Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The IPCC goal of 1.5C degrees of warming may be more easily reached than we think

There is constant talk about the difficulty of reaching the "Paris" goal of 1.5C warming over pre-industrial levels. Great efforts are said to be needed if we are to reach that goal.

But notice something:  We are already about one degree above pre-industrial levels.  So all the Angst is about just half of one degree.  That hardly seems worth getting excited about.  The IPCC report on 1.5 degrees lists a number of things that would happen with such a temperature rise but none seem dramatic except for the expected sea level rise of about half a meter.  And a good thing from 1.5 degrees is also listed -- that we would have more rain and less drought.

But the changes in sea level so far are heavily contested, with some scientists calling into question whether we have had any sea level rise at all in the last half century or so. So any concern there must  be taken with a grain of salt.

There does seem to have been a small, slow and erratic increase in global temperatures over the last 150 years or so but even Warmists don't attribute all of that to man's activity.  So in that context, a change of half a degree from present levels would seem likely to come about naturally over the current century.  And if it did, would we notice such a small change?  I can't see it. A temperature change of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial level would seem perfectly comfortable and unlikely to bother us.  We have much greater temperature changes during every day.

So what are the Warmists going on about?  They think that much larger temperature rises will happen and we will struggle to keep to .5 of a degree over what we presently have.

But that is a pure prophecy and speculation.  Looking at the temperature changes so far, rises are not going to be regular nor are they likely to be great.  Warmists rely on their dinky models to support prophecies of big climate change. The temperature record so far, however,  suggests only slight change.  There have been several extensive periods of no temperature changes at all  -- e.g 1945 to 1975.

So I think  the modest rise of half a degree will come about perfectly naturally, with no effort and no concern on our part at all  -- JR.

TRIGGERED! Donald Trump Saves the Planet, Leads World in Lowering CO2 Emissions

A new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that tracks carbon emissions worldwide dropped great news for the United States under the leadership of Donald Trump on Tuesday. "The United States saw the largest decline in energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019 on a country basis – a fall of 140 Mt, or 2.9%, to 4.8 Gt. US emissions are now down almost 1 Gt from their peak in the year 2000, the largest absolute decline by any country over that period."

Not only is Trump leading the world in economic success but he's also doing exactly what the climate scolds all claim they want, which is leading the world in energy saving. Carbon emission reduction isn't the only win for Trump's policies, the IEA also reported that natural gas is on the rise and coal-powered energy declined by 15% in America. "A 15% reduction in the use of coal for power generation underpinned the decline in overall US emissions in 2019. Coal-fired power plants faced even stronger competition from natural gas-fired generation, with benchmark gas prices an average of 45% lower than 2018 levels. As a result, gas increased its share in electricity generation to a record high of 37%."

Is there anything this president can't do? The air is cleaner, the stock market is booming, now, if we could only get him to tear down all the unsightly and ineffective wind farms that do next to nothing he'd be elected president forever. Do not look to the Democrats to give Trump any credit for the energy reductions and number one status in the whole darn world for "green" policies. They will continue to claim he wants to kill the planet and rape the earth of its bounties.

In 2019, The Guardian put out a list of all the terrible climate policies of Trump's including "departing from the Paris climate agreement summit," which, of course, we all now see was not at all necessary in order to reduce emissions since the US is leading all of them.

The New York Times gave us this handy chart of the climate rollbacks under Trump, showing that useless and stupid programs can be done away with while still cleaning up the environment. "President Trump has made eliminating federal regulations a priority. His administration, with help from Republicans in Congress, has often targeted environmental rules it sees as burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other big businesses." Isn't it amazing that you can get rid of stupid regulations and still have cleaner air and water?

But according to the NYT, just last December, all these rollbacks would result in dirtier air and more emissions. "All told, the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality every year, according to a report prepared by New York University Law School's State Energy and Environmental Impact Center."

Well, suck it, NYU Law School's State Energy and Environmental Impact Center! The results are in and Trump is winning again. None of the dire predictions came true and Trump has shown that federal regulations don't equal good environmental outcomes.


Will the West cede nuclear energy dominance to Russia?

When she and Sen. Ed Markey introduced the “Green New Deal” a year ago, newly elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not mention nuclear energy as part of the future. Later, Ocasio-Cortez admitted she still had “an open mind” on evolving nuclear energy technologies while insisting that older plants be shuttered.

But since then she has endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose platform includes a moratorium on nuclear power plant license renewals – and who states “we must stop building new nuclear power plants, and find a real solution to our existing nuclear waste problem.”

Truth is, while the U.S. even today leads the world with nearly a hundred operational nuclear facilities, nuclear remains controversial. Should a Sanders-led U.S. follow Germany’s lead in decommissioning existing nuclear plants and not building new ones, a new world nuclear energy leader might emerge quickly.

China, while known for building myriads of coal-fired power plants, has also been busy. A 2017 article noted the Chinese had 38 nuclear plants in operation and another 19 under construction, and was thus “the fastest expanding nuclear power generator in the world.”

But it is Russia that is making the most noise about nuclear energy of late. Last July, Russian President Vladimir Putin went on the offensive against the anti-growth technocrats and others who champion wind and solar as the energy future, insisting that “It is impossible and pointless to try to stop human progress.”

Speaking at the 2nd Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia, Putin instead proclaimed, “Super-efficient scientific, engineering, and manufacturing solutions will help us establish a balance between the biosphere (the realm of nature) and the technosphere (the realm of creative reason). Fusion energy which in fact is similar to how heat and light are produced in our star, the sun, is an example of such nature-like technologies.”

Putin spoke glowingly of the work of Russia’s Kurchatov Institute, which has already begun a project on a fission-fusion hybrid reactors expected to be operational later this year, and its role in driving the advanced science as a creative force for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) program in France, which is scheduled to go online with its first plasma by 2025.

As explained by Caroline Delbert, the Russian fission-fusion hybrid reactor runs on thorium, which is far less reactive and much more plentiful than uranium. Its “down to earth” design, Delbert acknowledges, makes for a shorter time to startup.

Russia’s nuclear power initiatives extend well beyond that country’s borders. On February 8, India’s Ambassador to Russia, Venkatesh Varma, announced that Russia will design 20 more nuclear power plants to be built in India over the next two decades, building on 18 years of nuclear cooperation between the two countries.

Russia and India are also helping Bangladesh construct its first nuclear power plant and may expand their collaborations. Varma noted, “Russia already has agreements in this field with a number of African countries. Ethiopia is one of them, and there are some countries in the Middle East. It will be Russian projects but with Indian cooperation.”

Meanwhile, the U.S., much of Western Europe, and post-Fukushima Japan are at best conflicted over nuclear’s role in providing reliable, affordable energy in the face of burgeoning demand. Some EU states are strongly anti-nuclear and have structured their electricity markets in response to populist support for wind and solar. The next decade will likely see a decline in nuclear generating capacity, and only Finland, France, and Slovakia are building new nuclear facilities.

Still, there are some hopeful signs that the West may be on the verge of a new era in nuclear energy.

TerraPower announced a collaboration with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy to pursue a public-private partnership to design and construct the Versatile Test Reactor for the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory announced plans to rebuild the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) tokamak reactor, renew its commitment to ITER< and build a smaller, cheaper prototype power plant.

A Rolls-Royce led consortium plans to build 17 “revolutionary mini nuclear power stations” to replace Britain’s eight aging large-scale nuclear power plants. Mass production at new factories should lead to shorter construction times and lower costs.

Will the West again match Russia’s apparent zeal for new-design nuclear power plants? Maybe not. Canadian journalist Matthew Ehret argues that the West has for fifty years been dominated by a new “science of limits” that sees mankind’s biggest threat as mankind itself.”

Moreover, as Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe bemoans, “While many proponents of renewables and battery technology point at how future technological development will sort out their many shortcomings, very few assume technological progress is possible for nuclear technology. On the contrary, innovations are routinely dismissed out of hand and painted as dangerous.”

Westerners should listen to Bangladeshi businessman and nuclear energy advocate Kazi Zahin Hasan. In his view “Modern cities need continuous power; solar and wind cannot provide this without expensive battery storage, which no city or utility has been willing to buy. That’s why after billions of dollars of investment in solar and wind power, there is not a single major city which is powered exclusively by solar or wind.”


Joaquin, Osher, Greta and Jane show ignorance can be blissfully rewarding

By Chris Kenny, writing from Australia

First they came for the coal, then they wanted our milk. While the demonisation of coal ignores how this mineral has probably done more for human prosperity and progress than any other, we at least can comprehend why climate activists have turned on coal — even if their plans are reckless and impractical.

Extinction Rebellion protesters are so committed to shutting down the coal industry that they lie on polystyrene foam mats made from fossil fuels while they use acrylic resins made from fossil fuels to super-glue themselves to the road with chains and pipes manufactured with coal-fired energy. Soon they’ll be doing the same in dairies.

Because now the woke are turning on milk. They want to make us guilty for feeding milk to our kids.

“We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of ­anguish are unmistakeable,” Holly­wood actor Joaquin Phoenix said accepting his Oscar on Monday. “Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.” Perhaps he was trying to distract from how he makes millions eliciting cries of anguish from filmgoers as he glorifies a fictional serial killer.

While Scott Morrison is pilloried for waving a lump of coal around in parliament, heaven help the next leader caught supping on a glass of pasteurised full-cream. Apparently we are heartless, arrogant bigots against other species, we are speciesists who steal milk from cows, and we need to be told.

Remember when fashionable political stances could be summarised as a resistance to instruction, a push for freedom? There was a libertarian approach, embraced especially by the young and focused on the rights of individuals — they railed against young men being conscripted to serve in Vietnam, disrupted social norms and demanded equal rights for women and indigenous Australians.

Activists defied and challenged edicts handed down by moralising church leaders, conservative institutions or paternalistic governments. There was a healthy disdain for anyone telling others how to live their lives.

But now the fashion goes with the zeitgeist, advocates for groupthink and shames individuals into conforming. Now the woke are the preachy ones.

Who are we to decide how to run our lives when there are Hollywood A-listers prepared to set an example by wearing the same designer tuxedo to more than one awards dinner? Why should we enjoy breakfast when an actor equates the rights of people, countries, races and genders with the rights of individual ­species?

“We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender, one species, has the right to dominate, use and control another with impunity,” said Phoenix. Presumably he will boycott next year’s Academy Awards because in all their history they have not so much as nominated a single other species; it’s been a Homo sapiens clean sweep.

And once Phoenix succeeds in his equal pay battle for the full cast of Doctor Dolittle, perhaps he could head to the Serengeti to campaign against lions imposing their will on wildebeest, a clear-cut case of speciesist exploitation if ever I saw one.

“We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources,” the actor said. “We fear the idea of personal change because we think we need to sacrifice something, to give something up.”

He ought to know. After all, the poor bloke was wearing the same suit he had worn a week or so ­earlier. Jane Fonda too made a virtue of wearing a dress she had worn six years earlier. As if that weren’t hardship enough, after she was glammed up by her spartan team of just three stylists (hair, dress and make-up), Fonda posted on social media that she was wearing ­“Pomellato jewellery because it only uses respon­sible, ethically harvested gold and sus­tainable ­diamonds”.

Ah, sustainable diamonds, the thinking woman’s carbon sink. Mother Teresa has nothing on these people. This year’s Nobel Peace Prize will be hard to pick.

We get much of the same closer to home, of course. On the ABC’s Q&A this week, one of their panellists was reality television host Osher Gunsberg (he fronts The Bachelor) who was chosen, wouldn’t you know, because he proselytises for climate action and claims to practise what he ­preaches.

“I wouldn’t call it sacrifice at all,” Gunsberg said of his vegan, non-internal combustion and ­carbon-conscious lifestyle. “The benefits that I get in my life for the choices that I make around my impact on the world are extraordinary … I’ve been driving electric cars since 2011, and they’re an extraordinarily exciting … they’re really fun to drive. I have an electric bike as well, a moped that I get around on. It’s super fun.”

This is nirvana, all the fun of the carnival and saving the planet at the same time. I don’t know Gunsberg’s travel habits so can’t say whether he is a globetrotting climate hypocrite like Prince Harry, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and so many others, but I did find some articles featuring him with his pet dog — now this is a carbon extravagance. Studies show pet dogs can have the annual carbon footprint of a car, so surely any climate radical with a pet is a fraud.

Naturally enough I reckon Gunsberg is free to live his life as he likes, and back any cause he chooses. But it is the preaching that grates, and exposes him, along with the way the media (in this case the ABC) then presents him as an authority.

He suggested to the Q&A audience that Australia’s export coal market would soon collapse, which is just not true.

International Energy Agency figures show our coal exports have reached record levels and are set to plateau or ­increase slightly into the future.

Just in our two largest markets there are more than 100 new coal-fired power stations under construction in China and more than a dozen in Japan. I look forward to The Bachelor episode where they explain how these generators will function without coal.

Preaching is everywhere. This week Greta Thunberg admonished the entire global population when she tweeted about record carbon dioxide levels and said, “no one understands the full meaning” because this is the “crisis that’s never been treated as a crisis”.

The 17-year-old, who has yet to finish her schooling, also tweeted that “Indigenous rights = climate justice”.

Then, right on cue, the BBC announced it would be producing a TV science series with Thunberg. Again, this teenager should feel free to spruik her views wherever she likes but the worry is how her silly hectoring is ­embraced and amplified by adults, politicians and public broadcasters. It will be amusing when she loses one sandal and they all adopt that as a sign.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy, admonished the nation for xenophobia and racism this week, referencing unspecified incidents directed against Chinese-Australians, apparently triggered by coronavirus panic. When I pressed for details Murphy referred to incidents “reflected widely on social media” and noted that “individual in­stances have not been recorded”.

Labor MP Andrew Giles called for a national anti-racism campaign suggesting the coronavirus was being used as an “excuse” for racism. Just like those who created an “I’ll ride with you” campaign based on a fabricated incident after the Lindt cafe siege, Giles was quick to think the worst of mainstream Australians — he wanted a publicly funded national lecturing campaign.

Like brainwashed cult members, the new woke left loves to receive instructions and be lectured. And, in turn, it likes to lecture us.

Fortunately, mainstream people in a host of Western democracies who are sick of sanctimony on climate change, energy, border protection, Brexit and, yes, even veganism have been able to express their will through the ballot box. Just because the so-called elites are enraptured by the sound of their own exhortations, it doesn’t mean they’re resonating.


Australian Greenie leader has the Australian Left in an awkward corner

Would Richard Marles welcome a New Australian coal-fired power station? The ABC’s David Speers asked the question of Labor’s deputy leader at least a dozen times last week before giving up and answering himself.

“So that’s a maybe?” he suggested. Marles voiced no dissent.

The place called “maybe” is dangerous terrain for an opposition, particularly on an issue on which passions run high. Just ask Jeremy Corbyn whose maybe/maybe not policy on leaving the EU is the principal reason the British Labour Party is looking for a new leader.

It is a while until our next federal election but we can already predict that climate policy will be one of Labor’s principal sources of grief, just as it has been at every election since 2010, when Julia Gillard received a mandate not to ­introduce the carbon tax she promptly did.

In last year’s election campaign, inviting Bill Shorten to share the costings on his 45 per cent emissions target was the surest way to make him lose his rag. His unsteady performance on the issue was one reason voters considered him shifty or worse.

His climate platform has been repudiated by his successor, leaving a great dollop of jelly where Labor’s policy ought to be.

Today Labor faces its own divisions while the Coalition, at least around the cabinet table, is united on climate and energy, probably for the first time since John Howard was in government.

Labor has spawned a ginger group that brands itself the friends of coal. They meet at Otis (the restaurant, not the elevator) in an ­attempt to move Labor back to the sensible centre.

That is the point on the spectrum where every Labor politician who aspires to win the next election wants to be, armed with a policy that unites the Collinsville miners and the knitting nannas of Marrickville in one happy family.

A cool, damp summer might have given Labor some breathing space. Instead, the climate debate has been charged with a new ferocity. Anthony Albanese is being challenged from within his party to hitch his wagon to the climate emergency.

He has wisely resisted, knowing that the moral argument is not one Labor can easily win.

Labor’s discomfort

Adam Bandt’s elevation as the Greens leader has increased Labor’s discomfort. Bandt is taking the Greens further towards the extreme as he shapes a clearer divide between the parties of the left.

“Ultimately Labor’s got to ­decide where it stands,” Bandt told Michelle Grattan recently. “If Labor thinks it can continue to walk both sides of the fence, they’re going to stay in opposition for a very long time. The script that we saw playing out at the last election will just play itself out at the next election.”

Last week, after the existence of the Otis Group was revealed by the media, Albanese retreated further into maybe land. His claim that the party “is united in our position that climate change is real, that we need to act on lowering our emissions” these days counts as a motherhood statement. It puts him on a unity ticket with both the Coalition and the Greens while being slightly less convincing than either.

His rhetoric on coal, that it will continue to play a part in Australia’s economy for decades to come, is almost identical to Tony ­Abbott’s, as Bandt delights in pointing out. Brand differentiation is all but impossible.

The Coalition is offering Labor few favours by charting a steadier course on energy policy.

Malcolm Turnbull’s departure relieved much of the tension in the Liberals’ partyroom, while Scott Morrison’s anointing of Angus Taylor as the minister for bringing down ­energy prices gave a practical sense of direction to the policy challenge that has been lacking for more than decade.

A vocal group in the partyroom wishes the Prime Minister was driven less by the Paris target. Another vocal section urges him to do more. Yet the party has seldom been more comfortable in its own skin on climate policy, having re­framed the question in economic rather than scientific terms.

Crucially, the energy policy challenge has evolved in the past three years since the closure of coal-fired power stations in South Australia and Victoria brought home the vulnerabilities of wind and solar.

The gap in the market is now supply that backs up renewables, rather than baseload, reducing the reliance on coal and putting the focus on the supply of gas. Labor shows no signs of coming to terms with this development.

The government is at last starting to parade its achievements, dispelling the myth that it has been sitting on its hands.

Labor had expected to contain emissions at 635 million tonnes by now by imposing a carbon tax. The Coali­tion has managed to reduce emissions to 532 million tonnes without one. Wholesale electricity prices are down 35 per cent year on year. The retail price has fallen for four consecutive quarters. The carbon footprint of the average Australian is well on its way to being half as big as it was in 2005.

It makes it almost impossible for Labor to take a position sufficiently different from the Coali­tion to make a fight of it. Entering a bidding war with the Greens, as it tried to do last time, would put blue-collar seats in danger.

It is little wonder that a growing group in Labor is urging Albanese to sue for peace by adopting policies close to those of the ­government and seeking a bipartisan solution.

A couple of years ago the Coali­tion would have jumped at the chance to neutralise climate as an election issue. Its elevation as a party-political issue in the first place puts Australia at odds with most other Western democracies.

Right now, however, there is little enthusiasm in the Coalition for extending an olive branch. Much better to watch the opposition squirm.



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Monday, February 17, 2020

Do ‘green’ buses pass the performance test?

Do they even pass basic energy, environmental, economic and human rights tests?

Duggan Flanakin

Should Americans follow China in a massive commitment to supposedly eco-friendly battery-electric buses (BEBs)?  California has mandated a “carbon-free” bus system by 2040 and will buy only battery or fuel cell-powered buses after 2029.  Other states and cities are following suit.

Vehicle decisions are typically based on cost and performance. Cost includes selling price plus maintenance, while performance now includes perceived environmental impacts – which for some is the only issue that matters. But that perception ignores some huge ecological (and human rights) issues.

China today has 420,000 BEBs on the road, with plans to reach 600,000 by 2025.  The rest of the world has maybe 5,000 of these expensive, short-range buses. However, the Chinese still get 70% of their energy from coal, so are their BEBs really that green? Are they safe? And are they really ethical?

Battery costs are the main reason BEBs today are much more expensive than buses that run on diesel or compressed natural gas. But bus makers say electric buses require less maintenance, and climate activists say the lower net “carbon footprint” (carbon dioxide emissions) justifies paying a little more.

China gets around the up-front cost problem by establishing national mandates, heavily subsidizing bus (and battery) manufacturers, and rewarding cities that replace entire bus fleets at one time. This ensures that their factories benefit from economies of scale – and that the transition will be swift and complete.

Beijing simply dodges the environmental costs by ignoring the fossil fuels, horrific pollution and human illnesses involved in mining, ore processing and manufacturing processes associated with building the buses. California and other “renewable” energy advocates do likewise. In fact, those costs will skyrocket as China, California and the world emphasize electric vehicle, wind, solar and battery technologies.

Meanwhile, the USA and EU nations focus on subsidizing passenger cars. Thus, there are far more zero-emission passenger cars on the road today in the U.S. and Europe than public transit vehicles. No wonder Westerners still view electric vehicles as subsidized luxuries for the “woke wealthy,” who boast about lowering their carbon footprint, despite also often needing fossil fuel electricity to charge batteries.

The huge costs for fast-charging stations across Europe, let alone the vast United States, pose more huge challenges for future expansion of the electric vehicle market. But transit vehicles, even school buses, run regular routes, and if the routes are short enough, the bus can be recharged overnight in the garages.

Tax credits, free HOV lane access, free charging stations and other subsidies for the rich are seen by most as terrible policies. Yet another, says University of California–Davis researcher Hanjiro Ambrose, is the Federal Transit Administration funding formulas that favor short-term cost-efficiency over long-term innovation. “Those funding mechanisms haven’t been aligned with trying to stimulate policy change,” Ambrose says. “The cheapest technology available isn’t usually the newest technology available.”

To work around high upfront battery costs, innovative capitalists are creating new financial products that allow fleet owners to finance battery purchases. Treating battery costs the same way as fuel costs – as ongoing expenses – meets federal guidelines. Matt Horton, chief commercial officer for U.S. BEB maker Proterra, says, “The importance of the private capital coming into this market cannot be understated.”

Green advocates admit the primary reason people choose EVs is their belief that electric cars and buses, even with electricity generated from fossil fuels, are good for the environment. The Union of Concerned Scientists claims BEBs are 2.5 times cleaner in terms of lifespan emissions than diesel buses. That is highly questionable. Moreover, BEBs with today’s strongest batteries can take a full load no more than 150 miles in good weather. That’s fine for airport shuttles, maybe even for short public transit routes.

However, electric battery life is shorter than the 12-year vehicle life that many transit and school bus systems rely upon in their budgets. Battery replacement for BEBs is very expensive and unpredictable.

And then there are the horror stories. Los Angeles Metro purchased BEBs from Chinese-owned BYD Ltd. but yanked the first five off the road within a few months. Agency staff called the buses “unsuitable,” poorly made, and unreliable for more than 100 miles. Albuquerque returned seven out of its 16 BYD buses, citing cracks, leaking fluid, axle problems and inability to hold charges.

French journalist Alon Levy reported that BEB sales teams in Vancouver admitted their buses could not run for an entire day without recharging during layovers. Worse, in Minneapolis, bus performance suffers tremendously in cold weather: at 20o F buses cannot last all day; on Super Bowl Sunday, at 5o F, a battery bus lasted only 40 minutes and traveled barely 16 miles. Imagine being in a BEB in a blizzard.

In largely rural Maine, lawmakers proposed converting all school buses to BEBs. But Maine Heritage Policy Center policy analyst Adam Crepeau found that BEBs can travel no more than 135 miles per charge (in good weather), while diesel buses go up to 400 miles and can be refilled quickly almost anywhere. “This,” he said, “will severely impact the ability of schools to use them for longer trips, for sporting events, field trips and other experiences for students.” Or in bitterly cold Maine winters.

The economic and practical bottom line is simple. Activists and sales teams are pressing American cities, school boards and other public entities to follow China and convert their fleets to BEBs, calling them “the wave of the future.” Even in California, where lengthy power outages have become routine, this climate and anti-fossil ideology dominates. Given the growing vulnerability of our electric grid, among other concerns, cost and performance may not be the only considerations in making such an irreversible choice.

The environmental and ethical bottom line is equally simple – but routinely gets shunted aside.

Electric vehicles require about three times more copper than internal combustion equivalents – plus lithium, cobalt and other metals for their batteries. Wind turbines need some 200 times more steel, copper, plastics, rare earths, concrete and other materials per megawatt than combined-cycle gas turbines. Photovoltaic solar panels have similar materials requirements. 100% “renewable, sustainable” Green New Deal electricity systems on US or Chinese scales would require millions of turbines, billions of solar panels and billions of half-ton Tesla-style battery packs for cars, buses and backup electricity storage.

Those technologies, on those scales, would require mining at levels unprecedented in world history! And the environmental and human rights record we’ve seen for those high-tech metals is terrifying.

Lithium comes mostly from Tibet and the Argentina-Bolivia-Chile “lithium triangle,” where contaminated lands and waters are poisoning fish, livestock, wildlife and people. Most cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 40,000 children and their parents slave in open pits and dark, narrow tunnels – and get exposed constantly to filthy, toxic, radioactive mud, dust, water and air. Broken bones, suffocation, blood and respiratory diseases, birth defects, cancer and paralysis are commonplace.

Nearly all the world’s rare earth elements come from Inner Mongolia. Mining the ores involves pumping acid into the ground and processing them with more acids and chemicals. Black sludge from the operations is piped to a huge foul-smelling “lake” that is surrounded by formerly productive farmlands that are now so toxic that nothing can grow on them, and people and wildlife have just moved away. Here too, severe skin and respiratory diseases, cancers and other terrible illnesses have become commonplace.

In many of these cases, the mining and processing operations are run by Chinese companies, under minimal to nonexistent pollution control, workplace safety, fair wage, child labor or other basic standards that American, Canadian, Australian and European companies are expected to follow.

And this is just for today’s “renewable, sustainable, ethical, Earth-friendly, green” technologies. Just imagine what we are likely to see if China, California, New York, Europe and countless other places start mandating a fossil-fuel-free future – and then shut down nuclear power, to boot. Where will we get all the raw materials? Where will we put all the wind turbines, solar panels, batteries and transmission lines?

The prospect is horrifying. And it’s all justified by exaggerated fears of a climate apocalypse. Crazy!

Via email. Duggan Flanakin is director of policy research for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT)

Bernie’s Green New Deal to go 100 percent renewable in 10 years would destroy America

By Robert Romano

Are the American people about to vote to destroy the way of life?

If socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) is elected, his utopian promise to implement a 10-year Soviet-style Gosplan to end oil and gas consumption —the Green New Deal—will radically transform the U.S. economy, and possibly leave America in the dark and cold.

The plan, according to Sanders’ website, calls for “[r]eaching 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030 and complete decarbonization of the economy by 2050 at latest – consistent with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change goals – by expanding the existing federal Power Marketing Administrations to build new solar, wind, and geothermal energy sources.”

All sources of non-renewable energy accounting for 62 percent of the electricity grid would need to be replaced. No more coal, natural gas or petroleum based electricity generation. Those aren’t renewable.

In addition, 19 percent of the grid via nuclear power would come to an end, too, even though it doesn’t emit carbon. New nuclear plant construction would cease under the Sanders plan.

Every building including 129 million households would all have to be upgraded to no longer emit any carbon.

Home heating and hot water heaters via natural gas and oil would all have to be replaced. So would all of your stoves if they run on fire. Are you ready for winter yet?

Every car and truck—more than 250 million—that runs on gasoline and diesel would have to be replaced.

Convenient air travel would have to be banned.

The oil, coal and gas industries will be eliminated.

To get across the country, you’d probably have to take a train. Overseas? Hope you got your sea legs.

This is a dagger pointed at the heart of Middle America. Do you commute to work in a car? Do you live in a single family home? Can you afford tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars of upgrades for your home? How about a new electric car? Does that fit in your budget?

Work in the energy industry? Drive trucks for a living? Not any more. It’s job retraining camp for you.

The Green New Deal would change everything, compelling millions of Americans to probably move to warmer areas to survive as the federal government unilaterally ends the industrial revolution — the reason we’re such a prosperous species — with a radical revolution of its own.

The U.S. emits about 5.1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide every year as of 2017, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency: 45 percent from petroleum, 29 percent from natural gas and 26 percent from coal.

Of the portion of emissions devoted to natural gas, 1.47 billion metric tons a year, only 506 million is from electricity generation. The rest is from heating homes in the winter, making hot water, cooking food and the like

And then there’s the rest of the world — another 30 billion metric tons a year or so — which of course the plan fails to specify how much of that the U.S. will have to subsidize, too, in order to reach the goal of cutting emissions in half globally by 2030 outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at the United Nations.

That’s right. To get it done, we have to work out a cooperative plan with China, Russia, Europe and the rest of the world to halve carbon-based production that they need to keep their billions of peoples fed and warm in the winter.

How do we intend to persuade the world to commit economic suicide? Even if some sort of agreement could somehow be made, it would surely be a tyrannical scheme to arrest economic development, sacrificing an entire generation of opportunity and innovation on the altar of radical environmentalism.

This would set back economic progress for decades or longer and crash the global economy and dislodge hundreds of millions of careers.

There are also opportunity costs to be considered. What technological innovations, say in the fields of carbon capture, might have been achieved if the economy had kept growing the way it was before we willingly turned the lights out? What improvements to our lives will be foregone in the pursuit of a utopia?

In 2020, Americans will have a choice to make about which future they want to raise their children in. One where the government dictates allowances and rations resources, forces you to rebuild your homes and every other building in the country under Bernie Sanders, or one where Americans keep their liberty and the freedom to harness the gifts God gave humans to keep the economy growing.


Facing the challenges of climate change at the bedside

Warm weather can be bad for you in some ways but attributing it to global warming is tendentious.  Cold weather is also bad for you but is agreed to be natural. How do we know the warming is not also natural?  It's just a sermon for true believers below.  One hopes that most doctors ignore it

About three years ago, Dr. Aaron Bernstein, a pediatric hospitalist at Boston Children’s Hospital, ordered intravenous fluids for an infant who had become dehydrated. He was shocked to receive an alert that IV fluids — a common, life-saving treatment — were being rationed. The reason: Hurricane Maria had shut down the Puerto Rican plant that makes them.

Last summer, the wife of an elderly man living near the top of a low-income high-rise called 911 because he seemed confused. When EMTs opened the door to the dwelling, they were met by a heat blast they likened to the Sahara Desert. Taken to the Massachusetts General Hospital emergency department, the man was found to have a temperature of 106 degrees. He was diagnosed with heat stroke.

In disparate parts of the city, in patients young and old, medical professionals are seeing the effects of climate change in their own practices. And for the first time, some 150 gathered Thursday to start planning a response.

Sponsored by the New England Journal of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and all of Boston’s teaching hospitals, the Climate Crisis and Clinical Practice Symposium aimed “to bring the issue of climate change directly to the bedside,” said Bernstein, interim chief of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and one of the event’s organizers.

The issue is especially salient in Boston because air and water temperatures and sea levels in the Northeast are rising faster than elsewhere.

“The climate crisis has created an unprecedented future that looks nothing like what we have experienced,” said Dr. Renee N. Salas, an emergency medicine doctor at Mass. General. “We are the ones that are experiencing this first and need to work collectively with the rest of the country.”

Thursday’s gathering at a conference center in the Longwood medical area was the first of eight similar efforts to galvanize health care systems to face the reality of climate change. Six additional symposiums are scheduled over the next year and a half in United States and one in Australia, as medical professionals grapple with the myriad ways that climate change affects health — especially for the most vulnerable, including children, the elderly, and poor and marginalized people.

Responding to climate change involves more than contending with more severe storms and disruptions of supply chains and power grids — although those will be big challenges to the health care system.

Global warming affects both health and health care. Heat stress can lead to heart attacks, kidney stones, and preterm birth. Cholera, dengue, Lyme disease and valley fever are all increasing in incidence and also expanding their range. With warmer springs and later winters, the pollen season is getting longer and also more severe, because carbon dioxide prompts plants to release more pollen. That increases asthma attacks, as does air pollution.

The heat also affects the way medications work. Drugs for depression, heart disease, and kidney failure can be less safe in hot weather. People taking beta blockers for high blood pressure are more likely to faint in hot weather. EpiPens and albuterol can be rendered ineffective by extreme heat if left inside cars.

Dr. Gaurab Basu, a primary care physician at the Cambridge Health Alliance, told the group about a 27-year-old patient who developed end-stage kidney disease caused by chronic exposure to heat. The man, an immigrant, had worked on sugar farms in El Salvador.

But his case got Basu thinking about the many people doing physical labor outside, especially in urban “heat islands” where asphalt and concrete can make the temperature 10 or 15 degrees higher than elsewhere. They could be injuring their kidneys day after day without knowing it.

Salas, the doctor who took care of the man with heat stroke, noted that he came to the hospital with a diagnosis of fever. The EMTs’ account of the heat in his apartment tipped off doctors to the true problem. But doctors, she said, need to “add a climate lens” to their diagnostics.

The man survived, but Salas doesn’t know whether he suffered long-term harm. And she wonders about his wife, who was “left in the same conditions that nearly killed her husband.”

At Thursday’s symposium Salas recalled other cases where the “climate lens” was needed. The 4-year-old who came in with her third asthma attack in a week, apparently the result of high pollen levels triggered by carbon dioxide in the environment. The woman who came from Puerto Rico after Maria with a plastic bag filled with empty medicine containers, begging for refills. “We think about climate refugees happening in other places, but she was internally displaced,” Salas said.

Equally as serious as the physical threats are the dangers that climate change poses to mental health. Trauma among people displaced from their homes by storms will do lasting damage. But even before any storm hits, heat is known to boost aggression and violence.

Extreme heat "makes all mental illnesses worse,” said Dr. Gary Belkin, a psychiatrist and visiting scientist at the Harvard climate group. Emergency room visits for mental crises and psychiatric hospitalizations go up during heat waves.

More broadly, many otherwise healthy people are suffering psychologically, with impaired concentration, loss of sleep, and inability to enjoy things resulting from the ceaseless background anxiety over climate change.

One the best ways to deal with those fears is take action, speakers said. The symposium’s organizers are urging doctors, in particular, to step up in public and private ways.

“We need to start talking about this in general, both to other providers and our patients,” said Dr. Lucy Marcil, a Boston Medical Center pediatrician. “Because if people aren’t aware of it, they can’t act on it.”

Dr. Caren Solomon, deputy editor of the New England Journal of Medicine and a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, urges doctors to educate their patients about climate change when it comes up naturally in the exam room. For example, a doctor could mention that pollution caused a patient’s worsening asthma or that warming winters contributed to their greater risk of Lyme disease.

As one of the most trusted professions, Solomon said, physicians should also speak out publicly about the climate’s effect on health, contacting legislators, pressing for divestment in fossil fuel companies, and participating in public protests.

And they need to talk to one another. Dr. Mary Rice, a pulmonary and critical care doctor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said it has often been difficult to discuss climate change with her colleagues.

“Climate change for many decades was treated as a fringe issue even though the science has been so strong for so long,” Rice said. “One of the things we have to do as clinicians is get over that stigma and be confident that the science is strong.”


Save gas – sack this ignoramus

THE Sunday Telegraph reports that climate change minister Lord Duncan of Springbank is contemplating banning gas central heating to ensure that the UK meets its 2050 zero carbon target. This ill-considered announcement is utter drivel, which is becoming a characteristic of both BoJo’s government and the climate change/zero carbon debate.

First, some facts from the 2018 government Digest of UK Energy Statistics (DUKES):

Of the 1,700 Terawatt hours (TWh) of energy consumed by the UK, 600 TWh was provided by natural gas for heating. That’s both domestic and industrial. (Another 273 TWh of gas was used to generate electricity, but that’s not relevant here.)

By comparison the total amount of electricity produced in the UK in 2018 was 330 TWh, of which half came from fossil fuels. Which raises the questions of where the additional electricity needed if gas is central heating is banned is to come from, and how it is to get from the power station (or wind/solar farm) to the user.

It can really come from only one of three sources: nuclear, solar or wind. The latter two are climate-dependent. As one of the effects of global warming is increasingly active weather (more cloud, more storms and stronger winds) it seems bizarre to choose to rely on them. As I have previously written, we would also need an awful lot of wind turbines (250,000, twenty times the number installed) and solar parks (some 10 per cent of the UK’s agricultural acres in the South). Or about 50 Hinkley Point-sized nuclear power stations.

That’s trivial compared with the problems of storing and distributing electricity. Batteries are expensive, require much energy to make and have a limited life. Getting the electricity to the user is the tough bit. There are 22million houses on mains gas, some 80 per cent of UK homes. If their gas is to be replaced by electricity it may well involve upgrading the entire low voltage distribution for the street – more so if electric battery cars become the norm.

Delivering that by 2050 means converting 730,000 houses per year, which is 3,000 per working day or 375 per working hour for the next 30 years. As yet there is simply not the capacity to deliver that. And it doesn’t sound cheap – it’s an additional cost to producing the electricity.

Nor is it necessary. The problem is not the gas infrastructure, it’s the gas. If we switched from methane to hydrogen we could reuse the infrastructure as most of the grid is hydrogen ready, and the rest is being converted. Those who are concerned about hydrogen should remember that until the late 1990s we used ‘coal gas’ which was about 50 per cent hydrogen. Producing pure hydrogen can be done by electrolysis directly from electricity, with an efficiency of about 60 per cent including compression and distribution. Hydrogen can be stored in the existing gas network, so supplies can be built up in the warm months to cover the cold.

As the minister (or his advisers) should know.

Lord Duncan has a doctorate in palaeontology and a degree in geology. He then became a EU policy wonk and ultimately an MEP. He stood for Parliament in 2017 and lost by 21 votes. His qualification for his current position escapes me. Sorting out zero carbon is not a political thing, it’s a technical and engineering challenge. Just an idea, but maybe it’s time for the Prime Minister to ennoble and appoint some industrial and engineering experts rather than failed political hacks.


This fire season, areas of Australia have burnt that used to be too wet to burn

Australia is a land of natural climate extremes.  Always has been. And we had one of our periodic extremes recently. A combination of severe drought and unusually high temperatures  amplified our usual summer bushfires.

A historical perspective is missing in most commentary on it.  Claims that the 2019/20 fires were unprecedented simply show how short memories are. The area burnt, for instance, was much greater in 1974/75.  And who remembers that in the Sydney of 1790 (Yes. 1790, not 1970) bats and birds were falling out of the trees from heat exhaustion?

But weather is highly variable from place to place and time to time so some areas were drier than usual. Some areas had dried out that usually remained damp -- resulting in the events described below

I have deleted below all the claims that the fires were influenced by global warming.  The floods that have immediately followed the fires and put them out are also a great extreme.  Were they caused by global warming too?  Even Warmists have seen the incongruity of claiming that global warming could cause both drought and floods in quick succession so have generally gone silent about climate change.  But if climate change did not cause the floods, how can we know that it caused the drought? We cannot.

There is absolutely no way we can prove that climate change had any influence on the fires.  Claims that climate change did have an influence are mere assertion, mere opinion, mere propaganda.  There are well-established methods in science for establishing causes. None of them were applicable to the recent extreme events.  So there is no reason to believe that the recent events were anything more than normal variations

Binna Burra Lodge in the Gold Coast hinterland was 81-year-old Tony Groom’s life. His father founded the mountain hiking retreat in the 1930s, Tony ran it in the 60s and 70s, and his daughter, Lisa, 52, grew up there.

The lodge’s wooden cabins, bordered by rainforest on one side and eucalypts on the other, were a touchstone for people’s lives: for weddings, wakes and walks around the ancient world heritage forests of Lamington national park.

Next door, Tony and his late wife, Connie, lived for almost 40 years in Alcheringa, a stone-walled house with a deck where Lisa and her brother would dangle their feet out over the Coomera Valley

On the morning of 8 September 2019 the lodge, the heritage-listed cabins and the Grooms’ family homestead were razed to the ground by a bushfire. About 450 hectares of rainforest burned around Binna Burra that day – the kind of lush forest that doesn’t usually burn.

Firefighters use the forest fire danger index to tell them how bad conditions are. The index combines the key ingredients that influence a bushfire – temperature, wind speed, humidity and the dryness of the “fuel”, including grasses and fallen wood from trees.

The trends show not only that conditions are becoming more dangerous, but that the fire season is starting earlier.

The number of severe bushfire danger days has increased in spring for large parts of Australia

Australia’s spring months are September, October and November. The spring of 2019 was the worst year on record for high-risk bushfire weather in south-east Queensland, and for the entire country.

The conditions that helped a fire take hold at Sarabah, north-west of Binna Burra, had been building since the beginning of the year.

Rainfall was well below average, the ground was unusually dry and, in the days before the fire struck, daytime maximum temperatures were at near-record levels after months of hotter-than-average weather.

Then came the winds.

Australia’s devastating fire season of 2019 and 2020 has so far burned through more than 7.7 million hectares in the south-eastern states, claiming 33 lives and almost 3,000 homes. Firefighters have never experienced anything like it.

Neither has Australia. 2019 was the hottest and driest year on record.

The kind of conditions that have delivered devastating and deadly major bushfires in the recent past are going to increase, according to Dr Richard Thornton, the chief executive of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre.

“People tend to base their risk perception on what they’ve experienced before – a bushfire every 50 or 100 years,” Thornton says. “Their risk perception is based on history. But history is not a good predictor of the future.

As for the home at Alcheringa, and Binna Burra Lodge, there are plans to rebuild in a way that will minimise damage from future fires. But they know the future will be different.



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


Sunday, February 16, 2020

Patrick Moore: I was banned from speaking in Regina over this alternative CO2 point of view

"There is no doubt in my mind that on balance our CO2 emissions are 100 per cent positive for the continuation of life on Earth"

Commercial greenhouse growers around the world inject CO2 into their greenhouses to double and triple the concentration compared to present atmospheric levels.

Late last Friday I was deplatformed for the first time in my 45 years of giving keynote speeches at conferences around the world. The City of Regina, which through my speaker’s bureau had signed a contract with me to kick off their Reimagine Regina Conference in May, caved to local activists and told me I should stay home.

In its announcement regarding my banishment, the city said it did not want “to spark a debate on climate change.” It said the stated goal of the conference is “to make the city’s facilities and operations 100 per cent renewable by 2050.” In other words, municipal officials wanted me to say what they wanted me to say and not what I wanted to say to them. That’s just not how I operate.

Regina is one of at least 54 cities and towns in Canada that have declared a state of “climate emergency.” This is political virtue-signalling at its disingenuous best: the only people fleeing any emergency from these cities are doing so to escape the frigid winter by flying to a warmer country further south. Not a lot of Canadians from our southern regions are heading to Yellowknife or Inuvik, N.W.T, to escape global warming. The climate emergency is at best a bad joke. It might even be amusing were it not threatening to ban the primary energy sources — natural gas, oil and coal — that provide 85 per cent of global energy and make our civilization possible.

Of the 195 countries recognized by the United Nations, Canada is the coldest, with an annual average temperature of -5.35 C. (Russia is number 2 only because it doesn’t have islands situated near the North Pole.) It strikes me as odd that the world’s coldest country worries more about warming than the people of India, Brazil or Saudi Arabia, where it really is warm. These countries don’t have carbon taxes that punish farmers for fuelling their tractors or policies that are aimed at destroying much of their country’s natural resource sector.

Why do I believe CO2 emissions from using fossil fuels to power modern societies are not “pollution” that will bring about the apocalypse? Let me count the ways.

First and foremost, CO2 is the most important food for all life on earth. On both land and in the sea all the carbon for carbon-based life, which is all life, comes from CO2. All green plants on land and all plants in the sea, phytoplankton and kelps, combine CO2 with H2O and by photosynthesis produce the sugars that provide the energy source for all life, including ours. The increase in CO2 due to our emissions has resulted in a greening of the planet and an expansion of forests. This is not contested.

Second, during the hundreds of millions of years since modern life evolved from primitive, single-celled life in the sea, CO2 in the atmosphere and oceans has steadily declined. This is primarily due to the advent of calcifying marine species that use CO2 and calcium dissolved in the sea to make protective shells of calcium carbonate (limestone) for themselves (corals, clams, mussels, shrimp and many planktonic species, etc.). As a result, CO2 in the atmosphere fell from at least 0.6 per cent to 0.018 per cent only 20,000 years ago at the last glacial maximum.

Third, both cement production and our use of fossil fuels are putting CO2 back into the atmosphere and the oceans. Both its very long-term depletion and the return of CO2 to the atmosphere by our burning of fossil fuels and production of cement were inadvertent. There is no credit or blame, just pure scientific facts.

There is no doubt in my mind that on balance our CO2 emissions are 100 per cent positive for the continuation of life on Earth. Commercial greenhouse growers around the world inject CO2 into their greenhouses to double and triple the concentration compared to present atmospheric levels. By doing so they increase the growth and yield of their crops by 20 to 60 per cent. This, too, is uncontested.

I realize this is a hypothesis that not many people have heard about, thanks to the wall of “denial” that has been created by the climate emergency crowd. But I know that this analysis of CO2 history will eventually win the day, as it is a provable fact. I could have presented my ideas to the Regina audience — after all, science is about continual discovery — but they turned me away rather than listen to an alternative point of view.


U.S. Leads World in Decreasing CO2 Emissions

When President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the dubious Paris Agreement in June 2017, climate activists, world leaders, and the Democrat Media Complex immediately protested, declaring that the Trump administration was signaling its intention to increase CO2 emissions. Fast-forward to Tuesday's report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) evaluating CO2 emissions around the globe. Lo and behold, the U.S. led the world in 2019 for "the largest decline in energy-related CO2 emissions." The IEA's report further noted that "US emissions are now down almost 1 Gt [gross tonnage] from their peak in the year 2000, the largest absolute decline by any country over that period." As Sen. Ted Cruz observed, that's a "fact you will never see on the 6 o'clock news."

In fact, far from the dire predictions since Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the U.S. has not only continued its trend of decreasing CO2 emissions but increased the rate of the decrease. The primary cause for this precipitous decline is not due to more government regulation; rather it has everything to do with the government getting out of the way of innovation brought on by capitalistic enterprise. "Coal-fired power plants faced even stronger competition from natural gas-fired generation, with benchmark gas prices an average of 45% lower than 2018 levels," the report notes. This move to more natural-gas-fired power plants is thanks in large measure to increased fracking lowering the cost of natural gas — "as a result, gas increased its share in electricity generation to a record high of 37%."

Furthermore, the dubious Paris Agreement seems to have had little effect on reining in the world's largest CO2-emitting country, China, which remains a signatory. As The Daily Wire observes, "The IEA noted that 80% of the increase in CO2 emissions came from Asia and that China and India both contributed significantly to the increase."

Meanwhile, climate alarmists like Democrat presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are calling for a national ban on fracking — the very thing responsible for reducing emissions. On Wednesday, AOC announced her legislation, the Fracking Ban Act. "Fracking is destroying our land and our water," she asserted in her announcement. "It is wreaking havoc on our communities' health. We must do our job to protect our future from the harms caused by the fracking industry."

There is little evidence supporting AOC's dubious claims of harm, but there is solid scientific evidence of the benefits fracking has afforded the U.S. As National Review reports, "The fracking boom is widely credited with turning the U.S. into a net energy exporter and reducing the country's reliance on oil imports. While environmentalists have voiced concerns over the drilling method, fracking proponents have pointed to the economic benefit it brings to the U.S. and the industry's increased attention to environmental concerns."

In reality, should Warren and AOC's fracking ban occur, it would not only end America's energy independence but reverse the country's decreasing rate of CO2 emissions. Finally, if Warren and AOC were truly concerned with cutting the nation's emissions, they would be the biggest advocates for increasing the use of nuclear power. Instead, they have called for that to be banned as well. As Warren stated last September, "In my administration, we won't be building new nuclear plants. We will start weaning ourselves off nuclear and replace it with renewables."

It's clear the leftist agenda has little to do with addressing the challenges of climate change and everything to do with pushing socialism.


Ocasio-Cortez Is Sponsoring a Bill to Ban Fracking Across US

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced a nationwide fracking ban Wednesday.

The Democratic New York congresswoman’s bill is a companion to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ legislation seeking to ban fracking across the country by 2025. If passed, the laws would prohibit natural gas production within 2,500 feet of homes and schools by 2021 and help transition energy workers away from the industry.

“Fracking is destroying our land and our water,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “It is wreaking havoc on our communities’ health. We must do our job to protect our future from the harms caused by the fracking industry.” Sanders announced his bill in February.

“If we want to transition from fossil fuel emissions as we work towards building a 100% clean economy, pulling back from fracking is a critical first step,” he said in a statement. “Failure to act will only make the crisis at hand even more detrimental for future generations of Americans.”

Ocasio-Cortez and Soto’s bill comes less than a year after Ocasio-Cortez introduced the so-called Green New Deal, which, among other things, calls for “10-year national mobilizations” toward addressing climate change.

The Green New Deal would reportedly phase out fossil fuels within 12 years, but could cost trillions of dollars, reports show. Americans could be forced to pay up to $93 trillion to implement the proposal over 10 years, conservative-leaning American Action Forum noted in a study in February 2019.

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren signed on as Senate co-sponsor of the proposal before it met its demise in the Senate in March 2019.


UK: There’s nothing democratic about this climate assembly. This is a cynical attempt to lend a democratic gloss to eco-austerity


The first two meetings of Climate Assembly UK, dubbed a ‘citizens’ assembly’ on climate change, have taken place in Birmingham over the course of a couple of weekends in January and February.

The climate assembly has brought together 110 randomly selected members of the public to discuss a range of climate issues and policies with a range of experts, including David Attenborough. The task of the assembly, which will meet over two more weekends this spring, is to decide on a set of recommendations for how the government can best meet its pledge to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The reason for establishing the climate assembly is clear enough. It is an attempt to exorcise the democratic deficit that haunts political environmentalism. And it seeks to do this by involving a tiny, but supposedly representative, sample of citizens in the policymaking process. But can it really achieve its aim, given it excludes approximately 45million other members of the electorate from its decision-making?

In short, no. Watching the proceedings of the first assembly, it became clear very quickly that the process is rigged in favour of the environmentalist agenda. Expert after expert, each echoing the same message, made his or her presentation to the assembly. This was followed by a rapid question-and-answer session in which the assembled were told what’s what by said experts. It didn’t look much like a democratic debate. It looked like instruction.

These shortcomings should not be a surprise, however, given the climate assembly’s origins. Initially advocated by Extinction Rebellion, the climate assembly was eventually set up last year by six House of Commons select committees, in partnership with several third-sector organisations. None of these organisations has a democratic mandate. But they do all have a commitment to promoting the green agenda.

Take, for instance, the participation of Involve, the Sortition Foundation, and mySociety. These three organisations claim to want to encourage democratic engagement, and to reformulate the democratic process. All noble aims. But their role in the climate assembly is less to encourage democratic engagement than to limit and set the parameters of debate. Hence, the climate assembly will not hear from anyone remotely critical of climate science, environmental ideology or emissions-reduction policies.

Dig deeper and you discover that the majority of the assembly’s funding comes from the the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (EFF) (which also funds Involve and mySociety), and the European Climate Foundation (ECF). These are not neutral organisations. Both the EFF and the ECF are explicitly committed to promoting an environmentalist agenda. As the ECF puts it on its website: ‘[We call for] the transformation of our systems and markets and the creation of a Net Zero society.’

The ECF is also the major funding partner of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), which provides communication support for the assembly. Indeed, the ECF is one of the largest funders of climate-change campaigns throughout Europe.

The ECF itself is part-funded by the US-based organisation it best resembles: the ClimateWorks Foundation. According to its website, the ClimateWorks Foundation acts as a ‘strategist to a wide range of foundations, helping them evaluate the global landscape of greenhouse-gas-reductions opportunities, develop philanthropic strategies, and coordinate and evaluate their investments’. Or, in other words, it acts as an environmentalist coordinator, distributing millions upon millions of dollars to numerous climate campaigns, using the funds of a few foundations.

The ECF does something similar in Europe. It distributes funding to myriad campaigning organisations. These organisations, like the ECIU, are intended to appear as autonomous ‘grassroots’ groups. But they all act under the umbrella of the ECF. Such organisations make much of the virtue of ‘transparency’ in public life. But when I approached the ECF for details of which organisations it funds, and who it is funded by, its representative refused to tell me.

Through its various organisational money-go-rounds, the ECF is not so much fostering civil-society participation as it is trying to enforce groupthink. Just look at the climate assembly in action. It is a choreographed exercise, in which the participants are directed towards the ‘correct’ conclusions.

For instance, during one question-and-answer session, Joanna Haigh, a former co-director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London, was asked about other countries’ commitments to reducing CO2 emissions – the implication being that if other countries are committed to reducing CO2 emissions, then the UK ought to be, too. Haigh said that other nations were indeed set on reducing CO2 emissions. She even told the assembly that China, one of the world’s largest CO2 emitters, has decided it is not going to build any more coal-fired power stations.

But this is not true. In the period up to 2050, during which the UK has pledged to reduce CO2 emissions to Net Zero, China has committed to increase its use of coal. And not just domestically. It is also financing coal-infrastructure projects across Asia and Africa.

Haigh is not some undergraduate fudging an answer to an exam. She is an ‘expert’. Her role in the climate assembly is to provide the participants with the facts on which they are to base their decisions. But she didn’t provide a fact. She provided a fiction that suited the environmentalist agenda of the climate assembly.

Perhaps Haigh was simply mistaken. Either way, she was not challenged within the climate assembly. And that is the key problem with this setup. It doesn’t allow for the robust, open debate one might expect of the public sphere proper. Instead it elevates its chosen experts to positions of authority – positions, that is, above scrutiny. As a result, mistakes and falsehoods can proliferate unchallenged.

Of course, a few of the 110 assembly members might spot the errors. They might rise to the challenge and take on the experts. But it is far more likely that they will be hectored into submission by the endless ‘expert-led’ repetition of one side of the argument.

If, as seems to be the intention, the government uses the recommendations of the climate assembly to formulate future climate policy, it will not be a victory for democracy. The only true democratic test of the government’s carbon-cutting policies is a free and open debate, in which all views can be heard, not just those of 110 ‘jurors’ and their hand-picked ‘expert’ witnesses.


Finkel: Coal could be sidelined by a push for gas to serve as a transition fuel, and a move toward renewably produced hydrogen

I watched most of Finkel's speech on TV. It was politely received: No eruptions from critics in either direction.  His logic about the interim use of natural gas was basically irrefutable.

Where he went off the rails was in his advocacy of hydrogen as the ultimate fuel. That idea has been around for many years but stumbles on questions of cost and safety.  Basically you take a fuel that is usable in its own right and use its energy to produce a new fuel.  That is very inefficient and inevitably more costly than just using the fuel you already have to do other things

Finkel saw hydrogen as particularly good for powering motor vehicles.  That is again pie in the sky. You need a heavy pressure vessel to store hydrogen and that is both more costly, more tricky to deal with and more dangerous than the simple sheet metal tank that normal motor fuels require

Not gonna happen

Australia’s chief scientist, Alan Finkel, has come out in support of the government’s strategy of using gas as a transition fuel to generate electricity while the sector moves away from coal toward clean energy sources.

“We cannot abruptly cease our use of energy,” he told the National Press Club this week. “Make no mistake, this will be the biggest engineering challenge ever undertaken. The energy system is huge, and even with an internationally committed and focused effort, the transition will take many decades.”

“Ultimately, we will need to complement solar and wind with a range of other technologies such as high levels of storage, long-distance transmission, and much better efficiency in the way we use energy.”

“But while these technologies are being scaled up, we need an energy companion today that can react rapidly to changes in solar and wind output. An energy companion that is itself relatively low in emissions, and that only operates when needed. In the short-term, as the prime minister and Minister Angus Taylor have previously stated, natural gas will play that critical role.”

The strategy was first flagged in 2015 by the then-Minister for Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg but was picked up by Prime Minster Scott Morrison just last month, amid devastating bushfires, which climate scientists and bushfire experts have linked to Australia’s love affair with coal and other fossil fuels.

Since the Morrison government has shown a renewed interest in gas, some coalition MPs, most notably from the National Party and from areas that have for many years relied on exporting coal, have stepped up their defense of it and have begun petitioning for government subsidies for coal-fired power.

Australia’s incoming resources minister, Keith Pitt, hasn’t turned away from coal either, telling The Sydney Morning Herald that he will push for more exports. But Pitt also threw his support behind a plan to extract gas from an area in northern New South Wales following a landmark energy deal between the state and federal government, which would see an investment of $2 billion into the east coast market.

Gas is still a fossil fuel, but not all fossil fuels are created equal. Burning natural gas, for example, produces less than half as much carbon dioxide per unit of electricity compared to coal and reduces emissions by 33 percent when producing heat.

While natural gas produces less carbon dioxide during burning, it is around 30 times better at holding in the atmosphere, meaning that if enough methane leaks during production, it could be as detrimental to the environment as burning coal, if not worse.

In the northern New South Wales region of Narrabri, the proposed big gas project has been met by both stiff resistance and support from locals. Some argue that the environmental effect will be disastrous for the region’s farmers, while others claim that it is essential to create jobs and boost the economy.

The federal government’s backing revived hopes for the plan, which involves ambitions to extract gas from coal seams lying deep beneath the Pilliga Forest.

In return, the federal government asks that the state government set a target of delivering 70 petajoules a year of new gas into the market. Coincidentally, that’s precisely the estimated output of the Narrabri project.

The project is yet to secure the final state and environmental approvals, but gas giant Santos has already invested around $1.5 billion into it, and now with federal backing, it’s likely to pass all checks unabated.

Morrison has ruled out making any similar energy deal with the state of Victoria to help reduce its carbon emissions and lower power costs unless the state government ditches its longstanding ban on onshore gas exploration.

Siding with the federal government, and also seeing gas as a transition fuel, business groups such as the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and the Energy Users Association have urged the state government to expand conventional onshore gas extraction and lift the ban.

The deal would likely also include guarantees against “premature closures” of coal-powered fire stations in Victoria, which provide around 70 percent of the state’s energy. In return, federal investment would likely include power from the Snowy Hydro 2.0 scheme delivered to Melbourne, Ballarat, Shepparton, and other urban centers across the state.

Finkel, who helped prepare and release the National Hydrogen Strategy late last year, stressed that coal was not an option and tipped hydrogen as the way forward during his speech at the National Press Club. “Enter the hero, hydrogen,” he said, after discussing the perils of climate change.

Hydrogen carries more energy than natural gas and is carbon-free, so the burning of it does not contribute to climate change. Hydrogen can, however, be produced in two ways, through the process of electrolysis, using solar and wind, or through chemical process, using combusting fossil fuels like coal and gas.

For now, the hydrogen strategy has recognized the need to reduce emissions to combat climate change and is only considering options using fossil fuels if they come with carbon capture and storage, which involves pumping carbon emissions into underground cavities. According to the Australian Institute, carbon capture and storage projects have a poor track record of delivering on their promises, and now the industry is using the same “unsuccessful technology” to promote hydrogen.

Fears also remain that hydrogen is being used as a lifeline for coal. Prior to discussing the terms of the strategy with Finkel and state energy ministers, Angus Taylor, the federal minister for energy, suggested that hydrogen production should be “technology neutral,” indicating it could be done using coal.



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


Friday, February 14, 2020

Giant iceberg three times the size of PARIS calves off one of Antarctica's fastest-shrinking glaciers

Nothing to see here.  West Antarctica is well-known for subsurface vulcanism.  Volcanoes put out a LOT of heat

A shocking video reveals how a huge chunk of ice more than three times the size of Paris has broken off one of Earth's most critical ice shelves, Pine Island Glacier (PIG).

This enormous frozen river, along with its famed neighbour Thwaites, connects the ocean to mainland Antarctica and is rapidly retreating.

Warmer temperatures are taking their toll on the vulnerable glacier which, if it was to collapse, would trigger a global sea level rise of around four feet.

The huge chunk of calved ice swiftly broke up into smaller icebergs, dubbed 'piglets'.

Scientists at Copernicus have, in partnership with ESA, been monitoring the remote glacier for several years via satellites

A total of 57 independent images taken over 12 months were blended into a short video by ESA.

It reveals how a 120square mile (312 sq km) chunk of ice broke off from the glacier's main body.

This is approximately the size of the island Malta, and three times the size of France's capital city, Paris.

A series of rifts have been monitored since early 2019 and as the satellites passed over the region it caught the moment they finally fell away.

This large piece of ice them fractured into several smaller ones, with one large one iceberg being labelled as B-49.

Mark Drinkwater, senior scientist and cryosphere specialist at ESA said: 'The Copernicus twin Sentinel-1 all-weather satellites have established a porthole through which the public can watch events like this unfold in remote regions around the world.

'What is unsettling is that the daily data stream reveals the dramatic pace at which climate is redefining the face of Antarctica.'

Pine Island is Antarctica's most vulnerable glacier and is the single largest contributor to sea level rise of any ice stream in the world.

Since 2012, the glacier has been shedding 58 billion tons of ice a year.

Pine Island has been tracked for around 30 years and over this time it has seen its shape and position dramatically alter.

Calving events such as this one have been seen in 1992, 1995, 2001, 2007, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018, and now 2020.

With each passing calving, the buttressing force of the glacier weakens and threatens to break, increasing the flow of ice from the land to the ocean.


The rush to electric vehicles: A disaster for consumers?

According to a recent report in Forbes, Tesla’s stock market value is already bigger than Ford and General Motors combined, and Elon Musk, whose company as of 2015 had already received nearly $5 billion in federal subsidies, now has a net worth of about $31 billion. Whoever said government cannot make anyone rich?

But hold on. An ascendant Bernie Sanders, who claims to be no friend of billionaires,* has called for a massive expansion of government-run electricity production. [*Sanders is, after all, running against a multiple billionaires, including 23 contributors to Mayor Pete’s campaign.]

Sanders and many other politicos have championed a multi-state effort to end the sale of vehicles with internal combustion (IC) engines, as have many European nations. Other related goals are phasing out the use of coal, oil, and natural gas for both heating and electric power generation.

As Politico reports, a major part of Sanders’ $16 trillion Greener New Deal allocates massive new funding for the four existing “power marketing administrations” that are overseen by the Department of Energy, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and a new federal agency. The money would go to vastly expand their solar, wind, and even geothermal power production.

Matt Palumbo, writing in the Bongino Report, says the Sanders plan will need $2 trillion for infrastructure, dwarfing the cost of the interstate highway system, to add 800 gigawatts of wind and solar energy. While Sanders asserts today he is not “nationalizing” energy production but providing wholesale energy to public and private local suppliers, these subsidized government-run facilities will surely control the energy market. Private companies that now rely on coal or natural gas will be further squeezed by mandated deep cuts in carbon emissions. Meanwhile, energy demand for a mandated growing fleet of electric vehicles will soar.

Americans in a recent American Energy Alliance poll expressed great displeasure over subsidizing EVs for the wealthy. Only one in five voters would trust the federal government to make decisions about what kinds of cars should be subsidized – or mandated. Many do not even like, or cannot afford, the innovations already introduced, as evidenced by data showing the average age of the U.S. vehicle fleet has increased in recent years.

Despite public qualms, most automakers have joined the EV movement. Like gossip in a small town, proposals and promises to ban or end production of IC engines have spread like wildfire. The Chinese-owned Swedish automaker Volvo announced in 2017 it would stop designing new IC engines. German giant Daimler (Mercedes Benz) followed suit last year. And in the United States, General Motors in 2018 announced plans to offer only battery-powered or hydrogen-powered vehicles in the near future.

These automakers are perhaps just responding to the political climate in Europe. The United Kingdom just moved up its cutoff date for banning sales of new IC vehicles (including hybrids) to 2035. France and others are holding to a 2040 date for mandating all-electric fleets, while Norway has set a goal (not a mandate) to eliminate most IC engines (but not hybrids) by 2025. But in California, lawmakers killed a 2018 effort to ban IC engines as of 2040.

Meanwhile, European automakers have moved to profit from EV charging stations. IONITY, created in 2017 as a joint venture between the BMW Group, Mercedes-Benz AG, the Ford Motor Company, and the Volkswagen Group with Audi and Porcshe, has already built over 200 facilities with over 860 charging points, with plans to expand to 400 stations in 24 countries by yearend 2020. And IONITY is not alone. [Europe today still has over 100,000 petrol and diesel fueling stations, certain to shrink as IC engines are now pariahs.]

Until February, IONITY was charging a flat, fixed rate of eight Euros (about $8.87) for a fast charging session — under 15 cents/kWh for a 60-kW charge that might be good for 210 miles. With EU gasoline prices ranging from 1.77 euros/liter ($7.35 per gallon) in the Netherlands to to $4.41/gallon in Romania, drivers would need about $31 in Romania or $51 in the Netherlands to drive the same distance (assuming 30 mpg).

But as of February 1, IONITY switched to unit pricing at a rate of 0.79 euro/kWh (88 cents/kWh), or about $52.80 for a 60-kW charge – a 500 percent increase that makes an EV charge more expensive than a fillup. But IONITY is offering discounts that customers can purchase from IONITY partner companies. At home chargers in the EU, where residential rates average 30 cents/kWh, cost about $18 per 60-kW charge – plus about $1,000 for installation.

But here’s the rub. If Sanders gets his way, the federal government will control the price and availability of electricity in the U.S. California, which wants to mandate EVs only, has already faced multi-day electricity blackouts due to fire concerns, and if there is no power there is no charging. Many other countries also lack reliable electric power – and scarcity (almost certain in a fossil fuel free environment) drives up prices even in a government-controlled marketplace.

After the 1970s oil embargo, the United States opted for a broad-based energy sector so that shortages in one fuel would not cripple the national economy. But today, many cities have already moved to ban natural gas, nuclear is still taboo, and wind and solar are intermittent. The push toward an all-electric society plus the heavy burden on the power grid from charging an all-electric vehicle fleet – seems to be a recipe for disaster, at least for the average consumer.

The well connected always do well enough in a controlled economy – that is, until (as happened recently in Iran) the government price for energy angers the peasants. But what can a broken public do but submit to the will of the all-powerful state? Hmmm……


Americans reluctant to join the EV train

We’re constantly being bombarded with the EV movement, but Americans must have a multitude of subconscious reasons for not buying into one of the major movements to save the world from itself as they are showing their lack of enthusiasm by avoiding the dealerships.

In a recent Los Angeles Times article, citing Edmunds data, the number of battery-electric models available more than doubled from 2018 to 2019, but EV sales budged in the wrong direction. In response to the major efforts by manufacturers, the horrific EV sales data shows that only 325,000 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles were sold in the U.S. in 2019, down from 349,000 in 2018.

Those dismal numbers represent an embarrassing dismal 2% of the 17 million vehicles of all types sold in the United States in 2019. Are EV carmakers driving off a cliff?”

California remains the primary buyer of EV’s while the rest of America has shown little interest in the incentives and the increasing choices of models.

Let’s look at several of the factors that may be contributing to this lack of enthusiasm, that may be in the subconscious of the prospective EV buyers:

Agreed, there would be no fuel costs and no gas taxes to be paid with an EV owner, BUT, and that’s a big BUT. Beware of the “free” gift! Once fossil fuel cars are off the road, the only ones on the roads will be EV’s. You can easily surmise that it’s going to be the EV owners picking up the costs to maintain the highway infrastructures, probably through some form of vehicle mileage tax (VMT), to let the “users” pay for the roads.

EV’s are hyped as being pollution free. Well, not necessarily so. Its true EV’s have no tailpipes, but the tailpipes are located at the power plants generating the electricity to charge the cars batteries, and at the refineries that provide all the derivatives from petroleum that make all the parts of the EV’s.

Range and charging anxieties remain a constant sub thought for that next trip. To fully charge an EV, even at fast-charging stations, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 8 hours depending on how much of a charge (empty to full or topping off) your vehicle needs.

Hybrid and electric car owners are a scholarly bunch; over 70 percent of respondents have a four-year college or post-graduate degree, which may explain that the average household income of electric vehicle (EV) purchasers is upwards of $200,000. If you’re not in that higher educated echelon and the high-income range of society, there may not be an appetite for an EV.

The lack of mining standards and environmental regulations to extract the exotic metals used in EV batteries exposes local ecosystems to destruction when the wastewater and other unusable ores are let loose onto the environments. The workers have no choice but to live in horrific conditions because their wages are so infinitesimally small, it causes me the take a step back and examine my moral obligations to humanity. Green technology cannot thrive off human rights abuses.

There are numerous documentaries about the atrocities the workers are put through in the cobalt mines, i.e. actually digging the mines by hand along with the horrendous living conditions. Amnesty International has documented children and adults mining cobalt in narrow man-made tunnels along with the exposure to the dangerous gases emitted during the procurement of these rare minerals.

Governments and manufacturers are “blowing off” the transparency of the child labor atrocities and mining irregularities of where and how those exotic metals are being mined in Africa, China, Argentina, Bolivia and Chile to support the EV battery supply chain. The first transparency law was in California, the largest buyer of EV’s in the country, starting with The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act SB657 and followed by the U.S. with H.R.4842 – Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2014.

The richest most powerful companies in the world, and now the Governor of California are still making excuses for not investigating the supply chains and continue to power manufactured EV’s with “dirty batteries”. Can this be a blatant example of hypocrisy?

With Tesla batteries weighing about 1,000 pounds, slightly more than the C-batteries in your flashlights, proper disposal of the EV batteries will be needed to be addressed in infinite detail by somebody. Another area of concern that keeps coming up in consumer surveys regards an electric car’s battery life. To be sure, replacing an electric vehicle’s battery will be an expensive proposition along with the environmental challenges to dispose of them safely.

Despite the fears, concerns, and environmental questions being evaluated by the public and the potential EV buyers, governments are wishing to counteract the slower than expected transition to EV’s. Governments are starting to make giant steps to accelerate the move away from petroleum vehicles.

Britain announced that they will ban new petrol and hybrid cars from 2035. France is preparing to ban the sale of fossil fuel-powered cars by 2040. The mayors of Paris, Madrid, Mexico City and Athens have said they plan to ban diesel vehicles from city centers by 2025. The ban on fossil fueled vehicles is gaining momentum internationally!

Government involvement in our daily lives recalls the most terrifying nine words in the English language:” I’M FROM THE GOVERNMENT AND I’M HERE TO HELP.”


Are Ocean Currents Speeding Up…Or Down? Nobody Knows

“Global warming is speeding up Earth’s massive ocean currents,” said one headline.

“Global ocean circulation is accelerating from the surface to the abyss,” said another.”

But this is another of those climate stories in which the top line is not backed up by the qualifications raised by oceanic researchers when looking at the results of this fascinating paper.

Published in Science Advances, it suggests that for almost 25 years, ocean currents have been rapidly speeding up, partly due to global warming, according to a new study.

It contradicts previous studies that suggested that global warming will weaken ocean circulation, especially in tropical waters. This new study suggests the acceleration in ocean currents will be especially strong in tropical waters!

A key point is that there is no sustained direct measurement of the ocean’s currents, so it has to be inferred using other means.

When this is done the numerous gaps in the data are filled in with results from computer models and anyone can see the caution this method should raise.

Based on observations and models, study authors claim that from 1990 to 2013, the energy of the world’s currents increased by some 15% per decade.

The researchers put this down to strengthening winds driving ocean currents. Ocean winds have increased over the past 30 years. The increase is about 2% per decade and is itself part of a longer-term trend.

The main evidence for this change comes from six years of Argo data whose floating and diving buoys have been operating since 2005 and have produced the most coherent database on ocean parameters we have.

They do not directly measure ocean currents, but a good inference can be obtained from their movements and indications where winds are piling up regions of the ocean.

Hu Shijian of the Chinese Academy of Science’s Institute of Oceanography is the lead author of the study. He points out that that this new paper is different from previous studies that looked for an ocean circulation increase.

Indeed, given varying regional responses to global warming, it has not been possible to deduce how and whether global ocean circulation has been altered.

“So far observations haven’t shown a trend,” Shijian said. So, he set about the reanalysis route to see if he could find one.

A review article in Science noted that as yet natural fluctuations cannot be ruled out and that it will take another decade at least to see if the trend is real and possibly associated with global warming.

Quoted in Science, Susan Wijffels, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said, “It’s going to stimulate a lot of other work.”


Australia: Blind spot in BoM’s seasonal forecast

They couldn't get the weather right a few months in advance but they still claim that they can predict how hot it will be in 80 years time

When the start of potentially drought-breaking rains finally came this month they were not predicted by the experts — but they should not have been a total ­surprise.

The bushfires that blazed across the landscape from November last year may well come to be seen in retrospect as the final act in a set of weather conditions that parched the continent and scorched the earth.

After years of below-average rainfall, the end of last year saw two systems wring the last gasp from a bone-dry land.

To the west, the Indian Ocean Dipole was in extreme territory. The IOD is the difference in ocean temperatures between the west and east tropical Indian Ocean. In a positive phase the IOD can shift moisture towards or away from Australia towards Africa. A positive IOD in 1982 coupled with an El Nino weather system in the ­Pacific produced southeast Australia’s driest year on record.

Alongside the extreme IOD system were record warm temperatures above Antarctica.

Apart from warming the ­Antarctic region, the higher temperatures shifted the Southern Ocean westerly winds towards the equator.

For subtropical Australia, which largely sits north of the main belt of westerlies, the shift results in reduced rainfall, clearer skies and warmer temperatures.

The strongest effects were felt in NSW and southern Queensland, where springtime temperatures increased, rainfall decreased, and heatwaves and fire risk rose.

When the two weather systems finally broke down at the end of last year they were replaced by a new set of conditions that, though shorter lived, have swamped the east coast of the nation.

Monsoon rains finally moved south and a low-pressure system along the east coast brought rough seas and heavy falls.

The breakdown of the IOD and Antarctic systems was noted by the Bureau of Meteorology in its forecasts for the first quarter of the new year.

However, the BoM did not foresee in its seasonal forecasts the extent of what was to follow.

Soaking rains have drenched the east of the continent from Queensland to south of Sydney with downpours of hundreds of millimetres recorded, mainly along the coastline.

Big waves have again played havoc with beachfront areas.

And for the first time in years, farmers have had something to celebrate. Several major rivers feeding the Murray-Darling Basin have started to flow, including the Condamine and Balonne in Queensland and the Namoi and Barwon in NSW.

Much of that water ultimately enters the Darling, which has not flowed solidly for years.

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority says, among other revivals, the Moonie River in Queensland is flowing for the first time since April 2018. Parts of the Weir, Macintyre and Dumaresq rivers of the Queensland-NSW Border Rivers region also are flowing, while in NSW water is passing through large sections of the Gwydir, Castlereagh and Macquarie catchments.

Already there is controversy, with conservation groups outraged at the NSW government’s decision to allow big irrigators to take millions of litres of flood water from the Barwon-Darling river system.

The heaviest falls have been on the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range and will flow into the Pacific rather than inland.

And with a cyclone still brewing off the coast of Queensland the dramatic weather conditions are far from over.

Whether the drought has broken is an open question. Much will depend on follow-up rains.

In a letter to Simon Birmingham, the minister responsible for the BoM at the time, scientist Jennifer Marohasy said: “This, of course, provides an enormous range of actual outcomes where any given forecast can be regarded as ‘correct’ or successful from the perspective of the bureau.”

On the BoM’s more recent performance, Marohasy says it “could not bring itself to apologise for the wrong and totally misleading recent forecast” and this is “a reflection of the very sad state of affairs”.

“There needs to be some accountability. Australians deserve to know if the bureau has any capacity to provide skilful season rainfall forecasts or not,” she says.



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