Monday, December 06, 2021

Back to firewood

As Greenie attacks make our energy supply less reliable, some people are returning to the 19th century

Americans are feeling the burn of home-heating costs like never before this holiday season.

But rather than watch their dollars go up in smoke paying for oil or propane, many are stocking up on firewood to stay warm during the winter months.

At AZ Wood Farmer in Apache Junction, Arizona, owner Doug Trapp said there’s definitely been a steady rise in demand for firewood this year, as more people choose to stay at home.

“People are cooking at home. People are staying home more, because the cost of food has gone through the roof,” Trapp said. “Everybody is worried. Everybody is concerned.”

And with the increased demand for firewood comes higher prices. A 4-by-16-foot bundle of season mixed local firewood currently sells for $490 at AZ Wood Farmer—$575 for shaggy juniper, and $775 for pecan.

At Firewood by Jerry in New River, Arizona, a full cord of seasoned firewood now goes for $300—up $45 from last year. Each cord contains 112 cubic feet of firewood, 650 to 725 pieces, said owner Jerome Gosiak.

“The more people stay at home, the more they are burning the stuff,” Gosiak told The Epoch Times.

“There’s no question there’s been a boom,” said Kelly Olsen, spokesman for the National Firewood Association in Minnesota. “The industry has been very busy.”

Olsen said that COVID-19 created further demand for firewood this year as many people looked to heat their homes for less during lockdown.

The rising cost of labor and firewood production equipment, combined with higher transportation costs, have also driven up wood prices.

The Texas power outage in early 2021 served as a wake-up call for many Americans, who don’t want to be caught off guard this winter. This, in turn, has helped spur the demand for firewood, Olsen said.

“It’s the whole self-sufficiency aspect of it,” Olsen told The Epoch Times.

Olsen said the demand for “bundled” firewood at retail stores is also seeing a sharp rise for meeting short-term heating needs. “I see the industry ramping up,” he said.

In Pennsylvania, the nonprofit Professional Forestry Industry Association (ProFIA) is helping several families heat their homes with firewood this season.

“A lot more people are looking to burn wood” since it costs less than oil or propane, said ProFIA president Matt Carney.

This season, the organization plans to donate cords of firewood to at least five or six homes, although the demand “ebbs and flows.”

Ohio based “My Free Firewood,” on the other hand, is a collaboration between Keep It Green Tree Service and the JRG Agency.

“We saw the confluence between homeowners needing an inexpensive year-round supply of firewood and the excess wood many tree services and landscape companies have. So, we launched My Free Firewood in 2018 with the intent to solve both of these problems by providing a service that facilitates connecting firewood customers to wood providers,” according to the organization’s website.

The National Park Service provides firewood for personal use, both on a free-use permit and a paid-permit basis.

“The cost of a permit varies according to the type of wood to be harvested, and the definition of a ‘cord’ of wood is a well-stacked pile 8 feet long by 4 feet wide by 4 feet high,” according to the NPS.

A maximum of five cords per household per year is allowed under free use and a maximum of 12 cords per household per year is allowed under paid permits.


Biden, not “Big Oil”, is to Blame for Energy Price Spikes

“President Calls for Inquiry into the Price of Gas” reads a frontpage headline in November 18’s Wall Street Journal. President Biden apparently wants Americans to believe that the major producers and distributors of fossil fuel energy (“Big Oil”) are responsible for recent price increases at the pump and looming sticker shock on home heating bills.

As President Reagan might have said, “there he goes again”. Seeking to duck responsibility for his own policy actions, Biden has asked Federal Trade Commission chairperson Lina Kahn, appointed for her relentless hostility to Big Tech, to launch an investigation into whether U.S. energy companies have conspired or engaged in other unlawful behavior to profit at the expense of consumers of gasoline, diesel fuel, and heating oil.

We’ve seen the same headlines before. Every time energy prices rise sharply—during OPEC’s oil embargoes of the 1970s, wars in the Middle East, and hurricanes on the Gulf or East Coasts that disrupt the industry’s drilling, refining, or distribution operations—the White House or Congress predictably reacts by pointing fingers at Big Oil, asking for reasons other than the normal workings of global energy markets. Over time, the FTC has subpoenaed and amassed hundreds of thousands of documents from the major oil-and-gas companies, by no means cheaply either for taxpayers or the companies themselves. Those investigations never have produced evidence of anticompetitive behavior justifying further legal action.

This time around, the Biden administration thinks that something nefarious must be going on because of an “unexplained gap” between the price of “unfinished gasoline” (before blending with ethanol and other additives) and prices at the pump, which have risen by three percent in one month. But, as every consumer knows, all prices have been rising recently (at more than a six percent annual clip) as the economy struggles to absorb significant expansions of the money supply, profligate federal spending, and cope with the supply-side bottlenecks caused by lockdowns and other counterproductive Sars-Cov-2 pandemic policies. Energy is the most volatile component of consumer price indexes.

The “unexplained gap”, which varies along with the supplies of and demands for gasoline and ethanol, is not a mystery. Washington’s ethanol mandate or renewable fuel standard (intended to buy votes from Corn Belt states) itself largely is responsible for it.

If he wants to explain why energy prices have been snowballing, President Biden should look in the mirror. Since taking office, he has cancelled the XL pipeline, which would have lowered the cost of moving crude extracted from shale oil deposits in Canada and the Dakotas to Gulf Coast refineries, banned further exploration and drilling on federal lands, and cancelled offshore oil leases. The president’s failed attempt to lessen the pain of his green energy policies by encouraging OPEC to expand production is laughable.

So, too, is his announcement a few days later (joined by other western leaders) that crude oil will be released from national stockpiles of so-called strategic petroleum reserves. If that action is taken, the effects on fuel price will be only transient.

It is expedient to shift blame to “monopoly” or “market power” for economic effects that damage politicians’ reelection hopes. After all, “big is bad”, isn’t it? However, the first place to look for culprits to explain price increases for energy or any other good or service should be government.

As Edmund Burke once wrote, “The thing itself is the abuse!”


Rising energy bills in UK: Cruel to the poor

image from

When she goes in to check on him at night, Sandy Birtles says she can hardly see her teenage son for all the layers on his bed.

The single mother of two says that the family do all they can to keep warm as the bills continue to rise.

"I do not have the heating on when the kids are at school," she said.

"If I'm not running around and clearing up, then I'm wrapping up in a coat."

She said that financial pressures mean she had been "penny-pinching all the time", but she said rising energy bills have added to the strain.

They have to be careful not to use too much hot water, she said, and when her 15-year-old son wanted to add to his bedding she got him a double duvet.

She is worried that these bills will continue to rise, and a charity has predicted that she - and millions of others - will face a particularly difficult bill shock early next year.

National Energy Action has predicted that when domestic energy prices rise in April, it will mean that the typical domestic gas bill will have doubled in 18 months.

The charity, which campaigns for warm, dry homes, used industry data and forecasts to predict that the typical gas bill, for those on standard tariffs, is likely to have gone up from £466 a year in October 2020, to £944 in April 2022.

"The cost of living in the UK is at its highest level in a decade with household energy bills the biggest driver. When the costs of essential services go up, those on lowest incomes get hit hardest," said Adam Scorer, the charity's chief executive.

"For people already on a budgetary knife-edge, the cost of keeping a family warm has exploded while budgets have collapsed. No amount of useful tips or savvy shopping can cope with that."


Australia: NSW government overturns decision to block coal mine expansion

The New South Wales government has been accused of being “captured” by the coal industry after it overturned a planning commission decision to block a mine expansion that it found could cause irreversible damage to drinking water and release significant heat-trapping gas.

The deputy premier, Paul Toole, and planning minister, Rob Stokes, declared on Saturday the Dendrobium mine expansion near Wollongong – proposed by BHP spin-off South32 – was “state significant infrastructure” due to its role providing coal for the Port Kembla steelworks.

It reversed a planning commission decision in February to reject the proposal, which would have allowed the company to extract an extra 78m tonnes of coal from two areas near the Avon and Cordeaux dams. The dams supply water to metropolitan Sydney and the Macarthur, Illawarra and Wollondilly regions.

The state government did not mention the water supply or emissions in its statement about the mine expansion. Toole said Dendrobium was a critical source of coking coal for the Port Kembla steelworks and declaring it significant infrastructure would “provide thousands of workers with greater certainty on the future of their jobs”. He said the mine contributed $1.9bn to the state’s economy each year.

The NSW government also confirmed it had ruled out future coal exploration in the Hawkins and Rumker areas in the state’s central west, a step flagged by Guardian Australia last month.

South32 said it welcomed the government’s decision. A company spokesperson said it “marks an important step” and would allow a submission for an alternate mine plan to that rejected by the planning commission.

“We continue to consider our options to determine the best path forward for Illawarra Metallurgical Coal, to continue to supply metallurgical coal for local steel production and support local jobs and investment,” it said.

The Dendrobium declaration means South32 can submit an environmental impact statement for community feedback and assessment by the planning department. The department previously recommended the independent planning commission approve the project as its benefits would “significantly outweigh its residual costs, and that it is in the public interest”.

It has been supported by Bluescope Steel, which claimed “green steel” – made using hydrogen and renewable energy – was decades away and it wanted to use an existing blend of coking coal until 2048.

Dan Gocher, director of climate and environment at shareholder activist organisation the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, said the Dendrobium decision “reeks of state capture”




Sunday, December 05, 2021

Europe’s Climate Target for 2050: An Assessment

Richard S. J. Tol has done a scientific study of the costs of European climate policy. It is heavy with numbers, graphics and references so is much more careful and objective than the sort of handwaving we usually get. Because of the great detail in it, it is a very long article. So I reproduce below just the beginning and the end of it. His finding is that the cost is much greater than the benefit

The European Union has set ambitious targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction. Net emissions should fall to 45% of their 1990 levels by 2030, and to zero by 2050. What are the costs and benefits of this? Do the benefits exceed the costs?

The European Commission has not answered this question. This is unfortunate, as the decision has been made to pursue these goals. The European Commission (2020) has published an Inception Impact Assessment, which is largely qualitative.1 The in-depth analysis accompanying the Communication for the earlier, less ambitious targets does not report a cost-benefit analysis either (European Commission, 2018), even though the European Commission (2014) has continuously promoted its use. Studies by independent academics find that EU climate policy does not pass the cost-benefit test (Pearce, 2004; Tol, 2007; 2012). However, these studies do not assess the latest plans. This paper fills that gap.

Cost-benefit analysis should not dictate policy. It should inform policy along with other concerns. Yet, economic efficiency is an important criterion. If the costs exceed the benefits, all other policy demands would be harder to meet as there is less money to go around.

This paper reviews the targets set by the European Union, discusses the costs of greenhouse gas emission reduction as well as some political claims about those costs, surveys the benefits of avoided climate change and concludes by comparing costs and benefits, in total and at the margin.

Discussion and conclusion

The numbers reviewed above are sobering. The total cost of greenhouse gas emission reduction could be 3% or more of GDP. The benefits would be only 0.3% of GDP, a benefit-cost ratio of one in ten. The marginal costs and benefits give the same message. The marginal costs of greenhouse gas emission reduction would reach €500/tCO2 by 2050 while the marginal benefits would be less than €150/tCO2, a benefit-cost ratio of three in ten.

It is often argued that the impacts of climate change are underestimated. Impact estimates are certainly incomplete (Arent et al., 2014). However, arguing that the impacts are off by a factor of ten or even a factor of three is quite a stretch. In fact, the percentage above is the global average; a rich region such as Europe would be less vulnerable (Tol, 2018). The social cost of carbon is the global social cost of carbon; the EU social cost of carbon would be a fraction of this (Tol, 2019).

Besides, the costs of climate policy are underestimated too, based on the rather unrealistic assumptions of a first-best implementation in an economy without other distortions. In reality, we observe a jumble of policies, uncoordinated not just between countries but within countries as well, and sharp shifts over time as political whims and electoral fortunes come and go.

That said, the above estimates assume stringent climate policy outside the EU too. If climate policy elsewhere were more lenient, then the costs of greenhouse gas emission reduction in Europe would be lower as there would be less competition on the markets for renewables and offsets. At the same time, the benefits of climate policy would be larger. While this would improve the benefit-cost ratio, it is unlikely to make a factor of three, let alone ten difference.

It is therefore safe to conclude that the benefits of the European Union’s climate policy do not outweigh its costs. There are no immediate political implications of this finding. The European Union has put stringent emission targets front and centre of its entire policy agenda. There is little political opposition. However, in the longer term, the stringent targets are vulnerable as the costs and other implications of meeting them become apparent to a growing number of people. As climate continues to change, it will also become clear that the weather disasters foretold will not have materialised. At that point, public and political support for the EU’s climate policy will likely crumble, and result in a tax revolution as predicted by Dowlatabadi (2000) and observed with the gilets jaunes in France in 2018.

Further research is needed on all aspects of climate policy. I do not expect much progress on the economic impacts of climate change, not until the literature gets itself out of the rabbit hole of confusing weather shocks and climate change, despite previous warnings not to (e.g. Dell et al., 2014). More progress can be expected from the new empirical literature on the costs of greenhouse gas emission reduction, the somewhat belated realisation by economists that climate policy started in 1991 and can be studied ex post as well as the more common ex ante. The resulting papers suggest that climate policy is more difficult and expensive than is commonly assumed (Leahy and Tol, 2012; Fowlie et al., 2018; Lin and Wesseh, 2020; Runst and Thonipara, 2020). Yet more progress lies in the study of second-best climate policy, with studies revealing again higher policy costs (Barrage, 2020; Tol, 2020b).

Until research has progressed, the conclusion remains that the costs of EU climate policy far exceed the benefits.


Contrary to what you've been reading, the massive new IPCC report offers grounds for optimism on climate science and policy

Roger Pielke Jr.

The current IPCC report is notable because it has stated that among the 5 “illustrative” scenarios that it emphasizes, it assigns no likelihood to any of them.

That is important because it represents a 180-degree turn from the previous IPCC assessment, which identified one scenario as most likely, called a “reference scenario.” Because the 2021 IPCC has decline to attach a likelihood to its scenarios, that means that in order to properly interpret the new IPCC report, you and I have to assess the likelihoods of different scenarios.

That’s a big ask. But you are in luck because I and my colleagues have spent years studying the plausibility of IPCC scenarios. Our peer-reviewed work, along with other relevant studies, put us in a very good position to help you to understand the significance of scenarios in the current report.

Much to its credit (and seemingly at odds with its claim to assign no likelihoods to scenarios), the IPCC has concluded — just as we have in our research — that several of its scenarios are of low likelihood. This is very good news because these implausible scenarios are the report’s most extreme scenarios.

For my technical readers, the scenarios judged unlikely by the IPCC are high emission (“such as RCP8.5 or SSP5-8.5”) and the scenarios “in line” with current policies are intermediate scenarios (“RCP4.5, RCP6.0 and SSP2-4.5”).

This is huge news. Fantastic in fact. Why? The extreme scenario RCP8.5 was in the most recent IPCC report identified as our most likely future. Now IPCC has completely reversed that, and it is now considered low likelihood. There could not be a more profound change in the scenario foundation of climate science.

Instead of apocalyptic warnings about “immediate risk” a top line message of this report should be: Great News! The Extreme Scenario that IPCC Saw as Most Likely in 2013 is Now Judged Low Likelihood. I am actually floored that this incredible change in such a short time apparently hasn’t even been noticed, much less broadcast around the world.

For its part, the IPCC claims to be “neutral” with respect to scenario assumptions, despite also, seemingly contradictorily, identifying certain scenarios as low likelihood and others more in line with current policies. Here is where the IPCC gets into some trouble.

Despite acknowledging the low likelihood of the most extreme scenarios RCP8.5 and SSP5-8.5, which were the dominant focus of the 2013 IPCC report, the extreme scenarios dominate the current report as well.

The phrase “extreme scenario” might be a little difficult to understand in the abstract. So let me explain what an extreme scenario looks like, and why it is obviously, undeniably implausible. All of RCP8.5, SSP5-8.5 and SSP3-7.0 assume that the world is going to massively increase consumption of coal in the future. The scenarios project that we will replace natural gas with coal, we will replace nuclear with coal, we will replace wind and solar, we will even chose to abandon gasoline for cars and use coal-to-liquid as fuel. If that sound ridiculous — it is!


The Global Average Temperature Dropped 0.29C Last Month — Now Sits At Just 0.08C Above The 30-Year Baseline

The Version 6.0 global average lower tropospheric temperature (LT) anomaly for November, 2021 has come in at 0.08 deg. C above the 30-year baseline. This is down quite a bit (0.29 deg. C) from the October, 2021 value of 0.037 deg. C, and down substantially (0.51C deg. C) from where we were at the beginning of 2020.

A continuation of this downward trend is expected in the coming months/years as La Nina conditions/low solar activity persist.

Saying that, this recent drop has come as somewhat of a surprise — even for me.

For those who check in daily with (a dataset maintained by the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine), you likely would have expected November’s LT to have held near its October reading of 0.37C–due to daily readings of between 0.4C – 0.7C above the mulitidecadal base prevailing throughout all of November. However, worth remembering here is that Climate Reanalyzer is just a forecast, it relies on models (the GFS) for its predictions, and we all know the trouble relying solely on models can get you into; whereas the UAH uses real-world data collated by satellites to paint its picture.

The far more reliable UAH has spoken, and according to those 15x NASA/NOAA AMSU satellites that measure every square inch of the lower troposphere (where us humans reside), Earth’s temperature cooled quite drastically in November (note also that the satellite data is preferable to ground measurements, with the latter susceptible to the Urban Heat Island (UHI) Effect — see here, too).

A drop of 0.29C takes us to just 0.08C above the baseline and continues the downward trend from 2016. As it stands, Earth’s temperature was actually warmer back in the early-1990s and late-1987.

image from

Every region of the planet cooled last month, with the largest drop occurring in the Arctic where a plunge of more than 1 Deg. C (from +0.63C to -0.42C) was observed.

Moreover, since its 2016 peak, Earth’s average temperature is down 0.62C. However, irrefutable contradictions to the so-called ‘consensus’, such as this, won’t stop AGW Party members from pursuing their end goal of ‘total climate misinformation’. Stories of linearly-rising global temperatures and rapidly-melting polar sea ice are still being published by a corrupt MSM, stories which are veering ever-further away from our changing climatic reality:


We are entering a new phase in the climate debate

Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, gave a talk for the Irish Climate Science Forum and CLINTEL. His online presentation was titled: After COP26, with a looming energy crisis, is there a realistic alternative to Net Zero?

The GWPF recently rebranded the name of their campaigning arm to Net Zero Watch. So it was not surprising the focus of his talk was the obsession current western leaders, like Biden and Johnson have with Net Zero.

The reason of this obsession is the 1.5 target that was now the main focus of the COP26 conference in Glasgow. Remember, in 2015 in Paris countries agreed they would try to stay below 2 degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial and preferably even below 1.5 degrees. The IPCC then published a special report in 2018 about this 1.5 C threshold. In this report they calculated the remaining carbon budget to stay below 1.5 and 2 degrees. Since then these carbon budgets play a key role in international climate negotiations. You get messages like “we have only 12 years to save the planet”.

In practice staying below 1.5 C means Net Zero for the whole world in 2050. Peiser showed with graphs from the recent past and projections from the EIA that such ambitious goals are totally unrealistic.

At the top what is needed (according to models) to stay below certain targets. Under projections by the EIA. From the presentation by Benny Peiser.

The US Energy Information Administration projects that the energy production from renewables will increase in the coming decades but so will the contributions from coal, oil and gas. Peiser called a quick change to Net Zero totally unrealistic and an “utopian change”. He reminded us though that groups like Exctinction Rebellion really seem to believe that we will go exctinct if we cross the magic 1.5 C barrier. He showed a google search term for “climate emergency” indicating the term came up pretty quickly in 2019 when governments around the world were announcing this “climate emergency”. We live in an era of climate hysteria.

Boris Johnson and Biden wanted countries to acceleratie the phase-out of coal altogether. However during the conference they had to water down the formulation until at the end a meaningless promise by countries like India and China remained. Peiser showed the different formulations.

Literally minutes before closing the conference China forced the western countries to water it down to the “phase down” of coal power (whatever that means) and even make it conditional to “targeted support” which means in practice that India is asking for one trillion dollar if the west really wants India to quit coal any time soon. So as the skeptics predicted the conference ended in a huge deception. Targets are not binding and remain conditional on a huge wealth transfer.

Issue Attention Cycle

Peiser called this 1972 figure about the issue attention cycle the key graph of his presentation. According to him we are just entering – at least in the UK – phase 3 of this cycle in which people start to realise the cost of the policies. In phase 1 scientists try to get the issue on the agenda. This was the fifties to the eighties. Since the start of the IPCC we are in phase two in which there is “alarmed discovery and euphoric enthusiasm”. The media is helping a lot to hype the issue. Peiser told that in this phase public discussion is all about the science (is it really CO2? Is it really bad?) leading to the science is settled and we have to do something. On the policy side people were told climate policies will improve the climate and the environment and at the same time it will benefit the economy (green jobs).

However now mitigation policies are implemented people are starting to feel it in their pocket. And this hurts. In England this winter, especially when it will be a cold one, lots of people will literally sit in the dark and cold in their houses, unable to pay the bills. People begin to realise climate policies make them poorer and colder. Peiser sees a new movement coming up, including tenths of MP’s who want to scrutinize the costs of going to Net Zero. Peiser also noticed that he is approached much more by the media than a few years ago. The media is picking it up, they have to.

How long the third phase of the issue attention cycle will last is impossible to predict. It could definitely take ten years at least. So skeptics who hope for a sudden change in the atmosphere surrounding climate change will need to be patient.




Friday, December 03, 2021

How Bad Are Weather Disasters for Banks?

Kristian S. Blickle | Sarah N. Hamerling | Donald P. Morgan


Not very. We find that weather disasters over the last quarter century had insignificant or small effects on U.S. banksí performance. This stability seems endogenous rather than a mere reflection of federal aid. Disasters increase loan demand, which offsets losses and actually boosts profits at larger banks. Local banks tend to avoid mortgage lending where floods are more common than official flood maps would predict, suggesting that local knowledge may also mitigate disaster impacts. Key words: hurricanes, wildfires, floods, climate change, weather disasters, FEMA, banks, financial stability, local knowledge


Policymakers around the globe are seriously considering the risks that climate change could pose to banks and the financial systems they anchor. Increasingly extreme weather is one possible channel (NASA (2005), Van Aalst (2006), Harvey (2018)). The destruction and economic disruptions caused by hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters may spillover to banks, particularly small, local banks square in the "eye" of the storm. If loan losses spike, or if customers move away over the longer run, bank solvency could be threatened. Indeed, the banking panic of 1907 was triggered by the earthquake and fire that ravaged San Francisco in 1906 (Odell and Weidenmier, 2005). We size up this disaster channel by studying how banks fared against disasters past. We study FEMA-level disasters over 1995-2018 and county-level property damage estimates from SHELDUS (Spatial Hazard Events and Losses Database for the United States).

Bank exposure to damages in a county is proxied by its branch presence there. We look at hyper-local banks operating in just one county and at more diversified banks operating across multiple counties. We estimate regression models relating disaster exposure to standard bank performance and stability measures - loan losses, income, return on assets, capital strength, and default risk (Z-score) over the short and medium run (up to five-years).

To account for correlations in areas prone to disasters and bank performance, we saturate the models with fixed effects and control for time-varying county characteristics. When we consider all FEMA disasters, we find generally insignificant or small effects on bank performance and stability. In particular, loan losses and default risk at local banks do not increase significantly. Charge-offs at multi-county banks increase but the impact is very small.

Moreover, not all effects are bad; income of multi-county banks increase significantly with disaster exposure. Extreme weather is expected to become more extreme as the globe warms, so we also look separately at the most damaging (90th percentile) of disasters. We again find that losses at larger (multi-county) banks are barely affected and their income increases significantly with exposure. For local banks, we do find more negative stability effects from extreme disasters. However, even these are not sufficiently large to threaten bank solvency.

In part this may be due to offsetting effects. Local banksí income also increases after these more severe disasters. The modest effects we find may be surprising, so we explore three factors that might account for banksí resilience.

The first and most obvious candidate is FEMA disaster aid. That aid, which can be substantially, primarily flows to households to help cover uninsured losses but it could buttress banks 1 indirectly by supporting borrowers and the local economy. FEMA aid to individuals and households by county is not public, so we investigate any mitigating effects indirectly using two strategies. In the first, we expand our disaster set to include destructive weather events that did not trigger a FEMA declaration and compare the impact of such ordinary disasters to those of FEMA disasters. We find that, for given damages, non-FEMA disasters are not notably worse for local banks, suggesting FEMA aid does not explain their resilience. We find similar results in the second test where we exploit discontinuities in FEMA declaration coverage (for a given disaster) along state borders.

A second, endogenous, factor that might mitigate disaster effects on banks is increased demand for loans. Households and businesses may need credit for rebuilding or to smooth out temporary income disruptions. In addition to alleviate the disaster impacts on borrowers, new "recovery" lending may help offset losses on loans already on the books. Consistent with that premise, we find that lending increases significantly after disasters, though only at multi-county banks.

Local knowledge is a third possible mitigating factor. Banks located closer to their borrowers have been found to harbor knowledge of both borrowers and local risk that more distant lenders may lack. We extend that idea by investigating if local banks superior geographic knowledge helps them avoid areas where disaster risks are more frequent than expected based on common knowledge. To that end, we digitize all FEMA flood zone risk maps for 2019 and merge them with HMDA (Home Mortgage Disclosure Act) data. We find that local banks reallocate mortgage lending from census tracts where flood risks seem understated relative to the FEMA maps (given recent flooding experience). We do not observe such behavior at multi-county banks.

Our main findings are generally consistent with the few papers that study the bank stability effects of disaster


Humans Are Doomed to Go Extinct

Another unfalsifiable prophecy

Cast your mind back, if you will, to 1965, when Tom Lehrer recorded his live album That Was the Year That Was. Lehrer prefaced a song called “So Long Mom (A Song for World War III)” by saying that “if there's going to be any songs coming out of World War III, we’d better start writing them now.” Another preoccupation of the 1960s, apart from nuclear annihilation, was overpopulation. Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich’s book The Population Bomb was published in 1968, a year when the rate of world population growth was more than 2 percent—the highest in recorded history.

Half a century on, the threat of nuclear annihilation has lost its imminence. As for overpopulation, more than twice as many people live on the earth now as in 1968, and they do so (in very broad-brush terms) in greater comfort and affluence than anyone suspected. Although the population is still increasing, the rate of increase has halved since 1968. Current population predictions vary. But the general consensus is that it’ll top out sometime midcentury and start to fall sharply. As soon as 2100, the global population size could be less than it is now. In most countries—including poorer ones—the birth rate is now well below the death rate. In some countries, the population will soon be half the current value. People are now becoming worried about underpopulation.

As a paleontologist, I take the long view. Mammal species tend to come and go rather rapidly, appearing, flourishing and disappearing in a million years or so. The fossil record indicates that Homo sapiens has been around for 315,000 years or so, but for most of that time, the species was rare—so rare, in fact, that it came close to extinction, perhaps more than once. Thus were sown the seeds of humanity’s doom: the current population has grown, very rapidly, from something much smaller. The result is that, as a species, H. sapiens is extraordinarily samey. There is more genetic variation in a few troupes of wild chimpanzees than in the entire human population. Lack of genetic variation is never good for species survival.

What is more, over the past few decades, the quality of human sperm has declined massively, possibly leading to lower birth rates, for reasons nobody is really sure about. Pollution—a by-product of human degradation of the environment—is one possible factor. Another might be stress, which, I suggest, could be triggered by living in close proximity to other people for a long period. For most of human evolution, people rode light on the land, living in scattered bands. The habit of living in cities, practically on top of one another (literally so, in an apartment block) is a very recent habit.

Another reason for the downturn in population growth is economic. Politicians strive for relentless economic growth, but this is not sustainable in a world where resources are finite. H. sapiens already sequesters between 25 and 40 percent of net primary productivity—that is, the organic matter that plants create out of air, water and sunshine. As well as being bad news for the millions of other species on our planet that rely on this matter, such sequestration might be having deleterious effects on human economic prospects. People nowadays have to work harder and longer to maintain the standards of living enjoyed by their parents, if such standards are even obtainable. Indeed, there is growing evidence that economic productivity has stalled or even declined globally in the past 20 years. One result could be that people are putting off having children, perhaps so long that their own fertility starts to decline.

An additional factor in the shrinking rate of population growth is something that can only be regarded as entirely welcome and long overdue: the economic, reproductive and political emancipation of women. It began hardly more than a century ago but has already doubled the workforce and improved the educational attainment, longevity and economic potential of human beings generally. With improved contraception and better health care, women need not bear as many children to ensure that at least some survive the perils of early infancy. But having fewer children, and doing so later, means that populations are likely to shrink.

The most insidious threat to humankind is something called “extinction debt.” There comes a time in the progress of any species, even ones that seem to be thriving, when extinction will be inevitable, no matter what they might do to avert it. The cause of extinction is usually a delayed reaction to habitat loss. The species most at risk are those that dominate particular habitat patches at the expense of others, who tend to migrate elsewhere, and are therefore spread more thinly. Humans occupy more or less the whole planet, and with our sequestration of a large wedge of the productivity of this planetwide habitat patch, we are dominant within it. H. sapiens might therefore already be a dead species walking.

The signs are already there for those willing to see them. When the habitat becomes degraded such that there are fewer resources to go around; when fertility starts to decline; when the birth rate sinks below the death rate; and when genetic resources are limited—the only way is down. The question is “How fast?”


U.S. EPA allocates billions in water funding from infrastructure law to states

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday released over $7 billion to state governments and tribes to upgrade drinking and waste water systems, the first allotment of clean water funds that was approved in the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law last month.

The installment is part of $44 billion in clean water funds that will be dispersed over five years through a federal-state partnership program. The Biden administration has touted the benefits for states that will flow from the $1 trillion infrastructure law, which President Joe Biden signed on Nov. 15 after months of congressional negotiations.

The $1 trillion in infrastructure spending features what the EPA describes as the "single-largest investment in U.S. water infrastructure ever."

Over half of the $7.4 billion in state revolving funds (SRFs) that the agency will allocate to states for 2022 will be available as grants or principal forgiveness loans that are meant to make it easier for underserved urban and rural communities to access.

"Billions of dollars are about to start flowing to states and it is critical that EPA partners with states, Tribes, and territories to ensure the benefits of these investments are delivered in the most equitable way,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

He urged that the money be used to "correct longstanding environmental and economic injustices across America."

EPA Assistant Administrator Radhika Fox will soon issue national program guidance from the EPA’s Office of Water to help agencies best use the billions that will become available.

SRFs, which provide low-cost federal financing, have been used for decades by states to invest in their water infrastructure but many vulnerable and poor communities facing water challenges have not historically accessed their fair share of funds. Regan said he wants the new flow of money from the infrastructure bill will correct the disparities.

California, Texas and New York - the biggest states - will receive the largest share of SRF funds.


South Australian environment minister says he wants to quit because he's sick of dealing with 'crazy lefty activists' and 'Greta Thunbergs' who spout 'myths and nonsense'

I sympathize. The total lack of reality contact among the Green/Left gets very wearing

The South Australian environment minister wants out of his portfolio because he's sick of dealing with 'crazy leftie activists' and 'Greta Thunbergs'.

David Speirs told a private Liberal Party fundraiser on Monday night that he liked his portfolio but needed a 'refresh' because he was worn down by climate activists.

The 36-year-old lost a deputy leadership vote last week but asked those attending the fundraiser to 'lobby' Premier Steven Marshall on his behalf for another post.

'The crazy leftie activists, they do wear you down after a while so I think every few years you need to see a bit of a refresh because there's only so many times you can deal with the Greta Thunbergs of South Australia,' he said, according to the Adelaide Advertiser.

He said the SA Government was doing positive, concrete work on climate change such as moving to renewable energy, but activists tended to spout 'nonsense'.

'I think there's a lot of noise and crap around climate change because all the ills of the world are put in the climate change basket by the left of politics. There are a lot of myths and nonsense,' he said.

He said while countries like India and China needed to vastly reduce their emissions, Australia - which emits comparatively little pollution - could still show leadership in practical ways.

Shadow environment minister Susan Close said Mr Speirs comments were unfit for someone running the environment portfolio and his 'disparaging comments proves' he should not be minister.

Mr Speirs responded in parliament on Tuesday when questioned about the fundraiser speech. 'I may have said something like that, absolutely,' he said.

'But I believe I was making a comparison between the practical response to the great challenges of climate change and the poster-waving activism which doesn't lead to outcomes, such as gluing oneself to Flinders Street.'

In October, eight Extinction Rebellion protesters were arrested after gluing themselves to Adelaide CBD streets during peak hour.

'I'm not sure you get your message across when you disrupt and inconvenience so many people who potentially support your cause,' SA police commissioner Grant Stevens said of the protest




Thursday, December 02, 2021

Quit Worrying About Uncertainty in Sea Level Projections

Don't ask questions. Have faith. That seems to be the message of this article. Even the IPCC acknowledges sea level projections are associated with deep uncertainty.

As ice sheets lose mass at increasing rates, scientists are growing increasingly concerned that portions of these massive reservoirs of frozen water are poised to begin irreversibly retreating [Cornford et al., 2015; DeConto et al., 2021]. To adapt to the ensuing changes along shorelines, authorities responsible for coastal planning and climate mitigation efforts need actionable sea level rise projections. However, recent studies using climate and ice sheet models are, more and more often, coming to very different conclusions about future rates of sea level rise and even about the sensitivity of ice sheets to future warming [DeConto et al., 2021; Edwards et al., 2021].

Focusing on uncertainty in model projections of long-term sea level rise is a trap we must avoid.

How can climate scientists help decisionmakers navigate vague or conflicting information to develop practical response strategies in the face of large uncertainties? One solution that may provide needed clarity is to change our emphasis from what we do not know to what we do know.

Large discrepancies among model projections of long-term sea level rise have spawned calls among the scientific community for scientists to work on reducing uncertainty. However, focusing on uncertainty is a trap we must avoid. Instead, we should focus on the adaptation decisions we can already make on the basis of current models and communicating and building confidence in models for longer-term decisions.

The Folly of Focusing on Uncertainty

Emphasizing uncertainty is misguided for two main reasons. First, a growing body of research shows that providing uncertainty estimates to decisionmakers actually decreases the usability of climate projections [Lemos and Rood, 2010]. This is partly because it isn’t always clear how best to incorporate uncertainty into planning. Do we plan for the most likely projection of sea level rise, knowing the protections we put in place may be inadequate, or do we plan for the most extreme sea level projection despite the additional cost to do so?

The planning process is complex, with uncertainty in global sea level projections being just one of many factors decisionmakers must consider. For example, investing in protections against sea levels that won’t be experienced for 70 years may not seem pressing when people can’t leave their homes because of air quality concerns or can’t drink tap water because it is contaminated. Furthermore, future planning and infrastructure decisions must directly confront the inequitable practices that have long disadvantaged vulnerable and marginalized populations.

Planning for shorter-term sea level rise doesn’t mean ignoring the specter of more substantial sea level rise farther down the road.

Second, although models provide a murky picture of the magnitude of sea level rise that will occur by the end of the century, estimates of what will happen in the next few decades are much clearer. This clarity is important because the most pressing adaptation decisions facing communities now—related to addressing both climate vulnerabilities and historical inequities—primarily reflect needs on decadal, not centennial, timescales. So rather than stressing distant targets that are elusive and evolving, communities need help to be successful in adapting to near-term climate risks.

Planning for shorter-term sea level rise doesn’t mean ignoring the specter of more substantial sea level rise farther down the road, and there is still a need for longer-term climate and sea level projections. For example, adaptation decisions such as where to place infrastructure designed to last more than a century (e.g., new sewer lines) call for information about long-term as well as short-term change and require significant immediate costs.

But committing to adaptation measures across the board on the basis of unclear long-term projections is like planning a dinner party years in advance: It’s good to think ahead, but it might be premature to buy the groceries. Moreover, sea level rise is not like a tsunami that will suddenly inundate coastlines (although it may seem that way when sea level rise conspires with storm surges to flood communities). Rates of sea level rise, even at the extremely high end, are measured in centimeters per year. Given the reality that sea levels will rise in the near term, plans today can focus on changes expected over the next decade or two and can then be adapted as more nebulous longer-term changes come into focus.


BBC’s Roger Harrabin Promotes More Lies About Greenland

You may have noticed that the BBC’s barrage of climate propaganda continued after the gavel came down at COP26. Most of it had, of course, been rehashed anyway.

Roger Harrabin, the corporation’s Environment Analyst, was forced to console himself with his alarmist chums, who he laughingly refers to as ‘experts’.

First up was the utterly discredited Sir David King, one-time Chief Scientific Adviser to Tony Blair. King told our Roger that ‘heating is already at a dangerous level, with Greenland sitting in blue sea for three months, losing ice.’

For some reason, Harrabin failed to point out that this is what Greenland does every year – it is called SUMMER. In WINTER, it snows and the ice is replaced again.

King would of course like you to believe that Greenland summers are now wall-to-wall heatwaves.

However, summer temperatures in Greenland now are no higher than they were a century ago.

King’s track record on climate is hardly one to write home about.

It was he who famously forecast back in 2004 that Antarctica was likely to be the world’s only habitable continent by the end of this century if global warming remained unchecked.

He also grossly misled a Parliamentary select committee in the same year, when he claimed that the South Pole ice cap was 40 percent as thick as it used to be. (Most estimates suggest that the ice there is actually getting thicker).

He also told the same committee that the Greenland ice cap might disappear within 50 to 200 years. At the current rate of melt, it would take 25,000 years!

If that was not bad enough, he also gave false evidence to the Energy Select Committee in 2014, claiming that Hurricane Sandy was the first to hit so far north in America.

In fact, since 1950 alone there have been nine hurricanes that made landfall further north than Sandy.

Put simply, the man is a clown.

Harrabin then turned to Piers Forster, an IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) lead author. He claimed that ‘people are already dying with current temperatures’.

This is another grossly misleading statement. Many more people die from the cold every year than die from extreme heat. This is even the case in countries such as India.

Meanwhile, the official data shows that deaths caused by all kinds of extreme weather, such as floods, storms, extreme temperatures, and drought, are now at record lows:


Covid/Climate Prigs Are Out to Spoil Your Days

Enamoured by lockdown, the puritans wish for a perma-pandemic in which no-one, nowhere, will be happy.

Not content with dying their hair green and punching steel through their nostrils, progressives here in Great Britain have proposed something rather more exquisitely demented than their usual fare.

The Independent, a kind of Guardian for actors manqué and Cluster B personalities, those who suffer from fictitious ailments of which ‘the doctor doesn’t know what’s wrong,’ asks, ‘Should Everyone Have a Personal Carbon Quota?’

Helpfully, the newspaper lays out exactly what a Carbon Quota would entail.

It begins: “Your home, sometime in the next decade. You click the heating on and receive an app notification telling you how much of your carbon allowance you’ve used today.

“Outside in the drive, your car’s fuel is linked to the same account. In the fridge, the New Zealand lamb you’ve bought has cost not just pounds and pence but a chunk of this monthly emissions budget too.

“Welcome to the world of personal carbon allowances – a concept that is increasingly gaining traction among experts as a possible response to the climate crisis.”

Curiously, this all sounds like one’s entire life would be recorded and regulated and monitored and meddled with by politicians who’ll punish or praise, all in pursuit of a vague utopia. Sounds familiar.

According to my Carbon Quota, I could live happily and healthily, provided I die next Tuesday at noon.

If I were to stay on this planet and offend Mother Nature with my presence, I’d have to limit myself to half a cigarette per day, a slither of ribeye per week, and one soupçon of red wine per month. Such a paltry regimen would dissolve around 90% of my personality.

Besides, Tuesday is no day to die. Especially before the 4 p.m. happy hour.

Perhaps, I could time it just right. I’ll prop up a stool in my favourite dive bar, and impart everything I’d like to say but avoid saying in fear of social ostracization.

I could say that there is a biological reason why women aren’t funny. I could say that, on balance, the British Empire was a good thing, and that anyone whinging about ‘cultural appropriation’ seldom has any culture worth appropriating. I could say, with conviction, that the Jews obviously don’t secretly run the world because if they did, the world would be far closer to utopia than it is now. I could suggest that those who play music on public transport, indeed—in public—should be hung, drawn, and quartered for the benefit of the gene pool. I could say all this before shuffling off into the light.

(If my girlfriend—whose people have won a fifth of all Nobel Prizes despite being 0.2% of the world population—objects, then I’m sorry… I’m saving the planet, darling.)

You can define the confidence of a culture by the pettiness of its laws.

I’d rather shuffle off than live in a world in which one’s social status is tied to one’s ability to pretend falafel is edible, to one’s withering body. I’d rather that than live in a world in which the prigs and puritans, those weird kids from school with ‘Free Da Weed’ Sharpied on their hemp rucksacks, have won the final victory over everyone else. A world in which every consideration is now suffixed with ‘to save the planet.’

We shouldn’t feign surprise. A stubborn one-third of any population harbours latent authoritarian tendencies. All they need is a little nudge and a wink from someone in a lab coat or a pinstripe suit.

Over the last twenty months, we’ve given them plenty to chew on. We’ve sacralised Crab Mentality—that depressingly human tendency to pull down others into the soup of conformity. For many, this pandemic has been the time of their lives. They’ve enjoyed grassing on neighbours, posting their vaccine statuses, their three-mask chic. Don’t mention that sensible Sweden got it right. Don’t mention that lockdown only delays the inevitable, to great human cost. Don’t mention the fatal link between obesity and Covid deaths.

They’d love life in Austria, where the government has mandated a Western first—forcible vaccination for every citizen.

What a time to be alive. This pandemic has valorised negative personality traits. Back in the Old Normal, high neuroticism combined with high agreeableness meant you’d spend your days siphoning your biography for ‘trauma’ to weaponize against the world. Now, it’s a plus. Like Woke intellectuals, the neurotics mistake their personal problems for societal problems.

I assumed a majority of Britons would, like me, rather chew on a glass vial labelled ‘Wuhan Institute of Virology,’ than consider medical apartheid. Nope.

According to YouGov, six in ten Britons support the introduction of a ‘papers, please’ society—vaccine passports.

That’s despite vaccines blunting Covid’s ability to hospitalise and kill, but not its ability to spread—rendering vaccine passports both pointless and poisonous.

Of course, the usual disclaimer applies just in case anyone of a progressive bent is reading: I’m not saying it’s Nazi Germany, but it’s quite clear how totalitarian regimes slip into power with little resistance.

A recent survey in The Economist made for terrifying reading: forty percent wanted masks forever; a quarter wanted to shut down nightclubs and casinos; another third wanted socially-distanced pubs and clubs and theatres; a hefty rump wanted a 10 p.m. curfew, and one-third said anyone coming into this country should be quarantined, like a dog, for ten days. And they wanted all this lunacy indefinitely, Covid or not.

Perhaps that explains why the eco-loons can air with confidence the drudgery they wish to impose upon everyone else. Not a day goes by without some middle-class Insulate Britain bobo blocking the motorway or making ‘demands’ upon the government to act on the ‘climate crisis’.

What nobody asks is how any of this nonsense would make any difference given that Great Britain contributes less than one percent of global carbon emissions. Those who follow The Science don’t cotton on when last week’s gospel morphs into this week’s heresy.

What happens when we reach Net Zero and the weather doesn’t change? I can only guess… ‘That wasn’t real Net-Zero. Real Net-Zero has never been tried.’

They don’t ask such obvious questions because the answer is obvious: they don’t care about all that. As Mencken wrote, they’re governed by the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

That’s the problem with do-gooding. There’s always more good to do.


Australian Labor party to dump fuel emissions plan in next step on climate

Labor will dump a contentious plan to set new fuel standards for millions of motorists in a bid to neutralise a growing political attack from Prime Minister Scott Morrison ahead of a bigger fight on climate change.

The vehicle emission standard will be formally dropped when Labor leader Anthony Albanese signs off on the party’s climate policy with shadow ministers, as they prepare for a caucus briefing this Friday on the coming election campaign.

Mr Albanese will launch Labor’s bid for power at a campaign rally in Sydney this weekend to start a blitz through marginal electorates before Christmas, readying the party for the official election contest early next year.

The climate policy, including Labor’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, is being restricted to a small group of shadow cabinet members before climate spokesman Chris Bowen speaks at the National Press Club on Monday.

While some caucus members are pressing for a target that trumps Mr Morrison’s forecast to cut emissions by 35 per cent by 2030 on 2005 levels, others warn against an ambitious goal that exposes the party to attack over the impact on household costs.

The Labor policy on fuel standards was part of a package in the 2019 election campaign to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles so they would make up 50 per cent of new car sales by 2030, a target that triggered a war of words with Mr Morrison.

The Prime Minister claimed at the time the Labor policy sought to “end the weekend” and said last month the policy tried to “force” customers to switch to electric vehicles, misrepresenting the plan, which set only an aspirational target.

Mr Morrison said on November 11 Labor wanted to “put up your petrol prices” although the policy only called for consultation on changes and did not name a timetable for the new standard.

Even so, Labor will drop this element of its policy package to blunt the Coalition scare campaign.

While the most recent Resolve Political Monitor in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age found Labor’s primary vote was 32 per cent, slightly down from 33.3 per cent at the last election, the party’s internal polling suggests it is doing much better.




Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Joe Biden's Dirty Little Secret: He Wants Higher Gasoline Prices

When he announced last week that he would release more oil from the American Strategic Petroleum Reserve, President Joe Biden told the American people he is doing everything possible to bring down gas prices at the pump.

That's a lie. This administration and the climate change crazies have declared war on American energy.

They want high oil and gas prices. The Biden master plan is for American oil and gas production and consumption to go to zero over the next 15 to 20 years. How do you achieve that goal? By making oil and gas so expensive and so unavailable that Americans are forced to use alternatives.

In other words, the fact that gasoline is roughly $1.25 more expensive per gallon today under Biden than it was a year ago under former President Donald Trump didn't happen by accident. This was not a result of a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, that could knock out our oil facilities. This was by design.

The left believes that they can change the temperature of the planet by forcing American energy companies to produce less oil and to force Americans to use less of it. How do you get people to buy less of something? You raise its price. This is basic high-school introductory economics.

Some on the Biden team have inadvertently admitted this. Cornell University professor Saule Omarova, a high-ranking Biden nominee for one of the country's leading regulatory agencies, said she wants to "bankrupt" U.S. oil, gas and coal companies -- and apparently has no problem putting roughly five million Americans into unemployment lines. Biden's appointee to be vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Lael Brainard, was asked at a congressional hearing recently if she thought high gas prices were a problem. She hemmed and hawed and refused to answer with a simple "yes." Instead, she explained that this is a "complicated" issue. How is this complicated?

U.S. oil production is down roughly two million barrels a day from the peak production under Trump prior to COVID, yet Biden recently blamed high oil prices on the Saudis and the OPEC nations for holding back supply. Hello! That is exactly what cartels do. They use their market power to jack up the prices so they can maximize their profits.

Trump broke the back of OPEC by making the U.S. the dominant energy-producing nation in the world. Biden has handed back that power to the Arab oil sheikhs and Vladimir Putin in Russia. Now they are gouging us. What a shock!

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said it well in August that Texas "can easily produce that oil" if Biden "will just stay out of the way."

He won't.

The Biden administration's strategy is to force-feed the American economy expensive, unreliable and made-in-China wind and solar energy. His $3 trillion Build Back Better bill would dole out more than $500 billion of taxpayer dollars to the wind, solar and electric vehicle industry to break the back of oil and gas production. If this energy source is so efficient, why does it need a half-trillion dollars of your and my money?

Meanwhile, nearly every Biden policy has been deliberately aimed at killing U.S. oil and gas production -- from killing the Keystone XL pipeline to trying to shut down other existing natural gas pipelines in the Midwest (Home heating costs are going way up this winter.) to shutting down much of Alaska oil production to new Environmental Protection Agency rules making it very difficult and expensive to drill here in America. He is also preventing the mining of American coal, which is still one of the dominant sources of electric power around the world. He also wants to raise taxes on the oil and gas industry.

Now, let's be honest. Do any of these policies suggest that Biden and his liberal friends in the green-energy movement want to keep oil and gas prices low? If you answer yes to that, you probably believe that Al Gore invented the internet.


Buttigieg Tries to Make Families Feel Better About Gas Prices By Offering an Unaffordable Alternative

As the Biden Administration continues to push American families into alternative energy sources by maintaining pain at the pump, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is attempting to explain away high gas prices.

During an interview with MSNBC over the weekend, Buttigieg reassured Americans they won't have to worry about an increase in gas prices ever again, so long as they buy an electric vehicle.

"Families who own that vehicle will never have to worry about gas prices again," Buttigieg said. "The people who stand to benefit most from owning an EV are often rural residents who have the most distances to drive, who burn the most gas, and underserved urban residents in areas where there are higher gas prices and lower income."

"They would gain the most by having that vehicle. These are the very residents who have not always been connected to electric vehicles that are viewed as kind of a luxury item," he continued."If we can make the electric vehicle less expensive for everybody, more people can take advantage, and we'll be selling more American-made EVs, which means in time they'll become less expensive to make and to buy for everybody."

Rural residents who need to drive long distances are the worst candidates for electric vehicles, which only charge for a certain number of miles. Outside of major cities, electric charging stations don't exist.

According to Cox Automotive, the average electric vehicle costs at least $55,000. President Biden has embraced the Green New Deal plan to eliminate most oil and gas use by 2030


Ending gas financing for Africa will be a fatal blow, says Senegal

Plans by some nations to end the financing of gas exploration will prove a "fatal cost" for several emerging African economies, Senegal President Macky Sall said at the start of theChina-Africa Summit in Dakar on Monday.

Senegal, like several other African countries, is sitting on billions of cubic metres of gas reserves and is expected to become a major gas producer in the region which will not only boost power supply but potentially spur double-digit economic growth from 2023.

"A few days after the end of COP26, I must also draw the attention to the decision taken by certain countries to stop foreign financing of fossil fuels, including the gas sector, even as the use of other more polluting energy sources continues," Sall told the summit, referring to this month's climate conference in Glasgow.

"At a time when several African countries are preparing to exploit their significant gas resources, the end of funding for the gas sector, under the pretext that gas is a fossil energy, would bear a fatal cost to our emerging economies," Sall said.

He urged African countries to work together to maintain financing for gas as a transitional energy, adding that blocking funding will add to the climate injustice Africa is already suffering.


Yippee! Power crisis forces China to buy Aussie coal for first time in a YEAR

Crippling power shortages in China have forced the communist regime to back down from their ban on Australian coal.

Beijing blocked the commodity in November last to punish Canberra for suggesting and international inquiry should be held into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Chinese campaign of economic coercion - which also saw similar bans on key export sectors like barley, wine, cotton, seafood, timbre and copper - was meant to punish Australia for speaking out.

But the economic threat spectacularly back-fired on the authoritarian nation leaving China with widespread blackouts heading into winter, as it generates more than half of it's electricity through coal.

Tough-talking Wolf Warrior diplomats quietly softened their stance with tens-of-millions shivering and in the dark - allowing in 2.8 million tonnes of Australian coal in last month.

Commonwealth Bank Global Markets Research analyst Vivek Dhar on Tuesday said it 'looks to be a pragmatic move by Chinese policymakers'.

'Australian coal that was sitting at port stockpiles were cleared by Chinese customs last month to address an acute shortage in China's coal and power sector,' he said.

As well as being a concern for residents, financial firm Goldman Sachs estimated about 44 per cent of industrial activity was affected by power shortages.

The Chinese economy was hit with a perfect storm that compounded the energy crisis after it blocked dozens of coal ship from entering Chinese ports, leaving sailors stranded for months.

President Xi Jinping recently imposed price caps and restrictions on energy suppliers just before the cost of coal skyrocketed.

Metallurgical coal jumped from about $100 a tonne when the ban was introduced to $274 a tonne in October.

'Every million tonnes of coal has recently been costing China's steel mills more than US$400 million, compared with around US$250 million paid by steel mills everywhere else,' David Uren wrote last month in a paper for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

'The difference is entirely explained by China's embargo on Australian coal.

'Since China's mills use almost two million tonnes of coal every day, the premium it pays above coal costs in the rest of the world adds up to about US$2 billion a week.'




Tuesday, November 30, 2021

EPA Revisiting Soot Standards It Previously Found Adequate

The administration of President Joe Biden has announced it was reconsidering national soot standards that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had determined in 2020 adequately protected public health.

Imposing stricter soot-standards would allow the administration to indirectly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and industrial facilities, without having to get legislative approval.

Changes Reject Scientific Findings

The EPA is considering lowering annual average exposure standard for Particulate Matter (PM) from 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air to as low as 8 micrograms, and the 24-hour standard from 35 micrograms down to 30 micrograms.

A careful review of the existing scientific data concerning the links between existing PM standards and public health, carried out as required by law under the Trump administration, found current standard adequately protected public health.

Citing no new data, the EPA’s draft policy assessment now finds long- and short-term exposure to soot or PM, at current levels, is associated with adverse health effects. As a result, EPA has concluded the current standards must be tightened in order to protect the public.

The change in the EPA’s scientific assessment is likely to result in many areas falling out of attainment of the 1970 Clean Air Act.

Earlier Data Driven Decision

On April 14, 2020, the EPA announced, that after carefully reviewing the best available evidence, the agency would retain, without changes, the existent standards for soot.

“Based on review of the scientific literature and recommendation from our independent science advisors, we are proposing to retain existing [PM] standards which will ensure the continued protection of both public health and the environment.” said Andrew Wheeler, EPA administrator in a statement at the time of the decision.

EPA’s decision to maintain PM standards at existing levels in 2020 was based on science, said Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) press release issued at the time.

“EPA’s decision is scientifically justified and will promote economic recovery and growth,” said Flores. “The EPA’s decision to retain current [PM] standards, without changes, rightly reflects the long-term trend data of dramatically decreased particulate matter as well as the needs of our state and local governments.”

EPA Undermining Science

The obtain its climate policy goals the Biden administration upending its science advisory board and science standards, says John Dale Dunn, a physician, lawyer, and a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, which co-publishes Environment & Climate News.

“The EPA’s goal is to change a number of air pollution standards and to reconstitute the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) and the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC),” Dunn said. “There’s a lawsuit in motion filed by a number of members of the former CASAC, who like me, are upset the EPA is throwing away good scientific analyses for bulls— political reasons”


Scottish policy: Encourage rapid and extensive forestry. Scottish reality: Forests in Scotland can be net emitters of greenhouse gases

Greenie idiocy causes bogs to be preferred to trees

When Jeremy Leggett bought the 1,200-acre Bunloit Estate, overlooking Loch Ness, he discovered an inconvenient truth. A green and pleasant place, with extensive woodlands — the kind most people assume will help to save the planet — was, in fact, doing the opposite. His calculations found that it was a net source of greenhouse-gas emissions; far from curbing climate change, Bunloit was encouraging it.

The problem Leggett identified was trees: too many of them, planted in the wrong place, preventing the magnificent peatland beneath from doing the job it is best at: absorbing carbon emissions. He set about cutting down his conifer plantations.

One of the most comprehensive-ever assessments of the carbon held on a Scottish estate has shown that rewilding the landscape to its natural state could help it store more carbon and increase biodiversity.

The Bunloit Estate covers 1200 acres in the hills above Loch Ness.

By using drone-mounted lasers to scan trees and surveying the extent and depth of peat, scientists were able to measure the amount of stored carbon.

They found the estate held the equivalent of 1.234 million tonnes of carbon.

That's the roughly 2% of Scotland's annual carbon footprint.

The analysis has already led to radical action, with some trees being cut down for the good of the planet.

Figures showed peatland covered in commercial spruce plantations was so dry and damaged that it was releasing more greenhouse gases than the trees were absorbing.

By felling the spruce and allowing the peat to return to its natural boggy state there would be a net benefit of 60,000 tonnes of carbon stored over the next 100 years.

Nicola Williamson, a ranger on the estate, told Sky News: "It's a bit counter-intuitive.

"But we have to take down plantations planted in the wrong places like our peatland bogs and restore that as a habitat in itself.

"And we have to manage our woodlands better so they are meeting biodiversity targets."

Camera traps on the estate show there are already pine martens, red squirrel, and wild boar.

But restoring more mixed woodland would encourage a broad range of species to thrive.

Bunloit is at the eastern end of what could be a 500,000 acre forest stretching all the way to the Atlantic.

The project is being driven by the charity Trees for Life, which says a quarter of the estates in the Affric Highlands area have signed up.


Michigan Gov. Whitmer Sparks an International Pipeline Dispute between the United States

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is doubling-down on her efforts to shut down a key oil and natural gas liquids pipeline running between Superior, Wisconsin and Sarnia, Ontario.

Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline traverses parts of northern Wisconsin, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and the 4.5-mile-long floor of the Straights of Mackinac connecting Lakes Michigan and Lake Huron. Line 5 has for nearly 70 years safely transported hydrocarbons from western Canada to markets in the Great Lakes region of the United States.

Line 5 moves more than a half a million barrels of oil and natural gas liquids a day throughout the Great Lakes region.

Shutdown or Not

Whitmer ordered Line 5’s twin pipelines to shut down in 2020, saying they pose a grave threat to the Great Lakes because of the possibility of oil spills.

Enbridge, the Calgary-based company that operates the pipeline, refused, saying Whitmer lacked the legal authority to unilaterally order the closure of the pipeline which is involved in interstate and international commerce.

Canada asked the Biden administration to intervene and overrule Whitmer, invoking a dispute-resolution article of a 1977 treaty governing pipelines between it and the United States.

In a letter to U.S. District Judge for Western Michigan Janet Neff, Gordon Griffin, a lawyer representing the Canadian government, cited an article in the treaty which states: “No public authority in the territory of either Party shall institute any measures … which are intended to, or which have the effect of, impeding, diverting, redirecting, or interfering with in any way the transmission of hydrocarbons in transit.”

Whitmer Remains Defiant

Whitmer pointed to a 2010 incident at a separate Enbridge pipeline that ruptured in southwestern Michigan to support her claim that Line 5 pipeline should be permanently closed because it threatens the Great Lakes’ unique environmental amenities.

“So long as oil is flowing through the pipelines, there is a very real threat of a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes,” said Whitmer in a statement. “I have made clear to Enbridge that is cannot use our state-owned lakebed for these pipelines, but Enbridge has refused to stop. “Moreover, rather than taking steps to diversify energy supply and ensure resilience, Canada has channeled its efforts into defending an oil company with an abysmal environmental track record,” Whitmer said.

Enbridge paid a stiff fine for the 2010 incident and remediated the affected area.

In a 2021 analysis of the pipeline, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the federal agency responsible for overseeing Line 5, said it is “presently aware of no unsafe or hazardous conditions that would warrant shutdown of Line 5.”

The bilateral dispute is playing out in the wake of the Biden administration’s cancellation earlier this year of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have brought crude oil from northeastern Alberta to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

That move cost thousands of jobs in both countries and brought a public rebuke protest from the Canadian government to the then newly installed Biden administration.

“A Green Political Stunt”

Pipelines are regulated by the federal government, including the right of eminent domain, for good reason, because the Constitution delegates to Congress the sole authority to regulation interstate commerce,” says David Wojick, Ph.D., an independent energy analyst who often writes for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), co-publisher of Environment & Climate News.

“Pipelines are the embodiment of interstate commerce, often passing through several states in order to serve many,” Wojick said. “In this case, the pipeline is not just interstate; it is international.

“We work closely with Canada; for instance, cars are manufactured in Sarnia for the U.S. market,” said Wojick. “Michigan’s action is nothing more than a green political stunt.”

Policies Contradict Stated Goals

The efforts by Whitmer and the Biden administration to shut down pipelines and end oil and gas use undermine their stated goals of creating jobs and growing the economy, says Jason Hayes, director of environmental policy at Michigan’s Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

“Both the Whitmer and the Biden administrations appear confused,” said Hayes. “Biden claims he wants to ‘build back better,’ and Whitmer, through her ‘MI New Economy Plan’ claims she wants to grow Michigan’s middle class and support its small businesses, but their energy policies are doing the exact opposite.

“Biden cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline in his first days in office and his administration has chosen to remain on the sidelines as Whitmer’s crusade against Line 5 threatens to spike energy prices and actually harms our relationship with Canada, America’s largest trading partner,” Hayes said.

Whitmer and Biden have options that are better for the environment and the economy, says Hayes.

“This is all so unnecessary, because both Biden and Whitmer could focus their administrations on building the Line 5 tunnel,” said Hayes. “Doing this would better protect the waterways of the Great Lakes and maintain an essential piece of the nation’s energy infrastructure.

“Instead, Whitmer appears blindly committed to raising energy prices and putting tens of thousands of Midwesterners out of work, and, for his part, Biden appears content to go on bended knee to Vladimir Putin and the leaders of OPEC asking them to act to bring more oil supplies to the market as he simultaneously squeezes the life out of the American oil and gas industry,” Hayes said.


Australia: Family moves to Canberra to escape ‘atrocious’ temperatures in Western Sydney

She might be disappointed. Canberra is pretty hot in summer

Sydney has always been a hot place. As Watkin Tench recorded, it got so hot in 1790 (Yes. 1790. not 1970) that birds and bats were falling out of the trees dead. And that was in coastal Sydney. Inland has always been even hotter. So the lady's claim that she is escaping anthropogenic climate change is tendentious. There were no SUVs or power stations in 1790

An Australian climate scientist who specialises in heatwaves has told of how she moved her family to a new city to escape “atrocious” temperatures due to climate change.

University of NSW climate scientist Dr Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick shared her story in the documentary series Life at 50 Degrees, available to stream on Flash News.

The mother of two said she was so concerned about the extreme temperatures her family endured where they lived in western Sydney, that she made the decision to relocate.

“I have experienced days of 45 and 47 degrees celsius and that was appalling, it was atrocious. You couldn’t do anything,” Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick said. “The only way we could stay cool in Western Sydney was to have the aircon running all day and that was a hard thing for me to do.”

She said she made the extreme decision to move her family to Canberra, where the climate is much cooler, for her daughters, aged 2 and 4.

“It really bothers me that the world that they’re experiencing now is a lot different from my childhood,” she said.

“During my first pregnancy, it was so hot that I actually struggled to put the washing on the line. “While I was literally about to bring this child into the world, I was thinking what will the summers be like for her in the future.”

According to Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub, temperatures in Western Sydney already experience 10 degrees higher than in the city’s eastern suburbs. The region’s local government areas (LGAs) including Penrith, where Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick was living, are expected to be the worst affected with a forecast of an average of four extra days of extreme heat by around 2050.

The climate scientist said the outlook for the area forced her to take action and make the move. “As a scientist, I know how bad the future looks. I understand all that, I comprehend all that. That’s what I do for a living,” she said.

“But as a mum, as a person, as a human being, I really struggle with just how bad those impacts will be.”




Monday, November 29, 2021

'Carbon Pipeline' to Cut Through Corn Belt Farmland; Eminent Domain on the Table for Landowners Who Won't Accept

A carbon dioxide pipeline project is being developed across several Midwestern states, including eastern Iowa, but it may have to be built using eminent domain

Navigator CO2 Ventures, based in Texas, is proposing a 1,300-mile line pipeline that takes carbon dioxide from fertilizer and ethanol plants.

Navigator would consider using eminent domain— if Iowa officials will allow it — if farmers do not agree to provide easements to let the line go across their lands, according to The Gazette , a newspaper in Cedar Rapids.

The way the project works is that the gas is pressurized and liquified and sent to a place in western Illinois. The plan calls for the carbon to be injected into rock formations, where, according to the theory behind the project, it calcifies and never gets into the air.

The theory remains unproven, and some are skeptical or concerned about the possible impacts of the pipeline on their land.

“All things considered, it seems like a bad idea,” said Marian Kuper, 68, who lives with her husband Keith near Ackley, Iowa.

The $3 billion project claims it will bury 15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

A similar project, developed by Summit Carbon Solutions, cuts through parts of western Iowa on its 2,000-mile route.

The idea is a money-maker, in theory, for ethanol plants that want lower carbon scores for their fuels to sell in states such as California and Oregon, with low-carbon fuel standards.

A federal tax credit would give out up to $50 a metric ton for permanently stored carbon.

The companies are pushing the idea as a way to benefit everybody.

“These projects have a unique touchpoint to the agricultural community,” Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, a Navigator vice president, told The Gazette.

Burns-Thompson said the idea “has the potential to help keep those (ethanol and fertilizer) plants vital not only for years to come, but decades to come.”

Navigator’s pipeline would be buried at least 5 feet underground, Burns-Thompson said.

“The best way to minimize risk is to go a little bit deeper,” she said. “Then you minimize some of those risks of a line strike.”

State regulators everywhere the line goes, which includes Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Illinois, must sign off on the project.

The company hopes to start construction in 2023.


Why the Energy Transition Will Be So Complicated

To appreciate the complexities of the competing demands between climate action and the continued need for energy, consider the story of an award—one that the recipient very much did not want and, indeed, did not bother to pick up.

It began when Innovex Downhole Solutions, a Texas-based company that provides technical services to the oil and gas industry, ordered 400 jackets from North Face with its corporate logo. But the iconic outdoor-clothing company refused to fulfill the order. North Face describes itself as a “politically aware” brand that will not share its logo with companies that are in “tobacco, sex (including gentlemen’s clubs) and pornography.” And as far as North Face is concerned, the oil and gas industry fell into that same category—providing jackets to a company in that industry would go against its values. Such a sale would, it said, be counter to its “goals and commitments surrounding sustainability and environmental protection,” which includes a plan to use increasing amounts of recycled and renewable materials in its garments in future years.

But, as it turns out, North Face’s business depends not only on people who like the outdoors, but also on oil and gas: At least 90 percent of the materials in its jackets are made from petrochemicals derived from oil and natural gas. Moreover, many of its jackets and the materials that go into them are made in countries such as China, Vietnam, and Bangladesh, and then shipped to the United States in vessels that are powered by oil. To muddy matters further, not long before North Face rejected the request, its corporate owner had built a new hangar at a Denver airport for its corporate jets, all of which run on jet fuel. To spotlight the obvious contradiction, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association presented its first ever Customer Appreciation Award to North Face for being “an extraordinary oil and gas customer.” That’s the award North Face spurned.

Read: Ultra-fast fashion is eating the world

Different people will draw different conclusions from this episode. Central to the response to climate change is the transition from carbon fuels to renewables and hydrogen, augmented by carbon capture. This was highlighted at the historic COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, which emphasized the need for urgency and a greater ambition on climate backed by a host of significant initiatives, including carbon markets, and country pledges of carbon neutrality by 2050 or a decade or two thereafter. The North Face story, however, offers a difficult reminder that the energy transition is a whole lot more complicated than may be recognized.

A New Energy Crisis

As if to remind us of the complexities, a most unwelcome guest appeared on the doorstep of the Glasgow conference: an energy crisis that has gripped Europe and Asia. Energy crises traditionally begin with oil, but this recent one has been driven by shortages of coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG). That sent prices spiking, disrupting electricity supplies in China, which then led to the rationing of electricity there, the closing of factories, and further disruptions of the supply chains that send goods to America.

In Europe, the energy shortages were made worse by low wind speeds in the North Sea, which for a time drastically reduced the electricity produced by offshore wind turbines for Britain and Northern Europe. Gas, coal, and power prices shot up—as much as seven times in the case of LNG. Factories, unable to afford the suddenly high energy costs, stopped production, among them plants in Britain and Europe making fertilizers needed for next spring’s agricultural season.

Trailing the other fuels, oil prices reached the $80 range. With a tightening balance between supply and demand, some were warning that oil could exceed $100 a barrel. Gasoline prices have hit levels in the United States that alarm politicians, who know that such increases are bad for incumbents. That—along with worsening inflation—is why the Biden administration asked Saudi Arabia and Russia to put more oil into the market, so far to no avail. The administration then announced, on the eve of Thanksgiving, the largest-ever release of oil from the U.S. government’s strategic petroleum reserve, in coordination with other countries, to temper prices.

Is this energy shock a one-off resulting from a unique conjunction of circumstances? Or is it the first of what will be several crises resulting from straining too hard to bring 2050 carbon-reduction goals rapidly forward—potentially prematurely choking off investment in hydrocarbons, thus triggering future shocks? If it’s a onetime event, then the world will move on in a few months. But if it is followed by further energy shortages, governments could be forced to rethink the timing and approach to their climate goals. The current shock offered just such an example: Although Britain is calling for an end to coal, it was nevertheless forced to restart a mothballed coal-powered plant to help make up for the electricity shortage.

Jean Pisani-Ferry, a French economist and sometime adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron, is among the most prominent voices pointing to the consequences that could result from trying to move too fast. In August, before the current energy crisis began, he warned that going into overdrive on transitioning away from fossil fuels would lead to major economic shocks similar to the oil crises that rocked the global economy in the 1970s. “Policymakers,” he wrote, “should get ready for tough choices.”

A Different Energy Transition

The term energy transition somehow sounds like it is a well-lubricated slide from one reality to another. In fact, it will be far more complex: Throughout history, energy transitions have been difficult, and this one is even more challenging than any previous shift. In my book The New Map, I peg the beginning of the first energy transition to January 1709, when an English metalworker named Abraham Darby figured out that he could make better iron by using coal rather than wood for heat. But that first transition was hardly swift. The 19th century is known as the “century of coal,” but, as the technology scholar Vaclav Smil has noted, not until the beginning of the 20th century did coal actually overtake wood as the world’s No. 1 energy source. Moreover, past energy transitions have also been “energy additions”—one source atop another. Oil, discovered in 1859, did not surpass coal as the world’s primary energy source until the 1960s, yet today the world uses almost three times as much coal as it did in the ’60s.

The coming energy transition is meant to be totally different. Rather than an energy addition, it is supposed to be an almost complete switch from the energy basis of today’s $86 trillion world economy, which gets 80 percent of its energy from hydrocarbons. In its place is intended to be a net-carbon-free energy system, albeit one with carbon capture, for what could be a $185 trillion economy in 2050. To do that in less than 30 years—and accomplish much of the change in the next nine—is a very tall order.

Here is where the complexities become clear. Beyond outerwear, the degree to which the world depends on oil and gas is often not understood. It’s not just a matter of shifting from gasoline-powered cars to electric ones, which themselves, by the way, are about 20 percent plastic. It’s about shifting away from all the other ways we use plastics and other oil and gas derivatives. Plastics are used in wind towers and solar panels, and oil is necessary to lubricate wind turbines. The casing of your cellphone is plastic, and the frames of your glasses likely are too, as well as many of the tools in a hospital operating room. The air frames of the Boeing 787, Airbus A350, and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet are all made out of high-strength, petroleum-derived carbon fiber. The number of passenger planes is expected to double in the next two decades. They are also unlikely to fly on batteries.

Oil products have been crucial for dealing with the pandemic too, from protective gear for emergency staff to the lipids that are part of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Have a headache? Acetaminophen—including such brands as Tylenol and Panadol—is a petroleum-derived product. In other words, oil and natural-gas products are deeply embedded throughout modern life.


BBC Crushes Climate Debate, Pushes Science Denial

BBC News carried two articles last week denigrating and demonizing the critics of climate-change alarmism.

The first was by Marianna Spring, the BBC’s ‘specialist disinformation reporter’. That is an apt title, as that is precisely what she writes; disinformation.

She asserted that criticism of environmentalism was being fueled by ‘right-wing conspiracy theorists’ who had switched ‘from Covid denial to climate denial’. Only someone who leans hard the other way would make such a statement.

And the second came from reporters Rachel Schraer and Kayleen Devlin, who are both a part of the BBC’s ‘Reality Check’ team of politically-motivated ‘fact-checkers’.

They claimed to have exposed ‘the truth behind the new climate-change denial’.

Both articles are travesties of journalism.

Take Schraer and Devlin’s piece, which claims to debunk four claims supposedly made by climate deniers: that a ‘Grand Solar Minimum’ will halt global warming; global warming is good; climate-change action will make people poorer; renewable energy is dangerously unreliable.

Despite the article’s dismissive approach, it completely fails to debunk what are plausible claims. For instance, the ‘Grand Solar Minimum’ – when the Sun gives off less energy as part of its natural cycle – is, as the article admits, a real phenomenon.

Whether it will reduce the Earth’s global temperatures by a significant enough amount to offset the current warming period is up for debate, but it is a debate worth having.

To write off theories of solar influence on climate in two perfunctory paragraphs, when there is still so much to research and understand, seems highly questionable.

Or take the claim that global warming is ‘good’. There is certainly plenty of evidence to suggest that a warming climate is not the terrible catastrophe many hype it up to be. Cold kills 15 times as many as warmth.

Indeed, thanks to social and economic progress, fewer people today die or suffer from events and phenomena attributable to the climate than at any point in the past. And there is plenty of reason to think that such progress will continue in the future.

And what of the claim that climate-change action will make people poorer? Again, that seems like a fair comment. After all, it is precisely because of the impoverishing consequences of decarbonization targets that so many developing nations are resistant to them – as the failure of COP26 to eliminate coal power showed.

And as for renewable energy, it is unreliable precisely because much of it depends on the weather. If the conditions aren’t right, then wind turbines or solar panels do not produce energy.

This is not a crack-pot theory. It is a simple fact.

Marianna Spring’s article is arguably more wrong-headed still. She contends that Covid conspiracy theorists have moved on from the pandemic to spread conspiracy theories about climate change.

Spring argues that the so-called deniers claim the climate, like Covid, is being used by a shadowy elite to establish a New World Order. But the article goes beyond criticizing ‘conspiracy theories’.

Spring claims that the notion of a ‘climate lockdown’ – that is, the ‘idea that in the future we might have Covid-style lockdowns to counteract climate change’ – is ‘completely unfounded.’

The only problem with this narrative is that, as I reported on spiked in 2020, it wasn’t a rag-tag band of conspiracy nuts who first connected Covid to climate change in this way.

It was environmentalists themselves, aided and abetted by the great and the good.

Indeed, almost from the moment we were first locked down in spring 2020, greens speculated about the possibility of using something akin to a lockdown in order to remake society along ‘sustainable’ lines.

In September last year, economist Mariana Mazzucato even used the phrase ‘climate lockdown’ when speculating about the need for ‘a radical overhaul of corporate governance, finance, policy and energy systems.’

And in April this year, Time ran the headline, ‘The pandemic remade every corner of society. Now it’s the climate’s turn.’ If anything, all the Covid-cum-climate conspiracy theorists have done is take politicians’, journalists’, and activists’ arguments at face value.

But there’s something else about these two BBC articles that tell us much about journalism and the green agenda today. That is, they both ground their claims on the views of political campaigners – which they then pass off as neutral, expert opinion.

For instance, both draw substantially on the views of Jennie King, senior policy manager at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD). The ISD is a think tank devoted to combating ‘extremist movements, hate groups and conspiracy-theory networks worldwide’.

This is not a neutral organization. It is a politically driven one, in which what it views as ‘extremism’ encompasses not just neo-Nazis, but also people concerned about the effects of wind turbines on bird populations.

It demonizes criticism of the green agenda as ‘extremism’.


‘Vandals’: Australian States fume over federal climate intervention

The Morrison government has used sweeping new powers to override state and territory government support for an international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The federal government has deployed recently passed laws to overturn the participation of five states and territories in the global Under 2 Coalition.

In an email dated 23 November, an official with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told his counterpart in the Victorian government that its participation in the coalition was “no longer in operation”.

The email warned the Victorian government that under the new Foreign Relations (States and Territories) Act 2020, sign up to the agreement was now illegitimate.

The email said Victoria had 14 days to tell the global organisation it had “failed to properly classify” the state’s involvement in a 2015 Memorandum of Understanding.

Two-hundred-and-sixty sub-national governments worldwide have signed up to the the Under 2 coalition, representing 1.75 billion people and 50% of the global economy. Members commit to keeping global temperature rises to well below 2C, with efforts to reach 1.5C. Thirty-five states and regions in the coalition have committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier.

“[T]he MOU has also been invalidated for a number of other states and territories,” the official said, naming the ACT, Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia. He did not cite NSW, which has lately signed up.

Lily D’Ambrosio, Victoria’s energy, environment and climate change minister, said Dfat had used a technicality that was “illogical” to cancel her state’s participation.

“It’s just a really ridiculous technicality,” D’Ambrosio said. “It’s egregious. They are vandals.”

The move came less than a fortnight after the Glasgow climate summit ended. The Morrison government had weathered extensive criticism at the event for being among the few rich nations to avoid raising their 2030 emission reduction targets.

“This is going to be a global embarrassment, not for the Victorian government but the federal government that has already covered itself in ridicule on the climate change stage,” D’Ambrosio said. “Rather than addressing the urgency of climate change, they are actually putting forward more barriers.”

A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said the Under 2 Coalition MOU had not come to the minister for a decision.

“The MOU was not properly notified by the relevant states and territory under the Foreign Relations Act 2020 and was therefore automatically invalidated by operation of the Act,” the spokesperson said.

Dfat was also approached for comment, as was energy minister Angus Taylor.

The Dfat official suggested in the email if Victoria wanted to sign up to the Under 2 coalition’s 2021 MOU, his department would consider approving it. He also said Victoria should join with other jurisdictions to make a single submission.

“Under what conditions would they be prepared to consider an application?” D’Ambrosio said. “Are they saying that if there’s one or two states that maybe hadn’t wanted to pursue it or have delayed it, then everyone else will be held up?”

Meaghan Scanlon, Queensland’s minister for the environment and the Great Barrier Reef, said her state had also received the cancellation advice.

“Clearly, the Morrison government aren’t content with their own failures on climate change, they’re now trying to stop the states from taking action.” she said.

“Surely their time would be better spent funding renewable energy projects or delivering a credible policy on reducing emissions, than on playing silly bureaucratic games,” Scanlon said.