Monday, February 10, 2020

A nursery story

When one expresses the global warming theory as a nursery story, it becomes obvious how absurd the story is.  Here's how it goes:

We all live at the bottom of a great ocean of gases that we call the atmosphere.  The atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, followed by oxygen.  The atmosphere helps to keep the world warm

But there are also some other gases there in very small amounts.  One of them is called carbon dioxide -- or CO2 for short.  There is only a tiny, tiny amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

CO2 is the stuff we all breathe out every time we breathe.  Plants love CO2.  It is food to them. So they gobble it up. 

But the plants don't get it all.  Some CO2 escapes them and stays in the atmosphere.  So the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is gradually increasing.

But even after the extra CO2 has been added to the CO2 already in the atmosphere, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is still a tiny, tiny amount.

Some scientists believe that the extra CO2 in the atmosphere will make the world warmer.  Other scientists believe that the tiny, tiny amount of CO2 in the atmosphere will make the extra warmth tiny, tiny too -- so tiny that we will not be able notice it.

The scientists who believe that we can notice it are very nasty to the scientists who believe that we cannot notice it


The Green Oscars: A high-fashion nightmare!

Living high-flying lives of hypocrisy, while telling the rest of us how we should live

Duggan Flanakin

The Green Oscars are coming! The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards show – the Academy Awards – has become a platform for virtue signaling on “climate change.”  Big Hollywood stars often fly in on private jets, arrive in gas-guzzling limos and, when they win, use their platform to lecture us on how we must behave.

It’s funny how Hollywood also ignores a decade-old University of California study that found filmmaking in the Los Angeles area was making a larger contribution to air pollution than any major industry other than fuel refining, relative to size of the endeavor. That study noted that emissions from the movie industry do not end even after the cameras stop rolling – especially for big-budget productions where journalists, stars and publicists fly around the world as part of promotion.

Movies were more environmentally toxic than aerospace manufacturing, the hotel industry, and even fashion (clothing) – for which the movie industry, and especially its awards shows, is a major promoter.

As Apparel Search reports, the Oscars are one of the fashion industry’s biggest events of the year. Yet fashion is now deemed a dirty business and, even at the gaudiest of Hollywood hustles, the Grinches are running rampant.

“Certainly,” Apparel Search declares, “we have interest in learning who will win the awards. However, our hearts are beating faster because we are anxious to see what the stars will be wearing.” The self-proclaimed “portal to the world of style” admits that, “Yes, the event is intended for movie stars and Hollywood hot shots. But, in our opinion, FASHION is the name of the game.”

There’s just one problem. As Alden Wicker bemoaned back in 2017, “The global fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world.” In short, superstar support for climate change and other Green causes and the high-polluting, sweatshop-dependent fashion industry would seem to blend together as well as oil and water.

Wicker was quoting clothing industry magnate Eileen Fisher, who while accepting an award in 2015 from Riverkeeper for her commitment to environmental causes, had admitted: “The clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world ... second only to oil. It’s a really nasty business ... it's a mess.”

This year’s Oscars will feature male superstars Joaquin Phoenix, Leonardo Di Caprio, Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Pryce and Brad Pitt, among others – and female divas including Scarlett Johansson, Charlize Theron and Laura Dern – all of whom profess to be champions of the environment as well as “fashion plates.” (Lesser known nominees get little Green attention.)

Variety reported recently that Banderas and Phoenix were among the actors who signed on to join forces with the United Nations Environment Programme’s “The World Is in Our Hands” campaign.  The stars pledged to deliver messages describing how they personally plan to address the “climate crisis” and reduce their carbon (and carbon dioxide) footprints – whether it’s traveling more sustainably, saving energy, or eating less meat – which often is only a ruse.  Just ask Harrison Ford.

Phoenix, of course, was recently arrested at Jane Fonda’s Fire Drill Friday climate change protest in Washington, DC. And Pitt recently warned us, “There IS no future!” in a “comedy” sketch about President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement on climate change.

Johansson, who along with Theron is noted for her high-fashion photos, way back in 2010 signed an open letter as an Oxfam Global Ambassador to “call on international negotiators to protect the world’s poor from climate catastrophe.” Theron has expressed her fears that a bleak future awaits the planet unless global warming is addressed.  Typical Hollywood – protect the poor from mostly exaggerated, if not outright fabricated, climate changes but do nothing to end the energy poverty that keeps them impoverished, diseased, malnourished, jobless and likely to die very young.

Di Caprio, perhaps the head honcho of the celebrity climate change crowd, was lauded at the time by environmental groups for flying occasionally on commercial airlines rather than by the private jets he so much prefers. But more recently, despite co-producing and acting in the climate change documentary Before the Flood, Di Caprio has been properly condemned for his frequent use of those private jets.

Best Supporting Actor nominee Jonathan Pryce was one of over 100 celebrities who signed Extinction Rebellion’s open letter to the media, which included the ominous statement that, “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

While unable to confirm Fisher’s assertion that only the oil industry is a worse polluter than fashion, Glynis Sweeny did tell Ecowatch in 2015 that “what is certain is that the fashion carbon footprint is tremendous.” Sweeny listed the pesticides used in cotton farming, toxic dyes used in manufacturing, the massive waste from discarded clothing, and especially “the extravagant amount of natural resources used in extraction, farming, harvesting, processing, manufacturing and shipping.”

It takes 5,000 gallons of water, Sweeny noted, to grow enough organic cotton to manufacture a single T-shirt or pair of jeans. Worse, globalization means that shirts and jeans likely traveled halfway around the world in a container ship fueled by “the dirtiest of fossil fuels.” Even worse, organic farmers have been found to use toxic pesticides on a regular basis.

And don’t forget: oil and gas are the feed stocks for synthetic fibers – while coal and natural gas (and nuclear power, which most Hollywood stars also detest) generate most of the electricity that makes clothing factories, movie studios and fashion shows possible.

All the hullabaloo about fashion as evil has impacted Hollywood’s fanciest.  Fashion writer Faran Krentcil wrote last February of a fashion phobia that started in 2014, when the social media campaign #askhermore (created by the wife of current California Governor Gavin Newsom) virtue-shamed the very idea that actresses should celebrate their expensive gowns.

According to one red-carpet reporter, Krentcil shared, “We’re nervous if we bring up clothes.” Networks, she asserted, were shying away from style questions in favor of asking the stars about their activism. 

But fashion, Krentcil argued, “isn’t a shameful or stupid topic. In fact, it creates art – and jobs – for millions of Americans.” The style sector, she concluded, is one of the biggest employers in America, putting over $250 billion back into our economy. And the Oscars’ red carpet is itself a million-dollar enterprise. So are the movies that have made these superstars super rich.

Perhaps the overemphasis on activism and the downplaying of fashion can be blamed for declining Oscars viewership, which Fortune reported reached an all-time low in 2018. The Nielsen ratings that year were down 20% from 2017 alone (but were up slightly in 2019).

Not all Oscar nominees this year are hypocritical political ideologues. One-time Best Actor winner Anthony Hopkins, nominated at 81 as Best Supporting Actor for his role in “The Two Popes,” admits he keeps his political opinions to himself.  He once told activist actor Brad Pitt, “I don’t have any opinions. Actors are pretty stupid. My opinion is not worth anything.”

And that’s the way most of us regular folks like it.

Via email

This ban on petrol and diesel cars makes no sense

Vast amounts of money and effort will be expended for very little benefit.

I like electric cars. They are easier to drive, because there is no clutch and no gear stick. They are much quieter than cars with petrol and diesel engines. They don’t emit noxious substances, because they’re not burning anything, making cities and busy roads a bit more pleasant. By and large, they accelerate fast, too.

But I won’t be buying one any time soon. This is mainly to do with the fact that I have never had enough money to buy a new car. The current set of wheels sitting outside Chez Lyons is a 13-year-old, hand-me-down Audi estate with over 100,000 miles on the clock. I’m sure I’m not alone. But what we drive could change dramatically in a few years’ time.

This week, the UK government announced that sales of new petrol- and diesel-fuelled cars and light vans will be banned from 2035 – five years earlier than planned. With parliament having already decided to reach ‘Net Zero’ emissions by 2050, it follows that we need to switch to low-emissions alternatives as soon as possible.

But little thought seems to have been given to how we are going to replace all those vehicles once their sale is banned. In 2019, there were 31.7million cars registered to drive on British roads. In that year, 2.3million new cars were registered. At that rate, replacing all of the existing stock of cars would take roughly 14 years. (Of course, some cars are replaced more quickly, while others – like my old Audi – will take rather longer.) Let’s assume that, from 2035, we’ll be adding 2.3million new electric cars to the roads each year instead of petrol and diesel cars. What are the practical difficulties with doing that?

First, at present, electric vehicles cost a lot more than those with internal-combustion engines. For example, one car-buying advice website notes that the Peugeot e-208 is as much as £6,200 more than the standard 208 model. There are government subsidies to help with the cost of electric cars (currently £3,500), but can this be sustained if we all switch? It has already been cut from £4,500 in 2018.

That said, while the purchase price of an electric car may be higher, charging is a lot cheaper than fuelling a regular car. Electric vehicles cost between £4 to £6 per 100 miles to charge at home and £8 to £10 using public charge points, while petrol and diesel cars cost £13 to £16 per 100 miles in fuel (although 60 per cent of the fuel cost is tax).

In theory, maintenance should be cheaper, too, given that electric motors have fewer moving parts than petrol or diesel engines. But to further complicate matters, batteries gradually lose their capacity to hold charge over time. They have to be replaced at the cost of thousands of pounds every few years. (The warranties covering battery replacement vary by manufacturer: Tesla, for instance, offers an eight-year warranty, but the Renault Zoe is covered for just three years.)

Electric cars may be cheaper to own overall, but this is largely down to subsidies and tax breaks, including lower vehicle duties and not having to pay charges in low-emission zones. Still, with the entire car industry throwing its efforts into making electric cars cheaper and increasing battery capacity, costs may well come down somewhat, reducing the need for such breaks. Fingers crossed.

While we are on the subject of taxation, it is worth noting that motoring taxation is a big source of revenue for the Treasury. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, motoring brings in £40 billion per year (around five per cent of all government revenue), mostly in fuel taxes. If that taxation disappears, what will replace it?

Another practical issue is charging. Current electric vehicles have a claimed range of around 250 miles. Real-world experience suggests that this is rather optimistic. This is no problem for most journeys, which are relatively short. But, for longer journeys, we need fast-charging stations – and even then, a full recharge could take 30 minutes or more, depending on the vehicle and the charging station. So ‘range anxiety’ is still a factor putting people off buying electric. At the very least, we need a lot more charging points.

Most people will charge their cars at home overnight. But that means forking out on special charging kits that cost hundreds of pounds, even with more subsidies. Plus this all assumes that you have a drive or reliable parking space you can charge at. For those who live in flats and have to park on the street, for example, that’s a non-starter.

This brings us to perhaps the biggest problem: where will the power come from and how will it reach us? Eventually shifting all the energy for cars from oil to electricity means producing much more electricity. Greens are pleased that electricity use is currently decreasing, and a greater proportion of electricity is coming from renewable sources. But the arrival of electric cars en masse would demand a whole lot more electricity, mostly to be used at night.

Unless we want to coat the landscape in wind turbines, which are unreliable in any event, we’ll need other sources of power. More nuclear? Fine by me. But will eco-warriors stand for that? Even if we can produce the juice, having lots of cars charging in the same area may overwhelm the local electricity networks. Who is going to pay for the upgrade?

When all of these factors are considered we have to ask if all this effort will really reduce greenhouse-gas emissions anyway. Digging up the resources required to create all those batteries will be hugely carbon-intensive. Perhaps the most likely outcome of banning sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles is that demand for second-hand vehicles will go up. We could end up like Cubans, nursing venerable old cars for years, way beyond their intended lifespans.

All this to satisfy just one element of the drive to get to Net Zero. (Never mind replacing all gas boilers and all the other policies already mooted.) It will take a Herculean effort to transform transport and energy supply like this by 2050, especially with an important crunch point in just 15 years.

Enormous sums of money will be spent, along with all that organisational and intellectual effort, just to make our lives about the same as they are now, just low-carbon. Ministers can’t even put a figure on how much this will all cost or if it is feasible. No wonder the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders called the policy ‘a date without a plan’.

And all this from a government that still can’t implement something as comparatively easy as Universal Credit – the Tories’ flagship welfare policy that was supposed to be rolled out by 2017. HS2 and the third Heathrow runway are also struggling to get off the ground. Why should we trust that the same people can revolutionise the transport network? I will always be the first to celebrate ambitious new infrastructure and technological optimism. But the ban on petrol and diesel cars seems quixotic and pointless.

When electric vehicles are finally better than petrol or diesel – as hopefully they will be soon – drivers will vote with their feet and switch. When people are ready to pay for charging points, there will be money to invest in new infrastructure. Until then, this is a horribly expensive and needless policy.


"Renewable" energy for Massachusetts hits problems

As Governor Charlie Baker rattled off his successes before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, he reflected on his administration’s climate accomplishments: two major offshore wind farms in the works, plus a power line through Maine to bring cheap hydroelectricity here from Canada.

In his speech, Baker mentioned how these three clean-energy projects, when complete, together would represent about 30 percent of Massachusetts’ electricity needs. It sure sounded impressive. Missing from the governor’s speech: the bad news.

CommonWealth magazine had just confirmed, in an interview with Baker’s top energy official, an unhappy rumor: Federal permitting for Vineyard Wind, the first major offshore wind farm in the US, will be delayed yet again — likely until the end of the year, after the elections. Vineyard Wind was close to the end zone last summer, before the Trump administration’s Interior Department called a timeout.

Also, on Monday opponents of the nearly $1 billion Central Maine Power transmission line said they had filed more than 75,000 signatures to stop the project in a statewide referendum — well over the amount they needed. Incumbent power plant owners in Maine have made it clear they won’t stand idly by while a Massachusetts-orchestrated super-highway gets built for low cost juice from the north.

Together, these developments could spell trouble for two of the Baker administration’s signature energy initiatives. Made possible by an energy bill passed by the state Legislature in 2016, the utility contracts that would finance Vineyard Wind and the Central Maine Power line, known as New England Clean Energy Connect, have been championed by the Baker administration at every turn.

Both projects share a common investor: CMP parent Avangrid, a Connecticut company controlled by Spanish conglomerate Iberdrola.

Let’s take the brouhaha in Maine first. The nearly 150-mile CMP proposal was actually a runner-up, behind the much-maligned Northern Pass power line that Eversource wanted to build through New Hampshire. But state permitting issues quickly doomed Northern Pass, and Massachusetts pivoted to Maine.

Governor Janet Mills is on board, as is the Conservation Law Foundation. But plenty of residents don’t want this giant extension cord to Massachusetts through their backyard. The critics have deep-pocketed allies: incumbent fossil fuel generators, including Calpine and Vistra. Two state permits are stuck in the appeals process. And now, a referendum likely looms.

Avangrid seems undeterred by the threat of a ballot question, and there’s some question about whether it can withstand a legal challenge. A spokeswoman said the company still expects to start construction on the Maine power line by the end of June, as long as the remaining permits come through.

Avangrid CEO Jim Torgerson also has a headache at the other end of New England, south of Martha’s Vineyard. That’s where Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners want to build Vineyard Wind, a massive offshore wind farm that could power more than 400,000 homes.

The project depends financially on federal tax credits that expired at the end of last year; Torgerson has said he hopes to persuade the IRS to allow the tax credits to remain intact because the delays are out of his company’s power to control.

The Department of Interior halted the Vineyard Wind review at the eleventh hour last August, to embark on a more systemic review of all the wind farms planned for waters up and down the East Coast and their collective impact. (A second Massachusetts wind farm, to be developed by a Shell-EDP joint venture known as Mayflower Wind, is much further behind Vineyard Wind in the permitting.) Many hoped for a resolution by mid-2020. So much for that idea.

Federal regulators say they’re just doing their job, partly in light of concerns raised by commercial fishermen worried about the navigation hazards these projects could pose. But supporters see politics at work. The latest example: a letter this week from most of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, Democrats all, accusing the Republican administration of applying a double standard: whisking through fossil-fuel proposals while slow-walking renewable energy projects. Fueling those theories: President Trump’s public expressions of distaste for offshore wind.

The troubles that Vineyard Wind face have unsurprisingly raised concerns in the rest of the offshore wind industry. Former Interior secretary Ryan Zinke seemed like a fan. Current Interior boss David Bernhardt, maybe not so much.

Governor Baker, also a Republican, wants Massachusetts to play a leadership role in curbing greenhouse gases that contribute to a warming planet. These two signature clean-energy projects are a key part of that vision. But their future might be out of his hands.


We won’t block new coal projects: Australian Labor Party

A future Labor government will not stand in the way of a new coal-fired power station or coal mine if it meets “normal environmental approvals”, deputy leader Richard Marles has conceded.

But Mr Marles, who once said the collapse of the global thermal coal market was a “good thing”, refused to say whether he had a personal objection to new coal mines.

“This is a matter for the market,” Mr Marles told the ABC on Sunday. “The normal environmental approvals should apply.”

The Morrison government on Saturday announced it had signed off on up to $4m to support Shine Energy’s feasibility study for a high-efficiency, low emissions coal plant at Collinsville in Queensland.

Mr Marles said it was obvious government should not be subsidising coal and instead leaving it to the market to decide if projects were possible.

If the industry chose to build a coal-fired power station, it would have to meet government environmental approvals before being given the green light.

“A Labor government will have the normal environmental approvals for power stations,” Mr Marles said.

“A Labor government is not going to put a cent into subsidising coal-fired power. And that is the practical question as to whether or not it happens.”

Labor’s equivocation on the Adani coal mine in the Galilee Basin and ambitious climate change policies were considered critical to its 2019 election loss, which led to a disastrous result in Queensland and big swings against the part in coal mining seats.

Mr Marles acknowledged on Sunday coal miners played a “very significant” economic role and the industry would continue “for decades to come”.



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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