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


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