Sunday, July 26, 2020

How Earth’s Climate Changes Naturally (and Why Things Are Different Now)

The heading above is from a long but emptyheaded article that catalogs in a  handwaving way the various influences on earth's climate.

One might expect that a consideration of all the natural influences would inspire doubt about the anthropogenic global warming thesis. One would think that a signal emanating from human deeds would be hard to distinguish from all the other influences at work.

No such luck. The article is straight warmism.  The idea seems to be to create an air of profundity in its claims.  By discussing all the other climate influences and still showing anthropogenic global warming at work the article reassures  us that a full scholarly exercise has been undertaken before concluding that anthropogenic global warming exists.  All "t"s have been crossed and all "i"s have been dotted.

But the article in fact gives no evidence at all for anthropogenic global warming.  The most it offers is a link to another paper which in turn relies on the IPCC reports. So it is all just the same old same old.  It's a long article but there's no reason to spend any time on it.

Earth’s climate has fluctuated through deep time, pushed by these 10 different causes. Here’s how each compares with modern climate change. Orbital wobbles, plate tectonics, evolutionary changes and other factors have sent the planet in and out of ice ages.

Earth has been a snowball and a hothouse at different times in its past. So if the climate changed before humans, how can we be sure we’re responsible for the dramatic warming that’s happening today?

In part it’s because we can clearly show the causal link between carbon dioxide emissions from human activity and the 1.28 degree Celsius (and rising) global temperature increase since preindustrial times. Carbon dioxide molecules absorb infrared radiation, so with more of them in the atmosphere, they trap more of the heat radiating off the planet’s surface below.

But paleoclimatologists have also made great strides in understanding the processes that drove climate change in Earth’s past. Here’s a primer on 10 ways climate varies naturally, and how each compares with what’s happening now.

MORE here

Study Finds Fossil Fuels Aren't Subsidized; They're Overtaxed

The CO2 Coalition of 55 climate scientists and energy economists today released a detailed economic study of subsidies and taxes on fossil fuels in the United States and internationally. Written by Coalition Director Dr. Bruce Everett, who taught energy economics at Georgetown University and the Fletcher School at Tufts University, the 26-page White Paper is titled
Do Government Policies Favoring Fossil Fuels Hamper the Development of Wind and Solar Power?

While advocates of wind and solar power often claim that these sources of power are disadvantaged by billions, even trillions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies, the Coalition White Paper finds that the net effect of government policies is to raise, rather than lower, the price of energy from fossil fuels.

The study concludes that: "Although most countries do offer some subsidies to fossil fuels, the massive taxes imposed by most governments are generally far higher, resulting in a net increase in the price of fossil fuels. Taking into account all taxes and subsidies, fossil fuels in the United States are overtaxed $50 billion per year. The 28 other largest industrial democracies are overtaxed $363 billion, and the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) are overtaxed $104 billion. The primary exceptions to this rule are found in oil-producing developing countries that offer their citizens heavily subsidized motor fuels but are not likely candidates for renewable energy."

Dr. Caleb Stewart Rossiter, the CO2 Coalition's executive director, said, "Wind and solar power, both in the United States and internationally, are heavily subsidized by mandates for utilities to purchase their costly electricity, as well as tax credits and public financing. It is renewables, not fossil fuels, that have the competitive advantage when it comes to government intervention in the energy markets. Despite this advantage, wind and solar remain in the single digits as a share of American and global energy consumption.  As a previous CO2 Coalition White Paper, The Social Cost of Carbon and Carbon Taxes, showed, their true cost is four times that of fossil-fueled power. They are not ready for prime time yet, but that's because of technological challenges, not wildly-exaggerated fossil fuel subsidies."

From the CO2 Coalition:

Electric Vehicle Fees Increasing in California and Other States

In an effort to shore up flagging transportation funding and ensure drivers of electric vehicles (EV) contribute to road and bridge construction and maintenance, owners of electric and hybrid vehicles in several states will have to start paying new or increased registration fees in 2020.

California Fees Begin

Under a state law enacted in 2017, Californians driving electric vehicles began paying an upfront $100 registration fee for all zero-emission vehicles for model year 2020 on July 1. The law also added a new annual fee that varies depending on an EV’s value, from $25 for vehicles with a market value less than $5,000 up to $175 for vehicles valued at $60,000 or more.

The same 2017 law raised the state’s gasoline tax by 3.2 cents per gallon, increasing the tax to 50.5 cents a gallon.

State officials estimated the new fees and gas taxes will generate more than $50 billion the next decade, to be dedicated to maintaining state highways, local roads, and associated infrastructure projects.

New Electric Fees

California is not the the only state adding new charges for EVs in 2020. Alabama, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Ohio, Oregon, and Utah also imposed new or increased existing electric vehicle fees this year. With the new states adding fees for EVs, more than 26 states now impose such fees on EVs or hybrid vehicles.

In Alabama, owners of electric or plug-in hybrid cars began paying a $200 and $100 annual fee respectively, beginning January 1, and EV drivers in Oregon started paying $110 more per year to register their EVs, increasing the overall EV registration fee to $306 for two years.

Utah’s EV and hybrid vehicle fees are also rising. In 2019, Utah’s fees were $60 for electric vehicles, $26 for plug-in hybrids, and $10 for gas hybrids. The fees increased to $90, $39, and $15 respectively 2020, and they will rise to $120, $52, and $20 in 2021.


Australia: Academic freedom bows at the altar of social media

The university was too canny to challenge Peter Ridd on his climate skepticism.  Instead they got him on a perverted legal technicality

It’s out with philosophers John Stuart Mill, John Locke and Isaiah Berlin and it’s in with “the internet, social media and trolling”. According to the majority judgment of the Federal Court of Australia in James Cook University v Ridd handed down on Wednesday, that is.

Peter Ridd was employed by James Cook University for 27 years before his employment was terminated in May 2018 for serious misconduct. At the time Ridd was a physics professor. However, he was not dismissed on any academic or teaching grounds.

Rather, Ridd went down because JCU maintained that he had failed to act “in the collegial and academic spirit” required and had denigrated a fellow staff member by failing to act “with respect and courtesy”. Oh yes, Ridd had also denigrated JCU, the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

In fact, Ridd disagreed on scientific grounds with the views of some fellow academics and some influential organisations about the long-term viability of the Great Barrier Reef.

He maintains that sections of the Great Barrier Reef are in good shape and that coral dies and is reborn as part of the reef’s life. This is inconsistent with the scientific orthodoxy preached by JCU and like-minded organisations.

Announcing the termination in May 2018, Iain Gordon, then JCU’s deputy vice-chancellor, referred not to the quality of Ridd’s teaching and research but to his “manner” and “disrespect”. You see, he had been charged with having “trivialised, satirised or parodied” JCU’s disciplinary processes. Why, Ridd had even sent a private email to a friend dealing with JCU that was headed “for your amusement”. How shocking is that?

It is a long time since there was genuine academic and intellectual freedom in the groves of academe — if this ever existed. The ideals pronounced by John Henry Newman’s 1875 The Idea of a University are essentially utopian. What’s new about the current JCU case is that the curtailment of academic freedom that once prevailed in the social sciences has extended into the physical sciences.

Take Australia, for example. The two big cases of academic freedom in the past half-century involve philosopher Frank Knopfelmacher (1923-95) and physicist Ridd. In 1965 Knopfelmacher, who was a lecturer at the University of Melbourne, was appointed to the position of senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of Sydney. The appointment was overturned by the university’s professional board.

Knopfelmacher’s appointment was strongly supported by David Armstrong, one of Australia’s finest philosophers.

Like Ridd, Knopfelmacher went down because of his irreverent manner and a tendency to criticise colleagues in addition to his unfashionable views. An articulate and well-informed anti-communist, Knopfelmacher upset the leftist fashions of the time with his vehement criticism of the communist regimes in central and eastern Europe (East Germany, the Soviet Union) and Asia (North Korea, China, North Vietnam), and their supporters in the West.

In 1964 Knopfelmacher wrote an article in Twentieth Century magazine criticising the leftist ideology that prevailed in many of Melbourne University’s social science departments. He claimed that left-wing academics discriminated against non-leftists and exercised significant veto powers “in matters of academic preferments and sinecures”.

This accurate comment was used against Knopfelmacher by his opponents on Sydney University’s professional board.

In the half-century since the Knopfelmacher affair, the attack on academic and intellectual freedom has moved into universities as a whole, including the physical sciences. That is Ridd’s problem. JCU appears to have a view that the Great Barrier Reef is dying fast and anyone who disagrees with this orthodoxy, no matter how well qualified, does not have a right to be heard, especially if they are irreverent and outspoken.

In one sense, the Federal Court’s decision in JCU v Ridd turns on the interpretation of the enterprise agreement under which the respondent was employed.

In September last year the Federal Circuit Court (Judge Angelo Vasta presiding) found that JCU had contravened section 50 of the Fair Work Act by making findings against Ridd, giving him directions with respect to confidentiality and speech along with a “no satire” instruction. All this, the court found, had led to an improper employment termination.

However, the current case is more important than mere industrial relations. The majority — justices John Griffiths and Sarah Derrington — essentially dismissed “historical concepts of academic freedom”.

So the thoughts of Mill, Locke and Berlin are out of date. Griffiths and Derrington instead cited the work of American philosopher Jennifer Lackey concerning the internet and social media. They quoted favourably from the Illinois academic, who has written that the concept of academic freedom has been challenged not only by no-platforming but also by student demands for “content warnings and safe spaces” that “leave us in uncharted territory”.

Newman, originally an Anglican who became a cardinal in the Catholic Church, was a deeply religious man who saw a role for an essentially secular university bestowed with intellectual freedom. But many a modern campus has become an institution that acts in accordance with the notion that “error has no rights”.

This was once the teaching of extreme religious sects. Now it is being put into effect by censorious administrators, academics and students who believe that those with whom they disagree have no right to be heard.

In his dissent, Justice Darryl Rangiah placed much more emphasis on Ridd’s right to intellectual freedom. Rangiah agreed with the majority that the decision of the primary judge contained material errors on industrial law.

However, he said that while the appeal should be allowed, the proceedings should not be dismissed but remitted for a further hearing. Rangiah did not support the majority view that some aspects of Ridd’s conduct cannot be characterised as an exercise in intellectual freedom.

While JCU v Ridd turns primarily on industrial law, it is likely to have the unintended consequence of discouraging academics who are at odds with prevailing fashions in the social and physical sciences from speaking out.

Australian universities need more Knopfelmachers and Ridds — not fewer.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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