Friday, December 16, 2016

Heatwaves in Australia: This natural killer just got deadlier (?)

There is actually nothing new below -- just the tired old assertion that heatwaves are linked to global warming, the usual exaggerations and a big dash of prophecy.  Bjorn Lomborg sets out well why extreme weather events can NOT be linked to temperature changes; The  one degree temperature rise over a period of 100 years is trivial; That "15 of the 16 hottest years on record all took place in the past 15 years" omits to say that the years almost all differed only by hundredths of a degree, thus indicating a temperature plateau, not warming

IF YOU think it’s hot now, brace yourselves because heatwaves are not only going to increase in frequency but also intensity, threatening to claim more lives each year.

That is the dire warning from scientists who warn Australia remains grossly underprepared for what is becoming our deadliest extreme weather event.

With reports showing the country was getting hotter each year, many Australians underestimated the dangers heatwaves posed.

Lead scientist at research company Risk Frontiers Dr Thomas Loridan said this comes despite more than a century of data and research showing otherwise.

Speaking to, Dr Loridan said heatwaves remained our biggest killer when it came to extreme weather events (such as cyclones or bushfires).

“It’s not only the biggest killer, but actually kills more people than all the other events put together,” he said.

“The 2009 heatwave that hit Victoria and South Australia killed 432 people, or two and a half times the number of people killed in the Black Saturday bushfires that followed.”

Heatwaves are indeed a killer if statistics are anything to go by. From 1844 to 2010, extreme heat events killed at least 5332 people in Australia.

Dr Liz Hanna of the Climate and Health Alliance said adopting a warning system such as this could save many lives as heatwaves became hotter, lasted longer and occurred more often due to climate change.

And there’s no doubt things are getting a lot hotter.

In October, the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO released its biennial State of the Climate Report which highlighted the impact climate change is having on our continent.

The report found between 1910 and 1941 there were 28 days when the national average temperature was in the top extremes recorded. This is compared to the 28 days recorded in 2013 alone.

Alarmingly the report also found 15 of the 16 hottest years on record all took place in the past 15 years.

Since 1910, the country’s climate including mean surface and surrounding sea surface temperature, has warmed by 1 degree centigrade.

Researchers also found the duration, frequency and intensity of extreme heat events have increased across most of Australia.

This comes on top of a 2014 report by the Climate Council which found climate change is causing more intense and frequent heatwaves in Australia.

According to Heatwaves: Hotter, Longer, More Often, such events are becoming hotter, lasting longer and are occurring more frequently. The number of hot days Australia experiences are also increasing.

“Since 1950 the annual number of record hot days across Australia has more than doubled,” the report found.


18 States Sue Feds Over Expanding ‘Critical Habitat’ to Areas With No Protected Species

Eighteen states have filed a lawsuit against the federal government over Final Rules that expand the definition of “critical habitat” to include areas that are currently unoccupied by any threatened or endangered species.

The Final Rules, Listing Endangered and Threatened Species and Designating Critical Habitat, which were published in the Federal Register on February 11 and went into effect March 14, expand the definition of “critical habitat” to include areas in which “species presence or habitats are ephemeral in nature, [or] species presence is difficult to establish through surveys (e.g. when a plant’s ‘presence’ is sometimes limited to a seed bank).”

“The Final Rules are an unlawful attempt to expand regulatory authority and control over State land and waters,” argues the multi-state lawsuit, which was filed November 29th in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama against Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, and the National Marine Fisheries and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange.

“The Final Rules allow the Services to declare areas occupied critical habitat that are not occupied by the species and that could not support the species were it moved there, on the supposition that one day the essential physical and biological features might develop and the species might return,” according to the lawsuit.

“The ESA [1973 Endangered Species Act] cannot support this interpretation," it added, noting that the Final Rules make it “easier for the Services to designate unoccupied areas critical habitat than it is to designate occupied areas.”

The ESA defines critical habitat as “specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed…on which are found those physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species.”

But the Final Rules would allow the federal government “to designate areas as occupied critical habitat… even when those areas are neither occupied nor contain those features,” thus extending federal authority over areas where there may be only “indirect or circumstantial evidence of occupation ‘during some portion of the listed species’ life history’,” the lawsuit pointed out.

 “Under this interpretation, [the federal government] could designate entire States or even multiple States as habitat for certain species” in contravention of congressional intent, the lawsuit maintains.

It would also allow federal agencies “to declare that almost any activity destroys or adversely modifies critical habitat under the theory that such activity might prevent the eventual development of the physical or biological characteristics necessary to support an endangered or threatened species,” the lawsuit argued.

The state attorneys general further argued that the Final Rules will “impede” conservation efforts in their states.

“Statutory and constitutional limitations on the authority of federal agencies protect citizens from the intrusion of the federal government into areas where local knowledge is critical to designing effective rules and policies. The preservation of habitat critical to threatened and endangered species is one of those areas,” they argued.

“By displacing local regulatory authority, the Final Rules impede, rather than advance, efforts to protect endangered and threatened species around the country.”

The Final Rules on critical habitat were made in response to President Obama’s Executive Order 13563, in which he directed federal agencies to update their existing regulations.

"Washington bureaucrats have gone beyond common sense by seeking to expand their control to private property adjoining the habitat of an endangered species solely on the basis that these areas might one day be home to a threatened species," Strange said in a Nov. 29 statement announcing the lawsuit.

“The Obama administration is hiding behind bogus rules to perpetrate land grabs, kill energy projects and block economic development,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a party to the lawsuit, said.

“This is nothing more than yet another end run around Congress by a president who is desperate to establish his environmental legacy by any means necessary before his time in office ends.”


Britain facing energy crisis that could see families pay extra to keep the lights on, Ofgem executive says

Britain's increasing reliance on "intermittent" renewable energy means that the country is facing an unprecedented supply crisis, a senior Ofgem executive has warned.

Andrew Wright, a senior partner at Ofgem and former interim chief executive, warned that households could be forced to pay extra to keep their lights on while their neighbours "sit in the dark" because "not everyone will be able to use as much as electricity as they want".

He warned that in future richer customers will be able to "pay for a higher level of reliability" while other households are left without electricity.

Mr Wright said that because Britain has lost fuel capacity because of the closure of coal mines, there is now "much less flexibility" for suppliers.

In a stark warning about the future of energy supply in Britain, Mr Wright said that consumers could be forced to pay more if they want to ensure they always have power.

"At the moment everyone has the same network - with some difference between rural and urban - but this is changing and these changes will produce some choices for society," he told a recent conference.

 "We are currently all paying broadly the same price but we could be moving away from that and there will be some new features in the market which may see some choose to pay for a higher level of reliability.

 "One household may be sitting with their lights on, charging their Tesla electric car, while someone else will be sitting in the dark."

Mr Wright, who Ofgem last night insisted was speaking in a "personal capacity" appeared to lay blame to any future supply issues on the recent focus on renewable energy.

He said: "The system we are all familiar with has some redundancy built into it. It was pretty straightforward and there was a supply margin, but increasing intermittency from renewable energy is producing profound changes to this system.  "We now have much less flexibility with the loss of fossil fuel capacity. Coal has been important, but this is disappearing."

 He added: "In the future not everyone will be able to use as much as electricity as they want, and there will be a need to re-write the rules."

An Ofgem spokesman said: "Ofgem is fully committed to delivering secure supplies for all consumers now and in the future. This is our number one priority. This is why we have driven up network reliability standards and worked closely with Government to ensure secure energy supplies."

 "In order to protect consumers every regulator has to look a possible future challenges. Mr Wright was talking at an University conference in a personal capacity and looking at possible issues that might or might not arise in 10-15 years time."

Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, has previously said that Britain will need to invest "eye-wateringly large sums of money" just to keep the lights on. The Chancellor put the cost at around £100 billion in the next 20 years to ensure the country meets its energy needs.


EPA Rushes to Lock in Obama Administration Fuel Economy Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency last Wednesday released its proposed Mid-Term Evaluation (MET) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards for model year (MY) 2022-2025 passenger vehicles. The standards function as de-facto fuel economy mandates. EPA had the option to adjust (tighten or relax) the standards, but decided to leave them in place, despite automakers’ pleas that high mileage requirements significantly raise the cost of new vehicles, making them hard to sell in an era of low fuel prices. EPA’s decision to propose the MET last week clearly aims to limit the Trump administration’s options to relax fuel economy mandates for MYs 2022-2025.

The MET, which covers both EPA’s GHG standards and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) explicit fuel economy standards, is required under the agencies’ 2012 joint rulemaking for MYs 2017 and later. That rule was Phase 2 of the so-called National Vehicle Program—a product of closed door negotiations led by former Obama climate czar Carol Browner in May 2009.

Parties to the so-called historic agreement included EPA, NHTSA, California Air Resources Board, major automakers, United Auto Workers, and major environmental groups. In essence, the auto companies agreed never to challenge the Obama administration’s GHG/fuel economy mandates in return for protection from the market chaos EPA threatened to unleash by authorizing California, and thus other states, to establish their own de-facto fuel economy standards. It is a tale of stealth, coercion, and the trashing of the separation of powers, but there is not space to retell here. If you’re curious, check out these two reports.

Here is what’s germane for present purposes. In July 2016, NHTSA told automakers and other stakeholders the agencies would propose their MET in mid-2017 and finalize it in April 2018. Similarly, in a letter to House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, EPA air administrator Janet McCabe stated EPA anticipated issuing its proposed MET "in 2017" and "make a Final Determination, no later than April 1, 2018." Yet, as noted above, EPA proposed its portion of the MET last week—four months ahead of schedule.

EPA’s rush to judgment reveals the "National" program is not the coordinated and consistent scheme automakers were promised in the "historic agreement." It may be some time before NHTSA proposes an MET for fuel economy standards. Even if NHTSA wants to adjust the MY 2022-2025 standards, it cannot now do so without subjecting automakers to conflicting requirements.

An article in Automotive News explains how EPA’s action "significantly reduces the latitude for automakers to seek changes to the grand bargain they struck with federal and California regulators in 2011 to advance President Obama’s energy and environmental agenda," and "also limits the options for the incoming administration of Donald Trump to reconcile the rules with his deregulatory campaign rhetoric."

The EPA ruling compresses the promised midterm evaluation of the government's ambitious fuel economy program.

The midterm evaluation, which formally began in July, was a big reason that auto CEOs stood in support of Obama in 2011 when he announced what has come to be known as the One National Program of aligned greenhouse-gas and fuel-economy regulations.

Automakers knew they'd be expected to meet ever-stricter standards in exchange for regulatory clarity. But they were counting on an extended period of data analysis and discussions as an opportunity to vie for changes to the standards to reflect technological hurdles and marketplace realities.

Just weeks ago, industry leaders were seizing on the surprise election of Donald Trump to appeal for even more time to deliberate the feasibility and economic costs of the program, in light of low gasoline prices, booming light-truck sales and tepid demand for hybrids and electric cars.

Instead, the EPA hit the fast-forward button with its proposal to keep the standards as they are, subject to a 30-day comment period. A final ruling, whose original deadline was April 2018, could now come within a month.

The new timeline makes it possible for Obama's appointee, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, to be the one who issues the final ruling. If that happens, it would be much tougher for the incoming administration to change the 2025 model year standards, said Dave Cooke, senior vehicles analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"They would have to do a new rulemaking," Cooke said. "That's a large undertaking. This is years' worth of data and pretty rigorous analytic work justifying this conclusion. You can't just snap your fingers and say, "I don't like what the data concludes.'"

The truncated process also helps keep the broader goals of the One National Program on track with more work still to do. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration must still set Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for 2022-2025.

Another point to keep in mind—because the MET is not a regulation but an assessment of a regulation, it is not subject to quick repeal via the Congressional Review Act.

However the MET plays out over the next two months, EPA’s GHG standards may add hundreds to thousands of dollars to the cost of new motor vehicles during 2022-2025. Consequently, the standards could destroy auto industry jobs and undermine U.S. competitiveness if gasoline prices remain low and millions of households don’t want to pay hefty price premiums for high mpg vehicles.


Climate Frauds Rush to Protect Data 'Integrity'

Some cover stories are so conspicuous you can’t help but chuckle. A ridiculous new Washington Post puff piece is no exception. The article begins, “Alarmed that decades of crucial climate measurements could vanish under a hostile Trump administration, scientists have begun a feverish attempt to copy reams of government data onto independent servers in hopes of safeguarding it from any political interference.” Because “independent servers” worked so well for a former presidential candidate…

Of course, government agencies should be concerned. As we noted, “With both the choices of Scott Pruitt to head the EPA and now [Rick] Perry [at the Department of Energy], Trump is showing that he is committed to the goal of rolling back as much government over-regulation as possible.” But that’s a terrible reason to begin frantically importing information. So what’s going on here?

The science community’s history of malice yields the most plausible theory. It began with ClimateGate in 2009 in which a hacker exposed a concerted effort by some of the world’s most influential climate scientists to keep evidence of global cooling in a shroud of secrecy. That was followed by NOAA’s denying a global warming hiatus in 2015 and then outright refusing to present behind-the-scenes collaboration to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Add to all this the fact that the globe’s official measurement bearers are artificially adjusting temperature trends and a likely reason for the frenzy emerges: They’re worried that incriminating information will be exposed by the Trump administration.

Remember, though Trump falls into the “skeptic” category, he has pledged to keep an open mind when it comes to addressing climate change. Regardless, the Left is conjuring up fear that he will manipulate climate data. Which is pretty ironic considering this ruse is quite possibly intended by alarmists to hide the fact they are gerrymandering the truth. They’re no more worried about the integrity of climate data as they supposedly are about the integrity of our elections.


Left-wing Climate Reexamination

UK Labour Party veteran says climate policies that hurt the poor must be abandoned

At age 82, Bernard Donoughue has been a member of the UK Labour Party for six decades. A year ago, it was my great pleasure to have dinner with him in London. At one point, when the conversation turned to wartime rationing, he mentioned that the family into which he was born had been of such modest means that rationing was a blessing. It gave them access to meat they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

During his long career, Donoughue worked for The Economist and The Times. He advised two Prime Ministers, served in Tony Blair’s cabinet, and was a consultant to the Yes Minister television sitcom. In 1985, he was appointed to the House of Lords.

Earlier this week this longtime Labour Party partisan urged his colleagues to "ditch its climate change obsession." Eight years ago, he says, he was among the vast majority in both Houses of Parliament who "unquestioningly" voted in favour of Britain’s Climate Change Act. Afterward, he did some firsthand research.

"The more I explored it, the more I began to question what was being claimed by the evangelical climate change movement," he writes. Donoughue agrees that the climate is changing. In his words: "it always has." He also thinks there’s some connection between human-generated carbon dioxide emissions and the global climate. The problem is that the nature of this connection "has not been conclusively established."

Many climate claims are unpersuasive, he says, and activists who behave abusively toward independent thinkers aren’t helping their cause. But the crux of the matter is that Donoughue is a champion of the working class. Current climate policies hit those people disproportionately. Their home heating costs are skyrocketing, and their energy-intensive steelworker jobs are disappearing. If someone’s boat has capsized, leaving them to drown while punching holes in their vessel in the name of marine wildlife harm reduction doesn’t win you friends.

Arguing that the hardship to which poor families are being subjected is actually pointless, Donoughue urges his party to reexamine its priorities:

There is no sense in the UK damaging its economy and its consumers with high energy costs in pursuit of some fanciful ‘moral leadership’ of the world, when we emit less than 2% of global carbon anyway. That is fatuous ‘virtue-signalling’.

In his view, the Labour Party should "retreat from the punitive 2008 legal emissions targets." It should support only those policies, he says, that are funded via "progressive direct taxation" rather than via regressive levies on home heating.

Perhaps his Party will take his advice. If not, it shouldn’t be surprised when longtime supporters cast their votes elsewhere.


Will cars become mostly electric regardless of the global warming scare?

Robert Friedland breezed through Melbourne last week to attend the annual meeting of his 19.35 per cent-owned and co-chaired Clean TeQ (CLQ), the company working towards a $900 million development of its Syerston nickel-cobalt-scandium project in NSW.

In a rare interview ahead of the meeting, the Singapore-based American-Canadian billionaire mining entrepreneur was asked if the $900m call was a bridge too far for a company the size of Clean TeQ ($225m market value at Friday’s close of 47c a share).

It was a dumb question — he has raised many billions of dollars for mine developments over the years, including Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia before Rio Tinto arrived on the scene.

"You are talking less than a billion dollars Aussie. That’s peanuts. It’s nothing, we’re talking about a little toy mine," Friedland snapped back.

Toy mine perhaps, but one Friedland is adamant is just what the world needs, with its potential to become an ethical source of the raw materials needed in the battery electrification of the world’s automotive industry (nickel and cobalt) and the light-weighting of that industry and the aircraft industry (aluminium-scandium alloys).

To the less worldly of us, the electrification of the world’s automotive fleet is about global warming. Ever the deep thinker, Friedland has a different take.

In the world’s megacities, the contribution to air pollution from internal combustion engines is the immediate problem. The World Health Organisation reckons particulate air pollution from ICEs and other sources is killing as many as five million people a year.

"Air pollution is genetically related to global warming. But they are two entirely different things," Friedland said.

"Global warming is a global issue about the impact of humans on the atmosphere. But it is something of an abstract crisis for the average person in the street. It is air pollution that is killing people right now.

"So we believe that there is going to be a really profound revolution in the automotive industry in the next 10-15 years. Really profound."

As the need to clean up the air in the world’s mega-cities by replacing the fleet of ICEs with battery powered cars takes shape (the batteries may well be coal-fire-powered in some locations but the critical point is that the source can be remote from the mega-cities), the automotive industry has to rethink its entire supply chain of raw materials, just as Henry Ford did with his steel and rubber acquisitions when cars began to replace horses and carts at the start of the last century.

It has to not only rethink the nature of the raw materials, but also the sources of the materials. On the latter point, it is the supply of cobalt that goes into the batteries that is the major concern, given much of it is currently produced by child or artisanal labour in Africa. "And the problem is that it is very hard to sell an electric car in California if the cobalt mine is mined artisinally," Friedland said.

"Western manufacturers are increasingly having their supply chain audited from top to bottom.

"So if you are betting your company on a change in the entire industrial supply chain, you’ve got to have your raw materials coming from a safe and stable place.

"Syerston is a very well-known resource in a country that knows how to develop mines and a country that is auditable. Syerston wins this game."



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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