Tuesday, December 13, 2016

It’s Official: Record Drop Of Global Temperatures Confirmed

New official data issued by the Met Office confirms that world average temperatures have plummeted since the middle of the year at a faster and steeper rate than at any time in the recent past.

The huge fall follows a report by this newspaper that temperatures had cooled after a record spike. Our story showed that these record high temperatures were triggered by naturally occurring but freak conditions caused by El Nino – and not, as had been previously suggested, by the cumulative effects of man-made global warming.

The Mail on Sunday’s report was picked up around the world and widely attacked by green propagandists as being ‘cherry-picked’ and based on ‘misinformation’. The report was, in fact, based on Nasa satellite measurements of temperatures in the lower atmosphere over land – which tend to show worldwide changes first, because the sea retains heat for longer.

However, now the drop in temperature is also showing up in the authoritative Met Office ‘Hadcrut4’ surface record, compiled from measurements from more than 3,000 weather stations located around the world on both sea and land.

To the end of October, the last month for which figures have been released, Hadcrut4 had fallen about 0.5C from its peak in the spring.

The reason is the end of El Nino. The natural phenomenon, which takes place every few years and has a huge impact on world weather, occurs when water in a vast area of the Pacific west of Central America gets up to 3C hotter than usual.

It has now been replaced by a weak La Nina, when the water becomes colder than usual. This means temperatures may still have some way to fall.

El Nino is not caused by greenhouse gases and has nothing to do with climate change. It is true that the massive 2015-16 El Nino – probably the strongest ever seen – took place against a steady warming trend, most of which scientists believe has been caused by human emissions.

But when El Nino was triggering new records earlier this year, some downplayed its effects. For example, the Met Office said it contributed ‘only a few hundredths of a degree’ to the record heat. The size of the current fall suggests that this minimised its impact. When February produced a new hot record for that month, at the very peak of El Nino, newspapers in several countries claimed that this amounted to a ‘global climate emergency’, and showed the world was ‘hurtling’ towards the point when global warming would become truly dangerous. Now, apparently, the immediate threat has passed. It would be just as misleading to say lower temperatures caused by La Nina meant the world was into a new long-term cooling.

But the big question is: what will happen when both El Nino and La Nina are over and the Pacific water returns to its ‘neutral’, average state? Professor Judith Curry, of Georgia Tech in Atlanta, who is president of the Climate Forecast Applications Network, said it would take years before it was clear whether the long-term warming trend was slowing down, staying the same or accelerating.

‘The bottom line is that we can’t read too much into the temperatures of a year or two,’ she said. ‘We will need the perspective of another five years to understand what is going on.’


Trump’s Realistic Thinking on Climate Change

Trump pulled off a really funny one this past week:  By inviting in two of the main climate activist players for an interview, Al Gore and DeCaprio, and then announcing a super skeptic as new EPA chief.  A lot of people were really fooled by the interviews into thinking that Trump was about to change his position and appoint an activist to some important cabinet position.  Trump enjoys a confrontation but also seems to have a sense of humor

President-elect Donald J. Trump said recently that there exists “some connectivity” between human activity and climate change, which may or may not reflect a shift in his view on that scientific question. But he has indicated no change in his policy stance on various attendant regulations, and an “open mind” on a U.S. exit from the unenforceable international agreement on limiting greenhouse gas emissions, reached at Paris last year but never submitted for ratification to the U.S. Senate.

Notwithstanding the predictable sneering from the usual suspects, Mr. Trump is correct on the central policy questions, while the critics are wrong.

His preference for wholesale reform of U.S. climate and energy policies, in pursuit of improved economic conditions for American workers and consumers, can be explained in substantial part by his ability to read a profit/loss statement, that is, the narrow bang-for-the-buck benefit/cost question: What temperature effect would the Obama policies buy us by 2100?

The Obama administration has exhibited a decided reluctance to discuss that issue, the reason for which is obvious: If the entire Obama Climate Action Plan were to be implemented immediately, the temperature reduction achieved in 2100 would be about fifteen one-thousandths of a degree. That is not a number found on the back of some envelope; instead, it is the prediction made by the EPA’s own climate model.

That international action is needed is the advertised premise of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The UNFCCC in truth is little more than a global meeting circuit for the world’s elites, as illustrated recently at the latest international gathering of the climate industry in Marrakesh for the 22nd round of pontificating about the urgent crisis confronting mankind, and about the absolute necessity of implementing the Paris agreement.

So let us assume emission cuts far greater than those promised in Paris. Our share of the announced pseudo-agreement with China yields another one one-hundredth of a degree by 2100. An actual cut in Chinese greenhouse gas emissions of 20 percent by 2030 would reduce temperatures by two-tenths of a degree. The same results from a 30 percent reduction by the rest of the industrialized world. And an impossible 20 percent cut by the rest of the developing world would add one-tenth of a degree.

The grand total: about half a degree, to be achieved at a cost of about 1 percent to 2 percent of global GDP every year, inflicted disproportionately upon the world’s poor. And so Mr. Trump is correct to conclude that climate policy is preposterous as a matter of the efficient allocation of scarce resources, and that the provision of clean water and the eradication of terrible diseases in the Third World are far more important priorities.

Moreover, the climate horror stories that pass for enlightened opinion in this area really are hoaxes. Annual increases in sea levels have been constant since at least 1992 and perhaps far longer. The Arctic and Antarctic sea ice levels do not differ as a matter of statistical significance from their 1981-2010 averages; there is some evidence that the Arctic sea ice may be declining, while the Antarctic clearly is growing.

The frequency and intensity of U.S tornadoes have been declining since the mid-1950s. The frequency and accumulated energy of tropical cyclones are near their lowest levels since satellite measurements began in the early 1970s. U.S. wildfires show no trend over the last 30 years. The Palmer drought severity index shows no trend since 1895. U.S. flooding over the last century is uncorrelated with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations.

Global per-capita food production has increased monotonically since 1993, and the global leaf area (“greening”) has increased about 14 percent since 1982, due in part to carbon-dioxide fertilization.

The crusade against fossil fuels in part is an effort to transfer wealth from red states to blue ones, by increasing energy costs disproportionately in the former. In part it is a religious movement: The interpretation of destructive weather as the gods’ punishment for the sins of Man is ancient. And just as the pagans for millennia attempted to prevent destructive weather by worshipping golden idols, so do modern environmentalists now attempt to prevent destructive weather by bowing down before recycling bins.

At a more general theological level: In the beginning, earth was the Garden of Eden. But mankind, having consumed the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Technological Knowledge, has despoiled it. And only through repentance and economic suffering can we return to the loving embrace of Mother Gaia.

However Mr. Trump has arrived at his perceptions of mainstream climate thinking, he understands that the economic suffering attendant upon current climate policies is worse than pointless, reflecting the condescension of the elites toward ordinary working people. He is right to reject it.


Solar Power Actually Made Global Warming Worse, Says New Study

The net impact of solar panels actually temporarily increased carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions due to how much energy is used in their construction, a new study by Utrecht University concluded.

Researchers looked at 40 years of CO2 emissions from solar panels, including those caused by their production, then subtracted that by the amount of CO2 they prevented from being emitted. They found many older solar panels would take a decade to lead to a net emissions reduction, which can be longer than their lifespan. They also concluded that the current generations of panels will probably only just reduce net emissions over years.

The study concluded that the solar industry has been “a temporary net emitter of greenhouse gas emissions” and more modern solar panels have a smaller adverse environmental impact than older models. Scientists estimated that by 2018 at the latest, the solar industry as a whole will have a net positive environmental impact.

The research was financially supported by the Technology Foundation STW, which is a governmental agency of the European Commission.

“Solar power has a number of inherent issues, namely that it’s unreliable and expensive,” Chris Warren, a spokesperson for the pro-industry Institute for Energy Research, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. ” If your goal is to reduce CO2, then adding more solar power can actually hurt your cause. Not to mention it makes electricity more expensive for consumers.”

America’s CO2 emissions have fallen by more than 12 percent since their high in 2005. U.S. CO2 emissions likely declined by 2.6 percent in 2015 and are expected to fall an additional 1.7 percent this year.

Fracking is the primary reason for the decline in American CO2 emissions, and not solar or wind power, according to reports published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Natural gas emits about half the CO2 of coal power, and is already cheaper than coal in many locations due to fracking. The EIA estimates roughly 68 percent of the falling CO2 emissions are due to power plants switching from coal to natural gas.

Research published by The Manhattan Institute shows solar power is responsible for 1 percent of the decline in American CO2 emissions, while natural gas is responsible for nearly 20 percent. For every ton of CO2 cut by solar power, fracking cuts 13 tons.

Some environmental groups already oppose the solar project due to other environmental impacts. The Center For Biological Diversity (CBD) has pursued legal action to block the creation of solar-farms out of fear that they would encroach on 32 endangered desert tortoises and that sunlight-concentrating panels act like super-heated death-rays for birds, killing tens of thousands of them per year.

Government officials have also blocked solar plants due to local environmental impacts as well. California officials blocked a solar power plant from being built in the Mojave Desert, because they  would inconvenience a species of sheep that wasn’t even endangered. The project had previously been approved by federal authorities and would have pumped about $30 million into the local economy.


Climate Change Act has cost Britain the earth

The law that introduced a slew of expensive subsidies for renewable energy will leave us £300 billion worse off by 2030

We now know from three different sources that Britain’s climate and energy policy is not just too expensive but has also been dishonestly presented. Peter Lilley MP, an unusually numerate former cabinet minister, has written a devastating new report for the Global Warming Policy Foundation, published today, on the costs of Britain’s Climate Change Act 2008. It reveals “at best economic illiteracy and at worst deliberate deception” by government.

It comes as the National Audit Office has rapped the government’s knuckles for “a lack of transparency [that] has undermined accountability to parliament and consumers” in its energy policy. And a non-executive director of the former Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), Tom Kelly, found a systemic underestimation of the costs of the policy as well as “weaknesses in the original governance arrangements that were not rectified over time, a lack of transparency and a tendency to groupthink.” No wonder DECC sat on the Kelly report for a year before releasing it.

Mr Lilley calculates, and this is a conservative estimate, that the Climate Change Act will have cost over £300 billion by 2030. That is a gigantic sum subtracted from the earnings of Britons. Worse, this spending has to be forced by law, which implies that there are other productive investments to which it could be put. Indeed, this spending will be largely wasted even in its own terms: Mr Lilley points out that the dash for gas, as well as the recession, cut emissions, while the rush to renewables has merely driven some abroad.

The government also assumed that fossil fuel prices would rise
Worse, Mr Lilley finds that government sources have concealed and downplayed the cost of climate policies. For example, official figures understate the “system” costs of intermittent renewables, such as the need to subsidise fossil fuels in a grid where they are only needed as backup. The government also assumed — wrongly — that fossil fuel prices could only rise, making green subsidies look less costly. Instead they have fallen sharply.

And even the £300 billion estimate omits the cost of biofuels in transport; ignores Britain’s share of the European Union budget, at least 20 per cent of which is spent on “climate-related projects and policies”; includes nothing for international development (though Dfid will spend at least £25 billion by 2030); and excludes the cost of having made British industry less competitive.

When Ed Davey, then energy secretary, wrote about “the impact of all the government’s energy and climate change policies [on] household bills” it turns out he was referring only to the direct costs on individuals’ energy bills and had omitted the two thirds of the cost that falls on businesses’ bills, which pass them on to consumers in higher costs for goods and services. If a supermarket pays more for the electricity to run its refrigerators, it charges more for milk. Challenged on this by Mr Lilley, Mr Davey argued, bizarrely, that many businesses are owned by foreigners, as if that made a difference.

More breathtaking still, Mr Lilley shows that the government has been trying to pass off a cost as a benefit. Both Mr Davey and Chris Huhne, his predecessor, argued that the cost of climate policy could be set against notional energy savings from more efficient appliances and better insulation, which people would buy because of higher energy bills, thus supposedly generating a net saving.

However, improvement in energy efficiency would be desirable even if there were no concern about emissions, or indeed no emissions; and besides, a gain in energy efficiency usually increases the use of energy — a phenomenon known as the Jevons paradox. If they have more fuel-efficient engines, people make more journeys.

So, we have an energy policy that has imposed huge costs on the economy, failed to reduce emissions significantly and was either dishonestly or incompetently presented. That Liberal Democrats were in charge of energy policy for five years and that it was all in a noble cause — ostensibly saving the planet — may partly explain but not excuse this. Yet this does not explain the reluctance of Conservative ministers to revise these policies radically after the end of the coalition.

And where were the watchdogs that are supposed to keep an eye on this policy and check it for effectiveness? The committee on climate change (CCC) was set up by the 2008 act to ensure “a balanced response to the risks of dangerous climate change” (says its website). Yet it has wholly failed to insist on a climate policy whose costs are significantly below the best estimates of the harms of climate change, known technically as the social cost of carbon.

In a lecture in 2013 soon after he became chairman of the CCC, Lord Deben, the former Conservative minister John Gummer, said of climate change that, “the likelihood is almost certain, the scale would certainly be enormous, the effect would be devastating, and the insurance is remarkably cheap.” But we know this is nonsense: the costs, as Mr Lilley’s study shows, are enormous in themselves, and are actually greater than even the higher-end estimates of damage from climate change. Nobody pays insurance premiums greater than the largest likely loss.

Mr Lilley was pilloried for being one of three Conservative MPs who voted against the Climate Change Act in 2008, so perhaps he has an axe to grind. So do I, as somebody with a commercial interest in coal mining and who thinks that the risks of climate change, though real, have been exaggerated. I have never objected to a cost-effective climate protection policy and would be delighted to see all the subsidies and imposts replaced by a simple carbon tax well below the social cost of carbon so as to encourage low-carbon innovation, not punish people for doing what at present they can’t avoid, namely using carbon-based energy sources.

But even on true believers’ own terms — indeed, especially on those terms — the Climate Change Act has been disastrous. In devising its climate-dominated energy policy, government has proceeded as if cost was no object. That is economically irrational, morally wrong and politically foolish. It has needlessly put climate policy on a collision course with public opinion. It is no accident that Donald Trump went from advocating strong climate action to embracing scepticism when he decided to run for president. For rust-belt Americans, just-about-managing Britons, not to mention similar constituencies in Germany, Japan and elsewhere, this is an obvious example of an elite policy that is unfair, costly and futile.


Why Big Mining loves Big Green

The Labor/Green coalition in Australia has declared war on coal, oil and gas. So why is Big Mining not fighting back?
BHP Billiton is a big producer of coal, oil, gas, iron ore, copper, nickel and uranium. Rio Tinto is a big producer of uranium, coal, iron ore, copper and aluminium. Glencore is a big producer of coal, copper, zinc and nickel. And Shell is big in oil, gas and bitumen, manufactures biofuels, and generates peak power with natural gas.

These companies employ competent geologists, physicists and chemists who could tell them that CO2 is not a pollutant and is not the primary driver of climate. They must know there is no scientific justification for the green war on hydro-carbon fuels - but none of these big miners speak out against this baseless war on their products. Some even waste shareholder funds producing glossy brochures promoting the green agenda.

Big Mining is not that dumb. Their climate concern is more motivated by self-interest - they see long-term profits flowing from the silly green agenda. They are also political cowards.

 Wind and solar power are indeed "free", but to extract electricity from them is not free – it needs turbines and solar panels, generators and transformers, transmission towers and power lines all of which boosts demand for metals like steel, copper, zinc, nickel and rare earths.

Moreover, wind and solar are very diffuse power sources and need large areas of land together with webs of access roads and power lines in order to generate significant power.

The heavy machinery needed for construction, maintenance and dismantling these green power networks provide more demands for petroleum and mining products. Before one watt of green electricity is generated for consumers, green power has boosted demand for most products of Big Mining.

Green power also needs back-up power ready to swing into action immediately the wind drops or clouds obscure the sun. This is great news for reliable energy suppliers capable of rapid backup, which usually means gas. So Big Gas loves Big Green and is secretly delighted by the war on coal. Lead, nickel, cadmium and lithium miners are also delighted with the soaring demand for energy-storing batteries.

Intermittent energy producers like wind and solar also cause destructive fluctuations in electricity supply and prices – prices can fall to zero on a sunny, windy afternoon, but soar during still, sunless periods. Coal power stations cannot adjust quickly to this destructive variability in electricity prices and will be sent broke, thus providing even more markets for gas.

Big Gas is thus delighted to secretly support the war on coal as it will do wonders for the demand for gas; but they fail to understand that once Greens have destroyed coal power, they will then turn their green guns on to gas.

Uranium producers love the greens. They know that if coal and gas are banned from power generation, and all hydro-power sites are "world-heritage protected", all that is left to stabilise the electricity grids of modern society is nuclear power.

Even coal producers see short-term benefits in supporting inane green ideas like carbon capture and burial. This would greatly increase the amount of coal needed to generate the electricity consumed to collect, separate, compress, transport and bury exhaust gases as well as to refine and fabricate all the metals needed for gas collectors, compressors and pipelines. Long term, the main beneficiaries of this industrial silliness will be nuclear power and uranium miners like Rio and BHP.

So Big Mining can extract benefits from green energy while earning political credits. And their PC executives can polish their green credentials in their suburban circles by supporting the silliness.

On the debit side are the usual victims - taxpayers and consumers of coal, oil, gas, electricity and metals; and employees and shareholders of industries being forced to close or emigrate because of expensive or unreliable electricity supply.



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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