Friday, January 10, 2020

Tesla becomes the most valuable US car maker of all time with a market value of $81.39billion - surpassing Ford Motor's peak of $80.81billion set in 1999

This absurd valuation is driven by perceptions of electric cars as the next big thing.  They are not.  In the Northern North American winter the range of electric cars is going to be drastically reduced by the need to use battery power to keep the driver warm.  The average Canadian is likely to find that he can drive his electric car to work for only around two months of the year.   And in the American South, airconditioning will be a big range-shortening power drain too. A car that can be fully used for less than half the year will eventually put a lot of noses out of joint and the electric car bubble will burst.  Buy Ford

And the fad for electric cars is driven by the idea that their manufacture and use cause fewer pollutant emissions than do combustion-driven cars.  But it has been shown many times that obtaining the materials to make the large batteries needed and the manufacture of the batteries are both very polluting and cancel out any gains from running the cars -- given the short (c. 10 years) lifespan of the batteries

Tesla has become the most valuable US car maker of all time after the company closed Monday with a market value of $81.39billion. The company surpassed Ford Motor's peak of $80.81billion that was set in 1999.

Tesla shares were trading more than 5 percent before the market opened Wednesday and finished the day before at $469.07. 

But Tesla's market value still trails Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen AG. Toyota Motor Corp is valued at $227.90billion while Volkswagen sat at $98.65billion by Monday's close.

Tesla is currently the sales leader in the US, according to the latest data compiled by the Edison Electric Institute, an association that represents all of the country's investor-owned electric companies.

Tesla, as the sales front runner, also leads with the top selling model, its Model 3, according to EEI.

While there are almost 1.2 million electric cars on the road, according to EEI, the segment still only represents 1.8 per cent of the total number of cars sold in the US market.

Tesla's short sellers have lost a stunning $8.4billion over the last seven months as the electronic car manufacturer's stock hit a record high and beat investor expectations.

Short positions on Tesla shares suffered more losses than on any other company, according to S3 Partners, a financial analytics firm.

On Friday, Tesla's shares climbed another 3 per cent to close at $443.01 after reporting record fourth quarter sales.

In the first two trading days of 2020, short sellers lost more than $700million, according to S3. About 36 per cent of shares were being sold short in May, however many Tesla short holders are still holding onto to their stocks, adamant that Tesla shares will plunge.

Tesla creator Elon Musk has been an outspoken critic of short sellers, saying they deliberately try to hurt the company by driving down shares.

In 2018 Musk deliberated making Tesla a private company just to stop dealing with shorts.

He said their 'negative propaganda' was a reason to get off the public market and that being a public company creates 'perverse incentives for people to try to harm what we're all trying to achieve'.

But Musk got himself into hot water with federal regulators when he tweeted that same year that he had secured the funding to take Tesla private at $420 a share - a substantial premium over the company's stock price at the time - when he did not.

That tweet, in August 2018, sent Tesla's stock on a wild ride. The US Securities and Exchange Commission stepped in and charged that the post hurt investors who bought the stock after the tweet but before they had accurate information.

Tesla, in an agreement with the SEC, paid $20 million to settle claims it had not properly policed Musk's social media posts.

Meanwhile, unsold Tesla vehicles were seen parked in lots around the country after Tesla claimed it successfully ramped up production of its pivotal Model 3 sedan during the summer.

That suggested to some that the company wasn't making its production goals.

A leaked email from Musk began changing those perceptions this past September, indicating growing demand for the electric automaker's vehicles and causing shares in the company jump 6 percent.

Tesla then had its biggest trading day ever on December 18, when the stock hit $392.50, a jump of 4.3 per cent as sources said the company was exploring a 20 per cent price cut for its Model 3 sedan to compete with rivals.

By the close of trading Friday, Tesla seemed to have put any production concerns behind it, announcing it delivered 112,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter.

That beat expectations of 104,960 vehicles, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company delivered approximately 367,500 vehicles during all of 2019, just meeting the low end of its target to deliver 360,000 to 400,000 vehicles.

Tesla said it demonstrated a production run-rate capability of more than 3,000 units per week at the Shanghai factory.

However, short holders still expect Tesla to be eventually overtaken by more established car companies such as General Motors, Ford and BMW entering the electric car industry.

'We think questions remain about first half 2020 results and gross margin sustainability; we point out that Tesla is already lowering prices in China and faces a flood of (electric vehicle) competition in the US, with at least 25 new models debuting this year,' CFRA analyst Garrett Nelson wrote in a client note on Friday.

The gains in Tesla's shares have elevated its market capitalization to more than $80billion, compared to GM's market value of $52billion and Ford's market capitalization of $37billion, according to Reuters.

The 48-year-old Musk, who's also had to contend with the challenges of getting his SpaceX aerospace company off the ground, as well as three divorces, including his split, remarriage, and second split with Talulah Riley, didn't hide his satisfaction over finally getting the Tesla Model 3 officially launched Tuesday.

Social media in China was abuzz with images and video of Musk celebrating with a unique disco dance routine in his $2billion 'Gigafactory' in Shanghai - exactly one year after construction of the massive plant began.

Musk, worth $27.8billion according to Forbes, busted out his moves on stage as his Chinese staff cheered during the inauguration ceremony, which was also attended by the city's Mayor and other senior government officials.

Tesla reported that it delivered China-made Model 3s to 10 customers from the public.

Last Monday, the company handed the very first batch of the sedans to 15 employees who had placed orders.


Race to save retreating Everglades

It has been pointed out many times that coastal Florida is sinking, leading to water level rise.  But there is no hint of that below.  The rise is due to global warming

Formed roughly 5,000 years ago, during a time of sea level rise, the Everglades once comprised an area twice the size of New Jersey. But over the course of the last century, about half of the Everglades’ original footprint has been lost — plowed under or paved over, never to be recovered, so long as South Florida’s 8 million human inhabitants claim it for their homes, livelihoods and recreation.

The glades have been sapped by canals and dams that remapped the landscape and altered animal habitats, polluted by upstream agricultural areas, transformed by invasive species. And now, rising sea levels — this time, caused by man — threaten to undo what it took nature millennia to build.

What the Army Corps of Engineers calls a “highly managed system,” others have sardonically labeled a “Disney Everglades.”

Nearly two decades and $4 billion into the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, an ambitious federal-state program adopted in 2000, new data about the pace of climate change have called into question how much of the Everglades can ever be restored.

“I tend to think that everything can be saved,” says Fred Sklar of the South Florida Water Management District, which monitors and runs much of the Everglades’ infrastructure. “Restored is another question.”

Today, we understand that natural systems like the Everglades provide enormous benefits — water filtration, nurseries for fish and other wildlife, protection from storm surges, even carbon sequestration. But to 19th-century Floridians, all that water — and the mosquitoes and reptiles it harbored — represented an impediment to progress.


Climate models continue to project too much warming

A recently published paper, titled “Evaluating the Performance of Past Climate Model Projections,” mistakenly claims climate models have been remarkably accurate predicting future temperatures. The paper is receiving substantial media attention, but we urge caution before blindly accepting the paper’s assertions.

As an initial matter, the authors of the paper are climate modelers. Climate modelers have a vested self-interest in convincing people that climate modeling is accurate and worthy of continued government funding. The fact that the authors are climate modelers does not by itself invalidate the paper’s conclusions, but it should signal a need for careful scrutiny of the authors’ claims.

Co-author Gavin Schmidt has been one of the most prominent and outspoken persons asserting humans are creating a climate crisis and that immediate government action is needed to combat it. Again, Schmidt’s climate activism does not by itself invalidate the paper’s conclusions, but it should signal a need for careful scrutiny of the authors’ claims.

The paper examines predictions made by 17 climate models dating back to 1970. The paper asserts 14 of the 17 were remarkably accurate, with only three having predicted too much warming.

One of the paper’s key assertions is that global emissions have risen more slowly than commonly forecast, which the authors claim explains why temperatures are running colder than the models predicted. The authors compensate for this by adjusting the predicted model temperatures downward to reflect fewer-than-expected emissions. Yet fewer-than-expected greenhouse gas emissions undercut the climate crisis narrative.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has already reduced its initial projection of 0.3 degrees Celsius of warming per decade to merely 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade. Keeping in mind that skeptics have typically predicted approximately 0.1 degree Celsius of warming per decade, the United Nations has conceded skeptics have been at least as close to the truth with their projections as the United Nations. Moreover, global temperatures are likely only rising at a pace of 0.13 degrees Celsius per decade, which is even closer to skeptic predictions.

Even after the authors adjusted the model predictions to reflect fewer-than-expected greenhouse gas emissions, there remains at least one very important problem, which immediately jumped out at us when carefully examining the paper’s findings: The paper’s assertion of remarkable model accuracy rests on a substantial temperature spike from 2015 through 2017. A strong, temporary El Niño caused the short-term spike in global temperatures from 2015 to 2017. The plotted temperature data in the paper, however, show that temperatures prior to the El Niño spike ran consistently colder than the models’ adjusted predicted temperatures. When the El Niño recedes, as they always do, temperatures will almost certainly resume running colder than the models predicted, even after adjusting for fewer-than-expected greenhouse gas emissions.

Another problem with the paper is that it utilizes controversial and dubiously adjusted temperature datasets rather than more reliable ones. The paper relies on temperature datasets that are not replicated in any real-world temperature measurements. Surface temperature measurements and measurements taken by highly precise satellite instruments show significantly less warming than the authors claim. The authors rely on temperature datasets that utilize controversial adjustments to claim more recent warming than what has actually been measured, which further undercuts their claim of remarkable model accuracy.

Contrary to what has been written in many breathless media reports, the most important takeaways from the paper are that greenhouse gas emissions are rising at a more modest pace than predicted, the modest pace of global temperature rise reflects the modest pace of rising emissions, and climate models have consistently predicted too much warming—even after accounting for fewer-than-expected greenhouse gas emissions. A temporary spike in global temperatures reflecting the recent El Niño does not save the models from their consistent inaccuracy.


Renewable energy has significant downsides

Wind and solar power will not replace fossil fuels—oil, coal and natural gas—any time soon; not in twelve or 30 years, and likely not in anyone’s lifetime who is alive today. The pursuit of solar and wind power also comes with a steep price, not just in higher utility bills and taxpayer-financed subsidies, but to people, wildlife and the balance of nature itself.

The proposed Gemini solar farm in southern Nevada, near Las Vegas, is the latest example of the environmental tension resulting from this renewable energy.

Solar “farms” take up a lot of land. In Gemini’s case, more than 7,000 acres, which would be the largest in the country and equivalent in size to a small city (e.g., larger than Schenectady, New York).

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is poised to approve Gemini, which would provide enough solar energy to power 130,000 homes. Anyone traversing through Las Vegas at night surely knows it will take a lot more power than a large solar farm to keep the lights on, but it’s a start.

The BLM’s own environmental impact statement documents that the solar farm also will impact endangered species and plants, including the desert tortoise, kit fox and a rare plant I never heard of called the threecorner milkvetch.

Conservation and wildlife organizations are not pleased about this project, including the Defenders of Wildlife, even as it supports renewable energy in the abstract. Instead of disturbing endangered species and plants in vast desert lands, some organizations advocate the unrealistic alternative of having solar energy placed on every home.

Solar and wind energy projects also face a not-in-my-back-yard (“NIMBY”) problem. While the western half of the United States has more open desert space, the NIMBY issue has surfaced in the east, such as in rural Spotsylvania County, Virginia and elsewhere.

Last April, the County Board of Supervisors approved, over stiff local opposition, a solar farm project comprising more than 3,000 acres. As states like Virginia, Nevada, New York and others impose renewable energy quotas, the Spotsylvania NIMBY battle portends ongoing struggles to fulfill renewable mandates throughout the country, as CFACT has discussed.

Perhaps the most famous NIMBY example of opposition to renewable energy occurred off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts where wealthy residents, including the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, opposed the Cape Wind offshore wind farm. After years of litigation, Energy Management, the company behind the project, pulled the plug in 2017.

Still, wind power is expanding throughout the U.S. as it produces more than six percent of the nation’s electricity. It is expected to grow exponentially worldwide in the next twenty years, according to the International Energy Agency. Like solar power, wind energy raises similar alarms about the amount of land-use and harm to wildlife.

Wind turbines are killing hundreds of thousands of bats and birds on an annual basis. More wind turbines mean millions more winged creatures dying every year. Wind turbines also are harming other animals, including dogs and other pets. The turbines themselves require considerable energy to produce and are not easily disposed of, bringing still more environmental concerns.

Wind power also may be causing increased temperatures, which would be a facetious irony absent the seriousness of the issue. The big reason for this forced transition from fossil fuels to renewables is to supposedly reverse “man-made” global warming, yet wind power is expanding to the point where it could be contributing to warming. Go figure.

Then there is the environmental concern about batteries used to complement renewable energy sources when it is not windy or sunny. Batteries, of course, come from mining the ingredients necessary, such as cobalt and lithium. Moreover, the cost and quantity necessary for batteries to make wind and solar power viable are enormous and downplayed as politicians continue to force-feed renewable energy mandates on the public.

The environmental downside of wind and solar energy development alone is not a reason for abandoning these sources of energy. Rather, it is an argument for lowered expectations and realism. Renewable energy is not going to bring us a carbon-free world any time soon, absent corresponding harm in a variety of ways. Accordingly, scientists and policymakers should slow down the wind and solar freight train to balance more carefully the costs and benefits to people, wildlife and nature writ large.


The Australian fires: Climate change beliefs are distracting attention from what really needs to be done

After decades of poor housekeeping, Australia’s latest devastating bushfires were predictable. Politicians and serving officials want to leave post mortems until the fires are out. Their instincts are correct.

That hasn’t stopped green ­advocates and the gullible from immediately linking them to ­Australia’s “inaction on climate change”. Climate experts as far afield as Sydney Lord Mayor ­Clover Moore and Swedish truant schoolgirl Greta Thunberg agree on the connection.

A coalition of retired fire chiefs, in what seems a closing-the-stable-door defence, claimed that last April it “knew that a bushfire crisis was coming” and nagged the government to invest in more resources. But, “fundamentally, (the government) doesn’t like talking about climate change”.

The ex-chiefs referred to being under an “unofficial gag order”, whatever that means, and argued that if governments had listened, there would have been more ­assets deployed and fewer fires.

When Australia accounts for just 1.3 per cent of global emissions that proposition is plainly absurd.

Yet, for all the bluster, the only mention of climate change in five years of Fire and Rescue NSW annual­ reports is a reference to crews being encouraged to turn off all non-essential lights during Earth Hour, “joining millions of people worldwide in showing their commitment to tackling climate­ change’’.

For five years the Victorian Country Fire Authority didn’t mention climate change. Its ­priorities were “fairness” and “inclusion­”, which it mentions 56 times.

Well may former fire chiefs blame climate change, but if they were so convinced of the connection between wildfires and global warming, why didn’t they publicly campaign for immediate, practical steps to reduce fuel loads in national parks? Surely they could have pushed their rural colleagues­, government ministers, and department heads harder?

Victoria publishes limited data, but a planned hazard reduction of 370 hectares in East Gippsland was reduced to nine after protesters claimed it was “killing baby birds alive”. Much of East Gippsland is now a wasteland.

These days, it’s commonplace for national park entries to be blocked by boulders or chains and padlocks. Many fire trails are so overgrown that a sign identifying them is all that distinguishes them from the rest of the forest.

Against the advice of local brigades­, the green firefighting hierarc­hy supported a wind farm amid prime agricultural land, renderi­ng an existing airstrip unsuitab­le for water bombers. Aerial bombing is considered 40 per cent of the firefighting effort.

While Aborigines are free to clear their land without a permit, once it transfers to non-indigenous owners those rights are ­forfeited. There are heavy penalties, including jail, for those who clear their property without permissi­on. Green tape and delay­s abound. Fires have destroy­ed some properties held up in this process.

So now the chickens are coming home to roost, with eastern Australian bushfires consuming an area approaching five million hectares. They have inflicted an unspeakable toll on human life, property, wildlife and livestock.

As weather patterns slowly return­ to normal and the fires are extinguished, there will be yet another­ government inquiry.

More money will be demand­ed, along with calls for additional jet tankers, even though there are few airfields from which they can operate. Money is needed, but alone it is not the answer. Much of it goes to the deskbound. For ­example, in the four years up to 2019, the NSW Rural Fire Service received a 78 per cent boost in funding, yet it oversaw a decline in volunteers and fire trucks.

Of course for Hollywood and other propagandists, it is vital that inaction on climate change, not inaction on hazard reduction, be the focus. For them, this link is vital to their cause.

Proving that a prophet can be any fool from home, The New York Times screams “Australia is committing climate suicide”. In an article long on drama and short on facts, the newspaper intones­ that “the response of Aust­rali­a’s leaders (to the fires) has not been to defend their country but to defend­ the fossil industry”. Talk about ignorance and warped values­.

Better to deprive 200 million Indians of a light globe and throw them crumbs through a UN-­administered clim­ate fund than provide economic independence through Australian coal.

Like ancient Druids, the media left, Hollywood and the rest of the global warming cult won’t hear that Australia spends 11 times the global average on renewable power and invests in renewables at a rate per capita four to five times faster than China, the EU, Japan and the US. They give no credit to Australia for being on track to meet its Paris Agreement target for 2030, despite a 2.2 million jump in population since 2013.

To fanatics, facts don’t matter. That there has been no drying trend in 100 years of Australian data, and that science is yet to establish­ a causal link between climate­ change and drought is irrelevan­t. [Global warming would induce MORE rain, not less]

While weather, droughts and bushfires will, from time to time, continue to feature, population growth and encroachment on green spaces increase risks. Indeed­, 87 per cent of bushfires are due to humans. Only 6 per cent are naturally started. Arsonists, attracted by the ease of ignition­, perhaps start more than half. To date, 183 arsonists have been arrested. However, while those delegated to manage the envir­onment and those charged with property protection share a close ideological relationship, little­ will change.

At some point, government must take control. Communic­ation and co-operation between the different jurisdictions, departments and agencies must be ­better co-ordinated.

Priorities must be set, audited and enforced. The insurance indus­try should be given a louder voice. It’s an important financial stakeholder and risk assessor. This crisis will lead to higher premium­s, more uninsured properties and serious moral dilemma­s next time.

For now, courageous frontline firefighters are putting their lives on the line and fighting fires the scale of which owes much to green ideology and confused and fragmented leadership. It is hoped that an inquiry will establish clear priorities and directions that will be followed.



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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