Tuesday, April 28, 2015

US to launch blitz of gas exports, eyes global energy dominance

The US Energy Department prepares a wave of LNG gas permits in the latest move to redraw the world's oil and gas landscape. Obama perhaps thinks natural gas has become too cheap in America so wants to drive the price up by opening export demand for it.  It could also be an attempt to shaft Putin by taking away his markets.  I think that might be the main motive

The United States is poised to flood world markets with once-unthinkable quantities of liquefied natural gas as soon as this year, profoundly changing the geo-politics of global energy and posing a major threat to Russian gas dominance in Europe.

"We anticipate becoming big players, and I think we'll have a big impact," said the Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary. "We're going to influence the whole global LNG market."

Mr Moniz said four LNG export terminals are under construction and the first wave of shipments may begin before the end of this year or in early 2016 at the latest.

“Certainly in this decade, there’s a good chance that we will be LNG exporters on the scale of Qatar, which is today’s largest LNG exporter,” he said, speaking on the margins of the IHS CERAWeek energy summit in Texas.

Qatar exports just over 100 billion cubic meters (BCM), though Australia is catching up fast as the offshore Gorgon field comes on stream. It may pull ahead of Qatar later this decade.

Mr Moniz said the surge in US output from shale fracking has already transformed the global market. "We would have been importing a lot of LNG by now. Those cargoes would have gone elsewhere and have in fact had a significant impact in the European market,” he said.

Gas frackers assembled at the world's "energy Davos" in Houston said exports could ultimately be much higher, potentially overtaking Russia as the world's biggest supplier of natural gas of all kinds.

"We're just fifteen years into a 150-year process," said Steve Mueller, head of Southwestern Energy, the fourth biggest producer of gas in the US .

The mile-deep Marcellus basin stretching from West Virginia through Pennsylvania to New York state is driving the explosive growth. Interlocking fractures in the rock make it possible for a single well with advanced technology to extract much more gas than thought possible just five years ago.

Once thought to be in decline, the Marcellus alone produces 113 BCM a year. This is roughly equivalent to Russia's exports to Europe through the Nord Stream, Yamal, and Brotherhood pipelines.

Mr Mueller defiantly sweeps aside those who claim that the US fracking industry is in serious trouble, insisting that drilling costs are coming down so fast that his company - and others - are staying a step ahead of falling prices.

"Rig efficiency was flat for thirty years but since then we've cut by five times. We have set in motion something that you can't deny and is irresistible," he said.

Mr Mueller said it had taken his company 17 days to drill a 2,600 ft well as recently as 2007. It has just drilled a 5,400 ft well in six days. "The new technology is amazing. We have a drill-bit with a chip inside that makes its own changes," he said.

He is continuing to invest heavily and hopes to boost output by up to 10pc annually for the next three years, despite a drop in gas prices to around $2.60 per million British thermal units (BTU). "If it stays around $3, we'll be fine," he said.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects gas prices to rise to $4.88 in real terms by 2020, and $7.85 by 2040.

What is remarkable is that US drillers can produce a third more natural gas today with 280 rigs than they did in 2009 with 1,200 rigs. Total shale output has soared to over 350 BCM from almost nothing a decade ago. It now makes up half of US gas production.

The Obama administration has so far been slow to approve new export terminals for LNG, partly because of concerns that the US would lose its massive advantage in energy and feedstock costs for industry.

Gas sells at for $7 in Europe, and over $10 in North-East Asia, four times more expensive. This cost-gap has been a key driver behind America's so-called "manufacturing renaissance", stoking an investment boom in chemicals, plastics, and glass, and saving the country's steel mills from slow death.

A corridor from Houston to New Orleans has attracted 33 petrochemical plants worth over $1bn each since 2011. The American Chemistry Council expects over $130 billion of industrial projects along this stretch by 2023.

The administration has concluded that the US lead is now so entrenched that there is little to lose from a partial levelling of the global playing field. The expense of freezing gas for liquefaction to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit and shipping it across the Atlantic or Pacific in molybdenum-hulled vessels is enough to maintain a big cost advantage for US manufacturers.

Four LNG terminals with a combined export capacity of 70 BCM are likely to be approved soon by the Energy Department. The front-runner is Cherniere's $18bn terminal at Sabine Pass in Louisiana.

Experts are split over whether North America really can become the world's dominant LNG player. Moody's warned earlier this month that most of the 30 gas liquefaction projects planned in the US and Canada will never get off the ground, chiefly due to the linkage between LNG contracts and the price of crude. "The drop in international oil prices has wiped out the price advantage US LNG projects," it said.

Michael Smith, head of Freeport LNG, said his company will press ahead regardless with plans for a $13bn plant near Houston, and predicted that the US could soon leap-frog all rivals to become the new gas hegemon. "Our projects are very competitive and we will continue to have an advantage over the rest of the world," he said.

Russian president Vladimir Putin warned at the St Petersburg economic summit last year that US shale gas was abruptly changing the international order, with serious implications for his country. The early effects have forced down global LNG prices, creating a rival source of gas supply in Europe.

Any future American cargoes would further erode Gazprom's pricing power in Europe, and erode the Kremlin's political leverage. The EU already has a large network of import terminals for LNG.

Lithuania has just finished its "Independence" terminal, opening up the Baltic states to LNG. Poland's new terminal should be ready this year.

America's parallel drive for shale oil is equally breath-taking. Scott Sheffield, head of Pioneer Natural Resources, said his company has discovered huge reserves in the vast Permian Basin of West Texas.

"We think the Permian could produce 5-6m barrels a day (b/d) in the long-term," he said. It is a staggering claim. This would be more than Saudi Arabia's giant Ghawar field, the biggest in the world.

Ryan Lance, head of ConocoPhillips, said North American oil output could reach 15m b/d by 2020 and 25m b/d over the next quarter century, three times Saudi Arabia's current exports.

A vault forward on this scale would establish the US as the leading energy superpower in both oil and gas, a revival that almost nobody could have imagined seven years ago when the United States was in near panic over its exorbitant dependency of imported fuel. It would restore the US to its mid-20th Century position as a surplus trading nation, and perhaps ultimately as world's biggest external creditor once again.

Fracking is still an almost exclusive preserve of North America, and is likely to remain so into the early 2020s. China has large ambitions but the volumes are still tiny, and there is a shortage of water in key areas. Fracking remains mere talk in most other regions of the world.

Lukoil analysts say Russian extraction costs for shale are four times higher that those of US wildcat drillers. Sanctions currently prevent the Russians importing the know-how and technology to tap its vast Bazhenov basin at a viable cost.

John Hess, the founder of Hess Corporation, said it takes a unique confluence of circumstances to pull off a fracking revolution: landowner rights over sub-soil minerals, a pipeline infrastructure, the right taxes and regulations, and good rock. “We haven’t seen those stars align yet,” he said.

Above all it requires the acquiescence of the people. "It takes a thousand trucks going in and out to launch a (drilling) spud. Not every neighbourhood wants that," he said.  Certainly not in Sussex, Burgundy, or Bavaria.


Top scientists start to examine fiddled global warming figures

Christopher Booker

The Global Warming Policy Foundation has enlisted an international team of five distinguished scientists to carry out a full inquiry

Last month, we are told, the world enjoyed “its hottest March since records began in 1880”. This year, according to “US government scientists”, already bids to outrank 2014 as “the hottest ever”. The figures from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were based, like all the other three official surface temperature records on which the world’s scientists and politicians rely, on data compiled from a network of weather stations by NOAA’s Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN).

But here there is a puzzle. These temperature records are not the only ones with official status. The other two, Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) and the University of Alabama (UAH), are based on a quite different method of measuring temperature data, by satellites. And these, as they have increasingly done in recent years, give a strikingly different picture. Neither shows last month as anything like the hottest March on record, any more than they showed 2014 as “the hottest year ever”.

Back in January and February, two items in this column attracted more than 42,000 comments to the Telegraph website from all over the world. The provocative headings given to them were “Climategate the sequel: how we are still being tricked by flawed data on global warming” and “The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest scientific scandal”.

My cue for those pieces was the evidence multiplying from across the world that something very odd has been going on with those official surface temperature records, all of which ultimately rely on data compiled by NOAA’s GHCN. Careful analysts have come up with hundreds of examples of how the original data recorded by 3,000-odd weather stations has been “adjusted”, to exaggerate the degree to which the Earth has actually been warming. Figures from earlier decades have repeatedly been adjusted downwards and more recent data adjusted upwards, to show the Earth having warmed much more dramatically than the original data justified.

So strong is the evidence that all this calls for proper investigation that my articles have now brought a heavyweight response. The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has enlisted an international team of five distinguished scientists to carry out a full inquiry into just how far these manipulations of the data may have distorted our picture of what is really happening to global temperatures.

The panel is chaired by Terence Kealey, until recently vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham. His team, all respected experts in their field with many peer-reviewed papers to their name, includes Dr Peter Chylek, a physicist from the National Los Alamos Laboratory; Richard McNider, an emeritus professor who founded the Atmospheric Sciences Programme at the University of Alabama; Professor Roman Mureika from Canada, an expert in identifying errors in statistical methodology; Professor Roger Pielke Sr, a noted climatologist from the University of Colorado, and Professor William van Wijngaarden, a physicist whose many papers on climatology have included studies in the use of “homogenisation” in data records.

Their inquiry’s central aim will be to establish a comprehensive view of just how far the original data has been “adjusted” by the three main surface records: those published by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Giss), the US National Climate Data Center and Hadcrut, that compiled by the East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (Cru), in conjunction with the UK Met Office’s Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction. All of them are run by committed believers in man-made global warming.

For this the GWPF panel is initially inviting input from all those analysts across the world who have already shown their expertise in comparing the originally recorded data with that finally published. In particular, they will be wanting to establish a full and accurate picture of just how much of the published record has been adjusted in a way which gives the impression that temperatures have been rising faster and further than was indicated by the raw measured data.

Already studies based on the US, Australia, New Zealand, the Arctic and South America have suggested that this is far too often the case.

But only when the full picture is in will it be possible to see just how far the scare over global warming has been driven by manipulation of figures accepted as reliable by the politicians who shape our energy policy, and much else besides. If the panel’s findings eventually confirm what we have seen so far, this really will be the “smoking gun”, in a scandal the scale and significance of which for all of us can scarcely be exaggerated


Amazon rainforest losses impact on climate change, study shows

This was just a modelling exercise

Widespread removal of trees has contributed to a rise in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, increasing the potential impact of climate change, researchers say.

Deforestation of the Amazon accounted for 1.5 per cent of the increase in carbon dioxide levels seen since the mid-nineteenth century, the team says.

However, this increased the total amount of carbon found in the atmosphere only very slightly compared with fossil fuel emissions, which account for the vast majority of the increase.

Had this deforestation not taken place, the rainforest would store 12 per cent more carbon in its vegetation, and cover a much larger area than at present, the team adds.

The study is the first to show the extent of Amazon deforestation by determining the impact humans have had on the ability of the rainforest to store carbon.

Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in order to grow. This can help offset fossil fuel emissions of carbon dioxide, reducing the rate of climate change, the team says.

The team made maps to show what size the Amazon would be today if humans had not deforested large areas of it.

High-resolution satellite images have been available only since 2000, so the team made virtual models to work out how the rainforest changed in earlier decades. Researchers used these to study how the loss of trees reduced the rainforest's ability to store carbon.

Destruction of large areas of the Amazon also impacts on the biodiversity of the rainforest and could lead to the loss of many animal and plant species, researchers say.

The study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.

Dr Jean-Fran‡ois Exbrayat, of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, who led the research, said: "Our study indicates that the impact of large-scale deforestation on the Amazon carbon balance has been partially offset by ongoing regrowth of vegetation, despite sustained human activity. Overall, our results provide a baseline to better understand the global carbon cycle."


The shonky cost of carbon

I am not sure that Americans will know what a shonk is.  Its origin is unclear but in Australian/British usage it means a fraud or a con-man.  So something shonky is of dubious integrity or worth

A new paper has appeared in Nature Climate Change which puts a social cost of global warming at $200 per ton of carbon dioxide. The authors are Frances Moore and Delavane Diaz of Stanford.

The SCC is of course is a figure that greens can manipulate pretty much to their hearts' content - witness Frank Ackerman's hilarious $1000 figure of a few years back. The entertainment comes in working out what particular dodges have been pulled to hike the figure upwards and the new paper explains that it is picking up on an earlier study by Dell et al, which sought to make revised estimates of the damage that climate change would cause by examining the effect of short-term fluctuations in the weather on economic output.

Everyone involved is admirably open about the fact that this is what they are doing, and the fact that weather damage is something completely different to climate effects. You read that they have taken steps to estimate the difference, but I'm not sure that they are going to convince anyone that what they are doing is anything other than sticking a finger in the air. But then you also read that they are working with warming in 2100 of over 4.5°C; in other words they are using the IPCC's absurdly overegged RCP8.5 scenario. Needless to say, this is described as "business as usual". They are also using the IPCC's GCM-based estimates of climate sensitivity.

At this point you realise that you are being had, and you read no further.


Record Numbers Of Drivers Trading In Electric Cars For SUVs

President Barack Obama promised to put a million more hybrid and electric cars on the road during his tenure, but new research shows drivers are trading them in to buy sports utility vehicles (SUVs).

The auto-research group Edmunds.com found that “22 percent of people who have traded in their hybrids and [electric vehicles] in 2015 bought a new SUV.”

This number is higher than the 18.8 percent that did the same last year, but it’s double the number that traded in their electric car for an SUV just three years ago. Edmunds.com reports that only “45 percent of this year’s hybrid and EV trade-ins have gone toward the purchase of another alternative fuel vehicle, down from just over 60 percent in 2012.”

“Never before have loyalty rates for alt-fuel vehicles fallen below 50 percent,” Edmunds notes.

In recent years, celebrities and politicians have been hyping electric car companies, like Teslas, as a hip way to help the environment and save money on gasoline. The Obama administration and some states even hand out generous tax credits to encourage people to buy EVs.

Buying an electric car can get you a $7,500 federal tax credit. It’s all part of Obama’s plan to get a million electric cars on the road by 2015. But electric cars were much more attractive when gas prices were high and customers could more easily rationalize paying more for an electric car. So far, Obama is still more than 800,000 electric cars short of meeting his 2015 goal.

“That’s the reality of the situation,” Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at Edmunds.com, told Detroit News. “They have to push them out at those levels for people to be interested. It really seems like the cachet of EVs and hybrids has faded away.”

“EVs are just not selling; even hybrids and plug-ins are slow,” Caldwell said. “There’s some concern.”

Why are electric car sales faltering? One reason is that gas prices are far lower than they were in 2012. Edmunds notes that when gas prices were $4.67 per gallon in October 2012 it would take five5 years to make up the price difference between “a Toyota Camry LE Hybrid ($28,230) and a Toyota Camry LE ($24,460).”

With gas prices now at about $2.27 per gallon, Edmunds.com says it would take more than twice as long to save enough on gas to make up the price difference between a Camry LE and a Camry Hybrid.

Electric cars are also facing increased competition from more fuel-efficient vehicles. Aside from market forces, federal fuel efficiency standards have been forcing automakers to increase the miles per gallon of engines.

Electric cars also suffer from issues with battery life. Each hybrid or electric car battery can cost thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars, which only helps tip the economic scale in favor of traditional vehicles.

“It wouldn’t make sense to replace a 12-year old battery with a new battery that’s going to last 12 years, because chances are the car’s not going to last that long,” Eric Ibara with Kelley Blue Book told Detroit News.


Why The Fate Of The World's Climate Is Largely In Australia's Hands (?)

I fairly regularly read the  Australian far-Left publication, "New Matilda".  Not being a Leftist, I like to see the opposite point of view. The opposite point of view gives them the horrors, judging by the way they try to suppress it.

The rave excerpted below is one of their latest.  Their argument is as usual very long-winded but is nonetheless a brilliant example of Leftist over-simplification.  They seem to think that a torrent of words will disguise the shallowness of the thinking. Their argument could be condensed into just one sentence as follows:

"Australian mines supply a significant fraction of the world's coal so Australia should stop doing that to prevent global warming".

That there has been no statistically significant global warming for the last 18 years somehow goes unmentioned.  I would be rather surprised if the writer knew what "statistically significant" meant.  But you don't need knowledge to be a Warmist. You just have to have faith in your prophets

Be that as it may, what the article overlooks is that Australia is only  the world's fourth-largest coal producer, after China, the United States, and India. And there are also in Africa and elsewhere  mines from which production could easily be ramped up.  And Britain almost floats on coal, though it is rarely mined there these days.  And lignite ("brown coal") substitutes readily for thermal coal -- and Germany has masses of that, which it is already making extensive use of.  The list of alternatives goes on .... Coal is superabundant.  Even such unlikely places as Japan and New Zealand mine some coal.  So if Australia impoverished itself by stopping coal exports, other countries would rapidly take up the slack -- meaning that coal usage would continue much as before.

One really does wonder what Thom Mitchell and his American friend use for brains.  I suspect they just like sounding dramatic. Leftists are big on ill-founded drama.  It seems to give them a desperately-needed feeling of importance

We're told Australia's contribution to global warning is minimal. A report out today proves that's a dangerous lie. Thom Mitchell explains.  As American academic Bob Massey put it, “Australia now holds the fate of the world’s climate in its hands”.

In its pursuit of a solution to the ‘budget emergency’ Australia is using up the ‘carbon budget’ at a rate incompatible with the global goal of limiting temperature rises to below two degrees, a Climate Council report out today has demonstrated.

While Australia is under increasing pressure to announce an ambitious target to limit emissions at home, the report makes clear that it is our reliance on fossil fuel exports that is doing the real damage.

By actively seeking to prolong the dying revenue stream, which has buoyed the economy through the past decade, the Australian government is doing massive damage to the remaining ‘carbon budget’.

At a recent talk in Sydney, Massey was blunt.  “If your government and mining companies decide to develop all of the coal and gas currently planned, already on the books, our children will be forced to endure a world very different from what we know,” he said.

To avoid such a world, scientists have developed the ‘carbon budget’ which, put simply, is the amount of carbon dioxide humans can emit into the atmosphere before temperature rises reach two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

On that basis, if all of Australia’s coal were burnt, it would use up two thirds of the ‘carbon budget’. Effectively, 90 per cent of the continent’s coal must stay in the ground.

Not all of that coal is technologically and economically viable now, but even if we burnt only the nation’s ‘reserves’, a 19 per cent bite would be taken out of the carbon budget.

If we burnt the total ‘resources’ - coal known to exist but not necessarily recoverable at this point - it would constitute a whopping 67.7 per cent of the carbon budget.

Yet despite the increasingly gloomy outlook for the commodity – the price of which has collapsed by around 60 per cent in the last five years - mining companies continue to explore for it and develop new mines. Australian governments are not only approving them, they’re promoting them.



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, April 27, 2015

Australia: Fishing impacts on the Great Barrier Reef

Mankind has impacted food species since time immemorial so this is nothing new -- and no evidence of any harm to people is adduced from it in this instance.  And vast parts of Australia's surrounding waters are in marine parks anyway. Fishing is already very restricted

It's long been known that environmental impacts such as climate change and pollution are amongst the drivers of change on the Great Barrier Reef.

Now researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at James Cook University have found that removing predatory fish such as coral trout and snapper, through fishing, causes significant changes to the make-up of the reef's fish populations. [Anything else would be surprising]

"A stable and healthy reef [Define "healthy"] includes a high abundance and diversity of predatory fish and a relatively low number of herbivorous and small prey fish," says study lead author April Boaden, a PhD student at the Coral CoE.

"Predatory fish are extremely important for maintaining a balanced ecosystem on the reef, yet predators such as coral trout, snapper and emperor fish remain the main target for both recreational and commercial fishers," she says.

As part of the study, the researchers conducted extensive surveys of fish and their habitats at multiple sites across the Great Barrier Reef.

They compared fish communities in designated marine reserves (green zones), recreational fishing areas (yellow zones) and sites that allowed both commercial and recreational fishing (blue zones).

"We found that the fish communities on reefs differed greatly according to the level of fishing that they were subject to," Ms Boaden says.

"Predator numbers were severely depleted in heavily fished areas, while smaller prey fish such as damselfish, and herbivores such as parrotfish, had increased greatly in number having been released from predation."

The reduction in predator abundance through fishing altered the balance and structure of the coral reef ecosystem.

"Major disturbances such as cyclones, coral bleaching, climate change, Crown of Thorns Starfish and river run-off are thought to be the primary agents of change on the Great Barrier Reef," says study co-author, Professor Mike Kingsford from the Coral CoE.

"Despite this, we have demonstrated that great differences in the abundance of predatory reef fish, and of their prey, can be attributed to humans," Professor Kingsford says.

The findings support the continued and improved use of the existing marine networks on the Great Barrier Reef.

"The good news is that the data demonstrate that the current system of marine reserves on the Great Barrier Reef is effective in preserving predator numbers, and in doing so we can learn more about the processes affecting reefs in the face of multiple impacts," Professor Kingsford says.

"Fishing impacts are something that we can manage fairly easily compared to other threats such as climate change and run-off pollution, which are threatening the Great Barrier Reef," adds Ms Boaden.

Journal Reference:  A. E. Boaden, M. J.  Kingsford. Predators drive community structure in coral reef fish assemblages. Ecosphere, 2015; 6 (4): art46 DOI: 10.1890/ES14-00292.1


Sixty-five years of duck and cover

By Don Todd

In the 1930s, the theme song of the Democratic Party was “Happy Days Are Here Again.” What a change that is from the current unofficial theme song of the left which seems to be “Nobody Knows the Troubles I’ve Seen.” The left is in a constant state of high anxiety over impending doom. The cause of this doom changes periodically, but the message is always the same: “The end is near!”

People used to laugh at such eccentric notions; now the Democrats want to punish anyone who disagrees with their predictions of impending catastrophe.

In the 1950s, “nuclear holocaust” was just the thing to keep people up at night. Grade school children were called upon to hide under their desks with their hands over their heads as if this would protect them from a nuclear attack. Conelrad, the emergency broadcast system was advertised regularly on the radio just to remind everyone an attack could come at any moment.

Over time, people got tired of worrying about an attack that never came; so to replace the H-Bomb, Dr. Paul Ehrlich in 1968 came up with The Population Bomb. Time magazine ran a cover story, and television documentaries were produced to convince the American public that soon we would be eating our dead because of a lack of food and arable land. Dr. Ehrlich’s book became a best seller, and anyone who disagreed was labeled an idiot and a science denier. To defuse the population bomb, it was recommended that birth control chemicals be placed it the public water supply. The recommendation was made by Dr. John Holdren, who is now President Obama’s National Science Advisor. Dr. Holdren did have one caveat, and that was that these chemicals should not affect our pets.

When The Population Bomb fizzled, a new crisis appeared on the horizon, “The New Ice Age.” Soon, we were told, we would all be freezing in the dark. Newsweek ran a cover story.

When this did not happen, we were soon warned about the depletion of the ozone layer that was being caused by canned aerosol products and the refrigerant used in most homes and cars on which DuPont was about to lose its patent. A large segment of the population was predicted to imminently be in danger of coming down with skin cancer. Products were effectively banned; a new patented refrigerant was produced by DuPont; and now we seldom hear of the ozone layer.

Acid rain was a grave concern. It was going to defoliate the forest; there would be no shade; and like the other scientific emergency fantasies, the end result would be death to all humans. Cockroaches, it was predicted, would survive.

Nuclear winter had a short run as the next thing to worry about. ABC did a movie of the week on it. Dr. Ehrlich of The Population Bomb fame traveled the country scaring college students with his new horror stories. My son attended one of these sessions at George Mason University, and he reported that a young woman ran from the auditorium shrieking in fear.

Then global warming debuted in a crowded Congressional hearing room during a typically hot Washington summer day with the air conditioning turned off. The witness was sweating. How could anyone deny warming was here when you could see it right before your eyes?

Global warming did not happen, so a shift was made to climate change. Since the climate changes over time that seems life a safe bet.

What is one to make of 65 years of predictions of impending doom from the left? Part of it is “Hey, look! A squirrel!” They do this in order to distract people from the real damage the left is doing to Western civilization. Another part is that these are very unhappy people, and misery loves company.


Media Too Welcoming of Climate Skeptics? Please

In a recent interview with Think Progress, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said he believes the climate debate in America is still hotly contested because climate skeptics are provided too much leeway. “There’s this journalistic ethos saying if I get one opinion then I need to get another opinion that countervails that,” he explained. But we know the world isn’t anything other than round (something, ironically, the science community once disputed), so why should a doubter be allowed to argue it is “lest someone think you are being biased in your reporting?”

Says Tyson, “[T]hat’s absurd. You wouldn’t do that, you’re educated. You know that there are certain points of view that have no foundation at all in objective truth.”

The same concept, he suggests, applies to the alarming predictions about man-made global warming: “I think journalists are abandoning what would be their sensibility of following the emergent truths and in some cases painting a debate as though there’s a scientific debate when in fact there isn’t one — and that makes for headlines and more clicks.”

The fact that not a single prediction portending environmental disaster has materialized provides all the evidence we need to call these “emergent truths” for what they are — lies.

And Tyson’s attack on the media is especially laughable considering climate skeptics are rarely allowed to present their point of view on national television — and public opinion on this issue still isn’t on the Left’s side. According to a 2014 study by Indiana University researchers Lars Willnat & David H. Weaver, only 7.1% of journalists describe themselves as Republicans, down from 18% in 2002 and 25.7% in 1971, yet the American Enterprise Institute reports the percentage of Americans “worried a great deal” about the climate is just 32% in 2015, slightly down from 35% in 1989.

There is no vast right-wing conspiracy among the media. Even so, some lies, as public polling proves, are clearly just too pretentious to fall for.


The State of Our Planet Is Better Than Ever

[Wednesday was] Earth Day and to hear the experts like Usher and Al Gore tell the story, the planet is in a miserable state. We’re running out of our natural resources, we’re overpopulating the globe and running out of room, the air that we breathe is becoming toxic, the oceans are rising and soon major coastal cities will be underwater, and the Earth is, of course, heating up, except when it is cooling down.

This is perhaps the single greatest misinformation campaign in world history. Virtually none of these claims are even close to the truth — except for the fact that our climate is always changing as it has for hundreds of thousands of years.

Since the first Earth Day back in the 1970s, the environmentalists — those who worship the creation rather than the Creator — have issued one false prediction of Armageddon after another. Yet despite a batting average approaching zero, the media and our schools keep parroting their declinism as if they were oracles rather than proven shysters.

Here are the factual realities that we should be celebrating on Earth Day.

1) Natural resources are more abundant and affordable today than ever before in history. Short-term (sometimes decades-long) volatility aside, the price of most natural resources — from cocoa to cotton to coal — is cheaper today in real terms than 50, 100, or 500 years ago. This has happened even as the world’s population has nearly tripled. Technology has far outpaced depletion of the Earth’s resources.

2) Energy — the master resource — is super abundant. Remember when people like Paul Ehrlich nearly 50 years ago and Barack Obama just three years ago — warned the we were running out of oil and gas. Today, thanks to the new age of oil and gas thanks to fracking, the United States has hundreds of years of petroleum and an estimated 290 years of coal. Keep in mind, this may be a low-ball estimate; since 2000, the Energy Information Administration’s estimates of recoverable reserves have actually increased by more than 7 percent.

We’re not running out of energy, we are running into it.

3) Air and water. Since the late 1970s, pollutants in the air have plunged. Lead pollution plunged by more than 90 percent, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide by more than 50 percent, with ozone and nitrogen dioxide declining as well. This means that emissions per capita have declined even as the economy in terms of real GDP nearly tripled. By nearly every standard measure it is much, much, much cleaner today in the United States than 50 and 100 years ago. The air is so clean now that the EPA worries about carbon dioxide which isn’t even a pollutant. (And, by the way, carbon emissions are falling too, thanks to fracking). One hundred years ago, about one in four deaths in the U.S. was due to contaminants in drinking water. But from 1971-2002, fewer than three people per year in the U.S. were documented to have died from water contamination.

4) There is no Malthusian nightmare of overpopulation. Birth rates have fallen by about one-half around the world over the last 50 years. Developed countries are having too few kids, not too many. Even with a population of 7.3 billion people, average incomes, especially in poor countries, have surged over the last 40 years. The number of people in abject poverty fell by 1 billion from 1981 to 2011, even as global population increased by more than 1.5 billion.

5) Global per capita food production is 40 percent higher today than as recently as 1950. In most nations the nutrition problem today is obesity — too many calories consumed — not hunger. The number of famines and related deaths over the last 100 years has fallen in half. More than 12 million lives on average were lost each decade from the 1920s-1960s to famine. Since then, fewer than 4 million lives on average per decade were lost. Tragically, these famines are often caused by political corruption — not nature. Furthermore, the price of food has fallen steadily in the U.S. — and most other nations steadily for 200 years.

6) The rate of death and physical destruction from natural disasters or severe weather changes has plummeted over the last 50 to 100 years. Loss of life from hurricanes, floods, heat, droughts, and so on is at or near record lows. This is because we have much better advance warning systems, our infrastructure is much more durable, and we have things like air conditioning, to adapt to weather changes. ?We are constantly discovering new ways to harness and even tame nature.

Earth Day should be a day of joy and celebration that life on this bountiful planet is better than anytime in human history. The state of the planet has never been in such fine shape by almost every objective measure. The Chicken Littles are as wrong today as they were 50 years ago. This is very good news for those who believe that one of our primary missions as human beings is to make life better over time and to leave our planet better off for future generations.


Mass. Stuck With $113M Marine Terminal Built for Failed Offshore Wind Farm

Massachusetts taxpayers are stuck with a $113 million marine terminal started by former Gov. Deval Patrick as a construction staging area for a failed wind farm project that was supposed to provide clean energy and hundreds of jobs for the state's residents.

Touted as “America’s first offshore wind farm,” Cape Wind planned to erect 130 Siemens wind turbines five miles off the coast of Cape Cod and harness the strong winds blowing through Nantucket Sound to produce electricity.

But the $2.6 billion project’s contracts with the state’s two largest utilities were terminated in January after Cape Wind missed its December 31 financing deadline.

Last July, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz heralded Cape Wind, which was awarded a $150 million loan guarantee by his department, as the beginning of “a strong U.S. offshore wind industry.”

“With this agreement and with the investments we have made in infrastructure like the South Coast Marine Commerce Terminal, we have positioned Massachusetts as a first-in-the-nation hub for a new offshore wind industry that will bring jobs and a clean source of Massachusetts-made energy for future generations,” Patrick said last September when he announced a lease agreement for the terminal.

“I am very happy Cape Wind will be built in New Bedford… Governor Patrick’s administration deserves credit for its work to support this project and to make Massachusetts a leader in clean energy,” echoed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), just three months before the wind farm project collapsed.

The project faced stiff opposition from local communities and wealthy residents ranging from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy to billionaire William Koch, both of whom had family compounds on Cape Cod.

The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound complained that the 440-foot high wind turbines would have been visible from the shore and “would look like LaGuardia Airport” at night. The group also said the wind farm would be a threat to navigation and commercial fishing in the sound while significantly increasing local residents’ electricity bills.

Instead of creating hundreds of new jobs and 360-million megawatts of clean energy, Cape Wind created a new problem for state officials: What to do with the unfinished $113 million marine terminal?

Last month, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), a quasi-governmental agency, announced it had terminated its $4.5 million, two-year contract with Cape Wind to rent the 28-acre terminal, which is located in New Bedford, Mass.

MassCEC has since received three bids for operation of the terminal, which is still under construction and $10 million over budget. The winning bidder is expected to be announced by this summer.

But Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton, who chairs MassCEC, says renting the empty terminal will likely not bring in the same amount of revenue as the Cape Wind deal promised.

“I think it will be less. I think it’s just a question of how much less,” he told The Boston Herald.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the estimated levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for new generation resources in 2019 – defined as “the per-kilowatt hour cost (in real dollars) of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle” – will be $204.10 for offshore wind, or more than three times the $66.30 cost for producing electricity using natural gas.


Nonsense about climate and health

H. Sterling Burnett

Following a playbook designed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as described in memos the Obama administration fought to keep secret, on April 7 President Barack Obama announced efforts to highlight the alleged public health impacts of climate change on children and minorities. Obama made the announcement personal, noting he was terribly frightened once when he had to rush his daughter Malia to the emergency room when she couldn’t breathe due to asthma.

As an asthma sufferer myself, I can attest such an attack is frightening. However, as a recent study (one in a long line of studies) shows, asthma attacks and the increasing rates of asthma have nothing to do with global warming, and everything to do with poverty, increasingly sedentary lifestyles, and indoor air quality. It is shameless of Obama to exploit his daughter’s asthma to push his politically unpopular climate agenda.

The recent study, authored by a research team led by Dr. Corrine Keet of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, found no link between outdoor air quality and childhood asthma. Rather, the study points to indoor air pollution, from secondhand smoke, mold, rodents, and the like, as a significant factor in childhood asthma cases. EPA does not have authority over indoor air pollution.

Discussing the study in Environment & Climate News, Paul Knappenberger, assistant director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, said, “Clearly, I think it undermines one of the primary excuses used by the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and some types of air pollutants as well.”

Since science has not established a link between climate change and public health, much less a specific link between global warming and the health of children or minorities, one cannot help but wonder why the administration is pushing this line of argument.

A memo released as part of an ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request examining EPA rule-making reveals the administration’s motives. The March 2009 memo shows EPA feared it was losing support for its climate efforts because opinion polls consistently showed the public ranked fighting global warming very low on its list of priorities. The memo describes EPA’s decision to shift the debate from concerns about melting ice caps and declining polar bear populations, to promoting the idea global warming poses a direct threat to public health, especially children’s and minorities health. Quoting the memo,

Most Americans will never see a polar ice cap, nor will [they] ever have a chance to see a polar bear in its natural habitat. Therefore, it is easy to detach from the seriousness of the issue. Unfortunately, climate change in the abstract is an increasingly – and consistently – unpersuasive argument to make. However, if we shift from making this issue about polar caps [to being] about our neighbor with respiratory illness we can potentially bring this issue home to many Americans.

According to the memo, EPA took steps to raise concerns about climate change among minority groups and women, using headline-catching “hooks” concerning social justice and children’s health.

Per the memo, “We must begin to create a causal link between the worries of Americans and the proactive mission we’re pushing.”

Chris Horner, an attorney and senior fellow of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, obtained the memo through FOIA. Horner said, “This memo shows EPA’s recognition the global warming case is ‘consistently – an unpersuasive argument to make,’ and thus required a facelift, from a pro-scarcity movement of wealthy white elites to a racial and ‘social justice’ issue.”

Considering how the mainstream media unquestioningly parrots every claim made by the Obama administration concerning climate change, it did not surprise me reporters failed to link the president’s April 7 announcement to the recently uncovered EPA memos. Evidently bad climate news, as opposed to the truth, sells papers.



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.  

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


Sunday, April 26, 2015

New Survey Shows TV Weathercasters have been bullied into accepting global warming

TV weather forecasters aren't always climate change experts. But they are often responsible for informing the public about climate change impacts in real time, so it's important that they accurately reflect the science.

Fortunately, a new survey from George Mason University provides some hope in that regard. It found that more than nine out of ten broadcast meteorologists acknowledge that climate change is happening, and about two-thirds say human activities play a significant role.

This represents notable progress from George Mason's 2010 survey, when 27 percent of weather forecasters shockingly agreed that "global warming is a scam."

Most weathercasters now recognize that climate change has and will continue to impact the weather in their area, with rising temperatures and extreme weather events like heat waves and heavy storms.

And importantly, they feel it is appropriate to convey the science of climate change to their audiences.

So why are weathercasters coming around on climate change?

Following the last survey, a grassroots non-profit organization called Forecast the Facts launched a campaign calling on TV meteorologists to "report the facts about climate change" and drawing attention to those who weren't.

Now, most TV forecasters say they have read findings from the National Climate Assessment, a report by the U.S. government to inform Americans about the climate change impacts already occurring all across the country.

But while more and more meteorologists are accepting climate science, the forecasters at Fox News are still casting doubt and denial.

Fox News' senior meteorologist, Janice Dean, claims that "anything past a five day forecast is impossible to predict," and that "we're not going to be able to prove climate change for decades, even centuries."

And then there's the other Fox News favorite: Weatherbell Analytics Chief Forecaster Joe Bastardi. The network often turns to Bastardi for climate commentary, providing him a forum to spout anti-science denial, like his claims that man-made climate change is "an obvious fraud" and that the human contribution to carbon dioxide levels is too "tiny" to cause warming.  Fox hosts Bill O'Reilly and Neil Cavuto have both admitted that Bastardi is -- in O'Reilly's words -- a "climate change denier," and yet they and their Fox News colleagues keep hosting him time and time again.

As the nation's meteorologists continue to educate themselves about climate science, it looks like Fox News' forecasts will remain misleading with a strong chance of denial.


Ask a beetle. How fast is climate change? Temperature-sensitive beetle populations in the Arctic will help researchers study climate

This is just theory with no climate data offered

Scientists have been logging changes in weather patterns and temperatures in the Arctic for some time. Now they need to find ways to measure how these changes in climate are affecting biodiversity. One of the best places to look may be down at our feet, at beetles. That`s because, as a McGill research team discovered after doing the first large-scale survey of Arctic beetles, these six-legged critters are not only abundant in number but also diverse in feeding habits and what they eat is closely linked to the latitude in which they are found.

As a result, McGill researchers believe that Arctic beetles may prove to be ideal markers of climate change, since any changes in climate that affect the soil, plants and animals on which the beetles depend are likely to be quickly reflected in changes in the beetle communities.

A team of researchers led by Prof. Chris Buddle and Dr. Crystal Ernst of McGill's Dept. of Natural Resource Sciences, were able to identify more than 460 different species of Arctic beetles in locations ranging from the edge of the boreal forest in Northern Ontario to Ellesmere Island in the far north. More significantly, they found that there were clear differences in what beetles are found where along this north-south gradient, and the ecological roles they fulfilled differed depending on the latitude in which they lived.

"Depending on the latitude and the temperature, Arctic beetles perform a range of ecological functions such as pollinating or feeding on plants, preying on other insects, and breaking down decaying matter," says Ernst, who is the first author on the study published in PLOS ONE. "In the far north, there are generally very high numbers of predators and far fewer beetles which eat plants, while further south the reverse is generally true."

The discovery that Arctic beetles may be especially sensitive to temperature has implications for future climate change monitoring.
"As temperatures in northern regions rise or become more variable, there is a strong possibility that the beetle communities will undergo significant changes in response," says Buddle, the lead researcher. "Whether these changes will have positive or negative effects on Arctic ecosystems and the other animals and plants living there remains to be seen, but it is clear that beetles' sensitivity to climate make them ideal targets for long-term biodiversity monitoring in the far north."


Solar tax credits are not `conservative' or `free market'

By Marita Noon

The solar industry has poured a startling amount of effort and funding - much of it backed by California-based, billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, who is heavily invested in solar - into attempting to gain the legislative favor needed for it to survive.

Nationwide, the growth of the renewable power industry is dependent on a combination of big government mandates, tax credits, and subsidies - making it the perfect target of wrath from limited-government, free-market, and/or fiscally-conservative individuals and policymakers.

Some proposed legislation would prop up the industry (Florida), and force it to stand on its own (Louisiana).

In Louisiana, about 80 percent of the cost of solar installation is paid for through a combination of federal and state tax credits.

In discussing the state's dramatic $1.6 billion budget shortfall, The Advocate's Mark Ballard, on April 6, aptly pointed out that the solar industry promises a "full-court press to protect" Louisiana's generous tax credits that it says are "vital to its survival." Ballard cites State Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield, who called the solar tax credit's cost to the state's taxpayers "one of the fastest-growing. The solar credit cost $63.5 million in 2014, up from $9 million in 2013." Plans to ratchet back - not remove - the tax credit, Ballard reports, could save the state $57 million.

Facing the loss of the essential-to-survival tax credit, legislators have been besieged by solar supporters. State Senator Robert Adley says many, claiming to be "a businessman," have sat in his office to plead the case. He snaps back, "You are not a businessman. A real businessman has skin in the game; has his own money at risk. With eighty percent of your costs coming from the taxpayers, you don't depend on the market, you depend on the government. You are feeding at the trough."

Representative J. Lance Harris agrees. "This subsidy absolutely makes no sense, there's no energy crisis!  We've got plenty of oil, plenty of natural gas, and plenty of electricity. What if the taxpayer subsidized eighty percent of the cost of a new Porsche for anyone who wanted one?  There's no difference; it's misguided and ridiculous."

As part of its "full-court press," the solar industry is bringing the Tea Party's Judas Iscariot equivalent to town. Debbie Dooley, who was part of the original Tea Party movement back in 2009, has since capitalized on the affiliation by claiming - as she did in her April 7 Facebook post crowing about "speaking directly after Al Gore" at an event in New York - that she is "advancing energy choice in a conservative way through free market competition."

A power source that depends on big government handouts of taxpayer dollars for "survival" doesn't qualify as "conservative" or "free market."

During a recent trip to Louisiana, I was discussing the state's generous solar subsidies on Jeff Crouere's Ringside Politics radio show. He asked me how the solar subsidies were working. I explained that the answer depended on which side of the equation you stood. For the solar industry and homeowners, who benefited from the subsidies, it was working well. But for the taxpayers and ratepayers, not so good. We chatted for a few minutes about the situation and, then, had a caller who couldn't have been more perfect if I'd scripted him.

The caller planned to dispute my argument and, instead, ended up reinforcing it.

He told about his rooftop solar system - with which he was very happy. Why wouldn't he be happy? He got a $40,000 system for $7,000. He explained that, now, after five years of payments, his electricity was virtually "free."

I was pleased that the caller addressed the system's $40,000 cost. If one only listens to the ads, you'd think a solar system is cheap. He went on to say that he "got a generous check from Bobby Jindal" and he "took advantage of the federal incentives" - which resulted in his $7000 cost. He bragged that he amortized the cost over five years. He argued with me over my assertion that a few rooftop solar customers penalized the entire ratebase.

At the end of the call, Crouere asked for my response. I pointed out how the caller made my point. Courtesy of Louisiana and federal taxpayers, he got a $40,000 system for $7,000. Because the utility is required to buy the surplus electricity his system generates (when it does) during the sunny days at full retail, known as net metering, and he buys it back at night, his bill is essentially zero. But any business owner knows that you can't buy your product at retail and sell it at retail and stay in business for long. Because of people like the caller, who, as Senator Adley stated, are "feeding at the trough," costs for all ratepayers must increase to cover all the expenses of generating and delivering electricity that he is using but not paying for.

Yes, the caller benefited from the system, but taxpayers and ratepayers are the victims of his windfall. Like Dooley, he believed it was a free-market choice. Yet, government subsidies picking solar as a winner, make it possible -even attractive - for him.

The Advocate quotes Dooley as saying, "Conservatives want to champion free market choice, and not let the government pick the winners and losers" - though that is exactly what the state's solar subsidies, for which she shills, do. No other industry receives 63.5 million of Louisiana taxpayers' dollars in one year. Yes, the industry claims it has created 1,200 jobs, which costs taxpayers almost $53,000 per job.

In defending the subsidies, solar supporters, like Dooley, claim that the fossil fuel industry gets them too. However, in 2013, the state's oil-and-gas industry paid nearly $1.5 billion in state taxes and supports 64,669 jobs in the extraction, pipeline, and refining industries - not including indirect taxes and jobs. The petroleum industry gives; solar takes away.

As the Louisiana legislature looks at ways to fix the budget deficit, it is clear where cuts, rather than encouragement, should take place.


Lindsey Graham: `I Believe Climate Change Is Real,' But Reject Cap and Trade

In an interview with "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he believes "climate change is real," but he rejects the cap and trade solution proposed by former Vice President Al Gore.
"I believe climate change is real, but I reject the cap and trade solution of . of Al Gore. He's made a religion. It's a problem," he said.

Gore's proposed cap and trade system would penalize companies for exceeding carbon emissions limits. Last month, Gore said politicians who deny that climate change is an "accepted science" should pay a price.

Host Chris Wallace noted that in his home state of South Caroline, Graham is running fourth behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz (R- Texas). He asked if Graham was too far in the center of nondefense issues to win the Republican presidential nomination.

"You believe that climate change is real and the federal government must address it. You're open to raising attacks as part of a grand bargain. You support comprehensive immigration reform," said Wallace. After noting where Graham ranks among other GOP presidential hopefuls, he asked: "Are you too moderate? Are you too far in the center on nondefense issues to win the Republican nomination?"

"Not at all," Graham said, adding that not only does he believe in climate change, he would like to "clean up the air and water, become more energy independent, create jobs" and he is for offshore drilling.

"I'm for finding oil and gas that we own," Graham said. "I'm for clean coal, I'm for natural gas, but I would like a lower carbon economy over time. Clean up the air and create jobs in the process."


Green Times for Energy Efficiency, No Thanks to Government

Are you feeling green this Earth Day? You should. The White House would have you believe our days are numbered because we've failed to enter another ice age (take a moment to shiver in the irony), but statistics suggest we're in unprecedented times - in terms of energy efficiency.

But here's the kicker: Neither Earth Day nor government intervention have anything to do with our greener ways. Based on data from the Energy Information Administration, American Enterprise Institute's Mark Perry writes, "In 2014, it required only 6,110 BTUs of energy (petroleum, natural gas, coal, nuclear and renewables) to produce each real dollar of GDP, which was the least amount of energy required to produce a dollar of real GDP in US history."

That's even more extraordinary when you consider how much the economy has expanded. "[T]he US economy was 28% larger last year than 14 years ago, even though slightly less total energy was required in 2014 than in 2000 (98.324 vs. 98.819 quadrillion BTUs) to produce $3.5 trillion more real output," says Perry. "That would be like adding an economy about the size of Germany's to the US, but without requiring any additional energy to produce 28% more output!"

And consider this even crazier statistic: It cost a whopping 15,930 BTUs in 1949 to squeeze out just $2 trillion in GDP. So next time you hear demagogues claiming we're dirtying up our planet, tell them we're living in remarkably efficient times relative to yesteryear using the same old fossil fuels. And tell them they can thank capitalist innovators for the progress.


Greenie headaches for ship owners

Lloyd’s Register Issues Emissions Guidance

With key dates looming - 2016 NOx compliance and a 2018 review of fuel availability ahead of a global cap for SOx emissions, LR’s new guidelines and updated technical information supports operators’ investment decisions

This new guidance addresses operational and in-service considerations reflecting further accumulated experience from working with clients, industry groups and regulators. As well as a focus on exhaust gas treatment (scrubbers) the guidance also examines the wider scope of options for SOx/NOx compliance beyond exhaust gas treatment.

Since an earlier version of this report was issued in 2012, early adopters of the technology, mainly passenger ship and ferry operators,  have committed to fleet-wide scrubber implementation programmes. Early adopters gain valuable operational experience as well as a head start in both understanding the technology and realising any benefits.

In the majority of the tanker, bulk carrier and container segments the uptake of scrubber technology remains slow. With shorter periods inside Emission Control Areas (ECAs), lower fuel consumption (especially due to slow steaming) and typically lower asset residual values, the business case for installing scrubber technology on deep sea tank, bulk or container ships is not, yet, either strong enough or urgent enough.

The bunker price collapse during 2014 has been another factor. While the price difference between heavy fuel and distillates has remained relatively constant, the fuel costs inside ECAs have reduced giving operators more time to consider their options.
Recently, several suppliers have released new hybrid fuel products for ECA compliance. These are aimed to address the operational risks of operating on distillates but they also present several challenges of their own.

Looking ahead, there are two key years: 2016 and 2018

Ships constructed after January 1, 2016 will need to comply with NOx Tier III when trading to US/Canada and we explore some of the technological options. Other ECAs for NOx may be introduced in the future affecting, however, only newly constructed vessels.

In 2018, IMO will publish a fuel availability study determining whether the global 0.50% sulphur limit will enter into force in 2020 or 2025. If it is 2020, the implications will be widespread: a possible rapid uptake of scrubber technology (with a question mark on whether supply could cover the demand) and the potential for a dramatic increase in operational costs for those who choose to operate on distillate fuels.

Whether LNG will make the leap from niche fuel to mainstream is a big question. Early adopters of LNG-as-fuel could start seeing a real return on their investment and any 'LNG-ready' ships may start converting to LNG-fuelled, if and when the bunkering infrastructure develops sufficiently.

The time for decisions is fast approaching. If in 2012 the industry needed to start considering their options, today, in 2015, time is running out. The compliance options are clear. Ship operators need to evaluate compliance strategies specific to their ships, operation and risk criteria. At Lloyd’s Register, we are ready to offer our independent support on the journey from making decisions to implementing them.



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.  

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


Friday, April 24, 2015

Predictions of doom scaled back

The authors below rightly point to the fact that there is a great and unpredictable variability in climate events and say that natural variability is enough to account for the recent "pause" in warming.  They also point out that only the more modest predictions of doom fit in with what has actually happened.

So they show that the models are not necessarily wrong but can offer no evidence that they are right.  To do that they would have to dig out some of the mythical warmth from the deep oceans.

They do not face the fact that their research shows that all the climate variations to date fall within the range of natural variability -- so manmade CO2 effects do not need to be invoked to explain any climate events so far

I have appended the journal abstract to the article below.  I have paragraphed it in the hope of making it more widely comprehensible

Global warming more moderate than worst-case models, empirical data suggest


A study based on 1,000 years of temperature records suggests global warming is not progressing as fast as it would under the most severe emissions scenarios outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Natural decade-to-decade variability in surface temperatures can account for some much-discussed recent changes in the rate of warming. Empirical data, rather than climate models, were used to estimate this variability.

We are seeing "middle of the road" warming. Natural variability in surface temperatures -- caused by interactions between the ocean and atmosphere, and other natural factors -- can account for observed changes in the recent rates of warming from decade to decade, new data suggests.

A new study based on 1,000 years of temperature records suggests global warming is not progressing as fast as it would under the most severe emissions scenarios outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"Based on our analysis, a middle-of-the-road warming scenario is more likely, at least for now," said Patrick T. Brown, a doctoral student in climatology at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment. "But this could change."

The Duke-led study shows that natural variability in surface temperatures -- caused by interactions between the ocean and atmosphere, and other natural factors -- can account for observed changes in the recent rates of warming from decade to decade.

The researchers say these "climate wiggles" can slow or speed the rate of warming from decade to decade, and accentuate or offset the effects of increases in greenhouse gas concentrations. If not properly explained and accounted for, they may skew the reliability of climate models and lead to over-interpretation of short-term temperature trends.

The research, published today in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports, uses empirical data, rather than the more commonly used climate models, to estimate decade-to-decade variability.

"At any given time, we could start warming at a faster rate if greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere increase without any offsetting changes in aerosol concentrations or natural variability," said Wenhong Li, assistant professor of climate at Duke, who conducted the study with Brown.

The team examined whether climate models, such as those used by the IPCC, accurately account for natural chaotic variability that can occur in the rate of global warming as a result of interactions between the ocean and atmosphere, and other natural factors.

To test how accurate climate models are at accounting for variations in the rate of warming, Brown and Li, along with colleagues from San Jose State University and the USDA, created a new statistical model based on reconstructed empirical records of surface temperatures over the last 1,000 years.

"By comparing our model against theirs, we found that climate models largely get the 'big picture' right but seem to underestimate the magnitude of natural decade-to-decade climate wiggles," Brown said. "Our model shows these wiggles can be big enough that they could have accounted for a reasonable portion of the accelerated warming we experienced from 1975 to 2000, as well as the reduced rate in warming that occurred from 2002 to 2013."
Further comparative analysis of the models revealed another intriguing insight.

"Statistically, it's pretty unlikely that an 11-year hiatus in warming, like the one we saw at the start of this century, would occur if the underlying human-caused warming was progressing at a rate as fast as the most severe IPCC projections," Brown said. "Hiatus periods of 11 years or longer are more likely to occur under a middle-of-the-road scenario."

Under the IPCC's middle-of-the-road scenario, there was a 70 percent likelihood that at least one hiatus lasting 11 years or longer would occur between 1993 and 2050, Brown said. "That matches up well with what we're seeing."

There's no guarantee, however, that this rate of warming will remain steady in coming years, Li stressed. "Our analysis clearly shows that we shouldn't expect the observed rates of warming to be constant. They can and do change."

Journal Reference:
Patrick T. Brown, Wenhong Li, Eugene C. Cordero and Steven A. Mauget. Comparing the Model-Simulated Global Warming Signal to Observations Using Empirical Estimates of Unforced Noise. Scientific Reports, April 21, 2015 DOI: 10.1038/srep09957

Comparing the model-simulated global warming signal to observations using empirical estimates of unforced noise

Patrick T. Brown et al.


The comparison of observed global mean surface air temperature (GMT) change to the mean change simulated by climate models has received much public and scientific attention. For a given global warming signal produced by a climate model ensemble, there exists an envelope of GMT values representing the range of possible unforced states of the climate system (the Envelope of Unforced Noise; EUN).

Typically, the EUN is derived from climate models themselves, but climate models might not accurately simulate the correct characteristics of unforced GMT variability. Here, we simulate a new, empirical, EUN that is based on instrumental and reconstructed surface temperature records.

We compare the forced GMT signal produced by climate models to observations while noting the range of GMT values provided by the empirical EUN. We find that the empirical EUN is wide enough so that the interdecadal variability in the rate of global warming over the 20th century does not necessarily require corresponding variability in the rate-of-increase of the forced signal.

The empirical EUN also indicates that the reduced GMT warming over the past decade or so is still consistent with a middle emission scenario's forced signal, but is likely inconsistent with the steepest emission scenario's forced signal.


The White House is Lying About Climate Change and Health

By Alan Caruba

Let us begin with the understanding that there is no connection between the climate and health. The climate is something measured in decades and centuries, so what happened in the last century has nothing to do with whether you are sneezing today.

The weather surely can help generate health problems. For example in the northeastern states, the Lyme disease season is beginning. Between 1992 and 2010 reported cases of Lyme disease doubled to nearly 23,000 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but CDC officials believe the actual number of those infected may have been three times that number.

Lyme disease is transmitted by deer ticks and since these tiny insects will hitch a ride on birds, squirrels, mice and small animals as well, even if you live in an area without deer, the possibility of being bitten by a deer tick is just as likely. This increases for people who love gardening or outdoor recreational activities such as hiking and camping. Children, too, are particularly susceptible.

The fact that Lyme disease shows up in the Spring simply tells you that the warm weather facilitates the tick population. The weather has always been tied the mating habits and activities of various species, but that does not mean that is constitutes a massive threat to everyone's health.

That's not the way the White House sees it. On April 7 the administration made it official. It announced that it is "committed to combating the health impacts of climate change and protecting the health of future generations."

Since the climate changes over extended periods of time, not just month to month, one has to wonder what "health impacts" the White House has in mind. The last Little Ice Age lasted from around 1300 to 1850. It was cold all over Europe and North America. Does the White House propose that it can "protect" us from a new one? If so, that's absurd.

Let us understand, too, that there has always been what the White House announcement calls "extreme weather events."  Notice the change from "climate" to "weather"? Among the events identified are "severe droughts and wildfires to more powerful hurricanes and record heat waves." Has there been a time when such weather-related events have not occurred? In fact, there are times when they don't. For example, there hasn't been a single Category 3-5 hurricane hit the U.S. mainland since 2005!

The White House has launched a massive brainwashing effort using many elements of the federal government to frighten Americans using the "climate" and the "weather." How deceptive is it?

One example is sufficient. The President has claimed that climate change was the cause of one of his daughter's asthma. In its announcement, it claimed that "In the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled and climate change is putting these individuals and many other vulnerable populations at greater risk of landing in the hospital."

Here's what the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has to say about the various causes of asthma.

"Since asthma has a genetic origin and is a disease you are born with, passed down from generation to generation, the question isn't really `what causes asthma', but rather `what causes asthma symptoms to appear?' People with asthma have inflamed airways which are super-sensitive to thinks which do not bother other people."

What the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America is telling us is that there is no direct connection between either the climate or the weather and the illness called asthma.

Those who suffer this disease however can be affected by a range of triggers such as irritants in the air, pollens, molds, and even cockroach droppings. Infections such as colds, flu, and sore throats are among the leading triggers for asthma attacks in children.

The facts, the truth, were no deterrent to the April 7 White House twelve-page announcement of all the things it intends to do to brainwash Americans into believing that there is a connection between the "climate" and health.

Here's just a few of the dozens of events and programs it will initiate so that the media will report on them and thus convey the message that climate change is the greatest threat to Americans today:

"The Administration is expanding its Climate Data Initiative to include more than 150 health-relevant datasets.this is intended to help communities and businesses reduce the health impacts of climate change."  Only there are no such impacts.

The Administration is announcing a coalition of Deans from 30 medical, public health, and nursing schools around the country, who are committing to ensure that the next generation of health professionals is trained to address the health impacts of climate change." Only there are no such impacts.

"Announcing the White House Climate Change and Health Summit." It will feature the Surgeon General who will lead discussions to "the public health impacts of climate change and identify opportunities to minimize these impacts." Only there are no impacts and nothing that could be done if there were.

From the Department of Homeland Security to the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency, many elements of the federal government will be integrated into this massive brainwashing effort.

What can be done to ignore a government determined to lie to everyone about a "threat" that does not exist? Not much.


Some Inconvenient Man-Made Global Warming Truths

By professional forecaster Joe Bastardi

 My last article went over some aspects of man-made global warming that would let me know I may have the wrong idea on the issue. But I wonder if any alarmists have stopped to look at some of their most cherished metrics going the opposite way of their forecast. People that live in the real world understand that if reality is contrary to your predictions, it means you are wrong (or at least can be).

It's been nearly 10 years since the Oscar-winning film "An Inconvenient Truth" came out, so here's a question we should be asking: Are we worse off today than the movie implied? Let's look at some of those aspects.

The movie came out at a time I believe was meant to capitalize on the monster back-to-back hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005. But it was pretty arrogant to think that peak was the new norm. Then again, arrogance is the child of ignorance - in this case ignorance of an easy to see global cycle represented nicely by the ACE (accumulated cyclonic energy) index.

Much of that peak was courtesy of the major uptick in tropical Pacific activity due to the cyclical warming of the Pacific Decadol Oscillation, meaning more frequent El Ni¤os and higher activity in an ocean where two-thirds of global tropical activity typically occurs. The Atlantic warmed in the `90s (and is in the waning stages of that warm cycle now), but the Pacific cooling started in 2007. There will still be El Ni¤o spikes, such as the upcoming hurricane season that's off to a fast start in the Pacific. Globally, however, you can see there is nothing to support the hysteria "An Inconvenient Truth" was trying to push.

The fact is, it's been amazingly quiet relative to what it could be. In a way, the inconvenient truth is that a return to the '30s, '40s and '50s, with major hurricane hits on the U.S. coast, would create a big problem - because of the major build up of population, not CO2. (Weatherbell.com has had our hurricane forecast out since March. Here is the update of it for all to read.)

The infamous prophecies of an ice-free Arctic has a long and storied history, and this article from Real Science, which documents a lot of who said what and when, says it better than I can.

In any case, global sea ice looks like this:

Here's the Arctic against the average:

The U.S. climate model looks too optimistic to me, but it suggests we can all breath a big sigh of relief because the Arctic isn't likely to melt away this summer. (Notice too we are seeing less melting in the summer, but it's still not getting winters back to normal.) This is an anomaly chart:

There also appears to be a comeback in total ice volume.

Moreover, the Southern Hemisphere ice cap continues to impress.

Now, I've heard many arguments as to why we shouldn't pay attention to Antarctica, among them the idea it's actually melting and sending fresh water into the ocean, where it's "easier to freeze.". But you can be darn sure if the northern ice cap was melting away completely each summer, or the southern ice cap was trending down instead of up, it would be trumpeted as a sign that alarmists were right. The problem though is that no matter what happens, they claim they're right.

I do think as far as really quantifying the cause for variations, both up and down, water vapor is what we should be measuring. But since we keep running to the global temperature, let's look at what the National Centers for Environmental Prediction's (NCEP) analysis is depicting over the last 10 years:

The turn of the PDO in 2007 coincides nicely with a drop in the specific humidity over the tropics, opposite the trapping hot spot theory the EPA uses in one of its three lines of evidence for its endangerment finding.

Temperatures have trended a bit down mostly because of drops after the El Ni¤o spikes of '07 and '10. We have another El Ni¤o now that should fade in 2016. This time, however, the Atlantic will be cooler. So the five-year forecast from me is another spike, followed by a greater drop than the ones before.

(Side note: As far as I know, the folks over at NCEP aren't known "deniers" of climate change. Nor am I. Quite the contrary - when the debate was referred to as global warming, I was saying it's simply the natural back-and-forth of the climate. The term "climate change" is redundant. The design of the system with the sun, the oceans, stochastic events, the placement of land and ocean, etc., argue that all we are seeing is the constant search in nature for a balance it can never attain but will always strive for. And when there is strife, there will be plenty of back-and-forth. The climate is always in a state of change; it' inherent in the very definition of climate. Example: Since there have been both rain forests and glaciers in the state of Wisconsin, given a long enough period of time, the climate of Wisconsin is such that both rain forests and glaciers can occur.)

I would expect the coming 15 years to see a more pronounced cooling since the Atlantic is starting to flip to its colder cycle. The waning days of the warm cycle has stacked much of the warm water against the United States - a pattern very similar, in the decadol sense, to the late 1950s!

Tornadoes: Again, the hysteria after the spike in 2011 was meant to capitalize on that, with no regard for actual facts. This part of the agenda has grown so desperate, I have seen climate hysterics refer to any tornado as a "fossil-fueled" event even with tornadoes near record lows. Someone must have stuck sand in the gas tank.

As of April 19, we are only six above the record low for the date.

Wildfires are also way below average. You can link here every time you hear how "bad" wildfires are to see exactly where we are against the averages.

As of April 17, we are at the third lowest total fires in the past 11 years, and fourth lowest in total acreage. This is big, because all these cherished metrics, and many more that were being pushed so hard 10 years ago, have not gone the way they were forecasted. Yet given the continued drumbeat from people pushing it, you would never know they even care about the facts.

I will leave you with this. As aforementioned, the EPA used model projections as one of its three lines of evidence in their endangerment finding, which was baffling to me. How can you use a future event as factual evidence? This chart, created by Dr. John Christy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, shows without a doubt acceptance of models is folly, which is interesting given a quote out of Proverbs 19:3: "A person's own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD."

Those of us who bring up these issues are not God in no way, shape or form. In fact, we're quite the opposite: We believe that is very much an open question - not exactly God-like not knowing what tomorrow will bring and actually, as I wrote last time, looking for weaknesses in our own arguments. Yet it appears that when the folly is pointed out, there is rage against us. So who are the ones acting like they think they are "God" in this matter, knowing without a doubt what tomorrow will bring? Seems like folly to me.

Yes, the truth can be inconvenient, especially when confronting people that play God about tomorrow.


More Warmist chartmanship --  from the U.S Climate Panic Bureau

Chartmanship is a sub-set of lying with statistics

In the process of writing our upcoming book, The Lukewarmer's Manifesto, we wandered into the funhouse of the 2014 National Climate Assessment (NCA).

Recall that the NCA is a product of the federal government's U.S. Global Change Research Program, whose motto is "Thirteen Agencies, One Mission: Empower the Nation with Global Change Science." In their case, "empower" is synonymous with "indoctrinate."  Here is a good example:

The section on hurricanes in Chapter 2 ("Our Changing Climate") caught our eye. The NCA has a sidebar on the history of the hurricane "power dissipation index" (PDI), a well-known cubic function of the wind velocity. The NCAs graphs  begin in 1970 and end in 2009 (a full four years before the NCA was released).

They include a trend line through the PDI data beginning in 1980 that's going up for whatever reason and that is apparently convenient for drawing an association with human-caused global warming. But had the NCA authors consulted a longer record, say, from 1920 to 2013 (the last year data was available for the 2014 NCA) they could have readily ruled out any role of global warming.

The NCA's reason for not using a longer record is that "there is considerable uncertainty in the record prior to the satellite era (early 1970s)."

On the surface, that's true, but it is disingenuous. According to Dr. Chris Landsea who helped developed the National Hurricane Center's Atlantic hurricane history data (known as HURDAT2):

".some storms were  missed, and many intensities are too low in the preaircraft reconnaissance era (before 1944 in the western half of the basin) and in the pre-satellite era (before 1972 for the entire basin)"

In other words, the earlier PDI data prior to 1972 could be an underestimate, but it certainly isn't an overestimate.

Dr. Ryan Maue was kind enough to provide us with the PDI record based upon the National Hurricane Center's  HURDAT2 data back to 1920. There's no significant trend when this record is examined, despite a warming of approximately 0.75øC in the earth's surface temperature history. In this context, the NCA's trend line (indicated in our figure in red) seems nothing but absurd.

Atlantic Basin Power Dissipation Index calculated from HURDAT2 by Ryan Maue

The NCA could have used this data, which, for its 2014 volume, ended in 2013. The trend in 1980-2009 is shown as per the NCA.

A voluminous literature supports the notion that periodic changes in the north-south temperature gradient in the Atlantic Ocean (known, not surprisingly, as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO)), are related to hurricane activity in the North Atlantic.

According to Dr. Maue, the trend line drawn in the NCA basically starts during the negative phase of the AMO cycle (which promotes low hurricane activity) and ends during a positive phase (which is favorable for high levels of hurricane activity). A more accurate assessment of hurricane activity would begin in 1950 (reducing the influence of the cyclical nature of the AMO) and indicates a trend of zero (similar to the one beginning in 1920).

But such data apparently is a distraction when trying to paint an administration-preferred picture of the influence of anthropogenic climate change.


Barack Obama crusades against climate change, Republicans in Florida visit

Barack Obama travelled to Florida on Wednesday afternoon with the express intention of picking a fight with a Republican Party that refuses to acknowledge the cause and threat of climate change.

You can see how the politics made the visit irresistible to a president who has made action on climate change a central concern of his second term.

Not only is southern Florida already suffering from a sea level rise that has left aquifers saline and regularly inundates downtown South Beach, Miami; its governor, Rick Scott, has forbidden public officials, including engineers and scientists, from using the terms "climate change" or "global warming" in official communications.

This has proved particularly awkward for those working on infrastructure being built to combat the rising sea, but made state government committee hearings more amusing, with Democrats playing a sort of parlour game in which they try to trick public servants into uttering the banned words.

With Air Force One on the ground in Miami and commanding the nation's media attention on Wednesday, the President began went about trolling Governor Scott with some zest with a speech in which he uttered the words "climate change" 18 times in 15 minutes.

In case anyone missed the point the White House twitter feed joined in with the message:  "Refusing to say the words 'climate change' doesn't mean it is not happening."

But Rick Scott was not the main target of Obama's political mission. In his sights were the two Floridians who are among the leading Republican contenders for the 2016 presidential election, Senator Marco Rubio and former governor Jeb Bush.

Rubio once believed in climate change, but as the White House beckoned he evolved on the issue, falling into line with Republican orthodoxy. "I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it," he told ABC News last May.

Bush, often portrayed as a Republican moderate with the gumption to take stands against his party, holds a similar view.

He has employed the "I am not a scientist" line often used by Republicans seeking to duck the issue, and last year he told Fox: "It is not unanimous among scientists that [climate change] is disproportionately man-made. What I get a little tired of on the left is this idea that somehow science has decided all this so you can't have a view."

Obama fears that not only would either candidate fail to act on climate change should they win office, they would wind back the advances he has made, particularly the Environmental Protection Agency's imposition of the 30 per cent reduction in emissions from coal fired power stations.

He also believes that the Republican Party is on the wrong side of history on the issue, and that their stance could prove politically useful for the likely Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.

For her part, Clinton is standing by Obama's action. "The unprecedented action that President Obama has taken must be defended at all costs," she said at a dinner for the League of Conservation Voters last month, The Guardian reported.

The president is of the view that strong and demonstrable American action on climate change is key to securing international action at the upcoming Paris climate talks.

The White House was upfront about its agenda too.

"The president is hoping that his visit to the Everglades on Earth Day will prompt an elevated political debate about making climate change a priority," the White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on a conference call before the trip. "Those Republicans who choose to deny the reality of climate change, they do that to the detriment of the people they're elected to represent. The debate we seek is one that puts this issue in a prominent place on the public agenda."

Standing in the Everglades National Park, the famous wetlands that are now under threat, Obama declared in frank terms that, "2014 was the planet's warmest year on record.  Fourteen of the 15 hottest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.

"This is not a problem for another generation.  Not anymore.  This is a problem now.  It has serious implications for the way we live right now.  Stronger storms.  Deeper droughts.  Longer wildfire seasons.  The world's top climate scientists are warning that a changing climate already affects the air that our children are breathing."

What Governor Scott made of Obama's raid on his state, and the president's insouciant use of established scientific fact in political debate, is not yet clear.

In keeping with protocol the White House had invited the governor to join the president for the event, but for some reason Scott was otherwise occupied.

He responded to the president's incursion via Twitter, demanding that the federal government pony up US$58 million in funding for Everglades restoration.

"Our environment is too important to neglect & it's time for the federal government to focus on real solutions and live up to their promises," he sniffed.


Bjorn Lomborg: The Danish truth-teller

Bjorn Lomborg can still be an antagonistic provocateur. But current events are proving him right and his old enemies are being won over

At this point in his life, Bjorn Lomborg is resigned to being the skunk at the party. He knows he is scorned in left-leaning circles because of his persistent criticism of environmentalism. He knows he has become a lightning rod in the contentious debate over climate change.  "I'm a name you use to polarise with," Lomborg says to me. He's right. The discourse that involves him has a Thunderdome feel. His many detractors don't just want to refute him; they want to shred him.

Yet there are signs that the times might have caught up with Lomborg's utilitarian approach to the world's thorniest sustainability challenges.  For example, Europeans are finding it hard to swallow the economic reality of the renewable energy dream. According to a May report by the European Commission, gas prices for industry rose 35% in Europe but fell by 66% in America between 2005 and 2012.

And because of subsidies, this year German consumers will be paying 20 billion euros for electricity from solar, wind and biogas plants, whose market price is just over three billion euros.

As Lomborg wrote in a recent blog post, "Current green energy policies are failing for a simple reason: renewables are far too expensive. The solution is to innovate the price of renewables downward."

Meanwhile, he tells me, "Let's make sure we focus on things where for every dollar you spend, you do tens of dollars of good and not do so many things where you spend a dollar and do only a few cents of good."

It's a message reprised in a soon-to-be published book he has edited: How Much Have Global Problems Cost the World? In the introduction Lomborg sets the stage by asking, "Where can we do the most good first?" This seems a reasonable question to consider in a world with competing priorities.

So why would anyone want to shred Lomborg?

It's been that way for more than a decade, since Lomborg shot to fame in 2001 with his first book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, a broad critique of the environmental movement that infuriated many ecologists and greens. The notoriety transformed the little-known Danish statistician into a globe-trotting public intellectual.

He solidified his bad-boy status in 2007 with a book called "Cool It" (spawning a documentary with the same title), which argued that global warming concerns were legitimate but often dramatically overstated, and that government policies to rein in carbon emissions were ineffective and far too costly.

Since then, Lomborg has not shied from combat. Last January in the Wall Street Journal he accused US president Barack Obama of "fear-mongering" about global warming. In pointed barbs on Twitter and Facebook, he has frequently chastised greens for exaggerating the climate threat and ecological problems. Recently, after the mysterious honeybee die-off triggered another round of anguished handwringing, he wrote an opinion piece that concluded, "Panic is rarely the way to confront problems, so let's get real. We have a bee-problem, but not a beepocalypse."

Given his high profile, it's worth asking at this stage in his career if  Lomborg is a voice of reason, a professional pot stirrer, or a trollish ankle-biter. The answer probably depends on where you sit in these debates. His combative style, he insists, is a necessary consequence of challenging conventional wisdom.

For instance, the prevailing assumption in green circles is that renewable energy can soon power the world if given the chance. But that's a pipe dream, Lomborg asserts: "A lot of people are saying, `We need to put up more solar panels and wind turbines'. We need to have someone say, `Sorry that's not going to work. That's not the solution. At best, it's just a tiny, tiny part of it. If you're going to get global warming fixed, you need to get much, much cheaper energy and that's about innovation.' And I think, fundamentally, there's no nice way you can say that."

Perhaps, but what Lomborg sees as unvarnished truth-telling others view as contributing to the climate debate's rancour and partisan divide, which is especially pronounced in Australia and the United States.

If there is a fine line between making people uncomfortable and alienating them, Lomborg hasn't straddled it well. At one juncture in our conversation, when I tell him that he seems unable to shake his reputation as a divisive provocateur, he agrees, saying this has been the case especially in his home country: "In many places in Denmark, I know families have this sort of agreement that they won't mention my name at the dinner table, because it makes for uncomfortable conversation."

If Danish families won't mention his name, it's likely that they aren't talking about his ideas. Which begs another question: what if the way Lomborg gets his points across turns people off from even considering them, despite their merits?

There is a poignant scene in the 2010 Cool It documentary, when Lomborg visits his ailing mother in a home for the elderly. In a voice-over he references the shellacking he took after the 2001 publication of The Skeptical Environmentalist, which made a worldwide splash. (From a marketing standpoint it helped that the upbeat, congenial author portrayed himself as a nature-loving former Greenpeace member.)

In the book, Lomborg argued that the state of the environment was improving overall and that an array of global problems, from the rate of species extinctions to climate change, were not nearly as bad as they had been made out to be by greens.

The blowback was punishing. Eminent environmental scientists denounced the text as deeply flawed, charging that he made his case with selective and out-of-context evidence. In 2002, Scientific American published a detailed rebuttal by four scientists entitled "Misleading Math about the Earth". An academic committee under the auspices of the Danish government accused him of "scientific dishonesty". In the film, Lomborg says that during this turbulent period he found safe harbour in the company of his unconditionally loving mother.

A movie critic might find this scene gratuitous, but it did humanise him. The same could be said for other scenes in Cool It, of Lomborg feeding impoverished children in Africa or riding his bike through the streets of Copenhagen.

Aside from these attempts to make him a more sympathetic figure, the film aimed to be a pragmatic counter to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, the mid-2000s best-selling book and Oscar-winning documentary inspired by it, which depicted climate change as an urgent threat to humanity.

Lomborg, by contrast, argued that some activists and an enabling media trafficked in global warming hysteria. His larger argument - the crux of Cool It - was that manmade climate change was real but posed a relatively distant and unclear threat and was thus not nearly as urgent as the dire problems affecting human welfare today, such as the rampant diseases, crushing poverty and lack of clean water in the developing world.

I know what you're thinking. Why can't we tackle malaria and global warming at the same time? This is a rejoinder that Lomborg hears often, that humans can walk and chew gum at the same time. His response to me: "I'm not saying we can't do more things; I'm saying we can't do everything. We have a tendency to focus on things that look scary on TV, that have great PR groups, that have cute animals, and that's not necessarily the best way to prioritise our efforts."

That's also not necessarily a line of thinking that communicates well to the average person who, as science tells us, is governed much more by emotion than reason. For instance, why is it that pictures of polar bears stranded on pieces of floating ice have become iconic totems in the climate debate? True, the polar bear is not a basis for climate policy, but it serves as a potent (albeit over-used) symbol of an extraordinarily complex issue. It activates the part of our brain that makes us think and possibly care about climate change.

Of course, translating that concern into meaningful action has proven next to impossible. This is because people are focused on the wrong kinds of actions, Lomborg says, like buying a Prius or, at the national level in some countries, swearing off nuclear power and building more solar panels and wind turbines. The latter is a noble effort, but as Germany has recently discovered, trying to meet all its energy needs with sunshine and wind has led to greater reliance on coal-powered electricity. That can't be good for the climate or polar bears.

Why, then, has Germany's grand experiment with renewable energy been much admired in the global green community? The answer, perhaps, lies in a point Lomborg stresses several times in our conversation, such as in this zinger: "The global warming conversation is filled with people who literally believe we just need a few more solar panels and we're good to go."

Fortunately for Lomborg, who is pro-nuclear, pro-natural gas and pro-biotechnology, he is no longer the only prominent skunk at the party. The respected climate scientist James Hansen has come out strongly for nuclear power; he has also ridiculed the notion that green energy can help the world kick its carbon habit any time soon. In a widely distributed essay several years ago, Hansen wrote: "Suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy." The recent documentary Pandora's Promise features a roster of environmentalists making the case for nuclear power.

Another band of green writers and thinkers has started to champion economic growth and genetically modified crops as good for the environment and humanity. One of the most forceful and articulate of this group is Mark Lynas, the British environmentalist and author of several books, including an award-winning book on the dangers of climate change.

Also notable about Lynas is that he once threw a pie in Lomborg's face. It was in 2001, shortly after publication of The Skeptical Environmentalist. Lomborg was at a bookstore in Oxford, England, getting ready to talk about his new controversial text when Lynas stepped up to the podium and creamed him, yelling "Pies for lies!". Grainy footage of the incident can be seen on YouTube and is featured in Cool It as an illustration of the furious reaction to The Skeptical Environmentalist.

Lynas has since left his radical-activist self in the past and apologised to Lomborg. The two have had respectful exchanges on environmental issues. When I recently contacted Lynas, via email, he said he still thought The Skeptical Environmentalist "was highly selective in its citations and pretty biased overall", which echoes what many critics have said of the book. But he also praised Lomborg's recent work (with his Copenhagen Consensus Institute, a policy think tank) as "valuable and interesting" and observed: "I think his general effort hasn't so much been about science as about economics - in particular an insistence that cost-benefit analysis can be a valuable tool in deciding where to prioritise resources."

These nuanced attitudes on technology and economic policy seem to herald a new kind of environmentalism in the making, what some have called eco-pragmatism. If they take root, it's easy to imagine Lomborg's arguments gaining a more receptive audience. He would at least be in tune with the zeitgeist.

For his part, Lomborg says he thinks the times have finally caught up with him. "The three main messages" of The Skeptical Environmentalist  "have actually gotten through pretty well," he contends. These are, one, overall things are getting better, not worse; two, we need to prioritise our problems; and three, we need to focus on the things where we can do the most good. Lomborg says that he has "talked to lots of people who were initially very against" what he said in the book but who "have slowly come around" to agreeing.

That may be, but there's no denying the lasting fallout to his image from the beating the book took in the environmentalist and scientific communities, where he is still regarded, at best, suspiciously and, at worst, as an enemy. Lomborg chalks this up to the "you're either with us or against us" mentality that has poisoned the climate and environmental debates. Case in point: because Lomborg has been an outspoken critic of what he calls "global warming hysteria," he has for years been tagged as a "climate denier". He chafes at the charge and passionately defends himself against it.

Indeed, despite being named by Time magazine (in 2008) as one of the world's 100 most influential people, to a great extent Lomborg has not been able to shake the popular impressions of him that formed in response to The Skeptical Environmentalist. The book has cast a long shadow he can't escape, something he acknowledges: "You say Bjorn Lomborg and with that you mean everything bad in the world. It's shorthand for that. If you never read anything I wrote or heard me speak, you'd  think I must be this wild-eyed person that wants to kill everything and pave over nature."

He's telling me this via Skype from the kitchen of his 80 m2 flat in Prague, where he moved last year "after I was disowned by the Danish government". The story, according to Lomborg, is this: in 2011, the new centre-left government came into office promising to defund his Copenhagen Consensus Institute, which focuses on how to solve the world's biggest challenges in a cost-efficient manner. Lomborg says he was the intended target. After the government pulled the institute's funding, Denmark's foreign minister reportedly bragged in a speech that, "we have closed Bjorn Lomborg's institute".

I ask Lomborg why that would prompt him to leave his homeland. "I'm not going to stay in a country that doesn't want me," he says indignantly.

This latest episode in the ongoing chronicles of Lomborg vs. The World underscores the kind of baggage he can't shed.

If all these battles have taken their toll, Lomborg hides it well. At 48,  he retains his boyish blond visage and still bounds around in his trademark black T-shirt and sneakers. Despite all the blows he's taken, there have been no knockout punches. After moving to Prague, he reconstituted the Copenhagen Consensus Institute into a US-based non-profit organisation. He maintains a busy schedule, churning out a steady stream of op-ed pieces and travelling 150-200 days a year, giving speeches and attending academic functions.

When asked if he thinks he could have done anything differently over a decade ago - perhaps toned down his scorching criticism - Lomborg hesitates for a few seconds. "No," he says, then adds, "Of course with 12 years hindsight, I'm sure I could have hit it better."

Can Lomborg ever win over his adversaries? Given that some greens are now coming around to his way of thinking - embracing pragmatic solutions for the world's daunting energy and environmental problems - he may have a second chance.  Whether he makes the most of it might depend on the lessons he's learned since becoming the world's most famous sceptical environmentalist



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.  

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