Friday, September 06, 2019

Charming Chalmers

Despite its quite Anglo name, Chalmers University of Technology is in Sweden.  It has a Centre for Studies of Climate Change Denialism -- the point of which appears to be an attempt to show that climate skeptics are nuts in some way. I reproduce their blurb below. They have really drunk the Kool-Aid. And you've guessed it: Climate skeptics are RACISTS.

I am greatly looking forward to seeing their research reports.  Survey research into personality characteristics is my long suit (See my list of published academic papers here) and I have every confidence that I will be able to drive a Mack truck through whatever they produce. Leftist psychologists have been trying to prove that conservatives are nuts since 1950 so I know how sloppy their research is and how easy it is to debunk.

They do list some recent publications that they think support their beliefs but they are a hoot.  Get a load of the Abstract below.  They don't even seem to know what an abtract does.  It is just a blurb with virtually no details of the research they are supposedly abstracting.  There are no details of the sampling, no reference for the measuring instrument and no details of its reliability and validity, and no tests of statistical significance.

It must be the most incompetent abstract I have ever seen.  An abstract should be full of hard data.  This one is full of waffle. On that precedent what we can expect to come out from the Centre for Studies of Climate Change Denialism will be fairly brain-damaged.

Cool dudes in Norway: climate change denial among conservative Norwegian men

Olve Krange et al.


In their article ‘Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative white males in the United States’ the authors state: ‘Clearly the extent to which the conservative white male effect on climate change denial exists outside the US is a topic deserving investigation.’ Following this recommendation, we report results from a study in Norway. McCright and Dunlap argue that climate change denial can be understood as an expression of protecting group identity and justifying a societal system that provides desired benefits. Our findings resemble those in the US study. A total of 63 per cent of conservative males in Norway do not believe in anthropogenic climate change, as opposed to 36 per cent among the rest of the population who deny climate change and global warming. Expanding on the US study, we investigate whether conservative males more often hold what we term xenosceptic views, and if that adds to the ‘cool dude-effect’.1 Multivariate logistic regression models reveal strong effects from a variable measuring ‘xenosceptic cool dudes’. Interpreting xenoscepticism as a rough proxy for right leaning views, climate change denial in Norway seems to merge with broader patterns of right-wing nationalism.


The blurb:

With Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, as a hub, the world’s first global research network looking into climate change denial has now been established.

Scientific and political awareness of the greenhouse effect and human influence on the climate has existed for over three decades. During the 1980s, there was a strong environmental movement and a political consensus on the issue, but in recent years, climate change denial – denying that changes to the climate are due to human influence on the environment – has increased which makes the case for understanding why this is so. 

The comprehensive project: “Why don’t we take climate change seriously? A study of climate change denial”, is now collecting the world’s foremost researchers in this area. In the project, the network will examine the ideas and interests behind climate change denial, with a particular focus on right-wing nationalism, extractive industries, and conservative think tanks. The goal is to increase understanding of climate change denial, and its influence on political decision-making, but also to raise awareness among the general public, those in power, research institutes, and industry.

Right-wing nationalism’s links to climate change denial are a relatively unresearched topic, but Environmental Sociology recently published an article where Hultman and his research colleagues show the connections between conservatism, xenophobia, and climate change denial, through a study in Norway.

Through the new research project, a unique international collaborative platform for research into climate change denial, Centre for Studies of Climate Change Denialism (CEFORCED), will be established, which will connect around 40 of the world’s foremost scientific experts in the area and pave the way for international comparisons. The platform builds upon the world’s first conference in the subject, which Hultman and Professor Riley Dunlap of Oklahoma State University organized in 2016.

An important foundation of the project will be a broad, interdisciplinary view of climate change denial, linking together different disciplines such as geopolitics, environmental psychology, technological history, environmental sociology, gender research, environmental history, energy policy, environmental humanism and technology and science studies.

“We do not dismiss climate change denial as something limited to, for example, powerful, older men with strong connections to the fossil-fuels industry – even if such organized groups do play important roles. Knowledge of climate change and its causes has been around for a long time, so firstly, we also need to understand the type of reactions and everyday denials that explain why we don’t take the greenhouse effect seriously – even when we see the consequences in front of our eyes.”


Natural Gas, America's Wonder Fuel
One of the many idiocies of the “Green New Deal” and other such anti-fossil fuel crusades is that all of this arrives on the political scene at a time when the price of producing energy from fossil fuels is lower than at any time before in human history.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that natural gas prices “in Europe and Asia have plummeted this year to historic lows.” Meanwhile in the United States, the natural gas price is flirting with a price of $2 per million BTUs. This means natural gas prices have fallen by 80% since 2005 and the advent of the shale gas revolution.

What is wonderful about this story is that U.S. production from places like Ohio and Pennsylvania and the Marcellus Shale is what is driving down worldwide prices. America is now the OPEC of natural gas production as our exports surge.

The production bonanza due to technologies like fracking and horizontal drilling continues to make America rich while it has shifted the geopolitics of the global energy story away from the Middle East and Russia. And America’s energy supplies are effectively a bottomless pool — with hundreds of years of reserves with existing drilling capabilities. No, we are not running out of fossil fuels.

The U.S. and worldwide shift to natural gas is reducing carbon emissions that are said to contribute to global warming. America’s emissions have fallen more than any industrial nation’s in the last two years. The per household annual savings are in the hundreds of dollars per year. Cheap gas is like a tax cut. What should policymakers conclude about this multitrillion-dollar gift of energy wealth that God has endowed America with?

First, the “keep it in the ground” mentality of the left — just last week supported by the editorial page of media outlets like USA Today — is looney-tunes. These assets could continue to increase America’s GDP by hundreds of billions of dollars a year for at least the next half-century. The war-on-fossil-fuels mentality would deprive American firms, workers and the government of trillions of dollars in income and wages.

Some of this increase in wealth could and likely would be devoted to combating climate change without submerging our economy. History demonstrates over and over that making a country richer increases its level of environmental protection.

The other policy lesson of the new era of cheap, abundant, clean and made-in-America natural gas is that we do not need another penny of taxpayer subsidies for any alternative energy sources. Natural gas is the energy source that delivers without a penny of taxpayer cost. It will force other energy sources from nuclear to coal to wind to solar to compete or whither and die.

Why does Washington continue to spend tens of billions in tax dollars looking for inferior alternatives?

We’ve been promised for 30 years that wind and solar energy will be the power sources of the future, and yet when the massive tax subsidies are threatened to be taken away, the industry flacks pout that this will be the death of the industry. These are the infant energy sources that never leave the federal nest.

Zero subsidies should be the rallying cry of sound 21st-century American energy policy. If the Europeans and Chinese want to spend money on expensive and inefficient energy sources, they should be our guests. If America uses energy from natural gas that is one-half to one-third as expensive as green energy, it’s one of the best ways to make American manufacturing, technology, steel and agriculture the cheapest and most productive in the world. It’s also a smart way to keep making America great again.


To lower residential energy costs, waive goodbye to the Jones Act

The Jones Act is a 1920s legislative relic, a wasteful one-hundred-year old attempt by Congress to address a post-World War I surplus of merchant ships. Today, it is known mostly for its mandate that all goods, shipped by boat between any US port and the ports of some US territories, be carried on US-flagged vessels. Currently, the cost of shipping goods on US-flagged ships is almost three times as expensive as shipping them on foreign vessels. However, because of sustained lobbying by US mercantile marine interests, the mandate continues today.

For at least one commodity, domestically produced natural gas the situation is especially dire. The Jones Act mandate makes it impossible to ship liquefied natural gas (LNG) from one US port to another, as no vessels in the current US fleet are capable of carrying the gas between the Gulf and New York or Boston.

The result is that power companies and others in the Northeastern United States have to purchase LNG from foreign suppliers at substantially higher prices than would otherwise be the case. Thus, natural gas prices in New England are substantially higher than in other US regions.

Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee in Congress, recently offered an amendment to the Coast Guard Authorization Bill that would waive the Jones Act mandate and permit foreign ships to move goods, including LNG, between US ports if no US ship were available within 60 days. The amendment was rejected amid claims that the LNG issue could be resolved by building a pipeline, and that other waiver programs were already in place.

Those claims represent more of a pipe-dream than a pipeline reality. New pipeline projects are expensive. Since 1996, according to information from the Energy Information Administration, it would cost around $19.5 million per mile to build a pipeline through New England. So building roughly 500 miles of pipeline to move natural gas to Boston from the closest source of supply in Pennsylvania would mean $9.75 billion in construction costs.

Construction costs are not the only problem. New natural gas pipeline projects need years to obtain the required regulatory authorizations. The process includes permits, land purchases, rights of way, environmental impact assessments, and compliance with local, state, and federal regulations. A pipeline proposal initiated today would therefore likely take at least a decade to complete. Realistically, given the current complexities of local and state jurisdictional and political issues, any new pipeline project in New England could be politically infeasible.

The Jones Act waiver proposed by Senator Lee makes obvious economic sense from the perspective of New England consumers, power companies, and a wide swath of commercial interests. Moreover, in the case of LNG and other natural gas shipments, there would be no obvious damage to US shipping companies as none of them operate Jones Act eligible ships capable of delivering LNG in commercial quantities to America’s Northeast.

Providing a Jones Act waiver process would allow US energy companies to exploit their global advantage in natural gas production and expand the extent to which they supply important domestic markets in New England. Since the mid-2000s, on average, natural gas prices in the United States have steadily decreased as domestic production has expanded (it has increased by over 50 percent since 2005), in part due to fracking technologies. Since 2005, US exports of natural gas to other countries have increased almost five fold. Despite this opportunity for cheaper energy, the Jones Act mandate denies New England consumers similar access to inexpensive domestic LNG.

Interestingly Massachusetts receives the majority of its natural gas by pipeline from US sources, but that is not enough for the state’s needs, so the rest currently comes, by ship, at much higher prices from foreign sources. New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maine get most of their gas from interstate transfers in the US. Vermont’s natural gas comes almost entirely from Canada.

Finally, some have claimed that Senator Lee’s amendment is not needed because two waiver programs already exist. The first waiver allows the President to suspend the Jones Act for national security reasons, not for commercial purposes, and is therefore irrelevant here. The second, which permits foreign-flagged vessels built before 1996 to carry LNG or liquid petroleum from US ports to Puerto Rico, is also functionally irrelevant as almost all LNG vessels are replaced well before they are 23 years old for safety, efficiency, and cost-saving reasons.

Waiving the Jones Act would have a substantial beneficial impact on the sales of natural gas by US producers to US consumers in New England. Both parties would benefit. Senator Lee’s common sense amendment to the recent Coast Guard Authorization Bill would mitigate any need to construct unnecessary expensive additional pipelines. Waiving the Jones Act is a good bipartisan idea whose time has more than come.


UK: Underwater meadow will catch carbon

An undersea meadow is to be sown off the Pembrokeshire coast to restore a habitat that captures carbon from the atmosphere quicker than a rainforest.

Underwater meadows of seagrass, a flowering plant found in sheltered, shallow coastal spots, were once common in British waters.

The grass can capture carbon from the atmosphere up to 35 times faster than rainforest vegetation. It also serves as a nursery for marine life, including endangered seahorses. A patch of 10,000 square metres can support 80,000 fish and 100 million invertebrates.

However, 90 per cent of Britain’s seagrass is estimated to have been lost over the past century — destroyed by sewage and agricultural pollution, torn up by ships’ propellors and chain moorings or choked by coastal development.


Australia's ABC ridicules sound science about the Great Barrier Reef

Media Watch is everything that is wrong with the ABC, squeezed into 15 insufferable minutes. Smug, elitist and, above all, awash with the misguided idea that commercial media outlets are not to be trusted and that the only place where honest news can be found is in Aunty’s warm, state-sponsored embrace.

The program is usually best ignored, but its segment this week on the saga of Peter Ridd is worth calling out for its breathless hypocrisy.

For the uninitiated, Ridd is a marine geophysicist who, until recently, was professor of physics at James Cook University in Townsville. Ridd is also an expert on the Great Barrier Reef and disputes the view that it is being killed by climate change.

Earlier this year the Federal Circuit Court found that his dismissal was unlawful.

Fast forward to this week’s Media Watch in which host Paul Barry spent a fair chunk of taxpayer-funded time bemoaning the attention from The Australian and other outlets to Ridd’s perspective on reef science.

The coverage, according to Barry, was “a real free kick” and “a free platform, with no opposing viewpoints”.

That the ABC could complain about a lack of opposing viewpoints is staggering.

When it comes to climate change in particular, the ABC is hopelessly predisposed towards climate alarmism. That may explain why up until Monday night, the ABC has shown less interest in the Ridd affair.

Ridd’s sacking, legal appeal and eventual victory in court attracted such strong public interest that eventually even the federal Attorney-General weighed in when the subject was raised by numerous colleagues in a recent partyroom meeting. But coverage from our “trusted” public broadcaster?

Not much. A search of the ABC’s website returns just a handful of reports on what was the most significant case on academic freedom in many years.

If the ABC had bothered, they would know that Ridd’s beef isn’t just with popular notions of doom and gloom surrounding the Great Barrier Reef but also with the quality of the underlying science.

Much of it, according to Ridd, is not being properly checked, tested or replicated.

As a result, governments are spending billions of dollars and jeopardising whole industries to “save” the reef when it probably doesn’t need saving.

It should be noted as well that throughout the extensive disciplinary process against Ridd, James Cook University never once addressed his complaints about the poor quality of climate science coming out of the univer­sity, a fact highlighted by the judge himself during Ridd’s case.

But far be it for the ABC to let poor science get in the way of a good story. Naturally, the segment included an article from The Guardian citing a handful of scientists who are adamant the Great Barrier Reef is in trouble and that Ridd should be ignored.

Media Watch even repeated hysterical comparisons between Ridd’s research and anti-vaxxer campaigns.

Interestingly, one scientist cited by the ABC was Terry ­Hughes. Like Ridd, Hughes is based at James Cook, and arguably triggered the whole saga when, according to court documents, he lodged a complaint about some relatively mild comments Ridd made in relation to reef science on Sky News. This connection was apparently missed by the Media Watch team.

What the ABC doesn’t understand is that the Ridd saga is about much more than the Great Barrier Reef or even climate science.

It raises serious questions about academic freedom, about the right of a university professor to voice dissenting views without being hounded out of his tenure, as Ridd was by James Cook.

This is why Ridd was supported by a large section of the community. Many of his university colleagues defended him and one resigned in disgust.

He even received support from the National Tertiary Education Union — not exactly a bastion of right-wing views. But of course, on the ABC, all of that complexity is lost, reduced to a tired pantomime about right-wing commentators pushing the views of one scientist to advance their own murky climate agenda.

Now, if the ABC were a private organisation it could take whatever editorial line it wanted — and would be far from the only outlet in Australia to sympathise with climate evangelism. But the ABC receives $1.1 billion of our money each year for news coverage that, by law, must be balanced.

Maybe the ABC should comply with its charter and make way for alternative views rather than taking juvenile pot shots at its rivals.



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.  

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