Friday, March 16, 2018

Boom... Nature study admissions undercut almost all climate studies:

1. Correlation not causation.
2. Historical record inadequate.
3. Physical mechanism not understood.


Sustainable Energy: At this rate, it’s going to take nearly 400 years to transform the energy system

Here are the real reasons we’re not building clean energy anywhere near fast enough.

Fifteen years ago, Ken Caldeira, a senior scientist at the Carnegie Institution, calculated that the world would need to add about a nuclear power plant’s worth of clean-energy capacity every day between 2000 and 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change. Recently, he did a quick calculation to see how we’re doing.

Not well. Instead of the roughly 1,100 megawatts of carbon-free energy per day likely needed to prevent temperatures from rising more than 2 ˚C, as the 2003 Science paper by Caldeira and his colleagues found, we are adding around 151 megawatts. That’s only enough to power roughly 125,000 homes.

At that rate, substantially transforming the energy system would take, not the next three decades, but nearly the next four centuries. In the meantime, temperatures would soar, melting ice caps, sinking cities, and unleashing devastating heat waves around the globe (see “The year climate change began to spin out of control”).

Caldeira stresses that other factors are likely to significantly shorten that time frame (in particular, electrifying heat production, which accounts for a more than half of global energy consumption, will significantly alter demand). But he says it’s clear we’re overhauling the energy system about an order of magnitude too slowly, underscoring a point that few truly appreciate: It’s not that we aren’t building clean energy fast enough to address the challenge of climate change. It’s that—even after decades of warnings, policy debates, and clean-energy campaigns—the world has barely even begun to confront the problem.

The UN’s climate change body asserts that the world needs to cut as much as 70 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions by midcentury to have any chance of avoiding 2 ˚C of warming. But carbon pollution has continued to rise, ticking up 2 percent last year.

So what’s the holdup?

Beyond the vexing combination of economic, political, and technical challenges is the basic problem of overwhelming scale. There is a massive amount that needs to be built, which will suck up an immense quantity of manpower, money, and materials.

For starters, global energy consumption is likely to soar by around 30 percent in the next few decades as developing economies expand. (China alone needs to add the equivalent of the entire US power sector by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency.) To cut emissions fast enough and keep up with growth, the world will need to develop 10 to 30 terawatts of clean-energy capacity by 2050. On the high end that would mean constructing the equivalent of around 30,000 nuclear power plants—or producing and installing 120 billion 250-watt solar panels.

There’s simply little financial incentive for the energy industry to build at that scale and speed while it has tens of trillions of dollars of sunk costs in the existing system.

“If you pay a billion dollars for a gigawatt of coal, you’re not going to be happy if you have to retire it in 10 years,” says Steven Davis, an associate professor in the Department of Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine.

It’s somewhere between difficult and impossible to see how any of that will change until there are strong enough government policies or big enough technology breakthroughs to override the economics


Another Expensive Failure: UK’s Green Bank Sold Off On The Cheap

The UK’s former Green Investment Bank (GIB) failed to live up to its original ambitions and now there is no guarantee it ever will.

That’s according to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which says the government’s sale of the GIB to Macquarie for £1.6 billion last year prioritised reducing public debt over the continued delivery of the organisation’s sustainable objectives.

It claims the measures put in place to protect the GIB’s green purposes are not sufficient to ensure it will still be able to support the government’s energy policy or continue to have an impact on climate change goals.

The PAC says it was a misjudgement for BEIS to have so little assurance over the Green Investment Group’s (GIG) future investments, which it says are likely to prove crucial to meeting the UK’s green commitments.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, Deputy Chair of the PAC, said:

“Government set up the GIB to grow investment in the green economy and thus help the UK meet its climate change obligations. The manner in which it was sold off is therefore deeply regrettable. Government did not carry out a full assessment of the bank’s impact before deciding to sell, nor did it secure adequate assurance over the bank’s future role.

The protracted sale process put Government on the back foot; had it been shrewder, it could have secured a better return for taxpayers.”


Environmentalists May Be the Biggest Climate Culprits of All

Recently, the American people have witnessed a rash of lawsuits targeting energy companies for their alleged role in causing climate change. As the National Association of Manufacturers has revealed, as part of its "Manufacturers' Accountability Project," these lawsuits are fueled (as it were) by massive lawyers' fees. For example, a contract between trial lawyers and the city of San Francisco revealed that the plaintiffs firm would receive a 23.5 percent payday in the case of a favorable judgment, which could translate into millions of dollars in profits for trial lawyers. Democratic-led cities, counties, and state governments are suing these energy companies to make them pay for what they claim are the anticipated ill-effects of climate change, which would not exist, they say, if these evil corporations were not selling energy based on fossil fuels.

The weaknesses of this argument, legally and logically, are apparent. Why would companies that sell energy be held liable for climate change, when consumers are not? Why are these "blue" municipalities and states only suing American companies, when, say, Russian, or Saudi, or Chinese carbon is just as, well, carbonized? Why are these jurisdictions not suing themselves, since they emit plenty of carbon on their own? Most importantly, how can one assess how much adverse weather is the fault of "climate change," and how much would be occurring naturally?

The idea that one can assign legal liability in such cases is frankly laughable, and fortunately no court has yet ruled in favor of such claims. The purpose of these lawsuits, however, may not be to win giant cash settlements. It may be instead to shame and intimidate energy companies. In other words, these lawsuits are mostly PR, but unfortunately that does not make them any less dangerous to our economy and our way of life.

But, for the sake of argument, let us descend down the rabbit hole of climate change liability a little further. As you will see, responsibility for climate change may arguably be shouldered by the very people who are now hectoring America about "protecting the planet".

Let us return to the heady days of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, when various "space age" technological advances seemed to hold great promise. Among the most exciting of these developments was the use of nuclear power to create electricity. Governments around the world were giddy with the prospects for creating an endless, cheap, flexible new source of power. President John F. Kennedy was on hand in 1963 at one plant opening, heralding our country's role as a leader in the peaceful exploitation of nuclear energy, and looking forward to a time when nuclear plants would provide half of the electricity that Americans used. As a result, in the ensuing years, nuclear plants were built at a breakneck pace, and nuclear energy began to blossom, offering serious competition to fossil fuels.

And then came the environmentalists. Citing concerns about the toxicity and long half-life of nuclear waste, and about the possibility of "meltdowns", the rising environmental movement made opposition to nuclear power a litmus test for being "earth-friendly". In 1979, an accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania, which harmed neither the environment nor any human being, was spun by environmentalists into a harbinger of nuclear-fueled catastrophe.

A massive propaganda campaign against nuclear energy ensued, in which Jane Fonda's film The China Syndrome figured prominently, which led in turn to a flood of lawsuits as well as political pressure to suspend the construction of new nuclear plants. Plant construction duly ground to a halt, and, from the late 1970s to today, no new nuclear facilities have been approved in the United States.

For our purposes, though, the bigger point is this: nuclear power does not create carbon emissions of any kind. Instead, it produces small quantities of nuclear waste, which are relatively easy to store. In torpedoing the nuclear energy industry, therefore, liberals and environmentalists destroyed the only viable alternative to our civilization's dependence on fossil fuels for energy production.

What does all this mean? First, it means that the environmental movement is not wholly based on "reason" and "science," as it claims. It can also be based on group think, NIMBYism, and raw emotion. This blinkered outlook can cause environmentalists to support causes that, in the final analysis, prove counterproductive to their own ends.

Second, we can conclude that, if one wishes to assign blame for the problem of climate change, there is plenty to go around. One could assign blame only to energy producers, yes, and this would be convenient for liberals. The truth, however, is that there are equally valid reasons to blame humans, who, as energy consumers, are responsible for emissions. As we have seen, a strong case can also be made that environmentalists and liberals are the real problem, due to their demonization of nuclear power.

Perhaps, therefore, Democratic municipalities and states suing energy companies for causing climate change might wish to revise their strategy. Instead of targeting ExxonMobil, or Chevron, or Shell, why not sue the real climate culprits: Jane Fonda, Ralph Nader, Jerry Brown, Greenpeace, etc.?

Or, better yet, call off the lawyers altogether, stop vilifying people who think differently, and concentrate on finding workable solutions. That's an approach to climate change we can all live with.


Massive Flaw Found in Global Warming Models

Major studies projecting massive economic harm from future global warming rely on "overheated" economic models and poor underlying assumptions, according to a new report.

"Studies that produce very high estimates of the economic and social costs of projected climate change" while "ignoring or downplaying the possibility of adaptation and obscuring the inaccuracy of underlying estimates - are distinctly unhelpful," Manhattan Institute senior fellow Oren Cass wrote in a March report.

Cass examined the models and assumptions used in major economic studies of global warming, including two relied upon by the U.S. Government Accountability Office to estimate damages by the end of the century.

One of those study's poor assumptions, relating temperature with economic growth, led to projections that global warming would turn Mongolia, Finland and Iceland into the world's wealthiest countries on a per-capita basis.

The results were highly "flawed," Cass said.

"Properly understood, temperature studies do not offer useful predictions of the future costs of projected human-caused climate change," Cass wrote in a study published Monday, adding that while flawed "these studies have gained rapidly in prominence" and "now account for the overwhelming share of costs in climate assessments."

Cass took particular issue with a 2015 study published in the journal Nature that predicted global warming could reduce per-capita gross world product 23 percent by 2100.

In other words, the study predicted every person in the world would be 23 percent poorer by the end of the century. Media outlets breathlessly reported the study's results, warning millennials they could "lose trillions of dollars in lifetime income" to man-made warming.

However, Cass pointed out some glaring issues with the study's underlying assumptions and modeling.

For starters, the 2015 study projects Mongolia would become a global economic superpower by the end of the century and boast per-capita income of $390,000, which is four times higher than America's at that point.

In fact, Icelanders become the richest people in the world in that study's projection. Iceland gets a "per-capita income of $1.5 million, more than twice that of any other country besides Finland ($860,000), with annual economic growth above 5% and accelerating," Cass wrote.

Canada's economy grows to be the world's second-largest behind the U.S.'s by the end of the century, the study found. Canada's economy is estimated to be a totally implausible seven times larger than China's. India, conversely becomes the world's poorest country by 2100.

Cass pointed out that "one must believe that a gradual rise in average temperature from 0ø (32øF) to 5øC (41øF) will turn Iceland and Mongolia into the leading economies of the 21st century," which is not only highly implausible but also a highly illogical way to view economic growth.

The Nature study suggests "the Cambodian economy is far more dynamic than its American counterpart, held back from world domination by its latitude," Cass said, noting a "more plausible conclusion is that responses to large, gradual temperature changes are qualitatively unlike responses to small temperature fluctuations."

In other words, the Nature study is seriously flawed.

"Temperature studies insist that even marginally warmer temperatures make people and the economy worse off; yet for generations, the American population has insisted on migrating southward," Cass wrote. "Are people doing so against their best interests, or are the statistical analysts missing the bigger picture?"




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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