Friday, April 19, 2019

Ending California’s Wildfire Nightmare

Given the severity of last year’s deadly wildfires, let’s hope California’s new governor, Gavin Newsom, takes a more productive approach to the problem than his predecessor, Jerry Brown, who largely deflected blame to global warming.

While Mr. Brown did acknowledge that forest management is “one element” of controlling wildfires, the real culprit, he hastened to add, was climate change. “Managing all the forests everywhere we can does not stop climate change—and those that deny that are definitely contributing to the tragedy.”

Wildfire policy is incredibly complex and many factors contribute to the frequency and severity of fires. But global warming—human-caused or otherwise—is among the least of them.

In a December 2017 blog post, University of Washington atmospheric sciences professor Clifford Mass, who is no climate-change skeptic, used a detailed data analysis and literature review to debunk claims that California wildfires are related to global warming.

Because of California’s naturally dry summers, Mr. Mass noted, “grasses, shrubs and other fuels will be dry by the end of summer and during fall, no matter what. And even if the fuels weren’t dry, they would dry within hours of the initiation of strong, offshore winds—which accompany virtually every major fire event. So even if the summer/fall temperatures rose and the conditions dried further under global warming, IT WOULD NOT MATTER. Without any additional warming, the fuels in late summer and fall are dry enough to burn over coastal California and always have been [emphasis in original].”

There is “no credible evidence that global warming is causing an increase currently, or will increase in the future, the number or intensity of wildfires over coastal California from San Diego to the San Francisco Bay region,” Mr. Mass added, citing numerous studies. “Those that are claiming the global warming is having an impact are doing so either out of ignorance or their wish to use coastal wildfires for their own purposes.”

While human activity is not culpable for increasing the severity of fires by changing the climate, there is plenty we can do to mitigate the effects of fires. This includes conducting more prescribed, or controlled, burns; creating fuel breaks; and forest thinning and logging. These measures have been stifled, however, by stringent environmental policies, resulting in the buildup of flammable undergrowth and overgrown forests with weakened, less fire-resistant trees more susceptible to drought and bark beetle infestations.

As a 2018 report from California’s Little Hoover Commission—an independent state oversight agency—stated, California must shift from primarily reacting to large wildfires through emergency firefighting to more proactive forest management. “A century of fire suppression remains firmly entrenched within federal and state firefighting agencies and has left forest floors deep in flammable groundcover,” the commission said. Prescribed burns are often hampered by regional air-quality regulations, the report noted, because “while wildfires do not count against air quality standards, prescribed fires do”—a policy that should be changed immediately.

In addition to the mismanagement of forests and open spaces, the state and local governments have exacerbated the problem through policies that restrict the supply of housing and otherwise significantly hike housing prices, encouraging people to move farther from city centers and suburbs to more affordable—and more fire-prone—exurbs and rural areas. California has compounded this predicament by preventing insurers from charging the full risk-based cost of insuring homes in more dangerous fire-hazard zones.

There are some things beyond our control, such as California’s steep mountain slopes and the occasional strong Santa Ana and Diablo winds that spread fires quickly.

But there are many things political leaders could do, such as amending the environmental regulations, restrictive housing policies, market-distorting insurance regulations and forest-management practices that have exacerbated the personal and financial costs of the fires. In all these cases, government intervention has aggravated the problem while greater private property protections and free markets would help ameliorate it. More care also must be taken to prevent accidental fires, such as those triggered by sparks from utility equipment, which apparently started several of last year’s fires.

Scapegoating the nebulous notion of climate change, particularly when the scientific evidence appears to refute that it has any relation to the frequency or severity of the wildfires, will only ensure more destruction this year and in future years. The saddest part is that much of this destruction is preventable.


One way to save the planet: Build more nuclear plants

About 30 miles north of Manhattan, the Indian Point Energy Center looms over the banks of the Hudson. It produces 11 percent of the electricity consumed in New York state and a quarter of the power used in the New York City area. And that power is completely free of the carbon-dioxide emissions associated with fossil fuels.

But by early 2021, Indian Point will fall silent, the victim of environmental opposition, shaky economics and a governor who said closing the plant was his personal mission. Supporters of the shutdown said that the plant’s power could easily be replaced by conservation and renewable sources such as wind and solar.

That was wishful thinking. In reality, Indian Point’s power will be replaced mostly by electricity made from natural gas. Which means that, despite Gov. Cuomo’s ambitious plans to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, our region’s emissions are about to go up.

The scenario facing New York — nuclear plants closing as officials make rosy promises about renewable energy — has been playing out around the US, and around the world, in recent years.

Half a dozen US nuclear plants have shut since 2013, and at least a dozen more are on the chopping block. In Europe, Germany has closed about half its nuclear fleet. When these plants shut down, their power is almost always replaced by fossil fuels.

For example, Germany, which touts itself as a green energy leader, is actually Europe’s worst greenhouse-gas emitter.

Fortunately, there is a new wave of environmentalists who are speaking out in favor of nuclear. These include former NASA climate scientist James Hansen and onetime Whole Earth Catalog publisher Stewart Brand. If we’re serious about bringing down carbon emissions, they say, we need to save the nuclear plants now operating — and start building new ones.

These “pro-nuclear greens” need to overcome a mountain of disinformation. For example, on safety: Despite its scary reputation, nuclear power is actually the safest way to produce electricity. No one has ever died from radiation exposure involving a US nuclear plant. (In fact, more people have died falling off roofs installing solar panels.) Only one death has been attributed (somewhat dubiously) to radiation from Japan’s Fukushima accident. Even the 1986 Chernobyl disaster didn’t produce the predicted health catastrophe.

Compared with that of strip mines, oil wells, and pipelines… nuclear power’s total environmental footprint is almost dainty.
Meanwhile, people die when coal mines collapse, gas pipelines explode and oil trains derail. And millions of people have been killed by air pollution from coal-burning power plants. When nuclear replaces those energy sources, it actually saves lives.

Nuclear power is also the cleanest way to produce electricity. Unlike fossil fuels, nuclear plants don’t release toxic or smog-forming emissions. And nuclear plants take up very little land. Compared with that of strip mines, oil wells, and pipelines — or, for that matter, vast arrays of solar panels and wind turbines — nuclear power’s total environmental footprint is almost dainty.

Some renewable energy advocates say we don’t need nuclear because wind and solar power can quickly take its place. That’s wrong. Renewable energy can play a valuable role, but, since wind and solar only produce power part of the time, they always need a backup. A recent study from MIT showed that the best way to reduce emissions would be a mix of renewables and “carbon-free resources,” including nuclear power.

Wind and solar are heavily subsidized by both federal and state governments today. Meanwhile, natural-gas prices are near historic lows. That combination puts many nuclear plants in an economic bind. What’s the answer? Nuclear advocates say nuclear should be included in the same subsidy programs that favor renewables.

And, in fact, New York state has done that with three upstate plants even as it moves to shutter Indian Point.

A better plan for taxpayers and ratepayers would be to reduce the subsidies going to wind and solar and use that sum of money to help keep nuclear plants functioning. In the long run, we’ll have a greener, more reliable and more affordable electricity grid if we keep nuclear in the mix.


"Wetland" abuses

Timothy Dayton

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act has resulted in a huge land grab by the federal government and the erosion of the rights of the property owner.

In most cases where the government decides it needs the rights to a property, or wants to restrict the use of a property for public good, the landowner is bought out or paid for the use. They go through a process of eminent domain.

In the case of wetlands, however, since the areas grabbed were huge, the government failed to compensate the owners for the loss of rights to the property.

My father bought farmland that backed up to a harbor off Lake Erie well before it was declared to be wetland. Then the government decided that area should be wetland, and thus my father could not develop the property unless he were to donate another property to be wetland in this piece’s stead. Really?

So those with financial backing bought up all kinds of swamp away from development and donated that, then built their housing developments and marinas along the shores of Lake Erie where the property values were truly high.

I am not blaming the developers, but was that really fair? And if you could trade for pieces of land in the next county, then, really, how vital were all these “wetlands” that the Environmental Protection Agency declared?

To add insult to injury, my father’s land was taxed as waterfront and lake accessible even though he could not launch a boat from it. He got no break on any score and no compensation, and he was not grandfathered even though he owned the land before the government grabbed his rights.

The government decided, the government took away his rights. If the government is all about needing wetlands, then buy the property and pay for it at market rates. Let’s share the cost of this wonderful program with everyone who might benefit.

That’s what they are supposed to do and what they do when they build a new road or put a new building: They buy the land


Green New Deal has a dirty secret

The dirty little secret of the Green New Deal is not that it is an unserious proposal that has nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with the sense of entitlement of elite progressives. That is not a secret at all. It is common knowledge. The secret of the Green New Deal is that this valentine to socialism from Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is already obsolete.

For the American people have already passed their Green New Deal, through the miracle of free market innovation — not in the House and Senate but in the Permian Basin, at the Bakken Formation and the Marcellus Shale. The left will not admit it, but the fact is Americans are living in a golden age of clean energy, right now.

The natural gas revolution, made possible by both the discoveries of new reserves and the development of technologies to extract it from previously inaccessible deposits, has helped the United States cut pollutant emissions by 70 percent over the last three decades. Despite adding almost 100 million people to our population since 1990, an increase of 30 percent, even total carbon emissions have increased by only 2 percent. Greenhouse gas emissions are not just rising slowly. They are actually falling in recent years.

The left has long said we need to treat climate change and environmental protection as the moral equivalent of war. If that is true, where are the celebrations now that it is a battle we are finally winning? Why? Because when the facts do not fit with the liberal political narrative, they often print the narrative as fake news. Progressives said we need to find new, clean sources of energy to get us away from coal and oil. Well, we have. Natural gas is clean.

According to the climate group Carbon Brief, natural gas use has cut 50 percent more emissions than wind and solar power combined. Gas also has negligible local pollutants, 50 percent less carbon emissions than coal and 30 percent less than oil. What is not clean is the record on the left of opposing the development of natural gas-rich regions and the infrastructure such as pipelines that needed to further lower the costs of energy to consumers and the environment.

It often seems like the liberal environmentalism is not scientific at all. They know as well as everyone else that if fully renewable energy sources such as wind and solar will ever become competitive and cost-effective, that day is decades away. They know that in the meantime natural gas is answering the demands of our growing economy and the societal call to develop cleaner sources of fuel. But they do not care. They simply know in their hearts that all fossil fuels are bad, period, and renewables are good, period. But that is not science. It is a religion and a not very good one at that.

Countries such as Germany that have allowed their energy policy to be determined by feelings instead of facts are moving in the wrong direction. Despite spending massive amounts of money on clean energy “reforms,” Germany remains the largest consumer of coal in Europe. The German government now admits it will not achieve its goals to reduce emissions, yet the German people are still paying the highest energy prices on the continent. Hundreds of billions of dollars in government spending and artificially higher prices all in exchange for not much reduction in emissions. Unfortunately, that remains the approach the left wants to impose on the country with preposterous schemes such as the Green New Deal.

Rather that adopting an approach that has not worked, the United States should double down on what is already working. Happily, that is what President Trump and his administration are already doing. His administration has increased permitting for pipeline infrastructure and extraction leases. He has opened federal lands to more drilling and allowed the consumers, engineers and entrepreneurs of the energy industry to drive progress toward a smaller global carbon footprint. With our domestic surplus, we can export American natural gas around the world and replace coal and oil now being burned internationally.

A future of natural gas-powered vehicles and ideally more extraction of natural gas from Europe, Asia and Africa could accomplish more in a decade than what the “no fossil fuel” zealots have done in five years. There is enough natural gas in the earth now to meet our energy needs for years and years to come. The scientific, economic and political fact is that the American people and the world do not need a Green New Deal. We already have one.


Australian Left's carbon costs to hit $25bn

All in pursuit of a chimera

Australian businesses could be forced to spend more than $25 billion on international carbon credits to meet Labor’s 45 per cent emissions reduction targets by 2030, jeopardising one of Bill Shorten’s fundamental election pillars, which he declared would have no cost to the economy.

Threatening a repeat of their 2010 scuttling of Kevin Rudd’s emissions trading scheme, the Greens yesterday warned they could block Labor’s use of international carbon permits in the Senate over concerns that the policy was overly reliant on international permits to meet the 1.3 billion tonnes of carbon abatement needed in the next 10 years.

The Labor leader yesterday came under fire after being unable to explain what the cost of the ­policy would be, given carbon permits are set to play a key role in meeting the target.

Experts believe the price of international carbon offsets could hit $62 a tonne over the decade but, allowing for an average of $50 a tonne, the hit on businesses would be about $25bn to meet Labor’s target.

This is based on an assumption that more than 500 million tonnes of abatement would have to come through either the purchase of international carbon credits or further land-clearing controls and reforestation, which would prove politically explosive in the bush.

A day after refusing to answer questions on the cost to the economy of Labor’s climate policy, Mr Shorten yesterday declared a 2015 report by economist Warwick McKibbin showed “our 45 per cent reduction, including international offsets, has the same economic ­impact as the Liberals’ 26 per cent”.

Mr Shorten seized on the McKibbin report’s forecast that economic growth would continue at more than 2 per cent under ­either scenario through the 2020s to dismiss suggestions Labor’s policy would be a hit to the economy.

“I don’t accept the characterisation that it is a cost,” the Opposition Leader said. “We’re going to grow. And we’re going to grow ­because we are going to move to a lower carbon pollution economy.”

The McKibbin study, conducted for the Abbott government, showed that a 45 per cent carbon emissions cut on 2005 levels — the same as proposed by Labor — would strip about 1 per cent of GDP by 2030, compared with 0.6 per cent under the Coalition’s 26 per cent cut.

By offsetting nearly half the necessary cuts with international carbon offsets, which Labor has committed to doing, the McKibbin study found the GDP hit from a 45 per cent emissions reduction could be slashed to 0.6 per cent — the same cost as under the ­Coalition.

The study did not factor in the government’s use of carried-over credits from over-achievement in the Kyoto climate agreement, which Labor had elected not to use — a move that will further push up the cost of its policy.

Professor McKibbin cautioned that the modelling assumed a carbon price mandated by the government at the time of $US5 a tonne in 2020, rising to $US10 in 2030. “If the price of offsets in the world is higher than we assume, that effect is gone,” he told The Australian yesterday. “We don’t know what the price of offsets will be in 2030. These numbers are not precise in any sense.”

The price of carbon permits on the EU market has more than tripled in the past year due to reforms to curb oversupply. Permits for delivery in December traded at €26.86 ($42.22) per metric ton on Tuesday. Modelling by former government scientist Brian Fisher, an author on the Inter­governmental Panel on Climate Change and now head of BAEconomics, has estimated the international carbon price will be $62 a tonne by 2030.

A Labor campaign spokeswoman said yesterday the party was yet to determine how much of its 45 per cent in emissions cuts would be delivered through purchasing international permits.

Greens climate change spokesman Adam Bandt said the minority party would resist the use of international permits in any Labor scheme, threatening a Senate showdown with a future Shorten government.

“International offsets are like paying someone to go on a diet for you while you stay at home eating burgers and pizzas,” Mr Bandt said.

“I’m confident climate laws can pass the new Senate, but Labor is going to have to give up on international offsets and accept a plan to quit coal. Greens and Labor worked together and compromised in 2011 to get real climate ­action and we can do so again.”

The Greens under Bob Brown sank Mr Rudd’s carbon pollution reduction scheme, arguing it wasn’t ambitious enough. The party backed Julia Gillard’s carbon tax the following year.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said yesterday Labor needed to tell voters and the business community how much would have to be paid to international carbon offset brokers under its policy. “Australians need to be informed about the amount of money that is going to be paid to other countries as part of this scheme,” Mr Taylor said. “If international credits average $50 over the decade, if they have to achieve 500 million tonnes, that’s $25bn going offshore.”

He said Labor was also yet to explain what emissions target ­industry would face, how fast would emissions be brought down, how its emissions trading scheme would work, and how it would treat emissions from the heavy transport fleet.

Under its policy, the Coalition has to cut 328 million tonnes of carbon emissions to meet its 26 per cent reduction under the Paris target by 2030. Labor has to cut about 1.3 billion tonnes. Government analysis of Labor’s policy suggests it will deliver just 815 million tonnes of abatement by 2030 without significant controls on land clearing and the purchase of international carbon credits. The 45 per cent reductions in the energy sector would lead to a reduction of 247 million tonnes, while emissions controls on cars would ­deliver a reduction of 59 million tonnes, according to the former Climate Change Authority.

Agriculture is exempt from Labor’s policy. The expansion of the safeguard mechanism on the business sector, which will cap carbon emissions for companies that produce more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon a year, is estimated to lead to a reduction of 509 million tonnes. This leaves 511 million tonnes still to be taken out of the economy that would have to be largely met through the purchase of international carbon permits.

The debate yesterday came amid new evidence of a surge in employment in the renewable energy industry, with new ABS figures showing 17,740 renewables jobs in 2017-18, up by 28 per cent on the previous year.



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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Critical Australian academic’s firing was ‘unlawful’, court finds

He dared ridicule the Global Warming messiahs in his university who said that climate change was devastating Australia's Great Barrier Reef.  He showed clear evidence that they were deceptive.  So his university was out to "get" him by hook or by crook, mostly crook.  They are now more furious  with him than ever. Liars hate being exposed

A Federal Court judge has ruled James Cook University acted unlawfully when it sacked physics professor Peter Ridd after he publicly criticised the institution and one of its star scientists over claims about the global warming impact on the Great Barrier Reef.

Professor Ridd last night welcomed the decision and called on the university’s council, its governing body, to make vice-chancellor Sandra Harding accountable for the legal defeat. “The university has broken the law. What is the university council going to do about this? The vice-chancellor has brought the university into disrepute,” he said.

In his verdict, judge Salvatore Vasta said the university’s grounds for dismissing Professor Ridd — that he breached the university’s code of conduct — were improper. He found that all 17 findings used by the university to justify the sacking were unlawful.

Judge Vasta found that a clause in the university’s enterprise agreement, which upholds academic freedom, justified Professor Ridd’s conduct. “This trial was purely and simply about the proper construction of a clause in an enterprise agreement,” he said.

Judge Vasta also said the university had misunderstood “the whole concept of intellectual freedom”. “In the search for truth, it is an unfortunate consequence that some people may feel denigrated, offended, hurt or upset,” he said.

A penalty hearing will be set for a later date.

At a three-day hearing last month, barrister Chris Murdoch, representing the university, argued Professor Ridd went beyond his right to intellectual freedom by personally attacking his colleagues, threatening to “hurt” the university and breaching confidentiality directions.

In 2016, Professor Ridd emailed a journalist to allege images given to the media by university colleagues were misleading because they showed poorly affected corals, which were selected over nearby healthy coral and used to show “broadscale decline” of reef health.

Professor Ridd claimed the use of the images was “a dramatic example of how scientific organisations are happy to spin a story for their own purposes”.

He also said his colleague Professor Terry Hughes, the head of JCU’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, would “wriggle and squirm” when asked to explain discrepancies in the images.

Professor Ridd was censured again in 2017 when he repeated the claims on Sky News.

After a third alleged violation of the code of conduct, including allegedly leaking confidential university information, Professor Ridd was sacked in April 2018.

James Cook University last night challenged Judge Vasta’s ruling in a lengthy statement from its provost, Chris Cocklin, which accused the media of inaccurate reporting on the case.

“We disagree with the judgment and maintain we have not taken issue with Dr Ridd’s nor any other employee’s rights to academic freedom,” Professor Cocklin said.

Professor Cocklin, who was involved in Professor Ridd’s disciplinary process, said the university was “considering its options” on the matter.

“We disagree with the judge’s comments and are also troubled by the fact he fails to refer to any legal precedent or case law in Australia to support his interpretation of our enterprise agreement, or academic freedom in Australian employment law,” he said.

Professor Ridd’s legal action was partially funded by conservative think tank the Institute of Public Affairs and a GoFundMe web page which raised $260,000 from 2500 donors.

IPA policy director Gideon Rozner said the judgment was proof that Australian universities were confronted by a “free speech crisis”.

“This judgment should rightly send shockwaves through Australian universities regarding their commitment to academic freedom and how they deal with academics who hold a contrary view to established group think,” Mr Rozner said.


We should end tax giveaways to electric vehicle owners

It’s no secret that America’s highways and bridges are crumbling and that federal and state Highway Trust Funds are underfunded, wasteful and raided frequently to finance other pet projects, such as California’s ill-conceived "bullet” trains.

Many major highways, such as I-95 between New York and Washington, I-90 in Chicago and I-5, I-10 and I-405 in Los Angeles, barely can handle current traffic. More vehicles are added every month, making congestion worse. Continuing deterioration of the roads means more traffic jams, driver stress, road rage and accidents.

Yet the owners of electric vehicles (EVs), who drive on the same roads as everyone else, are exempt from paying the taxes earmarked for building and maintaining transportation infrastructure.

That is no surprise, since the taxes are levied on gasoline purchases and EV drivers don’t buy gasoline. But it doesn’t make sense when you consider the fact that electric vehicles, because of their weight, cause just as much — if not more — road damage than conventional vehicles. It is unfair, therefore, that only drivers of conventional cars must contribute to repairing roads and bridges — and financing new ones — while EV owners get free rides.

Equally problematic is the $7,500 federal tax credit that’s available when a new EV is purchased. The tax credit (or “tax expenditure” in Washington-speak) essentially is a subsidy that encourages upper-income Californians and other well-heeled individuals, to purchase electric vehicles; it already has cost taxpayers billions of dollars. Some states have sweetened the subsidy, adding up to $5,000 in income-tax credits for buying electric vehicles, exacerbating the shortages in their state highway funds.

As of this writing, the federal tax credit applies to the first 200,000 EVs sold by an auto manufacturer. Both Tesla and GM have reached that limit, but a coalition of EV companies and environmental activists is seeking to expand the credit.

As is so often the case, the cost of the credit is borne mainly by the majority of drivers who can’t afford to buy expensive EVs and rely on conventional gasoline-powered vehicles to commute to and from their jobs. Most of the beneficiaries of the tax credit are upper-income individuals who purchase EVs for environmental reasons and would do so with or without the tax credit.

The net result is that highway trust funds, already underfunded, are being shortchanged further, as government entices more drivers into EVs.

The shortfalls emphasize the political influences under which the trust funds operate, namely concessions to “greens” at the expense of everyone else.

Given the expected increase in the number of EVs in the years ahead, America’s roads and bridges likely will deteriorate even more and perhaps more rapidly, without meaningful changes to the funding system.

As a matter of fairness for all drivers, the federal tax credit for EVs should be eliminated and EV owners required to pay a tax that would go toward supporting federal and state highway trust funds. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) has introduced a bill that would establish an annual tax for EVs and other alternative fuel vehicles to replace lost revenue from the gasoline tax.

The nonpartisan Manhattan Institute estimates that ending the federal tax credit for electric vehicles would save taxpayers $20 billion over the next decade.

Given that the number of EVs sold last year in the United States reached 361,300, or 2 percent of total cars sold nationwide, it is clear that a road-use tax on EVs — paid either at the time of purchase or annually — would do much to improve the financial condition of the highway trust funds. It’s astonishing that Congress hasn’t demanded such a change.

For reasons of equity alone, highway funding should be the responsibility of EV owners and drivers of gasoline-powered cars alike. They share the roads; they need to share the costs.


The Province of Alberta Shows Dangers of a Carbon Tax ‘Deal’

The Fraser Institute in Canada recently released my study critiquing the province of Alberta’s approach to carbon pricing.

My analysis for Fraser confirms what I’ve been arguing here on the pages of IER for years: in the United States, conservatives and libertarians should run from any “carbon tax deal” that promises to shrink the size of government while battling climate change. No matter their promises, in practice government-imposed “carbon pricing” schemes never live up to the guidelines for “efficiency” laid down by their proponents. In this post I’ll illustrate myth vs. reality in the case of Alberta.

The Climate Leadership Plan (CLP)

As I explain in my Fraser study, the province of Alberta implemented a Climate Leadership Plan (CLP) in November 2015. It included a carbon tax (at CA$30/ton which will increase to $50 by 2022).

Yet the CLP includes more than just a mere “price on carbon.” It allocates a third of the carbon tax revenue to “green” investment projects, designed to promote a transition to a low-emission economy. It also includes specific climate objectives, such as an annual cap (100 megatons) on oil-sands emissions, and phasing out coal-fired electrical generation by 2030.

The CLP Fails on Textbook Carbon Tax Reform

Even if we stipulate the standard argument for a “market-based carbon tax reform,” the CLP fails on several fronts. First, it is not revenue neutral, even though its official website—in a move that would warm George Orwell’s heart—proudly proclaims that it is. To support this claim, they are merely reinventing definitions, such that “revenue neutral” means “the government will spend all the money in some fashion.” Some of the money is rebated to households, but (as I explained in the previous section) a third or so is earmarked for “green” projects. This is of course not what “revenue neutral” means.

A second problem is the specific objectives superimposed on top of the carbon tax. In principle, a carbon tax levied at the correct level is supposed to “internalize the externalities” and correct the “market failure” of greenhouse gas emissions. It is redundant—even on the terms of the carbon taxers—to levy specific mandates on top of this external “price.” In my study, I referred to another Fraser publication that estimates that the cap on oil-sands emissions would reduce emissions at a marginal cost of more than $1,000 per metric ton! That is about 20x the standard estimates of the “social cost of carbon,” which shows these policies have little to do with the “scientific” case for pricing carbon.

The Problem of Leakage

Yet even the basic concept of a carbon tax levied at the provincial level is quite dubious. The problem is what economists in the literature refer to as “leakage,” where businesses and households can (over time) shift their emissions out of regulated jurisdictions into regions where there are lower (or no) government constraints on emissions.

For example, suppose the province of Alberta implemented a draconian $500/ton carbon tax, and enforced it ruthlessly. That would certainly cause measured emissions from Alberta to fall quickly, and after a decade (say) of this new regime, we would expect to see very low emissions from the province.

However, that doesn’t mean global emissions would have fallen the same amount, relative to the original trend. This is because many Alberta residents (or those who had been considering moving there) would avoid the province, because they wouldn’t want to live in a region with such high taxes on gasoline and electricity.

When all was said and done, the effect of a draconian carbon tax levied just in Alberta would be to wreck the Albertan economy, while having little long-run impact on global carbon dioxide emissions. Indeed, to the extent that some manufacturing operations relocated out of Alberta and into China, you might see emissions (for those operations) increase, since foreign production is often more carbon-intensive.

The way to incorporate the above reasoning into the standard framework is like this: When computing the “social cost of carbon,” analysts are implicitly considering a globally enforced carbon tax. That’s really the only way to make sense of the number, even on its own terms. But instead when we ask, “What should the ‘optimal’ carbon tax be at the provincial level?” we have an entirely different situation. Even if we stipulate the standard approach that justifies carbon taxes, the actual size is much lower than the “social cost of carbon” when we are talking about small jurisdictions.


If Canadian provinces (or U.S. states) implement a regional carbon tax, they shouldn’t fool themselves that they are “doing the right thing.” Even on their own terms, the most they can argue is that they are sacrificing their own economies through a symbolic gesture that by itself isn’t worth the cost, but which might encourage others to follow suit. Yet if framed that way, most of the public would run for the hills.

In this post I have focused on Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan (CLP) and shown how it fails to live up to the promises of those selling a “carbon tax reform” package. In practice, a carbon tax will not be revenue neutral, and it won’t be set at the “correct” level as determined by academics. Households and businesses will suffer from higher energy prices and slower economic growth, with very little to show for it in terms of environmental benefits—even stipulating the basic framework of human-caused climate change.


The Question of Sea Level Rise


Sea level has risen about 400 feet since the last glacial maximum of ~18,000 years ago (see fig. below).

Currently, sea level is rising at the rate of 1-2mm per year—and has been rising at that rate for the past several centuries.

At that rate, sea level will be about six inches higher by 2100—a long way from Al Gore’s 2006 estimate of a 20-foot rise.

By choosing a short interval, 1910–1942, of certified warming, I can show the lack of any acceleration (see below). SLR does not depend on ocean temperature—or CO2.

Every one of the individual records of SLR shows this constancy of SLR.

But water expands when heated, so why doesn’t SLR accelerate as temperature rises? I assume that evaporation of sea water offsets the expansion, with increased humidity and precipitation. I fully expect to see more ice deposited on the Antarctic continent—probably too hard to measure accurately.

But the long-term rise in global S.L. is caused by the average, slow melting of glaciers and ice sheets around the world, which adds water to the ocean. (See fig. of Sea Level versus Time. Note also that the melting of floating [polar] ice doesn’t add water to the ocean and therefore does not affect sea level.)

I published this research in the Wall Street Journal on May 15, 2018. I fully expect that the IPCC will reflect my thinking after an appropriate delay. IPCC estimates are decreasing in successive reports. So the IPCC seems to be moving in that direction, as explained, in Nature Rules the Climate, comparing successive Assessment Reports.


Big Donors Pave Youth Group’s ‘Road’ to Green New Deal

A self-described army of young people devoted to climate change activism are taking their show on the road to build support for national Democrats’ Green New Deal and to counter business interests that favor fossil fuel use.

The Sunrise Movement first attracted media attention when hundreds of its followers organized sit-ins at congressional offices following the 2018 midterm elections. The movement’s network of activists is touted as including teenagers and college-age students and graduates.

In a widely reported encounter in February, elementary school children from San Francisco urged Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to support the Green New Deal. The Sunrise Movement posted a video of the spirited exchange, which also included middle and high school students, on its Facebook page.

Beginning April 18 in Boston, the environmental advocacy group will go on a speaking tour, called “Road to the Green New Deal,” that will visit nine major U.S. cities. The tour is set to conclude May 13 in Washington.

The group’s stated goal is to make the 2020 elections a referendum on climate change and to implement the hotly debated Green New Deal as policy in 2021.

“Sunrise hopes the media falls for its image of itself as a youth-led grassroots activism for the Green New Deal, springing up naturally,” Scott Walter, president of Capital Research Center, told The Daily Signal. “In fact, the group is a creature of the professional left.”

The Green New Deal has not yet been folded into a legislative proposal, but exists in the form of nonbinding resolutions before Congress.

On Feb. 7, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., introduced House Resolution 109 while Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass, introduced Senate Resolution 59. Both call for a “10-year national mobilization effort” to completely end the use of fossil fuels in the U.S. and transition the nation’s economy to so-called renewable energy sources.

The Sunrise Movement has an entire website devoted to the Green New Deal, including a strategy page that describes the major goals of the proposal. A total of 91 co-sponsors in the House and 12 in the Senate have signed up, according to the latest figures. 

The feasibility of the Green New Deal has become a point of contention between climate change activists with the Sunrise Movement and elected officials in the Democratic Party.

Feinstein released a statement on the “small group of children, young adults, and parents from the Sunrise Movement” who encountered the California Democrat in her San Francisco office.

“Unfortunately, it was a brief meeting, but I want the children to know they were heard loud and clear,” she said.

Feinstein, a former mayor of San Francisco, has expressed opposition to the Green New Deal because she does not view it as affordable.

Nicolas Loris, an economist with The Heritage Foundation who focuses on energy and environmental issues, wrote a report that finds the Green New Deal would prove costly to taxpayers, consumers, and the economy. Loris co-authored a commentary with Kevin Dayaratna, a statistician with Heritage, that begins to calculate the costs of the Democrats’ proposal by 2040.

So did the youth advocacy group come together out of spontaneous enthusiasm for the Green New Deal?

Although the Sunrise Movement has been described as a “grassroots” group in favorable profiles appearing in Rolling Stone, The New Republic, and other liberal media outlets, it received critical financial and organizational support from some of the most well-funded, well-established environmental advocacy groups, according to the Capital Research Center, a Washington-based nonprofit that examines how foundations and charities spend money.

The Sunrise Movement was founded in April 2017 as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit under the tax code and as an extension of  Sunrise Movement Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2014, according to Influence Watch, a project of the Capital Research Center. Sunrise Movement Education Fund is also known as U.S. Climate Plan Inc.

Sunrise Movement co-founders include Varshini Prakash, the lead spokesperson, and Sara Blazevic, the group’s managing director.

Prakash attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she was a leader of the Fossil Fuel Student Divestment Network. Blazevic also worked on that campaign while attending Swarthmore College.

The students advocated that colleges and universities pull any investments from producers of coal, oil, and other fossil fuels.

Two former Wesleyan University students, Matthew Lichtash and Evan Weber, are also co-founders. Weber, now political director for the group, took part in the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement.

The only nonstudent co-founder is Michael Dorsey, a former board member of the Sierra Club who served on the EPA’s National Advisory Board under President Barack Obama.

Dorsey became acquainted with Lichtash and Weber while he was a visiting professor at Wesleyan. The connection marked a key turning point as the professor and the two students worked together to secure a grant of $30,000 to craft an action plan for climate change that evolved into the Sunrise Movement Education Fund.

Follow the Money to Big Green

So where does the money come from for the upcoming speaking tour, as well as other Sunrise Movement initiatives aimed at advancing the Green New Deal?

The group’s 2017 IRS filing shows that it earned $72,902 and spent $31,210. Weber has said in media reports that the Sunrise Movement received a $50,000 donation from Sierra Club Foundation.

The group rents office space from the Sierra Club in the nation’s capital, according to Influence Watch.

The Fossil Fuel Student Divestment campaign that drew in Prakash and Blazevic also shines light on the connection between Sunrise activists and some of the largest environmental advocacy groups.

The campaign originated at Swarthmore College, according to a 2015 report from the National Association of Scholars, a network of academics and private citizens committed to academic freedom.

From there, the student divestment campaign grew with financial assistance from, a Brooklyn-based environmental advocacy group with a presence in 188 countries.

Influence Watch describes as holding an “uncompromising stand against oil, gas, and coal, the industry, and its leaders.” Bill McKibben, an environmental activist and former journalist, founded the organization in 2008.

Walter, the president of Capital Research Center, said in an interview with The Daily Signal that the Sunrise Movement’s close association with outfits such as Sierra Club and belies its claim to grassroots status.

Walter said that the Sunrise Movement Education Fund, which is responsible for fundraising for the Sunrise Movement, has its own palpable connections to well-endowed environmental advocacy groups.

For starters, Influence Watch notes, Sunrise Movement Education Fund shares the same street address in Washington as the U.S. Climate Action Network. Public records show the network itself is backed by some of the wealthiest left-leaning foundations, including the Sea Change Foundation, the Energy Foundation, Kendeda Fund, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Tides Foundation, and Oxfam America.

The Sunrise Movement is listed as a member of the U.S. Climate Action Network.

“Sunrise rents office space from the Sierra Club, an advocacy group that spends over $107,000,000 a year,” Walter said, adding:

Sunrise is in the same building that houses the activist group U.S. Climate Action Network, which last year gave Sunrise an ‘Empowerment Grant’ of an unknown amount. Sunrise’s board of directors includes representatives from other well-heeled environmental groups including Michael Dorsey, a former Sierra Club national adviser, and Betamia Coronel, national organizer for the radical agitation group

The Sunrise Movement held its first sit-in in November in partnership with Ocasio-Cortez, then an incoming congresswoman, at the offices of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., then the incoming House speaker.

In December, other sit-ins took place at Pelosi’s offices and those of Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., now House majority leader, and Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., now chairman of the House Rules Committee.

Inside Philanthropy, in a published profile of the Sunrise groups, identifies the Wallace Global Fund, the Rockefeller Family Fund, and the Winslow Foundation as major backers of the organizations.

The Daily Signal last week sent a request for comment to the Sunrise Movement, asking whether its close association with environmental advocacy groups such as Sierra Club,, and U.S. Climate Action Network in any way compromises the group’s appeal as a grassroots organization that represents average Americans.

Stephen O’Hanlon, a spokesman for the Sunrise Movement, had not responded by publication time.

The Daily Signal also sought comment from the Sierra Club,, and U.S. Climate Action Network. None had responded by publication time.

The Sunrise Movement says on its website that public opinion is on the side of its policy stances. But Walter said he sees the group as advancing narrow special interests that are losing public support.

“The left specializes in creating networks of groups designed to look like they were born out of spontaneous civic activism,” Walter told The Daily Signal. “In reality, they’re often led by the same D.C. lobbyists and influencers pushing an unpopular agenda.”

On March 26, the Senate voted 57-0 against proceeding to debate on the Green New Deal, with most Democrats voting “present.” Sixty votes were needed to begin debate.

All 53 Senate Republicans voted against the nonbinding resolution. Three Democrats and one Independent who caucuses with the Democrats—Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Doug Jones of Alabama, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Angus King of Maine—also voted no.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., joined the other 42 Democrats in opting to vote “present.”



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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Conspiracy theories behind attack on Roundup

They can't fault the scientific tests

For years, scientists at Monsanto Co. worked closely with outside researchers on studies that concluded its Roundup weedkiller was safe.

That collaboration is now one of the biggest liabilities for the world’s most widely used herbicide and its new owner, Bayer AG, which faces mounting lawsuits alleging a cancer link to Roundup.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys are putting Monsanto’s ties to the scientific community at the center of a series of high-stakes suits against Bayer. Since the German company acquired Monsanto last June, two juries in California have sided with plaintiffs who have lymphoma and blamed the herbicide for their disease. Bayer’s shares have fallen roughly 35% since the first verdict.

In both cases, plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that Monsanto’s influence on outside studies of Roundup’s active ingredient tainted the safety research. The attorneys obtained certain Monsanto emails showing outside scientists asking the company’s scientists to review their manuscript drafts, and Monsanto scientists suggesting edits.

Gary Kitahata, a member of a jury that ordered Bayer to pay $289.2 million to a former California groundskeeper with non- Hodgkin lymphoma last August, said Monsanto’s interaction with outside researchers played an important role in jurors’ deliberations. He recalled being struck by emails allegedly dealing with “things like ghostwriting, influencing scientific studies that were done.” A judge later cut the award, which Bayer is appealing, to $78.5 million.

Last month, a federal jury in San Francisco awarded $80.3 million to another man with non-Hodgkin lymphoma who had used Roundup, a verdict Bayer also plans to challenge. Another trial is under way in Oakland, involving two more of the 11,200 U.S. farmers, landscapers and others who have filed suit, threatening product-liability costs at Bayer for years to come.

Bayer said hundreds of studies and regulatory decisions across the globe show the active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, is safe and isn’t carcinogenic. Regulators in the U.S. and abroad have continued to approve its use, in some cases after having gone back and taken another look at research criticized by plaintiffs’ attorneys.

“Plaintiff lawyers have cherry-picked isolated emails out of more than 20 million pages of documents produced during discovery to attempt to distort the scientific record and Monsanto’s role,” Bayer said. A spokesman said the documents at issue relate only to secondary reviews of past research, not to the original science. He added that the outside scientists have stood by their conclusions.

In the U.S., Roundup has become almost as fundamental to farming as tractors. American farmers use it or other glyphosate-based herbicides on the vast majority of their corn, soybean and cotton acres, making it a factor in American agriculture’s steadily rising productivity.

Monsanto developed the chemical decades ago and later introduced crops genetically engineered to survive being sprayed with it, driving what is now a more than $9 billion seed business for Bayer.

Annual sales of glyphosate herbicides, including by rivals, total around $5 billion, according to Sanford C. Bernstein.

Growing resistance

Despite their regulatory acceptance, the herbicides have faced growing resistance, especially since a 2015 decision by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a World Health Organization unit, classifying glyphosate as likely having the potential to cause cancer in humans. In January, a French court banned a Roundup product with the ingredient, even though it had a European Union seal of approval.

Costco Wholesale Corp. recently pulled Roundup herbicides from its stores, said an executive of the retailer. Certain cities in California, Florida, Minnesota and elsewhere have barred glyphosate weedkillers on municipal property.

Other farm-state lawmakers have defended the herbicides.

The attack on Monsanto’s role in research that deems Roundup safe is led by Baum Hedlund Aristei Goldman PC, a firm representing more than 1,400 plaintiffs. It has selectively released hundreds of company emails obtained through discovery and put many of them on its website.

“These documents provide evidence that Monsanto’s been actively engaged in manipulating the science regarding glyphosate’s carcinogenicity,” said Michael Baum, the law firm’s managing partner.

One document cited by plaintiffs’ attorneys is a 2000 email that Monsanto’s Hugh Grant, later CEO, sent following the publication of a paper upholding Roundup’s safety.

“This is very good work, well done to the team,” he wrote to Monsanto scientists.

They weren’t the paper’s authors. Outside scientists were. An acknowledgments section cited Monsanto researchers as having provided scientific support. They had reviewed the text and data, according to internal Monsanto communications. Mr. Grant, who has retired, declined to comment, Bayer said.

Bayer said collaboration with outside scientists is important for purposes such as testing safety and efficacy, and it provides properly disclosed compensation, adding that this pay isn’t given to influence their scientific opinions.

Helmut Greim, a retired toxicology professor at the Technical University of Munich who has worked with Monsanto, said, “There is this perception that industry is evil and that whoever is involved with them is at least equally evil.” He added: “If the industry asks a scientist to help, I see it as my duty to do so. But one shouldn’t let oneself be influenced.”

Some regulators say when a research paper discloses industry funding, they take into account the possibility of corporate influence on the findings.

“We generally are a bit more suspicious,” said Bjorn Hansen, executive director of the European Chemicals Agency.

The chemicals agency and the European Food Safety Authority both re-examined glyphosate studies questioned by plaintiffs’ attorneys and let stand their approvals. The agencies said they look at the raw data in research, so that the kind of study the attorneys question—a review of past research— generally doesn’t carry much weight.

Health Canada also recently took a second look at studies on which it had based its approval of glyphosate herbicides, after critics raised concerns about Monsanto’s role in research. The Canadian agency assigned a separate group of its scientists to go over the studies. Their review didn’t change its conclusion.

Bayer says Roundup has been proven safe, but two U.S. juries have found otherwise.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently doing a periodic review of the glyphosate science, ahead of a decision expected soon on extending glyphosate’s longstanding U.S. approval. The EPA’s most recent review of glyphosate’s potential human risk, in late 2017, continued to find the chemical unlikely to cause cancer in humans.

Corporate support

Scientific research in industry and academia has become more entwined over the years, scientists say, as corporations have become a more important funding source.

Since 2007, U.S. federal government spending on basic scientific research has plateaued at around $38 billion annually, according to data from the National Science Foundation. Corporate funding has roughly doubled in that time, to about $27 billion.

For researchers with fewer options allowing them to be fully independent, “to some extent, they have to play by the industry’s rules,” said Sharon Batt, an adjunct bioethics professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

A 1998 review of 70 articles on the safety of a hypertension medication found that authors who produced conclusions supporting its use were nearly twice as likely as neutral or critical authors to have financial relationships with manufacturers. The review, on drugs called calcium-channel antagonists, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

A 2003 analysis of studies on industry-sponsored biomedical research found corporate- funded studies were more than 3½ times as likely to show results favorable to companies as were studies with no industry funding. The analysis appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In 2002, researcher Susan Monheit was writing an article on glyphosate herbicides used against aquatic weeds and sent a draft to a Monsanto regulatory-affairs official for fact checking. The official forwarded it to Monsanto toxicologist Donna Farmer, according to emails that the Baum Hedlund law firm obtained in discovery and that The Wall Street Journal reviewed.

Ms. Farmer told the official the paper needed organizational work. “During one editing I had basically re-written the thing—then decided that was not a good thing to do so I tried to just correct the inaccuracies,” she wrote to the official, Martin Lemon.

In an interview, Ms. Monheit, who worked at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, said Mr. Lemon passed along Monsanto’s suggestions by telephone and she followed some of them, such as deleting references to old information. “I certainly didn’t want to use data that was out of date,” she said, but “I was wary of having Monsanto influence the article.”

Noxious Times

When her article was published in a weed-control newsletter called Noxious Times, concluding the chemical posed minimal risk to wildlife, a note described it as the product of a review of previously published research and consultations with pesticide chemists and eco-toxicologists. The note didn’t name Monsanto.

Bayer didn’t make the employees available for interviews.

In the late 2000s, Monsanto financed a study done partly by Pamela Mink, then an assistant professor of epidemiology at Emory University, reviewing past research on glyphosate’s safety. Shown a draft, Monsanto’s Ms. Farmer suggested some edits, mostly to the introduction, and circulated the draft to fellow company scientists, according to documents produced in the litigation and reviewed by the Journal.

One of the Monsanto scientists, Daniel Goldstein, added his own suggestions. “There are a couple places where I read the sentences several times, and I just can’t gather what the underlying message is,” he emailed Ms. Farmer.

The two suggested deleting redundant phrases, asked for math to be double-checked and corrected names.

When the paper was published in the journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology in June 2012, some of the critiqued passages didn’t appear, while others were rephrased and expanded. Brian Stekloff, a lawyer representing Bayer, said in court last month that Ms. Farmer moved around words in the introduction and added context about Roundup products that outside scientists would not have had.

The final paper was significantly different from the draft but had the same conclusion, which was that the researchers had found no pattern showing glyphosate exposure caused cancer in humans.

Its authors were listed as Dr. Mink and three other researchers who, like her, were affiliated with science consultancy Exponent Inc. The paper said one of the authors had been a paid consultant to Monsanto. “Final decisions regarding the content of the manuscript were made solely by the four authors,” it said.

Dr. Mink didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Dr. Greim, the retired Munich toxicology professor, said Monsanto approached him in 2013 about helping it publish some unpublished internal research it earlier submitted to regulatory bodies.

He said Monsanto officials sent him a draft of a report. “I told them, ‘That’s not how it’s done, you need a lot more information’” to support the conclusions, Dr. Greim said. He said he went back and forth with company scientists for months, asking them to add details such as the number of animals and organs studied, and changing the presentation of the results, until he felt the paper was satisfactory.

Monsanto accepted all of his suggestions, Dr. Greim said, and “there were a lot of passages I ended up writing.” He said he was paid €3,000, or about $3,400, for his work.

When the paper was published in Critical Reviews in Toxicology in 2015—finding no link between the Roundup ingredient and cancer—Dr. Greim appeared as lead author. A “declaration of interest” section said that he had been paid by Monsanto and that his three co-authors had connections to the glyphosate business, including one who was employed by Monsanto.

In an internal Monsanto memo released by Baum Hedlund, a Monsanto scientist listed among his accomplishments “ghost wrote cancer review paper Greim et al. (2015).”

Dr. Greim, who has sat on various German and EU scientific advisory committees, said he didn’t care what was said internally because that wasn’t what happened.

Bayer attorney Mr. Stekloff, speaking generally, said in court last month that there were instances of “dumb emails” and “bad language” among the many company documents produced in the case, but “the overall record demonstrates that this was a company committed to testing and committed to science.”


Ocean Power Generating Systems—Going Nowhere Fast

The number of companies that hoped in vain (some still do) to harness ocean power for “free energy” is steadily increasing.

One of the latest outfits not doing so well is Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. (OPT) of Monroe Township, NJ, USA.

According to its website (  ), it “is a pioneer in renewable wave-energy technology that converts ocean wave energy into electricity” and they have several patents to prove it.

Indeed, OPT was founded more than twenty years ago. In 2007, its shares on the NASDAQ stock exchange, adjusted for several stock share consolidations since (1[new]-for-10[old] shares), traded in the neighborhood of $4,000 per share. Right now you can get them for about $3 a piece, clearly, a hot investment.

Let’s look at the range of basic ideas to harness ocean power

Power From Wave Energy

That’s probably the most common attempt for power generation from the oceans. After all, there are nearly always and everywhere small (0.5 m) waves to be found at any shore. A variety of stationary (firmly placed in the on the bottom) and floating designs have been proposed. For example, the floating Pelamis Wave Power idea of sizable, partially water-filled, elongated tanks would create internal swapping back and forth of the water (like your kid making waves in the bathtub) and would drive an internal turbine. It didn’t work out and the company folded.

The OPT idea also has floating devices, in the shape of bottom-anchored buoys. Their technical specifications do not actually give details on how the wave energy is to be converted to electricity.

Another, stationary concept was thought of by the SeWave wave farm project in Nípanin, Faroe Islands. The (rising) water was to compress a fixed airspace in the rock onshore that would drive an air turbine. It was to be in place by 2010. It has not been heard of since.

The same idea, actually built in 2000, was the Islay LIMPET, then claimed to be the world’s first commercial wave power device. It has been decommissioned since.

Power From Salinity Gradients (Osmosis)

That idea relies on the long-recognized concept of osmosis, which is the natural process of salinity equilibration between water of low salinity (freshwater) and high salinity (saltwater). It requires both, in similar quantities and a semi-permeable membrane that allows water molecules to pass through, but not the salt-ions. It was tested in a pilot plant in Norway several years ago. It may work well in a laboratory setting with clean water but not so with actual ocean water. The tiny membrane pores get readily plugged with other materials and the system was not found to be commercially viable.

Power From Tidal Currents

In 2016, with considerable fanfare, the Cape Sharp Tidal (CST) company launched its “long-awaited” underwater test turbine in the Bay of Fundy. The Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, Canada, has among the largest tidal sea level changes in the world and, for that reason also nearby strong tidal currents. The project built a large underwater turbine that was to convert the tidal in-and-out flows to electric power.

The euphoria didn’t last long. In late 2018, CST, co-owned by Nova Scotia’s Emera Inc. (EI), and the Irish company OpenHydro Ltd. (OH), a subsidiary of the French co. Naval Energies, (NE), have hit the end of the road. Both CST and OH filed for bankruptcy.

It didn’t surprise me. The large underwater turbine, placed somewhat offshore where the bay is approximately 500 m or more wide, could not possibly deliver the anticipated power. The current had plenty of room to flow around the “obstacle” of the turbine without creating much power.

Power from the Tides

There are a few well known tidal power plants that actually work. They are in Canada, France, South Korea, and the UK. All have large barriers that allow the incoming tide to raise the water level behind them and drive regular water turbines at low tide. They operate essentially in the same way as any dam that uses the energy of the different water levels in the upside reservoir and the lower release point.

Still, such systems also have their limitations and other problems. One limitation is the nearly constant change in the tides. To begin with, the time windows around the high (to fill the reservoir) and low tides (to generate power by emptying it), where the most energy can be had, is quite short. Then, such structures interfere with other activities, like marine traffic to a harbor and a healthy range for fish to seek forage or to spawn. In addition, the occasional humpback whaleand possibly other “flotsam and jetsam” can cause problems.

In Summary Then

Ocean power is not easy to harness. So far, only a few tidal power plants exist that actually produce a reasonable amount of electric power—at predictable intervals. All attempts at getting constant power generation from waves and currents have failed to deliver anything close to the promises. Of course, wind power generating systems are not much different.

The reasons have been known for a long time.

As stated on a UK government site in 2006:

The main problem with wave power is that the sea is a very harsh, unforgiving environment. An economically-viable wave power machine will need to generate power over a wide range of wave sizes, as well as being able to withstand the largest and most severe storms and other potential problems such as algae, barnacles and corrosion.

But don’t give up on your “free ocean energy” dreams yet—there are still plenty of tax dollars to be had to foster them.


Canadian officials decide not to sue oil companies over environmental costs

Officials from Vancouver Island and coastal British Columbia communities in Canada met over the weekend to debate whether to sue oil and gas companies to help offset the cost of cleaning up damage from floods and wildfire.

David Screech, the mayor of View Royal B.C., notified his Twitter followers Sunday that the measure was defeated.

“The motion was soundly defeated just now at our conference. No lawsuits,” he wrote in response to questions from people concerned about what such a measure might mean for the industry. Screech’s office confirmed to The Daily Caller News Foundation that the measure was defeated.

Canadian taxpayers spent roughly $350-million on programs designed to fight B.C. wildfires in 2018. Fire suppression measures cost more than $568 million in 2017, according to media reports.

B.C.’s auditor general said in a 2018 report that costs associated with man-made global warming across Canada could reach between $21 and $43 billion annually over 30 years.

One Canadian official who previously supported such measures is now reversing course. “Since we passed the original motion, I have had some second thoughts,” Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said in an April 4 interview on CBC. “I think there might be more prudent and more timely approaches.”

She cited reports suggesting Canada is experiencing a higher rate of global warming than many other countries.

SEE ALSO: Yellow Vests And Rubber Boot Cowboys: Inside Canada’s Pro-Pipeline Convoy

Helps added: “Time is running out and fighting lawsuits is probably not the best way to spend our time when we’ve got a planet to save.” Her newfound opposition to climate lawsuits stands in stark contrast to many of her American counterparts who are seeking climate lawsuits of their own.

New York City officials sued ExxonMobil and others in January 2018 for damages wrought by natural disasters.

U.S. District Judge John Keenan ultimately dismissed the lawsuit in July 2018, arguing that litigating such an action “for injuries from foreign greenhouse gas emissions in federal court would severely infringe upon the foreign-policy decisions that are squarely within the purview of the political branches of the U.S government.”

It’s the third such lawsuit brought against oil companies Exxon, Chevron, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips.

A U.S. District Court judge in Northern California struck down identical lawsuits in 2018 brought by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland.

Opponents of the litigation frequently criticize the trial attorneys behind the litigation, claiming that the lawsuits are nothing more than a get-rich scheme.


Pocahontas unveils her plan for the 640 million acres controlled by the federal government

Warren’s “plan for public lands,” released Monday, includes banning coal, natural gas, and oil production, and making all national parks free to visit. Warren’s goal is to tackle climate change while spurring economic development on federal lands.

“It is wrong to prioritize corporate profits over the health and safety of our local communities,” Warren wrote in a Medium post announcing her plan. Warren says she wants to “make public lands part of the climate solution – not the problem.”

“That’s why on my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that says no more drilling — a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases, including for drilling offshore and on public lands,” she wrote.

That’s a complete one-eighty from the Trump administration’s agenda of promoting natural resource development. Warren also set a goal of getting 10 percent of U.S. electricity generation from renewable energy on public lands and waters.

“My administration will make it a priority to expedite leases and incentivize development in existing designated areas, and share royalties from renewable generation with states and local communities to help promote economic development and reduce local dependence on fossil fuel revenues,” Warren wrote.

Conservatives were critical of Warren’s plan to halt all new fossil fuel production, saying it would endanger hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“Declaring war on western states where energy production makes up a lot of the economy is probably not a great idea when you represent a state that has to import natural gas from Russia to get through the winter,” said Dan Kish, a senior distinguished fellow at the Institute for Energy Research.

Fossil fuel production on federal lands and waters supports 676,000 jobs and $134 billion in economic output, according to Interior Department figures. Some Native American tribes also subsist off revenues from coal gas and oil production.

“‘Banned in Boston’ is going to take on a whole new meaning to the men and women who keep the lights on in this country,” Kish told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email.


Leftist industry spokesman in Australia is dubious about electric cars

Kim Carr, Bill Shorten’s industry spokesman, last year warned that electric vehicles posed serious ­social ­issues and would require a one-third expansion in electricity ­production.

Senator Carr, who has a long history of supporting the domestic auto industry dominated by traditional carmakers Ford, Holden and Toyota, urged a Senate committee to consider “the reality versus the mythology” of electric vehicles, just six months before standing alongside Mr Shorten to launch Labor’s signature electric car policy.

The left-wing powerbroker has also strongly argued against “pumping up the tyres” of imported electric vehicles, batting away calls from the Electric Vehicle Council last year for up to $7000 worth of subsidies for every EV sold.

Senator Carr, who will head Labor’s electric vehicle-led bid to rejuvenate Australia’s car industry, last year expressed scepticism over the suitability of the cars outside major cities, and questioned whether they could be used as “batteries on wheels” — as claimed by advocates — to manage peaks in energy use.

The Victorian senator told the Senate’s electric vehicle inquiry, chaired by independent senator Tim Storer, that the high cost of electric vehicles would put them beyond everyday drivers. “The electrification issue does pose really serious social (issues). There’s an in-built demographic question there about people who can afford the Tesla, versus some of these smaller vehicles,” he told the committee last September.

“And if you’re away from a ­regional centre of any size then the capacity to actually use these vehicles is somewhat limited. So I think that needs to be clear when we’re talking about the reality versus the mythology.”

Senator Carr tackled the head of the Fast Cities consortium during the inquiry, questioning his suggestion that electric vehicles would stabilise the energy network without the need for a one-third expansion in energy output. “What evidence do you have for this?” he asked Fast Cities head of corporate development Paul Fox. “No one else is telling us that this is going to be able to be done without an expansion in the capacity of the grid.”

Senator Carr said more batteries were “not the answer to our ­energy problems”, declaring: “If you put a one-third increase in ­demand on the energy system, we’re going to actually need to ­increase our generation capacity.”

He said yesterday he stood by his comments, arguing regulatory changes were needed before electric car batteries could be used to feed back energy into the grid to ensure car warranties were not voided. “We have to change the regulations, we have to change the building codes,” he said. “This is one of the theories that is constantly put forward, but it needs to be put into context with the regulatory changes that are required.”

He said the government had offered “no policy direction” on the introduction of electric vehicles, which Labor wants to increase to 50 per cent of new vehicles sold by 2030. The government estimates they will make up 25 per cent to ­­50 per cent of new car sales by 2030.

Labor plans to offer assistance to electric vehicle carmakers in Australia through its proposed $1 billion advanced manufacturing fund. “I would like to see us make electric cars in Australia because Australians are top-class manufacturers when you have a government who supports them,” Mr Shorten said last week.

Senator Carr’s comments came as a photograph emerged on social media of Josh Frydenberg’s ­election campaign vehicle, a plug-in hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander.

The Treasurer is a big supporter of rechargeable cars, declaring last year there would be a million on Australian roads, up from about 8500, by 2030.

The Senate’s electric vehicle inquiry found electric vehicle uptake in Australia lagged behind comparable countries due to “a relative absence of overarching policy direction” from the government.

“In the committee’s view, widespread use of EVs in the Australian transportation fleet would deliver significant economic, environmental and health benefits to Australian consumers and society,” the inquiry found.

“It would also create new opportunities for Australian industry.”

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the Coalition was concerned that Labor’s plan to cut carbon emissions from transport would hit everyday voters.



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, April 16, 2019

UK: Thousands of eco-activists start to descend on London to 'shut down' the capital and cause misery for millions of commuters

Environmental protesters will converge at five locations in London tomorrow to cause disruption, block roads and 'shut down the city'.

Activists, known as earth marchers, have been making their way in to central London for weeks for the 'International Rebellion'.

And many have been encouraged to illegally camp in Hyde Park overnight in to tomorrow so they can 'come together, form relationships, consolidate plans, and gear up for the days ahead,' according to campaign group Extinction Rebellion.

From Monday, thousands of people are expected to gather at Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Waterloo Bridge, Piccadilly Circus and Parliament Square to block traffic during a three-day protest.

The 'festival' of action will include people's assemblies, performances, talks, workshops and food.

Campaigners will be able to attend training sessions 'to make sure everyone is prepared for the mass civil disobedience to follow,' Extinction Rebellion say.

And although the movement is a peaceful one, participants are being warned there is always the possibility of arrest. 

Those considering camping in Hyde Park have been warned they could be breaking the law, as doing so without permission is an offence under Royal Parks legislation.

A spokeswoman for The Royal Parks says Extinction Rebellion have not asked for permission to begin the protest in the park and that camping is not allowed.

She said: 'We never allow camping in the parks for reasons of safety, security, lack of welfare facilities and the impact it has on the park. It also removes public space from other park visitors.

'Those camping in the parks are breaking the law. Enforcement of the park regulations is a matter for the Metropolitan Police.'

Police said their operational response 'would be dependent on what if any other issues might be ongoing at the time'.

Scotland Yard said they have 'appropriate policing plans' in place and that officers will be used from across the force 'to support the public order operation during the coming weeks'.

They added: 'We will always provide a proportionate policing plan to balance the right to a peaceful protest, while ensuring that disruption to communities is kept to a minimum.

April Stewart, who travelled from Carmarthenshire in Wales for the demonstration, said the prospect of being arrested 'doesn't phase me'. The 52-year-old artist said: 'I am not someone who is normally drawn to civil disobedience. I am moved by this cause, by this moment in time that we have to make a difference.'

Asked if she thought the Government will take notice, she said: 'I guess that depends how effective we can be in shutting down the city.

'It has to inconvenience them enough, it has to inconvenience the financial system, it has to inconvenience the tourist industry, it has to inconvenience the Government enough to recognise that they need to engage with this.'

She said the disruption would mimic disruption they expect will be caused in the future by the effects of climate change and the destruction of the ecosystem.

Police advised people travelling around London in the coming days to allow extra time for their journey in the event of road closures and general disruption.


Behind the Green New Deal: An elite war on the working class

At the heart of the GND is a plan to outlaw hydrocarbon energy and produce all electricity from wind, solar and other ­renewables. This isn’t just wildly impractical. It would deliver a crippling blow to the economy. Coal, oil and gas left in the ground are jobs and income buried forever, causing a permanent contraction in the productive capacity of the economy. The GND would thus be a declaration of war on blue-collar America, imperiling the Trump recovery and its half a million new manufacturing jobs.

Republicans have decried the GND as “socialist.” But whatever its real-world outcomes, and they were horrendous, at least the old socialism in theory sought to advance the economic interests of the working class. The GND does the opposite.

Subsidizing wind and solar while rooting out carbon is very expensive. That’s why industrial electricity prices in Europe are nearly 50 percent higher than they are in the rest of the Group of 20 advanced nations — and why energy firms are loath to invest in Europe.

Transplanting such European-style policies across the Atlantic, as the GND essentially aims to do, would kill energy jobs and drive up the price of energy in America. For American workers, the unspoken message from GND environmentalists is: Go and learn computer programming, or at best you will end up wiping snow and sand off solar panels.

The GND, in other words, is ­redistributionist, yes, but the redistribution goes from the bottom to the top — from the poor and from workers to wind and solar investors. Again, Europe’s example is ­instructive. The drive to subsidize renewable energy led Britain to drop its pledge to abolish fuel poverty. The official measure of fuel poverty, defined as households spending 10 percent or more of their income on energy, kept rising. So it was ­replaced with a new government definition less sensitive to rising ­energy costs, instantly halving the number of households officially deemed fuel poor.

Meanwhile in Germany, Europe’s wealthiest country, at one stage more than 300,000 households a year were being disconnected ­because of ­unpaid bills.

“It is only gradually becoming apparent how the ­renewable energy subsidies redistribute money from the poor to the more affluent,” the left-of-center Der Spiegel newspaper editorialized. Energy companies know that the best way to avoid accusations of price gouging is to claim that it’s to fight climate change. For this reason, ­renewable energy acts as a conspiracy against the less well-off.

In the US, a capitalist aristocracy is pushing wind and solar. Its members include blue-blooded capital from the likes of the Rockefeller, MacArthur and Ford foundations, and Silicon Valley billionaires touting phony claims of 100 percent ­renewable energy. Climate change is ethics for the super-rich. The self-righteous rhetoric of this aristocracy legitimizes the vast accumulations of wealth by the green robber barons of the 21st century.

The big question Republicans should ask is: Why?

Successful prosecutors show the motive behind the crime. So it is in politics. The supposed motive ­behind the GND — fighting climate change — doesn’t wash. If the scheme were genuinely about climate change, green activists would be campaigning to expand nuclear power rather than trying to shut it down. The truth is the climate war isn’t about climate. It is and always has been deeply ideological.

Control energy to reverse the ­Industrial Revolution and abolish industrial capitalism — these are the real targets of green ideology.

The progressives’ climate war is a war that will be lost before the first shot is fired. America doesn’t exist in a climate bubble. China, India and other developing economies are going to keep growing and keep emitting. The good news is that the GND could well fracture the Democratic coalition, pitting billionaire funders and upper-middle-class green ­activists against blue-collar workers and ethnic minorities for whom well-paying jobs and cost of living come first.

Both for reasons of principle and political advantage, Republicans are right to put GND front and center. But the message they need to ­develop shouldn’t just focus on the plan’s impracticality. Instead, the right should hammer at the left’s class war against workers. Hone and repeat that message through 2020, and they will win.


Climate Alarmists Follow Acid Rain Scare-Book

There is nothing coincidental about common déjà vu features of a CO2 climate crisis-premised war on fossil fuels and a hysterically-hyped sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission acid rain environmental calamity a half-century ago.

Both scams have claimed to be based upon dire computer model-based predictions calling for costly interventions.

Both also involved the same sorts of crony constituencies: alarmist “scientific authorities,” deep-pocket NGO promoters, and headline-hungry politicians eagerly rewarded by swarms of credulous media reporters.

The acid rain scare began in 1967 when Svant Odén, a soil scientist at the Agricultural College of Uppsala, wrote a broadly circulated sensationalist article about forestry damage he attributed to a “chemical war” between nations of Europe in the leading Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter.

Growing public concern regarding environmental impacts of industrial-sourced acid rain prompted the Swedish government to convene a group of experts to investigate the matter that was chaired by Bert Bolin, the head of Stockholm’s International Meteorological Institute.

The Bolin panel’s 1971 report was a flimsy political document clothed in scanty science which authoritatively concluded that: “The [human] emission of sulfur into the atmosphere . . . has proved to be a major environmental problem.”

The assessment only sheepishly mentioned that European forests had actually seen considerable increases.

One also had to read 50 pages further into the report to discover that the “has proved to be” reference wasn’t really assured at all.

It went on to say, “It is very difficult to prove that damage, such as reduced growth rates due to the acidification of the soil and related changes in the plant nutrient situation, has in fact occurred.”

This disclaimer regarding the existence of scientific certainty is reminiscent of another one buried 774 pages into IPCC’s Third Assessment Report summary exactly three decades later.

It stated, “In research and modeling of the climate, we should be aware that we are dealing with a chaotic, nonlinear coupled system, and that long-term predictions of future climate states are not possible.”

In 1980, under President Carter’s prompting, the U.S. Congress passed legislation for a ten-year National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program (NAPAP).

Nevertheless, neither the U.S. nor the U.K. signed a 1985 Helsinki Protocol that committed Western parties to cut their emissions to 30 percent below 1980 levels.

The Reagan administration established a nine-member panel under NAPAP to conduct peer reviews of more than 3,000 scientific studies that had previously been conducted by research groups convened under a Carter Memorandum of Intent with Canada.

NAPAP’s 1987 review harshly criticized the poor scientific quality of the model-based studies. It also concluded, “The vast majority of forests of the United States and Canada are not affected by decline (emphasis in the original).”

Although the more than half-billion-dollar 10-year- long acid rain study yielded no “smoking gun,” the EPA had begun establishing the groundwork to regulate sulfur dioxide even before those NAPAP results were in.

A media-fueled environmental alarm had provided a welcome pretense for SO2 “allowance trading” under the Clean Air Act of 1990, the precursor for UN-Kyoto Protocol climate-alarm- premised carbon-capping proposals which followed.

The media frenzy surrounding Senator Al Gore’s 1988 Congressional hearings on global warming provided a dream opportunity for Enron, one of the biggest SO2 trading market players, to also cash in on climate alarm.

Enron then owned the largest natural gas pipeline outside of Russia.

They reasoned that since their natural gas market was competing with coal — a larger CO2 emitter — a carbon cap-and-trade market modeled upon SO2 credit exchanges would be a huge boon to their business.

Enron’s CEO Kenneth Lay had met with President Clinton and Vice President Gore in the White House on Aug. 4, 1997, to prepare a strategy for the upcoming UN Kyoto conference that following December.

This was the first step toward creating a global carbon-trading market that Gore and Enron both coveted.

An internal Enron memorandum stated that Kyoto would “do more to promote Enron’s business than almost any other regulatory initiative outside the restructuring [of] the energy and natural gas industries in Europe and the United States.”

Al Gore and his partner David Blood, the former chief of Goldman Sachs Asset Management were poised to make windfall profits selling CO2 offsets as stakeholders in the Chicago Climate Exchange.

Lobbying before a 2007 Joint House Hearing of the Energy Science Committee, Gore told members, “As soon as carbon has a price, you’re going to see a wave [of investment] in it . . . There will be unchained investment.”

Fortunately, Congress didn’t bite, and it was Enron that ultimately got capped.

Ironically, SO2 blamed for forest damage and CO2 attributed to a looming climate disaster are both natural plant fertilizers that make the world greener.

And once again, costly emission-credit trading scams premised upon unsupportable crisis hyperbole benefit no one.

No — not even Bambi.


Sanity and humanity return to the World Bank

Paul Driessen

President Obama infamously told Africans they should focus on their “bountiful” wind, solar and biofuel. If they use “dirty” fossil fuels to raise living standards “to the point where everybody has got a car, and everybody has got air conditioning, and everybody has got a big house, well, the planet will boil over.”

So when South Africa applied for a World Bank loan to finish its low-pollution coal-fired Medupi power plant, his administration voted “present,” and the loan was approved by a bare majority of other bank member nations. The Obama Overseas Private Investment Corporation refused to support construction of a power plant designed to burn natural gas that was being “flared” and wasted in Ghana’s oil fields.

As David Wojick and I have documented, eco-imperialist, carbon colonialist policies by the World Bank and other anti-development banks have perpetuated needless energy deprivation, poverty, disease and early death in Africa, Asia and beyond for much too long.

But now the World Bank’s executive board has unanimously approved President Trump’s nominee as its new president. Former Treasury Department Under Secretary for International Affairs David Malpass has long criticized the bank for its lack of transparency, multiple low-interest loans to China (even as China became an economic behemoth), and insufficient focus on private-sector development and a stronger, more stable global economy for all nations and families. He just began serving a five-year term.

A few critics predictably claimed Malpass had “committed economic malpractice” and would be “a disastrous, toxic choice.” However, others praised his experience, skills, free-market principles, and commitment to accountability and poor country development.

“Malpass is the ideal candidate to cleanse and modernize an institution charged with helping developing nations climb the economic ladder,” said Deroy Murdock, whose travels have given him a firsthand  look at rampant poverty and malnutrition all across the globe.

A healthy dose of sanity and humanity is clearly in order. In recent years, the World Bank strayed far from its original 1944 mission of reducing global poverty, providing financial aid and guidance to needy countries, and giving “life-saving global health and humanitarian assistance” to “the world’s most vulnerable populations.” Instead, it increasingly focused on “fighting the effects of climate change,” supporting wind and solar energy projects, and combating emissions of plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide.

In 2018 alone, the World Bank provided $20 billion for such projects. Its cumulative loans to China now total more than $60 billion – even as the Middle Kingdom increasingly engaged in predatory loan practices. “Sri Lanka, for example, was forced to cede control of the strategic port of Hambantota to China Merchants Port Holdings Company, after falling into the ‘Chinese debt trap,’” Murdock wrote.

Other supposed multilateral “development” banks followed the World Bank’s callous lead. Most stopped financing coal-fired power plants, slashed or ceased funding for oil and gas exploration by poor countries, and emphasized “total de-carbonization” in their lending practices.

In their warped worldview, manmade climate change dangers that exist only in computer models are a far more pressing concern than horrific real-world, present-day deprivation, disease and death.

Right now, around the world, over a billion people still do not have electricity; another 2 billion have electrical power only sporadically and unpredictably. In Sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 700 million people (the population of all Europe) rarely or never have electricity, and still cook and heat with wood, charcoal, and animal dung. In India, over 200 million people still do not have access to safe drinking water.

Every year, hundreds of millions become ill and 5 million die of lung and intestinal diseases from inhaling pollutants from open fires, and from lack of clean water, refrigeration, bacteria-free food and decent clinics. Largely because they lack electricity to power modern economies, nearly 3 billion survive on a few dollars per day, and more millions die every year from preventable or curable diseases.

But the anti-development banks still focus on “climate change mitigation” and financing “the shift in energy production to renewable energy technologies, and the shift to low-carbon modes of transport.”

Such as horses, oxen and walking, one supposes. People in those countries have been there, done that. They will no longer tolerate being told these banks will help them improve their lives only a little, only to the extent that doing so would conform to climate and sustainability guidelines, only as much as could be supported by wind, solar biofuel and geothermal energy.

Carbon colonialism is on its way out. It’s about time. Will the Malpass World Bank help lead the way?

In what can only be seen as a massive show of defiance and common sense, developing, emerging and modern economies have well over 215,000 megawatts of coal-fired generating capacity under construction: China 128,650 MW; India 36,158; Indonesia 11,466; Japan: 8,724; Pakistan 3,300; Philippines 2,890; Poland 4,170; South Africa 5,429; South Korea 5,429; Vietnam 9,705.

The Africa Development Bank also knows fossil fuels still represent the way forward to a healthier and more prosperous future – and will for decades to come. The AfDB is again financing coal and natural gas power generation projects, because it understands that abundant, reliable, affordable electricity is essential for real progress – and cannot possibly be achieved with expensive, inadequate, intermittent, unpredictable wind and solar power. The continent’s geothermal energy is also woefully inadequate.

Africa has the lowest electrification rate in the world. Its per capital power consumption is a miserly 615 kWh per year, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina emphasized. Compare that to 6,500 kWh per person per year in Europe, and 13,000 in the United States.

The average African’s access to electricity is equivalent to the average American having this miraculous, all-purpose power available 1 hour a day, 8 hours a week, 411 hours per year – at totally unpredictable times. Try running your home, hospital, school, factory, film industry or World Bank office on that.

In reality, most of Africa’s electricity is generated in one country, South Africa, and the vast majority of the continent’s people still have zero, zip, nada electricity – except maybe enough photovoltaic power to charge their cell phones and power a single light bulb in their primitive huts.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her coterie of petroleum-denigrating socialists have no inkling of what life would be like without oil and natural gas. This short video gives a graphic clue of life under their Green New Deal. But in reality, even the metal, wood and cotton items the video leaves behind when petroleum is yanked away would disappear without oil and gas to get raw materials out of the ground and turn them into everyday products – and to grow, harvest and weave cotton into T-shirts and undies.

Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe and many other sub-Sahara African countries have vast coal deposits that would last at least a century at rates necessary to electrify those countries. Many also have enormous oil and natural gas resources. Those fuels must no longer be ignored under the “keep it in the ground” mantra.

Of course, all this anti-fossil-fuel fervor is justified by cries of “[r]climate change.” But the issue isn’t whether the climate or weather is changing. It’s whether humans and fossil fuels are truly causing any observed changes … whether any changes will be dangerous or catastrophic – and whether alarmist scientists have any actual, credible evidence that could survive scrutiny by a Presidential Commission on Climate Change that they are scared to death President Trump might create.

Hopefully, David Malpass will set a more realistic, more human-rights-focused tone at the World Bank – and for the various multilateral development banks. Billions of lives hang in the balance.

Via email

Recycling:  Another failed Greenie idea

It costs money to make something useful out of rubbish -- so most of it is just burnt.  But they are not allowed to burn it at home -- so it is shipped overseas for that.  We pay them to burn it

We all think we’re doing something decent for the environment when we recycle — but the truth about where it ends up might shock you.

Most of Australia’s plastic rubbish ends up being stockpiled in warehouses or shipped to South-East Asia to be illegally burned.

This means that, instead of being recycled, mountains of it is being dumped, buried or burned in illegal processing facilities and junkyards in Southeast Asia.

Sunday’s night’s episode of 60 Minutes explores the contentious practice and it argues it began when China closed its doors to Australia’s plastic waste just over a year ago.

It argues that, for more than two decades, our plastic recycling industry was reliant on China — who we sold our mixed and often contaminated plastic waste, and they melted it down into new plastic goods to sell back to us and the rest of the world.

However, much of it is now just stacking up in the yards and warehouses of Australian recycling companies — as we don’t have the facilities to reprocess it ourselves.

“I think most people in Australia feel lied to, I think they feel disappointed,” Plastic Forests founder and owner David Hodge told 60 Minutes. “Ninety per cent of people do want to recycle, and they need to be enabled to be able to do that.”

Since China stopped buying our rubbish, India — which was the fourth biggest import for Australia’s waste — followed suit last December.

As a result, Australia’s recyclable rubbish is now being dumped in Indonesia, Vietnam and, in particular, Malaysia, which received more than 71,000 tonnes of our plastic in the last year alone.

Mr Hodge told the program the worrying trend has come about as a result of a lack of planning in Australia. “We haven’t built the infrastructure. We haven’t thought ahead,” he tells Bartlett. “Now we’re here and we’re drowning in plastic.”

Analysis of our waste exports commissioned by the Department of the Environment and Energy stated that several Asian countries, including Malaysia have proposed crackdowns on waste imports.

“If Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand enacted waste import bans similar to China’s, Australia would need to find substitute domestic or export markets for approximately 1.29 million tonnes (or $530 million) of waste a year, based on 2017-18 export amounts,” the analysis warned.

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) chief executive officer, Gayle Sloan, has taken aim at the Federal Government — saying it has done “done nothing” since China shut us off.

She told ABC, the 1.2 million tonnes of recyclable materials households are producing could be turned into jobs and investment if the circular economy can only take off. “We’ve had meetings, we had more meetings, and then we’ve had more talk, and we had no action,” she said. [In other words it costs money to recycle]

Now, Mr Hodge’s company is hoping the exposure of mainstream media coverage will make the government and the public take notice.  “Recycling only works when people, corporates and government buy products made with recycled content,” the company wrote on its Facebook page this week.

“As we know, the options to send our waste or a misallocated resource overseas will come to an end.”



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