Thursday, July 02, 2020

Prominent climate activist Shellenberger officially recants: ‘On Behalf Of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare’

Michael Shellenberger

On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.

I may seem like a strange person to be saying all of this. I have been a climate activist for 20 years and an environmentalist for 30.

But as an energy expert asked by Congress to provide objective expert testimony, and invited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to serve as Expert Reviewer of its next Assessment Report, I feel an obligation to apologize for how badly we environmentalists have misled the public.

Here are some facts few people know:

Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction”

The Amazon is not “the lungs of the world”

Climate change is not making natural disasters worse

Fires have declined 25% around the world since 2003

The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska

The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change, explain why there are more, and more dangerous, fires in Australia and California

Carbon emissions have been declining in rich nations for decades and peaked in Britain, Germany and France in the mid-seventies

Adapting to life below sea level made the Netherlands rich not poor

We produce 25% more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter

Habitat loss and the direct killing of wild animals are bigger threats to species than climate change

Wood fuel is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels

Preventing future pandemics requires more not less “industrial” agriculture

I know that the above facts will sound like “climate denialism” to many people. But that just shows the power of climate alarmism.

In reality, the above facts come from the best-available scientific studies, including those conducted by or accepted by the IPCC, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other leading scientific bodies.

Some people will, when they read this imagine that I’m some right-wing anti-environmentalist. I’m not. At 17, I lived in Nicaragua to show solidarity with the Sandinista socialist revolution. At 23 I raised money for Guatemalan women’s cooperatives. In my early 20s I lived in the semi-Amazon doing research with small farmers fighting land invasions. At 26 I helped expose poor conditions at Nike factories in Asia.

I became an environmentalist at 16 when I threw a fundraiser for Rainforest Action Network. At 27 I helped save the last unprotected ancient redwoods in California. In my 30s I advocated renewables and successfully helped persuade the Obama administration to invest $90 billion into them. Over the last few years I helped save enough nuclear plants from being replaced by fossil fuels to prevent a sharp increase in emissions

Until last year, I mostly avoided speaking out against the climate scare. Partly that’s because I was embarrassed. After all, I am as guilty of alarmism as any other environmentalist. For years, I referred to climate change as an “existential” threat to human civilization, and called it a “crisis.”

But mostly I was scared. I remained quiet about the climate disinformation campaign because I was afraid of losing friends and funding. The few times I summoned the courage to defend climate science from those who misrepresent it I suffered harsh consequences. And so I mostly stood by and did next to nothing as my fellow environmentalists terrified the public.

I even stood by as people in the White House and many in the news media tried to destroy the reputation and career of an outstanding scientist, good man, and friend of mine, Roger Pielke, Jr., a lifelong progressive Democrat and environmentalist who testified in favor of carbon regulations. Why did they do that? Because his research proves natural disasters aren’t getting worse.

But then, last year, things spiraled out of control.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said “The world is going to end in twelve years if we don’t address climate change.” Britain’s most high-profile environmental group claimed “Climate Change Kills Children.”

The world’s most influential green journalist, Bill McKibben, called climate change the “greatest challenge humans have ever faced” and said it would “wipe out civilizations.”

Mainstream journalists reported, repeatedly, that the Amazon was “the lungs of the world,” and that deforestation was like a nuclear bomb going off.

As a result, half of the people surveyed around the world last year said they thought climate change would make humanity extinct. And in January, one out of five British children told pollsters they were having nightmares about climate change.

Whether or not you have children you must see how wrong this is. I admit I may be sensitive because I have a teenage daughter. After we talked about the science she was reassured. But her friends are deeply misinformed and thus, understandably, frightened.

I thus decided I had to speak out. I knew that writing a few articles wouldn’t be enough. I needed a book to properly lay out all of the evidence.

 And so my formal apology for our fear-mongering comes in the form of my new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.

It is based on two decades of research and three decades of environmental activism. At 400 pages, with 100 of them endnotes, Apocalypse Never covers climate change, deforestation, plastic waste, species extinction, industrialization, meat, nuclear energy, and renewables.


Even the South Pole is warming, and quickly, scientists say

The NYT article below eventually gets to the point: The polar warming is NOT caused by global warming

The South Pole, the most isolated part of the planet, is also one of the most rapidly warming ones, scientists said Monday, with surface air temperatures rising since the 1990s at a rate that is three times faster than the global average.

While the warming could be the result of natural climate change alone, the researchers said, it is likely that the effects of human-caused warming contributed to it.

The pole, home to a US research base in the high, icy emptiness of the Antarctic interior, warmed by about 0.6 degrees Celsius, or 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit, per decade over the past 30 years, the researchers reported in a paper published in Nature Climate Change. The global average over that time was about 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade.

Although parts of coastal Antarctica are losing ice, which contributes to sea level rise, the pole is in no danger of melting, as the year-round average temperature is still about minus-50 degrees Celsius. But the finding shows that no place is unaffected by change on a warming planet.

Analyzing weather data and using climate models, the researchers found that the rising temperatures are a result of changes in atmospheric circulation that have their origins thousands of miles away in the western tropical Pacific Ocean.

“The South Pole is warming at an incredible rate, and it is chiefly driven by the tropics,” said Kyle R. Clem, a postdoctoral researcher at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand and the lead author of the study.

While climate change resulting from emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases has very likely played a role, the analysis showed that natural climate variability could account for all of the extreme swing in temperature, effectively masking any human-caused contribution.


California Gov. Newsom Proposes Cutting Climate Spending to Help Plug Budget Gap

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing to cancel billions of dollars in climate spending to help close the financial gap created by the COVID-19 crisis.

Pandemic Changes Priorities

In January, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Newsom offered a $12 billion “climate budget” in which he proposed issuing low-interest loans to businesses for being more eco-friendly, subsidizing companies’ conversion of their commercial vehicle fleets to electric vehicles, and spending taxpayer money to prepare infrastructure and services for droughts, floods, and wildfires expected to increase because of climate change. On May 12, Newsom proposed eliminating the climate budget to balance the state’s overall budget, which is facing an estimated $54.3 billion deficit at present.

The largest proposed cut would scrap a plan to borrow $4.75 billion to prepare the state for sea level rise and wildfires, which Newsom has blamed on climate change.

Controversial Climate Catalyst Fund Nixed

Newsom also canceled a proposed $250 million contribution to the “climate catalyst fund,” which he had said would jump-start investment in technology to help private businesses reduce pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.

From the start, the climate catalyst fund faced opposition by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), which said in a statement the program was too large in scope and failed to serve a clearly identifiable critical purpose.

“The administration has not adequately justified the proposal, particularly because the administration has not demonstrated that it will be able to identify such projects,” the LAO stated. “Furthermore, these funds could be used for other legislative priorities, and existing state programs support many of the same projects that the administration has indicated might be funded through the Climate Catalyst loan fund.”

‘Unprecedented Times’

In a statement, a Newsom spokesperson said the climate budget cuts were required by “unprecedented times” forcing the state to “make sacrifices that we didn’t think six months ago we would have to do.”

The state and local governments’ pandemic responses have forced many businesses to close their doors and keep employees at home, which, although it has reduced emissions, could pose budget problems for the state because of the reduced tax revenues, Jared Blumenfeld, secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, told KTLA News.

“The good news is emissions are decreasing,” said Blumenfeld. “However, there is a lot of funding that has occurred in the past that may not occur in the future as a result of that.

“What California is doing is prioritizing and making sure, as the governor said, our values come first,” Blumenfeld told KTLA.


Australia's summer of extremes pushed grid to the limit, AEMO says

After several coal-fired power generators were decommissioned, this was to be expected

Australia's energy operator says the electricity grid barely made it through last summer's extreme temperatures and bushfires without major outages, with resilience to be further tested in the future.

The Australian Energy Market Operator's annual summer operations review found the nation's physical gas and electricity infrastructure was "being increasingly challenged", with "environmental limits and temperature tolerances for coal plants ... increasingly being approached and exceeded".

AEMO issued 178 directions to deal with actual or potential supply or system security issues, 10 times more than the previous three years. Of eight actual shortfalls — or a level 2 lack of reserves — half were in NSW, with three in Victoria and the other in South Australia.

The summer was Australia's second hottest on record, trailing only the previous summer, with maximum temperatures 2.11 degrees warmer than the 1961-90 average. December 2019 alone had 11 days when temperatures averaged above 40 degrees, equalling the number of such days during all previous years since 1910. Bushfires also charred large swathes of the forests of eastern Australia.

AEMO's managing director and chief executive, Audrey Zibelman, said the grid had to cope with longer lasting and more extreme climatic and bushfire conditions that also made forecasting more difficult.

“The industry and AEMO’s preparation contributed to mitigating the potentially extensive and significant power-system impacts of a season characterised by record high temperatures, catastrophic bushfires, significant smoke, dust, and violent storm activity,” Ms Zibelman said.

The avoidance of major blackouts was a key achievement of the summer, particularly after a heavy storm knocked out six transmission towers in south-west Victoria on January 31. South Australia was effectively cut off from the rest of the National Electricity Market for 17 days.

The addition of about 3700 megawatts of new capacity — mostly wind and solar — compared with the summer of 2018-19 helped provide additional supplies during peak demand.

While coal-fired power plants had their output cut during extreme heat, some wind farms were also curtailed, the first time AEMO had observed this.

"Dust exacerbated by the drought and bushfire smoke, ash and dust storms also materially impacted grid-scale and rooftop photovoltaic solar generation forecasts," AEMO's report said.

Prior to last summer, AEMO increased standby reserves - known as its Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader (RERT) mechanism - by buying 137MW of long notice reserves for Victoria and 1698 MW of medium and short-notice reserves across the market.

During four days of high demand, AEMO activated such capacity at a cost of $39.8 million, avoiding blackouts that would have affected as many as 92,500 homes at an associated cost of $77 million, the report said. Those RERT expenses cost the average household in NSW $3.24 and $2.43 in Victoria.

The summer generated a host of other lessons for power operators, including the need to improve forecasting to adjust to the swelling supplies of renewable energy.

Some of the forecasting challenge is meteorological, with agencies struggling to pick the top of the temperature peaks.

For instance, Penrith in Sydney's west hit 48.9 degrees on January 4, the hottest temperature recorded in an Australian metropolitan area, or several degrees more than predicted.

"The results demonstrate a bias towards under-forecasting at high temperatures and are indicative of challenges in accurately assessing generation reserve on peak demand days throughout summer," AEMO said.

"This under-forecasting is coupled to the increasing weather sensitivity of electricity demand as the use of airconditioning grows."



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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