Monday, August 11, 2014

“Climate-smart” policies for Africa are stupid, and immoral

Obama-Kerry policies would perpetuate energy poverty, malnutrition, disease and death

Paul Driessen

The 2014 US-Africa Leaders Summit hosted by President Obama this past week brought together the largest-ever gathering of African government officials in Washington, DC. They discussed ways to bolster trade and investment by American companies on a continent where a billion people – including 200 million aged 15 to 24 – are becoming wealthier and better educated.

They have steadily rising expectations and recognize the pressing need to create jobs, improve security, reduce corruption, and control diseases like Ebola, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. They also understand that better roads and air transportation, improved agriculture and nutrition, and far more energy – especially electricity – are the sine qua non to achieving their aspirations. Indeed, nearly 700 million Africans still do not have electricity or get it only sporadically, a few hours a day or week.

“The bottom line is, the United States is making a major and long-term investment in Africa’s progress,” Mr. Obama stated. One has to wonder whether his rhetoric matches his policy agenda – and whether Africans would do well to remember the president’s assurances that Americans could keep their doctors, hospitals and insurance, when they hear his fine words and lofty promises for Africa.

The fact is, no modern economies, healthcare systems or wealth-building technologies can function in the absence of abundant, reliable, affordable electricity and motor fuels. They require far more than can possibly come from “climate-smart” wind, solar and biofuel sources. Adequate food and nutrition require modern agriculture. Eradicating malaria requires chemical insecticides, DDT and ACT drugs.

Obama Administration policies on all these matters are likely to hold Africa back for decades.

For President Obama, everything revolves around fears of “dangerous manmade climate change” and a determination to slash or end fossil fuel use. He has said electricity rates must “necessarily skyrocket.” His former Energy Secretary wanted gasoline prices to reach European levels: $8-10 per gallon. His EPA is waging a war on coal. And his own requirements would prevent Africa from modernizing.

In 2009, the president told Africans they should focus on their “bountiful” wind, solar, geothermal and biofuel resources, and refrain from using “dirty” fossil fuels.  He signed an executive order, directing the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to ensure that any projects it finances reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020. He launched a number of domestic and international climate initiatives.

Afterward, when Ghana asked OPIC to support a $185 million gas-fired electrical generator (that would utilize natural gas being flared and wasted at its oil production operations), OPIC refused to help. When South Africa sought a World Bank loan for its state-of-the-art Medupi coal-fired power plant (which will reduce dangerous pollutants 90% below what 1970s-era plants emitted), the White House ”abstained” from supporting the loan. Thankfully, approval squeaked by anyway, and Medupi will soon be a reality.

Even more absurd and unethical, the White House announced last October that it will now oppose any public financing for coal-based power projects, except in the world’s poorest nations, unless they meet the draconian carbon dioxide emission standards now imposed on new coal-fired generators in the USA.

These policies prolong reliance on open fires fueled by wood and dung. They mean families are denied lights, refrigeration and other benefits of electricity, and millions die every year from lung and intestinal diseases, and other effects of rampant poverty. With hydrocarbons still providing 82% of the world’s energy – and China, India and other rapidly developing countries building numerous coal-fired generating plants – retarding Africa’s development in the name of preventing climate chaos is useless and immoral.

Meanwhile, President Obama is still guided by science advisor John Holdren, a fervent opponent of fossil fuels who infamously said the United States should support only the “ecologically feasible” development of poor countries, in line with his perceived “realities” of ecology and rapid energy resource depletion. How that translates into official policy can be seen from Mr. Obama’s 2013 remark: “Here in Africa, if everybody is raising living standards to the point where everybody has got a car, and everybody has got air conditioning, and everybody has got a big house, well, the planet will boil over.”

Secretary of State John Kerry’s inane recent statements are equally problematical for Africa. His fixation on “climate-smart” energy and agriculture suggests that he lives on another planet and cannot imagine life outside a $5-million mansion – and certainly not life for destitute families in sub-Saharan Africa.

For proof of manmade climate change, Kerry told US-Africa Summit attendees, one need only look at the “hotter temperatures, longer droughts and unpredictable rainfall patterns” that farmers must now deal with. Not only are global temperature trends flat for the past 18 years; actual records show clearly that drought and rainfall fluctuations are no different from what North American, African and other farmers have had to deal with for centuries. Moreover, increasing evidence suggests that the sun’s ongoing “quiet” period may portend several decades of markedly colder global temperatures.

Even more absurd, Kerry told attendees that “carbon pollution” is making food “less nutritious.” First, it’s not carbon (soot). It’s carbon dioxide, which makes food crops, trees and other plants grow faster and better, and survive better under adverse conditions like droughts. Second, hothouses routinely increase their CO2 levels to two or more times what is in Earth’s atmosphere, to spur crop growth. Are these German, Israeli and American tomatoes and cucumbers less nutritious than field-grown varieties? In fact, recent studies have found increased nutrient concentrations in food crops, thanks to higher CO2.

To the extent that “research” supports any of these ridiculous claims, it merely underscores what scientists will concoct when tempted by billions in government grants – or intimidated by activists and colleagues who attack them as climate change “deniers” if they do not play the Climate Armageddon game.

Secretary Kerry did suggest that the best way to help farmers is through “climate-smart agriculture” and “creative solutions that increase food production.” But it’s a virtual certainty he did not mean any of the things that really would help: biotechnology, modern mechanized farming and chemical fertilizers.

Genetically engineered Golden Rice and bananas are rich in beta-carotene, which humans can convert to Vitamin A, to prevent childhood blindness and save lives. New Bt corn varieties both kill insect pests, dramatically reducing the need for pesticides, and enable corn (maize) plants to survive droughts. New rice varieties can survive prolonged submergence during monsoons and floods. These crops, modern hybrid seeds and chemical fertilizers multiply traditional yields many times over. Other developments let farmers practice no-till farming, which protects vital soil organisms and nutrients and reduces erosion.

These solutions won’t just improve adaptation to whatever climates might confront us in the future. They will also enable us to feed billions of people – including some 250 million malnourished Africans – without having to plow under millions of acres of wildlife habitat. However, Big Green activists in and out of government oppose GMO crops, fossil fuels and modern farming, whatever their benefits to humanity – and regardless of the death and destruction that result when people are denied access to them.

Africa is blessed with abundant oil, gas and coal. Turning food into fuel would squander those resources and divert land, water, fertilizers and energy from feeding people – to produce expensive fuels and leave people malnourished. This is not “climate-smart” energy or agriculture. It’s just plain stupid.

Wind and solar will let people in remote areas have light bulbs, tiny refrigerators and cell phone chargers, until they can be connected to an electrical grid. They cannot support modern economies, factories, shops, schools, hospitals or families. Coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydro-based electricity are essential.

Here is the real bottom line: Africans should not do what the United States is doing now that it is rich. It should do what the United States did to become rich.

Via email

The tropics should actually get better oxygenated as the climate warms up

As the complex story of climate change unfolds, many of the endings are grim. But there are exceptions. Predictions that the lowest-oxygen environments in the ocean would get worse may not come to pass. Instead, University of Washington research shows climate change, as it weakens the trade winds, could shrink the size of these extreme low-oxygen waters.

The low-oxygen zone is below the surface off the coasts of Mexico and Peru. Sediment cores were collected at the northern low-oxygen zone, near Santa Monica and Baja California.

Warmer water contains less gas, so climate change is expected to reduce oxygen levels. Observations show this is already taking place in many places around the world. Declines during the past 20 years in the tropical low-oxygen zones, the lowest-oxygen waters on the planet, had led to a 2008 study proposing that these zones would also get worse over time.

Tropical regions are usually associated with an abundance of life, but they have some of the most inhospitable places for ocean dwellers. The oxygen minimum zones off Mexico and Peru have oxygen levels already too low to support most animals (so, unlike in other low-oxygen zones, here there’s no risk of killing fish).

But when those levels drop even further, a particular group of bacteria, which can use nitrogen instead of oxygen as a source of energy, thrive. Nitrogen is an essential and very scarce nutrient for marine plants. When oxygen levels get low enough for that particular group of bacteria to take over, significant amounts of the ocean’s fertilizer get deep-sixed to the bottom of the tropical ocean.

The new paper shows that water flowing into the tropics is indeed likely to get lower in oxygen, decreasing the initial oxygen supply. But demand will also shift under climate change. Specifically, as the trade winds weaken, the whole sequence of events that feeds this bacterial food chain will slow down, and the low-oxygen zone will shrink.

“If we want to understand how biological and chemical aspects of the ocean will change in the future, we really have to pay a lot of attention to what happens with the winds,” Deutsch said. “The winds can lead to conclusions that are exactly the opposite of what you’d expect.”

Trade winds from the west cause deep water to percolate up along western coasts, bringing nutrients up from the deep sea. These nutrients feed marine plants, which feed marine animals, which decompose to feed bacteria that use up the remaining oxygen. As trade winds weaken, less nutrient-rich water percolates up from the deep. Fewer plants grow at the surface. Finally, fewer oxygen-gobbling bacteria can survive.

Sediment records show nitrogen from bacteria that thrive without oxygen has been decreasing for most of the time that carbon dioxide has been increasing. The past 20 years shows a different trend, possibly related to changes in Pacific Ocean winds.

Deutsch is a climate modeler who studies tropical ocean circulation. He learned of sediment cores, collected off Mexico by co-authors William Berelson at the University of Southern California and Alexander van Geen at Columbia University, that showed a puzzling longer-term trend. The authors worked together to interpret the samples. Results show that for most of the time since 1850 the population of these nitrogen-eating bacteria has been going down, coincident with warming oceans and weakening trade winds. This implies that the local oxygen levels, for which few direct measurements exist, have been rising.

“I find it an interesting question for understanding the way the ocean functions on climatic or geologic timescales,” Deutsch said.

Most climate models predict that trade winds will continue to weaken in the future, shrinking the oxygen-minimum zones in the Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Mexico, Chile and Peru, and in the Indian Ocean off western Australia.

Decreasing oxygen in the wider ocean is still a major concern, Deutsch said, as are overfishing, ocean acidification and warming water temperatures.

“This study shows that what happens to the winds, which is sometimes overlooked, is really important for predicting how the oceans will respond to climate change,” Deutsch said.


More obscenity from Warmists

I headlined yesterday's posts about this

CNN news anchor Bill Weir took to his Twitter account last week to launch an obscene attack on more than half of the nation regarding global warming skepticism. Weir’s outburst was apparently triggered by people making fun of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project for engaging in silly demonstrations outside EPA field hearings on global warming. The Climate Reality Project rolled out “I’m Too Hot!” banners and attempted to hand out ice cream even though temperatures were unusually cool at EPA hearings throughout the country.

“Weather is not climate, you willfully ignorant fucksticks,” Weir blasted on his Twitter account.

Public opinion polls show Americans are largely skeptical of global warming alarmism. A Pew Research Center poll in late June found only 40 percent of Americans believe the Earth is warming and humans are the primary reason. A Rasmussen poll in early July found only 20 percent believe “the debate is over” in alarmists’ favor.

Apparently realizing Weir was obscenely chasing away over half of CNN’s potential American audience, CNN pressured Weir to apologize. “Dumb move. My bad,” Weir tweeted a day later


Scientist Reveals Inconvenient Truth to Alarmists

Dr. Christian Schlüchter’s discovery of 4,000-year-old chunks of wood at the leading edge of a Swiss glacier was clearly not cheered by many members of the global warming doom-and-gloom science orthodoxy.

This finding indicated that the Alps were pretty nearly glacier-free at that time, disproving accepted theories that they only began retreating after the end of the little ice age in the mid-19th century. As he concluded, the region had once been much warmer than today, with “a wild landscape and wide flowing river.”

Dr. Schlüchter’s report might have been more conveniently dismissed by the entrenched global warming establishment were it not for his distinguished reputation as a giant in the field of geology and paleoclimatology who has authored/coauthored more than 250 papers and is a professor emeritus at the University of Bern in Switzerland.

Then he made himself even more unpopular thanks to a recent interview titled “Our Society is Fundamentally Dishonest” which appeared in the Swiss publication Der Bund where he criticized the U.N.-dominated institutional climate science hierarchy for extreme tunnel vision and political contamination.

Following the ancient forest evidence discovery Schlüchter became a target of scorn. As he observes in the interview, “I wasn’t supposed to find that chunk of wood because I didn’t belong to the close-knit circle of Holocene and climate researchers. My findings thus caught many experts off guard: Now an ‘amateur’ had found something that the [more recent time-focused] Holocene and climate experts should have found.”

Other evidence exists that there is really nothing new about dramatic glacier advances and retreats. In fact the Alps were nearly glacier-free again about 2,000 years ago. Schlüchter points out that “the forest line was much higher than it is today; there were hardly any glaciers. Nowhere in the detailed travel accounts from Roman times are glaciers mentioned.”

Schlüchter criticizes his critics for focusing on a time period which is “indeed too short.” His studies and analyses of a Rhone glacier area reveal that “the rock surface had [previously] been ice-free 5,800 of the last 10,000 years."

Such changes can occur very rapidly. His research team was stunned to find trunks of huge trees near the edge of Mont Miné Glacier which had all died in just a single year. They determined that time to be 8,200 years ago based upon oxygen isotopes in the Greenland ice which showed marked cooling.

Casting serious doubt upon alarmist U.N.-IPCC projections that the Alps will be nearly glacier-free by 2100, Schlüchter poses several challenging questions: “Why did the glaciers retreat in the middle of the 19th century, although the large CO2 increase in the atmosphere came later? Why did the Earth 'tip' in such a short time into a warming phase? Why did glaciers again advance in the 1880s, 1920s, and 1980s? . . . Sooner or later climate science will have to answer the question why the retreat of the glacier at the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850 was so rapid.”

Although we witness ongoing IPCC attempts to blame such developments upon evil fossil-fueled CO2 emissions, that notion fails to answer these questions. Instead, Schlüchter believes that the sun is the principal long-term driver of climate change, with tectonics and volcanoes acting as significant contributors.

Regarding IPCC integrity with strong suspicion, Schlüchter recounts a meeting in England that he was “accidentally” invited to which was led by “someone of the East Anglia Climate Center who had come under fire in the wake of the Climategate e-mails.”

As he describes it: “The leader of the meeting spoke like some kind of Father. He was seated at a table in front of those gathered and he took messages. He commented on them either benevolently or dismissively.”

Schlüchter’s view of the proceeding took a final nosedive towards the end of the discussion. As he noted: “Lastly it was about tips on research funding proposals and where to submit them best. For me it was impressive to see how the leader of the meeting collected and selected information.”

As a number of other prominent climate scientists I know will attest, there’s one broadly recognized universal tip for those seeking government funding. All proposals with any real prospects for success should somehow link climate change with human activities rather than to natural causes. Even better, those human influences should intone dangerous consequences.

Schlüchter warns that the reputation of science is becoming more and more damaged as politics and money gain influence. He concludes, “For me it also gets down to the credibility of science . . . Today many natural scientists are helping hands of politicians, and are no longer scientists who occupy themselves with new knowledge and data. And that worries me.”

Yes. That should worry everyone.


Global Warming? Death Valley Shatters Cool Temperature Record

Global warming – er, that is, global climate disruption – claimed another victim Sunday as Death Valley shattered its all-time record for coolest August 3 high temperature in history. Remarkably, Death Valley was a full 15 degrees cooler than its previous coolest August 3. The high temperature at Death Valley reached only 89 degrees Sunday, which was 33 degrees cooler than normal for August 3 and 15 degrees cooler than the previous record minimum high temperature of 104 degrees.

With no global warming during the past 17 years and remarkable cool weather becoming more frequent, global warming alarmists claim any departure from average – be it a warm departure or a cool departure – is more “proof” of a global warming crisis. Undoubtedly, alarmists will seize upon Sunday’s remarkably cool temperatures in Death Valley as more “proof” of a global warming crisis.

More likely, the shattering of all-time cool temperature records at Death Valley is a result of the Heartland Institute Effect. Just as cold temperatures invariably occur when Al Gore makes public appearances to raise the alarm about global warming, cold temperatures also invariably occur when the Heartland Institute hosts climate realism events. Just last month, the Heartland Institute hosted its 9th International Conference on Climate Change in Las Vegas, just a short drive from Death Valley. Last August, Atlanta set new records for lowest high temperatures when the Heartland Institute hosted its Emerging Issues Forum in the Peach State capital.


Australia faces unprecedented oversupply of energy, no new energy generation needed for 10 years

Increased costs have reduced demand

South-eastern Australia will not need to ramp up energy generation for the next 10 years, even under a worst-case scenario, a report says.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) report says Australia is facing an energy glut never before seen in the history of the national electricity market.

It raises serious questions about the ongoing viability of existing coal-fired power stations, but might also result in more pressure on the Federal Government to reduce the Renewable Energy Target (RET).

A spokesman for AEMO, Joe Adamo, says there is no additional generation required to maintain the reliability.

"Now, that's under all three scenarios that we model. So what we're saying is that there's an oversupply of generation capacity at present. It doesn't affect the reliability," he said.

For the next year alone, Australia will produce up to 8,900 megawatts more than is needed. That is around four times the power produced in a year by Australia's largest coal-fired power station.

Electricity use in Australia has been falling now for about four years due to the take-up of rooftop solar systems, greater use of energy-efficient appliances and the downturn in some manufacturing industries that use lots of electricity.

"Many of them will have to trade unprofitably as many of them already have been doing for the last year or two," Mr Sadler said.

Just last week energy company HRL announced it would close a small coal-fired power station in Victoria's La Trobe Valley.

"It was one that was kind of earmarked for closure some three or four years ago but was propped up by some of the industry assistance measures of the previous Labor government," the Alternative Technology Association's Damien Moyse said.

"Those measures have now run out and so as soon as they have that power station has found that it's no longer economical to operate.

"That's really because there just isn't the need for so much base load power at the moment," he said.

Despite the oversupply, Australians have continued to pay more for their electricity.

"The prices have been rising because of the other parts of the cost of electricity, which is the cost of getting it from the boundary of the power station through the meters of all the individual consumers," Mr Sadler said.

"And that's considerably more than half of the total cost of the total electricity that's supplied to households or small businesses.

"That's the part that's been rising very rapidly over the last three or four years."

While all this has been going on, the Federal Government has been reviewing the Renewable Energy Target, which stipulates a certain amount of renewable electricity should be in use by 2020.

The big electricity companies have been lobbying the Government to axe or at least reduce the RET because renewables like wind and solar are hitting their bottom line.

"On a demand basis we don't need any additional investment for generations for some time, and that's what the AEMO report says," Mr Moyse said.

"But the mechanisms that leverage investment into renewable energy and into low-carbon technologies like the Renewable Energy Target are not about, ultimately, providing enough electricity supply to match demand.

"What they're about is industry development and restructure mechanisms. They're trying to, over time, restructure the industry so that more of our generation, irrespective of what the demand level is, comes from renewables or low-carbon technology and less from carbon-intensive generation, such as coal and gas."

At present there are millions of dollars in renewable projects sitting on the shelf while their developers wait to see what the Government does with the RET.

The bottom line, Mr Sadler says, is that there is no future for the large-scale renewable sector in Australia without the RET.

But he says that goes for other technologies too.

"In fact, some of the very new gas-fired power stations are going to be withdrawn from the market in a few months' time even though they are the newest power stations in Australia, apart from the renewable ones, because of the high price of gas means that they can't compete in the current market," he said.

In the meantime, Australians are increasingly voting with their wallets as electricity prices continue to rise.

There are around 1.5 million rooftop solar systems in the country and the number is increasing.



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