Monday, March 02, 2020

Temperature drivers

Some notes from a reader

A few day ago I watched a documentary by a person in the paleontology field......don't recall the name so that shows how much of an impression he was. I have the recording so I will look him up again(Kirk Johnson).  The documentary titled "Polar Extremes" was very interesting and very compelling. It was presented as a geological history of the range of earth climate with focus on the expansion and contraction of the polar ice caps. Data and graphs were supported with geological evidence in the way of actual site visits, excavations, fossil evidence, etc. which was his collection over the past 40 years that he had observed or participated in personally. The sites were from all over the world so they did represent a reasonable earth wide sample. The content was extremely well done with excellent photos, videos, samples, professional commentary from experienced scientist. Kirk even included information or references to other planets. Bottom line this was a NOVA documentary, done very well and very compelling to any layman interested in history of the climate.

But now the underlying thrust. Everything was carefully choreographed to have the audience conclude that climate change is real and caused by humans. Kirk used the planet Venus as an example of run away warming, pointing out that the atmosphere is 95%+ CO2. He brushed over this rather quickly but with a clue to what he was saying. Venus is closer to the sun but he makes comments that it was not enough difference to account for the temperatures in the atmosphere of Venus. I will comment on this later.

His graphical presentations were of major revelation. He did present what is believed to be atmospheric conditions over the past several million years overlay with the estimated CO2 levels. These were presented as a graph of warm periods and cold periods and not actual temperatures. C02 levels ranged from a low of 180 ppm to 300 ppm verses the current spike to 415 ppm. You would soon conclude that it is only a matter of time until we are in for a huge warm spell, melting polar ice, sea level rise, break up of major glaciers, new weather phenomenon, famine, plague, etc.One could argue with the conclusions but not with the presentation.

As for Venus..........he is wrong. The solar energy load on Venus is about 2.3 times the energy load on Earth. If Earth had that same load the ground level temperatures would rise to over 250 deg F in typical locations and perhaps to over 300 deg F in desert areas. Ground level pressure is about 1300 psia. The density of the Venus atmosphere at ground level is about 5 lbs per cu would be like a thin liquid that you could hardly walk through. In addition C02 at the pressures and temperatures there would act like a very good solvent. You would literally dissolve as your body melted down. You would not burn up as there is no oxygen but you would turn into a charcoal brick.

Venus rotates very slowly, has no tilt on its axis.These features would increase the greenhouse effect  A constant solar load on a steady location would drive the temperatures to extremes. The Venus day is 243 earth days and the year is 224 earth days.  In other words the planet barely rotates.  Earth temperatures would do the same if it were not rotating on a 24 hour frequency. Earth temperatures would climb to over 300 deg F, lakes and oceans would evaporate thus further enhancing the water vapor greenhouse effect. As an winter day my neighbor's door in Buffalo, New York melted all of the plastic moldings when he installed a glass storm door over the main front door. The temperatures had to have reached about
400 deg F.

All very interesting but not so true of a conclusion that 415 ppm of CO2 is going to drive up atmospheric temperatures.

Senate’s ‘Energy Innovation’ Bill Wasteful, Redundant

When you think of the word “innovation,” what comes to mind?

Maybe it’s something new and inventive—or something cutting edge, original, and creative.

Or, if you’re in Washington, “innovation” is trotting out the same, stale approaches to policy that have done less to empower innovators and families and more to empower special interests.

The latest case in point is a 555-page energy bill introduced in the Senate. The majority of provisions in the so-called American Energy Innovation Act are not something that would spur American energy innovation, nor is it innovative thinking when it comes to promoting sound public policy.

In fact, large chunks of the bill are amending or expanding existing programs.

In many ways, the legislation regurgitates the Energy Policy Act of 2005. It includes regulatory energy-efficiency mandates, subsidies for specific energy technologies (fossil, renewable, and nuclear), increased government intervention in energy markets masked as federal research and development, expanded loan guarantees, public-private partnerships where taxpayer resources don’t belong, and taxpayer-funded job-training programs.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended economic privilege to favored energy technologies, erected barriers to entry for those that didn’t receive them, and wasted taxpayer resources in the process.

These interventionist policies put Congress and Department of Energy bureaucrats—rather than investors and customers—in the position of narrowing the field of competition between the many energy technologies being perfected in the U.S. right now to win customers. That cannot help but narrow the scope of innovation.

Some of the more egregious provisions in the American Energy Innovation Act include:

—Preferential treatment for various energy sources. In one form or another, the bill provides programs to boost wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, carbon capture, nuclear, and energy-storage technologies. Carve-outs might buy support from specific industries, but they don’t benefit energy consumers or taxpayers. While subsidies might spur some amount of commercial activity, it’s limited only to what is subsidized.

The market for energy, whether it’s to light and heat our homes or to get to work every day, is a massive one. In the U.S. alone, consumers spent over $1 trillion on energy, and global investment reached $1.8 trillion.

Any of these technologies that can capture a sliver of that market won’t need the taxpayers’ help. Rather than propping up a few projects, if Congress wants American energy companies to innovate more, it should break down government-imposed barriers that prevent them from doing so.

—Subsidized and mandated energy efficiency. The bill includes a number of provisions to expand the government’s role in promoting energy efficiency, such as expanding eligibility for existing programs, adding new programs, and increasing government spending through grants and rebate programs.

Energy-efficiency spending programs and related legislation have enjoyed bipartisan support because politicians view such spending as a “win-win” proposition that will save consumers money and reduce emissions.

But families and businesses don’t need government mandates, rebate programs, or spending initiatives to be more efficient. They have that choice and can make those investments on their own.

When they don’t, it’s not because they’re acting irrationally, but because they have other preferences or budget constraints to consider. The market and price signals sort those preferences out. Government meddling merely distorts these decisions.

—Government involvement in activities best left for the private sector. Beyond the subsidies for specific energy technologies, the legislation would further embed industry with government through workforce-training programs and public-private partnerships. For instance, the bill would support jobs training, scholarships, and apprenticeship programs for nuclear power, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and grid modernization.

Additionally, government programs aim to improve the efficiency and sustainability of industrial and manufacturing processes and other processes that “can increase the efficiency of, and reduce petroleum use in, passenger and commercial vehicles.”

At face value, these initiatives may sound benign, but why do we need to spend taxpayer resources on them?

Automakers, for instance, understand that consumers value fuel efficiency and find ways to reduce petroleum use in vehicles without any mandate or government program in place.

Moreover, as industries expand, those companies find ways to train workers appropriately to meet demand. Conversely, government-led workforce-training programs have a miserable track record.

For example, with the workforce training programs in the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (the Obama administration’s nearly $1 trillion “economic stimulus” bill), job placement was sparse, and much of the training was delivered to already employed workers who did not need the training to perform their jobs, according to a Department of Energy auditing report.

Congress needs to put forth an energy bill, but one that does exactly the opposite of the American Energy Innovation Act.

Congress should undo the policies that have entangled the federal government in the business of energy and the decisions of families to make choices for themselves about what services and technologies best meet their needs.


UK: The Heathrow decision is an assault on democracy

MPs and the public want a third runway and yet judges have struck it down. This is a disgrace.

Yesterday’s ruling in the Court of Appeal has seemingly resolved the decades-long wrangling over the future of Heathrow’s third runway. The court decided that the government had failed to take into consideration its own commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement, and that therefore its Heathrow plans are ‘unlawful’. Transport minister Grant Shapps plunged the runway into more doom, by announcing on Twitter that the government will not appeal the decision. Heathrow’s operator, however, has said it will appeal.

But the realisation that has brought many down to Earth with a bump is that courts now seem to be making decisions that had hitherto been made by government. Yesterday’s events are very significant in terms of what they tell us about the threat posed by environmentalism to democracy and progress.

That a court has made a decision that overrides the wishes of elected politicians is not at all a trivial point. This isn’t just about the need to expand airport capacity – the court’s decision also puts a question mark over every future infrastructure project. As the BBC’s green correspondent reported shortly after the decision: ‘New roads face Heathrow-style court action threat.’

In short, well-funded campaigning organisations can use the nebulous Paris Agreement on climate change to close down anything they don’t like. With climate change being a theory of everything, everything from the planning of the economy to the planning of roads seems to fall under the remit of the Paris Agreement. And yet, while the Paris Agreement is a seemingly ‘global’ agreement that compels UK courts to obstruct the UK government’s strategic decisions, it places no such obligation on other signatories, many of which are expanding airport capacity. Why? Because it calls on governments to determine their own contributions to emissions reduction. So for governments, like ours, that have ‘ambitious’ climate-change policies, the agreement is an economic suicide pact.

Capturing the broader concern with what happened yesterday, former Conservative-turned-UKIP MP Douglas Carswell asked: ‘How did we end up in a situation where unelected judges decide airport policy?’ The answer to this question requires a long memory.

The first aggressive emissions-reduction targets were set by the 2008 Climate Change Act. The Climate Change Bill had originally been drafted in 2005 by Friends of the Earth. It received broad, cross-party support, but it was interrupted by that year’s General Election. The bill was then reintroduced in the next parliamentary session, amid what can only be described as a climate-change arms race: the main parties were all competing with each other to appear as the most committed warriors against climate change.

‘This bill’, said the then Labour government’s foreign secretary, David Miliband, ‘will constrain every future UK government to ensure its carbon emissions do not exceed the level of budgets that are agreed by a carbon committee made up of independent people and government itself’. He continued: ‘We need the choices that individuals make about electricity, about heat and about transport also to respect environmental limits and to ensure that we live within our means environmentally.’

It should have struck anyone listening to government ministers at that time – or, indeed, to their opposite numbers in parliament – that what was being proposed was a clean break from democratic politics; a departure from the UK constitution itself. And yet less than one per cent of MPs objected to the bill at any stage of its progress through the House of Commons.

One of the few who did object was the then Conservative MP, Peter Lilley. He observed that, ‘The sole effect of enshrining the targets in statute will be that the government’s policies will be open to judicial review. Judges will be asked to assess whether measures introduced will be likely to be effective in ensuring that targets are met. I do not have a great deal of faith in the ability of ministers of this government, or perhaps any government, to meet the targets, but the idea that judges should decide on policies costing billions of pounds, without being accountable to the electorate for the billions that they might decide need to be incurred, fills me with foreboding.’

Lilley reiterated this point in debates inside and outside of parliament. All these years later, his foresight has been proved entirely correct: courtesy of climate-change acts and agreements, the government has lost control of its core function – strategic planning. And it has ceded control of it to an activist judiciary and a degenerate network of unaccountable NGOs, backed by shadowy billionaires.

A key problem is the inexplicable desire of UK politicians to ‘lead’ the world in draconian climate policy. Back in 2008, the Climate Change Act was rushed through parliament partly in order to equip the government with what its ministers believed would be an impressive bargaining position at that year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference. Then, as now, politicians believed that their legislative acts of self-sacrifice somehow elevated the UK on the global stage, boosting our moral standing in the ‘international community’.

The Court of Appeal’s decision came on the day that the government launched its finance strategy for this year’s UN climate-change summit, which will be held in Scotland. It was launched at an event in London featuring an all-star line-up: voice-over artist David Attenborough; loathed technocrat, Bank of England governor and this year’s summit president, Mark Carney; and convicted criminal and president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde.

In a video address to the public, Carney said: ‘You demanded action, and now it’s time for the financial sector to deliver… We have an enormous opportunity to bring climate change into the heart of every financial decision and our plan will manage the risk for climate change while helping to seize the opportunities from a newer, greener economy.’

But ‘we’ did not demand such action. We the public have never been asked for our views on these fundamental issues. As I have argued on spiked before, the climate agenda has never been tested democratically. And yet it has far-reaching consequences.

The climate-change agenda, authored by idiots, has now been seized by something far more sinister. It was under the Labour government that the Bank of England was given ‘independence’. And it was under the same administration that parliament established, via the Climate Change Act, the ‘independent’ Committee on Climate Change to set the UK’s ‘carbon budgets’ right up to 2050. And it was the same administration which created an activist judiciary and civil service in its attempts to bind future governments to its agenda. All those chickens are now coming home to roost.

One does not need to agree with Lilley’s politics to see what drove his concerns about democracy. We are now witnessing the dissolving of democracy he predicted; the deciding of key political, strategic questions by activist judges and green campaigners. For asking questions about costly, undemocratic climate policies, Lilley was called a ‘climate-change denier’. spiked, too, and those, like me, who write about green politics for spiked, are accused of ‘denying’ the science on climate change. But any honest review of what Lilley or spiked has said will yield no evidence of science being denied. Our argument is that issues that impact on the infrastructure and future of society should be discussed and tested democratically, not pushed through under the guise of science.

The mess that we now see is not accidental. It is design. The design was obvious in Friends of the Earth’s original authorship of the Climate Change Act. It was explicit in David Miliband’s and other ministers’ statements on climate-change policy. It was transparent in the formulation of the cross-party consensus on climate change. And it was clear in the framing of any criticism of these policies as ‘denialism’. The design has been to bring about a transformation of the relationship between individuals and the state; to take power away from democratic political institutions.

The lawfare that now blights the government’s plans to expand Heathrow, boost the economy, and pursue large-scale projects in general, was knowingly, purposefully and recklessly engineered by politicians themselves. It was their choice to eschew debate, and not to bother seeking the public’s approval of their green agenda. No past or sitting MP can claim not to have understood the consequences of their wilful disregard for democracy. The Court of Appeal’s decision is of much greater significance than an extra runway at Heathrow: it calls into question democracy itself.


Bernie’s green policies are an assault on the working class

His proposed bans on fossil fuels and fracking will cost millions of jobs and send energy prices soaring.

Fans of Bernie Sanders like to say he is a left populist, a politician who defends ‘the interests of working people’. That is a myth.

Sanders’ political agenda squarely reflects the outlook of a particular section of society: the ‘progressive’ wing of America’s upper-middle class, which forms his base of support. A look at his programme shows that Sanders is more aligned with the perspective of the faculty lounge than the shop floor. He is quite willing to override the views and interests of the working class – and even destroy their jobs – to pursue his brand of ‘socialism’.

Perhaps no issue demonstrates this reality better than Sanders’ environmental politics, which includes a ban on fracking and the introduction of a so-called Green New Deal. If enacted, his backward-looking green policies would be a disaster for workers. In France, Emmanuel Macron’s imposition of green taxes and austerity was a key spark to the gilet jaunes protests. A similar reaction among workers in the US could happen if Sanders got his way.

For many Democrats, climate change has become a matter of religious belief, not science or economics. Bernie has become their leading evangelist. To Sanders, the climate represents an ‘existential threat’ to humanity, a ‘global emergency’ and the country’s ‘single greatest challenge’. His rhetoric on climate change is as alarmist as that espoused by Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion. A generation of school indoctrination has encouraged young people to believe that climate change will bring about the collapse of civilisation. For too many, this outlook has unfortunately become a defining part of their identity. The more scared and anxious youth are especially drawn to Sanders.

Rising temperatures and other effects from a changing climate are a serious problem, but exaggerated doom-mongering does not help. As the environmental author Bjorn Lomborg has noted: ‘The vision of climate change as the end of the world is unsupported. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that by the 2070s, the total effects of climate change, including on ecosystems, will be equivalent to a reduction in average income of 0.2 to 2 per cent. By then, each person on the planet will be 300 to 500 per cent richer.’ In other words, climate change is a manageable problem we can deal with over time, especially if we invest our increasing resources and wealth in new technologies.

For all of Sanders’ alarmism over how the climate is an ‘emergency’ that needs to be addressed immediately, he rejects the energy sources that are here right now, such as natural gas and nuclear power, which have already done far more to reduce carbon emissions than renewables like wind and solar. Admitting that natural gas and nuclear can play a role in transitioning to cleaner energy, however, would take away the looming threat of apocalypse, which would render Sanders’ radical green proposals less necessary.

In recent decades, the US has reduced emissions by more than any other country in the world. The largest contributor to this has been the widespread adoption of hydraulic fracturing – aka fracking. US power plants have shifted from using coal – a carbon-intensive energy source – to natural gas, which is much cleaner.

Yet Sanders wants to ban fracking and shut down all gas plants. According to his recently introduced Senate bill, drafted with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders would immediately prevent federal permits for expanded and new fracking, and make fracking entirely illegal by 2025. To justify his ban, Sanders said fracking is a danger to the water supply, creates earthquakes, and adds to climate change.

These are tired arguments that have been disproved. Techniques used by the regulated fracking industry have also become safer over time. In reality, water-contamination incidents are few, seismic activity is insignificant and has more to do with wastewater disposal methods than fracking per se, and relatively minor methane emissions from fracking do not outweigh the net benefits for the climate that the technique brings. There are more than 250,000 fracking wells operating in the US – if there were serious problems, we would hear about them more often.

Fracking has been a huge economic boon for the US. The Brookings Institution, a liberal think-tank, found in 2015 that the benefits from fracking shale gas contributed to a net economic benefit of $48 billion per year, mainly due to lower energy prices, which benefit both industry and consumers. Fracking has also boosted state tax coffers, enabling more spending on social welfare, among other things.

Most worrying of all, Sanders’ proposed ban on fracking would be a job-killer. One study, conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), estimates that fracking directly supports 2.8million jobs in the US. Indirectly, over 10million jobs depend on fracking. Another study, from the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute, found that a ban on fracking would cost four million jobs in its first year alone.

During last week’s Democratic debate, Sanders was asked what he would say to the workers who would lose their jobs thanks to his ban. He didn’t back down: ‘The scientists are telling us that if we don’t act incredibly boldly within the next six, seven years, there will be irreparable damage done not just in Nevada, not just to Vermont or Massachusetts, but to the entire world.’ The immediate impact on workers’ livelihoods must be sacrificed to his green ambitions. ‘This is a moral issue, my friends’, he said. But apparently destroying jobs and livelihoods doesn’t factor into Sanders’ moral considerations.

Imagine what this sounds like to the ears of working people in a rust-belt state like Pennsylvania or Ohio, who desperately need the jobs and state revenues that fracking brings. As Donald Trump’s election showed, many workers in the middle of the country feel they are disregarded. And yet Sanders has joined the chorus of the coastal elites. These people enjoy the benefits of cheap and abundant energy, but look down on the icky process of extraction, and don’t think twice about eliminating the jobs of the people who do it. If Sanders does manage to win the Democratic nomination, his fracking policy would be likely to cost him votes in the general election in these areas. As a union official in Pennsylvania told the New York Times, ‘If we end up with a Democratic candidate that supports a fracking ban, I’m going to tell my members that either you don’t vote or you vote for the other guy’.

Sanders says workers in the fracking-related industries shouldn’t fear his axe, because his Green New Deal (also co-written with AOC) will – somehow – create 20million new jobs in the future. But for a plan that demands $16 trillion in new spending, the Green New Deal is remarkably short on details and long on magical promises. In addition to shutting down the low-emission sources of energy (natural gas and nuclear) that currently provide around 55 percent of the country’s electricity, the Green New Deal promises to eliminate all fossil fuels in just 10 years from now. It will make electricity ‘virtually free’ after 2035, and will ‘pay for itself over 15 years’.

Sanders’ plan has similarities with the approach Germany has adopted – the so-called Energiewende – which has hugely backfired. Germany has phased out nuclear power and has spent $580 billion on renewables, only to see electricity prices jacked up to among the highest in Europe. On top of that, the Germans have discovered how unreliable solar and wind are, forcing them to increase their use of coal as a back-up source. As a result, emissions have remained stubbornly high.

As energy writer Michael Shellenberger has pointed out, to see why the Green New Deal won’t work, you only have to look at Sanders’ home state of Vermont: ‘In 2005, Vermont legislators promised to reduce emissions 25 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012, and 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2028, through the use of renewables and energy efficiency only. What’s happened since? Vermont’s emissions rose 16.3 per cent. That’s more than twice as much as national emissions rose during the same period.’

Shellenberger rightly concludes that Sanders’ plan is regressive, not progressive: ‘It would disproportionately hurt the poor by making them pay more for basic goods like food and energy. And it would slow economic growth by reducing labour-productivity.’ But what about all those jobs Sanders would create? They are low-skill and inevitably would be low-paid. ‘In boasting that [his plan] will create 20million more jobs’, Shelllenberger writes, Sanders ‘is pointing to the reason why energy prices would rise. Making anything more labour-intensive makes it more expensive.’

Sanders’ green politics are not a minor side issue in his campaign – the Green New Deal is one of his most high-profile policies. It shows that his vision of the future is limited: it is not about growing and transforming the economy, investing in new technology, and giving workers more control over their lives. A campaign that is promising to throw hundreds of thousands out of work is not about to give workers more agency. In an era in which more people have voiced demands for more say and more control over their lives, Sanders proposes a top-down approach that centralises more power in the state, prioritising abstract global concerns over real lives in local areas.

Bernie says there is a moral imperative to support his green politics. Those are his morals, not ours.


Our leaders open to ridicule in setting silly climate targets

Comment from Australia

We might like talking about polit­ical promises but let’s be frank: they have the half-life of a prawn salad. Our politicians have broken so many pledges they’ve made cynicism more contagious than the coronavirus.

Ruling out new taxes, heralding surpluses and guaranteeing stability — breaking these undertakings is the only thing that has united our major parties over the past decade. Crossing voters is an across-the-aisle conviction.

When core promises can last less than a year, try to imagine the voter buy-in for a pledge spanning 30 budgets and at least 10 elect­ions. Anthony Albanese says Labor will deliver a zero net carbon dioxide emissions target by 2050, without saying how it will be done or what it will cost.

If it happens, it will be achieved by a prime minister who is most likely not yet in the parliament and some of the people who will get to pass judgment on the outcome­ at the ballot box won’t be born for more than a decade. When we evaluate our 2050 performance, Albanese will be 86, Greta Thunberg will be 47 and Keith Richards will most likely still be confounding medics and turning 106.

If we cast our minds back an equivalent period, it was the delivery date for an infamous promise from former prime minister Bob Hawke. “By 1990, no child will be living in poverty,” he said in 1987. Despite manifestly failing on this, Hawke was re-elected for a fourth term in March 1990. Although the Silver Bodgie is no longer with us, children living in poverty are — as we were reminded­ this week with references to the Newstart Allowance and poverty on the NSW central coast.

If you can’t remember 1990, let me remind you: it was the year that Germany officially reunited, a year after the Berlin Wall came down, and Poland became the first Eastern bloc nation to begin to embrace capitalism; Tim Berners-Lee began work on creating the world wide web; the first digital camera was sold; and mobile phones were chunky things in fancy cars. Iraq invaded Kuwait and troops, including Australian sailors, blockaded Iraq in the lead-up to the first Gulf War; while the Rio Earth summit, which first drew global attention to global warming, was still two years away.

Supporters of zero net by 2050 argue that it is pointless discussing the cost because we have no idea about technological, industrial and economic settings that far in the future. Which is exactly the point: why promote the target when there is no way of knowing where we will be placed on clim­ate knowledge, technological ­advances, emissions reduction and economic settings even two years from now?

This target is virtue-signalling, pure and simple, which is why state governments and large corpor­ates sign up; they are eager to access subsidies and projects but are not responsible for delivering. In federal politics, where the rubber will hit the road, any party adopting the target surely is obliged to provide plans and costings for achieving it.

Labor wipes its hands but a study by the New Zealand Instit­ute of Economic Research costed scenarios and found zero net would cut GDP growth by 0.2 per cent. It said the higher the target, the higher the cost to households. Former resources minister Matt Canavan wrote in The Australian this week that the same formula would mean annual economic costs of $200bn to $400bn in Australia, with between 200,000 and 400,000 fewer jobs.

That estimates the pain, yet until we know what the rest of the world does, we cannot guess at any gain. If global emissions continue to rise — as they are forecast to do for at least a decade — all our costs will be for no discernible benefit. None of our politicians want to talk about cost/benefit analysis on climate action.

The evangelical enthusiasm for this target from green/left politicians­, activists and journalists is irrational, more emotion and gesture than reason and fact.

They boast of 80 nations already­ signed up to zero net but they seldom list those countries. Here are a few: Antigua and Barbuda­, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Cape Verde, Chad, Colombia, Cook Islands, Dominican ­Republic, Ethiopia, Ghana, ­Guyana, Lebanon, Mali, Nauru, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Rwanda, Samoa, Suriname, Uganda and Zambia.

One of the few signatories with a prospective economy is Norway­, but it gets almost all of its electricity from abundant hydro-electricity while exporting lucrative gas and oil. It has its cake and exports at the same time.

To be fair, proponents point to Britain but while it has dramatic­ally reduced emissions, it has fallen short of some targets, has already switched from coal to gas for cost reasons rather than clim­ate, and it gets about 20 per cent of its electricity from nuclear.

In Australia, added emissions reduction will be costly and difficult. Already our shift to about 23 per cent renewable power has helped double electricity costs and threaten energy security.

For just over a fortnight this month, South Australia faced an accidental experiment. Cut off from the Victorian intercon­nector because of storm damage, it was left as an island, reliant on its own generation, four years and $500m of government investment after its statewide blackout in 2016.

Saved by cool weather, the state just managed to scrape through, but only by relying on gas for 70 per cent of its electricity generation. The state’s much-vaunted 50 per cent renewable energy achievements fell by the wayside — the zeitgeist wasn’t blowing when required — and without coal-fired power from across the state border, it only got through by firing up every bit of gas it could.

If targets and subsidies force out more coal and gas power in Victoria and NSW, all this will get much worse. Battery storage is too expensive and too short-lived to play much of a role.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal in August, Mark P. Mills detailed the resources needed for expansion of wind farms and battery storage.

“Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of plastic,” he outlined.

“The International Renewable Energy Agency calculates that solar goals for 2050 consistent with the Paris Accords will result in old-panel disposal constituting more than double the tonnage of all today’s global plastic waste.”

He points out that the manufacture of a single electric car battery­ demands the digging up and processing of 230,000kg of raw materials. For each car.

The mining growth required, especially for rare earths, would be extraordinary, expensive and energy intensive.

“Building enough wind turbines to supply half the world’s electricity would require nearly two billion tons of coal to produce concrete and steel, along with two billion barrels of oil to make the composite blades,” wrote Mills, confronting the reality of clean, green industries.

Our debate is dominated by unrealistic posturing rather than cold hard facts. Scott Morrison ought to stick to practical policies and dismiss the climate poseurs in his own ranks and in the state ­Liberal governments. Australia ought to either focus primarily on affordable and reliable power or, if we are serious about emissions reduction, consider solving our energy security, climate policy and submarine technology dilemmas through a pivot to nuclear technology.

Politicians must resist believing their own publicity. One of the greatest risks for the Coalition after winning last year’s election was believing that the result was all about its brilliance rather than being largely a consequence of Labor’s determination to make themselves unelectable.

With a thin reform agenda, fragile economy and underlying divisions in its ranks, it is vital that the Coalition governs compet­ently and embarks on a more ambitious program. It has been tardy on this front but, again, has been gifted a re-election strategy­ by a Labor Party addicted to radical, non-nuclear climate action as the learned helplessness of its electoral failure.

Morrison must oppose climate self-harm and fight for reliable, ­affordable electricity — coal-fired, gas-fired or nuclear. This contest will shape our economic future and crystallise his government’s reason for being.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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