Monday, September 23, 2019

A climate of burning money


World leaders will soon arrive in New York for a climate summit likely to do little more than add to the hysteria drowning out any sober talk on climate policy. Amid warnings that we have days left to act, politicians will jostle to share the spotlight with celebrity activists such as 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who came from Europe by wind-powered boat. Hurricane Dorian looms large over proceedings as a harbinger of doom.

After 30 years of failed climate policy, more of the same is not the answer. Since the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, our use of renewable energy has increased by only 1.1 percentage points — from meeting 13.1 per cent of the world’s energy needs in 1992 to 14.2 per cent today. Most nations are failing to deliver on carbon cut undertakings already made — yet politicians will be feted in New York for making new, empty promises.

Enough is enough. We must confront climate change, but hyperbole and bluster do the planet no favours. This is the time we should be having a sensible discussion on cost-effective ways to reduce the worst of climate change’s damages.

Thunberg exposes the vacuous hypocrisy of the movement. She rightly points out that everybody talks big but does little. Since Bill Clinton was in the White House, a succession of global leaders has promised to cut emissions drastically. Their falling short is not because of a lack of interest, urgency or goodwill. While the US lack of climate policy is regrettable, global failure cannot simply be attributed to Donald Trump’s presence in the White House. The reason is that the main climate solution being pursued is costly and ineffective.

Alternative energy has increased so little because green energy remains incapable of meeting all of our needs met by fossil fuels. Replacing cheap and reliable fossil fuel energy with more expensive and less reliable energy alternatives weighs down the economy, leading to slightly lower growth.

This means the Paris treaty is likely to cost between $US1 trillion and $2 trillion ($1.5 trillion and $2.9 trillion) a year, making it the costliest treaty in history. Not surprisingly, research shows that it will increase poverty. Its effects are not evenly felt; increasing electricity prices hurts the poor the most.

At great cost, the Paris Agreement will reduce emissions by just 1 per cent of what politicians have promised. The UN body organising the Paris Agreement finds that if all its promises were fulfilled (which they are not on track to achieve), it would cut about 60 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalents, whereas about 6000 billion tonnes are needed to get to the promised 2C target.

Yet politicians are being celebrated for going even further than the Paris treaty’s current promises, vowing to make entire economies “carbon-neutral” within decades.

It speaks volumes that few governments ever establish the costs of such promises. One of the few that has is New Zealand. A government-commissioned report found that aiming for net zero emissions by 2050 would cost more than the entire current annual national budget. There would be “yellow vest” riots worldwide if such policies were genuinely pursued.

We need to challenge the ever-more rampant talk about “catastrophic” climate change. Rhetoric has become unpinned from science.

According to the UN climate science panel’s last major report, if we do absolutely nothing to stop climate change, the impact will be the equivalent to a reduction in our incomes of between 0.2 per cent and 2 per cent five decades from now.

Work by Nobel laureate climate economist William Nordhaus based on the UN findings shows the likeliest outcome is a cost to the planet of about 3 per cent of gross domestic product in coming centuries. That should be taken seriously — but it does not equal Armageddon.

The havoc wreaked by Hurricane Dorian is tragic but it cannot be pinned on global warming, according to the UN’s climate scientists, who say “globally, there is low confidence in attribution of changes in tropical cyclone activity to human influence”. Indeed, a study shows hurricane damage currently costs 0.04 per cent of global GDP.

As we expect a global increase in prosperity and hence resilience, unchanged hurricane costs will drop fourfold to 0.01 per cent by 2100. And even though global warming will make hurricanes fewer but stronger and double total damage, the net impact still will be a smaller 0.02 per cent of GDP.

As a study from the Royal Society concluded, cutting CO2 has “extremely limited potential to reduce future losses”. Instead, adaptation can be up to 52 times more effective.

As it has become obvious the political response to global warming is not working, more focus has been given to personal actions. But this doesn’t add up, either.

Thunberg took a boat from Europe to New York. (The trip awkwardly will result in increased emissions because the crew is flying to New York to take the boat home; Thunberg is reportedly purchasing “carbon offsets”).

But if all 4.5 billion flights this year were stopped from taking off, and the same happened every year until 2100, temperatures would be reduced by only 0.03C, using mainstream climate models — equivalent to delaying climate change by less than one year by 2100.

Nor will we solve global warming by giving up meat. Going vegetarian is difficult; one US survey shows 84 per cent fail, most in less than a year. Those who succeed will reduce their personal emissions by only about 2 per cent.

And electric cars are not the answer. Globally, there are only five million fully electric cars on the road. Even if this climbs to 130 million in 11 years, the International Energy Agency finds CO2 equivalent emissions would be reduced by a mere 0.4 per cent of global emissions. Put simply, the solution to climate change cannot be found in personal changes in the homes of the middle classes of rich countries.

The Paris Agreement cannot do much — just as the Rio and Kyoto pacts before it mostly failed — because in essence this approach requires rich countries to promise future economic hardship to achieve very little. Indeed, the real problem is that most of the 21st-century emissions are not being emitted by the rich world: if every single rich country stopped all CO2 emissions today and for the rest of the century — no plane trips, no meat consumption, no petrol-powered cars, no heating or cooling with fossil fuels, no artificial fertiliser — the difference would be just 0.4C by the end of the century.

Solving climate change requires getting China, India and all the other developing countries on board to cut emissions. But of course their goal is to lift their populations out of poverty with cheap and reliable energy. How do we square that?

A carbon tax can play a limited but important role in factoring the costs of climate change into fossil fuel use. Nordhaus has shown that implementing a small but rising global carbon tax will realistically cut some of the most damaging climate impacts, at rather low costs.

This, however, will not solve most of the climate challenge. We must look at how we solved past major challenges — through innovation.

The starvation catastrophes in developing nations from the 1960s to the 80s weren’t fixed by asking people to consume less food but through the Green Revolution in which innovation developed higher-yielding varieties that produced more plentiful food.

Similarly, the climate challenge will not be solved by asking people to use less of more expensive green energy. Instead, we should dramatically ramp up spending on R&D into green energy.

The Copenhagen Consensus Centre asked 27 of the world’s top climate economists to examine policy options for responding to climate change. This analysis showed that the best investment is in green energy R&D. For every dollar spent, $11 of climate damages would be avoided.

This would bring forward the day when green energy alternatives are cheaper and more attractive than fossil fuels, not just for the elite but for the entire world. ­Right now, despite all the rhetoric about the importance of global warming, we are not ramping up this spending. On the sidelines of the 2015 Paris climate summit, more than 20 world leaders made a promise to double green energy research and development by 2020.

Spending has inched up from $US16bn in 2015 to only $US17bn last year. This is a broken promise that matters.

We must also focus on adaptation — this can generate a broad range of benefits at low cost and help with challenges beyond global warming. And we should remember one of the most powerful development and climate policies is to accelerate economic growth for the world’s worst-off.

The most powerful way to achieve this is through opening up trade opportunities. That is very far from the direction the world is heading in right now. Yet research shows that a successful Doha round could increase the annual income of the world’s poorest by about $US1000 a person in 2030. This is not only good in and of itself but it also would deliver much more resilience and reduce vulnerability to any climate impacts the future will bring.

Sadly, growth policies, adaptation, green R&D and an optimal CO2 tax are not what we will be hearing from the climate summit in New York.

But after 30 years of pursuing the wrong solution to climate change, we need to change the script.


Genetic Modification of Crops Is 'Rape,' Botanist Says

Last week, a Native American botanist argued that the genetic modification of crops is a form of rape. Perhaps the next step in the #MeToo movement involves returning to the low crop yields before the Green Revolution, which saved billions of lives by making food more available through genetic modification, among other things.

Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist, member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at SUNY-Syracuse, called corn "one of our deepest and oldest relatives." In an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio, she humanized corn as the "Corn Mother," saying, "Corn is sacred because she gives us her children in return for protecting us."

Kimmerer wasn't talking about the sweet corn Americans love to eat today, but rather the native corn that comes in hundreds of varieties. She contrasted this wild corn with the genetically modified corn her neighbor grows.

"There’s a word for forcible injection of unwanted genes," Kimmerer said. "Rape."

This botanist does not just humanize corn — she wishes to enlist it in the #MeToo movement.

Wisconsin Public Radio noted that the sweet corn "has been altered by agribusiness," but the article did not mention the role genetically modified corn has played in the Green Revolution, which has been credited with saving one billion lives and averting the doomsday prediction of Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb.

In the 1960s, plant disease expert Norman Borlaug spearheaded research into new farming methods that supercharged agriculture and fed the people whom Ehrlich predicted would starve. Borlaug's dwarf wheat resisted a wide spectrum of pests and diseases and produced two to three times more grain than traditional varieties. In Pakistan, wheat yields rose from 4.6 million tons in 1965 to 8.4 million tons in 1970. In India, they rose from 12.3 million tons to 20 million tons.

In 1968, Ehrlich had predicted that "India couldn't possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980." Since Ehrlich's prediction, India's population has more than doubled, its wheat production has more than tripled, and its economy has grown nine-fold. India fed far more than 200 million more people. Ehrlich secretly omitted this prediction from later editions of The Population Bomb.

Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work on the Green Revolution. He has arguably saved more lives than anyone else in history, and he did it through genetic modification.

The Green Revolution combined genetic modification with new fertilizers and agro-chemicals, controlled water supply, and added new mechanical cultivation. These new methods may strike an advocate for native practices as strange or even barbaric, but they've saved more than a billion people across the world.

Those who wish to see corn as a sacred "Corn Mother" represent a return to the ancient animistic view of the world. Treating plants as sentient beings may sound hip and "progressive," but Kimmerer's rejection of genetic modification is backward, and it could be dangerous. Would she really want to reverse the Green Revolution and bring back pre-modern levels of starvation?

Does Kimmerer really mean to accuse Norman Borlaug, the man who arguably saved more human lives than anyone else in history, of rape?

In the most recent sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the woman who was supposedly the victim denied having any recollection of the assault. It seems the insentient corn Kimmerer wishes to defend from "rape" would be similarly silent in the case against Norman Borlaug.


It's Time for Climate Confessions

"Where do you fall short in preventing climate change?" NBC asks for "Climate Confessions."

Repent, for the end of the world is near! No, it’s not some disheveled dude standing on a street corner with a sandwich board. Instead, it’s the new NBC News Climate Confessions interactive. If you worship nature at the altar of the Church of Climatology, you can now confess your environmental sins in six different categories: plastics, meat, energy, transportation, paper, and food waste.

“Blast the AC? Cook a steak once a week?” NBC asks. “Where do you fall short in preventing climate change? Tell us with Climate Confessions.” Or if, like us, you merely want a good laugh, you can read the confessions of others — both real and dripping with sarcasm.

“I wish I had been born a vegan and then maybe it would be easier. I can’t seem to give up meat,” says one.

“I sleep with the air conditioner on year-round and justify it to myself by recycling,” admits another.

Worse, says another, “I commute 30 miles to work every day in a car by myself.”

And in a perfect illustration of the Left’s redistributionist mindset: “I want to install solar panels but am waiting for state / federal incentives to do so!”

We tend to prefer contributions such as, “I require at least half a roll of TP when wiping,” and, “I like my house to be 85 in the winter and 55 in the summer. Deal with it, hippies.” But to each his own.

When it comes to green theology, there are cult-like True Believers, and there are nominal adherents who kinda sorta believe climate change is a problem but aren’t exactly willing to upend their lifestyles to mitigate it. And we can be sure that the former will continue to preach until blind devotion is achieved.

How bad is the propaganda for this faux religion? “Tens of thousands of high school students in cities nationwide plan to skip classes Friday to attend Global Climate Strike marches calling for immediate action to end climate change,” reports USA Today. “They will be part of a global joint protest aimed directly at the adults who they say are ignoring the destruction of the planet.”

The story is tagged as being in San Francisco, which is rather humorous given that President Donald Trump’s EPA is set to deliver a notice of violating environmental standards to the city because of its rampant homeless problem, caused by leftist rent-control policies.


Scaring children witless

Eco-alarmists are feeding kids a daily diet of fear and doom

‘Eco-anxiety’ has become the latest fashionable malaise. Apparently it is afflicting many children. That kids as young as four and five are feeling anxious about the climate is not surprising – after all, they are fed a diet of doomsday scenarios by the new eco-alarmists. Having effectively been given permission to feel hyper-anxious about the coming Armageddon, many youngsters have wholeheartedly embraced the role of the stressed-out victim of humanity’s eco-crimes.

As usual, the media and popular culture have been at the forefront of cultivating this narrative about eco-anxious children. In a new HBO series, Euphoria, an over-the-top anxious teenager embraces what we might call the eco-doom excuse. She says there is little point in kicking her drug habit because ‘the world’s coming to an end and I haven’t even graduated high school yet’.

Another HBO series, Big Little Lies, features a scene in which the daughter of one of the main characters has a panic attack in class after being relentlessly subjected to climate scare stories. There is a wonderful moment in which the teacher asks the eight-year-olds, ‘How many gallons of water does it take to make a single pound of sausage?’. As if participating in some kind of secular ritual, the chorus of children reply in unison: ‘A thousand!’

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that it has become a sign of virtue for both children and adults to make a display of the disturbing symptoms of eco-anxiety. Such symptoms show that we are aware and concerned. In turn, the idea that climate-change concern is causing mental suffering adds up to further proof of the damage caused by climate change. In recent months there have been many reports about the mental-health consequences of climate change. For climate alarmists, the discovery of this alleged new malaise of eco-anxiety is a bonus. Linking climate catastrophism to the deterioration in children’s mental health allows them to boost the eco-fear narrative. It is a good example of the concept of joined-up scaremongering.

Joined-up scaremongering usually involves taking a pre-existing danger and adding the idea that it poses a unique threat to children. Why? Because if you mention the word ‘child’, people will listen. You can raise the moral stakes by claiming a child is at risk. People won’t just listen to you – they will endorse your demand that ‘something must be done’.

For instance, campaigners against poverty know that they are far more likely to gain sympathy for their cause if they draw attention to what is now called ‘child poverty’. It is as if socio-economic injustices are not compelling enough on their own terms – no, they have to be recast as things that harm children in particular.

Or take campaigners on Third World issues. They know that mentioning ‘child labour’ or ‘child soldiers’ or ‘starving children’ is far more likely to resonate with the public than general calls for economic assistance. As an acquaintance of mine who works in the charity sector put it to me: ‘Mention the word children, and the money rolls in.’

Children, therefore, become a kind of moral resource that can be used to promote policies and causes. Which is why, time and again, discussions about supposed catastrophic threats like climate change tend to focus on ‘our children’s future’.

It is bad enough that society has become so devoted to scaring children about the future survival of the planet. What is even more corrosive is the medicalisation of children’s concern about the future, the transformation of it into a mental-health problem. The number of children supposedly suffering from a climate-change-related mental-health problem is growing all the time, we’re told. Although reports on eco-anxiety rarely specify the percentage of children suffering from it, we are assured that the number is rising.

Claims of an epidemic of eco-anxiety are typically vague. ‘No stats are available on the prevalence of eco-anxiety, but some experts have noted an increase in public anxiety around climate change’, writes one journalist. One ‘expert’, Susan Clayton, who co-authored a report titled Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance, speculates: ‘We can say that a significant proportion of people are experiencing stress and worry about the potential impacts of climate change, and that the level of worry is almost certainly increasing.’

What is really increasing is the determination by experts and activists to construct this new mental disease of ‘eco-anxiety’.
Indeed eco-anxiety sounds suspiciously like any other form of anxiety. According to one description: ‘Symptoms of eco-anxiety include anxiety, depressed mood, insomnia, and feelings of loss, fear and helplessness. Symptoms in children may also include separation anxiety and somatisation – signs suggestive of physical illness but without a physical explanation. For example, stomach aches, headaches and extreme fatigue.’ Given that most of these symptoms are already associated with a variety of other mental-health conditions, it seems likely that normal anxiety is being rebranded as a psycho-eco-illness with the simple addition of the prefix ‘eco’.

Commentators acknowledge that eco-anxiety is more of a metaphor than a scientifically informed diagnosis. They usually say that it isn’t yet ‘an official diagnosis’ and then imply that it’s only a matter of time before it will be included in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. As one observer says, ‘Although not yet listed in the mental-health manual… a number of professional organisations such as the UK Council for Psychotherapy, the American Psychological Association and the Wellcome Trust have written about it’.

Apparently, it is not enough to scare children about their future and then medicalise their fears – scaremongers are now targeting parents, too. ‘Rising numbers of children are being treated for “eco-anxiety”, experts have said, as they warn parents against “terrifying” their youngsters with talk of climate catastrophe’, says the Daily Telegraph. Yet the project of terrifying children about the climate is actively promoted at all levels of society. Pinning the blame for ‘eco-anxiety’ on parents is a little dishonest.

This goes far beyond parents. We live in a world in which scaring children has become a form of ‘raising awareness’ about the alleged impending extinction of humanity. We live in a world in which environmental catastrophists use children to educate their supposedly irresponsible elders. We live in a world in which it is apparently okay for climate activists to hide behind a 16-year-old girl and to use her youthful and innocent image to foist political views on the public. Worst of all, we live in a world in which the language of mental illness is being used to ramp up the politics of fear. And we wonder why children feel scared.



Ms Thunberg has got them talking. Four current articles below

No place in debate for climate contrarians

Consensus enforcement is a potent new force in climate science where sceptical views increasingly are being silenced as a danger to public good.

Academic website The Conversation said this week it would ban comments from those it judged to be climate deniers and lock their accounts. The Conversation editor and executive director Misha Ketchell justified the ban on sceptical comments as a defence of “quiet Australians” who “understand and respect the science”.

The Conversation’s shift to a monologue reflects a deeper push that is raising alarm worldwide.

Contrarian scientist Jennifer Marohasy is among those listed on an international table of climate sceptics whose views should not be published. Marohasy says she is “proud to be listed as part of the resistance to what will one day be recognised as postmodern science”.

“I base my arguments and conclusions on evidence, and I apply logic. Of course, science is a method. Science is never ‘settled’,” she says. “Those who appeal primarily to the authority of science and the notion of a consensus are more interested in politics. Central to the scientific method is the hypothesis that can be tested: that can potentially be falsified. We must therefore always be open-minded, tolerant and ready to be proven wrong.”

Also on the list published by University of California, Merced, were international climate scientists Judith Curry, Richard Lindzen and Richard Tol, as well as academics Bjorn Lomborg and Australia’s Ian Plimer and Maurice Newman.

The list was drawn from research published in the journal Nature, which juxtaposed 386 prominent contrarians with 386 expert scientists by tracking their digital footprints across 200,000 research publications and 100,000 English-language digital and print media articles on climate change.

In a statement accompanying the article, lead author Alex Petersen says: “It’s time to stop giving these people (contrarians) visibility, which can be easily spun into false authority.

“By tracking the digital traces of specific individuals in vast troves of publicly available media data, we developed methods to hold people and media outlets accountable for their roles in the climate change denialism movement, which has given rise to climate change misinformation at scale.”

Curry says the paper “does substantial harm to climate science … There are a spectrum of perspectives, especially at the knowledge frontiers. Trying to silence or delegitimise any of these voices is very bad for science.”

The Conversation’s ban is focused on reader feedback. But Marohasy says the online publication has long rejected her articles and comments.

“Despite my dozen or more publications in international climate science journals, editors at The Conversation have been intent for some years on excluding me,” Marohasy says. “I went to great lengths some years ago to get an article published in The Conversation based around a paper I had published in international climate science journal Atmospheric Research.”

Marohasy included charts to show the effect of how remodelling a temperature series through the process of homogenisation can significantly affect a temperature trend.

“The editor wouldn’t consider publishing my article, claiming it was nonsense,” she says. “Yet I was simply explaining what the Bureau of Meteorology actually do.” Marohasy says she has had a similar experience with comments. “Once I tried to get some comments into a thread. Everything seemed to be going well and then all my comments disappeared,” she says. “They deleted a whole afternoon of discussion I was having.”

Ketchell says he received an incredible response — “both supportive and hostile” — after he drew attention to the ban on sceptical comments. The disclosure came as The Conversation became part of a global media push by 250 outlets to raise awareness of climate change issues that was instigated by the Columbia Journalism Review. Ketchell tells Inquirer the ban was not part of the Covering Climate Now initiative.

According to the CCN website the media entities joined forces to foster urgency and action over the climate “crisis” and devote extra time to what CJR claimed was “the defining story of our time”. A briefing on the initiative rejected suggestions it was turning journalists into activists.

“This concern distorts what news-gathering is about,” CJR says. “Journalism has always been about righting wrongs, holding the powerful to account, calling out lies.”

Ketchell says handling the views of the small group hostile to climate science is a complex media-ethics question “and it’s one on which reasonable people can differ”.

In response to questions from Inquirer, Ketchell says everyone in Australia is entitled to free speech but not everyone is entitled to have their words published on The Conversation. “It is part of the role of a journalist to filter disinformation and curate a positive public discussion that is evidence-based and doesn’t distort the range of views by giving undue prominence to a noisy minority,” he says.

Ketchell says comments challenging the scientific basis of climate change will be regarded as off-topic unless the article is specifically about this subject.

“We moderate anything that is a deliberate misinformation and distortion of facts or attempts to misrepresent arguments or community members,” he says.

“We know climate sceptics are very good at derailing constructive conversations, so we’ll remove comments that attempt to hijack threads or to push an agenda or argument irrelevant to the discussion.”

Ketchell says commenters are encouraged to engage with the article they are commenting on and to back up their claims with credible research.

The website will be more careful to police the “small and vocal group of climate science contrarians whose passion overwhelms their ability to assess the evidence”, he says.

Opinion-based sceptics have ample opportunity to have their say on social media and in many media outlets.

“As long as they aren’t allowed to overwhelm the quiet Australians who understand and respect the science, I don’t think that’s a bad thing,” Ketchell says.


Pollies cold on climate

Despite a global push for more action on climate change, momentum has drained away.

This month was supposed to be the one in which a global push for higher ambition on climate change took flight.

Child prophet Greta Thunberg set sail for New York by luxury yacht to save petrol, a climate emergency was declared around the world, and workers were given permission to join students in a climate strike.

Despite this, momentum behind real action by government has been steadily drained away.

In Australia, the Labor Party’s proposal to dump the targets that cost it dearly at the federal election effectively has let the Morrison government off the hook.

Few world leaders are lining up to deliver what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had in mind when he called them together for a New York conference to boost ambition. The New York meeting, scheduled for September 23, was conceived as a show of global defiance at US President Donald Trump’s decision to ditch the Paris Agreement.

Rather than a competition for more robust action, as was intended, the New York agenda looks deflated.

Key world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, will not be attending. Instead China will send a lower-ranking official, and there are mixed signals about whether the world’s biggest carbon dioxide emissions nation will offer to do more.

As things stand China, which is responsible for 26.83 per cent of global emissions, has pledged to keep increasing them until about 2030.

The EU has been unable to agree on a uniform position for 2050, with a split between the coal-dependent east and more progressive west.

A pushback is building in Germany against higher energy prices and the impact of strict new emissions regulations on a struggling car industry. Renewable energy investment across much of Europe has stalled.

The EU admits it is not on track to meet its 2030 target of a 40 per cent emissions cut on 1990 levels.

Relations with Brazil have fractured following the election of development-focused President Jair Bolsonaro and a resurgence of clearing in the Amazon.

The US, with 14 per cent of global emissions, is showing no signs of pulling back from its threat to quit the Paris Agreement next year despite achieving greenhouse gas emissions cuts from a switch from coal to gas.

In Australia there is little mood politically for greater action.

The federal opposition has all but surrendered its pre-election target to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

As it takes stock of its unexpected election loss, Labor looks likely instead to focus on a 2050 target of being carbon neutral.

The backdown was first moot­ed by opposition assistant climate change spokesman Pat Conroy in The Australian last week when he said a net zero target by 2050 had to be “the overriding objective”.

Anthony Albanese said Labor “will examine our short and medium and long-term commitments on where we go on climate change but we won’t re-examine our principles. We want to work towards zero emissions by the middle of this century.”

Climate change spokesman Mark Butler could not be specific. “What medium-term targets numerically are, whether it’s 2030 or 2035, given the passage of time, is something we’ll engage over in the next couple of years,” Butler said.

Labor’s backdown followed a stinging appraisal from its green wing, the Labor Environmental Action Network, which highlighted that the party had been unable to put a price on its climate change action plan during the election.

“It couldn’t say how much it would cost, where the money was coming from or what economic dividend it would deliver or save,” LEAN said. “It is basic Australian politics — how much, who pays, what does it save? We had no answers.”

Former leader Bill Shorten told Sky News on Monday he agreed that Labor’s climate policies had cost it votes at the election in May and said he supported a review of the position.

“I do think Australians want to see action on climate change so I am confident that will be Labor’s position”, Shorten said. “But as for a specific (2030 target) number, I will allow the reviews and the reconsiderations of policies to take their course.”

Ironically, the 45 per cent target being abandoned by Labor is what Guterres has been calling for in New York from all nations.

Labor’s capitulation has given the Morrison government a free pass on what could otherwise have been an uncomfortable time. The Prime Minister will not be attending the New York climate conference despite being in Washington for a state reception with Trump.

Instead Australia will be represented by Foreign Minister Marise Payne and climate change ambassador Patrick Suckling.

Australia is not expected to speak at the conference or offer anything above the existing Paris Agreement pledge of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 26 per cent to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The federal government has yet to make a call on whether to join the growing global push to declare a target to become “carbon neutral” by 2050.

How exactly the carbon neutrality will be calculated remains a vital question for Australia which, by some measures, may have achieved the target already.

It’s hard to know.

A 2013 paper in the journal Biogeosciences found the year-to-year variation in the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by natural processes is bigger than Australia’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Research published in the journal Nature in 2014 found that record-breaking rains had triggered so much new growth across Australia that the continent turned into a giant green carbon sink to rival tropical rainforests including the Amazon.

The study found that vegetation worldwide had soaked up 4.1 billion tonnes of carbon in 2011 — the equivalent of more than 40 per cent of emissions from burning fossil fuels that year.

Almost 60 per cent of the higher than normal carbon uptake that year, or 840 million tonnes, happened in Australia.

Subsequent research has shown that much of the additional carbon store was lost in following years because of fire and drought.

But a full understanding of the carbon cycle is still in its infancy.

Pep Canadell, from the CSIRO, says there is as yet no robust information on whether Australia is a net carbon sink or emitter when all natural processes are taken into account.

Canadell is leading a big international assessment under the Global Carbon Project to investigate but says results are still a couple of years away.

He says the global experience has been that most of the benefits from the natural carbon sinks are more than offset by human emissions of non-CO2 gases, mainly methane and nitrous oxide.

Scientists, however, are only starting to understand the bigger picture. Nature is able to lock away about half of the additional carbon dioxide load from human activity and it has shown itself to be very resilient to increasing human emissions.

A paper published in April found that global land and ocean sinks had largely kept pace with rising carbon dioxide emissions since 1958 and were still absorbing about 50 per cent of atmospheric CO2.

Canadell says the results are remarkable because of their unseen, and often unacknowledged, benefits.

“The CO2 sinks are like a 50 per cent discount on climate change,” Canadell says. “If it wasn’t for the sinks, we would have double the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere, and a doubling of the impacts due to global warming.”

How these sinks will be accounted nationally puts a fresh perspective on what carbon neutrality at a national level may eventually mean. It highlights also the folly of discussions being hijacked by negative extremes.

The latest, and unexpected, shot against fearmongering was issued by World Meteorological Organisation secretary-general Petteri Taalas to Finnish newspaper Talouselama.

Taalas told the paper while climate scepticism had become less of an issue, the challenge was now coming from “doomsters and extremists”. “Climate experts have been attacked by these people and they claim that we should be much more radical,” Taalas said.

He said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports had been “read in a similar way to the Bible: you try to find certain pieces or sections from which you try to justify your extreme views”. “This resembles religious extremism,” Taalas told Talouselama.

Following publication of his comments, Taalas issued a clarifying statement that he was not questioning the need for robust action.  “In my interview, I made clear that a science-based approach underpins climate action and that our best science shows the climate is changing, driven in large part by human action.

“However, I pointed out that the science-based approach is undermined when facts are taken out of context to justify extreme measures in the name of climate action,” he said. “Action should be based on a balanced view of the science available to us and not on a biased reading of reports by the Inter­governmental Panel on Climate Change, of which WMO is one of the parent organisations.”

Taalas said the challenges were immense.

The lesson from Labor in Australia and the UN in New York is that the political challenges remain equally large.

The boom in renewable energy has spawned a serious unintended consequence with the release of large quantities of the world’s most potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) is 23,500 times more warming than carbon dioxide and is widely used to make wind turbines, solar panels and the switching gear needed to run more complex electricity systems.

Research has shown leakage of the little known gas across Europe in 2017 was the emissions equivalent of putting an extra 1.3 million cars on the road.

The warming potential of SF6 was identified in 2008 by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which said what had been hailed as an environmental success story could turn out to be a public relations disaster for solar.

Scripps says SF6 is difficult to break down and roughly 60 per cent of what goes into a switch’s vacuum chamber ends up in the atmosphere.

The latest research from Britain is that levels of SF6 in the atmosphere are rising as an unintended consequence of the green energy boom.

According to the BBC, just 1kg of SF6 warms the Earth to the same extent as 24 people flying London to New York return. It also persists in the atmosphere for a long time, warming the Earth for at least 1000 years.

The increase in SF6 in the atmosphere reflects the way electricity production is changing around the world.

Mixed energy sources including wind, solar and gas have resulted in the use of many more connections to the electricity grid.

The increased number of electricity switches to prevent serious accidents has resulted in the use of more SF6 gas to stop short circuits and quench arcs, making electrical circuits safe.

Carbon copies

A loose coalition of countries has made the pledge to go “carbon-neutral” by 2050 but they do not include any of the major emissions nations and it remains unclear exactly what the term means.


Student climate strike is slacktivism

On a Friday afternoon, would you rather be stuck in school at a maths lesson or be outside at a protest with your mates?  No prizes for guessing what most children would prefer.

As a result, it’s easy to dismiss today’s climate demonstration as mere ‘slacktivism’… students giving up their Saturday morning sport to attend a protest would have been a far more powerful statement.

And besides, is it really a ‘strike’? Not going to school — which means students miss out on their own learning — isn’t even remotely comparable to not going to work as part of industrial action.

Of course, it’s great if students are interested in politics, care about global issues, and want to exercise their right to protest government policy in a liberal democracy. And yes, issues with potential long-term consequences like climate change are especially important for youth.

However, if any student really wants to improve policy in the long-term, the best way to do this is to become better educated — and learn to understand the various perspectives of every issue. Getting involved in politics should be in addition to their schooling, not ever in conflict with it.

Today’s ‘strike’ has been endorsed by education unions, among others (with shades of “How do you do, fellow kids?”). Unions are obviously free to support whatever action they want, though students shouldn’t be pressured into joining.

But do unions support the principle of all students being able to skip class to attend a protest on any issue? Or just on political issues where the union leaders happen to agree with them? Maybe unions wouldn’t be so supportive if students went on ‘strike’ to protest against inter-generational debt, advocating for budget cuts for the sake of future generations.

Students should be able to skip school occasionally, providing they have parental permission, go through the normal processes of their school, and the usual rules around attendance and truancy are still applied consistently.

Parents — not governments — are fundamentally responsible for the moral education of their children. If parents are happy for their kids to miss lessons for whatever reason, then so be it.

But in a time of growing polarisation, the last thing we need is teachers bringing political partisanship into schools.


Dozens of protesters are caught with single-use plastic bottles while marching during the Global Climate Strike

Normal Greenie hypocrisy

More than 30,000 people took to the streets of Brisbane to march in the Global Strike 4 Climate march on Friday.

Several of the protesters came under fire by the city's Lord Mayor, Adrian Schrinner, who labelled them as 'very disappointing' in a video shared to Twitter.

But the mayor was criticised for sharing the video, with some people calling his actions 'petty'.

'Very disappointing to see so many single-use plastics at today's environmental rally in Brisbane's CBD,' Mayor Schrinner captioned a video shared to Twitter.

The Mayor suggested people should instead stop by his mobile office where he was giving out reusable bottles. 'If only they made it to Lord Mayor's mobile office or the recent Green Heart Fair to get their own reusable drink bottles!'

The video showed a series of people walking in the march clinging onto plastic cups and bottles, all the while wearing shirts and carrying handmade signs that advocate for climate change.

Mayor Schrinner even took aim at Greens member, Michael Berkman, who carried a plastic bottle despite wearing a 'Stop Adani' shirt.

But not everyone was on board with Mr Schrinner, as many took to Twitter to slam the Mayor. 'That's the best you can come up with when the people of Brisbane turned out to have their voices heard?' one commented.

'Wow, this is the pettiest and saddest thing I've seen today,' one person tweeted.

Others said the bottles had likely been re-used because many didn't have labels.

'Because you can't refill a plastic bottle? Considering a lot don't have labels or are soft drink bottles with water I think they are being used by people with a social and environmental conscience,' another wrote.

'30,000 people take a stand and that's your petty takeaway?' a woman commented.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Russia Announces Plans for Coal-Digging Surge

Despite the climate crisis and environmental concerns, the country says it aims for a big dig of the carbon-rich rock. Much of it will be extracted in new Arctic fields.

"I would like to congratulate everyone whose life is connected with coal mining, with this key industry in our country’s economy," President Vladimir Putin said this week while greeting the governors of Russia's main coal-extracting regions.

The meeting took place in the Kremlin on the eve of Miner’s Day, the annual celebration devoted to workers in the coal mining industry. Government ministers and seven regional leaders were seated at the table were, among them Krasnoyarsk region governor Alexander Uss and Kemerovo region governor Sergei Tsivilev.

Coal mining has been a key industry in Russia for a long time. And its role will be no less significant in the future, the participants of the meeting said.

Big growth

Over the last 10 years, Russia has boosted its annual coal production by more than 30% to a total of 440 million tons, and the country is now the world’s third-largest producer, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said.

In the same period, investments in the industry have surged 150%. "This is, of course, a significant figure," Novak said.

The production is to continue upwards. According to a draft development program, annual coal production might reach as much as 670 million tons in the course of the next 15 years.

The government will assess the development program in September, the Kremlin said.

New projects

A series of new coal projects stand behind the growth figures. Almost half of Russia’s current 58 coal mines in operation have opened in the course of the last 20 years. And several more are in the making, including in the Arctic.

In the Taymyr Peninsula, the large territory stretching into the far northern Kara Sea, there are plans for extractions of more than 25 million tons per year over the next five years.

The VostokCoal company is in the process of developing the first of its big number of licenses on the northeastern tip of the peninsula. The license areas of Severnaya Zvezda (Northern Star) company are located nearby. The two companies intend to build two major port terminals in the area for export of the coal.

The black rocks will ultimately play a crucial role in the ambitious development of the Northern Sea Route. President Putin has requested in his state six-year plan that shipping on the Arctic route is to reach 80 million tons per year by 2024.

Asian buyers

Russia sees the Asian market as the destination for its growing coal production.

"Our coal companies are now actively conquering the Asia-Pacific region [and] we see the potential for coal consumer growth exactly in this direction," Energy Minister Novak told President Putin.

Meanwhile, the European market is gradually shrinking as EU countries actively replace coal with alternative energy sources. Prices are dropping and Russian coal exports to the region are in decline. According to the Kommersant business daily, several Russian companies are now running into deficits because of faltering sales to Europe.


Michael Mann's Tree-Ring Circus

This has been a tough week for climate hustler Michael Mann, who lost his defamation and libel lawsuit against respected climatologist and warming skeptic Dr. Tim Ball at the same time it was announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that there has been no U.S. warming since 2005.

Mann, who poses as a climatologist at Penn State, has had his court case against genuine climate scientist Dr. Tim Ball dismissed, with Mann ordered to pay court costs, for failure to produce supporting evidence to prove his claim that global temperatures took a sharp upward turn when the Industrial Revolution and fossil-fuel use began pouring CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

He didn’t because he can’t, and the fact is that the global warning he speaks of is Mann-made, a fantasy based on a career of perpetrating climate fraud, as indicated by NOAA’s report that there hasn’t been any U.S. warming for nearly a decade and a half and maybe even beyond that. As noted by James Taylor, director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy at the Heartland Institute, in a piece for Real Clear Energy:

When American climate alarmists claim to have witnessed the effects of global warming, they must be referring to a time beyond 14 years ago. That is because there has been no warming in the United States since at least 2005, according to updated data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

In January 2005, NOAA began recording temperatures at its newly built U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN). USCRN includes 114 pristinely maintained temperature stations spaced relatively uniformly across the lower 48 states. NOAA selected locations that were far away from urban and land-development impacts that might artificially taint temperature readings…

There is also good reason to believe U.S. temperatures have not warmed at all since the 1930s. Raw temperature readings at the preexisting stations indicate temperatures are the same now as 80 years ago. All of the asserted U.S. warming since 1930 is the product of the controversial adjustments made to the raw data.

The use of properly positioned temperature recording stations coupled with satellite date, a relatively recent innovation that covers the whole earth, has given us a more realistic picture than computer models that can’t even  predict the past and fraudulently manipulate raw data from dubious sources.

Meteorologist Anthony Watts documented the inaccuracy of old weather station data used by NASA on his website. Watts said that “90 percent of them don’t meet (the government’s) old, simple rule called the ‘100-foot rule” for keeping thermometers 100 feet or more from biasing influence.” Many of the U.S. stations were in locations such as paved driveways, near rooftop exhaust vents, even near idling jet engines.

In 2016, Mann testified before the Democratic Platform Drafting Committee that actual data didn’t really matter because we could actually see climate change happening. The Washington Times noted both his appearance and at least one contradiction to his claims based, not on computer models, but on actual empirical observation:

Leading climate doomsayer Michael Mann recently downplayed the importance of climate change science, telling Democrats that data and models “increasingly are unnecessary” because the impact is obvious…

Mr. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, spoke before the committee June 17 in Phoenix… Mr. Mann told the panel that “the signal of climate change is no longer subtle, it is obvious,” citing hurricanes, flooding in Texas and South Carolina, the California drought and “record heat” in Arizona.

Skeptics have hotly challenged the link between rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and “extreme weather” events, noting, for example, that hurricane activity is on the decline.

A nine-year “hurricane drought” of Category 3 storms starting in 2006 beat the previous mark of eight years from 1861-1868, the longest such streak since such recording began in 1851, according to a May 2015 study by the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Mann has proven adept over his career at making controversial, no, fraudulent adjustments made to the raw data. Mann might be remembered as one of the participants in what Investor’s Business Daily dubbed a “tree-ring circus” -- the Climategate scandal. As IBD noted at the time:

Mann was at the heart of the Climate-gate scandal in 2009, when emails were unearthed from Britain's Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. In one email sent to Mann and others, CRU director Philip Jones speaks of the "trick" of filling in gaps of data in order to hide evidence of temperature decline:

"I've just completed Mike's nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline (in global temperatures)," the email read.

It was that attempt to "hide the decline" through the manipulation of data that helped bring down the global warming house of cards.

The graph created by professor Mann and his colleagues carefully selected and manipulated tree-ring data to supposedly prove that air temperatures had been stable for 900 years, then soared off the charts -- in a pattern resembling a hockey stick -- in the 20th century due to man-made greenhouse gases. Mann et al. performed the neat trick of making the Medieval Warm Period (about A.D. 800 to 1400) and the Little Ice Age (A.D. 1600 to 1850) statistically disappear.

As Investor’s Business Daily also noted:

The graph relied on data from trees on the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia. Here, too, the results were carefully selected. Just 12 trees from the 252 cores in the CRU's Yamal data set were used. A larger data set of 34 tree cores from the vicinity showed no dramatic recent warming, and warmer temperatures in the middle ages. They were not included.

“Hiding the decline” and any actual evidence that global warming hype was nothing more an attempt by climate change scammers to impose what has become a religion. MIT Professor Richard Lindzen is quoted in the Daily Caller questioning the tenets of this new religion:

Throughout history, governments have twisted science to suit a political agenda. Global warming is no different, according to Dr. Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Global climate alarmism has been costly to society, and it has the potential to be vastly more costly. It has also been damaging to science, as scientists adjust both data and even theory to accommodate politically correct positions,” writes Lindzen in the fall 2013 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons…

Lindzen compares global warming to past politicized scientific movements: the eugenics movement in the early 20th Century and Lysenkoism in the Soviet Union under Stalin. However, the MIT professor argues that global warming goes even beyond what these past movements in terms of twisting science.

“Global Warming has become a religion,” writes Lindzen. “A surprisingly large number of people seem to have concluded that all that gives meaning to their lives is the belief that they are saving the planet by paying attention to their carbon footprint.”

The goal is to use climate change as a means to increase government power over every aspect of our lives, what we make, how we make it, what energy we use, what cars we drive, even what food we eat. And now the high priests of the global warming religion are demanding what other false religions have demanded -- human sacrifices upon their altar. As Michael Mann has found out, facts are stubborn things and tree rings don’t always ring true.


Campus Protesters Fail to Shut Down Climate Science Lecture

Climate Scientists Respond to Climate Alarmism in 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary Campaign

Dr. Patrick Michaels, senior fellow at the CO2 Coalition, and Dr. Caleb Stewart Rossiter, the Coalition's executive director, were invited by the Georgetown University College Republicans to participate in its "Climate Forum: A Rebuttal" event on Thursday, September 19. The CO2 Coalition is an alliance of 50 climate scientists and energy economists who describe themselves as "unalarmed" about the impact of industrial carbon dioxide on the planet.

About 100 student protesters who were preparing to take part in a Climate March occupied the room and shouted down the speakers as soon as the event began. Georgetown University Police cleared the room and administrators let students re-enter after conducting a bag search to ensure the safety of the speakers and the student organizers. They warned the protesters that if they did not wait with their comments until the question period they would be in violation of the student conduct code. Michaels and Rossiter both had the chance to speak with a now-respectful audience of 75, evenly divided between protesters and other students.

Michaels, a climatologist, demonstrated that UN climate models have over-predicted global warming threefold for the past 40 years. He said this was because the models assume more warming from industrial carbon dioxide than it actually creates. Rossiter, a statistician, explained the link between low access to electricity and low life expectancy in Africa.  He also presented UN data showing that, despite talk of a "climate crisis," rates of hurricanes, droughts, and sea-level rise had not changed during the era of industrial carbon dioxide. At the end of the talk, Georgetown University Police felt it necessary to escort Dr. Michaels and Dr. Rossiter to their cars.

Rossiter commented: "I'm sort of getting a taste of my own medicine -- 'hoist with my own petard,' as Shakespeare wrote -- since I was a disruptive student in the same way 40 years ago, protesting the Viet Nam war and U.S. support for apartheid in South Africa. I respect the students' desire to promote what they see as justice. I just think they're wrong on the facts. That they wouldn't engage in discussion until threatened with suspension shows that they probably know it too."

The CO2 Coalition has written the president of Georgetown University to express its deep gratitude for the professionalism the police showed and the commitment the administration showed in successfully defending free speech on campus.

Via email from The CO2 Coalition:

San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle should be held to Clean Water Act standards as human waste pollutes their waterways

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement in reaction to President Donald Trump calling on the EPA to take Clean Water Act action against west coast cities that put human waste into natural waterways:

“In March of 2018, San Diego County, California cities of Imperial Beach and Chula Vista sued the International Boundary & Water Commission-United States Section and Veolia Water North America West over the ‘devastating pollution discharges’ from the Tijuana River. Last night, President Trump stated that he anticipated that the United States Environmental Protection Agency will take action against San Francisco and potentially, Los Angeles, which have exacerbated a homeless problem to such an extent that they are polluting the Pacific Ocean with drug needles and raw human waste.

“While some might laugh at the notion that the washing of raw human waste into the San Francisco Bay should be cited by the EPA, the truth is that the effects can be catastrophic.  Just last year in Seattle, Washington (which should be in line for EPA sanction as well), opioids were found in mussels pulled from the Puget Sound.  Mussels, which filter sediment for nutrition, became contaminated due to the washing to raw human waste from a drug addicted homeless population directly into the Sound.

“It is beyond ironic that the far-left urban policies of cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle are creating an environmental disaster for the coastal sea life which these same politicians claim to revere.  An EPA lawsuit holding these eco-socialist elites to the same standards which they would hold a private company should create an existential values clash on the left coast.  And hopefully, they will become ‘woke’ to the reality that their urban policies fail to serve any of their purported values.”



Four current articles below

Fact-free prophet takes vicious turn

Andrew Bolt

GLOBAL warmists are turning vicious. Now guru Tim Flannery likens me to a paedophile.

Has Flannery, our former Chief Climate Commissioner and now a professorial fellow at Melbourne University, become unhinged? For me, his outburst confirms that Flannery represents the death of reason.

In the taxpayer-funded Conversation, Flannery claims that man-made global warming and dwindling resources may wipe out most of the Earth's nearly 8 billion people. "British scientist James Lovelock has predicted a future human population of just a billion people,” he writes. "Mass deaths we predicted."

Typical Flannery. In fact, Lovelock later admitted he was too "alarmist", and Flannery was, too: "We don't know what the climate is doing."

But Flannery, undaunted, rages over the slaughter he imagines is coming: "The climate crisis has now grown so severe that the actions of the denialists have turned predatory: they are now an immediate threat to our children. "My children ... will probably live to be part of that grim winnowing -- a world that the Alan Joneses and Andrew Bolts of the world have laboured so hard to create."

Then a third suggestion that I'm a child abuser. "They are threatening my children's wellbeing as much as anyone who might seek to harm a child."

How low can Flannery go? If I thought there was the slightest chance of our emissions killing my children, I'd work day and night to cut them. But I don't think they're at all threatened by global warming. What really threatens them is the monstrous, self-righteous unreason that Flannery represents. In 2004, Flannery, actually a mammal expert, said man-made warming would cause such droughts that "there is a fair chance Perth will be the 21st century's first ghost metropolis".

Yet Perth is flourishing, and Professor Andy Pitman, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, says "as far as the climate scientists know there is no link between climate change and drought".

In 2009, Flannery warned "this may be the Arctic's first ice-free year". Not even dose. In 2015 Flannery predicted more cyclones: "We're more likely to see them more frequently in the future." But the following year we had the fewest cyclones in decades, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agrees cyclones have become rarer.

In 2017, Flannery claimed global warming was drowning Pacific islands like Tuvalu and this was a "widespread phenomenon". In fact, TuValu has grown by 2.9 per cent over four decades, and Professor Paul Kench found 43 per cent of Pacific islands have also grown, and just 14 per cent shrunk.

And now Flannery claims "global hunger has increased for the last three years because of extreme weather events". Really? In fact, the Food and Agricultural Organisation reports that world grain crops have been at record levels for the past three years.

What an extraordinary record of false claims, yet Flannery is still treated as an oracle by the Conversation, the ABC and Melbourne University.

But the worst of it is that this false prophet has cost Australians so much. In 2007, Flannery falsely claimed our dams would run dry: "Even the rains that fall will not actually fill our dams and our river systems." He added: "In Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, water - supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months."

State Labor governments freaked, and raced to build desalination plants not just for those cities, but Melbourne, too. The cost was massive — some $12 billion. But this was another Flannery fail: the rain kept falling, and those desal-plants were essentially mothballed. What a waste.

Here's another example of the cost of Flannery's flummery. Flannery also urged us to scrap our reliable coal-fired electricity plants and use more geothermal power instead. "There are hot rocks (underground) in South Australia that potentially have enough embedded energy in them to run Australia's economy for the best part of a century," he said. "The technology to extract that energy and turn it into electricity is relatively straightforward."

The Rudd Government believed him, and gave a $90 million grant to a geothermal plant in which Flannery was a shareholder. Yet another Flannery fail. The plant was a technological nightmare and was scrapped.

So how should I describe Tim Flannery, who misquotes experts, misstates science, makes dud predictions, urges us to waste billions of dollars and scares children with absurd claims of "mass deaths"? I won't do a Flannery and call him a "predator". I'll stick to the facts. The man is a crank.

From the Courier Mail, 19/9/19

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg overruled department to block wind turbines on scenic island

The former environment minister Josh Frydenberg went against the advice of his departmental experts when he blocked two wind turbines on Lord Howe Island in 2017, consigning the world heritage-listed island to relying on diesel fuel for the bulk of its electricity.

A freedom of information request by the Guardian has uncovered that the minister took the unusual action of blocking the project under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, deeming it “unacceptable”.

It was one of two projects that Frydenberg rejected while environment minister, the other being a nursing home at Sydney’s Middle Head on federal land.

Now the Guardian can reveal that his decision was taken despite the advice of his own department, strong support from the majority of residents on Lord Howe Island, the governing board of the island, and even another federal government agency – the Australian Renewable Energy Agency – which had offered $4.6m in funding towards the renewable energy project.

The department’s natural heritage section 23 November 2016 advice was that “the proposed action is unlikely to significantly impact the Island Group’s world heritage values” and that moving the island away from reliance on weekly deliveries of diesel would help secure its Unesco world heritage status.

The department went on to say: “The proposed turbine site was selected because it is in close proximity to the existing powerhouse and electricity network and is one of the least visible cleared pieces of elevated land on the island.”

“Practical access and operation considerations limit the turbines’ physical size. The turbines are not permanently fixed but can be lowered for maintenance and other purposes.”

It said the proposed turbines were a similar scale to the existing aviation towers near the project site.

There was some concern expressed from the migratory birds section of the department about whether the turbines might harm Lord Howes’ bird population.

But the final recommendation from the department was that risks could be mitigated by the Lord Howe Island board’s proposal to shut down the turbines at sunset when shearwaters returned to their nests.

“The department considers that impacts on listed migratory birds could potentially be mitigated, for example through development and implementation of the adaptive management approach proposed in the referral,” it said.

But having outlined the reasons why the project should be given the go-ahead, the department, perhaps pre-empting the minister’s attitude, advised that he could still oppose it, and included the paperwork for him to do so.

At the time, [radio jock] Jones was regularly railing against windfarm projects, and there was opposition to windfarms within the Coalition. In 2014, the then treasurer, Joe Hockey, called wind turbines “utterly offensive”, while former prime minister Tony Abbott said in 2015 they were “ ugly” and “noisy”.

A spokesperson for the current environment minister, Sussan Ley, said then minister Frydenberg considered that “the proposed wind turbines would create a considerable, intrusive visual impact and that this would affect the spectacular and scenic landscapes for which the island group is recognised”.

“The minister concluded that the proposal would be an inappropriate development for Lord Howe Island and that the impacts on the island group’s heritage values could not be sufficiently avoided or mitigated,” she said.

The spokesman said the minister had given “thorough consideration to a range of matters” before deciding that the wind turbine proposal would have clearly unacceptable impacts and that the decision did not affect the solar component of the island’s energy project.

Lord Howe Island’s Unesco listing has identified “human-caused climate change” as a key threat. The organisation has a policy which calls on world heritage sites to investigate renewable power options.

Lord Howe Island is now exploring what can be done with solar and batteries to meet the island’s needs. New South Wales spends $750,000 a year on shipping diesel to the island to provide power for its 350 residents.


New coal mine that would have provided 1,100 jobs to hard-pressed families is scrapped after green activists from Sydney's north shore sent 2,530 objection letters

The construction of a controversial coal mine has been blocked after planners received a series of objection letters from city-based environmental activists.

The multi-million-dollar Bylong Valley coal mine was commissioned by Korean company Kepco, which claimed the mine, north-east of Mudgee, would generate $300million for the New South Wales economy and create 1,100 jobs.

After a large amount of opposition from the community, the project was given to the  NSW Independent Planning Commission for review in October last year.

But today it was revealed the project's demise came after a spate of complaints by residents of Sydney's northern beaches, 250 kilometres away from the proposed mine site.

Out of 3,193 comments to the commission, 2,530 objections came from Lane Cove Coal and Gas Watch, The Daily Telegraph reported.  'These people should not be allowed to comment on something that is not on their doorstep,' Mid-West Regional Council mayor Des Kennedy said. 'People here want those jobs, but at the public meetings they were bussing in activists from all over the place.'

While 350 submissions received by the commission were largely objections, most of them came from people living more than 60 kilometres away.

Lane Cove Bushland and Conservation Society vice-president Ron Gornall said the  environmental group maintain their objections.  'Our group was opposed to the mine … like a lot of environmental groups, we look at other areas,' he said.

None of the 14 government agencies consulted objected to the construction of the mine.

While the commission acknowledged the economic benefits the mine would bring, they also said it was not an ecologically sustainable development, ABC reported.

'The commission found the mine's predicted air quality, biodiversity, noise, subsidence and visual impacts are acceptable and/or can be effectively managed or mitigated,'the commission said in its determination.

'It raised significant concern about other longer-lasting environmental impacts.'

'The predicted economic benefits would accrue to the present generation but the long-term environmental, heritage and agricultural costs will be borne by the future generations.'

Kepco began working on the project in  2010 and construction was supposed to start this year.


Our universities have caved in to lazy groupthink

In the lead-up to Friday’s Global Climate Strike, enlightening emails have found their way into staff and student university in­boxes. These communications are as illuminating as they are disheartening, as they once again reveal the extent to which our institutions of higher education have been captured by ideologically driven activists.

The array of carefully crafted messages that have been doing the rounds at Notre Dame, Queensland, NSW, La Trobe and Melbourne universities range from the subtle suggestion that staff may like to “accommodate” striking students, to robustly and actively encouraging students to ditch their studies and take to the streets to yell about climate change.

Without exception, all students have been informed that they will not be penalised for absenteeism and that there will be absolutely no repercussions for non-attendance. This is completely at odds with standard university attendance requirements, which are markedly unforgiving.

Perhaps the most telling of all emails, however, has come from the desk of Stephen Trumble, head of the department of medical education at the University of Melbourne, who writes: “All students are encouraged to consider joining with staff in participating in the Global Climate Strike on Friday 20th September. The medical school supports sustainable development and mitigating the effects of climate change.”

It seems that the priorities of Melbourne University’s medical school are misguided. Australians want doctors who are trained to diagnose and cure illness, not doctors who are trained to be eco­-warriors. “One of our course outcomes,” Trumble concludes, “is that Melbourne MD graduates should practise medicine in an environmentally sustainable manner so as not to contribute to this immediate problem.”

One wonders whether this might look like a surgeon turning off the operating theatre lights and poking around inside the unfortunate patient by candlelight.

It smacks of ideological totalitarianism, where staff and students at our universities are being compelled to conform to the orthodoxy prevalent on campus.

The question is, what will become of the rebels who choose to go to class? Their presence in the lecture theatres will single them out as dissidents and they will be judged accordingly as climate change deniers. Never mind what they may think about climate change in private, their public inaction will condemn them in the eyes of their peers.

As it turns out, the same fate is awaiting those Victorian public servants who, rather than joining their colleagues on the streets of Melbourne, have chosen to remain at their desks.

Unsurprisingly, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who this week achieved the honour of being the highest paid premier in the country, is encouraging his employees to ask for “flexible working arrangements” so they can help bring his city to a standstill.

Taxpayers are essentially paying public servants to take the day off. It is unlikely that the Department of Premier and Cabinet would display the same degree of leniency towards staff if they were to down tools on a Friday afternoon to attend an anti-abortion rally.

What we are seeing on campus and indeed in government is the spirit of the mob at work. This concept is explored by Douglas Murray in his latest book The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity. “We are,” he observes, “going through great crowd derangement. In public and in private, both online and off, people are behaving in ways that are increasingly irrational, feverish, herd-like and simply unpleasant.”

One of the most profound impacts that postmodernism and identity politics have had on our universities is the crippling of intellectual inquiry. When universities are fiercely and repeatedly advocating diversity as a fundamental academic value, the reality is that diversity of opinion has been all but banished from many classrooms and lecture theatres, where the predominantly liberal-left world view, once concealed within the humanities, has become the wider orthodoxy.

The fact remains, students want diversity of opinion on campus. In a recent survey of 500 domestic students commissioned by the Institute of Public Affairs, 82 per cent of respondents, no matter what their political persuasion, said university was a place where they should be exposed to different views, even if those views are challenging or offensive. The results also showed that students were looking outside the university to be challenged or to find out alternative points of view, with 58 per cent of students saying they were more exposed to new ideas on social media than on campus.

Things must be dire indeed if students are finding greater diversity of opinion on the notoriously skewed platforms of Twitter or Facebook.

The Global Climate Strike shows that universities are no longer the chief institutions through which knowledge is preserved, generated and disseminated. Australian campuses are rapidly becoming places where intellectual inquiry is being crippled and the free exchange of ideas is severely limited. Collectivism and groupthink have no place in our universities, which to all intents and purposes are failing in their purpose.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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


Friday, September 20, 2019

The ‘Climate Strike’ is a crock that exploits kids

This Friday, in advance of the United Nations Climate Summit, students across the country will walk out of their schools as part of a Climate Strike. In New York City, the Department of Education has given its stamp of approval to the walk-out and won’t mark it as an absence, making it less “a strike” and more a coordinated effort by the school system to force political action on children.

Tweeted DOE: “We applaud our students when they raise their voices in a safe and respectful manner on issues that matter to them.” Does it? The department is only giving kids a pass to skip school to protest on this one issue. So while school brass may applaud students raising their voices, only preapproved political posturing will be granted official protest status.

Sure: Children are our future, goes the adage. Shouldn’t they have a say in what happens to their planet?

But what “say” are they having by marching around with signs — repeating slogans and talking points spoon-fed to them by … adults?

Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted about the strike on Monday, “Young people are taking action against Climate Change in record numbers. You know why? BECAUSE. WASHINGTON. WON’T. We are running out of time. Our kids aren’t waiting. We can’t either. #ClimateStrike”

But it’s hard to ignore that in this call for action there’s no, well, action. They’re literally doing what they’re urging politicians to stop doing: talking.

We could have had an army of teenagers cleaning up parks or beaches instead of striking and making signs. Teens could have led the way by not using cars or plastic utensils for the day.

Or how about something as simple as this: Give up their phones for a day (or, heck, 15 minutes!) to save energy. (Right!)

Instead, expect stories on Saturday about how much garbage the protesting kids left behind.

In my Russian-speaking community, people took to Facebook to discuss the similarities they saw to their time in the Soviet Union. One mom posted that the strike is “Soviet-style brainwashing and propaganda” Another mom wrote that the particular issue doesn’t matter; “having children demonstrate on school time was the Soviet way.”

One Park Slope elementary school sent parents a note that the entire school will be walking out for the strike. A mother of a 6-year-old told me, in response: “I am all for people supporting causes they believe in, but do not force your causes and beliefs on my first-grader.”

Another mom told me she believes in climate change and thinks the government should take action but finds the strike absurd. She’s afraid to single her kid out by making him skip it and isn’t speaking up.

Trump says Green New Deal would turn US into 'hermit nation'
In America in 2019, it really ought to be OK for parents to say: “My kids are not your props and, no, it’s not OK for them to spend school time making climate-change signs or walking out in protest.”

Memo to DOE: Some parents would actually prefer their kids to be in class learning than taking part in one-sided political theater (though, it’s true, at some schools kids who strike won’t be missing much).

Nor should parents be put on the spot and have to declare whether they want their kid to attend the organized protest. This isn’t a school subject. It’s not standardized testing or dissecting a frog. Parents shouldn’t even have to opt in to have their child attend (and whether even that should be allowed is arguable).

In any event, the real test to see if kids care about the Climate Strike would be to do it after school or on a weekend. After all, almost any teen will agree to skip school, no matter the cause. But every grown-up knows that far fewer teens would spend their free time protesting than school time.

Fact is, teenagers should be learning how to be adults and learning adult skills — not just mimicking actions of the adults in their orbit to gain their approval.

I believe climate change is real and we must deal with it. I teach my children to be good stewards of the environment. But that’s separate from allowing them to be exploited for political goals — even if I happen to agree with the mission.

Sticking kids with the job of solving climate change or even just using them as puppets is deeply inappropriate.

De Blasio tweeted: “New York City stands with our young people. They’re our conscience.” Maybe adults should have their own conscience.


NBC News Wants You to Confess Your Climate Sins

Do you ever get the feeling that climate change is a cult? Does it ever seem like its adherents are immune to reason as they vindictively lash out at anyone who questions their beliefs? Wouldn't it be nice if they just left you alone and let you live your life?

Well, too bad. You live in 2019 and you use modern technology and conveniences. You eat food that actually tastes good. You're guilty and you need to confess. Repent, sinner!

That's right, NBC "News" has put up a page for what they're literally calling Climate Confessions.

"Even those who care deeply about the planet's future can slip up now and then. Tell us: Where do you fall short in preventing climate change? Do you blast the A/C? Throw out half your lunch? Grill a steak every week? Share your anonymous confession with NBC News."

Bless me, Gaia, for I have sinned.

Apparently, there are all sorts of ways you can sin against the planet. NBC breaks it down into six categories

I submitted my own confession: "I work in an air-conditioned newsroom at NBC." They haven't published it yet, but I feel better already.

Hat tip to Mark Hemingway, who notes: "This from NBC News is amazing. Climate change is some kind of religion -- all eschatology, minus the redemption." In other words, you're always guilty but you can never be saved.


Wind Power Sources Remain More Fantasy than Reality

At first glance, wind power seems to be the path to a carbon-free energy future. Once harnessed, it’s clean and abundant. Larger turbines have enhanced wind’s power-generating capacity.

But contrary to its supporters, wind energy has grown thanks largely to production tax credits (2.3 cents per kilowatt hour) totaling billions of dollars. However, those credits are being phased out, and without such generous subsidies, wind energy will not make much of a dent in power production or carbon mitigation for at least a decade.

The amount of wind energy has tripled in the past 10 years, growing to 97,223 megawatts in 41 states. Half of that generating capacity is located in five of them: Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma, California and Kansas. Because seasonal wind patterns vary considerably across the country, wind’s contribution to the grid represents just 8 percent of power production nationwide.

Despite all the hoopla over wind energy, the nation’s only offshore wind turbines are located in coastal waters near Rhode Island. The Block Island Wind Farm, which went into operation in late 2016, cost $2 billion, plus $16.7 million to compensate companies that lost access to fishing grounds. Operating and maintenance expenses for wind farms currently add about $48,000 per megawatt generated.

Massachusetts likewise is preparing to obtain power from more than a score of huge wind turbines off its coast, carried to the mainland by underwater cables, with the cost passed through to households and businesses.

According to the Institute for Energy Research, offshore wind energy is “very, very expensive,” costing 2.6 times more than onshore wind power and 3.4 times more than power produced by a natural gas combined-cycle plant. Of course, the cost of wind farms surely will fall as more are built, and perhaps ways will be found to reduce the dangers wind turbines pose to birds, bats, and other wildlife.

In the meantime, if we are serious about reducing energy costs and carbon emissions, we need to be realistic about the limitations of power generated by the wind and other renewables.

A more practical environmental approach is to expand the use of the combined-cycle natural gas plants, which have smaller carbon footprints than coal plants and have reduced such emissions to levels not seen since the early 1990s. The shale revolution has made that possible, greatly strengthening economic incentives to substitute natural gas for coal in power production. Nowadays, data analytics and complex algorithms make it easier to find natural gas and boost the productivity of shale fields.

The surge in America’s natural-gas production also helps to reduce carbon emissions in other countries. Exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are projected to double by the end of this year. Asian countries that still rely heavily on coal are the largest purchasers of American LNG, using the clean-burning fuel to improve their air quality.

Shale has been the single biggest addition to the nation’s energy supply in many decades. Renewables at the moment offer more promise than reality. Even with lavish subsidies, wind and solar power together account for slightly more than 10 percent of the nation’s electricity. In contrast, gas provides nearly 35 percent; it is indispensable for generating backup power on days when the wind doesn’t blow, or the sun doesn’t shine.

Because of rising electricity demands and the retirement of coal and nuclear plants, many states are planning for more wind-powered electricity production. Under present regulatory regimes, most of the capital and operating costs of new wind farms will end up being added to consumers’ utility bills. So, too, in some states are “the stranded costs” of mothballed power plants.

Unsubsidized wind energy simply is too expensive to become a major source of electricity in most states. (In 2016, wind represented just seven-tenths of 1 percent of Massachusetts’s power production.) The inability of grid operators to manage the variations in power from wind and solar energy is creating new headaches.

Americans need a reliable supply of affordable electricity. But if too much weight is placed on wind and solar systems and not enough on conventional power plants, the result will be far too little electricity, with potentially grievous economic consequences.


Renewable Energy Will Only Be Possible With Massive Increases in the Supply of Critical Minerals
The recent threats by Beijing to cut off American access to critical mineral imports has many Americans wondering why our politicians have allowed the United States to become so overly dependent on China for these valued resources in the first place.

Today, the United States is 90% dependent on China and Russia for many vital “rare earth minerals.”

The main reason for our overreliance on nations like China for these minerals is not that we are running out of these resources here at home. The U.S. Mining Association estimates that we have at least $5 trillion of recoverable mineral resources.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports that we still have up to 86% or more of key mineral resources like copper and zinc remaining in the ground, waiting to be mined. These resources aren’t on environmentally sensitive lands, like national parks, but on the millions of acres of federal, state and private lands.

The mining isn’t happening because of extremely prohibitive environmental rules and a permitting process that can take five to 10 years to open a new mine. Green groups simply resist almost all new drilling.

What they may not realize is that the de facto mining prohibitions jeopardize the “green energy revolution” that liberals are so desperately seeking.

How’s this for rich irony?: Making renewable energy at all technologically plausible will require massive increases in the supply of rare earth and critical minerals. Without these valuable metals, there will not be more efficient 21st-century batteries for electric cars or modern solar panels. Kiss the Green New Deal and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ utopian vision of 100% renewable energy goodbye.

Yet, for decades now, environmentalists have erected every possible barrier to mining here in America for critical minerals — which we have in great abundance.

Search far and wide through the grandiose Green New Deal plans and you will not find any call for additional domestic mining for battery-operated electric vehicles and electrified mass transportation systems, nor the underlying energy infrastructure.

Thanks to the extreme environmentalists, we import from unfriendly and repressive governments the critical minerals needed to produce rechargeable batteries (lithium and cobalt), wind turbine motors (dysprosium), thin films for solar power (tellurium) and miniature sensors that manage the performance of electric vehicles (yttrium).

Another irony in the left’s anti-mining crusade is that these same groups have long boasted that by eliminating our need for fossil fuels, America won’t rely on cartels like OPEC that have in the past held our nation hostage to wild price swings and embargoes. Greens also complain that fossil fuel dependence requires a multibillion-dollar military presence in the Middle East and around the world to ensure supply. Now we can substitute OPEC with China and Russia.

Here is one simple but telling example of the shortsightedness of the “no mining” position of the environmentalists. Current electric vehicles can use up to 10 times more copper than fossil fuel vehicles. Then, additional copper wire networks will be needed to attach convenient battery chargers throughout public spaces and along roads and highways. Do we really want this entire transportation infrastructure to be dependent on China and Russia?

Of course, it is not just green energy development that will be imperiled by our mining restrictions folly. Innovation and research on new lightweight metals and alloys, such as those used in lifesaving medical devices and tiny cameras in smartphones, could also become stalled if foreign prices rise prohibitively.

Also, because our mining laws — the ones that don’t outright prohibit mining — protect the environment far more than those in nations like China and Africa, by importing these minerals, we are contributing to global environmental degradation.

So, there you have it. The keep-it-in-the-ground movement environmentalists demand against use of almost all of America’s bountiful energy and mineral resources is blocking a green future and a safer planet. Do they know this? Do they care?


‘Blood on his hands’: Australian PM urged to intervene after Queensland Government loses bid to continue shark culling

Greenies much prefer sharks to people

Queensland’s tourism minister says Prime Minister Scott Morrison could have “blood on his hands” if he doesn’t intervene on a ban preventing shark culling on the Great Barrier Reef.

The Queensland Government yesterday lost an appeal in the Federal Court for the right to use drum lines to catch and kill sharks on the reef in a bid to protect swimmers.

The appeal came after the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in April upheld a Humane Society challenge to the State Government program in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park area.

Queensland Agriculture Minister Mark Furner wants the Federal Government to change federal legislation to allow the program to continue in the park.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which manages the area, was created by federal legislation in 1975.

Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the court decision left her deeply concerned for the safety of visitors swimming in the World Heritage area.

“I’m calling on the Prime Minister to intervene,” she told reporters. “I’m sure the Prime Minister does not want to have blood on his hands through this decision in relation to the federal act.”

However, Humane Society campaigner Lawrence Chlebeck says the court decision is a victory for sharks.  “No longer will sharks senselessly die for a misguided sense of security,” he said.

In its decision, the tribunal said the scientific evidence about “the lethal component” of the shark control program “overwhelmingly” showed it does not reduce the risk of an unprovoked shark attack.

The program now has to be carried out in a way that avoids killing sharks to the “greatest extent possible”. The park will only be permitted to authorise the euthanasia of sharks caught on drum lines on animal welfare grounds.

All tiger, bull and white sharks caught on drum lines are now to be tagged before being released. Additionally, sharks caught on drum lines are to be attended to as soon as possible — preferably within 24 hours of capture — and tagged sharks are to be relocated offshore.

Mr Chlebeck wants the Government to stop shark culls along the entire Queensland coastline.

There have been no changes to the shark control program in other Queensland locations, including the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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