Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Top Climate Scientists Warn Governments Of 'Blatant Anti-Nuclear Bias' In Latest IPCC Climate Report

Warmists are split on nukes

Some of the scientists most often cited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have taken the unusual step of warning leaders of G-20 nations that a recent IPCC report uses a double standard when it comes to its treatment of nuclear as compared to renewables.

“The anti-nuclear bias of this latest IPCC release is rather blatant,” said  Kerry Emanuel, a climate scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “and reflects the ideology of the environmental movement. History may record that this was more of an impediment to decarbonization than climate denial.”

Other signers of the letter include Tom Wigley, a widely-cited climate scientist who has contributed to IPCC reports on 13 separate occasions, David Lea, professor of Earth Sciences at University of California, Santa Barbara, and Peter Raven, Winner of the National Medal of Science, 2001.

“Such fear-mongering about nuclear has serious consequences,” the authors write. “As IPCC itself acknowledges, public fears of nuclear are behind the technology’s slower-than-desirable development.

The letter signers include leading radiation experts who expressed outrage that the IPCC had claimed a link between nuclear power stations and leukemia when in reality “there is no valid evidentiary support for it and the supposed connection has been thoroughly dismissed in the literature.”

“Public fear of nuclear drove the panicked over-reaction to past nuclear accidents,” they note, “including mass evacuations, which health experts agree had a far larger negative impact on human health than the low-levels of radiation that escaped from the plants.”

In fact, note the letter authors, which include Gerry Thomas, a Professor of Molecular Pathology at Imperial College London and co-founder of the Chernobyl Tissue Bank, there is “higher radiation exposure from coal plants and the manufacturing of solar panels than from nuclear.”

The authors of the open letter aren’t the only ones finding evidence of anti-nuclear bias in the IPCC report. The day after the letter was published, physicist Jani-Petri Martikainen published an analysis showing that IPCC modelers restricted the role of nuclear by assuming a scarcity of uranium — something that has not been a concern since the late 1950s but has been a talking point of anti-nuclear campaigners since the 1970s.

In other instances, Martikainen finds, IPCC modelers assume uranium mining comes to a halt for an unspecified reason. “For some weird reason, humanity stops mining uranium even when the fuel cost is still massively lower than for fossil fuels,” Martikainen writes.

Such manipulations disturb climate modelers like Wigley. “There are a number of productive climate scientists who are ideologically opposed to nuclear,” he explained. “In some cases this stems from early associations with Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth (or similar organizations).”

The signers, who include nuclear weapons expert and Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Rhodes, criticize the IPCC’s claim “that the ‘use of nuclear power poses a constant risk of proliferation’ even though no nation in history has ever created a nuclear weapon from civilian nuclear fuel under inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The letter signers note that the report raises concerns about nuclear waste, “without acknowledgment that spent fuel is safely contained, usually on site, nor any mention of the waste from other low-carbon energy sources, including solar panels, which contain toxic metals including lead, chromium, and cadmium, and which in most of the world lack safe storage or recycling.”

In addition to inputting future uranium shortages as an assumption, physicist Martikainen noted that IPCC modelers assume large cost reductions for solar and wind but none for nuclear, gross overestimates of efficiency (capacity factors) for wind, and gross underestimates of efficiency for nuclear.

Martikainen notes that if IPCC modelers removed the uranium scarcity assumption, “Nuclear power would end up dominating the energy supply. I have a feeling that resource constraint was introduced specifically for this reason. Modellers first did their calculations without the constraint and ended up with a result that they found distasteful.”

Concludes Martikainen, “I suspect that modellers worked backwards and set the resource limitation based on the maximum share of the energy supply they were ready to grant for nuclear power. Not cool.”

Other signers of the letter include a growing list of pro-nuclear non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from around the world, including Environmental Hope & Justice, Climate Coalition, Anthropocene Institute, Energy for Humanity, the Ecomodernist Society, Saving Our Planet, Mothers for Nuclear, Voices for Nuclear, Nuklearia, Ren Energi Oplysning, and Partei der Humanisten

Defenders of the IPCC report noted that many of the scenarios in the recent report call for the expanded use of nuclear energy, something the letter authors acknowledge.

“While many of the scenarios in the IPCC report call for the expanded use of nuclear energy,” the signers noted, “the report nonetheless repeats misinformation about nuclear energy, contrasts nuclear negatively to renewables, and in some cases, suggests an equivalency with fossil fuels.”

Climate scientists say including nuclear in the models is a poor excuse for the overall bias of the report. “This is a big deal,” said Wigley. “Dishonesty in any branch of the science that underpins the global warming issue taints us all. Dishonesty must always be exposed. If not exposed, lies can persist and damage the truth for a long, long time.”


"But what will take its place?"

Does government really need to regulate everything? Can no program be allowed to expire?

Greg Walcher

In high school and college, I competed in debate tournaments across the state and country. I clearly remember many occasions when a debate team’s plan would include abolishing some government program. Inevitably, the opponents would ask, “What will you replace it with?”

Only once did I hear any debater respond with, “Nothing at all. Government shouldn’t be doing that at all.” Everyone in the room was stunned, and that team lost.

Even today, most people find it hard to imagine abolishing anything. That’s why President Reagan once quipped that a government program is the closest thing to eternal life on this planet.

I couldn’t help reflecting on that a couple months ago, when the EPA released its new version of the “Clean Power Plan,” the Obama Administration’s thinly-veiled attempt to kill the coal industry. More than half the states sued, and the Supreme Court suspended the Obama plan as an unauthorized expansion of the agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act.

That was two and a half years ago, and after the election the Trump Administration withdrew the Obama plan. The entire discussion was in limbo for a long time thereafter. But now we have a new EPA and a new plan to debate. It’s called the “Affordable Clean Energy” rule.

A new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “Special Report” says we must spend $2.4 trillion (!) per year for the next 17 years to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, or humanity and our planet are doomed. But after all the scare stories and “tipping points” – and empty promises that China, India, Africa and the rest of the world would soon abandon coal, oil and natural gas for wind, solar and biofuels – the American public is growing increasingly skeptical of the fear-mongering. Many are not convinced we need a new carbon dioxide (CO2) rule at all.

Nevertheless, we always knew this new EPA initiative was coming.

The real debate stems from an earlier controversy, at the beginning of the Obama era, when the EPA declared that plant-fertilizing, life-giving, people and animal-emitting carbon dioxide is an unsafe pollutant that “endangers the health and welfare of all Americans.”

That “endangerment finding” was also widely challenged, because Congress never authorized the EPA to regulate the air we exhale as a “greenhouse gas.” Nevertheless, the Supreme Court backed the EPA’s authority to designate CO2 (which makes up about 4 one-hundredths of one percent of the atmosphere) as “dangerous,” if it concluded the risks of global climate change outweighed the trace gas’s benefits. Of course, the Obama EPA then determined that CO2 was unduly dangerous.

That ruling then formed the basis for the Clean Power Plan, a host of other regulations attacking coal, oil and natural gas use, and U.S. participation in the Paris climate treaty. Many observers were thus very guarded in their enthusiasm when President Trump withdrew from the Paris deal, and cancelled the Clean Power Plan. They realized that his new EPA has, so far, made no effort to revisit or reverse the “endangerment finding.”

That is problematic, because EPA probably cannot legally declare something to be a dangerous pollutant, but then decline to regulate it. So the concern is that if EPA does not reverse the “endangerment finding,” federal courts would eventually order a new “clean power plan” anyway. That is why the EPA has released this new plan.

However, thankfully, the new plan is nothing like the original, an outright attack on the very existence of the coal industry. Instead, EPA now acknowledges that our most abundant and affordable energy source can be used without destroying anything.

Sadly, many political leaders on both sides still think big environmental problems require federal solutions, as opposed to letting individuals, businesses or even state and local governments address them, in cases where there actually is a problem and the proposed solution would actually fix the problem.

In any event, this new EPA approach proves federal “authority” doesn’t necessarily require heavy-handed dictates from Washington.

Global Energy Institute President Karen Harbert says the new plan at least calls for “a more collaborative process that fits within EPA’s statutory authority and will result in achievable progress through more practical, state-driven programs.”

As the Clean Air Act intended, EPA now says states can develop and enforce performance standards. States have broad flexibility to consider their unique circumstances; and one-size-fits-all federal regulations rarely succeed in environmental matters.

Pittsburgh’s pollution has nothing to do with Grand Junction, Colorado or Chicago, Illinois. What works in Miami will likely not work in Los Angeles. Local leaders are better arbiters, because they know the territory better than distant bureaucracies can.

That makes a state-based approach better by definition, even if carbon dioxide were a significant problem. In fact, manmade contributions notwithstanding, climate change is governed mostly by the sun and other natural forces. Nothing humans might do will prevent those forces from changing the climate again and again, as they have throughout Earth’s history.

Nevertheless, the new rules represent an improvement over the Obama approach.

The new plan is based on what can be achieved “inside the fence” of a power plant. We shouldn’t expect or demand that a Western Colorado rural utility stop generating power because of some dubious theory about polar bears dying off in Central Canada if the Earth might warm another degree.

But at least the new approach will encourage investment in upgraded electricity generation and pollution control technologies, because such improvements will no longer automatically trigger costly permitting requirements. The previous rule discouraged such investments, defeating its own purpose.

Finally, the new rules will no longer shut down existing power plants before their useful life is over, or their financing is paid off. Such waste drove average electricity rates up 60% in many areas under Obama – hurting factories, businesses, hospitals, schools, and families that were least able to pay.

Ironically, EPA estimates that U.S. CO2 emissions will continue to decline at about the same rate (roughly 33% between 2005 and 2030) under the new plan as under the Obama plan – or under no new regulation at all. In other words, our emissions are declining anyway, not because of government intrusion, but because of improving and changing technologies.

The new EPA plan is a significant improvement. Now, let’s also abolish the “endangerment finding” and replace it with – nothing at all.


the Land and Water Conservation Fund or don’t renew it to just do more federal land grabs

By Robert Romano

The Land and Water Conservation Fund was enacted in 1965, according to the act, to “provid[e] funds for and authorizing Federal assistance to the States in planning, acquisition, and development of needed land and water areas and facilities and … providing funds for the federal acquisition and development of certain lands and other areas.”

Although it started out to help state and local governments with recreation projects, over the years, the primary mission of the fund has shifted almost entirely to federal land purchases, with as little as 12 percent going to stateside projects, according to U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), writing for the Daily Caller on Oct. 9.

That is why Bishop offered an amendment to H.R. 502, which reauthorizes the fund, that would require that at least 40 percent of the taxpayer money in the fund indeed goes to the states. It’s a good start, but it might not make up for other shortcomings of the legislation.

For starters, the bill raises the amount of the fund to $900 million from its FY 2018 level of $425 million, a 112 percent increase, and the highest level since 2001.

The bill also permanently reauthorizes the fund, abdicating Congress’ constitutional prerogative to allow the legislation to sunset.

As of this moment, the fund’s authorization lapsed on Sept. 30. Meaning, Congress will be looking for an excuse to reauthorize it. But that gives Congress leverage to reform the program without expanding it so dramatically.

It is unfortunate that the only way it was perceived that state and local government programs could be funded was to simply double the agency’s budget. Under the well-intentioned Bishop amendment, stateside projects would now get $360 million. But it comes at the cost of doubling land acquisition funding to more than $400 million, even though the Trump administration request hundreds of millions of dollars less than that.

If anything, the reauthorization should be an opportunity to limit federal land grabs. The federal government already owns 46.4 percent of western states’ land as it is, according to a 2017 study by the Congressional Research Service. How much more does it really need?

Surely, in the lame duck session of Congress, this will come up again, especially now that the bill has cleared committees in both the House and Senate. But the haste to get the bill done during the lame duck should not come at an exorbitant cost to taxpayers. It might be better to just wait until 2019 if the alternative is doubling the amount of federal land grabs.


Lunatic climate alarmists now say the entire system of free market enterprise must be dismantled to save the planet

The Cult of Climate Change is finally coming out of the closet in conveying its true agenda for the world. As relayed by The Daily Signal, the only way to stop global warming, according to the world’s “top scientists,” is to completely dismantle all forms of capitalism and free enterprise.

This is the conclusion reached by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which recently announced that the only system of government that offers humanity both dignity and the opportunity to flourish and prosper must be abolished in order to protect the polar bears, stop the oceans from rising, and increase sales for Al Gore’s latest climate fiction novels.

“If you are wondering what you can do about climate change,” tweeted meteorologist and apparent soy boy Eric Holthaus, “The world’s top scientists just gave rigorous backing to systematically dismantle capitalism as a key requirement to maintaining civilization and a habitable planet.”

Well, isn’t that just convenient? A globalist organization known as the United Nations has decided that the only way to stop a fictitious phenomenon known as climate change is to force all remaining non-globalist countries, such as the United States, to basically forego their sovereignty and merge with the New World Order.

Even though a great number of the world’s “top scientists” also oppose the climate change hoax, the IPCC wants everyone to believe their “top scientists” who insist that everything they say is climate fact, including the ridiculous notion that free societies are somehow responsible for leading us to the point where we apparently have just 11 years to fix this “problem” before it’s too late.

Remember back in 1989 when climate lunatics said global warming would destroy the planet by the year 2000?
While this is hardly the first time that the U.N. has tried to use unsubstantiated fear-mongering in an attempt to strong-arm countries like the U.S. into giving up their freedoms in order to “save the planet,” it is a milestone for these globalists to openly admit in no uncertain terms that stopping “global warming” and “climate change” really means forcing every country to become either socialist or communist.

Some readers may recall that, back in 1989, the U.N. attempted a similar coup using the excuse of climate change. The Associated Press (AP) reported back at that time that a senior U.N. official warned that “entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.”

“Coastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of ‘eco-refugees,’ threatening political chaos,” the report added, quoting then-director of the New York office of the U.N.’s Environmental Program, Noel Brown.

Similar to this latest 11-year warning from the U.N., Brown claimed at the time that the world had just 10 years, the deadline being 1999, to fix the “greenhouse effect” before “it goes beyond human control.”

Eighteen years later and, last we checked, Americans are still living along coastlines, bothered by little more than rainstorms and the occasional hurricane. There are still no “eco-refugees” anywhere to be found, and ocean levels are much the same as they were back when Brown lied to the world about the imminent dangers of climate change.

“Free, competitive energy markets drive innovation and provide the affordable, reliable energy that families and businesses need, and yield a cleaner environment,” writes Nicolas Loris for The Daily Signal.

“Conversely, international efforts to combat climate change have been centrally planned boondoggles. They’ve resulted in wasted taxpayer money, higher energy prices, and handouts for preferred energy sources and technologies – all for no noticeable impact on climate.”


Institute of Public Affairs blasts Australian goverment's  'un-Liberal' energy policies

IPA’s John Roskam says government should ‘stop all subsidies to coal, wind and anything else’

The Institute of Public Affairs has blasted the Morrison government’s “big stick” in energy policy – a threat to break up energy companies in a bid to lower prices – accusing it of breaching Liberal values and endangering investment.

The IPA executive director, John Roskam, told Guardian Australia that “heavy-handed intervention” was “positively un-Liberal” and would open the door for Labor to campaign on policies bashing big businesses – which are “simply responding to the policy settings the government itself has created” to make a profit.

Roskam also warned against any form of subsidy for electricity generation including renewables subsidies, underwriting new power generation and indemnifying coal power against a possible future carbon price.

The intervention from the influential rightwing thinktank exposes divisions in the conservative side of politics on energy policy. Some, including MP Craig Kelly and former prime minister Tony Abbott, have called for an end to renewable subsidies and withdrawal from the Paris agreement, in line with demands from the IPA.

The Morrison government has indicated it wants to preserve popular solar subsidies and to stay in Paris while it pushes ahead with competition measures to lower price in the absence of a policy to reduce emissions by 2030.

Roskam said breaking up energy companies “continues the trend of targeting particular industries” as the Coalition did with the bank tax in the 2017 budget and would “further confuse Australians” about what it stands for.

“The idea that the government would determine the shape and size of the industry in this way cuts across every principle of the Liberal party,” he said. “If you want a guarantee that nobody will ever invest in Australia again, this is how you do it.”

The Coalition has promised policies to encourage new generation – including providing a floor price, contracts for difference and government loans – and has not ruled out using those measures to support new coal-fired power stations.

The energy minister, Angus Taylor, has said the government should address investors’ concerns about “political risks”, in a sign it could also indemnify coal power against future emissions reduction policies such as a carbon price. Taylor has also said there is “no plan” to change the small-scale renewable energy scheme.

Roskam said the government should “stop all subsidies to coal, wind and anything else” because “picking winners should be an anathema to the Liberal party”.

Although the IPA wants to see more coal power, Roskam said the government should “reduce the regulatory barriers to them being funded”, not keep the barriers and overcome them with subsidies.

He said he had “some sympathy” for the idea the government should “compensate coal for the disadvantage they have been put under” by support for renewables, but warned that indemnifying coal against political risk would be a “further distortion” in the market.

Roskam said the Liberal Party is “hopelessly conflicted on climate change” and “riven down the middle”. He warned the party can not appeal both to “rich people virtue-signalling because they can afford to” in the blue-ribbon seat of Wentworth who want emissions reduction, and voters who want lower power prices in Longman in Queensland, both sites of recent byelection defeats.

“Wentworth is not Australia,” Roskam said, echoing conservative commentators who have played down the byelection defeat.

The sentiment is not shared by moderate Liberal MPs who privately note the Liberals hold many seats with a base of supporters with high incomes and progressive social attitudes including Brisbane, Goldstein, Higgins, Kooyong, Warringah, Mackellar and North Sydney.

Roskam suggested the Liberal party should present a “sharp difference” with Labor by exiting the Paris agreement. “You can’t out virtue-signal the Labor party,” he said.

Despite the suggestion emissions and price reductions are incompatible, renewables are forecast to lower prices while coal subsidies would increase energy costs.

On Friday Scott Morrison told ABC’s AM that “all the information before us” is that Australia will meet its emissions reduction target of 26% by 2030, particularly due to “increased investment in renewables which is happening as a result of common sense and technology”.

The claim is contradicted by environment department figures showing emissions are rising and advice from the Energy Security Board that Australia will fall short under a business-as-usual scenario.

Morrison said the government needs to prioritise “making sure we’ve got reliable power”.




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, October 30, 2018

Air pollution is the new tobacco and is killing seven million people a year and harming billions more, head of World Health Organisation warns

This "wisdom" from an Ethiopian politician and the eminently buyable WHO is deep-dyed nonsense.  As I have pointed out repeatedly, the evidence for harm from particulate pollution in the Western world is just not there.  The alleged "proofs" of it are all deeply flawed.  The article below is a triumph of assertion over evidence

More than 90 per cent of the world's population suffers toxic air pollution which is having a drastic effect on the health of people, especially children.

The danger toxic air has on the world's population has been deemed 'a silent public health emergency' by the head of the WHO.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO's director general, told The Guardian: 'The world has turned the corner on tobacco. Now it must do the same for the 'new tobacco' – the toxic air that billions breathe every day.

'No one, rich or poor, can escape air pollution. It is a silent public health emergency. 'Despite this epidemic of needless, preventable deaths and disability, a smog of complacency pervades the planet.' Children and babies, whose bodies are still developing, are the most at risk from  the toxic air.

And there are now 300 million people living in places where toxic fumes are six times above international guidelines.

Dr Maria Neira, WHO director for public health and the environment, told The Guardian: 'We have to ask what are we doing to our children, and the answer I am afraid is shockingly clear: we are polluting their future, and this is very worrying for all us.'

Most urban areas in the UK have illegal levels of air pollution and causes more deaths per year than tobacco.

But researchers think the harm known to be caused by air pollution, such as heart attacks and lung disease, and is 'only the tip of the iceberg'.



A looming technology-security minerals crisis?

New book analyzes near-total foreign dependency for critical minerals – and offers solutions

Paul Driessen

In 1973 OPEC countries imposed an oil embargo to retaliate for US support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War. Drivers endured soaring gasoline prices, blocks-long lines, hours wasted waiting to refuel vehicles, and restrictions on which days they could buy fuel. America was vulnerable to those blackmail sanctions because we imported “too much” oil – though it was just 30% of our crude.

The fracking revolution (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) and other factors changed that dramatically. The United States now produces more crude oil than at any time since 1970.

But now we face new, potentially far greater dangers – because we import up to 100% of dozens of metals and minerals essential for wind turbines, solar panels, and a vast array of defense, security, automotive, computer, communication, electrical grid, battery and countless other technologies. Two dozen of them come 60% to 100% from China, Russia or mines controlled by those two countries … and where child labor, worker safety, human rights and environmental standards are minimal to nonexistent.

Recent Defense and Interior Department reports have identified literally hundreds of ways US industries and military readiness are acutely vulnerable to supply interruptions for these rare earth and other exotic materials. Equally troubling, 90% of the world’s printed circuit boards are produced in Asia, more than half of them in China; that presents still more risks that competitors and enemies are establishing more ports of entry (on top of highly professional hacking) into industry and defense computer systems.

And now the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change absurdly claims American (and global) fossil fuel use must be slashed from over 80% of our energy today to zero by 2050 – and replaced by renewable energy. That would raise our dependency on these metals and minerals, and their costs, by orders of magnitude. It would severely impact every facet of our economy, security, defense and personal lives.

Just building the wind turbines, solar cells and high-tech transmission systems for billions of megawatt-hours of electricity would require incalculable quantities – and money. Batteries to back up all that electricity for windless and sunless hours, days or weeks would require vast additional quantities.

Thankfully, volcanic and magmatic activity, plate tectonics and other powerful geologic processes have blessed America with metallic and other mineral deposits unsurpassed almost anywhere else in the world. We likely have all these essential materials right under our feet. Incredibly, insanely, the United States is the only nation in the world that locks them up, makes them inaccessible under almost any conditions.

Federally controlled lands are especially problematical. Not only are they our most mineralized regions. We have no idea what is actually there. And we are not permitted to evaluate their mineral potential, in order to make informed, rational decisions about how they should be managed – to balance environmental protection and preservation against the raw material needs of a modern industrialized, technological nation.

A 1975 report found that 74% of federal lands were totally or effectively closed to exploration for and development of critical minerals, because of pro-wilderness, anti-mining, anti-energy laws, regulations, bureaucratic roadblocks, environmentalist lawsuits and court decisions.

An updated 1994 study (conducted after 78 million acres had been transferred to the State of Alaska and Alaskan Natives) concluded that 71% of federal lands were still off limits: 427 million acres; our best mineral lands; a land area equal to Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming combined! Since then, the situation has worsened steadily, especially during the Obama years. Even supposedly available lands are mostly inaccessible, because bureaucrats refuse to issue permits.

Perhaps worst of all, much of this steady lockdown resulted from a concerted, irresponsible effort to place lands in wilderness and other highly restrictive land-use categories – often with the deliberate purpose of preventing anyone from ever assessing or accessing their critical and strategic mineral potential. A recent US House of Representatives committee memorandum summarizes growing congressional concerns.

A groundbreaking book – titled Groundbreaking!America’s new quest for minerals independence – will soon provide persuasive reasons why we must reexamine the policies that brought us to this untenable and unsustainable point in American history. In concise, plain language, geologist Ned Mamula and Silicon Valley expert Ann Bridges explain why we must literally break ground in these areas … and drill down to find out what minerals are in them. Their key points must be pondered, absorbed and acted on by all who care about our security and prosperity.

* We won the oil and gas energy war, but a growing minerals and metals dependency imperils our future.

* America is undeniably endowed with mineral riches, but we have no idea what we have or where it is located, because we are not permitted even to look for, map and evaluate deposits. In fact, we cannot even mine major deposits when we know their precise location, composition and value. We need to know as much about subsurface values as we do about surface values, if we are to make informed decisions.

* American jobs, prosperity and security have always been based on “mineral wealth.” Some of our major cities and many of our major industries (including Silicon Valley) exist because of metals and minerals.

* We are at great risk now, because we are 50-100% reliant on foreign countries for the exotic minerals and metals needed to satisfy our addiction to computers, cell phones and other high-tech gadgetry, for virtually every civilian, industrial, medical, communication and defense application imaginable.

* China and Russia supply enormous quantities of our most critical and strategic materials – and could easily use them as leverage if the US challenges their hegemonic goals in Asia, Europe or the Pacific. The wealthy, powerful, increasingly radical environmental industry exacerbates these vulnerabilities.

* Chapters devoted to rare earth metals, uranium and copper-molybdenum-gold explain the politics, economics and corruption surrounding their stories, and how certain politicians and pressure groups actually want to de-industrialize America and reduce our living standards and global power.

* Excessive laws, land withdrawals run amok, costly and interminable environmental review and permitting processes, and other factors impose severe constraints on US viability and sustainability. Constantly changing technologies mean constantly changing materials needs and renewed exploration.

* Australia and Canada protect their precious environmental heritage while also utilizing their precious metals and minerals heritage. The United States must apply these lessons in devising better ways to handle land withdrawals, environmental reviews and permitting – with the White House, Congress, universities and the private sector leading the way on public discussions and positive initiatives.

* Alternatives to fossil fuel energy, high-tech equipment of every description, nearly everything we use in our daily lives is tied to the exotic, strategic and critical minerals we have so cavalierly made off limits.

* Except for national parks and certain other places, federal lands must be surveyed and explored by government agencies and private sector companies using aerial and ground-based induced polarization, magnetometer and radiometric technologies, grid soil analyses and equipment literally carried in backpacks. Good prospects must then be evaluated further using truck and helicopter drilling rigs, to collect core samples and other information needed for deciding an area’s highest and best uses.

* It’s time to launch a groundswell of support for more responsible policies, disrupt the status quo, and turbo-charge US mining, job creation, job and industry preservation, and long-term national security and defense readiness. Failure to do so violates the most fundamental principles of national security and responsible government.

The needs of current and future generations are at stake, because prolonged disruptions of our access to these minerals would lead to the collapse of Silicon Valley and many other industries, severely compromised defense capabilities, and the disruption or even destruction of almost every sector of our computer-dependent economy and society.

President Trump, his cabinet, members of Congress, military and industrial leaders, regulators, citizens and environmentalists need to read this book (coming in December). Above all, they need to recognize that modern mining technologies, techniques and regulations enable us to develop the minerals and metals we so critically need, while preserving the scenic, wildlife and environmental values we cherish.

Via email

Will Global Warming Destroy the World? Ask America’s Farmers

With the fall harvest underway across the nation’s Midwest “breadbasket,” early U.S. Department of Agriculture reporting predicts record-setting corn and soybean crops for 2018.

The corn crop will be above average for a record sixth year in a row, while soybean production is projected at an all-time high of 4.4 billion bushels, up 4 percent from last year’s previous record.

U.S. corn, soybean, wheat, and even rice crops look to continue a trend of remarkable growth in both productivity and output.  This year, corn may yield a record 178.4 bushels per acre nationwide.

If realized, this will be the highest yield on record for the United States. Soybean yields will likely be up 2.5 bushels from 2017, which surprised grain-trading experts and exceeded even the highest private yield estimate.

Wheat yields (for all varieties) are forecast to increase 1.1 bushels from last year,  and the 2018-19 U.S. rice crop is projected at 210.9 million cwt, down less than 1 percent from an earlier forecast but 18 percent larger than a year earlier.

America’s farmers will once again help feed a hungry planet that presently has more than 7.6 billion inhabitants and may reach 8.6 billion by 2030.

Global agricultural trends reflect gains as well.  Since 2002, world production of four major crops – corn, wheat, rice, and soybeans – has grown by 846 million tons or 48%.

Yields have kept pace with the world’s annual population growth rate of 1%.  In fact, prices for staple grain crops reveal a downside to those abundances, such that plentiful supply depresses commodity prices on world markets.

“There is too much corn,” said one analyst, to match demand. Corn- and soybean-growers now concern themselves with consumption of previous record-setting crops to promote future market price increases.

These blessed abundances occur in an environment where Americans are fed a steady diet of dire predictions of climate change with its presumption of human-caused global warming.

Scientists tell us that weather phenomena like the extremes of storms, drought, wind, heat, and rainfall will be more frequent and intense.

Add pestilence, pollution, fires, and the encroachment of human activity to other natural calamities, and one wonders just how the American farmer can survive to produce and even prosper.

Instead, the American farmer continually adapts to the climate – and weather – through changes in crop rotations, planting times, genetic selection, fertilizer choices, improved equipment, innovation, pest and water management, and shifts in areas of crop production, among other possible measures.

Farmers take advantage of an unmatched system of education, research, science, and technology in American universities and business that has evolved to aid and support American agriculture.

Farmers also make good use of a responsive agri-business banking and finance system. On whole, American farmers are part of, and benefit from, a well-honed agricultural infrastructure that fosters advances in production and efficiency.

By contrast, in just one global example, Africa, despite vast natural resources, including stretches of arable land, has the world’s highest incidence of undernourishment (estimated at near one in four persons).

It is assessed that more than 60% of the planet’s available and unexploited cropland is located in sub-Saharan Africa, yet agricultural production remains dismal, which further undermines Africa’s future and economic growth.

Africa must import food staples valued at some $25 billion annually, largely because continental food production, supply, and consumption systems do not function optimally.

Why?  Consider that no nation on that continent can provide its farmers the needed political and societal stability to support a similarly developed agricultural infrastructure.

The examples of Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia and once Africa’s breadbasket) and Sudan are illustrative of the entire continent’s challenges.

Zimbabwe has Africa’s most fertile farmland, yet, as a recent exposé explained, “a onetime net exporter of maize, cotton, beef, tobacco, roses, and sugarcane,” Zimbabwe now “exports only its educated professionals,” who fled by the thousands from decades of corrupt autocratic rule.

In Sudan, only 16% of the available land had been cultivated by 2009 – the majority of which now falls within South Sudan, a “new” country that must still import nearly all its food.

Imagine the possibilities if African farmers could bring to bear similar resourcefulness, science, technology, finance, know-how, entrepreneurship, and work ethic to what the American farmer possesses.

What if Africa’s arable and unexploited croplands were farmed to similar standards as those in the American Midwest and production raised to the optimal – and sustainable – levels they are capable of?

It is not climate change, weather phenomena, human encroachment, or other natural calamities that pose the greatest threats to future generations.

Humans adapt to their environment and can adjust the agricultural enterprise to feed the people.

The real global threat is poor, non-functioning governance, and more precisely, autocratic, dictatorial, corrupt regimes not acting for the common good of the governed.

Poor governance has worsened more people’s lives – made more people go hungry – than anything extreme weather, pests, or climate change will ever do.  That is the national security concern; that is the threat to global agriculture and food production.

When offering thanks for our blessings before coming holiday meals, remember and appreciate America’s farmers for their achievements we all too often take for granted.


Last-ditch push to scrub carbon from the air

Scrubbing carbon from the air would be criminal. The present high levels are making all plants flourish -- including trees and crops.  Deserts are even shrinking

With time running out to avoid dangerous global warming, the US’ leading scientific body on Wednesday urged the federal government to begin a research program focused on developing technologies that can remove vast quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to help slow climate change.

The 369-page report, written by a panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, underscores an important shift. For decades, experts said that nations could prevent large temperature increases mainly by reducing reliance on fossil fuels and moving to cleaner sources like solar, wind and nuclear power.

But at this point, nations have delayed so long in cutting their carbon-dioxide emissions that even a breakneck shift toward clean energy would most likely not be enough.

According to a landmark scientific report issued by the United Nations this month, taking out a big chunk of the carbon dioxide already loaded into the atmosphere may be necessary to avoid significant further warming, even though researchers haven’t yet figured out how to do so economically, or at sufficient scale.

And we’ll have to do it fast. To meet the climate goals laid out under the Paris Agreement, humanity may have to start removing around 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the air annually by midcentury, in addition to reducing industrial emissions, said Stephen Pacala, a Princeton climate scientist who led the panel. That’s nearly as much carbon as all the world’s forests and soils currently absorb each year.

“Midcentury is not very far away,” Professor Pacala said. “To develop the technologies and scale up to 10 billion tons a year is a frightful endeavor, something that would really require a lot of activity. So the time would have to be now.”

The panel’s members conceded that the Trump administration may not find the climate change argument all that compelling, since the President has disavowed the Paris Agreement. But, Professor Pacala said, it’s quite likely other countries will be interested in carbon removal. The United States could take a leading role in developing technologies that could one day be worth many billions of dollars.

Right now, there are plenty of ideas for carbon removal kicking around. Countries could plant more trees that pull carbon dioxide out of the air and lock it in their wood. Farmers could adopt techniques, such as no-till agriculture, that would keep more carbon trapped in the soil.

A few companies are building “direct air capture” plants that use chemical agents to scrub trace amounts of carbon dioxide from the air, allowing them to sell the gas to industrial customers or bury it underground.

But, the National Academies panel warned, many of these methods are still unproven or face serious limitations. There’s only so much land available to plant new trees. Scientists are still unsure how much carbon can realistically be stored in agricultural soils. And direct air capture plants are still too expensive for mass deployment.

In theory, it might be possible to collect wood or other plant matter that has absorbed carbon dioxide from the air, burn it in biomass power plants for energy and then capture the carbon released from combustion and bury it deep underground, creating, in essence, a power plant that has negative emissions. While no such facilities are operating commercially today, the technology to build them exists.

But one potential problem with this approach, the National Academies panel said, is that the land required to grow biomass for these power plants could run into conflicts with the need for farmland for food. The panel estimated this method might one day be able to remove three billion to five billion tons of carbon dioxide from the air each year, but possibly much less, depending on land constraints.

That’s a far cry from the 10 billion to 20 billion tons of carbon dioxide we may need to pull out of the air by the end of the century to limit overall global warming to around 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the recent United Nations report. That figure assumes nations manage to decarbonize their energy and industrial systems almost entirely by 2050.


Hottest October day in 120 years: Queensland swelters as mercury tops 40C for the TENTH day in a row - and it's not over yet

One day is newsworthy? This is just nitpicking.  I have been enjoying springtime in Brisbane for a total of 40 years and the current season seems no different from any other.  We always get some warm days and some cool days and a temperture of 32 degrees C is no outlier for Brisbane.  34C is in fact about the usual summer afternoon temperature in Brisbane

At the time of writing in the afternoon of Monday 29th, it is in fact rather cool in Brisbane for the time of the year. I actually had to put a shirt on.  My thermometer says 22C.  We have just had rather a lot of rain too. It's been raining off and on for the last two days in fact.  No drought in Brisbane!

Monstrous heatwave, my foot

Australia's north is continuing to endure a monstrous heatwave, with no relief in sight.

Central Queensland registered 40C temperatures for the tenth consecutive day on Sunday, but the area will see extreme heat until Thursday.

The soaring temperatures shattered October records that had been in place for the region for more than 120 years, with one regional town topping out at nearly 44C.

'In Brisbane we'll probably see a few showers develop late this evening, it will be pretty cloudy as well,' Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Chris Joseph told the Courier Mail.

'It will probably be a better chance for showers tomorrow and pretty cool as well.'

The stormy skies in the state capital will come after it too basked in sunshine on Friday and Saturday. Crowds gathered to escape the heat at Streets Beach in the the city's South Bank Parklands as they sweated through temperatures of 32C on Friday.

Australia's major cities also had a dry Sunday, with Hobart the only capital to register any rainfall at all.

'Some locations have had two to three times October's rainfall in a week, but others haven't seen any significant falls. Overall, the cropping season is looking like one of the 10 driest on record,' climatologist Felicity Gamble told Daily Mail Australia.

The record-breaking dry spell could be a sign of things to come.

The Bureau of Meterology has predicted higher than average temperatures throughout the summer months for nearly the entire country.

The heatwave brings with it particularly grim conditions for the country's farmers, who have been suffering through a major drought.




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, October 29, 2018

Backed Into A Corner, Lady Fat chops Fails To Produce ‘Smoking Gun’ In #ExxonKnew Lawsuit

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood

After it was “put up or shut up” time, the New York Attorney General’s office finally came forward with its #ExxonKnew lawsuit.

To say it was a dud would be an understatement.

New York Attorney General (AG) Barbara Underwood today filed a lawsuit against ExxonMobil alleging that the company deceived investors on the potential impact that yet-to-be-enacted climate change regulations could have on the company’s value.

The lawsuit comes more than three years after disgraced former New York AG Eric Schneiderman announced his investigation of ExxonMobil, and four years since the investigation itself began.

Since that time the New York AG has forced ExxonMobil to turn over millions of pages of documents as one conspiracy theory after another failed to withstand scrutiny.

Finally, Justice Barry R. Ostrager ordered the New York AG earlier this year to wrap up the endless investigation and decide whether to press charges. According to InsideClimate News, Ostrager stated:

‘“This cannot go on interminably,’ he said. The company has provided millions of pages of documents and answered questions over some three years of investigation, Ostrager said. ‘It’s not my place to tell you when an investigation ends, but it is my place to put an end date on the requests for information and the filing of a compliant.’”

Or as ExxonMobil’s lawyer bluntly put it, “They should put up or shut up.”

The lawyer representing the New York AG warned that they had “smoking gun” evidence. Backed into a corner, New York AG Barbara Underwood was forced to show her cards today or accept the embarrassment of publicly folding after committing countless resources to a baseless investigation.

Unfortunately for Underwood, it appears that her office was bluffing when they claimed to have a “smoking gun.” The arguments presented in the compliant today have already been scrutinized and soundly rejected.

The New York AG’s argument is premised on the claim that ExxonMobil misrepresented the potential cost of future climate change regulations – regulations which do not even currently exist – because they used a different internal assumption for a price on carbon than what it externally reported. According to a press release accompanying the complaint:

“The complaint further alleges that in various other aspects of its business – including evaluating the volume of its oil and gas reserves, determining whether to write down its major assets, and estimating demand for its products in the transportation sector – Exxon chose not to apply proxy costs in the manner it represented to investors. By applying a lower proxy cost or not applying any proxy cost at all, Exxon repeatedly and consistently underestimated the potential financial risk that increasing climate change regulation posed to its assets and value.”

However, ExxonMobil has already explained the alleged discrepancy in costs:

“…ExxonMobil considers two costs when assessing the potential impacts of climate policies on certain parts of the business. ‘Proxy Costs’ assess the potential impacts of a broad mosaic of climate policies and regulations on global demand for oil and gas. By contrast, ‘GHG Costs’ forecast the direct effect of actual and anticipated greenhouse gas (“GHG”) related regulations on specific ExxonMobil projects.”

In other words, where a cost on carbon has already been established, ExxonMobil uses the price that actually exists, rather than the proxy cost they use as a conservative stand-in.

The New York AG had specifically faulted ExxonMobil for using the existing carbon tax in Alberta instead of its proxy cost, and ExxonMobil pulled no punches in its response:

“Grasping for any justification to support its Motion, OAG faults Alberta Planners for applying carbon taxes imposed by law…But there is no basis in law, logic, or ExxonMobil’s public statements for Planners to have done otherwise. When an actual tax is known, it defies common sense to ignore that cost and replace it with one that is hypothetical.” (emphasis added)

ExxonMobil further explained that this information is available in a public document for investors to see: “Significantly, these exact terms appear and are described in Managing the Risks…”

A similar line of attack has also already been deployed in federal court in a class-action lawsuit brought by current and former company employees who accused ExxonMobil of not adequately disclosing climate risk. That case was ultimately dismissed. In that case, Judge Keith Ellison said:

“Plaintiffs allege that Exxon employed an inaccurate ‘price of carbon’ when evaluating the value of its reserves…In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs reproduce language from Exxon’s 2015 Corporate Citizenship Report, which explains that Exxon estimates a ‘proxy cost of carbon’ which ‘may approach $80 per ton by 2040.’

…Plaintiffs do not allege any facts to show why this particular price of carbon was a misrepresentation or did not account for the current or an anticipated regulatory landscape. Plaintiffs seem to believe that the estimated price of carbon was wrong, but they do not plausibly link inaccuracies about the price of carbon to the eventual write-down in reserves or stock price decline. Nor do they allege a regulatory landscape that would change the price of carbon.”

In addition to being rejected in court, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also investigated how ExxonMobil factors climate-change regulations into the calculations underlying the value of its assets.

After an extensive review, the SEC declined to take any enforcement action against the company.

Given the lack of a “smoking gun” in this case and the prior scrutiny of the New York AG’s claims, it is likely that this case will close with a similar conclusion.

It is increasingly clear that New York AG Underwood is only bringing this case to avoid admitting that the New York AG’s office oversaw a case that was a colossal waste of resources in order to harass a company for political purposes.


Trump administration approves first oil and gas drilling in Alaska's federal waters

The Interior Department on Wednesday approved what would be the first oil and gas production facility in federal waters off the coast of Alaska, part of the Trump administration’s effort to expand where the U.S. produces fossil fuels.

Energy company Hilcorp proposes to build a nine-acre artificial gravel island in shallow waters of the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean, calling it the Liberty Project. The project would be near four other oil and gas producing artificial islands in waters that the state controls.

"Responsibly developing our resources, in Alaska especially, will allow us to use our energy diplomatically to aid our allies and check our adversaries," Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said. "That makes America stronger and more influential around the globe.”

Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued conditional approval for the project after evaluating the potential environmental impacts, and incorporating input from the public, and from North Slope communities and tribes. Hilcorp still must obtain other permits from local, state, and federal agencies before moving forward with construction, development, and production, according to Guy Hayes, a BOEM spokesman.

BOEM's approval comes after the Trump administration in January proposed a massive offshore oil and gas drilling plan to allow it in nearly all federal waters, including sales off the Alaska coast.

The plan has received bipartisan criticism, with almost all coastal governors expressing opposition to allowing drilling off their shores, especially in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans — and new parts of the eastern Gulf of Mexico — for fear of spills and harm to tourism.

Zinke has since indicated he will likely scale back the plan when he finalizes it later this year.

But local politicians support drilling off Alaska’s coast. The state is heavily dependent on oil and gas revenue to support its budget.

Last year, Republicans in Congress, as part of their tax reform legislation, allowed for a long-sought onshore opportunity in Alaska, opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and natural gas drilling.

Republicans expect drilling in ANWR to raise $1 billion over a decade to help pay for tax reform. Democrats, however, contend that won’t happen in light of low oil prices and steep competition from natural gas, and worry drilling there would harm the ecosystem of what they describe as one of the wildest places left on earth.


Strange Agreements and Stranger Taxes: The United Nations' Climate Drama

When I first watched “Stranger Things” (a Netflix original) in 2016, I thought the story writer was really talented and the show lived up to its name. But a real-world storyline is even stranger: the climate policies recommended to us by the United Nations.

Despite its many scientific and structural failings, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the world’s most influential, though not the most credible, source of policy on climate change. No other political or scientific body has the same reach.

For over two decades, this has enabled it to persuade governments around the world to implement global climate policies that are harmful to nearly everyone in the developing world.

I live in India. We in the developing world require massive amounts of reliable, affordable energy, especially electricity, for our power-hungry industries and cities. Without it, our economic engines will stall, causing a large-scale disruption of growth and development, trapping billions in poverty and pushing hundreds of millions back into it.

The United Nations’ numerous proposals to reduce the use of all carbon dioxide emitting energy sources never boded well for the development plans of developing countries.

The call to reduce emissions appeared strange to many economists and industry analysts, as all are aware of the fact that fossil fuels were responsible for the majority of the development in the West. It makes sense that they should be also for the rest.

This is why developing countries introduced the concept of “climate justice” on the heels of the 2015 Paris climate change conference. They reasoned that it is unfair to rob developing countries from rightfully accessing fossil fuels — their major energy source. Nearly 73% of all electricity consumed by three billion people (in India and China) came from coal (2015).

To appease these top carbon dioxide emitters, the United Nations created a Green Climate Fund through which the developed world would fund the developing nations’ transition from fossil fuels to the less-reliable, more expensive renewable energy sources.

The biggest source of funds was scheduled to come from the United States, which rightly pulled out of the Paris agreement in 2017. No one in out of the UN knows who will make up for this lost source of funding.

Facing pressure from all quarters, the UN decided to take the “strangeness factor” to the next level. This past week, it came up with a new report calling for harsher punishments for those who emit carbon dioxide.

The demand? A very high carbon tax to encourage emission reduction. This is strange for several reasons.

Firstly, human use of fossil fuels is not the only source of carbon dioxide emissions. The majority comes from natural sources. To blame undesirable climate change, if any, solely on anthropogenic sources is biased and unrealistic.

Secondly, almost all major developing countries and even top developed countries like Germany and Canada have failed to meet their promised emission reduction targets.

Nations are unlikely to pay high carbon taxes to an international institution like the UN, which doesn’t even have proper compliance and co-operation from its so-called leaders. The absence of the world’s biggest economic powerhouse, the U.S., is another major excuse that will be used by developing countries not to pay the proposed taxes.

Moreover, both India and China have continued to defy their promises to reduce emissions. They, along with Russia, Australia, and the U.S., have been involved in increased coal production, use, and export in 2018.

Others, like Germany and Japan, continue to depend on coal because of their aversion to nuclear energy. Japan, especially, had a massive overhaul of its energy sector following the Fukushima incident. It has shifted its dependence from nuclear to coal.

With all the top emitters refusing to comply, the UN’s flagship Paris agreement and the newly announced taxes are just imaginary, make-shift policies that appear good only on paper. And maybe even not that. At an estimated cost of $70 trillion to $140 trillion by the end of the century, the Paris agreement would prevent at most an inconsequential 0.17˚C of warming.

The reality is that climate change is not catastrophic. National leaders know this, even if they’re too timid to say it aloud. We need some with the courage to shout out, “The emperor has no clothes!”


Kids’ Climate Change Lawsuit Vacated Following SCOTUS’ Decision To Halt Case

A judge in Oregon is vacating a climate lawsuit several young people leveled against the Trump administration following the Supreme Court’s decision to stay the case.

U.S. Judge Ann Aiken of Oregon canceled all “schedules and deadlines” plaintiffs in the case made prior to SCOTUS’s decision, according to the court docket associated with the case.

The court will etch out a scheduling conference if the stay is lifted, noted Aiken, who was nominated by former President Bill Clinton in 1997.

The Trump administration repeatedly asked both SCOTUS and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the trial through a writ of mandamus, a rarely used judicial tool allowing a higher court to overrule a lower court before a verdict is made.

Supreme Court Justice John Roberts granted mandamus after the 9th Circuit twice turned down the writ.

The 21 plaintiffs, all between the ages of 11 and 22, are arguing that federal officials violated their due process rights by allowing the fossil fuel industry to release greenhouse gas emissions, despite knowing for years that such emissions can cause climate change.

The plaintiffs are seeking a court order requiring the federal government to implement an “enforceable national remedial plan” phasing out carbon emissions in an effort to stabilize the climate and protect the environment.

Their case — Juliana v. the United States — has survived several attempts by the government to torpedo the case after it was originally filed in 2015.


No end in sight to electricity Australian consumers paying for poor policy

We were staying in a Queensland country town a few weeks ago. I got talking to the owner of the local bakery. He was looking at his latest ­financial statement that the ­accountant had sent through. And there it was in black and white. His annual power bill last financial year was $114,000. It had been a tad over $30,000 two years before.

He employs 30 people, some on a part-time basis. Business seemed to be brisk but it’s hard to put up the price of pies and buns too much without demand dropping.

It’s easy to concentrate on the impact of rising electricity prices on households. And let’s be clear on that score. In real terms, the ­average retail price of electricity over the 10 years ending in 2017-18 rose by 51 per cent and the average retail bill rose by 35 per cent (people have used less electricity, in part because of the higher prices).

But for many small and med­ium-sized businesses, the increase in their electricity bills has been higher again. Many are exposed to the full variations in wholesale ­prices, which have risen from less than $40 a megawatt hour to more than $100/MWh before settling around the $70 to $80/MWh mark. This threatens the viability of a number of businesses.

It’s hardly surprising the federal government has decided to focus on getting electricity bills down. Let’s be clear about reduced emissions and the commitment the government has made to the Paris climate agreement — the target in respect of electricity will be met by the early 2020s. Every participant in the industry ­acknowledges this.

It’s one of the reasons why the emissions reduction target that was part and parcel of the now ­defunct national energy guarantee was superfluous. Note also there was considerable manipulation going on of the precise details of this target to suit the activist ambitions of those promoting the NEG. The only part of the NEG now worth saving relates to the ­reliability obligation, which is ­likely to become binding much sooner than generally expected.

For those who complain about a decade of energy policy paralysis, the truth is there has been a constant and active government policy position over that time. Renewable energy sources have been massively promoted, favoured and subsidised.

The renewable energy target, which remains in force until 2030, has spun off subsidies to renewable energy generators to the tune of about $80/MWh (the value has been higher in the past) through large-scale generation certificates. The value of these LGCs is expected to drop but not for several years.

In addition, there have been the interventions of reverse auctions run by state governments and the ACT that provide guaranteed cash flow for renewable energy projects. There are also the rules in the National Energy Market that give preferential dispatch to renewable energy generators. And there are the mountains of subsidies available through bodies such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Estimates put the value of the subsidies paid to the renewable ­energy sector at between $2 billion and $3bn a year, paid by consumers and taxpayers. That’s not policy paralysis; that’s policy promotion of a particular sector. If we ignore the decimation of the business models of dispatchable power generators and the much higher electricity prices we have had to pay, arguably the policy has worked. It is estimated that $2bn was invested last year in renewable energy generation — a record amount. And this year the boom has been even bigger.

The Clean Energy Regulator has released information that 34 renewable energy power stations with a combined capacity of 667MW were accredited last month, which was the largest single month of solar and wind ­capacity since April 2001. Nearly 2800MW has been accredited so far this year, compared with the previous annual record set last year of 1088MW.

The CER also notes about 1600MW of rooftop solar will be installed this year — the six panels every minute scenario mentioned by Audrey Zibelman of the Australian Energy Market Operator — which is up 44 per cent on last year. There are now more than three million small-scale installations. Note there are also about 40,000 commercial solar systems.

Now, if renewable energy could provide reliable electricity at ­affordable prices, these trends would be great. But even on the most optimistic estimates of the boosters of renewable energy, wind can produce at most 50 per cent of the time and solar at 30 per cent. This produces a very large shortfall that has to be covered by firming capacity. Batteries and pumped hydro don’t come close to filling the gap and are unlikely to do so for many years.

And here’s another thing that needs to be considered when ­observing the boom in renewable energy investment: 10 coal-fired power stations with a total ­capacity of more than 5000MW have left the grid since 2012. None of these stations has been replaced.

What is beginning to emerge is a crisis affecting the grid that makes up the National Electricity Market, which covers South Australia, Victoria, NSW, Queensland, Tasmania and the ACT. This is being recognised by AEMO, which worries about the reliability of the grid in general and the possible shortfall of power in South Australia and Victoria at certain times during the coming summer.

The NEM electricity grid has always been long and skinny. It is now longer and skinnier, with far too much unreliable renewable energy and far too little firming ­capacity. This is the principal reason why federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor is so focused on getting more firming capacity into the system to back up the runaway ­investment in renewable energy.

It is also why he has decided to take a resolute line with the large “gentailers” — think AGL, Origin and Energy Australia — whose ­behaviour has contributed to the growing fragility of the system as well as to rising prices. The companies are quite capable of manipulating the market while promising to invest in firming ­capacity but never quite following through with their plans.

Of course, in a normal competitive market government should always refrain from intervening to force down prices. But the electricity market is not a normal market. Apart from the fact electricity is an essential service, the high ­degree of market concentration almost certainly means prices are higher than they should be. The egregious behaviour of the retail divisions of the gentailers, by dudding loyal customers in particular, indicates they cannot be trusted. Just ignore their howls of complaints about the downsides of regulation. By setting a reference price for standing offers, this will force down prices more generally, and the companies know it.

By bringing more dispatchable power into the system as quickly as possible — another focus of Taylor — wholesale prices will hopefully fall, bringing further price relief for customers. The truth is the gentailers have been feasting on high wholesale prices. Surely no one will complain if the government offers the same cost of capital to new dispatchable power plants that is available to ­intermittent ­renewable energy plants?

With all this new renewable ­energy coming into the market, there is a real question mark over the commercial viability of some of the projects. When the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, wholesale prices can be driven to low levels. Clearly, the backers of these projects are basically betting on the election of a Labor government to impose a higher emissions reduction target and a reinstituted RET. In this scenario, we would expect electricity prices to resume their upward trajectory.

The NEM is in disarray, but let’s not kid ourselves that this is because of policy paralysis. This is because of incredibly poor policy where the consequences in terms of price and reliability were completely foreseeable. The challenge for the federal government is how to pull us back from this abyss.




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, October 28, 2018

Canada’s ‘Climate Barbie’ Catherine McKenna Mistakes CO2 for Air Pollution

She gives blondes a bad name

The Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change has justified the nation’s new carbon tax by suggesting that carbon dioxide is a pollutant.

In a tweet Tuesday, Catherine McKenna, confused the issue of air pollution with the emission of greenhouse gases such as CO2.

“Canadians know that pollution isn’t free,” the minister wrote. “We see the costs in storms, floods, and wildfires — that’s why we’ve announced we’re putting a price on pollution. It’s good for the environment and it’s good for the economy.”

In May 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a comprehensive report documenting the severe health risks caused by air pollution.

According to the WHO report, “around 7 million people die every year from exposure to fine particles in the polluted air that penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system, causing diseases including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and respiratory infections, including pneumonia.”

The report made no mention of climate change and spoke only of the adverse health effects of polluted air, a different phenomenon.

All of the potentially fatal pathologies referenced in the report are caused by “exposure to fine particles in polluted air” and not by global warming, much less exposure to carbon dioxide.

In its infographic on the causes of air pollution, the WHO lists six sources of dangerous fine particulate matter, none of which is related to climate change.

The six sources of air pollution are industry and energy supply, dust, agricultural practices, transport, waste management, and household energy.

Among the six solutions proposed by WHO for combatting air pollution, not one of them touches on carbon dioxide emissions, for the simple reason that CO2 is not a pollutant and is not harmful to human health.

Unlike pollutants, carbon dioxide is odorless, colorless, and most importantly, non-toxic. Human beings expel carbon dioxide with every breath they take (without polluting), and breathe it in with every lungful of air they inhale — to no ill effect. Carbon dioxide is no more a pollutant than oxygen.

The WHO database collects annual mean concentrations of fine particulate matter. Those that pose “the greatest risks to human health” are sulfate, nitrates, and black carbon, they state.

The WHO report further noted that deaths relating to air pollution occur overwhelmingly in third-world countries where large segments of the population “still do not have access to clean cooking fuels and technologies in their homes.”

Ms. McKenna — affectionately known as “Climate Barbie” — is not alone in erroneously confusing carbon dioxide with air pollution.

Canadian finance minister Bill Morneau has made the same mistake, referring to CO2 emissions as “carbon pollution.”

Carbon pollution [soot] does indeed exist in certain parts of the world, but it should not be confused with carbon dioxide, which is a normal component of air, and not a foreign pollutant.


Three Surprises About Nobel Laureate Nordhaus’s Model of Climate Change

Yale University professor William Nordhaus was named a co-recipient of this year’s Nobel (Memorial) Prize in Economic Science for his work on climate change. The award was of particular interest to me because back in 2009 I published an article in The Independent Review offering a thorough analysis and critique of his Dynamic Integrated Model of Climate and the Economy (DICE). At the Institute for Energy Research website, I have explained that Nordhaus’s latest version of his model does not support the United Nations’ current push for aggressive measures to limit global warming. In the present post, I will revisit my 2009 article to showcase three surprising facts about Nordhaus’s DICE model, all of which are very relevant for the climate change policy debate.

Surprise #1: Overly Aggressive Policies Are a Cure Worse Than the Disease

The most important table in my paper was taken directly from A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options of Global Warming Policies, Nordhaus’s 2008 book treatment of the 2007 version of his model. The table shows the costs and benefits of various policy goals for dealing with climate change:

For example, in the baseline case of no controls from the government, the long-run cost of environmental damages is estimated to be $22.55 trillion, expressed as a present-value sum (in 2005 dollars). However, Nordhaus’s baseline includes virtually no “abatement costs,” which measure the harm to the economy from complying with onerous climate regulations and emission taxes.

In the second scenario, Nordhaus shows the cost that his model yields when all the governments of the world implement a carbon tax at the optimal rate (which increases over time, although this isn’t shown in the table). Because greenhouse gas emissions are lower in this scenario, the present-value of environmental damages drops to $17.31 trillion.

Note that this estimate is $5.24 trillion lower than the estimated environmental damages in the baseline scenario. However, those gross benefits of the optimal carbon tax are not the actual net value of implementing the policy. Being a good economist, Nordhaus also acknowledges the cost of implementing his ideal carbon tax, in the form of forfeited economic output. As Table 4 indicates, the present value of the total abatement costs from Nordhaus’s optimal carbon tax is $2.2 trillion. Thus, the net benefits of the optimal carbon tax—relative to the “no controls baseline”—is only $3.07 trillion, shown in the first column of the table.

So, to sum up: In the world of the DICE model, as of its 2007 calibration, the theoretically optimal carbon tax made humanity about $3 trillion richer (in present-value terms) compared to a laissez-faire scenario, in which businesses and households emitted more than the socially optimal amount of carbon dioxide. Hence William Nordhaus in real life supported a carbon tax, because—done right—it had the ability to make humanity up to $3 trillion richer.

Yet notice something very interesting. Table 4 also shows the gross benefits and costs from other possible climate policies. And the worst shown alternatives—especially Al Gore’s proposal to cut emissions by 90 percent—would not only yield worse outcomes than “doing nothing” (i.e. the no-controls baseline), but the absolute value of the net harms would be several times larger than the net benefits of the optimal policy. For example, Gore’s recommendation would hurt conventional economic output so much that humanity would be $21 trillion poorer than under the baseline scenario. (This is a net figure, taking into account the large reduction in future climate change damages due to Gore’s aggressive limit on emissions.) Thus, Gore’s proposal would cause seven times as much net damage as the net benefits accruing from Nordhaus’s theoretical optimal policy.

Before moving on, consider in Table 4 the policy goal of “Limit temp. to 1.5°C.” This policy, although not as disastrous as Gore’s proposal, is still quite bad: It makes humanity $14 trillion poorer than doing nothing about climate change, and here again the net damages from this bad policy are more than four times the magnitude of the net benefits from the best possible policy.

Why am I focusing on this scenario? Astute readers will recognize that limiting global warming to 1.5°C is the UN’s latest announced goal, released on the same day as the announcement of Nordhaus’s Nobel Prize. Although I and other free-market analysts have pointed out the irony, the lion’s share of the media coverage treats Nordhaus’s award as complementary to the latest UN calls for drastic government intervention in the energy and transportation sectors.

(To be clear, Nordhaus’s more recent model calibrations are more pessimistic about the harms of climate change, and so the UN’s target wouldn’t be as ludicrous as it seemed in his 2007 model runs. However, as I explain at the Institute for Energy Research, it’s still the case that Nordhaus’s DICE model recommends far more warming than the UN’s preferred ceiling.)

Surprise #2: “Optimal” Carbon Tax Almost Triples within a Decade

It’s interesting to look back at Nordhaus’s estimates for the optimal carbon tax, based on his 2007 model runs and compare them to his most recent (2016) update. As I showed in Table 3 of my article, back then Nordhaus estimated the optimal tax in the year 2025 at $53.39 per ton of carbon (not carbon dioxide), measured in 2005 dollars.

However, before we compare the figure to his most recent estimate, we should make two adjustments. First, we need to convert the 2005 dollars to 2010 dollars, because the latter is what Nordhaus uses in his recent update. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator, the relevant figure in 2010 dollars should be $59.83.

The second adjustment is to convert the figure from a tax per ton of carbon to a tax per ton of carbon dioxide (which is now the standard unit in this literature). So we need to divide our figure by 3.67 in order to reach the warranted conclusion: Back in 2007, Nordhaus’s DICE model estimated the optimal carbon tax in the year 2025 would be $16 per ton of carbon dioxide (in 2010 dollars).

Yet according to Nordhaus’s 2016 calibration, the optimal carbon tax in the year 2025 would be $44 per ton—meaning the estimate has almost tripled in under a decade.

Now to be sure, proponents of aggressive government intervention would exclaim, “You see?! We told you the situation was dire! The evolution of Nordhaus’s estimate shows that we need a stiff carbon tax right now.”

However, opponents of aggressive government intervention could review this history and respond, with just as much justification, “This is clearly a very fluid area full of speculation. If the recommended dosage of a certain dietary supplement almost tripled in nine years, many people would understandably conclude that medical science was still grappling with the issue, and would be less confident in heeding their doctor’s advice.”

Surprise #3: Most of Nordhaus’s Estimated Climate Change Damages Based on Ad Hoc Method

A final takeaway from my 2009 article revolves around its Table 2, which shows the sectoral breakdown of the impacts of a hypothetical 2.5°C warming. According to Nordhaus’s 2007 treatment, this level of warming would cause an expected 1.5 percent hit to global GDP.

However, upon closer inspection, we see that “catastrophic impacts” account for an expected hit to global GDP of 1.02 percent, which works out to 68 percent of the total damages. Now if this figure were derived in a systematic way, it would be one thing. However, as I explain in more detail in my article, it is quite surprising to see how Nordhaus (and his earlier co-author) actually came up with this number. Here’s how I summarized the situation:

Nordhaus in 1994 asked experts to estimate (among other things) the probability of global GDP loss of 25 percent in the event of 3.0°C warming…The surveyed experts gave him their answers, from which he computed the mean. By 1999, further research had made these scenarios seem more plausible or catastrophic. So, Nordhaus and Boyer took the original average of probabilities reported by the experts, doubled it, and then assigned this new figure as the probability for a 30 percent loss of GDP rather than the 25 percent the experts had been told to consider, for a less significant warming of 2.5°C rather than the 3.0°C mentioned in the original survey. (Murphy 2009, italics in original.)

And so we see the crude method by which Nordhaus derived his “expected value” of catastrophic impacts, which was computed by weighting the huge potential loss of 30 percent of global GDP according to the (low) probability of such an outcome occurring. As I indicate in the above block quotation, the numbers he plugged into this calculation were rather arbitrary, only loosely tied to what was even originally merely a survey of experts (as opposed to an actual analysis of concrete scenarios).

It is true that Nordhaus’ model and the other Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) of the global economy and climate system have continued to improve over the years. Nonetheless, MIT’s Robert Pindyck—who is a proponent of carbon taxes—wrote a scathing peer-reviewed article in 2013 in which he dismissed these models as “close to useless.” Among their faults, the models gave policymakers a false sense of precision, because their damage functions were crude and arbitrary.


William Nordhaus is a pioneer in the economics of climate change, who arguably invented the discipline in its modern form. His so-called DICE model of the global economy and climate system is state-of-the-art, and was one of three selected by the Obama Administration to estimate the “social cost of carbon.” In recognition of his accomplishments, Nordhaus was one of this year’s Nobel laureates in economics.

Despite his prestige, Nordhaus’s model has serious shortcomings, as I documented in The Independent Review in 2009. Looking back, there are three surprising facts about Nordhaus’s model that are relevant to today’s policy debate:

First, Nordhaus shows that aggressive mitigation policies can be a cure worse than the disease, and he specifically included the United Nation’s latest goal in his examples of such misguided goals. Second, Nordhaus’s estimate of the optimal carbon tax (for the year 2025, for example) has almost tripled in less than a decade. Third, far from being tied to specific analyses of particular threats, Nordhaus’ global damage estimate was largely driven by a simple survey of experts, and this figure was furthermore manipulated arbitrarily by Nordhaus in light of new developments. The public would be very surprised to learn just how crude the “settled science” underlying various proposals to limit climate change really is.


Two Brothers Want to Start a Christmas Tree Farm on Their Own Land. The Township Might Fine Them $450,000

Two brothers might have to cough up $450,000 payable to Canton Township, Michigan. Their infraction: daring to cut down trees on their own private property.

Gary and Matt Percy own and operate two businesses in the state: a trucking company and a tree specialization company. They planned to start a Christmas tree farm on a 16-acre piece of land they own in Canton Township.

But to do that, they needed to cut down more than 1,400 existing trees. And for good reason, their attorney, Michael J. Pattwell, told The property was ravaged by "invasive plants like phragmites, buckthorn and autumn olive," he said.

It's not like the brothers cleared the area without replacing the trees they cut down. They planned to put 2,500 Christmas trees into the ground, about 1,000 of which have already been planted.

Unfortunately for the Percys, a township ordinance prohibits landowners from cutting down trees without the government's permission. reports:

The township defines a tree as a woody plant with a defined stem of at least three inches in diameter at chest height. Because the township does not know the exact number of trees removed, it hired an arborist to examine the make-up of trees on an adjacent property to estimate what trees were on the Percy brothers' property before they removed them. In a settlement offer, the township proposed fines of about $450,000 for the removal of what it claims is slightly less than 1,500 trees, including 100 landmark or historic trees.

Pattwell told that the township's approval "may be obtained by either payment into the township's so-called tree fund or on-site replacement with trees of certain designated trunk diameters." If the brothers do both of those things, their fines can be reduced by about $70,000, he told

But Pattwell claims this clients didn't do anything wrong in the first place. For one thing, he says much of what the township defined as trees was actually invasive vegetation. Moreover, the adjacent property examined by the township's arborist has a "different land history and distinguishable characteristics" from the Percy brothers' land, he told

Finally, the brothers believed they were eligible for an exemption under the ordinance. According to that exemption, "agricultural/farming" and "commercial nursery/tree farm operations" don't have to receive government approval before clearing trees on private property.

Township attorney Kristin Kolb, meanwhile, told that the brothers were warned "at least twice" they needed a permit, but they "never came and got one."

Pattwell believes the case is an example of "misguided overreach" by the government. "It is unavoidably about whether people who own property are allowed to use it," he told

He's right. Reason's Ronald Bailey has pointed out in the past that locals do a much better job of protecting forests than the government. The Percy brothers may have been cutting down trees, but only so they could plant new ones in their stead. And Pattwell certainly makes it sound like they weren't even in violation of the township ordinance.

But the larger issue at play here is the government infringing on property rights. The land in question doesn't belong to the township; it's private property owned by the Percy brothers. Whatever they decide to do with said land is their choice, not the government's.


How Do You Debate A Greenhouse Gas Theory ‘Expert’?

Written by Stephen Wells

For the last five years I have been arguing against people who have more academic credentials than me. People who have much more ability at mathematics than me. People who are experts in a scientific field that is relevant to understanding climate.

People who are, quite frankly, more intelligent than I am. I am just a bloke with an above average but not exceptional IQ who stopped formal study of mathematics and Physics at age 16 (achieving O level grade B in both) and who didn’t begin informally studying either again until the age of 44.

Yet I keep arguing. At first, I thought my suspicions must be wrong. Who was I, after all to be challenging people who do this stuff for a living? But the thoughts wouldn’t go away and the more I asked for experts to prove me wrong, the more my doubts grew. After a while I started to think that, maybe, just maybe, I might be right after all. Now I am sure of it! As certain as I can be that the Earth is not flat, I am as certain that there is no such thing as a Radiative Greenhouse Effect.

In the course of my arguments I have been made to look like an idiot on the subject of thermos flasks, space blankets, air conditioners, water syphons, glazing, light bulbs, microwave ovens and even lasers.

My knowledge of all of these different things has improved greatly with each embarrassing encounter, but my opponents can still run rings around me on the finer details of how any of these things work. Then there are opponents who know the ins and outs of Einstein’s theory of Relativity, quantum mechanics or the inner workings of photons, and happily respond to my arguments with four line equations to demonstrate what an idiot I am and encourage me to shut up and accept the judgement of my betters.

After each encounter I learn a little more about all of these things than I knew before and come away even more confident that my assertions about a lack of Greenhouse Effect are correct.

Astrophysicist Joseph Postma (see climateofsophistry) has a word for the tactics of my opponents: Sophistry. That of deliberately adding complexity where it is unnecessary to the understanding of a subject, for the purpose of discrediting opposition to a flawed idea.

People who are cleverer than ourselves can be genuine experts who wish to enlighten us, or they could be people who think they are experts but are mistaken in their assumptions, or they could be con artists who are using their superior knowledge and intelligence to deceive us. How to find out which one they are?

How does one find out who is saying correct things to us and who is wrong, when our own knowledge of a subject is so inferior to the person who is trying to convince us of their views?

We have been bombarded with the message that “97% of scientists believe in climate change”. Should we make our decisions about what the majority of clever people say is true? The majority of clever people in 1000AD said the sun revolves around the Earth.

They were wrong. A majority of doctors twenty years ago said that eating food that is high in cholesterol such as eggs would increase your chance of a heart attack. They were wrong.

A majority of mechanics might tell someone who knows nothing about cars that they need to spend $2,000 to prevent their car from breaking down. The majority of mechanics might be con artists! Depends where you live.

No, it’s not good enough to simply “trust the experts”. Regardless of whether it’s a mechanic, a climate scientist or a doctor treating your cancer. So what to do?

First recognise that is incumbent on anyone more knowledgeable than you to prove to you that they are not con artists. It is not incumbent on you to show you are clever enough to rebut their claims. The default position on ANYONE who has superior knowledge of something than you who wishes you to believe them about something, should be that they are con artists until they can prove otherwise to YOUR satisfaction.

That means the person must tailor their language and their knowledge to a level you can understand. More importantly they must overcome your objections and reasoning, with logic and language that fits your level of intelligence. Finally, they must be able to directly respond to your objections and not use vague analogies or bring up examples of things that appear completely unrelated.

So in my own experience with the Greenhouse Effect, I have had many very clever people tell me all kinds of things about everything from lasers to quantum physics. But I’m still waiting for any of them to show me a lab experiment where the basic premise of the diagram below is demonstrated.

This diagram shows the surface of the earth absorbing energy from the sun. Then the earth’s surface emits infrared radiation. The “Greenhouse gasses” absorb some of this energy and send half of what they absorb back to the surface. The surface then re-absorbs this energy as well as new energy from the sun and this results in the surface emitting more energy than the sun alone is providing.

Simple enough. Should be easy enough to show me an example where the same thing occurs in a lab experiment.

I don’t need the sun to provide the energy for the experiment. All I need is a solid object with a constant input of energy which results in the object emitting infrared radiation. An electric bar heater would do just fine. Or a metal plate with an electric current running through it.

Now, if I put enough Carbon Dioxide in the way of the radiation, the CO2 should absorb some of it, send some of the energy back to the bar heater or metal plate, they should increase their infrared energy output and get hotter.

I’m also happy if the person wishes to substitute the Carbon Dioxide for another IR absorbing substance. It doesn’t even need to be a gas! As long as the IR radiation is absorbed and the energy output of the original emitting object is increased above that of the power source, you’ve got me!

Five years of making a complete fool of myself will be shown beyond a reasonable doubt and I will hand over all my money to Al Gore’s beachside property fund! If someone can show me this experiment doing what is proposed in the diagram, I will make a public apology and then shut up forever.

What happens instead is my opponents talk about thermos flasks, space blankets, water syphons, photons, microwave ovens, lasers, or post long equations with Greek symbols instead of numbers.
I am clever enough to be able to engage on these subjects and very often stupid enough to allow myself to be engaged in them! I don’t get as ridiculed as I used to, as I’ve educated myself a little bit along the way, but these people still know a hell of a lot more than me about all of these subjects. Just like every mechanic still knows a hell of a lot more than me about cars.
The funny thing is, is that the better I get at arguing with “expert” scientists about the Greenhouse Effect, the less money I seem to be spending on fixing my car.


New York AG sues Exxon Mobil, says company downplayed climate change risks

New York's attorney general filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing Exxon Mobil Corp. of fraudulently downplaying the risks of climate change to its shareholders.

The attorney general's office argued in its suit that Exxon Mobil failed to accurately depict the likely financial risks associated with climate change, thereby deceiving investors.

“Investors put their money and their trust in Exxon — which assured them of the long-term value of their shares, as the company claimed to be factoring the risk of increasing climate change regulation into its business decisions," New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood (D) said in a statement. "Yet as our investigation found, Exxon often did no such thing.”

She added that Exxon Mobil instead “built a facade to deceive investors into believing that the company was managing the risks of climate change regulation to its business when, in fact, it was intentionally and systematically underestimating or ignoring them, contrary to its public representations.”

The suit follows three years of investigation by the New York attorney general's office that looked into whether the company lied to investors and the public over the risks of climate change. It did not address how Exxon might have played a role in exacerbating the effects of climate change, but leaves the door open to additional lawsuits.

Underwood additionally alleged that her office's investigation found that the fraud reached up to Exxon Mobil's highest levels and that the misrepresentation was known by former Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson — who left the company to become President Trump’s first secretary of State. He left that post in March.

An Exxon spokesman told The Hill that there "is no evidence to support these allegations."

"These baseless allegations are a product of closed-door lobbying by special interests, political opportunism and the attorney general’s inability to admit that a three-year investigation has uncovered no wrongdoing," the spokesman said. "The company looks forward to refuting these claims as soon as possible and getting this meritless civil lawsuit dismissed."

Environmental groups reacted positively to news of the lawsuit.

Richard Wiles, executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity, called climate change deception “central to Exxon’s business model.”

“This is the same company that bankrolled a 30-year, multimillion denial campaign, manufacturing doubt about climate science when it knew there was none,” Wiles said. “The New York Attorney General’s office deserves credit for defending the state's investors against Exxon's latest deception.”

An investigation by InsideClimate News published in 2015 said Exxon was aware since at least 1977 of the risks posed by climate change driven, at large, by burning fossil fuels, but sought to downplay the effects despite warnings from the company’s in-house scientists.

Bill McKibben, cofounder of, said the suit was necessary to stand up to "Exxon’s lies."

“Big oil may finally face some consequences for its role in wrecking the climate,” he said. “The New York Attorney General is standing up for investors who may have been swindled, and indirectly for the 7 billion of us who will suffer from Exxon's lies.”


Australia: King coal surges 60pc as ministers agree to work on reliable power

Coal has emerged as the nation’s most valuable resource commodity — increasing in value by almost 60 per cent over the past five years — as states and territories agree to a December timeline for a deal to make electricity supply more reliable.

Following a meeting with his state and territory counterparts yesterday, federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said progress had been made on a key element of the now-scrapped national energy guarantee, the “reliability obligation”. The obligation, to be implemented by mid-2019, would help to shore up stability of the ­energy system by requiring retailers to contract ahead to guarantee supply during forecast shortfalls.

State and territory energy ministers used the Council of Australian Governments’ Energy Council meeting in Sydney to agree to consider a draft bill in ­December establishing the new obligation amid concern about the security of supply over summer. “The reliability obligation is absolutely crucial,” Mr Taylor said. “We know this summer we’re facing some real challenges.”

Australian Energy Market Operator chief executive Audrey Zibelman briefed the ministers on preparations to buttress the security of supply in the national electricity market over the Christmas holiday period. AEMO warns of the need for “additional measures” to guarantee greater reliability.

Its warning coincided with the release of a new data series from the Australian Bureau of Statistics yesterday showing that coal mined in Australia in 2017-18 was valued at $65.6 billion, up from $41.4bn in 2013. “This is the first time that statistics for output (by commodity) and intermediate use of inputs have been published for the mining industry,” the ABS said.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the data showed the mining industry added 8.8 per cent of the value of the Australian economy in the past financial year compared with 4.7 per cent in 1994-95.

“In 1994-95, Australian coal production was worth $8.8bn, compared with an incredible $65.6bn in June this year,” he said.

Gas production also increased dramatically over the past five years, rising from $22bn in 2013 to $46.5bn in 2018. In 1994-95, gas production was worth $2.6bn.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan seized on the results, saying it was “another reminder that Australia’s mining industry remains crucial to our nation’s wealth”.

“Fossil fuel exports from ­Australia are helping our economy maintain positive growth and get the budget back into surplus,” he said. “Just in the past two years, coal and gas exports have surged by $50bn — that’s equal to our ­entire exports of agriculture.”

The growth coincides with a debate over a new government plan to shortlist a “pipeline” of ­potential baseload power generation projects, including new clean coal stations, by early next year. The projects would be eligible for government assistance under a scheme being designed. Mr Taylor has signalled the government could potentially indemnify a new coal project against the risk of a ­future carbon price.

A government plan to establish a “default market offer” against which energy retailers would set their prices was also discussed at the Energy Council meeting. The ministers agreed on the “need to develop a reference point/comparison rate against which all ­offers could be measured”, for consideration in December.




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