Thursday, July 07, 2022

Another Step Toward Climate Apocalypse (?)

Paul Krugman below is determined to bash the GOP but does so on the flimsiest of grounds. The idea that the drought which has drained lake Mead is an effect of global warming is childishly ignorant. Warming would cause more evaporation off the ocean which would come down as more rain. The lake would more likely be full if global warming were real.

And his claim that temperatures in Norway are unprecedently high is completely a-historical. Norway has been even warmer in the not too distant past. Climate historian Tony Heller draws our attention to an article from 1927:

"Through Belgium, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Lapland, and Finland, the motor party journeyed to 270 miles north of the Arctic Circle, prepared for freezing weather. To their continued astonishment the temperature was never' less than 90 degrees in the shade."

image from


But I guess we have long ago given up on Leftists telling the truth

We’re having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave. Also a temperate heat wave and an Arctic heat wave, with temperatures reaching the high 80s in northern Norway. The megadrought in the Western United States has reduced Lake Mead to a small fraction of its former size, and it now threatens to become a “dead pool” that can no longer supply water to major cities. Climate change is already doing immense damage, and it’s probably only a matter of time before we experience huge catastrophes that take thousands of lives.

And the Republican majority on the Supreme Court just voted to limit the Biden administration’s ability to do anything about it.

It says something about the state of U.S. politics that a number of environmental experts I follow were actually relieved by the ruling, which was less sweeping than they feared and still left the administration with some possible paths for climate action. I guess, given where we are, objectively bad decisions must be graded on a curve.

And for what it’s worth, I have a suspicion that at least some of the Republican justices understood the enormity of what they were doing and tried to do as little as possible while maintaining their party fealty.

For party fealty is, of course, what this is all about. Anyone who believes that the recent series of blockbuster court rulings reflects any consistent legal theory is being willfully na├»ve: Clearly, the way this court interprets the law is almost entirely determined by what serves Republican interests. If states want to ban abortion, well, that’s their prerogative. If New York has a law restricting the concealed carrying of firearms, well, that’s unconstitutional.

And partisanship is the central problem of climate policy. Yes, Joe Manchin stands in the way of advancing the Biden climate agenda. But if there were even a handful of Republican senators willing to support climate action, Manchin wouldn’t matter, and neither would the Supreme Court: Simple legislation could establish regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions and provide subsidies and maybe even impose taxes to encourage the transition to a green economy. So ultimately our paralysis in the face of what looks more and more like a looming apocalypse comes down to the G.O.P.’s adamant opposition to any kind of action.


President Biden's 'Whole of Government' Climate Spending Extravaganza

Just two years ago, the National Endowment for the Arts made only one grant to an art project that promised to address the issue of climate change, awarding $25,000 to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art to commission work informed by "research on the Earth's dissolving permafrost layer."

During the last two years, the federal agency has provided $1,369,000 to fund some 40 climate-focused projects. The 29 such grants approved for fiscal year 2022 include support for multidisciplinary artist Hajra Waheed's collaboration "with researchers and organizers on issues such as land sovereignty and food and climate justice"; development of a Baltimore Center Stage production titled, "A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction"; and a grant to the Dance Exchange in Takoma Park, Maryland, to use "movement and storytelling to explore the ways different landscapes and communities are navigating climate change."

Never mind the prospect of reins on executive climate action in light of the Supreme Court's stinging regulatory rebuke last week: These art projects are one small piece of an explosion of climate spending since President Biden called during his first days in office for a "whole-of-government approach to combating the climate crisis." In response, every department, bureau, and agency has climate-related budget lines, responding to Biden's mandate by claiming a slice of the climate pie.

Where the Trump administration's 150-page budget overview for the fiscal year 2020 mentioned the word climate just once (and that was a reference to "school climate" – that is, educational environment), the current White House 2023 budget overview mentions the word "climate" 187 times and the phrase "climate crisis" 33 times in its 158 pages.

The administration's proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 calls for "a total of $44.9 billion to tackle the climate crisis," $16.7 billion more than climate spending in 2021, according to the president's budget.

"Climate change is not only a real and growing threat," Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan said, "but it also presents an economic opportunity." These include:

The Department of Health and Human Services plans to boost spending on the CDC's Climate and Health Program from $10 million to $110 million, to "identify potential health effects associated with climate change and implement health adaptation plans."

The National Institutes of Health are ramping up research on "climate change impact on health," with grants for projects "that address the impact of climate change on health" and technologies for measuring "the effects of climate change and extreme weather events on human health."

Even as it struggles with the growing crisis on the southern border, the Department of Homeland Security in its 2023 fiscal year budget asks for $55 million to battle climate change. Of that, $2 million will be spent "to stand up a Climate Change Program Management Office," and $4 million will go to the bureaucratic activities of "tracking, monitoring, and auditing … environmental planning compliance actions." DHS is also committed to electrifying half its fleet of motor vehicles by the end of the decade.

The State Department is seeking $2.3 billion for a broad range of climate-related expenditures including $2 million on "support for post-led climate diplomacy"; $7 million for "global climate diplomacy"; $2.6 million for the "Climate Change Public Diplomacy Fund"; $7.9 million for the "Center of Climate and Sustainability"; $17 million for "Overseas Climate Resilience, Building Energy, and Sustainability Projects"; and over $16 million to support the "Special Presidential Envoy for Climate" -- aka John Kerry currently. State is also seeking $5 million to buy or lease electric vehicles for the department.

Linda J. Bilmes, a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government who studies the federal budget, says that the Biden administration is "trying to send a message that in everything we do, we should be attentive to the issue." Part of "the problem of dealing with an issue so big," Bilmes added, "is that responsibility is so fragmented."

Increased funding to protect coastlines, inspect wind turbines and solar farms, and promote the use of carbon-free energy sources directly align with Biden's call to address what he calls the "existential threat" of climate change. But there are other organizing principles – reflecting progressive concerns – that inform the budget requests. Chief among these is Biden's belief that climate should be addressed across the government as an issue of "environmental justice." The NIH supports that agenda, stating that "Research has shown the impact of climate change differs across populations depending on socioeconomic advantages."

The Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to spend over $1 billion in "climate resilience and energy efficiency improvements." For example, HUD promises to advance "climate resilience and environmental justice by redeveloping and replacing distressed public and multifamily housing and neighborhood amenities with resilient and energy-efficient structures." It might be pointed out, however, that one of HUD's main responsibilities is to redevelop distressed public housing. Is HUD's commitment to confronting the threat of climate change a new imperative, or just a new way to justify the department and its activities?

The Environmental Protection Agency is also pursuing environmental justice. Under EPA's new strategic plan, the top goal is to "Tackle the Climate Crisis." Following a close second is Goal 2, which commits the EPA to "Take Decisive Action to Advance Environmental Justice and Civil Rights." In practice that means embedding environmental justice into all of the agency's "Programs Policies and Activities."

It isn't clear, however, whether the EPA will be able to re-invent itself as a ministry of environmental justice, given the Supreme Court's consequential decision Thursday limiting what powers the agency can exercise without explicit authorization by Congress.

Treasury promises that in its audits and investigations TIGTA will support the department's strategic goals. Among them, "Combat Climate Change." But how? TIGTA points to its fleet of 200 vehicles and promises to replace them with electric vehicles.

But that may be easier said than done. Plans to replace government cars and trucks with electrics, whether at TIGTA, Homeland Security, or the State Department, "are not to be taken seriously," says Benjamin Zycher, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Eliminate every vehicle used by the federal government and the effect on the climate – even under the worst-case scenario calculations – would be vanishingly small. Even if one were to eliminate the auto emissions of the entire federal government, the change in expected global temperatures would be "essentially zero."

More here:


White House ‘Disinformation’ Campaign Against Climate Policy Critics Sparks Litigation

Climate activists are working in coordination with the Biden White House and Democrat-dominated congressional committees to silence political opponents under the guise of “disinformation,” legal and energy policy analysts say.

Under President Joe Biden, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has kept a tight lid on how the administration advances its climate agenda, Chris Horner, an attorney representing a government transparency group, told The Daily Signal.

Horner said the White House science office refuses to respond forthrightly to related open records requests from his client, a nonprofit called Energy Policy Advocates. Such answers, he said, would enlighten Americans on the White House’s recruitment of outside activists and academics to discredit dissenters on climate change.

“It’s sort of like paying someone else to take your LSAT test,” Dan Kish, a senior fellow with the Washington-based nonprofit Institute for Energy Research, told The Daily Signal.

Horner’s Energy Policy Advocates has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the White House science office after it declined to release records detailing some of the correspondence of two of its staffers.

The lawsuit, filed in May, cites a “virtual roundtable” on climate change that the science office hosted Feb. 25 for the stated purpose of confronting “climate delayism.” A White House press release describing the roundtable identifies 17 outside participants, including communication strategists, professors, and researchers associated with universities across the country.

“We have filed numerous open records suits pertaining to ‘climate,’ seeking records from local, state, or federal bodies known to be working with what we view as a climate industry, or otherwise pursuing the agenda,” Horner said in an email to The Daily Signal.

He said Energy Policy Advocates, which is based in Washington state, went to court after the White House science office “failed to move” on one request under the Freedom of Information Act, or to determine that it would comply with that request. The office also “attempted to deny another request on what appear to be specious grounds that the material was ‘deliberative’ in nature,” Horner said.

Horner is one of two lawyers representing Energy Policy Advocates in the litigation.

In an email, The Daily Signal sought comment from the Office of Science and Technology Policy on the lawsuit and the purpose of the “climate disinformation” campaign. The office had not responded by publication time.

Seeking Emails With Outsiders
In February, Energy Policy Advocates asked for correspondence about a climate event involving Eric Lander, a science adviser to Biden who resigned that month, and Jane Lubchenco, the science office’s deputy director for climate and the environment.

The request asked for email records spanning an eight-week period that was “used at any time for work-related correspondence that was sent to one or more … named outside parties,” the suit says.

Lander resigned from the White House science office in response to allegations that he “bullied and demeaned” fellow staffers, according to media reports.

Lubchenco previously served as undersecretary of commerce and administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the Obama administration. During that time, Energy Policy Advocates’ suit claims, Lubchenco used a previous employer’s email account for “official federal work-related correspondence.”

The nonprofit also filed numerous lawsuits at the state and federal levels to obtain records pertaining to other such efforts. At the state level, for instance, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg paid for unofficial consultants to work with progressive state attorneys general to pursue Bloomberg’s climate agenda, according to the litigation.

The overarching purpose of the FOIA requests is to “inform the public of high-profile ethics revelations” at the White House science office “and media coverage thereof, and also the genesis of a tendentious event and campaign” out of the office, according to the suit.

Horner said he views the White House “roundtable” event as part of a larger effort aimed at “freezing out opposing political speech.”

He points to Biden’s aborted attempt to create a Disinformation Governance Board within the Department of Homeland Security as an example of how the administration is working to cut off meaningful debate about climate change.

“It’s certainly a reasonable conclusion that this administration and its allies, including on Capitol Hill, seek to use the weight of the federal government to silence political speech in opposition to its ‘whole-of-government’ climate agenda,” Horner said.

“Whether that means attempts at criminalization or not, we shall see,” he added, in anticipation that the House Oversight and Reform Committee would make referrals to the Justice Department for possible prosecution. A related transparency lawsuit suggests that such a referral is one objective of the House committee.


When It Comes to Energy, Ottawa Is Committing Suicide

We may soon need to lay Ottawa to rest, following its decision to deny itself the necessities of life.

The fateful die was cast last month after the Enbridge energy company made what it believed to be an urgent and uncontroversial application to the Ontario Energy Board to replace a corroded 65-year-old natural gas pipeline'which is at high risk of failing'in the city of Ottawa with a modern pipeline able to reliably meet the city 's needs into the future.

To Enbridge 's surprise, the natural gas pipeline emergency it warned about was trumped at the Energy Board by a different emergency'the "climate emergency " that city planners, in league with environmentalists and others, declared in 2019 "for the purposes of naming, framing, and deepening our commitment to protecting our economy, our eco systems, and our community from climate change. "

After hearing financial arguments from a multitude of climate-change-fearing intervenors, the Energy Board denied Enbridge 's application to replace the St. Laurent Pipeline, despite Enbridge 's view that it has but three years to secure the integrity of the pipeline and prevent a later "catastrophic failure [that] could have severe consequences for its customers by virtue of their location in a densely populated urban area. "

The City of Ottawa and other intervenors argued that Enbridge 's proposed pipeline, which would be paid for over a period of 40 years, amounted to a foolish and unnecessary expense because of Ottawa 's official Energy Evolution plan. Under Energy Evolution, Ottawa would evolve away from its dependence on non-renewable natural gas, which currently meets 50 percent of its community 's needs, and evolve into a Net Zero, 100-percent greenhouse-gas-free community by 2050. To lead by example, the city 's own emissions in its buildings and vehicles would be eliminated 10 years earlier, in 2040. In that light, Enbridge 's proposal to replace the existing natural gas pipeline with another natural gas pipeline costing $124 million would be imprudent.

Instead, the City of Ottawa would be adopting a prudent Energy Evolution plan costing "an estimated $52.6 billion on top of planned investments over the next 30 years. " This plan would adopt renewable technologies, including the equivalent of 700 million square feet of solar arrays, mostly on rooftops, and 710 industrial wind turbines, each at least as tall as the Peace Tower at the centre of the Parliament Buildings.

The added $50-billion-plus cost of meeting the city 's plan should deter no one, the city planners explained, since within a decade the city would begin to recoup its shortfall and ultimately achieve "a projected net return of $87.7 billion for investments made by 2050. " In the interim, Ottawa would simply balance its budget by increasing property taxes, land transfer taxes, parking rates, electricity prices and by imposing tolls and congestion charges on roads. This Energy Evolution plan was so obviously a winner that Ottawa City Council unanimously approved it.

At the Energy Board, the merits of the plan were likewise embraced. When Energy Probe, an intervenor, attempted to file material showing that a 100 percent reliance on renewables would disable public transit, lead to blackouts, soaring energy costs, poverty, bankruptcies, and fuel shortages in one of the coldest cities in one of the coldest countries on earth, other intervenors objected to allowing the material to be filed as evidence. As a result, the evidence the board weighed exuded confidence that Ottawa would easily reach Net Zero, in the process creating jobs, economic prosperity and environmental sustainability. (Full disclosure: Patricia Adams is Energy Probe 's president and Lawrence Solomon is its executive director.)

To its credit, the Ontario Energy Board in its final report did not endorse the view that Ottawa 's Energy Evolution plan was feasible. It merely accepted the preponderance of evidence before it, that a replacement natural gas pipeline would be ill-advised. It offered no comment on the collapse of the Ottawa economy that could occur should Energy Evolution prove pie-in-the sky.

If Ottawa remains true to its Net Zero goal and pulls the plug on its fossil-fuelled life-support system, it would be the world 's first capital city to die a woke death.


Climate Change: a religion built on blind faith

David Archibald

Australia is my ‘burned-over’ country.

Not burnt out in the sense of droughts and bushfires; the term ‘burned-over district’ was used to describe parts of western New York State in the early 19th century where religious revivals would flare up, burn fiercely, and then die out.

Church attendance is continuing its long-term decline in Australia, but it seems that we are as religious as we ever have been with a high proportion of voters in some electorates choosing the religion of Climate Change. Climate Change as a result of carbon dioxide is a matter of faith; there is no consistent physical evidence for it and a lot of reputable scientists say that it has a minuscule effect at best.

As soon as the election was over, Climate Change (the religion) was ramping up its destruction of the Australian economy with looming power blackouts and skyrocketing energy prices. Beyond the fall in our standard of living, the threat from Climate Change is existential in that we are denying ourselves the fuel security we should have from converting our low-grade coal to diesel and petrol.

Sri Lanka is a warning to us. Their ruling politicians decided to take the country green and it has now ground to a halt. If you think Australia is better than that – that we could do something very foolish and escape the consequences, well no we aren’t. We won’t be spared, our luck will run out at some stage.

We are taunting the Gods of the Copybook Headings with our stupidity; for years we have been the only country delinquent with respect to our obligations to stockpile fuel under an international treaty. For the last 30 years Australian governments, Labor and Liberal, would rather spend money on anything but the few things that really matter, like fuel security. The things that you do first so that we can all sleep soundly at night.

Our current religious revival had its beginnings with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Suddenly socialism was discredited as a belief system and a new faith was needed in a hurry. Thus the Rio summit of 1992 was born. This little monster suckled on the public teat for funding when it should have been forgotten in its crib.

John Howard, as Prime Minister, was especially keen on the idea. Legend has it that he was a closet fanboy of nuclear power. Decades ago, a legislated carbon tax had the potential to raise the cost of coal-fired power generation – possibly far enough to make nuclear power competitive. But Howard’s successors, both Labor and Liberal, instead twisted the market towards unreliable energy with its ultimate waste mountain of turbine blades and clapped-out photovoltaic panels. We missed out on nuclear power and instead got the worst possible outcome.

Communism is said to have failed because it was never tried hard enough. Similarly, our new Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, says that our power system could be fixed by increasing the unreliable component. In interviews, he looks particularly animated and agitated, with his hands going in all directions. Despite whatever words come out of his mouth, how sunlight and rain are really the same, Bowen looks as though he knows he is selling a pile of nonsense. That is his problem, it need not be ours.

Where to from here? We should get that sorted as soon as possible. Labor has only a slim majority and doesn’t control the Senate. And with policies that are only going to make things worse, the situation is unstable. The first thing to do is have a Royal Commission into the science of Climate Change. The people who voted Teal will have to find something else to believe in such as microplastics in the ocean.

Secondly, we should figure out where we will end up and then work back from there to determine what is the most cost-effective path to that inevitable future. One day we will run out of oil and coal and everything else we can dig up and burn. There will be a day without fossil fuels no matter what anyone thinks of them now and we should prepare ourselves.

The future will be either nuclear or darkness with a medieval standard of living. Power from photovoltaics and wind power isn’t cheap enough to make more solar panels and wind turbines – no further correspondence need be entered into. The ones we have at the moment are only an artefact of cheap Chinese coal power.

The best possible nuclear technology, something like the integral fast reactor, hasn’t been commercialised yet. The current dominant nuclear reactor technology, light water reactors burning U235, is inherently wasteful and unstable. For the sake of the generations of Australians who will succeed us, we need to get the best possible nuclear technology sorted out and settled down as soon as possible. Until we do that, we are at risk.

Hydrogen will have a role in the nuclear utopia to come. Nuclear power will be used to run the electrolysis machines to produce hydrogen for converting biomass into diesel and petrol. In the interim, we should convert low-grade coal, not good enough for export, into diesel and petrol. We have hundreds of billions of tonnes of the stuff, enough to make hundreds of billions of barrels of fuel. And the price of oil has risen high enough to make doing so commercial today.

Botswana, the landlocked country north of South Africa, has announced that it will build a 12,000 barrel per day coal-to-liquids (CTL) plant for US$2.5 billion. We blew $300 billion in a couple of years on Covid to no good effect. That sum would pay for 88 such plants producing a total of one million barrels per day which also happens to be Australia’s rate of fuel consumption. And think of the jobs all over the country. And the effect on our balance of payments of not having to find $150 million each and every day for imported fuel. We can pay for it, it is economic now and we should do it.

An average Australian car doing 20,000 km per annum at 10 km per litre of fuel will consume 2,000 litres per annum. The capital intensity of the planned CTL in Botswana is $4.91 per annual litre of fuel product. So the ability to make 2,000 litres per annum will have a capital cost around $10,000. Most Australians would make that investment to ensure their mobility if they had the opportunity to do so.

Labor is capable of the necessary ideological flip-flop to get the country back on track. In the 1960s the Labor Party reversed its opposition to state aid for private schools to make themselves electable. In the 1980s Labor brought in economic reforms that the previous Liberal government had been too scared or too stupid to bring in when it should have.




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