Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Asia’s rivers send more plastic into the ocean than all other continents combined

I have been making this point for a long time.  Plastic waste pollution in the ocean is huge in some places and it is invariably blamed by Greenies on the West.  But Western waste disposal is normally strict. Stupid individuals can and do throw empty drink bottles into rivers and the ocean but almost everything else goes into landfills  -- INCLUDING PLASTIC BAGS.

It is the third World where waste disposal is often slap-dash and it is they who originate most flotsam.  Cracking down in various ways on Western use of plastics is aiming at the wrong target and will therefore fail to achieve anything positive.  It satisfies Greenie hatred of their neighbours to claim that it is they who are behind the pollution but it does virtually no real good.  Bans on plastic bags, in particular, are mindless

Every year, millions of tonnes of plastics are produced and trashed, with some ending up in the sea, and gobbled up by tiny fish. Even though countries don’t report on how much plastic they are flushing, a recent study suggests that around 86% of the plastic running through rivers was coming from a single continent—Asia.

An estimated 1.15 to 2.41 million tonnes (1.27 to 2.66 million metric tons) of plastic waste enters rivers every year, around one-fifth of the total plastic in the sea from coastal populations worldwide, according to a study published in Nature on June 7. (Other plastic ends up in landfills which can also “leak” into the oceans.) The researchers from Ocean Cleanup, a Netherland-based foundation working to extract plastic from the sea, found that a majority of the inputs are from Asian countries like China, Indonesia, and Myanmar.

Seven of the top 20 rivers from all continents, which originate or pass through China’s major cities, are contributing around two thirds (67%) of plastic released through rivers into the oceans. The Yangtze River that runs through Shanghai, one of China’s most populous areas, tops the list, followed by Ganges, a trans-boundary river that runs through northern India and Bangladesh. Next is Xi River, the western tributary of the Pearl River, a major water source for the 100 million people residing in Guangdong Province, China’s most populous province.

The Dutch researchers found that the Yangtze river’s mouth, where the conduit meets the sea, had a plastic concentration of 4,137 particles per cubic meter—and contributed 20,000 tonnes (22,046 metric tons) of plastic every year to the oceans. In December, two ships dumped more than 100 tonnes (110 metric tons) of waste such as needles and plastic tubes into the Yangtze river.
Asia has contributed the most plastic pollution into the marine environment every year.

The study echoes earlier research on how plastic enters the ocean, says professor Daniel Hoornweg, an energy systems professor at University of Ontario Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the study. Ocean plastic levels depend on the amount of waste production, wind or rivers carrying plastic into the oceans, and the quality of urban waste collections.
Although Asia generates relatively little waste per person, especially compared to the consumer-oriented West, the total waste generated by the continent adds up.

China, for example, manufactured the most plastic products—around 74.7 metric tons—in 2015, according to the 2016 report by Plastics Europe, a trade association that tracks the plastics industry. It’s followed by 49.8 metric tons from Canada, Mexico, and the US combined. China began charging consumers (link in Chinese) for plastic usage in 2008 to fight against pollution. The country’s booming delivery industry, fueled by e-commerce, is often not recyclable. For example, last year delivery companies used 12 billion plastic bags (link in Chinese).



In a region rich with oil, gas and solar power, but very few coal resources, the surge in coal is surprising. Despite gas prices being low at the moment, coal is cheaper still.
The proposed 2.4 gigawatt coal fired power station in Hassyan is close to Dubai’s border with Abu Dhabi and around 60 kilometres south-west of central Dubai. Courtesy ACWA Power

The proposed 2.4 gigawatt coal fired power station in Hassyan is close to Dubai’s border with Abu Dhabi and around 60 kilometres south-west of central Dubai. Courtesy ACWA Power

Coal is so unpopular in the US that they can’t even give it away. The governor of mining heartland West Virginia is petitioning President Donald Trump for a $15 per tonne subsidy for burning his coal. But remarkably in the Middle East, a region with almost no coal of its own, the demand for the black fuel is on the up.

Dubai’s solar successes have made the headlines, but a different kind of electricity generation is rising at Hassyan, on the coast beyond the site for Expo 2020. In November, a consortium of Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power and China’s Harbin Electric began building a 2.4 gigawatt coal power plant on the site.

The UAE’s energy strategy states coal will account for 12 per cent of the total national electricity generation by 2050, which translates into about 11.2GW. Beyond Dubai, Federal Electricity and Water Authority (Fewa) has planned a 1.8GW plant in the northern emirates, but it is not clear where the additional 7GW is expected to come from.

Egypt has imported coal since 2014 for industrial use, and North Africa’s most populous nation is planning to build a number of large-scale coal-fired power plants with Chinese investors. Abu Dhabi-based Al Nowais Investments Group, in 2014, also signed a deal for a 1.32 GW coal-fired plant on the Gulf of Suez.

Iran, which witnessed a coal mine blast in Golestan province in May in which more than 20 miners died, is pushing ahead with planned coal power plants, mostly in the coal-rich area of Tabas in the east, with Chinese involvement. Turkey, which already generates more than 16GW of power through coal, plans to build additional plants.

Jordan, whose energy strategy targets 5 per cent of power generation through coal by 2025, last June signed a deal for a small coal-fired plant, while Oman is looking to build coal-fired plant at its new port development of Duqm.

In a region rich with oil, gas and solar power, but very few coal resources, this surge is surprising. Most coal-dependent regions are moving away from it: China burns more than half of the world’s coal but consumption has been falling since 2013 as the country tries to clean up its skies. Cheap gas, solar and wind power are crushing coal in the US, while environmental regulations and low-priced gas imports are pushing it out of Europe as well. Even India is cancelling plans for giant new coal plants in favour of renewable energy.

The Middle Eastern countries that are looking at coal are trying to diversify their fuel mix, and to reduce vulnerability to economic or supply shocks. Gas is cheap at the moment but its price is volatile, and states such as Dubai, Egypt and Turkey do not want to be too import-dependent. For Dubai, which attracted a very competitive bid from Acwa and Harbin, coal is a key part of strengthening its negotiating position with other suppliers. Iran and Turkey are trying to maximise the use of their domestic coal, and for Turkey, reliance on rivals Iran and Russia for two-thirds of its gas is dangerous.

Despite gas prices being low at the moment, coal is cheaper still — at least once the required import facilities are constructed. Chinese power and engineering companies, looking for other markets, are offering their expertise and low-cost financing.

Most of these plants will be built with modern pollution controls, that trap sulphur dioxide, particulates, mercury and other toxic and acidic emissions. But they will still produce large quantities of carbon dioxide, the main factor responsible for global warming, working against the region’s efforts to cut emissions with solar and nuclear power and more efficient energy use. Some of the plants are intended to be “capture-ready”, that is to be able to trap carbon dioxide and dispose of it safely underground, but none plans to use carbon capture from the outset.


Harvard Physicist: “Climate Science In Serious Trouble”…”Really Dirty People Doing Bad Stuff”

In a presentation (see below) Harvard astrophysicist Willie Soon came out blasting with both barrels at the corruption in climate science.

He started by saying that any respectable scientist would say that the American National Academy of Science (NAS) is “100 percent corrupt” and the climate scientists who put up the content at the NAS  are “really dangerous”, likening their solution for global warming to amputating a patient’s arms and legs in order to cure his headache.

Soon says that there’s too much political activism in science and blasts global warming scientists’ refusal to debate the subject in public and compared global warming science to a religion, dubbing it “Scientism”. The public he says, is being confused by “political interference” in the science.

The distinguished Harvard professor criticizes the hostile language used by global warming activists, which he feels played a role in the offices of 2 distinguished climate science skeptic professors being fired at with live munition. He presents a series of slides dibbed: “Science is in serious trouble.”

Soon believes that alarmist climate scientist Michael Mann is delusional as he seems to fancy himself to be someone who is rescuing the planet. Overall Soon paints a picture of scientists who have gone completely amok and are totally disconnected from reality, citing an IPCC request that the world pay 535 TRILLION DOLLARS for the carbon sin and NASA’s Gavin Schmidt claim that man is now driving the climate more than 100%.

The list of things that are alleged to be caused by global warming and CO2 is reaching absurd dimensions, Soon shows, e.g. more muddy pet paws, birds singing differently.

One problem that Soon elaborates is that of scientific “censorship and bullying”, and that it is rampant. Inside climate alarmists constantly collude to shut out other opinions and to smear the reputations of scientists who do not agree. Soon openly says that they are “really dirty people, doing bad stuff”.

At the 33-minute mark, Soon presents a chart showing how global warming scientists, having been frustrated by the skeptic scientists, discussed revamping the peer-review process in order to keep skeptic papers from being published. He mentions how Prof. Phil Jones became so desperate with the fear of being exposed that he “contemplated suicide”.

Soon shows how the American Geophysical Union Conference blocked out scientists who had different viewpoints. The censorship was so blatant that Soon dropped his membership. The Harvard astrophysicist is so feared and hated by the global warming alarmism community that he is forced to seek out private funding. One journal, he says, even employed the “yellow star” to designate Soon as a scientist to be wary of, a tactic Soon says is “really Nazi territory”.

On his nemesis Michael Mann, the author of the now debunked and disgraced hockey stick chart paper, Soon calls him a “sad guy”, who even equates himself to a Holocaust survivor, and a scientist who avoids the science and focusses more on personal attacks.


The hidden costs of renewable power

One of the less well-kept secrets in the renewables industry is the reason why funds that invest in these energy technologies can get away with offering such slender returns to their investors.

Take Greencoat or The Renewable Infrastructure Fund, which between them own more than £2bn of renewable assets in the UK. These entities aim to offer returns of some 6 to 8 per cent to their backers. Compare that to conventional thermal-powered generators such as US-based Calpine, a listed group that achieved long-term average annual returns of 15 per cent.

The answer is to be found in the government-backed contracts that assure renewable generators a market for any power they can produce at a guaranteed price.

By taking away the market risk that any megawatt hours (MWh) produced by a wind turbine or solar panel cannot find a buyer, or might be unloaded at uncertain prices, the state enables owners to raise capital on enviably fine terms. Far from selling to flinty-eyed power investors, they can flog their wares to herbivorous pension funds, which view their shares as something close to high-yielding gilt-edged securities.

And why not, you might say? Having set targets for decarbonisation, why not use government guarantees as a “costless” way to help meet them? As a renewables boss of my acquaintance put it to me when I asked him this question: “Isn’t it in everyone’s interest that these assets get built as cheaply as we can?”

Well, up to a point. Of course, no one might mind if this were simply some sort of state-backed confidence trick, inducing investors to fund technologies that, while novel, would fit seamlessly into the system, getting cheaper and more efficient, and ultimately providing a similar service to the assets they displaced.

But what if these state-backed transactions involved hidden extra transfers of wealth from the consumer to renewable generation technologies, and, worse, led to an underlying build-up of costs in the system as a whole?

It is not in dispute that wind and solar impose additional expenses on the network. These range from the need to constrain excess production when the wind is blowing harder than expected (£82m paid to wind farms in 2016), or the sun suddenly appears (and vice versa when the opposite is the case), to having excess generation in the wrong part of the country, far from the sources of demand. They may require the system operator to pay certain wind farms not to produce, or gas-powered stations either to shut down or power up for a time, to balance the system. Either way, they place costs on the consumer which are socialised, meaning there is no incentive for the renewables participants to suppress the additional expenses their activities entail.

A key question then is how big this cost is. A recent report by the UK Energy Research Centre, which tends to take a favourable view of renewables, suggested that it would amount to £10/MWh even if solar and wind production doubled from today. That’s not trivial when you consider that in 2016, the average wholesale market value of wind output was £38.50/MWh.

But research by Gordon Hughes, a former professor of economics at Edinburgh university who is more sceptical, paints a much gloomier picture. He estimates the actual costs now amount to £22/MWh on average, which implies that the power for which the wholesale energy market paid £38.50/MWh was actually worth only £16.50 to it. Worse, he thinks the balancing costs will magnify as renewables become a bigger chunk of the system, rising perhaps to £80/MWh for “substantial periods of each year within 10 years”. In effect, that is a very substantial hidden subsidy for those technologies, on top of the overt ones they already receive.

Of course, this may be too pessimistic. Some think balancing costs are tumbling fast as we get better at predicting the weather, and the industry is already siting renewables facilities more cleverly so that the wind or sun in location A naturally balances its absence in location B.

That may be so. But a sensible mechanism would in any event put more of the balancing costs directly on those who cause them. Rather than giving renewables operators a free option to sell whatever they produce, it would oblige them to bid to deliver specific quantities of power at certain times of day, with penalties either way if they over- or under-delivered. That, after all, is what thermal generators do.

Such reform might reveal something closer to the true cost of delivering renewable megawatt hours, while giving wind and solar farms incentives not to generate additional system expenses. It would also force renewables operators to justify more fully the low capital costs they enjoy.


The Trump administration just disbanded a federal advisory committee on climate change

By Juliet Eilperin, a Green/Left stalwart

President Trump speaks about the U.S. role in the Paris climate change accord in the Rose Garden of the White House in June. (AP)
The Trump administration has decided to disband the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment, a group aimed at helping policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the government’s climate analysis into long-term planning.

The charter for the 15-person Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment — which includes academics as well as local officials and corporate representatives — expires Sunday. On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s acting administrator, Ben Friedman, informed the committee’s chair that the agency would not renew the panel.

The National Climate Assessment is supposed to be issued every four years but has come out only three times since passage of the 1990 law calling for such analysis. The next one, due for release in 2018, already has become a contentious issue for the Trump administration.

Administration officials are currently reviewing a scientific report that is key to the final document. Known as the Climate Science Special Report, it was produced by scientists from 13 different federal agencies and estimates that human activities were responsible for an increase in global temperatures of 1.1 to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit from 1951 to 2010.

The committee was established to help translate findings from the National Climate Assessment into concrete guidance for both public and private-sector officials. Its members have been writing a report to inform federal officials on the data sets and approaches that would best be included, and chair Richard Moss said in an interview Saturday that ending the group’s work was shortsighted.

“It doesn’t seem to be the best course of action,” said Moss, an adjunct professor in the University of Maryland’s Department of Geographical Sciences, and he warned of consequences for the decisions that state and local authorities must make on a range of issues from building road projects to maintaining adequate hydropower supplies. “We’re going to be running huge risks here and possibly end up hurting the next generation’s economic prospects.”

But NOAA communications director Julie Roberts said in an email Saturday that “this action does not impact the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which remains a key priority.”

While many state and local officials have pressed the federal government for more concrete guidance on how to factor climate change into future infrastructure, President Trump has moved in the opposite direction.

Last week, the president signed an executive order on infrastructure that included language overturning a federal requirement that projects built in coastal floodplains and receiving federal aid take projected sea-level rise into account. Some groups, such as the National Association of Home Builders, hailed the reversal of that standard from the Obama administration on the grounds that stricter flood requirements would raise the cost of development and “could make many projects infeasible.”

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (D) said in an interview Saturday that the move to dissolve the climate advisory committee represents “an example of the president not leading, and the president stepping away from reality.” An official from Seattle Public Utilities has been serving on the panel; with its disbanding, Murray said it would now be “more difficult” for cities to participate in the climate assessment. On climate change, Trump “has left us all individually to figure it out.”

Richard Wright, the past chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Committee on Adaptation to a Changing Climate, has been working with the federal advisory panel to convey the importance of detailed climate projections in next year’s assessment. The society establishes guidelines that form the basis of building codes across the country, and these are based on a historical record that may no longer be an accurate predictor of future weather extremes.

“We need to work on updating our standards with good estimates on what future weather and climate extremes will be,” Wright said Saturday. “I think it’s going to be a serious handicap for us that the advisory committee is not functional.”

The committee was established in 2015, but its members were not appointed until last summer. They convened their first meeting in the fall. Moss said members of the group intend to keep working on their report, which is due out next spring, even though it now will lack the official imprimatur of the federal government. “It won’t have the same weight as if we were issuing it as a federal advisory committee,” he said.

Other Trump Cabinet officials have either altered the makeup of outside advisory boards or suspended these panels in recent months, though they have not abolished the groups outright. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt decided to replace dozens of members on one of the agency’s key scientific review boards, while Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is “reviewing the charter and charge” of more than 200 advisory boards for his department.




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


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