Tuesday, June 07, 2016
Tom Harris talks to a Canadian Leftist politician
Summary of June 4, 2016 discussion with Catherine McKenna, MP, Canada’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
Following Minister McKenna’s 13-minute presentation at the climate change town hall chaired by Anita Vandenbeld, Liberal Member of Parliament for Ottawa West-Nepean, there was no question period, so I spoke with the Minister in the hall for about 5 minutes. Here is what transpired:
I identified myself and gave her three things:
1 – a hard copy of the full 993-page 2013 report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), "Climate Change Reconsidered-II – Physical Science" which can be downloaded by clicking on the "CCR-2013" tab, at http://climatechangereconsidered.org/.
2 – a hard copy of the 25-page "Summary for Policymakers" of the above document, which can be downloaded at https://www.heartland.org/…/CC…/Summary-for-Policymakers.pdf.
3 - a hard copy of the 20-page "Summary for Policymakers" of the 2014 report of the NIPCC, "Climate Change Reconsidered II – Biological Impacts", which can be downloaded at https://www.heartland.org/…/CC…/Summary-for-Policymakers.pdf.
I explained to Minister McKenna that the first small document (#2 above) summarized the findings of the large 993-page document (#1 above). I also told the Minister that a similarly large report on biological impacts was summarized by the third document above.
As the Minister had no staff with her (as far as I could see), she accepted all three documents personally from me.
Showing her some of the many references from leading experts published in peer reviewed science journals in the first large document above, I explained to Ms. McKenna that many climate scientists do not support the view that humanity’s carbon dioxide emissions are known to cause climate problems. I told her that these researchers are not funded by the oil industry but, indeed, are leading independent experts. There are many scientists who say that we simply do not know the future of climate change, I explained to Minister McKenna.
Minister McKenna replied that she relied on the climate science experts in Environment Canada to advise her.
Yes, I replied, I understood that, but I told her that there are many climate science experts who disagree with what she is apparently being told. I told the Minister that, due to the vast uncertainty in the field, it is important to not be absolute (as she had been in her talk) about future climate change causes and impacts.
Ms. McKenna said that the consensus of leading experts agree with what she had said in her talk (or words to that effect; our discussion was not recorded).
I explained that there is no known consensus about the only issue that matters from a public policy perspective, namely, ‘are our carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions likely to cause dangerous climate change in the foreseeable future.’ I explained that the best approach was to focus on adaptation and a ‘no regrets’ strategy to reduce real pollution and save energy.
As there were other people waiting to speak to the Minister, she did not reply to this point and said she had to speak to others now.
The impression I got is that that Minister genuinely believes that the science concerning the causes and future of climate change is settled. It appeared that she has not been exposed to alternative point of view on this issue at all. In particular, Ms. McKenna did not seem to be aware of the reports above and did not know who I was or who the International Climate Science Coalition is.
It is clear that her advisors are not giving her the balance she needs to handle this file properly. Hopefully, she will look at the documents I gave her today and ask her advisers why they have not been brought to her attention previously.
If I have missed anything out in the above report, or misrepresented anything she or I said, I ask Ms. McKenna to make a post giving this information.
Wind turbine boss admits no more should be built in England because it isn't windy enough
The chief executive of the UK's top wind industry trade body has admitted that more turbine projects in England aren't viable - because it isn't windy enough.
Hugh McNeal, of RenewableUK, made the astonishing admission but did say that projects should still take place in other parts of the UK.
Mr McNeal said that new projects were 'very unlikely' apart from those which have received subsidies and are waiting for construction.
He said: 'We are almost certainly not talking about the possibility of new plants in England. The project economics wouldn’t work; the wind speeds don’t allow for it.'
The Conservative government has already implemented its pledge to end wind farm subsidies, and Mr McNeal said its his job to convince people that wind energy is still the cheapest form of new energy generation.
Government research suggests that there is still 425 megawatts of capacity in England in the turbine planning system, but this is far less than in Scotland, reported The Telegraph.
The Conservatives have ended the controversial system of offering subsidies for landowners who agree to have a turbine built on their land.
The chief executive of ScottishPower Renewables, Keith Anderson, said that he believed a solution could be removing small old turbines to replace them with more powerful ones.
The director of policy and research at the Renewable Energy Foundation, John Constable, said: 'There has to be grid expansion to remove bottlenecks, short-term response plant and/or demand, and the cost of operating a conventional fleet of almost unchanged size to guarantee security of supply.'
There are 4,000 onshore wind turbines already powering 4million homes, with another 3,000 granted planning permission.
The Sun & Clouds
The UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), and its followers such as the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) largely ignore Svensmark’s hypothesis that incoming high-energy cosmic rays, modulated by the sun, influence global climate by changing cloudiness.
When the sun is active, the envelope of high-energy charged particles making up the solar wind (the heliosphere) expands in the solar system, reducing the high-energy cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere. Cloudiness decreases, resulting in warmer weather. When the sun is dormant, the heliosphere contracts, increasing the high-energy cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere. Cloudiness increases, resulting in cooler weather.
According to reports, the major rationale for the IPCC, and others, for ignoring Svensmark’s hypothesis was that the forming of cloud droplets, thus clouds, required sulfur dioxide produced by human emissions and by volcanoes. Thus, according to the IPCC, until the industrial revolution, Svensmark’s hypothesis did not apply to climate change; but, in its recent analysis, the IPCC does not consider climate change until after the industrial revolution.
The rationale is strange for several reasons. One, contemporary 16th and 17th European records and paintings (such as those by Pieter Brueghel) show the Little Ice Age was cold and cloudy.
Earlier, using tricks such as Mr. Mann’s hockey-stick in 2001, the IPCC has tried to dismiss the Little Ice Age as a local phenomenon, but evidence is compiling that it was global.
Two, the reports of the IPCC asserting the dominant influence of carbon dioxide (CO2) focus on the period after the industrial revolution, particularly, the period after 1950. During this period there were significant human emissions of sulfur dioxide. The global climate models used by the IPCC consider that sulfur dioxide has a significant cooling effect (independent of cloudiness), partially off-setting the calculated warming effect of CO2 (and other greenhouse gases). Thus, it appears that the IPCC, and its followers, only consider sulfur dioxide when it is convenient for their assertions – a strange approach to empirical science.
Researchers at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, performed experiments under the CLOUD program supporting Svensmark’s hypothesis. Now they have performed experiments showing that sulfur dioxide emissions from humans or volcanoes are not needed for water droplets to form – organic vapors emitted emissions from trees, and other vegetation, is sufficient to seed the formation of clouds. The observations that pure organic nucleation of water droplets to form clouds are supported by observations at the Jungfraujoch observatory as well.
Interestingly, to some, the highly oxygenated molecules are known as the "aroma of the trees." It will be interesting to see how the IPCC and others in the Climate Establishment react to these experiments and observations
What New Scientist wouldn't print
A couple of weeks back, New Scientist published an article trying to up the ante on climate sensitivity.
"One headline-making 2013 study had concluded that the immediate warming that would result froma doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere would be around 1.3°C - significantly less than most previous estimates. But this was before global temperatures shot past 1°C above pre-industrial levels last year, as predicted by New Scientist in July 2015. If the 2013 study was repeated using that value, it would give an estimate for the immediate warming of 1.6°C, says Piers Forster..."
It also claimed that Forster and Lewis's 2013 paper had got its estimates of aerosol forcing wrong:
"[Other studies] suggested that Forster's team underestimated how much warming has been masked by the cooling effect of other pollutants, such as sulphur aerosols, that we pump out alongside CO2"
Quite why anyone would want to estimate TCR from a single year's temperature figure is anyone's guess. This observation prompted Nic Lewis to write a letter to the editor, which, needless to say, has not been published. So you can read it here.
Letter to the Editor concerning New Scientist article in the 28 May 2016 issue, Vol 230, No 3075, page 8: 'Earth's sensitive side':
The claim in your 28 May article 'Earth's sensitive side' that the strong warming over the last few years means we can now rule out low estimates of climate sensitivity is wrong. You quote Piers Forster, a co-author (along with myself) of one 2013 study that concluded near-term warming from a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere would only be around 1.3°C. I have also been sole or lead author of three different studies published since then, all of which support that conclusion. One of those studies used the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2014 assessment report's estimates for the effects on the Earth's radiation balance of both warming agents such as CO2 and of cooling agents such as sulphur aerosols. I have extended these estimates to 2015 and recomputed the warming from a doubling of CO2. It is unchanged at 1.3 °C, averaging over 1995-2015 data. It remains 1.3 °C when using data just for the last ten, or five, years. Use of a shorter period gives a less reliable estimate; using a single year's temperature is unsound.
The suggestion that the team Forster and I were part of underestimated how much warming had been masked by the cooling effects of sulphur aerosols and other pollutants is mistaken. Our team's method is unaffected by the arguments on this point raised by the Shindell and Schmidt team studies referred to. The latter study anyway contained several errors. The corrected version fixed two of the errors I had pointed out, and shows that near term warming from a doubling of CO2 is correctly estimated from the historical mix of warming and cooling agents, including sulphur aerosols. Moreover, the findings by the Storelvmo team relied on a relationship existing between solar radiation at the surface and sulphur emissions, but over their full data period that relationship is statistically insignificant. Furthermore, two recent studies (Stevens 2015 and Kirkby et al. 2016) conclude that sulphur aerosols have had less effect on radiation than previously thought, implying that estimates of the warming from a doubling of CO2 are actually too high.
No. The electric car won't save the planet
In response to consumer interest, automobile companies have finally adopted the electric vehicle (EV), led by Tesla Motors and founder Elon Musk, cult hero for technology-inspired optimism.
We don’t have another decade to squander on false promises, so we may reasonably ask: Will EVs slow carbon emissions, and by how much? The public may simply assume the best, but a genuine answer requires rigorous investigation, calculation, and analysis. Smart scientists observe the principle to "beware congenial conclusions." Nature is not sentimental and will not reward us for good intentions.
As we investigate this analysis, we will find that genuine solutions exist, although they may not be the simple solutions we hope for.
To know if electric vehicles will save carbon emissions, and how significantly, we must first understand "embodied energy." Every product sold — a cup of coffee, solar panel, or automobile — requires energy to produce and deliver. This embodied energy includes mining, shipping, and processing raw materials, and assembly and shipping of the product. Currently, most of this energy comes from hydrocarbon fuels. There are no copper mines, steel mills, or container ships run on windmills or solar panels.
Typically, the embodied energy of any vehicle accounts for 20 to 40 per cent of its lifetime emissions. Hybrids and and electric vehicles tend toward the high end of this range because they are complex machines. Electric trains, per passenger-kilometer, carry significantly less embodied energy, and a steel frame bicycle, of course, carries orders of magnitude less.
A kilogram of steel produces about 15 kilograms of CO2 in the atmosphere. A kilogram of plastics, rubber, or copper produces three-times the emissions, about 40 to 50 kilograms of CO2. An electric-powered Tesla Model S, at about 2240 kilograms of steel, plastics, metals, and rubber produces the CO2 equivalent of about 60,000 kilometers of driving a conventional vehicle before it is purchased. This amounts to three to four years of typical driving and fossil fuel burning, the embodied carbon emissions in the electric vehicle.
The necessary calculation does not stop there. The electric car industry requires mining for nickel, bauxite, copper, rare earth metals, lithium, graphite, cobalt, polymers, adhesives, metallic coatings, paint, and lubricants. These materials carry a large embodied CO2 cost, and leave a trail of pollution.
Tesla’s current planned production will require some 30,000 tonnes of graphite per year for the batteries alone, requiring six new graphite mines somewhere on Earth. EVs need cobalt, and the leading supplier of cobalt is war-torn Congo, where the mining industry has a legacy of carbon emissions, pollution, habitat destruction, and civil rights violations. Tesla’s lithium demand for batteries will require 25,000 tonnes a year, increasing global lithium mining by 50 per cent, using water resources and typically leaving behind toxic chlorine sludge.
Lithium mining and water fraud inspired the green-washing villain in the 2008 James Bond film, "Quantum Of Solace," in which a Bolivian community’s wells go dry. In Chile and Bolivia, this story is shockingly real. The Aymara indigenous people blame lithium miners for confiscating land and polluting water with chlorine. Saul Villegas, head of the lithium division in Comibol, Bolivia insists,"The previous imperialist model of exploitation of our natural resources will never be repeated in Bolivia." Villegas is attempting to limit lithium mining to a pace that avoids ecological and social disruption, but electric vehicle and mining corporations are applying pressure. "The prize is clearly in Bolivia," observes Oji Baba, from Mitsubishi. "If we want to be a force in the next wave of automobiles and the batteries that power them, we must be here."
Chile faces similar pressure. "Like any mining process," said Guillen Mo Gonzalez, leader of a Chilean lithium delegation, "it is invasive, it scars the landscape, it destroys the water table, and pollutes the earth and the local wells. This isn't a green solution. It’s not a solution at all."
At Stanford University, in 2010, physics student Eric Eason, determined that known lithium reserves, some 10 billion kilograms, could supply the batteries for about four billion electric vehicles. However, not all of this reserve is recoverable, and current production is used for phones, computers, camcorders, cameras, satellites, construction, pharmaceuticals, ceramics, and glass. Since the demand for lithium is growing in all sectors, including Tesla’s plans for car batteries and household battery units, we might assume a quarter of the world reserve, a massive mining and processing project, could supply perhaps one billion electric vehicles. This could replace the global vehicle fleet, but only once. Eason concluded that converting the world’s fleet to electric vehicles ".. seems like an unsustainable prospect." Of course, there may be options that don’t use lithium, but every industrial approach that increases resource consumption faces limits and carries the costs of carbon emissions, pollution, land use, and social impact.
These challenges do not imply that there are no solutions to global warming, only that we must be rigorous in finding solutions that preserve human dignity and ecological integrity.
The impact of electricity
We know that over its lifetime, an all-electric vehicle can save some hydrocarbon fuel, but how much? Electricity generation accounts for about a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Most electricity (67%) is produced by coal and natural gas; 20 percent by nuclear, another carbon hog; while renewables — hydroelectric dams, wind, and solar — account for about 13% of electricity. We can make this renewable portion grow, but we must remember that even renewable technologies have social and land-use impacts, and they carry an embodied carbon cost from mining, steel production, cement, manufacturing, shipping, and decommissioning.
According to the 2010 paper "Energy Chain Analysis of Passenger Car" by Morten Simonsen and Hans Jakob Walnum, at the Western Norway Research Institute, "there is no substantial mitigation offered by alternative fuels and drivetrains" with the exception of purely electric vehicles powered by electricity from 100% low-carbon renewables. Morten and Walnum acknowledge that "electricity from 100% hydro-electric sources… is not currently applicable"
In some regions — Norway and Canada, for example — hydropower makes up a large share of electricity generation, and in those regions, purely electric vehicles, over their lifetime, can save carbon emissions. However, there is more to the calculation. The Morten-Walnum study does not account for land use changes, water flow disruption, habitat destruction, and the social impacts from hydroelectric dams.
In British Columbia, we feel fortunate to have a plentiful supply of hydroelectric power, producing considerably less carbon emissions than coal-fired electric plants. However, we also experience the impact of dams on local rivers, salmon runs, agricultural land, wilderness, and rural communities.
A decade ago, some environmental groups in western Canada supported "micro-hydro" plants on wild rivers, describing these projects as "green power" necessary to supply electricity to fuel the conversion to electric vehicles. However, the micro-hydro plants involved a privatization scheme, handing over wild public rivers to private corporations. These companies laid pipes through sensitive watersheds, destroyed fish habitat, strung power lines through pristine forests, and negotiated purchase guarantees from the province that undermined public hydroelectricity.
Some of these projects were stopped by grassroots action, but today, in the northeast corner of British Columbia, the provincial and federal governments have proposed a large dam in the Peace River Valley, again selling this as "green energy." Indigenous communities live, hunt, fish, and farm in this valley, where the 60 meter high dam would flood 100 kilometers of river, wildlife corridors, agricultural land, people’s homes, and old growth boreal forests that serve as carbon sinks.
With global population growing at about 1.1 per cent per year, resource consumption, waste, and land use impacts are growing at about 3.5 per cent per year, doubling every 20 years. That growth swallows up most of our ecological progress. Over a generation, for example, we gain 30 per cent efficiency in building energy use, but triple the floor space we need to heat, cool, and light.
Since 1946, the world's vehicle fleet has grown by 4.2 per cent per year, doubling every 16.5 years. At that rate, we’ll be looking for steel, plastic and lithium for two billion vehicles by 2032 and for four billion vehicles by 2050. Electric vehicles now comprise 1/20 of 1 per cent of that fleet, but even if we could change that to 75 per cent by 2050, we would deplete the world’s lithium supply and still have a billion gasoline vehicles, the same number we have today.
How the West got healthy and prosperous
Vital ingredients included the scientific method and fossil fuels – truths we forget at our peril
Several years ago, physician, statistician, sword swallower and vibrant lecturer Hans Rosling produced a fascinating 4-minute video that presented 120,000 data points and showcased how mostly western nations became healthy and prosperous in just 200 years – after countless millennia of malnutrition, disease, wretched poverty and early death.
More recently, professor of history and economics Deidre McCloskey provided some clues as to why and how this happened. In a Wall Street Journal article outlining "how the West (and the rest) got rich," she notes that it wasn’t just Karl Marx’s "exploited workers" or Adam Smith’s "virtuously saved capital, nor was it only Hernando DeSoto and Douglas North’s essential property rights and other legal institutions.
Perhaps the most vital ingredient was that over those two centuries "ideas started having sex," as author Matt Ridley described the process in The Rational Optimist. It enabled innovators to make discoveries and devise technological wonders, often through coincidental Connections that historian James Burke found among seemingly unrelated earlier inventions, to bring us television, computers and other marvels.
Why did ideas suddenly start having sex? McCloskey asks. One reason was the printing press, which enabled more people to read and share ideas. However, she cites two other principal developments: liberty and equality. Liberated people are ingenious, she observes – free to pursue happiness, and ideas; free to try and fail, and try again; free to pursue their own self-interests, and thereby better mankind.
Equality of social dignity and before the law emboldened people to invest, invent and take risks. Once accidents of parentage, titles, inherited wealth or formal education no longer controlled destinies or opportunities, the innate inspiration, perspiration and perseverance of a Franklin, Bell, Edison, Wright, Kettering, Steinmetz, Ford, Benz, Borlaug and countless others could be unleashed.
"Supposedly inferior races and classes and ethnicities proved not to be so," McCloskey says. "Ordinary men and women didn’t need to be directed from above and, when honored and left alone, became immensely creative." That’s an important message in the splendid British television series Downton Abbey, as well: when societal restrictions are relaxed, many can rise to new callings and heights.
Many other factors played key roles in this incredible progress. Two are especially important.
The scientific method begins with an hypothesis about how some component of the natural world works, and a calculation or forecast of what would happen if the concept is correct. Scientists then subject the hypothesis and prediction to experiment. If confirmed by data and observations, we have a new theory or law of nature; if not, the hypothesis is wrong.
This process brought wondrous advances – often through long, laborious tinkering and testing, and often amid heated, acrimonious debate about which hypothesis was correct (the miasma or germ theory of disease), which system was better (direct or alternating current), and countless other investigations.
Abundant, reliable, affordable energy – the vast majority of it fossil fuels – made all this and much more possible. It carried us from human and animal muscle, wood, dung and water wheels, to densely packed energy that could reliably power factories, laboratories, schools, hospitals, homes and offices. Those fuels also run equipment that removes harmful pollutants from our air and water, and they ended our unsustainable reliance on whale oil, saving those magnificent mammals from extinction.
Today, coal, oil and natural gas still provide 80% of America’s and the world’s energy, for transportation, communication, refrigeration, heat, lights, manufacturing, entertainment and every other component of modern life. Together, the scientific method and industrial-grade energy enable our Ultimate Resource – the human mind – to create more new ideas, institutions and technologies that make life for poor people in wealthier countries better, healthier, fuller and longer than even royalty enjoyed a mere century ago.
Medical research discovered why people died from wounds; the true causes of malaria, smallpox, cholera and other diseases; antibiotics, vaccinations, insecticides and pharmaceuticals to combat disease and improve our overall well-being; anesthesia and surgical techniques that permit life-saving operations and organ transplants; sanitation (toilets, soap, trash removal) and water purification; and countless other advances that raised the average American’s life expectancy from 46 in 1900 to 76 today for men and 81 for women.
Internal combustion engines replaced horses for plows and transportation, and rid city streets of manure, urine and carcasses, while creating new problems that later generations toiled to address. Today we can travel the world in hours and ship produce, clothing and other products to the globe’s farthest corners.
Mechanized agriculture – coupled with modern fertilizers, hybrid and GMO seeds, drip irrigation and other advances – produce bumper crops that feed billions, using less land, water and insecticides.
Houses and other buildings are built better and stronger, to keep out the cold and heat and disease-carrying insects, better survive hurricanes and earthquakes, and connect their inhabitants with entertainment and information centers from all over the planet, and beyond.
Modern mining techniques and technologies find, extract and process the incredible variety of metals and other raw materials required to make the mechanized equipment and factories required to produce the energy we need and grow or make everything we eat, wear or use.
If energy is the Master Resource that makes all of this possible, electricity is the king of modern energy. Imagine your life without electricity – generated by coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, wind or solar facilities, or batteries. Imagine life before electricity, or before the internet and cell phones put the fullness of human knowledge and entertainment instantly in the palm of your hand.
At least one more factor helped to unleash this sudden surge of invention, progress, health and prosperity. A relatively new legal entity, the corporation, organized, harnessed and directed people, money and other resources toward common purposes. A growing private sector – free enterprises and entrepreneurs – put corporate and other ideas, labor and investors’ money on the line, assisted by evolving financial and investment systems and practices, while legal and government institutions provided the ethical and regulatory frameworks within which these entities are expected to operate.
Numerous "invisible hands" worked together across continents and oceans, often without even knowing their counterparts exist, to bring us products as simple as a pencil or as complex as a cell phone.
So we are left with a profound question. Amid all this health, prosperity and longevity for so many – why do so many still struggle on the edge of survival? Why do two billion still have minimal electricity and another 1.3 people still have none at all? Why do two billion still exist on $3 per day? Why do a half-million still die every year from malaria? five million more from respiratory and intestinal diseases?
The formula for health and prosperity is no secret. It is readily available on your cell phone. Indeed, says Leon Louw, the real "economic miracle" today is not found in South Korea, Singapore or Botswana – but in North Korea, Venezuela and most of Africa.
What should fascinate us is the miracle of poverty – the way inept, corrupt, greedy, centrally planned, hyper-regulated governments have prevented prosperity from happening. What should outrage us is that callous UN bodies, NGOs and activists have imposed their eco-imperialist agendas, and prevented countries from acquiring the property rights and technologies that made so many nations healthy and rich.
What should concern us is that many forces are conspiring to roll back the free enterprise, free speech, scientific method, and reliable, affordable energy that make modern living standards possible. Having them now does not guarantee them tomorrow. Failure to safeguard these essential foundations could take us on the path to joining the ranks of the "miracles of poverty" and FRCs: Formerly Rich Countries.
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
Posted by JR at 12:24 AM