Friday, June 10, 2016

Some rare climate skepticism from the Left

Ten things environmentalists need to know about renewable energy:

1.    Solar panels and wind turbines aren’t made out of nothing. They are made out of metals, plastics, chemicals. These products have been mined out of the ground, transported, processed, manufactured. Each stage leaves behind a trail of devastation: habitat destruction, water contamination, colonization, toxic waste, slave labour, greenhouse gas emissions, wars, and corporate profits. Renewables can never replace fossil fuel infrastructure, as they are entirely dependent on it for their existence.

2.    The majority of electricity that is generated by renewables is used in manufacturing, mining, and other industries that are destroying the planet. Even if the generation of electricity were harmless, the consumption certainly isn’t. Every electrical device, in the process of production, leaves behind the same trail of devastation. Living communities—forests, rivers, oceans—become dead commodities.

3.    The aim of converting from conventional power generation to renewables is to maintain the very system that is killing the living world, killing us all, at a rate of 200 species per day. Taking carbon emissions out of the equation doesn’t make it sustainable. This system needs to not be sustained, but stopped.

4.    Humans, and all living beings, get our energy from plants and animals. Only the industrial system needs electricity to survive, and food and habitat for everyone are being sacrificed to feed it. Farmland and forests are being taken over, not just by the infrastructure itself, but by the mines, processing and waste dumping that it entails. Ensuring energy security for industry requires undermining energy security for living beings (that’s us).

5.    Wind turbines and solar panels generate little, if any, net energy (energy returned on energy invested). The amount of energy used in the mining, manufacturing, research and development, transport, installation, maintenance and disposal of these technologies is almost as much—or in some cases more than—they ever produce. Renewables have been described as a laundering scheme: dirty energy goes in, clean energy comes out. (Although this is really beside the point, as no matter how much energy they generate, it doesn’t justify the destruction of the living world.)

6.    Renewable energy subsidies take taxpayer money and give it directly to corporations. Investing in renewables is highly profitable. General Electric, BP, Samsung, and Mitsubishi all profit from renewables, and invest these profits in their other business activities. When environmentalists accept the word of corporations on what is good for the environment, something has gone seriously wrong.

7.    More renewables doesn’t mean less conventional power, or less carbon emissions. It just means more power is being generated overall. Very few coal and gas plants have been taken off line as a result of renewables.

8.    Only 20% of energy used globally is in the form of electricity. The rest is oil and gas. Even if all the world’s electricity could be produced without carbon emissions (which it can’t), it would only reduce total emissions by 20%. And even that would have little impact, as the amount of energy being used globally is increasing exponentially.

9.    Solar panels and wind turbines last around 20-30 years, then need to be disposed of and replaced. The production process, of extracting, polluting, and exploiting, is not something that happens once, but is continuous and expanding.

10.    The emissions reductions that renewables intend to achieve could be easily accomplished by improving the efficiency of existing coal plants, at a much lower cost. This shows that the whole renewables industry is nothing but an exercise in profiteering with no benefits for anyone other than the investors.


Global Temperature Plummets As El Nino Fades

Global average temperature is plummeting as the naturally-occurring El Niño warming event gives way to what’s likely to be a La Niña cooling event later this year.

“Cooling from the weakening El Niño is now rapidly occurring as we transition toward likely La Niña conditions by mid-summer or early fall,” according to the latest satellite data from the University of Alabama-Huntsville.

Global temperature spiked in early 2016 thanks to an incredibly strong El Niño. It drove the average global temperature up to 0.83 degrees above the 30-year average in February — the warmest month ever recorded in the satellite record.

Temperatures have come down 0.28 degrees since February, and Columbia University’s Earth Institute recently said there’s a more than 70 percent chance of a La Niña forming this year. Government forecasters say such an event would likely occur by late-summer or early fall.

The current El Niño formed late in 2015 and sent temperatures skyward, causing torrential rain in Texas and unseasonably warm weather New Yorkers saw on Christmas Day. The warm streak persisted into this year, and it created tons of media attention as climate scientists freaked out about the record heat.

“We are in a kind of climate emergency now,” Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research, told The Sydney Morning Herald in February. “This is really quite stunning” and “it’s completely unprecedented.”

El Niño is a naturally occurring warming phase across the span of the Pacific Ocean along the equator. It occurs fairly regularly, about every two to seven years, and is often followed by a La Niña cooling phase.

While some scientists were freaking out, others noted El Niño can cause huge temperature spikes, and that a strong La Niña could follow, meaning global temperatures could be driven downward — resuming the so-called “pause” in global warming.

It’s unclear exactly how far temperatures will fall, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is keeping an eye on the rapid cooling.

“Most models predict the end of El Niño and a brief period of ENSO-neutral by early Northern Hemisphere summer,” according to the agency. “The model consensus then calls for increasingly negative SST anomalies… as the summer and fall progress. However, there is clear uncertainty over the timing and intensity of a potential La Niña.”


This New Study Devastates Warmists

Two climate scientists skeptical of man-made global warming are closely watching a study they say could be a “death knell” to climate alarmism.

A major scientific study conducted at the University of Reading on the interactions between aerosols and clouds is much weaker than most climate models assume, meaning the planet could warm way less than predicted.

“Currently, details are few, but apparently the results of a major scientific study on the effects of anthropogenic aerosols on clouds are going to have large implications for climate change projections—substantially lowering future temperature rise expectations,” Cato Institute climate scientists Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger wrote in a recent blog post.

Michaels and Knappenberger, both self-described “lukewarmers,” cited a blog post by Reading scientist Dr. Nicolas Bellouin on the preliminary results of his extensive research into this rather vague area of climate science.

Bellouin wrote “there are reasons to expect that aerosol-cloud interactions are weaker than simulated by climate models – and perhaps even weaker than the preliminary… estimate.”

If Bellouin’s preliminary results hold (or are revised downward), that would mean there’s less of a cooling effect from human-created aerosols interacting with clouds, which morph clouds so they bounce incoming solar energy back into space.

“It may be that aerosol-cloud interactions are lost in the noise of natural variability in cloud properties, but for such a large perturbation, the impacts are surprisingly hard to isolate,” Bellouin wrote.

For decades, scientists assumed aerosols — mostly emitted from coal plants, shipping, car travel and other industrial sources — had a sizable cooling effect on the planet, but that might not be the case. More importantly, however, is the fact that if aerosols don’t have much of a cooling effect, the planet is not as sensitive to increases in greenhouse gas emissions. That means less warming.

“Less enhanced cloud cooling means that greenhouse gases have produced less warming than the climate models have determined,” Michaels and Knappenberger wrote.

“Another way to put it is that this new finding implies that the earth’s climate sensitivity—how much the earth’s surface will warm from a doubling of the pre-industrial atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration—is much below that of the average climate model (3.2°C) and near the low end of the IPCC’s 1.5°C to 4.5°C assessed range,” they added.

Michaels and Knappenberger are particularly interested in Bellouin’s work since it seems to support a study from last year by Bjorn Stevens, a scientist at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. It found aerosols had much less of a cooling effect on the planet than assumed by climate models.

Stevens’s study suggested “that aerosol radiative forcing is less negative and more certain than is commonly believed.”

Independent climate researcher Nick Lewis incorporated Stevens’s findings with his own on how much warming people could expect from doubling atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Lewis found the upper bound estimate of climate sensitivity is from 4.5 degrees to 1.8 degrees Celsius.

In layman’s terms, doubling atmospheric concentrations of CO2 from around 400 parts per million today to 800 ppm in the future would cause 4.5 degrees Celsius of warming, based on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate model data.

Incorporate the Max Planck study results, and warming would only be as high as 1.8 degrees Celsius — less than half of what IPCC originally predicted.

Of course, Michaels and Knappenberger’s theory is not accepted by everybody. Stevens himself challenged their suggestion that climate sensitivity was lower because aerosols had less of a cooling effect on the planet.

“As they stand, the results of this new study seem to confirm the results of an analysis published last year by Bjorn Stevens of the Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology which also showed a much smaller anthropogenic enhancement of the cooling property of clouds,” Michaels and Knappenberger wrote.

Stevens is entitled to his own opinion, not his own results. And now it seems his research is being supported by Bellouin’s work. With less aerosol cooling, climate models could be tweaked to predict less future warming.

“In the end, aerosol-cloud scientists reckon that it will come down to counting how often clouds happen to show strong sensitivity to aerosol perturbations,” Bellouin wrote. “Those discussions leave me with the feeling that such situations occur infrequently, and radiative forcing of aerosol-cloud interactions may need to be revised down to weaker values.”


India Denies It Will Ratify Paris Climate Deal This Year

While the U.S. side insisted that Mr. Modi and the President agreed that both countries would ratify the climate treaty within the current year — 2016 — Indian officials said this was not the case.

The joint statement leaves enough room to accommodate both interpretations. “India and the United States recognise the urgency of climate change and share the goal of enabling entry into force of the Paris Agreement as early as possible. The United States reaffirms its commitment to join the Agreement as soon as possible this year. India similarly has begun its processes to work toward this shared objective,” the statement said.


‘Environmental Justice’: Obama-Era Politics Override Rule of Law

In every Soviet-era military unit, the long shadow of totalitarian political control hung over day-to-day operations. A political commissar served alongside commanding military officers to ensure that communist purity was maintained.

We’re seeing the same political strong-arm in President Barack Obama’s executive agencies, particularly in the raw enforcement of so-called “environmental justice.”

Readers will recall Tom Clancy’s “The Hunt for Red October,” in which the political officer, aptly named Ivan Putin, carried a missile key on the nuclear sub. The commissars were not accountable to military commanders, only to the political directorates. Soviet soldiers and sailors who were judged to be politically deviant were subject to the harshest of penalties.

So why do we look back at that terrifying model of political control? During the seven and a half years of the Obama administration, the appointment of various “czars,” the steady flow of executive orders, and the explosive expansion of regulatory power far beyond the black and white letters of statutes passed by Congress have given rise to political commissar-style federal government enforcement.

This is anathema to constitutional separation of powers and checks and balances.

Born during the Clinton administration by executive order and mostly dormant during the Bush years, “environmental justice” has become an overarching political commissar-style ideological mandate in as many as 15 executive agencies, including and especially the Environmental Protection Agency.

Carefully crafted to avoid the appearance of being a “rulemaking,” which would subject the shadowy office in each agency to public, judicial and congressional review, the Obama-era “environmental justice” initiative nevertheless tracks, analyzes, and reviews regulations to ensure they are “environmentally just.” It also has a hand in issuing public tax dollars in the form of grants to all sorts of “community groups” and agenda-driven environmentalists to “educate” the public in the form of political protests and campaigns against private industry.

For decades, under the banner of “environmental justice,” the federal government has sought to expand its jurisdiction, control and influence.

In short, the limited statutory authority of executive agencies to do the work of regulating has been trumped by the political. Formal actions by agencies are increasingly judged through the political prism of the Orwellian “environmental justice” movement, now cloaked with government power.

For decades, under the banner of “environmental justice,” the federal government has sought to expand its jurisdiction, control, and influence. Through means largely exempt from any meaningful notice and comment procedures, the federal government grants itself unlimited power to determine whether a community will be adversely impacted by an environmental regulatory decision and to regulate actions related to that community.

In the most recent example, the Department of Interior’s 2016-20 Draft Environmental Justice Strategic Plan was, strangely, open for formal public comment. In May, Southeastern Legal Foundation filed a formal public comment to bring attention to several key infirmities in the proposed plan. In addition to bringing about transformative expansion to the Department of Interior’s regulatory authority without congressional authorization, the proposed plan directly conflicts with several existing federal laws.

Specifically, its focus on environmental “effects” on “minority, low-income, or tribal populations” is both narrower and broader than Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The statute bars disparate treatment, not disproportionate effects; protects all groups rather than only “minority populations;” and says nothing about “low-income or tribal populations.” The administration’s arbitrary enforcement of “environmental justice” makes the exact same conduct legal with regard to some Americans but not others.

According to the proposed plan, the Department of Interior intends on increasing its use of social outreach tools—the very same tools that the EPA used to conduct its grassroots lobbying campaign to support its expansive definition of “waters of the United States” that the Southeastern Legal Foundation is challenging in federal court. As it pushes environmental political correctness and seeks to expand its influence, the Department of Interior is quickly approaching the dangerous line between informing the public and lobbying the public.

Finally, the Department of Interior’s proposed plan is constitutionally problematic in that it proposes to protect some racial and ethnic groups, but not others—ostensibly denying the equal protection of laws.

Where’s the “justice” in that? The government’s reliance on race as its primary consideration for protecting one group over another from alleged environmental harms runs afoul of the Constitution and is subject to the strictest level of scrutiny. Stay tuned as “environmental justice” begins to receive critical legal and congressional examination.


Greens behind Sydney beach disaster

THESE are the pictures that have come back to haunt opponents to northern beaches sea defences. Hundreds of protesters can be seen lining up in 2002 to prevent the building of a mooted sea wall in Collaroy.

The same stretch in fact, where $20m of property could be bulldozed.

Emergency crews and volunteers are hastily trying to protect waterfront homes from collapsing with rocks and sandbags.

Last night more than 500 people worked to keep the sea at bay after foundations were undermined by a wild weekend of storms.

The sea wall was never built after the protests.  Residents have been evacuated and homes taken off the real estate market but it could all have been avoided.

Now the council is having to dip into emergency funding to build a wall, and the homeowners will also be asked to fork out.

The Line in the Sand rally was organised by Surfrider Foundation Northern beaches boss Brendan Donohoe who stood in front of crowds of anti-development and surf-loving activists telling them sea walls would “actively destroy” the beaches instead of protecting them.

The protest was backed by the growing greens movement at the time and successfully pressured the then Warringah Council to knock back the protective walls. “Sea walls do nothing to ensure the ongoing conservation of the beach in front of them,” Mr Donohoe told crowds.

Surfers also complained the sea wall would ruin their perfect waves.

The newly amalgamated Northern Beaches Council today refused to admit they had made a mistake by pandering to a few heated protesters but confirmed a wall would be built at any cost.

Further up Collaroy Beach developer Phil Franks “went broke” fighting Warringah Council to keep a seawall outside his old home that he believes saved it this week.

He built it in 1997 following a storm but it was unapproved, so council sought a court order for its demolition. He fought and won, with the Land and Environment Court dismissing the council’s application to have it demolished.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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 or here


No comments: