Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Humpback whales spout out slow, but steady recovery

Humpback whales are one of nature’s most majestic animals. Usually identified by their enormous size, curious songs and aerial acrobatics, they were once in numbers approximating 200,000 in the southern hemisphere alone.

Today its numbers have been reduced to about 16,200, due primarily to unrestricted hunting that took place in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Fortunately, humpback whales are making a comeback south of the equator. One such place where progress is being made is at the Francisco Coloane Marine Park near the southern tip of Chile. There, the humpback whale population has risen dramatically — from 40 individuals in 2003 to 190 in 2019.

What are the reasons for its success? As reported in Mongabay:

“There are several reasons for the whales’ recovery. Humpbacks have been globally protected from commercial whaling since 1966 (although the Soviets continued to catch large numbers of them in secret until 1973), and commercial whaling of all species has been banned since 1986. Furthermore, the creation of marine parks [like Francisco Coloane] along the Pacific coast of the Americas has conferred extra protection.

… Based on the number of whales identified up until now and the low rate of recapture, this population unit of whales [at the marine park] is in the middle of experiencing a period of post-whaling recovery and is probably much greater in size than current estimates indicate,” the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH) said in a 2014 report(PDF).

Nevertheless, their recovery is still in its early days, in part due to humpbacks’ slow rate of reproduction. A female gives birth to a calf once every two to three years, so the population is still well below the numbers recorded before commercial whaling. ‘We are probably somewhere between 20 and 25% of what it is thought there was before commercial whaling began, so we are relatively far off the initial population size but much better than we were 40 years ago,’ [wildlife expert] Capella said.”


Toyota partners with Hino to develop hydrogen-powered truck

Toyota has announced it will partner with commercial vehicle-builder Hino to develop a hydrogen-fuel-cell truck as part of a joint initiative to reduce emissions

Built on the foundations of a Hino Profia, the companies say they will optimise the truck’s chassis to package hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell technology. The result will be a claimed 600km of zero-emissions driving range.

Toyota and Hino state that heavy-duty trucks account for approximately 60 per cent of total commercial vehicle CO2 emissions in Japan, and that the fuel-cell Profia will form part of the companies’ ‘Environmental Challenge 2050’ plans.

The sees both brands cut their average CO2 emissions from new vehicles by 90 per cent by 2050.


Fast Charging Stations Damage Tesla Car Batteries In Just 25 Charging Cycles

What Does Elon Musk Have to Gain From Giving Away Tesla's ...
A new paper shows that a selling feature of electric cars, fast-charging stations along highways, actually subject batteries to high temperatures and high resistance that can cause them to crack, leak, and lose their storage capacity.

What is needed is a method for charging at lower temperatures and therefore less risk of catastrophic damage and loss of storage capacity. A recent experiment did just that.

Scientists charged one set of discharged Panasonic NCR 18650B cylindrical lithium-ion batteries, found in Tesla cars, using the same industry fast-charging method as fast chargers found along freeways.

They also charged a set using a new fast-charging algorithm based on the battery’s internal resistance, which interferes with the flow of electrons.

The internal resistance of a battery fluctuates according to temperature, charge state, battery age, and more. High internal resistance can cause problems during charging and the UC Riverside Battery Team charging method is an adaptive system that learns from the battery by checking the battery’s internal resistance during charging. It rests when internal resistance kicks in to eliminate loss of charge capacity.

For the first 13 charging cycles, the battery storage capacities for both charging techniques remained similar. After that, the industry fast-charging technique caused capacity to fade much faster; after 40 charging cycles the batteries kept only 60% of their storage capacity. Batteries charged using the internal resistance charging method retained more than 80% capacity after the 40th cycle.

At 80% capacity, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have reached the end of their use life for most purposes. Batteries charged using the industry fast-charging method reached this point after 25 charging cycles, while internal resistance method batteries were good for 36 cycles.

Worse, after 60 charging cycles, the industry method battery cases cracked, exposing the electrodes and electrolyte to air and increasing the risk of fire or explosion. High temperatures of 60 degrees Celsius/140 degrees Fahrenheit accelerated both the damage and risk.

“Capacity loss, internal chemical and mechanical damage, and the high heat for each battery are major safety concerns, especially considering there are 7,104 lithium-ion batteries in a Tesla Model S and 4,416 in a Tesla Model 3,” said Professor Mihri Ozkan of UC Riverside.


Covid-19 Shows There Won’t Be Global Action on Climate Change

Pretty much Jason Bordoff’s headline in Foreign Policy magazine today, except I left out the “Sorry”. And that’s because I’m not.

Sorry, but the Virus Shows Why There Won’t Be Global Action on Climate Change

Bordoff believes in what is laughably called the scientific consensus on climate change but he seems, to his credit, to be an honest policy wonk. Here are some highlights.

To slow the spread of COVID-19, governments are clamping down to force collective action when individuals fail to follow guidelines. Cities across the world are shutting down businesses and events, at great cost. Yet the effectiveness of any one government’s action is limited if there are weak links in the global effort to curb the pandemic—such as from states with conflict or poor governance—even if the world is in agreement that eradicating a pandemic is in every country’s best interest. Climate change is even harder to solve because it results from the sum of all greenhouse gas emissions and thus requires aggregate effort, a problem particularly vulnerable to free-riding, as my Columbia University colleague Scott Barrett explains in his excellent book Why Cooperate? The Incentive to Supply Global Public Goods. And whereas governments can force people to stay home, there is no global institution with the enforcement power to require that nations curb emissions....

While public concern with climate change is rising, there remains a long way to go. Only half of Americans believe climate change should be a top priority for the federal government, and the figure is far lower on the Republican side of the aisle.

Indeed, COVID-19 itself may actually erode public support for stronger climate action, as the pace of climate ambition wanes during times of economic hardship.....

A huge hit to economic growth would likely mean carbon emissions will fall in 2020 for the first time since the Great Recession of 2008.

That may seem like good news, but it is not. First of all, economic contractions are not a desirable or sustainable way to curb emissions; emissions rebounded sharply after 2009. More importantly, the fact that it takes severe economic slowdowns like the Great Recession or COVID-19 to bring emissions down serves as a reminder of just how strongly tied emissions remain to economic growth—and thus how hard it is to lower them.

That is why energy from renewable sources can grow as rapidly as it has over the past decade and yet fossil fuel use can keep rising at the same time as total energy use rises around the world, especially in fast-growing economies like China and India.....

Policymakers have spent trillions of dollars and passed countless regulations, standards, and mandates to spur clean energy. That it takes a pandemic-induced economic standstill to actually bring emissions down should be a sobering reminder of just how hard addressing climate change will be.

COVID-19 may deliver some short-term climate benefits by curbing energy use, or even longer-term benefits if economic stimulus is linked to climate goals—or if people get used to telecommuting and thus use less oil in the future.

Yet any climate benefits from the COVID-19 crisis are likely to be fleeting and negligible. Rather, the pandemic is a reminder of just how wicked a problem climate change is because it requires collective action, public understanding and buy-in, and decarbonizing the energy mix while supporting economic growth and energy use around the world.

On his penultimate paragraph

COVID-19 may deliver some short-term climate benefits by curbing energy use, or even longer-term benefits if economic stimulus is linked to climate goals—or if people get used to telecommuting and thus use less oil in the future.

the Democrat attempt for the “economic stimulus [to be] linked to climate goals” was blown out of the water, quite rightly, by President Trump. But people getting used to telecommuting is definitely one possible positive, for all of us. Especially for those climate scientists and activists who up to now have had to do massive conferences all together in places like Bali. It so went against everything they believed. And the answer for their uneasy consciences is now being made clear.

But it’s bigger even than that. Much bigger.


How coronavirus has changed the climate war

The COVID-19 pandemic has added fresh rancour to the climate change debate.

“Dear Greta,” former television meteorologist and popular US climate change blogger Anthony Watts began in an open letter to teenage climate campaigner Greta Thunberg last week.

“So you got what you wanted. System change & economic slowdown is a real thing now. Airplanes, industry, jobs, restaurants, recreation, and schools are all shut down. Instead we have fear, poverty, misery, joblessness, economic ruin, and a bleak future. Happy now?”

On the other side, Spanish climate activist, astrophysicist and philosopher Martin Lopez Corredoira observes the world economy has been turned upside down in a matter of weeks.

“Neither Greenpeace, nor Greta Thunberg, nor any other individual or collective organisation (has) achieved so much in favour of the health of the planet in such a short time,” Lopez Corredoira wrote in a Science 2.0 blog post earlier this month.

“Venice … is now deathly silent. What a respite for the Venetians! What good news for the ecologists and tourist-haters!

“This positively affects the reduction of CO2 emission and … the destruction associated with holiday and professional conference tourism. It is certainly not very good for the economy in general, but it is fantastic for the environment.”

Lopez Corredoira said he did not wish ill on anyone but added: “Let us view the circumstance from an objective sociological point of view, without taking individuals into account, and think about the changes that are being produced in the world owing to the rise of this coronavirus.”

This is the emergency climate response that Extinction Rebellion has repeatedly been told was not possible. Yet the pandemic raises challenging questions for all sides of the environmental debate.

It piques strongly held positions on controversial topics — overpopulation, the treatment of wild animals, the politics of authoritarian rule and the role of technology,

The crisis provides a test bed to assess the impact on climate and broader environmental health of reducing industrial emissions for an extended period.

Already it has forced businesses to push harder on technologies to work remotely, communicate digitally and cut down on air miles and lunch.

Former UN climate leader Christiana Figueres says there is a silver lining to the challenge. “If we really sustain several months of reduced travel we may realise that we don’t have to travel as much,” she says. “Can this have actual behavioural change impacts … maybe, and let’s hope.”

The internet is full of memes celebrating a form of nature’s revenge on humans.

But UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has made clear that tackling the coronavirus pandemic, not climate change, is now the world’s top priority. Guterres is still urging countries not to lose sight of the global warming challenge and the Paris climate accord but says all resources for now will be directed toward tackling the COVID-19 crisis.

China’s communist regime has been able to force obedience from citizens but a core weakness has been exposed in the capacity of others to trust information and statistics from the state.

Highlighted, too, has been the extraordinary extent to which the developed world has outsourced its industrial production to China.

These realities could have big implications for how the world might view China, including on the issue of climate change action, in future.

In tackling COVID-19 and climate change, the US is more likely to embrace technology and private industry for answers. Electric carmaker and space enthusiast Elon Musk has quickly thrust himself into the role of industrialist troubleshooter.

The teams of engineers assembled by Musk to inject his brand into the rescue of Thai students from flooded caves in 2018 have been told to turn their expertise to making ventilators for US hospitals.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio responded directly to Musk on Twitter last week.

“New York City is buying!” de Blasio said. “Our country is facing a drastic shortage and we need ventilators ASAP — we will need thousands in this city over the next few weeks. We’re getting them as fast as we can but we could use your help! We’re reaching out to you directly.”

We’re at war and ventilators are our ammunition.

The speed and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic has left the otherwise most vocal climate change groups unsure where to turn. Europe is winding back the pace of green measures and it looks increasingly likely that what was supposed to be a groundbreaking global climate change meeting in Glasgow in November will be postponed or cancelled.

The default position of renewable energy campaigners has been an attempt to make a virtue of the COVID-19 crisis.

International Energy Agency executive director Fatih Birol says he is working to influence world leaders to ensure their stimulus programs are rich with green initiatives.

“I am telling them that we can use the current situation to step up our ambition to tackle climate change,” Birol said last week.

“This is a historic opportunity for the world to, on one hand, create packages to recover the economy but, on the other hand, to reduce dirty investments and accelerate the energy transition.”

Closer to home, Australia’s Climate Council says now “is exact­ly the right time to be spending on renewable energy infrastructure and zero emissions technology”.

Another key message has been that leaders should trust the scientists on climate change, just as they are on the pandemic.

Not everyone is convinced this is a fair comparison. US climate scientist Judith Curry says she does not accept that COVID-19 shows us how and why we need to act urgently on climate change. “The main similarity between climate change and COVID-19 is they are both situations of deep uncertainty,” she says.

“Apart from the brainwashed Extinction Rebellion folk, no one feels the urgent visceral need to drop everything and ‘act’ on climate change.

“The reason for that is that the potential adverse impacts of climate change have a long time horizon (decades to centuries), there is no simple ‘action’ that will reverse climate change, and premature actions could lock us into infrastructure that is not in our best long-term interests. And finally, diversion of all our resources to the climate change problem could make us more vulnerable to more urgent problems such as COVID-19.”

Curry says it remains to be seen what lessons will eventually be learned from the pandemic.

But there will be a new understanding of the loss of productivity from unnecessary business travel and a new questioning of international cruising.

There also may be some new data on the impact on climate of depressed economic activity.

NASA scientists have been able to track the steep decline in nitrogen dioxide levels over China in January and February to coincide with the lockdown of Chinese production because of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.

The decline in pollution levels began over Wuhan and then spread across the country.

As lockdowns spread in Europe and North America, the impact on industry will mirror the 2008 global financial crisis, which resulted in a significant fall in global greenhouse gas emissions.

The shutdown of international air travel will allow a more thorough test of studies conducted after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in the US.

Those studies claimed a temporary stop to air flights over North America had a noticeable impact on climate.

A reduction in vapour trails, or contrails, it was claimed, had been responsible for a greater subsequent spread in temperatures between day and night.

In 2004, NASA scientist Patrick Minnis wrote that “increased cirrus coverage, attributable to air traffic, could account for nearly all of the warming observed over the United States for nearly 20 years starting in 1975”.

The warming effect happened because the high-altitude clouds that contrails created tended to trap warm air, Minnis wrote. On balance, though contrails can both warm and cool, there is more of a warming effect.

Last year, Scientific American said the contrails left by aeroplanes were now so widespread that their warming effect was greater than that of all the carbon dioxide emitted by aeroplanes that had accumulated in the atmosphere since the first flight of the Wright brothers.

Meanwhile, studies already are under way to see if the shutdown in industrial production will have a measurable impact on atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide in the northern hemisphere.

Not so far.

Many will be hoping the bigger environmental impact will be on the illegal trade in bush meat and a greater preservation of wildlife.

There is a long history of Chinese abuses of the pangolin, or scaly anteater, a living dinosaur and the likely host to the COVID-19 virus.

Pangolin scales traditionally have been cooked in oil, butter, vinegar, boys’ urine or roasted with earth or oyster shells to cure a variety of ills, including excessive nervousness and hysterical crying in children, women possessed by devils and ogres, malarial fever and deafness.

According to an article in the journal Nature in 1938 that described the uses, pangolin numbers already were in peril because of Chinese demand.

Russian billionaire and British media owner Evgeny Lebedev has said it would be sweet irony if the COVID-19 virus were the saviour of the world’s most highly illegally traded animal.

Lebedev is patron of the conservation organisation Space for Giants and has visited wet markets such as those in Wuhan where COVID-19 is believed to have bred from bats, through pangolins, to become a threat to humans.

US environmentalist Michael Shellenberger agrees. “Who would have thought that the wet live markets in China would be a major source of global chaos and economic challenge and mass death, but that is the real­ity,” Shellenberger says.

“The animals are on top of each other and they are very unsanitary. Experts have been warning about those markets for two decades now.

“One of the things that ought to come out of this is that there ought to be some effort internationally to make sure countries get rid of these markets that are breeding grounds for these viruses and help countries move to more modern forms of meat production.

“The truth is that economic growth and lifting people out of poverty has been the most important way to reduce air pollution and negative impacts on the environment.”

The success of the developed world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has significant impli­cations for how the world will deal with climate change into the future.



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Monday, March 30, 2020

Fight the virus, not carbon

Often obsessive focus on climate wastes scarce money and distracts from real health crisis

Paul Driessen and David Wojick

The many trillions of dollars proposed to be spent under dubious “green new deals” should be spent instead (effectively and within reason) on health care, especially virus prevention, protection and cures. This is the gist of an “Open Letter to World Leaders” from the Climate Intelligence Foundation.

The Foundation, or CLINTEL, makes this clear right up front: “Your Excellencies, compared to COVID-19, climate change is a non-problem! It is based on immature computer models, and it looks into the distant future. In the current health emergency, however, your attention to the peoples’ needs is today! Please, don’t continue pushing your zero carbon emission ambition in a time that the world is dealing with a deadly global crisis. Yes, there is an emergency, but it is NOT climate.”

CLINTEL specifically speaks to the leaders of the UN and EU, saying “People need an inspiring narrative that promises them a hopeful future. Today, for instance, it is totally inappropriate that the billion-dollar Green New Deal focused on climate is still on the agenda of leaders such as Mr. Antonio Guterres of the UN and Mr. Frans Timmermans of the EU.” We do not have a manmade climate and weather crisis.

In the EU, green funds could begin flowing to the virus crisis almost immediately, by reprogramming €100 billion ($110 billion) of European Green Deal money. The GED has a Just Transition Mechanism to “help mobilise at least €100 billion over the period 2021-2027,” by way of “financial support and technical assistance to help people, businesses and regions that are most affected by the move toward the green economy.” All they have to do is replace the Mechanism’s “green economy” with “corona crisis.”

All the EU has to do is abandon its compulsory transition to a so-called “green economy,” which would in reality be very poor and uncompetitive, with tens of millions unemployed. The European Green Plan (EGP) proposes spending a trillion euros on a foolish attempt to control the global climate, even as China, India and other emerging economies build hundreds of new coal and gas-fired power plants, hundreds of new airports, thousands of fossil fuel-based factories, and millions of internal combustion vehicles.

CLINTEL says it would be far wiser to spend that money on improving health care, with priority to virus protection. Far more necessary, too. Anyone following the coronavirus news out of Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Britain and other EU countries, knows CLINTEL is right. Awake EU leaders know it too.

In the United States, President Trump has signed into law Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the $2.2 trillion emergency relief bill, the largest such package in US history. It will help hospitals and state and local governments, assist with critical medical needs, and provide relief for small businesses and furloughed workers. It eliminated most of the liberal wish list items in an earlier bill.

(By contrast, any European Green Deal would cost many trillions of dollars, as would the US Green New Deal endorsed by Democrat presidential candidates, to address conjectural future risks. Candidate Bernie Sanders pegs his pet version at “just” $11 trillion, while other estimates run as high as $93 trillion!)

Some of that spending should go to upgrading the health care system, testing people and getting COVID patients respirators and medicines that work, conducting clinical trials to evaluate anecdotal evidence about various treatments, and saving lives! Other spending should assist families whose breadwinners have been laid off by the lockdowns and quarantines, and businesses that have been closed down.

Right now, some 15 million workers are unemployed in the restaurant industry alone, plus millions more in restaurant support industries. If the business lockdown continues another month or so, some 75% of independently owned restaurants will never reopen, business insiders say. Moreover, across the USA, it is minorities who are most seriously harmed by the shutdown, since they dominate worst-affected sectors.

(A suggestion: Order an occasional takeout-pickup meal from local eateries – and leave a generous tip.)

The rest of the money should simply not be spent, especially since it’s mostly more government debt. Spending it would further damage the economy and future taxpayers, in Europe and the United States.

Any thinking legislator should endorse CLINTEL’s call for action, instead of foolish green new deals.

But instead, the manmade-climate-crisis-obsessed United Nations continues to pressure all nations to adopt expensive zero-carbon-dioxide plans, preferably as soon as its Glasgow climate summit in November. That underscores how wrongheaded and intransigent the UN has been for decades. No. The world needs to fix the current virus problem – and prepare for the inevitable next ones.

The economic crisis due to the corona pandemic will hit all countries, including those with relatively small virus outbreaks at the moment or in the future. With proper prevention and response systems in place, there is no reason these economic disasters should escalate. But those systems will not be in place in impoverished nations – largely because UN, EU, climate and other eco-imperialist activists for decades have prevented those countries from building fossil fuel, nuclear and even hydroelectric generating plants, forcing them instead to be content with minimal, unreliable, habitat-destroying wind and solar power.

CLINTEL’s strong advice to the world’s leaders is spot-on: “To revive the global economy, don’t further increase government debts. Instead, apply the money intended for your costly Green New Deal to the present needs of people and society. Call it the COVID-19 RECOVERY PLAN. Be aware that, in today’s crisis, the conjectural policy of CO2 reduction is highly counterproductive!”

The letter’s eloquent summary statement says it all: “The world is moving to an open global economy of ten billion people. Top priority must be given to significant investments in a global health system that makes any pandemic less catastrophic. Considering COVID-19, climate alarmists and climate critics should admit that global warming is a non-problem. Therefore, stop fighting, step over your own shadow and work together against the deadly virus. In this tough battle we need each other!”

Imagine what would happen if abundant, reliable, affordable electricity from fossil, nuclear and hydroelectric were replaced by expensive, limited, intermittent, weather-dependent wind and solar power. The impacts on our coronavirus response, healthcare, living standards and life spans would be horrific.

Without reliable, on-demand energy sufficient to power modern, industrialized society – which neither wind nor solar power can provide at current levels of technology – hospitals could not maintain sterile conditions. Food and vaccines could not be grown, developed, preserved or transported. Protective equipment to safeguard front-line health care workers from COVID-19, and respirators for critically-ill patients, could not be delivered where they’re needed, let alone manufactured in the first place.

We would not even have clean water or reliable sanitation systems. We would not have jobs, industries, decent living standards, or anything approaching a vibrant, functioning, job and tax-generating economy.

That’s the situation African and other impoverished nations found themselves with Ebola – and will find themselves if (when) COVID-19 reaches them. It is where a GED or GND would take the United States.

President Trump is absolutely right. We need to fight the coronavirus and keep it from spreading. But we also need to begin soon to balance the virus threat against threats created by our response to the virus: deaths from COVID-19 itself (which could be overstated) versus deaths due to mass unemployment and recession because of the shutdowns: from stress, depression, despair, strokes, heart attacks, suicides and murder-suicides ... amid bankruptcies, loss of life savings, and destruction of years’ of work and sacrifice.

And yet there are some who applaud the corona-economic recession for driving down fossil fuel use and CO2 emissions – or want more wind and solar mandates and subsidies built into any corona response plans.

Our health and economic emergency is real and immediate. The manmade climate emergency is years or decades away – if it even exists outside the realm of computer models that generate worst-case scenarios but cannot even forecast average global temperatures accurately ... and pseudo-scientific studies that blame every observed (and imagined) temperature shift, climate fluctuation and extreme weather event on fossil fuels.

Fight the virus, not carbon.

Via email

Media Lies Debunked: Coronavirus, Pandemics, and Climate Change

Climate alarmists and major media outlets are deceitfully exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to tell the public lies that climate change makes pandemics more likely and severe. In reality, the evidence is quite clear that warmer temperatures make pandemics and underlying outbreaks of viruses like the flu less frequent and severe.

In a March 24 editorial in The Hill, Vinod Thomas, former direct-general of the Independent Evaluation Group at the World Bank Group, writes, “There is a link to pandemics, like COVID-19, and a warmer world….”

Thomas’s claim follows many others in the media. For example, a recent Time magazine article states, “I have no evidence that climate change triggered this particular virus to jump from animals to humans at this particular time, or that a warmer planet has helped it spread. That said, it’s pretty clear that, broadly speaking, climate change is likely to lead to an uptick in future epidemics caused by viruses and other pathogens.”

Both writers know or, at least should know, that they are telling lies. Numerous studies demonstrate that transmissible diseases like the flu and the coronavirus are far more prevalent and deadly during the late-fall, winter, and early spring, when the weather is cold and damp, rather than in the summer months when it is warm and dry. That is a reason the flu season runs from fall through early spring, and then peters out. And colds, while not unheard of, are less common in the summer as well.

Chapter 7 or the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change’s report of Climate Change Reconsidered: Biological Impacts details the results of dozens of peer reviewed studies and reports showing premature deaths from illness and disease are far more prevalent during colder seasons and colder climate eras rather than during warmer seasons and warmer climate eras.

In 2010, British Broadcasting Channel’s health correspondent Clare Murphy analyzed mortality statistics from the UK’s Office of National Statistics from 1950 through 2007 and found, “For every degree the temperature drops below 18C [64 degrees Fahrenheit], deaths in the UK go up by nearly 1.5 percent.”

U.S. Interior Department analyst Indur Goklany studied official U.S. mortality statistics and found similar results. According to official U.S. mortality statistics, an average of 7,200 Americans die each day during the months of December, January, February, and March, compared to 6,400 each day during the rest of the year.

In an article published in the Southern Medical Journal in 2004, W. R. Keatinge and G. C. Donaldson noted, “Cold-related deaths are far more numerous than heat-related deaths in the United States, Europe, and almost all countries outside the tropics, and almost all of them are due to common illnesses that are increased by cold.”

More recently, in a study published in the Lancet in 2015, researchers examined health data from 384 locations in 13 countries, accounting for more than 74 million deaths—a huge sample size from which to draw sound conclusions—and found cold weather, directly or indirectly, killed 1,700% more people than hot weather. No, that is not a typo – 1,700% more people die from cold temperatures than warm or hot temperatures.

Contrary to the fear-mongering assertions in The Hill and Time, the overwhelming scientific evidence shows it is cold, not heat, that kills. Therefore, a modestly warmer world, with shorter, less severe winters, should result in fewer premature deaths from disease, viruses, pandemics, hunger, and other natural causes.


Even coronavirus couldn't stop the climate madness

Fear of the coronavirus has taken over the world – but some people are determined to promote lies and propaganda even in the midst of the pandemic.

Climate doomsayers recently held a protest in Brussels despite the coronavirus fears. On Twitter, some doomsayers, stuck in oblivion, continue to preach climate change as the planet's most imminent threat. Are they so blinded by their ambition to create climate fears that they undermine imminent health threats?


Though the media have exaggerated coronavirus' risks, the virus is not to be taken lightly. It can live up to nine days on metal, glass and plastic surfaces, according to recent scientific studies. Scientific evidence suggests that containment and precautionary measures in the early stages of an outbreak can significantly reduce the number of infections and deaths. Precaution, not panic, is the right way forward.

One of the key ways to stop the spread of the virus is to avoid mass gatherings. A public rally at a time like this was foolish. If one protester is infected with the coronavirus, then the protest jeopardizes the health of all the other protesters and all the people to whom they go home – and all the people with whom they, in turn, come in contact.

The most dangerous part is that not everyone infected will show signs of infection in the early stage. An individual who appears completely healthy can be carrying the virus. Unless every individual is tested, there is no way of knowing if people are infected or not. To make things more complicated, people who have tested negative have turned out be positive within a couple of days, which was the case with a Google employee in India.

So a public rally in the name of climate alarmism endangers lives and does nothing to save the planet or its environment.

The protesters think climate change is as dangerous as coronavirus. "It's pick your evil. Do you want to die from global warming or from coronavirus?" a protester commented at the Brussels rally, led by Greta Thunberg.

But this dismal attitude is not limited to rally organizers. Doomsday activists like Greta continue to preach about the dangers of climate change, calling it the biggest crisis we have faced.

People are free to preach their own opinions. However, no one should be selling fake climate-crisis news when a medically verified pandemic is threatening to sweep the world.

Climate has always changed. In the past, cold climate caused a global emergency during the Little Ice Age in the 16th century.

In the past seven decades, there have been hardly any scientific indications that the climate is in crisis. Scientists have even acknowledged a slowdown of warming during the first 14 years of this century.

Despite the El-NiƱo driven warmth in 2016 and other years, the last two decades have shown no signs of crisis. Agricultural outputs have increased in the past 55 years, societies have had higher life expectancies, and there has been global progress in reducing poverty.

Preaching about a non-existent climate threat during times of real health emergency is ironic, and it exposes the doomsday obsession of climate alarmists.

Once the coronavirus outbreak is over, climate doomsayers will restart their decades-long propaganda. Soon we will have a dozen hypotheses about how man-made climate change helped spread the coronavirus. They have done this blame game with other issues like the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe.

Meanwhile, stay safe!


Can History Cast Doubt on the Evidence of Global Warming?

A recent article in Commentary informs its readers that, “there has been no increase in average temperatures in the continental United States over the last 14 years…. If anything, overall temperatures are slightly cooler than they were.”

These are not the ravings of a “climate change denier.” This information comes from an agency of the United States Government called the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN). The USCRN collects data for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These findings are reported by “Real Clear Energy.”

Unlike the “settled science” of former Vice-President Al Gore, this information is not garnered from computerized “climate models.” USCRN bases its conclusion on real data, gathered over the last fourteen years.

Reasons to Distrust the Data

The study behind the Commentary article provides ample reason to doubt the conclusions of the global warming alarmists.

The article’s author is the financial historian John Steele Gordon, who is no right-wing extremist. On his resume is staff work for two members of Congress, both New York Democrats, and frequent appearances on PBS and NPR.

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Mr. Gordon points out a severe problem with many of the 1221 weather stations NOAA uses to collect weather information. He raises a hypothetical case – one with many real-world counterparts. Many weather stations have big problems for these reasons:

“While they haven’t changed appreciably over the years, the land around them has changed, often profoundly, with the great growth in urban and suburban areas. The weather station that was put, say, in the middle of a Nassau County, Long Island, potato field in 1923 is still in the same spot. But the potatoes are long gone, and now it’s behind a strip mall, twenty feet from the kitchen exhaust fan of a Chinese take-out joint.”

For comparisons of weather over time, the station needs to remain in the same location. Moving it will not work since no two places are exactly alike. However, a weather station set up in a small forest in the early twentieth century will record very different information when that location has become the roof of a convenience store. The cool of the forest has been replaced by a hot roof that receives unfiltered sunlight for an average of twelve hours a day.

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Mr. Gordon’s article refers to a study conducted by Anthony Watts in 2009. It reveals that, “89 percent of the stations – nearly 9 of every 10 – fail to meet the National Weather Service’s own siting requirements that stations must be 30 meters (about 100 feet) or more away from an artificial heating or radiating/reflecting heat source. The conclusion is inescapable: The U.S. temperature record is unreliable.”

The Arrogance of Scientism

Those who sustain the theory that man-made global warming is an “existential threat” dismiss such information. Mr. Gordon’s analysis is that of a historian. It is anecdotal, even though it points to the failure of a system, it is not per se scientific. This attitude is the product of a mistaken idea called scientism – the idea that only science can determine truth.

However, both historians and scientists are on different searches for the same truth. Anything that is scientifically true must also be historically accurate. A historically false proposition can never be scientifically true.

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The Plight of the Non-Scientist

Most people are not scientists. For at least thirty years, climate experts have claimed that non-scientists cannot have valid opinions about global warming. If people are to appear intelligent, they will jump on the solar-powered bandwagon, abandon fossil fuels and renounce cows and other producers of “greenhouse gases.” Those with contrary opinions are simply disregarded.

However, as Mr. Gordon’s article proves, the scientists base themselves upon a minimal amount of real data. In addition, the National Weather Service was only established in 1890. Its methodology and systems of recordkeeping developed over time. At most, there is only a century of real data. The rest is computer-generated projections.

The “scientific” data used by the climate alarmist scientists is thus questionable. The dire warnings are dubious. If a gradually warming climate cannot be proven by unquestionable “scientific data,” there must be other means to look at the record to reach conclusions. That other means is found in history.

The Little Ice Age

History offers an alternate explanation to the “man-made global warming” phenomena that is no less true that real science.

This author’s grandfather, born in 1899, used to say that winters were colder when he was a child. He was right. His youth began shortly after the end of the Little Ice Age. Some specialists speculate that it started about 1400 A.D. It lasted until the late nineteenth century. The twentieth century ushered in a period of gradually increasing temperatures.

Therefore, the Weather Service’s data, beginning in 1890 would logically show that winters are growing warmer. However, the data cannot conclude that the world was considerably warmer between A.D. 1000 and 1400, reaching a peak sometime during the late twelfth century. Historic accounts however do record this “Medieval Warm Period” when food became more plentiful, and travel became more comfortable. Such weather was a blessing upon the Christian civilization that was then reaching its peak.

The Danger of Incomplete Information

In comparison to the historic record of the world, the century of scientifically collected data is ridiculously small. The climate experts feed that minimal data, their biases and politically correct narratives into computers to predict the long term future. They blithely disregard other forms of evidence that contradict their idea of “science.”

It is like moaning that you are going to die when you catch the ghastly flu. If you extrapolate that evidence to predict the future, then you appear to be declining and will soon die. Of course, the week of the flu represents the downhill slope of a natural process. In another week, you will feel better.


Trump wants prime-time climate science challenge — Happer

President Trump wants a climate science review where he might take center stage as host in front of a prime-time television audience, a former adviser said yesterday.

Trump is also interested in bringing back a hostile review of climate science if he wins reelection, but he's concerned that it would affect him in the general election, according to William Happer, a former senior director in the National Security Council. The emeritus Princeton University professor worked for months to promote a hostile review of climate science.

Happer told E&E News he's interested in a purely academic challenge to the National Climate Assessment, while Trump wants a televised event.

"The biggest audience, which is the average American public, has to be informed, and he thinks he's better at doing that than I am. I'm sure he's right," Happer said. "He would prefer it be on prime time, maybe with he himself participating, who knows, but it's impossible to make much of an impact on the scientific community that way."

Happer said Trump was already familiar with his view of climate science, which holds that the world needs more carbon dioxide, before they met in the Oval Office with former national security adviser John Bolton and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. In those early days of his White House tenure, in the fall of 2018, the climate science review seemed a certainty. Happer said Trump was receptive to his scientific claims but that the president already had his own ideas about climate.

Happer, who left the White House last September, said he stressed to the president that there was no urgency to address climate change.

"I don't think I told him anything that he didn't really know. I continually stressed that he's not really dealing with so much with science as with a popular movement," he said.

Happer said that in subsequent meetings, Trump would engage with the idea of the review but was largely focused on his political fortunes.

"When you talk to him, he is interested, but his main focus is politics, how's the next election going," he said. "It's hard to distract him too long from his main focus. I don't think I was with him, I think ever, when at some point in the conversation, some political issue would come up, how's the latest hearing, how is such and such Democratic candidate looking in the polls."

NASA, NOAA and the world's top science agencies have all warned that humans are warming the planet at an unprecedented pace and that, absent significant mitigation, the world is on pace to experience changes with dire consequences for humanity.

Happer spoke to E&E News on the sidelines of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington. He participated in a panel on the "debate" around climate science, which also included a panelist, Alex Bozmoski of RepublicEn, a conservative group that pushes for climate action, who criticized Happer's version of science. In previous years, CPAC events were critical of climate science.

Trump campaign officials worked to block the climate review because polling shows it's a vulnerability for the president in districts he must win to stay in the White House.

In the panel, Happer criticized Republican women, who polls show are increasingly concerned about climate change and have weakened in support for Trump.

"Let me say a little about Republican women and housewives: They've been brainwashed," he said.

"What are they supposed to believe?" he added. "They've got Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore and other great scientists explaining this and Bill Nye the Science Guy, well, what else do you expect them to think, and so we've done this to ourselves."

Happer said Trump supported his planned science review and approved it to go forward but that it was sabotaged by "carefully orchestrated delays" from White House and campaign officials who didn't want it to proceed. He said Trump told him it was "too close to the election" to do the review this year but that it could happen if he wins a second term.

"He was very apologetic and said there is a time for everything, and this is just the wrong timing, this is on hold, we're not going to abandon it," he said. "He's a politician. So what do you expect a politician to say?"



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


Sunday, March 29, 2020

No Green New Deal in stimulus: This time

The Senate passed a two trillion dollar stimulus bill designed to provide economic relief in response to the coronavirus crisis. 

Despite efforts by radical greens to ram the bill full of climate “pork,” it looks like their expensive wish list didn’t make the cut.

This is good news, thanks largely to the President and many Senators who called out their crafty attempts to sneak in a radical wish list that has nothing to do with the virus into the bill.

Of course they have to pass it for us to see everything that’s in it… just as the founders intended.

“[The Democrats said] ‘We want green energy, let’s stop drilling oil’ — they had things in there that were terrible…Windmills all over the place and all sorts of credits for windmills — they kill the birds and ruin the real estate. A lot of problems,” President Trump explained during a town hall style broadcast.

Just because America has dodged one Green New Deal bullet, don’t think the climate radicals won’t be back.

Presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden had this to say, “we’re going to have an opportunity, I believe, in the next round [of economic aid] here to use…my Green Deal to be able to generate both economic growth as consistent with the kind of infusion of monies we need into the system to keep it going.”

Really, Joe?  Do you truly believe shoveling money into the Big Green wood chipper is the smartest way to shelter a great nation from depression and despair?

A record three million people filed for unemployment in the most recent jobs report. The businesses forced to close their doors by government at every level have been shown no clear path as to when they might reopen.

Uncertainty destroys.

Unless we identify those portions of the economy that can operate safely and target them to reopen, our two trillion dollars will be consumed without stimulating anything.

The call for another stimulus bill will be shrill.  Expect the Left to push harder to force their climate wish list in.  They must be opposed.

Ironically, the Left’s push to shoehorn radical climate and environmental policy into government stimulus plans seems to be running afoul of the author of the Green New Deal himself.

Saikat Chakrabarti, former Chief of Staff to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said in a tweet when referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s proposal to tie any airline aid to emissions restrictions:

“I helped write the #GreenNewDeal and I think this is ridiculous. The tiny little emissions standard increase doesn’t even do anything meaningful to stave off climate change…”

Hard to believe it, but maybe Congress should actually listen to the author of the Green New Deal – this time anyway.


Biden exploits pandemic to push Green New Deal

Joe Biden made a public splash this week on various news outlets.  The Atlantic magazine will be glad to know he is alive.

We sincerely wish Mr. Biden well, but he would have done better staying off the air.

The former Vice President and presumptive presidential nominee said if there is another coronavirus relief bill coming out of the U.S. Congress, he wants it to include a blizzard of irrelevant policies which have nothing to do with helping Americans overcome the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. These policies include parts of the “Green New Deal” that were proposed by Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, such as imposing limits on carbon emissions in airplanes and more tax credits for wind and solar energy development.

After three days of haggling, the Senate rejected these and most of the other last-ditch House proposals by omitting them from the just completed $2 trillion legislation that is being passed into law this week.

Joe Biden wants to try again next time. He told the News Hour on Public Broadcasting: “we’re going to have an opportunity I believe in the next round here to use the, my green economy, my Green Deal to be able to generate both economic ground and consistent with the kind of infusion of money as we need into the system to keep it going.”

There you have it; or, to coin a phrase, “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”

Mr. Biden gave a series of interviews this past week to remind the country that he’s running for president. It’s not easy getting attention these days when you have no official role in fighting the coronavirus that has afflicted tens of thousands of Americans, and so far killed well more than 1,200 people in the country.

The Congress and the President agreed on this $2 trillion legislative package to keep the U.S. economy from collapsing into a depression, as much of the workforce remains at home, and a growing number of employees lose their jobs. More than 3 million Americans, and counting, have been added to the unemployment rolls.

Rather than sustain American jobs and businesses, Green New Deal mandates and added costs on traditional energy would ensure the economy’s collapse. Oil and natural gas are the lifeblood of the American economy, which is teetering on the biggest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

The Green New Deal from Joe Biden or anyone else is a bad idea at any time. It is a worse idea now – like rubbing salt in a metastasizing economic wound and public health emergency, with each producing real victims.

Health care, law enforcement and other front-line workers do not have enough masks, ventilators and other needs to care for people stricken by the virus. What if they have insufficient energy when the next pandemic hits because too much fossil fuel has been shut down and renewables can’t cut it, thanks to a Green New Deal?

Mr. Biden’s incoherent interviews to promote counterproductive policies was ill timed. As he tries to get attention, he continues to fumble not merely on policies themselves, but on his presentation. More are questioning his staying power in the presidential race, and contrasting him with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has been in full command as he leads his state’s response to the coronavirus. New York State by far has been the hardest hit of any state with COVID-19.

Whether Joe Biden can go the distance, or is somehow replaced by another presidential candidate at the Democratic Party’s national convention this summer, others can—and will— speculate. From a policy standpoint, whoever is the Democratic nominee will seek to impose the Green New Deal on the country, the central premise of which is the immediate demise of fossil fuels and the associated jobs of Americans in related industries.

The debate will continue in America about our energy future and how we get there. Technological ingenuity and development will bring about new energy sources to gradually supplant oil and gas to some degree, without having a Green New Deal to outlaw their use or make them prohibitively costly. Doing so would only hurt the livelihoods of American workers and industries in the process, especially in this and certain future national emergencies.


The Guardian’s biases produced bogus COVID-19 claims

By Paul Driessen

The Guardian (a very liberal London newspaper) does some excellent reporting – about 40,000 children slaving and dying in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) of Central Africa, mining cobalt for cell phones, laptops, Teslas and Green New Deal technologies, for example. But other stories are a bizarre mix of fact, fake news, junk science, random conjecture and utter nonsense.

A case in point is its recent attempt to blame the coronavirus crisis on human activities that The Guardian and its writers tend to detest, even though they are essential for modern civilization and living standards: road building, mining and logging. “Is our destruction of nature responsible for Covid-19?” the headline blares, adding “As habitat and biodiversity loss increase globally, the coronavirus outbreak may be just the beginning of mass pandemics.”

The article opens with the tragic story of an Ebola-traumatized village in Gabon, west of the DRC on Africa’s west coast. Villagers had gotten the disease from eating a wild chimpanzee. Many had died.

The ensuing eco-proselytizing took a page out of ancient religious lore, which attributed calamities to mankind’s sins against gods, God – or in this case Gaia. Some vague “number of researchers” in the new academic “discipline” of “planetary health” now believe it is “humanity’s destruction of biodiversity that creates the conditions for new viruses and diseases such as COVID-19.”

Humans “invade” wild landscapes where animals and plants live that harbor unknown viruses, says one supposed expert. “We disrupt ecosystems and shake viruses loose from their natural hosts.”

“Research suggests” that outbreaks of diseases crossing over from animals to humans “are on the rise,” the article continues. While rabies and bubonic plague “crossed over centuries ago,” it’s getting much worse: Marburg, Mers, Nipah, SARS, Zika and West Nile, for example. Or the Asian flu and AIDS. These “zoonotic” diseases are “increasingly linked to environmental change and human behavior,” such as human population growth, urbanization and the “disruption of pristine forests,” says another “expert.”

It sounds plausible, for those without scientific, medical or analytical background. It definitely appeals to those who dislike these activities (and humanity). But it ignores history, reality, and the anti-technology ideologies of those who say we are “sinning against Gaia the Earth Mother.”

Malaria, dengue, yellow fever and sleeping sickness are also mentioned. Yet what about cholera, polio (which I had as a child), smallpox, measles, multiple plagues in various cities and countries through the ages, and countless iterations of influenza? We don’t know where they come from, and many mutate frequently, defying our best efforts to eradicate them or find vaccines and cures.

Many were brought from distant shores to Europe or the Americas, Russia or other lands by sailing ships – to populations that lacked natural or built-up immunities. Today’s emergent diseases can travel far more rapidly and widely, thanks to trains, cars, ships and planes. Add the  billions that live today in crowded cities, often facilitating rapid transmission of virulent or novel diseases, even with modern clinics, hospitals, vaccinations, medicines, antibiotic soaps and proper hygienic practices.

Those life-saving modern technologies and buildings didn’t just happen. They are the product of mining, logging, roads, drilling, fossil fuel and nuclear energy, and modern agriculture, communication and transportation – which enable innovation to thrive, help keep Nature’s wrath and fury at a safer distance, and helped extend average American life spans from 40 in 1800 to 47 in 1900 and 78 today. (My colleagues and I discuss that here, here and elsewhere. This penicillin story is also fascinating.)

The Guardian has it completely backward. Utilizing Earth’s surface and subsurface bounties – God’s blessings – did not unleash COVID-19 and other viruses, bacteria and diseases. It helped save us from pestilences that have ravaged humanity throughout our time on this planet. It still does so today.

Diseases will always be with us. They will evolve, mutate, cross over from animals to humans, and try to ravage us for as long as we inhabit this magnificent planet. Never forget that it was the fossil fuels that so many detest which enabled so much of humanity to escape the deprivation, starvation and disease that kept human, health and civilizational progress to a barely measurable minimum until about 1800.

Imagine what would happen if abundant, reliable, affordable heat and electricity from fossil, nuclear and hydroelectric were replaced by limited, intermittent, weather-dependent, expensive wind, solar and battery power. The impacts on our healthcare and living standards would be horrific. Try to picture life in African villages and cities, where electricity, clean water, sanitation and healthcare are still almost nonexistent.

Imagine what our planet would look like, if we had to replace relatively few fossil, nuclear and hydroelectric power plants with millions of wind turbines, billions of solar panels and billions of backup batteries, sprawling across hundreds of millions of acres. We would have to open or expand thousands of mines, to provide the metals and minerals required to manufacture all that pseudo-renewable energy.

Disruption of ecosystems and destruction of biodiversity would multiply by orders of magnitude.

The Guardian article subtly but harshly criticizes hunting chimpanzees and other wild animals. But why do African villagers do that? It’s not rocket science. They are hungry! Living on the edge of survival.

And yet UN and EU agencies, eco-imperialist pressure groups, anti-development banks and divestment campaigners demand that they compound the misery of living without electricity, clean water and healthcare – by turning their backs on modern seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and tractors.

Instead, Africans are supposed to survive on whatever meager crops they can harvest using agro-ecology: primitive subsistence farming – and whatever might survive droughts and locust plagues. They’re also supposed to be content with bed nets and avoid using insecticides to kill insects that carry diseases like malaria, dengue and sleeping sickness.

The article next cites “disease ecologists” who claim these diseases increasingly come from “wet markets” that have recently “sprung up” to provide fresh meat for large urban populations. Wet markets have certainly been tied to the coronavirus. But they have been around for centuries, due to culture and tradition, as places to meet and gossip, as symbols of wealth, reflecting the belief that the meat is more natural and healthy. The reality that there is not enough farm-raised meat because agricultural practices in much of Asia and Africa are still antiquated.

In a final bit of absurdity, the author says the solutions to this modern crisis of disease outbreaks “start with education and awareness” – like the junk science, fake news and half-baked ideas thrown about in his article. Then the newspaper weighs in, railing that under the Trump administration “anger and cruelty disfigure public discourse and lying is commonplace.” But with financial help from readers, The Guardian can “keep delivering quality journalism” – like this story.

One has to wonder. If we can close restaurants and parks, and ban gatherings of more than ten people, can’t we quarantine nonsense about disease, mining, and wild ecosystems disrupted because we haven’t sufficiently adopted “clean, green, renewable, sustainable” wind, solar, battery and biofuel alternatives?


Covid-19: a glimpse of the dystopia greens want us to live in

Greens just can’t help themselves. As the rest of us do what we can to tackle or withstand the Covid-19 crisis, they treat it as a sign, a warning from nature, a telling-off to hubristic, destructive mankind. The speed with which they have folded this pandemic into their misanthropic narrative about humanity being a pox on the planet has been shocking, but not surprising.

Right from the top of the UN, they have been promoting their backward belief that this virus is a reprimand from nature. Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, says ‘nature is sending us a message’ with this pandemic and other recent disasters, including bushfires in Australia and locust invasions in Kenya. Of course nature is doing no such thing, because nature is not a sentient being, however much the new religion of environmentalism might fantasise that it is.

The Guardian reports that Andersen thinks humanity’s ‘destruction of the natural world for farming, housing and mining’ is making pandemics more likely. In short, human growth, modern society itself, is now getting its comeuppance. We think we can farm and mine and, erm, build houses as we see fit, but here comes nature with her punishment: a terrible disease. This is positively Biblical. Gaia is God in this scenario, coming to punish us for our sins.

A group of scientists agrees with Andersen. They describe Covid-19 as a ‘clear warning shot’ from nature, telling human civilisation that it is ‘playing with fire’. This is the political exploitation of a horrible disease to the end of winding back human industry: what a low trick.

Britain’s chief bourgeois misanthrope, George Monbiot, was hot on the heels of the UN’s eco-medievalists. He says Covid-19 has shattered humanity’s self-serving myth that it has achieved ‘insulation from natural hazards’. There is a grotesque glee in the way Monbiot describes what Covid-19 has unleashed – ‘the membrane has ruptured’, he says, and ‘we find ourselves naked and outraged, as the biology we appeared to have banished storms through our lives’.

Monbiot also views this pandemic as a lesson from nature. The headline to his piece says: ‘Covid-19 is nature’s wake-up call to our complacent civilisation.’ And what is the content of nature’s violent lesson to disgusting mankind? It is to remind us that, for all our arrogance, we are actually ‘governed by biology and physics’.

There is something profoundly ugly in this. Monbiot and other greens seem to view Covid-19 as a disaster that will have an upside: it might roll back the Enlightenment-era belief that humankind can exercise dominion over nature and remind us that actually we are at nature’s mercy. They hope this disaster will restore nature’s power over the humanised world.

This is also why so many greens online have been sharing images of dolphins swimming near Venice or an absence of airplane trails over California. Because to them, these are signs of a benefit from Covid-19: the humbling of humankind, the reining in of our industrial and technological activity, and the reassertion of nature’s awesome power. If you see a disease as a political statement, as an opportunity to pursue your pre-existing misanthropic agendas, there is something very wrong with you.

Even though all of this is morally perverse, it is not surprising. For a long time, greens have viewed human beings as a pox, a virus in our own right, doing untold damage to the planet. Green god David Attenborough has said humans are ‘a plague on the planet’. Even when greens don’t use such explicitly hateful language, they constantly promote a view of human production and development as toxic and destructive.

And they latch on to everything from bushfires to floods, from plagues of locusts to melting ice-caps, as signs from nature, lessons from a furious Gaia. When religious crackpots blame floods on gay marriage, claiming God is punishing us for losing the moral plot, we rightly mock them. Yet greens offer merely a secular version of such backward, apocalyptic claptrap.

The truth is that if the Covid-19 crisis has shown us anything, it is how awful it would be to live in the kind of world greens dream about. Right now, courtesy of a horrible new virus, our societies look not dissimilar to the kind of societies Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion, green parties and others have long been agitating for. Fewer flights, industry halted, huge infrastructure projects put on hold. Less driving, less travelling, less human interaction. Over the past few weeks, as a result of our response to Covid-19, the ‘human footprint’ will undoubtedly have shrunk. And what an awful world it has become: smaller, quieter, more atomised.

We are all happy to make some sacrifices during this crisis. We are staying home, observing social distancing, and of course, most of us are not working or travelling. But we cannot wait to go back to a world in which factories crank back to life, airplanes scrawl their lines in the sky, and people can go anywhere and work, socialise, buy and eat to their heart’s content. Greens really should be careful when they talk about Covid-19, because it won’t be long before more and more people realise that this unpleasant emergency we are living through is just like the warped dystopia greens want to build.


Fossil Fuels, Not the Green New Deal, Improve Human Welfare

For millennia, most humans toiled in a Hobbesian state of nature: Their lives were poor, nasty, brutish and short. People lived chronically at the brink of starvation, and they suffered through numerous pandemics, as well as with high infant mortality rates and a short life expectancy.

But then, something remarkable occurred: Mankind learned how to use fossil fuels, spurring the Industrial Revolution. “First coal in England, soon followed by natural gas, and then crude oil in the early twentieth century,” Steve Moore explained in his compelling book, Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy.

As Moore notes, thanks to fossil fuels, production per capita soared, as did life expectancy and human population.

“Average real income per capita — on a global basis — is now 10 to 20 times higher than at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution,” Moore added. “Each variable (GDP per capita, life expectancy, human population, carbon dioxide emissions), shows an advance of approximately sixteen-fold over the past one hundred years … with world economic product increasing from $2 to $32 trillion.”

Fossil fuels and the flowering of the modern world provided the tools needed for reducing world poverty and hunger. And we could be making significantly more progress too, if it weren’t for the fact that the world is burdened today with ignorant warnings about human extinction and the imminent end of the world caused by the very same fossil fuels that have unquestionably improved human life for more than a century.

Alarmists tell us the oceans are rising at a frightening pace and will soon engulf major cities and coastal shores all over the world — despite ample evidence that such fears are not warranted.

These assertions are often nothing more than politically motivated fearmongering. In many cases, it seems unlikely the alarmists actually believe their own dire warnings.

Take Barack Obama, for example. He recently invested $11.5 million in a Martha’s Vineyard estate so close to the ocean you can actually throw a football from his backyard into the sea.

Obama isn’t alone, of course. Coastal real estate markets, many of which are located in deep-blue parts of the country full of people who supposedly believe climate change is on the verge of destroying the world, reveal the absurdity of alarmist sea-level claims. Despite the alleged “existential crisis” of climate change, coastal property values are rising dramatically.

Despite all the erroneous and misleading claims, as well as the hypocrisy, the left continues to promote policies that will “fix” the present climate crisis—all while conveniently giving them the power they have always craved.

The best example of these policies is the Green New Deal (GND), which would replace fossil fuels with more expensive, less reliable renewable energy sources, at a cost of many trillions of dollars. If enacted, the GND would completely decimate the U.S. economy. The stock market would collapse, and America would fall back into recession. Unemployment would soar, millions of jobs would be lost, and wages would plummet.

Just as importantly, the environment would be wrecked as well. A new study published by the Heartland Institute and authored by Paul Driessen, a senior policy analyst for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, documents that replacing fossil fuels and nuclear energy with wind power “would require 2.12 million (wind) turbines on 500,682 square miles (equivalent to) the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and much of West Virginia.” This would not only destroy habitats for countless animal species, it would also kill millions of innocent birds and bats.

Unfortunately, the wanton environmental damage wrought by a switch to wind and solar power does not end there. The mining of toxic rare earth minerals that are necessary for wind and solar equipment is among the most environmentally destructive activities on the planet.

Further, the necessary construction of thousands of miles of new transmission lines needed to bring power from remote wind and solar farms to urban population centers would cause additional habitat destruction and spark wildfires like the ones that recently ravaged California.

Making matters even worse, the wind power industry has yet to devise an acceptable plan to recycle or dispose of the monstrous-sized wind turbines when no longer usable.

In the end, the Green New Deal would destroy both the environment and the economy. The only “good” it would ultimately provide is for the ruling class in Washington, DC, whose power would be greatly enhanced, and their buddies in the renewable energy industry, who would receive bucketloads of taxpayer cash to prop up their ordinarily unprofitable businesses.



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


Friday, March 27, 2020

Virtue Signaling of Plastic Bag Ban Ends Quickly in a Pandemic

Mindless virtue signaling doesn’t fare well in a real crisis.

As the nation and the world confronts a deadly pandemic, and citizens, businesses, and governments do all they can to tamp down the spread of the coronavirus, some useless measures instituted in less turbulent times will go by the wayside.

One of these useless measures is plastic bag bans, which have been proliferating in recent years with the aid of environmentalist activists.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu issued an order Saturday telling all grocery and retail stores to move away from reusable bags and transition to disposable plastic and paper bags.

“Our grocery store workers are on the front lines of #COVID19, working around the clock to keep NH families fed,” Sununu, a Republican, said on Twitter. “With identified community transmission, it is important that shoppers keep their reusable bags at home given the potential risk to baggers, grocers, and customers.”

This comes just over two months after the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed legislation to ban plastic bags in the state. The legislation remains in committee in the state Senate.

New Hampshire is not alone.

New York state has put its recently passed ban on plastic bags on hold for now.

In fact, states and cities around the country have been suspending their plastic bag bans too. And there is a growing call for places that still have the bans in place to bring them to an end during the outbreak.

These actions reveal the fact that not only are the bans marginal or even detrimental in their environmental impact—more on that later—but they are also a public health hazard.

Reusable plastic tote bags are a good carrier for bacteria and viruses, the coronavirus included. As John Tierney wrote for City Journal, numerous studies have provided evidence that reusable bags are unsanitary.

In one study that Tierney highlighted, published in the Journal of Environmental Health in 2018, researchers planted a surrogate virus on the bags of three shoppers who went into grocery stores. After they bought their groceries and checked out, researchers found the virus “on the hands of the shoppers and checkout clerks, as well as on many surfaces touched by the shoppers, including packaged food, unpackaged produce, shopping carts, checkout counters, and the touch screens used to pay for groceries.”

This is a scary prospect as countless Americans have their only contact with the general public when they go to grocery stores, making the efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 much more difficult.

Of course, some climate activists aren’t going to be dissuaded, even at this time.

Larissa Copello de Souza, a campaigner at Zero Waste Europe, said, according to The Wall Street Journal: “We cannot forget and disregard the other big current challenges we are also currently facing.”

By this she means climate change and plastic buildup.

“Promoting the use of reusables is certainly one of the greatest practices we can have to address those issues,” Souza said.

The problem with this mentality, beside perhaps misplaced priorities, is that the plastic bag bans are ineffectual even if the primary concern is the environment.

A study in Australia by University of Sydney economist Rebecca Taylor demonstrated that bans on plastic shopping bags do not significantly cut down on waste; more people buy thick garbage bags to line their trash cans after the bans are put in place.

The bottom line is, the current crisis has revealed the misguided nature of plastic bag bans, and now cities and states must move quickly to prevent these bans from exacerbating the coronavirus pandemic.

In the coming days, Americans will have to take many actions and adjust their lives to stop the spread of COVID-19. Serious times and serious matters will force us to abandon virtue signaling and restore common sense.

Suspending bans on plastic bags is a good sign that’s happening already.


Dead weight: The problem with plug-in hybrids

The batteries and electric motors in hybrids are HEAVY so damage fuel economy if little used

Plug-in hybrids took a blow recently when the government included their like, as well as conventional hybrids, in the 2035 ban of petrol and diesel-powered vehicles. Is the inclusion fair?

In terms of what they actually emit in so-called ‘real-world conditions’, quite possibly, in spite of the technology. New research has suggested that PHEVs emit as much as three-times their homologated figures for CO2, and consume three-times as much fuel, in ‘real-world’ conditions.

When it comes to petrol and diesel vehicles, ‘real world’ emissions and efficiency figures can be compared with figures reported from lab tests that are used to homologate them. Typically, those real-world figures are a small degree worse than those obtained in testing, due to varying conditions, performance and driving habits. That degree is a curiosity, rather than a serious issue. Indeed, some drivers can achieve better figures through careful driving.

In the case of PHEVs, the difference between testing and real-world figures can be stark. New research by The Miles Consultancy (TMC) indicates that the most popular PHEVs can triple the severity of their stated emissions and fuel consumption figures. Likewise, testing by Emissions Analytics, found alarmingly high consumption and emissions figures from PHEVs whose batteries were not charged.

“On the evidence of our sample, one has to question whether some PHEVs ever see a charging cable,” Paul Hollock, TMC’s managing director commented. “In a lot of cases, we see PHEVs never being charged, doing longer drives and this is not a good fit for a lot of car users.”

Imagine a driver of a conventional car had the option of tripling its efficiency but didn’t, either through laziness or a lack of awareness. This is more or less what is happening with many PHEVS. Using the plug-in element of a PHEV, keeping the battery charged to get those superb efficiency and emissions figures, is optional. Not charging doesn’t mean you’ll be stranded, so people can neglect to do so.

The problem is with driving habits and not the technology. Plugging in is an option, and one that isn’t always taken. Worse still, when it isn’t taken, you end up with an internal combustion vehicle, with the same or a similar engine as non-hybridised variants, lugging the extra weight of a hybrid system not in use.

“This is all very confusing for motorists,” said Nick Molden, chief executive of Emissions Analytics. “The problem is the official figures are very sensitive to assumptions about how PHEVs are being charged and driven.”

Proprietors of popular plug-in hybrid models responded to scepticism around their vehicles. A spokesman from Mitsubishi UK cited a survey of Outlander owners that found 96 percent charged at least once a week, and 68 percent charged every day. Even so, Mitsubishi itself recently announced a scheme to incentivise owners to plug-in, offering 10,000 free electric miles’ worth of charging.

Kia, meanwhile, has emphasised that ultimately, ”responsibility lies with the owner, but used correctly, a PHEV will improve fuel economy and reduce tailpipe emissions”.

Ultimately, be it an issue of education or laziness, the fact that PHEVs give drivers the option of not running them at maximum efficiency compromises their effectiveness. Their potential to offer a great compromise is known. If you’re a PHEV owner and you’re hot on plugging it in, then you’re doing it right. Unfortunately, the unpredictable human element is where they fall short.

In 2020, as the offering of competent viable longer-range fully electric vehicles flourishes, the question of PHEV’s real-world relevance to the cause of emissions and consumption reduction burns ever-more.

“By the end of the year, most new models of fully-electric vehicle will be able to cover 150 miles on a single charge, and the need for plug-in hybrids will inevitably decline”, said Ewa Kmietowicz, transport team leader at the Committee on Climate Change.

Whether their inclusion in the ban is fair or not perhaps isn’t the question. For now, their effectiveness remains in doubt, given that the problem with plug-in hybrids is people.


Migratory Bird Treaty Act reform will clarify longstanding confusion

A century-old statute enacted to protect birds that cross international boundaries has become the object of conflicting legal interpretations, sowing confusion over what kinds of acts leading to the injury of death of a protected species can be punished by a fine or even a prison sentence.

Now, the Trump administration’s Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), a division of the Interior Department, is stepping in to define the scope of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) to provide regulatory certainty to the public, industries, states, tribes, and other affected parties.

By proposing to codify FWS’s existing interpretation that the prohibitions of the MBTA only apply to actions “directed at” migratory birds, their nests, or their eggs, FWS is taking a significant step toward clarifying confusion that has resulted from no fewer than five recent conflicting circuit court of appeals decisions on the scope of the MBTA, as well as conflicting interpretations by the Obama administration and the Trump administration..

The muddled legal interpretation of what constitutes a “take” of a protected bird under the MBTA has opened the door to protracted litigation as the public has struggled to understand what the law actually says.

Obama vs. Trump Interpretations

On Jan. 10, 2017 – ten days before the Obama administration left office – the Solicitor General at the Obama Interior Department issued a legal opinion, according to which any act that takes or kills a migratory bird – regardless of the violator’s intention or state of mind – falls within the scope of the MBTA as long as it results in the death of a bird. But on Dec. 22, 2017, the Trump administration issued its own Solicitor’s Opinion concluding that an otherwise lawful activity that results in the incidental take of a protected bird does not violate the MBTA.

In its proposed rulemaking, FWS codifies the Trump Solicitor’s Opinion. As pointed out in CFACT’s public comments submitted to FWS on March 18:

The proposed codification differentiates between wanton acts of destruction and criminal negligence, on the one hand, and the accidental or incidental take of a protected bird, however regrettable, on the other. U.S. law has long differentiated between harm caused by intent and harm caused by accident. The proposed rulemaking extends that practice to the MBTA.

The rulemaking would also change how FWS administers the MBTA by determining that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is the most efficient and comprehensive approach for considering the potential impacts of this action on the environment. Until recently, such a proposal would have been a fool’s errand because of the extraordinary delays long associated with the NEPA process. However, with the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) having recently proposed a long-overdue streamlining of the NEPA process, CEQ’s rulemaking – assuming it survives legal challenges – compliments what the Service is proposing to do with regard to the MBTA.

Court Battles Loom

Both the Trump administration’s clarification of the MBTA and its reforms of the National Environmental Policy Act will be challenged in court by environmental groups. If they survive those challenges, at least some of the litigation and red tape that have surrounded environmental policy for decades will be trimmed back.


California Would Have Low-Cost Housing If Government Allowed It: The Mortenson Experiment

Predominantly environmental building codes prevent it

Chris Mortenson, a San Diego developer, hired an architect to find out what type of SRO (single-room-occupancy) building he could develop for very low-income people, many of them homeless, if unnecessary state and local regulations were ignored. SROs are basically apartment buildings that typically have rooms without kitchens and shared bathrooms at the end of hallways. SRO units are no-frills, but they are safer and cleaner than the streets.

Here’s what the architect came back with:

* A four-story building
* 10-by-12-foot units (about half the size required by the existing building code)
* Microwave in each unit
* Sink in each unit
* Toilet in each unit (partitioned, but not separated)
* Communal showers at the end of each hall

Remarkably, San Diego waived its building code, and the building was built for less than $15,000 per unit, allowing people to rent each room for $50 per week. The building was immediately filled with grateful occupants.

Mortenson conducted his experiment in the late-1980s. Today, the inflation-adjusted costs would be about $34,000 per unit to build and $110 per week to rent ($440 per month), still a bargain. The cost to build one apartment unit to code in San Diego County ranges from $192,000 to $375,000, according to an analysis by Xpera Group. The average monthly rent in San Diego for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,808, according to RentJungle.com.

Mortenson showed that it is possible to build affordable, yet profitable, SROs if the government gets out of the way. Government is the root cause of unaffordable housing in California (for more on this topic see How to Restore the California Dream: Removing Obstacles to Fast and Affordable Housing Development).

The San Diego experiment was discussed in the book The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America by Philip K. Howard, who wrote that building codes “dictate minimum room dimensions, require that bathrooms and kitchens be separate from rooms for every other use, and mandate hundreds of other details. Good ideas and technological advances fill every page of the code book. Who can object to any of this? No one, provided society can afford it.” Low-income people, however, cannot afford it, resulting in more homelessness as building codes make it impossible to build inexpensive housing in California.

Building codes have eradicated low-cost housing for decades. Sold by politicians as “getting rid of substandard housing” and “improving the lives of poor people,” William Tucker explains in Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis, “buildings are condemned as ‘firetraps,’ for not having adequate ventilation, not providing kitchen or bathroom facilities, and for not offering people ‘a decent place to live.’” Too often, the streets become the next home for people forced out of low-cost housing by burdensome, idealized codes.

Politicians and bureaucrats argue that “it’s in the best interests of poor people” to have their apartments “upgraded to code” lest they live in “crowded unsanitary substandard deathtraps.” The problem, of course, is that every so-called “improvement” will price many people out of a home, pushing some to the street. Howard notes that “the virtual extinction of single-room-occupancy buildings illustrates the side effects of this drive toward mandated perfection.”

In addition to building codes, some cities have eliminated SROs using density limits, occupancy restrictions, or “urban renewal” projects that raze entire neighborhoods, often targeting minority communities. (Walter Thompson wrote an excellent historical series on the disgraceful Fillmore project in San Francisco: “How Urban Renewal Destroyed the Fillmore in Order to Save It” and “How Urban Renewal Tried to Rebuild the Fillmore.”)

Philip K. Howard reminds us that,

Real people tend to have their own way of doing things—a little borrowed, a little invented, and so forth. Law, trying to make sure nothing ever goes wrong, doesn’t respect the idiosyncrasy of human accomplishment. It sets forth the approved methods, in black and white, and that’s that. When law notices people doing it differently, its giant heel reflexively comes down.

Inexpensive housing would be built in California if government allowed it. Instead, streets teem with 151,000 homeless people, a human and moral tragedy caused, in part, by government barriers to housing development in California.


Australia: Inland mineral bonanza on hold

MAJOR projects across out-back Queensland worth almost $3 billion — which could create jobs and change the fortunes of hard-hit country towns — are sitting on the drawing board, a major pipeline report has revealed. Outback Queensland covers two-thirds of the state but has just a few hundred million dollars of funded infrastructure projects, the annual report card by the Queensland Major Contractors Association and the Infrastructure Association of Queensland says.

But with the global heat on to move to renewables, outback Queensland and its 82,513 residents could be sitting on a new-age gold mine with "significant mineral resources and value-added processing which would support global efforts to move to a clean energy economy including bauxite/alumina/aluminium, nickel, copper, cobalt, silver, lead, zinc and rare earths metals, particularly in the North West Minerals Province centred around Mount Isa and Clon-curry", the report says.

It is also the site of some of the state's biggest planned renewable energy projects, including the Aldoga Solar Farm, worth $120 million. While the solar farm is funded, a long list of big projects are still on the drawing board, including the Kidston Solar Project Stage 2 ($140m), Kidston Transmission Project ($100m) and the Kidston Pumped Hydro Storage Project ($200m) along with the massive Copperstring Transmission Line worth $1.5 billion.

QMCA boss Jon Davies said a big impediment to developing the North West Minerals Province was the State Government-owned rail line which is susceptible to floods.

"There's big opportunities for developing the North West Minerals Province," he said. "There are plans to upgrade (the rail line). That is an area that the government could look at expediting."

Without government support, the huge swath of state remains captive to the mining and commodities market, with 94 per cent of projects unfunded. "In 2019-20 there is only $70m in funded activity, while $225m remains unfunded," the report says.

"Funded activity only peaks at $82m in 2022-23, supported by a section of the $238m Mount Isa to Rockhampton Corridor Upgrade and the $120m Aldoga Solar Farm,"

The report says the outback region has the lowest ratio of "funded to unfunded" major project work in Queensland. "Ninety-four per cent of activity in the pipeline is currently unfunded," it says. "The negative outlook ... is further highlighted by the proportion of unfunded project activity which is considered 'unlikely' — more than 50 per cent of the $3bn unfunded total."

From the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" of 22.3.20


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