Wednesday, July 27, 2022

U.S. to plant more trees "as climate change kills off forests"

A rare display of good sense. Doing the right thing for the wrong reason

The Biden administration on Monday announced plans to replant trees on millions of acres of burned and dead woodlands as officials struggle to counter the increasing toll on the nation's forests from wildfires, insects and other manifestations of climate change.

Destructive fires in recent years that burned too hot for forests to quickly regrow have far outpaced the government's capacity to replant trees. That's created a backlog of 4.1 million acres (1.7 million hectares) in need of replanting, officials said.

The U.S. Agriculture Department said it will have to quadruple the number of tree seedlings produced by nurseries to get through the backlog and meet future needs. That comes after Congress last year passed bipartisan legislation directing the Forest Service to plant 1.2 billion trees over the next decade and after President Joe Biden in April ordered the agency to make the nation's forests more resilient as the globe gets hotter.

Much of the administration's broader agenda to tackle climate change remains stalled amid disagreement in Congress, where Democrats hold a razor-thin majority. That's left officials to pursue a more piecemeal approach with incremental measures such as Monday's announcement, while the administration considers whether to declare a climate emergency that could open the door to more aggressive executive branch actions.

To erase the backlog of decimated forest acreage, the Forest Service plans over the next couple years to scale up work from about 60,000 acres (24,000 hectares) replanted last year to about 400,000 acres (162,000 hectares) annually, officials said. Most of the work will be in western states where wildfires now occur year round.

“Our forests, rural communities, agriculture and economy are connected across a shared landscape and their existence is at stake,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement announcing the reforestation plan. “Only through bold, climate-smart actions ... can we ensure their future."

Almost 5.6 million acres have burned so far in the U.S. this year, putting 2022 on pace to match or exceed the record-setting 2015 fire season, when 10.1 million acres (4.1 million hectares) burned. Many forests regenerate naturally after fires, but if the blazes get too intense they can leave behind barren landscapes that linger for decades before the trees come back.

The Forest Service this year is spending more than $100 million on reforestation work. Spending is expected to further increase in coming years, to as much as $260 million annually, under the sweeping federal infrastructure bill approved last year, agency officials said.

Some timber industry supporters were critical of last year’s reforesting legislation as insufficient to turn the tide on the scale of the wildfire problem. They want more aggressive logging to thin stands that have become overgrown from years of suppressing fires.

To prevent replanted areas from becoming similarly overgrown, practices are changing so reforested stands are less dense with trees and therefore less fire prone, said Joe Fargione, science director for North America at the Nature Conservancy.

But challenges to the Forest Service's goal remain, from finding enough seeds to hiring enough workers to plant them, Fargione said.


How London paid a record price to dodge a blackout

Last week, unbeknown to many outside the power industry, parts of London came remarkably close to a blackout — even as it was recovering from the hottest day in British history. On July 20, surging electricity demand collided with a bottleneck in the grid, leaving the eastern part of the British capital briefly short of power. Only by paying a record high £9,724.54 (about $11,685) per megawatt hour — more than 5,000% higher than the typical price — did the UK avoid homes and businesses going dark. That was the nosebleed cost to persuade Belgium to crank up aging electricity plants to send energy across the English Channel.

The crisis, which quietly played out within the control room of the British electricity system, shows the growing vulnerability of energy transportation networks — power grids and gas and oil pipelines — across much of the industrialized world after years of low investment and not-in-my-backyard opposition.

On most days, the bottlenecks mean distorted costs. Sometimes, it results in sky-high prices where energy is in short supply when it is needed. At other occasions, prices can tumble to zero, or go negative, when producers cannot sell their power into a congested transmission system. Increasingly, it puts the whole system at risk. Talk to most industry executives and you quickly get the sense that we are sleepwalking into more blackouts. Discuss the problems with the engineers who manage the system day-in, day-out, and that danger appears even closer.

The £9,724.54 price, settled between noon and 1:00 p.m. on July 20 via the so-called NEMO interconnector that links the UK with Belgium, was the highest Britain has ever paid to import electricity, nearly five times higher than the previous record. The absurdity of that level is apparent when comparing it with the year-to-date average for UK spot electricity: £178 per megawatt hour.

“It was an absolute shock,” says Phil Hewitt, who has been monitoring electricity prices for over two decades and is now executive director of EnAppSys Ltd, a consultancy. “It was the price to keep the lights on. The security of supply was a stake.”

The actual amount of electricity bought at the record price was tiny: enough to supply just eight houses for a year. More power was bought at slightly lower prices. The payments, nonetheless, highlight desperation: buying across the channel was, for 60 minutes or so, the only option to balance the system. If Belgium had not helped, the grid would had been forced to “undertake demand control and disconnect homes from electricity,” says a grid spokesperson.

In a normal situation, without the traffic jams on the grid, the UK should have been able to send power to the southeast of England from elsewhere in the country — even from all the way in Scotland, where offshore wind farms are producing more than ever. The problem is that the UK, and the rest of industrialized nations, aren’t investing enough in their grids, leaving the system exposed.

The world is investing about $300 billion per year in power grids, an amount that has barely changed since 2015, according to the International Energy Agency. It isn’t enough, as the global economy electrifies and deals with a shifting generation map, with intermittent renewable energy like solar and wind replacing polluting — but dependable — coal- and gas-fired stations.

Now, grid bottlenecks create perverse situations. In Spain, for example, there are times when solar electricity producers in the south have to switch off their plants while, in the north, gas-fired power stations are turning on to meet demand. In some corners of the US, electricity prices often drop below zero, with power plants forced to sell their energy due to grid constraints. Meanwhile, in other corners of the US, consumers are facing calls to reduce power demand on peak days and face record prices.

Aging infrastructure, often 30 or 40 years old, needs to be replaced. But refurbishment and expansion come up against local opposition to more pylons and overhead cables. In the UK, authorities are bypassing popular resistance by moving some parts of the grid offshore, using undersea cables. “Fish don’t vote,” goes the industry’s joke. It is, however, an expensive undertaking.

High metal prices are making building new grids even more costly. Cables are made of copper or aluminum which, at today’s prices, account for nearly a third of what will be spent on a new grid, up 10 percentage points from investments made between 2010 and 2020.

Across the US and Europe, utilities and grid managers need to invest billions of dollars into digitalization of the network to allow demand-side load management that would reduce consumption at peak times, often via hourly prices. Managing peak demand is going to be even more important when millions of households shift to electric vehicles, creating a new source of electricity consumption.

Last year, the UK paid just under £1,600 per megawatt hour on one day to import electricity and avert a short squeeze. On July 18, it paid just over £2,000, which became the record. Two days later, the price went to nearly £10,000. The pattern is clear. At some point, even sky-high prices won’t be enough. Then, a blackout would belatedly lay bare the consequences of our under-investing ways.


ESG Funds Covertly Buying Oil Stocks as Green Agenda Creates Energy Shortage

ESG-aimed investment funds – which gauge companies based on their environmental, social and governance performances – are quietly investing in oil company stocks.

Why am I not surprised?

There’s a lot of neo-feudal claptrap floating around about saving the planet by leaving oil in the ground, switching to electrified mass transit, getting rid of air conditioning and killing all the cows.

In other words, let the peasants freeze/boil in the dark, squeeze together in mass-transit-driven cities and eat bugs, saving the planet’s resources for the elites to jet among their several homes.

And despite the impending demise of the planet (2030 or 2050, depending on the latest environmental prophecy), the green of the green movement is the color of money.

As ESG investment funds virtue-signal about the evils of fossil fuels like oil, in Europe they’re pouring money into energy companies like Shell, Repsol, Aker BP ASA and Neste Oyj, according to

They say oil stocks are hot and they’re buying them because oil companies are investing in transitioning to cleaner energy.

Yeah, right.

That’s a virtuous position, probably a cover story, and I’ll bet they’re investing in oil stocks because there’s a lot of money to be made in them right now with or without solar, wind or harnessing the power of fireflies. Or something.

As of Friday, there was a 28.4 percent increase in the S&P 500 Energy Index this year, and that’s a lot of incentive for pious ESG investors to lose their virtue.

And some of that more than 28 percent increase comes from oil shortages created by none other than the E in ESG itself.

Decrees of the priests of Gaia have long pointed out the evils of oil, the lifeblood of contemporary civilization.

So investment fell, but along came other factors making petroleum more valuable: Russia invading Ukraine and the inabilities of wind and solar to provide energy for Europe and elsewhere, according to

Try as they might, the greenies and their acolytes peddling ESG cannot suspend the iron laws of supply and demand.

So in the midst of post-pandemic economic problems and green-driven poor national policies in the U.S. and Europe, it turns out the lone S&P 500 economic sector showing gains year-to-date as of July 22 is energy.

Driving the 28.4 percent energy gain for 2022 is integrated oil and gas, up 37.1 percent.

That’s a big temptation for ESG funds.

And they’re buying it.

So, despite today’s hardships at the gas pump (and when the electric bill comes), our energy needs are ultimately wedded to the stuff that comes out of the ground.

Because like the elites and their private jets, the wobbly pronouncements of ESG fund managers are showing the hypocrisy of current climate alarmism.

Perhaps it’s overly optimistic to think we can wait them out and hope they return to their senses regarding the realities of energy.

Because when they figure out their green dreams are just that — dreams — they’ll no doubt find something else to oppress the masses.

As I have repeatedly been saying: Save the planet, starve the people.


Volcanoes, oceans, and weather

Viv Forbes

Despite Green/ABC propaganda, recent Australian floods were not caused by coal, cattle, or cars. Weather is driven by winds; solar energy powers the winds and draws moisture for them from the oceans. These eternal natural rain-making processes have been aided recently by two extra factors.

Firstly, a big La Niña weather event in the Pacific Ocean has left warmer water closer to Australia.

Secondly, there is increased underwater volcanism in this region as evidenced by the volcanic eruptions near Vanuatu.

Earth’s climate history is written in the rocks. Anyone who cares to read that record will see that recurring Ice Ages, not global warming, pose the greatest threat to life on Earth. Even in today’s warm Holocene Era, the Little Ice Age was a time of war, famine, and distress whereas the Medieval Warm Period heralded a time of peace and plenty.

Earth’s weather is driven by winds powered by convection currents which get most of their energy from the Sun.

Eastern Australia is currently under the influence a large La Niña event in the Pacific Ocean. These periodic ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation) weather cycles are Earth’s most significant short-term weather events and have been identified in Earth’s climate as far back as 1525, well before the Model T Ford and the Watt steam engine.

The great El Niño of 1877-78 heralded China’s Great Famine, brought droughts to Brazil, and caused failures of the Nile floods and the Indian monsoon. Even the Titanic was an El Niño casualty when it met an iceberg blown far south by El Niño winds.

Australia’s famous weather forecaster, Inigo Jones, was well aware of the natural cycles in climate as far back as 1923 – long before coal, cattle, and cars could be blamed for ‘Global Warming’.

ENSO oscillations are not driven by atmospheric conditions or human activities – they react to the beat of a geological drum. ENSO timing and strength is largely determined by volcanic activity and the movement of tectonic plates, particularly along the Pacific Ring of Fire and the mid-ocean ridges splitting both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

But largely hidden from view is another huge weather-maker – sub-sea volcanoes.

Right now, volcanic activity (mostly sub-oceanic) is melting parts of polar ice sheets as well as releasing volcanic dust and other natural gases into the oceans and atmosphere. The warmed sea water expands, raising sea levels and increasing the evaporation which produces clouds and rain. Right now, the Tonga volcanic eruption is evaporating sea water that is probably adding to the record La Niña rains of Eastern Australia.

Volcanic hot spots can also melt ice-bound methane from the sea floor thus releasing large unmeasured quantities of methane gas into the atmosphere.

Man’s coal, cars, and cattle are puny compared to what nature can do.

Hysterical children and political agitators keep bleating about ‘man-made global warming’. But climate history shows that the real danger to life on Earth is ‘global cooling’ – a return of the great continental ice sheets creating a frigid zone north of a line from London to Chicago. Russians and Alaskans know about frozen mammoth bodies in the ice, and understand this threat, but the western world continues to worship Saint Greta.

A bleak northern winter approaches. As blackouts beckon and the lights start to flicker, coal is suddenly okay again. But Europeans and Australians still plan a Net Zero ritual sacrifice of their farmers on the alarmist altar. None of these sacrifices will deter La Niña, or stop the volcanoes, or feed the people.

Someone should ask the new Green Government of Australia:

‘If emissions of CO2 are the problem, why have we banned emissions-free nuclear power?’




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