Monday, December 23, 2019

COP 25: Paris Accord destroyed

“Action Now!” radicalism has destroyed the slow moving, consensus based Paris Agreement. It is not just COP 25 that failed; the UN climate change machinery has collapsed. This is good news, even though the reason is bad news.

I have been writing about the climate alarmism movement tearing itself apart for months now. For example here.

The new radicalism is at war with the establishment moderates. This great gulf between radicals and moderates hit the COP 25 summit in Madrid with a vengeance. These annual summits are normally protracted exercises in compromise among the almost 200 nations represented. Not this time.

In Madrid the Action Now! radicals would not even consider compromise. Their extremism then caused the moderates to take hard line positions as well, so the COP stalled out and failed to act on any significant issue. That what the radicals demand is impossible did not help. The negotiating machinery ground to a noisy halt.

So now we have two very different versions of the alarmist rhetoric and a lot of people on each side. I call them the “Action Now!” hysterics (Greta, XR, etc.) and the moderates. The Paris Accord reflects the slow moving moderate view. It turns out that a lot of national delegations now take the hysterical view, especially the small island states and the Africans (both of which stand to make the most money).

You could see the breakdown coming on, as Madrid was hyped as the “action COP” when it was nothing of the sort. Even the COP leaders took part in this foolish rhetoric. Yet the sorts of radical national actions being called for were simply not on the agenda. I doubt the moderate negotiators on the ground in Madrid had the authority to even consider the radical’s hysterical demands for immediate drastic action.

Nor is such radical action on upcoming COP agendas. It is not part of the Paris Accord process and therein lies the problem for the Action Now! radicals. They demand what cannot happen.

The hysterics are calling for radical action at next year’s Glasgow COP at the latest. This is highly unlikely, to say the least.

In fact the harassed moderates in Madrid pointed out that most countries, including all of the major emitters, do not have to file new emission reduction plans until 2030. China and India, the first and fourth biggest emitters, have already said that is their intent. Additionally, their plans allow for unlimited emission increases until 2030, which is intolerable for the Action Now! hysterics.

America, the number two emitter, is certainly not going to file a radical action plan. U.S. membership in the Paris fiasco officially ends the day before the 2020 Glasgow COP begins in November.

If the Action Now! radicals continue their intransigence then the Paris Accord is essentially dead. This is almost certain to happen. Ironically the Paris Agreement has been killed by the irrational fear of climate change that spawned it in the first place. Is that cool or what?

The death of the silly Paris Accord is fine by me. My only real concern is that the hysterics might somehow do real damage. So far this seems unlikely, given that what they are demanding is impossible.

This is why I cherish the hysterics. They are wrecking the climate scare political movement. It is like I am fighting an enemy force and suddenly it is having an endless civil war. I am all for that.


A California economy built on wind and solar is a mirage

In its never-ending war to demonstrate political correctness in the era of “climate change,” California lawmakers are demonstrating their ignorance of economics and resource allocation and angering voters across the nation in the process.

Just last year, the California legislature enacted a law that requires the state to obtain all of its electricity from “clean” sources – wind, solar, hydro – by 2045, with shorter term goal of 60 percent renewable by 2030. One has to wonder how the state is going to meet what promises to be a massive increase in energy demand just 25 years from now.

The California Energy Commission estimated that the state will consume 301,525 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity in 2020 – and that’s the lowball estimate! Just four years ago, the Golden State was importing a third of its electricity, and 44 percent of its electrical energy generation was from oil, coal, and natural gas.

California, however, is still the nation’s third largest producer of oil and natural gas. One wonders if and when the state will stop issuing operating permits for these facilities, which generate significant revenues and provide thousands of jobs for Californians.

Also in 2018, Assemblyman Phil Ting (D, San Francisco) introduced a bill that would have banned the sale and registration of new passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks powered by internal combustion engines beginning in 2040. Though that bill died, the 2020 state budget empowers the California Energy Commission to conduct a study of how to move the state toward 100 percent electric vehicles by 2040.

Currently, only about 3 percent of the 26 million passenger vehicles in California are personal electric vehicles. How is California going to generate enough electricity within 20 years to power 23 million more personal vehicles? The California Energy Commission notes that 15.1 billion gallons of gasoline and 4.2 billion gallons of diesel fuel were sold in the state in 2015. That’s a boatload of energy that will have to be replaced with wind and solar electricity.

Moreover, while some believe these bans will result in Californians driving existing internal combustion engines as long as they can be operated, one wonders at what point in time California will ban the SALE of gasoline and diesel fuel.

Earlier this year, progressive Berkeley banned the construction of natural gas lines to single-family homes, town homes, and small apartment buildings starting in January 2020; the ban will be extended to commercial buildings and larger residential structures once the state developes, develop regulations. Several other California cities have followed suit, and the trend is likely to continue.

Jacques Leslie, who was a war correspondent for the Los Angeles Times during the Vietnam war, stated flatly in a LA Times op ed that, “California has set a climate mandate of 100% clean, renewable energy by 2045. It won’t reach that goal unless it eliminates natural gas from buildings.” Leslie went on to assert that, “Now that regulations aimed at the 2045 mandate are in place for cars, trucks, and coal-fired power, natural gas has to be next. The popular image of gas cooking and heating — clean, cheap and reliable, a “bridge fuel” from coal to renewables — requires drastic revision. Natural gas is in fact the new coal.”

According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, about 12 million California homes have gas stoves and/or furnaces. Natural gas consumption in the state in 2018 totaled 2,136,907 million cubic feet (Mcf), of which 614,722 Mcf went for electric power generation, 766,415 Mcf to industrial users, 423,915 Mcf to residential users, and 248,012 to commercial users. That is a whopping amount of energy that will have to be replaced with wind and solar electricity.

To jumpstart the state’s intoxicating goals for zero emissions, California in November announced it would no longer buy sedans powered solely by internal combustion engines and will purchase only plug-in electric or hybrid vehicles. SUV’s, trucks, and certain public safety vehicles are exempt – for now. The state further announced it would only purchase vehicles from automakers that recognize the California Air Resources Board’s authority to set tough greenhouse gas standards for vehicles – Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, and Honda.

This decision is a declaration of war against General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, and other automakers that are seeking to become a party to a legal battle between the Trump Administration and California over whether the state can set auto emission rules for itself.

Curiously, one week after this announcement, California motorists reported they had to wait in a half-mile-long line for hours to recharge their ZEV Teslas at the Kettleman City recharging station halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on Interstate 5, even though the station has 40 individual charging points. A day earlier a video entitled ‘Tesla Energy Crisis’ revealed a sizable line of 15 Teslas waiting for their turn at a supercharger station in San Luis Obispo on Thanksgiving Day.

But if you think waiting in line for hours just to get home from a weekend outing is tough, imagine trying to recharge your electric vehicle during one of Pacific Gas & Electric’s intentional rolling blackouts, one of which reportedly affected 700,000 California households – and which PG&E promises may be needed for years to come as part of their fire prevention plan?

California’s commitment to 100 percent renewable electricity – no natural gas, no coal, no oil, and no nuclear power (the state’s lone nuclear power plant will sunset in 2021) — violates the maxim popularized in 1605 by Miguel Cervantes, “It is the part of a wise man to keep himself today for tomorrow, and not venture all his eggs in one basket.”


Giant African wetland boosts global methane emissions

For over a decade, scientists have been scratching their heads trying to figure out what is behind rising methane emissions around the world. Is it soaring production of natural gas, led by the fracking boom in the U.S.? Or is it agriculture, with all those flatulating cattle?

Now, the real culprit appears to have been found: It’s a giant wetland in East Africa. Coming in at 22,000 square miles, the Sudd wetlands in South Sudan is about the size of the state of West Virginia. Water entering the wetlands is fueling plant growth and soil microbiol activity, producing gobs of methane. It is now one of the largest freshwater ecosystems in the world, and growing. The influx of water appears to be the result of upriver dam releases on the Nile River and its tributaries.

Everything Became Greener

Satellite images “showed the Sudd wetlands expanded in size, you can even see it in aerial imagery – everything became greener,” Paul Palmer, and atmospheric scientist at the University of Edinburgh who co-authored the research, told BBC News. “There’s not much ground-monitoring in this region that can prove or disprove our results, but the data fit together beautifully.” The scientists published their findings in early December in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

“The level of the East African lakes, which feed down the Nile to the Sudd, increased considerably over the period we were studying,” Mark Lunt, a geoscientist at the University of Edinburgh who headed the research, told Yale Environment 360. “It coincided with the increase in methane we saw, and would imply that we were getting this increased flow down the river into the wetlands.”

As the East African wetlands expand, vegetation, including trees, will proliferate. Scientists are now focusing more attention on trees in tropical wetlands as a source of methane. The greener the earth gets, the more methane we’re going to get. It comes with the territory.

A Greener Planet

Proponents of human-caused (anthropogenic) global warming/climate change often describe methane as a “potent greenhouse gas,” far more powerful than the villainous carbon dioxide. But just as almost all CO2 occurs without human input, methane, too, is part of the natural world. For years satellite images have shown a greening planet, most notably in Africa. Contrary to the dire predictions of climate alarmists, deserts are shrinking, and plant life is taking hold where it has been absent for thousands of years.

All of this is good for biodiversity and food production and attests to the benefits of rising CO2 levels.


Greenhorns of the climate crusade

Everyone loves children. They’re the best part of a better world to come. Unfortunately, kids are clueless about both the world as it is and the means to improve it. That’s why they’re sent to school to learn rather than teach. However, climate-change activists have managed to short-circuit the educational process and fashion millions of “green” greenhorns raring to fight for a decarbonized global economy. Sensible adults should step forward and gently disabuse misguided minors of the notion that the world is about to go up in smoke. It’s not.

Teenage “climate leader” Greta Thunberg led a children’s crusade into the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Madrid last week, intent on hectoring world leaders over their failure to cut greenhouse gas emissions claimed to be crucial to prevent climate cataclysm. For the bold activism that brought her from picketing Parliament in her native Sweden to become the world’s most famous environmentalist virtually overnight, Time magazine named her “Person of the Year.”

The 16-year-old high school dropout topped with a girlish braid pleaded with thousands of policymakers and fellow climate activists to settle for nothing short of solid commitments to limit atmospheric carbon dioxide in order to keep its blanketing effect from raising global temperatures above the U.N. ceiling of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

“Why is it so important to stay below 1.5 degrees?” she queried rhetorically of the conferees before answering her own question: “Because with even one degree, people are dying from the climate crisis. Because that is what the united science calls for to avoid destabilizing the climate.”

It was quite a grown-up performance, and one emboldening other young ideologues to take their own stand against the supposed depredations of modern civilization. At one point, dozens of exultant young activists stormed the Madrid conference stage, chanting, “We are unstoppable, another world is possible.” Seamless self-assurance is a gift of adolescence, when individuals feel like they’re the smartest in the room. Over the course of time, most learn otherwise.

Still, children shouldn’t be faulted for gathering from their brief life experience that their destiny is to save the world from some sort of mortal threat. During the 13th century, legions of credulous French and German youth, believing themselves anointed to convert the Muslims, marched on the Holy Land. Their Children’s Crusade proved an impossible dream as many died on the long journey and others were sold into slavery. The lucky ones eventually straggled home.

The 20th century saw two generations of westerners come of age in the midst of existential threats to civilization from malevolent powers. Millions of patriotic youth volunteered to fight and, if necessary, die to save the world. Many shed their blood to uphold their military oath and they did, in fact, save the world from heartless aggressors.

The generation born in the 21st century has been reared in relative safety, but weaned on ubiquitous tales of an impending global warming doomsday. With free access to the social media cyberworld, young Americans have undoubtedly heard the likes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez making the breathless claim that “We’re like the world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.”

That’s a frightening forecast for those who haven’t heard similar declarations in the past. Former Vice President-turned climate activist Al Gore predicted in 2008 that the Arctic polar cap would completely melt in five years. Kids residing in the lower 48 may not have noticed, but it hasn’t. In 2014, France’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, appeared with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington, where he predicted Earth had 500 days to avoid “climate chaos.” The planet easily glided past that dreaded milestone around 2,300 days ago, none the worse for wear.

In fact, scientific consensus that carbon dioxide is the controlling factor in temperature variation is still a work in progress, despite the U.N.’s efforts to paper it over. And while atmospheric carbon dioxide has climbed to 400 parts per million during the era of human industrialization, global temperatures have not risen clearly in concert, as the carbon dioxide-temperature correlation theory demands.

“Green” greenhorns like Greta Thunberg need reassurance that despite what they have learned from cagey activists, a world afire is not their future. In time, they may learn what preceding generations have come to understand: The worst fear is fear itself.


Australian PM rules out changes to government’s climate change policies amid bushfire crisis

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made clear that there will be no change to current climate change policies, as he addressed the ongoing bushfires crisis after returning from holiday.

Speaking to the media at the NSW Rural Fire Service headquarters in Sydney, Mr Morrison said a range of measures in place were adequate and contributing to a reduction in emissions.

Yesterday, while still in his capacity as Acting PM, Nationals leader Michael McCormack conceded that Australia “absolutely” must do more to tackle climate change.

“I agree entirely,” Mr McCormack. “Yes I do. We will have those discussions.”

But today, just hours after jetting in from Hawaii in the wake of ongoing criticism over his absence while large parts of the country burn, Mr Morrison ruled out any immediate changes.

“What we will not do is act in a kneejerk or crisis or panicked mode. A panic approach and response to anything does not help,” he said. “It puts people at risk.”

Mr Morrison defended the government’s climate policy and reaffirmed his commitment to “meet and beat” Australia’s emissions targets under the Paris agreement.

“There is no argument, in my view and the government’s view, and any government in the country, about the links between broader issues of global climate change and weather events around the world,” he said.

“But I’m sure people would equally acknowledge the direct connection to any single fire event is not a credible suggestion to make that link. We must take action on climate change and we are taking action on climate change.”

However, climate change experts have criticised the government’s use of a so-called “loophole” that allows it to use carry-over credits from the Kyoto agreement to meet Paris targets.

Mr Morrison deflected a direct question about the loophole today, instead reiterating his view that current policies represented a “balanced” approach.

“Emissions are lower than at any time they were under the previous government. “We have had record investment in renewables in Australia and now, thankfully, as a result of policies the Government has put in place we are also getting electricity prices down, some $65 a year.

“And on top of that we’ve been doing it without embracing the reckless job destroying and economy crunching targets that others are seeking to force upon us.”

Later, when asked about Mr McCormack’s remarks, the PM denied it was an indication that new targets are needed.

“The Kyoto targets that were set by the previous Labor government, when we came to government there was the projections were that we would miss those by some 700 million tons,” Mr Morrison said. “Now we’re going to beat them by 411 million tons.”



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