Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Reporters Exploit Normal Weather to Fan Climate Fear

Exaggeration of weather events to sell climate crisis is not something new. In the case of a Sky News account of flooding in one Indian city, my own observations — backed up by independent data — are absolutely contrary to the news report.

Chennai — my home state’s capital, formerly known as Madras — is prone to floods, whose severity I’ve personally witnessed. In fact, the last time Chennai was flooded, I narrowly escaped by fleeing the city at the last hour. But, for me, that trauma does not make any more reasonable the media’s melodrama about climate’s role in floods.

The city is prone to yearly deluges from the strong Northeast Monsoon system during the months of October – January. This, coupled with poor planning and destruction of natural waterways, has led to an urban nightmare of flooding as a common event.

However, Sky News’ international Twitter report did not let the facts get in the way of its climate narrative. Standing in knee-high water, the reporter said, “We know that as a result of our warming planet, we are going to see more radical and frequent shifts in extreme weather – extreme heat to extreme rain.”

Except for a massive deluge in 2015, Chennai — located on India’s southeastern coast — has had a relatively steady amount of rainfall since 1969. For example, yearly rainfall variation (in the image below) shows that years of both intense and light rainfall have been common for the city.

Monthly data for the city also show the sporadic nature of rainfall in the city with many high rainfall months since 1969. This means that intense downpours are not uncommon in the city.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, a meteorological expert said, “These extreme rains have happened several times in the past too. It is not due to any climatic change. The record for the highest rainfall in Chennai on a single day in November is still 1976.”

The main reason for the flooding is the unplanned expansion of the city, which resulted in the encroachment of natural reservoirs and the blocking of key natural drains for rainwater. This is a well-established fact backed up by satellite imagery.

A 2020 report from the Indian Government, titled Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region, laid out a comprehensive analysis of various factors affecting the climate in the country. According to the report, a medium-range analysis of cyclone frequency in the North Indian Ocean Basin revealed a decrease in frequency of severe cyclones between 1951 and 2018.

The data may be surprising to the reader because the mainstream media — like the Sky News journalist — regularly claim that extreme weather events increased in this period because of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. But the reality is completely different.

“Long-term observations (1891–2018) indicate a significant reduction in annual frequency of tropical cyclones in the North Indian Ocean basin.”

In addition, there has been no significant warming in the city since 2004. In fact, satellite measurements captured a global pause in warming between 2000 and 2020, a trend like that observed in Chennai.

So, rainfall, cyclone landfall, and temperature have shown no dangerous increase in the city of Chennai. This case of interweaving the theory of climate crisis into a normal weather event by Sky News is typical of mainstream media. Either Sky News assumed its international viewers were unlikely to research the real reasons behind the flooding, or the news channel is ignorant of the facts itself.

We recommend applying a healthy dose of skepticism to assertions of climate-induced weather events. You also might want to follow more responsible outlets for your facts, such as the CO2 Coalition.


Bill Gates’ vision for next-generation nuclear power in Wyoming coal country

KEMMERER, Wyoming — In a triangle-shaped park, a bronze statue honors the legacy of J.C. Penney. In 1902, he opened a dry-goods store here to serve workers who dug coal from a nearby mine. The entrepreneur would go on to forge a nationwide retail empire.

More than a century later, a J.C. Penney department store still sells clothing in this town of fewer than 3,000 people. In the blocks surrounding the park, many businesses have closed, leaving behind aging storefronts. Some that remain open have “for sale” signs in the windows.

Kemmerer’s decline has come as the coal industry, despite a recent surge in demand, has suffered a long-term loss of markets to cleaner, cheaper sources of electricity. In 2025, the town faces a stark reckoning when Rocky Mountain Power’s Naughton coal plant is scheduled to close, which also will leave a more difficult future for a nearby mine.

“With the power plant shutting down in five years, would you open a new restaurant or new business of any kind?” said Tom Crank, a former state legislator and civil engineer who has lived in Kemmerer since 1968. “This is slowly eating away at the community.”

This week came big news, and fresh hope for an economic revival of Kemmerer.

TerraPower, a Bellevue-based nuclear energy company founded by Bill Gates, announced plans to build a new reactor called Natrium — cooled by liquid sodium — at the site of the Naughton coal plant.

The plant was one of four scheduled for closure that were under consideration for TerraPower’s Wyoming Advanced Nuclear Demonstration Project.

“We think Natrium will be a game-changer for the energy industry,” Gates said in a June virtual appearance in Wyoming. “Wyoming has been a leader in energy for over a century. And we hope that our investment in Natrium will allow Wyoming to stay in the lead for many decades to come.”

Nuclear power generates electricity without the direct combustion of fossil fuels that releases greenhouse gases. And Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, has been one of America’s most high-profile proponents of nuclear power to help the nation reach net-zero emissions by 2050. In his virtual appearance, Gates promoted Natrium as a safer, more flexible and less-expensive reactor than those cooled by water in conventional plants.

Gates’ advocacy has earned him praise — and pushback — amid a global debate about nuclear power’s role in the 21st century. In Europe, Germany plans to shut down its last nuclear power plants in 2022, while France remains dependent on nuclear for most of its electricity. In China, the government is backing a program of nuclear expansion that until U.S. restrictions were imposed in 2019 included a TerraPower proposal to build an experimental reactor south of Beijing.

In the United States, where nuclear provides 20% of the electricity, critics say it remains a costly option with unresolved issues over long-term waste storage. And they say the potential of advanced reactors is being oversold.

“Many of the claims that are being made about these types of reactors are simply untrue or highly misleading,” said Edwin Lyman, a physicist with the Union of Concerned Scientists who this year published a report on advanced nuclear technology that included a harsh critique of TerraPower’s project.

Shannon Anderson, staff attorney with Wyoming’s Powder River Basin Resource Council, said the TerraPower reactor is “no silver bullet solution,” and would be too little, too late to address climate change or the economic impacts of coal’s decline in Wyoming. “It doesn’t answer the tough questions that we really need to have answered in the state,” Anderson said.

Since 2009, TerraPower has spent more than $1.4 million on contributions to national campaigns and lobbying, according to Open Secrets, a nonprofit tracking money in politics.

TerraPower has benefitted from bipartisan political support.

During the June announcement of the four sites, Gates was joined by U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso and Gov. Mark Gordon — eager to launch nuclear power generation in the nation’s largest coal-producing state.

TerraPower’s Wyoming project is projected to cost nearly $4 billion. Taxpayers, under contract terms, pick up half that, matching private sector spending dollar for dollar.

Congress already has allocated most of the nearly $2 billion to the Energy Department to spend on TerraPower, much of it in the infrastructure bill signed into law Monday by President Joe Biden. The company’s CEO, Chris Levesque, calls it the largest public investment in an advanced nuclear power project in the nation’s history.

The Energy Department’s contract stipulates the Natrium reactor must be operating by 2028 — lightning speed in the nuclear world. A partner in the project is Rocky Mountain Power’s parent company, PacifiCorp, controlled by Berkshire Hathaway, a holding company led by Gates’ billionaire friend Warren Buffett.

The 345-megawatt TerraPower reactor is designed to generate electricity around the clock and would be coupled with a molten-salt system to store heat and enable the plant to surge up to 500 megawatts for over five hours — enough electricity for about 400,000 homes.

The project would employ 2,000 workers during construction and 250 others to operate the plant. TerraPower officials hope this project can be replicated at other U.S. coal plants.

“This [TerraPower] technology is amazing — there’s no other word for it,” said Gary W. Hoogeven, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power, which plans to close 19 coal-fired power plant units by 2040.

“I couldn’t be more excited for you, those communities and our employees that there is a solution. It’s coming, and TerraPower, I believe, is it,” Hoogeven said as the project was announced.

In Kemmerer, a conservative town in a fiercely Republican state, some are wary of Gates’ wide-ranging agenda, from combating climate change to developing COVID-19 vaccines.

But many people strongly support the new nuclear plant.


Biden’s Energy Secretary Has No Idea How Much Oil Americans Need

Speaking to reporters at the White House Tuesday afternoon, Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was asked how many barrels of oil Americans consume and need each day. She claimed she didn't have the answer.

The answer is 18 million barrels, which exposes President Biden's move to release 50 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a futile, political move.

In recent weeks, Granholm laughed off riding energy prices and admitted during remarks this week that the United States is in the middle of a "transition" away from oil and gas, which is causing pain at the pump.


Australian Labor Party senator warns party about reacting to climate ‘extremists’

Victorian Labor senator Raff Ciccone has warned his colleagues against demonising regional industries, particularly forestry, as the federal opposition prepares to finalise its climate policy ahead of next year’s election.

In a speech to the Senate on Tuesday night, Senator Ciccone said “extremists” who sought to damage or disrupt the activities of timber workers were not only hurting the livelihoods of families but would make it harder for Australia to hit its climate goals.

The senator has been a vocal advocate for timber workers and has criticised his side of politics over the Victorian Labor government’s decision to phase out native forest harvesting from 2024, with a full shutdown by 2030.

The federal opposition is close to settling its climate policy, which is likely to include revised emissions reductions targets, but is wary of creating a blue-collar worker backlash after failing to convince voters over climate change during the past decade.

Senator Ciccone told the Senate on Tuesday evening the timber industry would prove critical to Australia’s hopes of hitting net zero by 2050, which the federal government officially signed up to at this month United Nations climate summit.

Labor climate policy poised to respond to PM scare tactics
“We cannot afford to be distracted by radicals more concerned with making themselves feel good than protecting our planet,” Senator Ciccone told the Senate.

“The real climate heroes are providing sustainable, green building materials to our construction industry. They are taking and storing carbon from our forests and re-growing the harvested trees to store even more carbon.”

He cited research from the Centre of Policy Studies at Victoria University, released earlier this month, which found the forestry industry would almost double as decarbonisation boosted tree planting to take advantage of bio-sequestration opportunities.

The report found a net-zero policy would lead to significant increases in forested land and increased sales of logs for processing and export as forest pulp.

Senator Ciccone said the paper showed the forestry industry was Australia’s greenest form of carbon capture and would need to grow to meet climate targets.

“Radical activists need to understand that attacking the timber industry is not going to prevent climate change. You are targeting an industry that needs to get bigger, not smaller, to protect our planet.”

He said the Coalition government also needed to show greater support for the industry by spruiking the role forestry would play in reaching emissions targets over the coming decades.

“The Morrison-Joyce government needs to understand that leadership isn’t just waving a brochure around at a press conference,” he said. “Leadership is assessing the impact of your decisions on the Australian economy, so we can help those who will need a leg-up and create the jobs of the future right here in Australia.”

The industry has argued Australia has untapped potential as a bioenergy powerhouse through industrial heat in the future renewable energy mix. The federal government’s road map forecast that bioenergy could make up a fifth of Australia’s resource potential.

Veteran CFMEU forestry union leader Michael O’Connor has criticised Victorian Labor’s “disgraceful” treatment of timber workers in the state and warned it was under­mining federal Labor’s pitch to voters that workers and communities reliant on transitioning industries would be looked after.

“Federal Labor’s task of convincing blue-collar workers and communities they will be looked after is threatened by the approach of the Andrews government toward timber workers and their communities. Because these workers are being thrown on the scrap heap,” Mr O’Connor said last month ahead of the Glasgow climate summit.




No comments: