Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Outrage as government poised to green-light UK’s first new coal mine for decades

The UK government is said to be “on the cusp” of giving the go-ahead to a controversial new coal mine in Cumbria, sparking a furious response from concerned environmental groups and campaigners.

Under the proposals the Woodhouse colliery, near Whitehaven in Cumbria, will be the first new deep coal mine since the 1980s and will extract coking coal from beneath the Irish Sea, 85 per cent of which will be exported.

According to a report in the Sunday Telegraph, Michael Gove, the levelling-up, housing and communities secretary, could approve the contentious new mine as soon as next month.

The coking coal will be used by the steel industry, but critics have said it is unnecessary now that hydrogen and electricity-based technologies can be used to make steel.

The mine has already attracted international condemnation with Joe Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry criticising the plans ahead of the Cop26 summit hosted by the UK last year, calling coal “the dirtiest fuel in the world”.

“Senior Conservative Party sources” told The Sunday Telegraph that Mr Gove is believed to be supportive of the plan to open the mine, and his decision will largely hinge on the recommendations set out by the Planning Inspectorate.

The mine was controversially given the green light by local councillors in October 2020, causing anger that the government had declined to “call in” such a major development with considerable emissions potential.

After furious opposition, the government pulled a hard U-turn and launched an inquiry to review plans for the £165m mine.

The government’s independent advisers, the Climate Change Committee, said the Woodhouse colliery “will increase global emissions and have an appreciable impact on legally binding carbon budgets”.

Though the government has until July to reach a verdict on the project, it appears a decision could now be imminent.

The move towards expanding UK coal production comes as the government has also committed to new drilling in the North Sea for oil and gas.

Campaigners have said the government is undermining Britain’s position as a world leader on addressing the global climate crisis.


Cancel Mom’s Grocery Bag Misinformation

The CDC’s Mask Mandate Is Dead and Won’t Be Back; Here’s Why
I don’t deliberately avoid organic foods or markets, but I don’t seek them out either. Claims that organic food tastes better or is more nutritious are not supported by evidence and certainly don’t justify the far higher prices. Mostly, I’m put off by assertions that organic food is pesticide-free, safer and more planet-friendly. Those assertions are simply false advertising; deliberate misinformation.

Mom’s Organic Market shopping bags provide an excellent example. They’re emblazoned with six “Bee Informed” messages that help customers Bee the Change, Give Bees a Chance, and Save the Bees from a looming Armageddon attributed to synthetic pesticides. The Bee Misinformed messages merit correction.

1. The #1 irrigated crop in the US is lawn grass, using over 10 trillion gallons of water per year. Mom’s didn’t say where its number came from; and if this basic information is fishy, what about the other messages? The Natural Resources Defense Council says US lawns consume three trillion gallons per year – not ten. Still, too many people overwater, use fine sprays that let too much water evaporate, and/or water lawns during the hottest hours or days of the week. The better message is, water smarter.

2. Suburban lawns and gardens receive more pesticide applications per acre than agriculture. This may be true, but is it? Can’t Mom’s be more transparent about its sources? Homeowners should use lawn and garden chemicals carefully, responsibly and sparingly – and assume that any chemical (synthetic or organic) may be toxic and dangerous: to bees, other insects, fish, wildlife, pets, children and themselves.

3. A single bee colony can pollinate over 300 million flowers a day. Busy as a bee – sure. But really? A typical hive (colony) has 10,000 to 80,000 worker bees. Assuming 50,000 on average, this means each bee would have to visit 6,000 flowers per day. Perhaps in a sprawling canola field; but otherwise pretty unlikely. Again, what’s Mom’s source?

4. Scientists found bee-killing neonicotinoids in 75% of honey sampled from around the world. Now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty of ongoing organic food and environmentalist campaigns to frighten people (especially moms) into going full-organic and avoiding conventionally grown food.

The scientists are finding parts per billion. 1 ppb is equivalent to 1 second in 33 years – or 50 drops of water in a 50-by-25-by-2-meter Olympic-sized swimming pool: 2 teaspoons in 660,000 gallons.

Used primarily to coat seeds, neonics become part of the plant tissue and target only pests that actually feed on the crops, particularly during early growth stages. They greatly reduce the need for aerial or ground-level spraying with other chemicals that are much more of a threat to bees and other pollinators. They are a far lower risk to honeybees or wild bees than some organic pesticides – or Varroa destructor mites that attach to bees, suppress their immune systems, carry deadly diseases, create pathways for other diseases to enter bee bodies, and can cause well-publicized “colony collapse disorder.”

Neonics may be detected in honey because so much comes from vast canola fields in western Canada, where canola is grown with neonic-coated seeds, and beekeepers place their hives in the fields because bees thrive there and produce delicious honey. Don’t equate detection with danger.

5. There are traces of 20 different pesticides in the average American’s body. Mom’s could at least post the source for this assertion on its website. More important, these parts per billion are detectable only because modern lab equipment is so sophisticated. The traces are not at levels that should cause concern.

And what about organic pesticides? Organic farmers also use many different pesticides to protect their crops. But Mom’s, Greenpeace, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the organic food industry don’t look for or talk about traces of organic farming pesticides: in honey, on produce or in human bodies. Perhaps they don’t want people (especially mothers) to know or think about that.

The Risk Monger’s Dirty Dozen List of Toxic Organic Pesticides provides an informative overview of “natural” fungicides and insecticides used on organic farms – including chemicals that are toxic to bees, other insect and wildlife species, and humans.

Among those organic farm chemicals, copper sulfate is highly toxic to bees, deadly to fish, and bio-accumulative in soil and water. Pyrethrin neurotoxin pesticides are also very toxic to bees – and are possible human carcinogens; originally derived from flowers (which is why they can still be classified as organic), they are now manufactured synthetically. Like neonicotinoids, nicotine sulfate is derived from nicotine; it can paralyze bee wings and legs, and is poisonous to humans.

Other “natural,” “organic” chemicals that are highly toxic to bees include rotenone, spinosad, hydrogen peroxide, azidirachtin (neem oil), citronella oil, and even garlic extract and acetic acid.

If Greenpeace, the EWG or the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) ever spent the time and money to test for these chemicals, they’d undoubtedly find “traces” of “organic” chemicals on “organic” produce.

6. Roughly 0.1% of pesticides reach their targeted pests, leaving 99.9% to impact the environment. That sounds farfetched because it is, especially for crops grown using neonic-treated seeds so that the pesticide becomes a systemic part of the plant and targets pests that try to eat the crops.

Today’s farmers are far more careful and judicious in how, where and how much they use chemicals to control the insects, viruses, molds and other pests that want to beat you to the foods you enjoy. They also employ a variety of “integrated pest management” techniques – including corn, cotton and other crops that splice Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) genes into the plant structure, to control pests that feed on those crops, thereby reducing the need for hand, tractor or aerial spraying with chemicals.

(Organic farmers often spray live Bt bacteria on crops. But that carries risks that the spray could drift onto nearby plants and beneficial insects. It’s a mystery that EWG doesn’t wax apoplectic about that.)

Those who still harbor concerns might be comforted knowing that the USDA conducts a Pesticide Data Program that’s been ongoing now for three decades. The PDP tests different (conventionally grown) produce every year – and issues a “report card” on how well US and international farmers comply with Environmental Protection Agency rules designed to protect moms and families from (conventional) pesticide-related health issues.

While the annual EWG “Dirty Dozen List” is designed to instill unfounded fears about eating non-organic fruits and vegetables, because of alleged pesticide poisoning – the PDP analyses are scientific and data-driven. The PDP goal is to ensure that all pesticide residues have fallen to levels that pose no risks to humans by the time they reach supermarkets.

The latest 200-page report provides comforting news for consumers. It’s available here – or you can read plant pathologist Steve Savage’s summary and commentary here and here.

One further issue deserves mention. Not surprisingly, Mom’s bags are made of kraft paper. Plastic bags (we’re told) are petroleum-based and clog landfills. Of course, it’s more complex than that.

I operated bag-making machines during college. Paper and paper-bag-making processes are tree, energy and chemicals-intensive; and heavier, bulkier paper bags take years to break down in landfills. The volume of either is trifling, however, compared to pollution and waste from solar panels and wind turbines.

The bottom line is simple. As the USDA and Risk Monger emphasize, pesticide residues on both conventional and organic fruits and vegetables almost never pose risks to moms, dads, kids, or other planetary creatures. Bee not afraid. Enjoy eating them, because they’re good for you.

And correct or cancel Mom’s misinformation


Jacob Rees-Mogg warns over 'huge cost' of net zero drive

The "huge regulatory cost" of Boris Johnson's drive for net zero will hold back plans for a post-Brexit bonfire of red tape, Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned.

The Brexit Opportunities Minister said the Government needs to “face up to” the challenge of burdensome climate red tape and added that efforts to cut emissions must not rely on “endless regulation”.

The Government wants to axe £1bn of red tape left over from the EU, with Mr Rees-Mogg spearheading an effort to ditch 1,500 individual Brussels rules.

However, he warned that the rise of the net zero agenda means it will not be possible to introduce initiatives such as a "one in, one out" approach, where a piece of regulation has to be scrapped for every new one added.

A raft of new rules are being introduced to help Britain go carbon neutral by 2050, with ministers expected to push for more heat pumps and solar panels as well as limiting how much carbon can be produced by heavy industry.

Speaking at an event organised by the Centre for Policy Studies, Mr Rees-Mogg said: "Net zero is going to be a huge regulatory cost and that is an issue for the country to face and to face up to.

“If we were to have a ‘one in, one out’ or ‘one in, two out’ rule, you would end up excluding net zero, as we previously excluded EU regulation, and then you're tinkering at the edges because you're ignoring the biggest piece of regulation.”

The comments are the latest sign of nervousness about the economic impact of the net zero drive from some within the Cabinet and sections of the Tory Party.

He added that keeping the costs of the net zero push as low as possible is “fundamental”, saying it should be driven by technological innovation rather than “endless regulation”.

Mr Rees-Mogg said he wants the £1bn “Brexit freedoms” red tape target to be a “minimum” and will soon release a list of 1,500 rules left over from the EU that could be cut.

Net Zero policies such as banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 and ending the sale of new gas boilers from 2035 will likely need new rules and regulations.

Last October the Government published a 368-page strategy detailing the full scale of changes that will be needed to hit the net zero target by 2050. The Treasury warned it would face a £37 billion a year black hole from the eventual loss of tax revenue generated from the driving of polluting vehicles, such as fuel duty.

Yet supporters of the net zero drive warn that the financial and humanitarian consequences of failing to tackle climate change far outway the impact of action in the years ahead.

David Cameron brought in a “one in, two out” policy on new rules and regulations in a bid to cut down on red tape - a long-held push for Conservatives to unburden the free market.

But current Government sources believe the drive fundamentally failed to secure the changes it should have because EU laws were effectively exempt from the policy.

Lord Frost, who held the Brexit brief in Cabinet before Mr Rees-Mogg, was said to have tried to re institute the “one in, two out” policy last year but was blocked by Cabinet colleagues.


Australia: Greenies as prohibitionists

Matt Canavan

As I was driving home on Saturday after a busy day, I realised that everything I had done that day, the Greens want to ban. I had not had this much fun campaigning since Bob Brown came to town.

I had started the day at RockyNats. A worthy successor to SummerNats, the annual car festival of burnouts, drag races and drifting that comes to Canberra once a year. The SummerNats organisers have squeezed in a second event in Rockhampton to be held over Easter. They’re perhaps getting in more festivals before the Greens want to ban the sale of petrol cars by 2030.

I then headed over to Paradise Lagoons just west of Rockhampton, where a massive horse ring and grandstand emerges from the Fitzroy river floodplain. Built by the visionary cattle king Graham Acton, the Paradise Lagoons campdraft this year celebrated its 20th anniversary and people come from all over the country to compete.

I am not sure whether the Greens know what campdrafting is but when they find out I am pretty sure they will want to ban it, too.

I finished the day at the Professional Bull Riders rodeo at the Great Western Hotel, the only pub in Australia with a rodeo ring inside the pub. After sadly shutting due to Covid, the Great Western is back and it was pumping on Saturday night. It takes a special kind of guts, or perhaps insanity, to jump on the back of a 800 kg raging bull for eight seconds.

The Greens have introduced legislation to ban rodeos.

The Greens wrap their self-appointed roles as the fun police in concern over the environment and animal welfare. The truth is more prosaic, however; the Greens just want to have power to tell people what to do.

The Greens are a modern form of the Temperance movement that succeeded in disastrously outlawing alcohol in early 20th-century United States. Their aims were well intentioned. Our society remains afflicted by too much consumption of liquor and drugs but you cannot remove human sin through the law book.

All prohibition did was create a thriving underground industry run by criminal organisations that led to more violence than ever committed by drunks.

Notwithstanding this sobering tale, the modern day Temperance movement in the Greens wants to outlaw much more. The Greens want to ban or restrict cars, red meat, coal, gas, oil, zoos, factory farming, horse and greyhound racing, dams, forestry, fishing, plastics, live exports, bawdy jokes, smoking and guns. And that is just a selection from five minutes or so on their website.

It would probably be simpler to write a list of the things that you will be allowed to do under a Green dictatorship. Whatever is permitted, there will not be much fun.

In the Greens world you will be able to watch all sorts of violence online but you had better not go hunting to provide food and clothing. In the Greens world you will be able to consume all sorts of exotic illicit drugs but dare not have a smoke at the end of a hard day’s work. In the Greens world you can invest whatever money you like in carbon credits but putting a bit on the dogs at the pub is the work of the devil.

When you make this comparison you realise that the Greens are afraid of the real world. Their obsession with drugs, virtual experiences and the latest climate fad all allow them to escape from the harsh realities of the need to provide food and energy.

That is how their policies are so often disconnected from reality. They do not know how things actually work because they rarely do any hard yakka – aka ‘work’ – in the real world. They are not – or do not know any – people who drill for oil and gas. They are not – or do not know any – people who raise and slaughter cattle for food.

The Labor party used to have people who grew food, made things with their hands or mined coal. That always helped to keep the more crazy parts of their left wing in check. However, the modern Labor party is full of people who have gone straight from university to union activist to parliamentarian. They have lost touch with the real world.

As a politician in a country area, I visit mines, factories and farms regularly. I hear from people on the frontline how hard it is to deal with uncaring bureaucrats, unethical banks and unprincipled unions.

The same people that want to take away our fun want to take away our work. The Greens and their friends in the Labor party are on the ultimate power trip thinking that can control everything, including the temperature of the globe.

Carbon traders are the successors of the Temperance activists. Just look at how the authoritarian left are salivating at the prospect of Central Bank Digital Currencies, which could be weaponised to give us all carbon budgets of 14 grams of red meat a day, as recommended by the United Nations.

In the meantime, Labor has consoled itself by promising a new carbon trading scheme for over 200 businesses Australia-wide. These include almost all our iron ore mines, coal mines, gas facilities, major factories and our last two oil refineries.

Just like Prohibition, if we tax these industries to oblivion they will just move to other countries. It is like the old Hale & Pace joke, ‘no, I don’t think we should ban mining because it would just go underground then, wouldn’t it?’ By sending our mining industries offshore, more Australian jobs would be lost to overseas.

And we would be poorer for it and would not be able to afford to buy cars to do burnouts, buy bulls to use in rodeos or have the money to travel to a campdraft. Maybe this is the Greens plan then. The Greens will never get popular support to ban fun, but if they scare us so much about the climate, they just may make us too poor to have any.




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A return to paper bags is still preferable to having plastic bags snagged up on fences and trees.

Cost more to produce and uses? Yes, and that's the REAL reason we were forced to switch as the stores wanted to reduce their costs.