Monday, July 08, 2019

Ancient Earth reveals terrifying consequences of future global warming

It reveals no such thing. It's only by making the false assumption that CO2 heats us up that they make this claim.

Even the current Greenie theory is that the earth will warm up by 2 degrees by the end of the century -- which is nothing compared to warming periods in the geological past.  Just in the Earth’s geologically recent past -- the Paleo-Eocene Thermal Maximum of 55m years ago -- global temperatures increased by 5-8C

And all theories that predict a departure from a trend -- which the guff below does -- are the ones least likely to be correct. "New Scientist" started out as a Leftist rag and not much seems to have changed

The writer below, Graham Lawton, doesn't seem able to learn even from his fellow Greenies.  Global warming theory Mark 1 predicted a tipping point (a stark departure from trend) due to warming from an accumulation of clouds.  But clouds on all indications have a cooling effect so that theory was quietly abandoned in favour of an incremental theory.  But slow increments are obviously way too boring for loony Lawton

WELCOME to Icehouse Earth. It may not feel like it but, right now, our planet is in an ice age. It started about 2.6 million years ago and, until recently, showed little sign of letting up. In the 1970s, scientists were even worried that we were about to plunge into another full-blown icy spell.

Today, those fears have evaporated into a fog of greenhouse gases. Unless we do something, fast, the exact opposite is going to happen. If emissions continue to accumulate in the atmosphere, Earth will blow its cool, with potentially disastrous consequences for humanity and the living world.

As the climate hots up, so does the race to understand what really happens when we crank up the thermostat. The standard approach is computer modelling, but we need every insight we can get, which is why some climatologists are turning their attention to the deep past, searching for global warming events to help predict the future. The good news is that the biosphere has endured some very hot periods and lived to tell the tale. The bad news is that the next hothouse may be more extreme than anything Earth has experienced before. In which case, it really is goodbye, cool world.


Costa Rica Becomes the First Nation to Ban Fossil Fuels

It has some big hydro-electric dams plus significant geothermal power.  The high rainfall (nearly 3 metres per year) keeps the dams discharging.  It would be interesting to hear what the Greenies think about all those dams

Sustainability has become the focus of the world over the last decade, and many countries have made great strides in their efforts to combat climate change. Japan has achieved nearly zero waste in select towns, and over 40% of Denmark’s citizens commute by bicycle to work.

Today, Costa Rica took steps to eclipsing even these amazing countries in terms of sustainability. President Carlos Alvarado announced they would be banning fossil based fuels altogether. This makes Costa Rica the first country in the world to completely decarbonize.

“Getting rid of fossil fuels is a big idea coming from a small country. This is an idea that’s starting to gain international support with the rise of new technologies,” Costa Rican economist Monica Araya said.

As unlikely as going carbon-free in today’s modern world might seem, Costa Rica already derives 99% of its energy from renewable sources. Their biggest hurdle will be in the transportation industry, where there is very little in the way of development in that sector and demand for cars is growing.

Luckily, plans are already under way to help address the issues at a cultural level. Many Costa Ricans already appreciate the benefits of renewable energy, and Hyundais (a favorite vehicle in Costa Rica) are available completely fossil fuel free. Costa Rica Limpia, an organization helping to push the decarbonization efforts, plans to have these cars available for citizens to test drive and take a look at.

President Carlos Alvarado has set a goal of decarbonizing by 2021, which will mark 200 years of independence for Costa Rica. The goal is aggressive and may not be entirely feasible, especially with Costa Rica’s current financial issues.

Costa Rica has been operating on a deficit since 2009. 22% of Costa Rica’s revenue comes from taxing the auto industry, and a large portion of that goes to protection of forests and other forms of conservation. This could result in a heavy financial loss for their already strained financial situation, but rethinking how they get their money could resolve their issues over time.

With fewer carbon emissions, they may save money in the form of reduced health care costs. Another option, which they will no doubt have to adopt at some point, is changing what they tax instead. A tax on carbon itself might help them to their goal and resolve their current financial situation as well.

Whether Costa Rica achieves its decarbonization goals on time or not, their efforts make a statement to the rest of the world. If a small country can make a huge difference to the world despite their size and lack of development, bigger countries can follow their example.


No one voted for Net Zero

British politicians have nodded through a disastrous climate policy with zero scrutiny and zero mandate.

Many in the House of Commons are determined to stop Brexit because of predictions that it will make us all poorer. And yet, in the past few weeks, these same politicians have been falling over themselves to embrace a ‘Net Zero’ emissions target that is almost certain to impose huge costs on the poorest households and have a detrimental impact on our living standards. The Committee on Climate Change, which drew up the proposals, estimates it will cost between one and two per cent of GDP per annum. Those who are quick to blame Brexit each time a factory closes are now ushering in targets that will inevitably close many more.

The Net Zero pledge commits the UK to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to as close to zero as possible by 2050. Britain is the first major economy to sign up to this (largely in an attempt to cement Theresa May’s legacy). The 2050 target was part of an amendment put down as a statutory instrument – and so it was waved through without even a vote.

Although the pledge is one of the most ambitious of any major nation, it was still dismissed by climate-change group Extinction Rebellion, which argues that the new target does not go far enough and should instead be met by 2025. Reducing emissions by 2025 would mean not driving cars, eating meat or taking flights.

There is certainly a need to take action against climate change. There is a heatwave currently sweeping across the continent. According to most experts, phenomena of this kind will become more frequent if we do not address climate change. But Britain is responsible for just one per cent of global emissions – the Net Zero target won’t do anything to reduce emissions from the US, China and India. We must be realistic about how much impact we can have on our own. Such a straitjacket of a target could lead to Britain’s few remaining manufacturing plants and steelworks shutting up shop for good, while other countries continue to burn fossil fuels at a rate of knots

We should learn from the mistakes made by other countries. Denmark, for instance, at the Kyoto summit in 1997, adopted an emissions-reduction target which was among the most ambitious in the world at the time. It then went further in 2011, setting a goal of phasing out the use of fossil fuels by 2050. But according to a 2015 study in Ecological Economics, the decarbonisation of the Danish economy has actually led to a substantial increase in the carbon intensity – that is, the amount of CO2 produced relative to the value of a product – of its imports. Danish heavy industry was simply off-shored, wiping out any benefits on the global level.

France’s gilets jaunes also demonstrate the potential political pitfalls of pushing through costly green policies. An eco-tax on diesel was introduced which made daily life unaffordable for many French people who rely on their cars to commute to work. This caused them to protest en masse and, eventually, the diesel tax had to be scrapped. Middle-class greens are often able to take the financial hit of these taxes. Those at the bottom, less so.

None of this should discourage us from tackling climate change. But the damaging approach favoured by the government – waved through without proper parliamentary debate or without any democratic mandate – will be the surest way to lose public support for climate policy.

Proper scrutiny is essential if we are going to tackle climate change properly. So many green policies in the past have got things wrong and have actually made things worse for the environment. For example, diesel cars were once promoted through the tax system and lots of people snapped them up. Diesel fuel may emit less CO2, but we now know that it produces considerably more toxic gases than petrol. And so London mayor Sadiq Khan has introduced new taxes and charges on diesel vehicles. As a result, drivers of diesel cars and vans are now being punished for doing what the government once told them was environmentally friendly. We also used to burn wood pellets in the belief that they were ‘renewable’, but we now know that wood pellets are significantly more carbon-emitting than coal. Harvesting palm oil for biofuel was also once hailed as a potential substitute for fossil fuels. But having hacked down vast swathes of tropical forest, we have now realised this is unsustainable. If we rush to embrace the Net Zero target, without any real scrutiny, mistakes will be made again.

I recently met with Natascha Engel, former Labour MP and shale-gas commissioner. She resigned earlier this year over the government’s eagerness to pander to the green lobby, particularly over government rules that mean fracking must be suspended every time a 0.5 magnitude tremor is detected – a de facto ban on fracking. Engel suggests a more sensible approach to climate change would be to look at ways of reducing our emissions by extracting gas in the UK (rather than importing it from abroad) or by building nuclear plants. Both would create jobs and investment at home and, crucially, benefit the environment as well.

Those MPs who constantly argue that nobody voted to be poorer by voting for Brexit need to recognise that quite literally nobody voted for the drastic Net Zero pledge. I hope our next prime minister drops the green virtue-signalling and is honest with voters about the trade-offs of such an asphyxiating target. We need a more sensible approach to climate change.


With immigration sidelined, environmentalism is emerging as Europe’s new culture war

In three directions pine forests, bone dry in the scorching weather, disappear into the horizon of the central Polish plain. To the south is the lunar landscape of a city-sized opencast lignite mine. A tangle of conveyors carries the coal up to Elektrownia Belchatow, Europe’s largest thermal power station and its largest producer of carbon emissions, at a rate of one tonne a second. Pawel Koszek, a repairs specialist, surveys the scene with satisfaction. “Electricity”, he says, “is our comfort and our security.” Last weekend activists from Greenpeace projected the face of Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s prime minister, with the caption “shame”, onto one of Belchatow’s seven cooling towers. “They don’t understand the technology,” scoffs Mr Koszek, who has worked at the plant since 1989 and met his wife there.

Downstairs, at a bank of computers, he radiates pride as he demonstrates how to regulate the flow of oxygen to its 13 furnaces. Together they produce about 20% of Poland’s electricity. It is like flying a plane, he muses: the operators must be able to take control in an emergency. There has never been a major incident at Belchatow. Compare that with nuclear power plants like Chernobyl or Fukushima. (Happily, it is unlikely ever to be hit by a tsunami, as Fukushima was.) Wind energy? Solar energy? They come and go. Try charging your phone on a solar panel. Good old coal is reliable.

This puts Mr Koszek and his home town at the wildly unfashionable end of the environmental debate in Europe. The place, dubbed “Belcha” in the foreign press, serves as a symbol for Poland’s foot-dragging on carbon emissions. The Greenpeace activists were angry at Mr Morawiecki’s government for blocking a commitment to make the eu carbon-neutral by 2050. Yet to its 60,000 residents Belchatow is a pleasant place to live. Amid flowers and fountains in the newly renovated Narutowicza Square is a walk of fame for stars of the local volleyball team, which is sponsored by and named after the state-owned firm that runs the mine and plant. Many families have several members working at the two sites, which employ 8,000 people and many more indirectly.

So locals are understandably defensive in the face of Europe’s environmentalist surge. Part of this impulse is straightforwardly economic. “Without the power station and the mine,” says Marchin Nowak, Belchatow’s development director, “the town will lose its economic raison d’ĂȘtre.” Already eu-imposed carbonemissions licences have increased the cost of generating electricity there. He warns that further eu measures will make Polish coal still less competitive and that generation will shift east to Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. The emissions and the jobs, he argues, will merely be displaced out of the eu.

But the defensiveness also goes beyond the bottom line. Belchatow is proud of its industry. Coalmining began there only in the 1970s and many residents moved to the town from other places, but they venerate St Barbara, the miners’ saint, like residents of older Polish mining regions such as Silesia. The city’s logo is an electrical “on” button and its slogan is: “Belchatow: always a good reaction”. Law and Justice, the nationalist party that rules Poland and dominates local politics in Belchatow, has made the quality of Polish coal a patriotic cause (one critic refuses to give a quote for fear of reprisals). The party condemns western eu states for refusing Poland the chance to catch up with their living standards. Even those in Belchatow who accept the need to cut emissions, like Mr Nowak, say Poland is unfairly treated: “You can’t expect Poland to leap to zero carbon in 30 years.”

Being in Belchatow reminded Charlemagne of those European towns caught up in, or at least alarmed by, the migration crisis of four summers ago. In such places, too, the issue was cultural as well as purely economic. Locals worried about jobs and wages, and fretted that the costs and benefits of the change would be unfairly distributed. But they also worried about the character of their society and felt alienated from globally minded elites in the big cities. Fake news proliferated. Today immigration has faded as a political flashpoint, as the numbers arriving have collapsed. The environmental debate is taking its place.

It even has a similar geography. It was tempting to see the migration crisis as a struggle between the eastern and western halves of the eu. That is true of the environmental battle, too. But as with the immigration debates, it oversimplifies the matter. Zuzana Caputova, Slovakia’s new president, and Robert Biedron, an insurgent Polish opposition leader, are both keen environmentalists. And climate change is just as divisive in the western eu. Green and greenish parties are rising and populist parties like the Alternative for Germany, as well as anti-establishment protesters like thegilets jaunes in France, are turning the environmental movement into their new enemy of choice in the culture war. The real divide, as with in immigration, is within societies: between big cities with their Fridays for Future marches, car-free days and liberal politics, and small towns where the old ways of doing things die less easily.

Learning from the past

Immigration has vanished from Europe’s headlines because the populists won the battle. For all the optimism of the “refugees welcome” campaign in 2015, a broad consensus has now formed around much more restrictive, “Fortress Europe” policies.


South Australia to ban a range of single-use plastics under proposed legislation to be introduced to state parliament

Plastic cutlery, straws and drink stirrers will soon be a thing of the past in South Australia following its war on single-use plastics.

A taskforce will be established and draft legislation released for public discussion later this year as Environment Minister David Speirs acts on “overwhelming” public support for a ban.

It comes after he launched a discussion paper in January, gauging the publics interest on the matter.

According to the Adelaide Advertiser, almost 97 per cent of respondents to the paper replied that government action was needed to curb the amount of plastic littering the environment and waterways.

“SA is continuing to lead the nation and set the agenda in recyclables and waste management,” Mr Speirs told the publication.

It will be the first Australian state or territory to ban single-use plastic items, however no decision has been made yet on plastic bags, coffee cups and plastic takeaway containers.

“We led the way with our container-deposit scheme, we were ahead of the pack on plastic bag reform and now we will lead the country on single-use plastics,” Mr Speirs told the publication.

However, not everyone agrees with the Mr Speirs’ bold new move.

“This is so stupid! Have fun going back to the cave! How much energy will B wasted and expended on silverware … paper straws are archaic and get soggy … young, old and disabled will suffer!

So tired of this ineffective virtue signalling! I am buying more plastic straws and bags now!” a Twitter user vented in response to the ban.

“Plastic cutlery, plates & cups banned am all for it but recycled/washed straws. No thanks rather not use them at all,” added another.

Mr Speirs is hoping to introduce the new laws into state parliament by next year.

The state will later move to ban polystyrene cups and polystyrene takeaway containers.

According to the Adelaide Advertiser, the ACT Government has also released a discussion paper to gauge public support on banning items but is yet to take action.



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


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