Monday, December 16, 2019

UN climate summit in Madrid at risk of collapse after all-night talks leave nations more divided than ever on how to combat global warming

A UN climate summit is at risk of collapsing today after all-night negotiations between countries left them more divided than ever over on how to fight global warming and pay for its ravages, having already gone into overtime for the talks.

Delegates from across the world have been in Madrid for the COP 25 conference for nearly two weeks attempting to work towards a deal for countries to commit to new carbon emissions cuts by the end of 2020.

Diplomats from rich nations, emerging giants and the world's poorest countries - each for their own reasons - found fault in a draft agreement put forward by meeting host Chile in a botched attempt to strike common ground.

The South American country was meant to host the event but billionaire President Sebastian Pinera cancelled the hosting plans as well as an Asia-Pacific APEC economic summit in November due to protests.

Faced with five-alarm warnings from science, deadly extreme weather made worse by climate change, and weekly strikes by millions of young people, negotiations in Madrid were under pressure to send a clear signal that governments are willing to double down in tackling the crisis.

But the 12-day talks, now deep into overtime, had retreated even further from this goal on Saturday.

'It appears that we are going backwards on the issue of ambition when we should be calling for a quantum leap in the other direction,' Marshall Islands climate envoy Tina Stege said.

'I need to go home and look my children in the eye and say we got an outcome that is going to ensure their future, and the future of all of our children,' she added, a catch in her voice.

Veteran observers of UN climate talks were stunned by the state of play nearly 24 hours after the negotiations had been set to close.

'I have never seen such a disconnect between what the science requires and the people of the world demand, versus what the climate negotiations are delivering,' said Alden Meyer, strategy and policy director at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Outside the exhibition centre, activists from Extinction Rebellion dumped horse manure as they staged a protest alongside an international movement of school children demanding faster and more tougher action.

Under the Paris accord, countries agreed in 2015 to work to limit global temperature rises to 'well below' two degrees Celsius through a series of voluntary action pledges that step up over time.

'The one thing in Paris that gave us hope was that the deal is going to be strengthened over time,' said Mohamed Adow, Director of Power Shift Africa, referring to the 196-nation Paris climate treaty. 'If that doesn't come through, Madrid will have failed.'

The push for a strengthening of voluntary carbon cutting plans is led by small-island and least-developed states, along with the European Union.

Ministers from this 'high ambition coalition' have called out countries they see as blocking a consensus call for all countries to step up, notably the United States, Australia and Saudi Arabia.

China and India, the world's No. 1 and No. 4 carbon emitters, meanwhile, have made it clear they see no need to improve on their current emissions reduction plans, which run to 2030.

These emerging giants have chosen instead to emphasise the historical responsibility of rich nations to lead the way and provide financing to poor countries.

The COP 25 summit was also meant to finalise a chapter on carbon markets in the Paris rulebook, which goes into effect next year.

But a complicated wrangle over how to structure markets, and deal with carbon credits left over from the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of 2020, have remained deadlocked, and may be punted to further talks next year.

The United States, which is leaving the landmark Paris climate deal next year, was accused of acting as a spoiler on a number of issues vital to climate-vulnerable nations. This included so-called 'loss and damage' funding to help disaster-hit countries repair and rebuild.

'The US has not come here in good faith,' said Harjeet Singh, climate lead with charity ActionAid.

'They continue to block the world's efforts to help people whose lives have been turned upside down by climate change.'


Mike Bloomberg says he will close the country's 251 coal-fired power plants by 2030 if he's elected president next year

Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg has unveiled a radical plan to completely eliminate coal-fired power plants by 2030.

The New York billionaire, 77, vowed Friday that he would close the country's 251 coal plants within the next ten years should he become Commander-in-chief.  However, he stopped short of revealing how he would help communities severely impacted by such closures.

Bloomberg made the announcement during a campaign stop in Virginia - a surprising choice given the state is considered the heart of coal country.

During the announcement, he also boasted that he had already 'helped to close more than half the nation's dirty coal plants.'

He cites his partnership with a the environmental organization, Sierra Club, 'which has since shuttered more than half - 299 to date - of America's coal-fired power plants, and counting.'

In addition to eliminating coal-fired plants, Bloomberg vowed Friday to halt construction of 150 new gas facilities. Both plans are part of a bid to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.

The presidential hopeful further claims he wants to move the nation toward phasing out fossil fuels 'as soon as humanly possible' - ideally before 2050.

Bloomberg's climate plans will also include an emphasis on 'environmental justice' and 'environmental racism'. 

In a statement accompanying the release of his new policy, he said: 'The president refuses to lead on climate change, so the rest of us must.

'As president, I'll accelerate our transition to a 100% clean energy economy.'

Bloomberg's plans drastically contrasts with President Trump - who has previously vowed to save the coal sector.

Bloomberg has not outlined a cost for his plan, but campaign officials said he would begin to release estimates in the coming weeks. 

Climate is shaping up as a central issue in the 2020 Democratic primary election,  with Bernie Sanders. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar  all signing on to the Green New Deal.

But Bloomberg - who is positioning himself as a more moderate candidate - has not agreed to such proposals.

The former New York mayor is currently in a precarious position, having to vacillate between more liberal positions in order to scoop the Democratic primaries, while at the same time still appealing to centrist voters in order to be viable candidate at the general election 2020. 


The EU’s absurd environmental risk aversion stifles new ideas

Matt Ridley

Excessive regulation means the health and environmental benefits of new technology are suppressed

Last month, at the WTO meeting in Geneva, India joined a list of countries including Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and Malaysia that have lodged formal complaints against the EU over barriers to agricultural imports. Not only does the EU raise hefty tariffs against crops such as rice and oranges to protect subsidised European farmers; it also uses health and safety rules to block imports. The irony is that these are often dressed up as precautionary measures against health and environmental threats, when in fact they are sometimes preventing Europeans from gaining health and environmental benefits.

The WTO complaints accuse the EU of “unnecessarily and inappropriately” restricting trade through regulatory barriers on pesticide residues that violate international scientific standards and the “principle of evidence”. Worse, they say, “it appears that the EU is unilaterally attempting to impose its own domestic regulatory approach on to its trading partners”, disproportionately harming farmers in the developing nations whose livelihoods depend on agriculture.

The problem is that the EU, unlike the rest of the world, bases its regulations on “hazard”, the possibility that a chemical could conceivably cause, say, cancer, even if only at impossibly high doses. WTO rules by contrast require a full “risk” analysis that takes into account likely exposure. Coffee, apples, pears, lettuce, bread and many other common foods that are part of a healthy diet contain entirely natural molecules that at high enough doses would be carcinogenic. Alcohol, for instance, is a known carcinogen at very high doses, though perfectly safe in moderation. The absurdity of the EU approach can be seen in the fact that if wine were sprayed on vineyards as a pesticide, it would have to be banned under a hazard-based approach.

This is all part of the EU’s insistence on using an especially strong version of the precautionary principle, as required by the Lisbon Treaty. Along with diverging from international scientific standards, this creates an insurmountable bias against new innovations, as anything new presents hypothetical risks, while the hazards of existing technologies are not assessed in the same way. Ironically, the precautionary principle will make it impossible to develop innovative technologies that can promote human health, improve the environment and protect biodiversity. Everything has potential downsides: what should count is the balance between risk and benefit.

Germany plans to phase out the use of glyphosate herbicide by 2023 and the European Commission is moving towards a ban, though not on other more toxic herbicides. This is one of the issues that has brought thousands of German farmers on to the streets in protest. Glyphosate has repeatedly been shown to be less toxic to animals than coffee, even at high doses, let alone at the doses people in practice encounter. This has been confirmed by the European Food Safety Authority and its equivalents in America, Australia and elsewhere.

This problem matters because glyphosate (better known as Roundup) is a valuable tool in conservation, used for protecting habitats from invasive alien weeds. Moreover, throughout the Americas today glyphosate used as part of “minimal tillage” replaces ploughing as a means of controlling weeds. This results in better soil structure, less soil erosion, less damage to soil fauna, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, more carbon storage and better water retention.

By protecting old-fashioned farming practices, such as ploughing, or the use of much more toxic pesticides by organic farmers, such as copper sulphate, the EU is effectively imposing lower environmental standards on its citizens than in some other parts of the world. This makes a mockery of some Remainer claims that leaving the EU will result in a lowering of our environmental standards.

The EU has effectively banned genetically modified crops by requiring impossibly complex, uncertain and lengthy procedures for their approval, and has now ruled that even gene-edited crops (where no “foreign” genetic material is added) must be subject to the same draconian regulations. Crops produced by random bombardment with gamma rays, a less predictable process, are exempt, merely because that is an older technology.

Most maize, cotton and soya bean in the Americas is grown with a gene inserted from a bacterium that kills certain insects but is harmless to humans. It protects the crop against pests but leaves “innocent civilian” insects such as butterflies unharmed. There has been a noticeable improvement in biodiversity in and around such genetically modified crops elsewhere in the world. The greatest irony is that the gene in question, known as Bt, is derived from a bacterium that has been used as an organic pesticide by organic growers for almost a century.

European protectionism does not only discriminate against poor countries, raise costs for domestic consumers and damage the competitiveness of domestic producers. Increasingly it also results in lower environmental standards.


No end in sight for the biofuel wars

Biofuels are unsustainable in every way, but still demand – and get – preferential treatment

Paul Driessen

The Big Oil-Big Biofuel wars rage on. From my perch, ethanol, biodiesel and “advanced biofuels” make about zero energy, economic or environmental sense. They make little political sense either, until you recognize that politics is largely driven by crony-capitalism, campaign contributions and vote hustling.

Even now, once again, as you read this, White House, EPA, Energy, Agriculture and corporate factions are battling it out, trying to get President Trump to sign off on their preferred “compromise” – over how much ethanol must be blended into gasoline, how many small refiners should be exempted, et cetera.

This all got started in the 1970s, when publicly spirited citizens persuaded Congress that “growing our own energy” would safeguard the USA against oil embargoes and price gouging by OPEC and other unfriendly nations, especially as our own petroleum reserves rapidly dwindled into oblivion. Congress then instituted the Renewable Fuels Standard in 2005, when the Iraq War triggered renewed fears of global oil supply disruptions. The RFS requires that almost all gasoline sold in the USA must contain 10% ethanol – which gets a third fewer miles per gallon than gasoline and damages small engines.

But, we were told, these fuels are renewable, sustainable, a way to prevent “dangerous climate change.”

It’s all bunk. In recent years, the horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) revolution has given America and the world at least a century of new oil and natural gas reserves. America has become the world’s largest oil and gas producer and within five years could be producing far more oil and gas than any other country in the world. Terminals built years ago to import fuel from distant lands are being reconfigured to export abundant US oil, liquefied natural gas and refined products to distant lands.

Average global temperatures – as actually measured by satellites and weather balloons – are now almost a full degree Fahrenheit lower than predicted by climate models (the average of 102 IPCC computer model forecasts) that also foretell the daily litany of climate and weather cataclysms. However, hurricanes are less frequent and intense than a half-century ago, and Harvey was the first Category 3-5 hurricane to make US landfall in a record 12 years. Violent F4-5 tornadoes have also been less frequent over the past 34 years than during the 35 years before that, and not one F4-5 tornado hit the USA in 2018.

Over their full life cycle (from planting, growing and harvesting crops, to converting them to fuel, to transporting them by truck or rail car, to blending and burning them), biofuels emit just as much (plant-fertilizing) carbon dioxide as oil-based gasoline and diesel. Those biofuels also require enormous amounts of land, water, fertilizer, insecticides and energy. None of this is renewable or sustainable.

In fact, corn turned into E85 fuel (85% ethanol/15% gasoline) and grown where rainfall is insufficient requires irrigation – and up to 28 gallons of water from rivers or groundwater supplies per mile traveled!

US ethanol production utilizes 38% of America’s corn and 27% of its sorghum – grown on cropland the size of Iowa: 36 million acres, much of which would otherwise be wildlife habitat. And the fertilizers used to grow those crops, especially the corn, result in nutrient-rich runoff that increases nitrogen levels in the Gulf of Mexico, causing deadly algal blooms. When the algae die and decompose, they create low and no-oxygen zones the size of Delaware – killing marine life that can’t swim away quickly enough.

In short, biofuels have huge downsides and do nothing to address the scary scenarios that have either shriveled amid the winds of history – or were wildly exaggerated or imaginary to begin with.

But once these biofuel programs were launched, they became permanent. They created a biofuel industry that wants to get bigger every year, and supports politicians who want to get reelected year after year. That brings us back to the Executive Branch biofuel battles – and to issues that I myself struggle to comprehend, amid the morass of acronyms and conflicting policies and mandates.

Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency require that refiners blend “conventional biofuel” (mostly ethanol) into gasoline – and also meet various “advanced biofuel” and biomass-based diesel requirements. However, too much ethanol in gasoline damages engines in older cars, generators, garden equipment and boats; that puts a limit on how much ethanol can actually go in the fuel supply (the “blend wall”). As a result, while ethanol blending continues to increase gradually, American motorists have never been able to consume enough ethanol to satisfy applicable Renewable Fuel Standards.

However, biofuel interests want the government to keep mandating even more ethanol – a desire that faces multiple problems. Gasoline demand is decreasing, as people drive less, in more fuel-efficient cars, and in electric and hybrid vehicles (that are heavily subsidized under other laws).

Tariff wars with China and other countries have hurt corn and sorghum farmers, who want to be “compensated” via more biofuel mandates under the Renewable Fuels Standard – even though beef, pork and poultry farmers get hurt by higher grain prices resulting from so much corn devoted to ethanol.

Declining fuel demand and the blend wall mean refiners cannot mix all the mandated 15 billion annual gallons of ethanol into gasoline. They are thus forced to over-comply with the “advanced biofuel” part of the RFS mandate by buying expensive foreign biodiesel and “renewable” diesel. Refiners that do not control the point where biofuel can be blended into gasoline (eg, large distribution terminals or local gas stations) must buy “credits” called Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) that show (or pretend to show)  the required (foreign) biofuels were mixed with the gasoline they make domestically.

This all gets really expensive, really fast, which is why the law allows exemptions to small refiners that  face “disproportionate economic hardship” from costs that have gotten so high that courts have ordered the EPA to grant more “small refinery exemptions” (SREs) – waivers from the RFS mandates.

However, biofuel has been blended into the fuel small refiners make anyway. This situation resulted in ample supplies of RFS compliance credits, and RIN prices have dropped from over 90 cents apiece to 12 or 20 cents over the past two years or even lower at times. Of course, this all angered the biofuel lobby, which has attacked the Administration for issuing SREs, falsely claiming the exemptions are   “destroying demand” for biofuel and “hurting American farmers.”

They levied these attacks on EPA, despite the fact that the Trump Administration granted the biofuel industry its biggest request in 20 years: an air quality waiver that allows E15 to be sold year round. So some in the Administration have proposed to “reallocate lost biofuel gallons” the biofuel industry says were caused by SREs. But there’s nothing to reallocate, since ethanol is being blended despite the SREs.

The reallocation proposal thus has the practical effect of increasing the biofuel mandate by over 700 million gallons above the 15-billion-gallon statutory ceiling on ethanol. That brings us back to the fact that America is not producing enough advanced biofuels, biodiesel or renewable diesel. That means refiners have to buy more foreign supplies of these fuels, from Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, et cetera.

Of course, that does nothing to help American farmers. It just turns the Renewable Fuel Standard into a big foreign biofuel mandate. It also means President Trump is caught between trying to placate two of his core constituencies: farmers, primarily in the Midwest, and the oil and refining industry with all its jobs.

This is mind-numbingly complicated. But the bottom line is pretty simple: Every time Congress gets involved in trying to fix complex energy and economic problems – instead of letting free market industries and innovators sort things out – it creates a legislative, regulatory, legal and lobbying mess. Every attempted additional fix makes things worse. And trying to justify all the meddling, by claiming we’re running out of oil or face manmade climate cataclysms, just makes things worse.

We should end this crazy-quilt biofuel program. But anyone who thinks that will happen in Washington, DC or Des Moines, Iowa is smoking that stuff that’s now legal and widespread in Boulder, Colorado. But President Trump and his EPA should at least reduce – and certainly not increase – any biofuel quotas.

Via email

Climate change is not Australia's burning issue

Stoic. We used to be stoic and sensible. And proudly so.

In Britain this was encapsulated by the wartime poster “Keep calm and carry on”. Here in Australia we have exhibited a phlegmatic hardiness down the gen­erations, dealing with all that a sunburnt country of droughts and flooding rains could throw at us.

Now hysteria reigns. That British poster today would read, “Cry panic and herald Armageddon”. The Australian visage of calm practicality has been replaced by a Munch-like scream.

On Christmas Day 1974, households around the nation were shocked by news coming through from Darwin and rang to offer their homes to house families evacuated in the wake of Cyclone Tracy. If it happened today many people would go and protest against the climate instead.

Rational arguments, hard facts and intelligent debate have been cast aside in favour of woke whingeing. In this information age, ill-informed emotionalism dominates public debate (although thankfully the great mainstream remain level-headed and smart, as they showed in this year’s so-called climate election).

We live in an age when Greta Thunberg can be named person of the year for doing nothing more than allowing herself to be the face of protest, bringing teenage hyperventilation to what should be a ­rational and scientific policy ­debate. She is to the climate debate what the Bay City Rollers were to music.

But she is far from alone. When Sydney was smothered in bushfire smoke this week The Sydney Morning Herald published Mark Mordue. “There is no other way to see it,” he wrote, “our dead future is here.” In The Guardian Australia Charlotte Wood wrote about her trauma from Sydney’s inner-west suburb of Marrickville. “We’re used to turning our attention briefly, ­intensely, to ‘those poor people’­ ­affected by climate change, then returning to normal life,” Wood wrote, without telling us who or what she was referring to. “Now those poor people include us.”

The New York Times fed the hyperbole, quoting novelist Anna Funder looking at bushfires on a flight into Sydney. “It was as if the country were being devoured by a chemical reaction,” she said.

“Dear prime minister,” Katharine Murphy wrote in The Guardian Australia, “the country is not parched but desiccated, and it is burning like a tinderbox, and people are frightened.”

Remember when journalism was about facts?

A host of people from the prominent to the anonymous took to social media to tell us that “Australia is burning”. NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean blamed the fires on climate change — without evidence.

Rather than explain what his department had done or failed to do to reduce fuel loads in national parks and forests — the one part of the bushfire equation humans can control — he promised more action on carbon emissions reductions policies that, of course, can and will never do anything to ­reduce or alleviate the bushfire threat. Yet, in this post-rational age, he was applauded by many.

People rallied in the streets not to offer their services with other fire volunteers for hard yakka on the frontline with backpacks and rakes or making sandwiches to help; no, they rallied for more government action on carbon emissions reductions. We have reached an absurdity when people blame governments for deliberately lit fires and the smoke they produce. Grown adults blame governments for weather.

Therese Rein, wife of former prime minister Kevin Rudd, took to social media to sheet home blame for destructive fires at the feet of Scott Morrison. Needless to say, she has never publicly blamed her husband for the 170 deaths on Black Saturday, when Rudd was prime minister just over a decade ago.

The divide in approaches was illustrated by the actions of two other former prime ministers. While Tony Abbott has spent weeks on distant fire fronts vol­unteering with his local Rural Fire Service brigade, Malcolm Turnbull jetted back to Sydney, posted a picture of the smoke and said we needed to take more climate action.

The silliness is constantly reinforced in the media. ABC presenters ask daily inane gotcha questions. Hamish Macdonald ­demanded drought tsar Shane Stone declare whether anthropogenic global warming was a thing, and Michael Rowland demanded to know whether federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher would join Kean in blaming climate change for bushfires.

The point about this game-playing is that nothing turns on the answers, except to desired creation of political embarrassment or the chance to shame someone for defying the zeitgeist. Whatever we do to combat drought and bushfire is what we have always done — build dams, supply feed, reduce fuel, protect houses and so on — because these are threats that are endemic to our land.

The expert analysis shows that if there is a long-term influence from climate change on either of these blights, it will be to make each of them slightly more common in a land where they are common already. Whatever Australia does on carbon emissions can have no impact on any of this, at least for decades to come as global emissions continue to rise. And if, at some unlikely time in the future, international resolve sees substantial cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions, Australia will still be a land menaced by drought and fire.

There is no drought-free and bushfire-free Nirvana awaiting us, no matter how much nonsense we hear from Kean, Turnbull and Thunberg. It is only the practical that matters. Yet it is usually the gotcha moments, emotional cries and virtue signalling that dominate the public debate. We are our own worst enemies.

Look at the ridiculous coverage and response given to the Climate Change Performance Index ­released in Madrid this week. It is the work of European climate activist think tanks — comparable to The Australia Institute in our country — yet their findings are reported as though they are dispassionate assessments.

The overall ratings had the US ranked last and Australia third from last despite both these developed nations having reduced emissions and, in our case, being committed to further reductions. China — a country that is increasing its emissions ­annually by more than Australia’s total emissions — was ranked almost 30 places above Australia. India, too, was ranked high on the list.

Australia was marked down for approving the Adani coalmine but India was given a leave pass for burning the coal. The index pays more ­regard to climate politics and ­posturing than to emissions facts and outcomes.

Yet this week ABC opinionista Barrie Cassidy tweeted about the index by saying: “I don’t think we’ve ever had a government so out of touch with a national concern and an opposition so incap­able of putting pressure on them.” I guess Cassidy has already forced himself to forget the “climate election” of seven months ago.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese also used the index to criticise the government’s performance and his frontbencher Mark Dreyfus said our nation was now an “international embarrassment”. But the ALP’s climate spokesman, Mark Butler, would not be outdone: “Australia is burning. We can feel the impacts of climate change. Scott Morrison’s climate policy is ranked dead last, below Donald Trump. This is a crisis and the government won’t act.”

Against all this panic and politicking, we need to consider the facts. In NSW this has been a bad bushfire season, one of the worst the state has seen, certainly since 1974. With NSW’s drier winters and wetter summers, the season is usually earlier and less intense than the most bushfire-prone states of Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.

With widespread fires this year the smoke haze has been bad too. But, again, not unprecedented.

In 1936 the smoke haze was so bad in Sydney a ship from Hong Kong, the Neptuna, struggled to find the heads and sounded its foghorn but the harbourmaster couldn’t find the ship or see across the harbour. In 1951 all Sydney airports, from Mascot, through Bankstown to Richmond, were shut for hours because the smoke was too thick for planes to land.

Apart from rampant arson, the reason NSW’s fire season is bad is the drought. On this point it is ­important to note the clear assessments of University of NSW’s ­Andrew Pitman, who heads the Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes. “This may not be what you ­expect to hear but as far as the climate scientists know, there is no link between climate change and drought,” he said. “Now, that may not be what you read in the newspapers and sometimes hear commented but there is no reason a priori why climate change should make the landscape more arid.

“And if you look at the Bureau of Meteorology data over the whole of the last 100 years there’s no trend in data, there’s no drying trend, there’s been a drying trend in the last 20 years but there’s been no drying trend in the last 100 years and that’s an expression of how variable the Australian rainfall climate is.”

When Pitman was embarrassed by the use of his quote in the climate debate, he issued a statement saying he should have used the word “direct” — so there is no “direct link” between the drought and climate change.

There you have it. Most of the rest is just noise.



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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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Climate change is pumping our food full of carbs

I last studied botany more than 50 years ago so I cannot tell if the reasoning below is right or not.  But it sounds possible.  The question to ask, however, is "So what?"  If some of our food has a higher calorie count it hardly matters to us -- given the "obesity epidemic".  We already eat to excess and calorie counting is an accepted way to counter that.

But what about poor countries?  Having more carbohydrates in their food should help them avoid hunger.  So long live carbohydrates!

I have lost contact with the latest diet fads but I think refined sugar is now the villain.  Carbohydrates have been rather praised in some eras.  I suspect they are seen as good now too

The claim that having more carbohydrates in your food is a "nutritional decline " rather bamboozles me.  All food is nutrition.  They seem to assume that only some rare elements in food are nutrition, which is rubbish

It could be, as claimed, that increased carbs drive out other nutrients but, if so, where is the evidence that the effect is strong enough to matter to human health?

Mother Jones:

OF ALL THE INSULTS that greenhouse gases hurl at our food supply—a warming climate that triggers more severe droughts and floods in key agriculture regions like the Midwest and California, declining yields of staple crops—the most insidious may involve the deterioration of the nutritional quality of plants we eat.

That’s the startling message of growing research led by Irakli Loladze, a mathematical biologist with joint appointments at the Bryan College of Health Sciences in Nebraska and Arizona State University.

Ever since we started burning massive amounts of coal three centuries ago, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have nearly doubled. Plants are very flexible in their chemical composition, Loladze says. When the air that surrounds plants is richer in CO 2, they use it to synthesize more carbohydrates, including starches and sugars, which they store in their cells. These carbs dilute other beneficial molecules, including protein and some vitamins and minerals. This has no harmful effect on the plants themselves, which “aren’t the least concerned about the quality of our nutrition. We eat them—we’re kind of their enemies,” Loladze says.

For people, this nutritional decline could be life-changing. Consider your breakfast toast. The bread’s wheat contains lower levels of protein than the wheat that people were consuming decades ago, Loladze says, citing a 2004 study led by Lewis Ziska, then a Department of Agriculture researcher. Every bite of toast delivers more carbs and less protein. Other studies show lower quantities of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.

What’s true for humans is also true for the animals that rely on plants. And the deficit moves up the food chain, from the rabbit nibbling on weeds to the bobcat eating that rabbit. The effect has already shown in cows, which gobble up grasses with declining nourishment. For a 2017 study, researcher Joseph Craine, along with Texas A&M and University of Maryland scientists, compared cattle dung samples taken between 1994 and 2015 from pastures across the country. The grasses showed a nearly 10 percent decrease in protein over the time range, enough to cause the cattle to gain weight more slowly. To compensate for the protein gap, beef producers would have had to spend an extra $1.9 billion on soybean feed to supplement the animals’ diet, the scientists calculated—added pressure for cash-strapped ranchers.

If you haven’t heard about this, you’re not alone. President Donald Trump’s agriculture department has hardly trumpeted the studies. In a 2018 paper, Loladze and a team that included the usda’s own researchers found that increasing CO 2 concentrations had diminished the nutritional quality of rice, causing significant drops in protein, iron, and zinc, as well as vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B9. Rather than sound the alarm about the decline of a crucial staple crop, the usda declined to publicize it and tried to convince the University of Washington not to either, as Politico’s Helena Bottemiller Evich reported in June. In Trump’s usda, Loladze says, there’s an “implicit directive not to promote agriculture research related to climate change.”

What’s to be done, given that global carbon emissions show no sign of dropping anytime soon? Currently, farmers are rewarded for total output, not for the amount of nutrients in their crops. “If we want to make our food more nutritious, we should change the incentives,” Loladze says. “We should start paying farmers for quality.”

Research into farmers’ best chances for counteracting the dilution effect remains in its infancy. But scientists from the United Kingdom have hit upon a possible solution for wheat. The scientists identified wheat strains that are especially good at developing a symbiotic relationship with common soil-dwelling fungi. The wheat plants give the fungi some of the carbon dioxide they suck from the air, in exchange for nitrogen and phosphorous, key elements for plant growth. The symbiosis means less reliance on fertilizers—a core driver of climate change—but also potentially less carbon, and thus carbs, diluting the nutrients of the wheat. Sounds like a line of inquiry that the usda should pursue and publicize if its climate denial fever ever breaks.


Greta Thunberg Is the Perfect Hero for an Unserious Time

One of my readers writes: "Greta Thunberg has become the Christ Child of the Environment Religion and is destined to be sacrificed on the cross of Global Warming"

I am slightly apologetic to mention it but the Time man of the year in 1938 was Adolf Hitler. Will Greta be as poorly regarded in decades to come?  It's possible. Hitler was a Greenie too.  And in future the Global Warmists of the present day may look like dangerous madmen

Who better than a finger-wagging teen bereft of accomplishment, or any comprehension of basic economics or history, to be Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2019? Greta Thunberg’s canonization is a perfect expression of media activism in a deeply unserious time.

Has there ever been a less consequential person picked to be Person of the Year? I doubt it. I mean, Wallis Simpson, 1936’s Person of the Year, got King Edward VIII to abdicate the throne. Thunberg can’t even get you to abdicate your air-conditioning.

These days we celebrate vacuous fire and brimstone. “Greta Thunberg”—the idea, not the girl—is a concoction of activists who have increasingly taken to using children as a shield from critical analysis or debate. She’s the vessel of the environmentalist’s fraudulent apocalypticism-as-argument. Her style is emotion and indignation, histrionics and fantasy. She is a teenager, after all.

How dare you attack a poor defenseless child who suffers from Asperger syndrome!

You’ll notice that, on one hand, Thunberg’s champions demand that the world take her Malthusian crusade seriously, and on the other, they feign indignation when you actually do. The argument that young people, because they will inherit the future, are also best equipped to comprehend it is as puerile as any of Thunberg’s positions.

Perhaps a better question is this: What kind of parents, editors, producers, or U.N. officials would thrust a vulnerable child, with Asperger syndrome, no less, into a complex and contentious debate? I have great sympathy for her. It’s her ideological handlers who have stolen her childhood.

Surely, we should be allowed to consider the positions of Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year? Because the problem with Greta Thunberg—the idea, not the girl—is that she proposes not only that the people of her native Sweden abandon modernity but that billions of people in Asia and Africa remain in destitution. Thunberg, unlike many of her ideological allies, does not hide the truth of modern environmentalism. She believes that wealth and economic growth—modernity—are the problem.

Shamefully, radical environmentalists have convinced Thunberg and millions of others that the world is on the precipice of “mass extinction.” Even poor Prince Harry struggles to get out his Kensington Palace bed and start the day, so crushed is he by the weight of “eco-anxiety.” (You know, I have some ideas on how he might lower his carbon footprint.)

Like Joan of Arc, as Thunberg’s mother tells it, she experienced her first vision in her early teens, going months without eating properly. Thunberg, her heart rate and blood pressure indicating starvation, stopped talking to anyone but her parents and younger sister.

Rather than helping Thunberg overcome this irrational dread, her parents sacrificed her childhood to Gaia. Now, Thunberg is a child warrior, unrestrained by fact or reason, the human embodiment of years of fearmongering—in our schools, in culture, in our news—over progress, technology, and wealth.

Thunberg is merely repeating “unassailable science,” Time claims. “Oceans will rise. Cities will flood. Millions of people will suffer.” The unassailable truth is that climate deaths have plummeted dramatically and billions of people have been lifted from abject poverty by the system that Thunberg assails.

There is no “unassailable science” that tells us how the future looks: what technologies humans will devise, how they will adapt. One imagines a magazine such as Time, which once published pieces about now-discredited predictions of a “population bomb” and global cooling, might understand that the future is always more complicated than we imagine.

The reality is that Thunberg was bequeathed the healthiest, wealthiest, safest, and most peaceful world that humans have ever known. She is one of the luckiest people ever to have lived. And unlike most of her ancestors, she can continue to be a professional activist her entire life, thanks to market economies and emerging technological advances.

In a just world, she would be sailing her high-tech, multimillion-dollar, ocean-racing yacht and crew to the United Nations to thank the United States for helping to create this uniquely wonderful circumstance. In a just world, she would be in school with her friends and teachers.

It’s been years, of course, since Time, or the magazine’s Person of the Year, mattered very much. The truth, though, is that Time did an admirable job of mapping out consequential people of the 20th century. Looking back now, I see a list populated by the men and women, nefarious and heroic, who helped shape the modern world. Sadly, Time has come a long way from “The Hungarian Freedom Fighter,” its choice for Man of the Year in 1957.

If we Americans lived in a more serious time, the Hong Kong freedom fighter, the men and women who risk their lives for liberty, would be Time’s Person of the Year. We don’t.


The dangerous winds of trying to prevent climate change

Inconvenient facts show why wind energy is not renewable, sustainable or climate-friendly

Duggan Flanakin

Wind turbines continue to be the most controversial of so-called “renewable” energy sources worldwide.  But, you say, wind is surely renewable. It blows intermittently, but it’s natural, free, renewable and climate-friendly.

That’s certainly what we hear, almost constantly. However, while the wind itself may be “renewable,” the turbines, the raw materials that go into making them, and the lands they impact certainly are not. And a new report says harnessing wind to generate electricity actually contributes to global warming!

Arcadia Power reports that the widely used GE 1.5-megawatt (MW) turbine is a 164-ton mini-monster with 116-foot blades on a 212-foot tower that weighs another 71 tons. The Vestas V90 2.0-MW has 148-foot blades on a 262-foot tower, and a total weight of about 267 tons. The concrete and steel rebar foundations that they sit on weigh up to 800 tons, or more. And the newer 3.0-MW and even more powerful turbines and foundations weigh a lot more than that.

Citing National Renewable Energy Laboratory data, the U.S. Geological Survey notes that wind turbines are predominantly made of steel (which comprises 71-79% of total turbine mass), fiberglass and resin composites in the blades (11-16%), iron or cast iron (5-17%), copper (1%), aluminum (0-2%), rare earth elements (1-3%) and other materials. Plus the concrete and rebar that anchor the turbines in the earth.

It takes enormous amounts of energy (virtually all of it fossil fuels) to remove the overlying rock to get to the ores and limestone, refine and process the materials into usable metals and concrete, fabricate them into all the turbine components, and ship everything to their ultimate locations. Petroleum for the resins and composites – and all that energy – must also be extracted from the earth, by drilling and fracking, followed by refining and manufacturing, again with fossil fuel energy.

Wind turbine transportation logistics can be a deciding factor in scheduling, costing and locating a project, Wind Power Monthly admits. The challenge of moving equipment from factories to ports to ultimate industrial wind power generation sites has become more formidable almost by the year, as the industry has shifted to larger and larger turbines. Offshore turbine sizes (up to 10 megawatts and 650 feet in height) present even more daunting logistical, maintenance and removal challenges.

Back in 2010, transportation costs totaled an average 10% of the upfront capital cost of a wind project. Transporting the nacelles (housings for the energy-generating components, including the shaft, generator and gearing, to which the rotor and blades are attached) typically required a 19-axle truck and trailer that cannot operate using renewable energy and which a decade ago cost about $1.5 million apiece. Those costs have continued to escalate.

Highways and city streets must often be closed down during transport to wind farm sites hundreds, even thousands, of miles away – to allow nacelles, 100-foot tower sections and 150-foot blades to pass through.

Transmission lines and transformers add still more to the costs, and the need for non-renewable materials – including more steel, copper, aluminum and concrete. To get wind-generated energy from largely remote locations to cities that need electricity and are eager to cash in on the 2.3 cent per kilowatt-hour production tax credit, the U.S. is spending $47.9 billion to construct transmission lines through 2025.

Of that, $22.1 billion will be spent on transmission projects aimed at integrating renewable energy into the existing power grid, without making it so unstable that we get repeated blackouts.

On top of all that, wind turbines only last maybe 20 years – about half the life spans of coal, gas and nuclear power plants. Offshore turbines last maybe 12-15 years, due to constant corrosion from constant salt spray. Then they have to be decommissioned and removed. According to Isaac Orr, policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment, the cost of decommissioning a single turbine can reach half a million dollars. Then the old ones have to be replaced – with more raw materials, mining and smelting.

Recycling these materials also consumes considerable energy, when they can be recycled. Turbine blades are extremely hard, if not impossible to recycle, because they are complex composites that are extremely strong and hard to break apart. A lot of times, the blades just get cut up in large segments and dumped in landfills – if they can find landfills that want them. The massive concrete bases often just get left behind.

All these activities require incredible amounts of fossil fuel energy, raw materials, mining lands and waste products (overburden, mined-out rock and processed ores). How much, exactly? The wind energy industry certainly isn’t telling, wind energy promoters and environmentalist groups certainly don’t want to discuss it, and even government agencies haven’t bothered to calculate the amounts.

But shouldn’t those kinds of data be presented front and center during any discussion of what is – or is not – clean, green, free, renewable, sustainable, eco-friendly energy?

We constantly see and hear reports that the cost of wind energy per kilowatt-hour delivered to homes and businesses are becoming competitive with coal, gas, nuclear and hydroelectric alternatives. But if that is the case, why do we still need all the mandates, feed-in tariffs and other subsidies? And do those reports factor in the huge costs and environmental impacts presented here?

Amid all these terribly inconvenient facts about wind energy, it shouldn’t be too surprising that a new study destroys the industry’s fundamental claim: that wind energy helps prevent global warming. Harvard professor of applied physics and public policy David Keith and his postdoctoral researcher, Lee Miller, recently found that heavy reliance on wind energy actually increases climate warming! If this is so, it raises serious questions about just how much the U.S. or other nations should rely on wind power.

As the authors explain, the warming is produced because wind turbines generate electricity by extracting energy out of the air, slowing down wind and otherwise altering “the exchange of heat, moisture, and momentum between the surface and the atmosphere.” The impact of wind on warming in the studied scenario was 10 times greater than the climate effect from solar farms, which can also have a warming impact, the two scientists said.

The study, published in the journal Joule, found that if wind power supplied all U.S. electricity demands, it would warm the surface of the continental United States by 0.24 degree C (0.43 Fahrenheit). That is far more than any reduction in warming achieved by totally decarbonizing the nation’s electricity sector (around 0.1 C or 0.2 F)) during the 21st century – assuming climate models are correct about the amount of warming that carbon dioxide emissions are allegedly causing.

“If your perspective is the next ten years, wind power actually has – in some respects – more climate impact than coal or gas,” says Keith, a huge wind power supporter. But, he added, “If your perspective is the next thousand years, then wind power is enormously cleaner than coal or gas.”

Of course, his analysis assumes significant warming that has yet to occur, despite increasing use of fossil fuels by China, India, Indonesia and other countries. It also assumes the world will still be using increasing amounts of coal and natural gas 100 to 1,000 years from now – a highly dubious proposition. And it ignores every point made in this article, which clearly explains why wind energy is not really cleaner than coal or gas.

Maybe, my friends, the answer is not blowing in the wind.

Via email

UN’s Whopper of Hypocrisy: UN climate activists line up for Burger King at Madrid summit despite UN’s warning on dangers of eating meat

The UN climate summit in Madrid has been hit with a whopper of hypocrisy as delegates and activists attending are lining up daily for hamburgers at the conferences’ onsite Burger King despite the UN warnings that eating meat is not climate-friendly.

UN climate summit attendees devoured the Burger King burgers daily, despite the UN’s loud admonitions on the alleged climate dangers of consuming meat.

Climate Depot was able to confirm that the onsite Burger King at the UN summit DID NOT offer any fake meat alternatives like the Impossible Burger. Burger King only offered real cow meat at the summit location. No fake meat burger available is even more ironic, given that the UN just gave its “Planetary Heath” award to the company responsible for Burger King’s fake meat “Impossible Meat” burgers on December 10.

With solutions like the Impossible Burger, consumers can drive the movement to create a food system consistent with the urgent goals of the Paris Agreement,” said Jessica Appelgren, vice president of communications for Impossible Foods.

The UN climate summit features anti-meat protestors outside the entrance with many messages to urge a halt to meat-eating. But this did not phase the hungry meat-eaters inside.


Australia cops hate at UN climate summit

Australia’s lax approach to climate change has been called out on the final day of the United Nations climate summit in Madrid.

Among other things, Australia has come under fire for resisting proposed future emissions targets and changes to carbon markets.

Escalating tensions, Costa Rica’s environment and energy minister Carlos Manuel Rodríguez outright blamed “Australia, Brazil and the US” for the stalemate.

“Some of the positions are totally unacceptable because they are inconsistent with the commitment and the spirit that we were able to agree upon (in Paris in 2015),” he said.

UN chief Antonio Guterres also warned of a global crisis unless big emitters such as Australia can meet demands. Australia’s reliance on coal-fired power makes it one of the world’s largest carbon emitters per capita.

The summit comes on the heels of countless climate-related disasters across the planet, including unprecedented cyclones, deadly droughts and catastrophic fires.

Along with Costa Rica, Fiji officials have also extensively criticised Australia’s stance.

At the talks, vulnerable countries expressed outrage over Australia’s bid to hold onto piles of emissions vouchers left over from a now-discredited system under the Kyoto Protocol. That approach could potentially allow Australia to meet its climate commitments on paper, without actually reducing pollution.

While Britain, Germany, New Zealand and others have slammed the notion, Australia continues pushing to maintain the loophole.

Asked about Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent assertion that his country was part of the “Pacific family,” the Minister for Economy of Fiji responded that “when you have family members you also have some black sheep members too in the family.”

“At the moment, it would seem that they appear to be far from eating at the same table,” Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum told reporters in Madrid, adding that he hoped Australia would “let go of their current position.”

Small, low-lying islands like Fiji are particularly vulnerable to tropical storms and sea-level rise worsened by climate change.

Nations are also at odds over how the fight against climate change should be funded and how carbon trading schemes should be regulated.

In addition, there has been little progress over the issue of “loss and damage” – how countries already dealing with the worst impacts of climate-related extreme weather and drought should be compensated.

Amid growing calls for action to address climate change, the Prime Minister was forced to address it earlier this week. The recent release of the 2020 Climate Change Performance Index - which looks at national climate action internationally - deemed the Morrison government a “regressive force”, saying the re-elected Morrison government “has continued to worsen performance at both national and international levels”.

Asked about that report during a press conference, Mr Morrison said he “completely rejects” it. Asked to elaborate, he only said, “Because I don’t think it’s credible” before moving on to another question.



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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Friday, December 13, 2019

Greenland ice melt 'is accelerating,' new study reveals

Until someone of a different religion checks these calculations, we cannot be sure how accurate they are.  And why was a 26 year period chosen?  You can prove almost anything by choosing your starting and finishing dates carefully.

But we don't actually need to ask such questions.  The key question is: what does it prove?  Even if the findings are perfectly accurate, what do they prove?  Precisely nothing.

To the monomaniacs of the Green/Left, there can be only one cause of the melt -- global warming.  But what if there are other influences behind the melting?  And there are.  There have been increasing findings in recent years of subsurface vucanism in Greenland.  Putting it plainly, the most likely cause of the melt is volcanic activity, not global warming.  You too would melt if you had a volcano under your bottom.

How sad for the Green/Left!  Reality will just NOT co-operate with their simplistic notions

The Greenland ice sheet's losses have accelerated dramatically since the 1990s and it's now losing more than seven times as much ice per year, according to a new study.

The new assessment comes from an international group of 89 scientists that reviewed satellite observations over a 26-year period.

According to their research, published Tuesday in the journal Nature, Greenland's contribution to overall sea-level rise is now tracking at what had been seen as a pessimistic projection of the future.

This means an additional 7 centimeters (2.7 inches) of ocean rise could be expected by the end of the century just from Greenland, experts say.

"The simple formula is that around the planet, six million people are brought into a flooding situation for every centimeter of sea-level rise. So, when you hear about a centimeter rise, it does have an impact," Andy Shepherd, of Leeds University, told BBC News.

The group of scientists reanalyzed data from 11 satellite missions flown from 1992 to 2018 — looking at repeat measurements of the ice sheet's thickness, flow and gravity, BBC News reports.

Greenland, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, is the world's largest island. The gigantic ice sheet that covers the island is over a mile thick at the center.


Another Round of Energy Pork

Christmas is upon us, and the elves are busy in the North Pole suburb of Capitol Hill. The House has produced a draft piece of “green energy” legislation that would yield massive costs, massive economic distortions and massive environmental damage.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-California, justifies his “Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now (GREEN) Act,” as “a comprehensive approach to addressing the threat of climate change through our tax code.”

Put aside the fact that there is no evidence — none — that there is a climate “crisis” to be addressed. Instead, nowhere have the supporters presented an actual estimate of the “climate” effect of this ostensible effort to achieve “net zero” U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050.

Applying the climate model used by the Environmental Protection Agency, under assumptions that exaggerate the effects of reduced emissions: 0.17 degree Celsius by 2100. Under assumptions more consistent with the recent scientific literature: 0.08 degree Celsius.

So much for the “climate” rationale for this bill. Instead, the legislation is a blatant pork-barrel exercise for innumerable interest groups. In its most important provisions, it would:

—Extend the wind production tax credit through 2024.

—Make permanent the solar investment tax credit, at a declining rate.

—Extend the investment tax credit until 2026 to a variety of energy sources that were excluded from the 2015 tax deal.

—Extend the investment tax credit at a declining rate to batteries and various other technologies at least through 2026.

—Renew a number of lapsed incentives for biofuels until 2024.

—Extend and revise the sales limit for the electric vehicle tax credit by raising the current 200,000-vehicle-per-manufacturer sales cap to 600,000, while reducing the credit from $7,500 to $7,000.

—Implement a new credit for purchases of used plug-in EVs through 2024, with buyers able to claim a base credit of $1,250 for qualifying used vehicles. The credit would be limited to the lesser of $2,500 or 30 percent of the sale price.

—Implement a new manufacturer credit through 2024 for the sale of “heavy zero emission vehicles,” defined as those powered “solely by an electric motor which draws electricity from a battery or fuel cell.”

One searches in vain for a cost estimate for all this political largesse. Instead, amusingly, the summary of the bill states that the “Revenue raisers” are “To be provided.” Note that the tax revenues needed to “pay” in the federal budget for all the tax expenditures in the bill are not the correct analytic issue; instead, it is the cost of the bill to the economy that matters, however difficult it is to measure.

That true economic cost is at least double the revenues lost as a result of the various tax credits and incentives, because of the economic distortions (“excess burden”) created by them.

Nor have the proponents mentioned the environmental damage from unconventional energy. Because the energy content of wind and sunlight is unconcentrated, land use both massive and unsightly is necessary for a renewables system. The production process for wind turbines, apart from the use of large quantities of steel, concrete and other such straightforward industrial materials, requires also significant amounts of such toxic heavy metals as neodymium and dysprosium for the magnets, for the most part produced in China, where environmental controls are hardly stringent.

The disposal problem for wind turbines’ blades and magnets only now is beginning to be recognized. The noise and light-flicker effects of wind turbines are a serious problem that siting arrangements can solve only partially. There is no easy solution for the disposal of solar panel waste  — as much as 78 million metric tons worldwide by 2050 — because of the lead, cadmium, chromium and other toxic metals that are released if the panels are broken during the disposal process. And there is the large amount of wildlife destruction attendant upon the operation of wind farms and solar fields.

Because of the unreliability of wind and solar power, the conventional backup units must be cycled up and down depending on whether the renewable units are producing power. That cycling reduces the operating efficiency of the backup units, increasing net emissions of conventional pollutants, and increasing greenhouse gas emissions under a broad range of conditions.

This legislation is a classic example of Beltway pork-barrel chicanery, justified on the basis of half-truths and worse, with actual effects diametrically in conflict with those advertised. It is a wealth redistribution special-interest bonanza with the costs inflicted upon the great mass of the unsuspecting citizenry. It should be rejected, loudly.


Isle Of Man Seabird Populations Plummet As Wind Farms Overwhelm The Irish Sea

The Isle Of Man wildlife charity Manx Birdlife has reported a shocking 40% decline in the populations of many species of sea birds around the island's coast.

The worrying figures emerged following a comprehensive census that took place over two years. Whatever the reason for the sharp decline of the birds, it illustrates that something has gone very wrong.

I've noted with interest that this unprecedented drop in populations, of several of the island's maritime species, coincides with the proliferation of wind farms in the Irish Sea - something which has worried me during the past few years, as I have witnessed the frenzied development of the wind industry in the waters off the western coasts of England and Wales.

We know that offshore turbines kill birds and bats, though it is almost impossible to estimate the number of casualties because there are no retrievable carcasses to count at sea....

It is also highly likely that wind farms adversely affect many marine mammals.

The world's largest offshore wind farm is now in operation off the Cumbrian coast at Walney, just 40 miles or so from the Isle of Man, and, with the news that nearby bird populations are in free-fall, we must seriously ask whether the huge turbines might be killing more birds than we ever anticipated.

The Isle of Man study was, ironically, partly supported by the Walney Extension Offshore Wind Farm Project. How paradoxical would it be to find that the project itself, with its giant 640 feet turbines, was responsible for the plummeting numbers of sea birds.

The report is full of depressing statistics. Herring Gulls are down 82%, European Shag down 51%, Razorbills down 55%. The list goes on.

I've been increasingly concerned at the feverish pace of industrial offshore wind farm development in this country and especially in the Irish Sea. Such a high density of turbines in a confined area - an area renowned for its wildlife - has been watched with dismay by many environmentalists, especially since large parts of the sea have been designated Marine Protected Areas (MPA's), supposedly limiting the scale of industrial development in precious areas that provide important habitat for so many species.

Alas, development has been allowed in vast parts of the sea that fall just outside the protected zones - and there have even been hints that the MPA's themselves may not be off limit for future wind farm expansion.  Last year, a report carried out for the Welsh government suggested that "this protection may not necessarily be a major barrier to new projects" - which sounds shockingly irresponsible to me.

Though the Isle Of Man currently has none of its own offshore wind farms, their government is reportedly close to approving industrial wind development off the island's coast as early as next year. Such plans might seriously threaten the survival of species already struggling to cope with the industrialisation of their habitat.

Wind energy companies might flaunt their green ideologies for all to see - but their industry nevertheless hides a grim reality. Their 'green' energy kills wildlife.


The Incredible Story Of How Climate Change Became Apocalyptic

Roger Pielke

In recent years the issue of climate change has taken a decidedly apocalyptic turn.  Earlier this week United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned, “If we don’t urgently change our way of life, we jeopardize life itself.” A group of scientists writes that we “might already have lost control” over “tipping points” in the Earth’s climate, warning that the “stability and resilience of our planet is in peril.”

It’s true that apocalyptic narratives have always had a place in discussions of climate. In 1989 the United Nations warned that the world had “a 10-year window of opportunity to solve the greenhouse effect before it goes beyond human control.” But the escalation of apocalyptic climate rhetoric in recent years is unprecedented. The drumbeat of doom has led some prominent figures to turn on the mainstream climate community, complaining that “climate scientists have been underestimating the rate of climate change and the severity of its effects.” In reality, climate science has not just accurately anticipated unfolding climate change, but has done so consistently for the past 50 years.

There is thus an inconsistency here. Discussions of climate change have become more apocalyptic, but climate science has not. I have been working hard to understand this inconsistency, and while I don’t yet have all the answers, I have identified a big part of the puzzle, which I can report here for the first time.

Discussions of climate change are directly and indirectly shaped by the work of experts who work under the umbrella of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC. The IPCC was established in the 1980s to assess and summarize climate science to inform policy makers, and since then has produced five major assessment reports, along with periodic topical assessments.

I have testified before the U.S. Congress on multiple occasions on the critical importance of the IPCC. The IPCC plays such an important role that if it didn’t exist, we’d have to invent it. Research on climate change results in a large and varied literature that would be impossible to comprehend without expert assessments like those of the IPCC. The IPCC thus serves a crucial role at the intersection of science and policy.

I have argued for decades about the importance of policies to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions and the need to better adapt to climate variability and change. But effective policy making is presently threatened by the apocalyptic turn in the climate debate.

Decisions made within the IPCC have contributed to the apocalyptic turn in discussions of climate, moving us away from constructive discussions, scaring children and contributing to overheated rhetoric. To understand the role of the IPCC in in recent rise of climate doom requires understanding how the body performs its assessments.

Underpinning everything that the IPCC does in its scientific assessments are scenarios of the future. Such scenarios are used to project future climate change, to project the impacts of such change on society and the environment, and to project the costs and benefits of mitigation action intended to reduce those impacts.

In order to produce such projections, in its scenarios the IPCC has long differentiated between “baseline scenarios” of the future which describe where the world is headed in the absence of climate policies and “mitigation scenarios” which describe a world where climate policies are put into place. Baseline scenarios are often referred to as “business as usual.”

The rise of the new climate apocalysm can be traced directly to an consequential but little appreciated change in how the IPCC presents its scenarios. The consequences of this change have reverberated through the scientific community, media reporting, policy discussions and civic advocacy.

Almost two decades ago the IPCC developed a set of scenarios as the basis for integrating the work of its three working groups on science, impacts and mitigation. The scenarios were created to serve as the basis for projecting future climate change, the impacts of climate change and the consequences of mitigation action. Such coordination across the assessment work of the IPCC makes obvious sense.

At the time the IPCC recognized that “the future is inherently unpredictable and so views will differ as to which of the storylines and representative scenarios could be more or less likely. Therefore, the development of a single "best guess" or "business-as-usual" scenario is neither desirable nor possible.” Based on this perspective, the IPCC developed a set of scenarios for our collective futures but did not identify any of them as more probable than another, explaining that, “the term “business-as-usual” may be misleading” and “most climate scenarios considered in this report can be regarded as exploratory.”

The result of this approach was that projected futures in the absence of climate policies encompassed a very wide range of possible outcomes. The fourth assessment report of the IPCC published in 2007 acknowledged this wide range of futures, “There is still a large span of [carbon dioxide] emissions across baseline scenarios in the literature, with emissions in 2100 ranging from 10 GtCO2 [billion tons of carbon dioxide] to around 250 GtCO2.”

In other words, when it came to carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and the associated climate consequences, the long-term future included possibilities that spanned from the highly optimistic (the 10 billion ton scenario) to the highly pessimistic (the 250 billion ton scenario), and everything in between. Climate change was not necessarily apocalyptic, but possibly could be if we made decisions leading to bad outcomes.

An enormously consequential change in approach occurred from the forth IPCC assessment report in 2007 to the its fifth in 2013. The IPCC abandoned its earlier acknowledgement of fundamental uncertainties and ignorance about the future and instead fully endorsed the notion of choosing a “business as usual” scenario for the future. The “business as usual” scenario adopted by the fifth IPCC assessment was associated with one of its most extreme scenarios of the future.

The fifth IPCC assessment report states that while future greenhouse gas emissions were uncertain, “between 1970 and 2010, emissions increased 79%, from 27 Gt of [greenhouse gases] to over 49 Gt [billion tons]. Business-as-usual would result in that rate continuing.” An increase of that rate to 2100 would result in 189 billion tons of greenhouse gases being emitted at the end of the century, which is in the 99th percentile of all scenarios included in the database of reference scenarios of the fifth assessment report.

The fifth assessment report went further and explicitly identified a subset of reference scenarios that characterized where the IPCC believe the world was heading in the absence of climate policies. The IPCC fifth assessment report’s range of 2100 carbon dioxide emissions for “business as usual” is 50 GtCO2 to 106 GtCO2 (which it describes as the 10% to 90% percentiles of its scenario database). The report went further and identified a single scenario as “business as usual” with 2100 carbon dioxide emissions of more than 80 billion tons of carbon dioxide (this scenario is called RCP 8.5).

From the IPCC’s fourth to fifth assessment report our collective future, as envisioned by the IPCC, changed dramatically. The world was no longer heading for a wide range of possible futures, conditioned on enormous uncertainties, but instead was heading with some certainty toward a future characterized by an extreme level of carbon dioxide emissions. Quantitatively, futures with less than 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2100 simply disappeared from the IPCC reference scenarios and the focus was placed on a “business as usual” scenario of more than 80 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2100.

The apocalypse had been scheduled.

The decision by the IPCC to center its fifth assessment report on its most extreme scenario has been incredibly consequential. Thousands of academic studies of the future impacts of climate change followed the lead of the IPCC, and have emphasized the most extreme scenario as “business as usual” which is often interpreted and promoted as where the world is heading. For instance, so far in 2019 two new academic studies have been published every day that present this most extreme scenario as “business as usual” and predict extreme future impacts. Journalists promote these sensationalist findings, which are amplified by activists and politicians and as a consequence climate change becomes viewed as being more and more apocalyptic.

The problem with the extreme “business as usual” scenario of the IPCC’s fifth assessment report is that it is already out of date. For 2020 the scenario wildly overstates emissions, and has been critiqued in the academic literature as a highly unlikely if not impossible future. The International Energy Agency has proposed scenarios for the next several decades that diverge greatly from the favored scenario of the IPCC. It is of course possible that the world will collectively choose to emit massive quantities of carbon dioxide, which would require a massive increase in coal burning. But that scenario is certainly not preordained, and other futures are certainly possible.

Remarkably, the IPCC is set to repeat its reliance on extreme scenarios as “business as usual” in its forthcoming sixth assessment report, even though these scenarios are already out of date.

I will have much more to say on this subject in coming columns, as this topic is an active focus of my research. The bottom line for today is to understand that a fateful decision by the IPCC to selectively anoint an extreme scenario from among a huge range of possible futures has helped to create the climate apocalypse, a scary but imaginary future.


Widespread electrical blackout in central Australia caused by...clouds

The danger of reliance on electrical generation power sources that can suddenly surge or diminish the way wind and solar energy do was highlighted by a major blackout that left central Australia and the "major" town of Alice Springs without electricity for up to nine hours.  Yesterday, two top energy officials in the Northern Territory lost their jobs over the fiasco:

The Northern Territory Labor government has sacked the territory's two most senior energy chiefs following a damming report from the market regulator into a "system black" event that hit the city of Alice Springs in October.

Tim Duignan, the CEO of Territory Generation, and Michael Thompson, the head of network operator and systems control company Power and Water Corporation were both sacked after the government received a report from the Utilities Commission into the outage, which affected 12,000 customers for between 30 minutes and 10 hours.

It seems clear that this is not a problem about technology — despite some trying to sheet the blame on the amount of rooftop solar in the local grid and the impact of passing clouds — but of corporate and energy culture. And of incompetence.

An investigating report by consultants Entura — requested by the Utilities Commission — found that staff managing the system did not anticipate the approaching cloud cover, and did not know what to do when they realised what was happening and output from the Uterne solar farm and rooftop solar panels declined.

Who could anticipate clouds?

Seriously, anyone with a brain — which is why solar and wind power installations require backup generators that come into use only when unexpected events like clouds or low winds happen.  But that requires maintaining the backup systems:

Thermal generators failed because they had not been properly maintained, and the staff had no idea how to re-start the machinery, because procedures had not been updated since the installation of a big battery. To cap things off, there was insufficient spinning reserve and the system was unstable.

As Australian blogger JoNova comments: "Welcome to the new complexified energy grid, where a cloud can cause a system black event."



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

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


Thursday, December 12, 2019

Madrid and Lessons From Three Decades Of Failed Climate Policy

by Judith Curry

The UN Climate Conference (COP25) is beginning today in Madrid.  I’ve been invited to write an op-ed for a newspaper in Madrid, which I assume will be published sometime this week (in Spanish).  Below is the text of my op-ed.

JC op-ed

The UN Climate Change Conference this week in Madrid provides an important opportunity to reflect on state of the public debate surrounding climate change.

Most of the world’s governments are prioritizing energy security, affordability and industrial competitiveness over commitments made for the Paris climate agreement. Even if these countries were on track to meet their commitments, a majority of the national pledges are totally insufficient to meet the Paris targets. At the same time, we are hearing increasingly shrill rhetoric from Extinction Rebellion and other activists about the ‘existential threat’ of the ‘climate crisis’, ‘runaway climate chaos’, etc.

There is a growing realization that Paris climate agreement is inadequate for making a meaningful dent in slowing down the anticipated warming. And the real societal consequences of climate change and extreme weather events remain largely unaddressed.

How have we arrived at this point? For the past three decades, the climate policy ‘cart’ has been way out in front of the scientific ‘horse’. The 1992 Climate Change treaty was signed by 190 countries before the balance of scientific evidence suggested even a discernible observed human influence on global climate. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol was implemented before we had any confidence that most of the recent warming was caused by humans. There has been tremendous political pressure on the scientists to present findings that would support these treaties, which has resulted in a drive to manufacture a scientific consensus on the dangers of manmade climate change.

Fossil fuel emissions as the climate ‘control knob’ is a simple and seductive idea. However this is a misleading oversimplification, since climate can shift naturally in unexpected ways. Apart from uncertainties in future emissions, we are still facing a factor of 3 or more uncertainty in the sensitivity of the Earth’s temperature to increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We have no idea how natural climate variability (solar, volcanoes, ocean circulations) will play out in the 21st century, and whether or not natural variability will dominate over manmade warming.

We still don’t have a realistic assessment of how a warmer climate will impact us and whether it is ‘dangerous.’ We don’t have a good understanding of how warming will influence extreme weather events.  Land use and exploitation by humans is a far bigger issue than climate change for species extinction and ecosystem health. Local sea level rise has many causes, and is dominated by sinking from land use in many of the most vulnerable locations.

We have been told that the science of climate change is ‘settled’. However, in climate science there has been a tension between the drive towards a scientific ‘consensus’ to support policy making, versus exploratory research that pushes forward the knowledge frontier. Climate science is characterized by a rapidly evolving knowledge base and disagreement among experts. Predictions of 21st century climate change are characterized by deep uncertainty.

Nevertheless, activist scientists and the media seize upon each extreme weather event as having the fingerprints of manmade climate change — ignoring the analyses of more sober scientists showing periods of even more extreme weather in the first half of the 20th century, when fossil fuel emissions were much smaller.

Alarming press releases are issued about each new climate model prediction of future catastrophes from famine, mass migrations, catastrophic fires, etc. Yet, these press releases don’t mention that these predicted catastrophes are associated with highly implausible assumptions about how much we might actually emit over the course of the 21st century. Further, issues such as famine, mass migrations and wildfires are caused primarily by government policies and ineptitude, lack of wealth and land use policies. Climate change matters, but it’s outweighed by other factors in terms of influencing human well being.

We have been told that climate change is an ‘existential crisis.’ However, based upon our current assessment of the science, the climate threat is not an existential one, even in its most alarming hypothetical incarnations. However, the perception of manmade climate change as a near-term apocalypse and has narrowed the policy options that we’re willing to consider.

We have not only oversimplified the problem of climate change, but we have also oversimplified its ‘solution’. Even if you accept the climate model projections and that warming is dangerous, there is disagreement among experts regarding whether a rapid acceleration away from fossil fuels is the appropriate policy response. In any event, rapidly reducing emissions from fossil fuels and ameliorating the adverse impacts of extreme weather events in the near term increasingly looks like magical thinking.

Climate change – both manmade and natural – is a chronic problem that will require centuries of management.

The extreme rhetoric of the Extinction Rebellion and other activists is making political agreement on climate change policies more difficult.  Exaggerating the dangers beyond credibility makes it difficult to take climate change seriously. The monomaniacal focus on elimination of fossil fuel emissions distracts our attention from the primary causes of many of our problems and effective solutions.

Common sense strategies to reduce vulnerability to extreme weather events, improve environmental quality, develop better energy technologies, improve agricultural and land use practices, and better manage water resources can pave the way for a more prosperous and secure future. Each of these solutions is ‘no regrets’ – supporting climate change mitigation while improving human well being. These strategies avoid the political gridlock surrounding the current policies and avoid costly policies that will have minimal near-term impacts on the climate. And finally, these strategies don’t require agreement about the risks of uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions.

We don’t know how the climate of the 21st century will evolve, and we will undoubtedly be surprised. Given this uncertainty, precise emissions targets and deadlines are scientifically meaningless. We can avoid much of the political gridlock by implementing common sense, no-regrets strategies that improve energy technologies, lift people out of poverty and make them more resilient to extreme weather events.


Skeptical Climate ‘Talking Points’ 36-Page Report Released at UN Climate Summit in Madrid

Selected Excerpts:

INTRODUCTION: Global warming hype and hysteria continue to dominate the news media, academia, schools, the United Nations, and the U.S. government. The Green New Deal being pushed on Capitol Hill and in the 2020 presidential race is based upon “solving” an alleged “climate crisis.”

Teen school-skipping climate activists are testifying to the U.S. Congress and the United Nations and young children are being recruited for lawsuits against the U.S. government for its alleged climate “inaction.” The phrase ‘climate emergency’ has emerged as the favorite for climate campaigners.

But the arguments put forth by global warming advocates grossly distort the true facts on a host of issues, ranging from rising sea levels and record temperatures to melting polar caps and polar bears, among others. In short, there is no “climate crisis” or a “climate emergency.”

The UN, climate activists, the media, and academia are using the climate scare as an opportunity to lobby for their alleged “solutions” which require massive government expansion and central planning.

This talking points memo is designed to arm people with the voices of the rising number of scientists, the latest data, peer-reviewed studies on key facts so they can better engage in climate change debate with those advocating the UN/Al Gore/Green New Deal positions.

The global warming movement has morphed into a coalition of “climate cause deniers.” They deny the hundreds of causes and variables that influence climate change and instead try to pretend that carbon dioxide is the climate “control knob” overriding all the others factors and they pretend that every bad weather even it somehow “proof” of their “global warming.”

Footnotes and weblinks are provided to source material in this document.

Claims of an alleged “97% consensus” of scientists are “pulled from thin air”

Despite former Vice President Al Gore’s claim in 2019 that “It’s beyond consensus of 99 percent of the scientists,” the facts say otherwise. There is absolutely no scientific “consensus” about catastrophic man-made climate change. Claims that 97 or 99 percent of scientists agree are not backed up by any “credible” study or poll.

UN IPCC lead author Dr. Richard Tol: “The 97% is essentially pulled from thin air, it is not based on any credible research whatsoever.”

Princeton Professor Emeritus of Physics William Happer in 2017 drew parallels to the “consensus” on witches. “I don’t see a whole lot of difference between the consensus on climate change and the consensus on witches. At the witch trials in Salem the judges were educated at Harvard. This was supposedly 100 percent science. The one or two people who said there were no witches were immediately hung. Not much has changed,” Happer quipped.

CO2 is not the “control knob” of the climate

There is a lack of connection between higher levels of CO2 and warming.  During the Ice Age, CO2 levels were 10 times higher than they are today.

There are many, many factors which impact climate – including volcanoes, wind oscillations, solar activity, ocean cycles, volcanoes, tilt of the Earth’s axis, and land use. CO2 is just one factor, and not the control knob of the climate.

University of Pennsylvania geologist Dr. Robert Giegengack has declared, “CO2 is not the villain that it has been portrayed.”

Today’s levels of roughly 400 parts per million (PPM) of CO2 are not alarming.  In geologic terms, today’s CO2 levels are among the lowest in earth’s history.

“Climate change is governed by hundreds of factors, or variables, and the very idea that we can manage climate change predictably by understanding and manipulating at the margins one politically selected factor (CO2), is as misguided as it gets. Its scientific nonsense,” University of London professor emeritus Philip Stott has noted.

There is no “climate emergency”

Princeton Physicist Dr. Will Happer, a former Trump Science Advisor ripped the claims of a “climate emergency” in 2019.  “We are here [at the UN climate summit in Madrid] under false pretenses, wasting our time talking about a non-existent ‘climate emergency.’”  Happer explained from Madrid. “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.”

Go Socialist or Die!? The Age of the ‘Climate Emergency’ – UN, Universities, Cities, & Now Congress?!  to declare ‘Climate Emergency’ – Gore & Streisand helped pioneer phrase

University of Colorado’s Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. explained how the UN helped shape the hysterical nonsense of a ‘climate emergency.”  The UN IPCC switched to “extreme scenarios” in the most recent report and thus “helped to create the climate apocalypse, a scary but imaginary future,” Pielke explained in 2019.


Exxon Found 'Not Guilty' in Politically Motivated Climate Change Suit

The state of New York sued American oil giant Exxon Mobile for withholding the "true costs" of climate change from investors. In fact, the charges used to be much broader when the suit was filed by the New York attorney general 4 years ago. At that time, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman claimed that Exxon knew about the impact of climate change but failed to inform shareholders.

But even the reduced charges didn't fly with the judge. New York Supreme Court Justice Barry Ostrager not only ruled that Exxon did not mislead investors, but that the AG office lied about producing investors as witnesses who had actually been harmed by the company's "lies."


“The Office of the Attorney General failed to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that ExxonMobil made any material misstatements or omissions about its practices and procedures that misled any reasonable investor,” Ostrager wrote in his ruling.

“The office of the Attorney General produced no testimony from any investor who claimed to have been misled by any disclosure, even though the Office of the Attorney General had previously represented it would call such individuals as trial witnesses,” he added.

Not proving that any investor had been materially harmed by Exxon's actions was critical. It basically meant that the state had absolutely no grounds to bring the suit in the first place.

The $1.6 billion suit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James alleged that Exxon deceived investors about the true cost of climate change. The trial, which began in October and was the first climate fraud suit to go to trial, was the result of a four-year investigation.

“Today’s ruling affirms the position ExxonMobil has held throughout the New York Attorney General’s baseless investigation,” Exxon spokesperson Casey Norton said in a statement. “We provided our investors with accurate information on the risks of climate change. The court agreed that the Attorney General failed to make a case, even with the extremely low threshold of the Martin Act in its favor,” he added.

The AG was aided by anti-fossil fuel groups and contingency-fee lawyers who helped trump up the charges against Exxon.

When he took the stand on Oct. 30, former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson said that the company tried to understand the impact of climate change, and tried to accurately communicate this impact to shareholders. Exxon said the case was misleading and politically motivated, and the result of a coordinated effort by anti-fossil fuel groups.

“Lawsuits that waste millions of dollars of taxpayer money do nothing to advance meaningful actions that reduce the risks of climate change. ExxonMobil will continue to invest in researching breakthrough technologies to reduce emissions while meeting society’s growing demand for energy,” Norton added.

The legal fight to force fossil fuel companies out of business is just starting. There are dozens of similar lawsuits brought by other states and cities as well as liability suits brought by class action lawyers. This is lawfare writ large and it remains to be seen how successful any of them will be.


Global warning: Facts are facing extinction

Andrew Bolt, writing from Australia

CHILD messiah Greta Thunberg was excited: "500,000 people marched in Madrid last night ... The world is slowly waking up to the climate and environmental crisis."

No, what the world should be waking up to this: Facts are now dead. Rarely have I seen newspapers report exaggerations on the scale I saw after the weekend rally by global warming hysterics, many of them young: "Organisers claimed 500,000 people turned out for the march, but authorities in Madrid put the number at 15,000."

The Washington Post, puzzled, added that there was "no immediate explanation for the disparity in the count". But there is. It's that facts no longer count. What counts is the myth. That's why Thunberg is today's great goddess, treated as an oracle by the United Nations.

She's just 16, refuses to go to school, claims her Asperger's is a "superpower", and is ascribed such mystical powers that her mother even claims "she can see carbon dioxide with the naked eye ... how it flows out of chimneys".

Here is a symbol of a new invincible ignorance — a refusal to even engage with facts and arguments. No wonder Thunberg particularly inspires children, the least educated and most dogmatic.

But this giddy disregard for facts now infects even the smartest adults. Take Therese Rein, who is not just the wife of former prime minister Kevin Rudd, but a very rich businesswoman. Even she joined in blaming Prime Minister Scott Morrison for the NSW bushfires, tweeting. "Parts of NSW on fire at least in part because your party has blocked, and also not initiated, effective climate change policies ... Time to repent"

Time to repent? That's the hot language of faith, not the cool of reason. The science is clear. Morrison can do nothing to change the world's climate and stop fires. Australia is just too small to make a difference.

Rein and other critics such as Malcolm Turnbull are plainly irrational to suggest Morrison could dial down some giant thermostat. Is there any point in also showing that the fires aren't caused by global warming, and that a recent NASA study shows fires are now burning less land, not more?

No, facts have lost their power ever since postmodernism conquered our universities and reassured the stupid they were mere social constructs. Even conspiracies.

To mention facts now is no longer to bring light into darkness, but to set fire to your reputation.

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 9 December, 2019

'We've had bushfires in Australia for 60,000 years': Mark Latham slams State environment minister for breaking rank and blaming fires on climate change

One Nation state leader Mark Latham has slammed the NSW Environment Minister for blaming extreme weather conditions, bushfires and smoke clouds on climate change.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has refused to be drawn into a climate debate for the length of the fire season, but her Environment Minister Matt Kean on Tuesday said 'no-one can deny' climate change is to blame. Mr Kean was a speaker at the Smart Energy Summit in Sydney on Tuesday, as the Sydney basin was choked by thick, grey smoke.

But Mr Latham told 2GB's Steve Price the comments were 'opportunistic' and didn't take into account Australia's long history with extreme weather. 'In Australia, we've had bushfires for 60,000 years,' he said.

'We've had fires in Sydney before... to be making a political argument relevant to the minister's portfolio defies the proper respect for firefighters themselves,' he said.

Mr Price agreed with the argument, telling listeners he 'couldn't believe' the comments when he heard them. 'What does climate change have to do with arsonists lighting fires?,' he asked.

'What does science say about governments who haven't built a dam in decades and have screwed up water policy to the point where there is no water policy?' 

The air quality in the harbour city was 11 times more than what is considered as a hazardous level. The state's health authorities warned the 'grotty' smoke pollution was a recipe for severe illness.

Particulate readings of 778 for PM2.5 in Mona Vale on the city's north-east coast meant the suburb had the highest reported pollution levels in the world on Tuesday morning. By comparison, Shanghai had a PM2.5 level of 188 while Hong Kong had a reading of just 135 at midday.

Mr Kean said the weather patterns were 'exactly what scientists warned would happen,' Sydney Morning Herald reported. 'We need to reduce our carbon emissions immediately, and we need to adapt our practices to deal with this kind of weather becoming the new normal,' Mr Kean said.

He commented on the low visibility in the harbour city on Tuesday, where it was so low that Sydney ferries were forced to stop running, while smoke infiltrated train stations and set off fire alarms, causing havoc for the public transport system.

Despite Mr Kean's comments, Premier Berejiklian again wouldn't draw any links between the weather and climate change.

'The smoke blanketing Sydney is simply shocking,' Ms Berejiklian said. 'I urge everyone to please follow the advice given by our health experts. Even if you are not directly affected, chances are someone close to you is.'



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