Sunday, July 09, 2017

Stephen Hawking has abandoned science

He wants more government control so is prepared to speak nonsense to facilitate it. He knows as well as I do that the high Venusian surface temperature is an adiabatic effect -- a function of the great weight (hence pressure) exerted by the huge Venusian atmosphere. The earth has no such atmosphere so anything similar on earth cannot occur

When asked about President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, Professor Stephen Hawking said that Trump’s decision could make the Earth “become like Venus, with a temperature of over 250 degrees and raining sulfuric acid.” He also said that Trump will cause “damage to our beautiful planet.”

In a video published July 2, BBC News presented the question, “What does Stephen Hawking think about President Trump withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement?”

Hawking answered, “We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible.”

“Trump’s action could push the earth over the brink to become like Venus, with a temperature of over 250 degrees and raining sulfuric acid,” said Hawking.

“Climate change is one of the great dangers we face,” he stated, “and it’s one we can prevent, if we act now.”

“By denying the evidence for climate change, and pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Donald Trump will cause avoidable environmental damage to our beautiful planet, endangering the natural world for us and our children,” said Hawking.


Volvo's desperate throw

Volvo has been in financial trouble for some time now so their vow to go "all-electric" is a grab to capture much righteousness and part of Toyota's market share. Amid all the oohs and aahs however, people seem to be overlooking that Volvo is in fact NOT pulling out of the internal combustion engine.  They are still going to be making hybrids. It pains me to mention it but a hybrid is in fact powered by an internal combustion engine.  It has a huge and heavy battery pack which makes claims of economical running look suspicious but for long runs the internal combustion engine cuts in

The end of the internal combustion engine moved closer yesterday after a major carmaker became the first to abandon diesel and petrol-only vehicles.

Volvo, which sold almost 47,000 cars in the UK last year, said that all new models would be electric or hybrid within two years, adding that the age of the battery-powered car had arrived. Experts predicted that other mainstream manufacturers would follow suit.

Figures published by the motor industry showed that almost 59,000 new green cars were sold in the UK over the past 12 months, up 27.5 per cent in a year. Sales of petrol cars rose by 5.2 per cent while diesel sales fell almost 10 per cent year on year.


Fracking Industry Deserves Our Gratitude
Less than 10 years ago, America’s energy future looked bleak.  World oil prices in 2008 had spiked to more than $100 per barrel of crude.  “Peak oil” — the theory that the world had already extracted more crude oil than was still left in the ground — was America’s supposed bleak fate.

Ten years ago, rising gas prices, spiraling trade deficits and ongoing war in the oil-rich Middle East only underscored America’s precarious dependence on foreign sources of oil.

Despite news of a radically improved but relatively old technology called “fracking” — drilling into shale rock and injecting water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to hydraulically “fracture” the rock and create seams from which petroleum and natural gas are released — few saw much hope.

In 2012, when gas prices were hitting $4 a gallon in some areas, President Obama admonished the country that we “can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices.” That was a putdown of former Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s refrain, “Drill, baby, drill.”

Obama barred new oil and gas permits on federal lands. Steven Chu, who would become secretary of energy in the Obama administration, had earlier mused that gas prices might ideally rise to European levels (about $10 a gallon), thereby forcing Americans to turn to expensive subsidized alternative green fuels.

But over the last five years, frackers have refined their craft on private properties, finding ever cheaper and more efficient ways to extract huge amounts of crude oil and natural gas from shale rock.

In 2017, despite millions of square miles being off-limits to drillers, America is close to reaching 10 million barrels of crude oil production per day, the highest level in the nation’s history. The U.S. may soon surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest petroleum producer.

When American natural gas (about 20 percent of the world total) and coal (the largest reserves in the world) are factored into the fossil fuel equation, the U.S. is already the largest producer of energy in the world.

While environmentalists worry about polluting the water table and heightening seismic activity through hydraulic fracturing, fracking seems to become more environmentally sensitive each year.

When OPEC and other overseas producers tried to bankrupt frackers by flooding the world with their supposedly more cheaply produced oil, the effort backfired. American entrepreneurs learned to frack oil and natural gas even more cheaply and undercut the foreign gambit. The result is a windfall for all sectors of the American economy.

From 2014 to 2016, fracking helped cut the price of gasoline by $1.50 a gallon, saving American drivers an average of more than $1,000 per year.

Due to the fracking of natural gas, the United States has reduced its carbon emissions by about 12 percent over the last decade, (according to the Energy Information Administration) — at a far greater rate than the environmentally conscious European Union.

Fracking and cheaper gas are allowing a critical breathing space for strapped American consumers, as alternative energy production and transportation slowly become more efficient and competitive.

Fracking has created a national savings of about 5 million barrels of imported oil per day over the last decade. That translates to roughly $100 billion in annual savings by avoiding foreign oil.

Fracking has allowed the U.S. to enjoy some of the lowest electricity rates and gas prices in the industrial world. The result is that cheap energy costs are luring all sorts of energy-intensive industries — from aluminum to plastics to fertilizers — back to the United States, with the potential of creating millions of new, high-paying jobs.

Fracking has given America virtual energy independence, freeing it from the leverage of unstable and often hostile Middle East regimes. The result is less need to interfere in the chronic squabbling in the oil-rich but unstable Persian Gulf.

Fracking has reduced oil prices and radically weakened America’s rivals and enemies. Desperate oil exporters like Iran, Russia and Venezuela are short about half the oil income that they enjoyed 10 years ago.

The late Hugo Chavez’s oil-fed socialist utopia in Venezuela is bankrupt.

What so far constrains Russian President Vladimir Putin is as much a shortage of petrodollars as fear of NATO.

Until recently, the combination of sanctions (lifted by the Obama administration) and crashing oil prices had nearly bankrupted would-be nuclear power Iran.

The once-feared OPEC oil cartel, the long-time bane of the United States, is now nearly impotent.

Friends such as Israel have gained energy independence by fracking. In contrast, some European allies who have banned fracking out of environmental worries are more vulnerable to Russian, Iranian and Middle Eastern pressure than ever before.

Fracking is not easy. It requires legally protected property and mineral rights, a natural entrepreneurial spirit, environmental concern and a free-market. In other words, it is an American way of doing business.


Trump's Nuclear Energy Ambitions

Energy Secretary Rick Perry will be instrumental in deregulating what can be a key energy source for America

President Donald Trump has made some significant policy promises regarding America’s energy sector. For most Americans, his policies are extremely welcome news because the days of excessive government regulation and oversight of our nation’s ability to tap into and produce vast amounts of energy will be ending soon.

During a speech last Thursday on energy policy, Trump offered a stark contrast with his predecessor on not just pursuing energy independence for America, but “American energy dominance.” He outlined a six-pronged approach to doing so.

Put simply, unlike Barack Obama, who implemented onerous regulations on coal, off-shore drilling and other fossil fuel production methods — while demanding unrealistic increases in unreliable and expensive wind and solar power — Trump is taking an all-of-the-above approach to unleash American innovation to produce more energy than ever before.

Notably, the first part of his six-pronged approach is to “revive and expand our nuclear energy sector,” which will begin with a study on the issue. The study will analyze regulatory challenges that need to be addressed and offer possible solutions for fixing them. Furthermore, the study will take stock of costs associated with nuclear energy production and building additional nuclear reactors — much of which is regulatory burden. There weren’t a lot of details given in advance of this study, but recognizing a problem is the first step in coming up with a solution.

During a White House Press briefing, Energy Secretary Rick Perry stated without reservation that America needs to regain a “leadership role” in developing nuclear energy. “We really need to have a conversation with our country about making sure that America stays technologically and economically engaged on the nuclear side,” he said, “because if we do not then China and Russia will fill that void.”

Perry also noted that the Trump administration will “end the current blockade that has hindered American energy creation,” and he gave a passionate defense of nuclear power that is sure to irritate leftists. Perry pledged to make nuclear energy “cool again” and added that “no clean-energy portfolio is truly complete without nuclear power.”

Perry, Trump and other administration officials believe that nuclear energy development is important for America and that it can be a “game changer.” They’re absolutely right, but there are numerous obstacles that will need to be overcome if nuclear energy is truly going to be part of Trump’s plan for American energy dominance.

The nuclear industry is currently ailing with many construction projects being costlier than anticipated. One of the major nuclear reactor builders, Westinghouse, filed for bankruptcy this year after losing money on construction projects in South Carolina and Georgia. The projects were three years past due and cost between $1 to $1.3 billion more than expected. But the costs and timeframe were primarily due to — surprise — government regulation. Perry and the Trump administration intend to address these burdensome regulations and will push for incentives aimed at giving our younger generation a renewed interest in studying nuclear energy production.

You can bet that the push for American energy dominance and independence, with nuclear energy being at the forefront, will outrage ecofascists. As usual, they’ll cry that Trump is trying to destroy the planet. For years, the Left has ignored nuclear power because words like “weapon” and “waste” come to mind whenever the word nuclear is mentioned. But nuclear power is clean energy just like wind and solar, and leftists have been making a terrible mistake by ignoring the benefits that come with nuclear power.

Approximately 20% of America’s electricity comes from nuclear power. The nuclear reactors currently in operation produce four times the amount of energy that wind power can and 21 times the amount that solar power does. By the way, it’s also cheaper to produce than wind and solar, and because of research and innovation it is a safe means of producing energy.

If Trump can follow through with his energy plans, we may very well see another example of American greatness through the harnessing and use of the vast energy resources with which our nation has been so richly blessed.


Australian energy debate fuelled by infinite sources of renewable acrimony

If there is one economic issue where the ideological prancing and post-material indulgence of the media/political class clashes violently with the daily priorities and pragmatic common sense of the mainstream, it is energy policy. With the highest electricity prices in the world now achieved in South Australia (other states are in hot pursuit) and past blackouts heightening fears of further shortages, the situation is shambolic.

Imagine the lunacy of an ­energy-rich nation — one of the largest exporters of coal, gas and uranium — inflicting an energy crisis on itself. This is self-harm by government decree. The bipartisan renewable ­energy target has been the main cause. It achieved its aim of boosting ­investment in wind and solar generation but governments — federal and state, Liberal and Labor — ignored cost and security. Now, through the Finkel review, the Turnbull government is trying to retrofit affordability and security to an electricity network ­up-ended by the RET.

With coal generators priced out of the market in SA and Victoria, and insufficient investment in storage or back-up gas generation, the nation faces a pricing and ­security crisis. SA experienced the trauma of a statewide blackout triggered by a storm, system instability and over-reliance on inter­state interconnection. It is worth noting that SA took the power price world title from Denmark, which also relies on wind for more than 40 per cent of its electricity.

Energy is the most crucial and volatile policy issue in national politics. In the wake of Finkel, we await a detailed plan from the government. It will be a defining factor in whether the economy can ­reclaim confidence, rekindle growth and diversify.

It will determine whether the Coalition has a chance of remaining in office beyond the next election. And it will be critical in resolving or unleashing the titanic policy and personal struggle ­between Turnbull and his ­aggrieved predecessor.

Tony Abbott talks a big game on electricity now he is free from the constraints of office or cabinet solidarity. He wants to cap the RET, invest in new coal generation and give priority to affordability and security over emissions reductions. But as prime minister, he behaved differently. Abbott scrapped the carbon tax but implemented direct action to cut emissions, supported the RET and negotiated the Paris target. None of this means he is wrong now; it merely exposes him to charges of hypocrisy, changeability and opportunism. Most of the media/political class are committed to climate gestures and ­renewable energy, so shout down his present interventions. But ­Abbott makes a lot of sense, ­especially to mainstream voters worried about the impact of power prices on household budgets or business cash flows.

The core policy challenge is ­described by Turnbull as a “trilemma”: meeting three criteria of affordable energy, secure supplies and reduced emissions. The fatal flaw is that reducing emissions is precisely what has made power more expensive and ­less reliable.

If we really want the cheapest and most reliable electricity we would concentrate on thermal baseload generation and forget emissions. And if we really want lower emissions and refuse to ­embrace nuclear, we must accept higher prices and less reliability.

Putting climate science arguments to one side, it is clear that given the minuscule size, globally, of Australia’s carbon dioxide ­reductions and the massive ­ongoing increases from China and India alone, our cuts will have no discernible impact on the planet. So as a nation we must decide whether we are prepared to pay a high economic price for no environmental gain.

Alternatively, we could decide this moment in time — with the US withdrawing from Paris, our economy in flux and ­global temperatures stubbornly ­refusing to rise in line with the models — might be opportune to abandon or forestall reductions targets and concentrate on economic stability. This is a proposition few politicians, aside from Cory Bernardi, Pauline Hanson and, less directly, Abbott, are prepared to even discuss. Little wonder the major parties are in strife.

Turnbull faces an even more challenging political “trilemma” than his policy challenge. A ­workable political resolution on energy needs to meet three ­demands that, like his policy aims, are irreconcilable. The Prime Minister first needs a technically plausible plan, as he says, based on economics and ­engineering rather than ideology. This goal is compromised by the determination to reduce emissions by at least 26 per cent by 2030 and is a diabolical challenge for any technocrat given the starting shambles.

Turnbull’s policy must also pass through parliament and deliver ­investment certainty; the only way to satisfy those aims is to win agreement from Labor. If Bill Shorten approves of the package, it will sail through the Senate and business can confidently make ­investment decisions with perhaps two terms of policy certainty — an eternity compared with the dystopia of the past decade.

Finally, the Turnbull plan needs to demonstrate policy differentiation and political advantage to provide some chance of recovery in the polls and re-­election. But the Coalition cannot simultaneously trump Labor and win its bipartisan support. Like his policy trilemma, this political trilemma cannot be resolved.

Prioritising the national interest would favour a solution that Labor could support, which is where Turnbull is drifting. It might involve a clean energy target where the subsidy cut-off is set at a level allowing high efficiency coal generation (about 0.6 tonnes per megawatt hour) — this would ­entrench prices higher than they otherwise would be but guarantee emissions reductions.

But politics is bound to intervene. Labor could leave the ­Coalition hanging out to dry, both because its left flank and the Greens would prefer to destroy coal, and it would present an irresistible chance to execute Turnbull politically. Why not destroy Turnbull on energy and go with a carbon price, 50 per cent RET and higher global commitments once in office? Labor seems to be trying to lure Turnbull into undermining his own leadership twice in eight years on climate policy.

There is also a catch-22 for the most conservative and pragmatic players such as Abbott. Even if a hardline Coalition could convince parliament to cap the RET and ditch emissions targets, the electricity crisis would not be over.

Knowing a Labor administration would turn all this on its head, the industry would have no confidence. At the very least, industry planners would factor in a price on carbon and, at worst, would join an indefinite investment strike.

Past bipartisan policy has made investment so fraught for anything other than subsidised and ­intermittent renewable ­energy that we are seeing a return to government intervention. Turn­bull is directly intervening through his Snowy 2.0 hydro plan and other Coalition MPs, including Abbott, are talking about government-subsidised new coal generation. Just a year ago, for the want of about $20m, the SA government stood and watched the demolition of a coal-fired station and Victoria taxed Hazelwood into retirement.

Renewables sound attractive and are popular when they work. But governments who allow high power prices to reduce living ­standards or fail to keep the lights on will not have their mandates ­renewed.




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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