Sunday, July 12, 2009


An email from Peter Salonius [] -- slightly edited for clarity -- JR

An Australian paper entitled Solar Power Realities deals only with photovoltaic electricity generation and storage by pumped water, air pressure or batteries while declaring, based on this incomplete picture, that solar power will “never supply the reliable low cost electricity”. Forbes asks about what he surmises to be tremendous areas of land required for solar collectors, and asks: "“How many card tables do we need to run the trains, factories, fridges, homes, heaters, hospitals and tools of a big city?”

Forbes appears not to have heard of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) generation with parabolic mirror collectors in deserts, that gather solar heat and store it in molten salt for generating steam driven electricity even during periods when the sun is not shining -- and that is forecast to be cost competitive with conventional generating sources within a few years -- see the TREC site at The TREC site shows a map of North Africa, featuring squares representing the small fraction of land required to supply: Europe, North Africa/Middle East or the entire World with desert generated CSP.

Desert CSP installations, such as those that are now operational in the U.S Southwest and in Spain, deserve consideration for a future that will be characterized by fossil and nuclear energy depletion before dismissing solar generated electricity as impractical and excessively expensive.


An email from Ian McClintock []

I have had a look at the Desertec site which claims that this technology will be "cost competitive with conventional generating sources within a few years". When you look at the costs of producing the power however, they talk about 10 - 20 Euro cents / KWh, which is 18 - 38 cents Australian at today's exchange rate.

Avg. power generation costs (including coal, hydro, gas, oil and other) in Victoria (predominantly from Brown coal) are 2.8 c/KWh, NSW (black coal) 3.9 c/KWh, Qld & SA 3.2 c/KWh. (Retail 18 - 25 c/KWh)

The power generators claim that about 4 c/KWh would be required to finance new coal fired power plants (to be viable).

So at 4c/KWh our power is now 5 to 10 times cheaper than the claimed Desertec production costs. If you have to also store heat to provide for a 24 hour electricity supply, the costs of the power would be significantly higher again. This does not look like a commercially competitive alternative power supply to me.

Meet The Man Who Has Exposed The Great Climate Change Con Trick

An excerpt below from The Spectator, mainstream journal of British conservatism

James Delingpole talks to Professor Ian Plimer, the Australian geologist, whose new book shows that ‘anthropogenic global warming’ is a dangerous, ruinously expensive fiction, a ‘first-world luxury’ with no basis in scientific fact. Shame on the publishers who rejected the book

Imagine how wonderful the world would be if man-made global warming were just a figment of Al Gore’s imagination. No more ugly wind farms to darken our sunlit uplands. No more whopping electricity bills, artificially inflated by EU-imposed carbon taxes. No longer any need to treat each warm, sunny day as though it were some terrible harbinger of ecological doom. And definitely no need for the $7.4 trillion cap and trade (carbon-trading) bill — the largest tax in American history — which President Obama and his cohorts are so assiduously trying to impose on the US economy.

Imagine no more, for your fairy godmother is here. His name is Ian Plimer, Professor of Mining Geology at Adelaide University, and he has recently published the landmark book Heaven And Earth, which is going to change forever the way we think about climate change.

‘The hypothesis that human activity can create global warming is extraordinary because it is contrary to validated knowledge from solar physics, astronomy, history, archaeology and geology,’ says Plimer, and while his thesis is not new, you’re unlikely to have heard it expressed with quite such vigour, certitude or wide-ranging scientific authority. Where fellow sceptics like Bjorn Lomborg or Lord Lawson of Blaby are prepared cautiously to endorse the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) more modest predictions, Plimer will cede no ground whatsoever. Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory, he argues, is the biggest, most dangerous and ruinously expensive con trick in history.

To find out why, let’s meet the good professor. He’s a tanned, rugged, white-haired sixtysomething — courteous and jolly but combative when he needs to be — glowing with the health of a man who spends half his life on field expeditions to Iran, Turkey and his beloved Outback. And he’s sitting in my garden drinking tea on exactly the kind of day the likes of the Guardian’s George Monbiot would probably like to ban. A lovely warm sunny one.

So go on then, Prof. What makes you sure that you’re right and all those scientists out there saying the opposite are wrong? ‘I’m a geologist. We geologists have always recognised that climate changes over time. Where we differ from a lot of people pushing AGW is in our understanding of scale. They’re only interested in the last 150 years. Our time frame is 4,567 million years. So what they’re doing is the equivalent of trying to extrapolate the plot of Casablanca from one tiny bit of the love scene. And you can’t. It doesn’t work.’

What Heaven And Earth sets out to do is restore a sense of scientific perspective to a debate which has been hijacked by ‘politicians, environmental activists and opportunists’. It points out, for example, that polar ice has been present on earth for less than 20 per cent of geological time; that extinctions of life are normal; that climate changes are cyclical and random; that the CO2 in the atmosphere — to which human activity contributes the tiniest fraction — is only 0.001 per cent of the total CO2 held in the oceans, surface rocks, air, soils and life; that CO2 is not a pollutant but a plant food; that the earth’s warmer periods — such as when the Romans grew grapes and citrus trees as far north as Hadrian’s Wall — were times of wealth and plenty.

All this is scientific fact — which is more than you can say for any of the computer models turning out doomsday scenarios about inexorably rising temperatures, sinking islands and collapsing ice shelves. Plimer doesn’t trust them because they seem to have little if any basis in observed reality.

‘I’m a natural scientist. I’m out there every day, buried up to my neck in sh**, collecting raw data. And that’s why I’m so sceptical of these models, which have nothing to do with science or empiricism but are about torturing the data till it finally confesses. None of them predicted this current period we’re in of global cooling. There is no problem with global warming. It stopped in 1998. The last two years of global cooling have erased nearly 30 years of temperature increase.’

Plimer’s uncompromising position has not made him popular. ‘They say I rape cows, eat babies, that I know nothing about anything. My favourite letter was the one that said: “Dear sir, drop dead”. I’ve also had a demo in Sydney outside one of my book launches, and I’ve had mothers coming up to me with two-year-old children in their arms saying: “Don’t you have any kind of morality? This child’s future is being destroyed.’’’ Plimer’s response to the last one is typically robust. ‘If you’re so concerned, why did you breed?’

This no-nonsense approach may owe something to the young Ian’s straitened Sydney upbringing. His father was crippled with MS, leaving his mother to raise three children on a schoolteacher’s wage. ‘We couldn’t afford a TV — not that TV even arrived in Australia till 1956. We’d use the same brown paper bag over and over again for our school lunches, always turn off the lights, not because of some moral imperative but out of sheer bloody necessity.’

One of the things that so irks him about modern environmentalism is that it is driven by people who are ‘too wealthy’. ‘When I try explaining “global warming” to people in Iran or Turkey they have no idea what I’m talking about. Their life is about getting through to the next day, finding their next meal. Eco-guilt is a first-world luxury. It’s the new religion for urban populations which have lost their faith in Christianity. The IPCC report is their Bible. Al Gore and Lord Stern are their prophets.’


If it’s true that “as California goes, so goes the nation,” Americans should be very afraid

While Al Gore ridiculously compares his global warming crusade to the battle against Nazism and Congress hastily debates a behemoth 1,200-page climate change bill, recent news from the test laboratory known as the state of California presages troublesome times ahead for American power consumers.

As a consequence of foolish environmental regulations, California officials express increasing alarm that the state’s renewable energy mandates threaten widespread power shortages in the near future. Blackouts, brownouts, skyrocketing energy bills – take a good look at your possible future, America.

This warning to the rest of America has been almost ten years in the making.

Over the past decade, sanctimonious California lawmakers have imposed increasingly stringent power requirements as part of their broader climate-change agenda. By 2002, legislation required utilities to produce 20% of their power from renewable sources such as wind, solar, hydroelectric, biomass and geothermal by the year 2010. By 2008, however, only 12% of California’s total electricity derived from such sources, and even this amount is misleading because 60% of that total originated from geothermal plants built long before “green power” became the latest fashion.

Despite these hard realities, California lawmakers actually toughened the state’s already-infeasible benchmarks. Following new laws and executive orders issued in just the past year, California utilities must now generate 33% of their power from renewable sources by the year 2020.

According to a recent report from state energy authorities, this stricter mandate could double the cost of achieving the previous 20% requirement, at a total exceeding $114 billion. In other words, even as California’s economy and fiscal woes reached crisis mode, lawmakers actually exacerbated these self-inflicted wounds.

Blissfully oblivious to the looming collision between reality and environmental utopianism, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proudly proclaimed, “this will be the most aggressive target in the nation.”

The repercussions are already being felt.

State auditors announced that California’s energy mandates pose a “high risk” to the state’s economy, and the California Energy Commission warned of power shortages in 2011 if current trends continue. Energy officials also report that the state will miss its renewable energy targets by five years or more, meaning that these laws may bring all pain and no gain.

The sad reality is that California’s renewable energy mandates, in conjunction with draconian environmental constraints on traditional sources of power, have undermined utilities’ capacity to provide sufficient power to consumers. Very few conventional power plants have been built in recent decades, leading to a classic instance of demand outpacing supply. Additionally, these renewable energy requirements necessitate construction of new transmission lines and facilities connecting power sources to ever-growing California cities. Not only does this impose even more costs upon already-strapped utility providers, but it also triggers the usual parade of new environmental-impact roadblocks, property condemnations, bureaucratic obstacles and other costly requirements.

These converging realities are forcing California to re-learn the lesson that the laws of economics are no more mutable than the laws of gravity. Namely, when you jeopardize power supply at a time of increasing demand, shortages and higher costs inevitably result.

Although California’s reckonings may elicit snickers from those living outside the state, they sound an alarm for every American as Congress prepares to impose similar renewable energy requirements across the country.

With the mammoth Waxman-Markey climate change bill that Congress narrowly passed on June 26, California’s problem may soon become the entire nation’s problem. Under that legislation, all states would be required to generate 15% of their power through renewable sources by the year 2020. What makes this even more alarming is the fact that only 4% of the nation’s electricity currently derives from renewable resources, compared to California’s 12%.

Accordingly, under Waxman-Markey, the United States must somehow quadruple its renewable energy output in just ten years. By commanding the very same sort of unworkable power supply mandates that California imposed, energy shortages and higher utility bills will inevitably result.

This federal effort to do to the nation what state lawmakers have done to California is even more puzzling in light of the fact that scientific and public skepticism toward the environmentalists’ agenda is steadily growing. Just this week, global-averaged satellite temperature data revealed that Earth’s temperature continues to drop. Since 2006, the globe has cooled .74 degrees Fahrenheit, continuing a downward trend since 1998.

Additionally, scientific opinion polls reveal that the American public is increasingly skeptical of climate change alarmism, and hostile toward climate legislation like Waxman-Markey. According to Rasmussen Reports, 56% say they are “unwilling to pay more in taxes and utility costs to generate cleaner energy and fight global warming,” yet this is precisely what Waxman-Markey aims to do. Further, 52% assert that it’s more important to keep energy costs as low as possible than it is to impose environmentalists’ agenda.

As the climate change battle shifts from the House to the Senate, it is therefore critical that Americans learn from California’s example and call their Senators’ offices to express their opposition in no uncertain terms.

Otherwise, California’s problems will soon become the entire nation’s.



India and China need to resist pressure from industrialised countries on the issue of climate change, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Saturday. The developed countries are by far the biggest polluters of the environment since the start of the Industrial Age. Now some of them are asking India, China and other emerging economies to commit themselves to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to curb climate change.

Both countries are unwilling, saying this would hamper their development.

"There is a lot of pressure on India and China on the issue of climate change. We have to resist it. I have put India's views on this before other countries (at the G8-G5 summit in Italy)," the prime minister said while returning from the G8-G5 summit in Italy. "It is also quite clear that as citizens of global economy we have an obligation to do our bit to control emissions. Therefore, all countries have an obligation to depart from business as usual. We are quite alive to the dangers of climate change which is already taking place.

"We recognise our responsibilities by way of mitigation and adaptation. I presented India's climate action plan -- national mission -- and we are willing to do more if there is arrangement to provide additional financial support as well as technology transfers from the developed to the developing countries to ensure clean, sustainable development can really become effective instrument for strengthening strategies for climate change," Manmohan Singh said.

The G8 and G5 countries could not agree on the issue of climate change at the summit. While the G5 wanted the developed (G8) countries to commit to early reduction in emissions, 40 percent by 2020 and over 80 percent by 2050, the G8 countries were ready only to commit for 50 percent emission cuts by 2050. With no consensus being reached on the issue of climate change at the L'Aquila summit, the leaders are hoping that a breakthrough will be made before or during the crucial UN summit on climate change to be held in Copenhagen this December.



When King Canute of lore wanted to teach his citizens a lesson, he set his throne by the seashore and commanded the tides to roll out. Canute's spirit was back in business this week at the G-8 summit in Italy, where the assembled leaders declared that the world's temperature shall not rise: "We recognize the scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2 degrees [Celsius]," or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, said the summit declaration. So let it be written, so let it be done. As for how they will achieve this climate-defying feat, well, the leaders were somewhat less definitive: "we will work . . . to identify a global goal for substantially reducing global emissions by 2050."

Translation: Since the heads of the world's leading economies couldn't agree on an actual policy on climate change, they opted instead to command the clouds, the seas and all of the Earth to cool. Or maybe they were finally admitting that this whole climate business is getting too expensive, so let's just throw out a goal that everyone knows is beyond the reach of kings, much less democratic leaders.

The politics of climate change have always been long on apocalyptic rhetoric but short on policy realism. But a global economic crisis does have a way of shearing away illusions about the price people and their leaders, elected or otherwise, are willing to pay in higher taxes, higher prices and economic competitiveness to perhaps make a fractional dent on the temperature.

Concerns about high costs and lost jobs have already threatened or killed carbon-emissions control schemes in enviro-conscious Australia and New Zealand. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, another sunshine environmentalist, insisted on exemptions for German industry, including cement and steel, from last year's EU climate deal, which pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020. Italy engineered its own escape clause, requiring the EU to renegotiate its climate policy after a U.N. climate change summit in Copenhagen later this year. That probably kills the European deal, since China (the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases), India and other developing countries showed this week that they are unlikely to agree to any draconian emissions cuts.

European politicians have been wondrously adept at signing on to climate pacts, like the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which they have no real intention of honoring even as they enjoy taking the political credit. But really binding agreements are becoming harder to reach this time around, thanks to mounting opposition from businesses and labor unions.

Philippe Varin, chief executive of Corus, Europe's second-largest steel producer, told the London Independent in December that the cost of carbon credits and new technologies needed to reduce emissions would destroy European steel production, forcing manufacturers overseas. Poland's Jaroslaw Grzesik of the Solidarity trade union estimated last month that the EU's climate policy would cost 800,000 European jobs. The London-based Open Europe think tank has estimated the climate package would cost European economies over a trillion dollars in the coming decade.

Meanwhile, the supposed economic benefits of "green technologies" are evaporating. In Germany, government subsidies for installing solar panels -- and, it was presumed, thereby creating domestic manufacturing jobs -- backfired when it turned out that it was cheaper to make solar panels in China. A recent paper from Spanish economist Gabriel Calzada Álvarez noted that since Spain started investing in a "green jobs" policy nine years ago, the country has lost 110,500 jobs in other parts of the economy. That amounts to 2.2 jobs lost for every green job created.

European leaders still do pray to the climate gods, and they would love to see the U.S. burden its own industries with the kind of cap-and-tax bill just approved by the House. But even Senate Democrats are getting wise to the political risks they run for tying the economy down with regulatory schemes that America's competitors in Europe and Asia will either flout or ignore.

In the legend of Canute, the king, after failing to stop the rising tide, told the assembled crowd: "Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth and sea obey by eternal laws." If a medieval monarch could draw the right conclusion, how hard can it be for his sophisticated 21st-century successors?



The Population Bomb is one of the founding texts of the modern environmental movement. It popularised neo-Malthusian concerns that current rates population growth would lead to human and environmental disaster, a fear revived every year on the UN's World Population Day (Saturday July 11).

Since its release, The Population Bomb has received aplomb and approbation in more or less equal measure. But writing in the new issue of the Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development, its authors Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich (unnamed co-author of the original book) have few regrets: indeed, they argue that "perhaps the most serious flaw in The [Population] Bomb was that it was much too optimistic about the future".

From global warming and ozone depletion to collapsing fisheries and industrial agriculture, the Ehrlichs say that "the environmental and resource impacts of past and future population growth will haunt humanity for a long time."

But another paper in the new issue of the EJSD suggests that the Ehrlich's doom-and-gloom scenarios are unwarranted. Indur Goklany - co-editor of the EJSD - argues that "despite unprecedented growth in population, affluence, consumption and technological change, human well-being has never been higher."

Reduced hunger and malnutrition, improved access to clean water and sanitation, higher literacy and schooling - all of these things mean that we now live longer and better lives than we did forty years ago - a stark contrast to the scenario painted in the Population Bomb.

Goklany concedes that the record is mixed for the environment - but argues that this justifies more, not less, wealth and technology: "Initially, in the rich countries, affluence and technology worsened environmental quality, but eventually they provided the methods and means for cleaning up the environment... After decades of deterioration, their environment has improved substantially."

The main worry for Goklany and others is that the "policy preferences of some environmentalists and Neo-Malthusians, founded on their skepticism of affluence and technology, would only make progress toward a better quality of life and a more sustainable environment harder. Their fears could become self-fulfilling prophecies."

The above is a press release from the International Policy Network []. For details see HERE


For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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