Sunday, July 21, 2019

Worse than Chernobyl? Radiation in parts of Marshall Islands is far higher, study says

All this fuss about radioactivity is premised on the conventional assumption that any level of radioactivity is bad for you. In fact, only  exceptionally high radiation exposures are dangerous and the exposures in the islands were not measured against that standard.

Take the case of Japanese travelling salesman man Tsutomu Yamaguchi.  He was badly burnt after exposure to the Hiroshima blast during WWII.  So he went home to have his wounds looked after -- to Nagasaki.  So he copped the Nagasaki blast as well. So he died immediately, of course.  He did not.  His burns healed and he lived to 93.


What Leftist scientists just will not acknowledge is the reality of hormesis.  Radiation is such a great thing to scare people with that they won't let it go.  Hormesis occurs when exposure to low levels of something dangerous will often strengthen you against higher levels of that thing. And the effects of ionizing radiation are often strongly hormetic. Even medium doses can be protective.

There is a review article here in an academic journal which finds that hormesis fits the facts much better than the conventional assumptions

Think of the most radioactive landscapes on the planet and the names Chernobyl and Fukushima may come to mind.

Yet research published Monday suggests that parts of the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific, where the United States conducted 67 nuclear tests during the Cold War, should be added to the list.

In a peer-reviewed study, Columbia University researchers report that soil on four isles of the Marshall Islands contains concentrations of nuclear isotopes that greatly exceed those found near the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear power plants. On one isle, those levels are reported to be 1,000 times higher.

All four of the islands are currently uninhabited, and three of the four — Bikini, Enjebi and Runit — are in atolls where nuclear testing took place. But one of the islands, Naen, which measures less than an acre, is in Rongelap Atoll, nearly 100 miles away.

Researchers found concentrations of plutonium-238 on Naen, raising the possibility that the island was used as an unreported dumping ground. Plutonium-238 is a radioisotope associated with nuclear waste and not generally with fallout, said Ivana Nikolic Hughes, a coauthor of the research and an associate professor of chemistry at Columbia.

The only other place the team detected this isotope was at Runit, where the United States entombed nuclear waste from bomb testing under a leaking concrete dome.

“We can’t say for sure that [dumping on Naen] is what happened,” said Nikolic Hughes, who directs Columbia’s K=1 Project — a multidisciplinary program dedicated to educating the public about nuclear technology. “But people should not be living on Rongelap until this is addressed.”

The results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, have reignited debate on the U.S. government monitoring residents’ health in the Marshall Islands and its assurances that locals face little risk from radioactivity.

Some researchers have declared Rongelap safe for re-habitation. But the Columbia study suggests that, for now, people not return to Rongelap or Bikini atolls, where Naen and Bikini are located, until certain areas have been more thoroughly cleaned. More than 600 people have already returned to parts of Enewetak Atoll — where Runit and Enjebi are located.

“We are concerned about what is being consumed on Naen and at what level,” said James Matayoshi, the mayor of Rongelap Atoll. He said he didn’t like the idea of people collecting food from Naen and the islands near it, because he doesn’t know what kind of risk that poses for his constituents’ health.

Others are not so sure the study’s results are valid.

Terry Hamilton, the U.S. Department of Energy’s lead researcher on Marshall Island radiation issues, said although the Columbia team’s approach seemed reasonable given the costs of pursuing such research in a remote part of the world, he was concerned their methodology and equipment could have overestimated the radiation they were detecting.

Both Nikolic Hughes and her husband, Emlyn Hughes, a Columbia University particle physicist and co-director of the K=1 project, rejected claims their methodology was flawed. The intent of their studies, they said, was to provide the Marshallese with an independent assessment — research not considered suspect because it was conducted by a government responsible for the contamination.

“The work provides valuable background information for local policymakers,” said Jan Beyea, a retired radiation physicist who has worked with the National Academy of Sciences but was not involved with the research. He added the results could tip the question of resettlement either way.

“Implicitly, I think these results might caution efforts to return, because of the readings found,” Beyea said. On the other hand, he noted, information that only certain uninhabited islands have levels that exceed agreed-upon safety standards could mean “the return to some places might be made easier.”


Heat wave hype

Get ready for a hot one. Most regions of the U.S. have heat waves in store this weekend.

What should we do about it?  How about the beach?  Swimming pools, ice cream, air conditioning, barbecues.  Enjoy it.  Keep cool and well hydrated.  Check up on the elderly and vulnerable.

What shouldn’t we do?  Hype it up as a global warming talking point.

Weather and climate are not  the same.  We are experiencing weather.  The Earth has experienced around a half degree of warming, almost entirely last century.  It’s too little to meaningfully feel, let alone to account for a 100 degree July day.

Similarly, winter cold snaps are weather as well.

Meteorologist Joe Bastardi posted a veritable trove of climate data at to debunk the heatwave scare.

After analyzing the charts, graphs and numbers, here is his conclusion:

This is not about climate and weather, it is about using them to further a political agenda. Keep telling people how bad it is, if they don’t look at the counter-arguments, or are prevented from hearing them by the Alinsky like tactics of Isolate, demonize and destroy, then the end is predictable. And it’s not positive.

Heat and cold waves both happen.  Attributing heat to climate, while dismissing cold as weather, is propaganda.

The media should listen to Joe Bastardi and knock it off.


EPA Administrator Explains What’s Changed at the Agency Since the Obama Years: Interview

For Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, it’s important to make sure states—not the federal government—are making the calls on environmental issues when possible. He joins The Daily Signal for an exclusive interview to explain his views on federalism, regulation, and more. Read the interview, posted below, or listen on the podcast:

Daniel Davis: I have the privilege of being joined now in studio by Andrew Wheeler. He is the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Administrator, thanks for being here.

Andrew Wheeler: Thank you, Daniel. It’s great to be here.

Davis: So you became the acting EPA administrator just over a year ago and were confirmed later, I believe in February of this year?

Wheeler: Yes, Feb. 28.

Davis: OK. Looking back over your full year as a EPA administrator, acting and official, what are a couple of the top achievements that you really look back on and are proud of?

Wheeler: First, it’s gone really fast. It’s been a very fast year. But getting our major regulation out a couple of weeks ago on the Affordable Clean Energy rule, huge accomplishment. We reorganized our regions, we got that done this spring. But just moving forward on so many different regulatory fronts and improving the overall structure of the agency has just been really gratifying.

Davis: During the Obama administration, a number of states were often frustrated with their relationship with the EPA. Tell us about your approach with states and with governors and how you approach regulatory issues under this administration.

Wheeler: Certainly. We defer so much more to the states. You know the big difference between the Clean Power Plan, which is the Obama regulation and the ACE, the Affordable Clean Energy rule, which was our regulation to address greenhouse gases from the electric power sector, is that we rebalanced it. We gave the authority back to the states.

What the Obama administration tried to do was make all of the energy decisions at the federal level about what types of fuel different states should be able to use. That’s not the role of the federal government. That’s not the role of the EPA.

That authority has historically been with the states and the state public utility commissions. So we have rebalanced that and returned that authority back to the states. And that’s just one example, but we’re doing that in all of our regulatory efforts.

Davis: One of those key regulatory issues was the Waters of the United States rule originally proposed under the Obama administration. And earlier this year, your agency proposed a revised version of that rule, which determines what counts as an official body of water subject to federal regulation.

Tell us about the EPA’s thought process in revising that rule.

Wheeler: Sure. First of all, the Obama regulation, as soon as it was issued, was stayed by a number of courts. In fact, today we have the Obama regulation, I believe, in effect in 22 states, and the 1980s definitions are enforced in 28 states. So it’s really a patchwork approach right now.

What we did is we took a step back, we took a look at the Clean Water Act, we took a look at the Supreme Court decisions. And we put forward a proposal, the Waters of the U.S. proposal, that we believe follows the law.

The second and the overarching guiding principle for us on the Waters of the U.S., the new definition that we have, which we’ll be finalizing by the end of this year, is that the property owner should be able to stand on his or her property and decide for themselves whether or not they have federal waters on their property without having to hire an outside attorney or consultant to do that for them.

And then third is we’re also for the first time acknowledging the fact that some waters are protected by the states and other waters should be protected by the federal government. We don’t have to overlap on every single waterway.

If the United States were to walk away from regulating water tomorrow, which we’re not going to, but if we were, most waterways would already be protected under state law. So we’re recognizing that for the first time.

Davis: The EPA uses a lot of scientific models to develop its regulations when it comes to defining waters of the United States. Obviously, there’s been controversy in recent years over how to define that and the subjectivity of what is a water of the United States. Is that primarily a legal question or is it really more dictated by science?

Wheeler: It is both. But if you go back to the original Clean Water Act, it says navigable waters are waters in the United States. So what we did is we clearly defined what is a water in the United States, but we also define what is not a water of the U.S.

For example, we clearly defined that agricultural ditches are not waters of the U.S. And I don’t think Congress intended a ditch next to a row of corn should be considered a water of the U.S. But there are certainly some scientific questions at play as far as adjacency to navigable waters for wetlands, other water bodies such as that.

So science does play a role in it, but I believe the Obama administration took it to an extreme on the science side instead of taking a look at what is truly a navigable water. And according to the supreme courts, what are the waterways that the United States government should be stepping in.

Davis: The EPA in the past has often developed major rules using science that the public didn’t have access to, wasn’t able to publicly evaluate.

What have you, under your leadership, been doing to increase the transparency so that the public can have access to the science that’s being used as the basis for these regulations?

Wheeler: We put forward a science transparency proposal, and we are working to finalize that this year.

What that does is require that any of the science that the federal government, the EPA uses for our regulatory purposes should be made available to the public. So the underlying research, the underlying data. We believe that transparency will lead to better regulations.

I started my career at the EPA working in the Toxics office on TRI, the Toxics Release Inventory, which was a Community Right-to-Know Act. And I really do believe that the public has a right to know the information that the government is using to design their regulations.

So by putting the science out there and allowing anybody to take a look at how we’re making our regulatory decisions, I think will lead to better regulations, better regulatory decisions, and decisions that will have better support with the American public.

Davis: And will that rule pretty much apply to all regulations? They all have to be based on publicly available data?

Wheeler: Yes. There will be some exceptions. Certainly, for example, some health studies data that involves people. We have to follow the HIPAA requirements, so that people’s individual health information is not released to the public. But that can be masked, and it can be taken care of and still be released in a meaningful manner so that people can understand what we’re using.

Davis: But you also recently issued a memo directing EPA offices to issue new rules regarding how they perform cost-benefit analysis on regulations. Can you explain that and what’s the goal of that?

Wheeler: Again, it’s part of transparency and making sure the American public understands what we’re basing our regulations on and why.

To the heart of that is the cost of the regulations. We owe it to the American public to explain to them what are the costs of a regulatory action and what are the benefits.

What we did last year is we proposed a regulation that would have applied cost-benefit analysis across the board to all of our regulations. We took a look at that, we took comments on it, and we decided the better approach would be to require that under each of our statutes because each statute has a different scientific basis, each statute has a different regulatory basis.

We’re going to move forward first under the Clean Air Act, and we’ll have that done by the end of this year. We will propose a new regulation that will require cost-benefit analysis to be done for all the Clean Air Act regulations, and then we will go statute by statute across all of our major statutes under the EPA jurisdiction.

Davis: Great.

In the past, the EPA has also sometimes justified new and costly rules by appealing to co-benefits, which, for our listeners, is essentially indirect benefits that don’t have much to do with the original purpose of the regulation but are used to justify it. It’s something that some of our Heritage experts here have written on a lot.

How do you perceive this issue of co-benefits? And what’s the EPA doing now to address any past abuse?

Wheeler: First of all, I think it’s fine for us to take a look at the co-benefits and explain what co-benefits might be, but that should not be the basis for a regulatory decision.

What the Obama administration did in particular on the Mercury Air Toxics regulation was the benefits that they calculated came from particulate matter, and … I believe it was 98% or 99% of the benefits for the mercury regulation were from addressing particulate matter.

We already have regulations addressing particulate matter, and we regulate particulate matter or PM down to the that is safe for people. What the Obama administration did was go beyond that, and then use those benefits to justify their standards for mercury.

The Supreme Court actually remanded that regulation back to the agency and said, “Your cost-benefit analysis is suspect. You need to take a second look at that.” Which is what we’re doing and redressing the mercury standards, and we should have our final regulation out on the Mercury Air Toxics rule by the end of this summer.

And what we’re doing is following what the Supreme Court told us to do, which is to do a more balanced approach of looking at the cost-benefit analysis and make sure that we are attributing the benefits of the regulation to the purpose of the regulation and I think we owe that to the American public.

Davis: Yeah.

Well, looking ahead to the rest of the year and next year, are there any other big items that come down the pike that folks should be looking out for from the EPA?

Wheeler: Sure. We will be finalizing our CAFE standards for the automobile sector in the next couple of months, we will finalize our Waters of the U.S. regulation by the end of this year, and we will be proposing a new regulatory program for lead and copper pipes.

This is for the drinking water, and this is what happened in Flint, Michigan, with the lead in Flint, Michigan. So we are updating that regulatory approach. It hasn’t been updated in over 20 years.

We’ll be proposing a new regulation that will help identify the lead pipes around the country that need to be replaced more quickly, and also take a look at mandatory testing for schools and day care centers and that proposal should be out sometime over the next month.

Davis: You mentioned the CAFE standards for vehicles. … I know California has played a big role in trying to set standards. Tell us about that, and how have you been pushing back on California?

Wheeler: First of all, the attorney general from Louisiana, Attorney General [Jeff] Landry, said that CAFE does not stand for the California Assumes Federal Empowerment. The federal government should be setting the CAFE standards for the entire country, not the state of California.

Now, we worked with California. We tried to negotiate with them a standard that would be appropriate for the entire country and that California could live with, and they just will not negotiate with us. They just will not come to the table. It’s really a shame.

And they’ve been in the press criticizing everything that we do instead of coming forward with a plan that would work.

[California’s] … standard just looks at CO2 from cars. We believe that there are other public policy goals that should be addressed under a CAFE standard, including public safety and the lives of our citizens.

Our proposal—as we proposed last year—will actually save American lives. It will reduce the price of a new automobile by $2,300. Right now, the average age of cars on the road is 12 years old, it used to be 8.

Older cars are less safe, and they’re worse for the environment. So by reducing the price of a new car, we believe that we [will] get more people buying newer cars—getting the older cars off the road—safer vehicles, better for the environment. And [it] will be a better program for the entire country.


Climate trillions frittered in the wind

This year, the world will spend $US162 billion ($230bn) subsidising renewable energy, propping up inefficient industries and supporting middle-class homeowners to erect solar panels, according to the International Energy Agency. In addition, the Paris Agreement on climate change will cost the world from $US1 trillion to $US2 trillion a year by 2030. Astonishingly, neither of these hugely expensive policies will have any measurable impact on temperatures by the end of the century.

Climate campaigners want to convince us that not only should we maintain these staggering costs, but that we should spend a fortune more on climate change, since our very survival is allegedly at stake. But they are mostly wrong, and we’re likely to end up wasting trillions during the coming decades. I will outline how we could spend less, do a better job addressing climate change, and help far more effect­ively with many of the world’s other ills.

Global warming is a real, man-made problem — but it is just one of many challenges facing humanity. We shouldn’t base our policy decisions on Hollywood movies or on scare scenarios but on the facts. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, even if we did absolutely nothing to respond to global warming, the total impact by the 2070s will be the equivalent to a 0.2 per cent to 2 per cent loss in average income. That’s a challenge that requires our attention — but it’s far from the end of the world.

Over-the-top environmental activists are not only out of synch with the science but they also are out of touch with mainstream concerns. A global poll by the UN of nearly 10 million people found that climate change was the lowest priority of all 16 challenges considered. At the very top, unsurprisingly, are issues such as better education, better healthcare and access to nutritious food. We need to address climate change effectively — but we should remember that there are many other issues that people want fixed more urgently.

The present approach to climate change isn’t working. If fully implemented, analysis of the leading climate-economic models shows that the Paris Agreement will cost $US1 trillion to $US2 trillion every year in slowed economic growth. Our response to climate change is so expensive because alternative energy sources remain expensive and inefficient in most scenarios. It is still very expensive to switch from fossil fuels — hence the fortune being spent on subsidies, to little overall effect.

Leading global energy researcher Vaclav Smil says: “The great hope for a quick and sweeping transition to renewable energy is wishful thinking.” Former US vice-president Al Gore’s chief scientific adviser, Jim Hansen, who put global warming on the agenda in 1988, agrees: “Suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.”

Despite costing a fortune, the Paris Agreement will have virtually no impact on global temperatures. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has estimated that even if every country makes every single carbon cut suggested in the Paris treaty to the fullest extent, CO2 emissions would be cut by only 1 per cent of what would be needed to keep temperature rises under 2C. Incurring an annual $US1 trillion cost while failing to rein in temperature rises is a very poor idea.

A realistic and credible response to global warming needs to bring China and India on board. They are not going to slow their economies and imperil the fossil-fuel-driven growth that is lifting millions out of poverty.

When 27 of the world’s top climate economists and three Nobel laureates looked at the gamut of potential climate solutions for my think tank, Copenhagen Consensus, they found that the current approach, which tries to make fossil-fuel energy as expensive as possible, is very inefficient. Moreover, it is likely to fail since citizens in most countries are unlikely to accept the steep energy price hikes that these policies require. We can look to France’s “yellow vest” protests or to the elections in The Philippines, the US and Australia of politicians who loudly reject these policies to see that voters are making their choices heard.

What will actually fix climate change, keep India and China on board, and remain palatable with voters is a policy driven by green energy research and development. We need to innovate the price of zero CO2 energy below that of fossil fuels. That way every country in the world can afford to — and want to — make the switch.

Far more investment is required. On the sidelines of the 2015 Paris climate summit, 20 world leaders including then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull promised to double green energy research and development to $US30bn by 2020. International Energy Agency data shows rich OECD countries have not increased their spending, which remains at less than $US16bn today.

Leaders globally should commit to spending an extra $US84bn annually. This will likely produce the green technologies that can outcompete fossil fuels. It would also mean we would have plenty of money left over to help resolve all the other challenges that people say are a much bigger priority.

How to fix everything else

The Copenhagen Consensus worked with 50 teams of top economists and several Nobel laureates to carefully examine the global ambitions the world has set for 2030, the so-called Sustainable Development Goals, to identify those that will help the most. It turns out that instead of spending all the resources on inefficient climate policies we can solve climate change more effectively — and then actually fix most other problems with the money left over.

One of the best investments is in access to contraception and family planning. Right now, 215 million women are unable to choose the number, timing and spacing of their children. This matters because unwanted pregnancies claim the lives of young mothers. Being better able to space births means parents will invest more in each child, reducing child deaths and ensuring better education outcomes.

Moreover, with fewer children a year, each child will have access to more capital, boosting economic growth. Achieving near-universal access to family planning carries an annual price tag of $US3.6bn, but allowing women more control over pregnancy means 150,000 fewer maternal deaths and 600,000 fewer orphaned children each year, along with a “demographic dividend” boosting economic growth. Every dollar spent would produce social benefits worth $US120.

Nutrition is an area where tiny amounts of spending have huge and lifelong effects. Since the 1980s, the West has become focused on hunger only when the media swoops into areas horrendously affected by starvation. Pictures of vultures waiting for a malnourished child are what it takes to get us to send food, and this often comes way too late.

Unsurprisingly, this is an incredibly ineffective way to help, not the least because it is very expensive to keep sending food every day forever, but also because it relies on an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. There are two crucial things we need to do instead.

First, we need to focus on pregnant mothers and on infants during their first 1000 days, which is the most crucial time for brain development. A landmark study in Guatemala that began in the 60s reveals that investment in better nutrition at this early time changes lives completely: it leads to better educational outcomes, better jobs and even to more stable marriages.

Spending just $US100 helps a child to be stronger and smarter, stay longer in school and ultim­ately become a much more productive member of society. For the children, it can increase lifetime incomes by 60 per cent. The benefits are worth, on average, 45 times more than the costs. This will cost $US10bn a year.

Second, to create more lasting food impacts, we need to invest in agricultural research. This will make farmers able to produce more nutritious, reliable crops, especially in developing and fragile countries. We can generate extra yield increases by investing in agricultural R&D and by boosting the use of better (sometimes genetically modified) seeds, which give farmers more resilience and ability to withstand climate shocks, while lifting the poorest out of hunger. For a cost of $US2.5bn a year, we can produce benefits worth $US85bn. Each dollar spent will help generate more food security, reduced food prices and other social benefits worth $US35.

The world’s biggest infectious disease killer isn’t HIV or malaria but tuberculosis.

TB used to be a scourge in rich societies, having killed a billion people during the past 200 years. Yet we mostly fixed TB in the developed world a century ago, and thus TB today receives far too little attention and resources, with only 4.6 per cent of development assistance for health, a paltry $US1.7bn. This is a disease we know how to detect and treat — and we know that treatment stops multiple cases and prevents deaths or years of impairment. Reducing TB deaths by 90 per cent would cost $US8bn a year but result in 1.3 million fewer deaths. The benefits to society would be worth $US43 for every dollar spent.

The most powerful thing governments could do to transform lives would cost next to nothing at all: embrace freer trade. During the past 25 years, China lifted 680 million people out of poverty through trade, and there are similar stories from Indonesia, Chile and others. Genuine, global free trade would have benefits that would reach every single country. Far more than any aid dished out by donor countries, lowering trade barriers is the most powerful way to reduce extreme poverty. A completed global Doha trade deal would make the world $US11 trillion richer each and every year by 2030 according to research considered by the Nobel laureates.

The world’s worst-off would benefit the most. In developing nations, the increased wealth from the Doha deal would be equivalent to an extra $US1000 for every single person, every single year by 2030. This alone would cut the number of people living in poverty by 145 million in just 11 years. The annual cost would be $US20bn in pay-offs to those sectors (such as farmers in wealthy countries) who would lose out, and who politically are holding up the deals.

The list goes on. We could halve malaria infections for $US500m annually, save a million children’s lives through $US1bn of increased immunisation, triple preschool access in Africa for $US6bn and get every child in Africa through primary school for $US9bn. We could halve global coral reef loss for $US3bn, and save two million babies from death every year for $US14bn through policies such as providing expecting mothers with nutrients and protection from disease, having nurses and clean facilities at birth and ensuring best practice childcare afterwards.

All of these amazing policies will cost in total $US78bn. Together with the $US84bn for green energy R&D, the total comes to $US162bn — or what we’ll spend on subsidising inefficient renewables this year.

Our choice

The total benefit to humanity from achieving this total list of policies will be around $US42 trillion. This would be the same as increasing the average income in the world by 50 per cent, and the benefits would mostly help the world’s poorest.

Of course, we also can spend 10 times as much on the Paris Agreement and generate about a thousand times fewer benefits from slightly reduced temperatures.

The choice really is clear. Do we want to be remembered in the future for being the generation that overreacted and spent a fortune feeling good about ourselves but doing very little, subsidising inefficient solar panels and promising slight carbon cuts — or do we want to be remembered for fundamentally helping to fix both climate and all the other challenges facing the world?


Climate change signals part of socialist plot

Comment from Australia

In his Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Charles Mackay describes how crowd psychology drove numerous “national delusions”, “peculiar follies” and “psychological delusions” in the 16th and 17th centuries. US financier Bernard Baruch recounted similar madness preceding the Wall Street crash of 1929.

Without wanting to appear disrespectful to Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and her councillors, something about their declaration of a “climate emergency” suggests a similar psychological irrationality.

Their gullibility matches that of audiences at the UN climate conference in Poland and the Davos World Economic Forum who sat spellbound as 16-year-old Greta Thunberg lectured them on climate catastrophism.

Moore and her colleagues mindlessly chant slogans about how “climate change poses a serious risk to Sydneysiders” because “successive federal governments have shamefully presided over a climate disaster … Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased for four consecutive years. (The) federal government’s policies are simply not working.”

It’s true. Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions are rising marginally. But per capita they are falling. Even if you believe CO2 influences global temperatures, at 1.3 per cent of global emissions and a 1 per cent growth rate, they are hardly a danger to the planet. Besides, Australia is on track to meet its Paris commitment. A recent study found the world overall has only a 5 per cent chance of reaching its goals.

Australian National Univer­sity research confirms our per capita renewables deployment rate is four to five times faster than in the EU, the US, Japan and China. Contrast this with a world that, for the first time since 2001, saw no year-on-year growth in renewable power capacity.

With Australia already leading the world, how much more is the government expected to do? How many more billions must taxpayers and industry pay?

Virtue signalling is one thing, but it is deceptive for the City of Sydney Council to claim that by next year it will use 100 per cent renewable energy. It surely must know that in NSW 80 per cent of electricity is coal-generated.

Still, Sydney, along with another 651 trendy green councils in 15 countries, is now eligible to attend a group hug where the collective can again remind governments to “adopt an emergency response to climate change and the broader ecological crisis”, as a campaign launched in left-wing stronghold New York City has just declared. It’s the first US city with more than a million residents to do so.

Democratic-controlled Los Angeles City Council flirted with the idea but simply passed a ­motion to set up a Climate Emergency Mobilisation Department.

Conspicuously, no Chinese city has had the urge, despite China’s “greenhouse” gas emissions growing at the fastest pace in seven years and outpacing the US and EU combined. No Indian city has either, despite faster emissions growth than any other major energy-consuming nation.

Meanwhile, Britain, France, Canada and Ireland have capitulated. Britain has introduced legislation to become CO2 neutral by 2050. It will mean a change to almost every aspect of life and carries an estimated cost of more than £1 trillion ($1.8 trillion). Ireland, having missed both domestic and EU emissions targets, is simply virtue signalling.

As financial and social costs accumulate, it is not surprising to find signs of mania fatigue.

Growing numbers of credible whistleblowers and respected climate scientists are calling into question the integrity of the science. Their claims that global warming theory is unproven and that data is “untrustworthy” and “falsified” are slowly entering mainstream consciousness.

Repeated catastrophic deadlines have proved false. Climate-change threats to food produc­tion proved unfounded. Between 2005 and 2016, there was a global decline of 15 per cent in undernourished people, despite the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declaring 2016 the hottest year on record.

And, inevitably, faith and reality are colliding. University of Colorado scientist Roger Pielke Jr calculates getting to net zero global CO2 emissions by 2050 “requires replacing one million tonnes of fossil fuel consumption every day, starting now”.

These impracticalities and increasing voter hostility mean governments representing more than half the world’s population can’t agree on a long-term net zero emissions target. Nor on a UN scientific report on the ­impact of a 1.5C rise in global temperatures. Perhaps most revealing of all is the growing realisation that climate change is not about science but politics.

Potsdam Institute director Ottmar Edenhofer confirms this: “One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy,” he warns. “This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy any more. We redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.”

Former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres agrees: “The whole climate change process is a complete transformation of the economic structure of the world.”

This is orthodox Marxist, socialist ideology and the West is being bullied into parting with trillions of dollars for the privilege of surrendering to an authoritarian central government. When enough people grasp this, the climate change delusion bubble will burst. Perhaps this explains why desperate organisers of protests such as the Extinction Rebellion are now resorting to violence.

Meanwhile, like Wile E. Coyote, Moore and her global catastrophists are suspended over the cliff, leaving behind a trail of destruction. Sooner or later they will look down, leaving us to pick up the pieces.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Joshua Trees Will Be All-But-Extinct by 2070 Without Climate Action, Study Warns

There were many periods in the history of the earth that were hotter than the present and the trees survived then so they will survive now.  Fires may be a problem but that is at the foot of the Greenies -- as they interfere with good fire management practice.  There are some extraordinary scientific bloopers below.  The article is total rubbish

Joshua trees — some of the most unusual and iconic plants of the American Southwest — have survived as a species for some 2.5 million years in the inhospitable Mojave Desert. Now, they may face imminent extinction due to climate change.

In a new study published June 3 in the journal Ecosphere, researchers and volunteer scientists surveyed nearly 4,000 trees in southern California's Joshua Tree National Park to figure out where the oldest trees tended to thrive during historic periods of extreme heat and drought. (A single Joshua tree can live up to 300 years.) Then, the researchers estimated how much of these Joshua safe zones (or "refugia") would survive to the end of the century based on a range of climate change predictions.

The study authors found that, if greenhouse gas emissions are seriously curbed and summer temperatures are limited to an increase of 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius), about 19% of the park's Joshua tree habitat would survive after the year 2070.

If no action is taken to reduce carbon emissions and summer temperatures rise by 9 F (5 C) or more, however, only 0.02% of the tree's habitat would survive to the end of the century — leaving the rare tree a hair away from extinction.

"The fate of these unusual, amazing trees is in all of our hands," lead study author Lynn Sweet, a plant ecologist at the University of California, Riverside said in a statement. "Their numbers will decline, but how much depends on us."

Survivors in the sand

Joshua Tree National Park covers 1,200 square miles (3,200 square kilometers) of sandy, hilly terrain in the desert between Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Arizona. The spiny-armed Joshua trees have survived millions of years of climate ups and downs by holding on to large amounts of water to carry them through the region's harshest droughts.

However, the study authors wrote, young Joshua trees and seedlings aren't able to store enough water to weather these dry spells. During long droughts — such as the epic, 376-week-long one that lasted from December 2011 to March 2019 in California — various parts of the park became too parched to support young Joshua tree growth, preventing the species from reproducing properly.

As global temperatures rise, more and longer droughts are expected to occur around the world [Rubbish!  Warmer oceans would produce MORE rain], and that means fewer and fewer new Joshua trees surviving to adulthood. To find out which parts of the tree's desert habitat were safest and which were most at risk of drying up, a team of park researchers and volunteers counted thousands of trees in various parts of the park, noting each tree’s height (which helped predict the tree's age) and the number of new sprouts in the area. They found that, in general, trees growing in higher-elevation spots, which tend to be cooler and retain more moisture, survived much better than those in lower, drier regions.

The team compared these survey results with historic climate records to predict how much of the Joshua tree's habitat was likely to shrink as temperatures rise and rainfall decreases over the rest of the century. Under the best-case scenario, they found, just 1 in 5 Joshua trees will survive the next 50 years.

Taking swift action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is the only way to save the Joshua trees from extinction, the researchers found. However, even trees in the best-hydrated habitats will still face a serious threat from wildfires, which have also been occurring with greater frequency and intensity as the climate warms, they said. According to the researchers, fewer than 10% of Joshua trees survive when wildfires rush through their habitats — thanks, in part, to car exhaust coating desert shrubs with flammable nitrogen [FLAMMABLE nitrogen??? Most of the atmoshere is nitrogen. It hasn't burst into flames yet]This, at least, is a threat that can be addressed on a local level, right now.

"Fires are just as much a threat to the trees as climate change, and removing grasses is a way park rangers are helping to protect the area today," Sweet said. "By protecting the trees, they're protecting a host of other native insects and animals that depend on them as well."


Watch: Flashback 1990 CSPAN climate debate between Dr. Fred Singer & Greenpeace

Greenpeace business model

Although Greenpeace relies heavily on marketing, advertising, and free market principles, they promote socialist and anti-capitalist ideals in their messaging.

Greenpeace have successfully created a public perception that they are fighting to protect humanity, nature and the environment from the evils of corrupt industries and vested interests. This perception is so popular and wide-spread that whenever Greenpeace speaks out on an issue it is automatically assumed to be true, and anybody who questions Greenpeace’s claims is assumed to be corrupt. However, as we will discuss in this report, the reality is almost exactly the opposite...

Greenpeace is a very successful business. Their business model can be summarized as follows:

Invent an “environmental problem” which sounds somewhat plausible. Provide anecdotal evidence to support your claims, with emotionally powerful imagery.

Invent a “simple solution” for the problem which sounds somewhat plausible and emotionally appealing, but is physically unlikely to ever be implemented.

Pick an “enemy” and blame them for obstructing the implementation of the “solution”. Imply that anybody who disagrees with you is probably working for this enemy.

Dismiss any alternative “solutions” to your problem as “completely inadequate”.

At each of the four stages, they campaign to raise awareness of the efforts that they are allegedly making to “fight” this problem. Concerned citizens then either sign up as “members” (with annual fees) or make individual donations (e.g., $25 or more) to help them in “the fight”.

This model has been very successful for them, with an annual turnover of about $400 million ($0.4 billion). Although technically a “not for profit” organization, this has not stopped them from increasing their asset value over the years, and they currently have an asset value of $270 million ($0.27 billion) – with 65% of that in cash, making them a cash-rich business. Several other groups have also adopted this approach, e.g., Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, WWF and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Although their business relies heavily on marketing, advertising, and free market principles, they promote socialist and anti-capitalist ideals in their messaging. As a result, their campaigning efforts appear to resonate strongly with left-leaning parties and liberal media. By draping themselves in “moral clothing” (see Appendix 4), Greenpeace have been very effective at convincing these progressive organizations that anything Greenpeace says is “good” and “true”, and whatever they criticise is “bad” and “corrupt”. However, as we discuss in this report, Greenpeace are not actually helping to protect the environment, or exposing real problems. Instead, they are:

Creating unnecessary feelings of guilt, panic and frustration among the general public. Greenpeace then make money off this moral outrage, guilt and helplessness (Section 1).

Vilifying the innocent as “enemies”. Once you have been tarred by Greenpeace’s brush, any attempts to defend yourself are usually treated with suspicion or even derision (Section 2).

Deliberately fighting honest attempts by other groups to tackle the “environmental problems” that Greenpeace claim need to be tackled (Sections 3 and 5).

Distorting the science to generate simplistic “environmental crises” that have almost nothing to do with the genuine environmental issues which should be addressed. (Sections 4-5)

Actively shutting down any attempts to have any informed discussions about what to actually do about the “problems” they have highlighted (Appendices 2-4).


Deceased Navy Veteran’s Name Cleared in ‘Clean Water’ Case

After being convicted, fined, and imprisoned under the Clean Water Act for digging ponds to protect his Montana home from forest fires, Joe Robertson had his name cleared last week.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated Robertson’s conviction in a legal victory that comes posthumously, since the Navy veteran died four months ago at age 80.

Robertson was 78 when the federal prosecution led to his prison sentence in 2016; he completed his 18 months behind bars in late 2017. At the time of his death March 18, he was supposed to be on parole for another 20 months.

Robertson also had been ordered to pay $130,000 in restitution through deductions from his Social Security checks. 

The 9th Circuit initially upheld a lower court ruling against Robertson in November 2017 and denied him a rehearing in July 2018. But last November, he petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review his case.

On April 15, the high court responded by vacating the 9th Circuit ruling and sending the case back to that appeals court for further review.

Robertson’s widow, Carrie, had stepped in to carry on his legal battle. The Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit, public interest law firm specializing in property rights, represented the Robertsons in their legal dispute with federal officials.

“We are very pleased that the 9th Circuit agreed that Joe’s convictions should be vacated and very pleased for Carrie, who will no longer have a $130,000 federal judgment hanging over her head,” Tony Francois, a senior attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, said in a press release.

Prior to his conviction, Robertson operated a business that supplied water trucks to Montana firefighters.

In 2013 and 2014, Robertson had dug a series of ponds close to an unnamed channel near his home, to store water in case of fire. The foot-wide, foot-deep channel carried the equivalent of two to three garden hoses of water flow, his petition says.

The Environmental Protection Agency claimed the ditch was a federally protected waterway under the Clean Water Act, and Robertson needed a federal permit to dig the ponds.

But the Montana man argued that he didn’t violate the federal law because digging the ponds did not discharge any soil into “navigable waters,” since the flow in the channel didn’t amount to that. The ponds are more than 40 miles away from “the nearest actual navigable water body,” the Jefferson River, his petition argues.

With the 9th Circuit’s action July 10, Robertson’s case has been settled in his favor.

The federal government will return to his widow the $1,250 in restitution that Robertson already had paid, according to Pacific Legal Foundation’s press release.

“It has been an honor to represent Joe and now to be able to complete his vindication on behalf of his wife, Carrie,” Francois said.


Australia’s growing dam crisis

Australia is a dry continent – that is a fact of geography and global climate.

However, per head of population, we have abundant fresh water resources in rivers, lakes, dams, soils and underground. But we do not conserve enough of it, and much of what is conserved is wasted by foolish policies.

Politicians welcome (and sometimes subsidise) population growth, migrants, refugees and tourists but they neglect or prevent water conservation. And green schemers and globalist politicians are deliberately turning occasional water shortages into an on-going crisis.

Our main problem is that enormous volumes of flood water flow into the sea during rain events while the same rivers run dry during droughts. Sensible people would moderate both floods and droughts with well-planned dams and weirs.

Australia’s rainfall is not well distributed – usually there is abundant water on the coastal side of the ranges, but the vast inland is largely dry land and desert.

More than 80 years ago, Dr John Bradfield, the great Australian engineer who designed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, could see what was needed – build dams to catch water on the rainy side and transfer it to the dry side, preferably generating some hydro power in the process. Water transfer could be achieved using tunnels and/or pipes-pumps assisted by syphon, wind or hydro energy. We have engineers and equipment able to drill huge traffic tunnels – let’s show similar skill in water management and transfer.

Once we had people with the determination and skills needed to create farsighted water projects like the Snowy Mountain Scheme, the Ord Scheme, the Gordon Dam, the Burdekin Dam and the Perth Kalgoorlie Water Pipeline. Those days are past.

Today we have far more people but we are not conserving more water. It is 30 years since we build a large dam in Australia. And we neglect or waste underground water resources.

Urban dwellers demand cheap, clean, abundant water for long showers, washing dishes and cars, public and private pools, verdant lawns, fountains, gardens, parks, golf courses and weekend retreats.

However, many of these same people tend to lead the vocal opposition to any proposal for a new dam. They criticise farmers who conserve water to grow our food and fibre, and promote high water prices in order to crush farm demand for it.

A sensible society would identify the best dam sites and have a long-term plan for acquiring and storing the land rights needed for them. We do the reverse. Decisions are postponed until the need is critical. Then landowners with vested interests, green busybodies and media stirrers manage to scare the politicians, and the water conservation proposal is killed.

Then the “No Dams” Mafia takes over, trying to sterilise the site for all future dams by quietly changing land-use and vegetation classifications.

Sydney shows how to create a water shortage such as the current one that caused the sudden weekend imposition of water restrictions. We need to remember the history of this crisis.

Back in 2002 the Carr Labor government killed the proposal to build the Welcome Reef dam on the Shoalhaven River near Braidwood. To ensure this proposal never arose again Premier Carr gazetted 100 new national parks between the Bega Valley and Nowra.

Green destroyers have also grossly mismanaged stored water by insisting on excessive and ill-timed “environmental” flows. This is a scheme where you build a dam to catch water and then try to manage the water as if the dam did not exist. It is very slow and expensive to get this lost water back from the sea using the Flannery desalination plants.

We have businessmen who can spend millions of dollars on election advertisements and casinos, and politicians who can contemplate spending billions of dollars on games and stadiums, but they can always find an academic to debunk expenditure on a new dam.

American pioneers learned from the beavers how to preserve the life blood of rivers by building weirs. Our stressed Darling River has such a low gradient that a string of weirs could preserve the river environment and sensibly ration available water supplies for fish, farmers and wildlife. And it has tributaries that could support dams.

However Greens and fellow travellers can be guaranteed to oppose every new dam or weir proposal. Judging from overseas trends, they will soon be suggesting that existing dams be destroyed. If they can find a rare frog or a native plant, or can invent a dreamtime story, any dam proposal can be delayed for decades.

It is time for real conservation – conserve our water.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Leftists look to use climate emergency executive order to foist socialism on U.S.

Earlier this year, when President Donald Trump was in a face-off with Democrats over a partial government shutdown due to providing funding for a border wall, he warned that he would issue an executive order declaring a national “emergency” in order to collect the resources necessary to build the wall. Media pundits on both Right and Left warned that, should Trump go through with this emergency declaration, it would set a precedent for a future Democrat president to declare a national emergency over, for example, climate change. Trump subsequently issued that executive order, which is currently tied up in the courts.

Well, that warning is arguably a reality as Democrat presidential candidate and Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) has teamed up with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to introduce a joint resolution essentially saying that climate change is a national emergency requiring “a national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization of the resources and labor of the United States at a massive-scale.” At the same time, the resolution attempts to avoid claiming that it is a declaration of a national emergency: “Nothing in the concurrent resolution constitutes a declaration of a national emergency for purposes of … any special or extraordinary power.” What exactly constitutes an emergency to these two socialists is still unclear.

What is clear is that leftists are determined to use climate change as a convenient cudgel to force socialism onto the backs of Americans. The Wall Street Journal warns, “Conservatives who applaud Mr. Trump’s run around Congress should think again. Progressives will exploit the precedent for their own purposes.” True, but then again, “progressives” have a way of doing whatever they want without such niceties as precedent or legitimate authority. And most importantly, Trump’s EOs are almost all about removing statist extraconstitutional limitations and restrictions on the rights of the people, whereas, again, the Demo climate agenda is a massive charade to force adoption of their socialist agenda.


How Greenie Bureaucrats Ruin Everything From Dishwashers To Gas Cans To Cars

Have you ever wondered why dishwashers today take twice as long to do a worse job of cleaning dishes? Or why it’s so much harder to get gasoline out of a new gas can? Or why cars made decades ago always turn heads, while today’s are drab in the same way?

There’s a simple answer to these modern-day mysteries: Government regulators.

Take the dishwasher. Earlier this month, the Department of Energy announced that it would revise its rules regarding dishwasher efficiency. Why? Because the existing rules — which set limits on how much electricity and water a dishwasher may use — are forcing manufacturers to build machines that are worse than ever.

The DOE was responding to a petition from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which found that average dishwasher cycle times climbed from just over an hour back in the mid 1980s to two-and-a-half hours today — with each increase in between the result of increasingly strict federal efficiency mandates.

“It is not technologically feasible to create dishwashers that both meet the current standards and have cycle times of one hour or less,” the petition stated.

Shouldn’t dishwasher efficiency be something that the market dictates? Consumers trade off convenience for savings every day. Why should dishwashers be any different? Particularly when the regulations result in a savings of something like $2 a month.

Government Gas Cans

If CEI wins this battle for consumers, it might want to petition the government to let people buy gas cans that work properly. Most homeowners of a certain age will remember those good old gas cans that had a spout at one end, and a small resealable vent at the other. The vent let air in while the gasoline was pouring out.

But regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency didn’t like that simple solution to the physics of pouring liquids. They decided old-style gas cans were too polluting and let too much gas spill on the ground.

So the EPA decreed in 2009 that gas cans must henceforth have: 1) A single, self-venting opening for filling and pouring with no separate vents or openings and 2) a nozzle that automatically closes when it’s not being used.

The result was a gas can with complicated nozzles that can be difficult to handle, are prone to breaking, cost more, and make it harder to pour gasoline. In frustration, people started drilling vent holes in their EPA-approved gas cans and entrepreneurial companies started selling nozzle replacement kits.

Socialist Car Designs

Next, CEI could go after federal regulators who’ve managed over the course of several decades to completely ruin car designs.

Think about it. Why is it that cars made 40 years ago or more are captivating, and varied, with real personalities, while new cars today are, for the most part, indistinguishable?

The reason is that there’s basically only one way to design a car today that meets all the government-imposed safety and environmental regulations.

Jeffrey Tucker, writing for the American Institute for Economic Research, notes that “the designs of new cars are boring because regulations forced this result.”

Today, the government dictates nearly every single aspect of a car’s design. Big fronts for safety, low tops for fuel economy, tiny windows, high belt lines, etc. That’s just the exterior. Almost every feature of a car’s interior is also regulated by government.

One car designer noted that “I know of at least one vehicle … that was discontinued entirely because changing curtain airbag regulations would have meant the entire shape of the vehicle had to be redesigned.”

There are plenty of other examples like this of regulators making products worse. Toilets that don’t flush, showerheads that don’t allow sufficient water flow, and other modern product failures, are courtesy of the nanny state.

And all of this, mind you, is just the tip of the regulatory pyramid, with decades upon decades of rules, mandates, and regulations now affecting nearly every aspect of our economy. Has this monstrous regulatory state improved the quality of our lives?  If the above is any indication, the answer is most likely no.


AOC's Green New Deal would boost gas tax $10-$13, 'destroy economy'

The socialistic Green New Deal, pushed by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and winning broad support from Democratic presidential candidates could lead to a $10 increase on a single gallon of gas, according to a new study of the so-called “carbon tax” and the liberal bid to rid vehicles that burn fossil fuels.

The CO2 Coalition's study, mostly focused on the government's effort to assign an environmental price on the future “Social Cost of Carbon,” also looked at the ultimate goal of liberals to rid gas-powered autos, key to the Green New Deal.

Executive Director Caleb S. Rossiter said the study calculated what it would cost to get people to trade their gas-powered cars for electric vehicles.

“Obviously we are not going to martial law, so how do you get people to switch?” he said. “They’re not going to grab your car by force, so you have to discourage the use."

The result: A $10 per gallon gas tax and final price of some $13, or about the cost of shifting to EVs, about $2,700. “That is the economic breaking point of driving gas-powered cars," he said.

The author of the study, Bruce Everett, formerly an economist at the Department of Energy and currently a professor at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, said that the carbon tax “would have to rise to $13 per gallon in order to make electric cars desirable to consumers.”

He plans to explain his findings from the report, titled The Social Cost of Carbon and Carbon Taxes ‘Pick a number, any number' Monday at a noon to 1:30 p.m. event in Room 385 of the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill.

Rossiter said that such a high tax “would destroy the economy” and ignore the benefits of carbon in the atmosphere, a key argument of the CO2 Coalition.

Their report also said that the Social Cost of Carbon calculation is so broad that it can be easily manipulated. It also looks out over 280 years to judge the impact of continued carbon use, which the authors said is silly and impossible to predict.


Wind power sources remain more fantasy than reality

At first glance, wind power seems to be the path to a carbon-free energy future. Once harnessed, it’s clean and abundant. Larger turbines have enhanced wind’s power-generating capacity.

But contrary to its supporters, wind energy has grown thanks largely to production tax credits (2.3 cents per kilowatt hour) totaling billions of dollars. However, those credits are being phased out, and without such generous subsidies, wind energy will not make much of a dent in power production or carbon mitigation for at least a decade.

The amount of wind energy has tripled in the past 10 years, growing to 97,223 megawatts in 41 states. Half of that generating capacity is located in five of them: Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma, California and Kansas. Because seasonal wind patterns vary considerably across the country, wind’s contribution to the grid represents just 8 percent of power production nationwide.

Despite all the hoopla over wind energy, the nation’s only offshore wind turbines are located in coastal waters near Rhode Island. The Block Island Wind Farm, which went into operation in late 2016, cost $2 billion, plus $16.7 million to compensate companies that lost access to fishing grounds. Operating and maintenance expenses for wind farms currently add about $48,000 per megawatt generated.

Massachusetts likewise is preparing to obtain power from more than a score of huge wind turbines off its coast, carried to the mainland by underwater cables, with the cost passed through to households and businesses.

According to the Institute for Energy Research, offshore wind energy is “very, very expensive,” costing 2.6 times more than onshore wind power and 3.4 times more than power produced by a natural gas combined-cycle plant. Of course, the cost of wind farms surely will fall as more are built, and perhaps ways will be found to reduce the dangers wind turbines pose to birds, bats, and other wildlife.

In the meantime, if we are serious about reducing energy costs and carbon emissions, we need to be realistic about the limitations of power generated by the wind and other renewables.

A more practical environmental approach is to expand the use of the combined-cycle natural gas plants, which have smaller carbon footprints than coal plants and have reduced such emissions to levels not seen since the early 1990s. The shale revolution has made that possible, greatly strengthening economic incentives to substitute natural gas for coal in power production. Nowadays, data analytics and complex algorithms make it easier to find natural gas and boost the productivity of shale fields.

The surge in America’s natural-gas production also helps to reduce carbon emissions in other countries. Exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are projected to double by the end of this year. Asian countries that still rely heavily on coal are the largest purchasers of American LNG, using the clean-burning fuel to improve their air quality.

Shale has been the single biggest addition to the nation’s energy supply in many decades. Renewables at the moment offer more promise than reality. Even with lavish subsidies, wind and solar power together account for slightly more than 10 percent of the nation’s electricity. In contrast, gas provides nearly 35 percent; it is indispensable for generating backup power on days when the wind doesn’t blow, or the sun doesn’t shine.

Because of rising electricity demands and the retirement of coal and nuclear plants, many states are planning for more wind-powered electricity production. Under present regulatory regimes, most of the capital and operating costs of new wind farms will end up being added to consumers’ utility bills. So, too, in some states are “the stranded costs” of mothballed power plants.

Unsubsidized wind energy simply is too expensive to become a major source of electricity in most states. (In 2016, wind represented just seven-tenths of 1 percent of Massachusetts’s power production.) The inability of grid operators to manage the variations in power from wind and solar energy is creating new headaches. 

Americans need a reliable supply of affordable electricity. But if too much weight is placed on wind and solar systems and not enough on conventional power plants, the result will be far too little electricity, with potentially grievous economic consequences.


Australia: Climate change protesters have been arrested after another peak-hour demonstration caused traffic chaos in Brisbane’s CBD

Environmental activists have wreaked havoc in Brisbane’s CBD for the second time this week as climate change protesters took to busy inner-city streets this morning.

The demonstration was organised by the Extinction Rebellion group, a global organisation aiming to raise awareness of the world’s “sixth mass extinction” brought on by climate change.
The group staged similar action on Monday and last Thursday, with scores of activists blocking traffic in the Queensland capital.

The Courier Mail reports nine participants have already been arrested today, including two who allegedly glued themselves to the street.

The publication revealed some motorists had been “unleashing their frustration”, with some yelling “get a f***ing job”.

Seven protesters arrested on Monday were charged with various offences such as public nuisance, disobeying police move-on directions and impeding the flow of traffic.

They have been specifically targeting busy intersections, although police have warned they will be arrested if they refuse to move on when requested.

The protesters hope to raise awareness of environmental issues and are strongly against the controversial Adani coal mine.

But they have been widely criticised by many Australians who have slammed the commuter chaos caused by the action. “Ratbag alert! These left wing extremists are reportedly gluing themselves to major Brisbane streets. Enough is enough, Police should enforce the law and they should be punished in court,” LNP MP Deb Frecklington said in a tweet.

It proved controversial, with commentators attacking the “lazy opportunistic tweet” and arguing you “don’t have to be left wing to be against Adani”.

The protests have also angered ordinary Australians who hit out at the disruption caused during their busy early-morning commute.

Earlier this week, Queensland’s Labor premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned the protest could lead to injury. “Everyone has a right to protest. But not to hinder people trying to earn a living. And some day someone will get hurt, and won’t get to a hospital in time and that’s simply unacceptable,” she posted on Twitter.

Posting below the call to action, one commenter branded protesters “morons” who will “never make a difference”.
However, despite the controversy, the worldwide Extinction Rebellion group is drawing increasing support for its cause.
According to Extinction Rebellion’s website, Rebellion Day “will see hundreds of nonviolent rebels orchestrate a shut down of the business as usual of central Brisbane.”

Adani declared earlier this month it was full steam ahead for its controversial mega coal mine in central Queensland after the State Government issued the final approval needed to begin construction.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Greens are the new hope for Europe's center

Sounds like European Greens are becoming much more moderate in an attempt to broaden their appeal

When protesters in reflective yellow vests took to the barricades in France, rebelling against a gas tax that would hit hardest those who could least afford it, Annalena Baerbock was watching closely from across the border.

A leader of Germany's Greens, Baerbock has seen her party steadily strengthen over the last year. But she knows if the Greens are to become a bigger force, they will have to convince voters that climate policy is not an elitist but common cause, while also addressing their economic concerns.

"The lesson from France is that we cannot save the climate at the expense of social justice," Baerbock, who at 38 is roughly the same age as her party. "The two things need to go hand in hand."

The Greens now routinely beat Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives in the polls and are widely expected to be part of the next German government. In recent European elections, Green parties gained significantly in other corners of the Continent, too, winning 63 of 751 seats in the European Parliament, an increase of about 47 percent.

A crop of once-radical, single-issue environmental protest parties have emerged as the unlikely beneficiaries of the seismic disruptions to Europe's politics of recent years.

Climate change has vaulted to near the top of voters' concerns in a Europe beset by record-high temperatures. The collapse of traditional social democratic parties has opened acres of space on the center left. A generation of younger voters is casting about for new allegiances, and others, for an antidote to the nationalist, populist far right.

If nothing else, the Greens now sit astride Europe's latest culture war.

With migration receding in the news, climate change has become a potent new front in the battle between green-minded liberals and populists.

As the Greens emerge as the new hope for Europe's political center, they have become enemy No. 1 for far-right populists and others who cast their policies as part of an elite agenda that hurts ordinary people. (Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's National Rally, formerly known as the National Front, rages against "climate psychosis.")

In Germany, where the Greens surged to more than 20 percent in the recent European Parliament elections, their campaign posters explicitly lashed out at the far right: "Hatred is no alternative for Germany."

Britain's Greens won a striking 12 percent of the vote, finishing fourth ahead of the governing Conservatives, not only by promoting the environment - but also by opposing Brexit.

Even in France, rocked for months by yellow vest protests against a higher fuel tax that was ultimately scrapped, the Greens won 13.5 percent and became the most popular party among voters under 35.

With their number of lawmakers rising in the European Parliament, the Greens will have roughly the same influence in the 751-seat assembly as the far-right populists led by Italy's interior minister, Matteo Salvini. And like the populists, Green parties are networking across the Continent, trying to coordinate campaigns and holding joint party conferences.

"The Green idea has been European from the outset, because you can't solve environmental problems within national borders," said Baerbock, pointing out that the very first election her party participated in was for the European Parliament in 1979.

The battle is playing out not only inside nations but also between them, pitting cities against rural areas, and richer, more liberal northern and western European countries against their poorer counterparts in the south and former communist east.

In southern Europe, with swelling debt and high youth unemployment, Green parties remain marginal. In Italy, the Greens have never won more than 4 percent of the vote in a national election. In Spain, Equo, an environmental party, has a single seat in Parliament.

The same is true in Eastern Europe. Poland did not send a single Green lawmaker to Brussels. Joined by the Czech Republic, Estonia, and Hungary, it recently blocked the latest attempt by the European Union to set a target for carbon neutrality by 2050, by appealing to national grievance and historical memory.

"Poland could not develop during the 50 years following the Second World War, like France, Austria, or the Netherlands did," said Mateusz Morawiecki, the nationalist prime minister. The proposed deal, he said, was simply "not fair."

Even in Germany, Europe's biggest and richest country, where the Greens have been the most successful, the Alternative for Germany, commonly known as AfD, accuses Baerbock's party of being elitist - and hypocritical.

"The people who vote for the Greens can afford it," said Karsten Hilse, a lawmaker for AfD and the party's environmental spokesman. "They buy themselves a good conscience, because they are the ones who hurt the environment most, they are the ones with the air miles."

"But ordinary people are being told that they are responsible for the impending climate apocalypse because they drive a car," Hilse said.

These accusations play well among far-right voters, not least because for a long time it was true that Green voters were among the wealthiest in the country.

But the Greens have been expanding their support. The party won 1 in 5 votes in the European elections. They were not only the most popular among all voters under the age of 60 but for the first time among unemployed voters, too.

Still, the accusation of privilege sticks, Baerbock said.

The protests in France were a crucial learning moment, she said. The fuel tax, sold as a climate-saving measure, had been perceived as deeply unfair.

To those who could least afford it, the tax was seen as a way for them to offset the environmental damage caused primarily by big businesses and the jet-setting urban elites, who increasingly vote Green but whose lifestyles also have the biggest carbon footprint.

"There, in a nutshell, lies our challenge," Baerbock said. "We looked at the yellow vests very carefully so we don't walk into the same trap."

One German Green lawmaker, Franziska Brantner, who had studied in France, met in February with one of the leaders of the yellow vests, Ingrid Levavasseur. Like Brantner, Levavasseur is a single mother who grew up in a rural area with poor public transport. "We discovered that we had a lot in common," Brantner said.

But she also said that she was humbled by Levavasseur's experience as a nurse who until recently worked in palliative care but could rarely afford new clothes for her two children, let alone a holiday.

"We have to make sure that the ecological question does not fire up the social question but that it helps to solve it," Brantner said.

Germany's Greens recently learned from a study of voter concerns in Europe that the second-most-popular statement among far-right voters, after one on limiting migration, was: "We need to act on climate change because it's hitting the poorest first, and it's caused by the rich."

The second part of that statement in particular resonates, Brantner said. "We need to speak more loudly about this," she said.

Across the French traffic circles where the yellow vests gathered and in the streets where they marched, many protesters emphasized that they cared about climate change and "the end of the world" as much as making ends meet at "the end of the month."

"Environmental policies are punitive when they are poorly implemented," said Damien Carˆme, the former Green mayor of Grande-Synthe, a struggling industrial area in northern France. "Of course people will shout when gas taxes increase."

"But if we reallocate this money to help people better insulate their homes and reduce their energy bills, everything is fine," added Carˆme, who has now been elected to the European Parliament as a Green lawmaker.

That is what Germany's labor unions are preaching, too.

For now, the jobs in polluting industries like cars and coal are among the most unionized and best-protected. In the renewables sector, however, unions are still rare and companies often pay little more than minimum wage.

"This is a real issue," said Ralph Obermauer, a longtime Green member who used to work for the party and now works for IG Metall, one of Germany's most important labor unions.

"If you want to achieve an ecological society, you have to take working people with you. That new society," he said, "has to be fair."

Workers are facing the prospect of job losses and transformation on two fronts: automation and climate policy. Already, automotive parts-makers are cutting jobs as the prospect of transitioning to electric cars looms.

"If we don't take this seriously, we will lose the support of workers," Obermauer said. And then, union representatives warn, Germany might have its own yellow vest revolt.


Finnish study finds ‘practically no’ evidence for man-made climate change

A new study conducted by a Finnish research team has found little evidence to support the idea of man-made climate change. The results of the study were soon corroborated by researchers in Japan.

In a paper published late last month, entitled ‘No experimental evidence for the significant anthropogenic climate change’, a team of scientists at Turku University in Finland determined that current climate models fail to take into account the effects of cloud coverage on global temperatures, causing them to overestimate the impact of human-generated greenhouse gasses.

Models used by official bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “cannot compute correctly the natural component included in the observed global temperature,” the study said, adding that “a strong negative feedback of the clouds is missing” in the models.

Adjusting for the cloud coverage factor and accounting for greenhouse gas emissions, the researchers found that mankind is simply not having much of an effect on the Earth’s temperature.

If we pay attention to the fact that only a small part of the increased CO2 concentration is anthropogenic, we have to recognize that the anthropogenic climate change does not exist in practice.

The study’s authors make a hard distinction between the type of model favored by climate scientists at the IPCC and genuine evidence, stating “We do not consider computational results as experimental evidence,” noting that the models often yield contradictory conclusions.

The results sharply cut against claims put forward by many environmentalists, including US lawmakers, who argue not only that climate change is an immediate threat to the planet, but that it is largely a man-made phenomenon. Given the evidence presented in the study, the Finnish team rounded out the paper by concluding “we have practically no anthropogenic climate change,” adding that “the low clouds control mainly the global temperature.”


Modern societies require minerals, and mining

Congressional bills would end US mining and leave USA dependent on foreign critical materials

Paul Driessen and Ned Mamula

When OPEC imposed its 1973 embargo, the United States was just over 40% dependent on foreign sources for its oil. But sudden price hikes and shortages severely disrupted families and businesses.

Today the USA relies on foreign sources for 100% of 14 minerals considered to be “critical” for modern technologies and societies, and 50-96% for 19 other “critical” minerals; only two are in the 14-25% dependency range, an updated report from the US Department of the Interior (DOI) cautions.

A Navy SEAL’s gear contains at least 23 of these minerals. Your mobile phone has over a dozen. So do wind turbines and solar panels. In fact, nearly all modern defense, aerospace, medical, transportation, communication, computer, energy and long-life battery technologies require several of these 35 critical minerals. Manufacturing and high-tech industries would grind to a halt without them. China is a dominant supplier for many of them, but other sources are also problematical, for different reasons.

A major reason for this heavy reliance is that, over the past several decades, America’s hardrock mining industry has dwindled and slowed to a crawl, been put almost on life support, just as the need for more critical minerals began to explode – in response to amazing 21st century technology-driven applications for metals and other materials that had never before been needed, looked for or mined in the USA.

This is in large part because some of the most highly mineralized ore bodies in North America (or the world) are found in western US and Alaskan areas that have been deemed off limits to mineral exploration and development, under multiple land use and environmental restrictions. World-class deposits of cobalt, copper, iron, lead, nickel, rare earths, tin, titanium, uranium, zinc and other minerals vital to the American economy and national defense are almost certainly located on those and other US lands.

However, exploration and mining are banned or heavily restricted on the vast majority of those lands. In fact, when the last detailed analysis was conducted (see pages 12-15), 427 million acres were closed to mineral exploration and development. That’s 59% of all federally owned or managed lands in the United States – an area equal to Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Montana and Wyoming combined!

The situation is far worse today, 25 years later. And even when areas are technically or officially “available” for evaluation, exploration and mining, state and federal agencies often refuse to issue permits, while environmental groups routinely file lawsuits to delay, block or bankrupt activities.

There is no valid reason mining should be impeded at this scale, especially since it so affects our national security. Of course, some of these areas truly are so special and spectacular that they should remain closed. However, it is absurd to suggest that a single mine (or core drilling site) in a wilderness or wilderness study area the size of Rhode Island, Delaware or Connecticut would permanently destroy its “pristine” qualities – even though it may have been mined or timbered a century ago, when there were no environmental laws.

Mother Nature restored those areas to their current “pristine” state. Modern laws, regulations, technologies, procedures and practices ensure that areas will be explored, mined and restored properly today.

Accommodation and compromise are clearly needed. But with most anti-mining factions that is never an option. They are not content merely to keep US coal, oil and natural gas off limits. They want nearly all lands permanently closed to mining – and “keep it in the ground” policies applied even to minerals essential for national defense, entire industries, millions of jobs, medical and Silicon Valley technologies, iPhones, and even the “next-era, clean, green, renewable” energy future they insist we can and must have.

Compounding these problems, some of the critical minerals we are forced to import are mined in countries where child labor, fair wages, workplace health and safety, environmental and other standards are unenforced or nonexistent. Vast areas are ripped open to get at minerals; tailings and muck are dumped wherever it’s convenient; parents and even children are threatened daily by cave-ins and exposed constantly to toxic chemicals; injury and death are common; and land and habitat restoration is neither required nor contemplated. Any US or other Western company operating like this would be closed down, and its executives jailed.

Of course, those odious regimes make critical minerals far easier and cheaper to produce in Congo, Baotou, China or other easily ignored places than would be the case in the USA, where modern health, safety, ethical and environmental standards properly prevail. China’s rare earths industry produces well over 20 million tons of toxic wastes per year – dumping them in a massive contaminated lake.

One has to wonder: Where are those Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Sierra Club, news media and congressional “social justice” champions who work themselves into a lather over “blood diamonds,” clothing “sweatshops” and US mining? Are environmental and human rights travesties irrelevant in their eyes, when iPhones, wind turbines, solar panels and Tesla cars are involved?

A war, trade restriction or embargo could easily and disastrously disrupt nearly every segment of US industry and society to a far greater extent and for far longer than the 1973 oil embargo did. However, globalist pundits and “experts” assure us, if that were to happen, the USA and world would certainly “adapt in the long run.” Well, yes.

But exactly how long would that “long run” continue? What would happen to our defense and other technologies in the meantime? To our living standards, healthcare system and millions of jobs? Would all those anti-mining factions suddenly just go silent – and let America launch a new Manhattan Project to find and develop new deposits at breakneck speed, without regard for environmental impacts?

America’s sole existing light rare earth elements mine is in Mountain Pass, California. Closed because compliance with US laws and regulations made it too expensive to compete on the world stage, it is now partly owned by a China-affiliated company, which sends the ores to China for processing!

In the event of a crisis, would our government seize the mine and start processing its ores without regard to costs, acid leachate contamination or pollution from mine tailings and processing wastes, since we’d have no time to develop or implement environmentally acceptable processes? Would courts even allow it?

Immediate corrective actions are needed. Thankfully, DOI officials are doing exactly that – taking small but vital steps toward a Declaration of Minerals Independence. They are working with other federal agencies and their state and local counterparts, and investigating ways the USA can produce more critical minerals sooner and in necessary quantities. Ideas include streamlining permit processes and extracting minerals from secondary and unconventional sources, such as co-products of primary mineral mining; reprocessing coal ash and abandoned mine tailings; and recycling minerals from discarded equipment.

But now, certain members of Congress, who have shunned mining and ignored critical mineral import dependency, have introduced House bill H.R. 2975 and Senate bill S.1386 to “reform” the 1872 Mining Law. They claim the law “gives away” federal minerals and seek to impose hefty royalties on mineral extraction. In reality, they would just make mining even more costly and globally uncompetitive.

Mining companies already pay billions in taxes and wages, and 10-15% of zero minerals extraction is zero. The bills would just lock up more minerals and give away US jobs, security and technologies.

Mining Law “reform” proponents also claim the 1872 statute is antiquated, has never been amended and allows unfettered access to sensitive lands with no environmental rules. That too is a deliberate falsehood. Every new environmental review, water, air and reclamation law amended the 1872 law and applies to all US mining operations. The bills are just a clever way to eviscerate the 1872 law and ban hardrock mining.

America needs incentives, streamlined permitting and tax certainty to explore for and mine our abundant critical mineral endowment, to benefit our high-tech economy, national defense, employment and living standards. Congress must help in this effort – not create new roadblocks.

It is time to recognize that environmental responsibility is woven into the fabric of today’s laws, regulations and minerals industry. There is no legitimate reason for draconian Mining Law reformation, especially if those changes would ensure that we import more critical minerals from Congo and China.

Via email

Trump administration freezing fuel efficiency penalties

Congress in 2015 ordered federal agencies to adjust a wide range of civil penalties to account for inflation and, in response, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) under President Barack Obama issued rules to eventually raise fines to $14 from $5.50 for every 0.1 mile per gallon of fuel that new cars and trucks consume in excess of the required standards.

Automakers protested the hike, saying it could increase industry compliance costs by $1 billion annually.

After a group of states and environmental groups filed suit, the Trump administration began the process of formally undoing the Obama regulation and first proposed the freeze in 2018.

In a statement late on Friday, NHTSA said it was faithfully following the intent of Congress to ensure the penalty rate was set at the level required by statute.

It expected this final rule to significantly cut the future burden on industry and consumers by up to $1 billion a year, it added.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group representing General Motors Co (GM.N), Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCHA.MI) and others, had said it could increase industry compliance costs by $1 billion annually.

Late on Friday, Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the group, praised the decision, saying NHTSA’s “own model clearly shows the significant economic harm that such a dramatic and unjustified increase in penalties would have on auto manufacturers, workers, and ultimately consumers.”

The prior administration had “failed to take into account the significant economic harm that would result,” she added.

Automakers argued the increases would dramatically raise costs, since they would also boost the value of fuel economy credits that are used to meet requirements.

In September 2017, three environmental groups and some U.S. states including New York and California sued NHTSA for putting the Obama rules on hold.

Last year, the states said, “If the penalty is not sufficiently high, automakers lack a vital incentive to manufacture fuel-efficient vehicles.”

Some automakers historically have paid fines instead of meeting fuel efficiency requirements - including some luxury automakers like Jaguar Land Rover, owned by India’s Tata Motors (TAMO.NS), and Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE).

In February, Fiat Chrysler told Reuters it paid $77 million in U.S. civil penalties in 2018 for failing to meet 2016 model year fuel economy requirements.

Fiat Chrysler welcomed the decision.

It “enables us to continue our significant investment plans in both our U.S. manufacturing footprint and new technologies required to maintain our trajectory of improved fuel-efficiency,” the carmaker said in a statement late on Friday.

Environmental groups urge the administration to retain the increase, noting U.S. fuel economy fines have lost nearly 75% of their original value because the fines have only been increased once — from $5 to $5.50 in 1997 — in more than four decades.

The move comes as NHTSA and the Environmental Protection Agency are working to finalize a rewrite of the Obama administration’s fuel efficiency requirements through 2026 in the coming months.

In August 2018, the administration proposed freezing fuel efficiency requirements and stripping California of the right to set its own vehicle-emissions rules.

The final regulation faces a multi-year legal battle that could leave automakers in limbo about future emissions and fuel-efficiency requirements.

The Obama-era rules called for a fleetwide fuel-efficiency average of 46.7 miles per gallon by 2026, compared with 37 mpg under the Trump administration’s preferred option.

Last month, 17 major automakers urged a compromise “midway” between the Obama-era standards that require annual decreases of about 5% in emissions and the Trump administration’s proposal.

Reuters reported in April that officials expect the final rule will include a small increase in yearly fuel-efficiency requirements.


Australian Greens exposed as Greenie hero baulks at turbines in his backyard

Environmental crusader Bob Brown has exposed a conspiracy of silence by the Greens and their supporters on the true cost and ­unintended consequences of ­renewable power.

Dr Brown yesterday stood by his comments slamming a proposed $1.6 billion Robbins Island wind farm in Tasmania’s northwest. The response from the Greens party and environment groups to Dr Brown’s outburst was as quiet as a wind rotor on a dead-calm day.

The Greens and Australian Conservation Foundation refused to criticise either Dr Brown or the project, slated to be one of the ­biggest wind farms in the world if it goes ahead.

In the past, federal Greens leader Richard Di Natale has likened investigating complaints about wind farms and noise to taking ­seriously alien abductions.

He refused to support the appointment of a wind farm commissioner to handle public com­plaints. His staff yesterday said he did not wish to comment on his former leader’s protest.

A spokesman for the ACF said “we don’t have a view” when asked about Dr Brown’s objections to the project. “We don’t know enough about it,” he said.

The ACF “can’t say definitely either way” if it had ever objected to a wind farm development.

Political adversaries criticised Dr Brown for displaying not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) hypocrisy in warning against the Robbins ­Island plan, but bird lovers who have been fighting wind farm ­developments across Australia for a decade would like the anti-­development, anti-coal powerhouse to extend his concerns beyond Tasmania. When Hamish Cumming tried to interest Dr Brown’s foundation in the plight of Victoria’s endangered brolgas, which he says are threatened by wind farms, he was ignored.

By publicly opposing the Robbins Island development, Dr Brown has unleashed a decade of pent-up frustrations of nature lovers who fear industrial-scale projects are transforming rural Australia for the worse.

Dr Brown yesterday defended his fight against the wind farm proposal, which he compared to the Franklin Dam. The Hong Kong-based UPC Renewables Robbins Island and Jim’s Plain Renewable Energy Parks project will be one of the world’s biggest renewable ­energy developments.

It will include up to 200 wind towers, each stretching 270m from the ground to rotor tip.

Electricity generated from the project will be exported to the mainland via a new interconnector as part of the “battery for the ­nation” project supported by the federal government.

To get to the interconnector, electricity from the wind and associated solar farms must travel through some of the most spectacular scenery in the region.

The project is also located in a significant area for raptors and ­migratory birds. UPC said it had been conducting eagle surveys, with white-bellied sea eagles and Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagles nesting on Robbins Island.

The company said there would be a 1km exclusion zone around each nest

Dr Brown shocked many with his public protests against the ­development because of its visual impacts and the threat the massive windmills pose to birdlife. “I’m a big supporter of renewable energy and energy efficiency but this massive wind farm goes too far,” he said. “It’s comparable to the Franklin Dam for hydro-energy … you have to look to the environmental, economic and social consequences of this wind farm.”

Dr Brown said as well as the environmental impacts, he was concerned profits from the project “will not go to Tasmanians, but to the multinational building it”.

Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor yesterday said: “This is a classic case of Greens’ hypocrisy. The Greens love nothing more than to lecture Australians about their preferred source of energy generation, but when it’s in Bob Brown’s backyard, wind farms are suddenly a bad idea.”

Tasmanian Liberal senator Eric Abetz ridiculed Dr Brown’s protests. “Consistency, integrity and facts are the three ingredients regularly missing from Bob Brown’s advocacy,” Senator Abetz said.

“And if he still believes in his slogan of ‘think globally, act locally’, the fact that the energy produced from the Robbins Island wind farm would be exported from Tasmania is irrelevant.”



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