Thursday, March 29, 2018

UK: Plastic bottle tax: 22p return scheme to protect oceans from tide of waste

Governments are always urged to "do something" even when there is nothing they can do.  This is a case in point.  Nearly all the plastic in the oceans results from third world populations using thir local river as a dump.  Western countries already dispose of their waste responsibly.  So this new system will simply be a bureaucratic way of doubling up on what is done already

A tax of up to 22p could be added to plastic bottles to prevent the tide of rubbish flowing into the oceans, under plans announced by Michael Gove on Wednesday.

The Department of Environment is considering implementing a deposit return scheme similar to those which already exist in Denmark, Sweden and Germany.

In Europe consumers pay between 8p and 22p extra, which they get back when they return their bottles.

The plans may involve a network of reverse vending machines, where people could insert their bottles - plastic, glass and metal - and be reimbursed.

Announcing the scheme, Environment Secretary Mr Gove said: “We can be in no doubt that plastic is wreaking havoc on our marine environment – killing dolphins, choking turtles and degrading our most precious habitats.

“It is absolutely vital we act now to tackle this threat and curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled.

“We have already banned harmful microbeads and cut plastic bag use, and now we want to take action on plastic bottles to help clean up our oceans.”

The announcement is the latest move in the government crackdown on plastic, following the plastic microbead ban and the 5p plastic bag charge – which has led to nine billion fewer bags distributed.   There are over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans and every year one million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals die from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste.

Deposit systems are already successfully operating in 38 countries around the world, producing average recycle rates for collected materials of 90 per cent - reaching as high as 95 per cent in Norway.

Commonwealth leaders will also be urged by Theresa May to agree measures to stop plastic from entering the ocean when the heads of member states gather next month.

It comes amid speculation that Britain could use some of its overseas aid budget to help Commonwealth countries to cut down on plastic pollution.

A Downing St spokesman said: “Marine pollution, particularly from plastics, is one of the most significant challenges facing the world today and the Commonwealth spread over six Continents is uniquely placed to take transformative action so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is cleaner and greener than we currently find it.

“The heads of government meeting does provide an opportunity to – you have 50 leaders all in one place where we can discuss plastic pollution and in particular what more we can do to stop plastic from entering the ocean.”

The deposit scheme announcement was welcomed by environmental groups and campaigners.


As Karakorum Glacier Stability Puzzles Global Warming Experts, The Scientific Excuses Start To Fly

When their prophecies don't turn out, Warmists invoke "special factors".  But in science that is seen as a preliminary to defeat. Only a small minority of special factors will be considered before the theory is judged to have been disconfirmed

A while back a number of scientists hopped on the bandwagon claim that the Himalayan glaciers would be gone by the year 2030. That claim was quickly exposed as being preposterous and so the red-faced scientists backed off and said they had in fact meant the year 2300. Today that figure as well is also looking fake.

Now scientists are busy making excuses to explain the unexpected non-melting.

The glaciers of the world are melting. Many, but not all.

And in earlier times there were also phases of melting before the Little Ice Age, a time when glaciers saw strong growth. It’s important to keep this in historical context. In today’s post we look at the latest results from glacier research out of Asia.

Let’s start in Karakorum. Tobias Bolch and his colleagues documented the central part of the mountains in the region and found that the glaciers there are for the most part stable:

Brief communication: Glaciers in the Hunza catchment (Karakoram) have been nearly in balance since the 1970s

Previous geodetic estimates of mass changes in the Karakoram revealed balanced budgets or a possible slight mass gain since  ∼  2000. Indications of longer-term stability exist but only very few mass budget analyses are available before 2000. Here, based on 1973 Hexagon KH-9,  ∼  2009 ASTER and the SRTM DTM, we show that glaciers in the Hunza River basin (central Karakoram) were on average in balance or showed slight insignificant mass loss within the period  ∼  1973–2009.

Heterogeneous behaviour and frequent surge activities were also characteristic of the period before 2000. Surge-type and non-surge-type glaciers showed on average no significantly different mass change values. However, some individual glacier mass change rates differed significantly for the periods before and after  ∼  2000.”

Overall the glaciers in Karakoram appear to be growing.


New Danish Paper Wrecks CO2 Theory Of Global Warming


"Temperature data 1900–2010 from meteorological stations across the world have been analyzed and it has been found that all land areas generally have two different valid temperature trends. Coastal stations and hill stations facing ocean winds are normally more warm-trended than the valley stations that are sheltered from dominant oceans winds.

Thus, we found that in any area with variation in the topography, we can divide the stations into the more warm trended ocean air-affected stations, and the more cold-trended ocean air-sheltered stations. We find that the distinction between ocean air-affected and ocean air-sheltered stations can be used to identify the influence of the oceans on land surface. We can then use this knowledge as a tool to better study climate variability on the land surface without the moderating effects of the ocean.

We find a lack of warming in the ocean air sheltered temperature data – with less impact of ocean temperature trends – after 1950. The lack of warming in the ocean air sheltered temperature trends after 1950 should be considered when evaluating the climatic effects of changes in the Earth’s atmospheric trace amounts of greenhouse gasses as well as variations in solar conditions."

This is the killer graph:

Figure 19. Ocean air sheltered (OAS) and ocean air affected (OAA) temperatures, all regions.

We can readily see that temperatures at the OAS (ocean sheltered) sites were just as high back in the 1920s to 40s as now.

Frank Lansner explained the significance of his findings in an email to NoTricksZone:

"The little ice-age centuries led to a very cold ocean around 1900-1920 and so ocean and ocean-affected stations were not able to show the warming around 1920-30 so well. The ocean kept the warming hidden to some degree. Ocean temperature rise was somewhat delayed for decades it appears. That’s why ocean temperatures do not well reflect the heat balance over the Earth 1920-50 – unlike OAS areas valleys that reflected the change in heat balance rapidly. Thus it appears OAS data are the data best suited for evaluating the heat balance over the Earth.


Ethanol Indoctrination Enters School Studies

The Renewable Fuels Association is going to "educate" children about the wonders of ethanol

Have you quizzed your child yet on the supposedly benign value of ethanol? Believe it or not, some students at and above the third grade might have a thing or two to say about it after being subjected to “Ethanol in the Classroom,” an education (read: indoctrination) platform created by the Renewable Fuels Association.

The organization’s president, Bob Dinneen, recently described this e-learning tool as “providing a fun and interactive way for students to learn about the renewable fuel.” He further heralded it as “a fun platform for children and young adults to learn about ethanol’s numerous benefits.”

There are countless words that accurately describe ethanol, but beneficial is most assuredly not one of them. According to the Department of Energy, the U.S. produced 14.54 billion bushels of corn in 2016. Of that, 5.25 billion — or 36% — was used for ethanol. Which means that only 64% of corn is being used to feed the hungry; the rest is being wasted on a biofuel that ruins your lawnmower and other gasoline-powered tools and automobiles.

Our own Mark Alexander has chronicled numerous other problems associated with ethanol.

Here’s another fact — one that truly worries the mandate’s most vociferous advocates: The detrimental effect of ethanol isn’t a secret. Just how deficient is it? The Washington Times recently reported that “the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that boosted ethanol use has fallen out of favor so badly that environmentalists now see themselves on the same side of the debate as Republicans such as Sen. Ted Cruz, arguing that the entire program is deeply flawed and must be completely overhauled.”

As Hot Air blogger Jazz Shaw says of “Ethanol in the Classroom,” “I don’t need to sit through the class to be able to guess that a few things were left out of the curriculum.” He adds, “This isn’t an education program. It’s an indoctrination scheme. Get ‘em while they’re young and you can influence their actions and choices as adults.”

The biofuel mandate is clearly on shaky ground. And the activists’ solution is to use children as pawns to save it — much like the gun control lobby is doing to an astonishing degree after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. All told, it’s more proof that education standards need to be controlled at the local level.


Independents Are Shifting To Climate Denial, According To The Latest Gallup Poll

In a sign the White House’s hard-line stance against climate science may be shifting public debate, independent voters have grown more doubtful of scientists’ warnings about climate change over the past year, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

Between 2017 and 2018, the percentage of independents who understand greenhouse gas emissions cause climate change fell 8 percentage points to 62 percent, while the share of those who believe the effects of global warming have already begun dipped 7 points to 60 percent.

Sixty-five percent understand that most scientists believe global warming is occurring, down from 71 percent in 2017.

Fewer respondents said they worry a great deal or a fair amount about global warming, down 5 points from last year to 62 percent. But the 45 percent who said global warming poses a serious threat in their lifetimes stayed steady between 2017 and 2018.

Public opinion has seesawed slightly over the years, but the long-term trend is overwhelmingly toward the scientific consensus that climate change is real, man-made and dangerous. Gallup found that 66 percent of Americans understand that scientific evidence shows the Earth’s temperatures rising, and 64 percent acknowledge that burning fossil fuels, deforestation and industrial farming are the cause.

The results echo 2016 survey data from Yale University’s Program on Climate Change Communication, which found 69 percent know global warming is happening and 52 percent understand humans are triggering it.

Still, the shift, recorded during a week of telephone surveys earlier this month of 1,041 adults across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, mirrors surging climate denialism among Republicans. Just 35 percent of Republicans understand that humans cause global warming, down from 40 percent in 2017, while 34 percent said the effects of climate change have already started, 7 points less than the previous year.

The findings come just months after historic hurricanes wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas, and California’s largest wildfire on record killed 18 people and scorched more than 280,000 acres of land. Yet the disasters, which scientists said were made worse by warming global temperatures, seem to have stoked further debate over the causes of climate change and the policies to address it.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly mocked climate science over the past year, suggesting winter weather disproved long-term warming trends, as his administration gutted funding for climate programs and slashed the few regulations in place to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The Republican Party, the only major political party in the developed world to make rejecting climate science a platform issue, has doubled down on the issue as megadonors such as the fossil fuel magnate Koch brothers and the right-wing billionaire Mercers have increased their political spending.




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


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The centrality of EROEI

Until 2004 Britain was a net energy exporter. Today, it imports about half its energy. Some of that, in the form of coal and liquefied natural gas, comes directly from Russia, which also supplies a third of Europe’s gas through pipelines. The unprecedented “gas deficit warning” of March 2 was a sharp reminder of our dependence on imports.

Yet Britain is swimming in energy. Enough sunlight falls on the country to power the economy many times over. Wind, wave, water and tidal power cascade over us. There is wood in our forests. There are hot rocks beneath Cornwall and Durham, gas under Lancashire and enough coal under the North Sea to last centuries. We could easily buy sufficient uranium to keep us going indefinitely. And if we were to crack nuclear fusion, all we would need is a little bit of water and some Cornish lithium.

So what’s the problem? The human race has a plethora of options for powering civilisation in the 21st century, not a dearth. The problem is not energy, but energy conversion. Economic growth is effectively a matter of turning energy into complex structures that can be energised to do work. Energy conversion is the lifeblood of civilisation. Just as biology harnesses energy to build bodies and ideas, so human society captures energy to make physically improbable entities such as buildings, governments and social-media platforms. Energy conversion enables us to avoid entropy, the drift towards chaos.

The modern world stands on a cairn built by energy conversions in the past. Just as it took many loaves of bread and nosebags of hay to build Salisbury Cathedral, so it took many cubic metres of gas or puffs of wind to power the computer and develop the software on which I write these words. The Industrial Revolution was founded on the discovery of how to convert heat into work, initially via steam. Before that, heat (wood, coal) and work (oxen, people, wind, water) were separate worlds.

To be valuable, any conversion technology must produce reliable, just-in-time power that greatly exceeds — by a factor of seven and upwards — the amount of energy that goes into its extraction, conversion and delivery to a consumer. It is this measure of productivity, EROEI (energy return on energy invested), that limits our choice.

You could make your own electricity on an exercise bicycle, eating organic ice cream as fuel, but such a system would have wildly negative EROEI once you include the energetics of farming cattle and making ice cream. It would also produce a pathetic trickle of power: about 50 watts (joules per second). The average Briton uses about 4,000 watts, as much energy as if she had 240 slaves on exercise bicycles in the back room, pedalling eight-hour shifts. That’s roughly what “civilisation” looked like in ancient Egypt or China.

By the EROEI criterion, biofuel is a disastrous choice, requiring about as much tractor fuel to grow as you get out in ethanol or biodiesel. Wind power has a low energy return, because its vast infrastructure is energetically costly and needs replacing every two decades or so (sooner in the case of the offshore turbines whose blades have just expensively failed), while backing up wind with batteries and other power stations reduces the whole system’s productivity. Geothermal too may struggle, because turning warm water into electricity entails waste. Solar power with battery storage also fails the EROEI test in most climates. In the deserts of Arabia, where land is nearly free, sunlight abundant and gas cheap, solar power backed up with gas at night may be cheap.

Fossil fuels have amply repaid their energy cost so far, but the margin is falling as we seek gas and oil from tighter rocks and more remote regions. Nuclear fission passes the EROEI test with flying colours but remains costly because of ornate regulation.

Which brings me to nuclear fusion, a process potentially with a wildly positive EROEI (it fuels the sun and the H-bomb) but that so far has proved impossible to control. Fusion’s ever-receding promise suggests caution, but a British company, Tokamak Energy, is increasingly confident it can generate electricity by 2030, ahead of its American rivals. It forecasts ten large (1.5 GWe) power plants a year being built by 2035, and a hundred by 2040. It is a cheeky, private-sector upstart challenging the slow, international, public-sector collaboration on fusion.

The new fusion optimists base their confidence on yttrium barium copper oxide (YBCO), a novel superconducting material that allows smaller, less cold but more powerful magnets. Britain is a world leader in YBCO technology, so it is not impossible that we could see a breakthrough here in the next two decades comparable to Thomas Newcomen’s steam invention of 1712.

Suppose fusion does make the “too cheap to meter” breakthrough that fission failed to make. We could then stop worrying about carbon dioxide, but what would we do with all this energy? We could make as much fresh water as we fancied, through desalination, to water the deserts. We could grow food indoors to release the countryside for nature. We could electrify all transport. We could enable Africa to become as wealthy as America.

A green misery-monger called Paul Ehrlich once wrote that giving cheap, abundant energy to humanity would be like “giving an idiot child a machine gun”. On the contrary, cutting the cost of energy is absolutely central to delivering prosperity and fairness. This is why it is so baffling that Britain keeps pushing up the price of energy to encourage the medieval technologies of wood, wind and water power.

Professor Dieter Helm’s official review of government energy policy last year found that we could have reduced carbon dioxide emissions for far less than the £100 billion already spent on renewables by encouraging a switch to gas. But, as he says, governments are bad at picking winners, while losers are good at picking governments. Meanwhile, Germany, which has spent something like a trillion euros on support for green energy, is now building lots of coal-fired power to keep the lights on.

At huge cost, Germany is learning that you cannot have a cheap, reliable, low-carbon grid without the high EROEI of nuclear. The Energiewende is a historic error. But is there any guarantee governments would suddenly be more rational if fusion came along?


Flood, drought and disease tolerant plants —one gene behind all of them

Since there is no ongoing warming, the drought tolerant properties of this discovery will be the important ones

An international collaboration between researchers at the University of Copenhagen, Nagoya University and the University of Western Australia has resulted in a plant biology breakthrough. Since 2014, the researchers have worked on identifying the genetic background for the improved flood tolerance observed in rice, wheat and several natural wetland plants. In New Phytologist, the researchers describe the discovery of a single gene that controls the surface properties of rice, rendering the leaves superhydrophobic.

A gene called LGF1 controls the nanostructure of leaf surfaces. During flood events, the gene enables survival of submerged rice since the wax nanostructures retain a thin leaf gas film; hence the name of the gene, LGF1. The gas films facilitate gas exchange with the floodwater so that carbon dioxide can be taken up during the daytime in order to fuel underwater photosynthesis, and oxygen can be extracted at night.

The LGF1 gene also confers drought tolerance, since the tiny wax crystals reduce evaporation from the leaf surfaces, conserving tissue water.

Superhydrophobic surfaces retain a thin gas film underwater, which enables the stomata to function also during submergence. The stomata regulate the uptake of CO2 (carbon dioxide) for photosynthesis during the day, but also the uptake of O2 (oxygen) during darkness, enabling aerobic respiration. Without the protective layer of gas, the floodwater blocks the stomata and the gas exchange with the environment is greatly restricted; the plants are virtually drowning!

“We have used advanced microelectrodes both in controlled laboratory experiments and in the field situation to reveal the benefits of leaf gas films during submergence,” says professor Ole Pedersen, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen.

Long-term effects are still a puzzle

“We have assessed the importance of leaf gas films during submergence of rice, and in some situations, rice grows equally well above as well as below water – only because rice possesses the LGF1 gene,” continues Ole Pedersen.

The implications of these findings are huge. Worldwide, climate change has already resulted in an increased number of floods, and in order to sustain food supply in a wetter future, the world needs climate-smart crops that better tolerate flooding.

“The superhydrophobic leaf properties that are coded by the LGF1 gene are, however, lost after a few days of submergence; the plants start drowning as the leaves become wet. Thus, our research now focuses on overexpression of the LGF1 gene. The overexpression should coat the leaves with more wax crystals and in this way prime the plants for a flood event. The fact that it is all controlled by just a single gene makes the goal much more realistic,” concludes professor Ole Pedersen.


A potentially scandalous case of Russian collusion — with liberals

Over the last two weeks at The American Spectator, journalist Kevin Mooney reported a significant story he has been investigating for at least a year. The potential political repercussions could expose one of the most disturbing Russia-collusion scandals of the Trump era — and it doesn’t implicate Donald Trump. To the contrary, it would implicate some of Trump’s loudest critics on the left. These leftists, it is alleged, might have worked against some of Trump’s biggest supporters in the Rustbelt; supporters that won him the presidency. And yet, for some reason, the story hasn’t blipped on Donald Trump’s radar screen — or Twitter screen. Trump hasn’t talked about it, including in his raucous rally in Western Pennsylvania on behalf of Rick Saccone in the Saccone-Lamb congressional race in a district that Trump won by 20 points.

Okay, what’s the story?

As Kevin Mooney reported in two exclusives (posted here and here), there indeed appears to be some serious Russian meddling going on. It’s not, however, the meddling being pushed by the party line at CNN and MSNBC. This meddling would be Russian funding of U.S. environmental groups, which, in turn, used those Russian resources to work against fracking in the United States and the Keystone pipeline.

“While allegations of the Donald Trump campaign colluding with Russians to alter the presidential election outcome remain unproven at best,” wrote Mooney, “a clear money trail and U.S. intelligence reports demonstrate Russia’s active campaign of funding U.S. environmental groups.”

To put it succinctly: These reports suggest some sort of collusion or cooperation between U.S. environmental groups and Putin’s Russia, working together to undermine America’s crucial domestic energy sector. This sector is a boom industry, tremendous for our workers. It has resurrected the Rustbelt.

Mooney did a major story on this last August, which failed to gain any traction in the mainstream media. He reported in great detail that “some [U.S.] environmental activists who pressure politicians to halt production of natural gas [in the United States]” were acting as “agents of influence” on behalf of the Kremlin’s energy profits. As students of the Cold War know, agents of influence were a prime asset for covert Russian activity inside the United States. The Russians learned during the Cold War that agents of influence could be just as effective (if not more so) than outright KGB spies on the payroll.

Mooney cited and quoted (among others) retired CIA officer Kenneth L. Stiles, who analyzed the “money trail” between certain U.S. environmental interests and Russian energy interests. Stiles said these environmental groups “are, without a doubt, agents of influence to Moscow through [a] networking system of shell companies and foundations.”

What followed in Mooney’s story was a stunning array of information that truly cannot be ignored. He has since followed up with additional reports — one on U.S. green groups, the Russians, and the Foreign Agents Registration Act — as well as his pieces here at The American Spectator.

Mooney interviewed me back in October, for a story that was again completely ignored by the media. He sought me out for historical context, given my knowledge of the dramatic behind-the-scenes story of what the Reagan administration did in the 1980s. President Ronald Reagan and a handful of key advisers, led by Bill Clark at the NSC and Bill Casey at the CIA, undermined Russia’s energy sector as part of a larger plan to undermine the USSR.

And thus, as I told Mooney, it’s fascinating to see Russia today working to undermine the construction of two natural gas pipelines on U.S. territory when, in the 1980s, Reagan worked to undermine the construction of two huge natural-gas pipelines on Soviet territory. Reagan and his administration succeeded in slowing and blocking the development of those pipelines. It was one of the most devastating forms of economic warfare ever waged against the Evil Empire.

Now, today, Russia seems to want to turn the tables. That is, Russia is apparently trying to block U.S. pipelines, and then some. Russia would also like to hinder other forms of energy development (i.e., fracking) thriving in the United States. Russia is doing this to protect and enhance its own energy sector.

It’s like an old Cold War powder-keg that went dry is suddenly being reignited with reverse fuses.

But what makes the current situation more nefarious is the possibility — if Mooney’s suspicions are indeed accurate — of Russian manipulation of domestic environmental groups inside the United States, and their willful cooperation. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan had a heck of a time trying to enlist the support of Western allies in blocking the Siberian gas pipeline. Even Margaret Thatcher balked, because she wanted Britain to have the cheap Russian gas and British firms to have construction contracts in building the Kremlin’s pipelines. The same was true for the West Germans and French. Ronald Reagan boldly proceeded essentially alone, and the results were beautifully lethal to the Soviet economy.

But here today, we have the extremely troubling possibility of our own U.S. citizens being targeted and tapped by the Russians to undercut our own domestic industry, our workers, our consumers, our prices, our overall economy.

Of course, an essential consideration is whether these domestic forces know they’re being exploited. If they’re willfully working with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, that would be a very serious matter. If they’re mere dupes, then they have a legal and moral obligation to mend their ways once made aware of any malfeasance, especially if in violation of U.S. law.

Finally, politically speaking, consider the striking irony here: we have the apparent possibility of liberals from the environmental movement helping Putin and the Russians at the very moment liberals have been screaming about cooperation between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

A critical factor in Donald Trump winning Rustbelt states like Pennsylvania and Ohio was the energy sector. Forget “Build the wall” or “Lock her up,” Trump’s 2020 slogan ought to be “Drill, baby, drill.” Across party lines, Americans are widely sympathetic to harnessing our vast energy reserves to create jobs and economic growth, from white-collar Wall Street to blue-collar Democrats. If Trump is looking for a winning policy issue that’s not partisan, this is it. If he’s looking to repeat his winning Electoral College strategy, this is an ideal issue. Most normal Americans, outside the loony left, express great frustration at why we don’t drill, drill, drill. Trump should drill — and out-drill Putin. If the environmentalists want to protest that one, let ’em, and let Trump unleash on ‘em.

As Kevin Mooney wrote at The American Spectator: “Russia, the world’s largest oil producer, figures to watch the U.S. surpass it within five years. Killing fracking and the pipeline stand as two ways for Russia to avert this fate.”


And so, to return to the central point, is it true that U.S. environmental groups have been aiding and abetting Putin and the Russians against our own domestic energy sector? Is this a case of political-economic collusion?

Well, the Republican Congress, to its credit, isn’t ignoring the question. On March 1, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee released a report titled, “Russian Attempts to Influence U.S. Domestic Energy Markets by Exploiting Social Media.” The media response? Crickets.

Donald Trump typically responds to crickets by creating his own firestorm. Well, where is he? This could be one of the biggest scandals out there, and fully in line with Trump’s political and economic thinking. Why isn’t he going bonkers with his Twitter account? Is he not reading The American Spectator? Surely he is.

I’m surprised by his silence. I’m sure his Rustbelt voters would be as well.


‘UK must boost fracking to reduce reliance on Russian energy’

The UK Government needs to speed up the development of fracking to improve the country’s energy security and make it less reliant on imports from Russia.

That’s according to the Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF), which says in light of the “crisis” in British-Russian relations, planning laws regarding the controversial energy source need to be changed as quickly as possible.

It suggests this is necessary for the UK to avoid becoming too reliant on foreign imports for its gas supply in the near future.

Recent winter shortages forced Britain to import emergency gas supplies from Russia, which the GWPF stresses is an “unsustainable situation”.

The group says the first step is to change the law to class initial drilling as permitted development to stop activists from delaying the early stages of exploration.

A spokesperson from the group said: “The length of time it has been taking for shale gas extraction to get planning approval demonstrates that the system is utterly failing.

“An approach is needed that can bring about swift but considered planning decisions and that also provides the necessary reassurances for local communities that the environment is protected and disruption minimised.”


China to the rescue of the Australian power supply?

Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce have both used the Coalition partyroom meeting to urge Malcolm Turnbull to do more to keep the Liddell coal power station open.

According to a government MP, Mr Abbott raised an article in The Australian this morning and asked why the government did not attempt to facilitate a sale of the plant to Chinese group Shandong Ruyi.

Mr Turnbull responded by saying the government was not Liddell and could therefore not sell the coal-fired plant in the Hunter Valley. He added the government was agnostic on energy sources.

Mr Joyce spoke in the partyroom to say it was important the 45-year-old power station stay open.

Former Australian rugby union great Nick Farr-Jones wrote to the Prime Minister’s ­office in December declaring that his client, Shandong Ruyi Group, was interested in buying the 45-year-old plant, which AGL is closing in 2022.

Mr Farr-Jones, the director of consulting firm Taurus Funds Management, wrote that Shan­dong Ruyi, which has a controlling stake in the $240 million Cubbie Station cotton farm in southwest Queensland, wanted to invest in clean-coal technology and become a player in the Australian energy market.

The captain of Australia’s 1991 World Cup-winning Wallabies rugby team suggested the government should raise Shandong Ruyi’s interest in Liddell when it lobbied AGL to sell the coal-power plant to a third party.

AGL so far has refused the government’s request to extend the life of the 1800-megawatt power station, instead planning to replace Liddell’s power capacity with renewables, gas and a planned battery.

The Australian reported last week that Liddell’s closure may cause power outages because only 100MW of the replacement capacity has been funded.

In an email sent to Mr Turnbull’s deputy chief of staff, Clive Mathieson, on December 15 last year, Mr Farr-Jones said a senior representative of Shandong Ruyi met Scott Morrison in the middle of last year to detail the company’s ambition to invest in Australia’s power sector, including in thermal coal assets.

Shandong Ruyi, which is chaired by Qiu Yafu, specialises in textiles but in recent years has expanded into other industries including energy and real estate. The group bought the 96,000ha Cubbie Station in 2012, sparking intense criticism from the Nationals, but must reduce its initial 80 per cent stake in the farm to 51 per cent by late this year.

“Following the recent announcement by AGL that they ­intended to close the Liddell coal-fired power station in coming years, I thought I would drop you a quick note regarding a client of ours who would definitely be prepared to invest in latest-­technology, low-emission, coal-fired power,” Mr Farr-Jones wrote. “To that extent they would review the current Liddell plant with a view to extending the life of the plant to provide reliable, lower cost power to NSW. They would also look to invest in Queensland, particularly north Queensland.

“Around six months ago I met with the Treasurer (Minister Morrison) with the son-in-law of the president of Ruyi to make sure he was aware of Ruyi’s intentions to invest in the power sector in Australia.”

A spokesman for Mr Turnbull earlier has said no response was provided to Mr Farr-Jones, and that the Prime Minister’s office did not raise Shandong Ruyi’s interest with AGL.

Shandong Ruyi, one of China’s largest integrated textile companies, has partnered with Chinese state-owned company ­Huaneng Power on power projects globally, including building low-emission, coal-fired plants in Pakistan, Mr Farr-Jones’s email said.




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, March 27, 2018

Human Caused Global Warming: Some scientific rebuttals

No empirical evidence in observational data

1…. that atmospheric CO2 is responsive to fossil fuel emissions

2…. that there exists an ECS parameter that determines temperature according to atmospheric CO2

3…. that there exists a TCRE parameter that determines temperature according to cumulative emissions

4…. a parody of the flaw in TCRE

5…. Conclusion: No empirical evidence to support the “human caused global warming” hypothesis.


A Third Brief to Climate Tutorial

I just found out, thanks to Francis Menton, that a third skeptical brief was submitted to Judge Alsup in reference to his tutorial.  The thrust apparently is to show that the temperature record does not support the claim that recent variability is anything out of the ordinary.

The article by Francis Menton is Klimate Kraziness: A California Judge Holds A “Tutorial” On Climate Science  posted at Manhatton Contrarian.

The third friend of the court brief  was by  The Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council, which presented work of many scientists, most notably James Wallace III, Joseph D’Aleo, John Christie, and Craig Idso.  Menton’s explanation below from his article.

Not to downplay the work of my co-amici, but we are the one of the three groups that emphatically made the essential scientific point that the most credible data as to world temperatures, properly analyzed, preclude rejection of the null hypothesis that natural factors are the predominant if not only cause of the observed warming. As stated in our submission:

The conclusion of the work is that each of EPA’s “lines of evidence” has been invalidated by the best empirical evidence, and therefore the attribution of any observed climate change, including global warming, to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations has not been established.

And, further on in our presentation:

[T]hese natural factor impacts fully explain the trends in all relevant temperature data sets over the last 50 or more years. This research, like Wallace (2016), found that rising atmospheric concentrations did not have a statistically significant impact on any of the (14) temperature data sets that were analyzed. Wallace 2017 concludes that, “at this point, there is no statistically valid proof that past increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations have caused what have been officially reported as rising, or even record setting, temperatures.”


The post The Climate Story (Illustrated) provides a set of graphics making the same argument:  The temperature record does not support climate alarm.

Independently the prestigious Société de Calcul Mathématique (Society for Mathematical Calculation) has written a detailed 195-page White Paper that presente a blistering point-by-point critique of the key dogmas of global warming, starting with the temperature record.  See Bonn COP23 Briefing for Realists


Some crazy things are taking place in the lawsuit of the People of California against the Big Oil

OK, San Francisco's city hall and some other Northern Californian carefully selected left-wing nut jobs have boldly called themselves "the People of California" and sued six Big Oil companies to create a lawsuit "People of California vs BP p.l.c." with some extra words. Richard Lindzen, Will Happer, and Steve Koonin (a lukewarmer from the Obama administration) submitted some materials to the court and they're great. But look what Chevron officially wrote:

Chevron agreed with the latest scientific assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC), which was released in 2013 and 2014, the oil company’s lawyer said. [...]
Holy crap, "Chevron agrees with the IPCC report". To make this story doubly comical, and to complete the reversal of the sides, some green activists denounced this support for the IPCC as a tobacco industry tactic. Well, I am not sure. How can someone "agree with the IPCC report"? It has some thousands of pages in total. Some of it is boring data, some of them are accurate, some of them are not, most of them can't be verified by an individual who hasn't spent years on the measurements themselves. But a big fraction – which is still some hundreds of pages – are creative interpretations and at least some 1/2 of those are just rubbish.

So every intelligent person – including co-authors of the IPCC report themselves – would surely still find a huge number of pages he or they would disagree with. In particular, every intelligent person who has looked into the topic knows that the IPCC report doesn't contain any evidence supporting the idea that Chevron should change its business because of some climate phenomena.

Can these assertions that "Chevron agrees with the IPCC assessment" help the good cause in any way? I don't believe it. Such a claim clearly contradicts what the actual scientists – such as Lindzen, Happer, and Koonin – say about the problem. Chevron is turning into a company of clowns. I think that their lawyer simply has to be an alarmist activist himself. Do you have an alternative explanation? Maybe Chevron wants to make its future profits from the green regulations and its friendship with the government bureaucrats instead of fossil fuels?

Why would a big oil company ever hire a climate alarmist as its lawyer? Have the alarmists reversed their divestment campaigns, bought most of the stocks, and guarantee the alarmist behavior of the company through the stockholders' meetings? There are so many crazy things going on here.

So what Lindzen, Happer, and Koonin wrote – and what Spencer wrote elsewhere (he pointed out that the climate models don't actually start with any "feedbacks" so the term "feedback" is just one possible approximate a posteriori description of the behavior of the models after you learned about the results, not something well-defined that enters the calculations at the beginning) – is very interesting but these actual scientific arguments make very little impact on the debate because the key events are still being decided by the green brain of Mr John Kelly, or the idiotic green lawyer at Chevron. For these people, it's enough to say "the debate is over" or "we agree with the whole IPCC report" and for many others, it's an order to end any debate or doubt and continue in the unlimited hysteria.

Sadly, if Trump fails to fix the underlying cause of this mess – the corruption in this scientific discipline – he will be tilting at the windmills. You can't really cure a disease by addressing the symptoms only.

It's ironic but now, under the Trump presidency, we may see how the alarmist climate science community was created. It was created by the likes of General Kelly and the Chevron lawyer. Such people with no understanding of the science have made arbitrary oversimplified and almost entirely untrue yet officially "authoritative" statements – and they defined constraints that the buildup of the climatological community had to adapt to. So a soldier told you "it's a matter of patriotism to end the debate and fight climate change" or an idiotic lawyer or administrator turned out to be influential and said that it was right to "agree with the whole IPCC report". So everyone was "obliged" to agree with it – who would want to be unpatriotic or contradict the main lawyer in your organization? – and only alarmists were hired.

This has nothing to do with science and it's no surprise that the field is mess. Climatology is special because it's so "interesting" for politicians, lawyers, and even generals. No general or lawyer has ever pushed scientists to agree or disagree with the Higgs boson because the army and lawyers don't know what the Higgs boson is and how to make it interesting for their well-being. But climate change is an entirely different issue.


Alarmism Takes A Big Hit…Flood Of New Scientific Findings Show Nothing Unusual Happening Climatically

Two days ago Kenneth presented an impressive flurry of scientific, peer-reviewed charts published over the past 15 months (46 alone in 2018). Much to the surprise of alarmist scientists, global warming is weak at best.

Lack of warming a global phenomenon
According to Kenneth, these new papers show that “nothing climatically unusual is happening”. For example a publication by Polovodova Asteman et al shows that continental Europe’s temperatures are lower today than they were on other occasions over the past 2000 years:

Today’s warming doesn’t stand out

The authors write that the contemporary warming of the 20th century “does not stand out in the 2500-year perspective” and is “of the same magnitude as the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Climate Anomaly.”

A number of strident global warming scientists prefer to dismiss the significance of Europe’s temperature record, claiming that it is local in nature and does not tell us what is really happening globally. However, other papers fully contradict this. For example, a paper by Wündsch et al., 2018 shows us that the warming today in South Africa also is nothing unusual.

It’s global, stupid

Temperature reconstructions show the same is true in Southeast Australia, according to  McGowan et al., 2018, Northern Alaska (Hanna et al., 2018), the Tibetan Plateau (Li et al., 2018), South Korea (Song et al., 2018), Antarctica (Mikis, 2018), to cite just a few among dozens of others.

“Warming holes” surprise scientists

Meanwhile new findings by Partridge et al., 2018 show in fact that other regions have cooled. The eastern US “annual maximum and minimum temperatures decreased by 0.46°C and 0.83°C respectively.”
The surprising winter cooling has led scientists to dub the eastern US a “warming hole”, where scientists blame oceanic cycles for the unexpected cooling.

Greenland within normal, cooler than 1930s

Greenland often gets cited by alarmists as a climate canary in a coal mine due to its massive ice sheets and their potential to cause dramatic sea level rise should they melt. But a brand new study by Mikkelsen et al., 2018 shows that surface temperatures going back over 150 years are lower than they were in the 1930s!

Looking at the above Greenland surface temperature chart, we see that the mercury plummeted some 5°C from 1930s to the 1980s before thankfully rebounding in the 1990s and 2000s. Here as well there exist no signs for warming alarm.

Greenland cooling again since 2000

Furthermore, much to the surprise of global warming scientists, Greenland temperatures have again been falling since 2000. Westergaard-Nielsen et al., 2018 examined the most recent and detailed trends based on MODIS (2001–2015) and concluded that if there is any general trend for Greenland it is “mostly cooling”.

South Pole cooling, getting icier

At the other end of the planet at the South Pole, new findings by Cerrone and Fusco, 2018 confirm the large increase in the southern hemisphere sea ice and suggest it “arises from the impact of climate modes and their long-term trends”.

They write that the results indicate a progressive cooling has affected the year-to-year climate of the sub-Antarctic since the 1990s and that the SIC [sea ice concentration] shows upward annual, spring, and summer trends.

SOURCE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Philippines to hold inquiry on global warming's impact on human rights

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will hold its first public hearing this week on a landmark complaint alleging that several multinational oil and mining firms have violated the human rights of Filipinos by causing global warming that has led to natural disasters.

Among those named in the complaint are international oil giants Chevron and BP, as well as miner Tio Tinto, according to petitioner Greenpeace.

Can Philippine storm survivors hold companies to account for climate damage?

The CHR told ANC on Sunday that while the agency cannot impose penalties, the hearings will set as a precedent towards fighting climate change.

"We have sent the message that we are here not to establish any financial liability. We are here to establish whether or not human activity, so-called anthropogenic processes are involved in bringing about climate change," said CHR Commissioner Roberto Cadiz.

The first of the series of hearings will be held from March 27th to 28th.




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, March 26, 2018

Juneau schools leave room for debate in climate change curriculum

The Juneau School Board is considering adopting new curriculum for middle and high schools — based on growing national science standards. The model has been adopted entirely in 19 states, and one of the core ideas is teaching students about climate change.

The standards don’t shy away from attributing it to an increase of human activity. But how that’s taught in the classroom could be up to interpretation.

In the past five years, the way that science is taught in the classroom — across the nation — has shifted. Pop quizzes are still a thing, but the Next Generation Science Standards challenge students to think systematically.

“You still have the content there, but the focus has changed,” Ted Wilson said. He helped oversee the new curriculum for the Juneau School District, which includes activities that encourage place-based learning.

Another key part of the science standards is that students graduate with an understanding of earth and human activity, and that includes learning about climate change. The standards don’t mince words: What caused climate change to accelerate? It’s us.

The Juneau School District is borrowing some core ideas from the new standards.

But Wilson says how those ideas are taught in the classroom is up to the teachers. There’s no school district policy on climate change. Wilson’s advice is to stick to “it’s happening.”

“The aspect of how much of it is human-caused — because there is still a lot of controversy about that — is to teach it as this is one stream of thought,” Wilson said.

One stream of thought, Wilson says, that humans contributed to our most recent climate change.

“To present it like that,” Wilson said. “And for students to come away with their own opinions whether they think humans have made that impact or not.”

But Glenn Branch, a deputy director at the National Center for Science Education, says there are clear facts about who’s causing climate change to ramp up. His nonprofit advocates for evidence-based science in the classroom.

Branch says there’s a social controversy over climate change. But there isn’t a scientific one.

Scientists all over the world have studied this. And the overwhelming majority have reached the same conclusion: humans are largely to blame. It’s not an opinion, Branch says. It involves climate models and math.

Branch says that doesn’t leave room for avoiding the facts or debating them.

“It’s inappropriate,” Branch said. “Both because it reinforces a false conception that there’s a legitimate scientific debate about climate change, and also because it misrepresents the nature of science.”

Still, Branch says states are trying to navigate this all across the country. With topics that can be perceived as controversial, like climate change, he says it’s understandable school districts don’t want to make waves.

Branch says there are social issues that can be debated, like carbon taxes. However:

“You certainly don’t have it about issues such as human impact on climate change or the shape of the earth,” Branch said.

But Ted Wilson doesn’t take issue with climate change being presented in the classroom like a debate. Has human activity accelerated it or not? He says that regularly happens in history class or language arts.

Where does Wilson draw the line? Would flat earth theory be something he’d consent to someone teaching in a science classroom?

“As far as something that they’re asking students to debate, they could,” Wilson said.

Bottom line, Wilson says, is students should be able to think critically. And then decide on their own how to interpret the world, whether it’s flat earth theory or climate change. Regardless of what’s accelerating warming, how can we adapt? That’s the takeaway, he says.

“I think in our political climate, we don’t want teachers to be seen as people that are trying to push an agenda,” Wilson said.

Teaching students about climate change is part of the state’s science standards. But a spokesperson from the Alaska Department of Education says it’s largely up to the school districts to decide how that’s done.

Next year, the department will be able offer some new guidance. The state is currently updating its science standards. After being reviewed by teachers, parents and industry, it will be posted for public comment in 2019.


Global cooling

Poland clamps down on environmental defenders ahead of UN climate talks

The notoriety of the next IPCC climate conference (COP24 in November) is already infecting the host country, which is a heavy user of its own coal for electricity generation. Maybe COP should read COPS? They clearly suspect trouble is likely.

Poland recently passed a bill that bans spontaneous protests and allows police surveillance at this year’s world climate summit, reports

Civil society groups say Poland wants to silence environmental defenders.

There are still eight months to go until the international community meets for the UN climate talks in Poland’s Katowice, but the host is already causing controversy.

Poland has passed a bill specifically for the UN summit which, according to environmental groups, will exclude members of civil society from the Paris Agreement process and endanger activists who have been threatened in their home countries.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda signed the bill at the end of January, but it has gone widely unnoticed by the international community so far. It bans all spontaneous gatherings in the southern coal-mining city of Katowice between November 26 and December 16, spanning the entire period of the annual world climate change conference.

It also submits registered conference participants to government surveillance. It allows authorities and police to obtain, collect and use personal data of attendees without their consent or judicial oversight.

Now, a group of more than 100 environmental, women’s and indigenous organizations have signed a statement calling on Poland to repeal the law, arguing that it is a crackdown on human rights.

The bill “is setting a dangerous precedent that undermines basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly including the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and of speech, and the right to privacy,” says the statement published by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD).

Limited participation

Poland still allows demonstrations that are registered with local authorities in Katowice before the summit. But it restricts all spontaneous protests, activities and assemblies during the 24th ‘Conference of the Parties’ summit (COP24).


China struggles to kick its coal habit even as it pledges to increase renewable energy use

China is the world's biggest polluter, consuming more coal than the rest of the world combined.

It is now taking global leadership in combating climate change and has pledged to drastically cut its use of fossil fuels.

Central to that plan is to increase renewable energy by 20 per cent by 2030.

But many question whether the rhetoric is matching reality.

In the middle of China's coal heartland of Datong, solar panels fill the hilltops as far as the eye can see.

The project, called Top Runner, employs cutting-edge technology. And its success will, in part, determine how far and how fast solar energy can be rolled out across China.

The project is totally wireless and its conversion rate of sunlight to electricity is as high at 17 per cent. So far enough power is generated for 65,000 homes.

Pu Chengjun, who helps manage the project from Three Gorges New Energy, says it has the potential to transform the local area.

"The structure of energy and economy will be adjusted. It will change from coal mining, heavy industry to clean energy, new energy, solar energy. It's a model project," he says.

Communities in Datong have been destroyed by rampant coal mining. The water table has been poisoned and the land has subsided. Only small amounts of land can be used for agriculture.

Many villages that once lived off the riches of coal now lie derelict and abandoned.

Mr Pu believes solar energy can revive the area's fortunes.

"It will provide about 1,000 jobs a year in construction and maintenance and the company pays rent of more than half a million dollars a year to the locals for land that was useless," he says.

Nationally, solar only generates about 2 per cent of China's electricity and wind power a little more than 3 per cent, but much more is in the pipeline.

China says it will be the world's biggest investor in renewables and has pledged $400 billion by 2030.

But the problem is much of the electricity is not getting onto the grid. It is being squeezed out by coal, which provides three-quarters of the nation's energy needs.

Coal is cheap, and China is self-sufficient. And that has created a dependency. Coal is firmly entrenched and much of China's business and political elites are making billions from it.

Yuan Ying, the manager of climate and energy at Greenpeace China, says the coal culture will be a challenge to change, and top decision-makers down do not regard solar as a viable alternative yet.

"The whole power system is pivoted around coal, a lot of employment, a lot of incomes, a lot of GDP growth is relying on the coal industry. In the provinces the local officials prefer coal," she says.

Many of the massive showcase renewable projects in the outer provinces are too far away from the energy-hungry cities and industrial centres of the east, and transmission lines and the grid haven't been upgraded to utilise the power.

Ms Yuan says the situation is improving, but 20 per cent of renewable power that is generated is being lost.

"In western parts large amounts of energy produced by solar and wind is wasted and not integrated into the grid, that brings a lot of losses for the companies operating the renewables," she says.

The other issue is cost. Renewable energy is still expensive compared to coal.

Those in the solar industry in China, like Huang Xinming from JA Solar, say it is only a matter of time before technological breakthroughs bring lower prices. "It won't take too long, maybe five years," Mr Huang says.

"Then it will be a low-cost, clean and stable fuel of the future. In the last decade it's already dropped from $5.00 to 40 cents a watt."

Whether China can recast itself as the world's leader in clean energy will depend on how effective energy reforms are, and how fast the coal culture can change.

But the Chinese public, usually apolitical, may be the biggest drivers in the country's energy transition as they are demanding a cleaner, safer future.


Australia: Raising big dam wall plan 'would flood 50 Aboriginal heritage sites'. Greenies furious

Greenie hatred of dams is as implacable as it is irrational

A proposal to raise the Warragamba dam wall would flood 4,700ha of the Blue Mountains world heritage area, destroying more than 50 recognised Aboriginal heritage sites and wiping out pockets of threatened plant species, conservationists have said.

The $670m plan to raise the dam wall by 14 metres was announced by the New South Wales government in 2016 as a strategy to prevent catastrophic flooding in outer-western Sydney.

It faces strong opposition from conservationists and Gundungurra traditional owners, who say WaterNSW has made it difficult for them to engage in a consultation process and has underestimated the number of cultural heritage sites that will be lost.

Kazan Brown, a Gundungurra woman who has nominated to be part of the Aboriginal consultation group on the project, said she was given four days’ warning of an information session on 20 March. The briefing was held in northern Sydney, more than a three-hour drive in peak-hour traffic from Brown’s home in Warragamba.

Infrastructure NSW said the briefing was “not a mandated part of that consultation process” but invitations were issued to “registered Aboriginal parties”. Four groups accepted but due to “personal circumstances” none turned up.

A second meeting will be held at Katoomba on 27 March.

Brown said raising the dam wall would flood more than 50 Aboriginal heritage sites. A significant number of sites were flooded when the original dam was built.

“They [WaterNSW] are saying that it is going to save more sites downstream,” she said. “But they are talking about different cultures. Everything that is behind the dam wall belongs to the Gundungurra and Dharawal people and everything that’s downstream belongs to the Darug.”

Among the sites at risk behind the dam wall are rock art sites, burial sites and ochre deposits in a cave on the waterline.

Brown said the Gundungurra people could not afford to lose any more heritage sites. “We lost a lot when they first flooded the valley,” she said.

Infrastructure NSW said it was still assessing the impact on Aboriginal heritage sites.

Ecologist Roger Lembit was involved in environmental assessments of a proposal to raise the wall by 23 metres in 1995. A spillway was built instead.

Lembit said he was “very surprised” to see another proposal to raise the dam, especially after the Blue Mountains received world heritage listing in 2000.

“You would think that world heritage meant something,” he said.

The new inundation area includes Camden white gum (Eucalyptus benthamii), which is nationally is listed as vulnerable, and Kowmung hakea (Hakea Dohertyi) which is listed as endangered.

It also contains “highly unusual” mixed ironbark and cypress pine forests, areas of dry rainforest and a substantial number of old growth trees.

The proposal would also flood 65km of wild rivers and streams, according to the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, which will launch a campaign to save the wild rivers on Monday.

The 142m high dam wall was completed in 1960. It fences in Lake Burragorang, a 2,000 gigalitre lake on the eastern edge of the Blue Mountains that provides 80% of Sydney’s water supply.

It guards the Hawkesbury-Nepean valley, which was identified by the Insurance Council of Australia as the most flood-prone area in NSW.

According to the Hawkesbury-Nepean valley flood risk management strategy, which recommended the dam wall be raised, up to 134,000 people live and work on the floodplain. That number is growing as Sydney sprawls westward.

The strategy said raising the dam wall would create “airspace in the dam to temporarily hold back and slowly release flood waters coming from the Warragamba river catchment”, which would reduce the flood risk by 75%.

The proposal was developed in response to the 2011 Brisbane floods, which were triggered by a release from the Wivenhoe dam.

It has already received $58m in state funding and is undergoing ecological assessment. If approved, construction will begin in 2020.




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, March 25, 2018

Global carbon emissions have hit a record high

All the Greenie attacks on our standard of living have achieved nothing -- even by Greenie standards

Global energy-related carbon emissions rose to a historic high of 32.5 gigatons last year, after three years of being flat, due to higher energy demand and the slowing of energy efficiency improvements, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.

Global energy demand rose by 2.1 percent last year to 14,050 million tonnes of oil equivalent, more than twice the previous year’s rate, boosted by strong economic growth, according to preliminary estimates from the IEA.

Energy demand rose by 0.9 percent in 2016 and 0.9 percent on average over the previous five years.

Over 70 percent of global energy demand growth was met by oil, natural gas and coal, while renewables accounted for almost all of the rest, the IEA said in a report.

Improvements in energy efficiency slowed last year. As a result of these trends, global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions increased by 1.4 percent in 2017 to 32.5 gigatons, a record high.

“The significant growth in global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2017 tells us that current efforts to combat climate change are far from sufficient,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director.

“For example, there has been a dramatic slowdown in the rate of improvement in global energy efficiency as policy makers have put less focus in this area.”

At talks in Germany late last year among almost 200 nations about details of a global climate accord, scientists presented data showing that world carbon emissions were set to rise 2 percent in 2017 to a new record.


BBC’s Fake Climate Claims Now Becoming A Habit

By Paul Homewood

Accuracy is one the fundamental requirements imposed on the BBC by its Charter.

For years, however, it has been sorely lacking in its handling of climate related matters.

Most of the time, the BBC gets away with it, simply because people don’t realise it, or if they do don’t complain, or if they do are fobbed off all too easily.

However in recent months, it has been forced to retract three totally fallacious claims, which could and should have been avoided with a few simple checks.

1) The first concerned a report on the World at One last march, which discussed rising sea levels around Florida:

The BBC correspondent, Nick Bryant made the following comment:

"Sea levels at Miami are rising at ten times the global rate"

When I complained, the BBC’s first response, as usual, was to prevaricate and ignore the specifics of my complaint completely.

Only after I pursued matters to the Executive Complaints Unit were they finally forced to retract their claim, which was so utterly ridiculous that it should have set alarm bells ringing at the outset.

2) Then in October 2017, the BBC broadcast an episode of “Russia with Simon Reeve”.

The programme made certain claims about reindeer in northern Russia, as Lord Lawson of GWPF noted in his letter of complaint to the BBC:

Lord Lawson pointed out that on the contrary reindeer populations were stable, and in some cases increasing.

Again the BBC were forced to issue a retraction, as the GWPF reported in January this year:

"The alarming claim that reindeer populations across Northern Russia were “in steep decline because of climate change”, was made during the first episode of the recent BBC 2 series: Russia with Simon Reeve.

Writing to the BBC Complaints department, Lord Lawson pointed out that according to a 2016 study, 17 out of 19 sub-populations of Eurasian Reindeer were now either increasing in number, or had a stable population trend.

The BBC have now accepted this evidence, and have published a correction which reads: “This programme suggested that many reindeer populations are in steep decline because of climate change. It would have been more accurate to say that many reindeer populations are threatened by it.”

Indeed it would have been less inaccurate, given that the claim is blatantly false. However, even the claim that they are “threatened” is highly questionable given their growing populations.

The false alarm highlights the BBC’s habitual attempts to exaggerate the consequences of climate change and to ignore scientific evidence that contradicts climate alarmism.

3) Then in December 2017, one of the BBC’s weather forecasters ran an article on BBC Online, provocatively headlined “Is Climate Change Making Hurricanes Worse?”

After listing some of the major hurricane events of 2017, but with no attempt to put them into historical perspective, the piece ended with this “statement of fact”:

"A warmer world is bringing us a greater number of hurricanes and a greater risk of a hurricane becoming the most powerful category 5"

There is absolutely no evidence that this is the case, as even the IPCC have been forced to admit.

My first complaint was fobbed off, and only after I resubmitted my complaint, complete with a list of scientific references and graphs did they grudgingly admit that their claim was utterly false.

The offending sentence has now been deleted, and a correction added:


Once may be an accident, twice a coincidence. But three times in just a few months suggests a pattern. These events pose a number of questions:

1) Who is feeding the reporters with these fake claims?

It is hard to believe that they are making them up themselves. What you think of BBC reporters, they are professionals who have spent their careers learning how to build stories, based either on their own research, or on what they have been told.

So, have these fake claims originated from somewhere like Greenpeace?

2) Why were the claims not spotted and checked out beforehand by programme editors, whose job it is to do so?

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that, as Booker suggested, there is a blind, unthinking global warming groupthink at work here.

Sea level rise in Florida? Well, we all know Miami is soon going to drown!

Reindeers dying because of global warming? Well, that nice man from WWF told us, and he would not lie, would he!

Hurricanes getting worse? Well, that’s what the models say!

There is a third question – why is this continued bad reporting tolerated by the BBC powers that be?

But I think we all know the answer to that!

More HERE  (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Canada: A billion-dollar plan no one should follow

In its March 19 Speech from the Throne, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's government asserted, “you cannot be serious about lowering emissions and fighting climate change without a price on carbon pollution.”

Nowhere did the speech specify what this supposed pollution actually is. That’s probably because, if it did, millions of Canadians would realize that the Wynne government is wasting billions of dollars trying to control a non-pollutant in the forlorn hope that reducing the province’s minimal contribution to worldwide emissions of this non-pollutant will have a beneficial effect on Earth’s complex and ever-changing climate.

In a March 14 press release, Wynne said that her government is “building a cleaner, low-carbon Ontario.” But carbon is not unclean. Carbon is a solid, naturally occurring, non-toxic element found in all living things. It forms thousands of compounds – far more than any other element. Medicines, trees, oil, natural gas, plastics, paints, food crops, and even our bodies are made of carbon compounds.
Pure carbon occurs in nature mainly in the forms of graphite and diamonds. They are certainly not Premier Wynne’s target.

So, what is the “carbon pollution” she is concerned about? Is she speaking about reducing soot emissions from cars and power plants? Amorphous carbon, carbon without a fixed atomic structure, is the main ingredient in soot, which we certainly do need to control. Power plants have already done a good job reducing soot and other actual, dangerous pollutants. So have cars.

Instead, the premier is crusading against emissions of one specific carbon compound: carbon dioxide, or CO2. Ignoring the oxygen atoms and calling CO2 “carbon” makes about as much sense as ignoring the oxygen in water (H2O) and calling it “hydrogen.”

Calling CO2 “carbon,” or worse “carbon pollution,” causes people to think of it as something dirty and thus important to restrict. Calling carbon dioxide by its proper name would help people remember that, regardless of its role in climate change (a point of intense debate among scientists), CO2 is really an invisible gas essential to plant photosynthesis, and thus to all life. Indeed, without at least 200 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, most life on Earth would cease to exist.

We are actually near the lowest level of atmospheric CO2 in Earth’s history. Around 440 million years ago, CO2 was over ten times higher than today’s level, while Earth was stuck in one of the coldest periods in the entire geologic and modern record.

The climate models’ assumption that temperature is driven by CO2 is clearly wrong. In fact, it’s the other way around. Planetary temperatures largely control atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. The warmer the air and ocean waters get, the more CO2 is released from oceans into the atmosphere; the colder the seas, the more carbon dioxide they retain.

Wynne does not seem to understand this, or the fact that commercial greenhouse operators routinely run their internal atmospheres at up to 1,500 ppm CO2 – for a good reason. Plants inside grow far faster, more efficiently and with less water than at the low 400 ppm found outside in Earth’s atmosphere.

Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts, a report from the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, cites over 1,000 peer-reviewed studies that document how the productivity of forests and grasslands has risen as CO2 levels have increased – not just in recent decades, but in past centuries.

Moreover, increasing carbon dioxide levels pose no direct hazard to human health. CO2 in submarines can reach levels above 10,000 ppm, 25 times current atmospheric levels, with no harmful effects on the crews.

Finally, Wynne mixes up “the government's actions on climate change” with “making our air cleaner.” The Speech from the Throne switches back and forth between the two, as if they were related.

(We hope it’s a mistake, and not a deliberate attempt to mislead people and promote expensive and damaging public policies.)

Activists do this often when they claim CO2 emission controls will bring important pollution reduction co-benefits. There is no basis for this assertion. US Environmental Protection Agency data show that total emissions of six major air pollutants dropped 62% since 1980, amid a 14% increase in CO2 emissions. Using climate regulations to reduce pollution is obviously an expensive blunder.

Wynne’s ‘carbon pollution’ mistake is dangerous because it dumbs down a vitally important science debate, inappropriately sways millions of people, and ultimately drives terrible government policies.

The Premier says climate change is a fight that “our children and grandchildren can’t afford for us to lose.” What our children and grandchildren really cannot afford is picking up the tab for the Wynne’s government’s billion dollar plans to “lead the world” on reducing plant food that is “greening” our planet, rolling back deserts, and enabling us to grow more food from less land.

Highly complex climate and weather systems are now, and always have been, driven by fluctuations in the sun’s energy output, cosmic rays, ocean currents, volcanic activity and dozens of other powerful natural forces, over which humans have absolutely no control

So, the Ontario government’s CO2 reduction plans will obviously do nothing to “protect” Earth’s climate. But they will drive up energy prices, force companies to spend billions more on electricity and fuels, kill countless jobs, hurt poor and working class families the most, and reduce forest, grassland and crop growth.

Ontario’s plan to price CO2 emissions is a prime example of what countries, states and provinces throughout the world should avoid.


Scott Pruitt is bringing transparency to the EPA; why is the Church of Man-made Climate Change angry about that?

Earlier this week Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced a policy change that is driving several “scientists” mad. Pruitt announced the EPA would no longer use “science” from outside groups that refuse to share data. This has become a problem for the agency because previous administrations would receive reports from outside groups and make decisions based on the report without reviewing the data. Any scientist will be able to tell you junk data going in means junk results coming out.

In an interview given to The Daily Caller, Pruitt stated, “If we use a third party to engage in scientific review or inquiry, and that’s the basis of rule-making, you and every American citizen across the country deserve to know what’s the data, what’s the methodology that was used to reach that conclusion that was the underpinning of what—rules that were adopted by this agency.”

Pruitt continued, “When we do contract that science out, sometimes the findings are published; we make that part of our rule-making processes, but then we don’t publish the methodology and data that went into those findings because the third party who did the study won’t give it to us.”

Many climate change alarmists are already howling at the moon because of the decision. They feel like they should be able to submit work to the government without having to show their work, makes you wonder if they’ve ever taken a high-school math class. What is not up for debate is the enormous weight given to the studies and the potential harm to the U.S. economy the studies present.

Michael Bastasch, reporting for the Daily Signal, notes, “The EPA has primarily relied on two 1990s studies linking fine particulate pollution to premature death. Neither of the studies have made their data public, but the EPA used their findings to justify sweeping air quality regulations.” These air quality regulations end up putting thousands of people out of work, without ever having to show the data that led to the regulations.

Another of the more famous “studies” is Michael Mann’s hockey stick graph. Al Gore even used it in his film an Inconvenient Truth, you may remember it as a documentary that hasn’t gotten one prediction right. The “hockey stick” graph has been used by just about every environmental group in the world to prove man-made climate change. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has used the graph in the past to justify its barbaric environmental recommendations.

Mann just lost a libel lawsuit in Canada. Mann initiated the suit against Canadian Climatologist, Dr. Tim Ball after Ball, using more reliable and publicly available data, disproved Mann’s famous hockey stick graph. In fact, Tim Ball’s graph looks nothing like Mann’s graph. The twist in the case had Mann failing to meet a court-ordered deadline to hand over the data he used to get his graph. What was Mann trying to hide?

One of the U.S. government’s own agencies has even been caught manipulating climate data. A former principal scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), John Bates, accused his former agency of manipulating data to erase the global warming pause. Bates blasted the agency for the faulty science because he believed the 2015 report was rushed to get President Obama’s desk before the Paris Climate Summit. Science that impacts thousands of jobs and millions of families should not be rushed.

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning stated, “transparency about the scientific method used to come to conclusions that have major public policy impacts, is essential in order for others to evaluate and attempt to replicate the findings. Every grade school child learns that for science to be legitimate, someone doing the exact same process have to come up with the same results. It’s called falsifiability. Data that cannot be examined and potentially falsified simply must not be accepted by the government. Transparency is the key to ending politically driven science.”

It is important to note, Pruitt is not ruling out the studies. All the studies have to do is show their work. Provide the raw data to ensure there has been no data manipulation to reach a preconceived conclusion. Considering most of the scientists perform the studies using federally funded research grants, the data belongs to the American taxpayer. If the “scientists” have nothing to hide, they should have nothing to fear.

U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Chairman of the Space, Science, and Technology Committee, has been fighting the transparency battle for years. Chairman Smith has introduced H.R. 1430, the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act of 2017. The bill states:

“The Administrator shall not propose, finalize, or disseminate a covered action unless all scientific and technical information relied on to support such covered action is—(A) the best available science; (B) specifically identified; and (C) publicly available online in a manner that is sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results, except that any personally identifiable information, trade secrets, or commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential, shall be redacted prior to public availability.”

Doesn’t seem like too much to ask. Every student from the third grade to a Ph.D. must do the same thing, show your work so that it can potentially be falsified. Otherwise it’s not really scientific.

Scott Pruitt is to be commended for this action, but more can be done. The Senate must act to ensure secret science is no longer used to justify job-killing regulations. The House has already done its job; it is now up to the Senate to ensure transparency.


Happy Human Achievement Hour: A Better Alternative to ‘Earth Hour’

There is a profound intellectual temptation toward viewing the world through the lens of our favorite ideas. Powerful ideas can inspire, shape how we interpret the world, and provide emotional solace during tempestuous times. But no matter how attractive and interesting or how well they explain the world around us, the core of life remains what we do. It is in the actions of mankind that we can see how people adapt to challenges, achieve progress and, hopefully, make life better for each other.

Every year, we each have the opportunity to make the fullest use of 8,760 hours. Remarkably, people from all walks of life in a wide array of cultures engage in very similar behaviors for most of that time. Foremost, people sleep or work for approximately two-thirds of every day. We also engage in leisure, education, household upkeep, and the care of loved ones. Here at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, we spend a great deal of our time developing ideas to improve how we govern, in order to advance the health, welfare, and economic station of people everywhere.

This is why several years ago we launched Human Achievement Hour, an annual celebration of innovation and progress. During this hour—this year, Saturday, March 24th from 8:30pm to 9:30pm—people around the world pay tribute to human ingenuity and advancements in every field from health and energy to communications and transportation. Originally launched as an alternative to “Earth Hour,” an activist campaign that calls on people to show their concern about climate change by turning off their lights, Human Achievement Hour challenges people to celebrate human ingenuity and our ability to solve problems creatively.

From exploration of the cosmos to investigation of the most minute chemical interactions within the human body, we are wired with a natural curiosity that leads to discovery and, sometimes, to transformative achievements.

Discoveries, inventions, and the deployment of the technological advances that they make possible may be the most visible elements of human achievement. However, at CEI we take a broad view and also celebrate the less visible, even mundane, aspects of human achievement. The humane interactions of life, the simple one-to-one conversations that are the social glue allowing people to trade information, learn and grow, signal interest, or exchange one good for another are the essential elements of a market, and of society itself.

We each have a choice to make about the ideas that shape our behavior. Do we believe that our lives are on an inescapably downward trajectory, that our ability to solve problems today—large and small—is fixed, and that progress is measured by metering out scarce and depleting resources? Or, can we see a dynamic future in which the world is full of opportunity and room for individuals, communities, and whole regions to adapt to what comes next?

I firmly hold the latter view. And for one of the 8,760 hours each year it is good to both reflect upon it (by thinking about it) as well as to promote it (by doing something with it).

To one and all, Happy Human Achievement Hour!




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, March 23, 2018

The Flawed Methodology Behind Studies Measuring the Cost of Climate Change

Many prominent studies used by the federal government to measure the costs of climate change rely on a flawed methodology that incorporates faulty economic models and fails to account for human adaption, according to a new report.

A new report released by the Manhattan Institute, a domestic policy and urban affairs think tank, sheds light on how the doom and gloom climate change scenarios painted by the federal government and those in academia are actually the result of  "laughably bad economics."

For instance, a study conducted by researchers from Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley estimated that countries such as Mongolia would experience unbridled economic growth because of climate change, resulting in the average Mongolian earning four times more than the average American by 2100.

The Manhattan Institute's report, written by Oren Cass, outlines how studies attempting to gauge the economic and social costs of climate change are inherently speculative. Cass, a former domestic policy director for the Romney campaign, explains these studies require the difficult translation of forecasted temperature increases into measurable effects on weather, such as rising sea tides. Those effects must then be translated into societal impacts, such as depleted freshwater sources, which must be further translated to determine fiscal impact.

This process results in the over-reliance on statistics analyzing variations in temperature, and it creates a correlation-based approach rather than one based on causation.

The linking of rising temperatures to increased mortality rates and lower economic output, on the basis of historical correlations, is flawed and provides results that vastly exceed those "from more traditional analyses of climate change's expected effects on the physical world."

The aforementioned Berkley-Stanford study found warm countries experienced lower economic growth in abnormally warm years, while cold countries experienced higher levels of growth. The economic model designed by the California academics concluded unmitigated climate change would decrease gross domestic product (GDP) by more than 20 percent by 2100. The study did not take into account a country's existing resources, but rather only drew estimations by looking at the "historical relationship between temperature and a country's economic output."

The authors of the Berkley-Stanford study did not return requests from the Washington Free Beacon for comment.

Cass notes studies that rely upon historical correlations to portray dystopian consequences have become increasingly ascendant in the ever-polarizing conversation on climate change. "These studies have gained rapidly in prominence," Cass wrote. "They now account for the overwhelming share of costs in climate assessments."

In his report, Cass also offers a searing indictment of studies conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO), citing the often made mistake of not accounting for the variable of human adaption. While Cass himself notes that human adaption is difficult to predict, the willful avoidance of it by climatologists casts doubt on the accuracy of their doomsday-like prognostications.

A study conducted by the EPA in 2015 attempted to estimate the number of heat-related mortalities that will result from climate change-related temperature increases. The study, incorporating data from 33 cities across the United States, operated under the assumption that a day considered unusually hot in 2000 will cause a similar mortality rate in 2100. The study projected that abnormally warm weather in northern cities by 2100 will result in nearly 12,000 heat-related deaths annually.

Cass notes the EPA study does not, however, account for the fact that "southern cities such as Phoenix, Houston, and New Orleans, were already hotter in 2000 than northern cities are predicted to be in 2100." The EPA's predicted heat-related mortality rates in 2100 for northern cities is nearly 50 times higher than the actual heat-related mortality rates that southern cities experienced in 2000.

The EPA study estimates that by 2100, climate change will cost the U.S. economy between $1.3 trillion and $1.5 trillion annually. As Cass notes, at least 89 percent of this sum was derived from economic models utilizing temperature studies that do not account for human adaption and blend the line between correlation and causation.

The Manhattan Institute report finds attempts to extrapolate future costs from present realities, often without taking into account a region's ability to adapt to changing temperatures, lead to "absurd estimates."

The irony, Cass points out, is studies that attempt to understand the qualitative costs of climate change often–however inadvertently–fail to account for future change and adaption.


In the courtroom

CHEVRON WOULD LIKE you to know that it believes in climate change. It also believes people cause it by burning carbon-based fuel—the kind Chevron extracts from the ground, refines, and sells. In fact, Chevron believes all this so hard that today its lawyer said so, in a federal court in San Francisco. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? Yup. They’re right.

That’s not as up-is-down as it might sound; Chevron representatives have said as much before. The follow-up questions, though, will be the tricky part. Because what was at stake in that courtroom was not whether the effects of climate change—sea level rise, ocean acidification, weather extremes, wildfires, disease outbreaks—are people’s fault. It was whether a lawsuit could show that specific effects (floods) are specific people’s fault. Specifically, the people at Chevron.

...and BP and ExxonMobil, because San Francisco and Oakland are suing those companies for money to build seawalls and other protective infrastructure. The idea isn’t just that petrochemical transnationals extract, produce, and sell the fuel that puts carbon into the atmosphere. It’s that they knew that was bad, kept doing it anyway, and cut ads and marketing that tried to convince people it wasn’t a problem.

But before they could really dig into that, the judge in the case, William Alsup, asked for what he termed a “tutorial.” On March 6, he sent the lawyers on both sides a list of nine questions digging into the basic history and science of climate change (Number two: What is the molecular difference by which CO2 absorbs infrared radiation but oxygen and nitrogen do not?), with a special eye on sea level rise. Which is as odd as it sounds.

Outside the usual procedural kabuki of the courtroom, the truth is no one really knew what to expect from this court-ordered “tutorial.” For a culture based in large measure on precedent, putting counsel and experts in a room to hash out climate change for a trial—putting everyone on the record, in federal court, on what is and is not true about climate science—was literally unprecedented.

What Alsup got might not have been a full on PowerPoint-powered preview of the trial. But it did reveal a lot about the styles and conflicts inherent in the people who produce the carbon and the people who study it.

The other petrochemists put forth Theodore Boutrous, an AC-130 gunship of a lawyer who among other things got the US Supreme Court to overturn the California law against same-sex marriage. Here, retained specifically by Chevron, Boutrous argued what seemed to be climate change’s chapter-and-verse. He extolled the virtues of the several IPCC reports, 2013 most recently, and quoted them liberally. Boutrous talked about how the reports’ conclusions have gotten more and more surefooted about “anthropogenic” causes of climate change—it’s people!—and outcomes like sea level rise. “From Chevron’s perspective, there’s no debate about climate science,” Boutrous said. “Chevron accepts what this scientific body—scientists and others—what the IPCC has reached consensus on.”

Still, over the course of the morning, Boutrous nevertheless tried to neg the IPCC in two specific ways. One was a classic: He challenged the models that climate scientists use to attempt to predict the future. These computer models, Boutrous said, are “increasingly complex. That can make the modeling more powerful.” But with great power comes great potential wrongness. “Because it’s an attempt to represent things in the real world, the complexity can bring more risk.” He assured the court that Chevron agreed with the IPCC approach—posting up a slide pulled from an IPCC report that showed the multicolored paths of literally hundreds of models, using different emissions scenarios and essentially describing the best case and worst case (and a bunch of in-between cases). It looked like a blast of fireworks emerging from observed average temperature, headed chaotically up and to the right.

So here comes the crux of the thing—a question not of whether climate change is real, but whether you can ascribe blame for it. Leaning heavily on more IPCC quotes, Boutrous showed slides and statistics saying that climate change is a global problem that doesn’t differentially affect the West Coast of North America and isn’t caused by any one emitter. Or even any one source of emissions. Anthropogenic emissions are driven by things like population size, economic activities, lifestyle, energy use, land use patterns, and technology and climate policy, according to the IPCC. “The IPCC does not say it’s the extraction and production of oil,” Boutrous said. “It’s economic activity that creates the demand for energy and that leads to emissions.”

If that seems a little bit like the “guns don’t kill people; people kill people” of petrochemical capitalism, well, Judge Alsup did start the morning by saying today was a day for science, not politics.

So what knives did the representatives of the state of California bring to this oil-fight? Here’s where style is interesting. California didn’t front lawyers. For the science tutorial, the municipalities fronted scientists—people who’d been first authors on chapters in the IPCC reports from which Boutrous quoted, and one who’d written a more recent US report and a study of sea level rise in California. They knew their stuff and could answer all of Judge Alsup’s questions … but their presentations were more like science conference fodder than well-designed rhetoric.

For example, Myles Allen, leader of the Climate Research Program at the University of Oxford, gave a detailed, densely-illustrated talk on the history and science of climate change...but he also ended up in an extended back and forth with Alsup about whether Svante Arrhenius’ 1896 paper hypothesizing that carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere warmed the planet explicitly used the world “logarithmic." Donald Wuebbles, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Illinois and co-author of the Nobel Prize-winning 2007 IPCC report, mounted a grim litany of all the effects scientists can see, today, of climate, but Alsup caught him up asking for specific things he disagreed with Boutrous on—a tough game since Boutrous was just quoting the IPCC.

Then Alsup and Wuebbles took a detour into naming other renewable power sources besides solar and wind. “Nuclear would not put out any CO2, right? We might get some radiation as we drive by, but maybe in retrospect we should have taken a hard look at nuclear?” Alsup interrupted. “No doubt solar is good where you can use it, but do you really think it could be a substitute for supplying the amount of power America used in the last 30 years?”

“I think solar could be a significant factor of our energy future,” Wuebbles said. “I don’t think there’s any one silver bullet.”

In part, one might be tempted to put some blame on Alsup here. You might remember him from such trials as Uber v. Waymo, where he asked for a similar tutorial on self-driving car technology. Or from Oracle v. Google, a trial for which Alsup taught himself a little of the programming language Java so he’d understand the case better. Or from his intercession against the Trump administration’s attempt to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, protecting the immigration status of so-called Dreamers. “He’s kind of quirky and not reluctant to do things kind of outside the box,” said Deborah Sivas, Director of the Environmental and Natural Resource Law & Policy Program at Stanford Law School. “And I think he sees this as a precedent-setting case, as do the lawyers.”

It’s possible, then, to infer that Alsup was doing more than just getting up to speed on climate change on Wednesday. The physics and chemistry are quite literally textbook, and throughout the presentations he often seemed to know more than he was letting on. He challenged chart after chart incisively, and often cut in on history. When Allen brought up Roger Revelle’s work showing that oceans couldn’t absorb carbon—at least, not fast enough to stave off climate change, Alsup interrupted.

“Is it true that Revelle initially thought the ocean would absorb all the excess, and that he came to this buffer theory a little later?” Alsup asked.

“You may know more of this history than I do,” Allen said.

But on the other hand, some of what the litigators seemed to not know sent the scientists in the back in literal spasms. When Boutrous couldn’t answer Alsup’s questions about the specific causes of early 20th-century warming (presumably before the big industrial buildup of the 1950s), Allen and Wuebbles, sitting just outside the gallery, clenched fists and looked like they were having to keep from shouting out the answer. Later, Alsup acknowledged that he’d watched An Inconvenient Truth to prepare, and Boutrous said he had, too.

All of which makes it hard to tell whether bringing scientists to this table was the right move. And maybe that has been the problem all along. The interface where utterly flexible law and policy moves against the more rigid statistical uncertainties of scientific observation has always been contested space. The practitioners of both arts seem foreign to each other; the cultural mores differ.

Maybe that’s what this “tutorial” was meant for. As Sivas says, the facts aren’t really in doubt here. Or rather, most of them aren’t, and maybe Alsup will use today as a kind of discovery process, a way to crystalize the difference between uncertainty in science and uncertainty under the law. “That’s what judges do. They decide the credibility of one expert over another,” Sivas says. “That doesn’t mean it’s scientific truth. It means it’s true as a legal claim.”

Now things might get even more real. If a court attaches culpability for sea level rise in California to petrochemical companies, that might establish causation for a planet’s worth of damage, any disaster someone can plausibly connect to climate change. That’s wildfires, drought, more intense hurricanes. Attribute it to climate, and it could attribute all the way to fossil fuel companies’ bank accounts.


Trump’s EPA Chief says Open Debate about Climate Change is still on

It was “absolutely false” the White House shot down plans for a public debate on global warming science, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said Monday.

“Don’t believe everything you read,” Pruitt told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

White House chief of staff John Kelly [NOT the EPA] “killed” the effort before any public announcements could be made, The New York Times reported March 9. Kelly “considered the idea ‘dead’ and not to be discussed further,” White House officials said at a mid-December 2017 meeting, The Times reported.

White House officials derailed a public red-blue team exercise, while they suggested alternate routes, an E&E News follow up report claimed. The exercise has indeed “evolved,” Pruitt told TheDCNF.

“The red team, blue team exercise has evolved a little bit,” Pruitt explained to TheDCNF. “We’ve been working diligently over the last several months to determine the best way forward to encourage this open, honest, transparent debate about these very important issues. The American people deserve that, frankly, they deserve it.”

“If some believe that CO2 poses an existential threat to mankind, they think it’s more important than North Korea — they do, don’t they?” Pruitt asked. “If that’s the case, I want to know it.”

“Let us make sure that there’s an honest discussion about that,” Pruitt continued. “Let’s go into this and actually have an open mind about what we know and what we don’t know. That’s something we’re working on, we’ll continue to work on, and preferably have some answers on that soon as well.”

Pruitt suggested a red-blue team-style exercise to debate climate science last year, echoing former Obama Energy Department official Steven Koonin, who advocated for such an exercise in The Wall Street Journal.

The military uses red-blue team exercises to expose vulnerabilities in strategic plans. President Donald Trump embraced Pruitt’s call for such debates, according to reports, as well as scientists skeptical of catastrophic global warming.

Scientists claiming to be part of the “consensus” and environmentalists oppose red-blue team debates, arguing they will be used to discredit climate science.

Pruitt did not go into detail on how exactly the red-blue team exercise had “evolved,” but E&E’s report suggested EPA could take comments on the endangerment finding.

White House officials told EPA staffers they could review the 2009 endangerment finding, taking public comments on the state of climate science, E&E reported. The endangerment finding was issued under the Obama administration and gives EPA legal cover to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, Pruitt had concerns over how the Obama administration finalized the 2009 endangerment finding so quickly, utilizing United Nations assessments instead of EPA-generated studies, he said. “I think the process most definitely was a process that was abused,” Pruitt told TheDCNF.

“Anytime that this agency, or any agency, that would go to a third party, like the UN — in that case the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — and took the work product of the IPCC and then transferred it to this agency and used that as the basis by which the decision was made, that’s a breach of process, in my view,” Pruitt added.

The George W. Bush administration began the endangerment finding in 2008 but dragged its feet, allowing the Obama administration to take it up in 2009 and quickly turn around a finding carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases threatened public health.

Conservative groups have petitioned Pruitt to reconsider the endangerment finding, citing reports from independent researchers arguing global warming is overblown and relies on flawed climate models.

Pruitt did not say whether or not he would reconsider the finding but tied the matter to the larger issue of transparency in science EPA relies on to issue regulations.

“I think what’s important there — and that’s what drives this discussion that I’ve been focused on over the last four or five or six months on ensuring that there’s an objective, transparent discussion on what do we know and what don’t we know with respect to CO2,” Pruitt said.

“How do we know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100, looking out 82 plus years, right? It’s a fair question, right? Particularly if you’re basing policy on it now,” Pruitt noted.


Contra Climate Alarmists, Tuvaluans’ Homes Secure As Island Nation Grows

Climate alarmists have hyped the Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu as a prime example of the dangers posed by rising sea levels caused by anthropogenic climate change. They warn Tuvalu’s islands will soon be underwater, creating thousands of climate refugees. Science is once again confounding the alarming climate projections: new research published in the journal Nature Communications shows Tuvalu is actually growing as sea levels rise.

Researchers from the University of Auckland used aerial photographs and satellite imagery to examine changes in Tuvalu’s nine atolls and 101 reef islands between 1971 and 2014. They found eight of the nine atolls and 75 percent of the islands grew during the time period, increasing Tuvalu’s land area by 2.9 percent. Among other factors, the researchers found wave patterns and sediment dumped by storms seem to be more than offsetting the rising sea levels, adding to Tuvalu’s land base.

According to coauthor Paul Kench, Ph.D., a coastal geomorphologist, the researchers’ findings indicate Tuvaluans should be planning for a long-term future on the islands instead of preparing to migrate in flight from rising seas.

“We tend to think of Pacific atolls as static landforms that will simply be inundated as sea levels rise, but there is growing evidence these islands are geologically dynamic and are constantly changing,” Kench said. “The study findings may seem counter-intuitive, given that (the) sea level has been rising in the region over the past half century, but the dominant mode of change over that time on Tuvalu has been expansion, not erosion. … [As a result,] loss of land is unlikely to be a factor in forcing depopulation of Tuvalu.”


Australia: Greens claim Dutton has ‘racist’ views on white Sth African farmers

The Green/Left run over with sympathy for disadvantaged minorities -- unless the minority is white.  In that case no abuse is off the table towards anybody who wants to help the minority concerned

The Greenie spokesman said minister Dutton is racist for wanting to rescue endangered white farmders in South Africa while making no effort to help the Rohingya.  But the Rohingya are largely illiterate Muslims and nobody wants them.  Even in their ancestral homeland of Bangladesh nobody wants them

Liberal Democrats leader David Leyonhjelm has slammed comments from Greens senator Nick McKim, who claimed that the Liberal Party “still has a White Australia policy”, and accused Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton of being “racist”, “fascist” and “regurgitating speaking points from neo-Nazis”.

Mr Dutton has sparked controversy and diplomatic tensions when he last week argued the “persecuted” farmers needed help from a “civilised country” like Australia, following disturbing reports of extreme violence, land theft and murders.

Senator Leyonhjelm said Senator McKim was “living in the past”.

“South Africa used to be a thoroughly obnoxious, racist society,” he told Sky News.

“I lived there for a little while and I saw it. It was totally abhorrent, but it’s not any more, and it’s a multicultural society, it’s not racist at all, it has an anti-racist constitution, and yet here we have a group of people who are being persecuted, murdered, chucked off their farms because they are white.

“That is racism. That is plain and simple racism. The fact that the racism used to work the other way 20-odd years ago does not justify racism in the opposite direction today.  “(Nick McKim) is totally up the creek on this whole issue.”

Greens leader Richard Di Natale meanwhile defended Senator McKim.  “What we do know is he certainly holds, I think, racist views,” Senator Di Natale said.

“We’ve got 700,000 people fleeing the border from Myanmar to Bangladesh at the moment, this crisis that is the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people, and yet what does Peter Dutton say about any of those things?

“He doesn’t say anything about the crisis in Myanmar, no, he goes in to bat for South African farmers. What’s the difference here? The difference is that they are white and that the other communities who are suffering, and we’re talking about an ethnic cleansing in Myanmar right now, that they’re not white.”

Asked whether he believed it was reasonable to suggest the Liberal Party “still has a White Australia policy”, Senator McKim stuck by his claim. “Absolutely. It’s naked, and it’s transparent and it’s out in the open,” Senator McKim told Sky News.

“I mean basically we’ve got Peter Dutton who is regurgitating speaking points from neo-Nazi or Nazi or fundamentalist white nationalist websites around the world who are now out there bragging that they’ve captured Peter Dutton and they’re very happy that he’s repeating the speaking points that they’ve been putting on their websites,” he said.

“You’ve got Mr Dutton and others supporting him now nakedly and clearly suggesting that Australia’s immigration policy should be conducted on the basis of the colour of somebody’s skin, and it’s a simple reversion to the White Australia policy which was actually adopted by both the Labor and Liberal Parties back in the day, and I thought we’d gone past that and I think most Australians thought we’d gone past it.”

Senator McKim claimed Australia’s offshore detention policy was motivated by skin colour. “Of course it’s got things to do with skin colour. I’ve been to Manus Island many times as you know and I can assure you there’s no white people locked up on Manus or Nauru,” he said.

“Those people are exclusively from races and countries that they’re non-white people.

“I can be absolutely certain that if a South African person arrived by boat to seek asylum in Australia, they would not end up on Manus Island and Nauru under Peter Dutton’s regime. I can give you that guarantee 100 per cent.”

Asked whether he was accusing Mr Dutton of being a “closet neo-Nazi”, Senator McKim said he had “exhibited racism right through his public career”.

“When he boycotted the apology to the stolen generation and walked out of the house of assembly in a huff just before that apology was given, his regime in terms of Manus Island and Nauru is clearly race based, and he’s also exhibited some of the things that we know through human history are associated with fascists, I mean for example, setting up an enemy to try and scare the Australian people, and he’s done that with Muslim people, and then seeking to undermine the rule of law on that basis,” he said.

“I’m mean it’s fascism 101 that we’re seeing from Peter Dutton.”

Asked whether he was disputing that white South African farmers were being violently attacked and murdered, Senator McKim said: “I don’t know the issue on the ground. I’m not the one advocating on their behalf.” “I’m not saying they shouldn’t be accepted,” he said.

“I’m saying let’s assess them on the basis of need and let’s prioritise on the basis of need in a way that doesn’t take into account the colour of somebody’s skin.”

‘ABC lefties are dead to me’

Peter Dutton earlier said he was staring down fierce criticism from “crazy lefties” at the ABC as he pushes on with plans to bring white South African farmers into Australia.

The Home Affairs Minister said he was unperturbed by “mean cartoons” and negative media coverage.

“I think the ABC and others report these things how they want to report them, and how they want to interpret them,” Mr Dutton told 2GB. “Some of the crazy lefties at the ABC, and on The Guardian, Huffington Post, can express concern and draw mean cartoons about me and all the rest of it. They don’t realise how completely dead they are to me.

“We just get on with making decisions that we need to.”

Mr Dutton said he was blind to skin colour and would continue to bring in migrants based on the national interest.

“It concerns me that people are being persecuted at the moment — that’s the reality — the numbers of people dying or being savagely attacked in South Africa is a reality,” he said.

Mr Dutton likened the latest backlash to the reaction over his comments on African gangs in Melbourne over summer. “Stick to the facts and you’re on safe grounds so all of the criticism over the last week has meant nothing to me,” he said.

“We’re looking at ways we can help people to migrate to Australia if they’re finding themselves in that situation.”




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