Sunday, November 15, 2020

Science journal U-turns on claim that global warming cannot be stopped after British experts cry foul

A science journal has U-turned on its claim that we are past the 'point of no return' and global warming cannot be stopped after British experts disputed the findings.

The study claims that if humans ended greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow we would still see global temperatures continuing to rise for several centuries.

Leading journal Scientific Reports was strongly criticised by British scientists after they published a press release titled: 'Ending greenhouse gas emissions may not stop global warming' to publicise the paper, which is still available online.

Following the backlash, the journal revised its press release, admitting the prediction was based on a particular computer model and results should be tested on 'alternative models'.

Richard Betts, a professor of climate impacts at the University of Exeter, was among those who criticised the study.

Speaking with The Times newspaper, he said: 'While the press release suggests that global warming may now be unstoppable for centuries, the model result in this paper is not convincing as support for that message.

'The paper itself does not actually claim to be a prediction of the real world, it just reports the behaviour of one model — but the press release goes a big step further and presents it as a prediction.

'The model, which is not one used in the main Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections, has not been shown to be credible enough to support confident predictions, and is contradicted by more established and extensively evaluated [models] in many of its physical processes.

'This paper clearly may be cited in support of a misleading message that it is now "too late" to avoid catastrophic climate change, which would have the potential to cause unnecessary despair.

'However, the study is nowhere near strong enough to make such a frightening message credible.'

Sir Brian Hoskins, a climatologist at Imperial College London, who was also not involved with the study, questioned the team's 'toy' model.

'This is the sort of investigation with a toy model that should be done and is fun, but should not be given this sort of publicity until the processes involved have been investigated using more complex models and representations,' he said.

Andrew Watson, a Royal Society research professor at the University of Exeter, said that he did not agree with the press release describing global warming as potentially catastrophic, 'given that it occurs over 500 years'.

The study authors include Professor Jorgen Randers, a respected Norwegian academic from the BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo.

Professor Randers told MailOnline: 'As I see it, [Scientific Reports] have, in a most helpful manner, published what we called for in our paper, namely a report on what happens in the big climate models when they stop emissions in 2020.'

Some scientists hailed the findings as significant and worth taking note of, however.

'This study provides evidence for what we don't want to hear –that global heating may have already become self-reinforcing, and that we have therefore passed the point of no return for halting long-term climate change,' Phillip Williamson of the University of East Anglia said.

Scientists used a computer model called ESCIMO to simulate the effect of different greenhouse gas emission reductions on changes in the global climate between now and they year 2500, based on records spanning all the way back to 1850.

Even if all human-made greenhouse-gas emissions were reduced to zero this year, global temperatures would still be around 5.4°F (3°C) warmer in 2500 than on 1850, the model found.

Sea levels, meanwhile, would rise by around eight feet (2.5 metres) by 2500, compared to 1850, submerging glaciers and flooding land.

'Recently, there have been warnings that some of these tipping points are coming closer and are too dangerous to be disregarded,' say the scientists, from BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo in their research paper.

Huge price rise for vital Tesla feature

One of the biggest selling points of a Tesla has gone up in smoke. Tesla recently announced it has increased the price for using its supercharger network to 52 cents per kW, a sharp rise of 24 per cent.

The price hike makes it more expensive to fast-charge Teslas than to refill petrol-powered rivals.

Analysis by electric car experts at shows it would cost $9.78 per 100km to run a Tesla Model 3 if it was charged exclusively on the brand’s Supercharger network.

This compares poorly to petrol powered machines such as the BMW 330i at $8.00 per 100km and the hybrid-powered Lexus IS350h at $6.76.

EVCentral says that despite the price rise, Tesla is still misleading visitors to its website by claiming you can travel “at a fraction of the cost of gasoline”.

According to EVcentral, these claims are based on the old Supercharger fees of 42 cents per kW and a petrol price of $1.75 per litre — a price it has never hit in Australia. The average current cost of unleaded petrol is $1.22 per litre.

But the case against Tesla isn’t as black and white as it seems as the majority of electric car owners will use home chargers to refill their vehicles regularly and use supercharger networks only when they are travelling longer distances. Many also use solar at home, which further reduces the cost of recharging.

Pipeline Industry Pumps $48 Billion into the Texas Economy, Study Says

A new report from Texas Tech University (TTU) found, in 2019 alone, pipeline construction and operations in Texas had an economic impact exceeding $48 billion in the state.

TTU researchers also found pipelines supported over 238,000 jobs across the state in 2019, contributing $29.3 billion in gross state product (GSP), and providing the state government and municipalities with more than $2.7 billion in tax revenue.

The report, Update to the Economic Impacts of the Texas Oil and Gas Pipeline Industry, was conducted by the Centre for Energy Commerce at TTU and released in late October. The Texas Pipeline Association (TPA) commissioned the study.

Employment, Revenues Grow with Pipelines

Since the original study was published in 2013, pipeline mileage across Texas has increased 13.16 percent. Total output from pipeline operations and construction increased by 47 percent since 2013, state and local tax revenue increased by 68 percent, and employment increased by 40 percent. Employment directly related to pipeline transportation grew by 2.68 percent annually.

“The activities of the Texas pipeline industry, which include the transportation of hydrocarbons from sources of exploration and production to refineries and end-users, are one vital component of the substantial job creation, investment and overall economic growth of the state’s economy,” said Bradley Ewing, Ph.D., the McLaughlin Endowed Chair of Free Enterprise and Professor of Energy Commerce in the Rawls College of Business at TTU, who prepared the study. “Provided that the pipeline industry maintains effective transportation capabilities, it will continue to generate economic benefits that will likely impact Texas for years to come.”

By 2060 the report estimates the pipeline industry in Texas will have generated almost $1.5 trillion in today’s dollars in economic output, $903 in additional gross state product, and $84 billion in additional state and local tax revenue. Further, the industry will also create or support more than 492,000 jobs by then.

“A pipeline system capable of effectively handling increased levels of oil and gas activity is necessary for oil and gas companies to find it economic to operate in Texas,” the report concludes. “From an economic standpoint, the ability to retain and attract oil and gas investments requires a pipeline system that can manage the flow of hydrocarbons in a timely and cost-effective manner.

“Accordingly, as shown in this study, the economic benefits attributable to the pipeline system are substantial in the state of Texas,” says the study. “Moreover, the upstream and downstream portions of the energy industry (i.e., exploration and production, refining activities, etc.) will generate even more economic benefits to Texas in the form of additional economic impacts provided that these companies have an efficient and effective way to transport their product.”

Pipelines are critical to Texas’ and the nation’s economic well-being, said Thure Cannon, president of the TPA, in a press statement issued when the report was released.

“Texas pipelines are an essential component of our energy infrastructure,” said Cannon. “It is clear from this…study that pipelines deliver the robust economic benefits that come from the continued growth and expansion of the oil and gas industry.

“And, with Texas as one of the fastest growing states in the nation, now more than ever we need pipelines to deliver the hydrocarbons that are used to make the more than 6000 petroleum byproducts we rely on every day, including fertilizer, flooring, perfume, vitamins, soap, clothing and so much more,” Cannon said.

Australian Labor Party split on climate policy

'The biggest fear in the mining industry isn't market forces, it's the politicians'

Louise Nicholls has been living in the Hunter Valley long enough to remember when the local member was not Joel Fitzgibbon, but his father Eric, a friendly sort of bloke, she recalls, whose electorate office then ran things so efficiently that he always had time for a schooner of Old with the ladies from the Country Women's Association.

Joel inherited the seat, which has been in Labor hands since 1910, from Eric on his retirement in 1996, and kept it without too much trouble – or effort, says Nicholls –until the last election when a young coal miner and farmer named Stuart Bonds snagged 20 per cent of the vote for One Nation.

Fitzgibbon's margin collapsed from a cushy 14 per cent to an anxious 2 per cent.

Nicholls, who edits The Singleton Argus and runs a little farm outside town, says the difference in Fitzgibbon's public presence was dramatic and immediate.

"Bloody Joel," she says with a laugh as I raise the topic.

Days before the election the opposition agriculture and resources spokesman had been before cameras in vineyards discussing the newest methods of decarbonising agriculture and saving water.

"The day after the election it was all coal, coal, coal," says Nicholls.

"Don't bother talking to us about transition," a Fitzgibbon staffer told her days after the election, referring to the term often used to describe the organised withdrawal from the fossil fuel economy, she says. "That's all over."

After Labor's loss of the 2019 election Fitzgibbon took his newfound lack of ambition on climate change back to Canberra with the zeal of a convert.

It wasn't that he did not believe in anthropogenic climate change, it wasn't even that he did not believe that the use of thermal coal – coal burnt for energy – was not in decline.

It was just that he did not think Labor should be wedded to ambitious carbon reduction targets in opposition.

Why should Labor lose votes in seats – well, in seats like his – when it could simply embrace the government's position on climate and emissions reductions and let it take the heat?

Besides, if coal was already in decline, why should the Hunter Valley's workers not enjoy a few more years of its benefits?

Last October, Fitzgibbon told the think tank the Australia Institute that Labor should match the government's own emissions reduction target of 26-28 per cent by 2030.

"The focus would then be all about actual outcomes, and the government would finally be held to account and forced to act," he said.

Since then sniping among Labor ranks has continued on the issue, even as the world began to take more meaningful action on climate change as the coronavirus hit.

Organisations seen as wedded to fossil fuels such as the International Energy Agency began calling for all nations to adopt green stimulus packages as oil and coal prices collapsed. Britain and the European Union stepped up already ambitious reduction targets echoed by China, Japan and South Korea.

On climate, at least, the wind might have been in Labor's sails this week had it not been for Fitzgibbon.

After a widely reported shouting match in an opposition cabinet meeting on Monday night he resigned from Labor's frontbench, telling reporters that the party was too focused on climate change.

"We have to speak to, and be a voice for, all those who we seek to represent, whether they be in Surry Hills or Rockhampton. And that's a difficult balance," he said.

In the Hunter, views of Fitzgibbon's departure were mixed, and they underscored what a terrible political problem climate change is for the valley, for Labor and for the world.

CFMEU district president Peter Jordan is sure that Fitzgibbon has made the right move by distancing himself from politicians who've become too close to the concerns of inner-city electorates in Sydney and Melbourne.

"They don't know how people here feel. The Labor Party has been too strong on wanting to listen to the other side, the other side that's got the green element about it,'' Jordan says.

"Joel has done the right thing ever since the election, he has accepted the argument that was raised by his electorate and in the last 12 to 18 months he has set about trying to correct that and steer Labor back to its traditional roots, and that is what blue collar workers want."

Sitting in his office, Cessnock mayor Bob Pynsent recalls working on booths for Fitzgibbon the day of the last election, and how shocked he was at the angry reception he got from young blokes in hi-vis vests when he offered them how-to-vote Labor forms.

He too believes that Fitzgibbon is steering the right political course, though he concedes the politics are difficult. It might have been blue collar workers who abandoned Fitzgibbon at the last election, but they do not have the same problems as blue collar workers in other parts of the country, he says.

Pat Conroy holds the Labor seat of Shortland, adjacent to Fitzgibbon's, and he does not share his colleague's outlook. He says there are three coal transitions facing Australia, and the first two are under way.

The first is domestic thermal coal use. The Hunter Valley's four coal power stations are slated for closure over the next 15 years, starting with Liddell next year, or the year after.

Domestic thermal coal is in decline.

Conroy believes the shift away from seaborne thermal coal has also already begun, though because of the Australian industry's efficiency and the high energy content of its product, Australian coal mines will be among the last viable operations in the world.

Either way, he says, the end is in sight.

The third is steel-making coal, which Conroy says the world will abandon when new technology - now in development - comes into play.

"I think it is my first responsibility to my constituents to be honest about that," he says.

For his part, Fitzgibbon resists putting a timeline on the end of the industry.

"Predictions are a dime a dozen, and predicting what the global market might do soon is not a reason to regulate our industry out of existence now," Fitzgibbon says.

In that he agrees with the man who spooked him at the last election, One Nation's Bonds, who plans to run again.

"Why should Labor bring that forward? The biggest fear that people have in the industry is not the market forces, it's the politicians," he says.

He reckons that no matter how far Fitzgibbon distances himself from other Labor voices on coal and emissions he will still be known as a member of the same team.




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