Wednesday, January 31, 2018

‘Climate change may hit farm income’in India

The unfortunate Indians have been sold a pup.  Global warming would produce MORE rainfall, meaning LESS need for irrigation

The Economic Survey 2017-18, said farmer income losses from climate change could be between 15% and 18% on an average, rising to anywhere between 20%-25% in unirrigated areas of the country.

“Applying IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)-predicted temperatures and projecting India’s recent trends in precipitation, and assuming no policy responses, give rise to estimates for farm income losses of 15% to 18% on average, rising to 20%-25% for unirrigated areas,” pointed out the Survey, adding that at current levels of farm income, that translates into more than Rs. 3,600 per year for the median farm household.

“[The] Prime Minister’s goal of doubling farmers’ incomes — increasingly runs up against the contemporary realities of Indian agriculture, and the harsher prospects of its vulnerability to long-term climate change,” pointed out the Survey, adding that India needed to expand irrigation – and do so against a backdrop of rising water scarcity and depleting groundwater resources.

“In the 1960s, less than 20% of agriculture was irrigated, now this number is in the mid-40s. The Indo-Gangetic plain, and parts of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are well irrigated. But parts of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are still extremely vulnerable to climate change on account of not being well irrigated,” said the Survey.


New Paper: Declining Caribou Numbers Linked To Arctic COOLING

In a new paper (Mallory et al., 2018), scientists have again concluded that the Arctic warms in response to a positive Arctic Oscillation (AO) and cools in response to a negative AO, precluding a deterministic role for anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

The authors point out that the Canadian Arctic has undergone an overall cooling trend since the late 1990s, or as the AO has pivoted from a positive (1988-1996, warming) to negative (1997-2016) stage.

Unfortunately, the recent (1990s-present) cooling trend has not been beneficial for the caribou populations native to this region.

Cooler temperatures mean less vegetation is available for foraging, and hence the body condition of the herds deteriorates and broad declines in population intensify.  Alternatively, a warming Arctic climate means more food sources are available for caribou herds, leading to better body condition and greater fertility.

As Mallory and colleagues summarize, “population trajectories of caribou herds followed the direction of the AO: herds increased under positive AO intensity, and decreased under negative AO intensity.”


Renewable Energy: the mad saga continues

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) lobbies hard for renewable subsidies and estimates global “clean energy” investment at $333 billion. This excludes hydro-electricity other than Politically Correct “small hydro”. Some 85 per cent of expenditure is in wind or solar with the rest including biomass, electric vehicles and waste-to-energy.

To recap, in Australia electricity from subsidised renewable energy – and wind is the cheapest of those sources – costs three times as much as energy from coal. It is viable only because the government requires increasing proportions of energy it designates as renewable to be incorporated in our supply and therefore in our bills.

This results in a subsidy, which at present is $85 per MWh for wind and large scale solar, and $40 for rooftop solar. Those sums are on top of the market price all energy receives. That market price used to be around $40 per MWh but, as a result of closures caused by subsidised wind forcing increased costs on coal and gas generators, it is now around $90 per MWh; research conducted by the Minerals Council puts new build for coal at under $50 per MWh, costs that are consistent with those estimated for the thousand plus coal generators being built, mainly in Asia.

The upshot is a double whammy – we replace low cost highly reliable electricity with supplies that are three times as expensive and which are highly unreliable – and we call that progress!! The $9 billion of subsidy-induced malinvestment in renewables last year alone would have been sufficient to finance over 4,000 MW of new coal plant – more than double the capacity of the now closed Hazelwood station, even if it is in fashionable but high cost low emissions plant. That would have returned prices to their 2015 level, half those now prevailing, and given us the reliability that is now a wistful nostalgia.

At present one of the man energy regulators, the AEMC, estimates renewable subsidies increase electricity prices by 10 per cent directly (p.10). That would be increased by another 20 per cent due to the subsidies boosting the overall generation cost and perhaps more due to them requiring increased transmission investment.

The lobby industry has taken to interviewing itself to raise the ante for new subsidies. BNEF in response to Reneweconomy notes that the capacity of renewables driven by existing schemes, which focus on the Paris Agreement’s 26-28 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, will soon be met. Hence they are calling for further expansion of subsidies (existing ones, unless terminated, will live on for decades). BNEF argues “So what’s required is a more ambitious emissions reduction target under the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), or for state governments to continue to develop policy to ramp up investment.” And the hope of the industry is that Mr Turnbull will exercise his influence and “States should be throwing their weight around the COAG table and only signing up to a NEG if it ups ambition on a pathway to net zero emissions by 2050”.

The industry also claims renewable energy is already competitive, pointing to recent contracts struck by AGL and Origin Energy  for renewable power at around $60 per MWh. But public information of these contracts’ details is missing, including about what happens to the subsidy (which on forward markets remains above $50 per MWh). It is difficult to square claims made by many lobbyists on the back of such contracts that renewables are now competitive with coal especially since the same lobbyists say investment will dry up without more subsidies.

Meanwhile we have politicians swallowing the propaganda of the renewable industry or too timid or committed to renewable energy to stand up and tell it as it is.

Only a couple of minor players in Europe and the great Donald are resisting the madness. The USA is benefitting immensely from Trump’s energy policies with waves of new investment – including from Australia – announced almost weekly.

In time the success of Trump’s policies will surely remove the blinkers from the eyes of politicians but in the interim we can expect to lose considerable wealth, energy-dependent investment and face trying times in the reliability of the electricity supply system.


The Climate-Change Doomsday Just Got Canceled

A new study published in the prestigious journal Nature finds that all those global warming doomsday scenarios aren't credible. Not that you would ever know based on how little coverage this study is getting.

The study, published on Thursday, finds that if CO2 in the atmosphere doubled, global temperatures would climb at most by 3.4 degrees Celsius. That's far below what the UN has been saying for decades, namely that temperatures would rise as much as 4.5 degrees, and possibly up to 6 degrees.

Basically, the scientists involved in the Nature study found that the planet is less sensitive to changes in CO2 levels than had been previously believed. That means projected temperature increases are too high.

Of course this is just one study, but it supports the contention climate skeptics have been making for years — that the computer models used to predict future warming were exaggerating the impact of CO2, evidenced in part by the fact that the planet hasn't been warming as much as those models say it should.

Why is this important? Because all those horror stories told over the past decades are based on predictions of  temperature increases that are much higher than 3.4 degrees.

A 2008 National Geographic series, to cite just one example, contended that scientists are warning that the global average temperature could increase by as much as 6 degrees Celsius over the next century, "which would cause our world to change radically." Oceans, it said, would become marine wastelands, deserts would expand, catastrophic events would be more common.

The Obama administration's EPA put out a report in 2015 claiming that climate change would triple the number of extremely hot days in the U.S. by 2100, increase air and water pollution, cause $5 trillion in damages for coastal property, and result in tens of thousands of premature deaths.

The EPA assumed a global temperature increase of 5 degrees.

The Nature study blows a hole in these and other doomsday scenarios that have been peddled for decades by everyone from Al Gore to Prince Charles.

In other words, it's big news.

And don't be surprised if scientists end up revising peak warming down even further. That's been the trend up until now, after all. Back in 1977, the National Academy of Sciences said temperatures would shoot up 6 degrees C by 2050 because of CO2 emissions. In 1985, James Hansen claimed that doubling CO2 levels would boost temperatures up to 5 degrees, and other computer models at the time put the upper bound at 5.5 degrees.

As it happens, though, on the same day the Nature study was published, NASA released its latest report on global temperatures, declaring that 2017 was the second hottest year on record, with 2016 the hottest.

Guess which story made front page news?

The New York Times put the NASA story on its main webpage, and ignored the Nature study entirely.

Even if it's true that 17 of the 18 hottest years have occurred since 2001 — which requires one to assume the government's manipulation of past temperature data has been on the up and up — the relevant question isn't what's happening now, but what is likely to happen going forward.

If the scientific evidence is showing that the harm from CO2 emissions will be far less than feared, we should be celebrating.

Surely all those "settled science" folks would agree.


U.S. Regains The Ability To Identify Real National Security Threats

Maybe Donald Trump is just not your type of guy, and certainly not the guy you would want to be President; but keep in mind who was the alternative.  Before these things fade into the memory hole, bring back to mind a few of the wildly incompetent policies of the previous administration.  Looking around today for a candidate as the policy of the previous administration that could be the very most wildly incompetent of all, with a very real potential to put the security of the country in serious jeopardy, my leading contender is the decision to declare "climate change" to be a top-priority national security risk.

Do you remember Obama doing that?  It wasn't that long ago.  In his second inaugural address in January 2013, Obama declared that “no challenge – no challenge – poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”  Then, over the next couple of years, he ramped up the claimed "challenge" of climate change from mere "greatest threat to future generations" to an "immediate threat to national security."  Think about that for a minute -- how would it even work?  Suppose the temperature goes up a few degrees over the next few decades.  Does it mean that we don't have an army any more?  Does it mean that our weapons won't work?  Nevertheless, in a National Security Strategy document in February 2015, the Obama administration declared climate change to be “an urgent and growing threat to our national security,”  Then in May 2015, Obama gave a commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut.  Excerpt:

I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country.  And so we need to act, and we need to act now.

Supposedly, something like sea level, or maybe wildfires, or maybe floods -- all completely speculative -- would somehow make the country harder to defend.  Meanwhile, when Obama talked about "acting now," what he meant was restricting production fossil fuels in the United States.  What did he think was the fuel that powers the planes and ships and missiles, let alone powering the economy that provides all the logistical support to keep the military functioning?  As far as I could tell, he had no idea.  In the name of "national security" he would hobble and ultimately shut down our own oil and coal and gas industries, leaving us to go begging for the necessary fuel to -- where?  OPEC?  Russia?  Venezuela?  You really need to be delusional not to be able to distinguish the real national security threat here from the imaginary one.

As you probably know, in a new National Security Strategy document released yesterday President Trump reversed this ridiculous policy of President Obama.  The new document does not contain any section explicitly dealing with "climate," but it does have a section titled "Embrace Energy Dominance."  Key quote:

Access to domestic sources of clean, affordable, and reliable energy underpins a prosperous, secure, and powerful America for decades to come.  Unleashing these abundant energy resources—coal, natural gas, petroleum, renewables, and nuclear—stimulates the economy and builds a foundation for future growth. Our Nation must take advantage of our wealth in domestic resources and energy efficiency to promote competitiveness across our industries. . . .  Climate policies will continue to shape the global energy system. U.S. leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth energy agenda that is detrimental to U.S. economic and energy secu- rity interests. Given future global energy demand, much of the developing world will require fossil fuels, as well as other forms of energy, to power their economies and lift their people out of poverty.  The United States will continue to advance an approach that balances energy security, economic development, and environmental protection. 

Bullet dodged, at least for the moment.

Now, perhaps on reading this, you remain skeptical that hobbling U.S. fossil fuel energy production could jeopardize national security by making the U.S. dependent on the likes of OPEC or Russia for fuel needed to run the military or the economy.  If so, I would urge you to pay attention to what has just been occurring in the UK.  The UK is thought to have substantial natural gas-bearing shale formations (full extent unknown due to lack of exploration) that could be tapped to supply fuel for the country.  However, during the whole time of the shale gas revolution in the United States, the process of horizontal drilling and "fracking" for gas has been essentially shut down by regulators over concerns of environmentalists.  The first exploratory well after the moratorium finally got going just this August.  From the Financial Times, August 17:

Drilling has started on the first UK shale well for six years even as debate intensifies among geologists over how much gas is available for fracking. Cuadrilla, the company leading the push to bring US-style shale gas production to the UK, said on Thursday it had begun drilling a vertical well expected to reach 3.5km beneath its site near Blackpool, Lancashire. . . .   Fracking has been on hold in the UK since 2011 when two small earth tremors were blamed on exploratory operations by Cuadrilla at another site near Blackpool. Cuadrilla was given the go-ahead by the government last year to resume drilling, reflecting ministers’ hopes of replicating the shale revolution that has cut US gas prices and bolstered American energy security.

Lacking a home-grown, land-based gas supply from fracking, the UK has been relying on gas from the aging North Sea fields, as well as gas that comes from the Middle East and also Norway via pipelines across Europe.  Both of those sources then suddenly experienced supply disruptions in the past couple of weeks.  From the Telegraph, December 13:

Around 40pc of the UK’s domestic [natural gas] supplies have been wiped out until the new year due to the emergency shutdown of the North Sea’s Forties pipeline, operated by Ineos. Supply from Europe has also been constrained by the explosion at a hub in Austria and technical problems in the Norwegian North Sea.   

Time to crank up the vast reserves of solar panels?  No, dummy, those don't work in the winter.  Wind turbines also have zero ability to step up in an emergency.  The first result of the supply disruptions was a huge spike in natural gas prices in the UK:

[R]ocketing demand in Europe [has driven] the price for gas delivered to the UK to more than $10 per million British thermal units.

For comparison, a representative recent spot price in the U.S. was $2.84 per million BTUs.  But you've got to get your energy somewhere.  So who will sell you gas at a gouging price when you are desperate?  The answer, of course, is Russia:

Britain has emerged as the unlikely first recipient of gas from a sanctioned Russian project after fears of a winter supply crisis drove prices close to five year highs. . . .  Now a deal has been struck to bring the debut cargo from Yamal to the Isle of Grain import terminal via a specially built ice-breaking tanker by the end of the month.

It's really hard to believe how dumb these people are to have put themselves in this position.  But then, when they make their decisions, they do it against the backdrop of the U.S. military shield, let alone of the frack-happy U.S. as an alternative emergency supplier when Russia puts on the squeeze.  But if we had shut down our fracking over concerns about "climate change," we would have been dependent on OPEC and Russia like Europe and the UK are now.  Who would have been our emergency supplier when those guys decided to put on the squeeze?  And, rest assured, Hillary, following in Obama's footsteps, would have enthusiastically put the country in this position. 




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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