Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Climate Change Will Not Make Food Scarce

This is an old, old scare. It goes back to Malthus and even Hitler believed it. The disaster in Ukraine could produce some temporary shortages but the long term trend in most agricultural commodities is glut. And global warming would be a good thing. Most crops benefit from a warmer climate

A Time Magazine article ascribes the potential for a major food crisis to two sources: the war in Ukraine and climate change. Concerning the latter claim, Time is simply wrong. While the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russian exports have had an impact on food prices, there is no evidence climate warming has or will harm food production worldwide.

The Time piece, titled “The Food Crisis Can’t Handle Ukraine War and Climate Change,” says the current high grocery prices are merely a sample of an even worse crisis to come.

“As temperatures rise due to increasing greenhouse-gas emissions, so too will the price of food,” says Time. The article also asserts that the past century’s warming was bad for food production and another degree or two of warming would be catastrophic.

Data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) refutes Time’s unsourced assertion climate change has hampered food production. In fact, as discussed in more than 120 Climate Realism articles, FAO data consistently show crop production has dramatically increased during the recent period of modest warming.

Indeed, as described in Climate Realism here, here, and here, for example, crop production and yields have repeatedly set records both in individual countries and globally, over the past three decades of warming. As shown in the figure below, this is especially for the major cereal crops, wheat, corn, and rice, which are the backbone of the global food supply.

Although the author of the Time article quotes FAO representatives, she fails for follow the data. Had she done so, her research would have demonstrated that, despite occasional damaging events like infestations, weather disasters, and war, food production is at record highs across the board. Also, as agronomy and botany explain; with the spread of modern agricultural technologies to less developed countries, bioengineering of crops, carbon dioxide, and longer growing seasons, the best bet is that food production will continue to increase and hunger decline amid continued modest warming.


Electricity shortage warnings grow across US

From California to Texas to Indiana, electric-grid operators are warning that power-generating capacity is struggling to keep up with demand, a gap that could lead to rolling blackouts during heatwaves or other peak periods as soon as this year.

California’s grid operator said Friday that it anticipates a shortfall in supplies this summer, especially if extreme heat, wildfires or delays in bringing new power sources online exacerbate the constraints.

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator, or MISO, which oversees a large regional grid spanning much of the Midwest, said late last month that capacity shortages may force it to take emergency measures to meet summer demand and flagged the risk of outages.

In Texas, where a number of power plants lately went offline for maintenance, the grid operator warned of tight conditions during a heatwave expected to last into the next week.

The risk of electricity shortages is rising throughout the US as traditional power plants are being retired more quickly than they can be replaced by renewable energy and battery storage.

Power grids are feeling the strain as the US makes a historic transition from conventional power plants fuelled by coal and natural gas to cleaner forms of energy such as wind and solar power, and ageing nuclear plants are slated for retirement in many parts of the country.

The challenge is that wind and solar farms – which are among the cheapest forms of power generation – don’t produce electricity at all times and need large batteries to store their output for later use. While a large amount of battery storage is under development, regional grid operators have lately warned that the pace may not be fast enough to offset the closures of traditional power plants that can work around the clock.

Speeding the build-out of renewable energy and batteries has become an especially difficult proposition amid supply-chain challenges and inflation.

Most recently, a probe by the Commerce Department into whether Chinese solar manufacturers are circumventing trade tariffs on solar panels has halted imports of key components needed to build new solar farms and effectively brought the US solar industry to a standstill.

Faced with the prospect of having to call for blackouts when demand exceeds supply, many grid operators are now grappling with the same question: How to encourage the build-out of batteries and other new technologies while keeping traditional power plants from closing too quickly.

“Every market around the world is trying to deal with the same issue,” said Brad Jones, interim chief executive of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s power grid.

“We’re all trying to find ways to utilise as much of our renewable resources as possible...and at the same time make sure that we have enough dispatchable generation to manage reliability.”

The risk of outages resulting from supply constraints comes amid other challenges straining the reliability of the grid. Large, sustained outages have occurred with greater frequency over the past two decades, in part because the grid has become more vulnerable to failure with age and an uptick in severe weather events exacerbated by climate change.

A push to electrify home heating and cooking, and the expected growth of electric vehicles, may increase power demand in coming years, putting further pressure on the system.

California regulators on Friday said as much as 3,800 megawatts of new supplies may face delays through 2025. Such delays would pose a major challenge for the state, which is racing to procure a huge amount of renewable energy and storage to offset the closure of several gas-fired power plants, as well as a nuclear plant. Gov.

Gavin Newsom recently said he would consider moving to keep that nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, online to reduce the risk of shortages.

“We need to make sure that we have sufficient new resources in place and operational before we let some of these retirements go,” said Mark Rothleder, chief operating officer of the California Independent System Operator, which operates the state’s power grid.

“Otherwise, we are putting ourselves potentially at risk of having insufficient capacity.” The reliability question has stirred strong debate in Texas, where a freak winter storm last year caused power plants of all kinds to trip offline, forcing the grid operator to call for days long blackouts to keep supply in line with demand.

Many problems played a part – some power plants weren’t prepared for subfreezing temperatures, while others couldn’t operate for lack of fuel – but the failures collectively exposed the vulnerability of the state’s power market, and resulted in calls for change.


A Mostly Wind- and Solar-Powered U.S. Economy Is a Dangerous Fantasy

When President Biden and other advocates of wind and solar generation speak, they appear to believe that the challenge posed is just a matter of currently having too much fossil fuel generation and not enough wind and solar; and therefore, accomplishing the transition to "net zero" will be a simple matter of building sufficient wind and solar facilities and having those facilities replace the current ones that use the fossil fuels.

They are completely wrong about that.

The proposed transition to "net zero" via wind and solar power is not only not easy, but is a total fantasy. It likely cannot occur at all without dramatically undermining our economy, lifestyle and security, and it certainly cannot occur at anything remotely approaching reasonable cost. At some point, the ongoing forced transition... will crash and burn.

[I]t doesn't matter whether you build a million wind turbines and solar panels, or a billion, or a trillion. On a calm night, they will still produce nothing, and will require full back-up from some other source.

If you propose a predominantly wind/solar electricity system, where fossil fuel back-up is banned, you must, repeat must, address the question of energy storage. Without fossil fuel back-up, and with nuclear and hydro constrained, storage is the only remaining option. How much will be needed? How much will it cost? How long will the energy need to remain in storage before it is used?

There should be highly-detailed engineering studies of how the transition can be accomplished.... But the opposite is the case. At the current time, the government is paying little to no significant attention to the energy storage problem. There is no detailed engineering plan of how to accomplish the transition. There are no detailed government-supported studies of how much storage will be needed, or of what technology can accomplish the job, or of cost.

It gets worse:.... Ken Gregory calculated the cost of such a system as well over $100 trillion, before even getting to the question of whether battery technology exists that can store such amounts of energy for months on end and then discharge the energy over additional months. And even at that enormous cost, that calculation only applied to current levels of electricity consumption.... For purposes of comparison, the entire U.S. GDP is currently around $22 trillion per year.

In other words: we have a hundred-trillion-or-so dollar effort that under presidential directive must be fully up and running by 2035, with everybody's light and heat and everything else dependent on success, and not only don't we have any feasibility study or demonstration project, but we haven't started the basic research yet, and the building where the basic research is to be conducted won't be ready until 2025.

Meanwhile the country heads down a government-directed and coerced path of massively building wind turbines and solar panels, while forcing the closure of fully-functioning power plants burning coal, oil and natural gas. It is only a question of time before somewhere the system ceases to work.... [I]t is easy to see how the consequences could be dire. Will millions be left without heat in the dead of winter, in which case many will likely die? Will a fully-electrified transportation system get knocked out, stranding millions without ability to get to work? Will our military capabilities get disabled and enable some sort of attack?

No sane, let alone competent, government would ever be headed down this path.


There's no such thing as a happy Greenie

The minerals needed to make electric car batteries have to be mined, and that produces lots of pollution and other problems

Electric cars, solar panels, large batteries and wind turbines — the technology needed to go green relies on what can be a dirty industry.

"It's absolutely ironic, but to save the planet we are going to need more mines," says Allison Britt, director of mineral resources at government agency Geoscience Australia.

The need for one of the biggest increases in mining the world has ever seen is forcing some tough choices and redrawing old battlelines between environmentalists and miners.

In Tasmania, a mine that's been leaking contaminated water for the past five years wants permission to expand into a wilderness area because the lead, zinc and copper it produces are vital for solar panels, electric cars and wind turbines.

King Island, famed for its high-end produce and rugged beauty, will soon be home to one of the world's largest tungsten mines.

Outside Darwin, an open-cut mine that will produce lithium vital for electric car batteries looks to be already impacting local waterways.

An electric vehicle needs about 200kg of minerals like copper, nickel, cobalt, and lithium. That's six times more than a petrol-powered car.

A wind turbine needs four times more minerals than a coal-fired power station to generate the same amount of electricity.

King Island tungsten

Not everywhere is the battle to develop critical minerals so fraught.

King Island, off the Northern coast of Tasmania, is famous for its beef and cheese, oysters, kelp and crayfish.

Soon it will be famous for something quite different — one of the world's largest tungsten mines.

Demand for renewable energy and anxiety over China's dominance of the tungsten market will see the King Island mine reopen after 30 years.

It's a test of whether tourism and agriculture can happily exist alongside mining.


My other blogs. Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM )

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


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