Monday, August 31, 2020

Senate Democrats unveil California-style $400 billion per year climate plan

Senate Democrats on Tuesday rolled out an ambitious climate change plan that calls for spending $400 billion annually to achieve net-zero emissions no later than 2050, even as California struggles with rolling blackouts under a comparable statewide renewable energy standard.

The 263-page report, the latest of the Democratic Green New Deal-style proposals, seeks to increase federal spending to address climate change by at least 2% of U.S. gross domestic product annually, or about $400 billion, with a guarantee that 40% of the benefits would go to minority and disadvantaged communities.

“The climate crisis is not some distant threat. It is here now, and it will be catastrophic if we don’t strike back immediately,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat. “Over the next few decades, climate change will affect every part of American life: our health, our economy, our national security, even our geography.”

The plan would create “at least 10 million new jobs” with an aggressive transition from fossil fuels to solar and wind energy. It also would invest in electric vehicles, retrofit buildings and expand public transportation.

Critics said the plan is unrealistic and wildly expensive, but the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis said in its report that “there is no viable scenario in which our country avoids significant spending.”

“We can wait and spend trillions of dollars in a disorderly, unproductive manner to continuously respond to our changing climate. Or, we strategically invest in climate solutions now,” the report said.

The proposal was introduced while Californians were suffering through power outages during a heat wave. The state hopes to convert its electrical grid to 100% renewable energy by 2045, five years before the Senate Democrats’ goal, raising questions about the feasibility of such plans.

James Taylor, president of the Heartland Institute, said efforts to achieve net-zero emissions with current technology are “simply pixie dust and wishful thinking with absolutely no basis in reality.”

“It’s impossible to have net-zero energy electricity generation without frequent blackouts and substantial economic pain from higher electricity costs, just as a matter of science,” Mr. Taylor said. “We don’t have the capacity to generate our electricity right now from unreliable intermittent sources and still have a reliable electricity grid, and that’s not going to change anytime in the near future.”

Last year, renewable energy represented about 11% of U.S. total energy consumption and 17% of electricity generation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“It’s just political grandstanding,” Mr. Taylor said. “The Democrats would either destroy our reliable electricity grid or they would immediately need to break their campaign promise. It has to be one or the other.”

Like the Green New Deal resolution proposed in 2017 by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat, the program laid out by Democrats on the Special Committee on the Climate Crisis includes a focus on environmental justice while adding a call to expose those who donate to “groups trafficking in climate denial.”

Several pages of the report were devoted to blasting the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Heartland Institute, which have challenged the “climate crisis” narrative, as well as trade associations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“This report charts a smart path forward for climate action in Congress. It includes the vital first step of exposing the fossil fuel industry’s decades-old covert operation to scuttle meaningful climate legislation,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Democrat. “To move forward on major climate bills, we’ll need to execute on that recommendation.”

Steven Milloy, publisher of and a member of the Trump EPA transition team, said the spending would “accomplish nothing — but at great cost.”

“Regardless of one’s views on climate science, U.S. emissions are an ever-shrinking part of global emissions,” Mr. Milloy said.

Carbon dioxide emissions dropped 12% in the U.S. from 2005 to 2018, according to the EPA, and rose nearly 24% worldwide.

“Democrat plans to ‘decarbonize’ the economy would only raise energy prices, reduce our standard of living and put our national security in jeopardy without changing, much less improving, the weather,” Mr. Milloy said.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, Oregon Democrat, drew a connection between climate change and the novel coronavirus. He said the “pandemic is showing us the importance of responding to crises boldly and decisively with science, not ideology.”


The dismal economics of offshore wind


The generation of electricity by onshore wind turbines has benefited from federal subsidies and state renewable energy mandates for decades. More than 100,000 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity have been constructed in the lower 48 states,[1] 9,000 MW of which came online in 2019. Onshore wind capacity has now surpassed installed nuclear capacity (although because of its “always-on” nature, total electricity generated from nuclear plants far exceeds that of onshore wind) and is exceeded only by natural gas- and coal-fired generating capacity.[2]

But from an economic perspective, the future of onshore wind is unfavorable. The federal production tax credit (PTC)—which was created in 1992 and today pays qualifying wind plant owners about $23 per MWh of electricity generated for 10 years—began to phase out in 2017. The PTC has decreased by 20% per year, and wind projects whose construction begins after January 1, 2021, will no longer be eligible.[3]

The demise of the PTC is not, however, the source of onshore wind power’s troubling future. Instead, given the remote location of many wind farms, expensive transmission lines are necessary to bring the electricity to cities and towns; perhaps most significant, local opposition has intensified over the past few years and stymied the development of new projects.[4]

In response to local pushback, some states are pushing back. In March of this year, for example, New York enacted legislation to overturn the state’s traditional “home rule” deference, which allows local governments to have final say over the types of facilities that can be built. Now, under the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, almost all renewable energy development in the Empire State will be approved by a new Office of Renewable Energy Siting. Locations will be denied only if there are valid and substantive reasons; local opposition, however, no longer will be considered a valid reason.[5]

Nevertheless, the opposition to additional onshore wind turbines, as well as the decreasing availability of high-quality “windy” locations, has led politicians and policymakers to shift their focus to offshore projects. In January 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called for developing 9,000 MW of offshore wind capacity by 2035, up from his previous order that 2,400 MW be developed by 2030.[6] In January 2018, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order requiring 3,500 MW of offshore wind capacity by 2030.[7] A 2016 law in Massachusetts requires that the state’s electric distribution companies procure 1,600 MW of “cost-effective” offshore wind capacity by June 2027 and 3,200 MW by 2035.[8] Similarly, Maryland’s Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 calls for 480 MW of offshore wind capacity to be developed.[9]

Proponents of offshore wind energy tout its clean energy bona fides and rapidly decreasing costs (as evidenced by recent competitive solicitations), which will enable states to meet ambitious targets to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on fossil fuel and nuclear power. Advocates also see offshore wind as an avenue to create a manufacturing and economic renaissance in their respective states, one that will create thousands of construction jobs and generate billions of dollars of new economic activity.[10]

As this paper will show, the arguments made on behalf of offshore wind are invalid.


Potentially Powerful Pipeline Precedents

Fracking (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) has unleashed bounties of US oil and natural gas, dramatically reduced energy prices from their historic 2008 peak, saved families and industries billions of dollars annually, helped create and sustain millions of American jobs, made the United States stronger militarily and turned it into a net energy exporter.

Those fixated on alleged climate dangers from fossil fuels don’t care. In fact, they are aghast and angry about this oil and gas renaissance. Unable to stop all production, they have focused on blocking pipelines. If companies can’t get oil and gas to markets, they reason production will dwindle, companies will go bankrupt, and the case for supposedly renewable energy will grow stronger.

Acceding to their demands, tunnel-visioned federal judges recently blocked theAtlantic Coast Pipeline, told operators to shut down and drain the fully operational Dakota Access Pipeline, and mandated still more studies for Keystone XL and 75 other pipelines.

The judges issued these decisions in the name of preserving wetlands, preventing stream siltation, protecting endangered species, safeguarding scenic views, stopping greenhouse gas emissions, and protecting other environmental values.

They effectively deemed it irrelevant that fossil fuels still provide over 80% of all the energy that powers American industries, homes and living standards, and that virtually invisible underground pipelines replace much more dangerous alternatives.

TheDakota Access Pipeline alone replaces some 255,000 oil tanker railcars going through our towns and cities, or 730,000 semi-trailer tanker trucks on our highways, every year!

The activists and judges said even short-term scenic, stream sedimentation and ecological impacts during pipeline construction are unacceptable.

Even after aUS Supreme Court decision reversed the ACP decision, the company sponsors cancelled the project anyway, due to threats of more costly lawsuits and delays ad infinitum.

Even more extreme, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris want no fossil fuels, and net-zero carbon dioxide emissions, by 2050. They claim this will lead the world in eliminating climate and environmental catastrophes. In reality, the impacts on US and global environments would be monumental.

In 2018, coal and natural gas generated 2.6 billion megawatt-hours of America’s electricity. Natural gas also provided the equivalent of 2.7 billion MWh of fuel for factories, businesses and homes. Internal combustion vehicles used over 2.0 billion MWh equivalent of gasoline and diesel.

Under the Biden-AOC Green New Deal, all those 7.3 billion megawatt-hours of electricity would come from “clean, green, renewable, sustainable” sources. Wind and sunshine certainly fit that description.

However, harnessing this intermittent power definitely does not. That would require unimaginable numbers of wind turbines and solar panels, and warehouses of huge batteries to provide backup power for just week of windless, sunless days – especially since the more wind and solar we demand, the more we must put turbines and panels in low quality locations. Without them, we would be hit by hundreds of rolling blackouts every year, like the ones that have been clobbering California.

A recent analysis suggests that generating all that electricity would require some 17 billion sun-tracking solar panels; or 25 billion fixed thin-film panels; or 3.5 million 1.8-MW onshore wind turbines; or 260,000 monstrous 10-MW offshore turbines; or some combination of those facilities. We’d also need nearly 2 billion half-ton Tesla battery modules, and thousands of miles of new transmission lines across America.

Building and installing these massive facilities would require tens of billions of tons of concrete, steel, copper, aluminum, cobalt, rare earth elements, fiberglass composites and dozens of other materials.

Getting those raw materials would require mining, processing and smelting hundreds of billions of tons of ore, from all around the world, but mostly from companies owned or controlled by China – almost all with fossil fuels; without regard for US pollution control, wildlife protection or workplace safety laws; and all too often using child and near-slave labor.

The turbines and panels would sprawl across hundreds of millions of acres of crop, scenic and habitat lands. Construction would scar landscapes, remove mountaintops, rip through forests, destroy scenic vistas, obliterate wildlife habitats, fill streams with sediment during construction, and displace or kill endangered plants, animals and birds.

Dominion Energy alone plans to construct solar panels in rural Virginia on lands totaling eight times Washington, DC, to serve a small fraction of the state’s electricity needs. Multiply that times 50 states and thousands of communities in a 100% electric economy, and you can begin to envision the ecological devastation from this “clean, green, renewable, sustainable” energy.

The 600- to 850-foot-tall wind turbines would slaughter millions of raptors, other birds and bats annually, completely eradicating them in many areas. Residential, business, hospital and school electricity rates would skyrocket. America’s economy and job market would never recover from Covid.

A few landowners – and a lot of utility company officers and investors – would get rich. But other people would suffer from infrasound and light flicker, watch their beautiful landscapes disappear forever, and get no compensation whatsoever.

The turbines, panels and batteries have short life spans, and are generally non-recyclable. Most would end up in enormous landfills.Vast rural areas would be turned into energy and trash colonies for politically powerful urban centers.

But on one positive note, years of pipeline lawsuits, human rights campaigns, and battles over mining and US and global air and water pollution have set powerful legal precedents.

Landowners, citizen groups, human rights defenders and environmentalists not fixated on climate change will be able to use them to delay, block, bankrupt and scuttle many or most of these destructive pseudo-renewable energy projects. They will also demand that wind, solar, battery and electric vehicle metals, minerals and components be responsibly sourced – in accordance with all US laws and ethics.

Utilities think they hit a buzz saw over pipelines. Radical greens think they won this war. It could be a Pyrrhic victory if those laws, regulations, EIS rules and judicial decisions are applied to wind and solar. In fact, they are potentially powerful pipeline precedents.

And if regulators, politicians and courts apply double standards – one for fossil fuels and one for pseudo-renewables, akin to one for rioters and another for churchgoers – the situation could become extremely troublesome, to say the least. It could turn into real resistance, rebellion and conflict.

It’s time for civilized debates, with no cancel-culture interference, on all these issues, before that happens.


A practical way of using renewables

Kalbarri [in Western Australia] is now the proposed site for a massive 5,000-megawatt renewable hydrogen export operation. Although construction is still 10 years away from breaking ground, should it go ahead, the project will put the tiny town at the bleeding edge of a pioneering technological development in renewable energy.

“The idea is to become a low-cost producer of green, renewable hydrogen,” says Terry Kallis, one of the project’s promoters.

Like solar and wind power, the technology to make “green” hydrogen from water has been around since the 1970s.

Historically the production of hydrogen relied on fossil fuels to make “brown” or “blue” hydrogen by running an electric current through water using an electrolyser – a device that breaks down water into oxygen and hydrogen.

But today the development of renewable energy has advanced enough that coal or natural gas are no longer needed to create the electric current. The entire process can instead be powered by wind and solar – making green hydrogen possible.

For years, technological development in the sector stalled due to a lack of demand, but that is changing rapidly. Each year the world consumes 70m tonnes of hydrogen to make glass, steel and fertiliser. That figure is projected to grow to 90m tonnes by 2050 under the more conservative scenarios.

The Kalbarri proposal aims to take advantage of this by constructing a combined wind and solar plant to power the commercial production of hydrogen from seawater. If all goes well, the gas will then be exported to nations like Korea, Japan and Singapore, countries that – thanks to their geography – cannot make it themselves.

Kallis and his business partner, Peter Sgardelis, have a background in large-scale renewables. Kallis was involved in the construction of the first commercial windfarm in South Australia and Sgardelis worked on the Star of the South offshore windfarm in Victoria.

This experience – along with the growing global interest in renewable hydrogen – has helped attract support from German multinational engineering giant Siemens, which in October last year signed up to build the electrolysers for the project.

“We’ve seen the costs associated with production of green hydrogen coming down, or coming down sooner than expected,” Kallis says. “We’ve also seen the development of the electrolyser to commercial scale and people start talking about demand. That has been a missing link.”

The area around Kalbarri – the traditional land of the Nanda people with whom they are currently negotiating a land use agreement – is an obvious choice, he says.

The landscape offers the right type of wind, good exposure to sun, and is close to both ocean and the Dampier-to-Bunbury pipeline – the longest gas pipeline in Australia.

Since the project is being developed in stages, the earliest phases will see hydrogen blended into the liquid natural gas supply before it then pivots to focus on export.

Like any ambitious project that pushes the boundaries of technological and industrial development, it is not without problems to solve.

While the process of making hydrogen from water is well understood, until recently the electrolysers required for the process have not been large and efficient enough to produce in commercial quantities.

The other issue has been transport.

Moving hydrogen offshore currently requires the gas to be packaged up in ammonia, or cooled 250C below freezing until it forms a liquid that can then be pumped out onto a ship like LNG.

“Those details have yet to be determined, as it will depend on what the buyer wants,” Kallis says. “We’re under no illusions and we make clear this is a very large project, something that will be developed in stages over time.”

Should they succeed, they will be helping to pioneer what may be a whole new industry for Australia.

Many believe hydrogen could play a role in turning Australia into the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy.

“Countries such as Japan, Korea and Germany have already come to Australia, asking for us to export renewable hydrogen for their domestic energy consumption,” says Ken Baldwin, the director of the Energy Change Institute at the Australian National University. “We have enormous opportunities … [to create wealth and] jobs due to the demand for our energy from these countries.”

In November last year, the CSIRO released the National Hydrogen Roadmap to plan out how an export industry could be developed.

The potential to get in on the ground floor of a future industry has the private sector excited, with a flurry of 30 new proposals for renewable hydrogen projects in Western Australia alone.



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, August 30, 2020

Climate change 'could hamper efforts to wipe out malaria'

Utter rubbish!  They can wipe out malaria any time they want by re-authorizing the use of DDT.  Australia is a third tropical but it wiped out malaria before DDT was banned

The DDT story is an old one.  DDT is toxic to insects only but some poorly substantiated claims that it also hinders reproduction for some birds were enough to get it banned.  An unbiased re-examination of the evidence would almost certainly un-ban it.

It is a wonder for killing mosquitoes, bed-bugs etc.

Efforts to eradicate malaria could be hampered by climate change — which could boost mosquito numbers and bring the disease to new areas, a study has found.

Malaria is a climate-sensitive disease which thrives where it is wet and warm enough to provide the still surface waters needed to breed the mosquitoes that spread it.

For more than two decades, experts have warned that the new patterns of temperature and rainfall induced by climate change could change malaria's range.

Experts from Leeds now warn that malaria could remain longer in parts of Africa — such as Botswana and Mozambique — while lessening in areas like South Sudan.

Africa faces the lion's share of the global malaria burden — with the continent facing, for example, 93 per cent of the world's estimated 228 million cases in 2018.

'[Following] the huge efforts to eradicate malaria from parts of the world, the areas where we observe malaria today are only a part of the total area that would otherwise be suitable for malaria transmission,' said paper author Mark Smith.

'But if we are to project the impact of climate change on the geography of malaria transmission, we need to develop more sophisticated ways of representing that envelope of malaria suitability both today and in the future,' he added.

'Our approach aims to lay out the environmental risks of malaria more clearly, so that projections of climate change impacts can help inform public health interventions and support vulnerable communities.'

'But this is only a first step, there is a lot more we can do to embed state-of-the-art hydrological and flood models into estimates of malaria environmental suitability and, potentially, even early warning systems of local malaria epidemics.'

Detailed mapping of the spread of malaria is vital for organising public health resources and aid efforts.

In the past, scientists have estimated the annual spread and duration of the disease — alongside making future predictions — by looking at rainfall and temperature.

But factors affecting how rainfall results in waters suitable for mosquito breeding are complex — including, for example, consideration of how water is absorbed into soil and vegetation, as well as rates of runoff and evaporation.

In their study, the researchers combined a malaria climatic suitability model with a continental-scale hydrological model that represents real-world processes of evaporation, infiltration and flow through rivers.

'This process-focused approach gives a more in-depth picture of malaria-friendly conditions across Africa,' said Dr Smith.

By using future climate scenarios to predict conditions up to the end of the century, the team found a different pattern of future changes in malaria suitability compared to previous works.

'While the findings show only very minor future changes in the total area suitable for malaria transmission, the geographical location of many of those areas shifts substantially,' explained Dr Smith.

'When a hydrological model is used, aridity-driven decreases in suitability are no longer observed across southern Africa, particularly Botswana and Mozambique.'

'Conversely, projected decreases in malaria suitable areas across West Africa are more pronounced.'

The largest change predicted by the team would occur in South Sudan — which is expected to undergo substantial decreases in malaria suitability in the future.

While flowing water in such large rivers does not provide a suitable habitat for malaria-carrying mosquitoes, they can create small ponds and floodplains beside their course which form ideal larvae breeding grounds.

According to the researchers, this is problematic, as human settlements tend to be concentrated close to rivers.

'The shrinking map of malaria in Africa over that last 20 years is primarily due to huge public health efforts underway to tackle this disease, not climate change,' said paper author and health expert Chris Thomas of the University of Lincoln.

'But malaria elimination is made much more difficult where the climate is highly suitable for transmission, so it is key to know where these areas are now and are projected to be in the future.'

'Linking physical geographic processes to the biology helps us get to grips with some of that complexity.'

'The exciting challenge now is to develop this approach at local scales.'


U.S. court rejects bid to halt Kinder Morgan gas pipeline

A nearly-complete $2.3 billion pipeline to carry natural gas from West Texas shale fields to the U.S. Gulf Coast can move ahead, a U.S. judge in Austin, Texas, ruled on Friday, rejecting an environmental group's effort to halt the project.

Sierra Club in April challenged federal approval of the 428-mile (689 km) Kinder Morgan Inc pipeline, alleging regulators reviews under a streamlined process were faulty. The line's path crosses areas with two endangered species and some 400 wetlands, lawyers wrote.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which issued permits for the Permian Highway pipeline, said no further reviews are needed. The project is more than 85% mechanically complete, Kinder Morgan has said. A spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

"We are disappointed that the court declined to put an immediate stop to this illegal construction, and we are evaluating our options," said Sierra Club attorney Joshua Smith.

Legal challenges have delayed the Dakota Access, Keystone XL, and Trans Mountain oil pipelines, and led to a cancellation of the Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline.

The proposed Kinder Morgan line would bring 2.1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas from West Texas to the Gulf Coast. Service could begin in January.

U.S. District Court for Western District of Texas Judge Robert Pitman denied the request for a preliminary injunction saying the group did not show continued construction would cause irreparable harm to landowners or endangered species.

"Unfortunately, granting an injunction at this state of the pipeline's completion would not 'unring the bell,'" he wrote in his decision, adding Sierra Club "failed to establish a definitive threat of future harm."

The pipeline is owned by Kinder Morgan, Exxon Mobil, Altus Midstream and Blackstone Group's EagleClaw Midstream Ventures.


An Open Letter to Senator Elizabeth Warren

On August 28, 2020, Dr. Caleb Rossiter, Executive Director of the CO2 Coalition, published on open letter to Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on the issue of censorship. In it, he states:

Dear Senator Warren:

In July you wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and, to my shock and dismay, asked him to censor me and the CO2 Coalition of climate scientists and energy economists, of which I am the executive director. At issue is an op-ed on the arcane mathematics of computerized climate models that I co-authored in 2019 with our senior fellow Patrick Michaels, a former president of the American Association of State Climatologists.

I've been struggling to find some common ground that would interest you in looking carefully at my opinions, both on the "climate disinformation" you allege and on the concept of censoring rather than debating opinions with which one disagrees. [...]
The energy with which you pursue your argument that the CO2 Coalition should be banned from Facebook for promoting "climate denialism" is impressive, but you've violated our first rule in analysis: understand the other point of view so you can portray it accurately before questioning it.[...]

As I follow your argument for Facebook censoring my views, (1) the CO2 Coalition knowingly lies (that's the definition of disinformation); (2) these lies will reduce public support for "action on climate change" (actually, energy action, since the climatic results of reducing CO2 emissions are precisely what the models have tried, and failed so far, to project); and (3) without such action, "communities and economies...will continue to be ravaged by the climate crisis." (Actually, "continue" is premature, since as noted, there is no climate crisis yet, only a projected one.)

There is much here, of course, that I think is unproven and that I think you didn't prove or even try to prove in your letter. But even if it were all true, wouldn't it be better to tolerate our disagreement, and then defeat my nefarious efforts in debate than to simply silence them? Surely, Facebook users are smart enough to assess evidence and make up their own minds, just like my students were. I still subscribe to the dictum often attributed to Voltaire: I may disagree strongly with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

 - Caleb S. Rossiter, Ph.D.

The full letter can be found at

Email from The CO2 Coalition,

We need an inquiry into climate alarmism

Comment from Australia

I hope you are sitting down; this foray into political and media madness over bushfires and climate change starts with recognising some excellent, forensic journalism by the ABC. Investigating last summer’s devastating Gospers Mountain fire, journalist Philippa McDonald took us to the very tree where the fire is believed to have been started when it was struck by lightning in a thunderstorm.

McDonald used this to give us the brilliantly counterintuitive opening line; “It began not with fire, but ice.” In a series of reports, McDonald and her team retraced the history of the fire over a number of weeks, how it was almost extinguished by rain, how bushwalkers in the wrong place at the wrong time thwarted a backburn that might have stopped it, how another prescribed burn got out of control and destroyed houses, and how a fortuitous wind change stopped it encroaching on suburban Sydney.

We might quibble with some of the alarmist language — repeating the silly new “megafire” term and pretending that when fires meet they join and get bigger when, in fact, this reduces the number of fronts and total length of fire perimeter — but overall the reporting was factual and admirable because it explained the many variables in fire behaviour and the factors that can influence whether a fire can be contained or extinguished before weather conditions turn it into an unstoppable beast. Surprisingly, and refreshingly, the reports did not dwell on climate change.

When it comes to our bushfires climate change is so close to being irrelevant, it should hardly warrant a passing reference — we have always faced disastrous bushfire conditions and always will. If climate change makes the worst conditions either marginally more or less common, it matters not; we still need to do the same things to protect ourselves.

In previous articles I have detailed the leading scientific analysis showing the main precondition for the NSW fires — a long drought — cannot be attributed to climate change. Unless climate activists want to argue Australia could do something to alter the global climate sufficiently to reduce our bushfire threat, they are exposed as cynical campaigners who used the sure bet of bushfires to advance their political scare campaign.

The NSW bushfire inquiry released this week took a dive into the climate science — as it was tasked to do — and found, predictably enough, that climate change “clearly played a role in the conditions” that led up to the fires and helped spread them. But thankfully it did not waste much time on climate in its recommendations, merely suggesting climate trends need to be monitored and factored in.

Apart from exercises in politically correct box ticking — Indigenous training for evacuation centre staff so they are “culturally competent”, wildlife rescue training for firefighters, and signs to promote ABC radio stations — most of the recommendations were practical. Better equipment for firefighters, more water bombers, more communication, public education and most importantly, a range of suggestions on fuel reduction around settled areas and planning controls on building in fire prone areas.

The bottom line has always been obvious: the one fire input we can control is fuel, so where we want to slow blazes or protect properties, we must reduce fuel. Planning is also important to prevent housing in indefensible locations, but one crucial phrase missing from the report was “personal responsibility”.

Houses on wooded hilltops or surrounded by bush cannot be protected and their residents should not expect others to risk their lives trying to do so.

People must be educated to clear extensively around properties, sufficient to withstand not a moderate fire but a firestorm, otherwise they must be prepared to surrender their homes and escape early.

“Hazard reduction is not the complete answer,” said report author Mary O’Kane. “People do need to take responsibility, they need to realise that if they live in certain areas it can be very dangerous, and we try to give a strong message of, if you are in a dangerous area and there is one of these big, bad megafires, the message, is get out.”

O’Kane is right, of course. But it seems a hell of a waste to hold a full inquiry only to be told we should do more fuel reduction, be careful where we build houses, and get the hell out of the way rather than try to fight firestorms. We knew all this.

The push for an inquiry was largely driven by the climate catastrophists. Remember, they wanted to blame the blazes on the axing of the carbon tax, and on Scott Morrison. It was inane and rancid stuff.

They will be at it again, this fire season. They love making political capital out of disasters, although they go as quiet as Tim Flannery when it comes to full dams and widespread snowfalls.

The area of land burned in the Australian summer has now been revised down by 25 per cent, and the claims about wildlife deaths revised downwards too, to factor in the mind-blowing realisation that animals actually escape fire when they can — birds fly, wombats burrow, kangaroos hop and even koalas can climb to the treetops and escape all but a crowning blaze.

Remember we had articles in The Guardian, The New York Times, and on CNN and the BBC, saying the bush might never recover. Take a drive through the Blue Mountains, Kangaroo Island or the Australian Alps and see how their predictions turned out.

The sclerophyll forests of southern Australia are not just adapted to fire, they are reliant on it. Therefore, the wildlife also is reliant on it for the rejuvenation of the vegetation — why does basic ecology escape the climate activists? If it is any comfort, the same madness is now playing out in California. Similar climate, similar history of bushfires, and the same maddening political debate. With fires burning more than a million acres in northern California this month, the state’s Democratic Governor, Gavin Newsom, sent a recorded message to his party’s national convention; “If you are in denial about climate change, come to California.” The trouble is that while these are bad wildfires, they are not unusual in the natural and settled history of that environment.

Like the Australian bush, the redwood forests that US journalists suggest are being destroyed by fire, depend on fire for propagation. Just like here, one of the issues has been the suppression of bushfire by human interference, leading to the unnatural build up of fuel that can explode when a wildfire does get away in bad conditions.

Environmentalist and author of Apocalypse Never; Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All, Michael Shellenberger says the climate is warming but the impact of this on fires is overstated. In an article for he quoted Scott Stevens of the University of California, Berkeley, saying climate change is not a major factor, as well as other experts scoffing of the idea that severe fires are anything new.

“California’s fires should indeed serve as a warning to the public, but not that climate change is causing the apocalypse,” wrote Shellenberger. “Rather, it should serve as a warning that mainstream news reporters and California’s politicians cannot be trusted to tell the truth about climate change and fires.”

Ditto for Oz. I have detailed previously how Fran Kelly told ABC audiences in November that “the fire warning had been increased to catastrophic for the first time ever in this country” — but that was wrong, wildly wrong.

Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John accused his political opponents of being “no better than arsonists” and other Greens and Labor MPs said Australia’s climate policies were exacerbating bushfires. Insane as this might be, it was amplified rather than interrogated by most media.

The thick smoke haze in Sydney was portrayed as something “unprecedented” — if it has not been on Twitter before it must never have happened — but a quick search of newspaper files found similar bushfire-induced shrouds in 1951, when airports were closed, and 1936, when a ship couldn’t find the heads.

Fires in rainforest areas of southern Queensland and northern NSW were not “unprecedented” either, with archived reports noting similar fires in the spring of 1951 and even the winter of 1946.

Despite 200,000 media mentions of “unprecedented” tracked by media monitors across December and January, the facts showed none of this was new. Greater areas were burned in 1851 and 1974-75, and human devastation was either as bad or worse on Black Saturday in 2009, Ash Wednesday in 1983, Black Tuesday in 1967, Black Friday in 1939 and Black Thursday 1851.

Bushland was not destroyed forever, koalas were not rendered extinct and Scott Morrison was not to blame. We should have an inquiry into climate alarmism, political posturing and media reporting — we would learn a lot more from that than we have from relearning age-old fire preparedness from yet another bushfire inquiry.



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, August 28, 2020

Five decades late to the ballgame: After 48 years, Democrats endorse nuclear energy in platform

It took five decades, but the Democratic Party has finally changed its stance on nuclear energy. In its recently released party platform, the Democrats say they favor a “technology-neutral” approach that includes “all zero-carbon technologies, including hydroelectric power, geothermal, existing and advanced nuclear, and carbon capture and storage.”

That statement marks the first time since 1972 that the Democratic Party has said anything positive in its platform about nuclear energy. The change in policy is good — and long overdue — news for the American nuclear-energy sector and for everyone concerned about climate change. The Democrats’ new position  means that for the first time since Richard Nixon was in the White House, both the Republican and Democratic parties are officially on record in support of nuclear energy. That’s the good news.

The less-than-good news is that the Democratic Party platform pledges to deploy outlandish quantities of new solar and wind capacity and do so in just five years. Further, the platform ignores the amount of land needed for that effort and how it would end up driving up the cost of electricity for low- and middle-income consumers. (More on that in a moment.)

About a decade ago, a high-ranking official at the Department of Energy told me that a big problem with nuclear energy is that it needs bipartisan support in Congress. That wasn’t happening, he said, because “Democrats are pro-government and anti-nuclear. Republicans are pro-nuclear and anti-government.” That partisan divide is apparent in the polling data. A 2019 Gallup poll found that 65 percent of Republicans strongly favored nuclear energy but only 42 percent of Democrats did so.

The last time the Democratic Party’s platform contained a positive statement about nuclear energy was in 1972, when the party said it supported “greater research and development” into “unconventional energy sources” including solar, geothermal, and “a variety of nuclear power possibilities to design clean breeder fission and fusion techniques.”

Since then, the Democratic Party has either ignored or professed outright opposition to nuclear energy. In 2016, the party’s platform said climate change “poses a real and urgent threat to our economy, our national security, and our children’s health and futures.” The platform contained 31 uses of the word “nuclear” including “nuclear proliferation,” “nuclear weapon,” and “nuclear annihilation.” It did not contain a single mention of “nuclear energy.”

That stance reflected the orthodoxy of the climate activists and environmental groups who have dominated the Democratic Party’s discussion on energy for decades. For instance, in 2005, about 300 environmental groups – including Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and Public Citizen – signed a manifesto which said “we flatly reject the argument that increased investment in nuclear capacity is an acceptable or necessary solution….[N]uclear power should not be a part of any solution to address global warming.” (The Sierra Club, the biggest environmental group in America, says it remains “unequivocally opposed to nuclear energy.”)

What changed the Democrats’ stance on nuclear? I cannot claim any special knowledge about the drafting of the platform, but it appears that science and basic math finally won out. While vying for their party’s nomination, two prominent Democratic presidential hopefuls — Cory Booker and Andrew Yang – both endorsed nuclear energy. In addition, Joe Biden’s energy plan included a shout-out to nuclear.

While the pro-nuclear stance is a welcome change to the Democratic Party’s view on energy, the new platform also says that “Within five years, we will install 500 million solar panels, including eight million solar roofs and community solar energy systems, and 60,000 wind turbines.”

To call that a stretch goal would be charitable. The Democrats say that there is an “urgent need to decarbonize the power sector.” But attempting to do so with such massive quantities of solar and wind simply isn’t feasible, particularly in just five years. To put those numbers in perspective, the Solar Star project is one of the largest solar facilities in the country. It has about 1.7 million solar panels and at full capacity, can generate 579 megawatts of power. Thus, deploying 500 million solar panels (which would have a capacity of roughly 173,700 megawatts) would require building nearly 300 projects the size of Solar Star.

The wind numbers are equally daunting. The United States currently has about 60,000 wind turbines with a capacity of about 104,000 megawatts. Where are the Democrats planning to put those forests of turbines? In New York, a state dominated by Democrats, the backlash against the siting of large renewable projects has been so widespread that earlier this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed through a measure that allows the state to override the regulations implemented by local governments when siting energy projects. In California, where Democrats have controlled the state government for decades, wind capacity has been essentially unchanged since 2013. Meanwhile,only 73 megawatts of new wind capacity is being built in New England. No new wind capacity is under construction in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Nor do the Democrats mention what building all that capacity will mean for ratepayers. But some basic estimates show how expensive it will be. Let’s assume each megawatt of solar and wind costs $1 million. At that price, adding 277,000 megawatts for new wind and solar capacity will cost about $277 billion. That figure is far too low as it ignores the cost of high-voltage transmission lines, substations, and the batteries needed to offset the incurable intermittency of the sun and the wind. But even at that price, it works out to more than $800 for each American. (Last year, energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie estimated that “full decarbonization of the US power grid” would cost about $4.5 trillion.) Whatever the actual tally, there’s no doubt that overhauling the power grid will cost hundreds of billions of dollars and that cost will ultimately be passed on to low- and middle-income consumers, either through higher taxes or higher electricity rates.

The essential point here is that talking about changing our energy and power systems is easy. Making real change happen takes decades and is staggeringly expensive.

Over the past two years or so, bipartisan support on Capitol Hill has led to new laws, including the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act and the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act that will help stimulate the development and deployment of new nuclear fuels, materials, and advanced reactors. So yes, the Democratic Party’s new support for nuclear energy is welcome and overdue. The hard work will be in turning that support into new reactors.


Biden's Low-Energy Jobs Plan

Listening to Joe Biden talk about his energy plans is reminiscent of Barack Obama’s ill-conceived 2008 “green jobs” promise, which proved to be nothing more than a costly boondoggle. The only difference is that Biden is making even greater pie-in-the-sky claims. He says his climate agenda will make the country a “100% clean energy economy” by 2050.

Like Obama, Biden wants to eliminate coal, but he’s also expanding that to all fossil fuels. Biden would ban all drilling and fracking on public land, while also creating an “enforcement mechanism” to limit carbon production on private land. That would likely happen via a carbon tax meant to make the extraction of fossil fuels prohibitively expensive.

But don’t worry, Biden assures those currently employed in the American energy structure. He claims his plan would create “10 million good-paying, middle-class, union jobs.” American taxpayers would contribute $1.7 trillion to help “train all of America’s workforce to tap into the growing clean-energy economy.” And what would these newly trained clean-energy workers be trained to do? Why, they’d be installing “millions of new solar panels and tens of thousands of wind turbines,” of course.

However, like Obama’s boondoggle, Biden’s clean-energy jobs would not come close to providing the type of good-paying consistent employment that the current oil and natural gas industry does today. Even the unions know this reality, as they have come out against Biden’s plan.

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the oil and gas industry provides an average annual salary of $108,000, nearly twice the private economy average,” The Wall Street Journal editorial board notes. “A Journal analysis last year found even higher average wages at large companies like Exxon Mobil, where median worker pay is about $170,000 a year. Renewable medians are harder to measure, but NABTU president Sean McGarvey estimates that many union members would ‘take a 50% or 75% pay cut.’” That’s a steep price to pay for Biden’s Green New Deal fairy tale.


The Racism of Climate Change Alarmists

Climate alarmists now proclaim that climate change is racist. What hypocrisy. By this theory, the sun, our galaxy, and their creator are racist, since they have driven climate change throughout history.

Racism has certainly been a factor in many decisions about land use, zoning, education and many other aspects of our lives. But this began long before Europeans “discovered” America. Tribalism, the most fundamental form of racism historically, has been around at least since the dawn of the Iron Age.

The new racism is a prime domain of environmental alarmists, and a direct outgrowth of centuries of patronizing colonialism. Many still believe today’s poor and indigenous people must be “guided” into a “green” tomorrow and not allowed to use the tools that Western and other countries employed to grow, create wealth, improve living standards, and remain free.

Many even seem OK that their “solutions” to “climate change” yield highly negative results for billions of people worldwide whose lifestyles are far removed from the privileges of eco-elites – who don’t even enjoy the blessings of electricity, 24/7/365 or even at all.

Instead of recognizing their own role in sustaining energy poverty (and its resultant misery, disease, and death), the alarmists berate the West for escaping generational poverty through technology. Penn State meteorologist Gregory Jenkins (who works for Dr. Michael Mann, co-creator of dangerous Mann-made climate change) has linked racism to climate change “because it dictates who benefits from activities that produce planet-warming gases and who suffers most from the consequences.”

But their “solutions” always deny African and other poor families access to fossil fuel “activities” – and blessings – while burdening their own societies with heavy taxes and mandates that would curtail affordable energy and living standards for billions.

Fifteen years ago, Cameroonian journalist Jean-Claude Shanda Tomme said environmentalists “still believe us to be like children that they must save, as if we don’t realize ourselves what the source of our problems is.” Incredibly, this remains a prevailing attitude.

Nearly two decades ago, in his seminal book Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death, Paul Driessen exposed the eco-colonialism (and racism) of European and American nongovernmental organizations, banking institutions, and governments.

In its introduction, Congress Of Racial Equality national spokesman Niger Innis said the green elites’ policies “prevent needy nations from using the very technologies that developed countries employed to become rich, comfortable and free of disease. And they send millions of infants, children, men and women to early graves every year.”

They insist that Africans not be allowed to combat malaria with DDT, which eradicated malaria throughout the developed world. Nor may Africans rely on their abundant oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear or hydroelectric resources, the same technologies and resources that built Western and Eastern societies.

Multiple voices have demanded that the West stop smothering Africans with money that fuels massive corruption. A decade ago, in reviewing Dambisa Moyo’s brilliant 2009 book, Dead Aid, I recalled her litany of “sins of aid with strings.” It fuels corruption, encourages inflation, increases debt loads, kills exports, causes civil unrest, frustrates entrepreneurship, and disenfranchises citizens.  In effect, foreign aid is also racist.

My colleagues and I pointed out that $500 billion in foreign aid had done little to improve the lives of ordinary Africans, who still had few highways, no real electric grid, little sanitation or clean water, few hospitals, and millions dying annually from diseases almost entirely wiped out elsewhere in the world.

At that time, OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo pleaded with Western leaders that “energy is fundamental for economic development and social progress. While the use of all forms of energy is welcome, it is clear that fossil fuels will continue to satisfy the lion’s share of the world’s growing energy needs for decades to come.” But Africans are still routinely denied financing to develop those resources for their own citizens. This is racism at its worst.

I also reviewed a World Bank Development Research Group proposal for building a 100,000-kilometer African highway system to connect all major African capitals and large cities. It would cost just $30 billion, plus $2 billion a year in maintenance, but could generate $750 billion a year in overland trade among African nations. But it quickly hit the environmentalist/development bank dustbin. Pure racism.

The racism even extended to higher education, as European and American universities recruited Africa’s brightest and best African students and faculty, leaving their own fledgling institutions of higher learning in shambles. Lydia Polgreen said this academic flight “depriv[ed] dozens of nations of the homegrown expertise that could lift millions out of poverty.” More racism.

And so it continues. African Energy Chamber Executive Chairman N.J. Ayuk recently criticized the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and International Energy Agency (IEA) for describing low oil prices caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as “golden opportunity” for governments to phase out fossil fuels support– and thus better living standards.

He put it bluntly: “The OECD and IEA don’t necessarily know what’s best for the people who live on this planet. Pressuring governments to stop supporting fossil fuels certainly would not be good for the African oil and gas companies or entrepreneurs striving to build a better future. And it could be downright harmful to communities looking at gas-to-power initiatives to bring them reliable electricity.”

“Too often,” Ayuk added, “the discussion about climate change – and the call to leave fossil fuels in the ground – is largely a Western narrative. It does not factor in the needs of low-income Africans who could reap the many benefits of a strategic approach to oil and gas operations in Africa: Reduced energy poverty, job creation, and entrepreneurship opportunities, to name a few.”

On the global stage, he concluded, the OECD and the IEA are “dismissing the voices of many Africans who want and need the continent’s oil and gas industry to thrive.” African energy entrepreneurs and Africans who care about energy poverty are struggling. But their voices are ignored by these power brokers, and the world.

Journalist Geoff Hill highlighted how many Africans still rely on increasingly scarce firewood to cook and heat their homes on cold nights, despite the environmental damage caused by stripping forest habitats to oblivion. Of the world’s 50 countries with the least access to electricity, 41 are in Africa – despite abundant rivers, sunlight, and oil, gas, coal, and uranium reserves.

The chief reason, Hill explained, is corruption – traced back to the foreign aid Dambisa Moyo criticized. Climate alarmists naturally say it’s someone else’s fault. Thankfully, finally, says Hill, some Africans are admitting their own role in allowing corrupt cultures to rule them.

Nigerian neurosurgeon Dr. Sylvanus Ayeni’s 2017 book Rescue Thyself details the failure of African governments to serve their people. He is saddened that, despite over a trillion dollars in aid to Africa from the U.S. alone, so much has been blown on palaces, private jets, and outright theft.

But who empowered these greedy leaders, who sought to do what donors wanted? Will the West finally recognize that it was their paternalistic racism that empowered this corruption? Will it change its ways? Or will it just continue the eugenic practices that dehumanized Africans as “unfit” to reproduce?


Australian state to make landowners clear fire hazards

Since landowners have been prosecuted in the past for doing that, this is a great leap forward

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's most populous state said on Tuesday it will compel owners to clear their land of flammable material as it endorsed 76 recommendations from an enquiry into deadly bushfires.

Fires razed more than 11 million hectares (37 million acres) of bushland across Australia's southeast early this year, killing at least 33 people and billions of native animals, a disaster that Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Australia's "black summer".

Amid public anger, the federal and state governments commissioned independent enquiries.

New South Wales (NSW), which recorded the highest death toll from the fires at 25, on Tuesday became the first to release findings. Its Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said the state government had accepted all recommendations.

Among recommendations, the state will require landowners to clear or burn flammable material - usually dried brush and dead leaves - for firefighters to be trained in treating wild animals and the creation of a fund to develop technology to detect fires.

"These 76 recommendations are wide-ranging but what they also show is that there is no silver bullet. The last summer was caused by a crippling drought," Elliott told reporters in Canberra.

The issue of hazard reduction, however, is the most contentious as questions arise about the cause of the fires.

Morrison, a supporter of the fossil fuel industry, this year said removing flammable material was as "important as emissions reduction and I think many would argue even more so", a stance rejected by several former firefighting chiefs.

Environmental groups said Australia - one of the world's biggest carbon emitters on a per capital basis - must reduce its greenhouse emissions, amid forecasts for more frequent and severe droughts as the climate changes.



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


Thursday, August 27, 2020

Doubts grow Alaska's Pebble Mine can satisfy new regulatory hurdles, shares tumble

Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd shares fell more than 25% on Tuesday on rising doubts the company can clear regulatory hurdles for its Pebble Mine project in Alaska, and prominent politicians said it would harm the state's salmon fishing industry.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday gave Northern Dynasty 90 days to explain how it would offset "unavoidable adverse impacts" to more than 3,200 acres (1,295 hectares) of wetlands were the mine to be developed.

Late on Monday, Alaska's U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski, both Republicans, came out against the mine, saying it could cause significant damage to the state's Bristol Bay region popular for fishing and hunting.

Murkowski is the powerful chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and her opposition is likely to carry weight across U.S. federal agencies.

Other prominent Republicans, including Donald Trump Jr., son of President Donald Trump and a keynote speaker on Monday at the Republican National Convention, have opposed the project, saying it would destroy areas where they enjoy fishing and hunting.

Northern Dynasty, in response to the Army Corps, said it plans to "preserve enough land so that multiples of the number of impacted wetland acres are preserved," but its shares still fell more than 40% on Monday.

The potential cost of such a mitigation plan is unknown and thus concerning, Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Mike Kozak said in research note. "It will be exceptionally challenging to reach a compensation plan ... that will satisfy all parties," he said.

Cantor Fitzgerald put its price target and stock rating for the company under review, effectively saying it is not immediately clear how much the company is worth.

The Army Corps deadline likely means any final permit decision would come after the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election. A victory by Democrat Joe Biden would likely to scuttle the entire project, TD Securities analyst Craig Hutchinson said.

Northern Dynasty did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Doubts about the project have steadily risen in recent months. Morgan Stanley , once one of the largest Northern Dynasty shareholders, sold most of its holdings two months ago, according to regulatory disclosures.


Not All Environmental Activism Is the Same

The definition of environmentalism seems straightforward: encourage the long-term health and availability of our natural resources.

In America, the concept is more complex. Much like the word “science,” environmentalism links to politicized agendas that don’t necessarily seek the stated goal. Progressive Era environmentalism was partly inspired by eugenics and population control; today’s version has words like “green” and “sustainable” that could just as soon be code for modern left-wing economic and social agendas. 

This has weakened the movement, making it a point of suspicion for conservative America. But it should not weaken environmentalism as a concept. The key is to separate the good, bad, and ugly aspects of the movement, as I aim to below:

The Good

The best environmentalism is that which preserves natural ecosystems long-term. Otherwise these systems can be cannibalized, even by the people who benefit from them.

The Depression-era Dust Bowl, for example, was caused in part by the over-cultivation of land by inexperienced Great Plains farmers. When the region suffered drought, the winds kicked up dust, making the land uninhabitable for everyone.

Many extreme environmental problems have this “tragedy of the commons” quality. Millions of individuals acting in self-interest spoil a larger environmental commons. It is the defining factor behind air pollution, water contamination, overfishing, and much more.

Since the 1960s, the federal government has enforced powerful environmental laws—such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act—meant to stop private industry from externalizing its costs. There have been debates about how effective such legislation is. A movement around “free market environmentalism” argues that these laws produce unintended consequences, and that the environment is better preserved through economic concepts like pricing uses and externalities.

But whether enforcement is government- or market-driven, the point remains: some environmental problems are serious, and addressing them is needed for human flourishing.

The Bad

A less noble version takes this collectivist mindset to non-essential environmental issues. There’s a habit in the movement of chasing goals that sound nice in theory, but don’t pass the cost-benefit smell test.

The logging industry is an example. Activism against it often comes from people who want mature growth forests and uninhibited fauna. But the timber industry is important: it generates $144 billion in annual revenue, employs 433,000 people, and makes products we all use. To complain that it disrupts the natural state of America’s forest land is purist, and somewhat “cheap,” in that its demands would inflict costs on landowners and workers, but not on the people complaining.

Another example is the California water wars. For years, farmers have been denied adequate water to run their farms, because that would disrupt a small fish called the delta smelt that is nearing extinction. Saving the fish is a mild benefit compared to undermining a statewide industry that produces 13% of the nation’s agricultural value and on which millions depend for nourishment.

The answer to these issues may boil down to the free-market environmentalism cited above, specifically Coase Theorem. The theory calls for negotiations between two affected parties in a dispute, with side A paying for the damages it wishes to inflict on side B.

Regarding the California water wars, if activists had to pay farmers for the lost output caused by denying them water, it would give a better sense of how much they even care about saving the fish. The price mechanism would allow them to put their money where their mouths are, or decide that delta smelt restoration is not a prime environmental goal after all.

The Ugly

The worst environmentalism is that which has nothing to do with the environment. Instead it’s a “lifestyle environmentalism” that becomes a smokescreen for larger complaints against economic growth and capitalism.

One notable local-level example has been environmentalist groups that block development, such as the many California ones I profiled here, like San Francisco’s Sierra Club and Green Party. There’s nothing green about blocking dense infill development, since it means people must locate into environmentally-harmful sprawl. But you get the sense these are NIMBY front groups and don’t care about the environment anyway; they pepper their commentary with left-populist slogans like “luxury condos” and “wall of gold” development.

Perhaps the ultimate example is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. The measures don’t seem geared towards environmental outcomes—at least not in any practical, cost-effective way—and her chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, later admitted this.

“The interesting thing about the Green New Deal,” he said, in a conversation recounted by the Washington Post, “is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all...we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”

This “ugly” environmentalism—where the term gets politicized and distorted for ulterior goals—is bad for the movement. Sincere environmentalists should call it out. That way the movement will be taken seriously, and there will be broader support for measures that are actually needed.


It’s Time for the Wind Industry to Grow Up

There comes a point in every person’s life when they have to face the realities of the adult world. In 21st century America the age at which that point comes seems to be extending further past the age of legal adulthood each year, leaving a generation in a state of perpetual adolescence—with their parents footing the bill.

Something similar has taken place concurrently in American energy policy. Birthed in 1992, the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind that was intended only to get a young industry up on its feet has now been extended a dozen times.

The production tax credit provides wind energy facilities with a tax break for the first 10 years of operation. In 2013, the production tax credit for wind generation was 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 10 years of production, with adjustments for inflation. Under the phase-out of the credit approved by Congress, the tax credit decreased by 20 percent per year from 2017 through 2019. The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019 extended the production tax credit for facilities beginning construction during 2020 at a rate of 60 percent—higher than the 40 percent rate for 2019. Currently, wind energy facilities that begin construction after the end of 2020 cannot claim the credit, although they will still be required to be built by state mandates referred to as “renewable portfolio standards.”

No Expansion, No Extension

The U.S. Treasury estimates that the Production Tax Credit will cost taxpayers $40.12 billion from 2018 to 2027, making it the most expensive energy subsidy under current tax law.
The tax credit fundamentally distorts markets and strains the grid in ways that are economically unsustainable.
Backup costs (i.e., the costs of maintaining backup electricity 24/7 to compensate for wind’s intermittency) are not included in estimations of the cost of wind power, leading to gross underestimation of the costs of the energy wind produces.
Countries like Germany and Great Britain have bet big on wind power and have foisted higher residential electricity prices on their citizens as a result.

If wind power makes sense, the free market will support it without the need for subsidies like the PTC and state renewable energy mandates.

The Wind Industry Can No Longer Have It Both Ways

The PTC gives wind power producers a path to profitability, even when a fair market would not. It effectively pays wind power producers for energy regardless of that energy’s value to the grid and to energy users. Now nearly 30 years since it was introduced, the PTC continues to coddle an industry that has promised time and again that’s it’s almost ready to move out of the house. Much like America’s perpetual adolescents who pound their chests to assert manhood while awaiting mom-and-dad’s direct deposit, the wind industry assures us it is out-competing other forms of electricity while still lobbying for another round of handouts.

As described by Kenny Stein for the Institute for Energy Research:

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the economics of wind energy. In a recent earnings call, James Robo, CEO of NextEra Energy, predicted that within a decade the cost of wind generation would be more competitive “without incentives” than conventional sources like coal and natural gas. NextEra is one of the largest generators of wind and solar electricity.

Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the $18 million lobbying arm of the wind industry, stated in 2016 that “wind is now the cheapest source of new electric generating capacity” in many parts of the United States. Kiernan is also fond of saying that the wind industry is getting out of the federal subsidy business altogether because of a provision in the PATH Act of 2015 that gradually phases down the industry’s main federal subsidy, known as the Production Tax Credit (PTC). In an interview defending the PTC from being modified in the recent tax reform law, Kiernan implied that the industry will no longer be receiving the federal subsidy because “we made a deal to drop our tax credit to zero over five years.” Tom is right, the subsidy phases down, but a closer look at the mechanics of the PTC shows that the wind industry will still be receiving billions in federal subsidies well beyond 2020.

It’s time to close the book on the PTC and nudge the wind industry out into the real world.


Coal-fired pollution killing 800 Australians a year  -- says Greenpeace

This study just took as proven the conclusions of several American studies of pollution effects. But I have repeatedly shown that the studies concerned were badly flawed -- either because of their failure to apply demograpic controls and/or   the minute effects found. So this study is a castle built on sand. See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here

They also rely on a recent MJA study of the Hazelwood fire but that study attempts to examine before-and-after effects without having any data on "before".  A good try but no cigar.

Air pollution from Australia’s ageing coal-fired power stations kills around 800 people each year and spreads hundreds of kilometres from regional plants into major cities, new research finds.

This national death toll is twice as high as the number of smoke inhalation deaths in the recent catastrophic bushfire season, and eight times greater than the average annual casualties from all natural disasters, according to a new report from Greenpeace Australia.

This is the first time the national health impacts of burning coal for electricity have been scientifically assessed, its authors say.

Air pollution from coal-burning power stations also causes an average of 850 babies each year to be born with low birth weight, which puts them at greater risk of serious health conditions as adults, like cardiovascular disease, it finds. This represents 450 babies each year for Sydney, and 260 for Melbourne.

"Australians all over the country are paying for electricity with their lives and health, even if they don’t use power from burning coal or live near a power station," said Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner, Jonathan Moylan.

There are 14,000 asthma attacks and symptoms among Australian children and young people aged between 5 and 19 that can be attributed to emissions from coal-burning power stations each year, the report finds.

Some of these symptoms come from cross-state pollution, with about 20 percent of cases occurring in states and territories that are not home to the power station that is the source of the emissions.

But a spokesperson for the Australian Energy Council, which represents major generators, rejected the report as "alarmist, misleading and lacking in rigour".

They pointed out it had not been peer-reviewed, saying it used outdated data from overseas and extrapolated it to Australia.

"This report appears to be part of a broader campaign that seeks to demonise fossil fuel plants regardless of their health, safety or environmental performance," they said. "All power plants have to meet health and environmental limits set and monitored by independent bodies."

The Greenpeace study modelled how much pollution from coal power stations could be expected in certain areas, based on observed meteorological conditions, reported pollutant emissions and electricity generation.

Existing health studies were then used to calculate how many additional deaths occur with this increased pollution. For mortality, this included deaths due to heart disease, cardiopulmonary disease, lung cancer, lower respiratory infections and stroke.

Report co-author Professor Hilary Bambrick, an environmental epidemiologist, said power plant air pollution had caused Australians to die and suffer from preventable diseases for decades: "Governments must come up with a plan to replace our ageing and unreliable coal burning power stations with clean energy solutions as quickly as possible."

New research recently published in the Medical Journal of Australia found unborn babies whose mothers were exposed to smoke from the Hazelwood coal mine fire are at greater risk of respiratory infections in early childhood, despite not directly inhaling the pollution.

Australia still operates 22 coal-burning power stations, some of which are among the oldest and most polluting in the world. Power stations in Australia are licensed to emit pollutant concentrations that dramatically exceed limits set by comparable countries, says Max Smith, a campaigner at Environmental Justice Australia.

He urged federal and state governments to address flaws in the regulatory system and fit Australia’s coal-fired power stations with basic pollution controls that could cut toxic pollutants by more than 85 percent.



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


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Children raised in greener neighbourhoods have higher IQs and lower levels of difficult behaviour, study finds

Only a small groan about this study.  Income is of course the big potential confounder.  Rich people tend to be the ones living in leafy areas and they tend to be smarter.

And the researchers knew that and tried to control for it. And they didn't do a bad job. But both the index of income and the index of greenery encountered were geographical rather than personal so the correlations were ecological and such correlations are often high.  The results are not given in correlational form but appear to be undramatic so are lower than expected in the circumstances.  Testing the theory using individual measures could well have confirmed the nul hypothesis.

That the finding is not a strong one is also suggested by the fact that it was found in urban areas only, not in suburban or rural areas

Growing up in an area with more green space is beneficial to a child's intelligence, according to a new study that found those in greener urban areas had a higher IQ.

A team from Hasselt University, Belgium, analysed IQs of over 600 children and then used satellite images to examine the green coverage of their neighbourhoods.

The children in the study were all aged between 10 and 15, according to the team, who say a 3 per cent increase in greenery led to an IQ increase of about 2.6 points.

Researchers also found that children in the study had lower levels of behavioural problems if they lived in an area that more green coverage.

IQ point increases as a result of living in a green environment had the biggest impact on those at the lower end of the spectrum as small changes made a big difference.

This is the first time IQ has been considered as a potential benefit of being exposed to green spaces in childhood - other studies have looked at wider cognitive benefits.

The researchers aren't sure exactly why IQ increases with exposure to a green environment, but suspect it could be to do with lower levels of stress.

The data on IQ and location came from the East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey (EFPTS), a registry of multiple births in the province of East Flanders, Belgium.

The average IQ of those involved was 105 but the team found 4 per cent of the children with a score below 80 had grown up in areas with low greenery levels.

It wasn't just intelligence that was impacted by living in an area that was more green - the team found it also helped improve the behaviour of some of the children.

They found that behavioural problems reduced for every 3 per cent rise in greenery.

The team said that a well planned city could offer unique opportunities to create an 'optimal environment' for children to develop to their full potential.

'Whereas in 1950, only 30 per cent of the world’s population lived in urban areas; nowadays, this is already more than half of the global population, and it is expected to increase to 68 per cent by 2050,' the team explained.

'There is more and more evidence that green surroundings are associated with our cognitive function,' study author Tim Nawrot told The Guardian.

'I think city builders should prioritise investment in green spaces because it is really of value to create an optimal environment for children to develop their full potential.'

According to the study authors the benefits of greenery recorded in urban areas weren't replicated in more rural communities - likely because those areas had enough green space for everyone to benefit so the effects weren't as localised.

The authors believe that a combination of lower noise levels and lower stress levels found in green space areas contribute to the improvements in IQ and behaviour.

Part of this is also due to the fact there are more opportunities for physical and social activities in areas with more greenery - which can improve IQ scores on their own.

'Our results indicate that residential green space may be beneficial for intellectual and behavioural development of children living in an urban environment.

'We showed a shift in the IQ distribution of urban children in association with residential green space exposure,' the authors wrote.

The findings have been published in the journal PLOS Medicine.


California Could Put Out the Fires and Create Real Jobs… or Continue Listening to AOC

The news that Palantir, the prominent tech company co-founded by Peter Thiel, is leaving California for Colorado sends a strong signal that the gold is leaving the Golden State.

To be sure, there’s still plenty of precious value in California.  Apple, headquartered in the Silicon Valley city of Cupertino, just became the first company in the U.S. to be worth $2 trillion, and the state’s economy would rate as the fifth-largest “country” in the world. 

And yet as has been noted here at Breitbart News, the city of Manaus, Brazil, serves as a cautionary tale for those who think that being rich now means being always rich.  Vastly engorged by the rubber trade in the 19th century, Manaus grew complacent and soon toppled from its lofty place in the global economy, never to recover.  Indeed, these days, when so much of life is virtual, one’s physical place matters less—and so the moving, and the unraveling, of a jurisdiction can come quickly.

That’s indeed what has happened on the other coast, in New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio’s massive mismanagement is depleting the wealth.  For weeks now, the New York Times, hardly an enemy of leftism, has been publishing ominous articles with headlines such as, “One-Third of New York’s Small Businesses May Be Gone Forever.”  And just on August 13, business author James Altucher, a lifelong New Yorker, published an essay that went further: “NYC is Dead Forever—Here’s Why.”  As Altucher explained, the big variable is Internet bandwidth; if you have enough of it, you can live anywhere.  And if that’s true for New York, it’s true for California–and everywhere.

Okay, so if we return to California, we see plenty of reasons to flee.  One concern is electricity, obviously a basic of civilization.  Will California have enough?  On August 19, the Wall Street Journal editorial detailed power shortages as another reason to skedaddle.  Under the headline, “California’s Green Blackouts,” the Journal added, “Welcome to California’s green new normal, a harbinger of a fossil-free world.”  The editorial concluded:

Democrats in Sacramento are so committed to ending fossil fuels that the hoi polloi are simply going to have to make some sacrifices—such as living with blackouts as if the state were a Third World country.  So shut up and broil, and wait for the Green New Deal to do this for the rest of America.

We can observe that humans can’t flourish without power.  And so those who want a foretaste of what a Green New Deal might be like for America can see it now in the Golden State.  Indeed, it’s interesting that in the midst of this fire season, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proudly tweeted that her video touting the Green New Deal was nominated for an Emmy award.  So to the extent that Californians are influenced by showbiz, we can assume that Hollywood’s bow to AOC will further inspire west coasters to continue supporting Green New Dealish policies.

Such dogmatic “greenery” raises an intriguing paradox, because the crown-jewel companies of California are, in fact, energy hogs.  As energy expert Mark P. Mills wrote back in 2013, the Silicon Valley corporations may claim to be green, and yet they’re really not.  “The enterprise-class data centers—Google, Apple, Facebook etc.—sit in buildings that each dwarf a Wal-Mart,” Mills explained, “and each consumes quantities of electricity that rival a steel mill.”  To put that another way, every time we post something on Facebook, or look up something on Google, we’re all contributing to very un-green levels of power usage.

Thus we see the vise squeezing Big Tech: It needs more power, and California is producing less power.

And now, the latest insult to California’s quality of life and thus to its business climate: Wildfires.

As the Associated Press reported on August 22, some of the largest wildfires in state history have forced thousands to flee, destroyed hundreds of homes, and killed five people.  To be sure, the response has been impressive, as more than 12,000 firefighters, aided by helicopters and air tankers, are battling the fires throughout California.

Yet still, according to the California Office of Emergency Management, as of August 22, some two-dozen fires were burning, and by August 23, more than one million acres had been burned.  We can observe that the firefighters are brave and tenacious, and yet even so, using chemicals, hand-held hoses—even mere shovels—to put out fires is not the best we can do.  California, being the citadel of high tech, should be using more brain, and less brawn.

Of course, the greens have their pat answer: Stop climate change.  And yet even if their science is correct, the fact that China is still building hundreds of coal plants is a reminder that carbon emissions aren’t going anywhere.  Which is to say, whatever California and the U.S. do will be overwhelmed by Chinese CO2 emissions, as well as the emissions of other non-green countries.

So we can see: While Californians are waiting for the yearned-for Green Day to arrive—and that might be a very long time—they’ll still have to figure out how to put out fires.

And if so, why not think big?  Specifically, why not use ocean-water desalination?  You see, there’s a large body of salt water just west of California, and the tiniest fraction of its water, desalinated, could be used to put out fires.

Back in January 2018, this author wrote an imaginary scenario in which California uses its brains to quench the fires:

After a dry summer, wildfires erupted in many places across California.  Fortunately, the governor was ready; the chief executive ordered the state’s 30 seawater desalination plants, from San Diego in the south to Crescent City in the north, to double their normal output.  Billions of gallons of clean, fresh, water from the coastal desalination plants were piped as close as possible to the locations of the fires.  From those points, the water was mostly trucked to the actual firefront, where firefighters quickly put out most of the fires; they simply inundated the flames in a watery avalanche—there was so much water, it was almost easy.

In addition, other harder-to-reach fires were doused from the air, as airplanes “bombed” the flames with endless barrages of desalinated water.  Moreover, helicopters and blimps used a new technique: They skyhooked flexible plastic water pipelines from where they lay on the ground and then pointed them back down at the fires, like a child aiming a garden hose.  The result was that all the fires, statewide, were put out within hours.  Damage was minimal.

None of that has ever happened, of course.  And yet as this author also wrote in 2018, this annual firefest, in a state controlled by Democrats, could pose an opportunity for Republicans.  That is, the GOP could take the lead in advocating  visionary desalination infrastructure.  After all, interest rates are at record lows, so why not borrow big and invest big? 

Indeed, if California ever could get out from under these fires, one could see a rural renaissance, as people could live safely out in the boonies, where land is cheap and spacious, using the same desalinated water for agricultural, industrial, and recreational purposes.

Of course, this transformation would not come without a fight.  Last year, Breitbart News’ Joel Pollak published a three–part series on water in California, detailing how environmentalists and NIMBYs have teamed up to throttle the state’s water supplies, turning much of the Golden State into the Parched State.  In fact, we shouldn’t kid ourselves about the resolve of those who like the status quo to keep it that way.  For hardcore greens, the idea of expanding opportunity for ordinary people to live out in the country is exactly what they do not want to see.

Yet once again, this green-NIMBY axis would give Republicans a worthy target.  That is, Republicans could invoke Abraham Lincoln’s Homestead Act and propose a New Homestead Act, expanding property ownership and thus the conservative middle class.  Surely many Californians, wearying of greens, billionaires, and San Francisco Democrats running everything, would rally to such a proposal.

Yes, one of these days, Californians could desalinate sea water, put out fires, and spur a rural renaissance.  Or, instead, they could keep doing what AOC and the greens want and continue with this perennial burning and suffering.

If California chooses the latter, then the state’s job creators, weary of blackouts and wary of burnouts, will go looking elsewhere.  Colorado beckons.


The flourishing world of climate finance

A thousand flowers are blooming in the world of climate finance. Having largely ignored global warming for decades, banks, borrowers and investors are trying to come up with innovative ways to link financial instruments to environmental metrics.

Much of the excitement centres around variations on green bonds, the proceeds of which are spent on environmentally friendly projects. In 2018 the Seychelles issued the world’s first sovereign “blue” bond, which raised money for marine protection. Last year a handful of “transition” bonds were launched. In this variety the cash is put towards curbing greenhouse-gas emissions of dirty firms. Marfrig, a Brazilian beef-seller , for instance, raised $500m last August to encourage deforestation-free cattle farming. The next month Enel, an Italian utility, issued a sustainability-linked bond, the interest rate on which is connected to the firm’s renewable-energy capacity.

Other innovators are changing not the colour of green bonds, but their inner workings. In December the Danish government said it was working on a new model for green bonds. That would involve splitting a bond into one interest-paying part and one that promises spending on green projects. The two chunks could then be traded separately. This month BNP Paribas, a French bank, issued a green bond in which the returns are linked to a climate index.

The motivation behind such innovation is two-fold. One is to channel capital into worthy projects. A lot more of that money is needed. The UN puts the annual gap in the trillions. The other is good public relations. Investors, banks and corporations are keen to be seen promoting green-tinged financial wizardry. Demand is booming: green-bond issues are many times oversubscribed.

Yet some of these new environmental instruments are struggling to take root. No more sustainability-linked bonds have been launched, despite climate financiers’ claims that they are the next big thing. A new sustainability index is reportedly failing to gain traction with investors. Blue-bond flows are but a trickle. Some investors are questioning the value of transition bonds too.

Part of the reason is to do with the nature of innovation. Not every invention hits the spot. Some need time to blossom. The markets are being shaped by lots of competing interests, including those of corporates, investors, regulators and environmental campaigners. That slows down progress. And new financial products must strike the right balance between innovation and familiarity to institutional investors. Without the latter, they will never attract meaningful amounts of money.

Another, more cynical explanation is that the PR shine fades fast. The first issuance of a flashy new green product makes headlines. The tenth goes unnoticed. For financiers and corporates the incentive can be to come up with something new, rather than to use something old.

When new green instruments do take off, a process of standard-setting has to take place. Rules must be agreed on to reassure both investors and environmentalists. That is what helped the first wave of green bonds. The first one was issued in 2008. Six years later, a set of green-bond principles were agreed upon. That helped the market grow to $271bn in new issuance last year. That is still only around 5% of total global bond issuance, but it is a success story in sustainable finance nonetheless. If any of the newfangled bonds do take root, they too will require several years and common standards to reach a similar scale.

Newsletter from The Economist

Australia: Global warming diehards object to natural gas

Gas can actually replace coal so that is no good

A group of leading Australian scientists has taken the unusual step of writing to the Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, saying his support for gas as an energy source "is not consistent with a safe climate".

"We are making a definite and profound statement that the advice the Chief Scientist is giving is in opposition to the evidence the Australian scientific community has gathered about the climatic system and the way it is changing," Professor Will Steffen, the founding director of the Australian National University's Climate Change Institute, said of the decision to write the letter.

The letter's signatories include many world-leading Australian experts and lead authors with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They include professors John Church, Matthew England and Steven Sherwood from the University of NSW's Climate Change Research Centre, Professor Mark Howden of the Australian National University and Professor Graeme Pearman of the University of Melbourne.

"We are writing to you as Chief Scientist with our concerns about your strategy for dealing with climate change, and to offer any scientific advice that you might find useful on climate change issues," begins the letter, which is signed by 25 scientists.

Professor Steffen said the scientists' decision to take the unusual step of speaking out about the Chief Scientist was prompted in part by elements of Dr Finkel's address to the National Press Club in February, as well as other public comments he has made about gas.

Professor Steffen said more would have signed the letter but could not as they were employed by government agencies such as the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology.

In the speech Dr Finkel outlined how Australia needed to electrify its energy system to meet Paris climate goals.

He said that as renewable energy generation, storage and transmission technologies are scaled up to decarbonise the economy, gas would play a "critical role", and that the transition could take decades.

The speech, made shortly before the government embraced a gas-led economic recovery from the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, caused concern among elements of the scientific community who see gas as an increasingly destructive global warming agent.

"He seems to be speaking in ignorance of or [to be] ignoring the overwhelming amount of evidence gathered by his own scientific community about the impact of the gas industry on the climate," said Professor Steffen.

Professor Steffen said that Australia's Paris climate targets were weak, set politically and had no scientific basis; that even if they were to be met Australia would still not be doing its fair share to mitigate global warming under the agreement, and that the use of gas as a transition energy source was quickly making the situation worse.

In the letter the scientists applaud Dr Finkel's support for a transition to renewable energy, but take issue with his support for the government's advocacy for an ongoing role for gas.

"Our concern ... relates to the scale and speed of the decarbonisation challenge required to meet the Paris Agreement, and, in particular, your support for the use of gas as a transition fuel over ‘many decades'," they write.

"Unfortunately, that approach is not consistent with a safe climate nor, more specifically, with the Paris Agreement. There is no role for an expansion of the gas industry."

"The combustion of natural gas is now the fastest growing source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, the most important greenhouse gas driving climate change.

"On a decadal time frame, methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

"In Australia, the rapid rise in methane emissions is due to the expansion of the natural gas industry. The rate of methane leakage from the full gas economy, from exploration through to end use, has far exceeded earlier estimates."

Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor as well as the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission support gas as an energy source that is less carbon intensive than coal and that can quickly be ramped up or down to support renewable energy sources in the grid.

A spokeswoman for the Office of the Chief Scientist said Dr Finkel was considering his response and would comment in due course.

A spokesman for Mr Taylor said that the International Energy Agency has estimated that coal-to-gas switching has avoided more than half a billion tonnes of emissions between 2010 and 2018.

"A separate CSIRO assessment of Queensland LNG production found that gas alone can reduce emissions from electricity production by up to 50 per cent. When gas backs up solar and wind, the emissions savings are even greater.

"Australia's gas exports are reducing emissions in importing countries overseas where they displace more emissions-intensive alternatives or backup renewables.

Dr Pep Canadell, executive director of the Global Carbon Project and a chief research scientist at the CSIRO said greenhouse gas emissions from the gas industry in Australia were "skyrocketing".

"They are not taking Australia in the direction it needs to go."



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