Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Galileo and the Medicis brought Revolution and Truth

Those who cherish freedom must recognize the work of today’s solar science revolutionaries

Jeffrey Foss, PhD

Practically everyone knows that Galileo is a heroic figure in the rise of modern science. Most people do not know, however, that the scientific revolution that Galileo launched relied on the support and protection of the Medicis. The very name of this family signifies the marriage of power and wealth that strikes fear and loathing into the hearts of those among us who – how shall I put it? – lean to the left.

But without the support of Princess Christina, wife of Ferdinand I de Medici, the truth that the Earth goes round the sun would have remained a mere theoretical novelty.

Why did Galileo turn to the Medicis? Because only they had the gold required to support his research and protect him from The Church of Rome. Why did the Medicis support Galileo? They, like many rich people before and after, supported the arts and sciences.

They also resented the stifling power of The Church, and were charmed by the gallant Galileo who dared to stand up to it. So they defended Galileo against the Inquisition, which aimed to silence him and burn his books – along with his body, perhaps, just for good measure.

Fed, funded and protected by the Medicis, Galileo launched the first great scientific revolution. With the telescope he built with his own hands, and the money of his patrons, he saw with his own eyes – for the first time of any human being – the evidence that would establish Copernicus’s revolutionary idea that the sun is at the center of our solar system, and we and our planet go around it.

The very meaning of the word ‘revolution,’ in such phrases as ‘The American Revolution,’ derives from its occurrence in the title of Copernicus’s book: On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres. Galileo was the Washington that turned Copernicus’s declaration of independence into the first revolution against establishment science and a globe altering success – given Medici cash.

Many things are said to be unsustainable these days, such as driving our cars, transporting our food from afar in ships and planes, and flying in jets merely to enjoy Thanksgiving Day with our families.

One thing that really is unsustainable, though too few realize it, is the reigning scientific orthodoxy of the 2000s. Government-funded science today serves as an Orwellian Ministry of Truth, just as Church-supported science did in Galileo’s day. Nothing could be more opposed to true science. Nothing like this would have been tolerated by America’s Founding Fathers.

The government-science orthodoxy that largely controls most people’s thoughts and actions nowadays is the idea that Earth’s climate is controlled internally by CO2 levels, and is being warmed apocalyptically by the CO2 that humans emit.

The revolutionary modern-day Copernican idea is that our climate is controlled by the sun, just like our orbit through space. Perhaps new Medicis will one day help solar scientists establish the hypothesis that Earth’s climate warms and cools following the quasi-periodic rising and falling of our Sun’s brightness.

Everyone now believes that the Earth circles the Sun, but most do not know that the original Copernican idea established by Galileo’s first scientific revolution was in turn defeated by Newton`s scientific revolution, which showed that the Earth follows an elliptical path round the sun, not a circular one.

Newton`s elliptical path model then fell in Einstein`s revolution, which more accurately models the Earth as falling into the gravitational well caused by solar gravity.

The historical lesson is this: science progresses through revolution and renewal.

The frailty of the CO2 theory is shown in Graph (A): While CO2 has been climbing smoothly from 1890 to the present day, Northern Hemisphere temperatures have repeatedly gone up and down without any linkage to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

Soon, R. Connolly and M. Connolly, 2015. Re-evaluating the role of solar variability on Northern Hemisphere temperature trends since the 19th century. Earth-Science Reviews. Vol. 150, pp. 409-452 [Based on Figure 31(a) and (c)].

The power of the solar theory is obvious in Graph (B): Global temperatures are clearly linked to changes in the brightness of the sun (total solar irradiance, TSI).

Though the solar theory has been marginalized by government-funded climate scientists, it should be supported for the good of science itself, which we know is an inherently revolutionary activity. New Medicis need to fund and protect the new Galileos of our age.

We the People need to start questioning government-science with the same principled scrutiny and skepticism we employ for all other government business. We need to once again recognize the virtues of privately funded science, notably its essential freedom from government control.

Those who cherish freedom must become cognizant of the work of the solar science revolutionaries, support it, and help disseminate it among the people. A good place to start would be the work of Dr. Willie Soon, whose sun-centered theory of climate change has made him a modern Galileo: a scientist shunned, denied funding – and demonized by government-supported earth-centered climatologists.           

Belief grounded in actual, replicable evidence must remain free if science is to survive – along with American life, liberty, prosperity and happiness. America flirts with severe decline when it consorts with the enforcement of scientific orthodoxy under the banner of “climate change.”

But flirtation need not lead to marriage. It’s not too late to call the whole thing off.

Via email

Green New Deal Would Reward Rich, Hurt Poor

The Green New Deal’s goal is to move America to zero carbon emissions in 10 years.

“That’s a goal you could only imagine possible if you have no idea how energy is produced,” James Meigs, former editor of Popular Mechanics magazine, says in my latest video.

“Renewable is so inconsistent,” he adds. “You can’t just put in wind turbines and solar panels. You have to build all this infrastructure to connect them with energy consumers.”

Because wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine, “renewable” energy requires many more transmission lines—and bigger batteries.

Unfortunately, says Meigs: “You have to mine materials for batteries. Those mines are environmentally hazardous. Disposing of batteries is hazardous.”

“Batteries are a lousy way to store energy,” adds physicist Mark Mills, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Also, the ingredients of green energy, like battery packs, are far from green.

“You have to consume 100 barrels of oil in China to make that battery pack,” he explains. “Dig up 1,000 pounds of stuff to process it. Digging is done with oil, by big machines, so we’re consuming energy to ‘save’ energy—not a good path to go.”

Still, wind turbines and solar batteries are 10 times more efficient than when they were first introduced. That’s not good enough, writes Mills, to make “the new energy economy” anything more than “magical thinking.”

“They hit physics limits. In comic books, Tony Stark has a magic power source, but physics makes it impossible to make solar 10 times better again.”

The dream of “green” causes us to misdirect resources. Even after billions of dollars in government subsidies, solar still makes up less than 1% of America’s energy, wind just 2%. And even that energy isn’t really “clean.”

“We use billions of tons of hydrocarbons to make the windmills that are already in the world, and we’ve only just begun to make them at the level people claim they would like them to be built,” says Mills. “Pursue a path of wind, solar, and batteries, we increase how much we dig up and move by a thousandfold.”

“You gotta clear-cut the forest. These machines kill a lot of birds,” says Meigs. “I agree that we should bring down our carbon emissions … but we should also make sure we’re spending money on stuff that really works.”

There is one energy source, though, that efficiently produces lots of power with no carbon emissions; namely, nuclear.

But people fear it. They point to the Chernobyl plant accident in Ukraine and Fukushima in Japan. “The Chernobyl plant design was idiotically bad,” says Meigs. They don’t make nuclear plants like that anymore.

What about Fukushima? “Fukushima helps prove how safe nuclear power really is. No one was killed.”

I pointed out that people were killed during the evacuation. “Fear of radiation killed people,” responded Meigs. They evacuated older people who didn’t need to go.

People fear what they don’t understand and what they can’t see.

“A dam breaks, and hundreds of thousands of people die. Nuclear plants, their safety, ironically, is actually evident in their accidents,” says Mills.

“More people have fallen off of roofs installing solar panels than have been killed in the entire history of nuclear power in the U.S.,” adds Meigs.

Yet after Fukushima, Germany shut down its nuclear plants. That led to higher electricity prices and increased carbon emissions, because Germany burned coal to make up for the loss of nuclear power.

Likewise, “in Bernie Sanders’ home state of Vermont, they shut down their nuclear plant. Guess what happened? Carbon emissions went up,” recounts Meigs. “This supposedly green state, ultraliberal Vermont, went backwards.”

If a Green New Deal is ever implemented, says Mills, it would rob the poor by raising energy costs, while “giving money to wealthy people in the form of subsidies to buy $100,000 cars, to put expensive solar arrays on their roofs, or to be investors in wind farms.”

“It’s upside-down Robin Hood,” he adds. “That’s a bad deal.”

Yet a majority of Americans—including Republicans surveyed—say they support some version of it.


White House rethinks plans for offshore oil expansion

The Trump administration’s proposal to vastly expand offshore oil and gas drilling has been sidelined indefinitely as the US Interior Department grapples with a recent court decision that blocks Arctic drilling, according to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

The ruling by a federal judge in Alaska last month may force Interior Department officials to wait until the case goes through potentially lengthy appeals beforethey can make a final decision on what offshore areas to open up for the oil and gas industry, Mr Bernhardt said.

“By the time the court rules, that may be discombobulating to our plan,” Mr. Bernhardt told The Wall Street Journal in his first interview since his confirmation as interior secretary April 11.

Mr Bernhardt didn’t speculate on the length of the delay, but highlighted the court case in Alaska and said the appeals process is “going to take a while.” “What I can definitely say is, I’m not at a point now where it’s an imminent thing,” he added.

In the ruling last month, a federal judge said that an Obama-era ban on drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska must remain in place unless Congress passes legislation to end it.

Environmental groups cheered news of further delay Thursday and urged for the proposal to be eliminated completely. Oceana ,an environmental group focused on the world’s oceans and an opponent of expanded coastal drilling, noted the bipartisan opposition to offshore drilling from all 17 governors of coastal states in the continental US that could see new drilling under the plan.

“Anything short of all new areas being protected would be a major problem for the communities and coastal economies who havethe most to lose from dirty and dangerous offshore drilling,” said Diane Hoskins, the group’s climate and energy campaign director Commercial interest in offshore drilling has waned in recent years during the shale-drilling boom. New techniques for tapping deep oil deposits in the middle of the country have led to record US production, drawing investment away fromthe more-complex drilling offshore and in Alaska.

That hasn’t stopped industry trade groups in Washington from supporting the plan in hopes of increasing their options.

Dan Naatz, senior vice president of government relations and political affairs at the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said a court decision shouldn’t bring the government’s work to a halt. “We’re hopeful that the Interior Department will remain committed to the regulatory process,” he said.

The industry’s hopes had coalesced around a more limited expansion in Alaska, the eastern Gulf of Mexico near Florida and parts of the Atlantic.

Offshore Florida, in particular, had wide interest from oil companies big and small because of how familiar they are with Gulf of Mexico operations, and its proximity to pipelines and refineries. But parts of the Alaska and the Atlantic largely would be expensive frontiers, limited perhaps to about a dozen major companies such as BP, Chevron and Exxon Mobil, said Dan Pickering, chief investment officer of TPH Investment Management in Houston.

“The opportunity to evaluate those areas, everyone believes they’re important,” said Mr Pickering, whose firm manages about $1.5 billion in assets. “But the number of companies that would be actively involved in exploiting those areas has shrunka lot in the last decade.” President Trump had directed the Interior Department to consider expanding offshore oil drilling,part of his signature energy policy of expanding U.S. production. The agency responded a year ago with a proposal to openoffshore drilling around nearly the entire country.

The plan would have offered the largest number of oil and gas leases in U.S. history starting late this year, opening up 90 per centof offshore areas for drilling as part of a five-year proposal.

The Interior Department said at the time its proposal could shrink, but it still drew swift opposition from governors of coastalstates, including some Republicans, who worried about the risk of oil spills from drilling accidents in tourism-dependenteconomies.

Then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke started backtracking in less than a week, promising that Florida’s coast would be off limits to drilling.

Mr Bernhardt’s comments are the latest sign that the administration is scaling back its offshore plan, which many had expectedwould move to its final stages several months ago. During his Senate confirmation hearing, Mr Bernhardt repeated that theproposal could be winnowed down, and he said the planning process was still at “step one, not step seven.” Friction with coastalstates remains an issue, Mr Bernhardt said in the interview. Federal law requires his department to consider input from localelected leaders in the five-year plans it sets to manage the waters of the outer continental shelf, which typically startclose enough to the coast for rigs to be visible from shore and reach more than 200 miles out to sea. Mr Bernhardt said heis still in the process of finding common ground with coastal governors.

“Certainly that is a very important component and I made that assurance to a lot of senators,” he said.

Many supporters and critics have been skeptical the administration could do the work within two years. Every delay raisesthe chance the administration won’t finish its overhaul and be able to defend court challenges against it in time to ensureit takes effect if Mr Trump doesn’t win a second term.

Alaska is the one state where leaders have been clamoring for new drilling, making an expansion there seem most plausible.

Instead, US District Judge Sharon Gleason put 125 million acres of the US Arctic Ocean and 3.8 million acres of the Atlantic Ocean back off limits indefinitely under a ban Mr. Obama had set just weeks before leaving office. Mr Trump had tried to overturn the ban with an executive order, but Ms Gleason said nothing in the law gives a new president power to undo a ban set by a predecessor.

It was the latest setback for an administration that has repeatedly lost efforts to defend its deregulatory actions in court.It has lost roughly 95 per cent of its deregulatory cases, according to data compiled by the Institute for Policy Integrity at NewYork University School of Law. That is three times the rate of most executive-branch agencies in prior administrations forsimilar actions in the courts, according to an analysis from the Brookings Institution.


House Democrats’ Climate Bill a Trojan Horse for Green New Deal

The so-called “Green New Deal” resolution failed to get any real traction on Capitol Hill, and it’s easy to see why. The original supporting document for the “Green New Deal,” which floated the idea of banning air travel and flatulent cows, was widely mocked. The policy ideas in the resolution itself would mean a massive centralization of government and takeover of resources that would make even the most ravenous Leninist blush.

The so-called “Green New Deal” resolution may not be taken seriously on Capitol Hill or anywhere else in America, but House Democrats are still trying to push climate alarmism. In late March, a day after the Senate rejected the Green New Deal resolution, House Democrats unveiled the Climate Action Now Act, H.R. 9, which would prevent the United States from leaving the Paris Agreement.

In December 2015, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reached a nonbinding agreement in Paris to reduce carbon emissions. Each country set a target reduction of carbon emissions below its 2005 level to keep the global temperature from rising above 2 degrees Celsius. The Obama administration sought to reduce the United States’ carbon emissions by between 26 percent and 28 percent below its 2005 level by 2025. President Barack Obama also committed $3 billion for the Green Climate Fund, which was established with the Paris Agreement. Only $1 billion has been paid out.

In June 2017, President Donald Trump announced his intent to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. Despite some in the White House urging him to keep the United States in the agreement, President Trump delivered on an important campaign promise.

“The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers...and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production,” President Trump said in the White House Rose Garden. “Thus, as of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.”

The economic burdens of the Paris Agreement would have been substantial. According to a study by NERA Economic Consulting, the Paris Agreement could have reduced gross domestic product (GDP) by $250 billion in 2025 and nearly $3 trillion in 2040. The number of jobs could decline by 2.7 million in 2025 and by 31.6 million in 2040.

Separately, the Heritage Foundation estimated that household incomes will decline by more than $20,000 by 2035 and that household expenditures on electricity will rise between 13 percent and 20 percent. The impact on the climate, the Heritage Foundation’s analysis determined, would have been marginal.

The Climate Action Now Act may not be as blunt as the “Green New Deal,” but it’s still a radical notion because of the lost productivity and fewer jobs that would come as a result of meeting such an extreme reduction in carbon emissions for little to no real environmental benefit. The bill would require President Trump and his administration to develop a plan to meet the target reductions in carbon emissions and prohibit the use of funds from being used by the Trump administration to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

With many countries that signed onto the Paris Agreement failing to meet their target reductions in carbon emissions, what House Democrats are trying to accomplish with the Climate Action Now Act is clear. It is a way for them to claim they’re doing something about climate change while avoiding the accountability that comes with cooking up the crazy schemes necessary to meet unrealistic targets, such as those outlined in the Green New Deal.


Yes, Miss Greta Thunberg, back when I was 16 I knew everything too...

Peter Hitchens

When I was 16, I knew everything, as so many teenagers do. Luckily for me, and for the planet, quite a few adults did not immediately fall into a swoon and ask me to take over the world.

The last thing I needed (and, luckily, the last thing I got) was indulgence and praise. The Pope obdurately refused to invite me for tea. The World Economic Forum somehow failed to take an interest in my schemes for world reform.

And after a few decades of similar brush-offs, it began to dawn on me that, perhaps, in a few small ways, I didn’t know everything.

Which, as you may have guessed, brings me to Miss Greta Thunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl before whom our political and media classes were prostrating themselves last week.

Gosh, this has been embarrassing to watch. I have a sneaking admiration for Miss Thunberg’s brass neck, even if I think her plans for self-imposed poverty, cold and darkness are unattractive. But for her worshippers I have nothing but scorn.

Michael Gove, a normally intelligent Cabinet Minister, was reduced to helpless gibbering self-abasement before Miss Thunberg.

Nick Robinson, the increasingly grandiose presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, conducted an interview with her which sounded as if he was kneeling down.

And yet amid the ‘Please tell us why are you so wonderful, exactly?’ questions, Mr Robinson slipped in a query which might have been quite productive if he had pursued it. He didn’t.

Hadn’t she perhaps come to the wrong country, he wondered. Well, quite. Britain already has one of the maddest energy policies on earth, taxing the poor to subsidise windmills and solar farms that don’t work most of the time, blowing up viable coal-fired power stations so they can never again be used even if we run short of volts and watts, relying on French nuclear power, gas and even diesel to fill the gap, and hoping somehow to avoid electricity cuts.

And while we do this, the Chinese despotism is frantically building far more coal-fired power stations than we ever had, and pouring carbon into the atmosphere at such a rate that it cancels out our small but expensive and painful sacrifice many times over. It makes no sense, whatever you believe.

And what was the response of Miss Thunberg to this rather telling point? It was worthy of the slipperiest spin doctor ever to graduate from the school of Alastair Campbell. ‘If I got an invitation to speak with Chinese leaders of course I would go there, if I had a lot of time to go there by train, but actually no country is doing nearly enough.’

Twaddle. With her current status, she could demand such a meeting and get it. Why worry about the distance? She can catch up on her studies in the peace of a railway carriage. From here to Peking by train isn’t that far, and the idea that long-distance train travel is an ordeal is rubbish. It’s far pleasanter than air travel.

Then she changed the subject to a frankly irrelevant dispute about how much Britain had cut emissions, and added, lamely: ‘If we want to change countries like China the thing to do is to stop buying unnecessary things manufactured there.’

More piffle. She is quite bright enough to know that China’s tyrants would listen politely to her, have their pictures taken with her, and then ignore her completely, as they have ignored everyone else on this subject.

Well, unlike all these crawlers, I think we owe Miss Thunberg some respect. She has embraced and taken full advantage of her fame, and why not? I don’t doubt the sincerity of her view. I just don’t think sincerity is a virtue, or that it excuses her from challenge. We should treat her as what she says she is, a major figure on the world stage.

But she has little that is of any use to say, whether you believe that human action is causing climate change or can moderate it, or not.

Abject worship of such people is always wrong. Intelligent disagreement would be far better.



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Monday, April 29, 2019

Our fight against climate change will be hopeless unless we choose to have smaller families

The writer below, BELLA LACK, is well-named.  She is lacking in almost everything that  would enable an intelligent comment on her topic.  She seems totally unaware of the history of population limitation calls -- from Malthus on. See here for starters.

She makes the characteristic Leftist mistake of treating all men as equal.  That Africans and Europeans have very different reproduction rates seems unknown to her.  So lumping all birthrates together into one number is highly misleading.  A scientist would say that she fails to take account of a bimodal distribution.

What the future holds out because of the difference is a SHRINKING population in Europe and an increasing population in Africa and elsewhere in the Third World.

So if we were to follow her logic, she should be an urgent promoter of contraception in Africa while praising Europe for their "responsible" behaviour.  There is no sign that she sees that logic.  If she had another brain she would be lonely

Come 2030 I will be 27-years-old.  If population growth continues at its current rate I will be one of 8.5 billion people on Earth. That’s almost one billion more than today, and more than double the number of people alive in 1970. By 2050 some 10 billion people could call earth home.

The spellbinding beauty of mother nature is impossible to resist. Last year I travelled to Southeast Asia hoping to catch a glimpse of an orangutan at home in Borneo’s lush rainforests. Standing in warm twilight outside the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah, I gazed through my binoculars at orangutans hanging out in the tangled rainforest canopy. I paused for a second to reflect on the unfathomable privilege of being able to witness these creatures in the wilderness. In that moment there was nowhere on Earth I would rather have been. I was home.

Our natural world gives human beings so much and expects very little in return. But right now we are not honouring our side of the bargain. The devastating effects of global warming are already being felt by the natural world. The concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere now stands at 410 parts per million. This is the highest it has been for some three million years. In Antarctica Adélie penguins are starving to death because the krill they eat are dying as sea ice retreats. In Central America the golden toad has been driven to the point of extinction due to droughts.

We gaze in wonder at our precious wildernesses but then think nothing of tearing them down. More than 80 percent of the original forest that covered the Earth 8,000 years ago has been cleared, damaged or altered. The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate. We simply can’t go on like this.


Climate protester’s cameraman asks Katie Hopkins the color of her underwear in attempt to refute her point

When a climate protester ambushed U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) leader Gerard Batten, media personality Katie Hopkins turned the tables on him, demanding that he answer just one question.

Hopkins noted that Batten had humored the protester, who had brought a friend with a camera to record him as he peppered the UKIP leader with questions, answering some 15 of his queries before she stopped him and asked where he had gone to school.

Hopkins called him “posh” several times, arguing that, in her experience, protesters appear to be affluent, and they prompt policies that would have a much more profound impact on those who were not as wealthy.

“Can I ask you a question just to interrupt the constant monologue of you talking?” she asked. “There’s this perception I have where I live, and it’s called ‘the rest of the U.K.,’ that climate protesters are massively over-privileged and kind of ‘posh’ kids — and you seem to be falling straight into that for me. So can you explain to me why it seems to be almost a luxury of the privileged that live in London to dictate to the rest of us what we should and shouldn’t be allowed to do?”

Hopkins went on to ask the protester where he had gone to school, needling him about whether it might have been a prestigious boarding school. He pointedly refused to answer, arguing that it didn’t matter.

The person carrying the camera cut in then, asking Hopkins, “What color is your underwear? I don’t give a f**k!”

Hopkins fired right back, saying, “I don’t have any underwear. I don’t wear pants. I don’t wear pants. I can show you that, too, if you like.”

The protester and his cameraman tried to turn the conversation back around to climate change but to no avail.


The cult of Greta Thunberg

This young woman sounds increasingly like a millenarian weirdo.

Anyone who doubts that the green movement is morphing into a millenarian cult should take a close look at Greta Thunberg. This poor young woman increasingly looks and sounds like a cult member. The monotone voice. The look of apocalyptic dread in her eyes. The explicit talk of the coming great ‘fire’ that will punish us for our eco-sins. There is something chilling and positively pre-modern about Ms Thunberg. One can imagine her in a sparse wooden church in the Plymouth Colony in the 1600s warning parishioners of the hellfire that will rain upon them if they fail to give up their witches.

It actually makes sense that Ms Thunberg – a wildly celebrated 16-year-old Swede who founded the climate-strike movement for schoolkids – should sound cultish. Because climate-change alarmism is becoming ever stranger, borderline religious, obsessed with doomsday prophecies. Consider Extinction Rebellion, the latest manifestation of the upper-middle classes’ contempt for industrialisation and progress. It is at times indistinguishable from old fundamentalist movements that warned mankind of the coming End of Days. I followed Extinction Rebellion from Parliament Square to Marble Arch yesterday and what I witnessed was a public display of millenarian fear and bourgeois depression. People did dances of death and waved placards warning of the heat-death of the planet. It felt deeply unnerving.

It struck me that this was a march against people. Most radical protest and direct action is aimed at officialdom or government or people with power. This macabre schlep through London was aimed squarely at ordinary people. Banners and placards made no disguise of the marchers’ contempt for how the masses live. We were told that ‘Meat = heat’ (that is, if you carry on eating meat, you fat bastards, the planet will get even hotter) and that driving and flying are destroying Mother Earth. Of course, it’s okay for them to fly – Emma Thompson jetted first-class from LA to London to lecture us plebs about all our eco-destructive holidaymaking. It’s only a problem when we do it; it’s only bad when we take advantage of the miracle of mass food production and the expansion of flight to make our lives fuller and more pleasurable. They detest that. They detest mass society and its inhabitants: the masses.

In keeping with all millenarian movements, the extinction-obsessed green cult reserves its priestly fury for ordinary people. Even when it is putting pressure on the government, it is really asking it to punish us. It wants tighter controls on car-driving, restrictions on flying, green taxes on meat. That these things would severely hit the pockets of ordinary people – but not the deep pockets of Emma Thompson and the double-barrelled eco-snobs who run Extinction Rebellion – is immaterial to the angry bourgeoisie. So convinced are they of their own goodness, and of our wickedness, that they think it is utterly acceptable for officialdom to make our lives harder in order to strongarm us into being more ‘green’. People complaining about Extinction Rebellion disrupting people’s lives in London over the past few days are missing the point – the entire point of the green movement is to disrupt ordinary people’s lives, and even to immiserate them. All in the jumped-up name of ‘saving the planet’.

And now the green cult has pushed Ms Thunberg into the position of its global leader, its child-like saviour, the messiah of their miserabilist political creed. What they have done to Ms Thunberg is unforgivable. They have pumped her – and millions of other children – with the politics of fear. They have convinced the next generation that the planet is on the cusp of doom. They have injected dread into the youth. ‘I want you to panic’, said Ms Thunberg at Davos, and the billionaires and celebs and marauding NGOs that were in attendance all lapped it up. Because adult society loves nothing more than having its own fear and confusions obediently parroted back to it by teenagers. They celebrate Thunberg because she tells them how horrible they are: it is an entirely S&M relationship, speaking to the deep self-loathing of the 21st-century elites.

Young people, Ms Thunberg isn’t your leader. She’s a patsy for scared and elitist adults. Don’t do as she says. Instead, refuse to panic, mock the blather about hellfire, and appreciate that mankind’s transformation of the planet has been a glorious thing that has expanded life expectancy, allowed billions to live in cities, and made it possible for even the less well-off to travel the globe. Sin against St Greta.


Green New Deal Would Have 'No Effect' On Climate Change

The impact would be "barely distinguishable from zero."

Green New Deal proponents, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), have long claimed that the GND, an expansive, costly, and dramatic change in the American economy (and in American infrastructure), would be worth it if it such extreme measures would in the long run lessen our impact on climate.

Now, though, a new study from the American Enterprise Institute questions whether the Green New Deal would have any real impact on climate change at all — leaving it little more than an effort to dismantle industry.

The AEI report breaks down the GND into bite-sized policy proposals, assessing not simply the cost, but the proposed effectiveness of each legislative item to address the core goal of the GND: reducing American carbon emissions to a "net zero" by 2050.

The researchers' ultimate conclusion? "It is not to be taken seriously."

The "net zero" emissions proposal is particularly nonsensical, AEI warns, given that such an effort would require an estimated $490 billion per year investment in "green energy" and a sharp decrease in land available for agriculture. It also fails to address a very specific problem when it comes to U.S.-specific plans for climate change abatement: it fails to consider that the U.S. is only one of several heavy carbon-emitting nations, and that the vast majority of industrial pollution comes from the developing world and from countries like China and India.

In total, completely enacted, funded, and efficiently meeting goals — things AEI does not anticipate the GND would ever do — the full plan would cut the global increase in temperature by a whopping "0.083 to 0.173 degrees," a number, the report says, is "barely distinguishable from zero."

And that's assuming that the United States could ever fully enact the Green New Deal. As The Washington Free Beacon points out, the undertaking would be akin to declaring total war on the environment and shifting the focus of every industry directly to the abatement of climate change. Every home would be outfitted to rely on alternative energy, the GND proposes, but, AEI points, out, its authors fail to account for any transition from traditional energy sources to "alternative ones," making the U.S. a land of temporary brownouts and energy restriction.

"[E]ven with an entire state's worth of solar panels," the WFB reports, "the country would still need to rely on conventional energy generation to fill in "brown out" periods, when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing. Zycher estimates that this back up would require 1.4 million gigawatt-hours of energy per year, resulting in about 35% of 2017 emissions—hardly zero."

Instead, AEI found, the GND is a government control-grab, thinly disguised as an environmental bill.

"The GND at its core is the substitution of central planning in place of market forces for resource allocation in the U.S. energy and transportation sectors narrowly and in the broad industrial, commercial, and residential sectors writ large. Given the tragic and predictable record of central planning outcomes worldwide over the past century, the GND should be rejected," the report concludes.


Pro coal and anti coal groups face off in Australian coal town

A police spokeswoman said an emergency call was made before midnight on Saturday after reports a loud noise was heard near the camp of protesters at Clermont. Police it was suspected the noise could have been a firecracker and no one had reported seeing the source of the noise.

Stop Adani convoy organiser and former Greens leader Bob Brown said demonstrators were having a great day in the town after a hostile reception yesterday. ‘‘There were a few firecrackers over the fence in the middle of the night, but everybody had a cracker of a night,” Mr Brown said.

However, anti-Adani protesters complained that rocks had been hurled at cars in the convoy and women were “abused and threatened”.

An additional 100 anti-mining protesters were due to arrive to join a Stop Adani rally in the town on Sunday.

Clermont’s three pubs refused to serve convoy participants yesterday and a sign was hung from a hotel which read, “go home and turn off your power and walk”. Another read, “Mr Brown and ‘Stop Adani’ protesters, you may have travelled far and wide but you won’t get food inside”.

The publican of the Grand Hotel in Clermont, Kel Appleton, said the town had been brought together by going toe-to-toe with the Stop Adani group.

“We’re just normal people, we don’t go pushing our rhetoric on anyone else like they do to us.” Mr Appleton said.

Mr Appleton said having United Australia Party leader and senate hopeful Clive Palmer, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and LNP MP Michelle Landry under the same balcony at his pub on Saturday was a surprise. The politicians arrived to show support for locals yesterday.

He said he understood locals would now leave the anti-Adani protesters alone in the town’s showgrounds as they held today’s rally.  “We still get treated we’re like a bunch of hooligans but we’re not, like I’m half proud of being called a redneck, we probably are, we live out west, there’s graziers, there’s cotton farmers,” he said. “People have driven up from Toowoomba (nine hours away) to stand on our side. “That’s what brought everyone together, just being all good people, you know.”

Mr Brown said some impartial business owners had “expressed regret” at the hostility and he thanked Queensland police for keeping the peace. “This is about every Australian child’s future security in a rapidly heating planet,” Mr Brown said in the statement. “You can back your children or you can back Gautam Adani’s mine but you can’t have both.”

The anti-Adani convoy to stop Adani’s Galilee Basin mine is trying to convince the coal-reliant Queensland town it would be better off without the industry.

But the 400-strong convoy was greeted by jeering Clermont residents lining the main street of the central Queensland mining town on Saturday.

Mr Brown has accused the counterprotesters of “thuggery”.

The former Australian Greens leader, said his “law-abiding and peaceful” convoy would be welcomed in the town, but for a “gaggle” of right-wing politicians including Matt Canavan, Pauline Hanson and Clive Palmer, who spent yesterday afternoon rallying the “start Adani” group.

“It’s a complete fabrication that people in central Queensland aren’t worried about this mine,” Mr Brown said. “I was braced for a hostile reception in Mackay and it turned out it was mega-friendly.

“We should all be committed to putting the aggression to one side and talking about the issues, the key issue being the future of our children.”

However, Mr Brown said pro-Adani supporters had threatened local restaurants, forcing them to cancel reservations for members of his convoy, describing an “air of thuggery” about the group.

Police redirected the convoy to an alternate road, away from the main street, in a bid to avoid violent clashes, he said.

“Some of them came up to us, surrounding cars and tearing off flags and stickers,” he said.

State shadow mining minister Dale Last, also in Clermont, said residents were “very angry that this group’s coming out here to tell them what they should and shouldn’t be doing.” “I think these protesters will be left in no doubt they’ve walked into a hornet’s nest in this country,” he said. “They’re going to get a very, very hostile reception, I can assure you of that.”

Adani Australia thanked its supporters in a tweet on Saturday: “Amazing turnout with hundreds in Mackay showing up to support the coal industry.”

An anti-Adani rally on Sunday is expected to include speeches and singing.



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


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Greenie versus Greenie

Britain's rarest birds are being put at risk by Natural England decision to revoke shooting licences, farmers warn

Britain's rarest birds are being put at risk after Natural England's decision to revoke shooting licenses, farmers have said.

They have argued that the decision to make shooting pest birds including magpies and crows without an individual license unlawful means that conservationists will no longer be able to protect the nests of songbirds from being plundered.

Landowners have argued that this has come at the worst time of year, as it is when birds are beginning to lay their eggs, and those taking care of the rare species have had no time to prepare or apply for new individual licenses.

Chris Packham has been the subject of anger for many farmers and rural organisations, as it was his organisation Wild Justice which forced Natural England to revoke the general licenses.

On Thursday, his house was targeted by angry protesters, who left dead crows tied to his gate. He tweeted that he had informed Hampshire Police, who are investigating.

However, the decision has not just been criticised by farmers and gamekeepers - conservationists have also spoken out against it.

Curlews, a shy grassland bird with a distinctive long bill, are steeply in decline and are endangered in the UK. In some part of the British Isles, their numbers have declined by 90 per cent in the last 20 years.

Curlew conservationist Mary Colwell said that the license being revoked puts them in even graver danger of extinction.

She told The Telegraph: "You couldn't have chosen a worse time to revoke the general license than this week really.

"We completely welcome a general license review, it needs tightening and more rigour, but to time it with the peak start of laying is really terrible. It's caught us all by surprise.

"Crows eat both the eggs and the young of curlews. Their eggs are quite large so they don't take them away but they intimidate the birds off the nest, smash the eggs up and eat them in situ.

"If we had time to prepare, people could have applied for individual licenses, no one would have minded if it happened at a different time of year.

"Curlews don't often re lay if they lose a clutch. So we have lost a season and that's bad news for birds in such trouble."


Stop scaring children witless about climate change

Not many people can command an audience of senior politicians. Fewer still can expect cheers and a standing ovation from those they have just publicly criticised. Yet this was the reception 16-year-old Greta Thunberg received when she addressed MPs and journalists in Westminster this week. ‘Your voice – still, calm and clear – is like the voice of our conscience’, environment secretary Michael Gove told her, praying for absolution. When it comes to climate change, the normal rules of politics and the usual ways that adults relate to children have all been abandoned. Adults, it seems, now defer to children.

Schoolchildren who skip classes to protest against climate change have been widely praised. Again, it has been MPs who have rushed to lead the applause. Some headteachers, quick to fine parents for taking their children on holiday during term time, were happy to overlook pupils missing lessons to join the Thunberg-inspired climate strike. Meanwhile, some parents and teachers joined children on the protests. Not content with letting children bunk off school, there are growing calls for more lesson time in school to be given over to teaching about climate change.

A petition demanding climate change be made a core part of the national curriculum, started by four Oxford schoolgirls, has rapidly gained close to 70,000 signatures. The girls argue that ‘climate change is the biggest issue of our time, and it must be a part of our education if our generation is to understand it and help us to combat its effects’. Their cause was promoted on Twitter by the BBC’s John Simpson who asked: ‘Since this is the most important problem our planet faces, shouldn’t our children be taught about it?’ Graham Frost, a headteacher from a primary school in Carlisle, will propose a motion at the forthcoming annual conference of the National Association of Headteachers in favour of compulsory climate-change lessons for all children to include instruction in how ‘to produce protest letters and banners’. ‘I want to make sure children’s concerns about the future of the planet are being listened to by policymakers’, he said.

What’s strange about the demand for more climate-change lessons is that this topic is already a core part of the national curriculum. Climate change, wider environmental issues and sustainable development are key components of geography, which is a compulsory subject for children up to the age of 14. Climate change is also covered extensively in science, which is compulsory up to the age of 16. Beyond this, protecting the environment is frequently used as a topic in modern foreign languages and in citizenship classes. Recycling, renewable energy, tackling pollution and reducing plastic-use provide material for assemblies and poster campaigns promoting a school’s values.

The petitioners, if not their adult promoters, clearly know that climate change is already taught in schools. They acknowledge that it is part of geography and science. Their argument is that they have ‘barely learned about the climate crisis at school despite it being on the curriculum’. They want it to be taught more often, in more depth, and, as their words reveal, for it to be taught as a ‘crisis’, rather than just another topic to be covered. And who can blame them? When children are bombarded with doomsday scenarios about irreversible global warming leading inevitably to large numbers of people dying, it is hardly surprising that they feel scared. It is not unreasonable to panic, or to want to know more, if you are told again and again that there is only 12 years to save the planet, that the future is uncertain and that adults have left you with a catastrophic mess to sort out.

Children are not taught too little about climate change: they are taught too much. They are made scared, and then abandoned by adults unable or unwilling to encourage a more critical approach to the discussion. Teachers could usefully help children by putting seemingly apocalyptic data into context. They could show how tipping-point dates have, since the time of Malthus, been passed, with the world’s population not only continuing to exist but thriving. They could show that even the most secure scientific knowledge around climate change is still contestable. None of this is to suggest that climate science should not be taught – but it should be taught with adults acting as a voice of authority, keeping a sense of perspective and reassuring children about the progress that has already been made to tackle global warming, and showing how further progress to protect the environment can be made in the future.

But this doesn’t happen. Instead, having scared children about the future of the planet, adults then defer to them for solutions. Schools are looked to, not to turn out knowledgeable scientists and critical thinkers, but to produce climate activists proficient in letter-writing and banner-making. Some teachers justified time off school for climate protests as a useful lesson in citizenship. But the suggestion that children can learn more on a protest than in the classroom degrades education. It also degrades the concept of democratic engagement, which should be about winning adults over to your cause rather than hiding behind children and using them as instruments of moral coercion.

Turning education over to political activism – even if it is for a cause that many agree with – is an abdication of adult responsibility. It places children in a position of moral authority without first providing them with sufficient knowledge to think critically and reach their own conclusions. As adults, we owe it to children not to frighten them, or burden them with insurmountable problems, but rather to offer them the very best education in chemistry, physics and geography, so that later, as adults, they can decide for themselves how they want to interpret and act upon the knowledge they possess.


Greenpeace Co-Founder, Patrick Moore, Vs Alexandria Ocasio Cortez “pompous little twit”

When Earth Day Predictions Go Predictably Wrong
As activists around the world recently celebrated Earth Day with warnings about the awful state of our planet, now seems like the right time to share the good news that actually — contrary to countless dire predictions — we’re not running out of resources. In fact, the late economist and scholar Julian Simon was right: People again and again have innovated “their way out of resource shortages.”

As Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute reminds us in an article about “18 spectacularly wrong predictions made around the time of first Earth Day in 1970,” back in 1969, Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich wrote that “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born.” He added that by 1975, “some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions.” In 1970, he revised his prediction for the worse to warn us, as Perry writes, that “between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the ‘Great Die-Off.’”

In 1972, a group known as the Club of Rome made similarly apocalyptic predictions.

In response, Dr. Simon, who at the time of his death in 1998 was an economics professor at the University of Maryland, argued that these predictions were wholly unwarranted. There would be no extinction from starvation. Simon recognized that people are the ultimate resource and would innovate their way toward greater abundance.

Ultimately, Simon challenged Ehrlich to a wager. Ehrlich believed that population growth meant increased scarcity and, hence, higher commodity prices. Simon believed that “more people meant more brains,” which means better extraction technologies, more efficient methods of production and the more efficient use of commodities — all of which lead to lower commodity prices.

The bet itself was meant to determine whether commodity prices would rise or fall over the period from 1980-1990. If they fell, that would mean that the commodities became more abundant. If instead they rose, that would have signaled that commodities became scarcer. Simon was willing to bet that over any number of years, inflation-adjusted commodity prices would fall.

Simon won that bet. During the 1980s, the prices of the commodities in the Simon-Ehrlich bet decreased. Ehrlich’s dire prediction thankfully never came to pass. Some have argued that had they picked the following decade, Ehrlich may have won. That said, the consensus is that when looking at an index of all commodities over a 100-year period, there’s a clear decline in prices with a few short-lived periods of increase.

This failure didn’t stop Ehrlich and others from continuing to issue similarly apocalyptic predictions up to this day. In response, two scholars have picked up the Simon torch to, once again, closely study the issue. The true heirs of the great humanist and optimist Simon, Marian Tupy from the Cato Institute and Gale Pooley from Brigham Young University-Hawaii have launched The Simon Abundance Index, which offers a new and better way to measure resource availability “using the latest price data for 50 foundational commodities” (as opposed to five in the Simon-Ehrlich wager).

They base their measure on three original concepts:

The time-price of commodities, or “the amount of time that an average human has to work in order to earn enough money to buy a commodity.”

The price elasticity of population, which is a measure of whether population growth indeed increases the availability of resources.

The Simon Abundance Index, which “measures the change in abundance of resources over a period of time.”

Based on their measurements, Pooley and Tupy confirm Simon’s admittedly counter-intuitive thesis — the faster a population grows, the greater the availability of natural resources. As they beautifully conclude, “The world is a closed system in the way that a piano is a closed system. The instrument has only 88 notes, but those notes can be played in a nearly infinite variety of ways. The same applies to our planet. The Earth’s atoms may be fixed, but the possible combinations of those atoms are infinite. What matters, then, is not the physical limits of our planet, but human freedom to experiment and reimagine the use of resources that we have.”

So, cheer up! And stop freaking out about predictions of our imminent demise.



Three current articles below

Warmists in government won’t save the planet but will destroy our economy

Herald readers, be independent, always, and please reconsider the false equivalence you read a week ago in a column by your esteemed scribe, Peter Hartch­er. He was tackling what is not only one of the most crucial issues for this nation’s economic and environmental future but also a central policy battleground in the federal election campaign.

Yes, it is climate change. And we are going to ventilate some fundamental facts that might be confronting for Herald loyalists. I wouldn’t question your love for Earth — it is the best planet we have observed so far and the only one of much use to us. It is useful to assume everyone in this debate cares about the planet because self-destruction is not a wise motive to ascribe to your political opponents. But the hard truth is that even if you accept the most alarming claims about the planet being in peril, it is not within the remit of you or your nation to save it. Those Earth Hour dinners, where you drive the Range Rover to the Hunter to eat Coffin Bay oysters by the light of red gum embers, may or may not be carbon-negative but they can’t help the planet.

Virtue signalling is fine to the extent that it encourages virtue but you wouldn’t want a sense of moral superiority to overwhelm awareness of futility. You need to know that global carbon emissions will increase this year by more than a billion tonnes, or more than double the total annual emissions of this country. You need to know that if we made the ultimate sacrifice and shut down this country in January, any benefit to the planet would disappear by July. For all the goodwill in the world, try to imagine how much good your Pious, I mean Prius, or subsidised solar roof panels are doing for the global environment. You need to keep all this in mind when Labor leader Bill Shorten tells you his uncosted plan to double the nation’s renewable energy target and emissions reductions goals will save us money by cooling our “angry” summers and reducing our natural disasters.

Logic reveals an entirely oppos­ite reality — that whatever the costs and complications of Labor’s dramatically more ambitious plans, they cannot and will not lead to any improvement in the climate because global carbon emissions will continue to rise.

So let us get back to Hartcher’s column, which I fear might have prompted sage nodding from some. Here is the main thrust of his argument uncut:

“When Tony Abbott was prime minister, he ordered more Australian strike aircraft and troops into Iraq. Not because Australia was big enough to turn the tide of battle against the barbarians of Daesh, so-called Islamic State or ISIS. But because he believed in the fight.

“ ‘It’s absolutely vital that the world sees and sees quickly that the ISIS death cult can be beaten,’ he said in 2014. Australia’s commitment ultimately made up less than 1 per cent of the combined effort against the terrorist thugs but it was early and firm. Abbott described it as ‘an important global concern’ and he was right. And, with more than 60 countries co-operating, it was a success. When it came to another important global concern, Abbott argued a very different case. He and like-minded Coalition conservatives have long maintained that Australian action against climate change was futile: ‘Even if carbon dioxide, a naturally occurring trace gas that’s necessary for life, really is the main climate change villain, Australia’s contribution to mankind’s emissions is scarcely more than 1 per cent,’ Abbott said last year.

“On terrorism, Abbott argued for Australian leadership. On climate change, he argued for wilful helplessness. Australia is a 1 per cent contributor in both cases. In one case, it used its 1 per cent to show leadership and effective action. On the other, it used its 1 per cent as an excuse for inaction.”

Let’s start at the end. Inaction? Under the Coalition’s target, agreed when Abbott was prime minister, Australia is committed to the Paris Agreement and emissions reductions of 26 to 28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030. This, while China, India and a range of smaller nations increase emissions on a business-as-usual basis. The US bailed from Paris and, counterintuitively, its fixed power carbon emissions have decreased. Paris is clearly better at signalling virtue than reducing emissions.

Given the way the renewable energy target and other interventions have corrupted our electricity market, drained taxpayers’ funds, undermined power supplies, increased prices and forced job losses in steelmaking, aluminium manufacturing and other industries, it is impossible to cite a country doing more on climate at a higher cost than Australia. Power prices have doubled, coal-fired power stations have closed and carbon dioxide emissions have been reduced, taking jobs and economic growth with them.

Yet Hartcher calls this “inaction"

But let’s go to this insulting false equivalence between action on terrorism and climate change. First, terrorism is unequivocally bad; there is no possible benefit or justification for the murder of innocents in a political, religious or cultural cause. Climate change, on the other hand, is a complex and nuanced phenomenon that brings benefits such as higher crop yields and lower rates of death from severe cold. Even the most strident alarmists concede global warming produces winners and losers.

Just as the two dilemmas differ in their ambiguity, or lack thereof, so too do the prospects for overcoming them. If the US tackles Islamist terrorism we can expect some success, especially when it takes military action to eliminate a self-styled caliphate and expel Islamic State from seized land in the Middle East. If Australia contributes 1 per cent to US-led anti-terrorism efforts it is aligning itself with successful efforts by powerful actors who unarguably improve the world.

On climate, if Australia contributes 1 per cent to global efforts our costs disappear in futile gestures. Worldwide action is producing dramatic increases in global carbon emissions, so Australia’s costly actions manifestly are doing us economic harm but are not helping the environment or anyone. However much we may want to change the world, these are the facts. Hartcher and others may seek to disguise the benefits of the war against terrorism and hide the futility of climate virtue signalling but they can’t change the facts. Yet this sort of deception characterises much of the climate debate.

Shorten is allowed to dodge questions about policy costs with glib lines about the cost of inaction exceeding the cost of action. Activists get away with suggesting a ban on the Adani coalmine will save the Great Barrier Reef despite the reality that India will burn coal regardless of where it is sourced and, to the extent the reef is harmed by a warming planet, only global greenhouse emissions matter.

The defining difference between the terrorism and climate debates is the willingness to embrace reality and confront alarmism in one and the desire to shun reality and heighten alarmism in the other. Where Australia has suffered terribly from terrorism but has contributed materially to global improvements, Hartcher raises questions. But where the nation is yet definitively to suffer any setbacks from global warming and has caused itself serious economic pain through remedial efforts that cannot deliver improvements, Hartcher urges more action.

He is not alone, of course. Why are these arguments put? The reason cannot be for practical outcomes. Additional Australian efforts cannot, as Shorten would have it, cool our “angry” summers. The only possible reason for proposing additional and accelerated action before global emissions plateau is political posturing. And inflicting more economic self-harm for gestures ought to be called out.

Before people shout “denier” or question abandoning international responsibilities, none of the above is an argument for doing nothing — although intellectually coherent cases can be made for that approach. For all sorts of practical reasons including sensible environmental caution (giving the planet the benefit of the doubt), responsible global citizenship and adjusting to possible worldwide technological shifts, Australia needs to play a role.

By any reasonable assessment Australia has already done its fair share. And given the primacy of the Paris Agreement and the free ride given to many developing nations, any country that delivers emissions reductions in line with those commitments is doing some heavy lifting. The idea this nation would almost double its carbon cuts from what was agreed at Paris while global emissions continue to rise dramatically is about as stark an example of pointless self-harm as is possible. It would be as reckless as refusing to tackle terrorism.


No logic in our nuclear allergy

How depressing to see Scott Morrison having to backtrack after making the obvious and sensible remark that nuclear power shouldn’t be off the agenda if it stacks up economically.

Labor environment spokesman Tony Burke bristled at the idea that the most reliable and clean form of energy the world knows should even be discussed. “Nuclear power is against the law in Australia,” he chirped, as if being the only G20 nation to have such a ban were a good idea.

It’s embarrassing to tell people in the US that nuclear energy is banned in Australia. “But don’t you export uranium?” “Umm, yes,” I say, “but flower power has more adherents than nuclear among Australia’s political class.”

In the scramble to lift the share of renewables in the energy mix, the whole point is forgotten: to curb carbon emissions, not erect wind turbines or acres of solar panels for their own sake.

Thankfully, US leaders have moved on from Woodstock. The US government provides grants and research support for US businesses to build better reactors and bolster the country’s scientific edge. Jordi Roglans Ribas, a senior nuclear scientist at Argonne ­laboratory, one of the US’s top research institutions, says developments in small — even micro — nuclear reactors look set to bring down the cost of nuclear power.

“There’s been a lot of recent technical work on making nuclear more economically attractive, including by being able to manufacture components of plants in factories and ship them to where you need a reactor,” he tells The Australian.

As part of its “carbon-free power project”, Oregon-based Nuscale is already building a set of small modular reactors for the state of Utah, which should be operational by the mid-2020s. “Our advanced SMR design eliminates two-thirds of previously required safety systems and components found in today’s large reactors,” the company says. Three of these, at about $US250 million ($350m) each, would provide more energy — and reliably — than Australia’s biggest wind farm, according to the Minerals Council.

California-based Kairos Power is working on “fluoride salt-cooled, high-temperature reactors” that can be shut down far more safely than traditional water-cooled reactors. HolosGen, based in Virginia, expects its reactors will produce electricity at a lower “levelised cost” than wind or solar can.

With almost a third of the world’s known uranium reserves, you’d think we might try to develop a comparative advantage in nuclear energy. Instead, we’d put these scientists in jail for breaking the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which outlaws nuclear power here.

Memo to the world: Australia, with a population smaller than Texas, doesn’t approve of nuclear energy (though we’re quite happy to take the cash from those who do). How silly we look, eschewing 20 years of research. China, also at the forefront of the electric car rollout, has about 30 nuclear reactors under construction.

Ribas says nuclear power should be a natural complement to wind and solar as the world moves away from fossil fuels. “The development of massive storage capacity at low cost is of benefit to nuclear too, because when there is abundant wind, for example, you don’t need all (of a) nuclear plant’s production, so you can store it and release it later,” he says.

Replacing coal and gas with renewables entirely is an absurd idea even assuming further large falls in the cost of batteries. That would take about 10,000 giant batteries costing more than $300 billion to ensure enough storage to ensure a reliable power supply, according to recent estimates by respected economist Geoffrey Carmody.

For all the harrumphing about the “cost” of nuclear, power is cheaper in jurisdictions that have dared try it. Illinois, with just under 13 million people, has six nuclear power stations. In Chicago the average price of electricity in January was around US12c a kW/H. Energy Australia charges me 29.4c a kW/H for electricity in Sydney.

In nearby Ontario, where nuclear energy provides 60 per cent of the electricity needs of Canada’s biggest province, it was less than C13c a kW/h.

“It has two major benefits — low operating costs and virtually none of the emissions that lead to smog, acid rain or global warming,” says Ontario Power Generation. “These benefits make nuclear a very attractive option for meeting the province’s electricity needs well into the future.”

Ribas says, “Canada is very interested to evaluate small modular reactors in some remote areas.” Better not tell them what Tony Burke thinks!

Once upon a time, the Left stressed the importance of progress through advances in science and technology, mandating state funding for schools and universities. Today it’s more akin to the religious Right it once despised, vainly dismissing for ideological reasons an entire field.

The Greens want to see “a world free of nuclear power”. Yet there are about 450 nuclear reactors in operation in the world and another 60 under construction.

“There is a strong link between the mining and export of uranium and nuclear weapons proliferation,” the Greens say. Yet more than 30 countries have nuclear power stations and many more, such as Italy and Denmark, import electricity from them. About 10 countries have nuclear weapons — far from a “strong link”.

“The use of nuclear weapons, nuclear accidents or attacks on reactors pose unacceptable risk of catastrophic consequences,” they go on. In more than 70 years of nuclear power there have only been three nuclear accidents, the most recent of which, the Fukushima disaster of 2011, incurred no fatalities. Meanwhile, wind turbines are killing hundreds of thousands of birds every year.

Fukushima was built in the 1960s and hit by a tsunami. Australia offers a safer geography for nuclear power. As the closure of the giant Liddell coal power station nears in 2022, small modular imported nuclear reactors might be one option worth investigating, providing reliable, carbon-free power cheaply — and without killing animals.


Labor pledges to terminate half-a-billion-dollar Great Barrier Reef Foundation grant

This payment was a totally useless Turnbull brain fart that should never have happened.  Shorten is right to claw it back

Labor has vowed to strip the Great Barrier Reef Foundation of its half-a-billion-dollar grant if elected on May 18.

Labor added that it would redistribute that cash amongst public agencies, but is yet to detail specifics ahead of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's first election-period Queensland visit this week.

Last August, a $443 million grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation by Malcolm Turnbull's government was criticised for lacking an open tender process, and for burdening an organisation that had six full time staff with a grant of such a size.

Labor wrote to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation at the time to warn them that if the party won government, it could withdraw from the existing contract.

But this marks the first time they have determined to rip up the agreement.

"Every dollar returned will be invested back in the reef and we will seek advice on the most effective way to allocate the funding," Mr Shorten said, adding that his government would consult with the Department of Environment on its reef strategy.

Mr Shorten mentioned peak science body CSIRO, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences as possible alternatives.

While the Great Barrier Reef Foundation has had all $443 million of the grant in its accounts for months, Labor environment spokesman Tony Burke has previously pointed to a contract clause that allows the agreement to be terminated if there was "a material change in Australian Government policy that is inconsistent with the continued operation of this agreement''.

In the letter warning the foundation that funding could be withdrawn, Labor advised it not to spend a disproportionate amount before the election, noting that the funds were set aside for a six-year period.



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, April 26, 2019

Clouds on the horizon: What climate change means for retail

This is just one big brain fart.  The only point of it is that bad weather can be disruptive to business, which we all knew.  The writers cheerfully assume that ALL bad weather is due to climate change -- while making absolutely no attempt to prove that absurdity. So it actually tells us NOTHING about "What climate change means for retail"

Over the last 40 years, the United States has sustained 246 weather and climate events where the cumulative costs reached $1 billion or more each — and together caused more than $1.6 trillion in damage, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. Already this year, as of April 9, the U.S. experienced two weather disasters with losses exceeding that milestone — and such events have been clustered together in recent years. Last year, the country saw the fourth-highest number of billion-dollar events, behind 2017, 2011 and 2016, and the fourth-highest tab for them ($91 billion), behind 2017, 2005 and 2012, according to NCEI.

While scientific discussion around climate change focuses on long-term trends and cost pile-ups, headlines tend to capture the dire consequences for human beings and their livelihoods in the immediate and short terms. Last year, for example, estimates from Hurricane Florence were that it could cost retailers some $700 million, according to Planalytics, which provides weather-related planning tools for businesses. Some businesses, like home improvement retailers The Home Depot and Lowe's, actually pick up sales in the aftermath.

But the reality is that individual weather events don't much jolt retailers' short-term bottom lines, either way. The immediate concern is, and should be, on safety, for customers and store staff, according to Paul Walsh, global director of consumer weather strategy for IBM.

However, retailers may want to take note of the havoc severe weather wreaks along the supply chain. "Anyone with a supply chain is going to be affected by climate change," Paul Dillinger, head of global product innovation at Levi Strauss & Co., told Retail Dive in an interview. "It's as much of an issue for us as for the Pentagon."

BSR, a global nonprofit organization that develops sustainable business strategies, has the specifics: "Physical climate risks from acute weather events and chronic climate patterns are disrupting the availability of raw material and energy supply, supplier operations, and local communities along the supply chain," according to a report it released last year. "There is a clear business case for companies to reduce these risks and strengthen supply chain performance by building the resilience of operations and communities along supply chains," the report reads, citing research on 99 companies that saved $14 billion through climate-related improvements, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 551 million tons of C02.

On the other side of the equation, retailers who do nothing to address environmental issues could be in for big losses. According to CDP, which helps companies measure and respond to the impacts of climate change, $4 trillion worth of assets will be at risk from changes to the Earth's weather by 2030.

Global climate change also has implications for inventory — the apparel that should be in stores, and at distribution and fulfillment points at which time of year is changing — according to a Planalytics report on climate change and supply chain conducted for the National Retail Federation. That research found that retailers and brands that "remove the historical impacts of weather can drive a 20-80 basis point annual improvement in profitability just in inventory management … by increasing total enterprise forecast accuracy between 2 and 6 percent on average, and up to 50 percent for specific product categories," according to the report.

"More and more it's viewed as critical and fundamental to prepare for and execute against the weather volatility that we've seen," Walsh told Retail Dive in an interview. "The fact that IBM bought The Weather Company is one sign. There's an overlap — in sustainability efforts and resiliency efforts and the integration of weather and insights. So when we start to see these tremendous swings of weather — that kind of volatility is hard to keep up with. The way you do keep up with it is to leverage these technologies to be able to respond on an enterprise scale."


Another Greenie prophecy bombs:  Coffee shortage

A repeated Greenie prophecy is that we will soon run into a shortage of coffee beans. See here and here. How is that looking?

Call it the coffee paradox. The brewed beverage has never been more popular, but the price of beans is at its lowest point in over a decade and down by a quarter since October.

A pound of wholesale arabica beans, the premium variety favoured in most coffee shops, has been selling for less than $US1 since early March on the Intercontinental Exchange in New York, below what many producers say it costs to grow and process.

Coffee drinkers might not have noticed any difference in price, given the prevalence of the $US5 latte.

What has enabled the world to be awash with coffee? Factors include major advances in coffee production and a collapse in the value in the currency of the world’s largest producer, Brazil.

All About Brazil

Prices have sagged under the weight of what is expected to be another surplus worldwide coffee crop this year. More than any other, the country behind that glut is Brazil, which has expanded its already-leading share of the world’s coffee crop.

Brazil has stolen market share from Central America because of state-sponsored research and development -- including phasing in mechanised harvesting over hand-picked methods still used elsewhere.

“The problem is that (other countries) are not able to withstand the tide that is Brazilian coffee supply,” said Keith Flury, the head of research at ED&F Man-subsidiary Volcafe Coffee Research, until 2018.

When Brazil’s currency, the real, is cheap, so is the coffee that Brazil sells in dollars to the rest of the world. And the real is 60 per cent less valuable compared with the dollar than in 2011. It has fallen 12 per cent against the dollar over the past year.

“The root causes of the low dollar coffee prices are the high productivity of Brazilian production, the strong dollar and the weak Brazilian real,” said economist Jeffrey Sachs, director at Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Development, which is undertaking a farmer welfare study backed by the intergovernmental International Coffee Organization. “Basically, Brazil is undercutting global costs,” he said.

Cecafé, Brazil’s coffee export association, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Caffeine High

Global arabica consumption is set to break records for the fifth straight season in 2019-20, Rabobank forecasts.

Yet despite the demand, the fall in prices has exposed a dichotomy between “the haves and the have-nots” in producer countries, said David Brooks, managing director of UK-based coffee-roasting company Percol.

When futures prices fall below $US1 a pound, some farmers cope by slashing spending on fertilisers and pesticides, according to Greg Meenahan, partnership director at World Coffee Research, an industry-funded group.

“Their crops become weak and next year’s crops have a higher incidence of failure,” Mr Meenahan said. “They’re just getting beaten up.”

In April, Colombia, another major coffee exporter, increased emergency aid to its coffee farmers.

“You see coffee products all over the shelves saying they’re sustainable, but people forget about economic sustainability,” said Roberto Vélez, chief executive officer of the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia.

“You have Central Americans immigrating to the US and Africans moving up to Europe because coffee prices are too low,” Mr Vélez added.

Weaker arabica prices at the wholesale level have passed through to supermarket shelves, but they remain well above where they were a decade ago. The average price of a supermarket can of coffee has come down in recent years. US Department of Labor data put the average price of coffee sold to US consumers at $US4.34 a pound.

As for a cup served in a shop or restaurant, a 2018 UBS study found the price in many major cities around the world was around $US3. Cafe prices remain high because of strong demand and because beans are only part of the cost of producing a drink, alongside things such as rent, overheads, labour, milk and sugar.

Can prices go lower? Some analysts point to a small global deficit between supply and demand in the season ending 2020, since it is technically an “off-cycle” season in Brazil, with production falling as plants recover.

However, “the husbandry the farmers give the trees is excellent and that’s decreased the cyclicality of the crop,” said Carlos Mera, senior commodities analyst at Rabobank.


Earth Day Celebrators Should Celebrate Nuclear Power Too

Yesterday was Earth Day. Celebrate it by opposing more politically-motivated closures of nuclear power plants. Nuclear reactors provide a steady supply of electricity with no carbon emissions.

As Harvard’s Steven Pinker notes, “global decarbonization is impossible” without nuclear power. That’s because wind and solar power generation varies with the weather, keeping it from being a steady source of energy. In The New York Times, Pinker and two environmental experts say nuclear power is critical to the success of a low-carbon power grid, and it “is a fantasy” to rely on renewable energy alone:

“Wind and solar power are becoming cheaper, but they are not available around the clock, rain or shine … renewables work only with fossil-fuel [or nuclear] backup. Germany, which went all-in for renewables, has seen little reduction in carbon emissions, and, according to our calculations, at Germany’s rate of adding clean energy relative to gross domestic product, it would take the world more than a century to decarbonize, even if the country wasn’t also retiring nuclear plants early … . we actually have proven models for rapid decarbonization with economic and energy growth: France and Sweden. They decarbonized their grids decades ago and now emit less than a tenth of the world average of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour. They remain among the world’s most pleasant places to live and enjoy much cheaper electricity than Germany to boot.

“They did this with nuclear power. And they did it fast ... France replaced almost all of its fossil-fueled electricity with nuclear power nationwide in just 15 years; Sweden, in about 20 years. In fact, most of the fastest additions of clean electricity historically are countries rolling out nuclear power … . nuclear power is the cheapest source in South Korea. The 98 U.S. reactors today provide nearly 20 percent of the nation’s electricity generation. So why don’t the United States and other countries expand their nuclear capacity? The reasons are economics and fear.

“New nuclear power plants are hugely expensive to build in the United States today. This is why so few are being built. But they don’t need to be so costly. The key to recovering our lost ability to build affordable nuclear plants is standardization and repetition. The first product off any assembly line is expensive — it cost more than $150 million to develop the first iPhone — but costs plunge as they are built in quantity and production kinks are worked out … . China and South Korea can build reactors at one-sixth the current cost in the United States.”

In the United States, nuclear power plants are becoming more efficient and reliable. So nuclear energy production peaked in 2018, even though some nuclear power plants have closed, or are being shut down by anti-nuclear politicians in states like New York.

Under the original blueprint for the Green New Deal, which is backed by progressive leaders, all nuclear power plants would have been shut down over time. Now, however, several Democratic presidential candidates have realized that nuclear power is useful in reducing carbon emissions and slowing the rate of climate change.

The Green New Deal proposal is not a financially feasible path to a low-carbon economy. As Thomas J. Pyle of the Institute for Energy Research has noted, it would finance a lot of unnecessary and wasteful government projects that would do little for the environment.

Partly due to the cost of these projects, the Green New Deal’s overall cost has been estimated by a think-tank as at least $50 trillion and potentially over $90 trillion (four times the size of the U.S. economy). Estimates by other energy experts are similar in order of magnitude.

Meanwhile, the Green New Deal would shrink the economy by discouraging people from working, leaving the government with less money to finance clean energy. The original “Green New Deal” blueprint provided “economic security”—that is, welfare — even for those who are “unwilling to work.” Rewarding unemployment leads to fewer people working and paying taxes.

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department.


Offshore wind trouble in Mass.

The second round of bidding for offshore wind contracts hasn’t even started yet. But the complaining sure has.

A spat is unfolding around whether National Grid can back out of its commitment to a wind-farm developer if a change in state laws or regulations somehow prevents the utility from being able to pass the contract costs on to ratepayers.

National Grid wants this exit clause to protect itself. But critics are telling the state Department of Utilities that this provision, known in utility-speak as a “regulatory out,” will undermine the upcoming auction.

A 2016 state law set these auctions in motion, by requiring the state’s three major electric utilities — National Grid, Eversource, and Unitil — to buy large amounts of power from offshore wind developers. The hope was to finally spark a new industry into life in Massachusetts, while curbing greenhouse gas emissions and diversifying our sources of electricity.

Round one was considered a big success. Three developers showed up to compete, with Vineyard Wind undercutting its rivals last year with a surprisingly low price. Vineyard Wind plans to use the contracts, approved by the DPU earlier this month, to finance the construction of an 800-megawatt wind farm south of Martha’s Vineyard.

Now, we’re on to round two — and the fun has begun. An independent evaluator waved a red flag earlier this month about the “regulatory out” provision that National Grid wants this time around. The evaluator, Peregrine Research Group, acknowledged that the odds of the Massachusetts rules changing in the future are slim. But this exit clause could make wind-farm financiers nervous, Peregrine noted, potentially discouraging bidders or driving up the costs for the ones who remain.

The Conservation Law Foundation agreed with Peregrine. CLF told state regulators that the exit clause threatens the integrity of the entire process, noting that Eversource and Unitil aren’t seeking a similar provision.

No state official wants costs to go up. But there’s an added complication if they do: That 2016 state law requires that the next bid come in lower than the winning price in the first round. Peregrine argues that National Grid’s exit clause will make it that much harder for the bidders to get under the cap.

As a result, Eric Wilkinson of the Environmental League of Massachusetts says he envisions a scenario where no deals get done at all in the next round. (ELM is among the environmental groups protesting the exit clause.) That would be an embarrassment for all involved, and could allow other states — keep an eye on New York and New Jersey — to pull ahead of us in the offshore wind game.

Meanwhile, Representative Pat Haddad of Somerset is prodding her colleagues on Beacon Hill to lift the price cap, to give the wind-farm developers more leeway to invest in economic development in the South Coast region. But it’s hard to know how successful she will be at this early stage.

National Grid shows no signs of backing down. Peregrine says these exit clauses are rare in the industry. But National Grid makes a point of citing its contract with Deepwater Wind (now Orsted) in Rhode Island, which includes a similar provision. National Grid told the DPU an unfavorable legislative or regulatory change at some point in the future with regard to cost recovery “could be catastrophic” for the company.

Spokesman Bob Kievra issued a brief statement, saying that National Grid is including these terms in its model for long-term contracts “as a starting place for negotiations” due to the increasing number and scale of such contracts.

If the Department of Public Utilities has a position on the matter, it’s not saying – at least not yet.


"Code of conduct". That’s code for ‘conduct yourself as we tell you’

Increasingly, a code of conduct is becoming an employer’s power trip, their weapon of choice in the workplace to limit the basic freedoms of employees. And these deliberately vague terms become expensive legal battles for sacked employees. Two examples in the past two weeks. Last week, Peter Ridd, the highly respected professor of physics, won his court case against James Cook University after he was sacked for offending the univer­sity’s code of conduct.

JCU used its code of conduct to full effect. When Ridd raised doubts about the quality of science claiming the Great Barrier Reef was being damaged, he was accused of misconduct, not acting in a collegial way, disparaging fellow academics, not upholding the integrity and good reputation of JCU. It made no difference to the code’s enforcers that Ridd raised his concerns in a polite and measured manner, making clear that fellow academics were honest, though mistaken, in their work.

When Ridd raised funds online to help pay for his expensive legal battle with JCU, the university accused him of breaching the code of conduct. When Ridd sent an email to a student, attaching a newspaper article headed “for your amusement”, the physics professor of 30 years’ standing was censured for acting contrary to an earlier “no satire direction” when JCU told Ridd not to trivialise, satirise or parody the univer­sity’s disciplinary action against him. When Ridd mentioned JCU’s “Orwellian” attitude to free speech in an email to another supportive student, JCU censured him for another breach of the code of conduct.

Note that JCU discovered the offending email by trawling through Ridd’s correspondence in a distinctly Orwellian manner.

On it went. Actions and words parsed and censured, secrecy sought under JCU’s code of conduct to protect the university, not Ridd.

Last week, the Federal Court rejected JCU’s 17 claims against Ridd under the university’s code of conduct. Federal Court judge Salvatore Vasta made clear that JCU’s fundamental error was to assume its code of conduct “is the lens through which all behaviour must be viewed”. Rather than starting from the principle of intellectual freedom set out in clause 14 of JCU’s enterprise agreement with academics, a core value that goes to the mission of a university, JCU used its lengthy and loquacious code of conduct to restrain Ridd. Therefore, it did not occur to JCU, or to academics who complained about Ridd, that the best response was to provide evidence Ridd’s claims were wrong. The enforcers chose censure and sacking over debate.

Rejecting JCU’s position, Vasta found the intellectual freedom clause is “the lens through which the behaviour of Professor Ridd must be viewed”. The judge said intellectual freedom allows people to express opinions without fear of reprisal. That is how Charles Darwin broke free from the constraints of creationism and how Albert Einstein challenged the constraints of Newtonian physics.

JCU will surely appeal this decision. Other universities will also be hoping for a favourable legal determination that upholds their codes of conduct as the final word, trumping even an intellectual freedom clause in an enterprise agreement with academics.

All things considered then, we have reached a shameful state of affairs: university leaders spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to uphold coercive powers they have given themselves under codes of conduct but expending no intellectual effort in considering the need for a truly liberating charter of intellectual freedom such as that drawn up by the University of Chicago and adopted by dozens of other American colleges.

Vaguely drafted codes of conduct are a conduit for double standards. And that is why they are bogus legal instruments. Every law student is taught that contracts can be voided for uncertainty. A boss should only ever have power to adversely affect a person’s employment in the clearest and most precise circumstances. It is high time that proliferating codes of conduct are exposed as dangerously vague virtue-signalling instruments with a nasty kick to them, allowing bosses to terminate an employee at will.



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