 2012, maple production fell by 54 percent in Ontario and by 12.5 percent in Canada overall, according to data from the Canadian government, because of an unusually warm spring.

Canada produces roughly 70 percent of the world’s maple syrup. That was worth about $370 million in 2017.

Warm weather can hurt syrup production because the process depends on specific temperature conditions: daytime highs above freezing with nighttime lows below freezing. This specific variation — which tends to happen as winter turns to spring, and fall into winter — causes pressure differences in the trees that allow the sap to flow. And it’s the sap that the farmers boil to create maple syrup.

To release the sap, maple producers make a small hole in the tree and insert a tap that allows it to spill out. But there’s only a small window of time when conditions are right.

“You’re really only talking six to eight weeks,” said Mark Isselhardt, a sugar maple expert at the University of Vermont. “Everyday that you don’t get sap flow has the potential to really impact the total yield for that operation.”

But because of climate change, some years those key temperatures are more elusive.

Instead of six or eight weeks to produce syrup in 2012, the Fultons had just 13 days. “We started the 8th of March and finished the 21st of March,” Mrs. Fulton-Deugo said.

“That type of condition will happen more often and it can have an impact like the impact it had in 2012,” said Daniel Houle, a biologist at the Quebec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks.

In addition to the shorter tapping window, spring is also arriving earlier. The phenomenon is called season creep and it means that fall ends later as well.

That creates more headaches for producers, and not only in Canada, because the timing of putting in taps is crucial. “I’m in my sixties,” said Helen Thomas, executive director of the New York Maple Producers Association and a syrup producer. “When I was a kid, my dad had the rule that you tapped around March 15th.” This year, they were tapping in late January.

Production techniques, though, are thoroughly modern. For now, that has helped the farm to adapt.

While many imagine sap collecting into metal buckets attached to trees, the Fultons and most other syrup producers now use plastic taps connected to long lines of food-grade plastic tubing. The tubes zigzag through acres of forest from tree to tree before pouring out into a collection tank. Because the system is cleaner than older methods, it allows producers to tap earlier without fear that the trees will plug the holes, the way a scab covers a cut, before the sap begins to flow. On the Fulton’s sugarbush, the taps were in the trees weeks before the sap ran.

To help coax the sap out of the trees, producers use vacuum pumps. “We’ve seen that you get basically double the amount of sap when you use vacuum,” Mr. Isselhardt said.

But the weather conditions still need to be right. And, of course, you still need trees.

Maples need to be about 40 years old before they can be tapped, though they don’t come into their prime, according to Ms. Thomas, until they’re about 90 years old. “If I planted maple trees today, it would be my grandchildren that would be harvesting the sap from them,” she said.

But a recent study suggests that the changing climate is a threat to that process of growth and renewal. Andrew B. Reinmann, an ecologist at the City University of New York, along with colleagues at Boston University and the United States Department of Agriculture, looked at what happens to trees when snowpack declines.

Snowpack is important because, when temperatures dip, it acts as a blanket over the ground that prevents the soil, and the tree roots that reside in it, from freezing. By scraping off snow from some of the forest plots at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire during the first four to six weeks of winter, Dr. Reinmann and his colleagues were able to mimic the delayed snowfall that is predicted by century’s end in the National Climate Assessment.

“After the first year of snow removal, growth rates of the sugar maple trees declined by 40 percent or so, and growth rates remained suppressed between 40 and 55 percent below their growth rates prior to the start of the experiments,” Dr. Reinmann said.

Dr. Reinmann has also been running a separate experiment where he heats up the soils to see if the increase in warmer temperatures linked to an earlier spring would offset losses from frost damage. So far, his results suggest that it doesn’t.

Diane M. Kuehn, a professor at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, has researched the perceptions of climate change by maple syrup producers. “What I heard frequently from people was that they’re not concerned about themselves during their lifetime,” she said, “But they are concerned about future generations and their families.”


75 Conservative Groups Oppose ‘Any Carbon Tax’ Days After Mitt Romney Was Reportedly ‘Looking At’ One

Dozens of conservative groups signed an open letter opposed to “any carbon tax” bill that Congress might consider.
The letter comes after Republican Utah Sen. Mitt Romney told reporters he was “looking at” a carbon tax bill.
“A carbon tax increases the cost of everything Americans buy and lowers Americans’ effective take home pay,” conservative groups wrote.

Seventy-five conservative groups signed a public letter to Congress opposing “any carbon tax” days after reports that Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney openly considered backing carbon tax bill.

“We oppose any carbon tax,” conservative groups, led by Americans for Tax Reform, wrote in their letter, which was published online Monday morning.

While the letter is not specifically aimed at Romney, it’s meant to warn Republicans that their conservative base is not in favor of taxing carbon dioxide emissions. (RELATED: Mike Bloomberg Devotes $500 Million To Ending Coal Industry, Influencing 2020 Elections)

Only a few GOP lawmakers have backed carbon tax legislation, but there’s been a growing lobbying effort by some groups to get Republicans to back a carbon tax as a way to fight global warming.

Big corporations, including oil and gas companies, have increasingly embraced a carbon tax. Exact proposals vary, but supporters often push carbon taxes in exchange for tax cuts elsewhere, fewer regulations or a liability shield against climate change lawsuits.

U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) speaks at a news conference about the Tobacco to 21 Act, which would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products and e-cigarettes to 21, on Capitol Hill
U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) speaks at news conference about the Tobacco to 21 Act, which would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products and e-cigarettes to 21, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein.

Romney recently told E&E News he was “looking at” carbon tax legislation put forward by Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons — the same legislation Coons co-sponsored with former Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake in 2018.

“Taxes have never been my intent, but we’ll see what he has to say,” Romney said. “I would very much like to see us reduce our carbon emissions globally, and we’ll see if this might help.”

Romney’s remarks got a strong response from conservative activists opposed to carbon taxes, which they say will hit working-class Americans hardest and do little, if anything, to fight global warming.

“It isn’t surprising that a man with a car elevator in his garage would consider supporting a tax that would hurt the working man while benefiting the money changers in the financial temples of Wall Street,” Dan Kish, distinguished senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research (IER), told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Romney’s office said Romney has not committed to any legislation to tax CO2 emissions. Though if Romney did embrace such a policy, it would stand in stark contrast to his 2012 presidential run when he railed against the Obama administration’s “war on coal.”

“Senator Romney is listening and having discussions with many of his colleagues about various proposals, and he hasn’t committed to any legislation,” Romney spokeswoman Liz Johnson told TheDCNF.

Americans for Tax Reform Founder and President Norquist speaks during an on-stage interview with The Atlantic's Senior Editor Thompson at The Atlantic Economy Summit in Washington
Americans for Tax Reform Founder and President Grover Norquist (L) speaks during an on-stage interview with The Atlantic’s Senior Editor Derek Thompson at The Atlantic Economy Summit in Washington March 18, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.

Even with GOP support, a carbon tax bill is not expected to pass Congress or get signed into law by President Donald Trump. Conservative activists, however, see carbon tax legislation as an ever-present enticement for moderate Republicans looking to score political points with liberals.

“A carbon tax increases the cost of everything Americans buy and lowers Americans’ effective take home pay. A carbon tax increases the power, cost, and intrusiveness of the government in our lives,” conservative groups wrote to lawmakers Monday.

So far, GOP-sponsored carbon tax bills gone nowhere in Congress. Legislation introduced by Coons and Flake last Congress gained little traction, and a carbon tax bill introduced by former Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo fizzled out after he lost his 2018 re-election bid.


Reality bites Joe Biden’s “Clean Energy Revolution”

Tallying its huge impacts on our energy, industries, living standards and personal freedoms

Paul Driessen

Presidential candidate Joe Biden recently announced his “Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice.” While it might be viewed as a Green New Deal Lite, the plan would inflict enormous economic, environmental and societal pain on most of the nation, for no climate benefits.

First, as I’ve pointed out here and elsewhere, Mr. Biden’s “climate emergency” exists in computer models and alarmist reports, but not in the Real World windows. Tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts, floods, melting ice and rising seas are no more frequent or severe than humanity has experienced many times before.

Before we destroy our energy and economic system, we need to see solid, irrefutable proof that we face an actual climate crisis – and be able to debate and cross examine those who make such claims. So far, instead of a debate, climate crisis skeptics just get vilified and threatened with prosecution.

Second, anytime you hear the term “environmental justice,” you know someone is trying to create a new category of victims, sow more discord along racial and economic lines, and punish someone new in the name of “justice.” While we still have pockets of pollution, America’s cars, air and water have been cleaned up dramatically since 1970. Moreover, the best way to prevent, survive and recover from any disaster is to have the energy, wealth and technologies that fossil fuels continue to make possible.

Third, there’s nothing clean, green, renewable or sustainable about wind, solar or battery power. Those technologies require enormous amounts of land, concrete, steel and other raw materials – and many of their most critical materials are extracted and processed using child labor and near-slave wages for adults, with few or no workplace safety rules, and with horrific impacts on land, air and water quality.

Fourth, the Biden plan would cost many times the “$1.7 trillion in federal funds over ten years” that his talking points use to entice voters: dollars, lost jobs, lower living standards and fewer freedoms.

The former VP would rejoin the Paris climate treaty; reverse many Trump corporate tax cuts; seek or impose multiple mandates, “enforcement mechanisms” and “legally binding” emission reductions; and at some point demand cap-and-trade schemes and/or taxes on what he likes to call “carbon emissions.”

That term is intended to suggest dirty soot coming out of smoke stacks. The actual emissions are carbon dioxide, the life-giving gas that humans and animals exhale, and plants use to grow and produce oxygen. The more CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere, the better and faster crop, forest and grassland plants grow.

Mr. Biden would also impose tariffs on “carbon-intensive” goods imported from countries that “fail to meet their climate obligations.” That will quickly affect just about everything we eat, drink, drive, do and use – because his plan would soon make it difficult for America to grow or produce much of anything ... and China, India and other rapidly developing countries are not about to reduce their fossil fuel use.

Every Biden Plan provision would increase the cost of living and of doing business. The folks he hobnobs with – who will write, implement and enforce these rules ... and bankroll his election campaign – won’t much notice or mind the soaring prices. But middle and blue-collar classes certainly will.

Other components of the Biden Green New Deal multiply those impacts and costs.

* His ultimate goal is to rapidly replace America’s fossil fuels with industrial wind and solar facilities – to provide electricity for factories, hospitals, homes, offices, data centers, vehicles and countless other uses.

Modern industrialized societies simply cannot function on expensive, intermittent, weather-dependent electricity. As Germany, Britain, Spain, Australia and other countries have shown, that kind of energy eliminates 3-4 times more jobs than it creates – especially in factories and assembly lines, which cannot operate with repeated electricity interruptions ... and cannot compete with foreign companies that get affordable 24/7/365 coal-based electricity and pay their workers far less than $15, $25 or $45 per hour.

* “Rigorous new fuel economy standards” would speed the rate at which 100% of all cars and light trucks become electric.

This program would be supported by “more than 500,000 new public charging outlets by the end of 2030,” to augment private charging stations in homes and neighborhoods – paid or subsidized by taxpayers. It would also require upgrading home and neighborhood electrical systems to provide far more power for rapid vehicle charging, and longer hours of peak demand. Another trillion dollars?

Extending mileage for (much more expensive) electric vehicles would mean lighter, smaller cars ... and thus thousands of additional deaths and millions of additional serious injuries. Dollar costs would soar. But how do we quantify the cost of  injury and death tolls?

* Federal tax and environmental laws, subsidies and other incentives would be used to persuade counties and communities to “to battle climate change” by altering their zoning and other regulations “to eliminate sprawl and allow for denser, more affordable housing near public transit.”

This would significantly impact suburban living and property values. And packing more people into more apartment buildings would likely mean diseases spread more rapidly and to more people.

* Other federal programs would provide subsidies and incentives for home and business owners to reduce “the carbon footprint” of US buildings 50% by 2035. battery disposal?

This could involve retrofitting them for improved energy efficiency and/or replacing gas furnaces with electric heat or heat pumps – or just tearing down and replacing entire buildings. More trillions of dollars.

* The Biden plan would also ban new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters.

This would lock up vast quantities of valuable, vitally needed fuel. It would replace tens of billions of dollars of annual federal and state government bonus, rent, royalty and tax revenue with tens of billions in subsidies for pseudo-renewable energy. It would eliminate millions of jobs in the petroleum and petrochemical industries, in numerous companies that rely on those industries, and in countless sectors of local and state economies that depend on all that public land energy activity and revenue.

* Finally, a new transcontinental high-speed (electricity-powered) rail system would connect the coasts – or at least a couple of cities on each coast – for a few trillion dollars and with a lot of eminent domain.

This is California’s costly “bullet train to nowhere” on steroids. It would bypass numerous towns and cities, marginalizing many of them and destroying trillions of dollars in property values – especially if his rail system is intended to replace or significantly reduce air travel and long distance driving.

The cumulative electricity demand for all these Biden Green New Deal programs would be at least double what the United States currently generates. It would mean wind turbines and solar panels on scales that few can even imagine ... especially as they are installed in less and less windy and sunny areas. And if all this power is to be backed up by batteries – since coal and gas-fired backup power generators would be eliminated – we would need billions of batteries ... and thus even more land and raw materials.

Exactly how many turbines, panels and batteries? On how many millions of acres? Made from how many billions of tons of metals and concrete? Extracted from how many trillions of tons of ore? In the USA or overseas, in someone else’s backyard? Under what child labor and environmental standards?

After banning oil and gas permitting, would Mr. Biden open other federal lands to exploration, mining and processing for the rare earth and other materials these massive “renewable” energy systems will require? That would certainly create new industries and jobs. Or will America just have to be 100% dependent on Chinese and other foreign suppliers for all these technologies?

All of this smells of eco-fascism: state control of companies and production, government control of our lives, and silencing and punishing anyone who challenges climate crisis claims or green energy agendas.

Perhaps Mr. Biden can address all these issues – at his next town hall meeting or press conference. Indeed, the time to discuss these issues is NOW. Before we get snow-jobbed and railroaded into actions we will sorely regret. Or maybe those of us who realize how insane all of this is will just have to opt out -- and establish Biden-free zones and climate sanctuary states where none of his policies and restrictions apply.

Via email

Pollen is getting worse, and climate change is the culprit

The claims below are nearly right.  Current higher levels of CO2 are good for plants so they send out more pollen.  But while CO2 levels continue to rise, global temperatures are not rising

For millions of people, high pollen counts are a perennial woe, and one that has kicked into high gear in the Boston area recently. But pollen seasons are getting longer and more intense, as allergy sufferers will surely attest, a trend specialists have linked to global warming.

“There’s really good research showing that allergy seasons are getting more severe, and more people are developing allergies, because of climate change,” said Dr. John Costa, medical director of the allergy clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere provide plants with more food, making them larger and leading to more pollen, sniffling, and sneezing, research has shown.

Jennifer M. Albertine, a visiting lecturer in environmental studies at Mount Holyoke College, grew timothy grass in a greenhouse with elevated carbon dioxide and ozone levels to try to simulate what might happen to the common pollen producer if carbon dioxide levels increased to 800 parts per million, roughly double what they are now.

The plants produced about 2.5 times as much pollen. “It’s plant food, right? So when you have more carbon dioxide, the plants are going to grow bigger,” she said. “And when you have bigger plants, you have more pollen.”

Making matters worse were April’s record rains, which allowed grass and vegetation to flourish.

In the past few weeks, pollen counts have increased because it has been dry, Costa said. Rain weighs down pollen, sending it to the ground. In dry, gusty weather, pollen flies into the air.

So rain offers a reprieve, but at a cost. “We will pay for it eventually,” Costa said.

The gender of trees also plays a role, said Naomi Cottrell, principal of the Boston landscape architecture firm Crowley Cottrell.

For years, cities and towns asked landscape architects to avoid planting female trees, which bear fruit or seed pods that can litter sidewalks and muck up car windshields. Instead they planted male trees, which emit pollen.

Male trees have become so prevalent that plant nurseries, bowing to supply and demand, overwhelmingly stock male saplings, Cottrell said.

In the meantime, pollen will continue to wreak havoc on allergies. Dr. Andrew MacGinnitie, clinical director of the Boston Children’s Hospital division of immunology, provided a few pointers — limit exposure by closing the windows and turning on the air conditioning, which can filter out pollen; shower before bed to wash the accumulated pollen away; and take an over-the-counter antihistamine, or use a nasal spray.


The environment is too important to be left to eco-warriors

Australia's Noel Pearson below draws on his consultive Aboriginal culture to argue that environmental issues should be resolved in a non-confrontaional way.  He makes a powerful case against current Greenie behaviour.  What he overlooks is that the Greenies WANT confrontation. They get their kicks out of parading as more righteous, more caring and wiser.  It fulfils ego needs for them.

You can see that in the way they immediately dream up a new issue as soon as they get their way on their previous issue.  Nothing satisfies them. Nothing can satisfy them.  Their lives would be dull and empty without their campaigns.  We are not dealing with psychologically whole people where Greenie campaigners are concerned

Can a cause for the right succeed in the long run if it is pursued through unrighteous means? Can causes for the good be selective in their adherence to science? Or do righteous ends justify unrighteous means?

This is the crisis confronting environmentalism. It suffered a grievous loss at the federal election and the Adani red line is broken. This may be a crisis of legitimacy. The question is whether political environmentalism is turning off voters and hardening attitudes against the necessary effective policies to secure future sustainability. Are the means employed by political environmentalism destroying the possibility of Australia achieving the desired end of sustainability through consensus? Or is consensus unnecessary because the morally right end means the maxim “by any means necessary” applies?

Political environmentalism is undermining the cause of sustainability because short-term expediency and tactical opportunism is trumping long-term strategic consensus-building. Environmentalism has degenerated into the binary of cultural war when it needs to transcend such wars. Its leaders have led the movement into a zero-sum game, where political victory in one battlefield is countered by loss in another.

We should first explain what we mean by causes for the right.

Political parties seeking power in government are not in the business of the right. Electoral politics are by definition ruthless, with few holds barred. Lies, half-truths, fake news, negative advertising and dirt files are part of the repertoire of power in politics. One party’s Mediscare is the other party’s retiree tax.

Former Labor NSW state secretary and federal minister Graham Richardson captured the ethos of politics in his memoir Whatever It Takes. Noble and ignoble things are achieved by marshalling political power.

While causes for power are amoral, there are causes for the right. Civil rights and the anti-apartheid movement are examples. Emancipation and antislavery are even older precedents. Such causes mobilise the political process and power for good ends. Conservation is such a cause. Few would dispute it is a moral duty of humankind regardless of political affiliation and preference.

Causes for the truth must be ethical, otherwise they suffer damage. Moral integrity is the great currency of righteous movements, but the political environmentalists have jeopardised the cause of conservation by allowing it to descend into the hyper-partisan battlefield of culture and politics.

It is exposed to the 51-49 per cent risk. When your party wins 51, then you may win tactical victories, but when it is 49 you have put your cause in peril. This is what has happened to Adani after the election.

I want to allege five profound mistakes the political environmentalists are making in Australia:

First, they are alienating the lower classes in their droves. This is the lesson of the 2019 election. The political environmentalists pushed climate policies that worked for the post-material middle class, but cared less about the economically precarious. More than the costs, it is the movement’s superior cultural attitude that pisses off the lower classes in such a visceral way.

Second, they are alienating indigenous peoples by pushing the costs of conservation on to those who have not created the crisis. Indigenous leaders such as Marcia Langton and Warren Mundine have highlighted the green lockup of indigenous lands from development.

These groups manipulate and exploit divisions within landowner communities. They divide and rule the same as mining companies do, setting up puppets that favour their agenda. We saw this in the campaign against the Kimberley Land Council. We see it in Cape York in relation to Wild Rivers and blanket World Heritage listing proposals.

Traditional owners supported conservation goals and helped create by agreement new national parks and other conservation tenures. But the political environmentalists are never satisfied. They want everything locked up.

They are making enemies of the country’s largest landowners because they use electoral leverage with governments to subjugate land rights. If they are alienating the land rights movement, which is more aligned to conservation than other sectors, what does that say about them?

A third problem is they are at the forefront of deploying so-called “new power” in their public campaigns. Through the diffusion of social media and decentralised campaigning, green groups began to seriously challenge the “old power”. GetUp co-founder Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms explain this development in their 2018 book New Power.

Breaking the old power monopoly is welcome; however, the dilemmas of social media and its susceptibility to manipulation and its effects on civil society and democratic governance are troubling. Twitter and Facebook have just created online mob behaviour. Hardly platforms for moral causes.

And the political environmentalists have used the new power to promote conservation and climate change action in as cynical a way as the forces against which they are pitted. Getup and Sleeping Giants use the same tools of manipulation as deliberately as Breitbart and Cambridge Analytica.

A fourth problem is the political environmentalists are highly selective in their adherence to science, and in so doing bring science into disrepute in public policy debates. Who really believed the black-throated finch was the environmental issue of Adani? The poor critters were used as a proxy for opposition to coalmining.

Why the charade? The Queensland Labor government should have been honest with the public and said: the policy question we face is whether the Galilee Basin should be opened up to coalmining in the context of its contribution to the crisis of global warming. But because they wanted to walk two sides of the street at once — intimating to greenies they did not support Adani while intimating to regional workers that they supported coalmining — they did not bring the crux policy question to a head and provide their answer to it.

They lacked the courage of their convictions and simply did not have the leadership to untie the Gordian knot that expanded coalmining in the Galilee Basin represents. And now the May 18 loss sees them stampeding over the poor birds and anything else standing in the way of their electoral prospects next year.

The stances environmental groups take in relation to any number of issues — nuclear energy and aquaculture, for example — evince a selective adherence to science.

Does not environmental science tell us about the interconnectivity of the planet, and if nuclear power is used in Europe, Asia and the Americas, and contributes to lower carbon emissions, why is the debate on nuclear power not on the basis of science and the mitigation of risks associated with nuclear energy, instead of a green version of obscurantism?

The proponents of safer nuclear waste disposal in Australia (which included the late Bob Hawke) have got a point that is worth subjecting to science rather than outright prohibition. While the case for domestic nuclear power may not be strong, it is a substantial source of energy throughout the world, and as a uranium producer we are obliged to consider our role in the management of its waste. There are strong geopolitical arguments in favour of Australia assuming this responsibility and mitigating the large risks involved, which we are better placed to carry than most other countries. After all, it is the green­ies who tell us the planet is one and national boundaries are environmentally meaningless.

The fifth and most fundamental problem is the political environmentalists have aligned environmentalism with socialism rather than conservatism. Another way of saying this is they have aligned environmentalism with progressivism rather than conservatism.

There is a fundamental philosophical problem at the heart of contemporary environmentalism. I do not mean in respect of the appreciation of the natural environment. I mean in respect of where our motive must come from in order to conserve the good things we have been bequeathed from our ancestors for the benefit of our future unborn.

This is the motive that is unanswered by the utilitarian calculations of liberals and socialists. Not everything is about price. Conservatives understand that some things are valuable because they are priceless.

English conservative philosopher Roger Scruton’s 2012 book Green Philosophy is the starting point for a new conservative approach to conservation. The approach is old — about stewardship and our responsibility to bequeath to future generations the gifts we received from our ancestors — but its application to the environmental crises facing our homelands, including global warming, is new. The climate obscurantists who are in the same binary as the political environmentalists and who think themselves conservatives should read Scruton. They should be the first to understand the conservation in conservatism but, alas, ­cultural war has caused a degeneration on all sides.

Progressive socialists don’t know what Scruton is referring to: oikophilia, the love of home that speaks to people’s connection with their environment, which animates their responsibilities. Instead, they propose large schemes, imposed from above by state diktat, while doing violence to the most important engine of conservation: the local connection of communities with their environment, and their concern to leave their descendants what their ancestors left for them. Progressives are more concerned with environmental posturing, cutting the correct moral gesture, being seen to be more enlightened and selfless, in contrast to the deplorables and knuckle-draggers.

The green leaders all want to be the next Bob Brown, renowned for their own Franklin Dam or Wet Tropics. They trample over politically weaker communities such as Queensland property owners uncompensated for tree-clearing restrictions that underwrote our Kyoto target in the 2000s. It was John Howard’s federal government and Peter Beattie’s state government that dispossessed these landowners without proper compensation.

Indigenous landowners are another politically weaker community that are ridden roughshod over by political environmentalists.

The folly of all of this is now surely clear. What can be done?

Ever since Richardson alighted on the strategy of garnering the environmental vote, Labor began outsourcing its environmental policy integrity to the political environmentalists. This yielded electoral returns in 1987 and 1990 but ultimately led to Labor bleeding market share to the Greens and being held hostage to political environmentalism. Labor’s environmental credibility came from environmental group endorsements after adopting their policies and acquiescing to their demands.

Rather than undertaking the principal responsibility of government, coming up with policies that balance development with environmental sustainability, it did preference deals with the political environmentalists. Environmental groups became experts at marginal seat politics, turning 2 to 3 per cent of the environment vote to win 51 per cent victories for their pet campaigns.

The hook-up with GetUp is the apotheosis of Labor’s dalliance with political environmentalism. What electorate is not going to be suspicious of the next bunch of out-of-towners hectoring them about how to vote next time? GetUp was Bill Shorten’s long game at mobilising AstroTurf activism and it has all ended in tears.

Labor must define its own environmental credentials in its own right, not as an alliance with the Greens or as the lapdog of a certain environmental milieu. Watching Jackie Trad squirm as Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch approved the Adani mine this week told the whole sorry story. Labor can no longer walk two sides of the street at once. It worked for Annastacia Palaszczuk in 2017 but not for Shorten in 2019. Voters might be fooled once, but not all the time.

To develop environmental policies free from deal-making with the political environmentalists, Labor must balance human society and environmental sustainability. The last thing the environment portfolio needs is a progressive from an inner-city seat, surrounded by a milieu of political environmentalists. Labor needs to take environment policy back to first principles and get its philosophy right first.

The environment is too important to be left to the political environmentalists.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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