Friday, February 15, 2019

NOT Headed For World Without Insects - Decline Study Is Very Patchy & Limited

By Robert Walker

Please don’t be scared by this, it is just the journalists hyping things up again. It does not mean what it seems to mean from the headlines. Insects can’t vanish and we will continue to be able to grow our crops and do agriculture. The study itself involves a lot of extrapolation on inadequate data, not their fault, it is just that there hasn’t been that much research done on insect populations for them to draw on.

The number of studies they found, 73, is not a lot for the whole world and the studies are limited. The authors are also getting criticism on twitter by experts for the way they conducted the survey, for instance they found it with a literature search in "Web of Science" for “[insect*] AND [declin*] AND [survey]” which seems likely to bias in favour of groups that are declining as well as miss out many surveys that don’t happen to use the term “survey”.

They should have stated the limitations of the survey and they do not seem to have taken the extra care needed for a survey likely to influence public opinion and decision making. This was a traditional review, and not the carefully conducted systematic review that you get in medicine and that first began to be used in conservation in 2006.

This is another example of hugely hyped up research with click bait headlines. Journalists do love a good “catastrophe” - this is generating terrifying headlines for the easily scared.

* Insects are not going to vanish. That can’t happen. As some go extinct others will flourish in their place.

* It does not mean we won’t be able to do agriculture. Only some crops depend on insects and many of those require domesticated insects like bees, and those are not going to go extinct, for the same reason that, say, sheep are never going to go extinct for as long as we want to keep them.

* The study is preliminary, based on inadequate data. It’s not clear that worldwide insects are decreasing at all. We just don’t have enough data to know. See this map - most of the map is white
The two studies in Australia and China can be discounted as they are of domesticated honey bees:

* None in Asia, only two data points in Brazil for the whole of South America, none for India, none for Russia, none in Africa except a couple in South Africa, only one in Canada, none in the Arctic or Antarctic or Siberia.

* They didn't find any studies on "most flies, grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, cicadas, phasmids, mantids, cockroaches, termites, fleas, thrips, ants, a lot of beetle families + more"

Most of the studies are from Europe or the States and many are just for the UK which is one of the best studied. And even those studies only focus on particular groups of insects.

There could be a boom of grasshoppers or ants (say) in the UK, or even worldwide, and we just wouldn’t know because there haven’t been any comparative studies of them, as grasshoppers and ants are included in the many insects that their search didn't turn up any studies for.

The issue here is that to compare populations you need to know the figures from many years ago to compare with the present. But most parts of the world just don’t have an insect population figures from a decade ago, say, or several decades ago. So there isn’t really any way to fill those gaps, except looking forwards, to see what happens in the next decade or so. We can’t go back in time and survey insect populations in the past if nobody did it at the time. Then we also need researchers to look up the old records and then write comparison studies.

It is more important for highlighting how little we know about insect numbers.

Yet this story is just running without comment in all the top news sources. It also featured on the BBC News last night with a long segment about it in "Beyond 100 days" and interview with one of the researchers. For a study that is likely to influence decision makers and public opinion, they should have made clear how patchy the data is, and the non systematic nature of the review.

Here are some example click bait titles. CNN: Massive insect decline 'catastrophic' for planet

The Guardian: Plummeting insect numbers 'threaten collapse of nature'

Exclusive: Insects could vanish within a century at current rate of decline, says global review

The subtitle there is click bait, the study does not say that insects could vanish, not as in all insects, at least, not in the abstract. Large numbers of insects are declining or going extinct sure. However others are taking their place, as you might expect. This is from the abstract of the paper, the only part I can read:

"Concurrently, the abundance of a small number of species is increasing; these are all adaptable, generalist species that are occupying the vacant niches left by the ones declining. Among aquatic insects, habitat and dietary generalists, and pollutant-tolerant species are replacing the large biodiversity losses experienced in waters within agricultural and urban settings."

Also the abstract talks about what can be done about it. The causes it lists are:

i) habitat loss and conversion to intensive agriculture and urbanisation

ii) pollution, mainly that by synthetic pesticides and fertilisers

iii) biological factors, including pathogens and introduced species; and

iv) climate change. The latter factor is particularly important in tropical regions, but only affects a minority of species in colder climes and mountain settings of temperate zones.
So, they are declining for different reasons, it's not one thing.

What may be a problem in the tropics is that the insects that are disappearing are adapted to a narrow range of temperatures and they don’t have enough time to adapt or to migrate. The Puerto Rico study reported a big decrease in insects. Fruit eating animals and birds though remained unchanged. And just one forest, calling for more studies. That also got dramatic headlines about collapse of insects. "Insect collapse: ‘We are destroying our life support systems’"

That is not enough by itself to generalize to other tropical forests though it may well be that it's the same for others too. Nor can it be generalized to other tropical habitats.

In colder climes the results are not what you’d expect from climate change. You would expect a warmer planet to have more rather than fewer insects. The insects are adapted to the winter / summer cycles of higher latitudes and are less likely to go extinct just because of somewhat warmer temperatures.

The abstract of the paper focuses on agricultural practices as the main thing we can do however, especially, reducing insecticide use. Also cleaning polluted waters:


Here are some comments by Dr Manu Saunders who is an insect ecologist Manu Saunders

She put it like this on Twitter: "This review doesn't show worldwide declines in entomofauna, but does highlight how much we *don't* know about global insect fauna...

Also important to note are the insect taxa the authors couldn’t find long-term data on: most flies, grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, cicadas, phasmids, mantids, cockroaches, termites, fleas, thrips, ants, a lot of beetle families + more.

Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera & dung beetles are not the 'most affected'. They may be the most studied & recorded, at least in some countries. But the most affected taxa will depend on the location & the drivers in question. Let's focus on finding out more about those contexts....


ANWR Will Assure US Oil Production Dominance

BP this month announced the discovery of 1 billion barrels of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico, off the Louisiana coast. As large as it is, that find pales in comparison to the estimated 5 billion to 16 billion barrels of “Texas Tea” located in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, which President Trump unlocked for energy exploration after Congress authorized his plan in the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act.

Those who oppose developing Alaskan oil reserves may forget that it was President Jimmy Carter who first supported the idea of opening ANWR’s coastal plain to energy development. He did so as a way of dealing with the “crisis” Washington’s price-control policies had created at the nation’s gas pumps: long lines, limits on the number of gallons motorists could buy on any given day, and other disruptive rationing schemes.

By 2005, nearly 25 years after Carter left office, imported oil still accounted for more than 60 percent of domestic oil consumption. U.S. oil production has boomed in the decades since. Today, oil imports account for less than 20 percent of U.S. consumption, a percentage that continues to fall.

What’s changed? For one thing, the global oil cartel is losing its grip on the world market. On New Year’s Day, Qatar said it would leave OPEC and make production decisions independently. Meanwhile, the state-owned oil sector of OPEC member Venezuela, called the Saudi Arabia of Latin America, is paralyzed under its socialist government, reducing OPEC’s overall market share.

Oil production at Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope, together with construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (which was built following the 1973 oil crisis) played a key part in America’s recent energy boom. Before oil development began on the North Slope, conservationists warned that exploration, drilling, and building the 800-mile pipeline would irreparably harm the Porcupine caribou herd and cause serious environmental damage to the region’s permafrost. In the four decades since the pipeline was completed, however, it has safely carried more than 17 billion barrels of oil to the port of Valdez in southern Alaska, providing important lessons for the neighboring ANWR region.

Prudhoe Bay and 18 other oilfields on the North Slope now are home to more than 3,800 exploratory and producing wells, 170 drill pads and other oil and gas facilities. Over the years, producers implemented practices and safety standards to protect the permafrost and wildlife—and they succeeded.

The upshot is that subsurface drilling on the North Slope has increased by 4,000 percent since the 1970s, during which time the Porcupine caribou herd has expanded more than sevenfold.

Drilling in ANWR oilfields, whose potential has few rivals in the history of U.S. oil production, certainly will be challenging, both technically and environmentally. It was even more challenging to exploit the oil reserves at Prudhoe Bay while working within the constraints of state and federal safety regulations.

Technological frontiers nevertheless continue to be pushed back in the areas of seismic surveying, subsurface drilling, data processing, and predictive maintenance, meaning that best practices in ANWR are going to be even better.

Environmentalists want to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and their opinions should not be ignored. But economic growth and living standards also matter, as indicated by the overwhelming majority of Alaskans who favor ANWR production.

It also is important to recognize that the measure Congress approved stringently limits surface development on ANWR. The refuge spans 19.6 million acres and drilling is confined to no more than 2,000 of those acres—an area smaller than the municipal airport in Fargo, N.D.

No one can guarantee that the exploitation of ANWR’s oil and gas deposits will not affect some wildlife negatively. Positive impacts, likewise, are possible, as the example of Prudhoe Bay illustrates.

What can be guaranteed, however, is that ANWR will contribute considerably to America’s energy renaissance, providing the fuel that, green dreams aside, will power our homes, offices, factories, cars, and trucks for the foreseeable future.


Pingree, Ocasio-Cortez Pressure Big-Tech CEOs For Sponsoring LibertyCon

It was the skeptical mention of global warming at the conference that got them going

Members of Congress should not be in the business of chastising private-sector leaders for sponsoring events like LibertyCon that encourage civic engagement.

Hundreds of libertarian activists and young professionals recently descended upon the Washington D.C. area for LibertyCon. This conference put on by Students for Liberty provides networking opportunities and a forum to discuss libertarian ideas in a series of panels and presentations. They spanned a wide variety of topics, from the merits and drawbacks of a universal basic income to examining the greatest regulatory threats to the Internet.

One presentation caught the ire of a few Democrats in Congress. This presentation, led by Dr. Caleb Rossiter, a retired statistics professor from American University, argued that there should be a more robust public debate about whether carbon dioxide was the cause of the “climate catastrophe.” Rossiter argued there should be a more dispassionate review of the data surrounding climate science, and be more room for debate about causes and effects.

To Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), this was unacceptable. The pair penned a letter to the CEOs of Facebook, Microsoft, and Google to chastise them for being high-level sponsors of a conference that featured such a presentation. It is worthwhile to note that they did not sponsor that presentation itself, but the conference in general.

It’s quite upsetting that two members of Congress would take time to send a letter making sure private companies get back in line after they sponsored a conference at which one presentation among dozens did not align with these politicians’ opinions on the climate. The conference also featured a debate on the merits of a carbon tax, and included a speaker who made the libertarian case in favor of such a tax.

To be sure, no self-professed libertarian should favor a carbon tax. Nonetheless, this panel demonstrates the openness of LibertyCon and its attendees to engage in an open debate on this issue, something apparently Pingree and Ocasio-Cortez oppose.

In an afternoon speech entitled “Arguments Libertarians Shouldn’t Make” by economist David Friedman, son of the lauded free-market economist Milton Friedman, he argued one such argument is that climate change isn’t real or isn’t caused by human activity. Friedman stated unequivocally that he believes climate change to be real and man-made. This certainly counters Pingree and Ocasio-Cortez’s narrative that LibertyCon was an anti-environmentalist free-for-all.

While it’s clear LibertyCon represented a forum for debate and engagement rather than a single-tracked agenda, it’s still concerning that this letter was sent in the first place. Members of Congress should not chastise private-sector leaders for sponsoring events like LibertyCon that encourage civic engagement of a younger demographic that has historically lacked in that area. This is a veiled form of intimidation.

It’s also ironic that one of this letter’s signatories is Ocasio-Cortez. She is nationally recognized for grassroots campaigning that led her to a shocking political upset victory. She has been willing to challenge conventional wisdom on many issues and does not shy from debate on issues and positions that are considered out of step with the mainstream.

This type of attitude, regardless of the conclusions to which she ultimately comes, will undoubtedly make our national discourse healthier. If any elected official should champion conventions that increase political participation amongst millennials and are willing to take on issues that few others are willing to talk about, it ought to be Ocasio-Cortez.

The fact that members of Congress were willing to write such a letter raises other issues with regards to political speech. Not more than five years ago, the nation found out that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had singled out and targeted politically conservative organizations for increased scrutiny within the agency. Elected officials going after sponsors of political events they don’t like calls to mind some of the same dark themes behind the IRS scandal and should be cause for concern.

Perhaps more concerning than the letter, however, is the introduction of the so-called “For the People Act,” H.R. 1. The legislation, which Pingree and Ocasio-Cortez cosponsor, would force all organizations involved in political activity to disclose their donors. With the IRS’s history of targeting groups for their political affiliation and members of Congress chastising private sponsors of political conferences, it’s not difficult to fathom the chilling effect on political speech that would occur if such legislation was passed into law.

The 19th-century British philosopher John Stuart Mill stated that if an idea “is not fully, frequently, and fearlessly discussed, it will be held as a dead dogma, not a living truth.” If members of Congress take issue with certain opinions, they should be willing to fearlessly discuss them in a public forum, as the attendees of LibertyCon did. They should be confident in their convictions and trust the merits of their arguments. Our leaders who swore an oath to defend the Constitution should not only defend free speech, but be the foremost advocates for open discussion wherever possible


Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) said the planet “can’t sustain” people eating meat, as the 2020 hopeful aims to become the first vegan president

More empty assertion from Crazy Cory

Booker told the vegan magazine VegNews earlier this month that he became vegan after coming to the realization that eating eggs “didn’t align with my spirit.”

Free Beacon Reports:

While claiming he does not want to lecture Americans on their diets, Booker says Americans need to be nudged into fake cheese because the planet cannot sustain the “environmental impact” of the food industry.

“You see the planet earth moving towards what is the Standard American Diet,” Booker said. “We’ve seen this massive increase in consumption of meat produced by the industrial animal agriculture industry.”

“The tragic reality is this planet simply can’t sustain billions of people consuming industrially produced animal agriculture because of environmental impact,” he said. “It’s just not possible.”

Booker says the “devastating impact” of greenhouse gases produced by the meat industry is “just not practical.”

“The numbers just don’t add up,” he said. “We will destroy our planet unless we start figuring out a better way forward when it comes to our climate change and our environment.”

Booker, who said his vegan “journey” began in 1992 when he became a vegetarian after reading Gandhi’s biography, wants to make the “existing model” of the food industry “obsolete.”

“You never change things by fighting what exists in reality; to change something, you gotta build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete,” he said. “That’s the deal here. American consumers should not be told what to eat, but if you provide viable alternatives, in some cases, that taste even better—and if people have more information, if we consumers are informed about whatever it is—the dangers of the overuse of plastics all the way to the conditions in which animals that we are consuming are being treated.”

Booker argues all his nonvegan friends “love” vegan food like his favorites, “vegan pancakes” and “vegan stuffed French toast.”

“I’ve seen incredible vegan cheese shops popping up across the country, and my friends who are lovers of cheese just can’t tell the difference,” said the senator. “You have pizza: I was at the New Jersey VegFest, and Screamer’s Pizza is just phenomenal.”

“My nonvegan friends love it,” Booker said.

Booker is not alone in calling for transformations of major sectors of the U.S. economy. The 2020 Democratic presidential field has already called for the elimination of private health insurance, and to “reshape” capitalism.

Booker, along with every other prominent 2020 liberal candidate, signed on to the Green New Deal, which calls for the “economic transformation” of the United States by transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy in just 10 years. Renewable energy currently accounts for just 17 percent of electricity generation.

Booker’s fight against dairy intersects with the aims of the Green New Deal. Initial plans put out by democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez revealed ambitions to eliminate “farting cows.”

On the campaign trail Booker endorsed the plan that guarantees every single resident in the country a job with paid vacation, retirement, “adequate housing,” and “access to nature,” because “our planet is in peril and we need to be bold.” He likened the plan to fighting the Nazis in World War II and going to the moon.

Booker explained he first became a vegetarian because his “body just took off,” and he had more energy after he stopped eating meat.

He then searched for science that backed up his feelings.

“I found the data that began to reaffirm my vegetarianism,” Booker said. “In fact, it led me to more about our environment and cruelty to animals. I began saying I was a vegetarian because, for me, it was the best way to live in accordance to the ideals and values that I have. My veganism started then.”

“I think so many of our likes and dislikes are childhood memories or family traditions, and you associate the foods you’re eating often with such good emotions—but now, suddenly, eating those eggs for me was something that didn’t align with my spirit, and I could feel it,” Booker said. “I finally just made a decision that I was going to become vegan. I remember my last non-vegan meal was Election Day, November 2014.”


Radical ‘Green New Deal’ – Coming to a Community Near You

Politicians in Washington are often immersed in endless political fights with little regard for the impact of the policies they are actually fighting over.  We see this with taxes, regulations, spending, trade and other issues.  The decisions they make often have unforeseen consequences in communities and small towns.

This week, the left’s new rising star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and her allies, introduced their far-reaching radical “Green New Deal.”  These ideas are not only being discussed in Washington, but they are actually well under way and causing great debate and conflict in many communities throughout the United States.

 In New York, Governor Cuomo and his green energy bureaucrats have imposed mandates to reduce carbon emissions.  Appealingly entitled Clean Energy Standards (CES), these mandates call for over 50 percent of the state's utilities to generate electricity through renewable sources by 2030.  In addition, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order mandating over 2,000 megawatts of energy be generated, also by 2030, using offshore wind. 

How is all of this being paid for you might ask.  Well, by the same folks who always pay – you, the taxpayer.

 Indeed, to fund the CES, New Yorkers will pay an increase of $3.6 billion in electricity costs according to a report by Continental Economics. That’s just to get things going.  By 2050, New Yorkers will be subsidizing Cuomo’s green new deal to a tune of over one trillion dollars, “providing scant, if any, measurable benefits” the report states.

Footnote: U.S. per person CO2 emissions have declined to their lowest levels in over six decades. The U.S. Energy Administration reports that from 2005-2017 U.S. energy related emissions are down 14 percent.

But it’s not just about the numbers, the money and the costs.  There is tremendous environmental and community impact experienced by the deployment of green energy.  Utility scale solar facilities, not built in the desert, require destruction of the land – trees and farms – and they can permanently alter the character of the community. 

There is additional risk from muddy runoff, which can impact roads, streams and tributaries.  Water is needed for cleaning the panels so solar companies often have to tap into water sources impacting local wells and aquifers. If decommissioning is not handled appropriately, when their use is complete, these solar fields can be left to rot causing additional environmental damage, waste of land and taxpayers being left to pay the clean-up costs.

Solar and wind facilities, largely propped up by taxpayers’ subsidies, are causing environmental damage and community conflict.  But local citizens going about their daily grind are never told or warned about these troubles.  Rather, they are told to be proud that a green energy project is coming to a community near you. But in some communities, the people impacted, and the taxpayers being forced to pay for these projects, are standing up and voicing concerns about the damage they can cause.

Residents in Spotsylvania, Virginia, for example, are pushing back against what would be the largest utility scale solar complex east of the Mississippi, covering over 6,000 acres – that’s half the size of Manhattan. It would be the fifth largest solar facility in the U.S. and the twelfth largest in the world.  This large, not so green, facility is part of embattled and controversial Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s version of the green new deal.

Local citizens have formed citizens groups. Large numbers of citizens are attending local government meetings and voicing their concerns. This all proves, once again, that if we are going to fight the not-so-good deals emanating from Washington and some state capitals, citizen activism is critical.  Because while all of this sounds and feels good to the politicians, someone has to live with the consequences.



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Thursday, February 14, 2019

A new breakthrough in agriculture science could eventually lead to big productivity boosts for food crops

Note:  The article below is from Newsweak.  Yes. They apparently still exist. I have not reproduced below the absurd shrieks about how we are running out of food and how the population is "exploding".  That in much of the developed world deaths exceed births appears to be unkown to the automotons writing below.

Much of American science writing seems to be stuck at 4th Grade. No wonder America imports so many scientists from Asia.  The authors below are Hannah Osborne & Fred Guterl.  Despite the childish writing, Fred is a big wheel, Executive Editor of the Scientific American.  No wonder that many conservatives mock it as the Unscientific American.

Scientists recently managed to produce a tobacco plant that is 40 percent more productive than current strains. If they could extend such results to soybeans, rice and wheat, it could significantly improve the outlook for feeding the Third world.

But there’s a catch: The plant was genetically engineered. Will the public accept a new generation of food crops with altered DNA, especially if it could help stave off a food crisis? The question looms larger with each passing year, as advances in the tools of genetic manipulation, such as the advent of the gene-editing technique CRISPR, make it easy for scientists to edit an organism’s DNA. These tools have given scientists powerful techniques for improving agricultural crops. They also put scientists on a slow-motion collision course with a big swath of public opinion that rejects anything that smacks of GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, as “Frankenfood.”

First, let’s look at what the scientists actually did. Paul South, a molecular biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and colleagues from the University of Illinois decided to focus on how plants perform photosynthesis, the process by which energy from sunlight is turned into chemical energy to power growth. Plants, it turns out, are wildly inefficient at this task.

During photosynthesis, a plant takes in carbon dioxide—the greenhouse gas that accounts for most global warming—and emits oxygen into the atmosphere. Plants rely on a key enzyme, rubisco, to do the work of distinguishing carbon dioxide from oxygen. But for every four molecules of carbon dioxide that rubisco captures, it mistakenly picks up one molecule of oxygen. Oxygen is anathema to a plant’s metabolism, so it then has to go through a lengthy, energy-inten-sive process of expelling the oxygen. This process, called photorespiration, entails producing a chemical that is toxic to the plant itself.

Photorespiration burns a lot of metabolic energy that a plant could otherwise apply to more productive ends, such as growing larger leaves or fruit. In a typical agricultural field, during peak, midday photosynthesis, up to 50 percent of energy produced will be wasted on photorespiration.

South and his colleagues thought they could tweak a plant’s DNA to cause it to expend less energy on photorespiration. They chose the tobacco plant mainly because it is easier to manipulate genetically, has a fast life cycle and produces lots of seeds. Using gene-editing techniques, they altered the tobacco plant’s DNA to create a shorter, less energy-intensive “pathway,” or biochemical process, through which the plants perform photorespiration. This shortcut reduced the energy required for photorespiration so much that the tobacco plants were 40 percent more productive. The findings were published in the journal Science in January.

South and his colleagues now plan to carry out field trials with potato plants, and they will start designing new photorespiration pathways for cowpeas, soybeans, rice and tomatoes. “Because photosynthesis and photorespiration are highly conserved amongst plant species,” he says, “the benefits observed in tobacco should show an effect in other crops.”

It will likely take a decade for such crops to make it to the dinner plate; more research is needed, and there are regulatory obstacles. But the public relations obstacles might be the most difficult of all. Although evidence is overwhelming that GMO foods, which have been consumed by millions of people for more than a decade, pose no safety risk for human consumption, they are restricted in several European countries and rejected by many consumers.

Roger Beachy, a biologist at Washington University in St. Louis, was part of the program review of the project. He sees South’s breakthrough as having the potential to give plants more energy “to make proteins, nutrients, oils and to defend against the stressful conditions in the environment.” And, adds Beachy, “since losses due to photorespiration increase with temperature, this will also help offset impacts of global climate change on crop production and assist in the tropics, where increases in food production are most needed.”


Antarctic ‘time bomb’ waiting to go off could wash away cities, scientists warn

Just modelling crap and pretty poor modelling at that.  They embrace the disputed marine ice cliff collapse theory, for instance.

But the fun part is that during the Eemian, the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere was about 280 parts per million, way lower than it is today (over 400ppm).  So it should have been pretty icy during the Eemian according to Warmist theory.  But, as they tell us below, it was hotter.  So the bright sparks below are rejecting Warmism. I wonder if they realize it?  Good for them if they are, of course

Earth’s sea levels should be nine metres higher than they are — and dramatic melting in Antarctica may soon plug the gap, scientists warn.

They say global temperatures today are the same as they were 115,000 years ago, a time when modern humans were only just beginning to leave Africa.

Research shows during this time period, known as the Eemian, scorching ocean temperatures caused a catastrophic global ice melt. As a result, sea levels were six to nine metres higher than they are today.

But if modern ocean temperatures are the same as they were during the Eemian, that means our planet is “missing” a devastating sea rise.

If oceans were to rise by just 1.8 metres, large swathes of coastal cities would find themselves underwater, turning streets into canals and completely submerging some buildings.

Scientists think sea levels made this jump 115,000 years ago because of a sudden ice collapse in Antarctica.

The continent’s vulnerable West Antarctic ice sheet — which is already retreating again today — released a lot of sea level rise in a hurry.

“There’s no way to get tens of metres of sea level rise without getting tens of metres of sea level rise from Antarctica,” said Dr Rob DeConto, an Antarctic expert at the University of Massachusetts in the US.

His team created state-of-the-art computer models that showed how Antarctic ice responded to warm ocean temperatures during the Eemian.

They showed two processes, called marine ice cliff collapse and marine ice sheet instability, rapidly melted the West Antarctic ice sheet.

They exposed thick glaciers that formed part of the ice sheet to the ocean, meaning the ice blocks floated out to sea more quickly. Here they quickly melted, adding thousands of tonnes of water to the world’s oceans.

Scientists warn if ice shelves in Antarctica undergo similar processes, it could spell disaster for Earth. Combined with melting in Greenland, we could see sea levels rise by almost two metres this century.

In the next century, ice loss would get even worse.

“What we pointed out was if the kind of calving that we see in Greenland today were to start turning on in analogous settings in Antarctica — Antarctica has way thicker ice, it’s a way bigger ice sheet — the consequences would be potentially really monumental for sea level rise,” Dr DeConto said.

Last month, NASA warned Antarctica’s Thwaites glacier could collapse within decades and “sink cities” after the discovery of a 300-metre doomsday cavity lurking below the ice block.


RNC Chair: Trump ‘Was Being Generous’ Calling Ocasio-Cortez’s New Green Deal a Bad High School Paper

On Tuesday, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel defended President Donald Trump’s characterization of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) “Green New Deal” proposal.

Appearing on Fox News, McDaniel said Trump was “being generous” at Monday night’s rally in El Paso, Texas when he said Ocasio-Cortez’s plan “sounds like a high school paper that got a low mark”:

“I think the president was being generous saying that it was a high school paper that would get bad marks. My daughter is a sophomore in high school, she would have received a failing grade if she’d have put forward what Ocasio-Cortez did.

“Listen, you’ve heard her advisor all over TV last week saying people were making things up about their Green New Deal. They hadn't read, they hadn’t edited the version that they put up that said ‘unwilling to work,’ getting rid of air travel in ten years. Now they’re saying there’s a version two, and a version three and a version four.

“They didn't proofread this huge deal, this monstrosity that they're putting forward, a total government takeover.”

McDaniel added that Ocasio-Cortez “has no idea” the damage her plan would have on the U.S. because she’s dealing with theory, not reality:

“The president is 100 percent correct when he says this will absolutely take away all the economic gains we've seen as a country if this is implemented.

“She has no idea. She is working in theory and she doesn't understand the reality of what she’s proposing.”


Eyes Roll As Private Plane Enthusiast Harrison Ford Flies To UAE To Warn About The Dangers Of Fossils Fuels

Last year, Harrison Ford implored Americans to stop electing leaders who don’t “believe in science,” and this year he’s traveled to a conference hosted in a United Arab Emirates country to give the same warning:

Speaking to CNN’s Becky Anderson in Dubai, where he will be discussing ocean conservation at the World Government Summit, Ford said climate is “probably the most pressing issue that we have on a global scale, and it’s a global problem that needs global solutions.”

But he added that governments around the world were lagging behind when it came to climate action.

“There’s this isolationism, nationalism that’s creeping into governments all across the developed world,” said Ford. “And the problems require attention on nature’s scale not on the scale of the next election.

As you might have imagined, taking a jet to a UAE country to warn everybody about the dangers of continued burning of fossil fuels caused some eyes to roll.


Australia: Coal firm blamed for flooding beyond its control

The floods in North Queensland were greatly in excess of normal expectations

The Queensland Government is investigating whether Indian mining firm Adani has breached its environmental licence for the second time in two years with the release of coal-laden floodwaters from its coal port at Abbot Point in the state's north.

It comes as Adani revealed it did not apply for an emergency permit to dump more polluted water into the sensitive Caley Valley wetlands during the north Queensland floods last week.

The company told the ABC that Abbot Point operators were confident they could manage floodwaters with new infrastructure, but were then overwhelmed by flows from neighbouring properties.

Adani's own testing showed water released into the wetlands on February 7 had almost double the authorised concentration of "suspended solids", which included coal sediment.

But Abbot Point Operations chief executive Dwayne Freeman said their testing showed the water with 58 milligrams of sediment per litre, and that this was not "coal-laden sludge".

"This is a very minor elevation in total suspended solids ... we are confident there will be no environmental impacts to the wetlands area, despite this unprecedented weather event," he said in a statement.

A spokesman for the Department of Environment and Science (DES) said it was awaiting test results on water samples taken by its own officers on February 8.

The spokesman confirmed Adani's environmental authority for the port "imposes a maximum limit of 30 mg/L".

"DES will consider the results from the laboratory analysis along with other information in relation to the release event before making any determination as to whether or not the company has complied with the environmental authority conditions for the site," he said.

"Concurrent with the specific investigation into the release during the recent weather event, DES also continues to implement a long-term monitoring program in the adjacent Caley Valley wetland to determine whether any adverse impacts on environmental values is occurring."



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

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


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Trump Responds Satirically to whacky Green New Deal…

Democrat darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released information on the Democrat Party’s radical and lunatic Green New Deal on Thursday. It was a complete disaster.

The Gateway Pundit Reports:

The Green New Deal is a Communist scam that included guaranteed income for Americans ‘unwilling to work.’

The 14-page Commie wishlist also included a plan to transition to all electric cars and completely eliminate airplane travel — because trains over the ocean is a genius idea!

The Democrats also want to get rid of cow flatulence — which means all cows would be eliminated.

Within hours, the Green New Deal was yanked from Ocasio-Cortez’s webpage.

It gets better…

Ocasio-Cortez’s policy advisor appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show on Friday night and claimed the Green New Deal document that Tucker Carlson and Republicans were reporting on was “doctored.”

It was all a lie — the document Tucker Carlson read on his show was not doctored — it was taken directly off of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s website.

AOC even retweeted a tweet from far-left ‘Media Matters’ spreading the lie that the document was doctored.

President Trump mocked the Democrat-Green-New-Deal-clown-show on Saturday evening, calling the resolution, “Brilliant.”

TRUMP: I think it is very important for the Democrats to press forward with their Green New Deal. It would be great for the so-called “Carbon Footprint” to permanently eliminate all Planes, Cars, Cows, Oil, Gas & the Military – even if no other country would do the same. Brilliant!


Media Fawns over the Green New Deal

Democrats unveiled their latest version of the Green New Deal on Thursday, but despite some concessions to reality, this version is still little more than socialism masked as environmental policy. But that didn’t stop the media from fawning all over it. Where was the fact-checking when you needed it?

Most media reports focused on the threat of climate change and how this was an aggressive plan to tackle it, but they glanced over its more radical, and ultimately absurd, proposals that had far less to do with environmental policy and far more to do with carrying out a far-left social and economic transformation of America.

ABC News reported, “The wide-reaching proposal calls not just for a massive overhaul of the nation’s energy sector over the next 10 years, but also investments in the country’s education, infrastructure and health care systems and a redesign of the entire U.S. economy.”

This is an understatement.

Among other things, the Green New Deal calls for the elimination of air travel through the development of high-speed trains—because the California bullet train project is going oh so well—the elimination of cars, the greening of every building in America, and even floats the idea of getting rid of meat.

Again, this would all be accomplished in 10 years.

And that’s not all.

It includes a grab bag of far-left goodies such as national health care for all and a jobs guarantee for those unable and, this is actually in text of the FAQ section, quote, “unwilling” to work.

Yes, the authors of the Green New Deal want to replace the nation of the self-made man with the unrepentant mooch.

It would seem that a proposal that has received so much coverage, and from a freshman member of Congress who has been showered with attention, would receive a little more scrutiny.

The fact is, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. and the socialist ideas she espouses are looked upon favorably by many in the press, which is why they are happy to give her cover even though they know her ideas are absurd.

When even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi clearly mocked the proposal, calling it the “green dream,” the press was willing to quickly brush over this as if she was actually praising the Green New Deal.

Politico actually buried this line at the bottom of its coverage despite the fact that an attack by the most powerful Democrat in Congress and person most needed to bring the plan to reality in the House just mocked and dismissed it.

This week the media was busy fact-checking whether or not Jewish people believe in heaven in response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address. Yes, that really happened. But where was this same “fact-checking” during the release of the media darling’s Green New Deal?


Crazy Cory Booker Equates ‘Green New Deal’ To FIGHTING NAZIS

Sen. Cory Booker doubled-down on Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’ ‘Green New Deal’ Friday; telling a crowd of supporters the fight against climate change is the same as those who fought against Nazi Germany during World War II.

“We have to deal with this, our planet is in peril. We need to be bold, that’s why I co-sponsored the resolution for the Green New Deal,” said Booker.

“We are a nation that has done impossible things before. We need to be bold again in America. When the planet has been imperiled in the past, who came forward to save earth from the scourge of Nazism? We came forward,” he added.


Perspective on the extraordinary 2019 flooding in Townsville, Australia

Extraordinary floods go back a long way

A new study examines how unusual meteorology interacted with topography and other local conditions to generate some of the most devastating floods in American history.

A new study categorizes the 1903 Heppner Flood in eastern Oregon, shown here, as a “strange flood,” which stems from uncommon flood agents or extreme conditions. Credit: National Weather Service
By Aaron Sidder  4 February 2019

On 14 June 1903, a massive swell of water overwhelmed the small town of Heppner, Ore., killing more than 250 people. Ordinarily, floods are reported in probabilistic terms: A 10-year flood, for example, describes streamflow conditions that have a 10% (1 in 10) chance of occurring within any given year. But the Heppner Flood was so extreme that it defied standard descriptions. At its peak, the flood was more than 200 times larger than the discharge of a 10-year flood.

“Strange” is not an adjective commonly applied to floods and other natural disasters, but Smith et al. argue that it may be the most appropriate descriptor for extreme and unusual flooding. The Heppner  Flood, they argue, may have been one of the strangest floods on record. It was triggered by an intense hailstorm in June, in a region where spring snowmelt typically drives peak annual streamflow. These conditions are characteristic of strange floods, which they define as extreme events triggered by circumstances that contrast with the common flood-generating mechanisms in a region.

The researchers examined extreme floods across  several decades in the conterminous United States, using annual flood peak observations from more than 8,000 U.S. Geological Survey stream gauging stations. They developed a statistical framework they call the “upper tail ratio,” in reference to the upper tail of a statistical distribution, where rare events reside. The upper tail ratio is defined as the peak discharge for a flood of record, divided by the stream’s 10-year flood magnitude. The 1903 Heppner Flood registered an upper tail ratio of 200, topped only by the 1976 flood caused by the bursting of the Teton Dam.

The team discovered that record floods share many traits. In the western United States, severe flooding is linked to mountainous terrain and intense thunderstorms; in the east, it occurs in coastal regions susceptible to tropical cyclones. Major floods also have a different seasonal distribution than annual peak flow events:  Annual flood peaks across the United States tend to have winter or spring maxima, whereas the strange floods in the upper tail nearly always occur in the warm season.

In addition to the analysis of floods across the United States, the authors provided a case study of the Blue Mountains, the setting for the Heppner Flood and other strange floods in the 1950s and 1960s. In the case study, they examined the hydrology, hydrometeorology, and hydroclimatology of the extreme floods in the region.

Strange floods are the least expected and most damaging floods, but their infrequency can make them difficult to study. The analysis offers insight into extreme floods and provides a platform for comparing floods around the world to those in the United States. (Water Resources Research,, 2018)


Australia: NSW Greens push for mandatory solar and batteries for all new homes

As if new house prices were not unaffordable already for average workers

The bidding war among NSW political parties over solar panels has been joined by the Greens who want photovoltaic systems and batteries to be made compulsory for all new dwellings.

The Greens would also introduce a $2000 rebate for the introduction of panels plus storage for half a million homes as part of $1.25 billion boost over four years for the sector.

All public housing and government buildings would get panels too at a cost of $250 million, with 110,000 public housing tenants in line to receive electricity rebates, according to the Greens' policy aimed at the March 23 state election.

“It is negligent that in 2019 we have over 70,000 new dwellings in NSW every year and no requirement for solar panels on these developments," Cate Faehrmann, the Greens environment spokeswoman, said. Owners of new dwellings would pay into a renewable energy offset scheme as an alternative to adding panels or storage.

The Greens' policy follows Labor's launch on Saturday of its plan to support 500,000 households get solar, with a rebate capped at $2200 for households with annual income of $180,000 or less.

The Berejiklian government followed a day later with the release of a scheme offering no-interest loans for solar energy and batteries for as many as 300,000 owner-occupied households.

For those living in flats or renting, the Greens would set up an offset scheme to buy credits for solar arrays on their building or offsite. Some 20 per cent of all private dwellings in the state are apartments, while about 32 per cent of residents are renting - people who are currently "locked out of the benefits of roof top solar,"  the Greens 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


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Attention-seeking Naomi has a new word for climate realists:  'They Are Arsonists'

She makes a good buck out of her flights of fancy.  "Klein" is Yiddish for "small" and that well describes her understanding of the world.  She takes after her peacenik parents, who fled to Canada to escape the evil U.S. Republicans. Her father was born into a Communist family so delusory beliefs are a family tradition

Left-wing activist, journalist, and best selling author Naomi Klein said it is not true that President Donald Trump did not mention "climate change" in his State of the Union speech because he praised the oil and gas industry, which, she added, is destabilizing the planet. She also said the House of Representatives cheered Trump's remarks and this demonstrates that many of the lawmakers are not climate change "deniers," but are "arsonists."

During his speech on Tuesday, Trump said, "[W]e have unleashed a revolution in American energy — the United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world. And now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy."

At that point, the Republican side of the chamber stood and cheered; on the other side, nearly all of the Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), stayed seated and did not applaud.

This morning, Feb. 6, Naomi Klein, author of the best selling This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate, tweeted, "People claim Trump said not one word about climate change but that's false. He celebrated the US being the world's 'No. 1' oil and gas producer. And the house cheered -- they cheered for the knowing destabilization of the planet."

"Don't call them deniers, they are arsonists," wrote Klein.

Apparently, the search for and production of oil and natural gas "is destabilizing the planet." Those who support this work are thus supporting global warming, which allegedly is burning up -- arson -- the planet.

Climate change skeptic Marc Morano, the founder of the non-profit Climate Depot, said that Naomi Klein believes that free markets and the Earth's climate cannot co-exist.

On his website, Morano noted that the Los Angeles Times likened Trump to an arsonist. In a 2018 story, the newspaper ran the headline, "As global warming continues, Trump wants to burn fossil fuels with an arsonist's glee."

In addition to her journalism and books, Klein currently holds the Gloria Steinem Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University.


Mike Shellenberger rejects AOC and her enablers

Mike is a "moderate" Greenie.  He is President, 'Environmental Progress'.  Also Time Magazine 'Hero of the Environment’

He believes nukes are the only realistic way to "decarbonize" Below is a series of his tweets

1. I'm sorry, but I am calling bullshit

You can't call for closing down our largest source of zero-emissions energy *and* claim "world is gonna end in 12 years if we don't address climate"

Those two statements are simply incompatible

Anyone else suffering cognitive dissonance from this?

"The world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change" - @AOC…

2. I am calling bullshit not just on @AOC but on her progressive enablers in the news media who are giving her a pass on the most crucial test of moral and political leadership of our time when it comes to climate change: a person's stance on nuclear power.

3. I am calling bullshit on climate fakery.

Anyone who is calling for phasing out nuclear is a climate fraud perpetuating precisely the gigantic "hoax" that Texas Sen. James Inhofe famously accused environmentalists of perpetuating.

4. If you want renewables, energy efficiency, and to close down our largest source of zero-emissions energy — fine. Just stop dressing it up as action on climate change.

It's gotten to the point of being ridiculous

5. And if you want to be a self-respecting progressive or journalist who is fairly considering or covering the climate issue, please stop giving @AOC and other supposedly climate-concerned greens a pass.


"Ye shall know them by their fruits"


Projected melting of the Antarctic this century now reduced to give a max 17" sea level rise

Many predictions are for a one metre rise. Tamzin Edwards from King’s College London and her colleagues looked at paleoclimate data to estimate sea level rise from Antarctic melting.  They re-analyzed data on ice loss and ocean level 3 million years ago, 125 thousand years ago and in the last 25 years and estimated the likelihood of rapid destruction of unstable sea areas of Antarctic glaciers

They found that the controversial marine ice-cliff instability (MICI) hypothesis does not necessarily explain the dynamics of sea level in the past, and without this the probability that the level will grow by more than 43 centimeters (17") by 2100 is only about 5 percent

Revisiting Antarctic ice loss due to marine ice-cliff instability

Tamsin Louisa et al.


Predictions for sea-level rise this century due to melt from Antarctica range from zero to more than one metre. The highest predictions are driven by the controversial marine ice-cliff instability (MICI) hypothesis, which assumes that coastal ice cliffs can rapidly collapse after ice shelves disintegrate, as a result of surface and sub-shelf melting caused by global warming.

But MICI has not been observed in the modern era and it remains unclear whether it is required to reproduce sea-level variations in the geological past. Here we quantify ice-sheet modelling uncertainties for the original MICI study and show that the probability distributions are skewed towards lower values (under very high greenhouse gas concentrations, the most likely value is 45 centimetres).

However, MICI is not required to reproduce sea-level changes due to Antarctic ice loss in the mid-Pliocene epoch, the last interglacial period or 1992–2017; without it we find that the projections agree with previous studies (all 95th percentiles are less than 43 centimetres). We conclude that previous interpretations of these MICI projections over-estimate sea-level rise this century; because the MICI hypothesis is not well constrained, confidence in projections with MICI would require a greater range of observationally constrained models of ice-shelf vulnerability and ice-cliff collapse.


Propaganda recognized

Michael E. Mann has Received the 2018 Climate Communication Prize from American Geophysical Union.  Note that is a prize for communication, not science. His citation is below

Michael Mann not only is one of the most distinguished scholars in the field of climate science but also is unparalleled in the depth, diversity, and sheer volume of his communication about climate science and its implications for society. His firm grounding in scholarship at the highest levels of climate science underlies all of his climate communication efforts and makes him effective in engaging his peers as well as members of the public in nuanced, fact-based discussions about climate science, its uncertainties, and its implications for our future.

Mike’s efforts to communicate climate science stretch back more than 20 years; include the use of virtually every communication platform; and exemplify a mastery born of dedicated, sustained, and repeated engagement. He and several colleagues founded the seminal, award-winning science blog RealClimate to engage the public in fact-based discussions about the climate issues of the moment. It quickly became a trusted repository of fact-based discussion about peer-reviewed climate science that is frequently cited, even to this day. He has also written a number of popular science books aimed at engaging and informing science enthusiasts and, most recently, young children about climate change. He has given hundreds of interviews for traditional media outlets, as well as given an equally impressive number of public talks, participated in documentaries, written countless op-eds for prestigious newspaper outlets, and, perhaps most notable of all, is engaged in what appears to be a 24/7 stream of exchanges with his huge social media followings. Of particular note, he has regularly appeared to testify before Congress about climate science, knowing that such appearances will bring him under withering, partisan-fueled attacks.

In the past decade, Mike has been an unflinching and courageous defender of the principles of free and open scientific investigation and the urgency of combating misinformation with the scientific facts of climate change. He has done so at great personal cost, persevering through terrifying death threats, organized smear campaigns, and protracted lawsuits. Long before “alternative facts” became a household phrase, Mike was sounding alarm bells about efforts to undermine climate science findings and their role in shaping evidence-based policy. His courage, his resilience, and his tireless pursuit of truth in the public discourse around climate change have had a lasting impact on an entire generation of geoscientists and the public. Every day, Mike reminds us that communicating science lies at the heart of scientific practice, with untold benefits to society.


Australian patriots can’t hate Australia's top export, coal

When Samuel Johnson said patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel, he was attacking not patriotism but the scoundrels who falsely use it to defend their cause.

Patriotism gets a bad rap in this postmodern world — where so-called elites diss Brits who voted for Brexit to defend their nation’s sovereignty, or where progressive forces don’t see the value of ­borders in Europe, North America or Australia.

But most of us are viscerally patriotic — we want the best for our country, we know that our ­futures and those of our loved ones are inextricably linked to our nation’s ability to endure and flourish. Besides, we love the place and its people.

When a so-called think tank calls itself The Australia Institute, we assume it is on our side. Surely if it was preoccupied with supranational agendas, globalist redistribution or a borderless world it would be called the The UN Institute, The Globalist Forum or Socialist Alliance.

Yet this very same Australia Institute has been conducting meetings in foreign embassies in Canberra, actively lobbying against investment in Australia. It has been advocating against ­foreign investment in this nation in a way that is designed to damage our national economic interests, reduce employment prospects for our citizens and deliver benefits to our trade competitors.

(Bizarrely enough, given the institute’s claimed focus on equity and the environment, its interventions likely would also hinder the aspirations of poor communities on the subcontinent and lead to increased carbon dioxide emissions.)

The Australia Institute’s chief target is coal, which just happened to have been confirmed this week as the ­nation’s top export. We have overtaken Indonesia as the world’s largest coal exporter and the ­industry usually trails only iron ore as our most valuable export. Buoyant prices boosted coal ­exports above $66 billion last year — a record that tipped iron ore from the top spot.

The coal industry directly ­employs about 40,000 people in well-paid jobs sustaining families, communities and other businesses, primarily in Queensland and NSW. Coal-fired electricity generation still accounts for more than two-thirds of the nation’s power.

It is worth repeating this crucial fact: about 70 per cent of the nation’s electricity comes from coal. This is an industry that not only underpins our nation’s prosperity, filling state and federal government coffers with tens of billions of dollars of revenue, but also one that is absolutely central to every facet of our daily lives. Yet The Australia Institute is setting it up as public enemy No 1.

Although employment numbers in coalmining have declined by up to 20,000 over the past ­decade, The Australia Institute wants the job shrinkage to continue. One of its key criticisms of Adani’s proposed Carmichael coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin is that it won’t generate as many jobs as the proponents suggest and that it won’t be commercially viable. After exhausting environmental objections over air, land, groundwater and ocean consequences — not to mention indigenous heritage ­options — these anti-capitalist obstructers are willing to use commercial arguments against capital investment.

These malleable and inventive objections to development are nothing new in the environmental movement — more than two decades ago I helped expose how green activism encouraged the concoction of “secret women’s business” to block the Hindmarsh Island bridge — but there was a ­recent development involving The Australia Institute that seems a bridge too far.

It came through Joe Kelly’s ­exclusive report in last week’s The Weekend Australian. “The Australia Institute left-wing think tank met officials at the Chinese ­embassy to urge them not to back a new clean-coal plant in Australia,” Kelly reported, “warning it would result in the same political and community hostility experienced by the Adani project.”

Think about that: an institute bearing our nation’s name ­actively lobbies foreign governments to dissuade investment in this nation, hoping to eliminate employment opportunities for our citizens, revenue for our governments and prosperity for our ­nation. And we wonder why there is a crisis of confidence in Western liberal democracies.

As Kelly reported, on top of the China embassy meeting last month, The Australia Institute has held talks with at least five other embassies and high commissions over the past six months. The institute’s executive director is Ben Oquist, a one-time chief of staff to former Greens leaders Bob Brown and Christine Milne.

He defends The Australia Institute’s activities as being in the national interest. “Being Canberra-based, it is not unusual for ­embassy staff to seek briefings from Australia Institute researchers on their economic and policy research in relation to projects ­involving their governments,” Oquist said in response to my queries. “Examples include Galilee Basin thermal coal development, the previous (South Australian) state government’s nuclear waste dump proposals and how Australia will implement the Paris Agreement.

“There is international interest in the ever-changing climate and energy policies in Australia, ­including the financial, economic and social risks of gas and coal ­investment and the growing role of cheaper, cleaner renewable electricity … Our research can add considerably to the understanding of risks, costs and benefits of the projects and policies.

“All of The Australia Institute’s research is focused on the nat­ional interest: making Australia a more just, equitable and sustainable place.”

This is a difficult argument to sustain, given that the only way an assault on coal could possibly benefit Australia would be if global carbon dioxide emissions were cut enough to reduce the expected ­effects of global warming. But global carbon emissions are increasing each year by about double our annual national emissions.

Besides, if Australia exported less coal, other countries with lower grade resources, such as ­Indonesia, would fill the gap, producing even more emissions. (This claim was made by Malcolm Turnbull in 2016 when he was prime minister — “arguably it would increase (emissions) ­because our coal, by and large, is cleaner than the coal in many other countries” — and even an ABC Fact Check endorsed it.)

Regardless, The Australia Institute is out to block the Adani mine and prevent the construction of new high-­efficiency, low-emissions, coal-fired power generation in Australia.

We have a national crisis in energy affordability and ­reliability, and The Australia Institute is subverting efforts to find solutions, preferring to pursue the same ideological crusade for renewable energy ­investment that created the mess.

To bolster the national electricity market, the government is now considering 10 submissions to provide extra dispatchable power that would be underwritten by a minimum price. At least one proposal involves high-efficiency, low-emissions coal generation and others focus on gas-fired plants and stored hydro.

Clearly taxpayers would gain most from whichever plant provides the greatest reliability and quantity of power closest to existing transmission infrastructure. But I have a feeling The Australia Institute might opt for stored hydro, come hell or high water (pardon the pun).

With these crucial policy and economic decisions playing out in an election year, many in the media/political class continue to proselytise for renewables. ABC’s Media Watch this week criticised Queensland and NSW media for positive stories about the possible benefits, including jobs, from coal-related investment.

We have a taxpayer-funded national broadcaster that routinely amplifies The Australia Institute’s efforts to sabotage investment in our natural resources yet mocks commercial media that can see a positive angle on enterprise and employment.

As if this were not bad enough, the NSW Land and Environment Court has now rejected a new Hunter Valley coalmine based on climate change imperatives.

The move, widely hailed by green groups, heralds a new level of global climate activism enforced through our courts.

Judge Brian Preston decided he need to reject the mine because in order “to meet generally agreed climate targets” we needed a “rapid and deep ­decrease” in emissions. The case against the mine was run by the Environmental Defenders Office NSW, which is funded by the state government. Taxpayers’ money used to deliberately attack our No 1 export. We have truly lost our way.



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, February 11, 2019

An Investing Prophet Takes on Climate Change

The guy above and below is good evidence that a stockmarket guru can be a bit of a nit. And his ideas about population control reveal him as a great steaming nit.  He is aware of the drastic decline in fertility in developed countries but still thinks "we" have a problem of overpopulation.  How does he square that circle?

He even repeats the old Malthus/Ehrlich scare about running out of food. That the whole trajectory of history is towards greater and greater abundance of food obviously does not move him.  And he clearly knows nothing about agricultural economics or agricultural science generally if he thinks that the soil will one day stop growing things.

To be less colloquial about it, he is yet another example of the perils of hubris.  Icarus lives! Hubris is very common among people who are good in some area of intellectual endeavour.  Because they know a lot about one thing, they tend to think they know it all. They ovegeneralize.  Understanding stockmarkets is a long way from understanding climate statistics.

And there is nothing in the article to show that he knows anything about detailed climate statistics.  He would be pretty rattled if he did.  The long hiatus is a pretty comprehensive refutation of the whole global warming theory.  He relies, no doubt, on the profitable musings of a small group of climate scientists in influential positions.  He bases his beliefs on an appeal to authority, one of the informal fallacies of logic and something which history would warn anyone about

In the end, I suppose he is just another virtue signaller.  He uses his money to buy praise:  He is getting old (80) and wants to fix his image as a humanitarian before he dies.

I reproduce just the first half of the article below. That tells you plenty.  The whole article is available at the link, if you have got time to waste

Terrifying an audience is one of Jeremy Grantham’s specialties. The legendary investor, co-founder of Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo (GMO), is famous for predicting doom. And he’s famous for being right, with a remarkable record of spotting investment bubbles before they pop, notably the 2000 tech crash and 2008 financial crisis.

These days, the topic of Grantham’s warnings is not financial markets but the environment. At universities and investor conferences, gardening clubs and local environmental groups, he gives a talk titled “Race of Our Lives” —the one between the Earth’s rapidly warming temperature and the human beings coming up with ways to fight and adapt to climate change.

Green technologies, like batteries and solar and wind power, are improving far faster than many realize, he says. Decarbonizing the economy will be an investing bonanza for those who know it’s ­coming—“the biggest reshuffling of the economy since the Industrial Revolution.” Despite these gains, people are losing the race: Climate change is also accelerating, with consequences so dire that they’re almost impossible to imagine.

Grantham says he’ll devote 98 percent of his net worth, or about $1 billion, to help humans win the race. Currently he and his wife, Hanne, are giving more than $30 million a year to eight large nonprofits and about 30 smaller ones. Beneficiaries include three academic institutes in the U.K. named after him, at Imperial College London, the London School of Economics, and his alma mater, the University of Sheffield.

While the donations fund a variety of climate research and policy projects, Grantham focuses his presentations on overpopulation. Forget the flooding of oceanfront cities such as Miami or his adopted hometown of Boston. “Agriculture is in fact the real underlying problem produced by ­climate change,” he says. With topsoil disappearing at a rate of 1 percent a year and “only 30 to 70 good harvest years left depending on your location,” he says, farmers will struggle to feed the planet. Higher sea levels will inundate the world’s great rice-producing river deltas.

“Even without climate change,” he says, “it would be somewhere between hard and ­impossible to feed 11.2 billion” people, the United Nations’ median population estimate for 2100. Every other animal species on Earth lives with “recurrent waves of famine,” Grantham says, with population rising and falling based on their food supply. Why not us? He brings up a chart showing the tripling of the world’s population since he was born, more than 80 years ago. “If that’s the curve in the stock ­market,” he says, “you know what to do: panic and go short.” Translation: When something goes up that far for that long, it’s almost certain to plummet. The only question is when. The next bubble, he seems to be implying, is humans. “The presentation is so severe and raw,” says Morningstar Inc. Chief Marketing Officer Rob Pinkerton, who watched almost 1,300 financial advisers take in Grantham’s keynote speech at the Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago in May. “It really rattled them.”

Grantham’s discussion of overpopulation makes some people uneasy. “Population is a delicate issue,” says Jonathan Foley, a climate scientist who focuses on agriculture and is executive director of Project Drawdown, a group working on responses to climate change. On the one hand, the decision to have children is “one of the most fundamental of human rights,” he says. “Naturally it’s a sensitive topic to bring up, especially coming from the West.” Still, Foley agrees the issue needs to be discussed. “We can’t pretend there are no limits to the planet,” he says. “You need to address the seriousness of this without triggering people to become fatalistic.”

Grantham delights in being provocative, making statements that seem especially outrageous considering the source, a longtime denizen of Wall Street. The investment business is a “vastly overpaid industry,” he tells a roomful of financial a­dvisers. He lambastes economists, the Federal Reserve, and the flaws of capitalism. “On income inequality, I am left of Karl Marx,” he declares. A father of three and grandfather of six, he applauds the falling fertility rate in most of the developed world. “We have ­discovered at long last that children are both expensive and incredibly inconvenient,” he says. And as for his perceived adversaries—climate skeptics, oil and chemical company executives, and politicians who fail to take climate change s­eriously—“perhaps they hate their grandchildren.”

Born north of London in 1938, Grantham never met his father, a major in the Royal Engineers who fought in World War II and died in North Africa in 1941. Grantham and his three older sisters were abruptly sent north to Yorkshire to live with their grandparents after a bomb landed, unexploded, dangerously near their home. After graduating from the University of Sheffield, he was frustrated to find Oxford and Cambridge graduates—“the typical, upper-class chinless wonders” —dominating the best jobs in London. Nonetheless, he says, he “talked his way” into a position at the oil company Royal Dutch Shell, then won admission to Harvard Business School.

For a billionaire, he’s comically thrifty. He and Hanne have lived in the same Beacon Hill townhouse since 1974. A rare bit of self-indulgence is his recently arrived Tesla Model 3. Colleagues tell s­tories of Grantham insisting on flying coach and of helping him carry luggage down into the London Tube because he didn’t want to pay for a car out to the airport. “He’s cheap, and he’s funny about it,” says Peg McGetrick, a longtime friend and a director at GMO. “He really wants to put every dime into this foundation.”

At first, Grantham and his wife were r­elatively conventional environmentalists. Their philanthropy was inspired by their travel, including a f­amily trip deep into the jungles of Borneo when their children were young. By 2011, though, Grantham was protesting the Keystone XL pipeline outside the White House. His daughter was among dozens of climate change activists taken to jail. Earlier he had been “apolitical,” or, if anything, an “old, late-lamented liberal Republican,” he says. The 2000 U.S. election was a turning point. “Suddenly, politics and climate became mixed up,” he says. “I began to realize that there were major-league deficiencies in capitalism which had not been on my radar screen.” And “I had no idea how deeply the propaganda machine of the right wing went and how well-funded it was, how smart it was, and how far ahead of the curve it was. The left were ignorant in comparison.”

Climate change, politics, and capitalism became frequent topics of Grantham’s quarterly letters. In his view, the U.S. has been pushed into the grip of an unhealthy version of capitalism, one in which corporations put profits way ahead of all other considerations. “The social contract of 1964, when I arrived here, has been totally torn up,” he says. “Anything that happens to a corporation over 25 years out doesn’t exist for them. Therefore, grandchildren have no value.”

While capitalism “does a million things better than any other system,” he says, it fails completely on long-term threats such as climate change. “You must not expect unnecessary good behavior from capitalists,” he says. The answer, he adds, is strong regulations: “I’m sorry, libertarians, it is the only way.”

The election of Donald Trump was, he hopes, the “final flowering of corporatism. It seems that every conceivable advantage that you could give to corporations has been given, and every conceivable advantage has been taken away from the man in the street.” He laments that the Republican ­administration has led to a “lopsided” tax law, more pressure on unions and workers, and a rollback of environmental regulations. Especially galling is Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, a move that he says makes the U.S. a “rogue state.”


The "Frankenfood" hysteria holds back the war on plant diseases yet again

Genome editing has been used to destroy a virus that lurks inside many of the bananas grown in Africa. Other teams are trying to use it to make the Cavendish bananas sold in supermarkets worldwide resistant to a disease that threatens to make it impossible to grow this variety commercially in future.

The banana streak virus can not only be spread from plant to plant by insects like most plant viruses. It also integrates its DNA into the banana’s genome. In places like west Africa, where bananas are a staple food, most bananas have now the virus lurking inside them.

When these plants are stressed by heat or drought, the virus emerges from dormancy and causes outbreaks that can destroy plantations. And there’s nothing farmers can do.

Destroying the virus

But Leena Tripathi at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Kenya has now used the CRISPR genome editing method to target and destroy the viral DNA inside the genome of a banana variety called Gonja Manjaya.

The plan is to use these plants to breed virus-free plants for farmers. Her team is also using CRISPR to make the bananas resistant to the virus, so they are not simply re-infected.

But the legal status of genome-edited plants in the west African countries where Gonja Manjaya is grown remains uncertain. “I think right now they are in discussions about whether it requires legislation,” says Tripathi.

The banana streak virus does not infect the popular Cavendish banana. But a fungal strain called Tropical Race 4 is devastating Cavendish plantations as it spreads around the world. Before the 1960s the most popular banana was the reportedly more delicious Gros Michel, which farmers had to stop growing because of the spread of another fungal strain called Tropical Race 1.

Because the Cavendish is a sterile mutant that can only be propagated by cloning, there is no way to breed resistant varieties. Instead, several teams worldwide are trying to use CRISPR to make it resistant to Tropical Race 4.

An Australian team has already genetically engineered the Cavendish to make it resistant by adding a gene from a wild banana. But because of the opposition to GM food worldwide, this variety may never be grown commercially. Using CRISPR is seen as preferable because some countries including the US do not regard genome edited plants as transgenic, depending on what has been done.

Journal reference: Communications Biology, DOI: 10.1038/s42003-019-02



Three of them below:

Schumer: ‘Climate Change is Going to Evoke Huge Changes in’ USA ‘in the Next 10, 20, 30 or 40 Years’

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) gave a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday criticizing President Donald Trump for his State of the Union Address, noting, among other things, that Trump did not make an issue out of “climate change.”

“He talked about the future of America and didn’t even mention climate change,” Schumer said. “How could you do that?

“Every scientist who has studied its knows that in the next 10, 20, 30 or 40 years, climate change is going to evoke huge changes in our country and in our world,” Schumer continued.

“If you believe in the future and you want to have a good future for our children and grandchildren, which we all do, you can’t ignore climate change,” Schumer said. “You may have different views on it, but you can’t ignore it,” he said.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in a videotaped interview two weeks ago: “And I think the part of it that is generational is that millennials and people, in Gen Z, and all these folks that come after us are looking up and we’re like, the world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.”


Durbin: ‘Planet is at Risk Because This President and His Party Have Broken With Every Nation on Earth in Their Opposition to Responsibly Address Climate Change’

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.) sent out a Tweet after President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday night accusing Trump and the Republican Party of putting Earth at risk for breaking with all other nations on climate change.

On June 1, 2017, President Trump announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate that President Barack Obama had unilaterally entered into.

“Our planet is at risk because this President and his party have broken with every nation on Earth in their opposition to responsibly address #climagechange,” Durbin said in his Tweet.

President Obama never presented the Paris Agreement to the U.S. Senate for ratification, where, under the U.S. Constitution, it would have required a two-thirds majority (or 67 of 100 senators) for ratification.

“In 2015,” said the Congressional Research Service, “Parties to the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] in Paris, France, adopted the Paris Agreement (PA). The PA builds upon the Convention and—for the first time—brings all nations into a common framework to undertake efforts to combat climate change, adapt to its effects, and support developing countries in their efforts.

The PA also reiterates the obligation in the Convention for developed country Parties, including the United States, to seek to mobilize financial support to assist developing country Parties with climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

“On June 1, 2017,” the Congressional Research Service reported, “President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the PA.”


Elizabeth Warren cheers AOC's Green New Deal, calls for an 'ultra millionaires tax', calls Trump bigoted and says climate change means 'our existence is at stake'

Senator Elizabeth Warren has officially announced her 2020 presidential campaign. The 69-year-old Massachusetts Democrat officially launched her campaign at a rally on Saturday in Lawrence, Massachusetts, one of New England's poorest and most heavily Latino communities.

'I am a candidate for president of the United States of America,' she told the cheering crowd on a blustery day where the wind chill hit 19 degrees.

Warren struck a populist note in her speech, highlighting her humble origins as the daughter of a janitor, and lashed out at a 'rigged' system that favors big banks and the elite.

She proposed an 'ultra millionaires tax' on the super wealthy and twice praised the Green New Deal, an ambitious environmental, economic and social master-plan rolled out this week by freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat. 

Warren also lashed out at President Donald Trump, saying: 'The rich and the powerful use fear to divide us. We're done with that. Bigotry has no place in the Oval Office.'

The former law school professor began her speech with a lecture on the history of the rally's location, Everett Mill, where the Industrial Workers of the World in 1912 organized a strike of female workers whose pay was cut corresponding to a new law shortening the work week of women.

Warren praised the mostly immigrant women for winning a pay raise and inspiring new worker-protection legislation.

'They stuck together and they won,' Warren said. She said that the history lesson was a 'story about our power when we fight together' and vowed that the upcoming election would be 'the fight of our lives.'

She hopes her populist stance will distinguish her in the field and help her move past the controversy surrounding her past claims to Native American heritage, an embarrassment Warren did not mention in her speech.

Warren concluded her speech to the walk-off song Respect, by Aretha Franklin.

Warren will battle at least five fellow senators for the nomination and chance to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.

On Wednesday, Warren repeatedly apologized for claiming on a 1986 bar registration form to be 'American Indian'.

A year later, she had jumped from teaching law at the University of Texas to working as a full professor in the Ivy League, first at the University of Pennsylvania and then Harvard.

In a statement, President Donald Trump's 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, reacted to Warren's announcement with disdain.

'Elizabeth Warren has already been exposed as a fraud by the Native Americans she impersonated and disrespected to advance her professional career, and the people of Massachusetts she deceived to get elected,' Parscale said in a statement.

'The American people will reject her dishonest campaign and socialist ideas like the Green New Deal, that will raise taxes, kill jobs and crush American's middle class,' he added.



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