Tuesday, December 03, 2019

A new conversation with Prof. William Happer

Four years ago, Stuart went to Princeton University to interview Professor William Happer.

When he interviewed him, he was aware that he was a CO2 (and its impact on climate) contrarian.

Mr. Happer points out carbon dioxide is an important trace gas and an integral part of the carbon cycle, a bio-geo-chemical cycle in which carbon is exchanged between the oceans, soil, rocks and the biosphere.

Virtually all of life on the plant requires CO2 concentrations to be above 150 parts per million.

The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere over the past 500 million years has been as high as 4,000 ppm and as low as 180 ppm.

Since 1880 when CO2 was measured at Mauna Loa in Hawaii levels have risen from 280 ppm to 413 ppm as of April 2019.

Happer, as you will hear, says the impact of CO2 on temperature rise has already taken effect and he points to the logarithmic scale, which is a nonlinear scale often used to analyze a large
range of quantities. According to Mr. Happer, it would take another 400 ppm to affect temperature by one additional degree.

Mr. Happer is also aware of the folly of predictions. And he, like Freeman Dyson, points to the inability of models to accurately predict climate outcomes.  Then add in length of day, which changes by milliseconds, transferring massive amounts of energy mostly into the oceans – causing oscillations that, according to climatologist Judith Curry, are not considered in current climate models. I must ask: is the science of climate really settled? Can it ever be?

Mr. Happer’s position on climate, his scientific credentials and his role in the Trump administration have made him a very large target.

He is a physicist who specialized in the study of atomic physics, optics and spectroscopy. He is the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics and he is the Davisson-Germer Prize winner in
Atomic or Surface Physics. He is not nor could he be a climate scientist because that designation is so new that UCLA only just launched a degree program in 2018.

Since that interview, Greenpeace outed him in a sting operation and President Donald Trump recruited Professor Happer to be a member of a Presidential Committee on Climate Security.

However, in September of 2019, the unflinching Mr. Happer quit. According to Science Magazine, while Happer may have been unflinching, Trump’s White House isn’t. So on Sept 13, 2019, Mr. Happer resigned.

Professor Happer, as you will see in this interview, firmly believes the impact of CO2 has been misrepresented.


Forcing banks to feed the climate machine

Can banks fight climate change? Should the bankers attempt to change the future weather of the planet? The notion is farfetched, yet politicians are trying to get banks to do just that.

Several members of Congress recently urged the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Jerome Powell, to use the agency’s powers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Mr. Powell wisely is having none of it. It’s not the Fed’s job under the law to address the climate, he recently informed Congress. Legislation also has been proposed to require the Fed “manage climate-related financial risks.”

The Federal Reserve is a powerful agency that controls the U.S. money supply. Its mission established by Congress, most recently in 1978, is to pursue price stability and full employment. The Fed does this through its control of monetary policy, which includes determining the prime interest rate, and loaning banks money.

The Fed has a complicated and challenging mission to keep a lid on price inflation. Congress established the nation’s central bank a century ago as an entity run by a board of governors appointed by the president and with Senate approval for fixed terms of office in order to shield it at least somewhat from politics.

Just how would or could the Federal Reserve Bank influence CO2 emissions? The term follow the money is apt here, since the Fed controls its supply. The Fed also is a powerful regulator of banks and the financial sector writ large. It examines their holdings and investments.

Climate alarmists want the Fed to force banks and financial institutions to dictate how money is loaned and invested. Don’t like fossil fuels? The Fed ultimately could impede the ability of oil and gas companies to attract investors and obtain bank loans. If you think, as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez believes, that Miami will be flooded in a few years by a rising Atlantic Ocean, then the government, through agencies like the Fed, could discourage development in such coastal places.

Central banks in European countries already are getting deep in this fool’s errand of climate change and CO2 emissions. Even if you believe the Federal Reserve in the U.S. should add to its plate – beware, since its monetary policy track record includes some spectacular failures.

The double-digit percentage growth in annual price inflation in the late 1970’s was due primarily to an excessive expansion of the U.S. money supply by the Fed during that decade. High inflation has a broad, crippling effect on any economy, and the U.S. economy by the late ‘70’s experienced its worse condition since the Great Depression. To cure this high inflation, the Fed had to inflict more harm by raising interest rates that led to a deep recession in the early 1980’s.

The Fed also was a main culprit in the Great Recession of 2008-09, which resulted from its keeping interest rates too low for too long, which led to over-priced housing, commodities and company stocks. By late ’08, these bubbles burst and the Fed had to step in to keep the economy afloat with liquidity; again, fixing its own mistakes.

The Fed in its history has been mostly effective, but it is not the font of all wisdom, as these and other financial episodes demonstrate. But that hasn’t kept politicians from trying to use it, and every other level of government, to control society in the effort to control climate, as if accomplishing the former would enable the latter.

When climate alarmists are in charge of powerful agencies, the absence of applicable laws or sound science is no impediment to using government to force climate policies on an unwilling public. Examples abound, such as the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to control carbon emissions by butchering the intent of the Clean Air Act. The U.S. Supreme Court put on hold on the CPP and the Trump administration has since replaced it with its Affordable Clean Energy rules.

The Federal Reserve doesn’t need to spend fruitless time and resources in some attempt to control the weather. It already is a full plate to preside over the U.S. economy. But that won’t stop climate alarmist politicians from demanding such as another tool to reorder society to fit their political agenda.


U.S. Reports First Month in 70 Years as Net Exporter of Oil

What happened to "Peak Oil"?

Remember a few years ago when the United States was heavily dependent on foreign oil and experts were telling us we'd be a slave to OPEC forever?

I remember it well. We fought wars for oil, undermined unfriendly governments for oil, but in the end, we were at the mercy of others for our oil supply. Our economy was held hostage by OPEC, as even a small change in the price of oil would send markets reeling and slow economic growth.

But in September, that all pretty much ended. For the first time since records were kept beginning in 1949, the United States became a net exporter of oil.


“The U.S. return to being a net exporter serves to remind how the oil industry can deliver surprises -- in this case, the shale oil revolution - that upend global oil prices, production, and trade flows,” said Bob McNally, a former energy adviser to President George W. Bush and president of the consulting firm Rapidan Energy Group.

Soaring output from shale deposits led by the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico has been in main driver of the transition -- but America’s status as a net exporter may be fragile. Many Texas wildcatters are predicting a rapid decline in production growth next year, while some Democratic contenders for the White House have called for a ban on fracking -- the controversial drilling technique that unleashed the boom.

“In the days of Jimmy Carter and even Ronald Reagan, we would have longed for this day,” said Jim Lucier, managing director of Washington, D.C.-based Capital Alpha Partners LLC. “Now we scarcely notice it at all.”

It's true. There were no parades or speeches marking the celebration of our energy independence. Part of that, I'm sure, is that we still import a sizable portion of some refined oil products as well as some crude oil.

But could it also be that the naysayers, the doomsday predictors, the "peak oil" movement, and those "experts" who believed the American energy sector would never rise again were s wrong they're embarrassed to be reminded of it?

Analysts at Rystad Energy said this week the U.S. is only months away from achieving energy independence, citing surging oil and gas output as well as the growth of renewables.

“Going forward, the United States will be energy independent on a monthly basis, and by 2030 total primary energy production will outpace primary energy demand by about 30%,” said Sindre Knutsson, vice president of Rystad Energy’s gas markets team.

In 1972, the global think tank Club of Rome published "Limits of Growth" which predicted economic collapse before the new millennium and notably, that oil reserves would be depleted by 1990. Today, there are approximately 1.73 trillion barrels of oil in the world's reserves with more being discovered every year. This is enough to last 50 years. And that's not taking into account alternative energy sources and efficiencies that would save us millions of barrels a year.

Why we keep listening to these fools is a mystery. They've been predicting the end of the United States for 200 years and somehow, we keep going. What seems like a miracle is actually the simple process of markets working their magic and human ingenuity doing the rest.

And those are things that the "experts" never take into account.


Prof. Michael Kelly: Energy Policy Needs ‘Herds Of Unicorns’
Climate Policy Research

Utopian thinking is putting the economy at risk says Cambridge professor

The UK’s decision to embark on a wholesale decarbonisation of the economy is beset by superficial thinking that ignores engineering reality.

That’s according to Professor Michael Kelly, emeritus professor of engineering at the University of Cambridge. At the Annual GWPF Lecture Professor Kelly told an audience in London last night that the government’s 2050 net zero target is unachievable without major social disruption.

“For the world to reverse two centuries of industrial development in a few decades would require the efforts of herds of unicorns”, he jokes. “It simply isn’t going to happen, as much as the zealots in Parliament and on the streets shout about it”.

Professor Kelly, a former chief scientist at the Department of Communities and Local Government, also hit out at the Committee on Climate Change’s claim that decarbonisation can be achieved cheaply.

“Their estimates are pie in the sky”, he says. “We have real-world data that shows that the cost would run to trillions of pounds. If politicians listen to them, we are in trouble”.


Australia is doing well at adaptation to the threat of climate change

It’s not surprising that the continuing drought, the driest ever for many parts of the country, record temperatures and the early and explosive start of the bushfire season have increased public concern about climate change and triggered accusations the government is failing to prepare communities for these growing hazards.

While it is true that government responses are lagging in Australia, as they are in most other countries, the Morrison government is doing more to build Australia’s climate resilience than its critics (or even the government itself) may realise. That’s because many of its initiatives are not branded as “climate change” and are embedded in the bureaucratic silos of government departments that have other mandates.

Some examples of this include the $5bn Future Drought Fund, the $4.5bn Roads of Strategic Importance Initiative, the $3.9bn Emergency Response Fund, the $1.5bn National Water Infrastructure Development Fund, the $130m National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework, and the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrange­ments, each of which provides very significant funding for activities to strengthen resilience to floods, droughts and other climate-related hazards that climate change is amplifying.

The problem is that this lack of integration at whole-of-government level is creating inefficiencies that we can ill-afford in a rapidly changing climate.

The Department of Environment and Energy co-ordinates the National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy, but the strategy is not integrated with the Department of Home Affairs’ National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework, even though more than 90 per cent of all disasters are from hazards, such as floods and droughts, that climate change is worsening.

Similarly, the $100bn National Infrastructure Investment Program in the Department of Transportation, Cities and Regional Development, could be better leveraged to build regional and local resilience to climate hazards.

The ADF and the Australian aid program should also be key elements of a coherent national approach.

As we are already seeing, our military will increasingly need to be called upon to support disaster response within Australia and to respond to regional disasters, territorial disputes, and people movements driven by food instability and other climate-related disruptions. Careful targeting of the aid program’s $665m of development assistance for resilience-building can support both our humanitarian and national security objectives, decreasing the need for ADF responses to some of these emerging challenges.

We must bring together this significant ongoing work more coherently.

The recent Independent Review of the Australian Public Service, submitted to the Prime Minister last September, suggests a useful way forward. The review highlighted the key role of the APS Secretaries Board in driving policy across portfolios and explored options to strengthen the governance and resourcing of the board to drive delivery of whole-of-government outcomes. Building Australia’s resilience in the face of our changing climate is exactly the sort of cross-departmental challenge that would benefit from the board’s leadership.

Preparing a more coherent national approach would also make it easier to identify gaps that need to be addressed. A few already stand out. The federal government has no legislated authority ­defining its role, powers and responsibilities in responding to catastrophic natural disasters. This will become increasingly problematic in a rapidly warming climate. Governments in Canada and the US have this authority, even though they too have federal systems that vest the primary responsibility for responding to natural disasters at a state level.

Greater attention should also be devoted to mainstreaming disaster risk reduction across all of the commonwealth’s investments and we need to begin thinking more deeply about the implications for communities that are, or will soon be, in chronic crisis, including options such as managed retreats, land swaps and financial incentives for farmers to transition to other livelihoods.

Notwithstanding the polarising political rhetoric, there is strong bipartisan support for initiatives to build Australia’s resilience to climate hazards. Both major parties, for example, supported passage of the Future Drought and Emergency Response funds.

Given the increasing impact disasters are having on Australian communities, it is in our national interest for this bipartisan approach to become stronger, more visible and explicit. As this happens, it may also help to unlock opportunities for bipartisan efforts in other, more politically challenging, but fundamentally important areas, such as climate change mitigation.



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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