Friday, May 18, 2018

Where have all the babies gone?

Reducing the population is a big Greenie goal and they have convinced some foolish women to make the life-shattering decision to avoid having babies.  Women that foolish  and unnatural are probably not much of a loss from the gene pool however.

And it is not only conservatism that tends to stand athwart the trend to a baby drought.  Many religious people and economists also deplore it.  The Catholic church has an adamantine opposition to contraception -- so adamantine that even the heretical Pope Francis suports it.  But, like many church teachings, that one has largely fallen by the wayside.  There are now few Catholics who heed it.  Thank goodness for the Mormons, I guess.  And a shout-out to the remarkable Duggar family is surely appropriate here too.

As we see below, however, the baby bust has now hit the USA, mainly because minority women too have now caught on to the trend.  Prosperity has now influenced them too.  And it does seem clear that prosperity is the culprit -- enabled by the pill, of course.  When you have a  kindly welfare state to help you when you are sick or old, who needs kids? 

Answer:  Everybody and nobody.  Nobody in the USA now needs kids for economic reasons.  But life is not all economics.  We do have other needs and other pleasures.  And babies are big in both those arenas.  Children are undoubtedly life's greatest pleasure.  As  ever, there is some pain with the gain but it is only the very unlucky where the pain is not well worthwhile.  And for real women, a baby is a need.  The many women who undergo IVF are one testimony to that.

Still there are many women who have one or two children only and I am not going to criticize that decision.  The women who have more than two are the key, however.  We need them to make up the many women who, for good reasons or bad, have no children.

Politicians of course love babies.  They see them as future taxpayers.  So many countries -- France was the first, I think, now have pro-natalist policies of various sorts.  They do what they can to encourage and accelerate baby-making.  Singapore has probably the most extreme of such policies but Russia has made great efforts too.  Australia actually pays for babies.

So  should the USA go down that road too?  Does it all really matter?  I'm doubtful.

As a kid, my hair was so fair that I remember being addressed as "Snowy".  So I like to think that will continue.  I would like to think that there will be many like me in the future.  And, where I hang out most of the time, I do see quite a few mothers with little snowy-haired kids.  And I love to see them.

Intermarriage does of course threaten that.  Australia's big (about 5%) minority is Chinese and the young Chinese ladies go all out to snag a tall Caucasian man.  So a tall Caucasian man with a small Asian lady on his arm is rather frequently seen in my neck of the woods.  And I see the fruit of that too. I myself now have  Chinese relatives -- in that a tall, blue-eyed cousin of mine married a Chinese lady who produced a brilliant and  beautiful Eurasian daughter.  Eurasians are commonly seen as good-looking and tend to be smart too.  So more Eurasians would please me.  But I do regret than none of them will ever be "snowys".

But nonetheless, most people marry others with backgrounds similar to themselves.  Psychologists even have a term for it.  They call it "assortative mating".  So it seems to me that there will always be snowys somewhere, even if in diminished numbers.

But hair color is a side issue.  Are there any other reasons why we should fear population shrinkage? I can't see it.  The USA could end up like Brazil or Mexico, where people of European ancestry rule the roost, despite most of the population being of non-European origin.  And that means that the entire population is ghettoized.  Whites live in walled-off areas in habitations that are much like European habitations elsewhere in the world -- and non-whites live in often very rudimentary accommodation.  In short, people will rise to whatever standard of living that they are capable of.  There will be exceptions to that, of course, but it is averages I am concerned with here.

So if the baby shortage among American whites leads to a demographic overturn that leaves whites in a minority, I think the effect of that on white lifestyles will be small. The crime problem will increase and foolish government restrictions on business will limit prosperity but walled estates and security guards are just some of the measures that can keep crime at bay for the more affluent population segment, while foolish government regulations are regrettably common everywhere. Obama and the Greenies did their best to throttle American prosperity but even under that regime there was some economic growth.

Economic restrictions just lead to ways for circumventing them -- the famous "black markets" are a case in point and successful entrepreneurship just entails a degree of corruption.  Italy today is a very prosperous place with many rich people (and over a thousand admirals!) but by most estimates about a third of the Italian economy is "black".

So I think that even under some fairly dire outcomes of a prolonged baby bust among American whites, a white population will continue to flourish for a long time. 

If the baby bust goes on for a very long time, American whites would of course die out -- to cheers from whatever is left of the Greenies -- but that is not likely.  Even in today's world there are many maternal women who just hunger for a baby so they will continue to reproduce themselves regardless of what others do.  It may be that the white population will come to consist entirely of their progeny  -- in which case we will see a white population INCREASE occurring, even if off a much smaller base than we have today  -- JR.

The United States just hit a 40-year low in its fertility rate, according to numbers just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 2017 provisional estimate of fertility for the entire U.S. indicates about 3.85 million births in 2017 and a total fertility rate of about 1.76 births per women.

These are low numbers: births were as high as 4.31 million in 2007, and the total fertility rate was 2.08 kids back then.


WA: Energy sprawl threatens Kittitas County tourism

Kittitas County has an award-winning tourism sector. Yet the county will struggle to reap the benefits of recent investments when the state’s energy siting council approves its fourth energy project in the Kittitas valley just north of downtown Ellensburg.

A French multinational corporation just asked the council to approve 31 giant turbines. At almost 500 feet, nearly as tall as Seattle’s Space Needle, these will be the tallest seen on U.S. soil. Spanning 4,400 acres along Highway 97, this energy project will threaten tourism efforts, stifling growth in local jobs and tax revenues.

The Chamber of Commerce and other local groups teamed up to create a tourism theme emphasizing the area’s rural roots such as the “Barn Quilt Trail Map”, “Hometown Holidays” and the Ellensburg Rodeo. The county carved a niche that complements more established promotions like Yakima’s wine country and Leavenworth. These strategies depend on the same asset to draw tourists, the scenic attractiveness of rural landscapes.

Gov. Jay Inslee recently recognized tourism as a major vehicle for building stronger rural communities by approving tourism bill SB 5251. Washington’s Tourism Office aims to promote natural wonders, hiking, and outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the state. However, tourism assets become liabilities when energy developments dominate the landscape.

Research from Europe, where wind turbines have operated for 25 years, offers insights for decision-makers here. Studies report wind turbines dramatically decrease the attractiveness of a destination for tourists. A 2015 study of 2200 German communities show taller turbines create the strongest negative impact on tourism. Research from Scotland is making similar headlines that 55 percent of tourists are “less likely to visit areas of the countryside industrialized by giant turbines.” Deploying turbines across Scotland’s scenic highlands also reduced tourism jobs by 7 to 14 percent in affected areas. Scotland’s policy outlines a standard for compensating communities, roughly $7,000 per megawatt from energy developers. Elected officials advocate for “a fair share in the revenues generated from their natural resources.”

Scotland and Germany are not alone in voicing concerns. England’s popular Lake District will dismantle wind turbines this summer. Local groups say dismantling turbines restores views. In the U.S., rural communities face the same dilemma.

Tourism will not flourish when over half of tourists avoid visiting areas with industrial-scale energy.

Tourism is the state’s fourth largest industry and weathers economic downturns better than most. State employment data report tourism delivered the largest increase in Kittitas County jobs from 2004-2016. Tourism jobs increased by 66 percent locally, with accommodations and food services accounting the majority of all new jobs added. By contrast, government jobs, including Central Washington University, decreased by 22 percent during the same period.

“Looking at these data, it is safe to say that tourism is extremely important to the Kittitas County labor market,” said Don Meseck, the state’s regional economist. No other non-farm industry makes as strong a contribution to the local economy.

For tourism to grow in our rural communities, Washington needs a moratorium on permitting new energy projects. Policymakers should consider land-use conflicts that threaten the scenic vistas vital to tourism’s success.

As a state, we could learn from Maine’s moratorium on permits for new wind turbines. Gauging effects on rural tourism is an important issue for our state. “We cannot afford to damage our natural assets in ways that would deter visitors from returning,” according to Gov. Paul LePage.

A moratorium on energy siting is critical here for tourism’s development. A statewide vision of tourism’s future and the long-term economic welfare of our communities is at stake.


Black Plague: Wind Turbine Construction Turning Ontario’s Water Supply to Toxic Sludge

It’s not just that the wind industry is destroying Ontario’s water supplies that peeves people, it’s that they continue to lie about it.

Over the last few months, STT has reported several times on how the wind industry has relentlessly destroyed underground water supplies in Chatham-Kent, lying about the cause all the way along.

Adding insult to injury, the public health authorities have sided with the wind industry; treating its victims with equal, if not greater, cynicism and contempt.

Polite they may be, but these people are not fools. Finally, the disaster is being taken seriously by a few of their elected representatives. And, about time, too.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath stopped in the Dresden area while in Chatham-Kent Wednesday to meet with affected well owners in the North Kent One wind project area to see first hand the sediment-laden water families are dealing with. From left is Lambton-Kent Middlesex NDP candidate Todd Case, Chatham-Kent Essex NDP candidate Jordan McGrail, water well owner Dave Lusk and Horwath.

Just days after information on how deep pile driving methods could impact adjacent water wells was discovered in a company blog, the Hydro One consulting firm pulled down the info from its website.

Brought to the public’s attention by Essex MPP Taras Natyshak, the blog on the EBS Geostructural website referenced the North Kent One wind turbine project in North Chatham and the recommendation to use a micro-piling method of construction for the turbine foundation instead of the deep piling method.

“The potential for driven pile installation to cause issues with nearby active water wells” was given as the first point as to why the company recommended to use the micro pile (drilled) method instead of the deep pile (hammer) method to anchor the foundation.

That sentence was removed from the company blog, causing members of Water Wells First and Natyshak to question why the only reference to potential impact to water wells was removed and who ordered it done.

“It has Erin Brokovich written all over it,” Natyshak said in a phone interview with The Chatham Voice. “It’s the old ‘cover up is worse than the crime’ adage. In this day and age, would they not realize we would screen capture the initial report? Of course we did; we have several copies.”

After reaching out to EBS officials via e-mail, the company marketing director responded quickly, saying the statement was removed from their site, as it wasn’t being used “correctly.”

“We’d like to clarify any confusion that our Chatham-Kent blog post has caused,” Stephanie Aires said in an e-mail. “Our blog posts are for promotional purposes only, and are not intended as reports. Some blog statements are job specific, while others are general statements about the services and technologies we offer.

“EBS Geostructural Inc. has chosen to remove specific statements from the Chatham-Kent blog as they were being used incorrectly. EBS chose to remove the statement on our own accord and were not asked by anyone to remove or alter it. We apologize for the misunderstanding that our promotional blog caused.”

Natyshak found the fact only the sentence referring to water wells was removed “interesting” and wants answers.

“It does raise a whole host of other questions. Who ordered that to EBS Geostructural? Who pressured them to remove that phrase from their website?” Natyshak said. “Ultimately, we know the issue here is liability, when we get down to brass tacks. The minute they assume liability and responsibility for contaminating these wells, the numbers start to escalate in regards to what the recourse is and what reparation looks like.”

The Essex MPP added that there are several options for recourse open to the wind farm company and the government.

“Does it look like bringing out municipal water to those homes – how much will that cost and who pays for it? There’s shutting down those lines until the aquifer returns to normal and those folks can have access to the water they had previous. Does it look like massive ongoing maintenance for home filtration systems for these residents and the costs associated with that? Or the fourth option is shutting them down completely in perpetuity,” he questioned.

One thing the member from Essex is sure of is that he will not be letting up on his questions to the premier.

“We are going to continue to push this issue in the legislature before we enter the election and after. I’m not giving up on these people until there is a solution found. There is no way in Ontario in 2018 that residents in our province shouldn’t have access to clean and safe drinking water – not a chance; not under my watch,” Natyshak said.

The MPP said he wishes he got involved earlier in the issue but didn’t want to step into a neighbouring riding.

“I just wish I could have gotten on it sooner because it’s just devastating. There’s no way this should be happening. This area means a lot to me. I’ve fished and duck hunted in that area my whole life and it’s quintessential southwestern Ontario and Lake St. Clair shoreline and farmland. To make it unlivable and uninhabitable; no way, no chance. Not on my watch,” he added.

While Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath was in Chatham-Kent on Wednesday, Natyshak said she took time out to visit the farm of Dave Lusk, an affected well owner, and Theresa Pumphrey to see first hand what they are dealing with.

“What I saw yesterday was outrageous,” said Horwath in a release. “Dave and his family have lived on that farm for generations and never had an issue with water quality before the pile driving began nearby. These families deserve for their government to take this seriously – Kathleen Wynne needs to direct her ministry of health to complete a health hazard investigation at the contaminated wells immediately.”

Samsung and Pattern Energy had provided the affected families with a temporary water source, but the tanks are now slowly being removed from affected farms. Lusk told Horwath that he has purchased a new water tank at a cost of more than $1,200. In addition to the cost of the tank, he expects to pay another $400 to hook it up to the plumbing system in his home and $60 every two weeks to keep the tank full.

“What used to cost Dave $10 per month will now cost him $120 per month, just so he can have drinkable water at home,” said Horwath. “That’s no way for people to live. It’s ludicrous that Kathleen Wynne is allowing these families to go without safe drinking water.”

Residents have had the black water collected and analyzed by scientific experts who have found the water contains Black Shale sediment. Black Shale is a known environmental hazard because it contains heavy metals which can be released into a person’s body if the water is ingested. Some farmers have reported that they are so reluctant to use this contaminated water that they are feeding their livestock bottled water instead.


Illusion of knowledge warming the planet

In this the 30th anniversary year of the IPCC, we should look back and remember the original sin with which it was born and how that has condemned us to dishonesty in science, ignorance-based policies and social division on a global scale.

Nobel prize-winning theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, in an essay for the New York Times Magazine in 1930, concluded there were limits to science. When the number of factors to consider became too large, the scientific method failed us, he wrote. Like weather patterns, for example. ‘Occurrences in this domain are beyond the reach of exact prediction because of the variety of factors in operation, not because of any lack of order in nature.’

Judging by policies such as the catastrophic renewable energy obsession, the uncertainty of many climate scientists has not alerted politicians. ‘Understanding uncertainty associated with the complex, nonlinear and chaotic climate system, let alone managing it, is a very challenging endeavour. Hence it is tempting for scientists and policy makers to simplify uncertainty to make it appear that the appropriate considerations have been undertaken,’ says acclaimed climate scientist Dr Judith Curry.

She argues that the IPCC ‘oversimplifies the characterisation of uncertainty by substituting “expert judgment” for a thorough understanding of uncertainty. They look at “evidence for” and “evidence against” (but somehow neglect a lot of the “evidence against”), and completely neglect to acknowledge ignorance. The bottom line is that the climate system is too complex with myriad uncertainties for simple reductionist approaches to understanding and managing uncertainty to be useful.’

The challenge, she says with unflinching optimism, is ‘to open the scientific debate to a broader range of issues and a plurality of viewpoints and for politicians to justify policy choices in a context of an inherently uncertain knowledge base.’ Inherently uncertain knowledge base…

The recently deceased and much acclaimed Stephen Hawking held the view that ‘The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.’

So the first challenge is to convince policy makers (and other stakeholders and observers) that it is an illusion of knowledge that has underpinned current energy policies. That illusion has been generated by those in the scientific community for whom certainty in this subject was the irresistible dark side.

There is a perfectly apt quote attributed to Mark Twain (in the movies The Big Short, as well as in An Inconvenient Truth, ironically enough): ‘It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.’

What is known – uncontestably – is that Earth’s climate changes. Warming and cooling periods over the millennia are well understood (even by scientists wishing to hide some of these events in pursuit of an agenda).

What is known for sure ‘but just ain’t so’ is that carbon dioxide is the key driver of global warming (never mind there hasn’t been any warming for two decades). That assertion, so far unquantified and uncertain, has underpinned all climate-related energy policies as if it were known.

The ‘original sin’ 30 years ago that has blighted the study of climate change was the narrow and unscientific framing of its objectives in terms of an anthropogenic cause: burning of fossil fuels, notably coal. Carbon dioxide was pre-selected as the forcing agent for global warming when the IPCC was established.

‘The IPCC produces reports that support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is the main international treaty on climate change. The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC is to “stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic [i.e., human-induced] interference with the climate system’.

So it is evident that ‘greenhouse gas concentrations’ were pre-emptively assumed to be ‘dangerous’ to our climate. Warming and human activity were thus stapled together both in the scientific formulation and in the broader socio-political sense. This approach has doomed scientific study to be hobbled by a presumptive approach that defies genuine science, curtails robust research and leads to disastrous public policies.

Scientists who caution against such certainty about the factors that drive climate change are routinely disparaged, shouted down and insulted. This is so even when they present reasonable and reasoned arguments, such as Australia’s late Bob Carter, whose 2015 book Why scientists disagree about global warming, with co-authors Craig Idso and S. Fred Singer, dares to be balanced, informed and rational.

In the book’s concluding chapter, they write: …climate scientists, like all humans, can be biased. Origins of bias include careerism, grant-seeking, political views, and confirmation bias.

Probably the only ‘consensus’ among climate scientists is that human activities can have an effect on local climate and that the sum of such local effects could hypothetically rise to the level of an observable global signal. The key questions to be answered, however, are whether the human global signal is large enough to be measured and if it is, does it represent, or is it likely to become, a dangerous change outside the range of natural variability? On these questions, an energetic scientific debate is taking place on the pages of peer-reviewed science journals.

Rather than rely exclusively on IPCC for scientific advice, policymakers should seek out advice from independent, nongovernment organisations and scientists who are free of financial and political conflicts of interest.

As Dr Curry points out, the disagreement leads to uncertainty:

The disagreement (among scientists) is not so much about observational evidence, but rather about the epistemic status of climate models, the logics used to link the observational evidence into arguments, the overall framing of the problem and overconfident conclusions in the face of incomplete evidence and understanding.


Renewable energy investment surges as Australia on track to exceed RET

There's nothing like a juicy government subsidy to guarantee your profits.  This is tax mining

Investor appetite for renewable energy projects, such as large-scale solar and wind projects, is set to help Australia exceed its 2020 Renewable Energy Target two years ahead of schedule.

While coal and gas-fired power are still the dominant fuel source in the National Electricity Market, investors are voting with their money and backing more than $20 billion in renewable projects as Australia moves to a less carbon-intensive economy.

But the surge in renewable investment is not expected to remain at record levels unless the Turnbull government becomes more ambitious with its emissions reduction targets under its proposed National Energy Guarantee, which is currently set at 26 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Although conservatives in the Turnbull government party room would like a new coal-fired power station to be built in Australia, the private sector has shown no interest in funding a $5 billion, new, high-efficiency, low-emissions power plant, a fact acknowledged by Treasurer Scott Morrison and federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg.

The Turnbull government is attempting to push through the NEG to replace the RET after 2020. The energy sector is keen to ensure a new mechanism will help keep renewable investment flowing out to 2030 and beyond, and to end 10 years of uncertainty over climate change and energy policy.

The latest update from the Clean Energy Regulator this month found there was 6553 megawatts of capacity from renewable energy projects under construction or already built – this is above the 6400 megawatts of capacity required to meet the RET.

The RET requires 23.5 per cent of Australia's energy – or 33,000 gigawatt hours – to come from clean energy sources by 2020, with key investments to keep flowing out until 2030.

The CER said there was also an additional 1454 megawatts of projects subject to power purchase agreements that are likely to be fully financed and under construction this calender year.

Almost half of the 6553 megawatts under construction has already been accredited and generating large-scale generation certificates (LGCs), with a further 1592 megawatts having applied for accreditation and expected to soon be generating them.

"We expect the 2020 Renewable Energy Target to be exceeded at current build levels," the Clean Energy Regulator said.

"The judgment that the RET will be exceeded takes into account the effect of updated AEMO marginal loss factors and expected curtailment as a result of network congestion. The Clean Energy Regulator is aware of other projects that are likely to be announced in the near term."

The rush to invest in renewable projects past 2020 is also likely to result in a big drop in the price of LGCs, which will embolden clean energy industry advocates to debunk claims that renewable projects can only get off the ground if they have heavily subsidised by taxpayers.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance said there was a record $12 billion in renewables investment in Australia in 2017, with $3.2 billion so far this year. But Green Energy Markets Renewable Energy Index estimated there was more than $20 billion projects under way, contracted or under tender that would add 9691 megawatts of new capacity to the NEM by the early 2020s.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance's Australia head Kobad Bhavnagri said there was likely to be a tapering of renewable investment in the lead-up to 2020 given the target had been met and even exceeded. The price of LGCs were likely to stay low now the RET has been met.

He said the investment was likely to be lower in future years unless the federal government increased the 26 per cent target under the NEG, either from a change of heart from the Coalition or an in-coming Labor administration.

"It's likely to taper in 2018 and then collapse after 2020 because the National Energy Guarantee requires very little investment to be met," Mr Bhavnagri told The Australian Financial Review.

"It's more likely to be stop-start in the future to replace the exit of coal-fired generation [like AGL Energy's Liddell in 2022 and Delta Energy's Vales Point in 2028]."

Surge in solar

Under Bloomberg's projections, Australia will reach 23 per cent below 2005 level emissions by 2020 – meaning Australia will only need to achieve 3 percentage points over a decade to achieve the NEG target, something which Mr Bhavgnari believes will be achieved through the on-going rollout of small-scale solar.

A Climate Council report released this week found there were now 40,000 commercial solar systems installed in Australia, an increase of 60 per cent between 2016 and 2017.

Pacific Hydro's 80 megawatt Crowlands wind farm near Ararat in Victoria, which secured $80 million in project financing this week, is an example of the money flowing into renewable energy projects.

The Crowlands wind farm, which will comprise 39 wind turbines and create enough energy to power the yearly needs of about 50,000 Victorian homes, was financed by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the National Australia Bank. It is the first project to be supported by a long-term power purchase arrangement with a group of corporates through the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project.

Planum Partners managing director Shaun Newing, who helped pull together the finance for the Crowlands project, said there was strong interest from banks to invest in renewable projects.

"We are seeing a lot of activity in that space. These projects are never easy to do. It depends on the quality of the sponsor and the quality of the revenue streams. But all the banks are well set up to finance renewable projects. They are keen to get involved," Mr Newing 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


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