Monday, October 09, 2017

Why fuel efficient cars might do less for the environment than you'd think

Most people who buy a Prius also have a SUV

Opinion polls tell us Australians are worried about climate change and they think cars are part of the problem.

A recent Ipsos survey found voters rate motor vehicle emissions among the top four "specific activities" that cause climate change.

But that hasn't prompted us to cut back on the number of cars we own, even though light vehicles contribute about 10 per cent of Australia's total greenhouse gas emissions.

The Bureau of Statistics' annual count of registered vehicles shows the number of passenger cars for every 1000 Australians has risen from 567 to 581 over the past five years.

The 2016 national census, released in July, tells a similar story. The number of vehicles per household had crept up from 1.7 to 1.8 since the previous census five years earlier. It showed the share of households with no car shrank in that period (from 8.6 per cent to 7.5 per cent) while the proportion with three vehicles or more increased (from 16.5 per cent to 18.1 per cent). The overall share of two-car families also edged higher.

The good news, of course, is that cars are becoming more fuel efficient making their greenhouse gas emissions lower. A recent federal government report said all classes of light vehicles in Australia have become more efficient over the last 10 years. Plus there's a growing range of low emission hybrid and electric car models to choose from.

But a new investigation into the choices households make about car purchases raises questions about how much difference the trend for better fuel efficiency will make in reducing emissions.

A team of economists used car registration records in California to track the types of vehicles motorists purchased over time. They discovered that a typical two car household that buys a fuel-efficient vehicle is very likely to buy a bigger, more powerful second car to compensate.

Practical considerations are likely to underpin this pattern. For example, a family might use a small, highly efficient car for most day-to-day tasks, but use the bigger petrol guzzler more for weekend activities, road trips, camping and other purposes where more space and power may be useful.

This type of consumer behaviour – called "attribute substitution" by economists –happens with many purchases. A cafe goer, for instance, might opt for a skim latte rather than full cream to compensate for eating a donut. Or a household with a large television in the lounge room might choose smaller screens elsewhere in the home.

The tendency for motorists with a fuel-efficient car to buy a bigger second car has a significant impact on household fuel consumption.

The economists estimate this attribute substitution in vehicle purchases, combined with the changes in driving behaviour that result, may reduce up to 60 per cent of the expected future savings from increased fuel economy in two-car households.

It's a reminder that relatively straightforward climate change policies to improve efficiency, such as tougher fuel economy standards, could have unintended consequences.

"These results highlight the challenges in design or evaluation of any policy intending to alter consumer choices over a portfolio of goods," concludes the paper called "Attribute Substitution in Household Vehicle Portfolios" published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.


Pollaganda: ABC, WaPo Pushed Hurricane/Climate Change Link, Now Find Americans Believe It

The number of Americans who see a connection between manmade climate change and hurricanes grew dramatically in the past 12 years.

Given Al Gore, climate alarmists and the liberal media’s persistent climate alarmism throughout that time, it’s no wonder.

“More than half of Americans now see climate change as responsible for the severity of recent hurricanes – an about-face from 12 years ago,” a Sept. 28, ABC News/Washington Post poll found. Of course, ABC News and The Post didn’t point out how they helped move the needle.

With the broadcast networks, other liberal media and people including Apocalypse Al Gore, aggressively pushed claims of a link between climate change and “extreme” weather during those years.

The poll showed that 55 percent of Americans attribute the severity of recent hurricanes to “climate change,” compared to just 25 percent on Sept. 7, 2005, nine days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

Additionally, 83 percent of respondents who identified as “liberal” attributed hurricane intensity to climate change. In contrast, only 30 percent of conservatives currently credit climate change.

Those opinions changed over a time span which included two fearmongering films from former Vice President Gore. An Inconvenient Truth in 2006 and An Inconvenient Sequel in 2017. Both films contained multiple inaccuracies, including the suggestion that global warming caused Hurricane Katrina.

“Brand new evidence is causing some scientists to assert that global warming is even leading to an increased frequency of hurricanes,” Gore also claimed in his 2006 book, also titled An Inconvenient Truth.

Those claims are contrary to a statement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that “[i]t premature to conclude that human activities–and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming–have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity.” NOAA issues hurricane forecasts and monitors the storms.

Also, in spite of Gore’s warnings the United States experienced a 12 year hurricane drought from October 2005 to August 2017, in which no hurricanes larger than a Category 2 made landfall.

Broadcast network coverage of “extreme weather” in morning and evening news stories also increased by nearly 1,000 percent in the years following Gore’s film: An Inconvenient Truth — showing his influence upon the liberal media.

ABC News, one of the outlets behind the recent poll, played a significant role in pushing an “extreme weather” narrative on climate change. It even had its own “Extreme Weather Team” (which the George Soros-funded Columbia Journalism Review dubbed “Extreme weather porn”) and compiled at least one alarming report on “Extreme Weather in America.”

Following 2017 Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, both ABC’s Good Morning America and the Post linked the hurricanes to climate change.

“A lot look at these two back-to-back hurricanes, two powerful hurricanes back-to-back and think there must be some connection to climate change,” ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos said on Good Morning America Sept. 11.

Also on Sept. 11, the Post published a story highlighting “... four underappreciated ways that climate change could make hurricanes even worse.”Four days later, the Post claimed recovery in the everglades after Hurricane Irma “could be a different matter” than in the past, “[t]hanks to climate change.”


Power grid reliability and resilience are matters of national security

Earlier this week, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry sent a proposed rule change to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regarding U.S. power grid reliability and resilience. When people discuss the electric grid they often interchange the terms reliability and resilience. What do these terms mean and how do they affect the lives of Americans? They may not realize it, but electric grid resilience and reliability ensure Americans can live the life they have today.

The U.S. power grid is part of the Energy Sector, which is one of Homeland Security’s sixteen critical infrastructure sectors. The grid is comprised of three smaller grids. One grid spans the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains while another serves people from the Rockies to the Pacific. The last grid is the state of Texas.  Each of these individual grids is comprised of a network of power producing facilities, tens of thousands of miles of transmission lines, and hundreds of substations, bringing power to your home and business.

What is grid reliability? Grid reliability is the ability of a power grid to deliver electricity in sufficient quantities when needed. When someone turns a light switch on, the lights come on. The assembly line in Tennessee manufacturing trucks needs a reliable supply of electricity to run operations.

What is grid resilience? Grid resilience is the ability of a power grid to bounce back from a major incident. The incident can be a man-made incident, such as a terrorist attack, or a natural disaster such as a major hurricane. A resilient grid may suffer a disruption at the height of the event, but it will be back up quickly, sending electricity to customers.

Why is grid reliability important?

Growing children need good nutrition to grow up healthy and strong, and the same can be said for an economy. As the U.S. economy and population grow, an increased load is put on the power grid. U.S. energy consumption has grown so much, it has more than doubled since 1975. The increased load must be met with increased power generation.

A reliable grid allows an economy to grow. Commerce happens twenty-four hour a day, seven days a week. An unreliable supply of electricity slows down commerce thereby slowing down or even contracting the economy. An unreliable grid puts people out of work, reduces tax revenue, and increases dependency on government.

Why is grid resilience important?

Power grid resilience is important because your life literally depends on it. The southern states are only tolerable in the summer because of air conditioning. How horrendous would Atlanta, Ga. or Houston, Texas be in August if there was no way to cool them off? Houston regularly reaches a heat index of well over 100 degrees in the summer. Without electricity, deaths from heat exhaustion would skyrocket. Food that needs refrigeration will spoil in days, if not hours. Lifesaving medications that require refrigeration would spoil and become useless.

Public transportation is dependent on the power grid. All public metro trains move thanks to electricity. Public buses may run on diesel and compressed natural gas, but the pumps that fill those vehicles are electric. How would cities like New York and Washington D.C. be able to function without public transportation?

How would an economy work without electricity? It is a problem playing out before our very eyes in Puerto Rico. After an event, people need supplies. The supplies are bought with money. If there is no electricity, the physical cash is stuck in ATMs and bank vaults. Debit cards and credit cards will not work. Anarchy and violence will soon follow if people do not have the access to their money supply.

Trump Administration acts

Two of the more reliable forms of electricity generation are coal and nuclear. After eight years of the Obama administration using regulations to destroy the coal and nuclear power industries, the Trump administration has sought to turn that around with the new rule recommendation.

In a statement, Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning praised the move, saying, ““In 2016, Coal and nuclear provided a combined 51 percent of electricity, in spite of Obama policies that are taking 374 coal power plants offline, and accelerating the decommissioning of 5 nuclear reactors. The rule announced by Department of Energy will help take the regulatory boot off the throats of these two vital pieces of our electric power grid puzzle.”

Perry has taken a bold step forward to ensure power grid reliability and resilience. Some will scoff, but in a natural disaster scenario that severely damages part of the grid, coal and nuclear will be the most reliable sources of power.

Coal power plants keep weeks worth of coal on site, and nuclear plants have power as long as they have nuclear fuel rods. Both types of plants can produce power in the most dire of situations. Natural gas plants cannot keep weeks worth of gas on site. Natural gas plants need pipelines to deliver the gas. Solar and wind only work when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. It makes no sense put national security and the economy at risk by excluding the two most reliable sources of electricity generation. Yet, regulatorily that is the path we are on.

If this hurricane season has taught us anything, it is just how fragile the U.S. power grid is. From the NASA image, you can see what an unreliable un-resilient power grid looks like. The Trump administration is taking the threat seriously and has moved to diversify power generation capabilities. President Trump is to be commended for taking this first step and he must continue to undo the burdensome regulations intended to drive coal and nuclear out of business.


More on the Larsen C iceberg

Finally, see below an admission that the breaking away of the iceberg was  NOT a result of global warming

As the iceberg, known as A-68, moves away from the Larsen C ice shelf and into the Weddell Sea, it will eventually expose 2,240 square miles (5,800 square kilometers) of seafloor that has been buried under the ice for up to 120,000 years, without light and linked to the open ocean only by minimal currents, according to scientists with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

Now, scientists are keen to begin exploring the newly exposed area as soon as possible, to conduct research on the hidden ecosystem that can be used to make comparisons with any changes that occur over the years to come.

Grant is one of two BAS scientists who led a successful proposal for international protection of areas on the Antarctic Peninsula that are exposed when floating icebergs break away from the coast-bound ice shelves.

The Larsen C area will be the first to benefit from a 2016 agreement by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), an international conservation agency, following the proposal by Grant and her colleague Phil Trathan, head of conservation ecology for the BAS.

"There's this vast area which has been covered for thousands of years," Grant told Live Science. "We know the physical changes are likely to be huge when the ice moves away, and the ecosystem is likely to change along with that."

Grant added that there is no evidence that this event is a direct result of climate change, but "we do expect that these sorts of things may happen more frequently in the future, so understanding how things respond to this kind of change is really important" 


Tesla delays: Model 3 car parts ‘being made by hand’

Tesla founder Elon Musk has said the company will produce 500,000 cars a year, but only a fraction of the promised 1500 Model 3 vehicles have been made.

Tesla Inc blamed “production bottlenecks” for having made only a fraction of the promised 1,500 Model 3s, the $US35,000 sedan designed to propel the luxury electric-car maker into the mainstream.

Unknown to analysts, investors and the hundreds of thousands of customers who signed up to buy it, as recently as early September major portions of the Model 3 were still being banged out by hand, away from the automated production line, according to people familiar with the matter.

While the car’s production began in early July, the advanced assembly line Tesla has boasted of building still wasn’t fully ready as of a few weeks ago, the people said. Tesla’s factory workers had been piecing together parts of the cars in a special area while the company feverishly worked to finish the machinery designed to produce Model 3’s at a rate of thousands a week, the people said.

Automotive experts say it is unusual to be building large parts of a car by hand during production. “That’s not how mass production vehicles are made,” said Dennis Virag, a manufacturing consultant who has worked in the automotive industry for 40 years. “That’s horse-and-carriage type manufacturing. That’s not today’s automotive world.”

In a statement, a Tesla spokeswoman declined to answer questions for this article and said, “For over a decade, the WSJ has relentlessly attacked Tesla with misleading articles that, with few exceptions, push or exceed the boundaries of journalistic integrity. While it is possible that this article could be an exception, that is extremely unlikely.” The Journal disagrees with the company’s categorisation of its journalism.

Tesla introduced the Model 3 at an event outside the company’s factory in July, when Chief Executive Elon Musk drove a shiny red Model 3 onstage as hundreds of his employees cheered the first sedans rolling off the production line.

Within minutes of stepping out of the new vehicle, Tesla’s leader warned his engineers and designers the coming months would be challenging. “Frankly, we’re going to be in production hell. Welcome, welcome!” he said to laughter.

Behind the scenes, Tesla had fallen weeks behind in finishing the manufacturing systems to build the vehicle, the people said.

The extent of the problem came to light on Monday when Tesla said it made only 260 Model 3s during the third quarter—averaging three cars a day. The company cited production bottlenecks but didn’t explain much further.

“Although the vast majority of manufacturing subsystems at...our California car plant...are able to operate at high rate, a handful have taken longer to activate than expected,” the company said at the time.

In Mr Musk’s pursuit to rid the world of combustion engines, Tesla is trying to apply Silicon Valley’s ethos of rapid change to the type of complex manufacturing process that traditional auto makers have spent decades perfecting. Unusual in the U.S. tech industry, where even companies that do make hardware generally outsource their manufacturing, Tesla’s challenge requires integrating an army of factory workers and some 10,000 parts from suppliers around the world.

Tesla’s rollout of the Model X sport-utility vehicle in 2015 also was plagued by quality and design issues that left suppliers scrambling and hourly workers having to rush to meet lofty goals. But the plans for the Model 3 are far larger, meaning the lack of a fully working assembling line so late in production could deal a bigger blow to the company.

Mr. Musk has said Tesla learned from the Model X mistakes. And he has proven doubters wrong before, creating a luxury brand that competes against BMW and Mercedes-Benz for buyers and has demonstrated that fully electric cars can find an enthusiastic following beyond a niche of environmentalists.

Calling his cars a “computer on wheels,” Mr. Musk caught conservative Detroit off guard with Tesla’s ability to quickly change features, such as a semiautonomous drive system, with software updates over the air. The company’s stock has soared about 69% in the past 12 months, at times pushing its market value past General Motors Co.’s .

But building 500,000 vehicles a year—as Mr Musk had projected Tesla would start doing next year—is a sizable leap for a company that only made 84,000 Model S sedans and Model X SUVs last year. By comparison, General Motors Co., the largest US. auto maker by sales, delivered about 10 million vehicles globally last year, or more than 27,000 a day.

To approach what a typical factory in North America churns out, 14-year-old Tesla must build the muscles to roll out a car every minute of the workday and do it so well that the vehicles don’t cause headaches for customers down the road.

Most auto makers celebrate the start of production of a new vehicle to sell—so-called Job 1—after six months or so of running the assembly line to build a few hundred vehicles to work out the bugs, said Doug Betts, senior vice president of global automotive operations at consultancy J.D. Power and a former manufacturing executive for Toyota Motor Corp. , Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Apple Inc.

“You’re not really improving the final process if you’re not running on it,” Mr. Betts said. “Problems can only be solved once they are found.”

It isn’t uncommon for much larger auto makers to handbuild pre-production versions of a car prior to the sales launch, but those are typically reserved for employees and others willing to test the cars and return them to the company. By the time a car goes on sale, the body shop is typically fully automated.

Inside the Fremont factory, workers said equipment for the so-called body-in-white line for the Model 3, where the car body’s sheet metal is welded together, wasn’t installed until by around September. They guessed at least another month of work remained to calibrate the tools.

One worker who spent time in the Model 3 shop—dubbed by some as Area 51 because of the limited access and secretive nature—described watching young workers in September struggling to move large pieces of steel to weld together instead of using robots as is traditionally the case.

“In place of the robots…you’ve got two associates lining up with a big, old spot welder hanging from the ceiling by a chain, and you’ve got one associate kind of like balancing it and trying to get the welder in position, and you’ve got another welder with his arm guiding it,” this worker recalled seeing. “Sparks go flying.”

In August, Mr. Musk told analysts that the Model 3s coming out of the factory were “not engineering validation units.”

“They’re fully certified, fully DOT-approved, EPA-approved production cars,” Mr. Musk said, referring to the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency. “These are not prototypes in any way. They’re not validation anything. They are full production cars.”

But he also said early versions coming out of Fremont would have issues, which is why the first cars were going to employees and investors who paid for them.

Tesla has said it expects to begin delivering the first cars to nonemployees this quarter. It will have to seriously boost production to meet Mr. Musk’s 5,000-a-week projection.




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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