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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