Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The climate alarmists have lost the debate: it's time we stopped indulging their poisonous fantasy

By James Delingpole

The story so far: with the release of its Fifth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has proved beyond reasonable doubt that it cannot be taken seriously.

Here are a few reasons why: IPCC lead author Dr Richard Lindzen has accused it of having "sunk to a level of hilarious incoherence." Nigel Lawson has called it "not science but mumbo jumbo". The Global Warming Policy Foundation's Dr David Whitehouse has described the IPCC's panel as "evasive and inaccurate" in the way it tried dodge the key issue of the 15-year (at least) pause in global warming; Donna Laframboise notes that is either riddled with errors or horribly politically manipulated – or both; Paul Matthews has found a very silly graph; Steve McIntyre has exposed how the IPCC appears deliberately to have tried to obfuscate the unhelpful discrepancy between its models and the real world data; and at Bishop Hill the excellent Katabasis has unearthed another gem: that, in jarring contrast to the alarmist message being put out at IPCC press conferences and in the Summary For Policymakers, the body of the report tells a different story – that almost all the scary scenarios we've been warned about this last two decades (from permafrost melt to ice sheet collapse) are now been graded by scientists somewhere between "low confidence" to "exceptionally unlikely;" and this latest from the Mighty Booker.

And there's plenty more where that came from.

Now, of course, I fully appreciate how the climate alarmists are going to respond to these criticisms: same way they always do – with a barrage of lies, ad homs, cover-ups, rank-closings, blustering threats, straw men, and delusion-bubble conferences like the one they've just staged at the Royal Society in which one warmist pseudo-scientist after another mounts the podium to reassure his amen corner that everything's going just fine and that those evil denialists couldn't be more wrong.

Well, if that's how they want to play it – fighting to the bitter end for their lost cause like Werewolves in Northern Europe in '45 or those fanatical Japanese hold outs on remote Pacific islands – I guess that's their problem.

But what I really don't think we should be doing at this stage in the game is allowing it to be our problem too. As I argued here the other week, there is more than enough solid evidence now to demonstrate to any neutral party prepared to cast half an eye over it that the doomsday prognostications the warmist establishment has been trying to frighten us with these last two decades are a nonsense. The man-made global warming scare story has not a shred of scientific credibility. It's over. And while I don't expect the alarmists to admit this any time soon, I do think the rest of us should stop indulging them in their poisonous fantasy.

I'm thinking, for example, of this line from the Spectator's otherwise superb, accurate and fair editorial summarising the state of play on climate:

    "Global warming is still a monumental challenge…."

Is it? More of a "monumental" challenge than global cooling? And the evidence for that statement can be found where exactly? Please – I'd love to see it. Where's the data that proves the modest 0.8 degrees C warming in the last 150 years has done more harm than good?

It may seem unduly picky to quibble over just seven errant words from an otherwise immaculate 800 word editorial. But it's precisely intellectually lazy concessions like this that are serving only to prolong a propaganda war that really should have ended long ago.

I feel the same way when I read one of those on-the-one-hand-and-on-the-other think pieces from someone on the "sceptical" side of the argument or an editorial in a newspaper trying to position itself as the voice of reasonable authority on the climate issue. You know the sort I mean: where, in order to make his case seem more balanced and sympathetic the author concedes at the beginning that there are faults and extremists on both sides of the argument and that it's time we all met in the middle and found a sensible solution. (I call this the Dog Poo Yoghurt Fallacy)

This is absurd, dishonest, inaccurate and counterproductive. It's as if, after a long, long game of cat and mouse between a few maverick, out-on-a-limb private investigators and an enormous Mafia cartel, an outside arbitrator steps in and says: "Well there's fault on both sides. You Mafia people have been really quite naughty with your multi-billion dollar crime spree. But you private investigators, you deserve a rap on the knuckles too because some of that language you've been using to describe the Mafia cartel is really quite offensive and hurtful. Why, you've actually been calling them "thieving criminals."

"But they are thieving criminals," the investigators protest. "And do you have any idea what it has cost us pursuing this case? Do you realise how hard the cartel worked to vilify us, marginalise us, make us seem like crazed extremists? These people have stolen billions, they've lied, they've cheated, they're responsible for numerous deaths, and you're, what, you're going to buy into the specious argument of their bullshitting consigliere Roberto "Mad Dog" Ward that they deserve special favours because their tender feelings have been hurt with unkind language?"

It's time we took the gloves off in this fight – not to escalate it but to stop it being prolonged with this ludicrous diplomatic game where we have to pretend that there's fault on both sides – not because it's in any way true, but because the climate scam is so vast and all-encompassing that there are just too many people in positions of power or authority who need to be indulged by being allowed to save face.

Why?  To give you but one example, last week two warmists were given space to have a go at DEFRA Secretary of State Owen Paterson.

    Professor Kevin Anderson, of Manchester University, told the Independent: “His view that we can muddle through climate change is a colonial, arrogant, rich person’s view.”

    And Professor Myles Allen of Oxford University, one of the authors of the report, said: “I find it very worrying that this person is charged with adapting [Britain] to climate change. I do think it is a good idea for whoever is planning for adaptation to have a realistic understanding of what the science is saying.”

This rightly taxed the patience of even the scrupulously non-combative Bishop Hill:

    "One can't help but think that politicians' understanding of the science might be helped if scientists, including Professor Allen, had tried to write a clear explanation of it rather than trying to obfuscate any difficulty that might distract from the message of doom."

Quite. What Paterson said about the current state of climate change is both demonstrably true and wholly unexceptionable:

    “People get very emotional about this subject and I think we should just accept that the climate has been changing for centuries”, he said.

    “Remember that for humans, the biggest cause of death is cold in winter, far bigger than heat in summer. It would also lead to longer growing seasons and you could extend growing a little further north into some of the colder areas.”

If shyster professors with cushy sinecures in state-funded seats of academe wish to counter such reasonable statements of the glaringly obvious – statements, furthermore, which are actually supported by the body of the new IPCC report (see above) – then the onus is on them to do so using verifiable facts rather than vague, emotive smears.

To return to my favourite field of analogy – World War II – the situation we're in now is analogous to the dog days of 1945 when the allied advance was held up by small pockets of fanatical resistance. The Allies had a choice: either painstakingly take each village at the cost of numerous infantry or simply stand back and give those villages an ultimatum – you have an hour to surrender and if you don't we're going to obliterate you with our artillery.

We have to take a stand on this issue. One side is right; one side is quite simply wrong and deserves to be humiliated and crushingly defeated. And the sooner – for all those of us who believe in truth, decency and liberty – the better.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Fracking taxes may be used to pay for cut in British energy bills

Household energy bills are to be cut using a “tax bonanza” from fracking to strip out green levies, under Conservative plans.

With 40 new fracking sites due to be set up in the next two years, ministers want to use the tax revenue from operators to reduce bills for hard-pressed households.

Green taxes, which help pay for onshore wind farms, currently account for about 10 per cent of the average energy bill, and the proportion is expected to rise to a third by 2020.

However, George Osborne has indicated that he is looking for ways to reduce the burden on households of environmental levies, and ministers believe that fracking may provide a solution.

Any savings for consumers would be designed to counter Ed Miliband’s pledge to freeze energy prices for 20 months if he wins the next election. The average household energy bill is now more than £1,300, almost twice what it was a decade ago.

One Cabinet minister said: “Fracking should deliver major tax revenues, so one idea is to rely on that money to fill the gap left by reductions in the environmental levies.”

The Conservatives are currently working on energy policies for their 2015 general election manifesto, and are considering including the pledge to use fracking tax returns to lower bills.

Fracking, which involves fracturing rocks deep underground with water, sand and chemicals to extract natural gas, has dramatically cut energy bills in America.  Ministers are hoping that it could do the same in Britain. However, the process has led
to protests in Balcombe, West Sussex, a Tory heartland.

Some Tories hope that cuts in green levies could be announced in the Autumn Statement, but the Liberal Democrats are unlikely to agree to any such change.   Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, has repeatedly voiced scepticism about fracking. At last month’s Lib Dem conference he attacked the “hyperbole” of those in Government who believe that the process “answers all Britain’s energy problems”.

A national map of good sites for shale- gas exploration is due to be published by the Government next month.  More than 170 onshore oil and gas licences have been granted by the energy department.

Michael Fallon, the energy minister, said last week that he expected as many as 40 fracking wells to be drilled, and that it would be “irresponsible” not to allow companies to find out whether the reserves can be extracted, despite protests by environmental campaigners.

He also warned Conservative MPs they cannot be “picky” and oppose hydraulic fracturing in their constituencies.

David Cameron is expected to face rising opposition from MPs in constituencies with big reserves of shale gas.

“When talking about shale gas, it doesn’t have to involve fracking, some of it will just be core drilling,” said Mr Fallon.


Chukchi Polar Bears Thriving As Arctic Ice Recedes

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports polar bears in the Chukchi Sea are growing larger in size and becoming healthier as Arctic sea recedes. The bears are thriving even though the Chukchi Sea is one of the areas where Arctic sea ice has receded the most in recent years.

The Chukchi Sea separates Alaska and Russia. The USFWS reports Chukchi polar bears are gaining size and appearing healthier in recent years as Chukchi sea ice recedes.

Real-World Testing Ground

The Chukchi Sea provides an important real-world illustration of the impacts of receding sea ice on polar bear populations. Chukchi Sea ice receded twice as much during the past 20 years as the neighboring Southern Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean along Alaska’s northeastern coast.

Outperforming Their Neighbors

According to the USFWS study, Chukchi Sea polar bears of both genders are heavier than polar bears in the neighboring Southern Beaufort Sea, where there is more sea ice. The weight difference is especially pronounced among male polar bears, USFWS reports.

Chukchi Sea polar bears’ body weight and overall health either remained stable or improved, according to the study.

The USFWS reports Chukchi Sea polar bears have more access to prey as sea ice recedes. This contradicts assertions by global warming activists that receding sea ice is forcing polar bears to starve or subsist on less food.

Science Trumps Alarmism

Marc Morano, publisher of the Climate Depot website and author the 2008 U.S. Senate Polar Bear Report, says reality is trumping unsupportable alarmism about global warming and polar bears.

“This new study adds further evidence that far from being endangered, polar bears are thriving in the Arctic. Indigenous people recognize that polar bear numbers are going up, and now even official estimates are reflecting that," said Morano.

“It now seems that the greatest threat polar bears may face from global warming is from the failed climate model predictions claiming they are doomed,” he added.

More Access to Prey

Evolutionary biologist and polar bear expert Susan J. Crockford, an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, confirmed polar bears are doing quite well with less Arctic sea ice.

“A longer ice-free period in summer has increased the number of ringed seals because summer is the primary feeding period for seals. This means more seal pups in the spring, which is the primary feeding period for polar bears,” Crockford explained. “Chukchi bears are not feeding longer in the spring; they are just eating more. Apparently, this was not what the researchers expected.

“Before climate change became the cause du jour, it was pretty clear that polar bears in the Canadian portion of the Beaufort suffer because of the thick ice that occasionally develops there in the spring,” Crockford noted. “It’s a phenomenon unique to the Eastern Beaufort. In other words, there is ample evidence that too much ice in the spring is much worse for polar bears than less ice in the summer.”

Crockford says this study casts doubt on gloom-and-doom predictions about the demise of polar bears by proponents of alarm over manmade global warming.

“It might—it should definitely change them,” said Crockford. “The study certainly does not support the claim that polar bears are already being harmed by the loss of summer ice. It certainly invalidates the declaration made by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Polar Bear Specialist Group that the Chukchi subpopulation is a ‘declining’ one, and it calls into question their assumption that reduced summer ice can be expected to cause harm to polar bears within 10 years.”

Climate Conditions Not Unusual

H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, says climate data did not indicate a polar bear crisis even before the USFWS study. Arctic sea ice expanded and contracted many times in recent history, and polar bears weathered the changing conditions.

“Russian coastal-station records of both the extent of sea ice and the thickness of fast ice—ice fixed to the shoreline or seafloor—extending back 125 years show significant variability over 60- to 80-year periods. Moreover, the maximum air temperature they report for the twentieth century was in 1938, when it was nearly 0.4°F warmer than the air temperature in 2000. The Russian study concludes that observations do not support amplified warming in Polar Regions predicted by general circulation models,” said Burnett.

“What this means is that not only does sea ice vary considerably from year to year but polar bear responses do as well,” Burnett explained. “Though polar bears are uniquely adapted to the Arctic region, they are not wedded solely to its coldest parts, nor are they restricted to a specific Arctic diet—they are omnivores just like other bears. Aside from a variety of seals, they eat fish, kelp, caribou, ducks, sea birds, and scavenged whale and walrus carcasses.

“Indeed, polar bears have historically thrived in warmer temperatures than today’s—during the medieval warm period 1,000 years ago and during the Holocene Climate Optimum 5,000 to 9,000 years ago,” he added. “Thus, a modest warming may be beneficial to bears. It creates better habitat for seals and would dramatically increase the growth of blueberries on which the bears like to gorge.”


GOP questions need for wind farm tax credit
Republican lawmakers signaled opposition Wednesday to renewing a tax credit for wind farms, arguing it's time for the industry to stand on its own two feet.

Democrats and the wind industry say the renewable electricity production tax credit (PTC) is critical to developing diverse sources of energy, but Republicans expressed skepticism that the break is still needed.

“We keep hearing that ‘we’re almost there’ or ‘just a little bit longer.’ But the facts state that wind power has been steadily increasing over the last 10 years, and there’s this point of saying, when does wind take off on its own?” said Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on Energy Policy.

An analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation found that a one-year extension of the tax credit would cost about $6.1 billion over 10 years. A five-year extension would cost about $18.5 billion.

Democrats on the panel said that, that number paled in comparison to the billions in tax breaks and subsidies granted to the oil and gas industry each year.

"Big oil still gets subsidies even though just the biggest five oil companies ... made a combined $118 billion in profits in 2012,” Rep. Jackie Speier (Calif.), the top Democrat on the subcommittee, said. “Oil and gas have received over $4.8 billion each year in government subsidies over 90 years.”

She added, “If you want to get rid of the PTC, then let’s get rid of all the subsidies for all the various forms of energy. We need to give as much support to clean renewable energy sources as we have provided and continue to provide for the fossil fuel industry.”

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) said that “the detractors of the wind industry are asking the government to pick winners and losers by removing federal subsidies for only one particular sector of the energy capacity, which is wind energy, but leaving all the other subsidies intact.”

Republicans responded that comparing tax breaks for wind energy to those received by the oil and gas industry was like looking at apples and oranges, since the provisions for fossil fuel facilities support normal business expenses.

“We probably should compare apples and apples and oranges and oranges,” Lankford said.

At the beginning of this year, Congress extended the tax credit until the start of 2014 as part of a larger deal to avert the “fiscal cliff.”

Proponents of wind energy say that extending the tax credit for a few more years would provide some certainty for the industry, which has been growing steadily in recent years and now accounts for about 3 percent of the electricity produced in the U.S.

They say that the uncertainty surrounding the tax credit's extension is preventing the industry from growing as quickly as it could.

“This is not the way to build an industry. It sends such poor signals for investors,” said Dan Reicher, head of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University.


Renewables religion is dangerous

It could destroy our nation's best opportunity to get strong and create more jobs.

thestreet logoOil drums (© Kevin Phillips/Digital Vision/age fotostock)I am giving up on any hope that Congress will understand the carbon/fossil fuel renaissance in this country.

On Monday, we interviewed Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., an energy and mineral-rich state. He was holding a conference on the economy, including a presentation involving the Bakken, which will soon be producing 1 million barrels a day, up from about 300,000 a couple of years ago.

I thought: Here we go, commonsense senator from a reasonable state where mining jobs had always been a mainstay of the economy. So I asked a benign question about whether they would be discussing the positive prospects of all the newfound energy in this country and what it means for the U.S. economy, given the Bakken segment of his conference.

The senator wasted no time getting right to the heart of the matter: the importance of renewable energy. I almost fell out of my chair. I figured this was the one senator who might actually admit that we are close to energy independence on the continent, provided we can get the oil and gas where it is needed, something that would create a huge number of jobs. Nope, it's all about renewables, all about subsidized power. It's all about the government helping an industry that can't solve the big issue, which is how to stop the importation of oil from countries that aren't friendly with the United States while hiring many more people in this country. I figured he would at least give me some love on natural gas, which is cleaner than so many other fuels, certainly dirty diesel, which is responsible for 25% of our imported fuel.

Nah, renewables.

I pressed. How about all of the jobs that could be created if we just had a program that could get the unemployed where the jobs are in the Bakken and the Eagle Ford and the other shales that are oil and gas rich but people poor.

Nope, he wanted to talk about training people. Darn it, the companies will train them. They are willing to pay well above the nation's average if they can just find a way to get the people to these godforsaken places. The government doesn't need to train a soul.

I was going to follow up with a question about Keystone, but I knew it was just hopeless.

This squandered opportunity is painful, even as objection after objection has been met. Two years ago The New York Times took after the natural gas industry, saying there wasn't enough of it to justify the possibility of using it for a surface fuel. I was so disgusted  because already the glut was so evident that we would have to burn off more natural gas -- a natural byproduct of oil drilling -- that I contacted the ombudsman and got a critical word in about the coverage.

Then the objection was drinking water and "Gasland." Encana (ECA -0.47%) had a couple of wells that environmentalists charged were leaking gas. The EPA was all over it but upon proper investigation found that there was no issue and no leak from Encana.

Then it was methane pollution and how drilling for natural gas caused more particulate damage than people thought, which meant it was no cleaner than oil. This came despite a dramatic decline in our own carbon footprint because of our aggressive switch to burning natural gas, not coal, as a power-plant fuel. A University of Texas study showed that the government was dramatically overstating the methane leakage and that it wasn't even a real issue.

It's all coming together to use natural gas as a surface fuel, except Congress wants to talk only about renewables and the importance of the government's getting behind them, not unlike the Spanish thrust to do so, which almost bankrupted that state. The U.K. went that way, too, and it cost them mightily.

I think that we are on some sort of ridiculous path that simply won't acknowledge the potential here for self-sufficiency. We are exporting 2 million barrels of gasoline a day because of rules that don't let us ship it to where it is needed unless the tankers fly under U.S. flags, which almost none do. That jacks up our gasoline prices in the Northeast, which I now believe is by design to use less fuel. The military seems not to care about the leverage our nation has over the Middle East if we didn't need its oil, which we wouldn't if we embraced natural gas as a surface fuel. We know the skies would be cleaner. We know pipelines punch above their weight when it comes to job creation.

But they only want to talk renewables. It is a religion, one that can't be touched. And it could destroy our nation's best opportunity to get strong and create more jobs instantly.

We have such a surfeit of natural gas right now that we have virtually stopped drilling. We are permitting export plants all over the place that won't be built. It is almost as if we are suicidal.

Mark my words: We are going to crucify our nation on a cross of renewables.  It's insanity.


A view from Ontario, Canada:  Kathleen Wynne’s green energy policies are setting the stage for a ‘massacre’ of our economy

(Kathleen Wynne became the Liberal party Premier of Ontario in February of this year)

If you want to see the future of the Ontario economy under Premier Kathleen Wynne’s green energy plan, you don’t have to look far.

Look at Europe, because we’re starting to experience what’s happening there, as rising electricity prices driven by the high cost of renewable energy gut its manufacturing sector.

“We face a systemic industrial massacre,” Antonio Tajani, European Commissioner for Industry, recently told the Daily Telegraph, “I am in favour of a green agenda, but we can’t be religious about this. We need a new energy policy. We have to stop pretending, because we can’t sacrifice Europe’s industry for climate goals that are not realistic and are not being enforced worldwide.”

“The loss of competitiveness is frightening,” Italian economist Paulo Savona told the Telegraph. “When people choose whether to invest in Europe or the U.S., what they think about most is the cost of energy.”

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said reducing energy prices has become a top priority for the European Union, surpassing even the debt crisis.

But rising electricity prices aren’t just sending European industries fleeing to places like the U.S., where the shale gas revolution is lowering energy costs.

They’re also driving millions of Europeans into fuel poverty, meaning households where people spend at least 10% of their income just to heat, light and power their homes.

Ontario’s ill-advised green energy policies are having the same effect here.

In his December, 2011 review of the Liberals’ renewable energy program, then auditor general Jim McCarter noted that in 2009, they assured the public their initiatives would add a modest 1% annually to their electricity bills.

But just a year later, they predicted “a typical residential electricity bill would rise about 7.9% annually over the next five years, with 56% of the increase due to investments in renewable energy.” Also in 2010, the Ontario Energy Board, predicted “a typical household’s annual electricity bill will increase by about $570, or 46%, from about $1,250 in 2009 to more than $1,820 by 2014. More than half of this increase would be because of renewable energy contracts.”

These are exactly the kinds of steep increases that have spread fuel poverty in Europe.

Alarmingly, McCarter found the Liberals embarked on their mad dash into green energy with no preparation.

He had to start his investigation from scratch because the government “had not recently conducted any audit work on renewable energy initiatives.” McCarter reported the Liberals failed to carry out a “comprehensive business-case evaluation ... to objectively evaluate the impacts” of their green energy program.

“No independent, objective expert investigation had been done to examine the potential effects of renewable energy policies on prices, job creation and greenhouse gas emissions,” McCarter concluded. “No thorough and professional cost/benefit analysis had been conducted to identify potentially cleaner, more economically productive and cost-effective alternatives to renewable energy, such as energy imports and increased conservation.”

Regarding what the Liberals called the crown jewel of their green energy program, their multi-billion-dollar deal with Korea’s Samsung corporation to produce wind and solar power, McCarter found, “no economic analysis or business case was done to determine whether the agreement ... was economically prudent and cost-effective.” The Liberals also ignored the advice of their own experts in deciding what to pay wind and solar developers through their “Feed-in Tariff” (FIT) program.

Energy we don’t need

As a result, McCarter said, Ontarians will be paying billions of dollars in extra electricity costs for wind and solar power over the next two decades, at rates two to 10 times higher than what we would pay for conventional energy sources, some of which don’t emit greenhouse gases, or are low emitters.

Because this is happening while Ontario has an energy surplus, McCarter noted, consumers will also be paying hundreds of millions of dollars annually for renewable energy we don’t need.

McCarter examined the Liberals’ claim their renewable energy program would create 50,000 jobs by 2012 and found it was a myth. In fact, there would likely be a net job loss, he said, because in Europe, higher electricity prices resulted in substantial job losses in the manufacturing sector.

Despite McCarter’s findings and the European experience, Wynne and the Liberals aren’t listening.

They’ve gone too far to admit they were wrong.

Instead, they keep trying to “fine tune” the disaster they’ve created, which is like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.

The only way to stop them is to vote them out of office, before they do even more damage.



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

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


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