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.  

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