Friday, February 12, 2021

Tesla irrationality

Tesla might have one of the most loyal fans of any car maker.

The electric car maker has topped customer satisfaction surveys despite also bottoming-out in reliability reports.

American organisation Consumer Reports – which is similar to Australia’s Choice – shows just how big a paradox Tesla owners are.

In the company’s recent customer satisfaction survey Tesla was head and shoulders above all other car brands.

Owners heaped praise on Tesla’s driving ability, interior comfort and in-car technology – but they did mark the EV maker down on value.

On the flip side Tesla has often ranked near the bottom in the reliability stakes.

In Consumer Reports’ most recent reliability survey the EV maker came in at 25 out of 26. The only model they recommended buying was the Model 3, and the Model S was named one of the least reliable models on sale.

Elon Musk admitted in the past week that reliability issues have dogged the brand for some time.

He even went as far as to recommend not to buy one of his vehicles during a new model’s production ramp up stage.

In the recent interview with engineering consultant Sandy Munro, Musk said: “Friends ask, ‘When should I buy a Tesla?’. Well, either buy it right at the beginning or when production reaches steady state. During that production ramp, it’s super hard to be in vertical climb mode and get everything right on the details.”

The company’s recent rapid expansion could explain the poor results in the Consumer Reports reliability survey and respected JD Power report.

In JD Power’s recent initial quality survey Tesla ranked well behind most established players with the survey funding 250 issues per 100 vehicles. A long way behind the first placed Kia with 136 issues.

But these reliability and quality issues seem to have little effect on current or future owners.

The Consumer Reports satisfaction survey said most owners would buy again.

A lot of this has to do with the brand’s image. Tesla has a cool edge, it makes cutting-edge and exciting vehicles, which has helped drive record sales in 2020.

Tesla recently updated its Model S sedan with a new Plaid+ version, which is one of the fastest vehicles on the planet – surpassing 100 years of petrol-powered vehicle development in about a decade.

Plaid+ pushes the Model S’s outputs to extremes with 1100 horsepower, or 820kW, of grunt produced from a combination of three electric motors.

Tesla claims this will help push the electric sedan from 0-100km/h in less than 2.1 seconds.

Musk also draws in hordes of young and tech savvy buyers with his new-age thinking.

Today the company purchased nearly $2b worth of Bitcoin, along with announcing his company would accept the cryptocurrency as payment for vehicles in the future.

Tesla is unlike any car company on the planet, and it appears its fans can’t get enough.


The 'Clean Electric Vehicle' Fairy Tale

The pollution difference between electric- and gas-powered vehicles simply isn't what the environmental lobby would have you believe.

Are people who drive electric vehicles better people than those who do not? Or maybe a better way to frame the question is this: Are electric vehicles morally superior to gas-powered vehicles? The dominant popular narrative answer to both those questions would be in the affirmative. After all, “green energy is clean energy.” However, the dirty little secret is that the “green” associated with electric vehicles is far from clean or free of pollution.

This is not to discount the amazing technological developments that have come about in the electric vehicle industry. Rather, this criticism is aimed at dispelling the popular misnomer of green equating to clean. Electric vehicles are not morally superior to gas-powered cars. Each have advantages and disadvantages that any considerate consumer should weigh according to their own interests and concerns and not simply imbibe the propaganda of dubious activists or outright ecofascists.

There are at least three significant factors that compromise the popular image of electric vehicles being more environmentally “responsible.” First, there’s the highly toxic nature of lithium batteries, which are the essential component in making electric vehicles possible. Second is the disposal of spent batteries. Third is the means by which power is generated for those batteries.

The mining and extraction process to acquire the massive amounts of lithium needed to meet the ever-growing world demand has been causing quite the polluting mess. As Guillermo Gonzalez, a lithium battery expert from the University of Chile, stated in 2009, “Like any mining process, it is invasive, it scars the landscape, it destroys the water table and it pollutes the earth and the local wells. This isn’t a green solution — it’s not a solution at all.” And it’s not only the extraction of lithium that’s problematic, but also other essential and highly toxic products such as cobalt that are needed make these batteries. Much of this mineral extraction happens in countries that don’t share the same concern for protecting the local environment as espoused by those in the West.

Meanwhile, there’s the reality of the environmental impact of aging and disposed batteries. For the most part, the polluting days of gas-powered vehicles ends when the vehicle no longer runs, while the issue of dealing with spent lithium batteries must continue. No parking the old electric in a junk yard and letting it rust away with little concern.

Finally, there’s the issue of powering. While green energy fans love their renewables like wind and solar, the fact of the matter is that neither offer the amount or consistency to meet the energy needs of today’s world, let alone a world where more and more folks are driving around in electric vehicles.

An ironic video clip has recently resurfaced featuring Kristin Zimmerman, a prominent member of General Motor’s Chevy Volt design team, in which she admits that 95% of the electricity used to power the vehicle is generated by coal power. That video is years old, and the numbers have shifted some, but coal is still a major source. What would truly work to cut down on the pollution from electric vehicles would be to increase the number of nuclear power plants producing reliable energy. But environmental activists shun nuclear. Until then, the notion that electric vehicles are significantly more environmentally responsible than gas-powered autos will continue to remain a popular fairy tale.


There is no “climate emergency”, according to a study for the Global Warming Policy Foundation by independent scientist Dr Indur Goklany

Goklany concludes:

While climate may have changed for the warmer:

* Most extreme weather phenomena have not become more extreme, more deadly, or more destructive

* Empirical evidence directly contradicts claims that increased carbon dioxide has reduced human wellbeing. In fact, human wellbeing has never been higher

* Whatever detrimental effects warming and higher carbon dioxide may have had on terrestrial species and ecosystems, they have been swamped by the contribution of fossil fuels to increased biological productivity. This has halted, and turned around, reductions in habitat loss

The report will make hugely depressing reading for all the prominent environmental activists — from the Pope and Doom Goblin Greta Thunberg to the Great Reset’s Klaus Schwab — who have been pushing the “climate emergency” narrative. It is an article of faith for the globalist elite and their useful idiots in the media, in politics, in business, and the entertainment that the world is on course for climate disaster which only radical and costly international action can prevent.

But Goklany’s report — Impacts of Climate Change: Perception & Reality — claims there is little if any evidence to support the scare narrative.

At the end, Goklany provides a table, setting out all the scaremongering claims made by environmental groups — and then comparing them with observed reality. Only one of the claims stands up, according to the study — weather has been getting slightly warmer:

More hot days and fewer cold days — Yes

Cyclones/hurricanes more intense or frequent — No

Tornadoes increase and become more intense — No

Floods more frequent and more intense — No

Droughts more frequent and intense — No

Area burned by wildfire increasing — No (area peaked in mid-19th century)

Cereal yields decreasing — No (they have tripled since 1961)

Food supplies per capita decreasing — No (increased 31 per cent since 1961)

Land area and beaches shrinking, coral islands submerged — No. (Marginal expansion)

None of the doom-mongering claims made about a decline in human welfare stands up, either, according to the study.

Access to cleaner water has increased; mortality from ‘Extreme Weather Events’ has declined by 99 per cent since the 1920s; fewer people are dying from heat; death rates from climate-sensitive diseases like malaria and diarrhoea have decreased (since 1900 malaria death rates have declined 96 per cent); hunger rates have declined; poverty has declined (GDP per capita has quadrupled since 1950 even as CO2 levels have sextupled); life expectancy has more than doubled since the start of industrialisation; health adjusted life expectancy has increased; global inequality has decreased in terms of incomes, life expectancies and access to modern-day amenities; the earth is green and more productive; habitat lost to agriculture has peaked due to fossil fuel dependent technologies.

It will be hard for green activists to dismiss Goklany as a “denier”. His credentials as a climate expert are impeccable. He was a member of the U.S. delegation that established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and helped develop its First Assessment Report. He subsequently served as a U.S. delegate to the IPCC, and as an IPCC reviewer.

Goklany says:

Almost everywhere you look, climate change is having only small, and often benign, impacts. The impact of extreme weather events ― hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts ― are, if anything, declining. Economic damages have declined as a fraction of global GDP. Death rates from such events have declined by 99% since the 1920s. Climate-related disease has collapsed. And more people die from cold than warm temperatures.

Even sea-level rise — predicted to be the most damaging impact of global warming — seems to be much less of a problem than thought, according to to the study’s findings.

Goklany says:

A recent study showed that the Earth has actually gained more land in coastal areas in the last 30 years than it has lost through sea-level rise. We now know for sure that coral atolls aren’t disappearing and even Bangladesh is gaining more land through siltation than it is losing through rising seas.

In his report, Goklany destroys many of the green movement’s shibboleths, including the notion that fossil fuels are bad for the planet. Not only, he suggests, has their CO2 contributed to “global greening” — “contrary to prevailing wisdom, tree cover globally has increased by over 2 million km2 between 1982 and 2016, an increase of 7 per cent” — but they provide the fertilisers and pesticides which simultaneously feed the planet and reduce the amount of land required for agriculture:

Thus, nitrogen fertilisers and carbon dioxide fertilisation have together increased global food production by 111 per cent. In other words, fossil fuels are responsible for more than half of global food production. Without them, food would be scarcer, and prices higher (assuming all else, including food demand, stays constant). To maintain the food supply, croplands would have to more than double, to at least 26 per cent of the world’s land area (ex-Antarctica). Adding in pastureland, the human footprint on the planet would increase to 51.2 per cent of the world. In other words, fossil fuels have saved 13.8 per cent of the non-frozen parts of the world from being converted to agriculture.

At the beginning, he quotes a number of climate doom-mongers, including the Pope. According to the Pope:

The effects of global inaction are startling…Around the world, we are seeing heat waves, droughts, forest fires, floods and other extreme meteorological events, rising sea levels, emergencies of diseases and further problems that are only premonition of things far worse, unless we act and act urgently.

Maybe it’s time the Pope looked at some actual evidence…


Peter Ridd case to go to Australian High Court

He dared to say that Greenie scare stories about the barrier reef were not well founded in the facts

A former James Cook University professor fired over his comments about his colleagues’ climate change findings will have his case heard in The High Court.

Academic Dr Peter Ridd was speaking “hard truths” but should have been protected from being sacked by his contract, the High Court heard as it granted his case special leave to be heard.

Dr Ridd was fired from James Cook University in 2018 for making disrespectful comments about his colleagues when he claimed their findings on climate change could not be trusted as they were too “emotionally involved”, breaching the university’s code of conduct.

The case, which has become a flash point for freedom of speech and intellectual freedom, will be heard by the High Court later this year after it agreed on Thursday to hear the case.

Counsel for Dr Ridd, Stuart Wood QC, said his client’s enterprise agreement granted protection from the code of conduct’s requirement for respectful and courteous behaviour towards colleagues, as well as not bringing the university into disrepute.

“It’s freedom... for academics to go about their work which involves the robust exchange of ideas and to be... protected from the university,” he said.

“One of the provisions (of the code of conduct)... an academic must be respectful and courteous to other members of staff, that obligation cuts across section 14 (of the enterprise agreement).”

Mr Wood said as long as his client did not “harass, bully, vilify or intimidate” his colleagues, his intelligence and academic freedom was protected by the enterprise agreement.

He said it was agreed his client had breached the code of conduct by his “extremely disrespectful” comments about his colleagues, but that the enterprise agreement protected him from disciplinary action when he was speaking within his field of expertise.

“The purpose of the clause... is to allow academics to robustly exchange ideas without being censured. That purpose was ignored,” he said. “Section 14 (means) you can speak hard truths as long as you don’t harass, bully, vilify or intimidate.

“The court should be very troubled by the facts of this case. The commitment from the university to protect the academic freedom was resiled from and Dr Ridd was punished for doing what he should be doing.”

Dr Ridd said he was not surprised, but still relieved by the court’s decision. He said the case would determine the future of academic freedom in Australia. “If we go down... essentially academic freedom doesn’t effectively exist,” he said.

“Academics will always be wondering, actually, can I really say that. They will just zip up. “If universities are not there to have robust debate, then what the hell are they there for?”

Dr Ridd said there were times when intellectual freedom and respectful debate could not occur side-by-side because respect was a broad term. “It can mean from bare tolerance to almost adulation,” he said.

Acting for JCU, Brett Walker SC said the code of conduct and enterprise agreement should be read together, allowing intellectual freedom while treating colleagues with respect.

“It’s a long bow indeed that facts don’t support... that suggests behaving with respect for others is in incongruence to the exercise of intellectual freedom,” Mr Walker said.

“If you assume in your interpretation that intellectual freedom includes freedom from all modes of complying with norms of conduct, such as respect, courtesy, lack of abuse, we have a detraction in the code of conduct.”

Mr Walker said the code of conduct was not simply a tool of the university, but its existence was required by law, though the Public Sector Ethics Act.

He said there was no disagreement between the parties that Dr Ridd breached the code of conduct and if it was found the code and enterprise agreement could be read together then Dr Ridd had “no right of complaint”.

The case will be heard at a date to be set.

The Institute of Public Affairs welcomed the historic judgement.

“This will be the most significant test case for academic freedom in a generation to be settled by the highest court in the land,” IPA director of policy at the IPA Gideon Rozner said.

“Today’s decision continues the David vs Goliath battle on the fundamental issue of freedom of speech, against a university administration backed by millions of taxpayer dollars.”

A 2019 court decision found Dr Ridd had been unfairly dismissed and awarded him $1.2 million in compensation. However JCU won an appeal in the Federal Court last July.




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