Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Al Shabaab terror group bans single-use plastic bags

There's an old saying that you can know a man by the company he keeps

The Somali militant Islamist group, which has links to al Qaeda, has long had an interest in environmental issues. It made the official announcement on Radio Andalus, which is operated by al Shabaab.

Jubaland regional leader Mohammad Abu Abdullah said the group had come to the decision due to the "serious" threat posed by plastic bags to both humans and livestock. He added that pollution caused by plastic was damaging to the environment.

In the same announcement, the group said it has banned the logging of rare trees.

Details of how the eco-friendly bans would be enforced were not shared with listeners.

Last year, Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada claimed Afghans should plant more trees because of their "important role in environmental protection, economic development and beautification of the Earth".

In 2016, a magazine published by the Yemeni branch of al Shabaab criticised former US president Barack Obama for failing to adequately combat climate change during his presidency.

The group, whose troops were estimated at 7,000 to 9,000 militants in 2014, retreated from major cities in 2015 but still controls large parts of rural areas.

Al Shabaab was responsible for a deadly terror attack at the Westgate shopping mall [Kenya] which killed 67 people in 2013.

Last October, twin bombings by the terror group in Mogadishu killed more than 500 people.


David Attenborough Accused Of Misleading Public About Polar Bears, Again

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has today filed a complaint to the BBC, accusing Sir David Attenborough of misleading the public about the state of polar bear populations in Canada.

In last night’s wildlife TV series Seven Worlds, One Planet David Attenborough and the BBC once again misled the public in a most egregious way.

In the programme, Sir David made false claims, used emotionally manipulative language and blatantly misrepresented several natural biological processes and habitat conditions as the effects of human-caused climate change.

Contrary to David Attenborough’s claim, summers are not a time of starvation for polar bears. The bears shown hunting beluga whales from the shore of Hudson Bay were neither starving nor desperate: they were already fat and healthy after feeding on young seal in spring.

Contrary to Attenborough’s claim, the behaviour shown of polar bears hunting belugas from shore in summer is not extraordinary, is not confined to this area of the Canadian Arctic and has not ‘only been reported in recent years.’ In fact, similar hunting strategies by polar bears have been reported at least since the 1980s.

Rather than a new behaviour born of climate-change induced desperation, this is a relatively rare but not unheard-of hunting strategy by healthy polar bears.

The GWPF has previously pointed out serious misrepresentations about walruses and climate change in Attenborough’s Our Planet series on Netflix.


The U.S. government will give your state money to fight climate change. But you have to call it something else

Or so says The New York Times

The Trump administration is about to distribute billions of dollars to coastal states mainly in the South to help steel them against natural disasters worsened by climate change.

But states that qualify must first explain why they need the money. That has triggered linguistic acrobatics as some conservative states submit lengthy, detailed proposals on how they will use the money, while mostly not mentioning climate change.

A 306-page draft proposal from Texas doesn’t use the terms “climate change” or “global warming,” nor does South Carolina’s proposal. Instead, Texas refers to “changing coastal conditions” and South Carolina talks about the “destabilizing effects and unpredictability” of being hit by three major storms in four years, while being barely missed by three other hurricanes.

Louisiana, a state that is taking some of the most aggressive steps in the nation to prepare for climate change, does include the phrase “climate change” in its proposal in just one place, an appendix on the final page.

The federal funding program, devised after the devastating hurricanes and wildfires of 2017, reflects the complicated politics of global warming in the United States, even as the toll of that warming has become difficult to ignore. While officials from both political parties are increasingly forced to confront the effects of climate change, including worsening floods, more powerful storms and greater economic damage, many remain reluctant to talk about the cause.

The $16 billion program, created by Congress and overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is meant to help states better prepare for future natural disasters. It is the first time such funds have been used to prepare for disasters like these that haven’t yet happened, rather than responding to or repairing damage that has already occurred.

The money is distributed according to a formula benefiting states most affected by disasters in 2015, 2016 and 2017. That formula favors Republican-leaning states along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, which were hit particularly hard during that period.

Texas is in line for more than $4 billion, the most of any state. The next largest sums go to Louisiana ($1.2 billion), Florida ($633 million), North Carolina ($168 million) and South Carolina ($158 million), all of which voted Republican in the 2016 presidential election.

The other states getting funding are West Virginia, Missouri, Georgia and California, the only state getting money that voted Democratic in the 2016 presidential race.

California hasn’t yet submitted its proposal, but in the past the state has spoken forcefully about the threat of climate change, in addition to fighting with the Trump administration to limit greenhouse gas emissions from cars.

Half of the money, $8.3 billion, was set aside for Puerto Rico, as well as $774 million for the United States Virgin Islands. The Trump administration has delayed that funding, citing concerns over corruption and fiscal management.

Not every state has felt compelled to tiptoe around climate change. Florida’s proposal calls it “a key overarching challenge,” while North Carolina pledges to anticipate “how a changing climate, extreme events, ecological degradation and their cascading effects” will affect state residents.

The housing department has itself been careful about how it described the program’s goals. When HUD in August released the rules governing the money, it didn’t use the terms “climate change” and “global warming” but referred to “changing environmental conditions.” Still, the rule required states that received money to describe their “current and future risks.” And when those risks included flooding — the most costly type of disaster nationwide — states were instructed to account for “continued sea level rise,” which is one consequence of global warming.

A spokeswoman for the housing department did not respond to requests for comment.

Stan Gimont, who as deputy assistant secretary for grant programs at HUD was responsible for the program until he left the department last summer, said the decision not to cite climate change was “a case of picking your battles.” “When you go out and talk to local officials, there are some who will very actively discuss climate change and sea-level rise, and then there are those who will not,” Mr. Gimont said. “You’ve got to work with both ends of the spectrum.

And I think in a lot of ways it’s best to draw a middle road on these things.” Texas released a draft version of its plan in November. That draft said the state faced “changing coastal conditions,” as well as a future in which both wildfires and extreme heat were expected to increase.

In response, the state proposes better flood control, buying and demolishing homes in highrisk areas and giving counties money for their own projects.

But state officials in Texas, where Republicans control the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the Legislature, were silent on what is causing the changes. The report does not cite climate change or global warming, though “climate change” pops up in footnotes citing articles and papers with that phrase in their titles.

Brittany Eck, a spokeswoman for the Texas General Land Office, which produced the proposal, did not respond to questions about the choice of language or the role of climate change in making disasters worse. In an email, she said Texas would distribute the funding based on “accepted scientific research, evidence and historical data to determine projects that provide the greatest value to benefit ratio to protect affected communities from future events.” Some local politicians in hardhit areas of Texas are outspoken.

Lina Hidalgo, a Democrat and the top elected official in Harris County, which includes Houston and which suffered some of the worst effects of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, said that addressing the effects of climate change was a top issue for her constituents.

“Harris County is Exhibit A for how the climate crisis is impacting the daily lives of residents in Texas,” Ms. Hidalgo said in a statement.

“If we’re serious about breaking the cycle of flooding and recovery we have to shift the paradigm on how we do things, and that means putting science above politics.”

Citing ‘changing coastal conditions’ in a funding request.

In South Carolina, which like Texas is controlled by Republicans in both legislative chambers and the governor’s office, the state’s proposal likewise makes no mention of climate change. It cites sealevel rise once, and only to say that it won’t be addressed.

The state’s flood-reduction efforts “will only address riverine and surface flooding, not storm surge or sea-level rise issues,” according to its proposal.

That is despite the fact that sea levels and storm surges are increasing across the coastal southeastern United States because of climate change, federal scientists wrote in a sweeping 2018 report.

The authors noted that Charleston, S.C., broke its record for flooding in 2016, at 50 days, and that “this increase in high-tide flooding is directly tied to sea-level rise.” Megan Moore, a spokeswoman for South Carolina’s Department of Administration, said by email that the proposal “is designed to increase resilience to and reduce or eliminate long-term risk of loss of life or property based on the repetitive losses sustained in this state.” She did not respond to questions about why the proposal did not address climate change.

One of the states acknowledged that weather conditions were changing and seas were rising, but still mostly avoided the term climate change. Louisiana, whose location at the mouth of the Mississippi River makes it one of the states most threatened by climate change, intends to use the $1.2 billion it will receive to better map and prepare for future flooding — a major peril for countless low-lying areas, said Pat Forbes, executive director of the state’s Office of Community Development, which is managing the money.

“We realize we’ve got to get better, because it’s going to get worse,” Mr. Forbes said.

The state, where both the House and Senate are controlled by Republicans but the governor is a Democrat, submitted a proposal that makes references to climate change, noting that the risks of flooding “will continue to escalate in a warming world.” Still, the 91-page report uses the phrase “climate change” only once, at the end of an appendix on its final page.

Mr. Forbes called climate change “not that important a thing for an action plan,” and said that mostly leaving the phrase out of the document was not intentional.

He said the purpose of the proposal was to demonstrate to the federal government that Louisiana knows what it wants to do with the money.

“Our governor has acknowledged on multiple occasions that we expect the flooding to be more frequent and worse in the future, not better,” Mr. Forbes said. “So we’ve got to have an adaptive process here that constantly makes us safer.” Other states used their proposals to emphasize the centrality of climate change to the risks they face. “Climate change is a key overarching challenge which threatens to compound the extent and effects of hazards,” wrote officials in Florida, where Republicans control both legislative chambers and the governor’s office.

In North Carolina, which has a Democratic governor and a Republican-controlled Legislature, the proposal argued that the state was trying to anticipate “how a changing climate, extreme events, ecological degradation and their cascading effects will impact the needs of North Carolina’s vulnerable populations.” Shana Udvardy, a climate resilience analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the failure to confront global warming made it more important for governments to at least call the problem by its name.

“We really need every single state, local and federal official to speak clearly,” Ms. Udvardy said.

“The polls indicate that the majority of Americans understand that climate change is happening here and now.” Others were more sympathetic.

Marion McFadden, who preceded Mr. Gimont as head of disaster-recovery grants at HUD during the Obama administration, said the department was responding to the political realities in conservative states. She described the $16 billion grant program as “all about climate change,” but said some states would sooner refuse the money than admit that global warming is real.

“HUD is requiring them to be explicit about everything other than the concept that climate change is responsible,” said Ms. McFadden, who is now senior vice president for public policy at Enterprise Community Partners, which worked with states to meet the program’s requirements. Insistence on saying the words raises the risk “that they may walk away.”


Critics Face Harsh Climate When It Comes To Expressing Dissent – Especially When It Comes To Science

The climate issue now dominates almost all areas of life. This makes it all the more important that the arguments of the critics of the climate alarm are finally heard seriously. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

On the contrary, those who do not support the alarmist line will be publicly scolded, possibly obstructing their career and future. An almost perfectly controlled opinion system has been established.

Has something like this existed before? Have there been cases where good arguments were ignored for far too long, where critics had to fear reprisals, to the point where they were finally proved right and public opinion suddenly turned? Yes, there have been such cases. It seems to be a basic psychological pattern in human society to regard one side as the only valid truth in controversial debates and to present competing opinions as the misguided misconceptions of some madmen. The following three examples illustrate this:

1. The case of Claas Relotius

I’m sure you know the case. A Spiegel editor (Claas Relotius), who was highly respected at the time and showered with prizes, had incorporated years of invented facts into his reports. When another reporter (Juan Moreno) found out about his colleague, his superiors did not believe him at first, although he provided good evidence. This went so far that he was threatened with termination of his contract.

Moreno fought for his professional survival and was able to convict Relotius in the end. You can read in Moreno’s exciting book “Thousand Lines of Lies: The Relotius System and German Journalism“.

2. Doping in cycling

For many years, professional doping was used in cycling, and it is probably still the case today. Whoever wanted to make the manipulations public was done in the cycling scene. The best example was the multiple Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who defended himself against all accusations legally and otherwise with great effort. In the end, everything was discovered.

In January 2013 Armstrong confessed his doping past in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. Read the book “The Cycling Mafia and its dirty business” by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle.

3. The rejection of continental drift

Today we know that the continents are moving. When Alfred Wegener proposed this at the beginning of the 20th century, he was laughed at and ridiculed. Long after his death it turned out that he was right. We had reported about it here in the blog (“Plate tectonics is catching on: Lessons for the Climate Debate” and “Continental Shift and Climate Change: The Miraculous Repetition of the History of Science“). A comprehensive treatise on the subject was published by Naomi Oreskes in her book “The Rejection of Continental Drift: Theory and Method in American Earth Science“.

4. Alzheimer’s cabal

Another example of rampant dogmatism in science to add here is: “The maddening saga of how an Alzheimer’s ‘cabal’ thwarted progress toward a cure for decades” by Sharon Begley.

Her report exposes how a “cabal” of “influential researchers have long believed so dogmatically in one theory of Alzheimer’s that they systematically thwarted alternative approaches.” Had it not been for this dogmatism, “we would be 10 or 15 years ahead of where we are now,” said Dr. Daniel Alkon, a longtime NIH neuroscientist who started a company to develop an Alzheimer’s treatment.


A truth about climate change that Warmists continue to dodge

Higher levels of CO2 are beneficial

Andrew Bolt on Australia's wild fires:

ACTIVISTS are exploiting these terrible bushfires to whip up an astonishing fear of man-made global warming and hatred of sceptics like me.

But know what makes me sure, even after this fiery devastation, that the global warming menace is exaggerated? It's warmist scientist Andy Pitman, who has once again confirmed exactly what I've been saying. How horrified he'll be to hear it

You may remember Professor Pitman, the director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes. He last year was recorded admitting to fellow warmists that droughts — like this severe one that's fed the fires — are NOT caused by global warming. "As far as the climate scientists know there is no link between climate change and drought," he said. "There is no reason a priori why climate change should make the landscape more arid."

Indeed, despite the drought, Australia's rainfall over the century as increased, not fallen.

Pitman and the ABC were naturaily mortified when I and others started to quote him. Pitman is now furious that former rime Minister Tony Abbott last week quoted his admission, too, in he Australian.

But in his anger, Pitman let slip a fact that sceptics like me have tried for years to point out. Pitman complained that "Abbott quotes me on drought ... when in fact for 15 years I have been warning that the risk of fires is increasing as a consequence of climate change".

That's because, he said, the extra carbon dioxide we emit is actually plant food that causes "greening", meaning we get more leaves and even trees to burn in a drought. But Pitman has been too honest. Most warmists have dodged this truth, because it undermines their fear campaign.

You see, it's actually sceptics like me who have for years argued that global warming is greening the planet, and that this is, overall, a good thing. As renowned physicist Freeman Dyson says: "The whole Earth is growing greener as a result of carbon dioxide, so it's increasing agricultural yields, it's increasing the forests and it's increasing growth in the biological world."

NASA has found that an area about twice the size of the continental United States got greener between 1982 and 2009. This helps to explain why world grain crops keep setting new records.

But wait! A greener planet Bigger crops. Fewer cyclones, too. Is this really something we want to stop? This goes to the key question that sceptics like me keep asking. We don't deny the planet has warmed. We instead question whether the warming we're seeing — less than predicted — is all bad. We particularly question whether it's smart to spend billions or even trillions to cut emissions in a largely symbolic attempt to "stop" all this.

Of course, some warmists will say: look at these deadly fires! Don't they prove global warming is deadly? In fact, tragic as they've been, they are far from our worst, measured either by deaths or area burned.

What's more, our bush this summer was dried out by a drought that was caused primarily not by global warming but by a natural and regular change in ocean patterns called the Indian Ocean Dipole. When that dipole pushes warmer water in the Indian Ocean east to Australia, we get rain; when it replaces that with cooler water, we get drought

Last December the Bureau of Meteorology warned the dipole had pushed so much cool water our way that we get no real rain until April. We'd get no rain to stop the fires. Well, the bureau was wrong. The dipole suddenly decayed a couple of weeks ago, and we've since had lots of rain over eastern Australia, with more to come this week.

So, thanks to Pitman, the sceptics' case is even clearer. Do we really want to spend a fortune to slash our emissions in a largely futile attempt to "stop" a warming that isn't anything as dangerous as we're told? Or would it be far cheaper and infinitely more effective to finally do all the fuel reduction burns needed to keep down the fuel loads in our forests?

After all, even Pitman is blaming extra fuel loads for the intensity of the flames. Yet Victoria, for one, has over the past five years burned only half the area recommended by the royal commission into the shocking 2009 fires that killed 172 people -- four times more than died in this summer's fires. But that's one more topic warmists hate. Reason is their enemy, and only fear is their friend.

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 27 January, 2020


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

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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Greta Thunberg: A Living Explanation Of The Left

It is not easy to understand what the Left — as opposed to liberals — stands for. If you ask a Christian what to read to learn the basics of Christianity, you will be told the Bible. If you ask a (religious) Jew, you will be told the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud. If you ask a Mormon, you will be told the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Ask a Muslim, and you will be told the Quran.

But if you ask a leftist what one or two books you should read to understand leftism, every leftist will give you a different answer — or need some time to think it over. Few, if any, will suggest Marx’s “Das Kapital” because almost no leftists have read it and because you will either not finish the book or reject it as incoherent.

So, then, how is one to understand what leftism stands for?

The truth is it is almost impossible. What leftist in history would have ever imagined that to be a leftist, one would have to believe that men give birth or men have periods, or that it is fair to women to have to compete in sports with biological males who identify as females?

There are two primary reasons it is so difficult, if not impossible, to define leftism. One is that it ultimately stands for chaos:

— Open borders.

— “Nonbinary” genders.

— Nonsensical and scatological “art.”

— “Music” without tonality, melody or harmony.

— Drag Queen Story Hour for 5-year-olds.

— Rejection of the concept of better or worse civilizations.

— Rejection of the concept of better or worse art.

— Removal of Shakespeare’s picture from a university English department because he was a white male.

— The end of all use of fossil fuels — even in transportation (as per the recent recommendation by the head of the U.N. World Meteorological Organization).

— The dismantling of capitalism, the economic engine that has lifted billions of people out of abject poverty.

And much more.

The other major reason it is impossible to define leftism is that it is emotion-based. Leftism consists of causes that give those who otherwise lack meaning something to cling to for meaning.

Two things about Greta Thunberg, Time Magazine’s 2019 person of the year, embody these explanations.

With regard to chaos, here is what Greta Thunberg wrote at the beginning of the month: “The climate crisis is not just about the environment. It is a crisis of human rights, of justice and of political will. Colonial, racist and patriarchal systems of oppression have created and fuelled it. We need to dismantle them all.”

Greta Thunberg, like all leftists, seeks to dismantle just about everything. As former President Barack Obama said five days before the 2008 election, “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

As regards emotion and meaning, the Guardian reports, this is what Thunberg’s father just told the BBC: “Greta Thunberg’s father has opened up about how activism helped his daughter out of depression … how activism had changed the outlook of the teenager, who suffered from depression for ‘three or four years’ before she began her school strike protest outside the Swedish parliament. She was now ‘very happy’, he said … ‘She stopped talking … she stopped going to school,’ he said of her illness.”

The post-Judeo-Christian world the Left has created has left a vast number of the West’s citizens, especially more and more young people, with no meaning. This Grand-Canyon-sized hole is filled by leftist causes.

The fact is life is better, safer and more affluent, and offers more opportunities for more people, than ever before in history. Just about all emotionally stable, mature people should be walking around the West almost delirious at their good fortune. Americans in particular should feel this way. But leftists (again, as opposed to many liberals) are not usually emotionally stable and are certainly not mature. That is why depression among young Americans (and perhaps Swedes) is at the highest levels ever recorded. So, like Greta, they look to left-wing causes to find meaning and emotional fulfillment. Until she embraced climate crisis activism — a chance, as she sees it, to literally save the world — Greta Thunberg was so depressed “she stopped talking.” But thanks to climate activism and other left-wing activism, she is now “very happy” (an assessment I suspect many observers find hard to believe).

Feminism and “fighting patriarchy” (in an age when American women have more opportunities than ever before and more opportunities than women almost anywhere else in the world), fighting racism (in the least racist multiracial society in history), fighting white supremacy (which has almost disappeared from American life) and fighting on behalf of myriad other leftist causes — in other words, fundamentally transforming society — gives meaning to people with no meaning.

None of that is morally or rationally coherent. But it is very emotionally satisfying. Just ask Greta Thunberg’s dad.


Denim’s toll on the planet has long been fashion’s guilty secret. Not anymore: How BLUE jeans went green

Whiskering. I always had my doubts about this term used to describe a denim distressing technique. For a start, it sounded more like a pet’s pampering treatment.

Secondly, I always found the results themselves pretty distressing on the style front. Those pale streaks, meant to recreate vintage wear and tear, always looked far too white. I spent vast sums on distressed boot-cuts in an effort to find the perfect, elegantly aged pair. But no matter which brand I tried, I would realise too late that I looked like a Britney Spears backing dancer from the Bad Bleached Denim years.

I would always find that the wretched whiskers seemed to splay almost purposefully across the parts to which I least wanted to draw attention.

But never mind my style credentials, what I didn’t know back then was the harm they were doing to the environment.

Now the scary truth is out: traditional denim production is one of the worst polluters in fashion.

Creating that aged look in denim involves repeated washing, water wastage, and toxic dyes. Conventional (as opposed to organic) cotton is a water-intensive crop, requiring roughly 50 litres to grow enough for a single pair of jeans, as well as the heavy use of pesticides.

The good news, however, is that denim brands — from Levi’s to supermarket fashion ranges such as F&F at Tesco — are finally getting with the green programme.

The industry is seeking out new, non-toxic dyes, cutting water waste, investing in technology to recycle the water used and — crucially — trying to switch to organic cotton.

Passionate eco-pioneer Stella McCartney is launching the world’s first fully biodegradable stretch jeans. Lee is also a step ahead with its biodegradable jacket, above, with removable buttons as they’re the only part that will not decompose.

Now, I’m off to try on a pair of mid-blue Frame flares. Not a whisker in sight . . .


As ‘flight shame’ movement grows, more airlines and travelers seek to offset carbon footprint

You don’t need to speak Swedish to understand the idea behind “flygskam.” Its English translation is flight shame, and a growing number of travelers are feeling that shame and rethinking their mode of vacation transportation. The belief is that reducing air travel will help fight global warming.

Spurred on by teenage activist Greta Thunberg, flight shame is an environmental movement that highlights the aviation industry’s growing carbon footprint, putting pressure on carriers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The “Greta effect” has stirred up a new sense of urgency over airlines and climate change. Thunberg brought attention to the issue when she took a racing yacht to a climate summit in New York to avoid flying.

One immediate sign of the Greta effect is fewer passengers at Swedish airports, where the movement was born in 2017. Earlier this month, Swedavia, which owns 10 airports in Sweden, announced that it had seen a 4 percent drop in the number of passengers last year. In 2019, there were around 40 million passengers flying to and from all Swedavia airports, down from 42 million in 2018. The biggest drop was seen in the Stockholm airport, with numbers down 8 percent.

The flight shame movement isn’t confined to Sweden. A survey of more than 6,000 people in the United States, Germany, France, and the UK by the Swiss Bank UBS found that 21 percent had reduced the number of flights they took over the past year out of concern for the environment.

“With the pace of the climate change debate, we think it is fair to assume that these trends are likely to continue in developed markets,” the UBS analysts said in the report.

In England, more than 100,000 people have pledged to be flight free in 2020.

The CEO of SAS, one of Scandinavia’s largest carriers, has attributed his airline’s declining passenger numbers to flight shame (along with a weak krona). In Germany, where passenger counts are also in decline, one political party said improving the rail system could help make domestic flights obsolete. It’s reached the point where the CEO of Dutch carrier KLM wrote an open letter asking passengers not to fly unless necessary.

“Over the past 10 years, it’s gone from a trend to a lifestyle,” said Adriana Lynch, chief marketing officer at Office Outsiders. Lynch works with brands in the hospitality industry. “Consumers are no longer saying that it’s cute to be socially responsible. They’re looking for alternatives. In 2020 it’s an actual movement.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were confronted with an overwhelming amount of flight shame and finger wagging after taking four private jet trips in 11 days. Soon after, the prince announced that he was launching an initiative called Travalyst, an effort to bring greater awareness to sustainability and travel. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are now flying commercial carriers.

The erstwhile prince isn’t the only one trying to make travel more sustainable. Last week JetBlue announced that it will go carbon neutral this year, offsetting its estimated 15 billion to 17 billion pounds of CO2 — equivalent to more than 1.5 million automobiles — by funding programs such as reforestation, supporting wind and solar projects, and exploring the use of biofuels. It comes on the heels of similar programs from EasyJet and British Airways.

"Though none of the larger US airlines have yet matched JetBlue, I won’t be surprised if at least one decides to do so,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst.

Air travel accounts for about 2.5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, a much smaller percentage than automobiles, but according to projections from researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University in England, emissions from the sector could more than double by 2050, even if planes become substantially more fuel-efficient.

While airlines grapple with solutions, travelers now have ways to check on how they may or may not be contributing to the problem. One of the shame-iest websites is called Shame Plane. It offers an estimate of how much Arctic ice will melt based on your trip. (Bon voyage!) There are also slightly less shame-based carbon emissions calculators, such as the Carbon Foot Print Calculator. The International Civil Aviation Organization also has a helpful calculator.

If you’d like to shrink your footprint and diminish your flight shame, you can donate to organizations that work specifically to fund earth-friendly, carbon-offsetting programs. Cool Effect funds reforestation projects and nature preserves. Green-e specializes in renewable energy projects, and Gold Standard focuses on reforestation and renewable energy. There are hundreds of choices of projects you can fund through organizations.

Many major airlines work with similar organizations and give travelers the opportunity to offset carbon emissions by making donations based on the length of their flight. Those airlines include: Alaska Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, United, Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, EVA, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, and Qantas.

This week, the travel app TripIt announced it was adding a feature that not only shows a flight’s carbon emissions, but provides practical ideas on how to offset them. Also this week, the airline and hotel booking app Hopper announced it will donate four trees for every flight booked and two trees for every hotel booked through its app in partnership with Eden Reforestation Projects.

The International Council on Clean Travel regularly ranks the most fuel-efficient airlines. Choosing a fuel-efficient airline is another way to help reduce emissions. In the United States, the most fuel-efficient airline in 2017 and 2018 was Frontier, followed by Spirit and Southwest. The least efficient was JetBlue, because it operates its planes with a lower load factor and fewer seats per plane. Fewer seats means fewer passengers. It’s akin to driving with fewer passengers in a car. The ICCT reported Frontier ranked high because it has a newer fleet and more direct flights than competitors. Internationally, Norwegian Air was the most fuel-efficient airline. British Airways was ranked worst.

One key difference between the flight shame movement in Europe versus the United States is that European travelers have many more rail options, both domestically and continentally. If a vacationer wants to travel from Switzerland to Germany or Italy to France, there are ways to do so that don’t require additional hours, or days. In the United States, large swaths of the country are not connected by rail, or if they are, routes are limited or simply impractical.

“In the US, if you’re going to tell someone not to fly on environmental grounds, you’re often telling them not to travel,” said Seth Kaplan, an author and airline analyst. “Oftentimes there isn’t a greener option, or an option that anyone is going to put up with in terms of travel time. But generally no greener option at all.”

The lack of options is frustrating to Eva Martinez of Quincy. She said she wants to do the right thing and reduce the number of flights she takes each year, but not at the expense of missing time with her family in New Mexico. She said she has friends in the same boat, or, in this case, plane. Giving up flying means less time with family, or fewer vacations outside the United States.

So while travelers are more focused on the environment, Harteveldt said he doesn’t see flight shame taking hold in the United States, especially as airfares continue to drop and more routes open.

Even in continental Europe, where the growth of air travel slowed in 2019, it’s impossible to clearly ascribe the change to flight shame. David Tarsh, managing director of Tarsh Consulting, which represents a number of companies within the travel industry, said reasons could run the gamut, from riots in Chile, to strife in Hong Kong, or terrorism in Sri Lanka.

“Even if [travelers] tell you the reason for not flying was flight shaming, it is possible that other factors were dominant,” Tarsh said. "For example: higher air fares, slightly inconvenient dates, or corporate cost cutting. One needs to investigate very carefully before being able to assert definitively that flight shaming is having a significant impact.”

There is one easy way to eliminate flight shame, and that’s to stay grounded, but keep in mind that long car trips, particularly solo trips in heavy traffic, will not help the environment. But if staying on land is not an option, an easy way to reduce your footprint is by flying economy instead of business or first class. According to a study from the World Bank, the emissions associated with flying in business class are about three times as great as flying in coach, because more passengers per plane means fewer flights.

At last, cramped economy passengers have something to be happy about: smaller carbon footprints.


Facts blurred in climate coverage

Sobriety and perspective were once two of the valued qualities of serious media who considered themselves above the exaggeration and inflammation — commonly referred to as beat-ups — that they view as the domain of the tabloid or shock media.

Climate change has flipped that around. Nowadays media that would assign themselves the “quality” label while rejecting the accurate “green-left” tag are all about hysteria and twisting facts. Let me start with CNN, whose reporter Will Ripley spent a week or so in Australia reporting mainly on bushfires and weather, including a climate protest.

“They (the protesters) say the planet is dying,” Ripley reported. “And Australia is right on the frontline of this climate crisis: you have the unprecedented bushfires, you have the Great Barrier Reef drying up because of the ozone levels in the atmosphere.”

Oh, dear. Fact-checking goes missing when pushing the alarmist perspective. Only sceptical views tend to be treated with any, well, scepticism, by most media.

The word “unprecedented” has been invoked time and again in order to pretend terrifying events, the likes of which have scarred this nation forever, were something brought newly upon us by climate change.

Early in the season NSW had more emergency level fires on one day than ever before (due to arson, natural events and weather conditions), and on two other days the Sydney area recorded its worst fire conditions, and it has been the worst bushfire season in that state. But it is wrong to claim this is the worst season by any measure for any other state or the nation as a whole.

We could fill pages with such hype. Given the essential facts have been so drastic it seems implausible that anyone would want to embellish the story — but the sensationalism has been, well, perhaps unprecedented.

US ABC news headed a story “Wildfire Apocalypse” and chief meteorologist Ginger Zee said “unprecedented” fires were “consuming” Australia.

Maps on US and UK media had flames all over our continent; we were ablaze coast to coast.

At the BBC, TV host Ros Atkins bought into the sensationalism and Twitter-level political debate full-on: quoting people like Lara (Bingle) Worthington on social media, describing us as the “hottest place in the world” (as, of course, we often are in summer) and showing pictures of Scott Morrison holding a lump of coal.

Atkins along with most journalists in Australia adopted the word “megablaze” or “megafire” to describe the main Blue Mountains fire. This is of a piece with the climate change-induced language tweaks to make weather events sound different to all that preceded them. Storms are now “storm events” and heatwaves “extreme heat events” and so it goes. (The concocted word “megafire” even passed my lips as I read a breaking news update scripted elsewhere and presented live on air.)

But worse than the beat-ups has been the politicisation. Green-left politicians and climate protesters, led by former NSW fire commissioner and global warming activist Greg Mullins, were sowing the seeds before the fire season even began and have used every blaze and even every death to push their policies.

The basis of their concern is not seriously disputed in public debate: that global warming will make bad fire conditions more common in many parts of Australia. But the thrust of their arguments, amplified by compliant media, is based on untruths: claims this fire season is our worst, accusations our government is not acting on climate, inferences our policies can alter global climate and, perhaps worst of all, implicit and false promises that climate policies can ameliorate the annual threat of bushfires.

To avoid sensible arguments about historical context, policy options and global impacts, the green-left media deliberately creates a false dichotomy.

They characterise the argument in Australia as one between climate change reality and climate change denial.

This jaundiced falsification is social media click-bait. On the BBC Atkins used some of my commentary to this end, running a clip of me saying the activists and politicians were using bushfires to advocate policies that “can and will do nothing ever to prevent horror bushfire conditions” in Australia.

Instead of making an argument against this incontestable statement — perhaps by trying to explain how Australia’s policies can change a climate that has produced bushfires for millennia — Atkins falsely insinuated I didn’t accept the science and gave us the intellectually lazy climate science versus denial and inaction case.

He then falsely suggested Australia was not involved in global efforts to lower emissions. This is the inane “white hats versus black hats” level at which media conduct this complex debate.

In another segment Atkins asked London-based Sydney Morning Herald journalist Latika Bourke whether it was “fair to say the very existence of climate change is still an active debate in Australia?”

“Yes,” replied Bourke, “it’s been a very ferocious debate in Australia for about the last decade.” She claimed this debate has split the two major parties; one side accepting science and backing emissions reduction, and the other arguing “climate change, if it is happening at all, is not the fault of human activity”.

This is a mischaracterisation of our political debate where the choice at the last election was between a Coalition promising to meet our Paris climate agreement targets of 26-28 per cent by 2030 and a Labor opposition promising to increase that target to 45 per cent. Neither the science nor the need for multilateral action are in dispute between our major parties, but rather the targets and methods of achieving them.

Bourke then went on to say there was no resolution to the debate, “except what we’re seeing this summer and that is a catastrophic weather event.” Atkins aired another interview with Bourke in which she said: “Australia’s well used to bushfires but this extremity, this intensity, this degree, Australia has not seen before.” Plain wrong.

She went on to say, perhaps second-guessing her own hyperbole: “And these are the worst in living memory.” But, again, this is just wrong. It is only 11 years since the fierce firestorms of Black Saturday in Victoria where hotter temperatures and stronger winds saw 173 lives and thousands of properties lost and, of course, anyone involved in 1983’s Ash Wednesday will not have forgotten those hellish conditions or their toll. If we study the historical reports we know maelstroms descended in 1967, 1939, 1851 and many other times in between.

It is unpleasant to do these comparisons between horrible events. But it is sadly necessary to counter a loose conspiracy of misinformation designed to convince everyone that we have created something new, something more horrible than anyone else has experienced before.

It is of a piece with official edicts by news organisations such as The Guardian to inflame climate coverage by talking of “crisis” and “emergency” instead of climate change. It smacks of fake news generated to pursue green- left political goals. And it is as much of a worry as the climate.


Reducing Fire, and Cutting Carbon Emissions, the Aboriginal Way

The article from the NYT below gives a good sense of Aboriginal burning practices but does not give enough emphasis to the fact that Aboriginal burning practices -- very frequent small fires -- would not be tolerated for a moment in most of Australia.  They would rightly be seen as dangerous.

The Aborigines described below can get away with it for two main reasons:

1).  They live in Kakadu national park, which is only very lightly populated -- so they have few neighbours to bother them with criticisms

2).  The NT has predicable monsoons, which enables safer detection of risky/non-risky times to burn.  Rainfall in the rest of Australia is much less predictable, if it is predictable at all. So choosing safe times to burn is very approximate.

Adequate burns can only be done safely in most of Australia if plans for burning cover many areas -- so that a burn can start somewhere as soon as there is a good day for it.  Burns have to exploit ALL good burning days

COOINDA, NT. — At a time when vast tracts of Australia are burning, Violet Lawson is never far from a match.

In the woodlands surrounding her home in the far north of the country, she lights hundreds of small fires a year — literally fighting fire with fire. These traditional Aboriginal practices, which reduce the undergrowth that can fuel bigger blazes, are attracting new attention as Australia endures disaster and confronts a fiery future.

Over the past decade, fire-prevention programs, mainly on Aboriginal lands in northern Australia, have cut destructive wildfires in half. While the efforts draw on ancient ways, they also have a thoroughly modern benefit: Organizations that practice defensive burning have earned $80 million under the country’s cap-and-trade system as they have reduced greenhouse-gas emissions from wildfires in the north by 40 percent.

These programs, which are generating important scientific data, are being held up as a model that could be adapted to save lives and homes in other regions of Australia, as well as fire-prone parts of the world as different as California and Botswana.

“Fire is our main tool,” Ms. Lawson said as she inspected a freshly burned patch where grasses had become ash but the trees around them were undamaged. “It’s part of protecting the land.”

The fire-prevention programs, which were first given government licenses in 2013, now cover an area three times the size of Portugal. Even as towns in the south burned in recent months and smoke haze blanketed Sydney and Melbourne, wildfires in northern Australia were much less severe.

“The Australian government is now starting to see the benefits of having Indigenous people look after their lands,” said Joe Morrison, one of the pioneers of the project. “Aboriginal people who have been through very difficult times are seeing their language, customs and traditional knowledge being reinvigorated and celebrated using Western science.”

In some ways, the Aboriginal methods resemble Western ones practiced around the world: One of the main goals is to reduce underbrush and other fuel that accelerates hot, damaging fires.

But the ancient approach tends to be more comprehensive. Indigenous people, using precisely timed, low-intensity fires, burn their properties the way a suburban homeowner might use a lawn mower.

Aboriginal practices have been so successful in part because of a greater cultural tolerance of fire and the smoke it generates. The country’s thinly populated north, where Aboriginal influence and traditions are much stronger than in the south, is not as hamstrung by political debates and residents’ concerns about the health effects of smoke.

The landscape and climate of northern Australia also make it more amenable to preventive burning. The wide open spaces, and the distinctive seasons — a hot dry season is followed by monsoon rains — make burning more predictable.

Yet despite these regional differences, those who have studied the Aboriginal techniques say they could be adapted in the more populated parts of the country.

“We most certainly should learn to burn Aboriginal-style,” said Bill Gammage, a professor at the Australian National University in Canberra. “Our firefighters have quite good skills in fighting fires. But for preventing them, they are well short of what Aboriginal people could do.”

Last week, Victor Cooper, a former forest ranger in northern Australia, lit a wad of shaggy bark to demonstrate the type of fire that burns at temperatures low enough to avoid damage to sensitive plants that are crucial food for animals.

The preventive fires, he said, should trickle, not rage. They must be timed according to air temperature, wind conditions and humidity, as well as the life cycles of plants. Northern Aboriginal traditions revolve around the monsoon, with land burned patch by patch as the wet season gives way to the dry.

“We don’t have a fear of fire,” said Mr. Cooper, who burns regularly around his stilt house nestled in woodlands. “We know the earlier we burn, the more protection we have.”

This year, he will become certified to join the carbon credits program. Money earned through that system has incentivized stewardship of the land and provided hundreds of jobs in Aboriginal communities, where unemployment rates are high. The funds have also financed the building of schools in underserved areas.

NASA satellite data is used to quantify the reduction in carbon emissions and do computer modeling to track fires. Modern technology also supplements the defensive burning itself: Helicopters drop thousands of incendiary devices the size of Ping-Pong balls over huge patches of territory at times of the year when the land is still damp and fires are unlikely to rage out of control.

Those taking part in the program say they are frustrated that other parts of the country have been reluctant to embrace the same types of preventive burning. The inaction is longstanding: A major federal inquiry after deadly fires more than a decade ago recommended wider adoption of Aboriginal methods.

“I have many friends in other parts of Australia who can’t get their heads around that fire is a useful tool, that not all fire is the same and that you can manage it,” said Andrew Edwards, a fire expert at Charles Darwin University in northern Australia. “It’s hard to get across to people that fire is not a bad thing.”

Nine years ago, Mr. Gammage published a book that changed the way many in Australia thought about the Australian countryside and how it has been managed since the arrival of Europeans in the late 18th century.

The book, “The Biggest Estate on Earth,” uses documents from the earliest settlers and explorers to show how the landscape had been systematically shaped by Aboriginal fire techniques.

Many forests were thinner than those that exist now and were more resistant to hot-burning fires. Early explorers described the landscape as a series of gardens, and they reported seeing near constant trails of smoke from small fires across the landscape.

As Europeans took control of the country, they banned burning. Jeremy Russell-Smith, a bushfire expert at Charles Darwin University, said this quashing of traditional fire techniques happened not only in Australia, but also in North and South America, Asia and Africa.

“The European mind-set was to be totally scared of fire,” Mr. Russell-Smith said.

As the fires rage in the south, Aboriginal people in northern Australia say they are deeply saddened at the loss of life — about 25 people have been killed and more than 2,000 homes destroyed. But they also express bewilderment that forests were allowed to grow to become so combustible.

Margaret Rawlinson, the daughter of Ms. Lawson, who does preventive burning on her property in the far north, remembers traveling a decade ago to the countryside south of Sydney and being alarmed at fields of long, desiccated grass.

“I was terrified,” Ms. Rawlinson said. “I couldn’t sleep. I said, ‘We need to go home. This place is going to go up, and it’s going to be a catastrophe.’”

The area that she visited, around the town of Nowra, has been a focal point for fires over the past few weeks.

The pioneering defensive burning programs in northern Australia came together in the 1980s and ’90s when Aboriginal groups moved back onto their native lands after having lived in settlements under the encouragement, or in some cases the order, of the government.

Depopulated for decades, the land had suffered. Huge fires were decimating species and damaging rock paintings.

“The land was out of control,” said Dean Yibarbuk, a park ranger whose Indigenous elders encouraged him to seek solutions.

The Aboriginal groups ultimately teamed up with scientists, the government of the Northern Territory and the Houston-based oil company ConocoPhillips, which was building a natural gas facility and was required to find a project that would offset its carbon emissions.

According to calculations by Mr. Edwards, wildfires in northern Australia burned 57 percent fewer acres last year than they did on average in the years from 2000 to 2010, the decade before the program started.

Mr. Yibarbuk, who is now chairman of Warddeken Land Management, one of the largest of the participating organizations, employs 150 Aboriginal rangers, part time and full time.

“We are very lucky in the north to be able to keep our traditional practices,” Mr. Yibarbuk said. “There’s a pride in going back to the country, managing it and making a difference.”



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


Monday, January 27, 2020

The science behind climate change and its impact on bushfires (?)

I rather enjoyed this article, long-winded though it is.  Prof. Karoly is an old global warming warrior from way back so he has had a long time to perfect his arguments for global warming and, in the version of his talk below, he does present a much more detailed case than one usually encounters.

All of the assertions below are however unreferenced and most have been challenged many times.  And as is normal in Leftist writing, there is no mention of any of the facts which are contrary to his case.  The article leaves out almost all of the many facts which tend to contradict the global warming hypothesis.  Such argumentation is of course completely unscholarly and identifies the article as propaganda only.

Prof Karoly's scientific background does however show in a number of useful ways so it is a pity that such a long article will remain mostly unread -- as there are a number of basic scientific points below that Warmists would do well to note.

The one that stands out most below is his perfectly correct and perfectly basic point that global warming CANNOT explain Australia' drought or any other drought.  Anybody who has watched a kettle boil will know that heating water causes it to give off water vapour so warming the oceans will also give off more water vapour -- and that comes down again as rain.  So a warmer world would be a wetter world.  So, if anything, drought proves that global warming is NOT going on.

So in his words on the drought, Prof. Karoly contradicts the claims made by almost all Warmists.  There will be much reaching for indigestion remedies by almost all Warmists who read those of his words.

What Prof. Karoly leaves out:

It's hard to believe but in an article that is allegedly about bushfires, there is no mention of the biggest influence on the fires:  Fuel accumulation in the form of fallen branches and leaves.  Without fuel, there would be no fires. If it's not about global warming he doesn't want to know about it, apparently.

If only for the sake of argument, most climate skeptics are prepared to concede that atmospheric CO2 has SOME warming effect. The dispute is about its magnitude.  Is the warming effect large or is it utterly trivial?  The Warmists have little more than assertions for their claim that it is large.  There are, on the other hand, both theoretical and empirical reasons to say that the effect is trivial.

On the theoretical side, the fact that CO2 forms much less than one percent of the atmosphere should indicate that any effect from it will be trivial.  More importantly, however,  a heated atmospheric molecule will radiate heat in ALL directions, not just downwards towards the earth. And the higher up the molecule is, the less heat from it will hit the earth.  Rather than seeing heated CO2 molecules as a blanket or a greenhouse roof, a better analogy for their effect would be a bucket with a small hole in it.  Only what gets through the hole hits the earth.

But all theories must be tested against the facts so what are the facts?  The most basic fact is that over the last 150 years or so we have experienced only about one degree Celsius of warming.  Is that trivial?  If you walked from one room into another where the temperatures in the two rooms differed by only one degree you would not normally notice anything.  You would need an instrument to detect the difference.  So I think "trivial" is an excellent word for that difference.

But a much less impressionistic piece of evidence for the triviality of CO2 induced warming is also available.  If CO2 has the effect hypothesized and the effect is large, we should notice increased warming every time the CO2 levels rise.  But that is not remotely true.  Increases in CO2 mostly have no noticeable warming effect.  CO2 levels can shoot up with absolutely no discernable effect on global temperatures.

Perhaps the most striking example of that is the "grand hiatus". For 30 years between 1945 and 1975, CO2 levels leapt but global temperatures remained flat. See here.  How come?  CO2 molecules don't have a little computer inside them telling them to take a holiday from emitting heat.  They emit heat all the time. So if they were emitting heat from 1945 to 1975, that heat must have been tiny in amount, so tiny as to be undetectable.

30 years of no effect would be notable in itself but 1945 is supposed to  be the year in which anthropogenic global warming began -- with all the postwar reconstruction.  The 1945 to 1975 period is a critical test of the global warming theory -- and it fails that test utterly.

So it takes only a few basic facts to show that Prof. Karoly's pontifications are a castle built on sand

Charis Chang reports:

When considering the science around climate change, one expert believes it’s useful to compare it to another famous hypothesis – the theory of gravity.

Not many people would think to cast doubt on the theory of gravity, and according to Professor David Karoly, who leads the Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub in the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program at CSIRO, the evidence that human activity is causing global warming is so strong it is equal to this theory.

“The theory on the human impact on climate change is just as strong, or stronger, than the scientific basis for the theory of gravity,” Prof Karoly told

Prof Karoly said that there was also evidence climate change was a factor in recent devastating bushfires in Australia.

Prof Karoly will explain the science at a free public lecture as part of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute 2020 Summer School public lecture in Melbourne on Wednesday, January 29. His speech will also be streamed online.

When we talk about science, Prof Karoly believes it’s helpful to remember we are not talking about “beliefs”.

Science is in fact a process that tests a hypothesis to provide conclusions about the way nature works.

Not convinced? Here’s the science.

Some say the world’s climate has always changed and in the past there have been ice ages and warmer glacial periods, which is true.

The difference is whether humans have caused the changes.

We know that humans could not have had any influence on the past ice ages for example, because there were no humans on the planet.

So how do we know that the climate changes now are due to human activity?

Prof Karoly said there were two approaches.

The first approach involves examining “observational data”. If we want to identify long-term trends we need to look at data collected over a wide area and across at least 30 years.

To figure out why the Earth is warming, there are some logical factors to look at first.

The main things that impact the Earth’s climate are sunlight from the sun, how it is absorbed in the atmosphere and how energy is lost from Earth and sent into space.

One thing that can impact the amount of sunlight we get includes the amount of clouds, ice and snow because they all reflect sunlight, making it cooler.

However, greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere can also affect temperatures. These gases make the planet hotter because they absorb heat radiation from the Earth and prevent this from being released into space as quickly.

Greenhouse gases can include carbon dioxide, methane and water vapour. “When greenhouse gases increase, the surface temperature of the Earth increases,” Prof Karoly said.

So what does the data tell us about these factors?


Analysis of air bubbles from ice cores trapped in ice in Greenland and Antarctica showed that over the last 10,000 years, carbon dioxide varied a small amount, hovering around 280 and 290 parts per million.

But if you look at the last 150 years, it’s a different story. Carbon dioxide now sits at 400 parts per million.

“This has increased by more than 40 per cent,” Prof Karoly said.

“It is higher than at any time in the last 10,000 years. In fact, it’s higher than any time in the last million years.”

“So that suggests … something weird is happening.”

Prof Karoly said you had to go back more than three million years to find a time when carbon dioxide was around 400 parts per million.

“Three million years ago when carbon dioxide was higher, temperatures were more than two degrees warmer and sea levels were more than 10 metres higher,” he said.

Humans were not around three million years ago so they can’t be blamed for the high amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

So what was cause of these higher levels of carbon dioxide?

Some experts have suggested the carbon dioxide was actually being released from the ocean.

“A warmer ocean can’t absorb as much carbon dioxide,” Prof Karoly said. “As it heats up, it can’t hold as much carbon and this is released into the atmosphere.”

However, the type of carbon dioxide the ocean releases is different to that released by burning fossil fuels and land clearing.

Prof Karoly said the carbon dioxide has a different chemical composition so scientists are able to distinguish between the two.

“Carbon dioxide released from the ocean doesn’t use up oxygen,” Prof Karoly said.

Over the last 40 years, scientists have been able to monitor the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere and the fall in oxygen has exactly matched the increase in carbon dioxide that you would expect if it was coming from the burning of fossil fuels and decomposition of vegetation from land clearing.

“What we now know, is that the increase to carbon is not natural, it’s due to human activity, from the burning of fossil fuels and land clearing,” Prof Karoly said.

This is not just a theory, it is based on “observational evidence”, that is, scientists have data that shows the increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is coming from fossil fuels and land clearing.


We can also look at other observational data to help strengthen the theory.

If the Earth was warming up because of increasing sunlight, then you would expect temperatures during the day to increase and for it to be cooler at night (because there is no sun at night!).

However, what scientists found is that nights were actually warming up more so than days.

This points to greenhouse gases playing a role.

As noted above, greenhouse gases trap heat radiation from the Earth and stop it from being released into space as quickly.

This effect can be seen for example, on nights with more clouds, which don’t cool down as much as there is more water vapour in the atmosphere.

In contrast, deserts are more cool at night because there is not as much water vapour over these areas, and it’s a similar story in coastal areas.

So if nights are warming up more than days, it’s unlikely that the sun is playing a role in this, it’s more likely that greenhouse gases are trapping heat on Earth and pushing up temperatures.

Scientists have also looked at temperatures in the Earth’s stratosphere, which is the layer of the atmosphere from about 10km up.

The stratosphere warms because the ozone layer it contains absorbs the sun’s ultraviolent radiation.

If there was more sunlight, you would expect the upper atmosphere to warm up because it was absorbing more ultraviolet rays.

But if there was an increase in greenhouse gases then you would expect the stratosphere to be cooler because carbon dioxide is efficient, not only at absorbing heat radiation but also at releasing it into space, cooling it down.

“Observations have shown that the surface and lower atmosphere have warmed, and the upper atmosphere has cooled in the last 50 years — the entire time we’ve been monitoring it through balloons and other satellites,” Prof Karoly said.

“This pattern of temperature change has happened everywhere and cannot be explained by increasing sunlight,” he said. “And it’s been getting stronger, which is exactly what you would expect from increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”


The first approach to looking at climate change is “observational data” but you can also use complex mathematical models of the climate system.

Around the world, Prof Karoly said more than 50 complex climate models had been developed to test climate theories on a larger scale.

While some may question how scientists could simulate the climate when they can’t forecast the weather over long periods of time, Prof Karoly said it was because the climate models looked at levels of radiation, which determine long-term climate.

“Models solve physical equations for the absorption and transmission of radiation in the atmosphere, and for the motion of the air, and for the motions of the ocean,” he said.

These simulations have shown that without human influences there would not be any long-term warming trend.

Temperatures would have stayed pretty much the same with only two-tenths of a degree of warming.

Instead the world has warmed by 1.1 degrees and the warming over Australia has been even higher than the global average, at 1.5 degrees.

This is because land warms up faster than the ocean.


So how does this relate to the catastrophic bushfires that have raged across Australia in recent months?

Higher mean temperatures give rise to a greater chance of heatwaves and hot extremes, Prof Karoly said.

“We have good observational data of the current summer and the last 50 years,” he said.

“There have been marked increases in heatwaves and hot days in all parts of Australia.”

Australia experienced its hottest and driest year on record in 2019 and December 2019 had a number of Australia’s hottest days ever recorded.

“We have also seen increases in sea levels, exactly what you would expect from climate change and the warming of ocean waters and melting of ice sheets and glaciers on land.”

When it comes to the intensity of bushfires, Prof Karoly said there are certain factors that were known to be important.

The McArthur Forest Fire Danger Index was developed to measure the degree of fire danger in Australian forests and the likelihood they will occur.

It combines factors including the temperature of air, wind speed, the dryness of the air (measured by relative humidity) and the dryness of the fuel and the ground (measured by rainfall over the previous month).

“So the combination of high temperatures, strong winds, low humidity and no rainfall leads to extreme fire danger,” Prof Karoly said.

These were exactly the conditions experienced in NSW and southern Queensland in September and October where there were record high temperatures and low humidity.

These conditions were also experienced in Canberra, coastal NSW and particularly East Gippsland in Victoria, which was why there was extreme fire danger in these areas.

The next question is whether climate change caused these conditions.

Prof Karoly says climate change has led to higher temperatures, as discussed above, but it’s unlikely it had a major role in the drought conditions.

He said if the rainfall in 2019 was related to climate change you would expect wetter conditions in northern Australia, not the record dry year experienced in 2019.

Climate change has also been linked with the long-term rainfall in the cool season in south-east Australia.

Prof Karoly believes the drought in 2019 may actually be due to “natural variations” and the “Indian Ocean Dipole”.

The IOD refers to the seesawing temperatures in the Indian Ocean, with colder waters closer to northern Australia and hotter waters closer to Africa.

There were also changes in wind patterns in the south of Australia and over Victoria and NSW, which led to stronger westerly winds that reduced the rainfall over the NSW coast and East Gippsland, where the worst fires and conditions have been.

Prof Karoly believes it was the stronger westerly winds and the Indian Ocean Dipole that ramped up the fire intensity, however, this was combined with the extreme temperatures caused by climate change, sparking Australia’s deadly fire season.

“So it was a combination of natural climate variability and climate change,” he said.


Minnesota Had More Wind and Solar in 2018 than Ever Before But CO2 Emissions Went Up

Minnesota had more wind turbines and solar panels in 2018 than in any year prior, but carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity generation sector increased compared to 2017 and 2016 levels, according to the most recent data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

According to EIA, Minnesota power plants emitted 29.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2018, compared to 28.3 million in 2017, and 29.6 million in 2016. This means our carbon dioxide emissions were about half a percent higher in 2018 than 2016, when we had much fewer wind turbines and solar panels installed in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

The graph below shows the total installed capacity for wind and solar from 2005 to 2018. You’ll see that the amount of wind and solar on the grid has increased by 871 megawatts (approximately 24 percent) since 2016, yet carbon dioxide emissions increased during this time frame.

But why? One reason is that Minnesota generated less electricity from wind in 2018 than in 2017.

As you can see in the graph below, the amount of installed wind capacity in Minnesota reached a new all-time high in 2018 (so did electric bills), but wind generation was about four percent lower in 2018 than in 2017. There could be multiple reasons why the wind was less useful in 2018 than 2017, including lower wind speeds or mechanical failure, but regardless of the reason, the take away from the data should be the same: more wind turbines does not necessarily mean more  electricity generation from wind.

This data presents an inconvenient reality for liberal politicians who claim human carbon dioxide emissions are causing an existential climate crisis.

How in the world can these politicians credibly claim that climate change is an existential crisis, while saying that we can only build impossibly expensive wind, solar, and battery storage when emissions have increased even though we have 24 percent more renewable capacity on the grid than we did in 2016?

Despite all of the sanctimonious platitudes wind and solar supporters spout about creating a better world for the children, they are not the adults in the room. If they were, they would seek to reduce emissions as cost effectively and efficiently as possible using a suite of technologies like new nuclear power, large hydro, and carbon capture and sequestration. Instead, they seem to always advocate for the opposite.

Minnesota’s renewable energy mandate is already harming every person in our state by increasing electricity prices. Xcel Energy’s recent bid to increase prices by $52 per year through the Renewable Energy Standard rider acts as one more regressive wind and solar tax, hurting low-income families and seniors the most. If we are going to build a stronger Minnesota for everyone, the foundation of our state should be lower energy prices, not higher ones.


Climate Expert Shreds Claims Made By Ocasio-Cortez, Thunberg In Congressional Testimony

Michael D. Shellenberger, President of Environmental Progress, ripped the far-left extremist rhetoric parroted by fringe activist Greta Thunberg and socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) during his testimony in front of the House Committee On Science, Space, and Technology on the science of climate change.

Without using their names, Shellenberger — who is a regular contributor in some of America’s largest publications like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Forbes — ripped apart many of the extreme claims made by Ocasio-Cortez and Thunberg.

Shellenberger began by highlighting his background, telling the Committee: “I am an energy analyst and environmentalist dedicated to the goals of universal prosperity, peace, and environmental protection. Between 2003 and 2009 I advocated for a large federal investment in renewables, many of which were made as part of the 2009 stimulus. And since 2013 I have advocated for the continued operation of nuclear plants around the world and thus helped prevent emissions from increasing the equivalent of adding 24 million cars to the road.”

“I also care about getting the facts and science right. I believe that scientists, journalists, and advocates have an obligation to represent climate science accurately, even if doing so reduces the saliency of our concerns,” Shellenberger continued.

“No credible scientific body has claimed climate change threatens the collapse of civilization much less the extinction of the human species. And yet some activists, scientists, and journalists make such apocalyptic assertions, which I believe contribute to rising levels of anxiety, including among adolescents, and worsening political polarization.”

Shellenberger’s remarks are an apparent shot at Thunberg’s claim that “we are in the beginning of a mass extinction” and Ocasio-Cortez’ claim that “we have 10 years left to plan and implement a Green New Deal before cataclysmic climate disaster.”

“My colleagues and I have carefully reviewed the science, interviewed the individuals who make such claims, and written a series of articles debunking them,” Shellenberger continued. “In response, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change invited me to review its next Assessment Report, and Harper Collins will publish our research findings this June.”

“While climate change may make some natural disasters more frequent and extreme, the death toll from extreme events could and should continue to decline, as it did over the last century by over 90 percent, even as the global population quadrupled,” Shellenberger continued. “Does that mean we shouldn’t worry about climate change? Of course not. Policymakers routinely take action on non-apocalyptic problems. And the risk of crossing unknown tipping points rises with higher temperatures.”

It’s important to note that Shellenberger is not a climate change denier, rather, he looks at what the science says and does not over-exaggerate scientific findings to advance a political agenda.

Shellenberger noted that the most important measure that governments need to undertake in order to reduce climate change “is the expanded use of nuclear energy.”

“Thanks in part to decades of public and private investment in fracking, natural gas is today cheap and abundant and thus needs little in terms of new public policy,” Shellenberger continued. “Solar and wind energy are popular but their inherent unreliability, large land use requirements, and large materials requirements mean they make electricity expensive, have large environmental impacts, and are inherently limited in their capacity to replace fossil fuels.”

“The U.S. invented nuclear energy for civilian use in the 1950s and yet over three-quarters of new nuclear reactors globally are being built by the Chinese or Russians,” Shellenberger continued. “Everyone recognizes that for the US to compete in building nuclear plants abroad we must build them at home and yet electric utilities may close half of America’s nuclear plants over the next two decades.”

Shellenberger noted the following must happen to implement a “Green Nuclear Deal,” which Shellenberger noted is important national security, the economy, and the environment:

First, there must be a significant program of domestic nuclear power plant construction to give US firms the experience they need to compete abroad.

Second, the president must be directly involved in selling foreign leader on US technology, just as President Eisenhower did in the 1950s, and Presidents Xi and Putin are doing today.

Third, the US must offer competitive financing for such foreign plant construction.

And fourth, the construction of nuclear plants abroad must be centralized under one or two entities at most, as the US did with General Electric and Westinghouse in the 1950s, and as China and Russia are doing with their state-owned firms today.


Thank God for tide gauges

Climate activists are spruiking phony sea level rise data

Between 1764 and 1767 William Hutchison, a mariner who was then Harbour Master at Liverpool in England, carefully recorded the times and heights of high tide at the Liverpool Old Dock. In the 19th Century the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, that was to become the Liverpool Observatory, established state-of-the-art tidal stations along the nearby Mersey Estuary. In 1929 this Observatory merged with the Tidal Institute at the Liverpool University and this was to become a world-famous centre for sea level research. Today the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) maintains a database of tide gauge data from all over the world.

After the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change was formed in 1988 successive IPCC technical committees carefully examined the PSMSL tide gauge data as the computer climate models were predicting the acceleration of sea level rise. After all, a discovery of sea level acceleration would provide additional evidence of increased global warming due to rising carbon dioxide levels and proof of anthropogenic climate change.

Alas! Alas! There was almost a level of disappointment in the early IPCC reports. Despite all their efforts the committees in 1990 (13 experts), 1995 (24 experts) and 2001 (36 experts) stated that they could find no acceleration of sea level rise in the 20th century despite the rise of CO2 during that time. ‘There is no firm evidence of acceleration in sea level rise during this century’, said the IPCC Report of 1990 (Chapter 9, p.262).

All of this was to change in 2007 and the scientific mess left by that 2007 IPCC sea level committee is still with us today. The panel now numbered 70 scientists. The Head Coordinators were Dr Bindoff (University of Tasmania) and Dr Jurgen Willebrand (Leibnitz Institute of Marine Science).This was the first IPCC meeting when satellite-based sea level rise data were available. The first sea level satellite (Topex – Poseidon) was launched in 1992 and replaced by the Jason 1 satellite in 2001. The satellites were showing sea level rise around 30 cm per 100 years while the tide gauges examined at earlier IPCC meetings showed a much lower sea level rise of 15-18 cm per 100 years.

Without any detailed analysis of the discrepancy between tide gauge data and satellite data, this IPCC committee concluded the satellite data was more reliable. This was a false ‘eureka’ moment with a spurious conclusion that the higher readings of the satellite were proof that sea level rise throughout the 20th Century had suddenly changed from a steady rate of 15-18 cm/100 years to a rate of 30 cm/100 years in the 1990s. This interpretation was made without any detailed review of the reliability of tide gauge data from all over the Earth and technical altimetry problems in a satellite system; a system where a one millimetre of error in its 1,366 km orbital distance from the Earth’s surface translated to a sea level rise error of 10 cm in 100 years!

The sea level debate became an even larger can of worms in 2018. The University of Colorado, which manages the Jason satellites on contract to NASA, reported that not only had there been no acceleration of sea level rise in the satellite data there had been a deceleration in the last decade (2008-2018); so even the satellite data had not been able to detect acceleration of sea level! It was proposed that a cooling event due to the 1991 volcanic eruption of Mt Pinatubo in the Philippines had delayed the sea level acceleration that would have eventuated by 2018 but would still emerge from the noise of internal climate variability in the coming decade barring another major volcanic eruption.

This lack of sea level rise acceleration was consistent with a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association report in 2016 on 200 tide gauges from the east and west coasts of the USA and from some Atlantic and Pacific islands. The US report showed there was no acceleration of sea level in these records. So two methods with vastly different results still showed no sea level acceleration! It was now crystal clear that the reports of no sea level acceleration (IPCC reports of 1900, 1995 and 2001) were correct and that the reports of sea level acceleration (IPCC reports of 2007 and 2014) were based on false logic; the spurious by-product of differences between two measuring systems.

The technical altimetry problems with the satellite system were eventually exposed in 2012 when NASA reported that there was a level of error that contaminated climatological data records, such as measurements of sea level height from altimetry missions. Consequently, NASA proposed to ditch the flawed Jason satellite system in favour of a new system called GRASP, or Geodetic Reference Antennae in Space. Unfortunately, its budget has never been approved.

So where are we today? The higher sea level rise estimates of the flawed satellite system are those most frequently quoted and fit with the many catastrophic climate scenarios. The United Nations’ climate Conference of the Parties in Madrid in December 2019, for example, quoted these higher sea level rise measurements and ignored the more reliable lower sea level rise estimates based on thousands of tide gauges. In Australia some scientists and engineers are still using the higher and dodgy satellite sea level rise data as a ‘prudential’ benchmark for coastal policies and have even adjusted tide gauge data upwards to the satellite data.

In 2014, for example, an engineering report for two NSW councils, Shoalhaven City and Eurobodalla, adjusted the Sydney Fort Denison tide gauge data, which showed a sea level rise less than 10 cm per 100 years, to the satellite measurements of 30 cm per 100 years. This absurd 300+ per cent upward adjustment of real tide gauge data was called a ‘linear fit’ (whatever that means!).

How can recent scientific articles published in ‘peer-reviewed’ literature stridently announce to the scientific community and the world media accelerated ice loss into the ocean from the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets when there is no corresponding acceleration of sea level rise due to that ‘extra ice’. These articles tinged with panic do not make sense. The lack of any evidence of sea level acceleration in the PSMSL tide gauge data, the NOAA tide gauge data or even in the flawed NASA satellite data shows that these articles are either biased or based on insufficient data derived from flawed ice mass measurement methodologies. In contrast, the data from thousands of tide gauges clearly show no acceleration of sea level rise in the last 120 years.


Australia: Vital hazard reduction burns were stopped before Australia's deadly bushfire crisis due to residents complaining about poor air quality

Firefighters have revealed they were forced to cancel or delay hazard reduction burns in critical areas due to residents complaining about the smoke.

During the winter and autumn months the NSW Rural Fire Service deliberately burns parts of the bush to reduce the fuel load ahead of summer.

But several burns were stopped or cut short to keep air quality levels from deteriorating.

The elderly, infants and those with asthma often struggle with the thick smoke from the fires.

NSW RFS spokesman Inspector Ben Shepherd told the Daily Telegraph that public health was an important consideration.

'We speak with National Parks weekly during the hazard reduction season about the burns planned and the impact of smoke,' Mr Shepherd said.

'We look to see if we can change the lighting pattern to reduce the smoke impact.

Mr Shepherd said unpredictable weather can make directing the smoke very challenging.

Air quality issues played a key role in reducing the size of a burnoff in Bowen Mountain, an hour west of Sydney, which later lost several homes to the roaring Grose Valley fire.

More burns were reduced for air quality reasons in Putty, an area near Gospers Mountain which was consumed by a 'mega blaze' that went on to burn an area seven times the size of Singapore.

Other burns at Wiseman's Ferry, Ku-ring-gai Chase, Dural, Pennant Hills and Hawkesbury were postponed.

It comes after revelations that a Independent Hazard Reduction Audit Panel report recommended the government increase hazard reduction burning in 2013.

The report said that while it was not a solution, hazard reduction would be an critical tool in fighting bushfires going forward.

'Increases in fuel reduction will be required to counteract increasing risk that is likely to arise from climate change,' it said.



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, January 26, 2020

Oil companies going Green

They're scared of CO2 regulation.  But, regardless of "renewable" fancies, the demand for oil and natural gas will still be there -- and there will still be a buck in it.  And if governments legislate harshly enough to cause public inconvenience, they will be thrown out

The threat that financial institutions will refuse to lend for fossil fuel projects is a real one but China is always looking for good overseas investment opportunities so that alone will put a big hole in the bucket.  China is very hard to bully, as Mr Trump has found

Occidental Petroleum has a compelling riposte to Greta Thunberg’s signature rebuke in Davos, that “nothing is being done” about climate change.

It also has a grim warning for those of its peers in the fossil industry (a minority) that persist in thinking that business can go on as usual with just a few tweaks here and there: a slew of major oil and gas companies will disappear in the Great Disruption of the coming decade, and it says they will deserve their fate.

“We’re fighting for our industry’s life,” said Vicki Hollub, Occidental’s chief executive, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The political landscape has suddenly changed beyond recognition and the world’s governments are about to clamp down drastically on carbon emissions, led by Europe. She said the laggards will be punished mercilessly.

Her emblematic Houston-based fossil company aims to achieve the impossible: to become net carbon negative on all its operations and the oil it sells in order to insulate itself against the enveloping climate backlash. Her premise is that financial markets will simply ‘disfund’ those companies that refuse to do likewise.

The imperative for Big Oil is to confound the critics by offering Negative Oil. “The ones that don’t get on board will be the ones that don’t survive, and I am convinced that markets will make that happen,” she said.

Lord Greg Barker, chairman of EN+ Group, has an equally surprising story to tell. He heads the biggest aluminium producer outside China, leader of a smelting industry deemed to be beyond the pale by climate activists.

Yet it is going to roll out its first sheets of carbon-free aluminium as soon as 2021. Over 95pc of the group’s base power already comes from green hydro.

The Russian-owned EN+ has developed an ‘inert anode’ technology that cuts CO2 emissions from the smelting process itself to zero, and will ultimately lead to net “negative aluminium”.

The task is to make it fully workable on a large scale. A carbon price would make that much easier by setting the global rules and drawing in billions of green funding.

Epoch change

“The 2020s are going to be very different to the last decade. People who think that is going to be just a slow continuation, of gradually getting used to the climate agenda, are in for a big shock,” he told a Davos forum.

Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, said the $110 trillion alliance of global asset managers and investors now demanding decarbonisation – or at least a proper audit of carbon risk –  had just grown to nearer $120 trillion with the Damascene conversion of BlackRock’s Larry Fink. When the world’s biggest fund manager speaks, markets listen.

"We are seeing a fundamental reshaping of the financial system. What the market will do is to pull forward the adjustment," he said in Davos.

Companies that fail to take climate change seriously will go bankrupt and it could happen sooner than widely supposed. The Governor fears a Lehmanesque “Minsky Moment” for the international system if this is not handled in an orderly fashion.

Occidental says it is already injecting 20m tonnes of CO2 each year into rock formations within the Permian Basin in Texas. “This is equivalent to taking four million cars off the road,” she said.

It is the start of a massive expansion of carbon capture and storage. Ultimately this brings into view the Holy Grail of negative emissions.

Mrs Hollub said more CO2 is sequestered in the process of enhanced oil recovery than is later burned by cars and aircraft in transport fuel. For the world as a whole it is akin to a closed loop. 

“A lot of people don’t understand how you can put CO2 into an oil reservoir and generate lower carbon oil, but you can have net negative reservoirs. The challenge we face is getting people to understand the good things that we are doing,” she said.

“The Permian Basin has the capacity to store 150 gigatonnes of CO2. That would be 28 years of US emissions. That’s the prize,” she said.

Occidental’s ‘green’ strategy will not convince those who have lost all trust in the fossil industry and wish to shut it down entirely but it does show the moral complexity of the energy debate.

The more far-sighted oil and gas companies are an integral part of the net-zero transition. They bring the world’s best engineers to the task.

Environmental Schumpeterism

Lord Barker, who used to run the UK’s climate policy as a minister, said there are going to be spectacular winners and losers over the 2020s. Climate science has raised the stakes abruptly and political patience has snapped.

“This is where the rubber really hits the road. There are going to be stranded assets; there are going to price shocks, and I think we’re going to see carbon pricing. Those companies that don’t recognise the carbon intensity of their business are going to be left on the sidelines,” he said.

Lord Barker said the old debate about whether poorer countries should be given a free pass on coal power and rising emissions had been overtaken by market forces. New renewable power is in any case cheaper in most places than new coal plants.

“We have to have an honest conversation with developing economies like India and China: you can’t keep a manufacturing model and supply world markets if it is based on coal. Either you need CCUS (carbon capture) or you accept that it will shrink.”

“Investors now thinking about where to put their money in the 2020s won’t put it in carbon-intensive in economic models that rely on coal, that is the reality of investment flows. There isn’t a future for carbon intensive industries.”

Rachel Kyte, the World Bank’s former climate chief, was brutally clear: “the 2020s are going to be disruptive. You either capture carbon or you don’t put carbon molecules up there at all. You will be regulated on that basis.”

“The current incumbents won’t be the incumbents in 2030 unless they are very smart. Some are going to make it. Some aren’t,” she said.


Peer-reviewed Study: Recent data on plant growth shows a net benefit, not a "social cost" of carbon dioxide emissions

The latest peer-reviewed studies show that carbon dioxide emissions are twice as powerful a plant food as previously assumed in the Cost-Benefit analysis of CO2 used by the U.S. Government. As a result, for the next 30 years, the Social Cost of Carbon under reasonable assumptions about CO2-based warming will be negative ... meaning that CO2 is a benefit to the economy, not a cost.

That's the conclusion of a just-published peer-reviewed journal article by CO2 Coalition and Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Patrick Michaels and co-authors Kevin Dayaratna of the Heritage Foundation and Ross McKitrick of the University of Guelph, Ontario. 

The paper, titled Climate sensitivity, agricultural productivity and the social cost of carbon in FUND, was published in Environmental Economics and Policy Studies January 18, 2020.

Via email from

Treasury Secretary Just Stated Obvious About Teen Environmental Oracle Greta Thunberg & the Left Is Melting Down

You'd think Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin had pulled a Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, or Bill Clinton, judging by the reaction by the Left.

But no.

Reporters and other Leftists were scandalized – How Dare You! –that Mnuchin stated what all the world can see but fails to say out loud: Greta Thunberg is a kid who needs a little more seasoning before lecturing the world on economic theory.

He did it with one joke about the leftist teenage environmental oracle who went to Davos to demand the world function without fossil fuels.

Here's what Mnuchin had the temerity to say in answer to this question: "Does Greta Thunberg's call for an end to fossil fuel investment threaten U.S. economic growth?"

Stand back for the answer, the flames might singe your eyebrows or calve a glacier or something. CNBC reports Mnuchin told a scrum of reporters:

“Is she the chief economist or who is she? I’m confused,” Mnuchin said, before adding this was “a joke. That was funny.”
“After she goes and studies economics in college she can come back and explain that to us,” Mnuchin said.

Greta huffed – or was it her father? He and climate activist Adarsh Prathap ghostwrite some of her social media – that she's in her gap year before college, thank-you-very-much:

"In June, Bloomberg reported that Thunberg had graduated from secondary education with 14 As and three Bs. Thunberg reportedly took home Bs in Swedish, physical education, and home economics, according to Bloomberg. While those are solid grades for anyone, let alone a student repeatedly missing school to protest in front of Swedish Parliament, Thunberg reportedly told the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that she likely would have pulled off straight As had it not been for her weekly climate strikes."
I mean, after looking at those credentials. A 'B' in Home Ec?

Mnuchin later said that "our environmental policies are misunderstood." He said the president is in support of clean air and clean water and he got out of the Paris Accord because it was bad for the U.S. economy.


Why the capitalist class has gone green

Our rulers promote eco-austerity to disguise their own failure to improve living standards.

It has become something of a running joke that every year, the international political and business elites hop in their private jets to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to discuss… climate change. Last year, some 1,500 jets were taken to the usually sleepy Swiss ski village. At the same event, broadcaster Sir David Attenborough was interviewed by His Royal Highness Prince William.

Donald Trump may have put a fly in the ointment by using his Davos address to denounce the ‘prophets of doom’ of the environmental movement, rejecting their ‘predictions of the apocalypse’. But climate change nevertheless remained at the top of the agenda, and this time the world’s super-rich and powerful were given a stern telling-off by Greta Thunberg. The organisers at Davos have asked all delegates to go carbon-neutral by 2050.

Trump was essentially correct to say the gloomsters have got it wrong in the past when predicting ‘overpopulation’, ‘mass starvation’ and the ‘end of oil’. But one thing he got very wrong – and he is far from alone in this – was his assertion that the climate agitators who want to ‘destroy the economy’ are somehow ‘radical socialists’. A cursory glance at the super-rich delegates around the room should have put paid to any notion that there is something radical or socialist about the environmental movement. Environmental activists were not only protesting outside the World Economic Forum, but many were also invited inside, including delegates from Extinction Rebellion.

And this is nothing new. The World Economic Forum began in 1971, but has been discussing the ‘climate emergency’ since only its third annual meeting in 1973. Aurelio Pecci was an Italian industrialist who founded the influential Club of Rome think-tank, which includes among its members businessmen, heads of state and former heads of state from every continent, high-ranking civil servants, scientists and economists. Pecci was invited to Davos to deliver a speech on the Club of Rome’s report, The Limits to Growth, which argued that global economic growth would soon become environmentally unsustainable. The Limits to Growth later became the best-selling book on environmentalism ever printed.

Companies have long been keen to brand themselves as sustainable and eco-friendly, even those which sell fossil fuels. BP Amoco rebranded as Beyond Petroleum in the year 2000. Canadian research firm Corporate Knights – the self-professed ‘voice of clean capitalism’ – recently produced its 16th annual ranking of the 100 most sustainable companies with over $1 billion in revenue. In first and third place were former oil companies ├śrsted and Neste respectively.

In recent weeks, Goldman Sachs has announced that it will no longer invest in Arctic oil or coal-power stations. Larry Fink, head of BlackRock, the world’s largest money manager with $7 trillion worth of holdings, recently defined climate change as the world’s biggest threat to profit. BlackRock says it will invest in more sustainable companies. These moves are partly a result of pressure from some institutional investors who are more sensitive to politics than most bankers. The Government Pension Investment Fund of Japan – the world’s largest pool of retirement savings – pulled $1.5 trillion out of BlackRock, citing environmental and social concerns. It is estimated that around $12 trillion worth of institutional investment has been ‘divested’ from coal.

But the reason the capitalist class has embraced environmentalism goes far beyond branding. Even the potential of some money drying up (and pots of state money appearing for clean energy) are not the biggest factors. Most significant is the capitalist class’s loss of faith in itself and in its ability to grow the economy and raise living standards. It has been clear for the past 40 years that while global growth has transformed the lives of billions in the global South, growth in the West has been depressed. Low productivity growth, low investment and low wage growth, especially when compared with the postwar boom, have become depressing features of all the major Western economies. These problems were exacerbated by the 2008 crash. The capitalist class has not been delivering the goods for a very long time – and they know it. As Politico reported from Davos last year, ‘the global winners here in Switzerland aren’t so sure they’re up to the task of running the world anymore’.

Environmentalism, however, offers a way out. As George Monbiot memorably described it, environmentalism is a ‘campaign for austerity’. Environmentalists urge us to think of less as more and of ‘small as beautiful’. In short, to lower our expectations and our collective horizons. Environmentalism denigrates progressive aspirations for a world of abundance as ‘unsustainable’. To be well-fed, well-travelled and even to have children invites condemnation in the topsy-turvy world of environmentalism.

Climate-change activists have made carbon dioxide public enemy No1. But CO2 emissions are really just a proxy for industrial development. The fact that African countries produce less CO2 is indicative of their lower levels of development than the West – and the dreadful poverty this entails for many of their inhabitants. In Britain, the Conservative government celebrates a 38 per cent reduction in carbon emissions since 1990. But while energy efficiency has improved enormously, a still significant amount of emissions reductions is down to deindustrialisation. While Britain’s economy has grown overall, you don’t need to be a Ken Loach aficionado to understand the destructiveness that the closure of factories and mines has had on certain communities.

Overall, the ‘climate emergency’ bolsters the business elite who can no longer justify its elevated position in society by pointing to better living standards.


Australia: Land-clearing laws blamed for Kangaroo Island bushfires:

Native vegetation laws that prevent farmers from clearing land and the extent and adequacy of controlled winter burns will form a key part of a major South Australian government inquiry into the summer bushfire crisis.

Premier Steven Marshall’s commitment comes as the mayor of fire-ravaged Kangaroo Island, former Liberal MP Michael Pengilly, lashed out at the “idiocy” of the state’s Native Vegetation Act, saying the destruction of more than half the island this month “proves the old adage ‘burn or be burned’”.

“We used to be able to burn to protect ourselves and regenerate the native vegetation, and that’s what has gone,” Mr Pengilly said.

“That’s the ridiculous part. We have to have common sense across the country. What has been put in place, particularly in SA through the Native Vegetation Act, has just allowed everything to get out of control.

“We have massive loads of fuel that haven’t been touched. It is an offence for a farmer to burn off a little patch of scrub and try to keep something in the back pocket for when there is a proper fire.

“And now it’s gone, the whole bloody lot. It’s like we have been sitting on dynamite. I am not saying anything would have stopped that fire but the fuel load made it worse. The idiocy of the Native Vegetation Act is that it has stopped any serious kind of control for four decades. And today, well, here we are.”

The Weekend Australian travelled to Kangaroo Island this week and also visited the fire-affected Adelaide Hills wine region with Mr Marshall, who confirmed that issues relating to land clearing and burn-offs had been raised with him by many affected landowners.

“There obviously has to be a huge review into every aspect of the bushfires,” Mr Marshall said.

“We will be reviewing not only all of our fires here in SA but taking note of the reviews that are done interstate. If we can learn to be more ­resilient in the face of bushfires that’s precisely what we will do. There is plenty of time for that ­review and it will be done fully.

“All of the prescribed burns and cold burns that were in the schedule on Kangaroo Island were completed ahead of the fires.

“Whether they were adequate is something that will be part of the report. We will go back and look at whether the regime we had in place was enough.”

Mr Marshall said he understood the anxieties of farmers over land clearing but also noted that the January fire that emerged from the Flinders Chase National Park and tore east across the island was of a magnitude the island had never experienced.

He said he had been told by the Country Fire Service that in some cases the fire was spotting 2km to 5km ahead of the front, meaning even a radical increase in land clearing may not have stopped the inferno from spreading.

“This was different from the 2007 fires on KI which were a slow burn,” he said. “I’m not sure what would have helped on January 3. It was absolutely catastrophic.”

The Premier appointed himself Tourism Minister this month to ­elevate the status of the portfolio as it is battered by cancellations and in some areas closures of attractions and the loss of infrastructure.

This week he launched the #bookthemout campaign urging Australians to visit Kangaroo ­Island and the Adelaide Hills.

“We are really proud that we were the first to get on the front foot with this type of campaign,” he said. “Tourism operators have been doing it extraordinarily tough as a result of cancellations and it is ­important that we tell the story … that places like Kangaroo Island and the Adelaide Hills need all the support they can get.”



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