Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The IPCC goal of 1.5C degrees of warming may be more easily reached than we think

There is constant talk about the difficulty of reaching the "Paris" goal of 1.5C warming over pre-industrial levels. Great efforts are said to be needed if we are to reach that goal.

But notice something:  We are already about one degree above pre-industrial levels.  So all the Angst is about just half of one degree.  That hardly seems worth getting excited about.  The IPCC report on 1.5 degrees lists a number of things that would happen with such a temperature rise but none seem dramatic except for the expected sea level rise of about half a meter.  And a good thing from 1.5 degrees is also listed -- that we would have more rain and less drought.

But the changes in sea level so far are heavily contested, with some scientists calling into question whether we have had any sea level rise at all in the last half century or so. So any concern there must  be taken with a grain of salt.

There does seem to have been a small, slow and erratic increase in global temperatures over the last 150 years or so but even Warmists don't attribute all of that to man's activity.  So in that context, a change of half a degree from present levels would seem likely to come about naturally over the current century.  And if it did, would we notice such a small change?  I can't see it. A temperature change of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial level would seem perfectly comfortable and unlikely to bother us.  We have much greater temperature changes during every day.

So what are the Warmists going on about?  They think that much larger temperature rises will happen and we will struggle to keep to .5 of a degree over what we presently have.

But that is a pure prophecy and speculation.  Looking at the temperature changes so far, rises are not going to be regular nor are they likely to be great.  Warmists rely on their dinky models to support prophecies of big climate change. The temperature record so far, however,  suggests only slight change.  There have been several extensive periods of no temperature changes at all  -- e.g 1945 to 1975.

So I think  the modest rise of half a degree will come about perfectly naturally, with no effort and no concern on our part at all  -- JR.

TRIGGERED! Donald Trump Saves the Planet, Leads World in Lowering CO2 Emissions

A new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that tracks carbon emissions worldwide dropped great news for the United States under the leadership of Donald Trump on Tuesday. "The United States saw the largest decline in energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019 on a country basis – a fall of 140 Mt, or 2.9%, to 4.8 Gt. US emissions are now down almost 1 Gt from their peak in the year 2000, the largest absolute decline by any country over that period."

Not only is Trump leading the world in economic success but he's also doing exactly what the climate scolds all claim they want, which is leading the world in energy saving. Carbon emission reduction isn't the only win for Trump's policies, the IEA also reported that natural gas is on the rise and coal-powered energy declined by 15% in America. "A 15% reduction in the use of coal for power generation underpinned the decline in overall US emissions in 2019. Coal-fired power plants faced even stronger competition from natural gas-fired generation, with benchmark gas prices an average of 45% lower than 2018 levels. As a result, gas increased its share in electricity generation to a record high of 37%."

Is there anything this president can't do? The air is cleaner, the stock market is booming, now, if we could only get him to tear down all the unsightly and ineffective wind farms that do next to nothing he'd be elected president forever. Do not look to the Democrats to give Trump any credit for the energy reductions and number one status in the whole darn world for "green" policies. They will continue to claim he wants to kill the planet and rape the earth of its bounties.

In 2019, The Guardian put out a list of all the terrible climate policies of Trump's including "departing from the Paris climate agreement summit," which, of course, we all now see was not at all necessary in order to reduce emissions since the US is leading all of them.

The New York Times gave us this handy chart of the climate rollbacks under Trump, showing that useless and stupid programs can be done away with while still cleaning up the environment. "President Trump has made eliminating federal regulations a priority. His administration, with help from Republicans in Congress, has often targeted environmental rules it sees as burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other big businesses." Isn't it amazing that you can get rid of stupid regulations and still have cleaner air and water?

But according to the NYT, just last December, all these rollbacks would result in dirtier air and more emissions. "All told, the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality every year, according to a report prepared by New York University Law School's State Energy and Environmental Impact Center."

Well, suck it, NYU Law School's State Energy and Environmental Impact Center! The results are in and Trump is winning again. None of the dire predictions came true and Trump has shown that federal regulations don't equal good environmental outcomes.


Will the West cede nuclear energy dominance to Russia?

When she and Sen. Ed Markey introduced the “Green New Deal” a year ago, newly elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not mention nuclear energy as part of the future. Later, Ocasio-Cortez admitted she still had “an open mind” on evolving nuclear energy technologies while insisting that older plants be shuttered.

But since then she has endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose platform includes a moratorium on nuclear power plant license renewals – and who states “we must stop building new nuclear power plants, and find a real solution to our existing nuclear waste problem.”

Truth is, while the U.S. even today leads the world with nearly a hundred operational nuclear facilities, nuclear remains controversial. Should a Sanders-led U.S. follow Germany’s lead in decommissioning existing nuclear plants and not building new ones, a new world nuclear energy leader might emerge quickly.

China, while known for building myriads of coal-fired power plants, has also been busy. A 2017 article noted the Chinese had 38 nuclear plants in operation and another 19 under construction, and was thus “the fastest expanding nuclear power generator in the world.”

But it is Russia that is making the most noise about nuclear energy of late. Last July, Russian President Vladimir Putin went on the offensive against the anti-growth technocrats and others who champion wind and solar as the energy future, insisting that “It is impossible and pointless to try to stop human progress.”

Speaking at the 2nd Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia, Putin instead proclaimed, “Super-efficient scientific, engineering, and manufacturing solutions will help us establish a balance between the biosphere (the realm of nature) and the technosphere (the realm of creative reason). Fusion energy which in fact is similar to how heat and light are produced in our star, the sun, is an example of such nature-like technologies.”

Putin spoke glowingly of the work of Russia’s Kurchatov Institute, which has already begun a project on a fission-fusion hybrid reactors expected to be operational later this year, and its role in driving the advanced science as a creative force for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) program in France, which is scheduled to go online with its first plasma by 2025.

As explained by Caroline Delbert, the Russian fission-fusion hybrid reactor runs on thorium, which is far less reactive and much more plentiful than uranium. Its “down to earth” design, Delbert acknowledges, makes for a shorter time to startup.

Russia’s nuclear power initiatives extend well beyond that country’s borders. On February 8, India’s Ambassador to Russia, Venkatesh Varma, announced that Russia will design 20 more nuclear power plants to be built in India over the next two decades, building on 18 years of nuclear cooperation between the two countries.

Russia and India are also helping Bangladesh construct its first nuclear power plant and may expand their collaborations. Varma noted, “Russia already has agreements in this field with a number of African countries. Ethiopia is one of them, and there are some countries in the Middle East. It will be Russian projects but with Indian cooperation.”

Meanwhile, the U.S., much of Western Europe, and post-Fukushima Japan are at best conflicted over nuclear’s role in providing reliable, affordable energy in the face of burgeoning demand. Some EU states are strongly anti-nuclear and have structured their electricity markets in response to populist support for wind and solar. The next decade will likely see a decline in nuclear generating capacity, and only Finland, France, and Slovakia are building new nuclear facilities.

Still, there are some hopeful signs that the West may be on the verge of a new era in nuclear energy.

TerraPower announced a collaboration with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy to pursue a public-private partnership to design and construct the Versatile Test Reactor for the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory announced plans to rebuild the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) tokamak reactor, renew its commitment to ITER< and build a smaller, cheaper prototype power plant.

A Rolls-Royce led consortium plans to build 17 “revolutionary mini nuclear power stations” to replace Britain’s eight aging large-scale nuclear power plants. Mass production at new factories should lead to shorter construction times and lower costs.

Will the West again match Russia’s apparent zeal for new-design nuclear power plants? Maybe not. Canadian journalist Matthew Ehret argues that the West has for fifty years been dominated by a new “science of limits” that sees mankind’s biggest threat as mankind itself.”

Moreover, as Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe bemoans, “While many proponents of renewables and battery technology point at how future technological development will sort out their many shortcomings, very few assume technological progress is possible for nuclear technology. On the contrary, innovations are routinely dismissed out of hand and painted as dangerous.”

Westerners should listen to Bangladeshi businessman and nuclear energy advocate Kazi Zahin Hasan. In his view “Modern cities need continuous power; solar and wind cannot provide this without expensive battery storage, which no city or utility has been willing to buy. That’s why after billions of dollars of investment in solar and wind power, there is not a single major city which is powered exclusively by solar or wind.”


Joaquin, Osher, Greta and Jane show ignorance can be blissfully rewarding

By Chris Kenny, writing from Australia

First they came for the coal, then they wanted our milk. While the demonisation of coal ignores how this mineral has probably done more for human prosperity and progress than any other, we at least can comprehend why climate activists have turned on coal — even if their plans are reckless and impractical.

Extinction Rebellion protesters are so committed to shutting down the coal industry that they lie on polystyrene foam mats made from fossil fuels while they use acrylic resins made from fossil fuels to super-glue themselves to the road with chains and pipes manufactured with coal-fired energy. Soon they’ll be doing the same in dairies.

Because now the woke are turning on milk. They want to make us guilty for feeding milk to our kids.

“We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of ­anguish are unmistakeable,” Holly­wood actor Joaquin Phoenix said accepting his Oscar on Monday. “Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.” Perhaps he was trying to distract from how he makes millions eliciting cries of anguish from filmgoers as he glorifies a fictional serial killer.

While Scott Morrison is pilloried for waving a lump of coal around in parliament, heaven help the next leader caught supping on a glass of pasteurised full-cream. Apparently we are heartless, arrogant bigots against other species, we are speciesists who steal milk from cows, and we need to be told.

Remember when fashionable political stances could be summarised as a resistance to instruction, a push for freedom? There was a libertarian approach, embraced especially by the young and focused on the rights of individuals — they railed against young men being conscripted to serve in Vietnam, disrupted social norms and demanded equal rights for women and indigenous Australians.

Activists defied and challenged edicts handed down by moralising church leaders, conservative institutions or paternalistic governments. There was a healthy disdain for anyone telling others how to live their lives.

But now the fashion goes with the zeitgeist, advocates for groupthink and shames individuals into conforming. Now the woke are the preachy ones.

Who are we to decide how to run our lives when there are Hollywood A-listers prepared to set an example by wearing the same designer tuxedo to more than one awards dinner? Why should we enjoy breakfast when an actor equates the rights of people, countries, races and genders with the rights of individual ­species?

“We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender, one species, has the right to dominate, use and control another with impunity,” said Phoenix. Presumably he will boycott next year’s Academy Awards because in all their history they have not so much as nominated a single other species; it’s been a Homo sapiens clean sweep.

And once Phoenix succeeds in his equal pay battle for the full cast of Doctor Dolittle, perhaps he could head to the Serengeti to campaign against lions imposing their will on wildebeest, a clear-cut case of speciesist exploitation if ever I saw one.

“We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources,” the actor said. “We fear the idea of personal change because we think we need to sacrifice something, to give something up.”

He ought to know. After all, the poor bloke was wearing the same suit he had worn a week or so ­earlier. Jane Fonda too made a virtue of wearing a dress she had worn six years earlier. As if that weren’t hardship enough, after she was glammed up by her spartan team of just three stylists (hair, dress and make-up), Fonda posted on social media that she was wearing ­“Pomellato jewellery because it only uses respon­sible, ethically harvested gold and sus­tainable ­diamonds”.

Ah, sustainable diamonds, the thinking woman’s carbon sink. Mother Teresa has nothing on these people. This year’s Nobel Peace Prize will be hard to pick.

We get much of the same closer to home, of course. On the ABC’s Q&A this week, one of their panellists was reality television host Osher Gunsberg (he fronts The Bachelor) who was chosen, wouldn’t you know, because he proselytises for climate action and claims to practise what he ­preaches.

“I wouldn’t call it sacrifice at all,” Gunsberg said of his vegan, non-internal combustion and ­carbon-conscious lifestyle. “The benefits that I get in my life for the choices that I make around my impact on the world are extraordinary … I’ve been driving electric cars since 2011, and they’re an extraordinarily exciting … they’re really fun to drive. I have an electric bike as well, a moped that I get around on. It’s super fun.”

This is nirvana, all the fun of the carnival and saving the planet at the same time. I don’t know Gunsberg’s travel habits so can’t say whether he is a globetrotting climate hypocrite like Prince Harry, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and so many others, but I did find some articles featuring him with his pet dog — now this is a carbon extravagance. Studies show pet dogs can have the annual carbon footprint of a car, so surely any climate radical with a pet is a fraud.

Naturally enough I reckon Gunsberg is free to live his life as he likes, and back any cause he chooses. But it is the preaching that grates, and exposes him, along with the way the media (in this case the ABC) then presents him as an authority.

He suggested to the Q&A audience that Australia’s export coal market would soon collapse, which is just not true.

International Energy Agency figures show our coal exports have reached record levels and are set to plateau or ­increase slightly into the future.

Just in our two largest markets there are more than 100 new coal-fired power stations under construction in China and more than a dozen in Japan. I look forward to The Bachelor episode where they explain how these generators will function without coal.

Preaching is everywhere. This week Greta Thunberg admonished the entire global population when she tweeted about record carbon dioxide levels and said, “no one understands the full meaning” because this is the “crisis that’s never been treated as a crisis”.

The 17-year-old, who has yet to finish her schooling, also tweeted that “Indigenous rights = climate justice”.

Then, right on cue, the BBC announced it would be producing a TV science series with Thunberg. Again, this teenager should feel free to spruik her views wherever she likes but the worry is how her silly hectoring is ­embraced and amplified by adults, politicians and public broadcasters. It will be amusing when she loses one sandal and they all adopt that as a sign.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy, admonished the nation for xenophobia and racism this week, referencing unspecified incidents directed against Chinese-Australians, apparently triggered by coronavirus panic. When I pressed for details Murphy referred to incidents “reflected widely on social media” and noted that “individual in­stances have not been recorded”.

Labor MP Andrew Giles called for a national anti-racism campaign suggesting the coronavirus was being used as an “excuse” for racism. Just like those who created an “I’ll ride with you” campaign based on a fabricated incident after the Lindt cafe siege, Giles was quick to think the worst of mainstream Australians — he wanted a publicly funded national lecturing campaign.

Like brainwashed cult members, the new woke left loves to receive instructions and be lectured. And, in turn, it likes to lecture us.

Fortunately, mainstream people in a host of Western democracies who are sick of sanctimony on climate change, energy, border protection, Brexit and, yes, even veganism have been able to express their will through the ballot box. Just because the so-called elites are enraptured by the sound of their own exhortations, it doesn’t mean they’re resonating.


Australian Greenie leader has the Australian Left in an awkward corner

Would Richard Marles welcome a New Australian coal-fired power station? The ABC’s David Speers asked the question of Labor’s deputy leader at least a dozen times last week before giving up and answering himself.

“So that’s a maybe?” he suggested. Marles voiced no dissent.

The place called “maybe” is dangerous terrain for an opposition, particularly on an issue on which passions run high. Just ask Jeremy Corbyn whose maybe/maybe not policy on leaving the EU is the principal reason the British Labour Party is looking for a new leader.

It is a while until our next federal election but we can already predict that climate policy will be one of Labor’s principal sources of grief, just as it has been at every election since 2010, when Julia Gillard received a mandate not to ­introduce the carbon tax she promptly did.

In last year’s election campaign, inviting Bill Shorten to share the costings on his 45 per cent emissions target was the surest way to make him lose his rag. His unsteady performance on the issue was one reason voters considered him shifty or worse.

His climate platform has been repudiated by his successor, leaving a great dollop of jelly where Labor’s policy ought to be.

Today Labor faces its own divisions while the Coalition, at least around the cabinet table, is united on climate and energy, probably for the first time since John Howard was in government.

Labor has spawned a ginger group that brands itself the friends of coal. They meet at Otis (the restaurant, not the elevator) in an ­attempt to move Labor back to the sensible centre.

That is the point on the spectrum where every Labor politician who aspires to win the next election wants to be, armed with a policy that unites the Collinsville miners and the knitting nannas of Marrickville in one happy family.

A cool, damp summer might have given Labor some breathing space. Instead, the climate debate has been charged with a new ferocity. Anthony Albanese is being challenged from within his party to hitch his wagon to the climate emergency.

He has wisely resisted, knowing that the moral argument is not one Labor can easily win.

Labor’s discomfort

Adam Bandt’s elevation as the Greens leader has increased Labor’s discomfort. Bandt is taking the Greens further towards the extreme as he shapes a clearer divide between the parties of the left.

“Ultimately Labor’s got to ­decide where it stands,” Bandt told Michelle Grattan recently. “If Labor thinks it can continue to walk both sides of the fence, they’re going to stay in opposition for a very long time. The script that we saw playing out at the last election will just play itself out at the next election.”

Last week, after the existence of the Otis Group was revealed by the media, Albanese retreated further into maybe land. His claim that the party “is united in our position that climate change is real, that we need to act on lowering our emissions” these days counts as a motherhood statement. It puts him on a unity ticket with both the Coalition and the Greens while being slightly less convincing than either.

His rhetoric on coal, that it will continue to play a part in Australia’s economy for decades to come, is almost identical to Tony ­Abbott’s, as Bandt delights in pointing out. Brand differentiation is all but impossible.

The Coalition is offering Labor few favours by charting a steadier course on energy policy.

Malcolm Turnbull’s departure relieved much of the tension in the Liberals’ partyroom, while Scott Morrison’s anointing of Angus Taylor as the minister for bringing down ­energy prices gave a practical sense of direction to the policy challenge that has been lacking for more than decade.

A vocal group in the partyroom wishes the Prime Minister was driven less by the Paris target. Another vocal section urges him to do more. Yet the party has seldom been more comfortable in its own skin on climate policy, having re­framed the question in economic rather than scientific terms.

Crucially, the energy policy challenge has evolved in the past three years since the closure of coal-fired power stations in South Australia and Victoria brought home the vulnerabilities of wind and solar.

The gap in the market is now supply that backs up renewables, rather than baseload, reducing the reliance on coal and putting the focus on the supply of gas. Labor shows no signs of coming to terms with this development.

The government is at last starting to parade its achievements, dispelling the myth that it has been sitting on its hands.

Labor had expected to contain emissions at 635 million tonnes by now by imposing a carbon tax. The Coali­tion has managed to reduce emissions to 532 million tonnes without one. Wholesale electricity prices are down 35 per cent year on year. The retail price has fallen for four consecutive quarters. The carbon footprint of the average Australian is well on its way to being half as big as it was in 2005.

It makes it almost impossible for Labor to take a position sufficiently different from the Coali­tion to make a fight of it. Entering a bidding war with the Greens, as it tried to do last time, would put blue-collar seats in danger.

It is little wonder that a growing group in Labor is urging Albanese to sue for peace by adopting policies close to those of the ­government and seeking a bipartisan solution.

A couple of years ago the Coali­tion would have jumped at the chance to neutralise climate as an election issue. Its elevation as a party-political issue in the first place puts Australia at odds with most other Western democracies.

Right now, however, there is little enthusiasm in the Coalition for extending an olive branch. Much better to watch the opposition squirm.



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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