Thursday, August 18, 2022

Greenie scares about methane are totally misplaced

By Ian Plimer in Australia

The Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite showed that the greatest methane emissions are from the tundra in Canada and Russia, and the tropics – especially the Amazonian, Central African and Indonesian wetlands. Smaller emissions were from tropical South America, north-western America, China, west Africa, Antarctica, and Cape York.

No significant emissions were detected from the large coalfields of Europe, Canada, America, Botswana, South Africa, and Australia.

Nor were major emissions detected from the beef-growing areas of South America, South Africa, America, and Australia.

Termite-infested areas of northern Australia and our farmlands, rice-growing areas, major dams, and oil and gas fields were not pinpointed. The 2020 measurements were at a time of reduced industrial activity yet showed the largest increase in methane emissions since the 1980s.

What’s going on?

Heavy rains in central Africa in 2020, especially in South Sudan and Uganda, may be one of the smoking guns. Water releases from Lake Victoria increased flow into the White Nile which feeds the Ugandan and South Sudan wetlands. The Sudd wetlands contributed over 25 per cent of the growth in global methane emissions. There were also significant increases in natural methane emissions from eastern Canada in 2020 where there are a large number of lakes and wetlands.

In the tundra, soils comprise glacial debris overlain by peat bogs. The bacterially-assisted decomposition of vegetation into carbonaceous debris and peat releases methane which commonly self-ignites, as recorded by Shakespeare. Caliban’s reference to the scary will-o’-the-wisp in bogs, swamps, and marshes in The Tempest was a reference to the spontaneous ignition of methane-air mixtures.

Most landmasses are draped with sedimentary rocks that contain entrapped methane which leaks into the atmosphere, especially from carbon-rich organic sedimentary rocks. Methane is trapped in coal and is released by natural fracking, up drill holes that tap coal seam gas, and by rock depressurising during mining. Good underground ventilation, smoking bans underground, and a ban on using machinery that could produce sparks is normal procedure in Western coal mines.

If air contains 5-15 per cent methane, it is highly explosive and can self-ignite, especially if mixed with coal dust and carbon monoxide. Since the 1880s, more than 400 men have died underground from explosions in Australian coal mines. The largest was at Bulli (NSW) in 1887 (81 men). At Mt Mulligan (Qld) in 1921, the loss of 75 miners in an underground explosion killed three generations of men resulting in the permanent closure of the town and mine. Every family at Mt Mulligan lost a breadwinner.

The combination of the Indian Ocean Dipole, La Niña, and volcanic ash high in the atmosphere probably were the major contributors to heavy rain in much of Australia in 2022. This rain also increased natural methane emissions due to accelerated plant debris decomposition. The past shows us that after heavy rains in eastern Australia, the undergrowth in eucalypt forests grows rapidly. When followed by hot dry windy weather, forests become incendiary bombs. This is known by arsonists who ignite some 75 per cent of all grass and forest fires.

Recently I was in Leura in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. Huge rains in 1955-1956 built up the forest fuel load and were followed by massive bushfires in 1957. Vacant blocks, lonely chimneys, and burnt-out relics remain today in Leura to remind us of these catastrophic bushfires. Massive bushfires will be repeated after the 2022 heavy rains because of the inability to learn from history. Of course, the next inevitable catastrophic fires in eastern Australia will be claimed as unprecedented and blamed on Climate Change rather than on ideological neglectful forest maintenance.

It was the same 1955-1956 rains that flooded towns on the flood plains along the Murray, Darling, Murrumbidgee, Hunter, Manning, Hastings, Clarence, Richmond, Wilson, and Brisbane Rivers. Flood plains have fertile sediment that has accumulated from thousands of large floods over millions of years and, for millennia, were the perfect place for agriculture and settlement. Maybe, before Climate Change is blamed for floods in 2022, the history of flooding of the great rivers such as the Nile and Ganges where humans have lived and recorded flood history over thousands of years should be studied. Sometimes there is too much rain, other times there is not enough. Modern floods, droughts, and bushfires are certainly not unprecedented.

Humans have grazed cattle on flood plains since the first domestication of docile animals during an exceptionally cold period 12,900-11,700 years ago. Cattle emit methane and, if a carbon balance calculation is performed, cattle are already at Net Zero. The increasing attacks on the farming industry are yet another attempt by the Greens to stop productive industry. Bacteria comprise the largest biomass on Earth and emit more methane than any other life form hence the Greens should focus on reducing bacterial methane emissions. Don’t wait up.

The first time it rained on planet Earth was unprecedented.

Running surface waters 3.8 billion years ago at Isua (Greenland) left the oldest preserved gravels in the world which, when dissolved in acid, yield a carbon-rich residue with the chemical fingerprint of bacterial life that lived in a world without oxygen gas. At that time, the Earth’s atmosphere was rich in methane, carbon dioxide, and ammonia. On Earth since that time, water and life have always been hand-in-hand. Mars had water before Earth and lost most its water and atmosphere with the loss of the Martian magnetic field. Water-bearing minerals and water-worn structures are on Mars and it is only a matter of time before fossil and even modern bacteria are discovered in its rusted rocks.

Climate change cannot be understood using computer models that attempt to predict the future with incomplete information and invalid assumptions. The past is the key to the present and destruction of history, archaeology, and geology in the climate wars can only lead to hardship.


Why the investment experts made a big mistake in writing off coal

Ross Clark

For anyone tempted to believe warnings from Mark Carney and other City figures about ‘stranded assets’ in the fossil fuel industry, while simultaneously buying the idea that renewable energy is the investment which can’t go wrong, here is a cautionary tale. Just over a year ago the mining giant Anglo American demerged its thermal coal division into a new company, Thungela Resources. At the time it seemed to some a bit like Northern Rock being divided into a ‘good bank’ and a ‘bad bank’. Here was a chance for Anglo American to cleanse its image by disposing of the nasty, climate-unfriendly part of its operation – the bit which many saw as doomed – and perhaps avoid some of the protests and legal actions which environmental campaign groups have been waging against fossil fuel businesses.

Analysts were not enthusiastic about the prospects for the new company. Boatman Capital – which specialises in identifying targets for short-sellers and which had previously attracted scorn by publishing a critical report on military outsourcing company Babcock International, although that report did foresee problems at the company – published a report valuing Thungela Resources at precisely zero. The company’s environmental liabilities, it estimated, could be three times as great as the value of the company itself. Taking Boatman’s lead, others shunned Thungela Resources too. In June 2021 the Investor’s Chronicleadvised its readers (many of whom had been allocated the shares by virtue of holdings in Anglo American) to sell their holdings at 156 pence.

A case of getting out just in time before pledges to eliminate carbon emissions – then coming in thick and fast in the lead-up to the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow – stranded the world’s coal mines for good? Not quite. Thungela Resources turned out to be just about the best investment you could have made in the summer of 2021. It has just reported profits of £485 million, up from £17 million last year. Its share price has rocketed to 1470 pence, a 500 per cent rise in 12 months and nearly ten times the price it was when the Investor’s Chronicle told readers to sell up. Even at this price, the stock is still yielding over 6 per cent. To be fair, not every broker advised selling – Liberium Capital put a ‘buy’ rating on it in in August last year – although its target price for the stock, 305 pence, has turned out to be somewhat pessimistic.

One day, Thungela Resources may well be valueless as the world moves onto cleaner energy. I can’t say I or many others, save perhaps for Arthur Scargill, would mourn the day the world’s last coal-fired power station closed its furnaces. Britain is already due to remove coal from the national grid by 2024. But in the meantime, coal has had a bumper year thanks to the shortage of gas. Many countries, such as Germany, have had to turn back to the fuel as gas supplies from Russia have diminished. Moreover, many developing countries which do not have gas reserves remain and will remain dependent on coal for many years, even decades, to come.

The story of Thungela Resources over the past year is a caution against falling for the prevailing City narrative that promises of net zero are quickly going to sweep away the fossil fuel business and that renewables are where the easy money is to be made. Had you sold your Thungela Resources shares last year you might, for example, have thought of reinvesting the money in Orsted, the former Danish Oil and Gas Company which has positioned itself and rebranded itself as a renewable energy company. But alas, your investment would have slipped 15 per cent as Orsted warned of lower profits thanks to disappointing wind speeds.

In case you are wondering, no, I don’t and have never owned shares in Thungela Resources and so I have not shared in the bonanza. Given that I frequently write on climate and energy issues and am constantly under the watch of climate activists I made the decision not to invest in oil, gas or coal companies so that no one could claim I was in any way ‘in the pay’ of the fossil fuel business.


U.N. War On Fertilizer Began in Sri Lanka

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) describes itself as “the global authority that sets the environmental agenda… and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.” Through its “Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food” program launched in 2014, the UNEP advocates that nations “steer away from the prevailing focus on per hectare productivity.”

But today the world is in its worst food crisis since 2008. The number of people suffering acute food insecurity increased by 25% since January 2022 to 345 million, according to the United Nations World Food Programme. Why, then, is the UNEP trying to steer nations away from fertilizers that increase food production?

The UNEP’s Acting Director in 2019 said the reason was humankind’s “long-term interference with the Earth’s nitrogen balance.” In October of that year, the UNEP hosted a meeting in the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo and issued a “road map” to push nations to cut nitrogen pollution in half.

But the Netherlands proves that nations can slash nitrogen pollution from livestock by 70% while also increasing meat production. Same for crops. Since the early 1960s, the Netherlands has doubled its yields while using the same amount of fertilizer. While rich nations produce 70 percent higher yields than poor nations, they use just 54 percent more nitrogen.

One month after the Colombo meeting in 2019, which generated significant media attention in Sri Lanka, voters in that nation elected an anti-fertilizer president, H.E. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who claimed, without scientific evidence, that synthetic fertilizers were causing kidney diseases. In April 2021, he banned fertilizer imports.

In June, 2021, two months after the fertilizer ban, Sri Lanka hosted a UN-sponsored “Food System Dialogue” aimed at influencing the UN’s broader anti-fertilizer agenda for the world. “Sri Lanka’s inaugural Food System Dialogue is part of a series of national and provincial dialogues conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture ahead of the 2021 UN Food System Summit set to take place in New York later this year.”

In his statement to the UN Food System Summit in New York in September, Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa repeated his claim that “chemical fertilizers… led to adverse health and environmental impacts.” He said, “My Government took the bold step to restrict imports of these harmful substances earlier this year,” and blamed farmers for resisting his fertilizer ban, saying that “changing the mindset of farmers long accustomed to using chemical fertiliser has proven challenging.”

In fact, the fertilizer ban was causing a crash in agricultural production. After the fertilizer ban, 85% of Sri Lankan farmers experienced crop losses. Rice production fell 20%, prices rose 50 percent, and the nation had to import $450 million worth of the grain. In Rajanganaya, where farmers operate on just a hectare (2.5 acres), of land on average, families reported producing half their normal crop harvest.

There were other factors behind the government’s fall, but those factors affected many other nations and none fell. Covid lockdowns hurt tourism. The government borrowed too much. Oil prices rose. All were factors and none were decisive. What made the difference was Sri Lanka’s ban on fertilizers.

Hardest hit was tea. It had generated $1.3 billion in exports annually and provided 71% of the nation’s food imports before 2021. After the fertilizer ban, tea production crashed 18%, reaching its lowest level in 23 years. The government’s devastating ban on fertilizer thus destroyed the ability of Sri Lanka to pay for food, fuel, and service its debt.

The UN justifies its anti-fertilizer agenda on the same basis as the Sri Lankan government: cost savings. UN documents claim that its goal for nations to “Halve Nitrogen Waste” would save nations “$100 billion annually.” But the same document promotes a “circular economy,” which is a euphemism used by Green parties in Europe to refer to economic “de-growth” based on making food and energy production less productive.

UNEP isn’t the only UN agency promoting an anti-fertilizer agenda. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2018 launched the “Scaling Up Agroecology” Initiative. It is not a research initiative, it is an advocacy initiative. It claims “agroecological systems are vital… for addressing poverty, hunger, and climate change.” In fact, agroecology, which doesn’t use synthetic fertilizer, reduces food production, and thus increases poverty and hunger.

Now, the UNEP is seeking to move nations away from modern fertilizers through “the International Nitrogen Management System (INMS)” under the guise of science. It calls INMS a “science support process” as part of an “Inter-Convention Nitrogen Coordination Mechanism (INCOM).”


Carbon ratings, meat taxes, and lump sums to allow the poor to 'buy animal products'...

We are barely a week out from the ‘climate friendly’ proposal that would see supermarkets add ‘eco labels’ to over 57,000 products so that shoppers can ‘consider the environmental impact’ of their food choices.

This ‘helpful’ information has already been twisted into an opportunity to enact a paternalistic control over what the poor eat and to siphon off untold millions in tax.

Notice how quickly the message went from ‘we are trying to help you make good food choices’ to ‘we are going to tax you if you don’t eat what we say’.

As the painfully screechy Guardian writes:

‘Rearing livestock and growing crops to feed them has destroyed more tropical forest and killed more wildlife than any other industry. Animal agriculture also produces vast quantities of greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.

‘The environmental consequences are so profound that the world cannot meet climate goals and keep ecosystems intact without rich countries reducing their consumption of beef, pork and chicken.

‘To slash emissions, slow the loss of biodiversity and secure food for a growing world population, there must be a change in the way meat and dairy is made and consumed.’

Pay no mind to the destruction caused by covering agricultural land in solar panels, chopping down forests for wind turbines, or carving up the ground for renewables mines where children are sent into the darkness and muck. Ignore the suffocation of former forests by vegan favourites canola and soy, or that it takes excessively more agricultural land to feed people a vegetarian diet. It’s your ‘intention’ that matters.

Their conclusion is, ‘prices on meat and other animal products will eventually need to reflect all this damage’.

Having lost the ‘meat is murder’ argument against civilisation’s stronger carnivores, the movement has entrenched itself in our political structure and instead adopted the line, ‘meat is murdering the planet’. It doesn’t matter that the claim is false, it looks good as a Twitter hashtag.

Just in case you think the meat tax is a bit of a windup, here is the current plan to tax your Sunday BBQ.

‘Our calculations suggest that the average retail price for meat in high-income countries would need to increase by 35 per cent-56 per cent for beef, 25 per cent for poultry, and 19 per cent for lamb and pork to reflect the environmental costs of their production. In the UK, where the average price for a 200g beef steak is around £2.80, consumers would pay between £3.80 and £4.30 at the checkout instead.’

And no – of course – this won’t impact the poor!

Their solution is to ‘redistribute revenue from a tax on the sale of meat and animal products evenly across the population in the form of lump sum payments at the end of the year.’

Which sounds awfully like the government giving poor people a ‘meat allowance’ to access a food that is currently cheap and unrestricted.

This is far more backwards, cruel, patronising, and repressive than any policy floated since the Enlightenment. It is a disgrace, an affront to basic decency, and an attack on our civil liberty to choose what we want to eat without checking in with government morality police.

Attaching a political agenda to food is not an original idea, but rather an extension of the commercial industry we saw promoted at COP26 where the ‘plant forward’ menus (that contained plenty of duck, chicken, beef, trout, and haggis), also sported a carbon footprint.

Levy, the company who organised the menu and makes its living rating the moral value – sorry – climate value of food, had this to say:

‘We are taking a plant-forward approach, using local and UK sourced in-season produce. Plant-based food products are one of the most effective ways for us to reduce emissions, so we increased the proportion of plant-based dishes, without compromising on variety, quality or taste.

‘Today, an average meal has a carbon footprint of 1.7 kg CO2e in the UK. According to the WWF, we need to get this number down below 0.5 kg CO2e to reach the goals defined in the Paris Agreement. By including climate labels on our menus, we aim to make it easier to achieve this goal – together.

‘The climate emergency is the biggest challenge of our lifetime and food has a key role to play in global emissions. Our target is to reach Net Zero in our Levy UK business by 2027 in the right way. COP26 will be a catalyst for learning and change across our business.’

At the time, I warned that this was a dangerous concept. By equating carbon to a form of calorie counting system, we are inviting government authorities and international bureaucracies to punish food producers, limit the sale of these products, place restrictions on their advertising, and add taxes to their purchase.

Apparently not happy with one-in-nine people starving to death on Earth, the war against carbon – which has rapidly expanded to the fertilisers required to grow food – is ensuring that artificial food shortages spread to the well-fed West.

Not only is our food likely to be rated, but also the people who buy it. This happens in China under the Social Credit System (eerily similar to a carbon credit system) in which shoppers have their government ‘trustworthiness’ rating docked if they do things like indulge in a few too many Mars bars.

Aside from my suggestion that we add a BullS**t rating next to politicians and a Child Slave Labour rating against renewables technologies – what does this carbon scale mean in practical terms for Australian shoppers?

It will surprise no one that the foods punished by this carbon scale are the foods humans require to be healthy – meat, dairy products, nuts, seafood, tea, chocolate, and salads all make the ‘evil’ list. A list that, it must be pointed out, rates fresh beef, lamb, and cheese far higher on the ‘evil’ scale than soft drinks and energy drinks.

While calorie counts help people control their expanding waistlines, the carbon rating is likely to propel well-meaning climate idiots into a critically nutrient deficient diet mostly grown in a lab by chemical companies.

The food being punished is also the food grown by Australian farmers, who will wrongly find their commercial market under siege by the all-powerful advertising nightmare that is political Climate Change. No doubt, when all the small farmers are pushed out of the market, those farms will be sold on the cheep to international corporations. It is reckless for any government to allow their domestic produce industry to be vandalised by such self-destructive ideology.

Academics appear oblivious to the obvious ‘unintended consequences’ of their activism, with Professor Scarborough of Oxford University telling BBC News:

‘It fills a huge gap. Manufacturers, caterers, and retailers have targets for reaching Net Zero and they don’t have the tools they need to get there. Now they have this data and some of them are talking to us about things they can do to help people move towards sustainable food purchasing.’

There is nothing sustainable about punishing fresh food producers for creating the best quality produce in human history. It is as if humanity reached the peak of its agricultural ability only to be cut off at the knees, kicked face down in the dirt, and mulched over by a new era of food made by chemical companies and international billionaires experimenting with genetic modification and animals manipulated by vaccines to ‘reduce their emissions’.

It’s all the worst bits of the dystopian horror writers tried to warn us about.

This is coming out of a climate industry that hand-waves the enormous destruction, toxic waste, and environmental harm caused by the production of renewables. It is an activist cause that ignores the reality that chemical and pharmaceutical companies are the largest carbon emitters in the world. And it is propped up by a coalition of billionaires in the World Economic Forum whose combined business enterprises make a larger ‘carbon footprint’ than the rest of the world’s peasants who are now being ordered to stop farming and eat bugs and chemical sludge.

We keep being told that farming is not sustainable, yet farming has endured for over 10,000 years. Less than 10 years into this climate cult Net Zero policy garbage and we have acute food shortages popping up all over the world, governments being overthrown, and economies crashing into the ground.

Net Zero is unsustainable.

Net Zero is lie told to us by the used car salesmen of the international political speaking tour in an effort to sell us junk food.




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