Tuesday, July 07, 2020

The Green Delusion continues to Perpetuate Costs upon the Poor

Those marketing the green delusion have convinced themselves and the public that intermittent electricity from wind and solar are somehow “clean, green, renewable and sustainable”. They have successfully kept transparency from those paying for the green delusion of any information that would damage their message.

Facts about greater human and ecological impacts around the world from intermittent electricity systems favored by the climate cult are numerous and purposely withheld from the Californians that can least afford rates that are already among the highest in the nation for electricity and fuel and the same Californians that represent less than half of one percent (0.5%) of the world’s population (40 million vs. 8 billion). Among a few subjects the climate cult avoids transparency are:

* Moving to electricity ALONE and eliminating fossil fuels would mean America would have to replace 100% of its gasoline and all its oil and natural gas feed stocks for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, paints, synthetic fibers, fertilizers, and plastics for cell phones, computers, car bodies, packaging, wind turbine blades, solar panel films and more than 6,000 products that are manufactured from petroleum derivatives. As a reminder, without transportation and the leisure and entertainment industries that did not exist before 1900, we would have no commerce.

* Dependency on intermittent electricity from wind and solar resulted in California importing up to 29 percent of its electricity to meet its demands. To the detriment of those that can least afford expensive energy, that lavishly expensive imported electricity has contributed to the poorest residents, particularly Latinos and African Americans, paying more than 50 percent more for electricity than the rest of the country.

* The impact of power plant closures in California are destined to increase the cost of power as California plans to shuttle three natural gas power plants and its last nuclear power plant. Those four power plants have been providing continuous uninterruptible electricity to Californians. With the state having no plans to replace the closure capacity with intermittent electricity from wind and solar, the state will need to import more high-priced electricity to fill the void and let residents and businesses pay the premium.

* The climate cult is fearful of sharing that all the mineral products and metals needed to make wind turbines, solar panels, and EV batteries are mined and processed in places like Baotou, Inner Mongolia, Bolivia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, mostly under Chinese control, under minimal to nonexistent labor, wage, environmental, reclamation, and worker health and safety regulations. The mere extraction of those exotic minerals presents social challenges, human rights abuses, and environmental degradations worldwide.

* Those numerous documentaries about the atrocities that the workers are put through in the cobalt mines, i.e. actually digging the mines by hand along with the horrendous living conditions. Amnesty International has documented children and adults mining cobalt in narrow man-made tunnels along with the exposure to the dangerous gases emitted during the procurement of these rare minerals.

* For cobalt alone, over 40,000 Congolese children, as young as four years old, slave away alongside their parents in mines, for a dollar a day, risking cave-ins and being exposed constantly to filthy, toxic, radioactive mud, dust, water and air.

* These environmental and human rights travesties can happen only under a system of rampant double standards, i.e., if they do NOT occur in the backyard of the climate cult, they are okay with any and all adverse impacts on foreign sites.

* Even if California or the entire USA eliminated all fossil fuel use tomorrow – it would not make an iota of difference for global carbon dioxide levels as China and India have more than 5,000 coal fired power plants and are building 600 more to provide their populations with scalable, reliable, and affordable electricity, that will continue to increase emissions.

* Since 1990 CO2 emissions from the Developed world have decreased, whereas the Developing world has shown a fourfold increase since 1985.  This differential has arisen because of:
the off shoring of major CO2 emitting industries to parts of the world that have less rigorous environmental standards or who care less about CO2 emissions.
the growing use of Coal-firing for electricity generation in the Developing world.

The primary reason that the climate cult is voraciously against transparency of any data about intermittent electricity from wind and solar favored by them, is that they would need to justify to the rural, poor, minority and working-class families and communities that  the public needs to accept  the worldwide ecological, health and economic damages being inflicted in pursuit of their pseudo-renewable electricity utopia. Additionally, for those that can least afford the passion for intermittent electricity, they need to morally accept that Africans, Asians, and Latin Americans must endure slave labor status to advance the climate cult agenda.

Let us hope the now-silent majority can restore law, order, civil debate, thoughtful reflection on our complex history, and rational resolution of these thorny problems as current climate policies are essentially discriminatory toward poor people and minorities worldwide.


Next-generation climate models: worse than ever!

Back in February, Pat Michaels dropped something of a bombshell. It was an exposé of the Achilles heel of alarmist climate science.

He did it in a lecture, just posted to YouTube on June 11, at a joint meeting of the Independent Institute and the National Association of Scholars. What he showed was that practically all the climate models on which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and lots of national governments rely are wrong—hopelessly, egregiously, starkly wrong. And all (but one) in the direction of exaggerating CO2’s warming effect.

Why? Because modelers tune their models to reproduce the 20th-century temperature record. Yet the models supposedly model how global average (near-surface) temperature responds to rising atmospheric CO2 concentration. And the problem with that is that there’s no way the first half (roughly) of the 20th-century temperature record was driven by CO2.

Michaels demonstrates that by showing that, if the comparatively small amount of added CO2 in the first half of the century drove as much warming as occurred then, then the much greater amount of CO2 added in the second half should have added a whole lot more warming than actually occurred.

Having made that point, Michaels reminds us that good scientists, when observations contradict predictions based on their models, revise the models so as to come closer to the observations. But that’s exactly the opposite of what’s happening in the alarmist climate modeling community.

The “Coupled Model Intercomparison Project” 5th generation models (CMIP-5) simulated, on average 2.75 times as much warming as actually observed by radiosondes (temperature sensors carried aloft by weather balloons) from 1979–2018, as Michaels showed with this graph, courtesy of John Christy:

Now the CMIP-6 models are starting to come out. One would expect that refinements would bring their simulations closer to the observations. The opposite is the case. The new models—as many as had been reported as of late 2019—simulate not 2.75 but roughly 3.5 times the warming observed by radiosondes

In short, far from improving the models, the modelers are making them worse than ever. After the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on them, one would hope for a different outcome.

Perhaps it’s driven not so much by honest scientific endeavor as by an agenda.


3 Billion-A-Year Cost To Prevent Green Energy Blackouts

An in-depth study for the Global Warming Policy Foundation has revealed the skyrocketing costs of balancing the national grid, largely due to the intermittency of green power generation sources, most notably wind and solar. Since 2002, when these power sources began to be introduced at scale, the cost of balancing the grid has risen from £367 million to £1.5 billion per year by 2019. And now with the lockdown shrinking demand, balancing costs are optimistically projected to be £2 billion, potentially rising to £3 billion if the lockdown persists…

The conclusion of Dr John Constable, energy expert and author of the study, is stark:

“If demand remains low during the post-Covid recession the multi-billion pound costs of managing and subsidising renewables must be recovered from a much smaller volume of sales. That is a recipe for rapid and abrupt price rises, the like of which the British public have never seen. Enough is enough. In what everyone agrees is a very difficult moment the national interest demands a cost minimisation strategy for electricity, based on gas and nuclear.”

Fortunately, the UK could be on the brink of a nuclear revolution in small modular reactors (SMRs). Rolls Royce is leading a consortium of businesses urging the Government to accelerate plans for a swathe of high tech micro nuclear reactors across the north of England:

Plans are being discussed for sixteen micro-reactors to be built by 2050, providing enough consistent energy to power a city the size of Leeds and directly employing 40,000 people. Who knew that nuclear power stations even run when it’s not windy and at night!


Norway to rein in wind power after raging opposition from locals 

Norway is set to tighten rules for building wind turbines, caving in to massive protests from locals.

A government proposal on Friday to slow down the development of onshore wind power comes after increasing local resistance mirrors sentiment in other European countries. Norway already decided to scrap a plan for a new permission framework last year.

Norway, which has already developed a massive hydropower network, faces an increased need for clean energy for the electrification of everything from transportation to oil platforms.

The proposed changes include that permits are valid for a shorter time before construction starts, height restrictions on turbines and noise requirements, in addition to local acceptance of the projects. For instance, a turbine can not be closer to a house or cabin than four times the height of the turbines.

Norway’s Petroleum and Energy Minister, who presented the white paper with the proposed changes on Friday, felt the wrath of protesters herself. Only a week ago, Tina Bru experienced being blocked physically from attending an event on the west coast while being pummeled with insults, she wrote on her Facebook page.

“It’s legitimate to be opposed to wind power, both in principle and where you live – I understand that wind power can stoke strong feelings and heated debate,” Bru said at a press conference on Friday. “But I reject harassment, threats and vandalism.”

Although Norway has developed onshore wind in the recent years, hydropower is meeting virtually all the nation’s power needs.



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Monday, July 06, 2020

Three Greenie heretics

First there was Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans, then came Bjorn Lomborg’s False Alarm, and now Michael Shellenberger’s Apocalypse Never.  All three authors sound the common theme that the  hyper-green environmental activists who have captured, politicized, and monetized  the concern for the environment have, as Lomborg explains, created  a false climate  alarm  which has “costs us trillions, hurts the poor, and fails to fix the planet.”  To varying degrees, all three authors come from a strong environmental activist background, which observation makes their public revelations even more noteworthy.

Planet of the Humans, the recent film produced by Michael Moore, caused consternation and a considerable backlash from the green activists and their allied backers by pointing out how traditional energy companies had co-opted the environmental movement by donning a green alter-ego and embracing renewable energy.  By doing so, the corporations gained access to government funding/subsidies for wind turbine and commercial solar power installations and created a public relations victory for their vociferous eco-shareholders.  Moore’s revelation that the reality of needing to provide 24/7 reliable electricity to consumers ensures that fossil fuel plants will remain the primary energy sources because of the failure of wind or solar to provide power if there is no wind or sufficient sun.  Renewables do not displace reliable fossil-fuel power plants.  Consumers energy bills do not go down, but go up, when renewables are imposed.

Moore also documented that renewables require large amounts of rare earths, cement, and fossil fuel energy in their production.  They are both notoriously inefficient in land use, and impose destruction of large areas of native habitats.  Further environmental destruction is due to the fact that the best wind or solar location is often remote from the most needed consumer base, thereby requiring the construction  of massive electric transmission lines.  “Factories claiming to have gone ‘beyond coal’ again and again turn out to be relying on natural gas.”

The film notes that biomass/wood chip power plants in England now rely on American forests.  Rather than just using lumber waste as was first proposed, this has now turned into a major sub-set of the logging industry.  Our southern forests are leveled and the trees turned into wood chips.  The whole process of logging, processing, and trans-Atlantic shipping is all powered by fossil fuels.  The basic premise of using “renewable” lumber as a bio-fuel is that the carbon dioxide released upon its burning will become fertilizer for a new generation of trees and thus the cycle is carbon neutral. The basic fallacy of it is that the time scale of new tree growth greatly exceeds the day-to-day weather cycle.  No matter. Just imagine, American lumber keeping England eco-green -- a country well versed in cutting down its own forests.

With his recent book, False Alarm, Bjorn Lomborg continues to straddle the fence on global warming, aka climate change.  As the original “skeptical environmentalist,” Bjorn has argued that there are more productive ways to aid humanity than spending billions trying to influence climate change. He has argued for improving sanitation, clean water supplies, basic nutrition, and providing paths out of poverty for the millions living in underdeveloped countries.  In this book, he continues to press for a concerted effort to alleviate these ills, rather than accepting the decades of panic driven calls for “fixing the climate.”

He provides numerous references to substantiate his claims that climate change is real but is not the apocalyptic threat so widely advertised.  Science, he says, “shows that landfalling hurricanes in the US are not more frequent than in the past.  Droughts here have actually become shorter, less frequent, and cover a smaller area.  Seventeen times more people currently die from cold than heat, and these people will benefit from moderate warming.  In fact, global climate related deaths are an all-time low.”

He claims:

…the projections of Earth’s imminent demise are based on bad science and even worse economics.  In a politicized panic, world leaders have committed to wildly expensive, but largely ineffective policies, that hamper growth and crowd out other pressing investments in a better world, from immunization to education.

And yet, a schizophrenic-like mindset co-inhabits this rational evaluation of climate change and related issues.  Section 1 of the book is titled “Climate of Fear,” and evokes memories of Michael Crichton’s 2004 “State of Fear.”  A few pages into his introduction, Lomborg states, “Climate change is real, it is caused predominantly by carbon emissions from humans burning fossil fuels….”  No question that climate change is real; however, he gives no reference for this unsubstantiated claim of human causation, which is the basic UN position, and the foundation for much green eco-activism.  A few lines later, he seems to criticize the same UN:

After a 2019 UN climate science report led to over-the-top claims by activists, one of the scientists wrote: “We risk turning off the public with extremist talk that is not carefully supported by the science.” Media reports that we have to act by 2030 to solve the problem of climate change is the media defining what the science is.

Lomborg points out that this is indeed not science, but “what politics tells us.”  He does not clarify what the “problem” is with the climate, though his chapter 6 is titled “You Can’t Fix Climate Change,” and chapter 11 offers “Carbon Tax: The Market-Based Solution.”  Chapter 14 “Geoengineering: A Backup Plan” is recognized as “entering uncharted territory,” but “could play a role if we found that we needed fast action to avoid a looming catastrophe.”  After calling for consideration of this back-up plan, the chapter continues with an extended discussion of the pluses and minuses of actually implementing it.

The reader will have to evaluate this recent book to get the full import of Lomborg’s latest effort.  His most basic premise remains that there are better ways to alleviate human misery than spending taxpayer subsidies than on panic-driven, political non-solutions to a changing climate.  Few would argue with that goal.

Michael Shellenberger has green activist credentials going back to his high school years.  Yet over the ensuing years, he has had an environmental reality epiphany which now has manifested itself most clearly in his recent book “Apocalypse Never,” and with his starting the ecomodernism movement. The subtitle of the book, “Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All,” echoes the similar conclusions of Moore and Lomborg.

Shellenberger had a few road bumps on the way to his current reality check.  Notable was his 2002 support of the “New Apollo Project,” which called for a major global science and economics research program to make carbon-free baseload electricity less costly than electricity from coal by the year 2025 at an expenditure of $150 billion over a decade. The Obama administration adopted many of the renewable energy proposals, but Shellenberger documents that much of the money went to “companies that enriched donors to the Obama campaign” but failed to produce the promised renewable energy advances.

Disillusionment gave way to reality, and in 2017, Shellenberger told The Australian: "Like most people, I started out pretty anti-nuclear. I changed my mind as I realized you can't power a modern economy on solar and wind....  All they do is make the electricity system chaotic and provide greenwash for fossil fuels."  He has made numerous efforts to support nuclear power.

His current book skewers many of the claims of eco-environmentalists, including mass extinctions, saving of the whales by Greenpeace, waste plastic fouling the ocean for thousands of years, and increases in extreme weather events.

He reflects upon his early devotion to environmentalism as a manifestation of an “underlying anxiety and unhappiness in my own life that had little to do with climate change or the state of the natural environment.” It became a quasi-religion offering “emotional relief” and “spiritual satisfaction” for those, like him, who may have lost the guidance of traditional spiritual faiths.

Shellenberger concludes with the observation that “the trouble with the new environmental religion is that it has become increasingly apocalyptic, destructive, and self-defeating.”

So here are three environmentalists with different degrees of eco-activism in their past, but all now willing to speak out against the incessant climate propaganda of human-related guilt, the purveyors of anxiety, and the poisoners of childhood joy and wonder.  Climate change is the norm; it is not mankind’s original sin.  The readers here are encouraged to read the works of these climate realists.


Why the World's Most Advanced Solar Plants Are Failing

The government’s leading laboratory for renewable energy has released a new report detailing the strengths and flaws of concentrated solar energy. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) published the report with the stated goal of using very mixed feedback on existing concentrated solar projects to create a list of suggested best practices going forward.

The NREL report “is titled CSP Best Practices, but it can be more appropriately viewed as a mix of problematic issues that have been identified, along with potential solutions or approaches to address those issues,” it begins. What’s inside includes problems shared across concentrating solar power (CSP) projects as well as general issues of large-scale construction. There are also issues with specific kinds of CSP plants based on their designs.

Parabolic trough CSP plants use solar collectors to heat water and generate steam heat, the same as a traditional coal or even nuclear power plant. But in between is a stage called heat transfer (HTF), where a fluid medium like oil or liquid metals carries the heat from the collection area to the turbine.

The CSP report says some of the issues with these systems are the extreme and dangerous heat of the HTF and the waste hydrogen produced by these processes. Designers have also positioned elements vertically at a higher cost, when most CSPs are built in rural places with plenty of space.

The other kind of CSP plant is a tower design, where mirrors concentrate the solar power directly into a central reservoir usually made of molten salt. These plants take a very long time to come to temperature and are subject to leaks and underperformance. All of these factors mean that molten salt plants have not yet reached their performance goals or the numbers their builders have often promised locals served by these grids.

The report says these plants have often exceeded their planned operating budgets because of surprise maintenance costs as well as poor understanding of what the true operating costs will even be. NLER writes:

“There tend to be issues that are not fully considered, and it generally falls to the owner to pick up the additional costs. Some of these issues are related to obtaining and keeping quality O&M staff; lack of understanding of regional cultures; and availability and timeliness of spare parts and services.”

Even with just a few dozen CSP plants in the U.S., the report notes that many of these are placed on poor sites. At the Crescent Dunes solar facility in Tonopah, Nevada, hundreds of birds were killed in just the first 18 months. “That's just the number of dead birds biologists have seen,” E&E News reported in 2016. But site selection also includes making compromises about how far a construction crew must travel to make onsite repairs, or even how to find a qualified workforce to work on the project in the first place.

The bottom line? CSP contractors and operators are doing their best, but the technology isn’t uniform or understood enough for the approach these builders have been taking. “The very nature of fixed-price, fixed-schedule, full-wraparound performance-guarantee EPC contracts has likely been a main reason for issues experienced at existing CSP plants,” the report concludes.


Environmentalism: a racist ideology

Green neo-Malthusianism is the last redoubt of racist eugenics in mainstream society

As reported on spiked last month, it did not take long for green ideologues to seize on the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic. And in recent weeks, racial politics has exploded, putting the Black Lives Matter movement at the centre of global attention. In its wake, jealous greens have sought to capture the narrative of racial grievance. But by highlighting what they claim are the racial dimensions of climate change, what greens have instead exposed are their deep contradictions and a callous indifference to the plight of the world’s poor.

At the end of May, having only just been reinvented as an expert on coronavirus, Greta Thunberg tweeted: ‘Centuries of structural and systematic racism and social injustice won’t go away by itself. We need a global structural change. The injustices must come to an end.’

It is an interesting claim, not least for its remarkable resemblance to her claims about climate change. In a more recent tweet she opined: ‘The climate and ecological crisis can no longer be solved within today’s political and economic systems. That’s not an opinion. It’s just simple maths.’ This is not a coincidence.

As I have long argued on spiked, environmentalists’ preoccupation with ‘systems’ and global institutions to oversee their regulation belies their ability to identify and locate environmental problems. What is motivating their search is less a desire to understand the natural world than a desire to systematise the human world.

It was ‘simple maths’ which took the neo-Malthusians of the 1960s and 1970s to their demands to turn the clock back on population growth, economic growth and technology, lest their dire prognostications of apocalypse came to pass. Yet it was also simple maths that showed these prognostications to be false, dangerous and misleading.

Greta was not the only green to jump on the racial bandwagon. George Monbiot did the same in his review of Planet of the Humans – the new film from Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore. The film makes a number of vague references to overpopulation, which Monbiot believes marks it as belonging to the ‘far right’. ‘Population is where you go when you don’t have the guts to face the structural, systemic causes of our predicament: inequality, oligarchic power, capitalism’, he writes. There’s that word ‘systemic’ again.

But Monbiot’s attack on population-environmentalism isn’t quite the commitment it seems. David Attenborough, patron of Population Matters (formerly the Optimum Population Trust), has never been called a ‘far right’ by Monbiot, despite Attenborough’s many explicit statements on population reaching vastly more people than Planet of the Humans has. Moreover, it was not the ‘far right’ which put Malthus back on the political agenda; it was Monbiot’s fellow green campaigners – the neo-Malthusians – back in the mid- to late 20th century.

If Planet of the Humans is ‘far right’, then so is the Guardian. In a 2018 interview, which was sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, Paul Ehrlich, author of Population Bomb, told the Guardian’s Damian Carrington that the ‘collapse of civilisation is a near certainty within decades’ (again).

In the interview, Ehrlich claimed that he rejects the idea that the desire to control population is racist and that he is hurt by the allegation. But aren’t we constantly being told by the likes of the Guardian that it is not enough to say you are not racist, because racism lingers in systems and structures?

The Rockefeller fortune has played a large role in funding the neo-Malthusian cause over the years. And it has a long history of racism. The Rockefellers were among the first ‘philanthropists’ to use their vast wealth to support eugenics programmes. According to Professor Stefan Kühl, ‘the Rockefeller foundation played the central role in establishing and sponsoring major eugenic institutes in Germany’ in the 1920s. Its funding kept them afloat through the depression and well into the Nazi regime.

After the Second World War, eugenics became less fashionable. Malthusian ideas became a more acceptable vehicle for racism. In 1952, the Rockefellers founded the Population Council, which established the population-control agenda on the global stage via the United Nations and the World Bank. Between the 1950s and 1990s, green billionaires – the Rockefeller and Ford foundations – were funders of mass sterilisation programmes across the world.

This obnoxious agenda asserted itself most aggressively in India, where millions were coerced and forced into sterilisation camps to ensure that brown people would not overrun the world. In a single year, more than six million Indian men were sterilised – more than 15 times the number sterilised by the Nazis. Thousands died from botched procedures.

It is not merely blindness to green neo-Malthusianism – arguably one of the few lasting legacies of racial eugenics – which troubles Monbiot’s attempts to distance himself from it. The problem is that all green thinking is intractably bound to it.

In the 1970s, Ehrlich and colleagues proposed a formula known as IPAT, stating that Impact = Population x Affluence x Technology. In other words, they believe that policymakers have three levers for combating environmental problems: reducing population and / or affluence and / or technology. Today’s greens have not transcended this rubric. ‘High consumption is concentrated in countries where population growth is low’, argues Monbiot: ‘Almost all the growth in numbers is in poor countries largely inhabited by black and brown people.’ Poor people do not consume so much, you see. Science!

If it is racist to tell black people not to breed, it is surely racist to tell black people they cannot be wealthy. Rejection of population control might well sound principled, but it is not in itself a rejection of the neo-Malthusian formulation. The IPAT, to its believers, is an expression of fundamental relationships, not a menu – greens who adhere to any part of it can in reality no more pick and choose than a Catholic can worship the Father and the Son but not the Holy Spirit.

Monbiot may not wish to slow population growth. But he does wish to make us all live in ecological austerity. We are talking here about what greens claim are the systems and structures of society. They claim that the system which produces climate change is racist. But what is revealed by a closer look at society’s tangible structures and systems is that it is environmentalism – not environmental degradation – that has been imposed on the poor. Green NGOs run riot in the developing world. Many, such as the World Wildlife Fund, are implicated in the murder, torture, rape and violent eviction of the world’s poorest people. Where is Monbiot’s condemnation of the WWF?

Greens do not even consider the possibility of these wretched souls of the developing world one day having their own shopping malls, domestic appliances, SUVs or intercontinental holidays. In ruling out the possibility of the poor becoming wealthy, environmentalism rules out the poor becoming a political force who might be able to speak for themselves.

Some climate activists have rebranded climate change as ‘climate justice’, in an attempt to marshall the lives of the world’s poor in their mission. ‘We can change our lifestyles, we can move’, says one self-styled ‘climate communicator’. But the poor cannot, of course: ‘Within countries and between continents, it’s people of colour and it’s indigenous people that bear the brunt of environmental destruction’, he adds.

But life in close dependence on ‘nature’ – poverty, to give it its real name – has always been precarious. Indeed, it is not climate change that is the real worry here – it’s poverty. Economic participation and wealth are what allow people to weather what nature might throw at them. And it is this wealth which greens are determined to deny to the world’s poor.

The green ideology is racist. It presupposes that others’ poverty and others’ futures are determined by weather rather than by the changes that can be brought by man-made technological, economic and political development. The disparity between the wealthiest and poorest people in the world allows this presupposition to become an imposition.

Despite green attempts to keep people in their places, there are far fewer people now living on the edges of global society than before. Contrary to Greta, Ehrlich and Monbiot’s understanding, diseases of poverty are on their way to being eliminated. Far fewer people die in natural disasters today than a century ago, when the population was a quarter of what it is now and when the world was considerably less industrialised.

Progress has not come fast enough, of course. But the claim that ‘stable’ weather will improve anyone’s living condition is a lie. Countless greens argue that, without rises in CO2 emissions, there would be no conflict, no poverty, no hunger, no inequality. But this is oblivious both to the present historical lows of all of the above, and to the implications of a political order that imposes ‘sustainability’ on a population – and one of those consequences is racism.

One problem we face is that so many ‘development’ agencies are dominated by environmentalist anti-development thinking. The boast of the World Bank’s ‘sustainability’ agenda, for example, is epitomised by this video, in which a family in Tanzania is ‘liberated’ from the necessity of buying or collecting firewood for cooking. Instead, wife, mother and housekeeper, Judith, must collect animal shit to put into a vat, which then produces gas the family can use for cooking. It’s not even shit generated by an industrial process. It’s shit from someone’s backyard.

If this strikes you as an improvement, and as a mark of success by a global political institution in abolishing poverty, you need to ‘check your privilege’. Judith’s domestic natural-gas reactor is a Heath Robinson contraption, not development. It ‘abolishes’ poverty only at best in a palliative sense – not in a structural or systemic sense. Where is the electricity grid? Where is Judith’s car? Where is Judith’s aircon, washing machine, dishwasher? If Black Lives Matter, then the grid matters, the car matters and the domestic appliances matter. Would you accept daily shit-collecting as a solution to your family’s energy needs?

Meanwhile, the World Bank and other global political and financial institutions, on the instructions of the United Nations, green billionaires and their pet NGOs, have withdrawn financial support for fossil-fuel-fired power stations for developing economies. Energy infrastructure, which has in recent decades proved essential to the rapid development seen in China and India, is being explicitly denied to the people who need it most. Their desire for a better life is not ‘sustainable’, you see.

And yet it is micro-aggressions, not macroeconomics, which trouble today’s anti-racist radicals. For all the talk of ‘systems’ and ‘structures’, it is ‘symbols’ which preoccupy them. As activists tear down statues of history’s racists, it is the present that they ignore.

Tycoons, who made vast fortunes from oil, gas and coal, and who built global institutions in their own image, have spent billions on PR campaigns to recast themselves as green philanthropists, who can buy favourable coverage in the Guardian, and are free to assert themselves and their designs over billions of people with impunity. This is ignored by Black Lives Matter and green activists alike. Environmentalism is racist.


Costly green deals are no pandemic panacea


After the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic, the world will be spending trillions of dollars to get us back on track. Increasingly, campaigners and policymakers demand this spending be tied to climate goals.

International Monetary Fund chairwoman Kristalina Georgieva urges “we must do everything in our power to make it a green recovery”. The Australian Greens, US Democrats, the European Com­mission and many countries are pushing “green new deals”. These could cost us tens of trillions and, unfortunately, will be one of the worst ways to help us recover.

The pandemic has resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and led to widespread disruption. According to the IMF, the loss could easily top $US20 trillion ($29 trillion) this and next year. That is $US20 trillion of food, healthcare and opportunities for people around the world that we can no longer afford.

Similarly, school closures have had little effect on COVID-19, according to medical journal The Lancet, but they have left the next generation less educated. Because better-schooled children are more productive and help advance their countries, this will hamper the world’s growth for decades.

Norway estimates that every day a pupil is out of school steals $US160 from each child’s future. The World Bank estimates that school lockdowns for 1.5 billion children have taken $US13 trillion from these children’s future.

Now, nations will borrow trillions to help alleviate the current suffering. And we are told that a green recovery can quickly create plenty of jobs and economic growth, along with fixing the even bigger problem of climate change. This is mostly incorrect.

Climate change is a major problem and we must tackle it smartly. But climate policies also have enormous costs. Unfortunately, most current climate policies cost more than the benefit they deliver.

The Paris Agreement is wasteful, as it will cost $US1 trillion to $US2 trillion a year but reduce climate damages by only 10 per cent of its cost. It will not fix climate but reduce temperatures at century’s end by an almost immeasurable 0.2C. Moreover, studies show it will increase poverty and quadruple European power prices.

The biggest studies of the 2050 European Green Deal show enormous costs of €1 trillion ($1.6 trillion) to €2 trillion a year by 2050 just for Europe. This cost exceeds what governments across the EU today spend on health, education and environment, yet it will reduce global climate damages by only less than 10 per cent of its cost.

But surely green spending will produce more jobs, right? In the US, it takes 39 solar workers to produce the same amount of electricity as produced by one worker in natural gas. Hence, generating more solar power will create many more jobs.

But this is wasteful. Choosing to employ 39 people to do what one person can do means 38 people can’t help elsewhere in the economy, providing elderly care, education, better infrastructure and the thousands of other needs for society’s future. Moreover, green spending works slowly and creates almost no jobs in the short run, when jobs are needed most. It also doesn’t help those who most affected. It generates green jobs in construction and manufacturing, whereas most of the job losses due to COVID-19 occurred in services.

Finally, subsidised jobs from green deals will have to be financed by higher taxes, leading to fewer jobs elsewhere.

As the US National Bureau of Economic Research concludes in a new study, overall employment effects from environmental policies “are likely to be small, especially in the long run”.

Sometimes it is suggested that going green will make us richer. This not only fails the giggle test, it also is contradicted by the climate economic literature: energy is the main driver of economic growth, so making it less effective, less reliable and more expensive has real costs. Campaigners often misquote one OECD report to suggest climate policies can increase growth. The report actually shows that climate policies drag down growth, whereas smart non-climate policies such as investments in infrastructure and education, along with a more flexible labour market, increase growth.

Maybe we should pick the growth-enhancing policies first? To tackle climate, we need to spend less resources better on ramping up green investment to innovate the price of green energy down below fossil fuels.

But today we need to spend most of our scarce resources on the urgent needs: investments in healthcare to tackle the huge backlog and increase resilience to future epidemics; getting children back on track and in school; and helping the billions worldwide who have less food, less income and more insecurity.

As we begin our global climb out of the coronavirus depression, we shouldn’t start by letting bad green deals make us poorer, help climate little and ignore the many other urgent needs of the world.



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, July 05, 2020

Response of the CO2 Coalition to calls for Facebook censorship

Statement by CO2 Coalition Chair Patrick Moore and Executive Director Caleb Stewart Rossiter on the Abrams-Steyer letter asking Facebook to shut down the Coalition's page and censor its articles on other pages.

Climate Power 2020 recently published a letter signed by former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, former presidential candidate Tom Steyer, and 13 leaders of groups working to ban the fossil fuels that are the source of over 80 percent of U.S. and world energy. The letter calls on Facebook to shut down the page of the CO2 Coalition of 55 climate scientists and energy economists, and to censor posts of its members studies and articles on other users' pages.

The CO2 Coalition is proud to be the target of this letter, whose signatories represent alarmist organizations that routinely publish scientific and economic misinformation about climate change and energy options. The letter, like Facebook's efforts to censor our posts and articles, is a badge of honor for our atmospheric physicists, climatologists, and statisticians' recent publications about how computerized climate models that project future temperatures work - and don't work.

As E & E News recently wrote in its coverage of Facebook's censoring of our opinions on climate models, these mathematical models "are the foundation used to craft many carbon regulations."

The 2009 EPA Greenhouse Gas Endangerment finding that has led to increased energy prices for businesses and households is entirely based on computerized temperature models that have since proven incorrect.

The CO2 Coalition publishes studies and articles explaining that these models are adjustable projections rather than oracles. When tested after a few years against actual temperatures, the UN model projections have proved to run three times too hot. It is these publications that Facebook has been censoring.

The UN IPCC and U.S. government scientific agencies agree that their data show no statistically significant increases in rates of sea-level rise, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other dangerous or damaging weather in the 70 years since carbon dioxide emissions became a factor in global temperature. 

The failure of the alarmists' predictions in these areas - and in this letter they simply ignore the UN consensus - has increased the importance of modeled projections of future temperatures in justifying calls to end the use of the fossil fuels.  Hence, these recent attacks on our explanations of why those modeled projections are by their nature too unlikely and uncertain to use as a basis for policies that will make energy around the world far less reliable and far more costly. 

The movement of heat in the atmosphere and oceans is complex, with major contributions from both chaos and poorly-understood, decades-long cycles. As a result, the models require the input of thousands of guesses about mathematical values for key processes. As Oxford physicist Fred Taylor says in his textbook, Elementary Climate Physics, the models are "opaque" and "in their infancy."

As with stock market and COVID models, climate models are "back-fit" with estimates that make them line up with the temperature record to date, and then run forward with the same estimates.  As with stock market and COVID models, betting on climate models' projections is a good way to lose your shirt -- and your economy and your health.

The letter labels our members as "climate deniers." We ask each of the 15 signatories to Climate Power 2020's letter to identify a single denial of a scientific or economic fact in our publications or public statements. Surely some of the answers will involve climate models. Even though model projections are more opinion than fact, more mathematical art than physical science, we look forward to such a debate.

And since we are asking for the signatories' critiques, we will provide one ourselves. One of the letter's signers is the president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. For 15 years the Union of Concerned Scientists has refused to discuss or publicly debate the science of its alarmist narrative and the economics of its subsidy-rich calls for transportation and electricity powered by what it calls "renewable" wind and solar energy. Mining, shipping, refining, construction, transmission, and disposal of the infrastructure of these intermittent sources of power is almost entirely fossil-fueled. and so hardly renewable. Wind and solar are also four times more expensive than natural gas-fired electricity and gasoline transportation.

We invite this group, or any of the others involved in the Abrams-Steyer letter, to join us in debate at one of our upcoming congressional presentations of our research.
Email from The CO2 Coalition: info@co2coalition.org

South Pole Warming Claims Contradicted by Actual Temperature Measurements

At the top of Google News results this week for “climate change,” an article in Treehugger is titled, “The South Pole is Warming 3 Times Faster Than the Global Average.” The New York Times, Yahoo News, and many other prominent media outlets published similar articles. However, the claim is based on computer model estimates that have been contradicted by actual temperature measurements. In short, the South Pole warming claim is another alarmist fraud promoting the nefarious Climate Delusion.

The media articles this week are citing a study in Nature Climate Change, whose authors claim Antarctica has warmed three times faster than the global average over the past three decades. The authors claim the asserted warming is likely partly due to human caused global warming.

The article in Treehugger is a perfect example of the media’s fawning, fraudulent coverage of the report.

Using weather data run through computer model simulations, the researchers claim Antartica warmed by 1.8 degrees Celsius between 1989 and 2018, with large variations across the continent.

“In the early decades after 1957, when measurements were first recorded at the South Pole, average temperatures remained steady or declined. Near the end of the 20th century, temperatures began to rise,” writes the author of the Treehugger piece. This is a lie. The actual data show just the opposite temperature trends occurred. In Antarctica, average temperatures as recorded at the weather locations across the continent rose fairly steadily from the 1950s through the late 1990s and then began to fall off. Indeed, recorded temperatures have significantly cooled since 1998. So, what the data show is for 20 of the 30 years the Nature study computer simulations show warming, actual temperature readings show either declining or steady temperatures across Antarctica.

Beyond the ground-based measurements, global satellite data recorded from 1979 to 2019 show no warming or cooling trend at all for the South Pole.

Interestingly, the explosive growth of permanent research stations on Antarctica may be a warming influence on the continent. Of the more than 70 permanent research stations on Antarctica and 8 stations on the surrounding islands, where most weather and temperature data for the continent are recorded, only two were established before the 1940s. This means the vast majority of permanent Antarctic stations were established from the 1940’s through the 1980s, as recorded temperatures were rising. During the same time period, outside of Antarctica, the rest of the globe experienced a modest cooling from the 1950s through the early 1980s, sparking speculation by some scientists, and warnings in front page stories in the mainstream media, the earth could be entering an overdue ice age.

One might wonder if Antarctica’s anomalous recorded surface temperature rise during this period could, at least in part, be a result of the heat island effect of the permanent human habitations being established where none previously existed.

In a Climate Realism post from April, James Taylor goes into some detail describing the cooling temperatures and ongoing ice and snow accumulation measured on Antarctica, even as the Nature Climate Change study claims, based on model simulations, Antarctica was warming three times faster than the globe. Quite simply, the Nature study’s findings are undermined by the actual data, and thus the study’s claims are provably wrong.

The authors of the Nature Climate Change piece don’t stop there, however. They go well beyond computer model temperature projections to pure speculation. Although acknowledging in their report that natural factors including large-scale, multi-year and multi-decadal shifts in wind and ocean currents on and around Antarctica are the dominant factors driving climate there, they then go on to assert, without presenting any evidence, “atmospheric internal variability can induce extreme regional climate change over the Antarctic interior, which has masked any anthropogenic warming signal there during the twenty-first century.” (emphasis mine)

As reported by Treehugger, Kyle Clem, postdoctoral research fellow in Climate Science at the University of Wellington and lead author of the study, repeated this conjecture in an interview with the Guardian, saying, “The temperature variability at the South Pole is so extreme it currently masks human-caused effects.” For Clem, et al, evidently, when you can’t find the anthropogenic climate change disaster signal you believe should be evident, it is sound scientific practice to simply assert nature is temporarily hiding it!

The take away is, neither the ground-based nor satellite measurements of temperatures in Antarctica show it has warmed, much less warmed three times faster than the planet as a whole. Even if Antarctica was warming, however, with the average temperatures ranging from -60 degrees C (-76 F) during winter to -20 C (-4 F) in summer, no meltdown would in the offing.


Dangers Of Nuclear Energy ‘Much Less Than Previously Thought’

An important new paper from the Global Warming Policy Foundation reveals that low-level nuclear radiation might be much less dangerous than previously thought.

According to authors, Professor Edward Calabrese and Dr Mikko Paunio, recent reviews of seminal research conducted in the decades after the Second World War has uncovered serious flaws in the “linear no-threshold” assumption – the idea that nuclear radiation is dangerous even at very low exposures.

According to Professor Calabrese, Professor of Toxicology at the University of Massachusetts, these claims are now known to be based on scientific studies that were deceptive, flawed, or even fraudulent: 

“The key work that was done in the US after the war was fatally flawed. But influential scientists managed to suppress the evidence and ensure that the linear no-threshold assumption survived.”

And Professor Calabrese’s position is confirmed by a review of recent findings from Japan, which have been reviewed by Dr Paunio, a former chairman of the Finnish Radiological Protection Board. According to Dr Paunio, key support for the linear no-threshold assumption came from a major study that followed the life histories of the hibakusha – the survivors  of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atom bombs.

Their error was extraordinary”, says Dr Paunio. “They failed to account for the effects of secondary radiation exposures and fallout. This means that the rather low numbers of cancers observed in the hibakusha in the decades after the war were actually caused by quite high exposures to radiation.”

The implication of these reviews is that nuclear radiation seems to be relatively harmless at low levels. If correct, it means that the nuclear energy industry is being grossly over-regulated for no reason at all.

According to GWPF director Benny Peiser, there is now a need for government to act.

“Over the weekend, it was reported that the government might finally kick the small modular nuclear programme into action. If so, then it’s a welcome development, but there remains a real risk that the programme will be sunk by the environmental bureaucracy.

If the extremely costly regulatory burden is really as pointless as these new findings suggest, there is an important opportunity for the country. It’s time for a major review of the new radiation science”.


Minnesota Sues Chemical, Energy Companies, Claiming Climate Change Fraud

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison sued ExxonMobil Corp., Koch Industries, and the American Petroleum Institute, claiming they deceived consumers for decades about the causes and consequences of supposed human-caused climate change.

Ellison’s lawsuit, filed June 24 in Ramsey County District Court, argues the defendants have violated multiple Minnesota consumer protection laws dealing with deceptive trade practices, false advertising, and fraud.

The lawsuit demands the defendant companies compensate Minnesotans for the harm Ellison alleges they have suffered from the climate deception, and that the companies be forced to fund a public education campaign presenting the state’s view of climate change.

Ellison suggested the total payout for the requested restitution and educational campaign could be similar to the $7 billion payout the tobacco industry agreed to in 1998.

“The defendants deceived, lied, and misrepresented the effects of their product to the public,” Ellison said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit. “For 30 years, [they] made misleading statements about climate change.”

Ellison says the companies being sued also mislead consumers through their contributions to think tanks whose research has raised questions concerning the claim human energy use is causing a climate crisis.

The lawsuit alleges, for instance, “Koch-controlled foundations gave more than $127 million to groups that obfuscated climate science,” between 1997 and 2017.

Similar Lawsuits Rejected

Ellison’s lawsuit is one of a number of lawsuits aimed at energy companies for climate-change effects. At least 15 other states, including Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island, and cities such as Oakland and San Francisco, have filed similar lawsuits. In the cases having held hearings so far, the courts have tossed the lawsuits as being unfounded as a matter of law and questionable as a matter of policy.

New York state Supreme Court Justice Barry Ostrager dismissed a lawsuit brought by state Attorney General Letitia James against ExxonMobil in December 2019. James’ office argued Exxon defrauded investors of $1.6 billion by failing to disclose what it knew about the costs of climate change, thus lying to investors about the company’s business prospects in light of the possible costs of government regulations to fight climate change.

“The office of the Attorney General failed to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that ExxonMobil made any material misstatements or omissions about its practices and procedures that misled any reasonable investor,” Ostrager wrote in his decision. “The office of the Attorney General produced no testimony from any investor who claimed to have been misled by any disclosure.”

Ostrager dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning it cannot be brought again based on these facts in the state of New York.



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, July 03, 2020

Coal's black cloud has a silver lining for the arid American west

This would appear to be very shallow thinking.  Water used for cooling does not vanish. Some evaporates but most of it reverts to room temperature and can be used for other purposes

The transition from coal power to natural gas and renewables in the West is picking up steam. That shift has important implications for carbon mitigation, but it also has produced an often overlooked yet suddenly significant development: the release of water previously needed for cooling coal-fired power plants for other uses.

Access to water, in large part supervised by the federal government’s Bureau of Land Management, is perhaps the major issue in the arid West. Unlike in the water-abundant East, where property owners are free to draw at will from streams, rivers, and lakes, in the West, water is allocated under a prior appropriation doctrine, which assigns water rights to people located upstream, provided it is taken for “beneficial use.” Conflict is inevitable without well-functioning markets for water rights.

As coal plants across the West, from Arizona to Oregon and Washington, continue to close as a result of competition from cheap natural gas and subsidies for solar and wind power, small towns like Craig, Colorado, located on the western slope of the Rockies with nearly 9,000 residents, hundreds of whom work in the coal industry, will have the option of buying the coal plant’s water rights when it is mothballed in 2030.

Craig’s local economy can be transformed by the availability of new water supplies. The same possibility is opening in many other cities and towns throughout the West. The transformation is underway at a time when water conservation is an unusually high priority because years of drought have left rivers, lakes, and reservoirs alarmingly low. Cooling a coal plant uses huge amounts of water. The one in Craig consumes an average 16,000 acre-feet of water every year, sucking up water that could supply as many as 32,000 households.

The bad news from coal’s demise is that thousands more coal industry workers nationwide will lose their jobs. (Industry employment is down by roughly 100,000 since the late 1980s). The good news is that once the last western coal plant is closed, more water will be available for residential and recreational use as well as for ranching and farming.

Power companies have cut their use of coal drastically, shutting down plants or converting them to natural gas. One reason for coal’s demise is rising public concern over climate change. The carbon content of natural gas is half that of coal.

A more important reason is found in market forces: the fracking revolution has made natural gas much cheaper than coal, supplying strong incentives for power plants to switch to gas-fired turbines. The substitution of gas for coal has been dramatic: natural gas nowadays is the nation’s leading fuel for electricity generation.

The Energy Information Administration says that additional supplies of natural gas will be needed to meet the nation’s ever-growing demand for electricity. Since 2005, when the shale revolution caught fire, gas consumption has soared. Moreover, natural gas is an indispensable backup for solar and wind power: gas-fired turbines can ramp up quickly 24/7 to generate electricity when the sun and wind are offline. In fact, fracking for natural gas opened the way for the growth of solar and wind power, and it has reduced U.S. carbon emissions to mid-1990s levels, the fastest and sharpest decline anywhere in the world.

Despite fracking’s considerable economic and environmental value, several politicians want to ban it. Joe Biden, who sees the writing on the wall for coal, is moving in a different direction. Biden opposes a fracking ban but wants to stop new oil and gas drilling on federal lands. Most oil and gas drilling takes place on private and state lands.

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What’s important to recognize is that in arid West energy production and water are intertwined with many local economies. Water is a precious commodity. Where it flows — whether to a residential tap, a power plant, or down a river for recreational use — and how it will be reallocated after coal goes the way of the dinosaur will say a lot about the future of the American West.


Climate Alarmist Apologizes, but I Still Want Reparations From Al Gore

There are times when the climate hoax alarmists are so tedious that I almost wish they were not only right, but that the planet would die really, really soon. Just so I can escape them.

I’m of a certain age and can remember when the looming climate crisis was supposed to have us all freezing to death and being buried in the ice until invading intergalactic aliens discover our fossils millennia from now.

Then, of course, the climate scare was all about Earth having, as Al Gore so infamously put it, “a fever” and being on the brink of boiling to death. In the fourteen years since Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth made that claim, “global warming” has become “climate change,” largely because the alarmists keep being wrong about everything and they needed a malleable catch-all phrase to better market their snake oil.

As has been written by me and many others, the climate change hoax movement has become the secular Left’s religion. It does not tolerate heretics. The Climate Church imposes its will on academia by controlling the grant money purse, effectively purging dissent.

It’s a heckuva racket, I will grudgingly admit.

Those who go against the grain and dispute any of the accepted climate teaching are branded “anti-science,” even though “climate science” has more to do with a bunch of computer models that keep being wrong than actual science. One of the more bizarre attacks that is deployed against skeptics is to say we “don’t believe in climate.”

Not we “don’t believe in climate change,” but that we don’t believe in climate at all.

Spoiler alert: every skeptic believes in climate and knows that climate changes.

On Tuesday, Rick wrote a post about a former climate alarmist who has dared to deviate from orthodoxy:

Michael Shellenberger has been a climate activist for 30 years, a liberal activist who went to Nicaragua in the 1980s to help the Sandinistas. He’s traveled the world for liberal causes, pushed the “existential threat” of global warming, but is now apologizing for promoting “climate alarmism.”

Shellenberger’s story is an interesting one. He admits that he was quiet for as long as he was because he was “scared” and that he “suffered harsh consequences” when he tried to speak his own truth about climate science. He also debunks a lot of the regular talking points that Al Gore and Co. trot out to pimp their agenda.

As we all know, that agenda is to use climate hysteria to institute a money-grabbing New World Order. Well, in Gore’s case it’s just to make himself a buck; he’s using all of them. Gore and his ilk have successfully terrorized a generation of children into believing that their futures are doomed and worthless because of the threat of climate change. Yes, Greta Thunberg is annoying, but the adults responsible for her being that way are criminal.

Heaven help the Republic if the Democrats come to complete power and we’re saddled with a “green new deal” that ultimately makes us part of the climate freak commie world order.

The sea levels can’t rise quickly enough if that happens.


Florida Court Tosses Youth Climate Lawsuit

In another in a string of defeats of lawsuits in which youth plaintiffs are attempting to force governments to take action to fight climate change, Florida Circuit Court Judge Kevin Carroll dismissed a lawsuit brought by eight Florida youths against Gov. Ron DeSantis and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

This defeat tracks the history of cases brought by climate activist law firms on behalf youths in Alaska, Montana, Oregon, Washington state, and in a federal case dismissed earlier this year. In those cases, as in the Florida decision, the courts found legislative bodies, not the courts, are the appropriate forum in which to shape states’ and the nation’s climate and energy policies.

No Constitutional Violations

In the case, Reynolds v. State of Florida, the plaintiffs, ranging in age from 12 to 22, alleged state political leaders had violated their constitutional rights to a healthy environment and the public trust doctrine to manage natural resources responsibly, by not taking serious action to prevent climate change and by supporting the continued development and use of fossil fuels.

Florida’s Attorney General’s office argued the state’s public trust doctrine applies only to certain waterways and some shorelines, not the air, and matters of climate and energy policies are for voters and the legislature, not courts, to decide.

Carroll agreed, rejecting the case before it went to trial, saying he concluded climate concerns were more appropriately settled in state capitols and by governors, rather than judges.

“We can’t rely on judges to be dictators of public policy because, at the end of the day, a dictator in a black robe isn’t any better than a dictator in a suit or in a military uniform,” wrote Carroll in the June 1 ruling dismissing the case.


U.S. Supreme Court Rules U.S. Forest Service Can Approve Pipeline Under National Trail

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a federal appeals court ruling that held the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lacked the authority to allow a permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) to cross beneath a portion of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia.

The $8 billion ACP would carry natural gas 600 miles from West Virginia to North Carolina to provide fuel for electric power along the east coast.

Where Authority Lies

The ACP would cross several federal lands, including national forests. The USFS granted federal permits along the route. Environmental groups sued to block the pipeline, saying the USFS lacked the authority to allow the ACP to cross under a small portion of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. Under the 1968 Trails Act, the Department of the Interior designated the Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Maine to Georgia, as under the management of the National Park Service.

In 2019, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, in Richmond, agreed with plaintiff environmental groups, ruling the Appalachian Trail fell under the authority of the NPS, which the court found was barred by federal law from granting rights of way for energy development.

Led by Dominion Energy, the consortium of companies building ACP appealed the lower court’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, with the Trump administration joining,  on both substantive and legal grounds.

Industry groups argued the pipeline would neither harm the environment nor disturb hikers, as it would be constructed 600 feet below the trail, going underground a half-mile before crossing beneath the trail and exiting a half-mile beyond the trail.

The Trump administration and the consortium also argued the 1920 Mineral Leasing Act (MLA) granted USFS, in this instance, the authority to approve rights-of-way for oil and gas production and transport.

USFS Authorization Affirmed

Joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh, Justice Clarence Thomas authored a majority opinion reversing the 4th Circuit Court’s ruling, holding the Trails Act did not alter the USFS’s authority under the MLA to permit pipeline construction under the trail.

“We hold that the Mineral Leasing Act does grant the Forest Service that authority and therefore reverse the judgment” of the lower court, Thomas wrote.

The pipeline will have not harm the environment, said ACP spokesperson Ann Nallo in a statement issued after the Supreme Court’s decision.

“For decades, more than 50 other pipelines have safely crossed the trail without disturbing its public use,” said Nallo. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will be no different.”

Having resolved this dispute, the consortium building ACP will now proceed to obtain the final permits for completion, saying it expects the pipeline to be operating by 2022.

Impact on Another Pipeline

It is likely the Supreme Court’s decision will reach beyond ACP’s particular case to allow the completion of a second pipeline.

The nearly completed 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), running from West Virginia to southern Virginia, crosses the Appalachian Trail in the Jefferson National Forest. Work on it was halted after the 4th Circuit Court’s ACP ruling. With that decision overturned and the same authority at issue in the MVP case, the pipeline should now be able to proceed to completion.

Clarifying Authority

The new decision appropriately places permitting authority for crossing the Appalachian Trail where it belongs with the USFS, providing certainty to oil and gas developers, says Mark Burghardt, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney, in a statement.

“This decision is very good for natural gas producers, pipeline companies, and natural gas consumers,” said Burghardt. “In the short term, it will allow development of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline [and] long term, it allows pipeline companies to plan routes with certainty on how to cross the 780-mile Appalachian Trail and will allow the development of natural gas fields in less-populated areas to the west.

“The environmental groups challenging the pipeline were not worried about damage to the trail, since this pipeline is located far underground. [They] are simply against fossil fuels,” Burghardt’s statement said. “This is the right decision. It is a common-sense, practical decision that adheres to the text and purpose of the Trails Act [which] simply does not express the intent to transfer control of the property at issue from the Forest Service to the National Park Service.”



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


Thursday, July 02, 2020

Prominent climate activist Shellenberger officially recants: ‘On Behalf Of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare’

Michael Shellenberger

On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.

I may seem like a strange person to be saying all of this. I have been a climate activist for 20 years and an environmentalist for 30.

But as an energy expert asked by Congress to provide objective expert testimony, and invited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to serve as Expert Reviewer of its next Assessment Report, I feel an obligation to apologize for how badly we environmentalists have misled the public.

Here are some facts few people know:

Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction”

The Amazon is not “the lungs of the world”

Climate change is not making natural disasters worse

Fires have declined 25% around the world since 2003

The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska

The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change, explain why there are more, and more dangerous, fires in Australia and California

Carbon emissions have been declining in rich nations for decades and peaked in Britain, Germany and France in the mid-seventies

Adapting to life below sea level made the Netherlands rich not poor

We produce 25% more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter

Habitat loss and the direct killing of wild animals are bigger threats to species than climate change

Wood fuel is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels

Preventing future pandemics requires more not less “industrial” agriculture

I know that the above facts will sound like “climate denialism” to many people. But that just shows the power of climate alarmism.

In reality, the above facts come from the best-available scientific studies, including those conducted by or accepted by the IPCC, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other leading scientific bodies.

Some people will, when they read this imagine that I’m some right-wing anti-environmentalist. I’m not. At 17, I lived in Nicaragua to show solidarity with the Sandinista socialist revolution. At 23 I raised money for Guatemalan women’s cooperatives. In my early 20s I lived in the semi-Amazon doing research with small farmers fighting land invasions. At 26 I helped expose poor conditions at Nike factories in Asia.

I became an environmentalist at 16 when I threw a fundraiser for Rainforest Action Network. At 27 I helped save the last unprotected ancient redwoods in California. In my 30s I advocated renewables and successfully helped persuade the Obama administration to invest $90 billion into them. Over the last few years I helped save enough nuclear plants from being replaced by fossil fuels to prevent a sharp increase in emissions

Until last year, I mostly avoided speaking out against the climate scare. Partly that’s because I was embarrassed. After all, I am as guilty of alarmism as any other environmentalist. For years, I referred to climate change as an “existential” threat to human civilization, and called it a “crisis.”

But mostly I was scared. I remained quiet about the climate disinformation campaign because I was afraid of losing friends and funding. The few times I summoned the courage to defend climate science from those who misrepresent it I suffered harsh consequences. And so I mostly stood by and did next to nothing as my fellow environmentalists terrified the public.

I even stood by as people in the White House and many in the news media tried to destroy the reputation and career of an outstanding scientist, good man, and friend of mine, Roger Pielke, Jr., a lifelong progressive Democrat and environmentalist who testified in favor of carbon regulations. Why did they do that? Because his research proves natural disasters aren’t getting worse.

But then, last year, things spiraled out of control.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said “The world is going to end in twelve years if we don’t address climate change.” Britain’s most high-profile environmental group claimed “Climate Change Kills Children.”

The world’s most influential green journalist, Bill McKibben, called climate change the “greatest challenge humans have ever faced” and said it would “wipe out civilizations.”

Mainstream journalists reported, repeatedly, that the Amazon was “the lungs of the world,” and that deforestation was like a nuclear bomb going off.

As a result, half of the people surveyed around the world last year said they thought climate change would make humanity extinct. And in January, one out of five British children told pollsters they were having nightmares about climate change.

Whether or not you have children you must see how wrong this is. I admit I may be sensitive because I have a teenage daughter. After we talked about the science she was reassured. But her friends are deeply misinformed and thus, understandably, frightened.

I thus decided I had to speak out. I knew that writing a few articles wouldn’t be enough. I needed a book to properly lay out all of the evidence.

 And so my formal apology for our fear-mongering comes in the form of my new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.

It is based on two decades of research and three decades of environmental activism. At 400 pages, with 100 of them endnotes, Apocalypse Never covers climate change, deforestation, plastic waste, species extinction, industrialization, meat, nuclear energy, and renewables.


Even the South Pole is warming, and quickly, scientists say

The NYT article below eventually gets to the point: The polar warming is NOT caused by global warming

The South Pole, the most isolated part of the planet, is also one of the most rapidly warming ones, scientists said Monday, with surface air temperatures rising since the 1990s at a rate that is three times faster than the global average.

While the warming could be the result of natural climate change alone, the researchers said, it is likely that the effects of human-caused warming contributed to it.

The pole, home to a US research base in the high, icy emptiness of the Antarctic interior, warmed by about 0.6 degrees Celsius, or 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit, per decade over the past 30 years, the researchers reported in a paper published in Nature Climate Change. The global average over that time was about 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade.

Although parts of coastal Antarctica are losing ice, which contributes to sea level rise, the pole is in no danger of melting, as the year-round average temperature is still about minus-50 degrees Celsius. But the finding shows that no place is unaffected by change on a warming planet.

Analyzing weather data and using climate models, the researchers found that the rising temperatures are a result of changes in atmospheric circulation that have their origins thousands of miles away in the western tropical Pacific Ocean.

“The South Pole is warming at an incredible rate, and it is chiefly driven by the tropics,” said Kyle R. Clem, a postdoctoral researcher at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand and the lead author of the study.

While climate change resulting from emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases has very likely played a role, the analysis showed that natural climate variability could account for all of the extreme swing in temperature, effectively masking any human-caused contribution.


California Gov. Newsom Proposes Cutting Climate Spending to Help Plug Budget Gap

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing to cancel billions of dollars in climate spending to help close the financial gap created by the COVID-19 crisis.

Pandemic Changes Priorities

In January, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Newsom offered a $12 billion “climate budget” in which he proposed issuing low-interest loans to businesses for being more eco-friendly, subsidizing companies’ conversion of their commercial vehicle fleets to electric vehicles, and spending taxpayer money to prepare infrastructure and services for droughts, floods, and wildfires expected to increase because of climate change. On May 12, Newsom proposed eliminating the climate budget to balance the state’s overall budget, which is facing an estimated $54.3 billion deficit at present.

The largest proposed cut would scrap a plan to borrow $4.75 billion to prepare the state for sea level rise and wildfires, which Newsom has blamed on climate change.

Controversial Climate Catalyst Fund Nixed

Newsom also canceled a proposed $250 million contribution to the “climate catalyst fund,” which he had said would jump-start investment in technology to help private businesses reduce pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.

From the start, the climate catalyst fund faced opposition by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), which said in a statement the program was too large in scope and failed to serve a clearly identifiable critical purpose.

“The administration has not adequately justified the proposal, particularly because the administration has not demonstrated that it will be able to identify such projects,” the LAO stated. “Furthermore, these funds could be used for other legislative priorities, and existing state programs support many of the same projects that the administration has indicated might be funded through the Climate Catalyst loan fund.”

‘Unprecedented Times’

In a statement, a Newsom spokesperson said the climate budget cuts were required by “unprecedented times” forcing the state to “make sacrifices that we didn’t think six months ago we would have to do.”

The state and local governments’ pandemic responses have forced many businesses to close their doors and keep employees at home, which, although it has reduced emissions, could pose budget problems for the state because of the reduced tax revenues, Jared Blumenfeld, secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, told KTLA News.

“The good news is emissions are decreasing,” said Blumenfeld. “However, there is a lot of funding that has occurred in the past that may not occur in the future as a result of that.

“What California is doing is prioritizing and making sure, as the governor said, our values come first,” Blumenfeld told KTLA.


Australia's summer of extremes pushed grid to the limit, AEMO says

After several coal-fired power generators were decommissioned, this was to be expected

Australia's energy operator says the electricity grid barely made it through last summer's extreme temperatures and bushfires without major outages, with resilience to be further tested in the future.

The Australian Energy Market Operator's annual summer operations review found the nation's physical gas and electricity infrastructure was "being increasingly challenged", with "environmental limits and temperature tolerances for coal plants ... increasingly being approached and exceeded".

AEMO issued 178 directions to deal with actual or potential supply or system security issues, 10 times more than the previous three years. Of eight actual shortfalls — or a level 2 lack of reserves — half were in NSW, with three in Victoria and the other in South Australia.

The summer was Australia's second hottest on record, trailing only the previous summer, with maximum temperatures 2.11 degrees warmer than the 1961-90 average. December 2019 alone had 11 days when temperatures averaged above 40 degrees, equalling the number of such days during all previous years since 1910. Bushfires also charred large swathes of the forests of eastern Australia.

AEMO's managing director and chief executive, Audrey Zibelman, said the grid had to cope with longer lasting and more extreme climatic and bushfire conditions that also made forecasting more difficult.

“The industry and AEMO’s preparation contributed to mitigating the potentially extensive and significant power-system impacts of a season characterised by record high temperatures, catastrophic bushfires, significant smoke, dust, and violent storm activity,” Ms Zibelman said.

The avoidance of major blackouts was a key achievement of the summer, particularly after a heavy storm knocked out six transmission towers in south-west Victoria on January 31. South Australia was effectively cut off from the rest of the National Electricity Market for 17 days.

The addition of about 3700 megawatts of new capacity — mostly wind and solar — compared with the summer of 2018-19 helped provide additional supplies during peak demand.

While coal-fired power plants had their output cut during extreme heat, some wind farms were also curtailed, the first time AEMO had observed this.

"Dust exacerbated by the drought and bushfire smoke, ash and dust storms also materially impacted grid-scale and rooftop photovoltaic solar generation forecasts," AEMO's report said.

Prior to last summer, AEMO increased standby reserves - known as its Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader (RERT) mechanism - by buying 137MW of long notice reserves for Victoria and 1698 MW of medium and short-notice reserves across the market.

During four days of high demand, AEMO activated such capacity at a cost of $39.8 million, avoiding blackouts that would have affected as many as 92,500 homes at an associated cost of $77 million, the report said. Those RERT expenses cost the average household in NSW $3.24 and $2.43 in Victoria.

The summer generated a host of other lessons for power operators, including the need to improve forecasting to adjust to the swelling supplies of renewable energy.

Some of the forecasting challenge is meteorological, with agencies struggling to pick the top of the temperature peaks.

For instance, Penrith in Sydney's west hit 48.9 degrees on January 4, the hottest temperature recorded in an Australian metropolitan area, or several degrees more than predicted.

"The results demonstrate a bias towards under-forecasting at high temperatures and are indicative of challenges in accurately assessing generation reserve on peak demand days throughout summer," AEMO said.

"This under-forecasting is coupled to the increasing weather sensitivity of electricity demand as the use of airconditioning grows."



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


Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Climate alarmism versus integrity at National Academies of Science

National Academies of Science should speak out against climate alarmism, not support it. This is the major message in a recent letter from Professor Guus Berkhout, president of CLINTEL, to the new head of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. The integrity of science is at stake.

This letter is a model for how all alarmist National Academies should be addressed. For example, the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is painfully alarmist. Even worse, NAS has been joined in promoting alarmism by its two siblings, the National Academies of Engineering and Medicine. The fact that these Academies have become a servant of supranational political organizations such as IPCC shows how serious the crisis in climate science really is.

The Netherlands Academy is called KNAW, from its Dutch name. KNAW was established in 1808 as an advisory body to the government, a task it still performs today. NAS was established by Congress in 1868. Both NAS and KNAW derive their authority from their high profile members, rigorously selected top scientists from a large range of scientific fields. Professor Berkhout is a member of KNAW.

The letter is addressed to Prof. Dr. Ineke Sluiter, President of KNAW. It begins with a clear statement of the issue:

“I am addressing you in your capacity as the new President of the KNAW because the climate issue is escalating. The IPCC and the associated activist climate movement have become highly politicised. Sceptical scientists are being silenced. As an IPCC expert reviewer, I critically looked at the latest draft climate report. My conclusion is that there is little evidence of any intent to discover the objective scientific truth.

Though IPCC’s doomsday scenarios are far from representative of reality, they play an important role in government climate policy. Only courageous individuals dare to point out that the predictions of the IPCC’s computer models of climate have not come to pass, in that contemporary measurements contradict them. IPCC’s confidence in its own models does not match the real-world outturn. In the past, scientific societies such as ours would have sounded the alarm. (Emphasis added.)

In your interview with Elsevier Weekblad (6 June 2020) you say: “Dutch science should be proud of itself” and, a little later, “A hallmark of high-quality research must be a wide variety of viewpoints – fewer dogmas, more viewpoints.” I agree. Unfortunately, your observations do not seem to apply to climate science. There, diversity is suppressed and the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) dogma is promoted. That is why I am writing to you.”

After discussing the well known problems with the IPCC science, Professor Berkhout states his case:

“Why do scientific institutions not warn society that all these climate-change doom and gloom scenarios have little or no scientific justification? I know that there are many scientists around the world who doubt or disagree with the IPCC’s claims. I also know from my own experience and from correspondence with colleagues that there is much pressure on researchers to conform to what we are told is the climate “consensus”. But the history of science shows time and again that new insights do not come from followers but from critical thinkers. For valid new insights, measurements trump models.

The KNAW, as the guardian of science, must surely take action now. The more governments invest in expensive climate policies in the name of climate science, the more difficult it becomes to point out that climate science in its present state falls a long way short of providing any justification for such policies. There are more and more indications that things are not right. If the scientific community waits for the dam to burst, the damage to science will be enormous. Society will then rightly ask itself the question: why were the Academies of Sciences silent? Surely there has been enough warning from scientific critics of the official position?

The KNAW must, of course, stay clear of politics and focus on excellence in finding the truth. But I repeat that the KNAW is also the guardian of science. In climate policy in particular, science is abused on a global scale. How can one plausibly state, on such a highly complex subject as the Earth’s climate, that “the science is settled”? That is not excellence: it is stupidity.”

There is a lot more and the letter ends with a specific proposal from CLINTEL:

“I propose to organise an international open blue-team/red-team meeting together with the KNAW, in which both teams can present their scientific views†. These discussions could be the start of a new era in climate science. Audiatur et altera pars.”

The US National Academy of Sciences is a lot worse than KNAW in this regard. Not only does NAS not speak out against the anti-scientific climate movement, it openly supports it. I know there are skeptical members of NAS, probably many. They need to speak out, just as Professor Berkhout has done.

Nothing less than the integrity of science is at stake. Failure to acknowledge the scientific climate change debate is making science look like a political tool. This can only turn out badly for science.


A new politics: “Greencons” are a new political alliance for an uncertain age

THE FORMATION of Ireland’s new government on June 27th, after 140 days of haggling, brings to office a novel coalition. Not only will the old rivals of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael ally for the first time since the Irish civil war roughly a century ago, but the two parties of the centre-right will join forces with the 29-year-old Green Party. Under the new taoiseach, Micheal Martin, the coalition is promising a green new deal that would slash carbon emissions by 7% a year. Though still rare, once-improbable alliances of climate activists and conservatives are becoming increasingly fashionable in Europe. The covid-19 pandemic could well foster more such coalitions.

“Greencon” alliances are for now marriages of convenience, born of the fragmentation of European politics that is forcing parties of all stripes to contemplate new partnerships. There are areas on which greens and conservatives are unlikely ever to agree, notably defence and foreign policy. Nonetheless both sides have done a lot of evolving in recent years. And the pandemic is painting the political landscape an ever deeper shade of green, which politicians of the centre-right are as eager to exploit.

Traditionally, greens have been happier with partners to the left of centre. In Germany they joined a “red-green” government led by the Social Democratic Party (SPD) between 1998 and 2005. But in Germany and elsewhere, the greens have overtaken the old centre-left as the appeal of old-style socialism has faded and that of environmentalism has bloomed. Greens might once have been cranky idealists but have become eager to exercise power and accept the inevitable compromises that come with it.

Austria is the prime example of nascent green-conservative alliances. Since January, after months of negotiations following an inconclusive election, the country has been governed by a distinctly odd couple. The chancellor, Sebastian Kurz is the man who shifted the Austrian People’s Party from its christian-democratic centrism towards the populist right. He is a sharp-suited, unfeasibly well-groomed 33-year-old. His deputy, the crumpled Werner Kogler, leader of the Green Party, 25 years Mr Kurz’s senior, is never knowingly caught wearing a tie.

In this expedient alliance, Mr Kurz has been pursuing hardline anti-immigration policies, while Leonore Gewessler, the Greens’ “super minister” (specifically, “Minister of Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology”) is pursuing one of Europe’s most ambitious climate-change programmes, seeking to turn Austria carbon neutral by 2040. Mr Kurz and Mr Kogler have co-operated well on controlling the spread of the coronavirus. Austria’s infection has been relatively low.

Having won 14% of the vote in September’s election, the Greens did well enough to make themselves kingmakers. In Ireland in February, their counterparts did much the same thing, taking 12 out of 160 seats in the Dáil. Though divided, the Greens ushered Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael into office—and thereby excluded the left-wing nationalists of Sinn Fein (the political wing of the Irish Republican Army that bloodied Northern Ireland for more than three decades). Their Greens’ leader, Eamon Ryan, a former cycling-shop owner who served in government in 2007-08, is minister for climate action, communications networks and transport

Austria and Ireland are minnows compared with Germany, where the most important green-conservative coalition may emerge. Ahead of the federal election next year, opinion polls place the Greens second to Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Last June, a poll briefly put the Greens ahead of the CDU, which has since drawn ahead. There is every possibility of a “black-green” coalition government.

Germany, moreover, is the place where a meaningful green-conservative ideology may yet take root. In 2011, in response to the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, Mrs Merkel ordered the closure of the country’s nuclear power stations—in effect conceding the Greens’ longest-standing demand, albeit at the cost of increased emissions from coal-fired stations. The Greens and the CDU share power at a state level; six Länder are ruled by coalitions containing the CDU and the Greens, of which two are straight black-green alliances. Robert Habeck, the Greens’ co-leader, who hails from the “realo” (realist) wing, says he would be perfectly happy to share power with the CDU in the federal government.

Importantly for any compromise with conservatives, fewer greens now argue that all economic growth is bad in itself, as long as it is sustainable. Many of the younger generation, reared in the more free-market economic climate of the post-cold-war era, are more open to private-sector solutions to climate change.

As greens have become more pragmatic, many conservatives fear greenery less than they used to. Michael Gove, the foremost green thinker in Britain’s conservative government, has surprised even hardcore activists with his enthusiasm for shifting enormous subsidies away from the mere ownership of land towards rewarding landowners for environmental stewardship, treating the countryside as a public good in a new frontline in the battle against climate change. Mark Littlewood of the Institute of Economic Affairs, a British free-market think-tank, says there is no practical reason why British Conservatives should not support a carbon tax. However, he warns that Conservatives have to be “reassured that greenery is not a Trojan horse for more socialist controls. They have to know that the end point is just an attempt to decarbonise the economy, nothing more.” Fundamentally, as one British government adviser puts it, greenery can be a right-wing issue “because it’s about conservation”. Conservatives are traditionally stewards of the countryside, whereas left-wing parties have usually been based in urban, industrial areas. Thus French conservatives regard la France profonde of small villages and agriculture as the romantic embodiment of national values.

Sara Hobolt, a professor of politics at the London School of Economics, argues that conservative parties across Europe are much more socially liberal than they used to be. This makes them more comfortable working with the former hippies and anarchists who pepper green parties.

The pandemic has served to highlight the reality of disasters long talked about, and long ignored. And the need to offset the economic damage of the pandemic has pushed centre-right governments to resort to the tools of big government to marshall medical resources, support economies and save millions of jobs. Their huge bail-outs have often carried green labels.

The French and British governments, as well as the populist Italian one, have all promised more money to make it safer and easier to walk and cycle in cities. In exchange for handing over billions of euros to bail out France’s car and aviation industries, President Emmanuel Macron has been setting targets for them to speed up electrification and cut emissions respectively. At the centre of the European Union’s eye-wateringly expensive post-covid recovery programme is the European Green Deal, which aims to cut emissions by 50%-55% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels.

For now, greencon alliances are likely to remain confined to northern Europe. Green parties barely feature in southern and eastern Europe. Many other parts of the rich world are more closely wedded to fossil fuels. Australia, for instance, is the world’s biggest exporter of coal, selling $46bn-worth of the dirty black stuff in 2019. Its conservative coalition government was notoriously reluctant to link the terrible bushfires earlier this year to global warming. But public opinion is changing. The share of Australians who think climate change is a “serious and pressing” problem has increased from about 50% to 60% in the past four years. In a new poll, three of the top five threats to the country’s “vital interests” were related to the environment. In May the government issued a road-map towards reducing Australia’s carbon emissions, with an emphasis on replacing coal with gas.

In Canada, too, conservatives have been equally in thrall to resource interests, especially in the oil-producing western provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. But they have been forced to become more green to try to make up electoral ground conceded to Justin Trudeau. In America, meanwhile, the Republican Party and the coal-loving President Donald Trump may seem impervious to the greening of conservative politics. Yet, perhaps oddly, America’s renewable-energy boom has been strongest in Republican-controlled states like Texas (which also produces lots of oil).

Greencon politics is still in its infancy. It may never reach adulthood. Electorates may reject its disparate policies as opportunistic. But they may welcome it as a feature of modern politics that upholds campaign promises and gets things done. Its “oil and vinegar” approach could make for effective governing. It is a 21st-century fusion of value-driven politics, not contradictory so much as incoherent: vaunting the nation at the same time as valuing the Earth. The pandemic has reinforced this strange mix, forcing many politicians to be more pragmatic than they might like. Handy skills for a new kind of politics


Linking Climate Change To Floods Not Supported By Science

Nobel laureate Richard Feynman said it best: “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”

Testing theories with data is how theories are validated. Yet the need to “‘kick the tires’ on a theory is often overlooked when the media assesses extreme weather.

A recent CBC News story headline declared: “Yes, we’re getting more extreme rainfall, and it’s due to climate change, study confirms.”

According to the CBC, which carried the report on its flagship news show, “Warmer temperatures due to climate change lead to wetter air, and we’ve seen more extreme rainfall and flooding across North America. But is there really evidence that the two are related? Yes, there is.”

Well, no there isn’t. The story was based on an Environment Canada study, Human influence has intensified extreme precipitation in North America. Here’s what the CBC report missed:

* The Environment Canada study presented theoretical projections from models that the data did not consistently validate. In some regions, the models predicted changes and trends quite contrary to those reported and also contrary to measured data.

* It missed the big picture. Watersheds are complex and precipitation is only one-factor affecting flood risk — warmer temperatures mean mitigating factors like less runoff from snowmelt. The study referenced that fact, but not the CBC story.

The CBC’s French service, Radio-Canada (R-C) coverage also linked the Environment Canada study to “sudden intense downpours,” flash flooding, and sewer geysers.

It also neglected data contradicting model results, and limitations of the models in projecting such extreme events.

CBC and R-C coverage has been a problem in the past. The R-C Ombudsman found that a reported increase in severe “100-year” storms was not supported by data and required correction.

The CBC Ombudsman encouraged journalists to be “clearer with their choice of tenses” when separating past, present, and future weather phenomena.

Yet CBC continues to report on urban flooding with statistics saying rainfall is now more frequent when those statistics are not observed in measured data at all but are rather from a numerical simulation model projecting the future.

There is an ongoing tendency to confuse models and actual data.

Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, the author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, suggested we fall victim to cognitive biases by Thinking Fast, thus moving us away from the rational thought of Thinking Slow.

For example, a “substitution bias” causes us to reject a computationally complex judgment for an easily understood one.

It may be easier to point to neat model results as “proof,” particularly when these results confirm our expectation than to wade through noisy, conflicting observational data. We cannot argue that all floods are caused by climate change.

Fast reporting also missed key study details in the rainfall story, particularly key limitations.

The study itself says, “Many of the physical processes that produce extreme rainfall occur at spatial scales smaller than those that can be reliably simulated by available models. Local-scale events are not well captured.”

It also stated model results may diverge from observations in the west and central west — observations show decreases in extreme precipitation while all three models show increases.

In some regions, it turns out all models are “wrong”!

Are we merely being difficult here? If one- to five-day precipitation is projected to increase, does that not imply that there will be more runoff and flooding in large rural watersheds? Not necessarily.

Even if precipitation increases, warmer weather might mean less snow, and thus less snowmelt.

Such mitigating factors are among the reasons the official attribution study for Alberta’s 2013 flood stated categorically that “no anthropogenic influence can be detected for one-day and three-day surface runoff.”

A broader analysis of major floods across North America and Europe using observational data found “the number of significant trends in major-flood occurrence across North America and Europe was approximately the number expected due to chance alone.”

Checking theories with data shows that there is yet no change in significant floods.

What if we actually look more directly at local data?

For example, how about using rain data to check theoretical models? Data for 651 weather stations in Environment Canada’s Engineering Climate Datasets show that a mere 4.9 percent of annual maximum one-day rainfalls have to date shown a statistically significant increase.

And what about those shorter (two hours or less), sudden intense downpours? For this large data set, that rainfall increased in only just over four percent of the cases.

These small increases, and their flip side (statistically significant decreases), are relatively few and can be explained by chance. So the evidence is lacking on changes in the particular rain events linked to urban flooding.

All of us, including the media, must embrace the reality that weather and infrastructure systems are complex with no simple answers.

Reporting accurately and fairly on complex phenomena means not glossing over model uncertainties or omitting conflicting data.

In promoting action on flooding, certainly a crucial priority, one CBC interviewee stated that “time is not a luxury.” Given the gaps in reporting, let’s hope there’s time for some slow thinking about floods before we rush into fast decisions.


Incredible pictures from space show Australia 'turning green' thanks to record rainfall after years of crippling drought

We were told that the drought was caused by global warming, so are we now having global cooling?

Amazing pictures taken from space show south-eastern Australia's incredible transformation thanks to record rainfall after years of severe drought.

NASA's Earth Observatory took the natural-colour images two years apart, in May of 2018 and again in June 2020. 

The 2018 photo shows land ravaged by record heatwaves - reaching 49.9C in some areas that year - and the lowest rainfall in almost a century. 

In the most recent image, large swathes of green can be seen spreading across Victoria and New South Wales. 

According to the Bureau of Meteorology average to above average rainfall from January to May this year led to soil moisture recovery in much of the area shown in the pictures.

Meanwhile, some rainfall records were broken in Victoria during the same time period.

Melbourne received around 400mm of rain from January to April, almost eight times more than the same time period in 2019, and the wettest since 1924.

New South Wales and the Murray–Darling Basin also received its first average rainfall since 2016 in April and May of this year. 

In addition, the BoM predicts the winter will be wetter than average for western New South Wales and parts of South Australia.

The forecasts also indicate a wetter than average period between August and October for much of eastern Australia. 

The pictures were taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA's Aqua satellite.



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