Friday, November 30, 2018

Climate change’s highest cost: Overheated employees too miserable to work

There is something in this but not much.  So let me speak as if global warming might happen.

People tend to move to the climate they like.  My forebears did.  Their ancestry was British but they liked warm weather.  So all four of my grandparents were born in the tropics.  And mostly people do tend to move to warmer places -- American sunbelt  migration is an obvious case. So any adverse effects of warmth would be greatly ameliorated by mobility.

So warming is most likely to improve people's satisfaction with where they live.  So it is possible that their productivity might improve because of that.

And much of the world's population lives in areas that are frozen-in for part of the year.  That sort of weather is not good for productivity.  So having less severe winters must surely improve productivity.

And outdoor work is relatively rare in today's economy.  Even farmers sit in the airconditioned cabs of their harvesting machinery for most of the time. And harvesting is increasingly mechanized anyway. Australia has no illegals to harvest their crops so there is a high level of mechanization instead

And I know I am treading on dangerous ground here but I cannot help noting that Africans were brought to America precisely because of their ability to do manual work in hot conditions.  So a warmer climate could open up employment opportunities for them.  In the early days they were found to work better in the fields than the ancestors of the "Hispanics"

If any Leftist ever reads this, they will automatically accuse me of condoning slavery so let me point out that as a libertarian  slavery is the antithesis of all I stand for

The US economy could lose $221 billion annually by 2090 as people stop working as much or as hard.

The costs of lower labor productivity under soaring temperatures could reach as much as $221 billion a year in the United States by 2090, making it the largest category of potential economic damages from climate change.

As temperatures rise, worker output slows and cognitive performance declines, with a dramatic drop-off around 28 ˚C (82 ˚F), says Reed Walker, an economist focused on climate issues at the University of California, Berkeley.

Scientists have long recognized that extreme temperatures can reduce productivity, as well as lowering lifetime earnings, widening wealth disparities, inciting violence, and increasing suicides and deaths (see “Death will be one of the highest economic costs of climate change”). But the report estimates the total US cost in lost productivity based on projected temperature increases in the decades ahead, says Brian O’Neill, director of research at the University of Denver’s Pardee Center for International Futures and a coauthor of the report.

Faced with sizzling temperatures, workers compensate by changing the timing, location, level, or type of work they do, all of which can affect their output and pay.

The effect is particularly pronounced with manual outdoor labor like farming and construction, but it shows up even in air-conditioned factories or offices, Walker says. In the United States, auto plant production drops by 8% during weeks with six or more days above 90 ˚F, according to a 2012 study.

There are various ways that companies can try to minimize the effects, including installing air conditioning, shifting work hours, and moving a greater portion of pre-assembly work indoors. None of these were included in the estimate of economic effects, O’Neill says. But most of these steps add costs that many businesses can’t afford or wish to avoid.

Significant decreases in greenhouse-gas emissions could lower the economic impact on labor productivity by as much as 60%, the national assessment found.


Supreme Court sided with landowners Tuesday in a dispute over the reach of the Endangered Species Act

A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Fish and Wildlife Service was wrong to designate a 1,500 acre tract of land in Louisiana as a “critical habitat” for the endangered dusky gopher frog, even though the species has not lived there for decades.

“I am really overjoyed that an eight to nothing court agreed with me that the service’s decision was absurd and nightmarish for property rights in the United States,” landowner Edward Poitevent told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a Tuesday interview.

“We all actually thought something like this would happen, but what’s really stunning is this is an eight to nothing decision,” Poitevent said.

The Fish and Wildlife Service told Poitevent in 2011 his land, which has been in his family for generations, would be listed as backup critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog, which hasn’t been seen there since 1965. The only known domain of the frogs was a single pond in southern Mississippi as of 2001, but the government said the Louisiana zone was the only other possible habitat it could identify.

The government conceded drastic alteration to the land would be needed in order for the gopher frog to survive, including replacing thousands of trees and conducting controlled burns to kill off underbrush.

The government also said designating Poitevent’s land as critical habitat could cost his family as much as $34 million, which doesn’t include the cost to alter the landscape.

Poitevent and others sued, arguing the government could not designate land the frogs do not inhabit as “critical habitat.” They also said the service wrongly ignored the significant economic costs its decision imposed on them.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the federal agency, finding the government was entitled to deference on both points. An appeal to the Supreme Court followed.

Federal officials listed the dusky gopher frog as endangered in 2001 in response to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), an environmental group. The group also worked with the government to oppose Poitevent’s lawsuit.

The Trump administration supported the agency before the high court.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote Tuesday’s unanimous decision, which largely sides with the landowners.

“Only the ‘habitat’ of the endangered species is eligible for designation as ‘critical habitat,'” Roberts wrote. However, he noted the 5th Circuit did not define the term “habitat” in its decision, and sent the case back to the appeals court with instructions to do so.

As such, the crux of Tuesday’s ruling provides that only land that qualifies as “habitat” may be designated “critical habitat,” but the exact definition of “habitat” remains unresolved.

The high court also agreed that the 5th Circuit should consider whether the Fish and Wildlife Service properly evaluated the burdens imposed on the landowners before marking the area “critical habitat.”

“The message here is that the unanimous Supreme Court considered the lower court decisions to be incorrect, though they don’t ever say that,” Poitevent told TheDCNF. “The whole tone and tenor of the decision is there’s something very wrong with [the 5th Circuit] decisions.”

Poitevent is confident he and his attorneys at the Pacific Legal Foundation will prevail on remand in the 5th Circuit.

“While we’re disappointed, the ruling doesn’t weaken the mandate to protect habitat for endangered wildlife,” Collette Adkins, a CBD attorney who defended the frog’s protections before the Supreme Court, said in a statement. “The dusky gopher frog’s habitat protections remain in place for now, and we’re hopeful the 5th Circuit will recognize the importance of protecting and restoring habitats for endangered wildlife to live.”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not participate in the case because it was argued prior to his Oct. 6 confirmation.


Chevy Volt Is A Dream Car: But a nightmare for GM

General Motors just killed the best car you’ve never owned.

I am talking about the Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid GM has been producing since 2010. GM is idling the Detroit-Hamtramck plant that builds Volts and ending the car’s production altogether, the company announced on Monday. The last Volt will roll off the line in March.

The announcement was not a surprise. Sales never met expectations. Rumors about the end of the Volt had been circulating for months. Although workers said they got no warning about the plant closure, GM was following the lead of Ford, which announced cutbacks of its own a few months ago.

As always, the decision reflects a variety of factors, including a slowing economy likely to reduce sales next year. All of the factories slated to go dormant are operating well below capacity. And, at least in theory, the decision does not mean GM has lost interest in electric vehicles.

On the contrary, the Hamtramck plant idling is part of a larger downsizing that will include four other North American plants and reduce the company’s total workforce by more than 14,000. One of those plants is Ohio’s Lordstown facility, where workers produce the Cruze, a gas-only sedan that uses the same platform as the Volt and that GM will also stop producing next year.

GM officials say a major reason to trim its factories and workforce now is to prepare for a future with more electric vehicles, along with automated vehicles and car-sharing. The production of electric vehicles requires factories with different facilities and, ultimately, workers with different skills. Even now, the company points out, it is hiring programmers to develop new-generation vehicles.

It’s impossible to know how seriously to take this explanation ― to tell whether GM is really making a long-term bet on hybrids and plug-ins, or simply shedding production lines that are less profitable, for the moment, in order to make money for today’s executives and shareholders. But it would certainly be in society’s interest for GM to be thinking about the future in the way that it claims.


Watchdog clears Zinke in Utah monument probe

An internal watchdog has cleared Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke of wrongdoing following a complaint that he redrew the boundaries of a national monument in Utah to benefit a state lawmaker and political ally.

The Interior Department's office of inspector general says it found no evidence that Zinke gave veteran state Rep. Mike Noel preferential treatment in shrinking the boundaries of Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Noel, who publicly pushed for the monument to be redrawn, owns land near the monument site, including a 40-acre parcel that was surrounded by the monument but now is outside its boundaries.

The report says investigators found no evidence that Zinke or other department officials knew of Noel's financial interest in the revised boundaries or gave him preferential treatment. Noel, an outspoken critic of federal land management, is retiring next month after 16 years in the legislature.

The Associated Press obtained a summary of the report, which has not been released publicly.

Noel, a Republican, was on stage in Salt Lake City with President Donald Trump last December when Trump announced he was shrinking Grand Staircase and another Utah monument, Bears Ears National Monument.

The monuments were among four that Trump targeted for cutbacks to reverse what Trump calls overreach by Democratic presidents to protect federally controlled land. The other two monuments, in Oregon and Nevada, remain intact despite Trump's promise to shrink them.

A spokeswoman for Zinke told the AP that the report "shows exactly what the secretary's office has known all along - that the monument boundaries were adjusted in accordance with all rules, regulations and laws."

The report "is also the latest example of political opponents and special interest groups ginning up fake and misleading stories, only to be proven false after expensive and time consuming inquiries by the IG's office," spokeswoman Heather Swift said in a statement.

Zinke faces other investigations, including one centered on a Montana land deal involving a foundation he created and the chairman of energy giant Halliburton, which does significant business with the Interior Department.

Investigators also are reviewing Zinke's decision to block two tribes from opening a casino in Connecticut and a complaint that he reassigned a former Interior official in retaliation for criticizing Zinke.

At least one complaint has been referred to the Justice Department.

Zinke has denied wrongdoing and told the AP this month that he's "100 percent confident" he will be cleared of all ethics allegations.

Trump has said he does not plan to fire Zinke but would "look into any complaints."

Noel said in an email Monday that he never talked to Zinke or anyone at Interior about the monument boundaries "associated with my private property, nor did I receive any favorable treatment regarding my property." He called the allegations against him and Zinke "reckless, unsubstantiated and totally without any facts."

Chris Saeger, executive director of the Western Values Project, a Montana-based environmental group that filed a complaint against Zinke, said the inspector general's office should immediately release the full report "and let the public judge the merits of the findings." The groups said photos taken of Zinke and Noel together during a visit to Grand Staircase last year "seem to contradict" the report's conclusion.

Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, who is set to become chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee in January, said he accepts the report's findings, but added, "Secretary Zinke should have known the people he was listening to while destroying our national monuments had disqualifying conflicts of interest."

Grijalva vowed scrutiny of the decisions to shrink Grand Staircase and Bears Ears when Democrats take control of the House.


Australia: Adani to begin construction on scaled-back Carmichael coal mine

Greenie hostility to the project meant that all the banks refused to fund it

The controversial mine in Queensland will move ahead but it will be scaled back after the project failed to find financing.

Adani says it will self-fund the construction of its controversial Carmichael mine and that work will begin soon.

The mining giant said a scaled-down mine and rail project would be 100 per cent financed through the Adani’s Group’s resources.

Adani Mining chief executive officer Lucas Dow made the announcement at the Bowen Basin Mining Club luncheon in Mackay, Queensland today.

It follows recent changes to simplify construction and reduce the initial capital requirements for the project.

The mine was originally expected to be a $16.5 billion project but will now only cost $2 billion, according to the Townsville Bulletin.

“Our work in recent months has culminated in Adani Group’s approval of the revised project plan that de-risks the initial stage of the Carmichael mine and rail project by adopting a narrow gauge rail solution combined with a reduced ramp up volume for the mine,” Mr Dow said.

“This means we’ve minimised our execution risk and initial capital outlay. The sharpening of the mine plan has kept operating costs to a minimum and ensures the project remains within the first quartile of the global cost curve.”

According to the Bulletin, Mr Dow said work on the mine would start first, after management plans were approved by state and federal governments. Work on the rail line was expected to begin early in the New Year. The first coal experts would be produced in 2021.

Once spruiked as Australia’s biggest coal mine, which would produce 60 million tonnes of coal per year. The scaled-back version will now produce 27.5 million tonnes at its peak.

Initially production will only be 10 to 15 million tonnes but it will ramp up to 27.5 within 10 years.

A rail line to service the mine will also be scaled back. Earlier this year Adani scrapped plans for a 388km standard gauge rail line and will instead build a 200km line that will connect to Aurizon’s existing Goonyella and Newlands rail network. This will more than halve the cost from $2.5 billion to $1 billion.

Mr Dow said the project would deliver 1500 direct jobs during the initial ramp-up and construction phase of the mine and rail projects.

Townsville and Rockhampton were still expected to be the primary source markets for jobs but workers would also be hired from other areas.

The company had to find its own funding for the project after banks overseas and in Australia distanced themselves from coal export projects in the area, or introduced policies that prohibited financing Adani’s mine.

Early this year rail operator Aurizon walked away from plans to build a rail line linked to the mine, withdrawing its application for a $5 billion government-funded loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).

The decision comes after Adani was previously denied a $1 billion NAIF loan to build its own rail line, after the Queensland Government vetoed it ahead of the state election.

The Carmichael mine was previously delayed by court challenges brought by environmental groups as well as the need to change the Native Title Act to legitimise an Indigenous Land Use Agreement it had signed.

Today’s announcement is not the first time Adani has announced it was going to start construction. Adani Australia chief executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj previously said physical construction of the mine was scheduled to start in weeks in October 2017.

This year it was announced that pre-construction work on the project was expected to begin in the September quarter.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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