Sunday, October 31, 2010

Amusing: An addle-headed Professor of the environment

The article below is by Donald A. Brown, Associate Professor, Environmental Ethics, Science, and Law at Penn State University. He opens up speaking of climate skepticism as "a new kind of vicious crime against humanity" and then goes on to say that "This post is not meant to be a polemic but a call for serious engaged reflection". What a contradiction! What a confused soul!

Excerpt only below but nowhere in the article does he mention a single referenced scientific fact. It is all just the usual conspiracy theories and another tired and false old claim of a "consensus". Instead of an appeal to the facts, he appeals to the NYT!

This post examines the question of whether some US companies are guilty of a new kind of vicious crime against humanity that the world has yet to classify. This post is not meant to be a polemic but a call for serious engaged reflection about deeply irresponsible corporate-sponsored programs that have potentially profound harsh effects upon tens of millions of people living around the world, countless millions of future generations, and the ecological systems on which life depends.

II. Corporate Disinformation Campaign

Although there is an important role for skepticism in science, for almost thirty years some corporations have supported a disinformation campaign about climate change science that has been spreading untruths and distortions about climate science. Several recent books document how this disinformation campaign began in the1980s including a book by Orkeses and Conway, Merchants of Doubt.(Orkeskes and Conway, 2010)

Although it may be reasonable to be somewhat skeptical about climate change models, some corporate sponsored participants in the climate change disinformation campaign have been spreading deeply misleading distortions about the science of climate change. These untruths are not based upon reasonable skepticism but outright falsification and distortions of climate change science. These claims have included assertions that that the science of climate change that is the foundation for calls to action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been completely "debunked" and that there is no evidence of human causation of recent observed warming. Reasonable skepticism cannot make these claims or others frequently being made by the well-financed climate change disinformation campaign.

Given that there are thousands of peer-reviewed scientific studies that support the consensus view on the dangers of continuing to emit increasing levels of greenhouse gases, that Academy of Sciences around the world have issued statements in support of the consensus view articulated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change , there are virtually no peer-reviewed scientific articles that prove beyond reasonable doubt that observed warming is naturally caused, that there are a huge number of attribution, fingerprinting, and analyses of isotopes of greenhouse gases that are appearing in the atmosphere that point to human causation, that the basic physics of exactly what happens when greenhouse gases are added to the atmosphere in terms of absorbing and reradiating heat has been understood for over 150 years, claims that the science of climate change have been completely "debunked" and that there is no evidence of human causation are patently false. These claims do not represent reasonable skepticism but utter distortion about a body of evidence that the world needs to understand to protect itself from huge potential harms....

The October 21rst New York Times article concludes that the oil, coal and utility industries have collectively spent $500 million just since the beginning of 2009 to lobby against legislation to address climate change and to defeat candidates who support actions to reduce the threat of climate change. It would be one thing for an American corporation to act irresponsibly in a way that leads to harm to Americans, but because of climate change's global scope, American corporation's have been involved in behavior that likely will harm tens of millions of people around the world. Clearly this is a new type of crime against humanity. Skepticism in science is not bad, but skeptics must play by the rules of science including publishing their conclusions in peer-reviewed scientific journals and not make claims that are not substantiated by the peer-reviewed literature. The need for responsible skepticism is particularly urgent if misinformation from skeptics could lead to great harm. For this reason, this disinformation campaign being funded by some American corporations is some kind of new crime against humanity.

More HERE.

An earlier post on the confused mind of Prof. Brown here.

To get to be a professor he must have some modicum of intellegence so his confusion and abusive writing suggests that he is simply blinded by hate of the world about him

Daniel Greenberg Meets the Climate Scientists

By Roger Pielke, Jr.

Daniel Greenberg, the widely respected journalist and author who focuses on science policy and politics, was invited by Nature to review my book, The Climate Fix. Little did he know that review would bring him up close and personal with the activist wing of the climate science community. After writing a positive review of my book, Greenberg found himself under attack by Michael Mann, Paul Ehrlich and Stefan Rahmstorf on the pages on Nature.

What followed was an email exchange that provides some insight into the mindset of the activist wing of the climate science community. Greenberg shared this exchange with me with the following message, published here with his permission:
Roger, Re my stirring experience of jousting with Mann, Ehrlich, and Rahmstorf: What a scurrilous bunch. My sympathy to you and anyone else who has to deal with them. They're gravediggers of science. Nature will soon publish my riposte and, I think, a disclaimer of any ties to me by the Marshall Institute. Below, my further exchanges with the low-life trio. Best regards, Dan

Here is Greenberg's email to Michael Mann that concludes the exchange, reproduced with his permisison:
Dear Professors Mann, Ehrlich, and Rahmstorf,

Your correspondence concerning my review of Roger Pielke's book "Climate Fix" has provided me with a deeper understanding of the widespread public skepticism toward climate science. In your hands, apple pie and motherhood would come under public suspicion.

Have you considered taking a remedial reading course? Can you comprehend the difference between a book reviewer's own beliefs and the reviewer's presentation of the beliefs expressed by the author of the book under review? Apparently not.

Furthermore, your insinuation of an undisclosed relationship between me and a conservative think tank is preposterous. In 2006, I participated in a panel discussion sponsored by the Marshall Institute---as I have done with numerous other organizations, including the Brookings Institution, RAND, AAAS, and various academic societies and universities. Common practice for journalists.

Nor did I, as you allege, write a report, or anything, for the Marshall Institute. The panel's words were transcribed and published by the Institute. I wrote nothing for them. You guys are the devil's gift to the Tea Party and other climate-change wackos.

Sincerely, Dan Greenberg

If Michael Mann thinks that he has been treated unfairly by my decision not to publish his side of the exchange, I will be happy to post up his emails with his permission. Somehow I doubt that he will be as forthcoming as Greenberg. The repeated character assassination and behind-the-scenes attacks of a small segment of the climate science community gives the entire field a black eye, and it continues unabated. Greenberg is right, these guys could make apple pie and motherhood come under public suspicion.


Maths, Science, Ego - what are we doing re 'climate' in our schools?

I think ego-building is a part of what is going on, but that is to be optimistic. Telling children that they are to 'save the planet' is perhaps good for their egos. But telling them, based pretty much on computer models that are not fit to be let out of the groves of academe, that the planet, which for the young means their family and friends and pets, is in imminent danger, is surely bad for their spirits.

And bad for their intellects too, since there is precious little good science behind CO2-alarmism and an awful lot of goal-motivated speculation. What that goal, or goals are, is worthy of debate, but handing over more taxes and more power to governments seems an intrinsic part of it. Destroying industrial progress seems another.

Mostly, though, it seems to feed on the joy of controlling others - what they eat, drink, and smoke; how they light, heat, and build their houses; what opinions they may hold on this that and the other; what transport systems they are allowed to use; and how far away their trading partners are permitted to be.

All based on fear. Irrational, spirit-sapping, mind-numbing, truth-obscuring fear. What a way to prepare the young for the future. Let us hope that in China and in India, and in other powerhouses of the developing world, they will choose instead to pursue maths, and science, and independent thought, even as the US and Europe and other places wreck themselves and their young with dismal, pessimistic foolishness on a grand scale.

These Chinese and Indian and other children will not just take the 1st and 2nd places on such podia suggested by the cartoon above, but soon the 3rd and 4th and ... nth as well. Good luck to them. Our future generations may yet learn from them in turn.


Do all those Danish windmills do any good?

Figure 1 is a simple look at CO2 emissions and wind electricity production, which explains the claims made by wind proponents based on a superficial examination of the information. Figure 1 shows what the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) reports based on an “adjustment” of actual CO2 emissions. 2007 was a windy year and 2006 was a notably low wind year.

Figure 1 – Wind-generated electricity and CO2 emissions from electricity production in Denmark for the period 1990-2008. 1990 is the base year for Kyoto performance measurement. CO2 emissions are adjusted based on net exports of electricity

This looks convincing on the surface, but is not substantiated by closer examination. There are many reasons not to look to the relationship between wind electricity production, or any electricity production, and CO2 emissions as evidence of cause and effect, and these will be covered later.

But first, it is important to understand what the actual (or “observed” using the DEA terminology) CO2 emissions in Denmark are before “adjustment”. Even in this case, it must be remembered that emissions are not actually measured but are calculated using algorithms based on assumptions. Keep this in mind in connection with other considerations covered below.

The point is that Figure 1 does not show the actual CO2 emissions from electricity generation within Denmark because the DEA takes credit for net exports of electricity.[1] Figure 2 is Figure 1 restated using actual CO2 emissions.

Figure 2 –Actual CO2 emissions from electricity generation and wind electricity generation. This removes the adjustment to CO2 emissions for the net exports of electricity

There is still a downward trend in CO2 emissions, but less consistent and dramatic than shown in Figure 1. The reduction from the peak in 1996 was due to the significant reduction in fossil-fuel generated electricity exports, as shown in Part I, Figure 3. So, choosing any specific year as the basis of comparison to 1990 (Kyoto reference point) could be used to show different performance levels. For example look at 2006 (18% increase) and 2007 (5% decrease) in Figure 2. Also note the significantly higher “adjusted” base year (1990) levels in Figure 1. The percentage reduction in 2008 over 1990 is 31% for the “adjusted” emissions, and 15% for the observed emissions. Significant reductions occurred over the period 1996 to 2008, breaking an upward trend, with the greater use of natural gas as shown in Part I Figure 2. As well, Denmark has a strong energy efficiency record.

Actual emissions show significant year-over-year variations, and are not strongly correlated with wind generation. Figure 3 further illustrates this by looking at the year-over-year changes in wind generation of electricity and CO2 emissions. Although wind may have made some contribution with the availability of significant hydro resources for balancing, there are other, likely greater factors involved in the annual CO2 emissions levels, for example (some of which may overlap):

Changes in imports and exports

Changes in fuel types used each year, such as more or less gas versus coal

Changes in plant use due to maintenance or dispatch experience

Changes in plants, such as upgrades, or introduction of new plants

Figure 3 – Annual changes in wind electricity production and CO2 emissions. Note the absence of correlation

For 8 of the 18 years, CO2 emissions do not change in opposition to changes in wind production. In the years that they did, the relative amounts varied considerably.

Why Adjustments to CO2 Emissions are Inappropriate

The DEA adjusts CO2 emissions depending on net exports/imports of electricity. In years of net exports, exported electricity is considered the export of CO2 emissions (fossil fuel produced) or CO2 emissions savings (wind produced). In years of net imports it is considered to be the import of CO2 emissions (fossil fuel).

The DEA does state that the adjusted CO2 emissions are not to be taken into account, except for some limited purposes.[2] However the reporting of adjusted numbers, which are quite prominently used throughout the report, compared to the above referenced clarification note, can be used mistakenly to attribute better performance than is real. The following illustrates the limited applicability of adjusted numbers for Denmark:

The export of fossil fuel generation, and associated CO2 emissions, will not likely be taken as an upward adjustment by the receiving country, so the CO2 emissions that occurred on the production side will be “lost” in the total accounting.
With the export of wind-generated electricity, and presumed reduction in CO2 emissions, the receiving country already has reduced some other electricity production, and the effect on CO2 emissions has already been taken into account. Further complicating this is the effect of wind production on any balancing needed by fossil fuel generation in either country that is not properly accounted for in their calculations of CO2 emissions.

The exported wind-generated electricity to Norway/Sweden is displacing hydro and there are no CO2 emissions to be saved as a result.

If it is assumed that the electricity exported to Norway/Sweden is fossil-fuel generated, it is displacing non-CO2 producing hydro.

CO2 Emissions Savings from Wind

The best case for CO2 emissions savings as the result of wind production actually used in Denmark is if this is totally balanced by hydro from Norway/Sweden. This appears not to be the case, but the actual amount is not easily determined because of the many considerations involved, including the amount of wind used in Denmark, the split between Denmark and Germany of hydro from Norway/Sweden and the split within Denmark between hydro- and fossil-fuel balancing of wind.

CEPOS calculates the cost of using wind power to save CO2 emissions to be $124 (€ 87) per tonne, presumably depending primarily on hydro balancing, which is expensive compared to the value of emissions allowances traded on the European emissions trading scheme (ETS) which varied from € 1 to € 30 per tonne of CO2. Factoring in increased CO2 emissions from any fossil fuel plants used for wind balancing could add to these costs.

Is there a better way for Denmark to reduce CO2 emissions? Do Norway and Sweden Provide Storage for Danish Wind?

Wind proponents claim that Denmark exports wind-generated electricity to Norway and Sweden and later imports this when needed. In effect Nordic water reservoirs provide storage, which is true. However in this exchange, Denmark receives little value for its exported wind, pays market prices for imports, and incurs transmission losses in both directions. Add to this imbalance that Denmark has paid heavily for its wind plants and the conclusion is easily reached that Denmark would have been better off financially, and operationally, not implementing wind plants and importing Nordic hydro-electricity when needed.

The savings in CO2 emissions would have been the same, and only because of the presence of the large hydro-generation plants in Norway and Sweden.

The lesson for other countries is that Denmark’s unique circumstances allow (1) the high level of wind production in Denmark, (2) wind used domestically within Denmark, at about 5% of total electricity consumption, to make some small contribution to CO2 emissions reduction. Otherwise, with just fossil-fuel balancing resources, there is likely no emissions savings, and (3) Denmark does not enjoy any long term benefits in any other category.


Nuclear Executive Roundtable

As the United States continues to look for clean, reliable energy to cut emissions while providing enough power for the growing country, the nuclear power industry is making plans to expand. On Feb. 16, President Obama awarded the first loan guarantee for a nuclear plant under the provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The award of $8.3 billion for two additional reactors at the Vogtle plant in Georgia is conditional until the plant receives a combined construction and operating license from the NRC, which is expected in 2011.

Southern Co. is not the only energy provider looking to build the first nuclear reactors in the U.S. Along with modular design and the financial battle of building new nuclear, nuclear power has been grabbing headlines across the globe.

In a series of interviews, Power Engineering magazine Associate Editor Brian Wheeler moderated this year’s Nuclear Power Executive Roundtable.

Participants included John Herron, president, CEO & chief nuclear officer of Entergy Nuclear; Mark Morano, Areva senior vice president of U.S. new build operations; Danny Roderick, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy's senior vice president for new plant projects; Christofer Mowry, president & CEO, B&W Modular Nuclear Energy, LLC; and Deva Chari, Westinghouse senior vice president of Nuclear Power Plants.

There has been a lot of talk about the possibility of a nuclear renaissance globally. What is the outlook for new nuclear projects over the next couple of years, especially given the global recession?

Christofer Mowry: Well, I guess it really depends on what market you are looking at. I think you have the emerging economies markets: the India and China type. They are really moving forward quite aggressively with new nuclear build out because fundamentally they have a need for power and they are not going to get it all from coal even if they wanted to. India and China are growing 8 to 10 to 12 percent. So there is no recession impacting those economies. Then you have the developing countries and there are a couple of dynamics there. I think the best one is if you look at Eastern Europe where they are really focused in on energy security which has nothing to do with growth either. Countries like Ukraine and the Baltic States are really looking to try and get independent of Russian gas because they have been held hostage politically on that supply for several years. I think you will see the developing countries, for a number of reasons including energy security, really moving forward. But there I think the question really is ‘what technology are they going to use?’ Then you have what I will call the developed countries: the U.S. and Europe. And there I think what is interesting is that you have a bifurcation. And this is something from a nuclear perspective that is really important. Where nuclear energy is seen as a national security and a national agenda item, and good examples of that is France and Japan; whether it’s big or small they are moving ahead because it is basically a government sponsored type of activity. That is what is going on there and I think that is somewhat insulated, if you will, from the recession in total. And then you have the more market driven energy industries and the U.S. and the U.K. are prototypes of that. And that is where we really see the impact of the recession and the strain in the financial markets having a big toll on the path forward that was charted around 2000 that was really centered on mega projects. Because the fact is that in a recessionary environment and in an area where you have the constrained capital markets, you just can’t get these projects off the ground in market driven economy and that’s why you see this whole issue with loan guarantees in the U.S. and everything kind of stalled out on the big reactor side.

Mark Morano: I think the global nuclear renaissance is much more than talk as there are more than 50 plants that are currently under construction in China, Russia, India and Europe. Those countries are leading the way. The outlook for new nuclear in these regions is very promising over the next couple of years as the demand for baseload power generation increases in developing countries, while most developed countries recognize the need to battle climate change.

Here in the United States we tend to suffer from a lack of definitive action on energy policy, climate change, and job creation. New nuclear plants can significantly help address these major issues facing our country. Building a new plant not only creates thousands of jobs during construction and hundreds of jobs during the life of the plant it also produces clean energy without greenhouse gases and reduce our dependence on fossil fuel. The key point here is there is dichotomy. Countries with smaller economies than the U.S. adopt long term energy policies and find ways to build new nuclear plants while we continue to look short term in the U.S., focus on upfront capital costs and act tactically, rather than strategically. Now is the time to take advantage of the great opportunity to create thousands of jobs and generate affordable, clean energy.

Danny Roderick: We are still very optimistic about the renaissance. We don’t think it has quite happened everywhere and what we are seeing right now is a great build out in a lot of closed markets. For the renaissance to really take place, what we are looking for are the countries that have open markets where competition is there and where all the companies can compete. That is really going to be the sign of the renaissance. I still see us right now in the U.S. as not having all the real things in place that we need to make an aggressive new build program.

We are still working a lot with our government trying to find ways to kick off and help the utility industry to want to invest this kind of money into new nuclear as well as all of us are improving our processes and fine tuning our pricing and supply chain so that we can accomplish this new build out when it happens. Around the world we are seeing some real promising signs in Europe and in the Asia market, but a lot of those are tied up on government agreements and tied up in closed markets. So we are still very bullish about it, but I still think we are still sitting in a two to five year slump here unless we find a way to somehow help the utilities to want to kick off projects here in the U.S.

John Herron: I think the key area to discuss here is what our ultimate energy policy is going to be for the United States. With the new congress coming on and with President Obama, the question is ‘where is the president going to want to go with nuclear as a clean energy source for our nation?’ Ultimately, nuclear energy is going to become a key policy agenda item. How serious are we about greenhouse gases and whether or not our country is going to take this seriously and look at what options we have in order to be able to deal with that issue?

Now with that being said, natural gas prices are anywhere from $4 to $4.50 per mm/Btu and the significant reserves of shale gas have come up to the point that we are even talking about LNG maybe being an export of instead an import – and issue that we talked about years ago. So when you look at LNG and you look at the economics, I can’t get the numbers to run for Entergy with respect to taking on a new nuclear build right now. It’s all going to boil down to carbon reduction and whether or not energy policy is going to want our country to get ahead and reduce GHG. I know nuclear power is the right way to go. It’s clean energy. It is safe and reliable. It is just the way to go. But you can’t get the new nuclear build numbers to work with natural gas and long-term natural gas looking like it is going to stay at the pricing levels where it is currently.

In respect to energy sources, you always want to have a diverse portfolio across all businesses because you don’t know what is going to happen to natural gas; you don’t know what is going to happen to coal prices; and we don’t know what is going to happen to carbon tax. In regard to the outlook for nuclear over the coming years, I will tell you that there are going to be new builds in the U.S. and it all comes down to demand, load and a diverse portfolio at the utilities. Longer term, we have to watch the direction of policy to see how the nuclear economics are made more favorable by clean energy legislation.

Deva Chari: The main drivers for nuclear expansion, both globally and in North America, have not changed. The global need for energy, and particularly for electricity, will continue to grow, environmental issues and greenhouse gas emissions will continue to be a concern and countries and regions will continue to be concerned about the security of their energy supplies. These factors will continue to make nuclear a viable and critical component of our long-term energy needs. In the near term, however, we expect to see continued slow growth as the world economies continue to recover. This is a global issue, but less of an issue in Asia than in North America and Europe.

Much more HERE

Australia: Failed NSW solar power scheme will burn a hole in every pocket

Households will pay an extra $600 on their electricity bill over six years to cover the $2 billion cost of the failure of the state government's overly generous solar power scheme.

If elected in March, the opposition will have the scheme, which runs to the end of 2016, reviewed by the auditor-general so that it can decide on its future.

From midnight last Wednesday, the government slashed from 60¢ to 20¢ per kilowatt hour the tariff paid to households installing solar panel systems because the surging number of applications has blown out the scheme's cost.

In reports tabled in Parliament last week, the government disclosed that it had been advised that even after slashing the tariff for solar panels, it anticipated 777 megawatts of solar panels would be installed by the time the scheme closed. Already, 200 megawatts of capacity has either been installed or ordered.

The reports detailed the total cost to households is forecast to reach $1975 million by 2017, placing a burden on homes at a time when power prices are rising sharply already.

The government refused to indicate when it first became aware that the initial 50-megawatt target had been breached, which triggered an automatic review of the scheme. The government began that review in August. However, Country Energy, one of the largest distributors in NSW, was informing solar industry officials as early as May that the target had already been reached.

Even so, the government "dithered until August" before holding its review, with the report only completed last week, opposition climate change spokeswoman Catherine Cusack said yesterday. "Labor's billion-dollar blowout will be passed on to families who will pay at least an extra $100 per year on their electricity bills every year until 2017," she said.

The total cost to families in some regional areas could be $1000.

A slump in the price of solar panels, to about $6000 per kilowatt from about $13,000 at the start of the year, prompted a surge in the number of households installing the systems. The price drop resulted in it taking only two years for some systems to pay for themselves, rather than six years. Cutting the tariff to 20¢ - what most households pay for their electricity - is expected to result in fewer orders for new systems.

Industry sources estimate a new system will take 5.4 years to pay for itself with a 20¢ tariff, making it hard to justify installing one. According to the government's figures, a 2.5-kilowatt system would bring a "windfall gain" of $4000 for the installer. The opposition said the total size of the subsidy was $10,000 per installed system.

Jon Dee, NSW Australian of the Year for 2010 and founder of advocacy organisation Do Something!, has added his voice to the condemnation of the government's decision. He has just installed solar panels on his Blue Mountains home and is on a lecture tour advising businesses how they can save money using sustainable initiatives.

"This is typical of our politicians, a knee-jerk reaction," he said. "Initially the tariff was too generous and now they have reduced it too heavily. What we need is a national approach where we look at what tariff will encourage sustainable growth [of the solar industry] and wean the public off … coal-fired power."

The NSW scheme paid existing solar clients 60¢ per kilowatt hour for all energy produced; other states have "net" schemes that pay for surplus power after domestic use is taken off. NSW had the most generous scheme - now the least. Victoria's net scheme pays 60¢ per kilowatt hour, Queensland pays 44¢ and Western Australia pays 40¢.

Mr Dee said a standard national rate would encourage banks to make green loans available. "The government has shown that it is incapable of running green loans schemes but that is the next step so that the average person can afford to get involved," he said.

A spokeswoman for SolarSwitch, one of the largest installers in the state, said: "[Premier Keneally] wanted to slow it down but she has slammed the brakes on and thrown us through the windscreen." She said the tighter margins would encourage consumers to look at cheaper, inferior panels with the risk of them delaminating or the glass turning milky after a few years of use.

The Clean Energy Council said the NSW government had effectively "shut down" the industry by setting the tariff at almost the same rate as the cost of electricity.

The state opposition wants the tariff reviewed. With the election imminent and the government insecure, it may get that opportunity.



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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reply to Bjorn Lomborg

This is a response to "Why Can't We Innovate Our Way To A Carbon-Free Energy Future?", a "Perspective" by Bjorn Lomborg that ran in this space a week ago.

Bjorn Lomborg, author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist" and "Cool It," is right about the need to focus on critical health and economic priorities. But he is wrong about human carbon dioxide emissions causing what is now being called "global climate disruption."

By demonizing the gas of life, in league with Al Gore and Bill Gates, Lomborg commits several serious scientific errors. As independent scientists, with broad training in mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology and geography, we know CO2 is not a pollutant, and the notion of "carbon-free" or "zero-carbon" energy is inherently harmful and anti-scientific.

If nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, helium or any other nontoxic gas is pumped into a chamber containing air and a growing plant, the response is barely measurable. By contrast, if more CO2 is added, the plant and its root system benefit enormously, displaying enhanced growth and more efficient use of available water and nutrients.

Far from having detrimental effects, carbon dioxide has decidedly beneficial impacts on plants, aquatic and terrestrial alike, and a new study connects enhanced plant productivity to greater bird species diversity in China. How, therefore, can anyone conclude that human carbon dioxide is a pollutant that must be eradicated?

These facts erect a formidable barrier for "zero-carbon" advocates. By insisting that no human CO2 should be emitted, they are promoting continued suboptimal growth of food plant species in the face of impending global food shortages — and poorer functioning and less diversity in the global ecosystem.

Zero-carbon activists respond to these facts by asserting that human CO2 emissions cause "dangerous global warming." They are wrong about this, too.

If rising atmospheric CO2 levels drive global temperatures upward, as they insist, why is Earth not suffering from the dangerous "fever" that Al Gore predicted? Instead, after mild warming at the end of the twentieth century, global temperatures have leveled off for the past decade, amid steadily rising carbon dioxide levels.

Lomborg's claim that we need to "cure" so-called "unchecked climate change" is thus fallacious and contradicted by reality. Reducing human CO2 emissions will likely have no measurable cooling effect on planetary temperatures.

His insistence that we prioritize expenditures is spot-on when applied to genuine environmental and societal problems. However, it is irrelevant when the problems are mythical — or devised to advance ideological agendas. Moreover, even if human impacts on the global climate can actually be measured at some future date, humans currently lack the scientific and engineering understanding and capability to deliberately "manage" Earth's constantly changing climate for the better.

Most certain of all, atmospheric carbon dioxide is not the "climate control knob" that anti-hydrocarbon alarmists assert, and it is irresponsible for Lomborg to claim his socio-political agenda will provide a low-cost solution for the global warming "problem."

The scientific reality is that even the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been unable to demonstrate a cause-and-effect scientific connection between rising human CO2 emissions and dangerous warming. To support global limits on CO2 emissions, in the absence of real-world data showing clear cause and effect, is scientific and policy incompetence on the highest order.

Imagine a drug company seeking FDA approval for a new drug, based on an analysis that says simply: "Our supercomputers say the drug is safe and effective. We have no clinical data to support this, but can think of no reason actual results would contradict what our computers predict. Moreover, failure to license the drug will be disastrous for patients suffering from the targeted disease." Failing to demand actual dose-and-response studies, before licensing the drug, would be gross negligence on FDA's part.

Between 2007 and 2009, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions dropped approximately 10%, to their lowest level since 1995, largely because of reduced energy consumption during the recession. Similar CO2 emission reductions occurred in Britain, Germany, France and Japan.

Have their climates gotten better or less dangerous? Are they now a better place, for having a lower intensity carbon energy diet? Have global temperatures been statistically unchanged since 1995 because, or in spite of, Chinese and Indian carbon dioxide emissions increasing far more than the aforementioned countries reduced theirs?

These are practical, not rhetorical questions. As far as we can see, the only direct effect of decreasing CO2 levels via expensive renewable energy programs has been to cost more American and European jobs than would otherwise have been the case during the global economic recession.

The central issue is not whether rising CO2 levels will cause a warmer planet. The fundamental concern is whether globally warmer temperatures are factually worse (or better) for human societies — and more (or less) damaging to the environment — than colder temperatures (like those experienced during the ice ages and Little Ice Age).

Bjorn Lomborg, Al Gore and Bill Gates need to consider the likelihood that, driven by changes in solar activity and ocean circulation, Earth will cool significantly over coming decades. Damaging the global economy with ineffectual carbon dioxide controls, in a futile quest to "stop global warming," looks stupid now. Viewed later, with hindsight, it will be judged outrageously irresponsible.


James Cameron and Google CEO: Questioning Global Warming is “Criminal”

Google CEO Eric Schmidt and film director James Cameron recently concurred that people who question the science of anthropogenic global warming are, in their opinions, “criminal”. The two made the comments during a recent on stage conversation at a private event in Silicon Valley.

“If that continues, business as usual as our leaders in Washington say is OK for us to do, we will have extincted 70% of the species on the planet by the end of the century.” Cameron responded to Schmidt’s line of discussion on global warming.

During the same conversation Schmidt stated, “There are people who in my view criminally doubt some of the science.” “I agree, criminally, I agree with that.” Cameron interjected.

“People, we need to evolve mentally and philosophically to something that has never existed before.” the Avatar director continued. “We need to become techno-indigenous people of an entire Earth, not of a nation, not of a state, but of a planet.”

So, according to these two high priests of the scientific community, if you point out that the warming trend observed predominantly throughout the 1980s and 90s stopped over a decade ago, as admitted recently by both Professor Phil Jones, the figure at the head of the Climategate scandal, as well as one of the most prominent AGW advocate groups in existence, The Royal Society, you should be locked up.

Presumably the two would want to see thousands and thousands of scientists have their rights taken away and their freedoms eliminated, for merely expressing disagreement or dissent with the much lauded, rarely present “consensus”.

After all, questioning hypotheses and presenting counter-evidence and alternative theories has nothing at all to do with science – no no no, that’s the behaviour of morally corrupt criminals.

Cameron is of course, another green celebrity hypocrite. The man owns three large houses in Malibu, totaling 24,000 square feet – ten times the average US home. He also owns a 100 acre ranch in Santa Barbara and numerous private luxuries such as helicopters, Harley motorbikes, super cars, a yacht, and even a fleet of submarines. Nevertheless he demands that we all “live with less” because it is us that are responsible for killing the planet.

Earlier this year, Cameron said he wanted to debate the “deniers”, but then pulled out at the last minute even after the “criminals” agreed to endless dubious stipulations he kept demanding, such as no recording of the debate and no media coverage.

Cameron has also just given $1m to help defeat California’s Prop23 which will overturn the Global Warming Bill, legislation that critics have argued would cause unemployment to sky rocket, effectively killing dead the already crippled economy.

One wonders what punishments Cameron and Schmidt have in mind for global warming denying criminals? Perhaps execution, in line with the recent 10/10 propaganda campaign.


UK Carbon Tax May Force High Tech Companies Abroad

The Green/Left are intent on destroying Britain -- and the advent of a centrist government is doing little to slow that down

It is less public-facing than the hospital and public sectors, and uses less energy than the exempt transport sector – at 6,000MWh/yr -- but when it comes to business and carbon emissions, the data centre industry has received little mention, despite being one of the most affected by recent changes to the UK’s Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC).

The announcement by the UK government last week that rebates would be turned into a fee could put the UK data centre industry at risk, according to some data centre specialists who spoke with our DatacenterDynamics London conference organisers.

The industry has since warned rising energy prices without incentives could send data centre business offshore, where nuclear and renewable power is readily available, and change the face of the industry as we know it.

The UK Government said it was scrapping plans to offer rebates to companies found to hit the top of a league list created under its original plans to highlight businesses that had made large moves towards efficiency.

Instead, the government said it will hold on to the £1bn worth of funds expected to be raised in 2014 and 2015 as part of what is now being called a ‘stealth tax’ by the industry.

Data centre operators will now face a direct tax on energy consumption at £10 to £15 per tonne of CO2 allowances and 1 tonne of CO2 equating to roughly 500kWh of grid electricity (which will raise the price of energy by about 10%), according to reports.

Britain’s data centres produce 2% of the total amount of greenhouse gas emitted in the UK each year – the UK Government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) scheme affects those industries which make up 10% of overall emissions.

UK-based Romonet, which researches energy and cost points within the data centre, told DatacenterDynamics London, which will soon host its annual conference, that the changes could have wide implications for the data centre industry.

Romonet CTO Liam Newcombe said the large collocation and hosting data centre operators would be most affected, having to find a possible additional £500,000 in OPEX costs.“The change in the recycling payments will clearly have a substantial impact on the UK data centre sector,” Newcombe said.

“No longer is CRC simply a complex regulatory burden that will cost a lot of money in compliance and reporting. It is now and expensive tax as well. A medium-sized collocation data centre can expect to add £500,000 to its annual OPEX for the purchase of allowances in addition to the compliance costs.”

For some operators, this could be enough to halt new projects in the UK, and for some businesses, it could lead to a drop off in business, as clients investigate offshore options offering lower energy costs.

“This change to CRC will, in combination with the already high cost of electricity in the UK, cause some operators to build new facilities in other countries instead. This is likely to be particularly true for outsourcers and cloud (computing) providers who are able to deliver services from remote data centres with little overhead,” Newcombe said.

“Instead of leading the development and delivery of new technologies and services that generate service and IP exports, this displacement drives the UK towards being a consumer and importer of such new developments.”

Data centre development company Lockerbie Data Centres is currently working on a 272,000 sq m data centre north of Lockerbie, Scotland, which it says will follow world-class sustainable practices which will incorporate energy-efficient technologies.

Lockerbie Data Centre’s project director David King said he expects the data centre environment will be unsettled for some time following the UK Government’s announcement, but the changes to the CRC could actually be positive for collocation providers.

“It could take a year or more before the data centre industry really knows what it is dealing with in regards to the CRC. One thing we do know is that end users will not be investing in great numbers at this time. The CRC is a cost at the end of the day,” King said.

Further, King notes “I think that UK businesses may be driven now to outsource from the enterprise data centre into a collocation operation or into the wholesale market as they will be forced to go with larger data centres that can be twice as efficient due to scale. Some people, however, will be put off investing in the UK until they fully assess what the financial picture is."

The UK is not immune to criticism regarding energy policy and provision. Last year, representatives from Digital Britain told DatacenterDynamics that data centres in the country already struggled when it came to acquiring physical connections and installing cables, switches and transformers to the regional grid. A Digital Britain report also showed that data centres had issues accessing distribution and generation capacity across the grid. The report said that the South East of England and London – the UK’s financial hub which houses data centre reliant on low-latency connections for financial trading – pose particular challenges that jeopardize the UK’s standing against the world’s more accessible data centre markets.

According to Thomson Reuters Global Head of Energy & Sustainable Technology, Content, Technology & Operations Harkeeret Singh, who will be speaking at DatacenterDynamic’s London On November 9th, the uncertainty surrounding last week’s announcement could be enough to cause a blow for the industry.

“The initial cost and the uncertainty are not a good mix for those considering placing data centres in the UK, especially if another country is a bit more stable in its energy and tax options,” Singh said.


Don't Mention The La Nina

David Whitehouse

Regular observers of the climate scene will know it’s that time of year again. The end of the year is in sight and with it another annual global data point to add to the others to see if the world is warming, or if it is not.

It’s always unwise to speculate too much on data that hasn’t yet been measured, as unwise as it is to count chickens, but even though it’s been quite an interesting year temperature wise (heat waves in Eastern Europe, droughts and fires in Moscow), it does however not appear to be anything unusual. It will probably be like all the other years since 2001, no change and statistically identical to each other. But that’s only an impression; we still have two months to go.

But caution about data that hasn’t been collected yet is not shared by all, and those unwise enough to make predictions earlier this year are having to go back on them. Unless that is such predictions were statements of the obvious.

The dominant factor in this year’s annual temperature has been the strong warming El Nino event in the early part of the year and the transition to cooling La Nina event in the latter part of the year. Specifically the most recent El Nino began around June 2009, peaked in Jan/Feb 2010 and continued to about May/June 2010.

Since we live in the warmest decade of the past few hundred years, and the global average temperature hasn’t increased in a decade, then an El Nino event occurring in the past year is likely to elevate temperatures to almost record levels (depending on whether it exceeds the 1998 strong El Nino event.) So it is hardly surprising that statistics compiled by Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies showed the period between October 2009 and September 2010 was the warmest ever, according to their GISS database at least.

This record temperature says nothing about anthropogenic global warming, but that hasn’t stopped some distorting the science and claiming, directly and indirectly, that it has.

Vicky Pope, head of climate science advice for the Met Office told the British media, “The high temperatures this year are a clear symptom of a long-term increase in global temperatures, probably caused by greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.”

2010 the hottest?

Despite fears (or hopes) to the contrary, according to James Hansen, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), 2010 may not wind up being the hottest year in the modern temperature record after all. Hansen has said recently that the onset and intensification of La Nina conditions in the Pacific Ocean have cooled global average surface temperatures, and despite the record heat in the first eight months of the year, 2010 may wind up either tied with or behind 2005, currently the warmest year in the GISS analysis.

Even that might not be clear-cut. Other climate research institutions that keep temperature records, such as the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) look as if they will see this year differently. For example, in the GISS analysis, June-July-August 2010 was the fourth warmest on record, but according to NOAA's methods it was the second warmest.

What this all boils down to is that 2010 is not going to be an exceptional year when compared to the past decade. Hansen: “It is likely that the 2005 and 2010 calendar year means will turn out to be sufficiently close that it will be difficult to say which year was warmer, and results of our analysis may differ from those of other groups.” (Later statements by Hansen suggested that 2010 might actually be cooler than 2009, although not statistically significantly so!)

This is perfectly reasonable, but then Hansen correctly states the obvious about the recent El Nino leaving the clear implication in the reader’s mind that mankind has something to do with the temperature record, “What is clear, though, is that the warmest 12-month period in the GISS analysis was reached in mid-2010.”

According to Hansen, the calendar year temperature ranking is not as relevant to monitoring long-term global climate change as the 12-month running mean -- which did hit a record high this year. This is an extreme example of cherry picking as choosing a running mean that covers an El Nino will give a false elevation in temperature. By contrast there is something to be said about calendar year averages if they (admittedly crudely) even out the El Ninos and the La Ninas.

Perhaps the long awaited record will come next year, or the year after that. The plain fact is that if the global warming theories are correct the world’s annual average temperature will have to start increasing soon. Because of the La Nina (which seems of moderate strength) we are experiencing, and which will stretch into next year; Hansen suggests that 2012 currently looks like a record year, err possibly. “It is likely that 2012 will reach a record high global temperature… the principal caveat is that the duration of the current La Nina could stretch an extra year, as some prior La Ninas have.” ...or maybe not

But what a difference a La Nina makes. Back in March it was a different story. Hansen said that his draft analysis predicted that 2010 will likely set a new global temperature record, as well as being “virtually certain” that a new 12-month running mean global temperature record would occur sometime in year. Making the record running mean prediction in March was, frankly, a no-brainer.

We will have to wait and see where 2010 comes in the ranking of recent warm years. But even if it is a record (doubtful) it will still not be evidence of warming as it is just one datapoint and one would expect, if the temperature was constant, a spread above and below the mean. So it will take several years of an upward trend to be sure the temperature is rising.

There will no doubt be some comment between now and when the temperature figures for 2010 are released, particularly from those awaiting the further warming of the world among them those who will strain the significance of an additional datapoint if it does. But already some scientists have mislead the public about the interaction between an El Nino and a running mean.


Deleted emails? Contradictory statements from the UEA

Did Jones Delete Emails? It turns out that Muir Russell didn’t bother asking, since that would have exposed Jones to potential liability.

But in a surprising new turn of events, it seems that VC Acton sort-of did what Muir Russell was supposed to do – ask Jones whether he had deleted emails. The Guardian reportsActon’s testimony as follows:

Prof Phil Jones told the University of East Anglia’s boss that he did not delete any of the emails that were released from the university last November, despite apparently saying he would in one of those emails.

In the narrowest sense, the very existence of the Climategate emails seems to show that, whatever Jones may or may not have attempted to do, he had not deleted the emails that survived on the back up server.

But, needless to say, you have to watch the pea under the thimble as there is more to the story than this, as I found out last spring.

Jones’ delete-all-emails request was directed particularly at the Wahl-Briffa exchange about IPCC in summer 2006. (In a related emails, Jones said that Briffa should deny the existence of such correspondence to the UEA administration – something that was never investigated as misconduct.)

Wahl’s insertions in the IPCC report – the unilateral changes in assessment that do not appear to have had any third party oversight other than Briffa’s – were made in attachments to his emails to Briffa.

Last spring, I sent an FOI request to the University of East Anglia for the attachments to the Wahl emails that would show precisely what Wahl had inserted. These, of course, are precisely the sort of thing that Muir Russell panel was obligated to examine but didn’t bother.

Contrary to claims by Jones and Acton that nothing had been deleted, the University refused the FOI request on the basis that the attachments had been deleted, that they no longer possessed the attachments to the emails

Acton tells the Sci Tech Committee that nothing has been deleted, but when asked for the documents that Jones specifically asked to be deleted, the university refuses the FOI request on the basis that they no longer have the documents.

Needless to say, Muir Russell didn’t bother trying to figure out what was going on.


Heresy And The Creation Of Monsters

Judith Curry

I’m having another “Alice down the rabbit hole” moment, in response to the Scientific American article, the explication of the article by its author Michael Lemonick, Scientific American’s survey on whether I am a dupe or a peacemaker, and the numerous discussions in blogosphere. My first such moment was in 2005 in response to the media attention associated with the hurricane wars, which was described in a Q&A with Keith Kloor at collide-a-scape. While I really want to make this blog about the science and not about personalities (and especially not about me), this article deserves a response.

The title of the article itself is rather astonishing. The Wikipedia defines heresy as: “Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma.” The definition of dogma is “Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization: it is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from.” Use of the word “heretic” by Lemonick implies general acceptance by the “insiders” of the IPCC as dogma. If the IPCC is dogma, then count me in as a heretic. The story should not be about me, but about how and why the IPCC became dogma.

And what exactly is the nature of my challenges to the dogma? Lemonick made the following statement: “What I found out is that when [Curry] does raise valid points, they’re often points the climate-science community already agrees with — and many climate scientists are scratching their heads at the implication that she’s uncovered some dark secret.”

This statement implies that I am saying nothing new, nothing that climate scientists don’t already know. Well that is mostly true (an exception being my recent blog series on uncertainty); I am mostly saying things that are blindingly obvious to everyone. Sort of like in the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” A colleague of mine at Georgia Tech, a Chair from a different department, said something like this: “I’ve been reading the media stories on the Georgia Tech Daily News Buzz that mention your statements. Your statements seem really sensible. But what I don’t understand is why such statements are regarded as news?”

Well that is a question that deserves an answer. I lack the hubris to think that my statements should have any public importance. The fact that they seem to be of some importance says a lot more about the culture of climate science and its perception by the public, than it says about me.



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 are mirrors of this site here and here


Friday, October 29, 2010

Gore: Do as I say, not as I do

Sheer arrogance and elitism

Recently, Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore toured again. Or maybe he does that all the time. This time, he turned up in Gothenburg (Sweden) for the usual alarmist talk. In advance, all distinguished guests were politely advised to – if possible – use any form of public transportation to go to the event, in order to minimize CO2 emissions.

Intriguingly, the Master of World Climate himself arrived in a rental car (with or without driver is unclear), from the airport, and subsequently left the engine running for the entire lecture. That is to say, about one hour. Incidentally, local legislation prohibits – for very good environmental reasons, i e pollution – any car engine running on empty for more than 60 seconds. Fines are severe. As far as I know, he was not fined.

It starts to form a pattern.

After the ceremony in the Norwegian capital Oslo, it is customary that the laureate is invited to the Swedish capital Stockholm, for a cordial visit. The train ride, supposedly the environmental choice according to Mr. Gore, is approximately four hours. However, he opted for the cosier ride with one of the Swedish government aircraft. As these can, according to the rules, only be used when a cabinet member is on board – and as the Swedish government after a short ceremonial visit – offered to fly him to Frankfurt (Germany) for his flight to the US, you can calculate both the manpower and the fuel used for this grand tour against man's destruction of the planet.

Stupidity and hypocrisy – as well as vanity – are, like it or not common human traits. I admit to some of them occasionally, but I don't demand taxpayers to finance my stupid talks


Energy Claims and Realities

Pennsylvania is lucky. Even amid this prolonged recession and depressingly high unemployment (9.5% in PA), families and businesses in the Keystone State are still paying just 9.4 cents a kilowatt hour for electricity.

That’s due in large part to the fact that Pennsylvania gets 53% of its electricity from coal. A lot of people vilify that black rock. But just think how much easier it is to cool our homes and cook our food at this price – or operate a factory, farm, office, store, hospital, school, church … or government agency.

Of course, 9.4 cents per kilowatt hour might seem like a lot to pay, compared to Indiana (where people pay only 7.1 cents), Kentucky (where electricity costs just 6.3 cents), or West Virginia (where it’s a rock-bottom 5.6 cents a kWh).

But just think how much harder all that would be if we lived in California, which generates just 1% of its electricity with coal, and people pay 13 cents per kWh; in Rhode Island, which gets no electricity from coal, and they shell out 16 cents a kWh; or just across the Delaware River in New Jersey, where families and businesses have to cough up 14.9 cents per kWh, largely because the state uses coal to produce just 15% of its job-creating electricity.

California already has its own cap-tax-and-trade global warming law, renewable energy mandates that get tougher and costlier every year, and programs that spend billions of taxpayer dollars subsidizing major wind and solar energy initiatives. The once-Golden State also has the second highest unemployment rate in America (12.4%), a budget deficit of almost $20 billion, and some $500 billion in unfunded pension liabilities for government workers! It ranks 49th out of 50 among states for “business friendliness.”

Its burdensome rules are justified by assertions that they prevent climate change caused by rising CO2 levels. I’m no scientist, but thousands of scientists disagree. Last year’s leaked emails by top US and British alarmist researchers show that the science of global warming has become politicized to the point that scientists who disagree, or remain unconvinced, are condemned as heretics – and alarmists are actually manipulating thermometer data and computer models to get the “climate crisis” results they want. That is dishonest and wrong.

Moreover, even California’s total contribution to the planet’s carbon dioxide levels is tiny. Pennsylvania’s is smaller still. Even if the Golden State or Keystone State totally eliminated its CO2 emissions, China’s and India’s emissions would completely replace those painful, job-killing reductions in just a few months.

According to some climate experts, even if the entire United States cut its CO2 emissions by 83% by 2050, as required by pending congressional legislation – that would, at most, reduce global temperature increases by a mere 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century.

Worse, that 83% reduction would send CO2 emissions all the way back to 1910 levels (1870 levels, if you consider population and technology changes since 1900). So we’re talking about truly painful cutbacks, and real pain at the pump, electric meter and bank account.

California’s actions are already forcing companies to lay off workers. A federal law would do the same on a national scale. Millions of workers would lose their jobs, as energy prices skyrocketed and we are forced to switch from fossil fuels that provide 85% of our energy, and replace them with expensive wind and solar power that requires huge subsidies, works only 30% of the time, on average, and currently provides just 1% of America’s energy.

Does anyone honestly think we can cap-tax-and-trade, regulate, litigate and otherwise penalize oil, natural gas and coal use – and not cause serious, even massive, harm to Pennsylvania’s economy? To the economies of the other 26 states that rely on coal for 47-98% of the electricity that generates their jobs, opportunities, prosperity and modern living standards?

States like Arkansas (47%), Colorado (65%), Illinois (48%), Indiana (95%), Kentucky (94%), Missouri (81%), North Dakota (91%), Ohio (85%), West Virginia (98%) and Wisconsin (66%), to name just a few. Penalizing coal use would cost millions of American jobs, and increase families’ energy and overall cost-of-living by thousands of dollars a year, according to studies by the Brookings Institute, Heritage Foundation, Congressional Budget Office and other analysts.

As a theologian and former pastor, I embrace God’s command to be wise stewards of His creation, to care for the Earth and our fellow human beings. We are not to waste the resources with which He has blessed us, but we are to use them for our benefit.

We are also supposed to prevent or solve environmental problems. However, we are given the wisdom to make sure the problems are real, serious and imminent, before we spend billions trying to solve them – and before we create new problems that impact the environment in new ways and hurt families still more.

Increasing energy, food and transportation costs, and sending millions into unemployment lines, in the middle of a recession, is certainly an example of creating new problems. So is installing thousands of wind turbines that cover millions of acres, require vast raw materials and kill thousands of birds, to produce electricity that is too expensive and unreliable to power modern factories, shops, homes, hospitals, schools and cities.

We need to think this through very carefully, before we enact costly policies that threaten to do much more harm than good.


French academy admits to uncertainty in global warming predictions

In the small print

Global warming exists and is unquestionably due to human activity, the French Academy of Science has said in a report written by 120 scientists from France and abroad.

"Several independent indicators show an increase in global warming from 1975 to 2003. This increase is mainly due to the increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide," the academy said in conclusion to the report.

"The increase in carbon dioxide, and to a lesser degree other greenhouse gases, is unquestionably due to human activity," said the report, adopted unanimously by academy members and published on Thursday.

The report contradicts France's former education minister Claude Allegre, a geochemist, who published a book, The Climatic Deception, which claimed carbon dioxide was not linked to climate change.

The report was commissioned in April by Minister for Research Valerie Pecresse in response to hundreds of environmental scientists who complained that Allegre, in particular, was disparaging their work.

Allegre is a member of the Academy of Sciences and also signed off on the report. "He has the right to evolve," the academy's president Jean Salencon said. Pecresse said: "The debate is over."

But Allegre told AFP the document was a compromise and "I have not evolved, I still say the same thing, that the exact role of carbon dioxide in the environment has not been shown.

"Of course it's a compromise, but it's a satisfactory compromise because what I defend - that is, the uncertainty in our knowledge about climate change - is explicitly mentioned; the word uncertainty appears 12 times."

In his book, Allegre questioned the work of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and criticised worldwide mobilisation around "a myth without foundation".

He disagreed with linking climate change and an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and said clouds or solar activity had more of an influence.

The IPCC, established to sift through scientific research and produce the most authoritative report possible on climate change for world leaders, has been hit by a raft of criticisms and the UN has said it needs a major overhaul.

Glaring errors were revealed in the panel's landmark 2007 Fourth Assessment Report - notably that Himalayan glaciers which provide water to a billion people in Asia could be lost by 2035, a claim traced to a magazine article.

The Academy's report said: "Solar activity, which has dropped slightly on average since 1975, cannot be dominant in warming observed during this period" even if the mechanisms involved "are not yet well understood".

"Major uncertainties remain on how to model clouds, the evolution of marine ice and the polar caps, the connection between the oceans and the atmosphere, the biosphere's evolution and the carbon cycle," the report said.

Allegre wrote that it was impossible to predict the climate's long-term evolution, but the Academy said: "Climate evolution predictions of 30 to 50 years are little affected by uncertainties on modelling slow evolution processes." "These predictions are particularly useful in responding to society's current concerns, worsened by the predictable population growth."

The IPCC's deputy head, Frenchman Jean Jouzel, welcomed the report. "Even if in this text lots of space is given to the arguments put forward by climate change sceptics, I note that the document clearly reaffirms the IPCC's broad conclusions," he told AFP. "Clearly sceptics will find some things to make their case. It says that not all is clear about the sun's role. The debate is never over."

The report was the result of written contributions as well as closed-door discussions held at the Academy on September 20 and subsequent exchanges, the Academy said.


Avatar director dramatic about climate too

Amusing that he sees children as more easily convinced of the need for panic. His beliefs are certainly at a childish intellectual level. He recently backed away from a debate with a knowledgeable adult

Cameron plans to make TV and cinema documentaries about climate change.

Cameron said a two-degree temperature change in the world's oceans "will take out all the coral reefs. Sixty percent of species could be extinct in this century with climate change," he added.

"It's highly unlikely there will be [a carbon] cap and trade [law] in the next six years, so we have six more years of inaction on putting a price on carbon emissions, and that’s a fundamental problem," said Schmidt who serves on a panel of science and technology advisors to U.S. President Obama.

"All the modeling says even with the current modest reductions we are nowhere near the needed 60-70 percent reductions in carbon emissions" to halt climate change, Schmidt said. "In my view is its going to take some kind of event and a conversation among leaders [to motivate policy change], and I don’t think it will happen soon," he added.

"It's probably the toughest challenge the human race has ever faced," said Cameron whose blockbuster movie was in part a statement about the need for greater environmental awareness. "I believe ultimately this has to be approached as a children's crusade," he said.


Biofuels; a growing evil

By Jeremy Warner

Last week I attended the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s “global financial leadership” conference in Florida – I know, it was a rough old assignment, but someone’s got to do it – in which Ian Goldin, a former vice president of the World Bank and now director of Oxford University’s Martin School, lambasted the subsidies being doled out in America and Europe for the production of biofuels as “economically illiterate, environmentally destructive, politically shortsighted and ideologically unsound”. It was a nice soundbite, but it also happens to be true.

I know that “food versus fuel” is now a relatively well weathered if quite low key debate (take a look at a recent OECD and UN Food and Agriculture Commission Report for a fuller analysis), but I suspect we are going to hear a lot more about it over the next year as growing emerging market demand pushes global food prices ever higher.

The point about biofuels, which wouldn’t exist at all without massive taxpayer funded subsidies, is that by displacing agricultural land that would otherwise be used for food production, they greatly add to the pressures.

It’s reckoned that America and Europe alone are currently providing about $12bn annually in “incentives” to produce biofuels, a level of subsidy which would have to double again to meet the sort of targets governments have set for this supposedly secure and “clean” source of fuel.

I’ve written a column about all this for the Thursday edition of the Daily Telegraph, my excuse being that it’s not just subsidies for biofuels with are driving commodity prices higher right now – the Fed’s policies of ultra-cheap money, put in place to address the economic crisis, are just as damaging. They further encourage the dash to speculative investment in commodities. It may not matter too much to Americans if food prices double, but if like the bulk of the world’s population you are subsisting, it can quite literally be the difference between life and death.

My point is that when governments go looking for solutions to problems, they frequently end up creating new ones. Biofuels, which cost a bomb, are sending food prices through the roof, and far from benefiting the environment seem to damage it even further, are a case in point.


Australia: Disastrous Green energy policies in NSW

YET again, the Australian Labor Party is demonstrating that, when it comes to effective policy on green energy, it resembles the benighted fellow who, in a version of the vernacular, couldn't organise himself service in a house of ill repute with a fistful of $50 notes.

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally's pratfall on solar photovoltaic subsidies may be added to the Rudd government's failures on household insulation, green loans, encouraging wind farm development through the renewable energy scheme (because it allowed it to be glutted with solar subsidies) and then the abandonment of the emissions trading scheme.

The Greens, the environmental movement and their fellow travellers do not come out of the NSW fiasco with much credit, either.

Confronted with the NSW government's decision to slash the subsidy for residential rooftop solar systems by two-thirds, state Greens MP John Kaye has cheerfully, and shamelessly, said that his party would settle for a tariff scheme that was half the value of the initial program. So he, and it, knew the original arrangements were well over the top.

The Clean Energy Council also is now happy to settle for a 45c a kilowatt hour feed-in tariff where it welcomed the initial 60c scheme as an example for the rest of the country.

Most of the mud, however, rightly must stick to Keneally and her government, notwithstanding a spin 101 media statement in which she lauded the "solar bonus scheme" as "an incredible success" on one hand and knifed it with the other, acknowledging that the "most generous scheme in Australia" at its original level would whack residential customers, already faced with their bills doubling for other reasons, with an extra $2.5 billion in costs over five years if allowed to continue.

The "generous" initial tariff enabled NSW householders swooping on the opportunity to earn 60c a kilowatt hour compared with 45.7c in the next-best program in the ACT.

As Keneally's media statement indicates, the amended NSW scheme will still sting the state's residential customers for $1.5bn over and above other higher charges by 2016.

There is no acknowledgment in Keneally's retreat that her government had created greenhouse gas abatement costing $640 a tonne under the initial scheme, according to the National Generators Forum, compared with $15 a tonne for the state's longstanding greenhouse gas reduction scheme aimed at other areas of supply and consumption.

Her government is not the first to cut and run from populist rooftop solar programs.

As the government's own review committee reports, Spain managed to bring on an almost seven-fold increase in orders for the PV systems in one year by its too-generous arrangements and then had to slash feed-in tariffs 30 per cent and impose a cap on the annual volume of installations to under one-fifth of the level they hit in 2008-09.

What made the NSW scheme so attractive to householders who were fast on their feet, and now have gold-plated subsidies locked in until the middle of the decade, was that a combination of the far too high feed-in tariff, a reduction in solar installation costs and the impact of a higher Australian dollar delivered them a pay-back period for their investment of less than three years, compared with the government's intention of 10 years.

The report indicates that the fast-footed 50,000 who got in before Keneally stopped the initial program will get a bonus of $4000 in net present value terms on their investment. Nice work, that.

The bad news for the rest of NSW's residential consumers is that the additional costs of the Keneally scheme will not show up on their bills until July next year. By then, in the view of most political analysts, her government will have been swept away in the March state election.

Her taskforce has estimated that NSW electricity consumers, including business users, collectively representing one-third of all the power account holders in the country, will get a regulator-approved rise of 11 per cent next July and another 8 per cent in July 2012, mostly as a result of much higher network costs - before the solar support bill is taken into account and before, of course, any carbon tax that the Gillard government may have put in place by then.

For the Nature Conservation Foundation of NSW, reacting to Keneally's announcement, there is no doubt where this leaves the state's consumers: "back in the dark ages of over-reliance on coal", it declaims.

I suspect they actually would be quite pleased to be back in the so-called dark ages of paying $130 a megawatt hour for their household electricity instead of the $195 that the charge has now reached, and the $250 to $300 that it is suggested the power bills will bear by 2015.

Meanwhile, it bears reporting that in the years that NSW was governed by Bob Carr, Morris Iemma and Nathan Rees - the available industry data covers only the period to mid-2009 at present - the state's government-owned power plants increased their consumption of black coal from 21 million tonnes a year to almost 30 million tonnes annually.

Not so much the premier state as the watermelon state: green on the outside, but red on the inside from burning coal.



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 are mirrors of this site here and here


Thursday, October 28, 2010

British climate sceptics launch campaign to overturn green targets

Climate sceptics, including a number of high profileTory backbenchers, are launching a campaign to overturn the Coalition's green targets. Climate Sense, a loose affiliation of `climate sceptic groups', are calling for the Climate Act, that commits the UK to cutting greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050 to be repealed.

Philip Foster, a retired Church of England Reverend who is leading the campaign, said the legislation will cost taxpayers œ480bn over the next 40 years because of the cost of new technologies like wind farms.

He said Tory backbenchers John Redwood, David Davies and Christopher Chope have agreed to attend the launch of `Climate Fools Day' in the House of Commons. Labour MP Graham Stringer, who is a member of the Science and Technology Committee, also supports the campaign. Johnny Ball the television presenter is expected to attend the launch.

"There is no evidence that human input has anything to do with global temperatures," Rev Foster said. "Therefore we should not be wasting any money on climate change through things like this legislation."

The group, made up of Copenhagen Climate Challenge, Weather Action and the Campaign Against Carbon Capitalism, have also written a letter to the Prince of Wales on behalf of climate sceptics. It asks the Prince, who has accused sceptics of "peddling pseudo science", to prove climate change is happening and is signed by 166 scientists including David Bellamy.

However Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, said the group misunderstood the point of science, which is to disprove theories.

He said the UK legislation was overwhelmingly backed by Parliament and is leading the world. "Nobody thinks climate change is not a problem. The discussion has moved on to what is the best way of tackling the problem and making a transition to low carbon growth," he said. "These guys are a remnant group of dinosaurs trying to argue something while frankly the public and political debate has moved on."

The ten challenges sceptics have asked 'supporters of the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused climate change' to prove:

1. Variations in global climate in the last hundred years are significantly outside the natural range experienced in previous centuries.

2. Humanity's emissions of carbon dioxide and other `greenhouse gases' (GHG) are having a dangerous impact on global climate.

3. Computer-based models can meaningfully replicate the impact of all of the natural factors that may significantly influence climate.

4. Sea levels are rising dangerously at a rate that has accelerated with increasing human GHG emissions, thereby threatening small islands and coastal communities.

5. The incidences of malaria and other infectious diseases are now increasing due to recent climate changes;

6. Human society and natural ecosystems cannot adapt to foreseeable climate change as they have done in the past.

7. Worldwide glacier retreat, and sea ice melting in polar regions, is unusual and related to increases in human GHG emissions.

8. Polar bears and other Arctic and Antarctic wildlife are unable to adapt to anticipated local climate change effects, independent of the causes of those changes.

9. Hurricanes, other tropical cyclones and associated extreme weather events are increasing in severity and frequency.

10. Data recorded by ground-based stations are a reliable indicator of global surface temperature trends.


If the temperature doesn't go up, crooked Warmist "scientists" will "ADJUST" it up

Caught red-handed by amateur checker

Western Australia (WA) covers 2.5 million square kilometers (1 million square miles, about a third as big as the USA). The average of all WA stations over one month last year was adjusted up by as much as a gobsmacking 0.5 degrees due to a database "bug" - which contributed to August 2009 being the hottest August on record?! That's one heck of a bug!

Could it get worse? Unbelievably, GISS seems to have lost data for key WA locations that an unpaid volunteer found easily in the BoM online records. GISS only has to maintain copies of records for sixteen stations in WA* which have temperatures current to 2010, but in seven of them they are missing data, and it affects the results. Are they random errors? No, shock me, six errors are upwards: in one case making the spring 2009 average temperatures for Kalgoorlie-Boulder 1.1 C degrees warmer!

But with no-one auditing our BoM or NASA's GISS, and no team jointly receiving raw data or regulating standards in either agency, temperatures recorded in the field could potentially be listed in official records as being quite different, and who would know? It's left up to volunteers like Chris Gillham [see below], a freelance journalist and web designer in Perth, to run a sharp eye over the data. Chris has been tracking WA data for the last two years and his site, Average Temperature Trends Across Western Australia, has methodically, neatly exposed some major flaws.

Just how much can we trust any of the pronouncements coming out, and how significant are any of the "records", even if the adjustments are fair, unbiased and justified? The whole database is surely not "high quality" when bugs of that magnitude are running rampant and data goes missing that professionals can't find, but people who are not "paid to find warming" dig up without much trouble.

New questions about reliability of GISS and BoM data
Guest Post by Chris Gillham

Fresh doubts have emerged about the reliability of temperatures within the Goddard Institute of Space Studies Surface Temperature Analysis database with revelations that missing data errors have appeared for various months in the 2009 records of Australian locations, even though the correct mean temperatures are available from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).

In turn, the BoM data itself has seen adjustments that might leave researchers wondering about claims that Australia has suffered record high temperatures over the past 12 months.

A BoM database bug: Oops, half a degree?

On September 1 last year, the BoM posted mean min and max temperatures on its website for the month of August 2009 at all its recording stations in Western Australia (2.5 million square kilometres).

However, on November 17 the mean temperatures for all WA recording stations were adjusted upward by as much as .5 C for August 2009.

When questioned about the adjustments, the BoM confirmed it had suffered a database bug and the upward shift was a consequent correction for August 2009, which the bureau says was the hottest August ever recorded in Australia.

GISS is "missing"data

The GISS database shows that in the following month, September 2009, there is missing data (999.9) at three Western Australia recording stations: Esperance | Kalgoorlie-Boulder | Perth Airport

Despite the missing September data and as is evident in their tables, GISS has calculated the Spring (S-O-N) mean temperatures at those three locations as 17.5 C, 20.5 C and 17.7 C respectively.

Trouble is, the data isn't "missing". A quick search of the BoM website reveals the September 2009 mean temperatures were:

13.2 C at Esperance

13.9 C at Kalgoorlie-Boulder

13.9 C at Perth Airport

This in turn means the Spring mean temperatures were actually 16.6 C at Esperance (not 17.5 C), 19.4 C at Kalgoorlie-Boulder (not 20.5 C) and 17.2 at Perth Airport (not 17.7 C).

The GISS database records for Eucla show missing data for December 2009, but the BoM records once again are available and show the mean temperature was in fact 21.6 during that month. The GISS has calculated the Summer 2009/10 (D-J-F) mean at Eucla as 22.8 C, but with the accurate BoM December data included it turns out to be 22.7 C.

Based on evidence available from the GISS and the BoM websites, it appears several WA locations with records current to 2010 have small to significant upward data adjustments.

Wait, there's more!

I've detailed the BoM bug adjustments and the GISS missing data adjustments.

While researching the GISS adjustments, I noticed yet another odd data shift that left me wondering about the reliability of temperature recordings. I had listed the 2009 monthly mean temperatures on October 4, 2010, for Kalgoorlie-Boulder, but when I returned to the GISS website database the following day, October 5, I found that every month in 2009 for that location had been shifted up by .1 C.

This means the newly adjusted GISS record shows Kalgoorlie-Boulder's average mean for Spring 2009 was 20.6C, not 20.5 C anymore, so this historic mining town's seasonal temperature record is now 1.2 degrees higher than the reality of the BoM records.

These inexplicable adjustments to domestic and international datasets raise questions about the reliability of record temperatures reported in Australia over the past year and the reliability of official records used by researchers to try to accurately gauge temperature trends.


Today's Climate Horoscope - from MIT

I've just read the latest climate horoscope at the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung website, which delivers them almost daily.

The latest one comes from the fortune tellers and scryers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, led by psychic Paul O'Gorman, now available at the PNAS here.

The latest horoscope foretells that (later) in the 21st century, summers will be stickier and grittier, and winters will be stormier - this according to visions and images delivered by crystal balls and gazings into MIT scrying pools.

Apparently MIT diviners made contact with the spirits of 1981 to 2000, so writes the HAZ, and felt the unsettling vibes of mystic energy of atmospheres past, and the energy intensity of past climatological storms. MIT's assortment of sophisticated scrying instruments, made of silicone and crystal, all delivered similar predictions for the 21st century - forebodings all confirmed by their climate tarot punch cards. The bad vibrations and ill spirits foretell one thing only: doom!

The 21st century

The northern hemispheric middle latitudes will be haunted by severe meteorological storms between the autumn and spring equinoxes, becoming especially intense before and after the winter solstices.

"I see storms and doom!"

For periods surrounding the summer solstices, crushing doldrums will beset northern middle latitude regions. Stagnate atmospheres will cause pollutants, and the evil spirits they harbor, to accumulate in ever higher concentrations above cities, bringing misery to non-believers.

Be forewarned! The degree of misery about to haunt the middle latitudes in the end will depend on the amount of ice surrounding the magnetic North Pole at the fall equinoxes.

The southern hemisphere will be visited by other misfortune, so say the MIT instruments of clairvoyance, and the diviners who gaze into them. There, ruthless storms will occur year-round, from solstice to solstice, from equinox to equinox.

Careful though, as other celestial alignments may impact the fortune tellers' predictions. These predictions may change as they depend on what parts of the atmosphere are heavily impacted. If the earthly layer of the atmosphere energizes, then other currents and eddies come into play.

In the northern hemisphere, however, the heavenly layers of the atmosphere shall warm, and this will act to calm the air mass energy.

Come back tomorrow for more predictions!


In Obama's Chicago, stimulus weatherization money buys shoddy work, widespread fraud

Projects to weatherize homes are a key part of the Obama administration's fusion of stimulus spending and the green agenda. But a new report by the Department of Energy has found serious problems in stimulus-funded weatherization work -- problems so severe that they have resulted in homes that are not only not more energy efficient but are actually dangerous for people to live in.

The study, by the Department's inspector general, examined the work of what's called the Weatherization Assistance Program, or WAP, in Illinois. Last year, the Department awarded Illinois $242 million, which was expected to pay for the weatherization of 27,000 homes. Specifically, Energy Department inspectors took a close look at the troubled operations of the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, known as CEDA, which is the largest recipient of weatherization money in Illinois with $91 million to weatherize 12,500 homes. (Cook County is, of course, home to Chicago.)

The findings are grim. "Our testing revealed substandard performance in weatherization workmanship, initial assessments, and contractor billing," the inspector general report says. "These problems were of such significance that they put the integrity of the entire program at risk."

Department inspectors visited 15 homes that were being weatherized by CEDA and paid for by stimulus funds. "We found that 14 of the 15 homes.failed final inspection because of poor workmanship and/or inadequate initial assessments," the report says. In eight of the homes, CEDA had come up with unworkable and ineffective plans -- like putting attic insulation in a house with a leaky roof. In ten of the homes, "contractors billed for labor charges that had not been incurred and for materials that had not been installed." The report calls billing problems "pervasive," with seven of ten contractors being cited for erroneous invoicing. And the department found "a 62 percent final inspection error rate" when CEDA inspectors reviewed their own work.

The work was not just wasteful; it was dangerous. Department inspectors found "heat barriers around chimneys that had not been installed, causing fire hazards." They found "a furnace [that] had not been vented properly." The found "a shut-off valve that had not been installed on a gas stove." And they found "carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers had not been installed as planned."

And then there was fraud. At ten of the 15 homes visited, Department inspectors found examples in which "a contractor had installed a 125,000 BTU boiler, but had billed CEDA for a 200,000 BTU boiler costing an estimated $1,000. more." Another contractor "billed for almost four times the amount of drywall actually installed." And another "installed 12 light bulbs but had billed CEDA for 20." (The Department found that CEDA paid almost three times the retail price for each light bulb.) "Billing issues appeared to be pervasive," the report concludes.

The report is in the hands of Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, who has been pushing hard for more accountability in the spending of stimulus money. Grassley has complained about this specific program before, and is not happy with the new assessment. "I am concerned that the Department of Energy and state WAPs are failing to prevent fraud, waste and abuse in the massive amounts of taxpayers dollars spent on weatherization projects," Grassley writes in a new letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. After Grassley earlier expressed concerns about weatherization, the Department assured him that the program had "turned the corner" and "made great strides" in cleaning up its operations. "In light of this report, it is clear that the Department's efforts have been inadequate," Grassley writes.


In Britain, energy firm set to shelve gas storage plans unless government helps

Centrica has effectively shelved its £1.5bn plan to build two gas storage facilities in the North Sea and Irish Sea unless the Government finds a way to subsidise the proposal.

The energy company would have increased Britain's storage capacity by a third, with the proposed Baird project containing 1.7bn cubic metres of gas and the smaller Bains project in the east Irish Sea holding 570m cubic metres.

However, sources described the economic climate as "extremely challenging".A final investment decision is due to be taken early next year, but it is understood that under the current circumstances, the projects would not be sanctioned.

Partly because of the rising availability of gas in shippable liquid form and a glut of supplies on the world market, the spread between winter and summer gas prices has narrowed. This is currently at 10p, when companies need a price of more like 25p to make the projects economically viable.

One of the Coalition's key aims is to increase Britain's gas security as the country becomes increasingly reliant on imported gas. Around 80pc of supplies will have to come from abroad by 2020.


Is Wind the Next Ethanol?

One "Renewable" Energy Source Follows another's History of Failure

Repeating past mistakes seems to be a recurring theme in federal policy, and nowhere more so than on energy issues. Much of the Obama administration's "clean energy economy" and "energy independence" agenda is a virtual repeat of the follies of the 1970s. Back then, failed attempts by Washington to pick winners and losers among alternative energy sources and energy-using technologies led to taxes, regulations, and subsidies that exacerbated the very concerns they were supposed to address.

Indeed, one of the Reagan administration's greater-though lesser-remembered-economic successes was the repeal of much of this government meddling beginning in 1981. Reagan's turn away from energy central planning and toward free markets brought down energy costs and helped launch a long period of economic growth.

This decades-old lesson may be lost on younger politicians, bureaucrats, and activists who may be unaware that their energy policy ideas are proven failures from the age of disco. But the same cannot be said of efforts to enact a federal renewable electricity standard (RES), which would be a near-exact repeat of a blunder that was launched just a few short years ago-the renewable fuels mandate. The requirement that ethanol be added to the nation's gasoline supply has quickly proven to be an economic and environmental failure. Congressional proposals mandating wind and other renewable sources of electricity show all the signs of becoming a similar flop, but with far more serious implications.

The True Cost of Ethanol

It should come as no surprise that the renewable fuels mandate has raised the cost of driving. After all, if ethanol were cost-competitive with petroleum-derived gasoline, it would have caught on without government intervention. In the 2005 energy bill, Congress mandated refiners to add 4 billion gallons of biofuels to the gasoline supply in 2006- mostly ethanol derived from corn, with the rest from non-corn renewables like cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel. The 2007 energy bill increased the mandate to 13 billion gallons in 2010, more than tripling mandated biofuels use over the last five years. The new mandate increases each year and will reach 36 billion gallons by 2022, with 15 billion gallons coming from corn and 21 billion from non-corn renewables. The mandate comes on top of several tax breaks and subsidies for ethanol, including a 45-cents-per-gallon tax credit. This tax credit expires at the end of 2010 and Congress is currently debating whether to extend it. According to the Congressional Budget Office, these measures cost $1.78 for each additional gallon of gasoline displaced -- on top of the higher cost to drivers

The government assistance is so generous that ethanol production has actually exceeded the mandated levels in recent years. Domestic corn growers and ethanol producers also benefit from protectionist tariffs that limit the amount foreign ethanol-mostly sugar-based ethanol from Brazil-that can compete in the American market.

The mandate took effect on January 1, 2006, and has boosted the cost of driving ever since. Over this period, ethanol has been both more and less expensive than gasoline, but per-gallon price comparisons tell only part of the story. Ethanol contains a third less energy per unit volume than petroleum-derived fuels. In other words, you cannot go as far on ethanol as you can on the same amount of gasoline. Therefore, using ethanol lowers fuel economy. In addition, the logistical costs of mixing ethanol into the fuel supply are considerable. Ethanol cannot be transported via pipeline and must be shipped by more expensive means from the Midwest to the rest of the country.

The costs also hit us at the supermarket checkout. The diversion of a third of the nation's corn supply from food to fuel use raised the price of corn and related items like corn-fed meat and dairy.

Ethanol proponents have long claimed that technological breakthroughs and economies of scale would bring down the costs over time, but there is scant evidence that this is happening. On the contrary, the above-mentioned logistical challenges and food-versus-fuel tradeoff show no signs of resolution and will likely worsen as the mandate ratchets up.....


The story is much the same with wind power, the most common renewable source of electricity, as well as lesser-used ones like solar. Wind has long been a beneficiary of generous and overlapping tax breaks and subsidies, especially a production tax credit created under the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and currently set at 2.1 cents per kilowatt hour. Overall, subsidies for wind and other renewable electricity sources are more than 10 times higher per unit energy output than coal, which provides nearly half the nation's electricity, and natural gas and nuclear power, which provide most of the rest

Without this tilting of the playing field, wind would be significantly more expensive than coal, $149.30 per megawatt hour versus $100.40, according to conservative estimates from the Energy Information Administration

Despite all this help, wind and other renewables comprise only about 3 percent of the electricity supply (excluding hydroelectric which provides 6 percent). This low market penetration explains the current push by wind proponents for a federal mandate. Congressional proposals vary, but they typically require ramping up the non-hydroelectric renewables requirement to 15 to 25 percent of electric generation over the span of a decade or so. Most recently, the Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010 (S. 3813), introduced in the Sentate by Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), is pegged at 15 percent renewable electricity by 2021.

With ethanol, direct cost comparisons of wind energy with its conventional counterparts tell only a part of the story. Just as integrating ethanol into the overall motor fuel supply creates many logistical problems, so does integrating renewable electricity into the grid. For one thing, the most desirable sites for wind are often remote mountain ridges or sparsely populated plains, thus requiring thousands of miles of new transmission lines to bring the electricity into metropolitan areas where it is needed. One study estimates that a 20-percent renewable electricity standard would require $80 billion in transmission line investments, with ratepayers likely picking up the tab. And that assumes such transmission line projects could overcome the many regulatory and legal challenges to them and actually get built.

Even more significant are the costs that stem from wind energy's intermittent and unreliable nature. Simply put, the wind does not always blow, and when it does is difficult to predict and impossible to control. Given the constant need for electricity and the fact that peak demand-hot summer days-is often a time when the wind is still, a mandate for increased renewable electricity is, for all practical purposes, also a mandate for additional non-renewable backup capacity, chiefly natural gas. Not only must the non-wind part of the system be sufficient to carry the entire load, it must be operated in an inefficient manner-ready to ramp up whenever the wind dies down, then throttled back when it picks up-in order to accommodate wind. This intermittent use is far less efficient than constant use of those same non-renewable sources.



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 are mirrors of this site here and here