Friday, October 29, 2010

Gore: Do as I say, not as I do

Sheer arrogance and elitism

Recently, Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore toured again. Or maybe he does that all the time. This time, he turned up in Gothenburg (Sweden) for the usual alarmist talk. In advance, all distinguished guests were politely advised to – if possible – use any form of public transportation to go to the event, in order to minimize CO2 emissions.

Intriguingly, the Master of World Climate himself arrived in a rental car (with or without driver is unclear), from the airport, and subsequently left the engine running for the entire lecture. That is to say, about one hour. Incidentally, local legislation prohibits – for very good environmental reasons, i e pollution – any car engine running on empty for more than 60 seconds. Fines are severe. As far as I know, he was not fined.

It starts to form a pattern.

After the ceremony in the Norwegian capital Oslo, it is customary that the laureate is invited to the Swedish capital Stockholm, for a cordial visit. The train ride, supposedly the environmental choice according to Mr. Gore, is approximately four hours. However, he opted for the cosier ride with one of the Swedish government aircraft. As these can, according to the rules, only be used when a cabinet member is on board – and as the Swedish government after a short ceremonial visit – offered to fly him to Frankfurt (Germany) for his flight to the US, you can calculate both the manpower and the fuel used for this grand tour against man's destruction of the planet.

Stupidity and hypocrisy – as well as vanity – are, like it or not common human traits. I admit to some of them occasionally, but I don't demand taxpayers to finance my stupid talks


Energy Claims and Realities

Pennsylvania is lucky. Even amid this prolonged recession and depressingly high unemployment (9.5% in PA), families and businesses in the Keystone State are still paying just 9.4 cents a kilowatt hour for electricity.

That’s due in large part to the fact that Pennsylvania gets 53% of its electricity from coal. A lot of people vilify that black rock. But just think how much easier it is to cool our homes and cook our food at this price – or operate a factory, farm, office, store, hospital, school, church … or government agency.

Of course, 9.4 cents per kilowatt hour might seem like a lot to pay, compared to Indiana (where people pay only 7.1 cents), Kentucky (where electricity costs just 6.3 cents), or West Virginia (where it’s a rock-bottom 5.6 cents a kWh).

But just think how much harder all that would be if we lived in California, which generates just 1% of its electricity with coal, and people pay 13 cents per kWh; in Rhode Island, which gets no electricity from coal, and they shell out 16 cents a kWh; or just across the Delaware River in New Jersey, where families and businesses have to cough up 14.9 cents per kWh, largely because the state uses coal to produce just 15% of its job-creating electricity.

California already has its own cap-tax-and-trade global warming law, renewable energy mandates that get tougher and costlier every year, and programs that spend billions of taxpayer dollars subsidizing major wind and solar energy initiatives. The once-Golden State also has the second highest unemployment rate in America (12.4%), a budget deficit of almost $20 billion, and some $500 billion in unfunded pension liabilities for government workers! It ranks 49th out of 50 among states for “business friendliness.”

Its burdensome rules are justified by assertions that they prevent climate change caused by rising CO2 levels. I’m no scientist, but thousands of scientists disagree. Last year’s leaked emails by top US and British alarmist researchers show that the science of global warming has become politicized to the point that scientists who disagree, or remain unconvinced, are condemned as heretics – and alarmists are actually manipulating thermometer data and computer models to get the “climate crisis” results they want. That is dishonest and wrong.

Moreover, even California’s total contribution to the planet’s carbon dioxide levels is tiny. Pennsylvania’s is smaller still. Even if the Golden State or Keystone State totally eliminated its CO2 emissions, China’s and India’s emissions would completely replace those painful, job-killing reductions in just a few months.

According to some climate experts, even if the entire United States cut its CO2 emissions by 83% by 2050, as required by pending congressional legislation – that would, at most, reduce global temperature increases by a mere 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century.

Worse, that 83% reduction would send CO2 emissions all the way back to 1910 levels (1870 levels, if you consider population and technology changes since 1900). So we’re talking about truly painful cutbacks, and real pain at the pump, electric meter and bank account.

California’s actions are already forcing companies to lay off workers. A federal law would do the same on a national scale. Millions of workers would lose their jobs, as energy prices skyrocketed and we are forced to switch from fossil fuels that provide 85% of our energy, and replace them with expensive wind and solar power that requires huge subsidies, works only 30% of the time, on average, and currently provides just 1% of America’s energy.

Does anyone honestly think we can cap-tax-and-trade, regulate, litigate and otherwise penalize oil, natural gas and coal use – and not cause serious, even massive, harm to Pennsylvania’s economy? To the economies of the other 26 states that rely on coal for 47-98% of the electricity that generates their jobs, opportunities, prosperity and modern living standards?

States like Arkansas (47%), Colorado (65%), Illinois (48%), Indiana (95%), Kentucky (94%), Missouri (81%), North Dakota (91%), Ohio (85%), West Virginia (98%) and Wisconsin (66%), to name just a few. Penalizing coal use would cost millions of American jobs, and increase families’ energy and overall cost-of-living by thousands of dollars a year, according to studies by the Brookings Institute, Heritage Foundation, Congressional Budget Office and other analysts.

As a theologian and former pastor, I embrace God’s command to be wise stewards of His creation, to care for the Earth and our fellow human beings. We are not to waste the resources with which He has blessed us, but we are to use them for our benefit.

We are also supposed to prevent or solve environmental problems. However, we are given the wisdom to make sure the problems are real, serious and imminent, before we spend billions trying to solve them – and before we create new problems that impact the environment in new ways and hurt families still more.

Increasing energy, food and transportation costs, and sending millions into unemployment lines, in the middle of a recession, is certainly an example of creating new problems. So is installing thousands of wind turbines that cover millions of acres, require vast raw materials and kill thousands of birds, to produce electricity that is too expensive and unreliable to power modern factories, shops, homes, hospitals, schools and cities.

We need to think this through very carefully, before we enact costly policies that threaten to do much more harm than good.


French academy admits to uncertainty in global warming predictions

In the small print

Global warming exists and is unquestionably due to human activity, the French Academy of Science has said in a report written by 120 scientists from France and abroad.

"Several independent indicators show an increase in global warming from 1975 to 2003. This increase is mainly due to the increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide," the academy said in conclusion to the report.

"The increase in carbon dioxide, and to a lesser degree other greenhouse gases, is unquestionably due to human activity," said the report, adopted unanimously by academy members and published on Thursday.

The report contradicts France's former education minister Claude Allegre, a geochemist, who published a book, The Climatic Deception, which claimed carbon dioxide was not linked to climate change.

The report was commissioned in April by Minister for Research Valerie Pecresse in response to hundreds of environmental scientists who complained that Allegre, in particular, was disparaging their work.

Allegre is a member of the Academy of Sciences and also signed off on the report. "He has the right to evolve," the academy's president Jean Salencon said. Pecresse said: "The debate is over."

But Allegre told AFP the document was a compromise and "I have not evolved, I still say the same thing, that the exact role of carbon dioxide in the environment has not been shown.

"Of course it's a compromise, but it's a satisfactory compromise because what I defend - that is, the uncertainty in our knowledge about climate change - is explicitly mentioned; the word uncertainty appears 12 times."

In his book, Allegre questioned the work of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and criticised worldwide mobilisation around "a myth without foundation".

He disagreed with linking climate change and an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and said clouds or solar activity had more of an influence.

The IPCC, established to sift through scientific research and produce the most authoritative report possible on climate change for world leaders, has been hit by a raft of criticisms and the UN has said it needs a major overhaul.

Glaring errors were revealed in the panel's landmark 2007 Fourth Assessment Report - notably that Himalayan glaciers which provide water to a billion people in Asia could be lost by 2035, a claim traced to a magazine article.

The Academy's report said: "Solar activity, which has dropped slightly on average since 1975, cannot be dominant in warming observed during this period" even if the mechanisms involved "are not yet well understood".

"Major uncertainties remain on how to model clouds, the evolution of marine ice and the polar caps, the connection between the oceans and the atmosphere, the biosphere's evolution and the carbon cycle," the report said.

Allegre wrote that it was impossible to predict the climate's long-term evolution, but the Academy said: "Climate evolution predictions of 30 to 50 years are little affected by uncertainties on modelling slow evolution processes." "These predictions are particularly useful in responding to society's current concerns, worsened by the predictable population growth."

The IPCC's deputy head, Frenchman Jean Jouzel, welcomed the report. "Even if in this text lots of space is given to the arguments put forward by climate change sceptics, I note that the document clearly reaffirms the IPCC's broad conclusions," he told AFP. "Clearly sceptics will find some things to make their case. It says that not all is clear about the sun's role. The debate is never over."

The report was the result of written contributions as well as closed-door discussions held at the Academy on September 20 and subsequent exchanges, the Academy said.


Avatar director dramatic about climate too

Amusing that he sees children as more easily convinced of the need for panic. His beliefs are certainly at a childish intellectual level. He recently backed away from a debate with a knowledgeable adult

Cameron plans to make TV and cinema documentaries about climate change.

Cameron said a two-degree temperature change in the world's oceans "will take out all the coral reefs. Sixty percent of species could be extinct in this century with climate change," he added.

"It's highly unlikely there will be [a carbon] cap and trade [law] in the next six years, so we have six more years of inaction on putting a price on carbon emissions, and that’s a fundamental problem," said Schmidt who serves on a panel of science and technology advisors to U.S. President Obama.

"All the modeling says even with the current modest reductions we are nowhere near the needed 60-70 percent reductions in carbon emissions" to halt climate change, Schmidt said. "In my view is its going to take some kind of event and a conversation among leaders [to motivate policy change], and I don’t think it will happen soon," he added.

"It's probably the toughest challenge the human race has ever faced," said Cameron whose blockbuster movie was in part a statement about the need for greater environmental awareness. "I believe ultimately this has to be approached as a children's crusade," he said.


Biofuels; a growing evil

By Jeremy Warner

Last week I attended the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s “global financial leadership” conference in Florida – I know, it was a rough old assignment, but someone’s got to do it – in which Ian Goldin, a former vice president of the World Bank and now director of Oxford University’s Martin School, lambasted the subsidies being doled out in America and Europe for the production of biofuels as “economically illiterate, environmentally destructive, politically shortsighted and ideologically unsound”. It was a nice soundbite, but it also happens to be true.

I know that “food versus fuel” is now a relatively well weathered if quite low key debate (take a look at a recent OECD and UN Food and Agriculture Commission Report for a fuller analysis), but I suspect we are going to hear a lot more about it over the next year as growing emerging market demand pushes global food prices ever higher.

The point about biofuels, which wouldn’t exist at all without massive taxpayer funded subsidies, is that by displacing agricultural land that would otherwise be used for food production, they greatly add to the pressures.

It’s reckoned that America and Europe alone are currently providing about $12bn annually in “incentives” to produce biofuels, a level of subsidy which would have to double again to meet the sort of targets governments have set for this supposedly secure and “clean” source of fuel.

I’ve written a column about all this for the Thursday edition of the Daily Telegraph, my excuse being that it’s not just subsidies for biofuels with are driving commodity prices higher right now – the Fed’s policies of ultra-cheap money, put in place to address the economic crisis, are just as damaging. They further encourage the dash to speculative investment in commodities. It may not matter too much to Americans if food prices double, but if like the bulk of the world’s population you are subsisting, it can quite literally be the difference between life and death.

My point is that when governments go looking for solutions to problems, they frequently end up creating new ones. Biofuels, which cost a bomb, are sending food prices through the roof, and far from benefiting the environment seem to damage it even further, are a case in point.


Australia: Disastrous Green energy policies in NSW

YET again, the Australian Labor Party is demonstrating that, when it comes to effective policy on green energy, it resembles the benighted fellow who, in a version of the vernacular, couldn't organise himself service in a house of ill repute with a fistful of $50 notes.

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally's pratfall on solar photovoltaic subsidies may be added to the Rudd government's failures on household insulation, green loans, encouraging wind farm development through the renewable energy scheme (because it allowed it to be glutted with solar subsidies) and then the abandonment of the emissions trading scheme.

The Greens, the environmental movement and their fellow travellers do not come out of the NSW fiasco with much credit, either.

Confronted with the NSW government's decision to slash the subsidy for residential rooftop solar systems by two-thirds, state Greens MP John Kaye has cheerfully, and shamelessly, said that his party would settle for a tariff scheme that was half the value of the initial program. So he, and it, knew the original arrangements were well over the top.

The Clean Energy Council also is now happy to settle for a 45c a kilowatt hour feed-in tariff where it welcomed the initial 60c scheme as an example for the rest of the country.

Most of the mud, however, rightly must stick to Keneally and her government, notwithstanding a spin 101 media statement in which she lauded the "solar bonus scheme" as "an incredible success" on one hand and knifed it with the other, acknowledging that the "most generous scheme in Australia" at its original level would whack residential customers, already faced with their bills doubling for other reasons, with an extra $2.5 billion in costs over five years if allowed to continue.

The "generous" initial tariff enabled NSW householders swooping on the opportunity to earn 60c a kilowatt hour compared with 45.7c in the next-best program in the ACT.

As Keneally's media statement indicates, the amended NSW scheme will still sting the state's residential customers for $1.5bn over and above other higher charges by 2016.

There is no acknowledgment in Keneally's retreat that her government had created greenhouse gas abatement costing $640 a tonne under the initial scheme, according to the National Generators Forum, compared with $15 a tonne for the state's longstanding greenhouse gas reduction scheme aimed at other areas of supply and consumption.

Her government is not the first to cut and run from populist rooftop solar programs.

As the government's own review committee reports, Spain managed to bring on an almost seven-fold increase in orders for the PV systems in one year by its too-generous arrangements and then had to slash feed-in tariffs 30 per cent and impose a cap on the annual volume of installations to under one-fifth of the level they hit in 2008-09.

What made the NSW scheme so attractive to householders who were fast on their feet, and now have gold-plated subsidies locked in until the middle of the decade, was that a combination of the far too high feed-in tariff, a reduction in solar installation costs and the impact of a higher Australian dollar delivered them a pay-back period for their investment of less than three years, compared with the government's intention of 10 years.

The report indicates that the fast-footed 50,000 who got in before Keneally stopped the initial program will get a bonus of $4000 in net present value terms on their investment. Nice work, that.

The bad news for the rest of NSW's residential consumers is that the additional costs of the Keneally scheme will not show up on their bills until July next year. By then, in the view of most political analysts, her government will have been swept away in the March state election.

Her taskforce has estimated that NSW electricity consumers, including business users, collectively representing one-third of all the power account holders in the country, will get a regulator-approved rise of 11 per cent next July and another 8 per cent in July 2012, mostly as a result of much higher network costs - before the solar support bill is taken into account and before, of course, any carbon tax that the Gillard government may have put in place by then.

For the Nature Conservation Foundation of NSW, reacting to Keneally's announcement, there is no doubt where this leaves the state's consumers: "back in the dark ages of over-reliance on coal", it declaims.

I suspect they actually would be quite pleased to be back in the so-called dark ages of paying $130 a megawatt hour for their household electricity instead of the $195 that the charge has now reached, and the $250 to $300 that it is suggested the power bills will bear by 2015.

Meanwhile, it bears reporting that in the years that NSW was governed by Bob Carr, Morris Iemma and Nathan Rees - the available industry data covers only the period to mid-2009 at present - the state's government-owned power plants increased their consumption of black coal from 21 million tonnes a year to almost 30 million tonnes annually.

Not so much the premier state as the watermelon state: green on the outside, but red on the inside from burning coal.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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