Friday, December 06, 2019

Physicist Dr. William Happer rips ‘non-existent climate emergency’ & ‘Phoniness of this bizarre environmental cult’

Recorded on Dec3 in Madrid, Spain, the site of the UN’s COP25. William Happer, former Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Emerging Technologies on the National Security Council

Excerpt: "We are here under false pretenses, wasting our time talking about a non-existent climate emergency." ... "Phoniness of this bizarre environmental cult." ...It's hard to understand how much further the shrillness can go as this started out as global warming then it was climate change or global weirding climate crisis climate emergency what next but stick around it will happen. I hope sooner or later enough people recognize the holiness of this bizarre environmental cult and bring it to an end."

Requiem for a Climate Dream

If the world isn’t slashing CO2, blame overreaction to the Fukushima disaster.

By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.

Rigor could be restored to mainstream climate journalism with a single clause. That clause consists of the words “if climate models are accurate.”

A United Nations study issued in advance of this week's climate summit in Madrid would appear in a different light, though still worrisome, and still a challenge to policy makers, if it were reported as saying: To avoid any chance of a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius, annual emissions cuts of 7.6% must begin next year if computerized climate simulations are correct.

Such simulations, we should admit, are science. Their findings represent a legitimate pursuit of knowledge. The common failing in the media involves leaving out the necessary caveats. Such carelessness has ultimately enabled a new kind of science denial on the left, where advocates like Greta Thunberg and the U.K. group Extinction Rebellion increasingly talk about climate change leading to a human demise that is nowhere supported in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or other scientific bodies.

In my view, Al Gore bears heavy responsibility here. Name any important policy commitment in history-whether Social Security or Medicare or even fighting World War II-that required that all debate be silenced and all skeptics vilified before it could proceed. The Gore formula is good for stoking tribalism. It's not good for making policy progress in a democracy. And so it has proved. Nobody remotely believes the supposedly necessary emissions cuts will take place. The only response left to the climate crowd is to ratchet up even more dire predictions.

Let's start over. If stated properly, the "scientific consensus" would run as follows: climate models teach us to expect some warming from human-caused atmospheric CO2 increases, but disagree about how much. It's hard to make cost-benefit judgments on such a basis, but happily the Green New Deal makes it easy-it would cost a lot of money and accomplish nothing since U.S. emissions are just 14% of the total and shrinking. India and China, not the U.S., will determine the fate of climate change.

Cost-benefit analysis also tells us a bunch of things that might be worth doing even in light of the uncertainties. A tax reform based on a revenue-neutral carbon tax could make our tax system more efficient and pro-growth. Government investment in basic research tends to have a high payoff, and battery research is a particularly attractive opportunity. Rethinking nuclear power and regulation is another area of huge potential. Safer and cheaper nuclear technologies continue to advance on the drawing board even in today's inhospitable political environment.

And guess what? All the above would be easier to sell to other countries than Green New Deal masochism. Voters would readily gobble up new energy technologies and tax models that would make their societies richer and stronger.

In honor of this week's global climate gathering in Madrid, the New York Times aptly refers to the "gap between reality and diplomacy." International agreements, by their nature, are designed to put an imprimatur on what domestic politicians would do anyway, and that doesn't include prematurely ending their careers by imposing on consumers the kind of crushing burdens the green left seeks.

Look elsewhere for the turning points that actually matter. If climate change proves as severe as some scientists believe, the most damning moment will be one that passed largely unremarked except in this column: the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown after Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Under Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany, the world's sixth biggest emitter, chaotically and thoughtlessly announced within weeks that it would close all 17 of its nuclear plants. China and India, then pursuing ambitious nuclear expansions that should have become more ambitious, instead recommitted themselves to burning vast amounts of coal.

Nuclearphobes should remind themselves that more people die each year from coal-mining accidents than have been killed in all the nuclear accidents in history. Never mind the tens of thousands who are statistically estimated to die annually from inhaling particulates.

No technology is perfect, but NASA's James Hansen, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Gaia theorist James Lovelock, and the late Harvard economist Martin Weitzman are among the diverse and serious students of climate change who have said that meaningful cuts won't happen without nuclear.

The Fukushima accident, widely misread and breathing new life into the antinuclear lobby, will prove more significant than even the advocacy errors of Al Gore. It will prove more significant than the Paris Agreement, the election of Donald Trump, the tiresome legal vendetta against Exxon, or any of the matters that obsess the climate left. It probably put paid to any hope that emissions cuts will play a role in climate change for at least the next three or four decades. Get used to it.


Comment on the above article

CO2 Coalition Executive Director Caleb S. Rossiter says:

"Yes, it's all about the models! This is the most important op-ed of the year in the energy field. Yes, the entire policy debate is predicated on model accuracy, and it hasn't been very good.  The atmosphere-ocean-land energy transfer system is the modeling problem from hell.

"Nearly all the models put in a parameter estimate with too much sensitivity to CO2. We are publishing a seminal paper by MIT atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen this week on why sensitivity is below even the lower bound of the IPCC model estimates of 1.5 to 4.5 C temp increase for a doubling of CO2 levels.

"The best model, by Russian scientists, has lower CO2 sensitivity than the others, and tracks well when run forward.

"The result of all the thousands of parameter estimates that provide a good "backfit" for the IPCC models with past temperatures is that when the models are then run forward, they have three times too much warming when compared to now 40 years of data.

"In my testimony and writings I try to educate Congress and the public on how models work...and don't, as witnessed by the ever-receding projections of severe warming:

Via email

The Fauxvironmentalists of San Francisco

San Francisco policymakers recently received a building proposal that one might think fits the city’s environmental goals. A developer wants to build a 5-story, 20-unit building in the Outer Sunset, a neighborhood that’s added only 21 units since 2011. The project would include 5 affordable units, abut a rail line, and replace a vacant gas station.

As with many San Francisco projects that are code compliant, this one can be appealed by residents for $750. So an appeal is being filed against it to reduce the unit number, increase the number of parking spaces, and potentially kill it altogether. It was filed by Mike Murphy, a former Board of Supervisors candidate… and councilor for the San Francisco Green Party.

Welcome to the wacky world of San Francisco climate activism.

Various groups there call for, in the abstract at least, environmental sustainability, but frequently organize to block mixed-use, multi-story, transit-oriented housing developments. This sends a growing Bay Area population further to the suburbs, where they make long car commutes into the city.

The most notorious offender has been the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay chapter. In 2017, I wrote a Forbes piece listing the projects they’d opposed in the city and nearby dense suburbs like Berkeley. It ranged from various high-rise projects downtown, to housing around the Giants’ stadium, to a shipyard redevelopment that would clean up a toxic site and produce 12,000 units. For the article, I interviewed three different chapter representatives. Each interview was strange.

The reps would insist that they favor infill development, citing the chapter’s bylaws which say so. But for each project I mentioned, they’d cite specific reasons for their opposition. It included aesthetic gripes, soil concerns, grievances about the projects’ affordability, or the fact that developers would profit. Conor Johnston, former chief of staff to current San Francisco Mayor London Breed, also noted their consistent but opaque opposition in a San Francisco Examiner article.

“Time and again, chapter leaders hedge their opposition with statements like, ‘We support infill development, just not this plan.’ But if you oppose every plan, that hedge rings awfully hollow.”

The aforementioned San Francisco Green Party has, by comparison, been more open about its anti-growth stances. It has long endorsed candidates—or fielded its own—who oppose infill development. This November, it opposed 2 ballot initiatives that would spur more housing production. Measure A would fund $600 million in affordable housing construction, including for seniors and the chronically poor; and Measure E would loosen zoning to build more teacher housing. Regarding the Outer Sunset project, Murphy on Twitter called it a “pre-apocalyptic future sandcrawler”, while the San Francisco Green Party account tweeted that it would be “more luxury condos on toxic land.” The response about toxic land did not, however, explain why the Green Party wants less housing and more parking. I contacted both accounts for comment about this apparent contradiction, but have not heard back.

Aside from the Sierra Club and Green Party, a third way San Francisco climate activists block development is through the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. The law was passed in 1970 to file appeals against environmentally-harmful developments. It has since been used as a standard means to obstruct environmentally-friendly ones. According to one study, 98% of units targeted by CEQA are in urban areas. In San Francisco, CEQA has been used to try and block the new Warriors arena, the redevelopment of a laundromat into housing, and a homeless shelter.

Lastly, there are random residents who aren’t affiliated with specific laws or organizations, but think up environmentally-based arguments to use. For example, a recently-approved 744-unit project in the Laurel Heights neighborhood was opposed because it meant cutting down 200 trees. But as Johnston noted in a phone interview, the developer promised to replant twice that number during development.

The thing is, dense development really is good for the environment—especially when built in San Francisco. A study by economists Ed Glaeser and Matthew Kahn found that the city has the 2nd-lowest CO2 emissions per household of major U.S. metros, due to its mild climate, efficient use of utilities, and low car ownership. The more people who live there, the better for our climate.

Why some local environmentalists protest such growth is hard to know, since they don’t give straight answers. It may be that they’re anti-capitalist, and prefer sticking it to developers even when the developers are helping the environment. Another theory, offered by Johnston, is that there’s a strand within the movement that wants population control, and thinks restricting development will accomplish that. But it may simply be that they are NIMBYs, and are using distorted environmental arguments to serve their goals.

“It would be comical if it wasn’t so horrible,” said Johnston. “Opposing urban infill housing under the banner of environmentalism is hypocritical and harmful to the environment that we’re all actually trying to protect.”

But the obstruction remains powerful in San Francisco. It has left Outer Sunset and other neighborhoods with almost no recent growth, worsening the housing shortage and expanding sprawl.



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

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Thursday, December 05, 2019

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Heat waves, Cold winters explained in the Oct. 18, 1877 issue of the Royal Cornwall Gazette, Truro, Cornwall, England.

The UN’s ‘Woke’ Climate Propaganda Is An Insult To Science

The climate change “emergency” is fake news. Many will roll their eyes in exasperation at the conspiratorial bombastry of yet another “denier”. But for years I have been a plastic recycling, polar bear cooing middle-grounder.

In fact, Aristotle would probably turn in his grave at the logical fallaciousness of my long-held presumption that the truth must lie somewhere between those two mutually loathing opposites – Skepticism and Armageddon.

But as the doom-mongering acquires the rubber-stamped smell of institutionalized illness, it is impossible to ignore that the “woke” are the new “slept” – too deep in their sugar coma of confected hysteria to realize they are being duped by disinformation.

Before I explain why the climate “emergency” is the most electrifyingly effective propaganda exercise of the 21st century, two clarifications.

I have no fight to pick with glaring evidential realities: surface records clearly show the planet is getting warmer.

Nor do I have a culture war-bloodied ax to grind with the fundamental chemistry: carbon dioxide indisputably contributes to the greenhouse effect.

But I do take issue with how the mainstream debate has become an insult to both the public’s intelligence and basic science.

This was clearer than ever yesterday, as bureaucratic catastrophists kicked up dystopian dust-clouds on their way into the UN Madrid climate change summit.

As Greta Thunberg arrived by yacht (after her British skipper likely clocked up 3 tonnes of carbon emissions flying to the US to pick her up), UN Secretary-General António Guterres rumbled that, over the horizon, he could see “the point of no return”.

Delegates waved the UN’s latest Emissions Gap Report as if it were both a millenarian death oracle and a methodologically indisputable text; in it, the recommendation to cut emissions by at least 7.6 percent per year for the next decade.

One can’t help but feel that we have heard such curiously precise warnings before. Last year the UN warned that we had just 12 years to save the planet.

Scientists have since revised this to approximately 18 months. Or perhaps it is already too late. The experts don’t seem quite sure.

Indeed, the distinction between present and future seems to be fading to discardable subtlety.

Take the study which has gone viral in recent days for claiming that parts of the world have either already reached – or are inching towards –“tipping point”, whereby the planet becomes caught in destructive feedback loops.

Are we already doomed, or nearly doomed, or nearly already doomed? More is the mystery.

Claims such as these are projections, but they are routinely presented to the public as unquestionable facts. This effectively reduces them to fake news.

Even more so, given that the accuracy of the climate modeling upon which these figures and scenarios rely is contested, and the climate does not change in a straight line.

To take one example, the UN’s international climate change body, the IPCC, said in 2007 that temperatures had risen by 0.2C per decade between 1990-2005 and used that figure for its 20-year projection.

Inconveniently, warming turned out to have been just 0.05C per decade over the 15 years to 2012.

The IPCC acknowledges the uncertainty of the computations it champions; hence the disclaimer squirreled away on its website stating that it does not guarantee the accuracy of the information it contains. A caveat lost in translation at the resplendently funereal press conferences.

This post-truth scam is having a chilling effect on science. Experts are locked in a race to the bottom to make detailed and disastrous premonitions.

And despite the fact that disciplined debate is the motor of scientific discovery, eco-extremists are shutting down discussions that dissent from the Apocalypse narrative.


Historic Cold in U.S., Record Snow Across Northern Hemisphere: Winter Arrives Early

If you haven’t heard about the historic snow across the northern hemisphere this winter, hear it now. Yes, winter began early with unusually heavy snow and extraordinary cold.

Many parts of the U.S. recorded historic lows in November, especially during the second week. Media reports confirmed “record-breaking temperatures across the U.S.” Buffalo, New York, broke its highest snowfall record for Nov. 11 with 8.7 inches of snow.

On Nov. 12, the National Weather Service (NWS) in Indianapolis tweeted, “The current temperature is 13 [degrees Fahrenheit] which breaks a 108 year old record low for the city. Old record low was 14 [degrees Fahrenheit] in 1911.”

The Midwest registered over 850 daily temperature records. NWS in Grand Rapids tweeted, “Preliminary numbers from G.R., Lansing, Muskegon, and Kalamazoo indicate this has been a Top 3 coldest first-half of November, competing with 1991 and 1951, with temperatures averaging near 32 degrees! Normally we’re around 41 degrees.”

A similar situation prevailed in Canada. Pearson airport in Toronto recorded 5.5 inches of snow. That was four times higher than the previous record set in 1983. The Weather Network observed that “record January-like cold, bitter wind chill” descended in Ontario. The nation’s capital, Ottawa, registered at least four record-breaking cold days in November.

The northern hemisphere as a whole experienced above-normal snowfall.

The European Space Agency’s Global Snow Monitoring for Climate Research (GlobSnow) quantifies snow levels in terms of snow water equivalent (SWE). SWE is “the amount of liquid water in the snow pack that would be formed if the snow pack was completely melted.”

Data from GlobSnow confirm that snow-mass levels for the past few weeks have been well above the 30-year average (1982–2012).

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the snow extent in the northern hemisphere is at its highest levels in recent decades.

National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) reported that the daily snow extent for November has been at a 14-year high (2005–2019).

If the trend continues, the winter of 2019–2020 could be one of the coldest, and snowiest, in recent decades.

Regardless, we can say with certainty that winter has arrived early this year. Arctic blasts have provided us with record-breaking new lows.

Climate activists are largely silent on the record cold and snow. They seem increasingly out of touch with climate reality.

These record lows may or may not presage long-term changes in climate. They do, however, belie false predictions that winters would become milder due to rapid climate change.

Ecclesiastes is right: There is nothing new under the sun!


Pelosi blows climate hot air in Europe

As the Democrats' effort to convince the country that President Donald Trump deserves to be impeached falters and is on the verge of backfiring, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided it was time to change the subject. So, with a delegation of House Democrats in tow, Pelosi jetted off to the UN's latest climate summit, known as COP25, in Madrid, Spain. She declared that, despite the fact that Trump initiated our official withdrawal from the dubious 2015 Paris Agreement, the U.S. is "still in." Pelosi asserted, "By coming here we want to say to everyone we are still in. The United States is still in. Our delegation is here to send a message that Congress's commitment to take action on the climate crisis is ironclad."

The Democrats' favorite boogieman is "climate change," but they clearly don't believe it's real based upon their behavior and proposed "solutions." Nevertheless, they love to ring the alarm bells, virtue signaling their "commitment" to "save the planet." Of course, as we have repeatedly noted, the solutions Democrats offer would do nothing to mitigate climate change and in fact would cause greater local ecological damage, while at the same time destroying the American economy — which is their real agenda.

The reality is that since 2007, CO2 emissions have fallen in the U.S. by 14%, thanks in large part to the natural-gas boom from shale fracking, which the ecofascists and Vladimir Putin want to shut down. Furthermore, as of 2017, America's emissions were 5% lower than in 1990, despite a population increase of at least 75 million. And a majority of Americans recognize that the climate alarmists' proposed solutions would only lead to less freedom and more government interference in their lives, followed by more suffering. They simply aren't buying the Democrats' "solution."

Hence the climate alarmists' push to rebrand "climate change" into something that sounds much more dire and imminent. "Global meltdown" or "global melting" are a couple of terms proposed by climate activist Aaron Hall. He explains, "After the global climate strike this past September, I found myself thinking about the terms 'climate change' and 'global warming.' Are these scientific terms too neutral? Do they do enough to grab attention and inspire people to take action?" While his proposed alternative terms sound silly, Pelosi has clearly bought into the concept, as she emphasized that climate change was a "crisis." In fact, the term "climate crisis" has increasingly gained traction with the mainstream media. And former Secretary of State John Kerry continues the half-century leftist obsession with treating domestic concerns as warfare, insisting, "We've got to treat this like a war."

The truth is, the Democrats' problem isn't with "climate change" or whatever new alarmist term they adopt; it's with capitalism. This is demonstrated by their continual refusal to praise and recognize the American free-market economy as the most effective means of producing practical solutions to tackle the challenges caused by climate change, all while they turn a blind eye to the planet's largest polluter, communist China.


Why Don’t Climate Change Alarmists Promote Nuclear Power?

In 2008 Al Gore said climate change threatens to “destroy the future of human civilization.” He continued, “We are facing a planetary emergency which, if not solved, would exceed anything we’ve ever experienced in the history of humankind.” To address the problem will “require us to end our dependence on carbon-based fuels.” Not everyone agrees with Mr. Gore’s conclusions on climate change, but for those who do, why are they not strong advocates of nuclear power? It is a proven technology in use today that emits no greenhouse gasses and can substitute for massive amounts of fossil fuels.

If we need to take action now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there is no surer way to do it than to build nuclear power plants. According to the EPA, electricity generation and transportation account for 57 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Assuming that most transportation emissions are from motor vehicles, then generating all electricity from nuclear power (and other zero-emissions technologies like solar and wind) and replacing petroleum-fueled vehicles with electric vehicles could eliminate more than half of greenhouse gas emissions. Residential and commercial is another 12 percent, which could shift almost entirely to electricity, and industry accounts for another 22 percent, which also could be largely electrified.

By using existing technology to substitute nuclear power for fossil fuels in the generation of electricity, by substituting electricity for petroleum to fuel motor vehicles, and by shifting commercial and residential heating to electricity, emissions of greenhouse gasses could be reduced by 80 percent or more.

If climate change is a catastrophe on the horizon, and immediate action is needed, why are climate change alarmists not solidly backing nuclear power—a remedy that is available today?

I’m not siding with (or against) the climate change alarmists here. Maybe they are right. Maybe not. But they think they are right, and if they hold these strong convictions, their lack of active support for nuclear power is completely baffling. They perceive a problem. A proven and readily available remedy already exists, but they are not clamoring to implement it. They are not advocating the one change we could implement now to avoid what they see as the biggest planetary emergency to have ever faced humankind.

Admittedly, nuclear power has its own drawbacks, but they are small and manageable compared to the alternative of global catastrophe. France generates about 75 percent of its electricity through nuclear, and many countries generate 30 to 50 percent of their electricity through nuclear power, so the substitution of nuclear power for fossil fuels for electricity generation, and to power motor vehicles and heat homes and commercial spaces, is obviously feasible because it is being done now.

Meanwhile, Germany and Switzerland have started phasing out their nuclear power plants and will completely eliminate them. I’m not objecting to their decision, but the climate change alarmists should be. Those who view greenhouse gasses as a serious threat to human civilization should be outraged at nations that are eliminating zero-emissions sources of power.

Some economists advocate carbon taxes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While carbon taxes would undoubtedly have an effect—look at the difference in the size of the average automobile in Europe, where taxes push the price of gasoline to more than double the US price, and in the United States—they won’t eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. Small cars still emit greenhouse gasses. A political problem with carbon taxes is that people resist being taxed, so carbon taxes will be a tough sell.

If governments around the world encouraged nuclear power, and perhaps even subsidized it, energy prices would fall, which people would like much more than rising energy prices, adding to the attractiveness of nuclear power. Electric cars are already cheaper to operate than petroleum-powered cars. What if governments offered reduced cost, or even free, charging stations for electric cars? I’m not suggesting governments should do this. I’m wondering why climate change alarmists aren’t advocating it.

Some climate change alarmists might not advocate nuclear power out of ignorance: They don’t realize the potential of nuclear energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Some alarmists might be hypocrites: They don’t really believe their own arguments. Some alarmists are more anti-capitalist and support climate change hysteria because the remedies proposed would move in the direction of undermining capitalism.

Surely some climate change alarmists are both sincere and knowledgeable. So, why is there no visible support within that group for nuclear power?



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

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


Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Could climate change become a security issue — and threaten democracy?

Indeed it could. Warmists often say that democracy has to be limited to get the actions they want.  It is warmists, not warming that is the threat to democracy

Action to address climate change has been left so late that any political response will likely become an international security issue — and could threaten democracy.

That's the view of Ole Wæver, a prominent international relations professor at the University of Copenhagen, who also says climate inaction could lead to armed conflict.

"At some point this whole climate debate is going to tip over," he tells RN's Late Night Live.

"The current way we talk about climate is one side and the other side. One side is those who want to do something, and the other is the deniers who say we shouldn't do anything."

He believes that quite soon, another battle will replace it. Then, politicians that do 'something' will be challenged by critics demanding that policies actually add up to realistic solutions.

When decision-makers — after delaying for so long — suddenly try to find a shortcut to realistic action, climate change is likely to "be securitised".

Professor Wæver, who first coined the term "securitisation", says more abrupt change could potentially threaten democracy.

"The United Nations Security Council could, in principle, tomorrow decide that climate change is a threat to international peace and security," he says.

"And then it's within their competencies to decide 'and you are doing this, you are doing this, you are doing this, this is how we deal with it'."

A risk of armed conflict?

Professor Wæver says despite "overwhelmingly good arguments" as to why action should be taken on climate change, not enough has been done.

And he says that could eventually lead to a greater risk of armed conflict, particularly in unstable political climates.

"Imagine these kinds of fires that we are seeing happening [in Australia] in a part of Africa or South-East Asia where you have groups that are already in a tense relationship, with different ethnic groups, different religious orientations," he says.

"And then you get events like this and suddenly they are not out of each other's way, they'll be crossing paths, and then you get military conflicts by the push."

He isn't the first expert to warn of the security risks of climate change.

Professor Wæver argues that delayed action will lead to more drastic measures. "The longer we wait, the more abrupt the change has to be," he says.

"So a transformation of our economy and our energy systems that might have been less painful if we had started 20 years ago, 30 years ago. "If we have to do that in a very short time, it becomes extremely painful.

"And then comes the question: can you carry through such painful transformations through the normal democratic system?"

He says classifying climate change as a security issue could justify more extreme policy responses.

"That's what happens when something becomes a security issue, it gets the urgency, the intensity, the priority, which is helpful sometimes, but it also lets the dark forces loose in the sense that it can justify problematic means," he says.

This urgency, he says, could lead to more abrupt action at an international level.

"If there was something that was decided internationally by some more centralised procedure and every country was told 'this is your emission target, it's not negotiable, we can actually take military measures if you don't fulfil it', then you would basically have to get that down the throat of your population, whether they like it or not," he says.

"Aa bit like what we saw in southern Europe with countries like Greece and the debt crisis and so on.

"There were decisions that were made for them and then they just had to have a more or less technocratic government and get it through."


Venice’s floods are not signs of a ‘climate apocalypse’

There is no reason why local solutions cannot be found to the flooding.

Venice has endured a terrible two weeks of flooding. On 12 November, over 80 per cent of the city was flooded. The reading on the local tide gauge reached 187cm – the highest level recorded for 53 years. Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted: ‘This is the result of climate change.’ His claim was widely repeated by the media. Luca Zaia, governor of the Veneto region, added that ‘We are faced with total apocalyptic devastation’.

The floods were certainly dramatic and damaging. In Venice’s city centre, St Mark’s Church was flooded and there are concerns about damage to the crypt, columns and floor mosaics. Three water buses sank and some banked on to public walkways. Boats and docking platforms were damaged throughout the lagoon due to high winds of 100km per hour and a tornado close to St Mark’s Square.

The worst damage was on the island of Pellestrina, where an elderly man died when he was struck by lightning. Pumping flood waters was a significant problem for flooded properties on this island. Other coastal areas of the region also experienced flooding and damage, including Chioggia, Jesolo and Caorle.

The damage is estimated to have cost hundreds of millions of euros. Churches, businesses, transport organisations and residents have suffered damage to their properties and boats. The height of the tide was underestimated. Winds were stronger than expected, leaving most people unprepared. On 14 November, the government declared a state of emergency and earmarked €20million to support Venice and its population.

But despite all the damage, the statement by Veneto governor Zaia, that Venice faced ‘total apocalyptic devastation’, is both inaccurate and historically ignorant. Venetians have suffered far more from past flooding than they have over the past two weeks. Fewer flood defences, less sturdy buildings and weaker infrastructure have hugely exacerbated the consequences of flooding.

Given its location, Venice has faced devastating floods throughout its history of over 1,500 years. In 1106 severe flooding wiped away every single building in the Venetian town of Malamocco. Historical accounts of flooding in 782, 840, 875, 1102, 1240, 1268 and 1794 reveal people frequently died from drowning or being stranded in cold water.

In modern times, during the floods of November 1966, the tides reached up to 194cm and 100 per cent of the city was flooded. Several thousand people were made homeless and the city was without electricity or telephones for days. The consequences of the 1966 floods were far more severe than today’s ‘total apocalyptic devastation’. Since 1966, measures such as the construction of jetties and breakwaters, waterproofing, raised paths and improved drainage mean that Venice is much better protected today – especially against low- and medium-level floods.

But as the recent floods clearly attest, Venice is still vulnerable. High-level floods – measured as above 110cm on the tide gauge – have become more frequent over the past century. These are caused by short-term weather effects, especially high winds blowing a greater volume of water from the Adriatic Sea into the Venetian lagoon, combined with rainfall and water from the surrounding rivers.

In addition, there has been a long-term rise in the mean sea level relative to the land. This correlates strongly with the increasing frequency of high floods.

The increase in the mean sea level in Venice has two causes. One is a sea-level rise related to climate change. The other is subsidence – meaning that the land around Venice is getting lower. The principal reason for so much subsidence is that groundwater used to be extracted from the aquifer under the lagoon between the 1930s and 1970s. Between 1897 and 1983, the relative sea level to the land in Venice rose by 23cm – with 12cm due to subsidence and 11cm caused by rising sea levels. Since the 1970s, subsidence has slowed and sea levels have risen by approximately 5cm.

Venice’s mayor was therefore wrong to say that the recent floods were only the result of climate change. Sea-level rise due to climate change has certainly contributed more to high floods in recent years, but land subsidence has been a major cause over the longer term.

Understanding these various causes is important in formulating responses. Blaming the ‘climate emergency’ misses the fact that the worst of the flooding could have been prevented – and can be prevented in future – with the right infrastructure. For instance, one long-term proposal being considered is whether to pump water back into the ground to raise the land level across the lagoon.

The most recent floods might have been blocked had the MOSE mobile dams been completed on time. These dams were designed to protect Venice and its lagoon from tides of up to 3m high. They began construction in 2003 and were due to be completed in 2011. Unfortunately, completion has been delayed due to environmental objections (including from the EU), technical and funding problems, frequent changes of government, and a local corruption scandal in 2014. The earliest the dams are estimated to be fully functioning is 2022.

Venice’s problems need to be dealt with as a matter of urgency. They are serious. But they are not apocalyptical. We are more than capable of solving them.


Can we go back to the pre-fossil fuel era?

Seems like an easy yes or no answer, but there are numerous financial costs and social change ramifications of going Green that make the answer weighty. If everyone can recall history, the worlds already experienced life without fossil fuels just a few short centuries ago.

We never had the oil industry before the 1900’s, so why do we believe society can adjust to living in those medieval times with just electricity? With no infrastructures to move things that are the basis of commerce, and no chemicals to make the products that are the basis of our lifestyles.

The Green New Deal (GND) may be in larval form right now, but the fact that it’s being seriously discussed in Congress (and around the world) is a quantum leap for politics. If nothing else, the advancing of Ocasio-Cortez and Markey’s bill signals that some of our elected officials are on board with inviting Americans to dream again — to imagine a better future for ourselves, even if the road between now and then hasn’t come entirely into focus yet.

What the GND affirms for Millennials, Gen Z and other young people is that we are not living in the best of times, and that recalibrating the world for sustainability and economic justice will not come from taking polite baby steps. We simply don’t have the time for that.

I know politicians both here and abroad are supportive of the GND to sunset the oil industry, BUT imagine how life was without that industry just a few hundred years ago before 1900 when we had NO militaries, NO communications systems, including cell phones, computers, and I Pads, NO vehicles, NO airlines that now move 4 billion people around the world, NO  cruise ships that now move 25 million passengers around the world, NO merchant ships that are now moving billions of dollars of products monthly throughout the world, NO tires for vehicles, and NO asphalt for roads, NO water filtration systems, NO sanitation systems, NO space program, NO medications and medical equipment, NO vaccines, NO fertilizers to help feed billions.

Even more important than living without the above-mentioned infrastructures, before the 1900’s we had NONE of the 6,000 products that come from oil and petroleum products.

For now, forget about the questions of how to finance the GND’s guaranteed jobs for everyone with no infrastructures to work and high-quality healthcare for all with no medications or medical equipment. Just imagine living in those pioneer days with only electricity available and nothing to power since virtually everything we have today is made with the chemicals and by-products manufactured from crude oil.

Turning to the oil industry after 1900 we found that nothing powers economies the way refined oil does; oil can be turned into an array of products: cosmetics, athletic equipment, shoelaces, bowling balls, milk jugs, medications and the aviation, diesel and gasoline fuels. The two prime movers that have done more for the cause of globalization are the diesel engine and the jet turbine. Both get their fuels from oil and without this fuel transportation and commerce return to the pre-Industrial revolution age. In short, oil may be the single most flexible substance ever discovered, so why sunset that industry?

Renewables, such as solar, wind, and biofuels, require taxpayer financial subsidies that are derived from the infrastructures supported by fossil fuels. They require countryside-devouring land mass sprawl due to their low-power density to produce significant electricity, i.e., precious land that will be required to feed the billions on this earth.

How do we provide subsidies to the renewables industries when so many people living on earth survive on less than $10 a day? Today, across southern Asia, portions of Europe, parts of Africa and Australia, there are families attempting to live on virtually nothing. As hard as it is to believe, it is a truism.

How do we provide healthcare to those children in underdeveloped countries? Mostly from energy starved countries that are experiencing 11 million child deaths every year, and mainly from preventable causes when we have no transportation infrastructures to deliver the “medicine man”, since there will be no medications and medical equipment without the oil industry.

For those that support sun-setting the oil industry that is currently running this world’s economy and embark on those unknown GND roads, negotiate its many turns, obstacles and possibly suffer the consequences of removing an industry before we have an alternative industry to replace it, then keep supporting the GND proponents.

For those that believe we should have an alternative replacement for the oil industry before abandoning the industry responsible for international commerce, then it may be time to change our political leaders.

While developed countries with thriving economies continue to seek out an “alternative energy” that can maintain our economy, the billions of people in undeveloped countries may find difficulty adapting to a world without the oil industry as they are just starting to enhance their lifestyles and commerce.


New EU leaders take office vowing to tackle climate change

Virtue signalling

BRUSSELS — A new team of leaders took office at the helm of the European Union on Sunday, pledging to put the fight against climate change at the top of their agenda and foster European unity despite the likely departure of Britain from the 28-nation bloc.

Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen replaced Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the EU’s powerful executive arm, which polices EU laws and negotiates trade on behalf of member countries. The former German defense minister becomes the first woman in the post.

Former Belgian premier Charles Michel succeeded Donald Tusk as president of the European Council, meaning he will chair summits of national leaders and drive their common agenda forward.

In the company of European Parliament President David Sassoli and new European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde, von der Leyen and Michel marked the start of their five-year terms in Brussels with events marking the 10th anniversary of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU’s rule book.

“Today we can present a unified face to the rest of the world. With more weight and greater coherence in a rules-based world,” Michel said. “Today we do more than look back, we celebrate a new beginning, with great enthusiasm and hope.”

Sassoli urged the EU’s main institutions and the new team to deliver on the hopes invested in them by the more than 500 million citizens who make up the world’s biggest trading bloc.

“We need to turn the promises of the past few months into results that improve people’s lives,” he said. “From the fight against climate change to tackling the rise in the cost of living, Europeans want to see real action.”

At the commission’s headquarters, as workers were still moving in office furniture and equipment, von der Leyen outlined her schedule, seeming somewhat relieved to be at work after “a difficult and bumpy start” getting her policy commissioners approved by the European Parliament.

Setting the tone for what she describes as “geopolitical commission,” von der Leyen held phone talks with the leaders of China, South Korea, Turkey, Indonesia, and Australia, with more due later. She showed she is hitting the ground running on an issue of major European concern, heading Monday to Madrid for the international climate conference.

“The European Union wants to be the first climate neutral continent in 2050. Europe is leading in this topic, and we know that we have to be ambitious for our planet,” she told reporters.

On Friday, von der Leyen makes her first foreign trip and has chosen Africa. In Addis Ababa, she will meet with Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission, as well as the president and prime minister of Ethiopia.

The future of Britain’s place in the EU should become clearer after its Dec. 12 election.


Rare earths industry welcomes new US-Australian deal to ensure critical minerals supply

A newly-signed deal between Australia and the United States focusing on critical minerals could be the push to create a thriving rare earths industry in Australia and more specifically, central Australia, according to some mineral experts and rare earths industry players.

The deal comes months after the world's rare earths supply was thrust into the spotlight after Beijing threatened to restrict the rare earth trade as part of its ongoing trade war with the US.

On the other side of the world in outback Australia, Nolans Bore, a rare earths project north of Alice Springs, has welcomed the new deal.

The facility has been more than 15 years in the making, and the company behind it, Arafura Resources, said pending native title approval and finance, it was planning to start construction late next year.

Full details of the deal have not been made public but Brian Fowler, general manager for the Northern Territory with Arafura, said it was a sign that politicians were realising how geopolitically threatened rare earths are due to China's dominance in the market.

"[China] controls 85 per cent of the world's supply of rare earths," he said.

According to the company, the $1 billion project has a large, globally significant rare earth deposit of roughly 56 million tonnes.

"We have the potential to supply somewhere in the region of 8 to 10 per cent of the world's requirement for neodymium and praseodymium, two of the rare earths minerals," Mr Fowler said.

"Their role is in the production of the highest strength magnets on the planet, they are the absolute essential elements in the electrification of motor vehicles and in the production of clean energy using things like wind turbines."

Mr Fowler said considering the amount of car companies looking to make electric models, the current global supply of neodymium and praseodymium was not adequate to meet the predicted demand going forward.

Chris Vernon, processing research director for CSIRO's mineral resources, agreed that demand was about to soar. He said that although Australia had a significant supply of rare earths and sophisticated technology, investment had been holding the industry back. "[The deal] looks very promising," he said.

"One of the bottlenecks to getting a project off the ground in Australia was the financing and the uncertainty [so] if government is stepping in and providing some surety about getting finance, that can only be a good thing."

He reiterated that the China-US trade war was to thank for throwing rare earths into focus. "The rare earths market is about to explode, simply because we expect to put so many electric vehicles on the road; every one of those requires rare earths for their magnets," he said.

"There's also a burgeoning market in other technology uses.

"A car only takes a few tens of kilograms of rare earths but when you're looking at some high-tech military equipment for example, you could be looking at hundreds of kilograms of rare earths.

"There is a real hunger for more rare earths."

While Nolan's Bore has the required environmental approvals, a local advocacy group said it still had concerns around the mine.

However, they conceded that rare earths were needed for the transition to green energy by increasing the use of electric cars and wind turbines.

Alex Read, policy officer with the Arid Lands Environment Centre [ALEC], said the organisation was cautiously supportive of the project, providing that environmental regulations were followed.

"We understand the importance of having a supply of these metals for electric vehicles and renewable energy but we need to take a cautious approach to this," he said. "And we need to have a broader conversation about the costs and benefits of these projects."

The Northern Territory Government will soon start consultation on draft environment protection regulations after passing the Environment Protection Bill earlier this year.

But ALEC would like to see proposed legislation changes in place before any new mines come online.

"One of the key flaws in the current framework is there is no way for directors to be held personally liable if they don't comply with their environmental requirements," Mr Read said.

"We want to make sure they have a chain of responsibility framework to make sure they're held personally responsible and we want to make sure that the rehabilitation program is completed as they say it would be.

"Rare earth mining comes with a lot of risks.

"Particularly with this project, we're seeing it's associated with elevated levels of radionuclides and we understand that they're going to be significant risks to groundwater, surface water [and] public health."

Mr Read said ALEC would also like to see changes put into place to ensure mining companies had to pay for their water licences.



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, December 03, 2019

A new conversation with Prof. William Happer

Four years ago, Stuart went to Princeton University to interview Professor William Happer.

When he interviewed him, he was aware that he was a CO2 (and its impact on climate) contrarian.

Mr. Happer points out carbon dioxide is an important trace gas and an integral part of the carbon cycle, a bio-geo-chemical cycle in which carbon is exchanged between the oceans, soil, rocks and the biosphere.

Virtually all of life on the plant requires CO2 concentrations to be above 150 parts per million.

The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere over the past 500 million years has been as high as 4,000 ppm and as low as 180 ppm.

Since 1880 when CO2 was measured at Mauna Loa in Hawaii levels have risen from 280 ppm to 413 ppm as of April 2019.

Happer, as you will hear, says the impact of CO2 on temperature rise has already taken effect and he points to the logarithmic scale, which is a nonlinear scale often used to analyze a large
range of quantities. According to Mr. Happer, it would take another 400 ppm to affect temperature by one additional degree.

Mr. Happer is also aware of the folly of predictions. And he, like Freeman Dyson, points to the inability of models to accurately predict climate outcomes.  Then add in length of day, which changes by milliseconds, transferring massive amounts of energy mostly into the oceans – causing oscillations that, according to climatologist Judith Curry, are not considered in current climate models. I must ask: is the science of climate really settled? Can it ever be?

Mr. Happer’s position on climate, his scientific credentials and his role in the Trump administration have made him a very large target.

He is a physicist who specialized in the study of atomic physics, optics and spectroscopy. He is the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics and he is the Davisson-Germer Prize winner in
Atomic or Surface Physics. He is not nor could he be a climate scientist because that designation is so new that UCLA only just launched a degree program in 2018.

Since that interview, Greenpeace outed him in a sting operation and President Donald Trump recruited Professor Happer to be a member of a Presidential Committee on Climate Security.

However, in September of 2019, the unflinching Mr. Happer quit. According to Science Magazine, while Happer may have been unflinching, Trump’s White House isn’t. So on Sept 13, 2019, Mr. Happer resigned.

Professor Happer, as you will see in this interview, firmly believes the impact of CO2 has been misrepresented.


Forcing banks to feed the climate machine

Can banks fight climate change? Should the bankers attempt to change the future weather of the planet? The notion is farfetched, yet politicians are trying to get banks to do just that.

Several members of Congress recently urged the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Jerome Powell, to use the agency’s powers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Mr. Powell wisely is having none of it. It’s not the Fed’s job under the law to address the climate, he recently informed Congress. Legislation also has been proposed to require the Fed “manage climate-related financial risks.”

The Federal Reserve is a powerful agency that controls the U.S. money supply. Its mission established by Congress, most recently in 1978, is to pursue price stability and full employment. The Fed does this through its control of monetary policy, which includes determining the prime interest rate, and loaning banks money.

The Fed has a complicated and challenging mission to keep a lid on price inflation. Congress established the nation’s central bank a century ago as an entity run by a board of governors appointed by the president and with Senate approval for fixed terms of office in order to shield it at least somewhat from politics.

Just how would or could the Federal Reserve Bank influence CO2 emissions? The term follow the money is apt here, since the Fed controls its supply. The Fed also is a powerful regulator of banks and the financial sector writ large. It examines their holdings and investments.

Climate alarmists want the Fed to force banks and financial institutions to dictate how money is loaned and invested. Don’t like fossil fuels? The Fed ultimately could impede the ability of oil and gas companies to attract investors and obtain bank loans. If you think, as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez believes, that Miami will be flooded in a few years by a rising Atlantic Ocean, then the government, through agencies like the Fed, could discourage development in such coastal places.

Central banks in European countries already are getting deep in this fool’s errand of climate change and CO2 emissions. Even if you believe the Federal Reserve in the U.S. should add to its plate – beware, since its monetary policy track record includes some spectacular failures.

The double-digit percentage growth in annual price inflation in the late 1970’s was due primarily to an excessive expansion of the U.S. money supply by the Fed during that decade. High inflation has a broad, crippling effect on any economy, and the U.S. economy by the late ‘70’s experienced its worse condition since the Great Depression. To cure this high inflation, the Fed had to inflict more harm by raising interest rates that led to a deep recession in the early 1980’s.

The Fed also was a main culprit in the Great Recession of 2008-09, which resulted from its keeping interest rates too low for too long, which led to over-priced housing, commodities and company stocks. By late ’08, these bubbles burst and the Fed had to step in to keep the economy afloat with liquidity; again, fixing its own mistakes.

The Fed in its history has been mostly effective, but it is not the font of all wisdom, as these and other financial episodes demonstrate. But that hasn’t kept politicians from trying to use it, and every other level of government, to control society in the effort to control climate, as if accomplishing the former would enable the latter.

When climate alarmists are in charge of powerful agencies, the absence of applicable laws or sound science is no impediment to using government to force climate policies on an unwilling public. Examples abound, such as the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to control carbon emissions by butchering the intent of the Clean Air Act. The U.S. Supreme Court put on hold on the CPP and the Trump administration has since replaced it with its Affordable Clean Energy rules.

The Federal Reserve doesn’t need to spend fruitless time and resources in some attempt to control the weather. It already is a full plate to preside over the U.S. economy. But that won’t stop climate alarmist politicians from demanding such as another tool to reorder society to fit their political agenda.


U.S. Reports First Month in 70 Years as Net Exporter of Oil

What happened to "Peak Oil"?

Remember a few years ago when the United States was heavily dependent on foreign oil and experts were telling us we'd be a slave to OPEC forever?

I remember it well. We fought wars for oil, undermined unfriendly governments for oil, but in the end, we were at the mercy of others for our oil supply. Our economy was held hostage by OPEC, as even a small change in the price of oil would send markets reeling and slow economic growth.

But in September, that all pretty much ended. For the first time since records were kept beginning in 1949, the United States became a net exporter of oil.


“The U.S. return to being a net exporter serves to remind how the oil industry can deliver surprises -- in this case, the shale oil revolution - that upend global oil prices, production, and trade flows,” said Bob McNally, a former energy adviser to President George W. Bush and president of the consulting firm Rapidan Energy Group.

Soaring output from shale deposits led by the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico has been in main driver of the transition -- but America’s status as a net exporter may be fragile. Many Texas wildcatters are predicting a rapid decline in production growth next year, while some Democratic contenders for the White House have called for a ban on fracking -- the controversial drilling technique that unleashed the boom.

“In the days of Jimmy Carter and even Ronald Reagan, we would have longed for this day,” said Jim Lucier, managing director of Washington, D.C.-based Capital Alpha Partners LLC. “Now we scarcely notice it at all.”

It's true. There were no parades or speeches marking the celebration of our energy independence. Part of that, I'm sure, is that we still import a sizable portion of some refined oil products as well as some crude oil.

But could it also be that the naysayers, the doomsday predictors, the "peak oil" movement, and those "experts" who believed the American energy sector would never rise again were s wrong they're embarrassed to be reminded of it?

Analysts at Rystad Energy said this week the U.S. is only months away from achieving energy independence, citing surging oil and gas output as well as the growth of renewables.

“Going forward, the United States will be energy independent on a monthly basis, and by 2030 total primary energy production will outpace primary energy demand by about 30%,” said Sindre Knutsson, vice president of Rystad Energy’s gas markets team.

In 1972, the global think tank Club of Rome published "Limits of Growth" which predicted economic collapse before the new millennium and notably, that oil reserves would be depleted by 1990. Today, there are approximately 1.73 trillion barrels of oil in the world's reserves with more being discovered every year. This is enough to last 50 years. And that's not taking into account alternative energy sources and efficiencies that would save us millions of barrels a year.

Why we keep listening to these fools is a mystery. They've been predicting the end of the United States for 200 years and somehow, we keep going. What seems like a miracle is actually the simple process of markets working their magic and human ingenuity doing the rest.

And those are things that the "experts" never take into account.


Prof. Michael Kelly: Energy Policy Needs ‘Herds Of Unicorns’
Climate Policy Research

Utopian thinking is putting the economy at risk says Cambridge professor

The UK’s decision to embark on a wholesale decarbonisation of the economy is beset by superficial thinking that ignores engineering reality.

That’s according to Professor Michael Kelly, emeritus professor of engineering at the University of Cambridge. At the Annual GWPF Lecture Professor Kelly told an audience in London last night that the government’s 2050 net zero target is unachievable without major social disruption.

“For the world to reverse two centuries of industrial development in a few decades would require the efforts of herds of unicorns”, he jokes. “It simply isn’t going to happen, as much as the zealots in Parliament and on the streets shout about it”.

Professor Kelly, a former chief scientist at the Department of Communities and Local Government, also hit out at the Committee on Climate Change’s claim that decarbonisation can be achieved cheaply.

“Their estimates are pie in the sky”, he says. “We have real-world data that shows that the cost would run to trillions of pounds. If politicians listen to them, we are in trouble”.


Australia is doing well at adaptation to the threat of climate change

It’s not surprising that the continuing drought, the driest ever for many parts of the country, record temperatures and the early and explosive start of the bushfire season have increased public concern about climate change and triggered accusations the government is failing to prepare communities for these growing hazards.

While it is true that government responses are lagging in Australia, as they are in most other countries, the Morrison government is doing more to build Australia’s climate resilience than its critics (or even the government itself) may realise. That’s because many of its initiatives are not branded as “climate change” and are embedded in the bureaucratic silos of government departments that have other mandates.

Some examples of this include the $5bn Future Drought Fund, the $4.5bn Roads of Strategic Importance Initiative, the $3.9bn Emergency Response Fund, the $1.5bn National Water Infrastructure Development Fund, the $130m National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework, and the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrange­ments, each of which provides very significant funding for activities to strengthen resilience to floods, droughts and other climate-related hazards that climate change is amplifying.

The problem is that this lack of integration at whole-of-government level is creating inefficiencies that we can ill-afford in a rapidly changing climate.

The Department of Environment and Energy co-ordinates the National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy, but the strategy is not integrated with the Department of Home Affairs’ National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework, even though more than 90 per cent of all disasters are from hazards, such as floods and droughts, that climate change is worsening.

Similarly, the $100bn National Infrastructure Investment Program in the Department of Transportation, Cities and Regional Development, could be better leveraged to build regional and local resilience to climate hazards.

The ADF and the Australian aid program should also be key elements of a coherent national approach.

As we are already seeing, our military will increasingly need to be called upon to support disaster response within Australia and to respond to regional disasters, territorial disputes, and people movements driven by food instability and other climate-related disruptions. Careful targeting of the aid program’s $665m of development assistance for resilience-building can support both our humanitarian and national security objectives, decreasing the need for ADF responses to some of these emerging challenges.

We must bring together this significant ongoing work more coherently.

The recent Independent Review of the Australian Public Service, submitted to the Prime Minister last September, suggests a useful way forward. The review highlighted the key role of the APS Secretaries Board in driving policy across portfolios and explored options to strengthen the governance and resourcing of the board to drive delivery of whole-of-government outcomes. Building Australia’s resilience in the face of our changing climate is exactly the sort of cross-departmental challenge that would benefit from the board’s leadership.

Preparing a more coherent national approach would also make it easier to identify gaps that need to be addressed. A few already stand out. The federal government has no legislated authority ­defining its role, powers and responsibilities in responding to catastrophic natural disasters. This will become increasingly problematic in a rapidly warming climate. Governments in Canada and the US have this authority, even though they too have federal systems that vest the primary responsibility for responding to natural disasters at a state level.

Greater attention should also be devoted to mainstreaming disaster risk reduction across all of the commonwealth’s investments and we need to begin thinking more deeply about the implications for communities that are, or will soon be, in chronic crisis, including options such as managed retreats, land swaps and financial incentives for farmers to transition to other livelihoods.

Notwithstanding the polarising political rhetoric, there is strong bipartisan support for initiatives to build Australia’s resilience to climate hazards. Both major parties, for example, supported passage of the Future Drought and Emergency Response funds.

Given the increasing impact disasters are having on Australian communities, it is in our national interest for this bipartisan approach to become stronger, more visible and explicit. As this happens, it may also help to unlock opportunities for bipartisan efforts in other, more politically challenging, but fundamentally important areas, such as climate change mitigation.



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

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


Monday, December 02, 2019

Climate convert Jeremy Clarkson calls Greta Thunberg, 16, 'a stupid idiot' and a 'weird Swede with a bad temper' for offering no solutions to climate change while 'sailing across the ocean in a diesel-powered yacht'

Clarkson is Britain's bad boy.  Because of his popularity he can get away with words that other Britons could not

Jeremy Clarkson has branded the eco-warrior Greta Thunberg 'a stupid idiot' and a 'weird Swede with a bad temper' in an explosive interview.

The 59-year-old gave his candid thoughts on the 16-year-old during promotion for The Grand Tour.

Clarkson - who regularly calls out the activist on social media and in his column with The Sun - has accused her of being a hypocrite.

Dismissing her as nothing more than 'a stupid idiot,' Jeremy said her speech at the United Nations offered no solutions when she accused leaders of stealing her 'dreams and childhood'.

He told The Independent: 'I think she's a weird Swede with a bad temper. Nothing will be achieved by sailing across the ocean in a diesel-powered yacht, and then lying about the diesel engine.'

He added that we've been aware of climate change for quite some time, and now 'there's that weird Swede running around making all sorts of 'we're going to die' noises, so we're all aware of it.'

The journalist also discussed witnessing first hand the impact of climate change as he saw rivers reduced to puddles while filming The Grand Tour in Cambodia.

He added: 'But rather than having her jumping up and down and waving her arms in the air, you can actually go there and say, 'Bloody hell, fire! Look at what this climate change has done to this place.' 

'We simply said, 'Here's an example of it.' What do you want me to do now? Get on my carbon fibre yacht and go and shout at Donald Trump?'

He continued, criticising her for going to Chile for the climate change conference which was then moved to Madrid, saying that it made him 's*** himself laughing'. 

Previously in his column for The Sun, he called Greta 'naive'. 

The teen has come under fire from some critics for inciting fear among children with her climate activism. 


Recycling failure in Britain

England burnt more waste than it recycled last year, prompting campaigners to call for a moratorium on all new incinerator projects.

Recycling rates have fallen over the past five years in more than half of local authority areas and the nation incinerated 11.2 million tonnes of rubbish last year, compared with recycling and composting 10.9 million tonnes.

Critics say that the proliferation of energy-from-waste incinerators, which burn rubbish to provide electricity, has caused recycling to fall while adding to carbon emissions pollution.

The plants were welcomed in the 1990s as a way to divert rubbish from landfill while also generating electricity. There are 42 fully operational energy-from-waste plants in Britain and a further 20 either under construction or in late-stage commissioning.


The Green New Deal – welcome to super-austerity

Environmentalists are obsessed with driving down people's living standards.

The Extinction Rebellion (XR) protest that ended when angry passengers pulled climate activists off the roof of an underground train at Canning Town tube station was no mere tactical error. It was in line with the contempt towards the public inherent in environmentalist thinking. Although greens generally express their views in guarded ways, their goal is to impose drastic cuts in people’s living standards.

Unfortunately, it is all too common to hear critics claim that greens have their hearts in the right place, even if their tactics are sometimes misguided. For example, after the Canning Town incident, many argued that XR should have protested in central London rather than in one of its poorest areas. Others said the public transport system was the wrong target, as it should help provide a solution to the problem of climate change.

But such arguments miss the key point. The Canning Town protest was not a tactical aberration. Rather, it was entirely in keeping with green thinking. It exemplified the elitism that pervades the outlook, not just of activists, but also of mainstream environmentalism.

Just think about the protesters perched on top of the underground train. Essentially, they were asserting they were superior to the general public. Rather than attempting to convince the commuters of their case, they were insisting that the residents of Canning Town should know their place. When a passenger attempted to climb towards the protesters, he was kicked in the face.

No doubt many who sympathise with environmental ideas more generally would recoil at the suggestion they are elitist. They would argue that that their goal is not just to save the planet, but to make life better for people, too. However, those who take this view should look more closely at what is being said by green thinkers. They would see that greens’ ambition is to slash living standards far more harshly than anything the Tories have attempted over the past decade. Environmentalism is essentially an attempt by a section of the elite to make super-austerity socially acceptable.

Take the argument for what is often called a Green New Deal. At first glance it might seem like an enlightened plan, designed to bolster the economy and tackle environmental problems. It is anything but. In fact, it would make our economic plight far worse, while failing in the stated aim of providing a solution to climate change.

The term ‘New Deal’ harks back to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Back then, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt attempted to bolster the US economy with a combination of public spending and job-creation schemes. This time around, the idea is to combine stimulus measures with initiatives to tackle what is widely dubbed a ‘climate emergency’. Typically, this includes large-scale job creation, energy efficient houses, a shorter working week and shifting to renewables (primarily solar and wind). Often the different initiatives are combined – for example, proposals to employ large numbers of people to retrofit old houses so that they consume less energy.

In the UK, the Green New Deal is often associated with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, although Corbyn sometimes talks of a ‘green industrial revolution’ instead. In the US, it is associated with the left-wing of the Democratic Party, represented by, for example, presidential candidates such as senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (widely known as AOC), the New York congresswoman, has also proposed legislation designed to address climate change and economic inequality.

Less widely known in the UK is that the new European Commission has made the Green New Deal – renamed the European Green Deal – its priority for the next five years. Meanwhile, the United Nations Environment Programme unveiled a Global Green New Deal over a decade ago.

Nor should it be forgotten that political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic have supported it in the past. Barack Obama was an advocate when he was US president and Gordon Brown supported it as British prime minister. Fortunately, neither managed to proceed far in implementing it. The term itself was used by Thomas Friedman, a high-profile New York Times columnist, as far back as January 2007.

If Green New Deal measures were implemented on a large scale, they would lead to economic disaster. Consider, for example, the Labour Party’s support for a four-day working week. In a parallel universe, where productivity was rising strongly, this could be a desirable policy. It would mean people would have more spare time in which to do what they want. But in our historical moment, when productivity growth is stagnant, it would effectively mean slashing incomes by a fifth. This, of course, is not a mistake. It is the goal of the policy. It is entirely in line with the drive to curb consumption.

Indeed, there is no need to speculate about what a Green New Deal would look like in terms of energy consumption and carbon emissions. It has already been tried on an enormous scale in Germany, with the promotion of renewables since 2000, and the phasing out of nuclear power announced in 2011. The Energiewende (energy transition) has involved spending many billions of euros with only minimal cuts in carbon emissions. Even Der Spiegel, Germany’s leading news magazine and a strong supporter of the Energiewende, has had to concede the programme so far has been a failure. Germans have had to pay far more for their energy bills, while their energy supply is yet to be decarbonised.

In fact what the economy needs is to find ways to increase production rather than curb consumption. As Phil Mullan has argued on spiked, a key element of such a policy is to allow the process of creative destruction to take place. That would mean rejecting the still dominant approach to economic policy, which involves central banks keeping the economy afloat by simply pumping money into it. Inefficient firms should be allowed to go bankrupt, while new firms and new technologies should receive government backing.

As it happens, such an approach could help address problems associated with climate change. It is completely in line with the need to improve existing technologies and develop new ones.Technology, such as new forms of nuclear-fission reactor, could provide ways to generate more energy, while polluting less than in the past. Renewables have a place, but it is likely to be limited as the sun does not always shine and the wind does not always blow.

Two recently published books on the Green New Deal show that even the most radical-sounding forms of green thinking are inherently reactionary.

On Fire is a collection of essays and speeches by Naomi Klein, a high-profile Canadian political activist with ties to AOC. It includes contributions to the Guardian, the Nation and the New York Times, as well as a speech at the Labour Party conference in 2017. The Case for the Green New Deal by Ann Pettifor, a British economist with close links to Corbyn, is less engagingly written, but more coherent. Pettifor tries to make a logically argued case for the Green New Deal, while On Fire, as a collection of articles, is inevitably more of a hotchpotch.

Although Pettifor provides a clearer exposition of the ideas of key green thinkers, she sometimes makes claims that are either ignorant or outlandish. For example, she argues that the concept of economic growth barely existed before the Second World War. It is true the terminology has changed over the decades. But the idea of increasing prosperity was central to economic thought from the mid-18th century onwards. Classical economic thinkers such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Karl Marx may not have used the term ‘economic growth’, but the concept was central to their work. Instead they used terms such as capital accumulation or expansion of capital.

Marx’s critique of capitalism, for instance, centered, in essence, on the idea that the market system systematically created barriers to generating sufficient economic growth. In Marx’s view, its weakness was that it did not provide enough growth. Greens today argue the opposite, that capitalism generates too much growth.

Despite their stylistic differences, Klein’s and Pettifor’s arguments have much in common. For a start, both employ the language of radicalism. Klein talks of her preferred policy measures as ‘bold’ and ‘ambitious’, while Pettifor calls for radical action and progress.

But they share a warped view of radicalism. Both contend that consumption levels need to be curbed, and that the public should be prepared to make do with less. They argue that people should eat less meat, consume less energy and fly less (although greens activists are typically all too eloquent when it comes to justifying their own airmiles). They also redefine prosperity in the non-economic terms of family relationships, and disparage the consumer tastes of the public.

Often the arguments for restricting consumption come alongside a demand for the redistribution of wealth. But they are not arguing that the vast bulk of the population should have higher living standards. Rather they are saying that all except those living in the direst of circumstances should be prepared to make sacrifices. In other words, large inequalities are used as a way of trying to get the public to accept a kind of super-austerity.

Common to both books is the frequently stated assumption that humanity is constrained by natural limits. Resources are limited, so the argument goes, therefore we have to give up on economic growth. Pettifor in particular focuses on the limited energy resources she claims are available (frequently referring to thermodynamics to give her argument a scientific veneer). From this she concludes that a ‘steady state economy’, that is a stagnant one, is the only solution.

Pettifor seems unaware that the adherence to limits was first challenged centuries ago. To be fair to Klein she has some inkling that this is the case. Francis Bacon, the founder of the scientific method, argued as far back as the early 17th century that man can transcend the limits that he faces. Klein quotes his argument that nature should be ‘put in constraint, moulded, and made as it were new by art and the hand of man’.

In relation to energy use, for instance, this would mean finding ways to generate more energy, rather than rationing its use. Given the huge amounts generated by conventional and nuclear means, as well as the massive amounts of solar radiation that bombard the earth, it is hard to conceive of any practical limit to energy production. The main challenge is to find the best way to harness these resources. Over time, it will also be necessary to develop better technology so that the energy supply can be decarbonised.

But rather than find ways to go forward to a better future, the advocates of the Green New Deal prefer to hold us back. Rather than working out how the world can become more prosperous they insist that we must make do with less. Like the XR protestors at Canning Town, Klein and Pettifor are hectoring the rest of us from on high and insisting we know our place.


Why “green” energy is a terrible idea

There are lots of reasons, actually, but Charles Rotter of the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) does a good job of explaining some of them:

Ask them for details, and their responses range from evasive to delusional, disingenuous – and outrage that you would dare ask. The truth is, they don’t have a clue. They’ve never really thought about it. It’s never occurred to them that these technologies require raw materials that have to be dug out of the ground, which means mining, which they vigorously oppose (except by dictators in faraway countries).
Using wind power to replace the 3.9 billion megawatt-hours that Americans consumed in 2018, coal and gas-fired backup power plants, natural gas for home heating, coal and gas for factories, and gasoline for vehicles – while generating enough extra electricity every windy day to charge batteries for just seven straight windless days – would require some 14 million 1.8-MW wind turbines.

Those turbines would sprawl across three-fourths of the Lower 48 US states – and require 15 billion tons of steel, concrete and other raw materials. They would wipe out eagles, hawks, bats and other species.

Fifteen billion tons. That’s 30 trillion pounds.

Using solar to generate just the 3.9 billion MWh would require completely blanketing an area the size of New Jersey with sunbeam-tracking Nellis Air Force Base panels – if the Sun were shining at high-noon summertime Arizona intensity 24/7/365. (That doesn’t include the extra power demands listed for wind.)

Solar uses toxic chemicals during manufacturing and in the panels: lead, cadmium telluride, copper indium selenide, cadmium gallium (di)selenide and many others. They could leach out into soils and waters during thunderstorms, hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and when panels are dismantled and hauled off to landfills or recycling centers. Recycling panels and wind turbines presents major challenges.

Because wind turbines don’t last long–20 years–those massive disposal problems are now coming to the fore. Every wind turbine contains 45 tons (90,000 pounds) of non-recyclable plastic that must be disposed of in landfills. It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to decommission each wind turbine.

Using batteries to back up sufficient power to supply U.S. electricity needs for just seven straight windless days would require more than 1 billion half-ton Tesla-style batteries. That means still more raw materials, hazardous chemicals and toxic metals.

I have never seen a coherent explanation of how batteries can be produced and deployed so as to store the vast quantities of electricity needed in the U.S. alone. It would cost a prohibitive $133 billion to buy batteries sufficient to store one state’s electricity–Minnesota’s–for 24 hours. Minnesota is an average sized state, so that corresponds to around $6.6 trillion for 24 hours storage for the U.S. That is much more than the entire budget of the U.S. government. This assumes that such batteries exist, which they don’t.

Bringing electricity from those facilities, and connecting a nationwide GND grid, would require thousands of miles of new transmission lines – onshore and underwater – and even more raw materials.

Providing those materials would result in the biggest expansion in mining the United States and world have ever seen: removing hundreds of billions of tons of overburden, and processing tens of billions of tons of ore – mostly using fossil fuels. Where we get those materials is also a major problem.

If we continue to ban mining under modern laws and regulations here in America, those materials will continue to be extracted in places like Inner Mongolia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, largely under Chinese control – under labor, wage, health, safety, environmental and reclamation standards that no Western nation tolerates today. There’ll be serious pollution, toxics, habitat losses and dead wildlife.

Even worse, just to mine cobalt for today’s cell phone, computer, Tesla and other battery requirements, over 40,000 Congolese children and their parents work at slave wages, risk cave-ins, and get covered constantly in toxic and radioactive mud , dust, water and air. Many die. The mine sites in Congo and Mongolia have become vast toxic wastelands. The ore processing facilities are just as horrific.

Meeting GND demands would multiply these horrors many times over. Will Green New Dealers require that all these metals and minerals be responsibly and sustainably sourced, at fair wages, with no child labor – as they do for T-shirts and coffee? Will they now permit exploration and mining in the USA?

“Green” energy is basically a hoax. The world runs on fossil fuels, and will continue to do so until nuclear energy is adopted on a mass scale, or another reliable, high-intensity energy source is discovered.


The rise of solar power is jeopardising the WA energy grid, and it's a lesson for all of Australia

In Western Australia, one of the sunniest landscapes in the world, rooftop solar power has been a runaway success.

On the state's main grid, which covers Perth and the populated south-west corner of the continent, almost one in every three houses has a solar installation.

Combined, the capacity of rooftop solar on the system far exceeds the single biggest generator — an ageing 854 megawatt coal-fired power station.

But there is now so much renewable solar power being generated on the grid that those responsible for keeping the lights on warn the stability of the entire system could soon be in jeopardy.

It is a cautionary tale for the rest of the country of how the delicate balancing act that is power grid management can be severely destabilised by what experts refer to as a "dumb solar" approach.

"We talk about 'smart' this and 'smart' that these days," said energy expert Adam McHugh, an honorary research associate at Perth's Murdoch University. "Well, solar at the moment is 'dumb' in Western Australia. We need to make it smart."

An isolated solar frontier

Mr McHugh's remarks come at a time of profound change in the energy industry across the globe.

But nowhere is the change being more acutely felt than in Western Australia. Stuck out on its own at the edge of the continent, he said WA had become "a laboratory experiment in the uptake of rooftop solar". "We're at the front of the curve, the bleeding edge," Mr McHugh said.

"The technology that we're seeing being developed rapidly around the world is flowing into Western Australia at a more rapid rate, potentially … than anywhere else on the planet."

While much of the debate about the intersection of climate and energy policy is focused on the eastern states — and its national electricity market (NEM) — WA is hurtling towards a tipping point.

At heart of the state's problem is its isolation.

Unlike states such as South Australia, which has even higher levels of renewable energy, WA cannot rely on any other markets to prop it up during times of disruption to supply or demand.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), which runs WA's wholesale electricity market (WEM), said the islanded nature of the grid in WA made it particularly exposed to the technical challenges posed by solar.

AEMO chief executive Audrey Zibelman said these challenges tended to be most acute when high levels of solar output coincided with low levels of demand — typically on mild, sunny days in spring or autumn when people were not using air conditioners.

On those days, excess solar power from households and businesses spilled uncontrolled on to the system, pushing the amount of power needed from the grid to increasingly low levels.

Ms Zibelman said WA's isolation amplified this trend because the relative concentration of its solar resources meant fluctuations in supply caused by the weather had an outsized effect.

Low-power days become a big problem

The only way to manage the solar was to scale back or switch off the coal- and gas-fired power stations that were supposed to be the bedrock of the electricity system.

The problem was coal-fired plants were not designed to be quickly ramped up or down in such a way, meaning they were ill-equipped to respond to sudden fluctuations in solar production.

"What's changing in the WEM is the fact that rooftop solar is now our single largest generator," Ms Zibelman said. "That has really made a huge difference in terms of how we think about the power system.

"The concern we have for the first time in probably the history of this industry is you start thinking about sunny days during the spring or [autumn] when you don't have a lot of demand, because you don't have a lot of cooling going on.

"And that becomes an interesting issue because you have lots and lots of solar and very little demand. "We've never worried about a system around low demand. You're always worried about the highest periods of the summer.

"What we're recognising now is that the flexibility we need in the system is one [issue] that we have to think about — how do we integrate solar and storage better? And these are new problems that we have to solve."

Rolling blackouts possible within three years

In a "clarion call" earlier this year, AEMO said that if nothing was done to safeguard the grid, there was a credible danger of rolling blackouts from as early as 2022 as soaring levels of renewable energy periodically overwhelmed the system.

At worst, AEMO warned there was a "real risk" of a system-wide blackout.

It said 700MW of demand was the floor below which it would struggle to ensure that voltage and frequency levels stayed within acceptable limits. "At that point, we worry about the voltage," Ms Zibelman said.

"But also it's that [point] we worry about the other generators, because below that level you actually have demand that's smaller than the smallest generator. "So if something trips off, it's very hard to respond."



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