Tuesday, March 17, 2020

France: Warmists lie in their teeth

According to the guff below, climate change is making French wine districts warmer than they used to be. We've been hearing this for a number of years. Global warming is supposedly messing up your wine. So how come France as a whole is cooling?  IF the areas concerned ARE getting warmer, it's not because of global warming.  See the official graph below

France Average Temperature (1996-2016)

Cognac makers are considering overturning longstanding tradition and turning to new grape varieties, as the main cultivar required to make the spirit struggles with the effects of global warming.

Cognac’s star grape, Ugni blanc, which accounts for 98% of the vines in the Cognac region, is ripening quicker and losing acidity as summers become hotter and drier.

The rules that govern the French brandy are among the strictest in the drinks world, and are subject to controlled appellation of origin (AOC) specifications.

Each stage of the spirit’s production, including the types of grapes that can be used, is outlined in its AOC. Cognac can only be made in one 78,000-hectare area of France, using grapes grown in six regions, or crus. This means distillers cannot move production to another part of the country to escape rising temperatures.

The spirit is, broadly, made from wine that is distilled into a liquid called eau-de-vie and aged in oak casks, often for decades. The result is cognac, with Hennessy, Martell, Courvoisier and Rémy Martin among the best known brands.

These brands, and many more, are now working to find sustainable solutions to manage the effects of climate change. Extreme and unpredictable weather has blighted the region: in 2018, powerful hailstorms caused serious damage to 3,500 hectares of vineyards in the Cognac area. Hail and heavy rain also reduced the 2016 harvest, while 2017 was marred by frost.

“There is more extreme weather in Cognac than there used to be,” said Patrick Raguenaud, president of the BNIC, the governing body of Cognac. “We would sometimes have hail, but not this big.”

The changing climate has also thrown out the timings of production. “The grapes are ripening much sooner than they used to,” said Baptiste Loiseau, cellar master at Rémy Martin. “What is key is the balance between sugar and acidity. In cognac we need a lot of acidity to maintain the conservation of the wine because we are not using sulphur.”

Winegrowers have shifted harvest dates forward, and Cognac’s grapes are now removed from their vines in September rather than October. However, this raises concerns that other key flavour characteristics risk being lost. “When we harvest early, we are able to have a correct level of acidity and … sugar,” said Pierre Boyer, deputy cellar master and estate manager at Hine. “But the problem is we are going to have less aromatic components in the grapes.”

Cognac houses and their partner winegrowers are seeking longer-term solutions. According to Loiseau, while Ugni blanc has been the best grape variety for Cognac for more than a century, this may not be the case in the coming decades. “We have to prepare the future for the next generation, to allow them to take the right decisions depending on the conditions of weather,” he said.

A number of estates across the region, overseen by the BNIC, are testing grape varieties that are not currently permitted under the AOC to see if they prove more resilient to global warming and resistant to disease.

Rémy Martin is working with the Monbadon cultivar and, five years ago, planted vines in test sites. After two harvests, Loiseau notes that the grape’s ripeness develops at a slower pace than the Ugni blanc vines, which have been planted in an adjacent plot.

“The role of the trial is to have these two plots and see how they behave year after year, vintage after vintage,” said Loiseau.

Martell, meanwhile, has partnered with the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) to create new cultivars through natural breeding. “We have fantastic small new vines, which are quite promising,” said Pierre Joncourt, vice-president of cognac at Martell Mumm Perrier-Jouët. “They are definitely resistant to the disease so far, and they have slower growth.”

Likewise, the BNIC is naturally engineering completely new varieties of grapes with the help of the INRA, using different plants to Martell.

“We need to prepare as an industry to be resilient and we need to manage long-term actions – we need to experiment,” said Joncourt. “Then, we need to engage all the stakeholders, all the winegrowers … to … do something really consistent at a regional level.”


I'm skeptical about climate alarmism, but I take coronavirus fears seriously

by Jeff Jacoby

A FRIEND asked me the other day if I didn't think the agitated media coverage of Covid-19, the coronavirus disease, was getting out of control. She knows that I have long been skeptical of the shrill alarmism that has become inseparable from public discussions of climate change. Isn't this pretty much the same?

It isn't, I said, and explained briefly why the two cases strike me as very different. But I've been reflecting on her question. Perhaps a longer explanation might be useful.

The first and most obvious difference between climate panic and the mounting anxiety over coronavirus is that there is a long history of viral epidemics, plagues, and pandemics. There is nothing speculative or theoretical about the murderous efficiency with which new diseases can burn through societies encountering them for the first time. The Plague of Justinian that erupted in Constantinople in 541 is estimated to have killed at least 25 million people as it spread across Asia, North Africa, Arabia, and Europe. The Black Death in the 14th century wiped out one third of the population of Eurasia. The most lethal pandemic of the 20th century, the Spanish flu outbreak at the end of World War I, sent more than 50 million victims to early graves — more than all the soldiers and civilians killed during the war.

The horrors of pandemics have been documented and depicted often. Yet while climate activists have been forecasting world-ending doomsday scenarios since the 1960s, the apocalypse never seems to materialize.

Although climate is always in flux, unmitigated anthropogenic warming would doubtless lead to cataclysm. But human societies have a genius for mitigating and adapting their way out of existential threats. Which is why it's dangerous, as climatologist Michael Mann has written, to overstate the science of global warming "in a way that presents the problem as unsolvable, and feeds a sense of doom, inevitability, and hopelessness."

By contrast, worrying about the devastation of an active viral epidemic is not merely a matter of "trusting science" or "waking up" to an inconvenient truth. Plagues are real. They have erupted with deadly effect in the past, just as Covid-19 is erupting in the present.

Italy, the first European country to experience the disease, went from no cases to more than 12,000 in just three weeks. On Wednesday alone, Italy's death toll from the coronavirus rose from 631 to 827. In Iran, well over 11,000 people are reported to contracted the disease, of whom 514 had died, as of Friday morning. But dozens of senior regime officials are among the afflicted, which strongly implies that the disease is far more widespread than Tehran is acknowledging. As I write, the numbers in the United States are far lower, but they won't be for long. Governments and industries are putting up once-in-a-generation firewalls to create the social distancing that can break the chain of viral transmission and "flatten the curve" of the epidemic's growth — banning flights from Europe, suspending the NBA season, cancelling marathons and major parades.

All this is in keeping with scientific principles that are well-known, empirically confirmed, and grounded in experience, not politics.

This is not to suggest that the Covid-19 crisis hasn't been infected by politics: Of course it has. Like so much else these days, this crisis has been turned into political fodder — on the right no less than the left. Whenever something bad happens, partisans try to score political points or cast political stones.

By and large, however, the health and public-policy response to the coronavirus has been focused on the practical and the here-and-now: gathering data, prioritizing research, developing a vaccine, readying medical facilities — and communicating to the public in temperate language and timely fashion the most practical means of mitigating the expected harm. Experts have stuck, for the most part, to known knowns and known unknowns, even as they have candidly made clear that the contagion is certain to get much worse before it gets better.

The contrast with the debate over climate change could hardly be more pronounced.

On the basis of computer models whose results have repeatedly missed the mark, climate-change crusaders, including many in the media, fervently insist that "the time for debate is over," that "97 percent" of scientists share their view, and that anyone skeptical that catastrophe looms is the moral equivalent of a Holocaust denier. With intolerant zeal, they declare that contrary opinions must be silenced.

Nothing like that can be seen amid the mounting anxiety over Covid-19. Indeed, as Larry Kummer points out at the geopolitics blog Fabius Maximus, statements from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization have been "explicit and specific about the uncertainties in our knowledge about the coronavirus epidemic. . . . The scientists of WHO and the CDC have conducted their campaign without attacks, let alone smearing, of those experts who disagreed with them (and there are many areas of disagreement)."

But maybe the most significant difference between the coronavirus and climate cases is this: No one is turning coronavirus into a culture-war battlefield. The disease is not being exploited to demand a drastic overhaul of modern life. There is nothing punitive about the extreme steps now being undertaken — quarantines, school closures, shutting the US Capitol, the lockdown of an entire European country. Harsh as they are, their sole purpose is to slow a contagion, not to radically transform society in keeping with environmental activists' utopian notions.

Apart from some politics around the edges, everything being said and done in connection with the coronavirus is geared to saving lives. The coverage may be a little breathless, and panic is never helpful, but this is no ideology-driven overreaction. The next few months are apt to be terrible. I'm often skeptical, but not about this.


How exactly do they plan to replace fossil fuels?

They want to ban coal, oil and gas. Exactly how will they replace them? Who wins? Who loses?

Paul Driessen                     

Berkeley, CA, Takoma Park, MD and other cities; California, Connecticut, New York, Virginia and other states; Germany, England and other countries; the European Union – all plan to banish oil, natural gas and coal within 10, 20 or 30 years. A number of US states have joined Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiatives and proudly say We Are Still In ... the Paris climate treaty, no matter what President Trump says or does.

Forget the headlines and models, and look at hurricane, tornado, sea level and other historic records. There is no crisis, no unprecedented warming or weather events, certainly nothing that proves humans have replaced the powerful natural forces that have always driven climate changes and weather events.

But for now, let’s just examine their zero-carbon plans. How exactly will they make this happen? Where do they plan to get the turbines, panels and batteries? the raw materials to manufacture them? How do they plan to function as modern societies with pricey, erratic energy and frequent power disruptions?

How would they – or America, if the entire USA goes Green New Deal – handle a COVID-27 outbreak? How would they manufacture cars, airplanes, wind turbines, toilet paper, pharmaceuticals or much of anything else with intermittent energy? It hasn’t worked in Europe (see below), and it won’t work here.

Moreover, it’s not just replacing today’s coal and gas power plant megawatts. It’s doubling today’s electricity generation, because Green New Dealers want to replace all fossil fuel use: gasoline and diesel cars, trucks and buses, home and water heating, factory power, hospital emergency power, and more.

It’s tripling current megawatt generation, because they don’t like nuclear or hydroelectric power either, and they’ll need far more electricity to charge enough batteries to ensure backup power for all the fossil and other power they want to eliminate. That will require a lot of wind turbines, solar panels and batteries.

Where do they plan to put all of them? Some of those states and countries have lots of rural land, wildlife habitats and shallow waters off their coasts that they can turn into huge industrial energy zones. But what are those self-righteous cities going to do? Where within their city limits do they plan to put dozens of 650-foot tall turbines and tens of thousands of panels? Or do they plan to just impose those facilities on their rural neighbors? Or tap into regional power grids and use electricity that someone else is generating – with coal, gas, nuclear, hydro, and maybe wind or solar? How will they separate “good” and “bad” electrons?

All of these GND cities and states will have to deal with frustrated rural families who don’t want the ruined scenery, desecrated ridge lines, dead birds and bats, maddening light flicker and excruciating infrasound that towering turbines would bring. Don’t want millions of rural acres blanketed with solar panels. Don’t want hundreds of miles of new high voltage transmission lines crossing their backyards. Don’t want their lands seized via eminent domain, virtually at the point of a gun if they still resist.

They don’t want the 25-50-100% higher household electricity bills, the soaring price tags for products and services that go with soaring electricity costs for every business, farm, factory and hospital. They don’t want more good manufacturing jobs destroyed by skyrocketing energy prices – and sent overseas.

Do Green New Deal politicians have the foggiest idea how many turbines, panels, batteries and miles of transmission lines they will need to replace all fossil fuels? How few years those energy systems last before they have to be replaced? Do they have any idea what they’re going to do with the defunct turbine blades and solar panels that can’t be recycled or burned? How many cubic miles of landfills they will need? Will communities want those landfills? Will urban pols just employ more eminent domain?

It would take hundreds of 850-foot-tall 12-MW offshore turbines to supply the green new world electricity demands of a major city – or thousands of 2- or 3-MW onshore turbines. Tens of millions of solar panels. Millions of acres of former crop, scenic and wildlife habitat land would be impacted. They’d need millions of half-ton 85-kWh Tesla battery packs as backup for a week of windless or sunless days.

Where do they intend to get the millions of tons of steel, copper, cobalt, lithium, aluminum, rare earths, carbon-fiberglass-plastic composites, limestone and other raw materials to build all those electricity generation and storage systems, and all the new transmission lines? Will they now support opening more US lands to mining? How do they plan to owHo

mine and process the materials without fossil fuels?

If the mining is not to take place here in United States, under our tough laws and regulations – then where exactly will it be done? In China and Russia? or maybe in Africa and South America, where many mines are operated by Chinese and Russian companies that don’t give a tinker’s damn about child labor, slave labor, workplace safety, air and water pollution, toxic and radioactive wastes, mined land reclamation – or the soaring rates of lung, heart, skin and intestinal diseases, osteoporosis, cancers and other maladies.

All these squalid places and horrific stories are far away – out of sight, out of mind. Environmentalists love to say: Think globally; act locally. This would be a good time to start practicing that ethical code.

The more honest politicians promoting a GND future admit it would eliminate a lot of oil, gas, coal, petrochemical, manufacturing and other high-paying jobs. But, they claim, their (pseudo-)renewable energy world would create millions of new jobs. A look behind The Great Oz’s curtain is very revealing.

Coal-fired power plants generate 7,745 megawatt-hours of electricity per mine and power plant worker; natural gas generates 3,812 MWh per oil and gas field and utility worker. That super high efficiency and resultant low-cost electricity sustain millions of jobs in manufacturing and countless other industries.

In stark contrast, wind turbines produce a measly 836 MWh for every employee, while solar panels generated an abysmal 98 MWh per worker. Put another way, it takes 79 solar workers to produce the same amount of electricity as one coal worker or two natural gas workers. Not only will this expensive, intermittent, weather-dependent electricity kill millions of good American jobs; the GND wind and solar jobs will mostly be lower-wage positions installing, maintaining, repairing and replacing turbines and panels, and hauling huge dilapidated blades, panels, hulks and concrete foundations to monster landfills.

Residential electricity prices are already outrageous in New York (17¢ a kilowatt-hour), California (19¢ per kWh), Connecticut (20¢) and Hawaii (31¢) – versus 9¢ a kWh in Arkansas, Georgia and Oklahoma. Going 50-100% wind and solar would send family rates skyrocketing to German levels: 37¢ per kWh.

At the 8¢ per kWh in 2019, Virginia’s Inova Fairfax Women’s and Children’s Hospital pays about $1.6 million annually for electricity (based on typical hospital costs per square foot). At California’s (15¢ per kWh), or Germany’s business rate (22¢), Inova would have to shell out an extra $1.4-2.8 million a year for electricity. That would mean employee layoffs, higher medical bills, reduced patient care, more deaths.

How is the vaunted transition to wind and solar actually working in Europe and Britain? In 2017, German families and businesses were pummeled by 172,000 localized blackouts. Last year, some 350,000 German families had their electricity cut off because they couldn’t pay their power bills. In Britain, millions of elderly people have to choose between heating and eating decent food; many spend their days in libraries to keep warm; and more than 3,000 die every year because they cannot heat their homes properly, making them more likely to succumb to respiratory, heart, flu or other diseases.

Across Europe, 11 million jobs are “at risk” because of an EU “green deal” that many say is suicidal. Meanwhile, China and India are still building coal and gas power plants, making products for the USA and Europe, creating jobs, building airports, and sending billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

GND politicians have dodged these issues for years – while steering billions of taxpayer dollars to the green activist groups, crony capitalists and industrialist rent seekers that help keep them in office.

Even worse, they and their media allies neatly dodge the most glaring reality. The only way this energy and economic transformation will happen is through totalitarian government at the local, state and federal level: liberal urban voters and politicians against the rest of America. Those are the seeds of resentment, anger, societal division, endless litigation, and violence. We need to head that grim future off at the pass.

Via email

Like polar bears, coral reefs are doing fine

Corals are animals, actually closely related to jelly fish but of course differing in that they have a limestone skeleton made up of calcium carbonate. Their growth rates can be studied to give us knowledge of the ocean and its sea level over thousands of years.

They have lived throughout the oceans of our planet for many thousand years. Over those many years they have experienced both much warmer and much colder periods of geologic time. The bleaching that they have experienced in the view of many climate alarmists is not a sign of their destruction or in fact ill health. It is not a sign that the end of the world as we know it is in sight,

The simple truth is that when a coral experiences any number of environmental changes which could be the chemistry of its surrounding water or its local temperature, the algae that inhabit and feed a coral are likely to find the environment less suitable and leave for greener pastures.

The change in color of the coral which alarmists call “bleaching “ is a result of one group of bacteria leaving and then another group of bacteria taking its place. When the first resident group is leaving the coral becomes whiter and as a new group moves in the coral takes on a new color. This new color is often mistaken as the corals death knell. The algae that moves in not only provides it a new color but is also the corals source of the food it needs to live.

While the Polar Bear has been the face of the global warming delusion, coral reefs have been close behind as an animal that will eventually go extinct if we do not stop using fossil fuels, emitting carbon dioxide and warming the planet, its atmosphere and its oceans. The reality is anything but that.

The Great Barrier Reef, stretching 1400 miles along the coast of Queensland, Australia is also a prominent “poster child “ for the supposed damage mankind is doing to our Earth. It is actually composed of nearly 3000 separate coral reefs, can be seen from space and is perhaps Australia’s greatest tourist attraction. It’s ultimate destruction by man-caused global warming (now called Climate Change of course), is used regularly to pull at the heartstrings of those who sadly buy into the delusion.

In fact, it is probable that no reef has received greater scrutiny, and been the subject of more research than the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), especially since the clamor to save it hit warp speed.

The late Robert M. Carter, Emeritus Fellow of the Australian Institute of Public Affairs, who was considered the world’s leading expert on the reef, wrote extensively about it in Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts. He explained that to quantify the trend in live coral cover of the GBR between 1995 and 2009, which the International Panel on Climate Change contends was the warmest decade and a half experienced by the planet in the past thousand years, annual surveys were performed. Marine biologists surveyed coastal communities each year on 47 reefs in six latitudes across about 700 miles of the GBR. They took samples at varying depths between 20 and 30 feet.

They found that coral cover increased in about half the regions and decreased in the other half as one would expect when nature operates without human intervention. Overall they concluded that coral cover was stable and that there was no evidence of “consistent system-wide decline in coral cover since 1995”.

Other research throughout the world has confirmed that corals are capable of reproductive activities under extreme environmental conditions. There is now a growing body of evidence to support the notion that corals inhabiting more thermally unstable habitats outperform reefs characterized by more stable temperatures.

In sum and a little more erudite: coral bleaching is an adaptive strategy for shuffling symbiont genotypes to create associations better adapted to new environmental conditions, as opposed to a breakdown of stable relationships that serves as a symptom of degenerating environmental conditions.

In the words of the late Robert Carter “the Great Barrier Reef is in fine fettle”.


Australia:  Leftist Premier of Victoria is baulking at the implications of the federal government’s royal commission into bushfires

The Victorian government is withholding support for Scott Morrison’s black summer bushfire royal commission, threatening the credibility of the inquiry and a nationally co-ordinated approach to natural disasters.

Constitutional lawyers said a refusal by a state to participate in the royal commission could prevent Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, who will lead the inquiry, from accessing that state’s documents and compelling high-level public servants to give evidence.

NSW and South Australia have already issued letters patent while Queensland and Western Australia have signed up and begun processes to deliver their letters patent as requested.

But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’s spokesman said: “We continue to consider Victoria’s involvement in the federal bushfire royal commission.”

Mr Andrews is concerned about the encroachment of commonwealth powers into areas of state responsibility.

Mr Morrison has asked the commission to look at whether the commonwealth should be able to declare a state of national emergency and be given clearer authority to take action.

He has also said hazard reduction, native vegetation management, building standards and planning laws should remain a state responsibility, but called for “national consistency” after the bushfires burned through states along the east coast.

Monash University constitutional law professor Luke Beck said the issuing of state letters patent meant the federal royal commission became a simultaneous state royal commission.

He said there was uncertainty over whether a federal royal commission could compel the handover of state documents and appearances of state witnesses without the letters patent being issued by all levels of government.

University of NSW constitutional law expert George Williams said it was likely Mr Morrison wanted the full co-operation of the states because a key component of the royal commission was looking into the responsibilities of and co-ordination between commonwealth, state, territory and local governments in preparing for and responding to bushfires.

“It’s hardly a good start if the states don’t sign on,” Professor Williams said.

“They (the federal government) don’t need (the states to sign on) to hold the royal commission, but they do need it if the commission wants to have credibility and to genuinely deliver a co-ordinated national plan or response.”

Mr Morrison took the unprecedented step of calling out 3000 ADF reservists on a compulsory basis to help the bushfire recovery in early January.



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


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