Monday, January 20, 2020

Californians Turn a Cold Shoulder on Bill Requiring Climate-Change Education/b>

A bill introduced in the California Assembly January 13 would require students to study the causes and effects of climate change in grades 1-6. It would also make the subject a requirement for high-school graduation.

When I read the news, I first thought, “What’s surprising? Climate alarmists have long since taken over California.”

But it looks like ordinary Californians aren’t going to be so easily led. Comments on the news story at CBS Sacramento were overwhelmingly negative.

Early on, someone calling himself simply “Time” wrote:

I guess it will then be my duty to teach them to unlearn or ignore what the climate religion is teaching, using actual facts and data, and pointing out the long list of alarmist predictions that have never come true. Fortunately my kids go to a public school that is in a district that is actually very good. We don’t have to put up with too many crazies. But the lunacy in California also allows me to teach my kids a very valuable lesson early in life: that the education system is not made up of all-knowing gods. Just because it’s taught doesn’t mean you have to believe it. Learn it for the test, pick the desired answer to get a grade, and move on.

Others wrote more briefly, but with similar sentiments. Indeed, of 77 comments (excluding my own and three responses to others’ comments) posted by 2 p.m. Central Time on January 16, 76 were unmistakably negative.

Many mocked. Some presented reasoned arguments. As I read repeatedly through them, I thought of seven categories into which they fell — and some could have gone into more than one.

Thirteen alleged that the bill’s goal was to substitute propaganda, brainwashing, or indoctrination for real education. Eight used it as an occasion to reflect on the proper role of education and the comparative importance of climate-change education with more basic subjects. Nineteen challenged the scientific case for dangerous man-made global warming.

One chalked up the idea to irresponsible government leaders. Five spoke of it as simply a hoax or scam. Thirteen more said it was a scam specifically driven by a political ideology — socialism, communism, fascism, or the Democratic Party. Fifteen simply mocked the idea. Three others — including the only one that seemed to support the bill — fit no category.

“DearLC” combined suspicions over brainwashing with concerns about educational priorities: “Another attempt at brain washing to achieve a desired result. Teaching of reading, writing and arithmetic is so old fashioned.”

“whostolemycog” echoed the thought:

Government mandated indoctrination has been going on since the at least the 80's…it gave us cultural relativism, political correctness, and then started in on promoting racial/cultural identity as being the most relevant part of any person. Promoting the fraud of climate change is hardly surprising. The goal of today’s left is to gain absolute power and then destroy their opposition. Their mentors are people like Josef Stalin, Mao, and Pol-Pot. Bernie’s folks are already promoting re-education camps for those engaging in wrong-think.

Ed Martin quoted Marshall Fritz, H.L. Mencken, Francisco Ferrer, and Benjamin Disraeli, all warning against the dangers state-run education poses to liberty.

Lawrence Hall turned the tables a bit, asking, “Did any of you vote in YOUR last school board elections, or do you just complain? YOU are the schools. Don’t blame others for your own passivity; self-government is not a spectator sport.”

The comments challenging the science referred to wide swings of climate throughout geologic history; difficulty proving cause and effect in such a climate system; neglected benefits of warming; lack of empirical proof of the theories underlying climate alarmist predictions; the negligible impact of reducing CO2 emissions; the fact that alarmists have falsified some of their evidences; and financial incentives driving some scientist advocates of climate alarm.

“Requiring them to teach about climate change might be a good thing, if only they would teach the truth,” wrote Robert Canine, tying scientific, political, and economic issues together. “That is, the fact that global warming ‘research’ is the biggest fraud in the history of science, and it’s nothing more than a politically-motivated attempt to seize wealth from the wealthier nations (mainly the U.S.) and send it to the rest of the world (while lining the pockets of the those doing the seizing).”

Oliver Clozoff asked, “Are they going to be allowed to teach that it’s a complete hoax perpetrated by liberals who just want an excuse to boss people around and take their stuff?”

Mockery often combined with blaming political ideology.

Teddy Novak wrote, “Leftists, whether they call themselves socialists, fascists, progressives, communists, Democrats, Greens, Antifa, Nazis, Black Lives Matter, or whatever, are a cancer.”

“Get ‘em while they’re young, and you’ll have the next batch of jackbooted greenies controlling what we do and say, voting for taxes to go to the carbon exchange where a few will get trillions in exchange for saving the Earth from carbon dioxide, a life gas,” wrote someone calling himself simply Mark.

Other mockery was simpler. “Climate Comedian” wrote, “It’s funny because all of these comments are critical of the policy… not one comment to support it. I wonder if something is happening out there beyond the hysteria. I guess we will find out in 12 years when all of this is supposed to come crashing down on us!”

“They also need to include the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus. Everyone likes a good story,” wrote “Jay.”

And “matismf” said simply, “Putrid stench of tribe in action.”

So maybe there’s hope for California after all. Though climate alarmism seems to dominate the political class and entertainers, the rank and file aren’t marching lockstep.


Court Smacks Down Children's Attempt to Force Climate Policy by Lawsuit

In a key victory for the rule of law, a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a lawsuit filed by children against the U.S. government, claiming that the federal government had violated the children's rights by failing to act against climate change. The lawsuit asked the court to unilaterally force the government to adopt broad climate policies, circumventing Congress and the executive branch entirely.

"The plaintiffs claim that the government has violated their constitutional rights, including a claimed right under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to a 'climate system capable of sustaining human life.' The central issue before us is whether, even assuming such a broad constitutional right exists, an Article III court can provide the plaintiffs the redress they seek—an order requiring the government to develop a plan to 'phase out fossil fuel emissions and draw down excess atmospheric CO2,'" Judge Andrew Hurwitz wrote in the opinion on the case Juliana v. United States (2020).

He ruled that the courts cannot unilaterally make law in this fashion, even if they wanted to.

"Reluctantly, we conclude that such relief is beyond our constitutional power. Rather, the plaintiffs’ impressive case for redress must be presented to the political branches of government," Hurwitz wrote.

According to a summary of the opinion, "the panel held that it was beyond the power of an Article III court to order, design, supervise, or implement the plaintiffs’ requested remedial plan where any effective plan would necessarily require a host of complex policy decisions entrusted to the wisdom and discretion of the executive and legislative branches."

Free-market organizations rightly praised the decision.

"We applaud the majority’s dismissal of this case. The court correctly understood that a lawsuit aimed at imposing a national plan to eliminate fossil fuel emissions and reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide would push the court far beyond its constitutional powers," Sam Kazman, general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), said in a statement. "It would require the court to substitute its judgment for that of Congress and the Administration on an unprecedented scale."

"However, it is unfortunate that, in coming to this conclusion, the court summarized the scientific evidence on climate change in such apocalyptic terms," Kazman added. "The Department of Justice should have made clear that its failure to contest this evidence did not mean that the evidence was incontestable. Hopefully, future litigation on this issue will involve a more measured assessment of climate reality."

CEI has pressured NASA to retract the horrendously false claim that 97 percent of climate scientists accept the idea of catastrophic man-made climate change.

Anthony Watts, senior fellow at The Heartland Institute, compared Juliana v. United States to the New York State lawsuit against Exxon-Mobil claiming the gas company committed climate change fraud — a case that was dismissed last December.

"Just like the recent case against Exxon-Mobil in New York that was dismissed, this case by 'climate concerned children; was prompted and powered by climate activist interests. In both cases, huge amounts of money, time, and legal expertise were thrown at these claims in an attempt to make a legal case that climate change has been harmful," Watts said. "Both cases were dismissed."

"The bottom line is that while yes, we’ve seen some changes in our climate over the past century, with improved crop yields, better health, reduced deaths from weather disasters, and increasingly less impoverishment worldwide, it is hard to argue that an increase of about 1 degree Centigrade has been detrimental to humanity," he concluded.

Indeed, repeated prophecies of climate disaster have proven false, while human ingenuity has enabled an explosion in crop yields that helps sustain the earth's burgeoning population. In fact, humanity grew both richer and more sustainable in the last decade. Contrary to the alarmism, the world is not about to end, and children do not need the courts to trample on the Constitution to force complex climate policy.


The Green Party won’t save Germany

The Greens have excited the commentariat but they are not trusted by voters.

Forty years ago this week, the German Green Party was founded. This year’s anniversary celebrations coincide with a much-hyped ‘green wave’. ‘The stars have aligned for Germany’s Greens. The next election may put them in government’, says The Economist. Deutsche Welle claims that a Green chancellor is no longer inconceivable.

It is true that the Green Party has come a long way since its founding days. Founder member Petra Kelly described it as an ‘anti-party party’ which would sweep away the old mainstream. Many members of the German establishment at the time viewed it as nothing more than a collection of dreamers or dangerous freaks. ‘Do we want to continue down the path of rationality, reason and bourgeois values, or are we heading for a colourful fools’ ship named Utopia?’, asked the CSU (Christian Social Union) minister-president of Bavaria, Franz Josef Strauss, in 1986.

Back then, few would have believed how much the Greens would go on to shape political debate. ‘Ecology and sustainability have become new benchmarks for politics – far beyond the party’, said German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier (of the SPD) in his enthusiastic speech at the anniversary celebration. He’s right. The late Franz Josef Strauss would be very surprised to see his own successors in today’s CSU advocating for policies such as bans on plastic bags, the phasing out of coal before 2030, and the enshrining of climate protection in Germany’s constitution.

Yet, some things have also remained surprisingly consistent. From the beginning, the Greens have been a thoroughly middle-class party whose supporters come, almost entirely, from the well-to-do sections of society. ‘Green ideas do not flourish in the workers’ quarters. They thrive in the luxury villas of the rich and beautiful’, was another phrase coined by the populist Strauss.

In 2012, a year before the AfD arrived, Manfred G├╝llner, one of Germany’s leading pollsters, wrote: ‘The Greens were and are a party for the minority of the well-educated, and, increasingly also the upper-income groups… The adoption of numerous green ideas by the other parties means that large sections of the population no longer see themselves represented in politics.’

This is why the party’s much-lauded ‘green wave’ must be put into perspective. The Greens’ ideological influence is strong, but their electoral success has, at best, been mediocre. Only once since 1980 has the party managed to win more than 10 per cent of the vote in a General Election. In 2009 it received 10.7 per cent; its second best result was in 2017, when it got 8.9 per cent. It was during last year’s EU elections, in May, that talk of a green wave gained momentum — the party came third in those elections, winning 20.5 per cent of the vote. But EU elections with their low voter turnout (61 per cent in 2019) are untypical.

Less than five months later, the party did unexpectedly badly in the three important regional elections in the eastern states of Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia – coming only in fourth and fifth place. (In Thuringia and Saxony, the party gained less than a third of the number of votes won by the AfD.) ‘Even the Greens can’t do magic. Their high-flying seems to have come to a halt for the time being’, wrote a disappointed commentator in Der Spiegel.

In the past few months, the Green leadership has been given near celebrity status by some in the press. Leader Robert Habeck embodies the ‘perfect mixture of future optimism, devotion and nonchalance that could tear the country out of years of Merkel lethargy’, says the green-leaning Taz. He can speak to practically everyone, raves Jana Hensel in Die Zeit.

Hyping up the Greens has become part of a political strategy for those who hope that this once anti-mainstream party can channel today’s widespread voter dissatisfaction. But in truth, the Greens have more problems connecting with normal people than ever. Green Party politicians generally come across as authoritarian and arrogant, especially since Greens have been at the forefront of calls for all sorts of bans and restrictions on everyday life. In 2013, the Greens infamously demanded a compulsory weekly ‘veggie day’ in all public canteens. They have been crusading against junk food, cheap meat, public smoking, low-cost flights, and most recently against private firework displays on New Year’s Eve.

Before last year’s election in Thuringia, Habeck tweeted that he was trying to do everything to make the region become ‘open, free, liberal, democratic and ecological’. The tweet helped to cement the image of the Greens as condescending – Thuringia is already liberal and democratic, many critics rightly countered.

Since it was founded, the Green Party has had a deeply conservative, elitist and anti-growth core. Today, the party’s claims to be anti-establishment and socially liberal no longer ring true.

Anyone who doubts the true nature of the party should look back at its 2019 programme. It promised to make Germany a pioneer in climate protection, calling for ‘environmental costs’ to be ‘added to the prices of goods and services’. Poorer Germans are already shouldering the burden of the huge hike in electricity costs since the Energiewende (the transition to renewable energy sources). Electricity prices have risen by 118 per cent since 2000. The average price per kw/h in 2019 was nearly 33 cents – a record high. Increasing the cost of living even further is unlikely to be a vote winner.

After more than 40 years in politics, and despite the deep crisis of the other mainstream parties, the Greens are further away than ever from winning ordinary people’s hearts and minds.

In February, there will be elections in Hamburg. Some are predicting that the party will win. In this relatively wealthy city there is indeed a fairly strong Green voter base. But even if the polls are right this time, and the party manages to get 29 per cent, this is hardly indicative of a new green wave. Winning a true majority is not the same as flooding politics with green ideas.


Greener Power Reduces Emissions, But It Also Can Heighten The Risk Of Bushfire

Geoff Russell, writing from Australia

Power lines are a significant cause of bushfire in Australia. In my state of SA, Wikipedia has details on 10 major bush fire events, power lines were implicated in three of them.

In Australia’s most deadly bushfires, Black Saturday, power lines were the cause of the Kilmore East fire that killed 119 people and injured another 232.

In the US, one power company caused 1,500 fires in California over a period of six years including the 2018 Camp Fire which killed 85 people.

Just before Christmas a class action was settled over the Terang bush fires of 2018, allegedly started by arcing power lines. The Company at the centre of that dispute recently rolled out in the Ararat region what is rather like a very big safety switch to reduce fire risks from arcing power lines in future.

But will those switches be rolled out across Australia? Who knows. Certainly PowerCor are rolling them out in its network. A class action payout does tend to concentrate the mind.

How do power lines cause fires?

There are two major ways. First, wild weather can cause arcing directly by forcing wires together, or can act via trees or tree-limbs and knock them onto power lines causing sparks or arcing. Not clearing a big enough buffer zone around your power lines can see trees simply grow into them.

Second, electrical faults may also cause sparks or arcing. Things just wear out and break. Arcing is like lightning, electrical energy finding a path through the air to a distant point.

Of course, power lines are much more commonly damaged by fires than they are a causal factor in starting them. But fire and even smoke near a transmission line can cause arcing and a subsequent tripping of power switches; meaning that power is cut from the line and people served by the line will lose power.

Air around a power line is normally a great insulator so there is no arcing, but fill that air with heavy smoke and fire and the insulation properties drop and arcing can result.

The word “tripping” makes it sound like you can just flip a switch to turn it on, but it isn’t always that simple. The devices which handle such problems will recognise temporary issues and reconnect the power when the problem clears.

If, for example, a tree limb falls on the line, causes an arc and then falls down, reconnecting the power on the line will typically be automatic. But the tripping could cause significant damage that needs actual fixing by real people; easier said than done in the middle of a fire.

Four methods of risk reduction

There are four ways of reducing the likelihood of a power line causing a fire; just turn it off when there is a big fire risk, clear a bigger area around it, bury it or simply don’t have it at all.

The first option isn’t popular, the third is really expensive, and the fourth is often ignored. So the second option, coupled with better switches is the default option. We’ll come back to option four later.

Our electrical grid is typically thought of in two parts; the big high voltage transmission lines and the smaller lower voltage distribution lines. The transmission lines are high voltage and connect power stations with areas needing power. The distribution grid then fans out to the individual businesses and households.

New land developments are often done with underground power distribution, but undergrounding distribution in existing areas is expensive; $30,000 to $100,000 per residential block.

The total cost to underground the power distribution in SA alone has been estimated at $25 billion. Multiply that up and you’d be looking at something like $400 billion for the whole of Australia.

Putting just your big transmission lines underground costs 10-15 times more than putting them overhead, and the lines only last about 40 years instead of 80. It also takes three to six times longer to actually lay the cables. All of these figures are heavily dependent on terrain and local conditions.

Distributed systems need more transmission lines

Renewable energy systems are highly distributed; meaning they need far longer transmission lines. You put wind farms where the wind is and solar farms where the land is cheap, and where you have road or rail access to deliver the vast tonnages of panels and posts and concrete required.

This makes for a geographic mismatch between where you have electricity and where you need it.

On the 4th of January this year, the transmission lines in the Snowy went down and Victoria and NSW were disconnected; the blackout risks in NSW rose, as did the wholesale price of electricity… hitting over $14,700/MWh.

Events like bushfires need local and reliable power with the shortest possible transmission lines, which isn’t usually wind or solar farms, or hydro.

The mismatch between the location of supply and demand has been evident in SA for some time. South Australia sometimes has more wind power than it can use, so it is building another big transmission interconnector so it can sell that excess power to the eastern states.

In Germany, they need to build about 7,500 kms of new transmission lines over the next few years to move their wind power from the north where their offshore wind farms are, to the south, where their heavy industry is.

Germany doesn’t have our fire regime, but in Australia, every additional kilometre of above ground transmission line through bush, crop or pasture creates additional fire risks that we really don’t need.

Reduce or eliminate transmission lines

The option of minimising transmission lines is something that needs to be part of power system design. How many fires should a transmission line cause before people think about eliminating it in favour of local power generation?

There is only one technology that meets all the requirements for being clean, dispatchable, and reliable. There is an international race between China and the US to be the first to produce small nuclear reactors in factories. A few small power reactors (in addition to a couple of hundred research reactors) are already operating in China, India and Russia; more are under construction in China, Russia and Argentina.

The IEA has added it’s authority to making the obvious perfectly clear; that we can’t beat climate change without nuclear. So it’s time Australia’s Greens got with the science and abandoned their ignorant fear mongering.


'They are incinerators from hell': Biologist blames GUM TREES for Australia's brutal bushfire season - and says they should be banned anywhere near human settlements

I really like our native gum trees and would oppose any attack on them but there is undoubtedly some truth in the colorful claim below. They do burn easily.

It is irrelevant, however.  Fuel reduction will prevent the fires regardless of which trees the fuel comes from.  Fuel reduction is the Holy Grail.  With it, there CAN be no big fires.  Anything else is passing the buck

A prominent Australian biologist has blamed the country's bushfires on gum trees, labelling them 'incinerators from hell dressed up as trees'.

Also known as eucalyptus trees, gum trees are native to every Australian state and their leaves make up most of the diet of koalas and some possum species.

Despite being a source of food for iconic native animals, biologist Jeremy Griffith attributed Australia's current bushfire crisis to the widespread tree on Saturday.

The biologist, who is also an author, even went as far to say that people should be banned from growing eucalyptus trees anywhere near human settlements. 

'Humans can't live near them, and they are an extremely dangerous habitat for wildlife,' Mr Griffith wrote in The Spectator.

Australia's current bushfire season has claimed the lives of 28 people and an estimated one billion animals so far.

Mr Griffith explained eucalyptus trees actively encourage bushfires as their waxy and oily leaves are very flammable.

In addition, he said gum trees have epicormic buds hidden under their bark that are protected from flames and allow them quickly sprout back after bushfires.

'Eucalypts can survive an intense fire when few other species can; and since they can survive fire they can afford to encourage fire because it will eliminate competition from other species,' Mr Griffith said.

He pointed out that gum trees heavily shed leaves and peeling bark, which he believes is in order to generate tinder for fires.

Mr Griffith likened gum trees to 'dangerous crocodiles planted tail-down ready to destroy lives and our world'.

'There has to be a complete change of mindset when thinking about eucalypts that recognises their true nature. The stark reality is there should be legislation in Australia preventing eucalypts from growing in quantity near people,' he said. 

The biologist said there needs to be more regular hazard reduction burns in eucalypt forests, like those practiced by Indigenous Australians thousands of years before British settlement.

He explained that because Indigenous Australians would start small fires regularly, the intensity of fires would decrease, which would allow for safe fires in the summer.

Mr Griffith warned of the dangers that eucalyptus trees pose in other parts of the world where they have been introduced, such as California. [And China]

Australian gold miners introduced gum trees to California in the 1850s before the local state government began encouraging their plantation in the early 1900s.

During the Oakland firestorm in 1991, it is estimated that 70 per cent of the energy released from blazes was through eucalyptus trees.

In California, which has similar dry conditions to Australia, wildfires are a yearly occurrence and recently took the lives of five people in 2019.

Australia's current bushfire season arrived early in October 2019. So far, a total of 28 people have died in the horror blazes and more than 2,000 homes have been destroyed.



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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