Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Climate change could be REDUCING the likelihood of tropical cyclones: Study shows frequency decreased by about 13% in the 20th century

Climate change appears to be reducing the likelihood of tropical cyclones across the world, researchers suggest. They found that the annual number of such storms decreased by about 13 per cent during the 20th century, compared with the period between 1850 and 1900.

For most tropical cyclone basins, this decline has accelerated since the 1950s, which the authors of the new study suggest is mainly because of a weakening of tropical atmospheric circulation. It supports the theory that climate change leads to a decrease in the number of tropical cyclones, they said.

However, the University of Melbourne-led experts warned that frequency is just one factor in the dangers tropical cyclones pose. They did not study changes in intensity or location.

The researchers said it was also not clear how cyclones change under human emissions because a warming ocean is expected to intensify storms, while some changes in atmospheric circulation are thought to prevent storm formation.

As their name suggests, tropical cyclones have long been characterised by the fact that they form almost exclusively over seas located at low-latitudes.

Key to these storms are warm sea surface temperatures of at least 81°F (27°C) and converging low-level winds that force air to rise and form storm clouds.

As long as the burgeoning system has enough distance from the equator, planetary spin will interact with the flow of moist rising air, causing it to rotate cyclonically.

And just as cyclones do not form too close to the equator, their range is bounded at higher latitudes by the jet streams, which have long confined them to the tropics.

Providing historical context to the frequency of cyclones is challenging because the observational record is not complete, especially before 1950, so the experts used a combination of past records and modelling.

Savin Chand and colleagues at the Federation University Australia discovered declining trends in the annual number of tropical cyclones since 1850 at both global and regional scales.

The only exception to this trend is the North Atlantic basin, where the number of tropical cyclones has increased over recent decades.

The study has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.


The SEC Should Not Be Setting Corporate Climate Policy

This week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will take the next step in demanding that businesses disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and other climate-related information. The SEC’s proposed rule claims to adopt an investor-led approach to climate issues. By mandating the release of climate-related information, the rule would allow investors to take the driver’s seat in urging businesses to respond to climate change and thus enhance their long-term value—or so the theory goes.

But the theory is wrong. To see why it is important to set the record straight. The SEC claims the rule will help investors do something they cannot do now: obtain climate-related information from businesses. But investors are already free to demand such information and to invest only in companies that provide it.

In fact, the rule would bar companies from entering public capital markets unless they make climate disclosures, thereby stopping retail investors from investing in companies that decline to make climate disclosures. (Wealthy accredited investors, who operate outside the public markets, would still be able to invest in such companies.) In other words, the rule would limit the options of the many retail investors who do not want climate disclosures.

There are many reasons not to want them. One is their staggering cost. By the Commission’s own estimates, the proposal would increase the cost of yearly corporate disclosures more than all previous SEC rules combined. This extraordinary burden would drive companies away from public markets; companies would wait to go public, relying in the interim on private funds and accredited investors who (instead of retail investors) would capture the benefits of successful companies’ early-stage growth. Companies that must bear the rule’s costs would pass them on in the form of lower returns to investors and higher prices for consumers at a time when Americans can ill afford either.

But the rule would cause damage far beyond the Commission’s estimates. It would require many companies to disclose not just their greenhouse gas emissions but also those of their suppliers and customers, many of which are small businesses. Public companies would have no choice but to pressure their suppliers and customers to track and pass along their emissions data. This would be impossible for small businesses, which lack access to high-priced environmental consultants or economies of scale in reporting. The harm to small businesses abandoned by the larger economy does not feature in the proposed rule.

Also unassessed in the rule is the harm done to communities that may be deemed “climate-exposed,” or subject to increased risk of severe weather years or decades from now. The rule requires companies to disclose potential risks to facilities in such regions. Rather than raise red flags for investors, many companies would simply abandon these regions entirely. Widespread unemployment, with the accompanying blight all too familiar to Rust Belt towns, will take hold in these places as old employers leave and new employers refuse to move in for fear of tainting their balance sheets. The Commission admits that companies may avoid certain regions in response to its rule but refuses to predict the cost, financial or human, of that change.

Investors should greet the rule skeptically for another reason: it would sidetrack companies from attending to their core mission of producing the vital goods and services that make American life the envy of the world. The disclosure regime Congress enacted in the 1930s is straightforward. Company boards and management may run their businesses as they see fit; the securities laws require simply that they disclose to investors the opportunities and obstacles that may impact their bottom line. This approach, sanctioned by the Supreme Court, is known as the “materiality” standard. But the rule would chart a different course, requiring all companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and much else besides—even when that information does not affect risks and returns.

The effect of these disclosures is easy to predict. No one likes to look like a bad apple. Even companies whose emissions are immaterial will feel pressure to lower them by shutting down older facilities, installing costly emission-control technology, or discontinuing products and services. The rule would effectively divert corporate resources toward the pursuit of aggressive climate policies, at the expense of core missions such as growing food, developing new medicines, or fixing our crumbling supply chains.

Nowhere is this co-opting clearer than in the astounding requirement to disclose how often a company’s board speaks privately about climate-related risks. This provision, a first in this country, would hijack companies’ most sensitive deliberations and give the SEC a seat in corporate boardrooms across America. You may wonder how a provision compelling speech about speech could pass muster under the First Amendment. It’s a good question. But even if courts strike it down, that the SEC would even propose this provision tells us all we need to know about the agency’s approach to rulemaking.

Of course, some Americans would celebrate the deployment of corporate America against climate change through a disclosure-based regime. That policy has its advocates in Congress. But so far, they have not convinced the American people that it is the right way to go, which is why lawmakers have already refused to enact that policy. The SEC has no business setting a climate policy that the people’s representatives in Congress have rejected.


UK: Fracking could restart in weeks as crunch report into reopening drill sites due in days

A British Geological Survey paper examining the safety of drilling for energy is expected on Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng’s desk.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng could give the greenlight to restart fracking within weeks

He said he would “consider the next steps” — but insisted he would only give it the go-ahead if locals backed it

In a speech yesterday he vowed Britain should “use all the tools at our disposal to ensure our energy security”.

And he said that when Russian tanks rolled into Eastern Ukraine it focused minds on to generating “the fossil fuels we need here at home”.

Mr Kwarteng said: “It’s an imperative, it’s not a mere option. We have always been clear that shale gas could be part of our future energy mix.

“But we need to be led by the science and above all we need to have the ongoing support of local communities.”

Green campaigners say Britain should not be digging for more dirty and polluting fossil fuels, which are destroying the planet.

But those in favour of fracking, which was suspended in 2019, welcomed the news.

Ex-Brexit chief Lord Frost said: “The decision about fracking can’t be delegated to scientists.

“Ministers have to make their minds up, on the basis of scientific advice, but also broader factors like energy security and whether people can afford their energy bills.

“The Government has to take a lead and do the right thing — which is to resume fracking.”


Energy crisis won’t be solved by wind and sun

Nigerian Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo recently lambasted the rich West for its hypocrisy on energy policy. Writing in The Economist, he declared “rich countries, especially in Europe, have repeatedly called for African states to use only renewable power sources”.

Objecting to the patronising efforts of Westerners to prod Nigerians into “leapfrogging” over fossil fuels into wind and solar, Osinbajo points out that a moratorium on fossil fuel sentences Nigeria to poverty. “Though solar will provide most of our power in the future, we still need natural gas for baseload power.”

Osinbajo is right with regard to the African continent, but rich Westerners are hypocritical at home as well. Advocates of new-generation renewables will often argue that we must choose wind or solar – or submit to the ravages of a changing climate.

But this is a false choice. Some European countries get more than 90 per cent of their electricity from low carbon dioxide sources, such as France (nuclear energy) and Norway (hydropower). Yet no country gets most of their electricity from wind or solar.

In fact, the percentage of the world’s electricity that comes from clean sources has remained stagnant since the 1980s. Although there has been a boom in investment in wind and solar, there has been a lack of investment in nuclear. When nuclear plants shut down, coal-powered plants tend to replace them. Unfortunately, this lack of investment in nuclear has cancelled out the reductions in CO2 emissions made by new-generation renewables. In 1985, 35 per cent of the world’s electricity came from low-CO2 sources; by last year it was just 38.26 per cent.

One of the greatest lies told about climate change is that solving the problem is simply a matter of willpower. If only governments around the world would listen to Greta Thunberg and Simon Holmes a Court, and install solar panels and wind turbines at a faster rate, then temperatures would stabilise. Unfortunately, the problem of climate change is not simply a matter of goodwill. If it were, the Germans would not be reopening their mothballed coal-fired power plants after pledging to be coal-free by 2030.

The Dutch and the Austrians, similarly, would not be following the Germans in reopening their coal-fired plants as well, a week after Russia halted gas deliveries via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

“The cabinet has decided to im­mediately withdraw the restriction on production for coal-fired power stations from 2002 to 2024,” Dutch Climate and Energy Minister Rob Jetten told media.

“The situation is serious,” said German Economic Affairs and Climate Action Minister Robert Habeck. “It is obviously Putin’s strategy to upset us, to drive prices upwards and to divide us … We won’t allow this to happen.”

It is becoming increasingly clear that one of the biggest catastrophes of modern geopolitics has been Europe’s entanglement with Russia over energy. During the past five years, while the West was busy taking policy advice from a teenager, Russia was at work fracking and drilling for oil.

Back home in Australia, our politicians persist with the fanciful notion that an entire country’s electricity grid can be powered by wind turbines and solar panels.

On June 16, Andrew Wilkie tweeted: “While the Aus Govt’s target to cut emissions by 43% by 2030 is a step forward, it’s still not good enough. We need a 75% reduction by 2030 & net-zero by 2035. The only way to do this is to quickly phase out coal, gas & oil & fast-track to 100% renewables.”

When Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen was asked by Nine journalist Chris Uhlmann about whether the solution to Australia’s recent energy crisis (during which the Australian Energy Market Operator suspended the electricity market to ensure supply) was to invest in the continued maintenance of our coal-fired plants, Bowen fired off an angrily defensive reply. Yet just a week later, emergency powers were invoked to block the export of coal in the event of such a crisis happening again.

In response to our recent power crisis, environmentalists at home have called for a blockage on gas exports, a gas export tax and increased government subsidies for battery storage technologies. Yet these are simply Band-Aid solutions. To ensure energy security, Australia needs to extract more gas, invest in and maintain our existing coal-fired power plants, and think seriously about a long-term transition to nuclear energy.

While nuclear energy is often dismissed as being too costly, the question is: compared with what? The battery storage required to power the whole of Australia has been estimated to cost $6.5 trillion. If this is a cost-effective solution, then God help us all.

An inconvenient truth is that the push for wind and solar may have other motivations than simply concern about climate change.

Last year, The Economist constructed a portfolio of companies that would benefit from the world’s energy transition and estimated that these companies had a total market value of $US3.7 trillion. Tracking these companies’ economic performance, it found that since the start of 2020, they had performed twice as well as the S&P 500, with the “greenest 25% of firms (seeing) their share prices rise by 110%”. But the problem is, according to The Economist, that 30 per cent of these companies do not yet turn a profit.

Just as the cryptocurrency bubble has burst this year, the new-generation renewable energy bubble is likely to burst in the foreseeable future. While big money has piled into the push to transition energy – and this investor exuberance has led to increased pressure on politicians to “transition faster” – the real world presents obstacles in the form of physics and thugs such as Vladimir Putin.

When Putin continues to use energy as a weapon against Europeans, a Nigerian vice-president calls out the hypocrisy of Western leaders, and when countries such as Australia are threatened by blackouts, more people will start to see through the wind and solar hype. The question is, will Australian politicians continue living in a fantasy or will they have the courage to face up to reality?


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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