Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Everything the Australian Green Party claims about this typhoon is wrong
The Greens are despicable. They are enemies of reason, and the question is whether their sin is ignorance or deceit. Here is deputy Greens leader Adam Bandt today:
"Well, I think if the Prime Minister is out there referring to the Leader of the Opposition as ‘Electricity’ Bill, then he can be expected to be referred to as Typhoon Tony himself. The head in the sand approach to global warming in the face of the leaders of the Philippines themselves saying this is what we are in store for unless we get global warming under control makes Australia an international pariah and shows that really at the end of the day Tony Abbott does not believe the science."
Here is Greens leader Christine Milne yesterday:
"In our region Typhoon Haiyan and 10,000 people if not more dead in the Phillipines from a storm with such intensity there is now debate whether it is the strongest typhoon ever. Prof Steffen, one our leading scientists, is out saying that it is the warming of the oceans off the eastern Philippines that has led to the intensity of the typhoon."
Almost everything both Greens have said is false, baseless or misleading. Fact check:
* Was this typhoon the strongest ever? No. Typhoon Reming, which struck the Philippines seven years ago, was stronger, says the Philippine Met Agency.
* Was this typhoon the deadliest ever? No. The death toll, now estimated by the Philippines president at 2000 to 2500, is dwarfed by death tolls of 300,000 or even more from past typhoons and cyclones. The deadliest 35 cyclones in history all killed more than 12,000 people.
* Does data show we’re getting more or worse cyclones? No, says the latest IPCC report.
* Did this typhoon pass over seas made warmer than usual, thanks to global warming? No. Sea temperatures in the typhoon’s path were at the 30 year average.
* Have more cyclones struck the Philippines over recent decades? No, say experts.
This was an incredibly strong typhoon, and it has caused a terrible loss of life. But there is no global warming signal here. Nor would anything Tony Abbott did - or failed to do - make cyclones more or less likely.
Adam Bandt has ignored all the science and all reason to slur Abbott. He shames himself. This is ignorance posing as virtue.
The Greens have censored almost every sceptical comment from their thread on this topic:
Off-topic and abusive posts have been removed. Please do not allow conversation to be derailed by those people refusing to confront the scientific reality of climate change. The debate has been had, the science is in. Links to conspiracy theorists, deniers and the blog of News Limited’s highest-paid internet troll will be removed.
Typhoon Haiyan overshadows UN climate talks
The devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan cast a gloom over U.N. climate talks Monday as the envoy from the Philippines broke down in tears and announced he would fast until a "meaningful outcome is in sight."
Naderev "Yeb" Sano's emotional appeal was met with a standing ovation at the start of two-week talks in Warsaw where more than 190 countries will try to lay the groundwork for a new pact to fight global warming.
U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres also made reference to the "devastating impact" of the typhoon in her opening speech, and urged delegates to "go that extra mile" in their negotiations.
Scientists say single weather events cannot conclusively be linked to global warming. Also, the link between man-made warming and hurricane activity is unclear, though rising sea levels are expected to make low-lying nations more vulnerable to storm surges.
Nevertheless, extreme weather such as hurricanes often prompt calls for urgency at the U.N. talks.
Last year, Hurricane Sandy's assault on the U.S. East Coast and Typhoon Bopha's impact on the Philippines were mentioned as examples of disasters the world could see more of unless it reins in the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are warming the planet.
"We can fix this. We can stop this madness. Right now, right here," Sano told delegates in Warsaw.
Choking on his words, he said he was waiting in agony for news from relatives caught in the massive storm's path, though he was relieved to hear his brother had survived. "In the last two days he has been gathering bodies of the dead with his own two hands," Sano said.
"In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home ... I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate," he added. "This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this (conference) until a meaningful outcome is in sight."
On the sidelines of the conference, climate activists called on developed countries to step up their emissions cuts and their pledges of financing to help poor countries adapt to rising seas and other impacts of climate change.
Tense discussions also are expected on a proposed "loss and damage" mechanism that would allow vulnerable countries to get compensation for climate impacts that it's already too late to adapt to.
Asked whether the U.S. had any plans to increase its emissions target in the international talks, U.S. negotiator Trigg Talley said the "focus for us now" is to meet the existing target, of cutting emissions by 17 percent between 2005 and 2020.
"I think that we are on the right track to achieve it," he said, noting President Barack Obama's plans to cut emissions from power plants, boost renewable energy and other measures.
Though no major decisions are expected at the conference in Warsaw's National Stadium, the level of progress could be an indicator of the world's chances of reaching a deal in 2015. That's the new watershed year in the U.N.-led process after a 2009 summit in Copenhagen ended in discord.
Green dreams following the kibbutz track to oblivion
Comment from Australia
SOMETIMES it pays to revisit significant cultural moments, even the small ones that slip by unnoticed. Back in March 2007, then presenter of ABC TV's The 7.30 Report, Kerry O'Brien, introduced a story about the kibbutz movement in Israel.
It was, said O'Brien, "a remarkable experiment in how humans can live together, but it's now facing the end of an era". O'Brien continued: "After almost 100 years, Israel's first kibbutz, the model for all that followed, has become a victim of market forces and has given up on the collectivist dream."
Around the country, members of the Left were surely shedding quiet tears as their utopian dream was exposed as just that: misplaced hopes by well-meaning people who refuse to face reality. Reporter David Hardaker picked up the story from Kibbutz Degania, explaining that "some on the kibbutz weren't as industrious as others. Money and reward for effort became a flashpoint."
He reported that market forces had "crushed the ideal, and young people have been deserting the kibbutz for the outside world where, the harder you work, the more you get". To its credit, the kibbutz movement managed to deceive itself about human nature and market forces for almost 100 years. But sooner or later, reality hit. As Hardaker reported, "By a vote of 85 per cent, (Kibbutz Degania) decided the individual could and should be paid according to effort."
And when reality does hit, it ought to be a reminder that there will always be another generation of dreamers. And sooner or later they, too, will discover that reality trumps sandcastles in the air.
O'Brien's lament about the end of the kibbutz movement came to mind when, earlier this month, German environmentalists sought to put ownership of power assets back in the hands of German people. Could there be another significant cultural moment around the corner, this time about the unreality of green dreams?
This time it will be a clash between reality and misplaced aspirations of environmentalists who believe they, unlike the farmers at a kibbutz, can actually beat market forces.
Will human nature and market forces once again be the ruination of utopian dreamers?
More than two decades after governments sold off power assets, the people of Hamburg last month voted to put them back in the hands of the people. There was a similar push in Berlin earlier this month where activists and green groups at the Energietisch (or Energy Table) tried to sell the dream that buying back power stations and electricity grids would bring down the skyrocketing price of energy and increase the use of renewable energy.
While the vote failed, that is unlikely to be the end of the story. European elites tend to keep putting their agendas to a vote until the lumpenproletariat follow their lead. The activists want nothing short of a green revolution - to raise renewable energy from its present one-quarter of Germany's electricity supply to 80 per cent by 2050.
The question is at what cost? And who will pay?
An article in Der Spiegel last month summed up the reasons Germany provides a critical lesson about a green energy utopia. Headlined "How Electricity Became a Luxury Good", it blows the whistle on the bogus nature of the green dream as Germans pay the highest electricity costs in Europe.
"The costs have reached levels comparable only to the eurozone bailouts," reports Der Spiegel. "This year, German consumers will be forced to pay €20 billion ($26bn) for electricity from solar, wind and biogas plants - electricity with a market price of just over €3bn.
"Even the figure of €20bn is disputable if you include all the unintended costs and collateral damage associated with the project. Solar panels and wind turbines at times generate huge amounts of electricity, and sometimes none at all. Depending on the weather and the time of day, the country can face absurd states of energy surplus or deficit."
And Germans are discovering that their warm embrace of green policies is leaving the most vulnerable citizens out in the cold - quite literally. Charities call it "energy poverty". Rising electricity bills, in large part due to Germany's renewable energy surcharges, have seen power cut off to more than 300,000 households a year because of unpaid bills.
As Stefan Becker from Catholic charity Caritas in Berlin told Der Spiegel, "People here have to decide between spending money on an expensive energy-saving bulb or a hot meal."
In other words, the fine-sounding push towards renewable energy - through subsidies to an expensive and haphazard renewable industry - redistributes money from a poor family living in a tiny apartment to a well-to-do family living in a house with roof-mounted solar panels.
And as Der Spiegel points out, the left-wing parties are most responsible for hurting the poor. The Social Democrats, "which sees itself as the party of the working class, long ignored this regressive aspect of the system. The Greens, the party of higher earners, continue to do so."
Former German environment minister Jurgen Tritten of the Green Party once said that Germany's switch to renewable energy would cost each German no more than the cost of a scoop of ice cream. In fact, rising electricity prices mean that the poor can barely pay for dinner, let alone dessert.
The same crunch is happening in Britain where Prime Minister David Cameron once declared his government would be the "greenest government ever". Cameron now admits that green levies for renewable energy are causing "energy poverty" for 2.4 million British households.
The lessons from Germany and Britain should be high in the minds of the Abbott government. Environment Minister Greg Hunt has made it clear that the fight is not over the science, it is about electricity prices. Last year the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal found that green schemes in Australia will add $316 to the average power bill, the carbon tax adding $168 and the renewable energy schemes another $148. The Productivity Commission and the Institute of Public Affairs have warned that renewable energy policies in Australia defy reality with increased electricity bills delivering no environment benefit.
After the Abbott government tables legislation to repeal the carbon tax today it should get to work to get rid of these other expensive green-led policies. Rather than mandate a 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020, why not let the market decide? If renewable energy makes sense, it will thrive without mandates.
Sadly, there is a stubborn attachment by both sides of politics to expensive, inefficient and environmentally worthless renewable energy policies. But, sooner or later, surely these lazy, feel-good green dreams will go the same way as the kibbutz movement. When that happens, it will signal another important cultural moment, this time where reality trumps a green utopia.
Regulatory Commissars exploiting holes in Clean Water Act
Ronald Reagan once noted, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'” Under the Obama administration, the EPA is relentlessly proving Reagan's observation by attempting to regulate small water bodies as “wetlands” under the Clean Water Act. Naturally, leftist green pressure groups who mindlessly believe an ever more intrusive big government bureaucracy is the most effective environmental steward are cheering the agency's mission creep.
EPA's gambit to regulate these water bodies is based on its novel new interpretation of the Clean Water Act's applicability to its undefined phrase, “waters of the United States.” Judges and EPA regulators have struggled to interpret this phrase in the absence of legislative clarity. Now the agency is proposing a regulatory solution and conducting a politically tainted review to accumulate evidence to back up its interpretation of its shiny new rule. Lost in the politicizing fog is the common-sense notion that bodies of water can't all be wetlands – they're either water or land.
As with so many of the Obama agencies, EPA has run wild and must be reined in. Perhaps the 2014 election will bring conservatives to office who will do just that.
French-owned energy company holding British government's feet to the fire over Green levies
Energy giant EDF Energy was criticised for holding the Government to ransom today as it vowed to cap a winter gas and electricity price increase if Ministers cut "green" levies.
French-owned EDF announced plans to up prices by just 3.9 per cent for more than two million customers on January 3, the smallest increase of all the 'Big Six' so far.
But Vincent de Rivaz, EDF chief executive, warned that the company would review its plans if anticipated changes by Ministers to the way social and environmental charges are funded were not as dramatic as expected.
The threat came just weeks after EDF struck a huge deal with Ministers to build a new nuclear power station in Hinkley Point, Somerset, which guarantees almost £80 billion of revenues for the company and its partners over the next 35 years.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Mr de Rivaz insisted EDF was not holding a gun to the Government's head. But industry experts said EDF's statement was "astonishing".
Reg Platt, senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank said: "EDF have in effect issued a threat to Government saying 'cut back your policies or we'll raise our prices further'.
"The policy they want to cut, Eco, provides households with insulation and efficient boilers to protect them against rising energy bills. David Cameron has said he wants to roll back so-called ' green levies'.
"If this means the Government is going to roll over to the energy companies and cut spending on energy efficiency policy if will be bill players to get hurt."
Andrew Warren, director at the Association for the Conservation of Energy, added: "It is absolutely disgraceful that a company that is majority owned by another Government should be seeking to blackmail the UK Government into changing its established policy.
"This concerted attack is predominantly a distraction technique to draw attention away from the price gouging they are practicing."
Currently, 'Eco' programmes such as free cavity wall insulation for vulnerable homeowners are funded through domestic bills, but the industry wants the burden shifted onto taxpayers, or the deadline to carry out the work to be extended.
Analysts said EDF's price increase would likely be more than 7 per cent if no action was taken on the green levies by Government in the Autumn Statement next month.
A rise of 3.9 per cent would push up dual fuel gas and electricity bills by around £50 a year to £1,384 and compares to hikes of 9.2 per cent at British Gas and 10.4 per cent at npower.
Mr De Rivaz refused to be drawn on what may happen to EDF's pricing if Ministers back down on plans to change green schemes.
But he insisted he was confident the Government would introduce the changes he expected, to "bear costs down".
He said: "My expectation is that something will be done. Through collaborative and constructive dialogue, between policymakers, industry, we will be able to find solutions."
He added the relatively low, 3.9 per cent increase was not a "quid, pro, quo" for the Hinkley Point deal. Mr de Rivaz said: "Our approach is very rational. 3.9 per cent is very different to our rivals, it's less than half the others. It's clear that the time to act is now.
"I am asking people 'Judge us on what we do'. My 15,000 employees are a force for good."
Details of EDF's price change came just hours after The Daily Telegraph revealed E.ON was planning to annouce a 6.6 per cent price rise later this month.
Separately, industry figures showed that almost all of the 'Big Six' risk missing 'Eco' targets for the current year. Npower is just 2 per cent of the way to a March 2014 target to install wall insulation in homes in deprived areas, with British Gas at 6 per cent.
Speaking at a conference organised by Energy UK, the trade association for the 'Big Six', energy secretary Ed Davey warned energy companies their reputations were as low as Fred Goodwin, the disgraced former head of Royal Bank of Scotland, and demanded they "open their books" to improve transparency.
Energy UK countered that Government policy could push up bills by as much as 50 per cent by 2020.
Mr de Rivaz said politicians should stop trying to "fan the flames". Anti-austerity campaigners are already planning "outrageous, creative and inclusive" protest outside the London office of one of the Big Six suppliers on November 26.
Mr de Rivaz said: "There is no need to fan the flames, we need to arrive at a solution together."
Richard Lloyd, executive director at consumer watchdog Which? said EDF's price announcement would be welcomed by its customers, and would make people "question why other major suppliers have hit their customers so much harder".
He added: "People want to hear more than just tough talk from the politicians – they want to see tough new action to fix our broken energy market, not tinkering at the edges while consumers grapple with the rising cost of living.
“With trust at rock bottom and record numbers very worried about rising energy costs, we’re calling on the Chancellor to stand up for consumers when he stands up in the House of Commons to deliver this year’s Autumn Statement.”
Australian Govt's tough message on carbon tax repeal
THE federal government has issued a blunt warning to Labor and the Australian Greens as it prepares to introduce its carbon tax repeal bills to parliament.
"Do not stand in the way of the will of the people," Environment Minister Greg Hunt told ABC radio on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott will deliver a long-held promise to abolish the carbon tax, introduced by Labor in 2012, when he presents his government's first major piece of legislation shortly after 9am (AEDT).
After that Mr Hunt and Treasurer Joe Hockey will introduce seven more bills repealing other aspects of Labor's clean energy laws.
While the government has the numbers to pass the legislation through parliament's lower house, Labor and the Greens have the numbers in the Senate to block the bills.
Mr Hunt would not be drawn on whether the government will pursue a double-dissolution election if its legislation is blocked by parliament.
The alternative is to wait until July 2014 for a likely more favourable Senate to repeal the tax.
An alliance of industry groups says any delay will achieve nothing for the environment and hurt businesses.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Australian Industry Group, the Business Council of Australia and the Minerals Council of Australia is urging parliament to approve the repeal bills.
Labor is not backing away from its position to oppose the repeal of the carbon tax without its replacement by an emissions trading scheme.
"We're going to the parliament to do exactly what we told the Australian people what we'd do," frontbencher Tony Burke told ABC radio.
He dismissed as "simply untrue" business claims that delaying repeal of the tax would damage the economy.
A Senate vote on the repeal bills is unlikely before twin upper house inquiries into the legislation and the government's direct action plan to reduce carbon emissions.
"If Tony Abbott is committed to throwing out the baby with the bath water on climate change, it is reasonable for the parliament and the community to expect a reasonable level of detail about their alternative climate change policy," opposition climate change spokesman Mark Butler said.
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Posted by JR at 8:48 PM