Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Warmist journalist wants skeptics gassed

You can't make this stuff up. Do I need to mention whom her wishes align her with? You won't be surprised that she made her career with the ABC, Australia's main public broadcaster. And, needless to say, she pays zero attention to any of the science concerned. In effect she just says "Heil Klima" while her right arm edges upwards. In other words, she accepts the Warmist faith without question ("Klima" is the German word for climate)

Jill Singer

While Tony Abbott has previously lent support to schemes including an emissions trading scheme and a carbon tax, you wouldn't know it today. The only real scheme he and supporters are currently backing is political interference.

It's a dangerous game they're playing with our future, but you've got to hand it to them, they're ruddy good at it.

Cate Blanchett pops up her head to support a carbon tax and Abbott's band of climate sceptics quickly lops it off because she's richer than most.

But when Gina Rinehart pops hers up, Australia's richest woman is touted as some kind of working-class hero.

Then there's David Murray, chair of Australia's $71 billion Future Fund and recipient of a $28 million golden parachute from his time running the Commonwealth Bank. Murray states there's no link between global warming and carbon dioxide emissions because carbon dioxide is necessary for life, colourless and odourless - and therefore can't be considered a pollutant. It's a popularly held view.

Andy Semple of the Menzies Institute claims it's "refreshing" for someone with Murray's standing to take on the global warming "scam" by expressing such views.

Really? I'm prepared to keep an open mind and propose another stunt for climate sceptics - put your strong views to the test by exposing yourselves to high concentrations of either carbon dioxide or some other colourless, odourless gas - say, carbon monoxide.

You wouldn't see or smell anything. Nor would your anti-science nonsense be heard of again. How very refreshing.


British centre-Leftist politician under fire for hitting out at green law 'deregulation zealots' who want to bin costly red tape

Chris Huhne was facing a backlash from Tory MPs and business last night after hitting out at ‘zealots’ who want to stem the tidal wave of costly new green laws.

The Energy Secretary attacked Conservative colleagues as ‘right-wing ideologues’ for questioning the value of some environmental regulations. In a speech, he said it was ‘nonsense’ that key green legislation, including the flagship Climate Change Act, had been included in a Government review of red tape. This aims to slash unnecessary laws to boost the economy.

He said tackling climate change was a ‘new area’ where more regulations would be needed, not less.

Sources close to Mr Huhne suggested he had the backing of Business Secretary Vince Cable. But he is likely to face opposition from some Tory Cabinet ministers who do not believe the environment should be treated as a special case.

Former Tory Cabinet minister Peter Lilley said: ‘All regulations should be looked at constantly to see if they are necessary. If Mr Huhne wants environmental regulations to be off limits it suggests he knows many of them would be revealed to be very poor if they were looked at closely.’

A spokesman for business group the Institute of Directors urged ministers to keep environmental laws within the review – and suggested Mr Huhne was wrong to label critics of red tape as ‘zealots’. He added: ‘Businesses do not feel that the Government has made the case that all these environmental laws are necessary.

‘We wouldn’t recognise the characterisation of people as zealots. Businesses are opposed to unnecessary regulation because it makes running their business more difficult and constrains growth in the economy.’

The CBI has also criticised several environmental regulations for being badly devised, including plans for imposing a minimum energy price. It warned this would disadvantage energy-intensive manufacturers facing cut-price competition from abroad.

Mr Huhne said in his speech: ‘Whatever the good intent, we have mistakenly given the impression that an exercise designed to scrap unnecessary minor bureaucratic hurdles is now placing the cornerstone of climate protection under threat. Of course this is nonsense. ‘Let me assure you – there is a very good case for our key regulations protecting the environment to stay.’

Under the Government’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ members of the public are invited to comment on which laws they would like to see scrapped.


Grocery Cart Economics: Why the price of Corn Pops keep rising

I (like most women) do all the grocery shopping for my family, so I have first-hand knowledge of the rise in food prices. Women be warned, things will probably get worse: Earlier this month, the USDA projected the 2011 corn harvest will be even smaller than previously expected, causing corn futures to soar.

The basic principles of supply and demand are in part to blame: If demand for a good remains the same (or increases), and supply is reduced, prices will rise. In addition to being a staple for humans, corn is a chief component of livestock feed. So we can expect these higher corn prices to push grocery prices higher , and not just for corn-based food like fresh corn and corn meal. Dairy products, meats, and foods containing high fructose corn syrup will be more expensive to produce, and producers will pass along some of these increased costs to consumers via higher prices or smaller product sizes.

What caused the reduction in corn supply? First and foremost, crop prices are affected by the weather. Good weather and bumper crops bring lower prices; droughts and floods bring higher prices. Wet weather and flooding in the Midwest affected this year’s planting season, and thus farmers planted fewer acres of corn.

But the corn supply was tight and prices rising before the bad weather struck, thanks to the federal government’s corn ethanol polices. Around 40 percent of the nation’s corn harvest goes to ethanol production. That means that the supply of corn available for food was already relatively small even before bad weather affected planting.

In essence, Uncle Sam would rather you burn corn than eat it.

The oil crisis in the 1970’s sparked Congress’ interest in ethanol as an alternative fuel, but U.S. consumers never found it to be a viable replacement for gasoline. Ethanol is an inferior energy source . From the time it is planted, harvested, distilled, and transported, it takes more energy to make a gallon of ethanol than the gallon of ethanol itself produces. There are also concerns that ethanol brings its own unique environmental problems and, when burned, may produce more pollution than fossil fuels. There are reportsthat ethanol reduces gas mileage in cars. And absent any subsidies, a gallon of ethanol is still more expensive than a gallon of gasoline.

Since ethanol wasn't going to make it in a free market, Congress decided to interfere and directly encourage domestic ethanol production. Starting in 1978, it instituted a number of measures to encourage farmers to grow corn for ethanol, including tax credits per gallon refined, tariffs on each gallon of imported ethanol (now at 2.5 percent of the value plus 55 cents per gallon), corn crop subsidies, government-guaranteed loans to cover up to 90 percent of plant construction costs for ethanol producers, and tax credits for small-scale ethanol producers (currently 10 cents per gallon). Blenders also get an excise tax credit of 45 cents for every gallon of ethanol they blend with gasoline.

As the supply of corn ethanol increased, Congress stepped in yet again to address the lack of consumer demand. As part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) mandates that refiners blend 7.5 billion gallons of corn ethanol into gasoline by 2012. In 2007, Congress increased it to 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol by 2015. Thanks to Congress, consumers now have no choice but to buy gasoline blended with some percentage of ethanol (up to 10 percent) for their automobiles.

The effects of government intervention ripple through the economy. The artificial increase in demand for ethanol coupled with production and supply incentives persuades farmers (as good businessmen) to devote more of their land to growing corn for ethanol, and in turn growing less corn for food and animal feed. In fact, food prices began increasing after the RFS took effect in 2006.

Add in a severe weather season affecting planting, and you have world food prices skyrocketing. And when people have to spend more on food, they have less to spend on other goods and services, which is bad news for businesses everywhere. The only winners in this scheme are corn growers, agricultural conglomerates like Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), and the politicians perpetuating this scheme. Farmers are guaranteed a premium price for corn. Distillers and blenders get tariffs, tax credits, and mandated usage. The politicians a href="">get reelected.

By distorting the free market and favoring one industry (ethanol production) over others (food production), the federal government is actively making it more expensive for us to feed our families. When the economy was strong, average Americans could afford to overlook the interdependence of agribusiness and politicians. That time has passed. We should end ethanol’s dependence on the domestic taxpayer.

The Senate voted last week, in a largely symbolic measure, to allow the ethanol blender credit and import tariff to expire at the end of this year. Congress should take serious action and end ethanol subsidies.


As Incandescent Bulb Ban Looms, Opposition Grows

The incandescent bulb lit up America and came to symbolize a great idea. Now on the cusp of a federal ban, Thomas Edison's invention has become a symbol for personal liberty.

Perhaps no issue better illuminates the transformation of the right from Big Government conservatism to Tea Party activism.

With many consumers griping about the cost and type of light of the substitute bulb, populists have won the ear of some once-staunch ban supporters .

Late last year Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., vowed to reverse the very ban on incandescent bulbs that he helped pass. But after five months as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he has yet to hold a hearing.

"This is a violation of (Upton's) promise," said Jennifer Stefano, co-chairwoman of the Loyal Opposition, Pennsylvania's largest Tea Party group. "The time is now for him to go back and do what he said he was going to do. The government never should have intruded in this matter."

The Energy Bill of 2007 phases out incandescent bulbs, with the 100-watt banned in January 2012. The ban hits the 75-watt bulb in January 2013, and 60- and 40- watt bulbs in January '14.

Compact fluorescent lamp bulbs are more expensive than traditional bulbs, but use less energy and are supposed to last longer. Users should save money in the long term, supporters say.

But many Americans complain that the light from CFLs lacks the yellow warmth of incandescents and natural light. CFLs can take a long time to warm up as well.

Tests have shown that on-off use can reduce CFLs' life span significantly, sometimes even below that of an incandescent. CFLs also contain toxic mercury.

The incandescent ban was the bright idea of Upton and then-Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif. Upton has been sympathetic to green causes, including global warming. President Bush signed the bill after little debate.

But Upton changed his tune late last year when conservative groups objected to him taking over Energy and Commerce.

"The last thing we wanted to do was infringe upon personal liberties — and this has been a good lesson that Congress does not always know best," he said.

Yet he has not moved on either of the two House bills to reverse the ban, including one from Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. The GOP presidential contender has tapped into the anger among activists who oppose the ban on principle and those Americans who hate fluorescent light.

When asked if the House leadership was pushing on this issue, Michael Steel, spokesman for Speaker John Boehner, passed the buck to Upton: "That falls under the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee."

An Energy hearing should take place by early July, according to a spokesman for Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., vice chairwoman of the Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade subpanel. A spokesman said Upton is working with members, but doesn't have details to share yet.

"I think Upton is sincere that he wants to take another look at the ban," said Myron Ebell, director of the libertarian group Freedom Action, which favors repeal. "He's looking at what would be the right solution — modify, delay or repeal."

But patience is wearing thin. "The compact fluorescent is a screwy light bulb in looks, form and function," said Lynne Holicky, policy director of First Coast Tea Party in Florida. "It's a dog."

If a CFL bulb breaks at home, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends several steps to avoid mercury poisoning: Clear people and pets from the room, air it out for five-10 minutes and turn off any central air. Finally, it says, put the broken glass in a sealed container for hazardous waste disposal.

States are going in all directions. California barred stores from restocking 100-watt bulbs on Jan.1. Texas Gov. Rick Perry just signed a bill that will let people buy incandescents that are made and sold within the state.


New Sea-Level Study by notorious Warmists unconvincing

For the first time, researchers have reconstructed the rise in sea level over the last 2000 years. Their conclusion: Never before have sea levels risen as fast since the beginning of industrialisation. But critics fault the study with resting on shaky foundations.

The rise in sea level is perhaps the most threatening consequence of climate change. A large part of the world's population lives in coastal areas. Especially in poorer countries hundreds of millions of people would be at risk from more frequent floods.

In recent years, the predictions of sea level rise knew only one direction: upwards. In its last report in 2007, the IPCC assumed that sea levels could increase by a maximum of 59 centimeter on a global average by 2100. But a United Nations report published last week mentioned already an increase of 90-160 centimeters.

Now, researchers have reconstructed, for the first time, how sea levels have changed in the past 2000 years. Their conclusion: the oceans swell faster today than at any period in the past 2000 years.

So far, the close relationship between air temperature and sea level rise has only been proved for the last 130 years, says Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). His team has examined fossil shells of microbes that came from sediment cores in salt marshes on the Atlantic coast in North America. These microbes live at a very specific height, depending on the ebb and flow, and thus the quantity and type of shells found show the height of the sea level.

Rapid sea-level rise

From these results, the scientists have deduced the four phases of sea-level development: From 200 BC to 1000 AD, the water level remained relatively stable. Starting in the 11th century, it rose for 400 years by about five centimeters per century, which was due to the Medieval Warm Period. Then there was another stable period with a cooler climate, which lasted until the late 19th century, as the researchers report in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

Coinciding with the industrialisation, a manifest upswing occurred: the sea level rose by about 20 centimeters in just over a hundred years - a multiple of the average increase during the previous 2,000 years.

The researchers attribute this to two factors: when water warms, it expands - the sea level rises. The second factor is the melting of mountain glaciers and large ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. "Mankind heats the climate with its greenhouse gases, so the land ice melts more rapidly and the sea level rises faster and faster," says Rahmstorf. "The new study confirms our model of sea level rise - the data from the past sharpens our view in the future."

"The study is not suitable for forecasting"

But other experts doubt exactly this claim. They see a major problem of the new study in the fact that it is ultimately based only on the finding from the coast of North Carolina. That could be too limited for a statement regarding global developments. "This study is therefore not suitable at all to make predictions," says Jens Schröter from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research.

Rahmstorf and his colleagues concede that local sea-level fluctuations may differ from the global average. Nevertheless, the scientists expect that their data show broadly the changes in global sea level. Schroeter, however, argues that over a period of more than 2000 years the influences of continental drift and the so-called isostatic rebound will be felt. This is a consequence of the last ice age: with the disappearance of the glaciers, the land masses were liberated of such a large load that they still perform a rocking movement. In Scotland, some areas were lifted by up to 60 centimeters during the last century, while parts of southern England and the French Channel coast sank by the same amount.

Rahmstorf and his colleagues have also included data from other world regions in their study - but they differ significantly, in parts, from the results of North America. "Only the data from North Carolina fit reasonably well to the reconstructed sea-level development," says Schroeter. He criticized that the PIK researchers have attempted to confirm their data with an already existing model. "If you had tried to develop a graph solely on the basis of the data, it would have been difficult."

Michal Kucera from the University of Tuebingen considers the question as to how representative the data from North America actually are as the "Achilles heel" of the study. At least the area is "one of the best" for such an investigation. Elsewhere, the situation would be even more difficult.

Deviations from previous studies

The new sea-level reconstruction study also differs significantly from previous studies. In a study published in 2008, a team led by Michael Mann, who is also one of the co-authors of the current study, calculated a much steeper sea-level rise for the past few centuries. For the year 500 AD, the estimated sea level was calculated to be nearly one and a half meters below the new value. Rahmstorf himself had also published studies on the historical development of sea levels in 2007 and 2009, which also deviate significantly from the new calculation.

Mojib Latif from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR) refers to the observation period of roughly 2000 years as "a strength of the study." But the long-term natural fluctuations in sea level are still poorly understood: "What happened to sea level fluctuations during periods of 300 to 400 years is highly controversial."

There is no doubt however, that the sea level has risen in recent decades - satellite measurements show that. And this development took place exactly in the era of industrialization and the rise in air temperatures. It is "difficult to argue" that this could be an accident, says Latif - in this aspect he agrees with Rahmstorf.

But regarding the projections on the future development, he entertains similar doubts as Schroter: today, nobody knows exactly how much ice in the Arctic and Antarctic will really melt in the coming decades and centuries. "That," says Latif, “must be honestly conceded.”


Australia's chief climate "adviser": Just another deceitful Greenie

An exponent of that old Green/Left skill: How to convey false impressions without actually lying

Professor Ross Garnaut recently compared Australia and Norway in the context of climate change policy and a carbon tax. It is both curious that he should choose this comparison and that no journalist, as far as I am aware, has thought to question it.

In his report, Prof Garnaut states that Norway is the "only other developed country with endowments of fossil fuels that are in any way comparable to Australia's" (The Garnaut Review 2011, p. 52).

He also set the stage during his speech in Perth at the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy breakfast meeting, 2 June 2011, by stating that Norway has a larger endowment of hydrocarbons per capita than does Australia, and yet exhibits lower per capita emission.

The argument then led to the fact that Norway has had a carbon tax since 1991, with the clear implication being that the lower emissions were due to the tax.

Is this point of comparison relevant to the debate? Should we make a comparison with a country that Australia may actually emulate? If so, Norway definitely is not the country of choice.

While Norway may be comparable in terms of fossil fuel endowment, it uses virtually none of this endowment to generate its electricity. It primarily exports its produced hydrocarbons.

By contrast, the electricity generation sector of Australia is heavily fossil fuel reliant. Perhaps more importantly for the thrust of Prof Garnaut's argument, Norway has not used its fossil fuel endowment to produce electricity since well before it introduced a carbon tax.

This is relevant for policy comparisons because the thrust (at least implicitly) of Prof Garnaut's argument is that Norway's introduction of a carbon tax has led it to be a relatively lower emitter than Australia.

Norway produces nearly all of its electricity from hydroelectricity projects. In 2008, 98.5% of Norway's electricity production came from hydro, and less than 0.05% came from fossil fuels of any form.

Just over 0.75% percent of Norway's electricity production came from geothermal, solar, and wind renewable sources, whereas these sources represented 1.6% of Australia's production. Neither country registered any geothermal, solar, or wind capacity in 1990. These numbers are readily available in the International Energy Agency publication Electricity Information 2010.

In terms of installed capacity by generation type, in 1990 (the year before the introduction of a carbon tax) hydro accounted for 99.1% of capacity in Norway. In 2008, the share was 96.6% of total installed capacity.

Given the relative status between installed generation capacity and actual production, the non-hydro installed capacity was relatively underutilized; 98.5% of production coming from 96.6% of the capacity.

Both coal and natural gas generation capacity increased over this period with the carbon tax in place.

It is also useful to note that Australia's population is about 4.5 times larger than Norway's. Australia consumes about 9.9 TWh of electricity per million population, while Norway consumes about 23.5 TWh per million population.

Finally, an article published in the peer-reviewed journal Energy Policy in 2004 (Greenhouse gas emissions in Norway: do carbon taxes work?", A. Bruvoll and B.M. Larsen) shows that total CO2 emissions in Norway continued to increase after the imposition of the tax. While CO2 emissions intensity declined by 14%, the carbon tax could only be credited for 2%.

According to this study, there were a range of carbon taxes, differing according to the type of fuel. In 1999, the highest tax was US$51 per tonne of CO2, which led to the carbon tax constituting 13% of the purchaser price. Coal was assessed at US$24 per tonne and US$22 per tonne for auto diesel.

Hence, with higher carbon taxes than those contemplated by the Australian Government emissions continued to rise and only a small fraction of the reduction in CO2 emissions intensity are be attributed to the tax.

The Norwegian carbon tax failed to produce a reduction in CO2 emissions even in a country with almost no hydrocarbon-based electricity generation.



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1 comment:

Kymme said...

In a true democracy, those people who believe in the carbon tax should pay it voluntarily and those people who don't agree with it should be exempt. Both Cate Blanchett and Gina Rhinehart are wealthy enough to afford the carbon tax, so no wonder they support it. They will always have enough money for a life of endless luxury, being the "champagne Marxists" that they are. Not so the "little people". I also think Cate Blanchett doesn't have the academic qualifications to comment on global warming or the carbon tax. She's an actor, and a very good one at that. If Cate lectured us on acting, I'd believe her. I think she spoke out of turn, and showed how out of touch, elitist and arrogant she truly is.