Wednesday, January 31, 2018

‘Climate change may hit farm income’in India

The unfortunate Indians have been sold a pup.  Global warming would produce MORE rainfall, meaning LESS need for irrigation

The Economic Survey 2017-18, said farmer income losses from climate change could be between 15% and 18% on an average, rising to anywhere between 20%-25% in unirrigated areas of the country.

“Applying IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)-predicted temperatures and projecting India’s recent trends in precipitation, and assuming no policy responses, give rise to estimates for farm income losses of 15% to 18% on average, rising to 20%-25% for unirrigated areas,” pointed out the Survey, adding that at current levels of farm income, that translates into more than Rs. 3,600 per year for the median farm household.

“[The] Prime Minister’s goal of doubling farmers’ incomes — increasingly runs up against the contemporary realities of Indian agriculture, and the harsher prospects of its vulnerability to long-term climate change,” pointed out the Survey, adding that India needed to expand irrigation – and do so against a backdrop of rising water scarcity and depleting groundwater resources.

“In the 1960s, less than 20% of agriculture was irrigated, now this number is in the mid-40s. The Indo-Gangetic plain, and parts of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are well irrigated. But parts of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are still extremely vulnerable to climate change on account of not being well irrigated,” said the Survey.


New Paper: Declining Caribou Numbers Linked To Arctic COOLING

In a new paper (Mallory et al., 2018), scientists have again concluded that the Arctic warms in response to a positive Arctic Oscillation (AO) and cools in response to a negative AO, precluding a deterministic role for anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

The authors point out that the Canadian Arctic has undergone an overall cooling trend since the late 1990s, or as the AO has pivoted from a positive (1988-1996, warming) to negative (1997-2016) stage.

Unfortunately, the recent (1990s-present) cooling trend has not been beneficial for the caribou populations native to this region.

Cooler temperatures mean less vegetation is available for foraging, and hence the body condition of the herds deteriorates and broad declines in population intensify.  Alternatively, a warming Arctic climate means more food sources are available for caribou herds, leading to better body condition and greater fertility.

As Mallory and colleagues summarize, “population trajectories of caribou herds followed the direction of the AO: herds increased under positive AO intensity, and decreased under negative AO intensity.”


Renewable Energy: the mad saga continues

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) lobbies hard for renewable subsidies and estimates global “clean energy” investment at $333 billion. This excludes hydro-electricity other than Politically Correct “small hydro”. Some 85 per cent of expenditure is in wind or solar with the rest including biomass, electric vehicles and waste-to-energy.

To recap, in Australia electricity from subsidised renewable energy – and wind is the cheapest of those sources – costs three times as much as energy from coal. It is viable only because the government requires increasing proportions of energy it designates as renewable to be incorporated in our supply and therefore in our bills.

This results in a subsidy, which at present is $85 per MWh for wind and large scale solar, and $40 for rooftop solar. Those sums are on top of the market price all energy receives. That market price used to be around $40 per MWh but, as a result of closures caused by subsidised wind forcing increased costs on coal and gas generators, it is now around $90 per MWh; research conducted by the Minerals Council puts new build for coal at under $50 per MWh, costs that are consistent with those estimated for the thousand plus coal generators being built, mainly in Asia.

The upshot is a double whammy – we replace low cost highly reliable electricity with supplies that are three times as expensive and which are highly unreliable – and we call that progress!! The $9 billion of subsidy-induced malinvestment in renewables last year alone would have been sufficient to finance over 4,000 MW of new coal plant – more than double the capacity of the now closed Hazelwood station, even if it is in fashionable but high cost low emissions plant. That would have returned prices to their 2015 level, half those now prevailing, and given us the reliability that is now a wistful nostalgia.

At present one of the man energy regulators, the AEMC, estimates renewable subsidies increase electricity prices by 10 per cent directly (p.10). That would be increased by another 20 per cent due to the subsidies boosting the overall generation cost and perhaps more due to them requiring increased transmission investment.

The lobby industry has taken to interviewing itself to raise the ante for new subsidies. BNEF in response to Reneweconomy notes that the capacity of renewables driven by existing schemes, which focus on the Paris Agreement’s 26-28 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, will soon be met. Hence they are calling for further expansion of subsidies (existing ones, unless terminated, will live on for decades). BNEF argues “So what’s required is a more ambitious emissions reduction target under the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), or for state governments to continue to develop policy to ramp up investment.” And the hope of the industry is that Mr Turnbull will exercise his influence and “States should be throwing their weight around the COAG table and only signing up to a NEG if it ups ambition on a pathway to net zero emissions by 2050”.

The industry also claims renewable energy is already competitive, pointing to recent contracts struck by AGL and Origin Energy  for renewable power at around $60 per MWh. But public information of these contracts’ details is missing, including about what happens to the subsidy (which on forward markets remains above $50 per MWh). It is difficult to square claims made by many lobbyists on the back of such contracts that renewables are now competitive with coal especially since the same lobbyists say investment will dry up without more subsidies.

Meanwhile we have politicians swallowing the propaganda of the renewable industry or too timid or committed to renewable energy to stand up and tell it as it is.

Only a couple of minor players in Europe and the great Donald are resisting the madness. The USA is benefitting immensely from Trump’s energy policies with waves of new investment – including from Australia – announced almost weekly.

In time the success of Trump’s policies will surely remove the blinkers from the eyes of politicians but in the interim we can expect to lose considerable wealth, energy-dependent investment and face trying times in the reliability of the electricity supply system.


The Climate-Change Doomsday Just Got Canceled

A new study published in the prestigious journal Nature finds that all those global warming doomsday scenarios aren't credible. Not that you would ever know based on how little coverage this study is getting.

The study, published on Thursday, finds that if CO2 in the atmosphere doubled, global temperatures would climb at most by 3.4 degrees Celsius. That's far below what the UN has been saying for decades, namely that temperatures would rise as much as 4.5 degrees, and possibly up to 6 degrees.

Basically, the scientists involved in the Nature study found that the planet is less sensitive to changes in CO2 levels than had been previously believed. That means projected temperature increases are too high.

Of course this is just one study, but it supports the contention climate skeptics have been making for years — that the computer models used to predict future warming were exaggerating the impact of CO2, evidenced in part by the fact that the planet hasn't been warming as much as those models say it should.

Why is this important? Because all those horror stories told over the past decades are based on predictions of  temperature increases that are much higher than 3.4 degrees.

A 2008 National Geographic series, to cite just one example, contended that scientists are warning that the global average temperature could increase by as much as 6 degrees Celsius over the next century, "which would cause our world to change radically." Oceans, it said, would become marine wastelands, deserts would expand, catastrophic events would be more common.

The Obama administration's EPA put out a report in 2015 claiming that climate change would triple the number of extremely hot days in the U.S. by 2100, increase air and water pollution, cause $5 trillion in damages for coastal property, and result in tens of thousands of premature deaths.

The EPA assumed a global temperature increase of 5 degrees.

The Nature study blows a hole in these and other doomsday scenarios that have been peddled for decades by everyone from Al Gore to Prince Charles.

In other words, it's big news.

And don't be surprised if scientists end up revising peak warming down even further. That's been the trend up until now, after all. Back in 1977, the National Academy of Sciences said temperatures would shoot up 6 degrees C by 2050 because of CO2 emissions. In 1985, James Hansen claimed that doubling CO2 levels would boost temperatures up to 5 degrees, and other computer models at the time put the upper bound at 5.5 degrees.

As it happens, though, on the same day the Nature study was published, NASA released its latest report on global temperatures, declaring that 2017 was the second hottest year on record, with 2016 the hottest.

Guess which story made front page news?

The New York Times put the NASA story on its main webpage, and ignored the Nature study entirely.

Even if it's true that 17 of the 18 hottest years have occurred since 2001 — which requires one to assume the government's manipulation of past temperature data has been on the up and up — the relevant question isn't what's happening now, but what is likely to happen going forward.

If the scientific evidence is showing that the harm from CO2 emissions will be far less than feared, we should be celebrating.

Surely all those "settled science" folks would agree.


U.S. Regains The Ability To Identify Real National Security Threats

Maybe Donald Trump is just not your type of guy, and certainly not the guy you would want to be President; but keep in mind who was the alternative.  Before these things fade into the memory hole, bring back to mind a few of the wildly incompetent policies of the previous administration.  Looking around today for a candidate as the policy of the previous administration that could be the very most wildly incompetent of all, with a very real potential to put the security of the country in serious jeopardy, my leading contender is the decision to declare "climate change" to be a top-priority national security risk.

Do you remember Obama doing that?  It wasn't that long ago.  In his second inaugural address in January 2013, Obama declared that “no challenge – no challenge – poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”  Then, over the next couple of years, he ramped up the claimed "challenge" of climate change from mere "greatest threat to future generations" to an "immediate threat to national security."  Think about that for a minute -- how would it even work?  Suppose the temperature goes up a few degrees over the next few decades.  Does it mean that we don't have an army any more?  Does it mean that our weapons won't work?  Nevertheless, in a National Security Strategy document in February 2015, the Obama administration declared climate change to be “an urgent and growing threat to our national security,”  Then in May 2015, Obama gave a commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut.  Excerpt:

I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country.  And so we need to act, and we need to act now.

Supposedly, something like sea level, or maybe wildfires, or maybe floods -- all completely speculative -- would somehow make the country harder to defend.  Meanwhile, when Obama talked about "acting now," what he meant was restricting production fossil fuels in the United States.  What did he think was the fuel that powers the planes and ships and missiles, let alone powering the economy that provides all the logistical support to keep the military functioning?  As far as I could tell, he had no idea.  In the name of "national security" he would hobble and ultimately shut down our own oil and coal and gas industries, leaving us to go begging for the necessary fuel to -- where?  OPEC?  Russia?  Venezuela?  You really need to be delusional not to be able to distinguish the real national security threat here from the imaginary one.

As you probably know, in a new National Security Strategy document released yesterday President Trump reversed this ridiculous policy of President Obama.  The new document does not contain any section explicitly dealing with "climate," but it does have a section titled "Embrace Energy Dominance."  Key quote:

Access to domestic sources of clean, affordable, and reliable energy underpins a prosperous, secure, and powerful America for decades to come.  Unleashing these abundant energy resources—coal, natural gas, petroleum, renewables, and nuclear—stimulates the economy and builds a foundation for future growth. Our Nation must take advantage of our wealth in domestic resources and energy efficiency to promote competitiveness across our industries. . . .  Climate policies will continue to shape the global energy system. U.S. leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth energy agenda that is detrimental to U.S. economic and energy secu- rity interests. Given future global energy demand, much of the developing world will require fossil fuels, as well as other forms of energy, to power their economies and lift their people out of poverty.  The United States will continue to advance an approach that balances energy security, economic development, and environmental protection. 

Bullet dodged, at least for the moment.

Now, perhaps on reading this, you remain skeptical that hobbling U.S. fossil fuel energy production could jeopardize national security by making the U.S. dependent on the likes of OPEC or Russia for fuel needed to run the military or the economy.  If so, I would urge you to pay attention to what has just been occurring in the UK.  The UK is thought to have substantial natural gas-bearing shale formations (full extent unknown due to lack of exploration) that could be tapped to supply fuel for the country.  However, during the whole time of the shale gas revolution in the United States, the process of horizontal drilling and "fracking" for gas has been essentially shut down by regulators over concerns of environmentalists.  The first exploratory well after the moratorium finally got going just this August.  From the Financial Times, August 17:

Drilling has started on the first UK shale well for six years even as debate intensifies among geologists over how much gas is available for fracking. Cuadrilla, the company leading the push to bring US-style shale gas production to the UK, said on Thursday it had begun drilling a vertical well expected to reach 3.5km beneath its site near Blackpool, Lancashire. . . .   Fracking has been on hold in the UK since 2011 when two small earth tremors were blamed on exploratory operations by Cuadrilla at another site near Blackpool. Cuadrilla was given the go-ahead by the government last year to resume drilling, reflecting ministers’ hopes of replicating the shale revolution that has cut US gas prices and bolstered American energy security.

Lacking a home-grown, land-based gas supply from fracking, the UK has been relying on gas from the aging North Sea fields, as well as gas that comes from the Middle East and also Norway via pipelines across Europe.  Both of those sources then suddenly experienced supply disruptions in the past couple of weeks.  From the Telegraph, December 13:

Around 40pc of the UK’s domestic [natural gas] supplies have been wiped out until the new year due to the emergency shutdown of the North Sea’s Forties pipeline, operated by Ineos. Supply from Europe has also been constrained by the explosion at a hub in Austria and technical problems in the Norwegian North Sea.   

Time to crank up the vast reserves of solar panels?  No, dummy, those don't work in the winter.  Wind turbines also have zero ability to step up in an emergency.  The first result of the supply disruptions was a huge spike in natural gas prices in the UK:

[R]ocketing demand in Europe [has driven] the price for gas delivered to the UK to more than $10 per million British thermal units.

For comparison, a representative recent spot price in the U.S. was $2.84 per million BTUs.  But you've got to get your energy somewhere.  So who will sell you gas at a gouging price when you are desperate?  The answer, of course, is Russia:

Britain has emerged as the unlikely first recipient of gas from a sanctioned Russian project after fears of a winter supply crisis drove prices close to five year highs. . . .  Now a deal has been struck to bring the debut cargo from Yamal to the Isle of Grain import terminal via a specially built ice-breaking tanker by the end of the month.

It's really hard to believe how dumb these people are to have put themselves in this position.  But then, when they make their decisions, they do it against the backdrop of the U.S. military shield, let alone of the frack-happy U.S. as an alternative emergency supplier when Russia puts on the squeeze.  But if we had shut down our fracking over concerns about "climate change," we would have been dependent on OPEC and Russia like Europe and the UK are now.  Who would have been our emergency supplier when those guys decided to put on the squeeze?  And, rest assured, Hillary, following in Obama's footsteps, would have enthusiastically put the country in this position. 




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


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A recent Warmist sea-level estimate

"20th century rise was extremely likely faster than during any of the 27 previous centuries".  But it's all guesswork. The author has form as a nitwit.  See here, and here

Kopp et al. (2016) “compiled a global database of regional sea level reconstructions from 24 localities, many with decimeter-scale vertical resolution and subcentennial temporal resolution. Also included are 66 tide-gauge records.”

Immediately, the issue appears of how representative are the samples of 24 localities and 66 tide-gage records? There are hundreds of tidegage records giving dramatically different results. For example, the Gulf of Bothnia, and in Scandinavia tidal gages show sea levels are falling, due to rebound of the land from last Ice Age, called post-glacial rebound or isostatic rebound.

Other areas, such as tidewater Virginia, tidal gages show sea levels are rising due to land subsidence, primarily from groundwater extraction. Gages at The Battery, show Manhattan may be subsiding, from heavy buildings built on bedrock.

In the Kopp study, the long-term proxy data and the tide-gage data are dominated by the East Coast of the US and by Western Europe, with no proxy data from Scandinavia. The sample appears not to be representative of the coast lines of the world, thus may be of little value.

An obligation of research proposing samples are representative is to remove every possible source of bias, not to introduce bias. A second major issue is the use of semi-empirical models, which Willem de Lange and Robert Carter found to be the most alarmist of all the techniques they reviewed in their study of global sea-level change.

In general, these modeling techniques do not explicitly state assumptions, that can be challenged or substantiated by observations. They tend to be built more upon assumptions supporting assumptions, which has little value in understanding the physical world.

A third major issue is excessive precision in estimates of 20th century sea level rise. Adding speculative probability statements only adds doubt to the skeptic.

In sum, the conclusion of the Kopp study that 20th century sea level rise was extremely likely faster than during any of the 27 previous centuries is not substantiated, although there is little doubt that sea levels are higher than they have been since the last interglacial period, the Eemian, about 115,000 to 130,000 years ago.


Be Skeptical of Those Who Treat Science as an Ideology

Below is a good description of the scientific method. It is roughly the opposite of Warmist practice

Scientific knowledge is always provisional. The point is to produce evidence, not doctrine.

Skepticism is the lifeblood of scientific progress. By constantly asking whether there is a different answer, a better approach or an alternative view, scientists drive improvements and innovations that ultimately benefit everyone. It is not “antiscience” to be skeptical—it’s definitively pro-science. At a time when people of all ideological stripes are seeking definitive sources of truth, we should all embrace our inner skeptics and turn to the scientific method for a fresh approach to resolve our differences.

When I started out as an oncologist in the mid-1980s, women with the most aggressive form of breast cancer were subjected to surgical removal of not only their breasts but large amounts of their chests and rib cages. Treatment later evolved toward less-extensive surgery but greater use of chemotherapy, which too often came with debilitating side effects. I still remember what I called “the mother sign”—women being helped into my clinic by their moms because they were so weak from the therapies I gave them.

In the 1990s I left patient care for biotechnology, which held promise in improving cancer treatments. I led product development at Genentech, where we developed drugs such as Herceptin, which targeted cancerous cells and left healthy ones largely intact. By challenging the status quo, we found ways to treat at least some patients without first making them sicker. In a little over a decade, cancer treatment moved from disfiguring surgery to powerful drugs to precise gene therapies. Today, harnessing the immune system to treat cancer shows immense promise for the next advance.

But whereas skepticism and uncertainty have always been the heart and soul of science, confidence and certainty are the coin of the realm in much of today’s public discourse. Unquestioning confidence is deeply troubling for the scientific community because it is not the currency we trade in, and it has led people in America and around the world to question scientific enterprise itself. We should all be troubled when science is treated as if it were an ideology rather than a discipline.

Valuing beliefs over science manifests itself as cynicism at best, denialism at worst. Scientists talk about skepticism to assert that nothing should be accepted or rejected without considerable evidence.

Denialism—the refusal to accept established facts—is different and dangerous. According to Harvard research, between 2000 and 2005 AIDS denialism in South Africa led to an estimated 330,000 deaths because the government rejected offers of free drugs and grants and dragged its heels on establishing a treatment program.

And in just eight weeks last year—April 7 to June 2—Minnesota saw more cases of measles, a disease easily prevented with a vaccine, than had occurred in the entire United States in 2016.

The point of science is not to produce doctrine, but to collect and test evidence that points toward conclusions, which in turn inform approaches, treatments and policies based on rigorous research. These conclusions are provisional. Scientific investigation is undertaken to question today’s knowledge, to seek new evidence through research and experimentation.

That is not to say that previous evidence was “false,” merely that it was less complete. Those surgeons who performed radical mastectomies in the 1980s were acting with the best knowledge available at that time. As the understanding improved, so did the methods. Nor is it to say that current knowledge shouldn’t be trusted—there is strong evidence that vaccines save lives, for example, and scant evidence that they cause harm.

When I was a practicing oncologist, one way I built trust with patients was to be open and honest about what I knew for certain and what I didn’t. On my best days, I didn’t just talk; I listened. I answered patients’ questions to the best of my knowledge and did follow-up research on the ones I couldn’t answer. If I witnessed an outcome I didn’t expect, I revisited my assumptions. That’s how I applied the scientific method in the wild.

I follow a similar approach in my current job. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation uses a data-driven, evidence-based decision-making model. When the evidence changes, so does our strategy—as it did with malaria. Once it was clear that controlling the disease world-wide was practically and politically unsustainable, we increased our focus on accelerating elimination in regions where it is feasible now. At the same time, we’re continuing to support efforts to save lives and develop the tools that will eventually allow us to eradicate the disease.

What is undeniable is that the scientific breakthroughs in which we invest, such as new vaccines and hardier crops, help people around the world survive and thrive. How many more people benefit—and how quickly—will depend in part on public confidence in science.

We can rebuild that confidence by uniting around the qualities of the scientific method. As the name suggests, the scientific method is not a belief system, it is a practice. We would all benefit from more practice.


Melting Greenland ice caused by geothermal activity, not anthropogenic global warming

I have been pointing out the role of geothermal heat at both poles for years so this is nice confirmation

In North-East Greenland, researchers have measured the loss of heat that comes up from the interior of the Earth. This enormous area is a geothermal “hot spot” that melts the ice sheet from below and triggers the sliding of glaciers towards the sea.

Greenland's ice sheet is becoming smaller and smaller. The melting takes place with increased strength and at a speed that no models have previously predicted.

Today, in the esteemed journal ‘Scientific Reports’, researchers from the Arctic Research Centre, Aarhus University, and the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources present results that, for the first time, show that the deep bottom water of the north-eastern Greenland fjords is being warmed up by heat gradually lost from the Earth's interior. And the researchers point out that this heat loss triggers the sliding of glaciers from the ice sheet towards the sea.

Icelandic conditions

“North-East Greenland has several hot springs where the water becomes up to 60 degrees warm and, like Iceland, the area has abundant underground geothermal activity,” explains Professor Søren Rysgaard, who headed the investigations.

For more than ten years, the researchers have measured the temperature and salinity in the fjord Young Sound, located at Daneborg, north of Scoresbysund, which has many hot springs, and south of the glacier Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden, which melts rapidly and is connected to the North-East Greenland Ice Stream (NEGIS).

By focusing on an isolated basin in the fjord with a depth range between 200 and 340 m, the researchers have measured how the deep water is heated over a ten-year period. Based on the extensive data, researchers have estimated that the loss of heat from the Earth's interior to the fjord is about 100 MW m-2. This corresponds to a 2 megawatt wind turbine sending electricity to a large heater at the bottom of the fjord all year round.

Heat from the Earth’s interior – an important influence

It is not easy to measure the geothermal heat flux – heat emanating from the Earth’s interior – below a glacier, but within the area there are several large glaciers connected directly to the ice sheet. If the Earth releases heat to a fjord, heat also seeps up to the bottom part of the glaciers. This means that the glaciers melt from below and thus slide more easily over the terrain on which they sit when moving to the sea.

“It is a combination of higher temperatures in the air and the sea, precipitation from above, local dynamics of the ice sheet and heat loss from the Earth's interior that determines the mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet,” explains Søren Rysgaard.

“There is no doubt that the heat from the Earth’s interior affects the movement of the ice, and we expect that a similar heat seepage takes place below a major part of the ice cap in the north-eastern corner of Greenland,” says Søren Rysgaard.

The researchers expect that the new discoveries will improve the models of ice sheet dynamics, allowing better predictions of the stability of the Greenland ice sheet, its melting and the resulting global water rise.


Do our politicians realize that wind and solar are intermittent power sources?

A comment from Belgium

Something I have wondered for a long time: do the politicians who want to go for 100% wind & solar realize that these power sources are intermittent and therefor balancing and/or storage is needed in the transition? When I look at the competencies of the Minister of Energy, his crew and the energy experts among the politicians, then I fear for the worse. The need for balancing/storage is completely absent in the discussion. We only hear that we need more wind and solar in our energy mix, but never about measures to overcome intermittency.

My initial guess was that they don’t realize it, that they consider intermittent energy sources to be dispatchable energy sources and go from there. Then I saw this tweet from the spokes woman of the Minister of Energy. It seems a statement of the Minister himself:

‘The real challenge is storage. There is not always wind and the sun is not always shining. I strongly believe in innovation and I am counting on the enterprises to help us find solutions to make the #energy transition together'

This shows that he at least realizes that wind & solar are intermittent and therefor storage is important in a continuous working system.

However, it also shows that he currently has no clue how to solve the issue of intermittency, he just “believes in innovation” and “counts on enterprises” to “find solutions”. They are making it up as they go along, hoping that a solution for the intermittency will be found in the future. This is in stark contrast with other power sources that don’t have the same privilege. For example, new developments in nuclear power are not even considered and basically ignored or dismissed.

They are probably silent about this because it could demotivate the public, knowing that the construction of wind mills and solar panels is not the end of the investments, but only the beginning. Do they plan to present the public (the voters) with a fait accompli?

Not sure whether they realize the extent of the problem, more specific seasonal variation and the risk of having an insignificant supply of both solar and wind energy in winter at peak consumption. That is not really clear, not only because it is not mentioned in their communications, but also since they seem to gamble on future innovation of the private sector to solve the issues.

So yes, our politicians seem to realize that wind & solar are intermittent and backup will be a challenge, but that is not so reassuring after all. Knowing that our transition is in the hands of a group of bureaucrats (trained in law and political sciences) who apparently have no real plan to solve intermittency/backup/storage and in the meanwhile are willing to increasing the share of wind & solar while working very hard on phasing out conventional power sources, yet are happy with the prospect of possible future innovation…

What could ever go wrong?


The Never-ending Battles of the Coral Sea

Viv Forbes

For at least 50 years Australian taxpayers and other innocents have supported a parasitic industry in academia, bureaucracy, law, media and the tax-exempt Green Alarm “Charities”, all studying, regulating, inspecting and writing about yet another “imminent threat to Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef.”

It has become the never-ending battle of the Coral Sea.

The threats change, but there is always a doomsday forecast – Crown-of-Thorns, oil drilling, fishing, cane farming, coastal shipping, global warming, ocean acidity, coral bleaching, port dredging, chemical and fertiliser runoff, coal transport, river sediments, loss of world heritage status etc. Every recycled scare, magnified by the media and parroted by politicians, generates more income for the alarm industry, usually at the expense of taxpayers, consumers or local industries.

The reality is that sea creatures would starve in pure water – all marine life needs nutrients, salts and minerals. These come from other life forms, from decomposing rocks and organic matter carried to the sea by rivers, from dissolving atmospheric gases, or from delta and shelf sediments stirred up by floods, cyclones, dredging or coastal shipping. No one supports over-use of toxic man-made chemicals, but well-run cane, cattle and coal companies can co-exist with corals.

Corals first appeared 500 million years ago and have proven to be one of Earth’s great survivors. They outlasted the Carboniferous Forests, the Permian and Cretaceous extinctions, the dinosaurs, the mammoths, the Neanderthals and the Pleistocene cycles of ice age and warming. They thrive in warm tropical water, cluster around hot volcanic fumaroles and survive massive petroleum spills, natural oil seeps, tidal waves and volcanic dust. They have even recolonised the Montebello Island waters devastated by atomic bomb testing in the 1950’s.

The ENSO oscillation of blobs of warm Pacific water which caused recent coral bleaching can be identified in historical records for at least 400 years. Corals have survived El Nino warmings for thousands of years and they will probably outlast Homo Alarmism as Earth proceeds into the next glacial epoch.

Corals do not rely on computer models of global temperature to advise them – they read the sea level thermometer which falls and rises as the great ice sheets come and go.

In the warming phase like the one just ending, ice melts, sea levels rise and the reef that houses the corals may get drowned. Corals have two choices – build their reef higher or just float south/inshore and build a new reef (like the Great Barrier Reef) in shallower, cooler water. When islands sink beneath rising oceans, corals may build their own coral atolls as fast as the water rises.

Then when the cold era returns, ice sheets grow, sea levels fall, and the warm era coral reefs (like the Great Barrier Reef) get stranded on the new beaches and coastal plains. Usually the process is slow enough to allow the coral polyps to float into deeper warmer water closer to the equator and build another reef.

This eminently sensible policy of “move when you have to” has proved a successful survival policy for the corals for 500 million years.

Humans should copy the corals – “forget the computer climate models but watch real data like actual sea levels and . . . move when you have to.”




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


Monday, January 29, 2018

Air pollution delays the age girls start their periods and makes their menstrual cycles more irregular, according to a study

Greenies have been pumping out studies like this for decades.  Car exhaust has got to be bad for you!  It's got those evil microparticles in it.  It does.  But are they harmful and at what concentration are they harmful? The study below does not allow those basic questions to be answered.

It did not in fact measure anybody's exposure to the particles. The researchers just looked at where people lived during their childhood. And if that area had a lot of pollution they theorized that people brought up there should have bad health.  And they found it was so.

But correlation is not causation and they failed to look at WHY some people lived in more polluted areas. But we know why.  Because they were poor. Leafy areas are for rich people.  The poor live where they can afford it, beside major roads, industrial areas etc.

So what we are most likely seeing here is that it is the poor who  have worse health, which has been known for years.

If the researchers had controlled for income they might have had a story but there seems to be no indication that they did.  And the effects they observed were tiny anyway, making it highly likely that any control would wipe them out.

Control for income would only be a first step, however.  I set out some other problems with this sort of study a month ago

Journal abstract follows the summary below

Air pollution delays the age girls start their periods, according to the first study of its kind.

Exposure to total suspended particulate (TSP), which are particles circulating in the air that measure 0.05mm, during girls' teenage years also makes their menstrual cycles less regular, a trial found.

TSP, which is largely made up of vehicle exhaust and coal combustion fumes, is thought to disrupt hormone production in people's bodies.

In females, this can cause excessive amounts of male sex hormones, such as testosterone, which the researchers believe could delay or disrupt girls' periods.

Study author Dr Shruthi Mahalingaiah from Boston University, said: 'While air pollution exposures have been linked to cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, this study suggests there may be other systems, such as the reproductive endocrine system, that are affected as well.' 

Women exposed to air pollution before getting pregnant are nearly 20 percent more likely to have babies with birth defects, research suggested in January 2018.

Living within 5km of a highly-polluted area one month before conceiving makes women more likely to give birth to babies with defects such as cleft palates or lips, a study by University of Cincinnati found.

For every 0.01mg/m3 increase in fine air particles, birth defects rise by 19 percent, the research adds.

Fine air particles, which weigh less than 0.0025mg, are given out in vehicle exhaust fumes and, when breathed in, become deposited in the lungs where they enter the circulation.

Previous research suggests this causes birth defects as a result of women suffering inflammation and 'internal stress'.

Physicians Committee figures reveal birth defects affect three percent of all babies born in the US.

Around six percent of infants suffer in the UK, according to a report from the British Isles Network of Congenital Anomaly Registers

The researchers analyzed 290,000 babies living in Ohio between 2006 and 2010.

Monthly fine air particle levels were matched to the home addresses of pregnant women before and after they conceived.

How the research was carried out

The researchers analyzed 34,832 women aged between 25 and 42 who were enrolled in the 1989 Nurses' Health Study 2.

They investigated the TSP levels in the air surrounding the study's participants' homes they lived in during high school. This information was obtained from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The women were asked how old they were when they started their period and how long it took for their cycles to become regular.

Air pollution increases period irregularity 

Results further reveal that for every 45 μg/m3 increase in TSP exposure during high school, girls have an eight percent higher risk of suffering moderate or persistent irregularity.

The researchers defined moderate irregularity as periods that were always erratic during high school or between the ages of 18 and 22.

Persistent irregularity is an inconsistent menstrual cycle both at high school and the ages 18-to-22.

The findings also show that for every 45 μg/m3 rise in TSP exposure, a girl's risk of producing excessive male hormones increases by up to 11 percent.

Dr Mahalingaiah said: 'While air pollution exposures have been linked to cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, this study suggests there may be other systems, such as the reproductive endocrine system, that are affected as well.'

The findings were published in the journal Human Reproduction.


Perimenarchal air pollution exposure and menstrual disorders

S Mahalingaiah et al



What is the association between perimenarchal exposure to total suspended particulate (TSP) in air, menstrual irregularity phenotypes and time to menstrual cycle regularity?


Exposures to TSP during high school are associated with slightly increased odds of menstrual irregularity and longer time to regularity in high school and early adulthood.


The menstrual cycle is responsive to hormonal regulation. Particulate matter air pollution has demonstrated hormonal activity. However, it is not known if air pollution is associated with menstrual cycle regularity.


Cross sectional study of 34 832 of the original 116 430 women (29.91%) enrolled in 1989 from the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII). The follow-up rate for this analytic sample was 97.76% at the 1991 survey.


Annual averages of TSP were available for each year of high school attendance. We created three case definitions including high school menstrual irregularity and androgen excess. The time to menstrual cycle regularity was reported by participants as <1 year, 1–2 years, 3–4 years, 5 years or longer, or never on the baseline questionnaire. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated for 45 μg/m3 increases in TSP exposure, adjusted for risk factors for menstrual irregularity.


In multivariable adjusted models, we observed that for every 45 μg/m3 increase in average high school TSP there was an increased odds (95%CI) of 1.08 (1.03–1.14), 1.08 (1.02–1.15) and 1.10 (0.98–1.25) for moderate, persistent, and persistent with androgen excess irregularity phenotypes, respectively. TSP was also associated with a longer time to cycle regularity, with stronger results among women with older ages at menarche and those living in the Northeast or the West.


The outcomes of menstrual regularity and time to cycle regularity were retrospectively assessed outcomes and may be susceptible to recall bias. There is also the potential for selection bias, as women had to live until 2011 to provide addresses.


Temporal exposure to air pollution in the adolescent and early adulthood window may be especially important, given its association with phenotypes of menstrual irregularity. The data from this study agrees with existing literature regarding air pollution and reproductive tract diseases.


Trump plan would reduce environmental rules for infrastructure projects

The White House has drafted a proposal to scale back environmental rules in an effort to make it easier to construct roads, bridges, and pipelines across the country, as part of an infrastructure plan that President Trump could release as soon as next week.

The plan would change things such as how officials decide a pipeline route, how a proposed border wall with Mexico would be built, and whether the National Park Service could object to a development that would impair tourists’ views from scenic parks such as the Grand Canyon, according to a document obtained by The Washington Post.

Administration officials say they are willing to alter elements of the legislative package to win enough votes for Senate passage.


Lowest temperature ever recorded in Bangladesh history

“Record cold in Tokyo, record cold in Bangladesh, but the MSM doesn’t report this,”

The mercury fell to 2.6 degrees Celsius at Tetulia in Panchagarh on January 8,  the lowest temperature ever recorded in the country’s history, beating the country’s previous the record low of 2.8 degrees Celsius set in Srimangal in Moulvibazar in 1968.

Hospitals have been flooded with kids and elderly patients due to the severe cold across the country this winter.


Eating some sandwiches causes global warming, UK scientists say

Given their absurd assumptions, that conclusion does probably follow logically

Scientists at the University of Manchester say they've found a surprising global warming culprit: sandwiches.

Can the simple act of eating a sandwich really be bad for the environment?

New research by British scientists suggests a shocking response: Depends on the sandwich.

Researchers at the University of Manchester Thursday announced the results of what they claim to be "the first ever study looking at the carbon footprint of sandwiches, both home-made and pre-packaged."

Perhaps not surprisingly, the results are bad news for meat-eaters. The study found that sandwiches containing pork meat (that's bacon, ham and sausage), cheese and prawns contained the highest carbon footprints.

The worst of the lot, the so-called "all-day breakfast" sandwich containing egg, bacon and sausage, created the same carbon dioxide emissions as driving a car 12 miles.

The study took into account the environmental impact of raising various sandwich ingredients, processing them, transporting them, packaging them and refrigerating them before purchase and consumption.

In their conclusion, the researchers recommend reducing the amount of cheese and meat in sandwiches, extending sell-by and use-by dates, and making sandwiches at home if at all possible.

The sandwich is something of a U.K. specialty. John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, is believed to have invented the delicacy sometime in the 1700s for those occasions when he was unable to fit a meal into his busy work schedule (or gambling schedule, depending on what source you believe).

According to the British Sandwich Association (yes, there is such a thing and they even have a magazine), more than 11.5 sandwiches are consumed each year in the U.K. alone.


Just ten hours of sun fell on German panels in December

During December 2017, Germany’s millions of solar panels received just 10 hours of sunshine, and when solar energy did filter through the clouds, most of the panels were covered in snow.  Even committed Green Disciples with a huge Tesla battery in their garage soon found that their battery was flat and that there was no solar energy to recharge it.

The lights, heaters, trains, TVs, and phones ran on German coal power, French nuclear power, Russian gas, and Scandinavian hydro, plus unpredictable surges of electricity from those few wind turbines that were not iced up, locked down in a gale, or becalmed.

Germany has long supported two incompatible ideas: engineering excellence and green totalitarianism.  Angela Merkel’s support of climate alarmism while preaching energy efficiency continues this discordant tradition.

But King Winter has exposed the weak underbelly of Germany’s energy policy.  Empress Merkel now faces a hostile political climate with no clothes.

The green energy retreat has started in the green energy movement’s own heartland.




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


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Shocking satellite images show how the world's lakes are shrinking at an alarming rate and turning to dust bowls

Pretty rubbishy stuff below. They admit that the dry lakes were caused by people taking water from rivers for irrigation etc. but still say -- with no evidence whatever -- that global warming contributed to the loss.

It might also be mentioned that Africa generally has been hard hit by drought recently -- but that was an effect of ElNino, not CO2. El Nino is winding down more slowly than expected but when it does the rain will return.

Had there ACTUALLY been any effect of global warming, rains would have INCREASED, not decreased -- which is High School physics

They were once great bodies of water containing an abundance of wildlife and an important resource for humans.

But a growing number of lakes, some that were once thriving destinations for tourists, are drying up faster than ever - and in the majority of cases the blame lies with water mismanagement and climate change, according to an ecology expert.

Shocking satellite pictures show how lakes such as the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan and Lake Urmia in Iran are getting smaller and smaller by the year.

In the case of the Aral Sea, it started drying up in the 1960s as water was taken away from the lake to irrigate the crops in the dried land of what was the USSR.

And the impact of that means the lake now only stands at 10 per cent of its former surface area of 26,300 square miles - and has decreased by an estimated 167 billion gallons of water.

A similar situation has arisen with Lake Urmia, which was once a luxury holiday destination, but has started to shrink due to dams on the rivers feeding it. Today, it has lost 40 per cent of its previous area of 2,000 square miles. 

Another tourist destination under threat is the Dead Sea in the Middle East, which is also shrinking at an alarming rate due to water mismanagement.

Water levels have been dropping by up to three feet per year, and Israel, Jordan and Palestine have agreed to a plan to pump in about 53 billion gallons of water a year from the Red Sea to boost levels.

Meanwhile the demand for water in the US states of California and Nevada has been blamed for Owen's Lake reducing significantly since 1926. This is because the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power diverted the Owens River into the LA Aqueduct instead of the lake.

Now, over 90 years on, city officials are spending $1.2 billion to try and stop the lake from becoming a complete dust bowl.

Lake Faguibine in Mali, shockingly, has been almost completely dry since 1990 following a prolonged drought. It had previously stood at 230 square miles but has almost completely disappeared.

According to lakes expert Lisa Borre, who is a researcher at the Cary Institute in Millbrook, New York, human intervention is the main reason these landmarks are disappearing.

She told MailOnline Travel: 'Extensive research on the worst of these disasters, including well documented examples such as the Aral Sea and Lake Urmia, show that the main culprit is diverting water or other mismanagement in the watershed that prevents enough water from reaching the lake.

'That said, the situation on every lake is unique and requires understanding of its natural setting and climate as well as what is happening to the source of water feeding the lake and the amount of water leaving the lake through natural and human causes.

'Climate change can exacerbate problems caused by mismanagement of water resources. With few exceptions, lakes across the globe are warming.

'Many experience natural cycles of drying and flooding, but climate change is also altering the natural water cycle, causing more variability and extreme conditions.'

Lake Assal in Djibouti is also evaporating at an alarming rate due to drought as temperatures in the African country can often reach over 50 degrees celsius, which could be a result of global warming. The lake also sees very little rainfall feed it and is one of the few bodies of water that is shrinking for reasons other than human intervention.

In Mexico, Lake Chapala has reduced by 25 per cent due to a combination of drought and diversion. The surface area of Lake Chapala in March 1986 was 1,048 square kilometers (259,000 acres). By March 2001, it had diminished to 812 square kilometers (201,000 acres)

And even though the loss of a lake may not seem like a problem for most people, Ms Borre says we should all be concerned.

She added: 'The loss of any lake is a concern because lakes provide important ecosystem services.

'In the most extreme cases, the toxic dust blowing off dried lake beds can create human health problems.

'Less freshwater in the lake creates higher salinity, making the water inhospitable to the fish, wildlife and humans that depend on the lake for water and food.

'Many of the most threatened lakes in the world are also important for biodiversity conservation and support migratory birds and diverse fisheries.

'When a lake dries up, it affects the human communities that depend on the lake for food, water, transportation, commerce and their very way of life.'


No CO2 warming for the last 40 years?

It is very cold here in the Eastern US and the President is joking about the lack of global warming. More interesting by far is the fact that there appears to have been no CO2 induced warming in the last 40 years, which is as far back as the satellite measurements go.

That this incredible fact has gone unnoticed is due mostly to the scientific community’s fixation on the warming shown by the surface temperature statistical models. But as explained here, these complex computer models are completely unreliable.

Also, the satellite measurements do show some global warming, which people have mistakenly assumed somehow supports the hypothesis of human caused, CO2 induced warming. Careful inspection shows that this assumption is false. There is in fact no evidence of CO2 warming in the entire satellite record.

To see this one must look at the satellite record in detail. To understand this, bear in mind that science is all about the specific details of an observation. These details can overthrow grand theories that are widely accepted.

For example, the negative result of the Michelson-Morley experiment led to the revolutionary special theory of relativity. When it comes to global warming, the 40 year satellite measurements provide a strong negative result for the CO2 warming hypothesis. The CO2 warming just is not there.

To see this negative result, let us look closely at this graphic.

It gives the monthly almost-global temperature readings for the lower atmosphere. The satellites do not cover the entire globe, just most of it. There is also a red line showing a 13-month running average temperature.

Note that on the vertical scale the temperatures are shown as what are called anomalies, not as actual temperatures. An anomaly here is the difference in degrees Celsius between the actual temperature and an arbitrarily chosen average temperature. That average temperature defines the zero line in the graph. Why this is done is not important for our discussion.

To begin with look at the period from the beginning to 1997. The red line shows that this is what is called an aperiodic oscillator. It is an oscillator because it consistently goes up and down, up and down, etc. It is aperiodic, as opposed to periodic, because the ups and downs are somewhat irregular.

It should be clear by inspection that there is very little, if any, overall warming during this period. That is, the red line is oscillating around roughly the -0.1 degree line.

When you have an aperiodic oscillator with this few oscillations there is no point in trying to be extremely precise, because the next oscillation might change things a bit. In particular, one must be very careful in doing straight line (that is, linear) trend analysis, because the result will be very sensitive to where you start and stop the trend.

So let’s just say that there is little or no warming during this period. This was well known at the time and it was a major issue in the climate change debate.

Then comes what is often called the giant El Nino, although it is actually a giant El Nino-La Nina cycle in ocean circulation. First the temperatures go way up, then way down, before stabilizing back into a natural aperiodic oscillator.

The giant El Nino-La Nina cycle looks to begin mid-1997, interrupting a downward moving aperiodic oscillation. It ends sometime in 2001, followed by a new aperiodic oscillation. However, this oscillation is warmer, centered roughly on the +0.15 line. The new oscillator continues until another big El Nino-La Nina oscillation hits, around 2015. What this last El Nino cycle will do remains to be seen

Thus the graph looks to have basically four distinct periods. First the little-to-no warming period from 1979 until 1997. Second the giant El Nino-La Nina cycle from 1997 until 2001. Third, the warmer little-to-no warming period from 2001 to 2015. Fourth the new El Nino-La Nina cycle that is still in progress.

Yes there is some warming but it appears to be almost entirely coincident with the giant El Nino-La Nina cycle. The simplest explanation is that the second flat aperiodic period is warmer than the first because of the El Nino effect. Perhaps some heat was injected into the atmosphere that remained, thereby increasing the baseline for the next aperiodic oscillator.

But in no case is there any evidence of CO2 induced warming here, nor of any human-caused warming for that matter. These causes would produce a relatively steady warming over time, not the single episodic warming that we clearly see here. In particular, to my knowledge there is no known way that the gradual CO2 increase could have caused this giant El Nino-La Nina cycle.

Thus the little warming that there is in the last 40 years appears to be more or less entirely natural. In any normal science this result would be sufficient to invalidate the hypothesis that the increasing CO2 concentration is causing global warming.


The EPA Has Managed To Bankrupt One Of The Biggest Refineries In The Northeast

There’s a headline I bet you didn’t see coming, huh? We’re living in a time when the American energy sector is surging and becoming a dominant force not only domestically, but globally as well.

There’s a president in the White House who is loosening up restrictions on drilling as we speak. Older pipeline projects are finally being finished and newer ones are kicking into gear. That includes Pennsylvania where, as we recently discussed, the Mariner East II Pipeline may soon be bringing even more product into the Philadelphia/New York region for processing and shipment.

So with all of those conditions in place, how in the world could the Philadelphia Energy Solutions LLC refinery, one of the biggest around, be filing for bankruptcy? That must be a mistake, right? But it’s not.

Philadelphia Energy Solutions LLC, owner of the largest oil refinery serving the New York Harbor gasoline and diesel market, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The company, a joint-venture between The Carlyle Group LP and a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners LP, filed a petition Sunday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. Chief Executive Greg Gatta said in a memo obtained by Bloomberg News that the company had a prepackaged reorganization plan and cited the more than $800 million it paid since 2012 to comply with the U.S. government’s Renewable Fuel Standard as a key factor for the decision.

The company’s debt is between $1 billion and $10 billion, it said in its filing, without providing further details in its initial petition.

How did that happen with energy products being so plentiful? The easy answer is provided by the company which owns the refinery. It’s not one of the newest designs so they’re not equipped to process biofuels and blend them into gasoline. And because of our old friend the Renewable Fuel Standard, that means that the refinery has to purchase government mandated RIN credits (Renewable Identification Number) in order to legally operate.

In case you’re wondering how much those RIN credits cost these days on the bizarre market which has grown out of the government mandate, Philadelphia Energy Solutions had to spend $217M in 2017 for them. That was their second highest operating cost, adding up to more than any other expense besides crude oil to process, and more than twice their total salary for the workforce. At the same time, as I mentioned above, an abundant oil supply is something of a double edged sword. High supply and steady demand means lower prices, so the government was jacking up their costs massively just as profits were getting slimmer.

Was there anything that could have been done? Of course. We were first saddled with this program by George W. Bush, much to our dismay. Then it really kicked into high gear under Barack Obama. But there was always hope that perhaps Donald Trump could help. Yes, he had sworn fealty to King Corn in Iowa when he was on the campaign trail, but at least some relief could have been offered. But when the EPA quietly floated a trial balloon about possibly scaling back the RFS standards a bit, Trump shot the idea down. More recently, several state governors, including Pennsylvania’s, pleaded with the President to grant waivers to some of the hardest hit states. Once again, Trump denied the request. And now Philadelphia Energy Solutions has entered Chapter 11.

Bush started this. Barack Obama made it worse. But Donald Trump had multiple chances to do something about it and he has refused. This one lands on his plate as far as I’m concerned.


California Considers $1,000 Fine for Waiters Offering Unsolicited Plastic Straws

Ian Calderon wants restaurateurs to think long and hard before giving you a straw.

Calderon, the Democratic majority leader in California's lower house, has introduced a bill to stop sit-down restaurants from offering customers straws with their beverages unless they specifically request one. Under Calderon's law, a waiter who serves a drink with an unrequested straw in it would face up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

"We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans," Calderon explained in a press release.

This isn't just Calderon's crusade. The California cities of San Luis Obispo and Davis both passed straws-on-request laws last year, and Manhattan Beach maintains a prohibition on all disposable plastics. And up in Seattle, food service businesses won't be allowed to offer plastic straws or utensils as of July.

The Los Angeles Times has gotten behind the movement, endorsing straws-on-request policies in an editorial that also warned that "repetitive sucking may cause or exacerbate wrinkles on the lips or around the mouth." Celebrity astronomer Neil DeGrasse Tyson (always up for a little chiding) and Entourage star Adrian Grenier have appeared in videos where an octopus slaps them in the face for using a plastic straw.

The actual number of straws being used is unclear. Calderon, along with news outlets writing about this issue—from CNN to the San Francisco Chronicle—unfailingly state that Americans use 500 million plastic straws a day, many of them ending up in waterways and oceans. The 500 million figure is often attributed to the National Park Service; it in turn got it from the recycling company Eco-Cycle.

Eco-Cycle is unable to provide any data to back up this number, telling Reason that it was relying on the research of one Milo Cress. Cress—whose Be Straw Free Campaign is hosted on Eco-Cycle's website—tells Reason that he arrived at the 500 million straws a day figure from phone surveys he conducted of straw manufacturers in 2011, when he was just 9 years old.

Cress, who is now 16, says that the National Restaurant Association has endorsed his estimates in private correspondence. This may well be true, but the only references to the 500 million figure on the association's website again points back to the work done by Cress.

More important than how many straws Americans use each day is how many wind up in waterways. We don't know that figure either. The closest we have is the number of straws collected by the California Costal Commission during its annual Coastal Cleanup Day: a total of 835,425 straws and stirrers since 1988, or about 4.1 percent of debris collected.

Squishy moderates on the straw issue have pushed paper straws, which come compostable at only eight times the price. Eco-Cycle skews a bit more radical, with their "Be Straw Free" campaign—sponsored in part by reusable straw makers—that urges the adoption of glass or steel straws. Because we all know how good steel smelting is for the environment.

In any case, criminalizing unsolicited straws seems like a rather heavy-handed approach to the problem, especially since we don't actually know how big a problem it is. But don't take my word for that. Ask Milo Cress.

"If people are forced not to use straws, then they won't necessarily see that it's for the environment," he tells Reason. "They'll just think it's just another inconvenience imposed on them by government."


Honesty even among senior scientists cannot be assumed

A scooter, a polaroid camera, a drone and pink LED lights are some of the purchased items that have Queensland's chief scientist in hot water.

Suzanne Miller faced court on Wednesday over allegations she used a state government-funded credit card to buy the random items as well as a high-pressure cleaner, Go-Pro camera and industrial fan.

Miller, currently stood down from her position, appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court to face 31 new counts of fraud.

The Crime and Corruption Commission slapped the 52-year-old, who was first charged last July over a $45,000 private health insurance claim, with the extra 31 offences in December.

It alleges Miller, who was also the chief executive of the Queensland Museum, used a corporate credit card to buy more than $30,000 worth of items for her own use between September 2013 and July 2017.

Court documents show the items, including the cameras, scooter, drone, high-pressure cleaner, pink LED lights, and fan.

Miller was stood aside on full pay in 2017 after she was charged with the separate fraud offence in July.

The state's corruption watchdog alleges she dishonestly gained private health insurance worth $45,000 as an employee of the Queensland Museum between February 2014 and July 2017.

The Scottish-born professor was also charged with one count of uttering a forged document in March 2015, namely an immigration letter.

Miller, who made no comment as she left court on Wednesday, had her bail continued and matters adjourned until February 19.




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


Friday, January 26, 2018

Jim Hansen covers his bets

He now says that it may not warm in the near future but it will eventually.  Rather reminiscent of old Christian prophecies  about the second coming of Christ.  Hansen implicitly admits that there is no evidence of warming so far outside tiny fluctuations in heavily cooked statistics.  But just you wait!  He could say the same if we were in the middle of an ice age.  It's not falsifiable and hence not science

by David Wojick

James Hansen, one of the key originators of climate change alarmism, is back in the news. This time it is with a prediction that we may see a ten year “hiatus” in global warming. He says that alarmism is not affected. I agree with his prediction but not with his conclusion. In my view alarmism is being falsified right before our eyes.

The big difference between us lies in whose temperature record this hiatus occurs. Hansen sees it as a pause in long-term human caused warming. But I see it as a continuation of almost no warming, and what little there is, is natural. This is a bit complicated, but here goes.

Hansen created one of the leading statistical models that supposedly estimates global surface temperatures. He did this as director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) so the model is called the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis or GISTEMP. (Hansen is an astronomer by training.)

This computer model shows more or less steady global warming for the last 40 years or so. This supposed warming is the primary basis for climate change alarmism.

GISTEMP has some well known problems, especially the fact that it has been repeatedly adjusted to increase the long-term warming. This in itself is a science scandal, but I think the problems with these statistical models go much deeper.

I argue in my article “Fake Temperatures” that all of these statistical surface models are worthless. Their purported global warming is actually just what is called an artifact of the model, not something real.

My basis for writing off these computer models is that the satellites, which actually measure temperatures, show no such global warming. In real science observations trump computer models.

What the satellites show is explained in my article “No CO2 warming for 40 years?” Simply put the record looks like this. First there is no warming from the beginning in 1978 until 1997, a period of roughly 20 years. Then there is what is called a Super El Nino cycle, which takes several years. After that there is again a long period of no warming. Finally there is the recent Super El Nino, the cycle of which is still in progress.

However, the second long period of no warming is warmer than the first. Thus there is indeed some global warming in this record, but it looks to be caused by the Super El Nino cycle. There is no evidence of human cause in this small warming and it is the only warming in the record.

This leads to the question: what will happen after the present Super El Nino cycle ends? What is obviously most likely is that we will see another long period of no warming. This period may well be a bit warmer than the last period, just as that period was a bit warmer than its predecessor.

So in this limited respect I agree with Hansen, which is something I never expected to happen! But while he sees a coming hiatus as just a minor glitch for climate change alarmism, I see it as another big nail in the coffin.

There simply is no evidence of human caused global warming in the entire satellite record. What small warming there is looks to be entirely natural, a bit of heat left over from a Super El Nino cycle.

If this pattern continues for another ten years it will surely mean that the hypothesis of dangerous human caused global warming is finally falsified by real world observation.


Sea-level FALL

British team unearths Roman amphitheatre at ancient port

A face appears eerily from beneath the ground at the site of an ancient port that once hustled and bustled supplying goods to the rulers of Rome.

The well-preserved statue is one of many stunning artefacts uncovered by British archaeologists, who have unearthed a major amphitheatre at Portus, close to Fiumicino airport.

The ancient gateway to the Mediterranean was twice the size of the port of Southampton and supplied the centre of the Roman Empire with food, slaves, wild animals, luxury goods and building materials for hundreds of years. It is now two miles inland.

The excavation team conducted the first ever large-scale dig at Portus, which has been described by experts as one of the major archaeological sites in the world.

Today it sits incongruously next to the airport runway and the team digs to the sound of jet engines.

The project concentrated on the banks of a hexagonal-shaped man-made lake which formed part of the 2nd century harbour, about 20 miles from the Italian capital, and found the amphitheatre inside a gigantic imperial-style palace. It could have held up to 2,000 people and is similar in size to the Pantheon in Rome.

The Roman port is now two miles from the current coastline

Portus project director Professor Simon Keay said he thought the material used to build the amphitheatre means it could have played host to the famous Roman emperors in the 2nd century.

Prof Keay said: 'This amphitheatre is, in fact, tucked away. It's at the eastern end of the palace and it's a very intimate building and you would not even know it was there unless you approached from the east.

'Its design, using luxurious materials and substantial colonnades, suggests it was used by a high status official, possibly even the emperor himself, and the activities that took place there were strictly private: it could have been games or gladiatorial combat, wild beast baiting or the staging of mock sea battles, but we really do not know.

'What we do know is it's unusual to find this type of building with elements of imperial architecture so close to a harbour.'

Portus was close to the ancient river port of Rome Ostia and was certainly very important and vital to the survival of the Roman Empire and so would have been of interest to the emperors, who would have used it to travel to and from the city.

The team has found a 295ft-wide canal that linked two huge basins where ships weighing up to 350 tonnes unloaded their cargo to Ostia. Cargo could then use the Tiber to travel to Rome.

Prof Keay said the dig is very important and has also uncovered thousands of smaller finds.  'It's going to generate a lot of rethinking about how ports were used and that will change the way we think about Rome's relationship with the Mediterranean,' he said.

'The site has been known about since the 16th century but it has never ever been given the importance it deserves. It has been grossly understudied. This is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.

'Certainly it should be rated alongside such wonders as Stonehenge and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. So much of this imperial port has been preserved and there is much more to learn about its role in supplying Rome and in the broader economic development of the Roman Mediterranean.'


Greenie rag "New Scientist" admits bad motives among Warmists

THE idea that we are living in a historic, even apocalyptic, age exerts a powerful pull on the human mind. Eschatology – the theology of end times – is a religious concept, but crops up in many other systems of thought. Marxism and neo-liberalism were both driven by an “end-of-history” narrative. Scientific thinking isn’t immune either: the technological singularity has been called eschatology for geeks, and the study of existential risk even has its own centre at the University of Cambridge. You don’t have to believe in the four horsemen to see the apocalypse coming.

How credible are these worries? The end of the world itself is a given, but is so far off as not to be worth fretting about. However, the end of the world as we know it – aka Western civilisation – is a different matter. There is an emerging strand of respectable scientific thought that says its decline and fall has started already, or soon will (see “End of days: Is Western civilisation on the brink of collapse?“).

What are we to make of such claims? There seems little reason to doubt that Western civilisation will eventually collapse. Unless it is immune – by accident rather than design – to the forces of history, it will go the way of all civilisations. Recent political events and long-term environmental trends offer little comfort; artificial intelligence and synthetic biology add a more urgent threat.

But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and as yet the warnings of impending collapse don’t add up to a compelling reason to stock up on bottled water and canned food.

“For some activists, climate change was a golden opportunity to further their political agenda”
Nonetheless, we ought to give them a fair hearing. Unlike earlier civilisations, we have ways to identify subtle trends and the means to intervene.

But those making the case for action need to be canny. There is already ample scientific evidence of one real but avoidable threat to civilisation. And yet our efforts to avert it verge on the pitiful.

That threat, of course, is climate change. One of the reasons we’re struggling to deal with it is that some activists saw it as a golden opportunity to further their political agenda: reining in corporations, regulating free markets and imposing environmental legislation. For them, climate change was less of an inconvenient truth than a convenient one.

The point is not that the activists’ answers are wrong. Business as usual is a sure way to climate catastrophe. It is that they prematurely politicised the science and hence provoked pushback from people on the other side of the fence.

Evidence for an impending civilisational collapse is much weaker, but is already being politicised in a similar way. The causes being offered are familiar bugbears of the left: inequality, population growth and resource depletion. The proposed answers are equally predictable and contentious.

The risk is that this new and important science is turned into yet another culture war. Before proposing divisive solutions, scientific eschatologists need to concentrate on nailing the basic facts. Otherwise, historians of the future may judge us harshly for reading the danger signs but failing to act.


France fails to meet targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions – Macron: ‘We are losing the battle’ against ‘global warming’

France failed to meet its targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in 2016, the government said Monday, just a month after President Emmanuel Macron warned that “we are losing the battle” against global warming.

The environment ministry said the country emitted 463 tons of greenhouse gases, measured as carbon dioxide equivalents, or 3.6 percent more than its goal.

It attributed the slip in part to lower oil prices which can prompt people and businesses to consume more in areas such as transportation or heating.

But emissions were down 15.3 percent from 1990 levels.

As part of the Paris climate accord signed by 195 nations in 2015, France has pledged to cut carbon emissions 27 percent from 2013 levels by 2028, and by 75 percent by 2050.


Australia: Big talk, big cost, big battery but small result

On 1 December last, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill flipped the on switch for the giant lithium-ion battery at Jamestown and this facility went online.

It was a huge celebration all round for the South Australian Government which is facing what promises to be a very difficult election and the US company Tesla which constructed and installed the battery – well, actually, lots of smaller batteries – known as the Hornsdale Power Reserve.

The Reserve is designed to store 129 megawatt hours of power for use at times of acute shortage and is supposed to provide 30,000 South Australian homes power for more than an hour in the event of a failure. For the record, the 2016 Census reported that South Australia had 767,267 dwellings. Even the battery facility’s loudest champions can’t escape the unfortunate fact that a very small number of homes could only be supplied for a very short time if the facility was working at peak efficiency.

Premier Weatherill must be hoping that these lucky 30,000 homes are strategically scattered among Labor’s marginal seats.

The facility is linked to a wind farm owned and operated by French firm Neoen. Power produced there is sent to the battery facility and stored for future use.

Australia generally and South Australia in particular have been treated to a masterful public relations blitz by Tesla’s US boss Elon Musk who has long shown a remarkable ability to con money from governments and the public when both have been dazzled by his non-stop self promotion.

Typical of his behaviour was the extravagant bet that he would have the battery facility up and running within one hundred days of the contracts being signed or, he solemnly promised, it would be free. Other companies who tender for projects and then sign contracts for fixed-price projects within a required time do so quietly as a matter of course and don’t feel the need to shout about bets and gambles. They know what their contract requires and they do it or suffer penalties – just like Mr Musk’s contractual obligation. But the “bet” was good PR and everybody – including the South Australian Government lapped it up. And guess what? Mr Musk won his bet. What a surprise!

However, when very hot weather struck southern Australia in January, the battery facility proved to be seriously wanting.

On the two January days of highest temperatures, the wind was blowing so little in South Australia that it was only producing about 6.5 per cent of its capacity. South Australia was relying on Victoria for 31 per cent of its power, 23 per cent of which was provided by hydro-electricity.

According an Institute of Public Affairs analysis, wind contributed only 3.5 per cent of national energy generation on the second day of highest temperatures.

The South Australian Government has refused to say what this battery facility cost although it is generally accepted to be at least $50 million. The mere matter of taxpayers’ money is nothing compared to what Premier Weatherill calls “history in the making”.




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


Thursday, January 25, 2018

The NYT resurrects lake Poopo

And I say it is a lot of poop.  I don't use rude words very often but sometimes the opportunity is too tempting.  Lake Poopo really is called that.  It is a lake in South America that lacks water at the moment and Warmists like to say the water has all gone away because of global warming. So the NYT has up a big picture of the dry lake bed.

But NYT readers must be mostly scientific illiterates. Given their Leftism I can believe it.  It's High School science that warmer waters give off more evaporation which eventually comes back down as more rain.  So any real global warming would fill Poopo up!  Drought suggests global COOLING!

What is actually happening is that the growing population in the region  is diverting the water from the rivers that flow into Poopo and using the water for irrigation and domestic purposes.  The NYT is just completely dishonest about it in the usual Leftist way

The article underneath the picture of Poopo is below.  It says that the governments of the world are finding it too hard to stop global warming but that at some unknown time in the future they may get serious about it.  Rather a waste of print, it seems to me.  A lot of Poopo, even

In 1988, when world leaders convened their first global conference on climate change, in Toronto, the Earth’s average temperature was a bit more than half a degree Celsius above the average of the last two decades of the 19th century, according to measurements by NASA.

Global emissions of greenhouse gases amounted to the equivalent of some 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year — excluding those from deforestation and land use. Worried about its accumulation, the gathered scientists and policymakers called on the world to cut CO2 emissions by a fifth.

That didn’t happen, of course. By 1997, when climate diplomats from the world’s leading nations gathered to negotiate a round of emissions cuts in Kyoto, Japan, emissions had risen to some 35 billion tons and the global surface temperature was roughly 0.7 of a degree Celsius above the average of the late 19th century.

It took almost two decades for the next breakthrough. When diplomats from virtually every country gathered in Paris just over two years ago to hash out another agreement to combat climate change, the world’s surface temperature was already about 1.1 degrees Celsius above its average at the end of the 1800s. And greenhouse gas emissions totaled just under 50 billion tons.

This is not to belittle diplomacy. Maybe this is the best we can do. How can countries be persuaded to adopt expensive strategies to drop fossil fuels when the prospective impact of climate change remains uncertain and fixing the problem requires collective action? As mitigation by an individual country will benefit all, nations will be tempted to take a free ride on the efforts of others. And no country will be able to solve the problem on its own.

Still, the world’s diplomatic meanderings — from the ineffectual call in Toronto for a reduction in emissions to the summit meeting in Paris, where each country was allowed simply to pledge whatever it could to the global effort — suggest that the diplomats, policymakers and environmentalists trying to slow climate change still cannot cope with its unforgiving math. They are, instead, trying to ignore it. And that will definitely not work.

The world is still warming. Both NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported last week that global temperatures last year receded slightly from the record-setting 2016, because there was no El Niño heating up the Pacific.

While the world frets over President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris agreement, I would argue that the greatest impediment to slowing this relentless warming is an illusion of progress that is allowing every country to sidestep many of the hard choices that still must be made.

“We keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome,” said Scott Barrett, an expert on international cooperation and coordination at Columbia University who was once a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Climate diplomats in Paris didn’t merely reassert prior commitments to keep the world’s temperature less than 2 degrees above that of the “preindustrial” era — a somewhat fuzzy term that could be taken to mean the second half of the 19th century. Hoping to appease island nations like the Maldives, which are likely to be swallowed by a rising ocean in a few decades, they set a new “aspirational” ceiling of 1.5 degrees.

To stick to a 2-degree limit, we would have to start reducing global emissions for real within about a decade at most — and then do more. Half a century from now, we would have to figure out how to suck vast amounts of carbon out of the air. Keeping the lid at 1.5 degrees would be much harder still.

Yet when experts tallied the offers made in Paris by all the countries in the collective effort, they concluded that greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 would exceed the level needed to remain under 2 degrees by 12 billion to 14 billion tons of CO2.

Are there better approaches? The “climate club” proposed by the Yale University economist William Nordhaus has the advantage of including an enforcement device, which current arrangements lack: Countries in the club, committed to reducing carbon emissions, would impose a tariff on imports from nonmembers to encourage them to join.

Martin Weitzman of Harvard University supports the idea of a uniform worldwide tax on carbon emissions, which might be easier to agree on than a panoply of national emissions cuts. One clear advantage is that countries could use their tax revenues as they saw fit.

Mr. Barrett argues that the Paris agreement could be supplemented with narrower, simpler deals to curb emissions of particular gases — such as the 2016 agreement at a 170-nation meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, to reduce hydrofluorocarbon emissions — or in particular industries, like aviation or steel.

Maybe none of this would work. The climate club could blow up if nonmembers retaliated against import tariffs by imposing trade barriers of their own. Coordinating taxes around the world looks at least as difficult as addressing climate change. And Mr. Barrett’s proposal might not deliver a breakthrough on the scale necessary to move the dial.

But what definitely won’t suffice is a climate strategy built out of wishful thinking: the proposition that countries can be cajoled and prodded into increasing their ambition to cut emissions further, and that laggards can be named and shamed into falling into line.

Inveigled by three decades of supposed diplomatic progress — coupled with falling prices of wind turbines, solar panels and batteries — the activists, technologists and policymakers driving the strategy against climate change seem to have concluded that the job can be done without unpalatable choices. And the group is closing doors that it would do best to keep open.

There is no momentum for investing in carbon capture and storage, since it could be seen as condoning the continued use of fossil fuels. Nuclear energy, the only source of low-carbon power ever deployed at the needed scale, is also anathema. Geoengineering, like pumping aerosols into the atmosphere to reflect the sun’s heat back into space, is another taboo.

But eventually, these options will most likely be on the table, as the consequences of climate change come more sharply into focus. The rosy belief that the world can reduce its carbon dependency over a few decades by relying exclusively on the power of shame, the wind and the sun will give way to a more realistic understanding of possibilities.

Some set of countries will decide to forget Paris and deploy a few jets to pump sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere to cool the world temporarily. There will be a race to develop techniques to harvest and store carbon from the atmosphere, and another to build nuclear generators at breakneck speed.

It will probably be too late to prevent the Maldives from ending up underwater. But better late than never.


Even the one reliable source of "renewable" power is problematical

Great feats of Canadian engineering are seen as a honeypot by parasitical native people

Deep beneath a granite mountain in the vast, snow-covered wilds north of the Saint Lawrence River, a frigid torrent surges through a massive, man-made tunnel, its white water propelling eight powerful turbines that generate electricity for hundreds of thousands of people.

Within two years, a significant amount of that power, along with hydroelectricity from other plants in this Canadian province, could be exported to Massachusetts, providing the state with a long-awaited influx of renewable energy.

This week, state officials are expected to announce whether they intend to buy more hydropower as part of the Baker administration’s energy plan. But in and around this old paper mill town about 400 miles northeast of Montreal, the indigenous peoples of the region harbor major concerns about the environmental impact of the project, complicating the quest for climate-friendly power.

State energy officials are considering six bids for renewable energy projects that would produce enough electricity to power about a million homes, enabling Massachusetts to reduce its carbon emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, as required by state law.

Three of those bids are for lucrative long-term contracts from Hydro-Québec, a government-owned company that generated $13.3 billion in revenue in 2016 from its immense system of 63 dams and 27 reservoirs, many of which were built amid great controversy. By some estimates, the contract with Massachusetts, which would run for 20 years, could be worth $12 billion.

But those bids have thrust Massachusetts into a long-running dispute between the power company and the region’s indigenous peoples, some of whom have accused Hydro-Québec of “cultural genocide” and damaging rivers that have been vital to their economy and traditions for generations.

“Hydro-Québec has destroyed our territories,” said Chief René Simon of the Pessamit, an indigenous group of the Innu nation whose ancestral lands are now the source of nearly one-third of the company’s hydropower. “I would advise the governor of Massachusetts not to buy the power from Hydro-Québec.”

Officials at Hydro-Québec acknowledge the concerns of the Pessamit, and after years of protests, the company’s chief executive in December welcomed Simon to his office in Montreal. The two agreed to a series of negotiations in hopes of settling the Pessamit’s longstanding claims against Hydro-Québec, which include multimillion-dollar lawsuits against the company.

Company officials maintain that a deal to sell Massachusetts an additional 1,200 megawatts of power — a tiny percentage of Hydro-Québec’s overall capacity — would have little to no impact on the Pessamit.

They also note that they have previously sought to accommodate the group’s concerns, both historical and environmental, by agreeing to share profits from one of their power stations on Pessamit ancestral lands, providing them with grants, and spending years trying to reduce the damage their dams inflict on salmon.

“Hydro-Québec categorically refutes the allegations of the Innu of Pessamit, who claim that increasing our exports will adversely affect [their rivers],” said Lynn St-Laurent, a spokeswoman for the company.  She has called claims of cultural genocide “offensive,” adding they “couldn’t be further from reality.”

“Over the past 40 years, Hydro-Québec has diligently consulted the native population for all of our production and transmission projects, including the Pessamit,” St-Laurent said.

In Massachusetts, Baker administration officials declined to comment on whether they’re considering the concerns of indigenous groups in choosing a bid. The other bids include proposals by National Grid to import wind power from Québec and by Emera to build a power line beneath the ocean, from New Brunswick to Plymouth.


Trump Misses the Mark With Solar Tariffs

In essence, Trump's decision continues the government's proclivity for picking winners and losers.

This week, solar industry imports were dealt a heavy blow with Donald Trump’s decision to impose a 30% tariff. The Associated Press reports that among those advocating for the tariff on solar panels was the U.S. International Trade Commission. According to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, “The president’s action makes clear again that the Trump administration will always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses in this regard.”

China’s Commerce Ministry was angered by the tariff, responding: “The U.S. side once again abused its trade remedy measures. China expresses its strong dissatisfaction with this.” Mexico is also rattled. The nation’s Economy Department shot back, “Mexico will use all available legal resources in response to the U.S. decision to apply protections on Mexican washing machines and solar panels.”

These complaints are to be expected given where they’re coming from. Nevertheless, was this a wise decision? As Heritage Foundation analyst Katie Tubb explains, not exactly. She writes: “The case involves two failing manufacturing companies — Suniva and SolarWorld — which have petitioned the government for globally applicable tariffs on inexpensive imports of solar cells and panels. That petition has run the gauntlet of comments, hearings, and analysis from the U.S. International Trade Commission. Since then, organizations across the political spectrum, including the Solar Energy Industries Association, have made the case for why the requested tariffs would be harmful for the solar industry writ large.”

Tubb lists three justifications for “why rejecting the request for sweeping tariffs would be consistent with Trump’s campaign trail ideals and policy vision for energy dominance.” It begins with innovation. As Tubb explains, “There is almost no better way to fossilize an industry than by guaranteeing prices and knocking out the competitors of a select few companies. The only innovation that this spurs is creative ways to lobby the government for new ways to interfere in energy markets.” Moreover, “[Government] intervention would also punish competitive American solar companies in order to keep two failing ones afloat.”

Secondly, tariffs handcuff competition. “Trump should protect competition, not specific competitors,” says Tudd. “The solar industry in America can provide customers the best, most affordable service to Americans when it is able to access components from the most competitive companies around the globe. The proposed tariffs block this access. In essence, they are a massive regulatory subsidy for Suniva and SolarWorld — at the expense of the rest of the solar industry.”

And finally, there’s the issue of fostering a healthy job market. Tudd notes: “Suniva and SolarWorld argue that global tariffs are essential to their survival and will create thousands of jobs. Using the force of government to eliminate a company’s competitors will almost certainly preserve those company jobs.” However, “There will be negative implications for the rest of the industry and the indirect jobs it creates if the administration bends over backward to shore up two failing companies. The federal government shouldn’t be the arbiter of whose job is more valuable.”

National Taxpayer Union’s Free Trade Initiative director Bryan Riley makes yet another shrewd point: “Because the government provides a whopping 30 percent tax credit for the installation of solar energy systems, a big chunk of increased costs generated by the new trade restrictions will be paid for by the federal government. That doesn’t seem like an ‘America First’ policy.”

In essence, Trump’s decision, unfortunately, continues the government’s proclivity for picking winners and losers. Furthermore, the Associated Press reports, “Sen. Ben Sasse … said Republicans need to understand that tariffs are a tax on consumers.” He’s right. There’s no doubt any of this was the administration’s intent — Trump, after all, once pledged, “We will get the bureaucracy out of the way of innovation, so we can pursue all forms of energy” — but nevertheless, the decision was made without taking these issues into account. Imposing tariffs on the solar industry wasn’t one of Trump’s brightest decisions.


Mega Blizzard Complicates Travels At Conference On Global Warming

World leaders are worried that a massive blizzard could derail their opportunity to talk about solutions to global warming at a major economic conference in Switzerland.

Snowflakes are canvassing Davos in nearly six feet of snow. Snow kept pounding the valleys and areas surrounding the town Monday night, causing plutocrats, members of the media, and world business leaders to slip and slide on their way to various conferences at this year’s World Economic Forum.

Some participants say it’s the worst snow storm they’ve seen at the conference in years.

“I’ve been coming for eight years and this is the worst I’ve seen it,” Linda P. Fried, the dean of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, told The New York Times. She dismissed critics who mock the incongruity of talking climate change during a giant snowstorm.

“It isn’t accurate, people just don’t understand, that’s not the metric” said Fried, who was late to a discussion on climate change, despite having etched out three hours for travel from her hotel to the conference hall. Journalists who were late to interviews at the conference tweeted out photos of the enormous snowbanks blocking their travels.

Organizers are hoping the snowy conditions loosen up by the time President Donald Trump arrives on Friday to give the closing address. Things could dicey if snow continues apace, especially if the president decides to use helicopters to land in Davos.

“When Trump comes on Friday it is far from obvious whether he will be able to use a fleet of large helicopters to land in Davos,” a source close to the organizing committee told Reuters. “Large helicopters increase the risk of avalanches.”

A bulletin from the SLF Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Davos, which calculates the possibility of avalanches, showed a broad band of the mountainous country under Level 5 avalanche danger, the highest on a 1-5 scale.


Top down command is not the way to improve the environment

The [British] government’s 25-year environment plan is more than a piece of virtue signalling, despite its chief purpose being to persuade the young to vote Conservati(ve)onist. It is full of sensible, apolitical goals and in places actually conveys a love of the natural world, which is not always the case with such documents.

The difficulty will be putting its ambitions into practice. It is all very well to want cleaner air and water, more biodiversity, less plastic litter and richer soils. How are these to be achieved? Except in a few places, such as the discussion of “net environmental gains” in the construction industry, the plan is worryingly vague.

The word that bothers me most, appearing often, is “we”. “The actions we will take . . . we will protect ancient woodland . . . we will increase tree planting” and so on. Who is we? This is the language of the central planner, who assumes that the government decrees and the passive population obeys. There is relatively little sense here that the vast majority of our environment is managed by people or organisations other than the government and that the vast majority of actions that damage or improve it are taken by people other than civil servants.

People do not foul their own nests, on the whole, so the role of government is to create as much sense of real environmental ownership as possible. If the de facto owner of the environment is the state, through too many rules and restrictions, then people will not volunteer to help. Communised assets lack a sense of ownership: look at the litter in laybys, for example, or the terrible state of the environment in Soviet Russia under the state planning committee, or Gosplan.

At the micro level it’s easy to create sense of ownership. Private property is a powerful motivator. At communal levels it’s harder, but not impossible. There are many local conservation charities and private organisations looking after a woodland and a flower meadow here, a stretch of river there: small groups of people who take pride in the responsibility.

Now, you cannot always use a commercial market in environmental matters, because people do not willingly pay for the things they want (though sometimes they do — most winter bird seed crops are planted by shooters). But you can at least try different things in different places to learn what works.

The big green pressure groups forget all this. They are more comfortable with a centralised and top-down policy, amenable to lobbying. The reaction of the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) to Michael Gove’s plan is telling: “But these commitments will only become a reality if they are backed by the force of law, money and a new environmental watchdog.” In other words, a green Gosplan, a Goveplan, which would be counterproductive for the same reasons that Gosplan didn’t work.

Take the agri-environment schemes under which farmers are rewarded for doing things that, say, make yellowhammers [a bird] happy. Most agree, and this plan notes this, that under the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) the schemes have been wasteful, spending fortunes on things that work poorly and too little on things that work well. Talk to smaller research organisations such as the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and you will find that they have learnt through experimentation how to stop yellowhammers starving at the end of the winter (non-dehiscent plants that don’t shed all their seeds too early). It is the same with wild flowers, woodland and clean water. Good practice spreads by word of mouth in the countryside after practical people discover it through trial and error. The rewilding of the Knepp estate in West Sussex by Sir Charles Burrell, for example, has shown that nightingales are attracted to breed in unkempt thorn hedges.

In the inflexible world of the CAP, with its pillars and schemes and schedules, experimentation is impossible. To the extent that the vagueness of Mr Gove’s plan is a tacit recognition that government’s job should not be to tell people what to do, but to encourage a thousand metaphorical (and literal) flowers to bloom, good. To the extent that it sets out an agenda for the pressure groups and corporatist quangos to colonise with their tick-box mentality, bad. We will have to see which turns out to be true.

In this respect, another welcome feature of the plan is the focus on local environmental goals: plastic, clean water, clean air, soil, wildlife, trees. The big global issues that have dominated the professional environmental industry for so long — global population, resources, acid rain, ozone, climate change — are in the document, but no longer crowding out the local ones as they did for years, and in many cases actively making things worse.

There are still problems. The plan mentions in one breath both climate change mitigation and the prevention of international deforestation, yet fails to spot that the burning of wood for “renewable” electricity and the cultivation of palm-oil biodiesel plantations have been inspired and justified entirely by misguided climate policies. Wind farms do kill birds, as well as trashing landscapes; hydro on free-flowing rivers does harm fish, and so on. Environmental objectives do conflict but the plan shows little recognition of this. The main omission, however, is science. There is no sense in the plan of the technologies becoming available to protect the environment: the biotechnology that has already made agriculture so much greener elsewhere in the world and is limiting land-take; the gene editing that promises to enable us to grow better crops with fewer chemicals; the British breakthroughs that promise to give us contraceptive vaccines to control invasive species humanely; the new techniques for eradicating rats from oceanic islands to save seabirds.

The good intentions of Mr Gove’s plan are obvious and welcome, but they could have been written down any time in the past century, while the means hinted at are regrettably tinged with an anti-scientific and potentially authoritarian puritanism that just won’t work. Five out of ten.




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