Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fascist climate dreamer

Christiana Figueres, the UN's climate chief, is interviewed at Yale360. Her views on science and public policy are startling to say the least:

"It is the most inspiring job in the world because what we are doing here is we are inspiring government, private sector, and civil society to [make] the biggest transformation that they have ever undertaken. The Industrial Revolution was also a transformation, but it wasn't a guided transformation from a centralized policy perspective. This is a centralized transformation that is taking place because governments have decided that they need to listen to science. So it's a very, very different transformation and one that is going to make the life of everyone on the planet very different."

Didn't they once call this "scientific socialism"?


‘Cooling World’  Is Hot Potato for UN Climate Summit

THE world’s climate has cooled during 2011 and 2012, temperature data from Britain’s Met Office reveals — just before this year’s talks on cutting global greenhouse gas emissions. The figures show that, although global temperatures are still well above the long-term average, they have fallen significantly (sic) since the record seen in 2010.

The findings could prove politically sensitive, coming ahead of the United Nation’s climate summit in Doha, Qatar, where the global system for regulating greenhouse gas emissions faces collapse.

The threat comes because the Kyoto treaty, under which developed nations pledged to cut their carbon emissions, expires at the end of this year. Doha is seen as the last hope of securing an extension.

In such a febrile situation, any data casting doubt on climate scientists’ predictions is potentially explosive. The World Meteorological Organisation, which oversees the publication of climate trend data from the four main global centres, including the Met Office, has been strongly criticised for its policy of releasing such data just before the UN’s key annual summits.

“In the past two years we have seen a slight decline in temperature,” said Peter Stott, the Met Office’s head of climate monitoring and attribution. “However, it is such a short period that it is scientifically meaningless. Climate change can only be measured over decades — and the records show that the world has warmed by 0.75C over the past century.” i.e. Only three quarters of one degree

The Met Office figures show that, for the first 10 months of 2012, global temperatures averaged 14.43C; 2010 was significantly (sic) hotter at 14.54C.

Stott says the heat of 2010 was caused by an “El NiƱo” event, where warm water currents in the Pacific released unusual amounts of heat into the atmosphere. “It is a natural short-term fluctuation and nothing to do with climate change,” he said.

The longer-term record shows global temperatures have hardly risen for about 15 years. Stott said, however, that the key point was that, although global temperatures had not risen as predicted over the past decade or so, they had remained consistently above the long-term average.

“This is why the Arctic icecap is melting and extreme weather events are increasing,” he said. So the icecap is melting because it is NOT warming?


The EPA vs. state economies

On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency rejected petitions from the governors of Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, and North Carolina to suspend the biofuel-blending requirements established by the federal renewable fuel standard (RFS) program.

This program requires refiners to blend increasing quantities of biofuel — mostly corn ethanol — into the nation’s motor-fuel supply. The 2012 target is to blend 13.2 billion gallons of biofuel into our gasoline, a quantity that ratchets up to 13.8 billion gallons in 2013. This year, about 4.7 billion bushels, or 40 percent of the nation’s corn crop, will be consumed by ethanol manufacturing. The governors contend that the RFS program, combined with the worst drought in 50 years, pushed corn prices to record highs, harming their states’ poultry, beef, pork, and dairy producers, who use corn as animal feed. The Clean Air Act authorizes Lisa P. Jackson, the EPA’s administrator, to waive the RFS targets for one year if those requirements would “severely harm” the economy of a state, a region, or the United States as a whole.

The RFS program guarantees that the gas we buy contains up to 10 percent ethanol and may soon contain up to 15 percent. In a competitive market, hardly anyone would buy ethanol as motor fuel, because the substance has one-third less energy than gasoline and does not make up the difference in price. To the contrary, the higher the ethanol blend, the more money you spend on each mile driven. At current prices, it would cost the average driver $500 a year to switch to E85, a fuel that is 85 percent ethanol, according to, a website jointly administered by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Arkansas governor Mike Beebe’s petition concisely explained why Jackson should have granted the waiver. “Virtually all of Arkansas is suffering from severe, extreme, or exceptional drought conditions,” and accelerating corn prices are “having a severe economic impact” on the state’s livestock producers. “While the drought may have triggered the price spike in corn,” the fuel standards exacerbated the problem — the policy has boosted corn prices 193 percent since 2005. Agriculture accounts for “nearly one-quarter” of the state’s economic activity, and livestock sectors hit hard by rising corn prices “represent nearly half” of Arkansas’s farm sales.

However, the EPA stacked the decks against petitioners, establishing a burden of proof that was virtually impossible to meet. Indeed, the agency’s August 30 Request for Comment telegraphed the decision Jackson reached on Friday. The EPA stated petitioners would have to show that the “RFS itself” was the cause of severe harm, not merely a “contributing” factor. In addition, petitioners would have to show that waiving the RFS would be a “remedy” for the hardship facing livestock producers.

These criteria are ridiculous. The Clean Air Act does not require the EPA to don analytical blinkers and ignore other factors that, in combination with the RFS, cause severe harm, nor does it say that any waiver granted must be a silver bullet.

Severe distress in any state, region, or the nation as a whole typically results from a combination of factors, not a single one. A fuel standard that causes little economic harm when unemployment rates are low, corn production is booming, corn stocks are high, and China’s demand for U.S. corn imports is low could inflict severe harm when the opposite conditions obtain — as they do today.

The EPA’s requirement that the waiver provide a cure for high corn prices is the flip side of the same trick coin. By law, the EPA may grant a waiver for only one year at a time. So even if a multi-year waiver would provide a complete remedy, the EPA could reject each successive one-year waiver on the grounds that it would not solve the problem by itself.

It is true that a one-year waiver may have little impact on the price of corn, given that the market would expect the fuel requirements not only to return, but to continue to rise in a year’s time. In addition, much of the ethanol blended into regular gasoline is used as an octane booster; it cannot be removed until refiners develop a workable substitute, which is unlikely to happen in less than a year. (The substance refiners used as an octane booster before ethanol has been banned in most states.)

The EPA takes an entirely different tack when the issue is not whether to grant regulatory relief but whether to impose additional regulatory burdens. In such cases, even small contributions to an alleged harm are considered sufficient grounds for regulation, and even minute regulatory contributions to the hoped-for solution are deemed fully justified.

Consider the EPA’s greenhouse-gas emission standards for heavy-duty trucks, which will go into effect for model-year 2014–2018 vehicles. The EPA estimates that these standards will reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations by 0.732 parts per million, which in turn will avert an estimated 0.002 to 0.004 degrees Celsius of global warming and 0.012 to 0.048 centimeters of sea-level rise by the year 2100. Such changes would be too small for scientists to distinguish from noise in the climate data. The EPA acknowledges no obligation to demonstrate either that heavy-truck GHG emissions alone harm public health and welfare or that regulating these trucks would take verifiable bites out of global temperatures and sea-level rise.

For sheer results-be-damned regulation, however, nothing beats the EPA’s proposed CO2 emission standards for fossil-fuel power plants. The EPA does “not anticipate any notable CO2 emissions changes resulting from” the standards and, thus, concludes that “there are no direct monetized climate benefits in terms of CO2 emission reductions associated with this rulemaking.” In short, the standards would not even make a negligible contribution to a solution — yet the EPA proposes them anyway.

Such glaring inconsistency is a reminder (if any is needed) that agencies are not impartial umpires but interested parties in the rules they administer.

This cloud may yet have a silver lining. Jackson’s rejection of the waiver petitions exposes the RFS program as an arbitrary, inflexible system that provides corporate welfare to corn farmers at the expense of livestock producers, consumers, and hungry people in developing countries. The EPA’s decision may very well build support for RFS reform — or repeal.


British households 'may have to pay up to £125' for green changes to poor homes

Households may have to pay up to £125 per year to cover the cost of "green" home improvements for the poorest customers under Coalition plans, energy companies have warned.

Industry sources said the cost of a new green scheme has been underestimated by up to £1.8 billion per year by Whitehall officials.   The new policy, called the Energy Company Obligation, will begin to hit households next year at a time when rising gas prices have already pushed the average bill above £1,335 annually.

Under the initiative, gas and electricity suppliers will be forced to offer poor households ways to save energy, such as insulation and more efficient boilers, which will be charged back to all households through bills.

Ministers claim this will cost bill-payers just £1.3 billion per year or about £50 per household - the same as under current schemes to help poor customers.

However, one major energy company told The Daily Telegraph that it is preparing for the cost of ECO to be up to £3.1 billion per year - or £125 per household.  Another senior energy boss agreed with this assessment, saying the Government "needs to switch its digits around" to from £1.3 billion to £3.1 billion.

The Government strongly disputes its scheme will be so expensive. Greg Barker, the climate change minister, said he "will certainly not allow customer bills to be impacted in that way".  He added: "The Prime Minister showed this week with his determination to legislate to get people the lowest energy tariffs that we are the Government on the side of the consumer."

Mr Barker said energy companies will be forced to meet their obligations at the Government's price or hand over their responsibilities to third parties to deliver more cheaply.   "We believe our economic model is robust and [the companies] are not taking into account the dynamics of the market," he told The Daily Telegraph.

Energy companies are currently lobbying the Government to put a £1.3 billion cap on the cost of ECO, amid fears that suppliers will be blamed for rising bills when the scheme comes into force.

Energy UK, the industry group representing the Big Six suppliers, has commissioned an independent report into the issue, which will be presented to the Prime Minister and Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, today.

This study by NERA Economic Consulting found the cost of the green charges will be around £2.3 billion - or £95 per household.  But it says this estimate may be too low as there are other risks to the green scheme that could cause the real cost to "exceed" this figure.

The report, due to be published on Monday, will say "unreliable" calculations by the Department of Energy and Climate Change have led it to underestimate the charges.

The NERA economists will also conclude that the ECO system is an "expensive" way of helping poorer households bring down their energy bills.

Last night, a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "ECO replaces existing energy efficiency schemes almost pound for pound, so there will be no additional costs on bills.  "New powers under the Energy Act 2011 will allow us to require energy companies to provide regular information on the actual costs of delivery and how these are passed through to consumers. For the first time we will know if energy companies are simply passing through actual costs or looking to increase their profits by charging consumers more than is necessary.  "We will keep the impact on consumer bills under constant review throughout the lifetime of the scheme."

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has found that the rising gas price is the biggest cause of higher bills for energy customers, adding around £290 to the average annual bill between 2004 and 2010.

Green charges have contributed around £75, including £30 to support investment in low-carbon power generation, and £45 for funding energy efficiency improvements in homes.

However, the effect of environmental policies on bills is likely to get bigger over the next decade as bill-payers will have to partially subsidise new wind farms and nuclear power stations. The CCC believes environmental policies will raise bills by around £110 a year by 2020.

Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, says this will be cheaper for households in the long run as too much reliance on gas power stations will leave the UK exposed to the rising price of fossil fuels.   He told MPs on the Energy Committee this week that most experts believe gas prices will "stay high or go higher".


Climate Deadlock Solidified: Emerging Nations Rule Out New ‘Climate Protocol’

China, India, South Africa and Brazil say a climate agreement expected to take effect in 2020 won’t be a “new regime,” potentially setting up a confrontation with the United States, which is seeking to eliminate a firewall in negotiations between developed and developing nations.

The four countries are reining in expectations for the Durban Platform, according to a statement released following a meeting of the so-called Basic bloc in Beijing.

Delegates at United Nations treaty talks in the South African city agreed in December that nations will hammer out a new deal to fight climate change by 2015 and implement it five years later

The statement may set up a conflict with the U.S. at two weeks of U.N. climate talks that start next week in Doha, Qatar. The U.S. has said any climate deals must treat nations equally, a shift from the Kyoto Protocol that has separate terms for developed and developing countries.

“The Durban Platform is by no means a process to negotiate a new regime, nor to renegotiate, rewrite or reinterpret the convention and its principles and provisions,” the countries said, referring to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The outcome of the discussions are governed by “in particular the principles of equity.”

At last year’s discussions, the U.S. opposed inclusion of the concept of “equity” in the Durban mandate because lead envoy Todd Stern said it could be used to perpetuate a “firewall” that assigned developed countries binding emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol, while setting no enforceable greenhouse-gas goals for big developing countries such as India and China.

On a conference call with reporters that followed the Durban talks, Stern was asked whether he’d said “if equity’s in, we’re out,” in the final discussions that crafted the mandate.
“I might have, but that’s certainly the idea,” Stern said in the Dec. 13 teleconference.

“We just thought that that would be a distraction that would tend to drive people back into the old paradigm and we didn’t want to go there,” Stern said. The “key element” of a new deal is “to include all the major players in the same legal system kind of together,” he said.

China is willing to cooperate with the U.S. to push climate change negotiation progress, Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of National Development and Reform Commission, told reporters in Beijing Tuesday. “Developed nations should make greater efforts to cut emissions,” he said.
China and the U.S. in July agreed that greater climate- protection efforts are needed before a binding global treaty comes into force in 2020, joining nations at a meeting in Germany to acknowledge that current pledges fall short.

The U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization said that concentrations in the atmosphere of the three main heat- trapping gases, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, rose to a record. The International Energy Agency said earlier this month that rising concentrations of the gases threaten to render impossible the UN goal of containing the temperature rise since industrialization to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Agreeing to a second round of emissions reduction targets for parties to the Kyoto Protocol that will be implemented from January is the “key deliverable” from Doha, the Basic countries said. “Developed countries should take the lead and scale up ambition” for emissions-slashing and climate aid efforts between now and 2020.

The U.S. never ratified Kyoto, so it isn’t subject to its targets, while Japan, Canada and New Zealand have all said they won’t take part in a second round of commitments. That leaves the 27-nation European Union and Australia as the main countries seeking new targets. Russia has indicated it may not take on new targets, though has yet to fully spell out its stance.

The Basic countries said those developed nations not taking part in the so-called second-commitment period of Kyoto should take on “ambitious and comparable emissions reduction targets”

“The original idea when negotiating the climate change convention is developed nations will take the lead in reducing their emissions and in providing the resources for developing nations to change their economy that will be necessary for their efforts,” Brazilian envoy Andre Correa do Lago told reporters. “This is not happening.”



Three current articles below

The fine art of scaring children

by Tony Thomas

Ballarat has a great art gallery, with its original architecture and gold-financed 19th century acquisitions. I was stooging around there last week after enjoying its show on floral illustrations, dating back to William Dampier.In the main halls it has an “art trail” for children, directing them to half a dozen works. Each has a screed alongside backgrounding the painting and giving the kids some quizzes.

So far so good…until I began reading those screeds.

The first involved an aquatic storm scene by ship captain-turned-artist Johan Bennetter (1886), A Bore on the Hooghli. Sailing ships and lifeboats thrash about amid surges and spume under a furious sky. (A “bore” is a storm surge after a very low tide).

The screed quickly cuts to the chase:

“Climate change, bringing with it an increase in extreme weather and rising sea levels, means that phenomena like the famous bores on the Hooghli at the Bay of Bengal now threaten the lives and livelihoods of literally hundreds of millions of people. This is one of the places in the world most vulnerable to catastrophe arising out of rapid rises in sea level…

What other changes in natural phenomena do you know of as a result of global warming?

How will predicted climate change affect your life?”

Hmmm. The author may be referring to the prediction in 2005 by the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) of 50 million “climate refugees” by 2010.[1] An astute reporter for Asian Correspondent realized last year that the prediction had fallen due, but not a single “climate refugee” could be identified. Embarrassed, UNEP and its scientific boosters furtively rubbed out their map of 50 million climate refugees, circa 2010, and shifted the year out to 2020.

Let us move on to the next way-station along the kiddie-art climate trail.

At Kiddie Station 2 we find David Davies (1890), Under the Burden and Heat of the Day, which shows a swaggie  near-collapsed from heat and being offered a mug of water by his fellow swaggie in the red shirt.

The screed:

“…Australia is getting hotter and climate change has arrived. There is more on the way, but how much of an increase will depend on us. How do we cope with such heat? Massive air conditioner use threatens peak electrical supply while the electricity used to power them comes mainly from coal. Greenhouse gases are produced to cope with the symptoms of existing greenhouse gases – we are kelpies chasing our tails on a hot day.

Renewable energy, better house design and a reduction in the atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases will all be needed if we are going to beat the heat…

How can we keep cool without making demands on energy supplies? How do we know whether our individual actions make a difference?”

It was a fairly hot day outside but cool inside the gallery. Reason: It is air-conditioned.[2] [3]

Kiddie Station 3. A modern work: Tony Cran (2007) – “We’ve come for what’s ours” . This shows a kangaroo, a reindeer and a wolf on the coastline, two of them brandishing a eucalypt swatch.

Our narrator tells the kids:

“In this vision we have poisoned our environment with toxic waste and used up all the natural resources until the earth could no longer support us…In this painting, people are just a memory. The earth has survived and with it some of the plants and animals which lived in harmony with nature, only taking what they needed and adapting…

We have become reckless with our consumption, buying bigger and better things with more and more packaging [blah blah, insert here more Greens Party boilerplate].

Who should be responsible for the effects of our heavy consumption of resources? How can we reduce the cost of sustaining our natural resources?”

To me, this draws the long bow. For a start, although "people are just a memory", a lighthouse in the background is still lit up. Maybe the reindeer is maintaining it. Second, it’s nice that the three animals are living in harmony with nature, only taking what they need. Let’s hope for the ’roo and reindeer’s sake that this particular wolf is a vegetarian.


High chance of above-average rainfall for southeast Queensland until February

Wot??  No drought.  Warmists are united in saying the the drought in parts of the USA is due to global warming so surely Australia should be having drought too?  I hate to mention it, but Australia IS part of the globe!

THE chances of southeast Queensland and eastern NSW receiving above median rainfall from next month to February are 60 per cent to 75 per cent.

National Climate Centre climatologist Andrew Watkins said the forecast for potentially wetter than average conditions was because it was the wettest time of year for the southeast and an expectation that moisture would be dragged across the continent by warmer Indian Ocean temperatures.

``It will be wetter than the last forecast period but even though it will be above median odds, it will be nothing like (La Nina years) 2010-11,'' Dr Watkins said.

Chances of a drought-bearing El Nino occurring had reduced over the past two months and the Pacific ocean had cooled to neutral levels.  It will be the first neutral summer since 2005-06.

Sea surface temperatures in the Indian ocean off the West Australian coast were the equal second warmest on record for October.  A warm Indian Ocean is associated with increased summer rainfall over eastern parts of the continent and large parts of WA.

It and a powerful La Nina were the major factors in floods last year and in 2010.



"Drought" in Britain too:  Drat that pesky global warming!

Swathes of Britain were under water yesterday as rain battered the country, turning roads and railways into rivers.  Homes were flooded and transport networks ground to a halt as two weeks’ worth of rain fell overnight in some areas.

Hazardous travelling conditions were exacerbated by 60mph winds, bringing widespread disruption across the UK. Debris and leaves blocked drains, adding to the chaos.

The West Country and the Midlands were the worst hit, but the storms moved east and were expected to drench more areas overnight and today – with forecasters predicting 2.5in of rain in places.

The Met Office warned that it had weather warnings out for south-west England and south-east Wales, as well as western Scotland, over the next few days.

The Environment Agency put more than 200 flood warnings and alerts in place yesterday, mostly in the South West and the Midlands.


Greens support sliding away in Tasmania

Tassie is the stronghold of the Greens in Oz

THE Tasmanian Greens and their leader Nick McKim have suffered a major slump in popularity, according to the latest EMRS poll.

At the same time that the Tasmanian Liberals have continued a strong showing in the polls, Mr McKim's approval rating as preferred premier and that of his party have dropped to the lowest levels since the March 2010 election when the Greens formed government with Labor.

The Opposition's push for a majority government also appears to be working, with the figures showing that for the first time since August 2011, the gap between support for the Liberal Party and the cumulative support of Labor and Greens has widened.

The poll of 1000 Tasmanians undertaken between November 12 and 16 shows support for Labor had remained steady while the Greens slumped by seven percentage points.

Coming off the back of calls for Mr McKim to be kicked out of Cabinet for linking forest protesters to Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, the Greens leader's approval rating as preferred premier dropped from 15 per cent to 11 per cent, down from 17 per cent in May this year.

Ms Giddings approval rating as preferred premier grew 3 per cent to 25 per cent while Mr Hodgman's went to 47 per cent, up from 45 per cent in August but down from 48 per cent in November last year.

Support for the Liberal Party returned to that seen in August 2011, 55 per cent, largely on the back of a decrease in support for the Greens.

Ms Giddings said the Liberals' strong showing was the result of a strong advertising campaign off the back of tobacco donations. "It just goes to show what $40,000 of tobacco donation money can buy you in months and months worth of TV advertising," Ms Giddings said. "I believe you are also seeing people don't accept the glib one-liners from Will Hodgman."

Mr McKim said the poll had highlighted the volatility of opinion polls. "The Greens are not a poll-driven party," he said. "We will always act based on our values and what we believe is right, no matter what the polls are saying."

Will Hodgman said the poll showed that Tasmanians saw the Labor-Green experiment as failing. "It's clear that only the Liberals can deliver the strong, stable majority government that Tasmania needs."




Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  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 and here


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