Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Is corn ethanol still necessary?

By Rick Manning

With the election around the corner, the D.C. swamp is hard at work. Various special interests are trying to make their pet issue look like an election asset or liability. One interest group working overtime is the biofuel lobby. The federal Renewable Fuel Standard – or RFS – is often falsely labeled as a “pro-farmer” energy policy that helps the Heartland. In reality, the RFS has become a tool for lining the pockets of the global agribusiness complex at the expense of real American farmers. It also puts domestically manufactured fuel supplies at risk. Coupled with their support of open borders immigration policies, the RFS further enables agribusiness giants to profit at the expense of rural Americans and heartland jobs.

Passed in 2005 and greatly expanded in 2007, the RFS was meant to “reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil” and promote rural economic development in the process. The law established increasing mandates for different types of biofuels, culminating in a requirement to blend 36 billion gallons of biofuel into the gasoline and diesel supply in 2022. Of that total, 15 billion gallons can be met via corn based ethanol. Unfortunately, after more than a decade of this law, it has become clear that the unintended negative consequences have outweighed the benefits.

First, the law was passed before America’s energy revolution. Since the U.S. in now the world’s largest oil and gas producer, the law’s energy independence and security justification is no longer relevant. Second, the law has actually worked to the detriment of most farmers. The Clean Air Act and RFS – both of which mandated ethanol in some fashion – have driven up farmland values, which have tripled since the 1990s. However, cash rents have also gone up in concert; rising more than 130 percent in Iowa alone since the mid-90s. Since the majority of actual farmers are tenant farmers – which work over 54 percent of cropland nationally and 57 percent in Iowa – the rise in land values has just meant more money out of the average farmers’ pockets as net farm income has plummeted over the last decade. It is also the sole reason that wealthy landowners see a net return per acre over 300 times that of tenant farmers. The erosion of farm income over the last decade, which has hit tenant farmers the hardest, has occurred despite the fact ethanol use in the fuel supply has increased by over 20 times its 1990 level.

Many of the same interests benefitting from the inflated land values attributable in part to the RFS are giant global and foreign agribusiness. Foreign investors are increasingly buying up American farmland and agribusiness is increasing gobbling up massive swaths of soil. In Iowa alone, the percentage of farmland agribusiness owned grew from 20 to 40 percent between 2002 and 2017. Large, global agribusinesses are the same interests thwarting progress in controlling illegal immigration. They are the same companies that often turn their backs on American workers to pay illegal immigrants substandard wages; giving them an unfair and immoral advantage over the yeoman tenant farmer.

Finally, adding insult to injury, the RFS also advantages global oil companies and foreign biofuel interests over small to mid-sized American refiners. Escalating compliance costs for the RFS contributed to the bankruptcy of a Philadelphia refinery in 2019. With refiners expected to post historic losses for the second quarter, RFS costs could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for many other American refiners. The cost for tradable credits needed to comply with the RFS have been skyrocketing all year. Historically, paying for the RFS has often exceeded the payroll of independent American refiners. Additionally, a quirk in the program allows global, integrated oil companies that own fuel retail outlets to generate more credits than they need, which independent American refiners are forced to buy for compliance.

Unfortunately, bankrupting tenant farmers and domestic refiners may not even be the worst part of the program. The true insult lies in the fact that we need foreign biofuel to comply with the RFS. Since the program mandates more ethanol than can be blended into gasoline due to engine and infrastructure constraints, U.S. refiners have had to rely on at least half a billion gallons of FOREIGN BIODIESEL in each of the last three years to meet the programs overly stringent requirements. Such result is the furthest thing from an America First energy policy.

The President promised to protect every manufacturing job and get tough on illegal immigration. Reforming the RFS would help the American farmers that are actually working in the fields and the small US refiners that are disproportionately disadvantaged relative to the global oil giants. Change is necessary to prevent global businesses and foreign interests that are already erecting barriers to sensible immigration controls from imposing additional threats real American farmers and domestic fuel manufacturers.


Offshore Wind Is Really A Pirate Ship on the Sea of Subsidies

The Manhattan Institute does fantastic research and a little over two weeks ago it issued a report by Jonathan Lesser that addresses the fiasco that is wind energy; offshore that is. Titled “Out to Sea: The Dismal Economics of Offshore Wind,” it illustrates the piracy occurring on those seas as wind developers ride a wave of green political correctness and raid the ships of state to steal their booty of government subsidies.

New Jersey and New York and a handful of other Northeast nincompoop states are both currently chasing wind with abandon; the abandon of economic sanity with respect to the interests of ratepayers and taxpayers. It’s one gigantic scam; a new venue for hedge fund types who want maximize government rent as a source of profits, milking consumers for every bit of it, while distorting the economics of every other form of energy. Wind has been just this sort of scam for decades now, but the production tax credits that made the theft possible are slowly be ratcheted backward, so wind energy has blown out to sea. Offshore is the new hedge fund opportunity for the pirate managers who want to empty the pockets of energy consumers.

Here are the following key findings from the report (emphasis added):

Offshore wind is not cost-effective, and the forecasts of rapidly declining costs through increasing economies of scale are unrealistic. Absent continued subsidies—such as state mandates for offshore generation and renewable energy credits, which force electric utilities to sign long-term agreements with offshore wind developers at above-market prices—it is unlikely that any offshore wind facilities will be developed. These subsidies, along with the need for additional transmission infrastructure and backup sources of electricity, will increase the cost of electricity for consumers and reduce economic growth.

The actual costs of offshore wind projects borne by electric ratepayers and taxpayers are likely to be greater than advertised. Experience in Europe over the previous decade demonstrates that the performance of offshore wind turbines degrades rapidly—on average, 4.5% per year. As output declines and maintenance costs increase, project developers will have a growing economic incentive to abandon their projects before the end of their contracts to supply power. In contrast to the strict requirements for nuclear power plants, it is unclear whether offshore wind project owners will be required to set aside sufficient funds to decommission their facilities. This will likely mean that electricity ratepayers and state taxpayers will pay to decommission offshore wind turbines or pay higher prices to keep the projects operating.

The cumulative environmental impacts of multiple offshore wind projects along the Atlantic Coast—including on fisheries and endangered species—may be significant and irreversible. Also, mining the raw materials of offshore wind turbines, especially rare-earth minerals, has significant environmental impacts because those materials primarily are mined overseas, where environmental regulations are less stringent than in the United States. Dismissing environmental impacts that occur outside the U.S. while championing offshore wind’s alleged worldwide climate-change benefits is hypocritical.

The justification of subsidies for offshore wind based on increased economic growth, new industries, and state job creation is an appeal to “free-lunch” economics. The subsidies will benefit the well-connected few while imposing economic costs on consumers and businesses at large.
Here are the money paragraphs (in more ways than one):

As part of its Annual Energy Outlook, which provides a long-term forecast of U.S. energy demand, EIA publishes an accompanying report on the projected costs of different types of generating resources. In its most recent report, EIA estimated the real LCOE for offshore wind facilities beginning service in 2025 as between $102.68/MWh and $155.55/MWh, with an average price of $122.25/MWh (2019$).[62] EIA estimates that the costs for offshore wind installed in 2040 will be about one-third less, with levelized costs between $74.47/MWh and $105.39/MWh, with an average price of $85.53/MWh (2019$).[63]

By comparison, the levelized cost of gas-fired combined- cycle generating units entering service in 2025 is between $33.35/MWh and $45.31/MWh, with an average price of $38.07/MWh (2019$). For 2040, EIA projects levelized costs for combined-cycle units to range between $34.27/MWh and $72.32/ MWh, with an average levelized cost of $42.89/MWh (2019$). (The higher real levelized costs in 2040 are the result of higher projected prices for natural gas.)

So, even in 2040, EIA projects that the levelized costs of gas-fired combined-cycle units will still be half the levelized cost of offshore wind generation.

There’s much more, so read the whole thing. You’ll find wind energy of the offshore sort is piracy of the worst sort and the victims are the passengers on the good ship “Energy.”


Environmental Disaster: Northern Europe Deforestation Up 49% Due To Effort To Meet “CO2 Targets”!

Environmental Disaster: Northern Europe Deforestation Up 49% Due To Effort To Meet “CO2 Targets”!

Swiss meteorologist Jörg Kachelmann calls it “the dumbest energy and environmental policy ever”. Now, finally, after years of being warned, Germany’s mainstream media are finally showing signs of waking up to it.

Germany’s flagship ARD public broadcasting recently presented a report earlier today about how “CO2 neutral” wood burning is leading to widespread deforestation across northern Europe – a rather embarrassing development for the Europeans, who recently expressed their condemnation over Brazilian forest policy.

The ARD’s “Das Erste” reports how satellite images show deforestation has risen 49% since 2016 in Sweden, Finland and the Baltic countries. The reason: “Because of the CO2 targets. That sounds totally crazy but precisely because of the trend to renewable energies is in part responsible for deforestation in Estonia,” says the Das Erste moderator.

Having spent some time working for the EU, Liiana Steinberg explains in the report how she recently returned to her native Estonia and was shocked to see how much deforestation had taken place over the recent years (2:25). “I discovered how the forests no longer exists here left and right.”

For “CO2-neutral” wood pellets

Where once massive hardwoods once stood now grows tiny fir trees. The harvested trees, the report says, were used for wood pellets – a form of renewable green energy. The trees, the pellet industry says, will grow back.

Not only are the forests taking a hit, but so is the wildlife that once inhabited in them. According to Ms. Steinberg, bird life has fallen some 25%. “It’s wasted. Now we have to start all over again.”

Idiots “follow the science”

Climate activists, including the media like ARD, have long insisted that burning trees was good for the climate and environment because the emitted CO2 would simply be recycled back into nature – “follow the science” they insisted again and again. But they failed to understand that trees, depending on their age, acted as sinks and that some 100 years of stored carbon would be unloaded into the atmosphere in just a matter of hours if burned for heat.

It’s sad that they are just waking up to this (maybe).


Democrats want to hand climate science over to the mob

The House of Representatives had an opportunity this week to take meaningful steps toward combating climate change. But instead of proposing bipartisan reforms that would enable new clean energy technologies to flourish, Democrats opted to politicize science and add costly new regulatory hurdles that would do nothing to reduce global emissions.

Inside the new 900-page Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act is a proposal to adopt a new “community-based science” model that allows for “voluntary public participation in the scientific process.” This means that instead of allowing scientists to have the final say in conducting experiments, collecting data, interpreting results, and developing new technologies, the so-called “party of science” would let everyone have a say. They call it the “democratization of science” — and if you’re against it, you’re probably against democracy, too.

In another attempt to politicize science, the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act proposes establishing a new 26-person Environmental Justice Advisory Council to ensure the “fair treatment” of different groups based on race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. They would accomplish this by taking the already cumbersome National Environmental Policy Act review process, which is used to approve new energy and infrastructure projects, and require these projects to undergo an “environmental justice” review. This review would need the consultation and meaningful participation of different groups, likely leading to long and costly litigation. Instead of accomplishing net-zero carbon emissions, this proposal would result in net-zero job growth. And instead of more justice, the Environmental Justice Advisory Council would result in fewer clean energy options for underserved communities.
Democrats claim to have the moral high ground when talking about their lofty goals of decarbonizing our economy in the next decade. But by prioritizing complex regulations and woke mandates over innovation and markets, they curtail the causes they claim to support.

Despite the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act featuring some good proposals, Democrats inserted so many social justice poison pills that the legislative package is unworkable. On Monday, the White House issued a veto threat. The Left and the media will use this as evidence to say Republicans don’t care about climate change, but as the White House said in a statement:

The Administration supports clean energy, job development, and the innovation economy and adheres to a bottom-up energy philosophy that promotes free-markets, funds scientific research, and honors the choices of producers and consumers. This bill, however, would implement a top-down approach that would undermine the Administration’s deregulatory agenda and empower the government to select favored solutions while reinstating big-government policies and programs.

Republicans know the regulatory process has to be workable for companies to be able to succeed in not only innovating clean-energy technologies, but actually getting them into communities that need them most. They have already led on a number of bipartisan bills to make technologies such as advanced nuclear energy, carbon capture, and energy storage more viable. And this week, they introduced legislation that would make innovation possible by making the regulatory process more efficient for clean energy companies to build.

Instead of furthering an agenda that’s designed to appease far-Left activist mobs, Democrats should work across the aisle with their Republican colleagues who are offering serious, science-based solutions for a clean energy future.

So, don’t believe the false narrative that Republicans aren’t doing anything to reduce global emissions. Considering the anti-science framework of the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, it’s quite the opposite. Republicans are serious, and it’s time Democrats are, too.




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


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Gavin Newsom’s Brilliant Plan to Create More Energy Shortages

California Governor Gavin Newsom had a pretty bad summer. His state is still in the throes of a coronavirus pandemic, he’s had problems with riots and political unrest, and he can’t beg, borrow, or steal enough power to keep the lights on.

Fortunately, he has a plan. Close the beaches to deal with the pandemic, make nice with rioters so they don’t totally burn down the cities, and promise the people that he has a plan to deal with the rolling blackouts.

Will he throw open his state to offshore oil drilling? Will he allow drilling on state lands? Will he expand hydraulic fracturing?

Nothing so mundane, I’m afraid. You see, Gavin is allergic to fossil fuels. To prove it, he ordered that within 15 years, no gasoline-powered cars will be sold within the state. He is also demanding an end to fracking.

Assuming that residents of California haven’t suddenly developed an interest in walking, they are going to have to be driving something. So Newsom wants Californians to use electric vehicles to get around.

As Forbes‘ David Blackmon points out, there’s only one teensy-weensy problem with that plan.

Think about it this way: Newsom contemplates the elimination of millions of cars that generate their energy through the use of gasoline and diesel in just 15 years. He proposes to replace them all with EVs or supposedly hydrogen powered cars as their feasibility continues to advance.

The thing is, those millions of new EVs have to have their batteries charged regularly, just as users of gas-powered cars must fill up their tanks every few hundred miles. The energy needed to power the charging stations which charge those batteries must be generated either by hooking them up to the state’s power grid, or by hooking them up to a generator, most often one that is powered by either gasoline, diesel or natural gas.


California’s electrical needs will grow at exactly the same time Newsom is reducing the amount of electricity the state can generate. I’m sure the governor has all sorts of charts and graphs showing that the energy shortfall from the ban on fracking and a massive increase in the use of electrical power can disappear if the state puts up enough windmills and solar panels.

Sort of like the last time someone raised that point when he assured Californians that despite the decline in power-generating plants, the wind and solar industry could make up the difference.

How’d that work out for ya, Gav?

Maybe he could initiate an electrical plant building crash program to make up the difference?

The big complication for Gov. Newsom here is that the policies he and his predecessors have adopted for his state’s power generation sector have rendered the building of substantial new baseload power plants fired by fossil fuels or nuclear economically and environmentally unfeasible. In fact, the state’s final nuclear facility is scheduled to be decommissioned by 2025, eliminating that source of clean energy for California consumers entirely.

What Newsom and his supporters propose to affect here is a massive transfer of energy generation capacity from the state’s transportation sector, in the form of internal combustion engines, to its power sector. They apparently believe that enormous transfer of generation capacity can be handled entirely through the installation of more windmills and solar panels, given that they have basically made the building of any other energy generating source unfeasible, if not illegal.

This seems like energy hubris on an historic scale.

More like stupidity and arrogance.

Newsom blamed the summer power shortages on the industry. His friends in the solar and wind industries had overpromised how much power they could deliver in a crunch. Why should Californians believe them now?


Say No to Biden’s Dim Bulb Energy Schemes

President Donald Trump’s energy policies have created an America that is energy independent for the first time in 60 years. That means we produce more energy than we consume. As a result, the price we pay now at the pump and to heat our homes is relatively affordable.

But Dan Kish, a distinguished Senior Fellow at the Institute for Energy Research said that could all change if Joe Biden is elected president. Kish said Biden’s Green New Deal energy plan would make America wholly reliant on countries like China and Russia.

On his campaign website, Biden touts that his energy policies would “go well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform” and even “go much further” than the Paris climate agreement.

Biden even touts that he oversaw the failed 2009 Recovery Act, part of the Obama Administration’s economic stimulus. That’s nothing to be proud of considering that under this program taxpayers lost more than three-quarters of a billion dollars in loans to startups including Fisker Automotive, Abound Solar and Solyndra, which all went bankrupt after receiving large government loans intended to help them bring green technologies to market.

“Trump solves the energy problem and Biden’s proposals cause energy problems,” said Kish, who has more than 25 years of experience in natural resource and energy policy, including as chief of staff for the Republicans on the House Resources Committee.

Kish said Trump and Biden could not be further apart in terms of their energy agendas.

“The entire world depends on concentrated energy sources like oil, natural gas, and coal. But Biden wants to ban anything that produces carbon dioxide by 2035,” Kish said. That means America would have to rely solely on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, which Kish said would put us at the mercy of China because China “controls the supply chain of everything needed for the solar and wind energy infrastructure.”

Kish said that the degree to which the United States would be dependent on China for our energy would be far worse than our past energy reliance on the Middle East.

“At the peak of our dependency, we relied on [the Middle East] for about 20 percent of our oil,” explained Kish. But he says under a Biden green energy plan, we would be relying far more on China.

Kish noted that the new fracking technology which allows energy companies to drill horizontally into veins of oil and gas plays a large role in our new energy independence.

“Trump wants to continue his idea that America should be energy dominant and Joe Biden wants to go down this road of stopping us from using the oil and gas and coal that we have in enormous abundance, all based on climate,” Kish said.

Kish noted that the environmental movement started with the goal to have cleaner air by reducing vehicle pollutants. He said we have achieved that goal.

“We have cleaner air than we’ve ever had,” Kish said. He added that a car today driving down the highway at 70 miles per hour puts out less emissions than a car just sitting in the driveway with its engine turned off did 50 years ago.

While Americans are enjoying affordable, reliable energy now, we should not become complacent in this election. If Biden wins the presidency, his policies would make us energy dependent on China, giving Beijing control of the entire supply chain for the Green New Deal. It’s almost as if we could call it the China New Deal.


Science is now just another wing of politics

When science so readily attaches itself to politics, policies and candidates, it loses all claim to objectivity.

Earlier this month, Scientific American broke with what it claims is its 175-year history of political neutrality to endorse US presidential candidate, Joe Biden. According to the magazine’s editorial: ‘The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the US and its people.’ Strong stuff. But what field of science produced this judgement? Physics, perhaps? Chemistry? Biology? None of them, of course. The truth is that institutional science has willingly politicised itself and prostituted itself to power to such an extent that it no longer understands the difference between politics and science.

SciAm’s editorial, though, is not as much an endorsement of Biden as it is a shrill moral litany of Trump’s crimes: his handling of the pandemic and of healthcare, and his battles with national and global bureaucracies. Biden, by contrast, argued the editorial, ‘is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment’. Really? Are scientists so easily moved by such crass good-vs-evil political framing?

SciAm was not alone in nailing its political colours to the mast. In the journal Science, editor Herbert Holden Thorp wrote recently that ‘Trump lied about science’. But this view, too, requires rather more interpretation than science. Among Trump’s deadly crimes listed by Thorp was ‘the opening of colleges and schools’. The bastard!

The problem for the editorial teams of both publications is that assent to scientific facts and the drafting and execution of policy are different things. In no area is this confusion more clear than climate change. It was President Barack Obama who, in 2013, said:

‘Heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, floods all are now more frequent and more intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.’

Obama’s speech epitomises the problem from the other side. It was not the ‘overwhelming judgement of science’ that extreme weather events on their own or together were more frequent and intense. At best, this remains a matter of controversy. Moreover, extreme events would have to become very many times more frequent and intense to register as greater problems than extreme weather has caused America in the past – let alone become America’s most urgent problems. Obama, who Biden served as vice president, departed from the facts here. But few scientists rushed to condemn him for this.

Put simply, Obama’s speech flattered institutional science and the global political institutions which President Trump has sought to withdraw the US from – namely, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the 2015 Paris Agreement. But neither assent to nor dissent from facts and science have anything to do with the president’s political choices.

After all, it’s not as if the WHO has covered itself in scientific glory during this pandemic. Why wouldn’t a president ask questions about his country’s support for it? And similarly, as I have pointed out many times on spiked, the Paris Agreement is fundamentally anti-democratic. That might lead some to conclude that the basis of such a claim is ‘science denial’, but this would be to repeat the mistake of confusing political and scientific arguments. Climate change can be understood (and dealt with) as a problem without yielding sovereignty to undemocratic global technocracies.

This confusion runs deep in today’s most high-pitched political claims. One reason for this is that science is increasingly expected to carry the moral, economic and political weight for increasingly worthless political campaigns. Scientific authority – institutional science – can easily produce estimates of a political leader’s policy failures in the crude terminology of body counts. But such estimates are not like the isolation of a gene that causes a disease, or the identification of a new particle.

The SciAm editorial, for example, claims that ‘In his ongoing denial of reality, Trump has hobbled US preparations for climate change’, and that the ‘changing climate is already causing a rise in heat-related deaths’. But ‘heat-related deaths’ turns out not to be a phenomenon that is as easily detected by science as it is explained by economics. Wealthier people do not drop dead in the heat. Global agreements to cut carbon emissions will arguably make many Americans significantly poorer – destroying industries and hiking up the cost of energy. Poverty increases people’s exposure to extreme weather (climate changing or not). Meanwhile, the curbs these international agreements place on democracy hobble the public’s ability to improve their conditions. Besides, it is a cascade of unsound assumptions – not science – which link extreme-weather events to their putative social consequences. An entirely ideological worldview is required to believe the promise that a global climate institution can make things better for anyone at all, least of all for the poor.

The idea that policies can be ‘fact-based’ or ‘science-based’ is itself an ideological claim, no matter how hard we wish for it to be otherwise. Scientists making such claims try to pass themselves off as honest brokers. But they fail to ask scientific questions that might cause them to see ‘heat-related deaths’ as an economic problem, rather than a meteorological problem. The idea that a global bureaucracy established to enforce a ban on combustion will do more for poor people than making them wealthier is a demonstration of the cynical contempt that today’s champions of ‘science’ hold for ordinary people. They think that poverty is a function of weather. Trump might appeal to voters who know and can see for themselves that it is not.

The notion of the Green New Deal was established on the US left to overcome the obvious green indifference to people’s living standards. ‘Biden’, says the SciAm editorial, ‘wants to spend $2 trillion on an emissions-free power sector by 2035’, and this agenda ‘will produce two million jobs for US workers’. It sounds fantastic. But it is a fantasy. Simple arithmetic reveals that each job will cost a million dollars to ‘create’, whereas the green infrastructure will yield no net benefit to Americans, who will have to pay the extra in increased costs of living.

The thing that has typically restrained such absurd political advocacy in the past has been the idea that science could see past the petty world of politics and ideology. Scientific authority comes from the scientific method, which aims to weed out the influence of ideology and other interests. But there is science as a process, and science as an institution. As democratic processes have been emptied of competing political visions, scientific authority has been increasingly sought in lieu of political vision to give a seemingly objective purpose to politics. But the idea that institutional science, by virtue of the scientific method, escapes political ideology is equivalent to the idea that clergymen can commit no evil, by virtue of their membership of the church.

This political expectation of science both precedes the science and precludes scientific and democratic debate. In 2014, Obama’s then science adviser, John Holdren, attacked Professor Roger Pielke Jr, whose work, claimed Holdren, lay outside the ‘scientific mainstream’. Pielke, despite being consistently and categorically ‘pro-climate’, has upset ambitious climate policymakers for pointing out that alarmism, rather than science, underpins the urgent case for such policies. ‘When a political appointee uses his position not just to disagree on science or policy but to seek to delegitimise a colleague, he has gone too far’, wrote Pielke in reply to Holdren’s poorly conceived smear campaign.

The Democrats’ war on scientific dissenters intensified the following year, when Representative Raúl Grijalva, now chair but then a member of the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, launched an investigation into seven academics. Grijalva demanded university authorities provide disclosure of the researchers’ (including Pielke’s) funding sources and all private correspondence relating to testimony they had given to congressional meetings. The investigation was roundly condemned as an attack on academic freedom and yielded nothing except harassment and smears.

In the mid-2000s, author Chris Mooney made a name for himself documenting what he called a ‘Republican war on science’. This framing led ultimately to Mooney believing, on no more a scientific footing, that the brains of Republicans and Democrats had different structures – meaning that the former had less aptitude for science than the latter. This pathological view of politics and science is clearly more than science can bear. Yet complaints about this burden put on it by political advocates from science are few and far between.

Similarly, calls to ‘unite behind the science’ come from campaigners across the world, all of a similar political bent. Yet asking what ‘the science’ actually is or says typically yields accusations of ‘science denial’, rather than explanation. ‘Unite behind the science’, but don’t question it. Because only Republicans, climate-change deniers, creationists and Brexiteers might have the sort of dysfunctional mental hardware that dares to question science, right?

Science has nothing to do with it. There is nothing that any Democratic-supporting scientist, journal editor or campaigner can say about their opposite numbers’ candidates that is not true of their own. It turns out that politicians lie, and take liberties with facts, even when they hide behind science. And now scientific journal editors not only seem to be confused about where science ends and politics begins, but they also mistake their own political outlooks for science itself. The only logic of it is that to challenge the party that had declared itself the champion of (institutional) science would be to declare hostility to science.

That academia has become dominated by a political tendency is hardly news. The shameless advocacy for political candidates by seemingly reputable journals is a new development, but it merely formalises entrenched positions. Behind it is not, as they like to think, arguments from scientific objectivity, but arguments that are as questionable and take as many liberties with facts as any presidential candidate’s. They depend on a whitewashed role of institutional science during the Covid-19 crisis, and on extremely alarmist interpretations of climate change and on other things that may well only count as ‘science’ because increasingly politicised institutional science has excluded challengers from its ranks – just as Grijalva’s witch hunt, Holdren’s censure, and Mooney’s slander intended.

When institutional science attaches itself to politics, to support candidates, it loses any claim to objectivity, and any ability to speak truth to power. Science and SciAm will be unable to say anything about either president’s claims without bringing their own conflicted positions to the spotlight. If Biden wins, scientific institutions like important journals will become mere cronies. And if Trump wins, they will look like bitter losers. Scientists risk creating a situation in which society will no longer trust in the objectivity of institutional science. They have squandered scientific authority on a political gamble. Perhaps if scientists had been more questioning of both Obama and the Democrats they might have spared themselves the ordeal of Trump.


Jacinda Ardern vows to ban plastic cutlery, straws and single-use coffee cups as part of her new waste policy

This is crazy. Single use things are a major help in avoiding virus infections

Jacinda Ardern has vowed to ban plastic cutlery, single-use coffee cups and fruit stickers if she wins the election.

The New Zealand prime minister announced her new zero waste police on Sunday and pledged $50million to research plastic alternatives, pending ballot results on October 17.

Businesses will have five years to find substitutes to everyday plastic items, such as disposable cups and lids, straws and drink stirrers.

‘By 2025 we will phase out single use and hard to recycle plastic items such as drink stirrers, cutlery, some cups and lids, produce bags, straws, cotton buds and stickers on produce,’ Ms Ardern said, according to Stuff.

‘All of these items currently have non-plastic alternatives, and some we will be able to phase out before 2025.’

The Labour leader accelerated the policy after she received a series of letters from children who expressed concern over waste. ‘The letters really made a mark on me,’ she said

It is expected to be welcomed by businesses and generate employment opportunities for plastic alternative manufacturers.

About $3million was previously given to packaging company Pact to develop a range of recycled food packaging for deli foods, meats and bakery trays at its Auckland location.

While Labour previously announced an intention to ban single-use plastics, it did not include a time frame.

The announcement comes as the nation is plunged into a recession for the first time in a decade following the draconian lockdowns enforced to curb the spread of COVID-19.

New Zealand saw its economy shrink by a record 12.2 per cent in the June quarter.

The eye-watering figures, released in September by Statistics New Zealand, are significantly more severe than Australia’s record seven per cent plummet during the same period.

The nation went into a strict lockdown on March 25 and emerged from it on June 8 as part of an elimination strategy.

Residents were ordered to stay home to prevent the deadly virus from spreading.

Figures showed construction activity was down 26 per cent, manufacturing fell by 13 per cent, and household spending was down by 12 per cent when compared with the previous quarter.

Stats NZ spokesman Paul Pascoe said the closure of New Zealand’s borders since March 19 had also had a huge effect of some sectors of the economy.

‘Industries like retail, accommodation and restaurants, and transport saw significant declines in production because they were most directly affected by the international travel ban and strict nationwide lockdown,’ he said.

‘Other industries, like food and beverage manufacturing, were essential services and fell much less.’

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the lockdown was necessary to save thousands of lives and get on top of the virus so the economy could bounce back faster.



Monday, September 28, 2020

Conservative groups rally to save Pebble Mine

Americans for Limited Government, along with 65 other conservative groups, sent a letter to President Trump this week urging him not to allow political meddling in the permitting process for the Pebble Mine in Alaska.

Just hours after sending the letter of support for the embattled project, Tom Collier, CEO for the Pebble Limited Partnership, which is owned by Canada-based Northern Dynasty, resigned following the release of recorded comments in which it says he “embellished” relationships with elected and regulatory officials.

A Pebble spokesman says Collier will be replaced on an interim basis by the company’s former CEO John Shively.

“John Shively is the exact kind of steady hand that Pebble Mine needs to steer it to completion,” said Rick Manning, President of Americans for Limited Government, a long-time supporter of the project. “His reputation as a lowkey executive who gets things done will serve the company and our nation well as this mine is developed and we take a giant step towards rare earth mineral independence.”

The upheaval comes amidst concerns of high-level political interference in the mine. Insiders believe White House meddling has resulted in further regulatory delays aimed at killing the project which would be the largest gold and copper mine in North America. Pebble Mine also has a large deposit of rhenium used in military aircraft and is a key component in aircraft engines.

The letter, spearheaded by the Conservative Action Project, said these delay tactics harken back to “the bad old days when the Obama administration misused its Clean Water Act authority and used bogus science to veto the project before an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) had even been submitted.”

In July, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its final environmental impact statement (E.I.S.) for the Pebble Mine project by concluding that the project would not lead to “long-term changes in the health of the commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay,” under normal conditions.

The E.I.S. noted that the mine would provide significant tax revenue to Alaska, create well-paying jobs in an increasingly poverty-stricken region, and “provide a domestic resource of raw materials lowering the United States reliance on foreign sources.”

However, before the Corps made its final record of decision, old claims were again raised that the mine would threaten the salmon and destroy hunting and fishing opportunities for wealthy sportsmen. All of these claims were fully considered by the Army Corps in the E.I.S. process and dismissed on the basis of overwhelming scientific evidence.

As a result of this meddling, in August, the Army Corps of Engineers wrote that Pebble Mine would “cause unavoidable adverse impacts to aquatic resources” in the area and is requiring the mine “in-kind compensatory mitigation within the Koktuli River Watershed … [to] compensate for all direct and indirect impacts caused by discharges into aquatic resources at the mine site.”

In short, the Corps reversed itself by throwing up a roadblock in the mine’s progress, just one month after issuing a favorable environmental impact report.

“As conservatives, we applaud the progress President Trump has made toward achieving energy independence for the first time in 60 years,” noted Rick Manning, President of Americans for Limited Government. “We support his administration’s broad regulatory reform agenda and his continuing push to remove obstacles to environmental permitting of natural resource and infrastructure projects. But this regulatory delay appears to be a clear case of political interference. It was inappropriate when President Obama did it and it’s still inappropriate today.”

So, while the Pebble Mine prepares to submit its mitigation plan, Americans for Limited Government is hopeful the regulatory process will move forward in strict accordance with the law and without further delays based on groundless claims.

Were political meddling to kill the mine, it would undermine one of President Trump’s campaign promises, to create jobs by rolling back burdensome and onerous federal regulations. It would also discourage the mining industry, which is at a low ebb in the United States as the result of decades of regulatory suffocation, from making other multi-billion-dollar investments to take advantage of America’s vast mineral potential.

Pebble Mine is vital to the economic future for the people living in the Bristol Bay watershed (an area the size of Ohio) and for the State of Alaska. It is located in a remote area where there are few jobs for native villagers and where endemic poverty has fostered serious social dislocations. The recent collapse in oil prices is a painful reminder that Alaska’s economy is overly dependent on oil production and must diversify if it is to flourish in the future.

The mine’s economic benefits go far beyond the jobs in Alaska. The Pebble ore body contains colossal quantities of copper, gold, and molybdenum, as well other strategic minerals like rhenium used in aircraft engines. The mine will provide minerals that are critical to high-tech industries in America and the world and create tens of billions of dollars of economic activity across the country.


A Century of Wrong Federal Forest Policy

I live in Klamath Falls, Oregon which is a wonderful community. Klamath Falls is in southern Oregon just 20 miles North of the California border. Klamath County has large private and public forests, many large cattle ranches, and beautiful marshes and lakes, which attract thousands of migratory birds throughout the year.

When I started writing this blog, I was looking at the mountains that surround the magnificent Crater Lake. Now eight days later, I have not seen the mountains surrounding Crater Lake and have quit taking my morning walk. There are fires all around Klamath Falls. Fires that have been reoccurring for the last few summers. Most disturbing is that a very high percentage of these fires should have been prevented.

Two years ago, then California Governor Jerry Brown said the fires were a “new normal” because of global warming. This claim was refuted by University of Washington climate scientist Cliff Mass, who told the Daily Caller, “Global warming may contribute slightly, but the key factors are mismanaged forests, years of fire suppression, increased population, people living where they should not, invasive flammable species, and the fact that California has always had fire.”

This post will focus on the history of forest fires, mismanagement, and suppression and how that impacted the people and industries living near the forests’ fires.

California has Always had Fires

As Professor Mass stated, California has throughout history had naturally caused fires. Scientists estimate that before Europeans arrived, 4.4 million acres of California burned annually, which is 16 times larger than the amount that burned in 2019.

California has two separate fire problems. There are the coastal scrub brush fires that include the notorious Santa Ana fires spread by devastating winds. The Sierra Nevada fires are the high-altitude pine forests that are now burning in California and Oregon mountains.

Mismanaging the Forest

The mismanagement occurred from decisions made during President Clinton’s administration. A combination of listing the Northern Spotted Owl on the endangered specifies list and strong pressure for saving old growth timber by numerous environmental organizations reduced the timber harvest substantially. Worse, it also greatly reduced active management of the forest – thinning, prescribed burns and clearing underbrush. As a comparison, the amount of timber harvested from Forest Service land from 1960 until 1990 was an average of 10 million feet each year. Between 1991 and 2000 the harvest was purposely reduced. From 2000 to 2013 the decline was a precipitous – 80 percent.

Two years ago, in The Daily Caller interview, Bob Zybach, an experienced forester with a Ph.D. in environmental science, described the Forest Service practices up to 1990, “Mostly fuels were removed through logging, active management — which they stopped — and grazing. You take away logging, grazing and maintenance, and you get firebombs.”

While bad fires still happen on state and private lands, most of the massive blazes happen on or around lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and other federal agencies, Zybach said. Poor management has turned western forests into “slow-motion time bombs.”

Years of Fire Suppression

For over a century in the West, the general procedure was to stop a forest fire as quickly as possible. “We have put out fires for 100 years. Now we are paying the price,” said Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science at UC Berkeley. “It will take a while to make these forests healthy again. But it’s absolutely possible.” Stephen noted that the Sierra mountains typically had about 40 trees per acre in the early 1800s. Now they have 400 or more, creating heavy brush and thick forests, which explode when ignited.

Incompetent Federal Government

The federal government has created dangerous and deadly fires. A century of wrong policies and mismanagement has caused enormous economic damage to hundreds of small lumber producing towns. It has also harmed America by denying the beneficial use of the timber.

Now, former Governor Jerry Brown and many environmentalists are attempting to connect the fires to climate change, which will greatly exacerbate the government made fire disaster which plagues much of the American West.

Solution: Sell Most of the Government Lands

Unfortunately, after a century of incompetent policy and mismanagement, mostly caused by the contradictory demands of environmentalists, it is difficult to believe the federal government will properly pass beneficial legislation that will substantially increase logging, properly thin forests and wisely activate prescribed burns. Therefore, I proffer to sell much of the forest lands for two reasons. First, those of us living in the timber communities of the rural West know which lands are owned by private citizens and which are owned by the Forest Service. Private owners manage and protect their assets by harvesting, thinning and prescribed burns. Second, the federal government with enormous and dangerous debt augmented by the pandemic and lockdowns needs the revenue.

Selling government-owned forests is a win-win. I will gladly assist any organization that wants to promote selling government forests.


Global climate goals ‘virtually impossible’ without carbon capture, IEA says

Trees do that, using thermonuclear power

A growing number of countries and companies are targeting net zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by around the middle of the century in the wake of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

To reach that, the amount of CO2 captured must rocket to 800 million tonnes in 2030 from around 40 million tonnes today, the IEA, which advises industrialised nations on energy policies, said in a report.

Up to $160 billion needs to be invested in the technology by 2030, a ten-fold increase from the previous decade, it added.

“Without it, our energy and climate goals will become virtually impossible to reach,” the IEA head Fatih Birol said in a statement.

The global economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic risks delaying or cancelling projects dependent on public support, the IEA said.

An oil price slide had also reduced revenues for existing CCUS facilities selling CO2 for so-called enhanced oil recovery (EOR).

However, the IEA added: “Economic recovery packages are a unique window of opportunity for governments to support CCUS alongside other clean energy technologies.”

Referring to a major investment to build two carbon capture plants and an offshore CO2 storage facility, Birol said: “Norway showed its leadership in Europe by making a major funding commitment to the Longship project.”Nonetheless, the story of CCUS has largely been “one of unmet expectations”, marred by lack of commercial incentives, large capital costs and public opposition to storage, especially onshore, the IEA said.

In 2009, the IEA called for 100 large-scale CCUS projects to be built by 2020 to store around 300 million tonnes of CO2 per year. To date, just 20 commercial projects are in operation, capturing around 40 million tonnes per year


Bad Policies Fuel Fires

“The debate is over around climate change!” says California Governor Gavin Newsom, smirking, strangely.

They’re eager to blame climate change for the wildfires in their state. I’m surprised they didn’t say it causes COVID-19, too.

Newsom, ridiculously, says wildfires are another reason to get more electric cars on the road. I wonder if he even knows that electricity for such cars comes from natural gas.

“This catastrophizing around climate change is just a huge distraction,” says environmentalist Michael Shellenberger, author of the new bestseller, “Apocalypse Never,”

Shellenberger says: “Climate change is real, but it’s not the end of the world. It’s not our most serious environmental problem.”

California warmed 3 degrees over the past 50 years, but that’s not the main cause of California’s fires, no matter how often politicians and the media say it is.

Why do they keep saying it?

“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” says Shellenberger. “Every weather event you blame on climate change.”

What actually is to blame, as usual, is stupid government policies.

Forests are supposed to burn. If there aren’t small fires, debris from dead trees and plants accumulate. That provides fuel for big, deadlier fires, that are more likely to burn out of control.

But for years, governments and environmentalists put out every small fire they could, while also fighting logging.

Megafires could have been avoided if forests had just been better managed.

An example is Shaver Lake forest, managed by Southern California Edison. The company thinned that forest, creating fire breaks with selective logging. When the wildfires reached Shaver Lake, they diminished into low intensity “surface fire.” That protected the bigger, older trees.

Forests in America’s west were supposed to burn more often, says Shellenberger. “When Europeans came, they reported California being very smoky and on fire during the summers. And Native Americans burned huge amounts of land.”

“So, for the past years, it’s been unnaturally un-smoky?” I ask.

“It’s what a lot of forest ecosystems require,” answers Shellenberger. “We haven’t had enough fires for maybe 100 years.”

But it’s hard to convince governments to allow small fires when politicians demand that every fire be put out, and the media call every fire a disaster.

Recently, wildfire hit the ancient redwoods in Big Basin State Park. Politicians and East Coast environmental reporters worried about the redwoods disappearing.

But of course, they didn’t.

“Redwood trees and other old growth, the bark is very thick, it’s fire-resistant,” says Shellenberger.

The politicians didn’t know that. “They’re still standing!” giggled an astonished Newsom after the fire passed.

But “it was exactly what you would expect,” says Shellenberger. “Journalists go, ‘Wow. What a surprise! The ancient redwoods didn’t burn down!’ Nobody’s more alienated from the natural environment, and nobody’s more apocalyptic than environmental journalists.”

Well, maybe politicians.

For years, they and environmentalists increased the risk of big fires by opposing the thinning of forests.

The town of Berry Creek, California, tried to get permits to legally clear their forest. For two years, regulators delayed approval. This year, fire destroyed the town.

Forest Service ecologist Hugh Safford wishes they would “get away from the tree-hugging mentality. It’s the classic ‘not seeing the forest for the trees.'”

This year’s wildfires finally persuaded politicians to allow more people to cut trees down.

“There’s actually widespread agreement on this, says Shellenberger. “The governor of California and President Trump recently signed an agreement to clear much more area. Even the Sierra Club, which opposed the thinning of forests, has now changed its tune.”

It’s about time.

Politicians and environmentalists, eager to raise money, cite climate change and blame fossil fuels for problem after problem.

While climate change is a problem, Shellenberger points out, “the number of deaths from natural disasters declined 90% over the last hundred years. A small change in temperature is not the difference between normalcy and catastrophe.”




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, September 27, 2020

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday ordered all passenger vehicles sold in the state to be zero-emission by 2035 to fight climate change and smog-fouled air

The transportation sector causes more than half of California’s carbon pollution, and parts of the state are vexed by some of the most toxic air in the country, according to the governor’s office.

“For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe,” Newsom said in a release.

“Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse — and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.”

The order was described as an aggressive effort to move the state further away from reliance on climate changing fossil fuels.

Regulations will be developed to mandate that all in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks be zero-emission by the year 2035, and that all medium- and heavy-duty trucks be emission-free by 2045 “where feasible.”

The order won’t prevent California residents from owning gasoline-powered cars or selling used models, according to the governor’s office.

It does call for partnerships with private businesses to speed up creation of charging networks for electric cars and stations for non-polluting fuels such as hydrogen.

California is a major car market, but devastating wildfires have become frequent occurences as climate change leaves trees and brush tinder-dry.

Infernos across California, Oregon and Washington states have burned more than five million acres (two million hectares) this year, killed dozens of people and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.

California-based Tesla on Tuesday said it is slashing battery costs to speed a global shift to renewable energy, and could have a $25,000 self-driving model available in three years or so.


The long-running debate over greening the land

The BBC has learned that cash could be diverted away from funding ambitious conservation projects in the UK and towards protecting farm businesses. But how should farmers be rewarded for tending the land?

The EU’s farm policy has been no stranger to controversy.

Under this system, farmers have been collecting taxpayers’ money according to the amount of land they own.

The government promised that after Brexit, farmers would only be rewarded if they tend the land in a way that’s good for society.

But that’s proving a challenge. How does one assess the relative value of, for example, reducing water pollution vs connecting fragmented habitats?

To understand the background to the current debate over farm payments, it’s useful to go back in time to World War Two.

The UK’s farm subsidies system started after the war, which had cruelly exposed the vulnerability of Europe’s food supplies to German U-boats.

Those subsidies paid farmers to increase food production, so that’s what they did. And in the EU, an aggressive farmers’ lobby fought to keep them that way.

Farmers, being business folk, followed the money. Production of crops and livestock soared, but before long food production outstripped demand.

Huge quantities of produce had to be stored in so-called wine lakes and butter mountains.

The EU off-loaded cut-price food to countries in the global south – but farmers there complained they were undercut by Europe’s subsidised food.

How did the subsidies affect the countryside?

Subsidies transformed the countryside. Wetlands were drained, rivers polluted with fertiliser and fields expanded as hedges disappeared.

Insects were wiped out by pesticides, and this contributed to a 57% decline, on average, in the farmland birds index between 1970 and 2018.

The EU changed the system of payments. Instead of being encouraged to grow extra food, farmers were paid directly according to how much land they manage. So, the bigger the farm, the bigger the subsidy.

What is the government’s plan to improve the countryside?

The former Environment Secretary Michael Gove said farmers should only get paid if they provided a public service. He coined the phrase “public money for public goods”.

Those goods would include helping wildlife, catching flood waters on fields, planting woods to soak up carbon emissions and improving the soil.

The reform will be delivered through the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) – and pilot projects are due to start next year.

But ministers are also drawing up a parallel grants scheme called the Sustainable Farming Incentive to reward farmers for basic activities like conserving their soil.

This scheme has proven controversial with environmentalists, who argue that improving farmland soil makes good business sense and so shouldn’t be funded by the taxpayer.

How will the improvements be delivered?

Three tiers of grants are planned through ELMS, according to the level of ambition. Tier One will improve air quality by curbing gas from livestock, reducing water pollution and tending to hedges and grassland.

Tier Two will pay for new ponds and woodlands. Tier Three will deliver landscape changes by connecting fragmented habitats and planting new forests – or re-wilding.

Is it all going smoothly?

Of course not. This is a problem of mind-numbing complexity.

How, for instance, will ministers strike the right balance between payments for re-introducing grey partridge, or capturing heavy rainfall, or increasing organic matter in the soil?

What is the value of a tonne of stored carbon versus an increase in the number of rare small blue butterflies? And how many butterflies are enough, anyway?

Does that mean it’s getting delayed?

Farmers and environmentalists alike are frustrated that the scheme is held up with the environment department, Defra. Farmers need clarity to plan for the future.

Environmentalists, meanwhile, fear that the department is leaning too far to please farmers in Tier One of the scheme.

They say it’s looking as though farmers may be paid for basic activities like improving soil health which, they argue, are good business practice anyway.


Protecting Wetlands: Environmental Federalism and Grassroots Conservation in the Prairie Pothole Region


Wetlands provide a multitude of benefits including flood protection, clean water, carbon sequestration, and critical species habitat. Given that wetlands are valuable natural resources, it is important to better understand the extent to which federal regulation impacts optimal wetlands conservation.

Where federal regulation under the 2015 Clean Water Rule abrogated the ability of the states to make certain regulatory decisions over their waters, the recently promulgated Navigable Waters Protection Rule—that narrows the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS)—may create new opportunities for alternative wetlands conservation strategies.

This Article examines five states in the Prairie Pothole Region to evaluate the integral roles the federal government, state governments, and private organizations have in wetlands conservation. Environmental federalism considers the optimal balance of federal and state regulation in achieving complementary environmental protection.

Insofar as scaling back federal regulation over isolated wetlands reduces conflict between federal regulators and private landowners, private organizations can more effectively align economic incentives with voluntary conservation objectives.

This Article concludes with an examination of Ducks Unlimited, the world’s largest waterfowl and wetlands conservation organization, as a case study for private conservation and public-private action in the region.


Australia: Leftist State government suppports copper miner

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday scored a trifecta — a high-vis jacket, a hard hat and a marginal seat.

The setting was a copper refinery in southern Townsville, and the announcement was an undisclosed “one-off incentive” payment to global resources company Glencore.

The 2020 state election campaign is indeed ramping up.

The reason for handing over taxpayers’ money to a global company is to “secure the jobs of more than 1,000 people”, but the public is given no opportunity to scrutinise this.

In effect, we’re being asked to accept Glencore’s assertion it needs the money to continue its Australian copper operations and to accept the Government’s word it has secured the best deal possible.

But in the context of the looming election, the Government’s bargaining position doesn’t look strong, with hundreds of jobs at stake in some of the state’s most marginal seats.

Glencore has been threatening to shut down its Mount Isa copper smelter and Townsville copper refinery for the best part of a decade.

A planned closure in 2016 was staved off when the Queensland Government agreed to amend environmental-licensing conditions — a deal which ensured the smelter and refinery would stay open until at least 2022.

With that deadline approaching, Glencore this year announced its copper operations were again under review, with a final decision to be made just before the state election.

The Glencore refinery is smack bang in the middle of the electorate of Mundingburra, and a short drive to the nearby electorates of Townsville and Thuringowa.

All three seats are held by Labor by the smallest of margins, and given Labor only has a majority of two seats in Parliament, it’s impossible to underestimate the refinery’s political importance.

Government ‘leaving Queenslanders in the dark’
At a media conference on Tuesday, the Premier said the “investment” in the copper operations was “commercial in confidence”.

Ms Palaszczuk argued it was about “securing the jobs of more than 1,000 people in Mount Isa and Townsville for the next three years”.

Treasurer Cameron Dick would only go as far as revealing it was a “multi-million-dollar” deal.

“We enter into a number of arrangements with corporations and companies which support jobs, and we don’t make any apologies for that,” Mr Dick said.

Glencore Australia provided more detail in its public statement, describing the Government’s contribution as a “one-off incentive”.

“In addition to this incentive, Glencore will invest more than $500 million for the continued operation of the copper smelter and refinery,” the statement said.

“This incentive will partially mitigate the negative cost of continuing these assets which face high costs and struggle to compete internationally.”

Professor of economics at the University of Queensland John Quiggin said it was “pretty striking” this deal was announced as global copper prices had surged.

The business news service Bloomberg reported the global copper market could be “on the cusp of a historical supply squeeze as Chinese demand runs red hot”.

Professor Quiggin said the Mount Isa smelter had repeatedly been on the brink of closure since 2011.

“So, this decision isn’t really related to the pandemic or the global market,” he said.

Economist Fabrizio Carmignani from Griffith University said a subsidy from the Government made sense if the operation was facing some temporary difficulty.

“[However] from the statement of Glencore, it would look like their problems are structural — high fixed costs, unable to compete,” he said.

While he understood the need to protect jobs, Professor Carmignani said structural problems needed to be tackled by longer-term plans.




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, September 25, 2020

The Observer [Leftist] view on Boris Johnson’s environmentalism

Boris is pretty sane so he can be expected to do mostly tokenistic things. He relies on Northern seats for his government and they are a rather cynical lot. Greenie righteousness is probably one of the things that put them off the Labour party

But Boris does seem to have been damaged by his encounter with the Coronavirus, which may explain why his leadership has been weaker than expected. And that could also make him less able to resist the constant pressures to be “Green”

Much has been made of Boris Johnson’s purported green credentials. They are in his blood, it is claimed. His father is an environmentalist, he says, while his brother Leo is a sustainability expert. At Oxford he even introduced himself as “a green Tory”, it was alleged in the Times last week. It sounds impressive, though it remains to be seen how well Johnson’s passion for protecting the environment and for combatting climate change will serve him over the next few weeks. His green badge of honour faces a testing time.

First on this agenda is the setting fire to British peatlands, an issue that we highlight in today’s Observer. Peat bogs are burned to encourage the growth of new heather shoots and so maximise the availability of food for grouse. It is good for the grouse (until the shooting starts) but bad for the environment. Our peatlands hold about 400m tonnes of carbon, according to the RSPB, and burning these reserves releases plumes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It also destroys lichens and mosses and plays havoc with the habitats of waders and otters. The government’s Committee on Climate Change says peat burning should be halted and the environment minister, Zac Goldsmith, agrees. However, the move is being blocked by the environment secretary, George Eustice, who is keen to protect grouse estates that would otherwise have fewer birds to shoot and so lose business.

It is an unedifying spectacle in which privilege, as exemplified by the owners of shooting estates and by those who pay to kill grouse there, has used its influence to help halt action urgently needed to help the UK cut its carbon emission. It is only one of many other environmental headaches that lie ahead for our prime minister, however.

Next year, Britain will host one of the most important international summits ever staged. In November, in Glasgow, delegates will gather for the Cop26 climate meeting to debate how different nations will introduce strict emission cuts in order to implement the 2015 Paris agreement, which aims to keep global warming at a relatively safe level. That concordant has been under constant attack by Donald Trump who claims it is “ridiculous and extremely expensive” and harmful to industry. Johnson has uttered not a single word of defence against this invective despite the fact it is intended to undermine the summit Britain will be hosting. Johnson has a duty to do all he can to ensure Cop26 succeeds. His silence is an ominous warning that he does not accept such responsibility and is more interested in appeasing Trump.

The government’s position over environmental concerns has been further undermined by the recent decision to appoint the Australian climate sceptic Tony Abbott as a UK trade ambassador. The move has provoked a furious reaction with the UK’s former climate chief Claire O’Neill – who was sacked by Johnson earlier this year – describing the move as “a particularly bad decision” that erodes government claims to support green causes.

Last week, the Japanese conglomerate Hitachi announced it was abandoning plans to build a new £20bn nuclear power station at Wylfa in Anglesey. The reactor would have supplied 6% of Britain’s electricity and should have played a key role in replacing the nation’s network of ageing atom plants without building new oil or gas power stations. Britain once planned to build up to six new nuclear plants to provide the nation with electricity – alongside wind and solar power plants – in the 21st century. Today only one is under construction, Hinckley Point C, which is currently running almost £3bn over budget.

Johnson is expected to unveil a vision of how to ‘build back green’ after the coronavirus crisis has abated

Nuclear power plants are expensive, with high front-end construction costs, and that often leads to projects being axed. Nevertheless, the shrinkage of UK nuclear aspirations has not arrived abruptly. Plant cancellations have been accruing over the past decade with little sign that the government appreciates the impending crisis. Now it has arrived. It remains to be seen how Johnson will deal with it.

These grim tidings arrive at a time when it has become very clear we face a real chance of having to live with an unstable, overheated climate. Last week five separate tropical cyclones developed over the Atlantic for only the second time in history; wildfires continued to devastate Oregon and California; while summer Arctic sea ice coverage has reached its second-lowest level on record. All these events are linked to global heating caused by continued increases in fossil fuel consumption. We urgently need to end this addiction.

In the past, Britain has played a key role in the battle against climate change but our influence has waned and we look increasingly isolated and ineffective as an international player. This point was underlined last week when the EU and China concluded a leaders’ conference at which they agreed to establish a high-level environment and climate dialogue to pursue ambitious joint commitments to help combat global warming. Thanks to Brexit – which was so energetically pursued by Johnson – the UK was not involved in those talks.

Government sources say Johnson is planning to make a major speech on the environment in the next few weeks and is expected to unveil a vision of how to “build back green” after the coronavirus crisis has abated. Given the catalogue of green bungles and lost opportunities that have unfolded during his premiership, his words should make interesting reading.


Tesla hit with complete network outage locking some owners out

Tesla is experiencing a complete network outage that has hit its internal service and customer mobile app a day after the company lost $50 billion in its market value due to its failed ‘Battery Day.’

The mobile app holds a digital key and and only owners who have a physical version have been able to access and drive their vehicle – leaving those without stranded.

Sources told Electrek that Tesla’s internal systems are also down, making it impossible for staff to process deliveries and orders.

According to Down Detector, the outage is stretching across the US and over into parts of Europe.

Frank Lambert, a Twitter user and Tesla owner, was the first to sound the alarm about the outage. ‘Tesla is currently having a complete network outage. Internal systems are down according to sources. On the customer side, I can’t connect to any of my cars and website is not working,’ Lambert shared in a tweet.

Lambert, who has three Tesla vehicles, said on the social media site that he was unable to connect to the cars using the mobile app.

Other users chimed in shortly after, stating they were experiencing the same issue.

The Tesla mobile app holds a number of features for owners, including GPS Location to find their vehicle, Range Status to check the car’s charge status and a section to schedule services.

One of the connectivity features on the customer side that has been affected is the digital key, but owners with a physical version have been able to access and drive their vehicles.

However, some owner have been locked out of their vehicles.

Megan McChesney shared: ‘Can’t unlock my 3.. app is down.. can’t log into the website either… been on hold for an hour and wait time still says over an hour. This is what I get for trying to save the planet.’

Down Detector, a website that monitors outages online, shows most of outage is being felt in the US and in major cities like San Francisco, Boston, New York City and Chicago.

The outage has cross over the Atlantic, hitting parts of the UK, Germany and as far as Russia.

Tesla’s website is also showing errors beyond the main page, with problems hitting the firm’s energy products and leaving owners unable to monitor their systems, Electrek reports.


Founder of electric truck maker resigns after fraud allegations

The Phoenix-based company said in a statement that it had accepted Trevor Milton’s resignation and that he would be replaced by Stephen Girsky, a Nikola board member and former vice-chairman at General Motors (GM).

Founded by Milton in 2015 to develop trucks and pick-ups powered by electric batteries or hydrogen fuel cells, Nikola has not yet built anything, but caught attention by signing strategic partnerships with such renowned groups as GM and German engineering giant Bosch.

The announcement of the GM partnership on September 8 caused shares to leap 41 percent on the New York Stock Exchange.

But two days later, investment company Hindenburg Research published a report accusing the startup of “intricate fraud” based on multiple lies by Milton, who it said “misled partners into signing agreements by falsely claiming to have extensive proprietary technology.”

That announcement triggered a plummet in share value, with stock diving 36 percent in three days.

It also sparked an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to sources cited by Bloomberg.

In a statement announcing his resignation, Milton said: “The focus should be on the Company and its world-changing mission, not me. I intend to defend myself against false allegations leveled against me by outside detractors.”

Nikola had rejected most of the claims in the Hindenburg report.

But it did not deny that it staged a 2017 video of one of its prototypes apparently in action.

According to Hindenburg, “Nikola had the truck towed to the top of a hill on a remote stretch of road and simply filmed it rolling down the hill.”

Nikola responded that it had “never stated its truck was driving under its own propulsion in the video” but had simply said that it had been “in motion.”


Green efforts that raise energy costs disproportionately hurt black people and poor people

If you try to find this article via Google using the headline above, you will fail. I note that on the search I did, there was a message “Some results have been removed”. Censorship of an unwelcome truth

“Black, Hispanic, and Native American households spend a much larger portion of their income on energy bills than non-Hispanic white households on average,” a new study finds.

And the differences aren’t small. For black households, energy’s share is nearly 50% higher than for white households.

Why is that? There are plenty of reasons, but mostly, it has to do with poverty.

African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans tend to be poorer than whites, and as the new study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy points out, energy costs as a percentage of income are 3 times larger for low-income families than they are for the average family.

That’s largely basic economics. When your income is low, a greater portion of your income goes to necessities: food, health, housing, heat, and electricity. For rich people, even though their energy costs are higher in dollar amounts given larger houses, more gadgets, multiple cars, et cetera, energy takes up a smaller slice of their income since much of their money goes to services, savings, vacations, and expensive stuff.

ACEEE and the liberal environmentalist website Grist point out other reasons energy costs for the poor are higher proportionately: Low-cost housing is less likely to have good insulation and weatherization, and energy-saving appliances and systems are expensive.

So this ought to inform our debates about climate and pollution policies.

Most environmental regulations impose economic costs in exchange for purported environmental gain. Often, those costs fall on the consumer. Your stuff becomes more expensive, your energy bills go up, your taxes go up, etc. Think of a carbon tax. The point is to make it more expensive to consume natural gas, gasoline, and coal, which is most of what powers the average person’s life.

At Grist, the website reporting on the ACEEE study, writers regularly point out that we need to pay more for energy to fight the climate fight. “Are we willing to accept global warming in exchange for cheap energy?”

Now, there are ways to transfer the higher costs away from the poor and onto society as a whole. The smartest involve efficiency. One of the cruelties of being poor is that it can be so darned expensive — poor people don’t have the capital to invest in things that will save them money in the long term. This applies to energy efficiency, too.

Better windows can pay for themselves with lower heating bills, but not if you can’t afford them upfront. Publicly funded weatherization for poor people will save poor people money, prevent energy waste, reduce pollution, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet most environmentalist policies on the national level aim for moonshots, major climate programs that big business can sign on to because big guys shape the regulations and pocket the subsidies.

The Left doesn’t ignore the dynamic that simply increasing energy costs will punish the poor and minorities. They also sometimes perceive that bigger government historically is a home game for big business.

Hence the latest iteration of liberal environmentalism, the Green New Deal. A climate crisis, the logic goes, justifies a complete rewriting of society. You could see the logic of the Green New Deal this way:

1) We need to raise the cost of fossil fuels to make people use less.
2) This will fall disproportionately on poor people, so maybe we need to move away from the price system altogether.
3) In fact, to make our plan work, we need to rewrite society and the economy, which is great because we have some ideas about how things would run if we could restart at Year Zero.

In the end, you have some conservatives denying anything should be done, standard liberals teaming up with big business for inefficient handouts, and left-wing ideologues fighting for a new world that will rise up like the sun.

Meanwhile, poor people just want lower bills and some windows that will actually keep out the cold.




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, September 24, 2020

Climate Hustle 2 premieres this Thursday

Ignore the Climate Alarm, Clean Energy and Cancel Culture Industry con artists. See the movie.

Paul Driessen

Weekly, daily, even hourly, we are told that global temperatures are rising, ice caps are melting, and hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods and droughts are all getting more frequent, intense and destructive because of climate change. Not just climate change, of course, but manmade climate change, due to humanity’s use of fossil fuels – which provide 80% of all the energy that powers America and the world.

The claims assume Earth’s climate and weather were unchanged and unchanging until recent decades. That presumption is belied of course by multiple glacial and interglacial periods; the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods; the Little Ice Age; the Dust Bowl, Anasazi and Mayan droughts; the Galveston, Texas hurricane of 1900 and Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935; the 1925 Tri-State Tornado; and countless other climate eras and extreme weather events throughout history.

But all would be vastly better, we are further misinformed, if the world simply stopped using those fuels, and switched to “clean, green, renewable, sustainable” wind, solar, biofuel and battery technologies.

Climate alarm messages are conveyed repeatedly in classrooms, newspapers, television and radio news programs, social media, movies and other media – while contrarian voices and evidence are routinely and vigorously suppressed by an increasingly powerful Big Tech, political and academic Cancel Culture.

These messages, and green energy agendas justified by them, are likely to gain far more influence under a Harris-Biden Administration, especially one pushed further and further to the left by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her vocal, often violent “progressive” allies.

In 2016, the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) released its documentary film Climate Hustle. The factual, often hilarious movie featured scientists, weather forecasters and other experts who challenged claims that our cars, factories and farms are causing catastrophic climate. It was featured in 400 U.S. movie theaters, where it made a persuasive case that the climate apocalypse is “an overheated environmental con job.”

Now, this Thursday, September 24, CFACT is releasing Climate Hustle 2: Rise of the Climate Monarchy. The worldwide streaming event will go live at 8:00 pm local time, in every time zone on Earth, wherever you live.

You can get your tickets here to watch the online world premiere – with unlimited replay viewing through September 27, in case you miss the opening.

For those who missed it or want a refresher, CFACT is also offering a re-broadcast of Climate Hustle 1 for instant viewing. You can get combined tickets for both events here.

Climate Hustle 2 is masterfully hosted and narrated by Hollywood’s Kevin Sorbo, who played Hercules in the television movie. Like CH1, it features a superb lineup of experts who challenge claims of “climate tipping points” and “extreme weather cataclysms.” Equally important, they also expose, debunk and demolish the tricks, lies and hidden agendas of global warming and green energy campaigners.

CH2 exposes the campaigners’ and politicians’ real agendas. Not surprisingly, as Michael Moore and Jeff Gibbs demonstrate in their Planet of the Humans documentary, those real agendas are money, power, ideology and control. Especially, control over our energy, economy, industries, living standards and personal choices. The campaigners and politicians also have little regard for the ecological, health and human rights consequences that inevitably accompany the ever-widening adoption of wind, solar, biofuel and battery technologies.

Climate Hustle 2: Rise of the Climate Monarchy hits hard. As CFACT says, “Lies will be smashed. Names will be named. Hypocrites unmasked. Grifters defrocked. Would-be tyrants brought low.”

Accompanying Sorbo is CFACT and Climate Depot’s Marc Morano, who hosted Climate Hustle 1. The journal Nature Communications has called Morano the world’s most effective climate communicator. He is also the person climate alarmists most want blacklisted and banned from public discourse.

Meteorologist and host Anthony Watts says CH2 highlights numerous instances of “hypocrisy, financial corruption, media bias, classroom indoctrination, political correctness and other troubling matters surrounding the global warming issue.” It offers a true perspective of just how hard the media and climate alarmists are pushing an agenda, and how equally hard climate skeptics are pushing back.” Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth presents rhetoric, doom and misinformation. But “if you want a practical and sensible view of what is really happening with climate, watch Climate Hustle 2.”

The Wall Street Journal cites scientist Roger Pielke, Jr., who points out that hurricanes hitting the U.S. have not increased in frequency or intensity since 1900. The Journal also notes that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said “it is premature to conclude that human activities – and particularly greenhouse gas emissions … have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity.” And let’s not forget the record twelve-year absence of Category 3-5 hurricanes making landfall in the United States. (Was that due to more atmospheric carbon dioxide?)

As to tornadoes, a Washington Post article clearly shows that many more violent F4 and F5 tornadoes hit the United States between 1950 and 1985, than during the next 35 years, 1986-2020. Even more amazing, in 2018, for the first year in recorded history, not one violent tornado struck the U.S.

Canada’s Friends of Science says, once you see Climate Hustle 2, “you can’t unsee the damage the climate monarchy is doing to every aspect of scientific inquiry, to freedom and to democratic society.”

CFACT president Craig Rucker says “Politicians have abandoned any semblance of scientific reality and are instead regurgitating talking points from radical pressure groups to a media that has little interest in vetting their credibility.” In fact, the Cancel Culture is actively suppressing any climate skeptic views.

Twitter actively banned Climate Hustle 2 and froze CFACT’s Twitter account. On appeal the account was unfrozen, but the ban adversely affected thousands of CFACT Twitter followers.

Amazon Prime Video has removed Climate Hustle 1 from its website. CFACT tried to appeal, but Amazon didn’t respond. You can watch the trailer, but the actual film is now “unavailable in your area.”

Amazon only lets people buy new DVDs through the film’s producer, CDR Communications ($19.95) – while also processing fulfillment for third party vendors who sell used DVDs (for over $45).

Wikipedia claims Climate Hustle is “a 2016 film rejecting the existence and cause of climate change, narrated by climate change denialist Marc Morano … and funded by the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, a free market pressure group funded by the fossil fuel lobby.” (CFACT has received no fossil fuel money for over a decade, and got only small amounts before that.)

Newspapers, TV and radio news programs, social media sites, schools and other arenas should present all the news and foster open discussion and debate. But many refuse to do so. Instead, they function as thought police, actively and constantly finding and suppressing what you can see, read, hear and say, because it goes against their narratives and the agendas they support.

Climate and energy are high on that list. That makes Climate Hustle 1 and 2 especially important this year – and makes it essential that every concerned voter and energy user watch and promote this film.

Via email

Former EPA heads, Democrats and Republicans, rebuke Trump environment record

This is all just assertion. Threre is no detailed reasoning given. It’s not even a consensus, just an agreement among some self-selected wonderful people

Four former heads of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Democrats and Republicans, on Monday issued a sharp rebuke of the Trump administration’s record on the environment after the current administrator said the agency is focused on “work that has been neglected for years.”

Former EPA administrators for Democratic presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and Republicans George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush criticized the administration of President Donald Trump for rolling back regulations on methane, vehicle emissions and power plants.

“If you need any more proof of how strongly this is felt by people you have it today in four former administrators… we’ve all come to the same conclusion,” Carol Browner, who ran the EPA under Clinton, told reporters in a call organized by Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

Two Republican former administrators, William Reilly and Christine Todd Whitman, endorsed Biden on the call, saying the Trump administration’s actions on the environment had been an “aberration.”

“There has been nothing like an administration, on the environment, in the last 50 years to compare with the dereliction that characterizes this administration,” Reilly, who served under George H.W. Bush, said on the call.

Earlier on Monday, Trump EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, that the environment has improved during his tenure as the agency focused on what he called its core work, such as cleaning up Superfund sites.

“We have done more in the first four years of the Trump Administration to improve the environment than probably any administration except perhaps during the very first years of EPA,” he said, accusing his predecessors of focusing too much on climate change and “virtue signaling” to foreign capitals.

In the coming weeks Wheeler said EPA will propose rules to limit lead in drinking water.

Whitman, who served under George W. Bush, was asked to react to Wheeler’s claim that the environment had improved under Trump.

“If we could substitute ‘destroy’ for the word ‘improve’ he’d be right on,” she said.


Joe Biden Promises Fewer Fires, Floods, and Hurricanes if He Wins in November

He’s nuts. Obama promised something similar, with no apparent success

On Monday, Democratic nominee Joe Biden condemned President Donald Trump as a “climate arsonist,” predicting that if the president wins reelection in November, America will witness more “hellish” events like fires in the West, flooding in the Midwest, and hurricanes on the East Coast. He effectively promised that if he wins, America will suffer from fewer fires, fewer floods, and fewer hurricanes.

Although Biden excoriated Trump for “ignoring the facts” and “denying reality,” he focused his remarks on the wildfires ravaging California, Oregon, and Washington State — fires exacerbated by bad forest management more than any sort of climate change.

“If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze? If you give a climate denier four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is under water?” Biden asked.

“Donald Trump’s climate denial may not have caused these fires and record floods and record hurricanes, but if he gets a second term, these hellish events will continue to become more common, more devastating, and more deadly,” the Democrat insisted.

“Meanwhile, Donald Trump warns that integration is threatening our suburbs,” Biden said, referring to Trump’s attack on Biden’s plan to federalize local zoning (which poses a serious threat to local control of neighborhoods in the name of racial integration). “It’s ridiculous. But you know what is actually threatening our suburbs?”

“Wildfires are burning the suburbs in the West, floods are wiping out suburban neighborhoods in the Midwest, hurricanes are imperiling suburban life along our coast,” Biden said. “If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned from wildfires? How many suburban neighborhoods will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms?”


Australia: Shifting Leftist climate policies

If you don’t like Labor’s climate policies, just wait a few months. They’re bound to change.

They’ve been changing since 2007, when Kevin Rudd identified global warming as “the great moral challenge” of our generation. Labor threw him out just three years later. Rudd as Prime Minister was a challenge too great even for his own Labor colleagues.

Replacement PM Julia Gillard’s flexible climate policies doomed her from the start. Just days before the 2010 election, Gillard famously declared there would be “no carbon tax” under her leadership.

To a certain extent, Gillard kept that promise. It’s just that Labor outsourced leadership and climate policy to the Greens, with whom Labor briefly formed a ruinous partnership.

“It was the Greens who put this on the table after the election,” then-Greens leader Christine Milne said in 2011, referring to the carbon tax. “It’s part of our agreement with the Prime Minister.”

Labor was noticeably quiet on climate change in 2016. Running against PM Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten found other issues more compelling. So did voters, as results showed.

Barely half a per cent of Shorten’s campaign launch speech that year covered climate concerns, and even then only in generalities (“we want real action on climate change”, “we choose renewable energy”).

It almost worked. Shorten missed out by a single seat, leading to Turnbull’s celebrated Night of the Long Sulk and the saddest victory speech in Australian political history.

Labor should have learned from that outcome. Instead, Shorten in 2019 went full rapture. “Ignoring climate change is simply not an answer,” the then-Labor leader declared.

But it might be if the question is: “How do we win a federal election?”

“Labor is committed to reducing Australia’s [carbon dioxide] pollution by 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 and net zero pollution by 2050,” Shorten continued.

His campaign speech that year was loaded with climate talk, up to 6.6 per cent from .5 in the previous campaign.

“I promise all of those Australians who want action on climate change, and I promise the young people in particular, all Australians: Labor will stand its ground,” Shorten said. “No retreat on real action on climate change.”

Shorten dismissed as “dumb” any questions about the cost of his climate promises and otherwise carried on like Greta Thunberg with slightly fewer personality disorders. And Labor lost big time.

A funny thing happened recently to Labor’s commitment to a 45 per cent emissions reduction by 2030. It’s completely disappeared from the party’s draft policy platform.

The ground upon which Labor stands has shifted once more. A climate change retreat is underway.

“It’s all about the jobs after COVID. It’s all about the jobs,” Shorten, now the former leader, told Nine this month. “In all seriousness, that’s what I think.”

Current Labor leader Anthony Albanese would be wise to adopt “it’s all about the jobs” as a party directive. He’d find a receptive audience among voters who’d appreciate a viable non-Coalition option.

The suburbs and regions are loaded with swing voters who no longer swing because Labor isn’t swingworthy. That’s why Labor’s primary vote in 2019 looked like Joe Biden’s score in a Sudoku tournament.

Those same voters are increasingly wary of squishy Libs who agree with the global climate agenda. If Albanese wants to become a John Curtin figure rather than bring down the curtains on Labor, he’ll find that path in pro-jobs, pro-manufacturing policies.

Of course, that will mean surrendering the inner-city vote to the Greens. But so what? The Liberals don’t win inner-city seats, yet they keep winning elections.

Besides, on current trends our inner city areas are probably only a few years away from turning into our own versions of leftist-ransacked Portland, Oregon. Smart residents should escape now while their houses can still be sold with intact windows and at least one floor that isn’t ablaze.

“Our world is on fire, the Liberals are pouring fuel on the flames and Labor is egging them on,” Greens leader Adam Bandt claims. “Under Anthony Albanese, Labor risks becoming just as bad for the climate as the Liberals.”

Translation: Under Anthony Albanese, Labor risks becoming electable. Some within Labor remember what happened when their party last followed Greens instructions.

Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon, among quite a few of his less-public colleagues, would prefer to win. Labor can do so by shunning the Greens and wedging the Coalition.

The coronavirus gives Labor some cover here. As Shorten put it: “It’s all about the jobs after COVID.”

Labor can justify throwing out all of its climate nonsense — not just the 2030 target, but everything — because the extreme demands of a post-COVID recovery demand it be so.

The Coalition’s enviro faction, and party heavyweights who give that faction credibility, would be absolutely stumped by a vote-scoring populist jobs-over-climate push by Labor.

They’d be blindsided. And, after 2022, they’d be gone.

Imagine a party founded on the ideals of working-class advancement actually committing itself to … working-class advancement. It’s an idea so crazy that it might actually work




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