Friday, February 03, 2023

Jordan Peterson on global warming

Long-term climate warrior Graham Readfearn has made another attempt to defend his faith in The Guardian below. It's an heroic attempt, dealing with most major issues in the matter. But his approach is a typically authoritarian one. Leftism generally is very authoritarian and Warmism is particularly so. They are always quoting some authority in defence of their beliefs -- often something as vague as "the science". So most of Readfearn's article is a series of quotes from confirmed Warmists. He does not delve into the details of the issues concerned.

It's too long an article for me to dissect point by point so let me look at just one issue to show his talent for overlooking important parts of the evidence

He refers to the John Cook study and cheerfully points out that Cook "said that of 4,000 studies that did state a position on the cause of global heating, 97% agreed that humans were the cause".

That is a perfectly accurate statement but fails to highlight that two thirds of the scientists Cook examined stated NO POSITION on global warming. That 97% was 97% of one third of scientists. So there was clearly NO CONSENSUS overall, something Readfearn was careful not to mention. As with all Leftist writing, you have to know what they leave out. If you look at the numbers instead of quoting the opinions of people who agree with you it is a very different story

Canadian psychologist and darling of conservatives and the alt-right, Jordan Peterson, has been on an all-out attack on the science of climate change and the risks of global heating.

Peterson has 6.3 million subscribers on his YouTube channel, and his videos also run as audio podcasts on platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

Since December, Peterson has been on something of a crusade publishing four interviews – each more than 90 minutes long – collectively amassing more than 2.2m views on YouTube alone.

The titles of Peterson’s latest offerings give a flavour of the content. “The World is not Ending”, “Unsettled: Climate and Science” and “The Great Climate Con”.

Last year Peterson came in for scathing criticism from climate scientists after claiming climate models were mostly useless. Peterson had badly misunderstood how models work, they said, with one saying: “He sounds intelligent, but he’s completely wrong.”

The criticism appears to have done little to discourage him from wading in even further. Peterson’s popularity among conservatives and, judging by many of the comments he receives, his almost God-like status among his fans, is helping to expose new audiences to old arguments on climate change.

One interview with retired MIT meteorologist Prof Richard Lindzen – a well-known veteran of contrarianism among climate science deniers – ran under the title “Climate Science: What Does it Say?”.

Let’s dive in. Lindzen’s answer was predictable. He has been arguing for three decades there is little to worry about from rising temperatures or adding CO2 to the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels.

During the interview, Lindzen repeated many of his beliefs related to the fundamentals of climate science, such as doubts about how much warming adding CO2 to the atmosphere will cause.

Prof Steve Sherwood, of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, described several of Lindzen’s arguments as “very old zombie points” that were never fair “and have become much less true over time.”

‘That’s not true’

For example, Peterson argued – and Lindzen agreed – the “putative contribution of carbon dioxide to global warming” might be swamped by the margin of error of the contribution of another important greenhouse gas – water vapor.

“That’s really sad if that’s true,” says Peterson.

“That’s not true,” says Prof Piers Forster, an atmospheric physicist at the University of Leeds. “For more than half a century laboratory measurements, balloon measurements and detailed radiative transfer calculations have been able to calculate the greenhouse effect of both CO2 and water vapour to within a few percent.”

Sherwood adds the effect of carbon dioxide on the atmosphere was “not putative,” but rather was “measurable from space and guaranteed by simple physical principles that has been understood for well over a century and have been used successfully for many decades in all sorts of technological applications such as infrared sensors and telescopes.”

Science from 2001?

Lindzen refers to the findings of a 2001 UN-backed climate assessment – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment report of which he was one of many lead authors – saying it had found the planet had warmed by 0.5C and that this was “mostly” caused by humans.

This was small, Lindzen claimed, and suggested the world was not very sensitive to adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

Putting aside the question of why a conversation about the findings of the IPCC should discuss a report from 20 years ago when there have been three more up-to-date volumes since, Sherwood says Lindzen’s statement on the sensitivity of the planet to CO2 “is complete rubbish.”

“Lindzen and other sceptics have produced no refutation to the extensive evidence-based calculations presented in the most recent IPCC report,” Sherwood said, pointing also to a study he led in 2020.

Lindzen also claimed there were almost as many temperature stations around the world showing cooling as there were showing warming.

This was “flat wrong”, Sherwood said, while Forster added “pretty much all the long-term calibrated stations show a warming”.

Raising sea level

As the oceans heat up and ice sheets and glaciers melt, the world’s sea level has been rising. This has the potential to reshape the world’s coastlines and increase the risk of flooding in coastal cities around the world.

But Lindzen claimed that in the next 50 to 75 years, there could be only a few inches of sea level rise “but there’s no evidence there will be much more”. Young people of today will have little to worry about, he said.

But observations of sea level tell a different story. Since 1900, the global average sea level has gone up by about 20cm, and studies show the rate of rise is accelerating and is now more than double the average across the 20th century.

Prof John Church, an expert on sea level change at the University of New South Wales, said even on the current annual rate of 4mm of sea level rise – which was accelerating – Lindzen was underestimating what was known to be coming in the future.

The latest IPCC report says the world can expect 20cm of sea level rise by 2050 from where they were at the end of the 20th century – regardless of how much CO2 is emitted. By the end of the century, the rise could be approaching a metre or more, depending on how much CO2 is emitted and how quickly ice sheets melt.

That’s more than a few inches.

Attack the consensus

There’s a whole field of academic study on the social and psychological dynamics of climate science denial. Manufacturing doubt erodes public support for climate action. Public awareness that almost all climate scientists agree climate change is real and is caused by humans is seen as an important part of the public’s climate literacy.

So attacks on that consensus have been consistent over decades. Lindzen was asked about this.

While he said most scientists – including him – would accept that adding CO2 to the atmosphere would cause some warming, he attacked one of the most high-profile studies on scientific consensus that found 97% of climate studies agreed global warming was caused by humans.

Lindzen said: “There are some studies like one by a man called Cook that were just bogus. They ended up looking at 50 papers specially selected… it was nonsense.”

That “man called Cook” is Dr John Cook whose 2013 study while at the University of Queensland assessed 11,000 scientific papers – not 50 – published between 1991–2011.

Cook said that of 4,000 studies that did state a position on the cause of global heating, 97% agreed that humans were the cause.

Cook said: “Lindzen cherry picks a small part of our data – narrowing in on the studies that quantify the amount of human-causation – then criticises our study for not including many studies.”

Cook’s study is one of at least seven to have found very high levels of agreement among climate scientists that humans cause climate change.

Consistently wrong

Cook adds: “Ignoring inconvenient scientific research is a common pattern from Lindzen.

“He ignores the many years of scientific research finding that reinforcing feedbacks make our climate sensitive to greenhouse warming. This is why he continues to make the same debunked arguments we’ve been hearing for decades now. “

Forster said Lindzen had been “consistently proved wrong” and since his involvement in the IPCC 22 years ago “warming is increasing at an unprecedented rate.”

“Experts have important roles but science is not just opinion,” he said “We all need to become fact checkers and look to trusted bodies such as the IPCC – which assesses all published work, including Lindzen’s, and objectively tells it how it is.

“There have been three major IPCC reports since [2001]. All the reports tell us that climate change is real, bad, and getting worse.”


Democrats Hamstring Their Own Green Agenda

Since Grover Cleveland was president, no one has accused the average politician of being principled or even consistent. Year after year, Republicans claim to care about fiscal prudence but, when in power, spend like Democrats.

In their turn, Democrats insist that they want to engineer a transition to a green-energy economy, but their actions contradict this goal.

Of course, you would miss these contradictions if you looked only at the effort Democrats pour into distributing green-energy subsidies.

The infrastructure bill of 2021 and the Inflation Reduction Act adopted last year included enormous subsidies for green energy. Then Congress doubled down by enacting the $1.7 trillion omnibus bill at the end of 2022.

This bill includes large funding increases for clean energy and other climate-related programs, including the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, biofuel research and development, and other agencies’ climate research agendas.

Looking at the subsidies alone, you could believe that Democrats are all-in on using the government to impose green energy. But such a focus is too narrow.

For one thing, most innovations capable of truly addressing climate change are likely yet to be discovered by the private sector. Betting that the few options picked and heavily favored by government officials — namely solar and wind — will prove to be the best options is risky.

And, in fact, government incentives could be counterproductive as they direct investment toward politically alluring but scientifically or economically unpromising options, while leaving genuinely promising options underfunded regardless of their merits.

We have seen this happen before with the Section 1705 green energy program, when Energy department funding attracted many private investors to the now-defunct Solyndra and Abound solar.

Another contradiction marring the Democrats’ approach to green energy is that they want to pay for the subsidies by dramatically increasing taxes on income and capital gains.

That’s counterproductive, since heavily taxing capital gains will reduce private-sector innovation and investments, including green energy projects.

Furthermore, neither subsidies nor taxes on income or wealth do much to curb energy usage. For this outcome, user fees applied to energy would be more appropriate. Yet Democrats, being more interested in soaking the rich, continue to obsess over income and capital gains.

Greater reliance on green energy also requires a stupendous increase in mineral extraction to provide the needed materials.

Even if the world unquestionably possessed the mineral capacity necessary for the global energy transformation envisioned by President Biden, Democrats in practice are enemies of mining.

The U.S. Mining Association estimates that the country has $6.2 trillion of recoverable mineral resources like copper and zinc available for mining on millions of acres of federal, state and private lands.

Unfortunately, our labor, health and climate regulations often make it practically impossible to profitably mine. As a result, these precious resources stay in the ground, which explains why the United States went from being the world’s No. 1 producer of minerals in 1990 to seventh place today.

Democrats committed to a green-energy transition should make it a priority to reform counterproductive regulations like the National Environmental Policy Act and to implement other permitting reforms.

Yet for the most part they won’t do so, as we saw when they helped strike down the permitting deal cut last year between Senators Schumer and Manchin. This is especially maddening because the permitting burden has been shown to fail to do much to protect the environment.

Making things worse, when given an opportunity, Democrats will go as far as to proactively wall off undeveloped mineral-rich deposits, restricting any hope of future supply increase.

That’s what Interior Secretary Deb Haaland just did when she declared Minnesota’s Superior National Forest, home to an abundance of materials necessary for electric vehicle parts, off limits for mining.

If Democrats were consistent, they would be willing to give up on certain climate goals to keep minerals in the ground. But they won’t do that either.

As a result, the United States now relies on countries with unsavory governments, many of which use slave labor, to supply us with the minerals we need to generate green energy.

And let’s not forget that our reliance on foreign mineral mining is somehow happening as the administration continues to insist on cumbersome “made in America” requirements in other parts of the economy.

As I said, no one has ever accused politicians of being paragons of consistency.


'Smart Cities' are just municipal authoritarianism

From the 15-minute city to the ever extending use of surveillance to control out lives, city governments' green agenda is creating a new authoritarianism

I live in a West Yorkshire village, a place the Americans would call an ‘exurb’, filled with people who commute to a variety of locations for work, leisure and the everyday tasks of an ordinary life. At the junction of Keighley Road and Bingley Road just as you leave the village northwards if you look carefully you’ll see, high up on a lamppost at that corner, a little black camera. It’s an ANPR - 'automatic number plate recognition’ - camera. I’m not remotely paranoid but you do have to ask why our government wants such a camera in such a safe, rural place. And the answer, I suppose, lies in the enthusiasm of municipal leaderships for what they call the ‘smart city’.

Back in October I wrote a short piece for the Daily Telegraph about Oxford County Council’s plans for ‘traffic filters’ in Oxford itself. In the weeks since that article was published there have been a collection of ever more spectacular claims about the proposals. At the heart of these claims, often from the join-the-dots world of Covid and climate scepticism, is the belief that the ‘traffic filters’ are part of wider plans to confine us all to our homes so as to save the planet from the terrors of climate change.

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“In Oxford, and in a similar scheme in Canterbury, councils will require residents to have a permit to work elsewhere in the city and will limit the number of times they can drive across the boundary of their allocated 15-minute zone. If you don’t comply, the city’s automatic number-plate recognition systems will allow the council to levy a £70 fine.”

As a result the leader of Oxford County Council stood hesitatingly in front of a camera and denied any plans for ‘climate lockdown’ and accused unnamed people “...including the national press” of promoting scare stories that resulted in lots of people contacting the council worried that, as I put it in my piece “’ll need a permit to visit your mum a few streets away and can only do this twice a week.”

Various versions of Carlos Moreno’s ‘15 Minute City’ have been drawn up all based on the original Parisian scheme. A scheme that Moreno explicitly linked to climate change and ‘net zero’ and then asserted how the Covid pandemic made introducing his ideas possible - “Were it not for Covid-19, I think that the conditions for deploying the 15-minute city concept would have been very hard to instigate…but the catastrophe of the pandemic has seen us drastically change how we live – it has forced us to reassess the nature and quality of our urban lifestyles.”


Unions and green groups clash on carbon offsets

The Australian Workers Union and Mining and Energy Union have attacked conservation and clean-energy groups trying to block fossil fuel companies from accessing carbon offsets under Labor’s tougher safeguard mechanism, warning that heavy industries could “collapse”.

The unions said the mechanism, which will force the nation’s 215 biggest-emitting facilities to slash pollution by nearly 5 per cent each year to 2030, must include Australian Carbon Credit Unit offsets and safeguard credits for fossil fuel industries to help their transition and avoid carbon leakage.

BP and Orica, which have facilities captured by the safeguard mechanism, along with the Business Council of Australia and Minerals Council of Australia have strongly backed access to carbon credits and trading to ­accelerate emissions reduction.

In a joint AWU-MEU submission to a Senate inquiry into Labor’s safeguard mechanism (crediting) amendment bill, the unions endorsed Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen’s draft plan but warned “it is impossible to apply a single approach to reducing emissions across many industries”. The unions, representing 90,000 blue-collar workers, said “the design of the safeguard mechanism will have a significant impact” on industrial facilities that underpin regional economies.

“Australia’s heavy industries continue to provide good pay and conditions to thousands of people across the country, and our members are keen to play a role in supporting Australia through the energy transition,” the submission said. “A successful transition of Australia’s industrial sector also has the opportunity to place Australia as a clean-energy superpower, creating new job ­opportunities for coal workers and across the broader economy.

“By contrast, a poor transition that fails to consider Australia’s international competitiveness could see our industries collapse.”

Amid calls from the private sector for a bipartisan agreement on the mechanism, the Coalition has flagged it will oppose the emissions crackdown while Greens leader Adam Bandt is ­demanding new coal and gas projects be scrapped in return for his support in the Senate.

The AWU and MEU said the mechanism, due to start in July, was the most significant energy policy imposed on heavy industry since the now-repealed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

They said higher-grade Australian thermal and metallurgical coal exports would remain essential globally for years. “Some commentary has suggested that fossil fuel projects should be excluded from the use of carbon offsets or otherwise treated differently from safeguard facilities.

“This misguided proposal fails to recognise that Australian coal and natural gas have a role to play in the world’s transition to lower emissions, and it also disregards carbon leakage risks.”

The Australian Conservation Foundation said coal and gas ­facilities should not have access to carbon credits and be excluded from a $600m fund supporting their low-emissions transition.

ACF climate and energy manager Gavan McFadzean told The Australian “fossil fuel industries have had a free ride on polluting with a toothless safeguard mechanism for the last seven years”.

“The fossil fuel sector has had plenty of time to prepare for this, but has chosen not to prepare and is now crying the sky is going to fall in,” Mr McFadzean said.

Orica, whose ammonium nitrate manufacturing sites in Newcastle and Gladstone fall under the safeguard mechanism, said it supported the “thrust” of the new regime but was “concerned with the erosion of the existing deemed surrender provision and investment uncertainty”.

“Deemed surrender enables an entity to surrender ACCUs to government to achieve an emissions reduction and to also receive payment under an ERF carbon abatement contract,” Orica said.

The chemical giant said deemed surrender had helped it “meet our voluntary corporate emissions reduction commitments and monetise our ACCUs”.

BP, whose facilities under the safeguard mechanism include the Kwinana refinery, said it supports a “market-based policy … to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

“It is BP’s view that the crediting of emissions performance below the safeguard baseline and the ability to trade those credits is essential to the reformed mechanism … ” BP said. “It encourages entities to reduce their emissions beyond what is required … if it is cost-effective to do so. This supports efficiency across safeguard entities, with the market determining the lowest cost abatement pathway for the sector.”

The Australian Aluminium Council, whose members operate several bauxite mines, six alumina refineries and four aluminium smelters captured by the safeguard mechanism, said short-term carbon credits and offsets were crucial because low-emissions technologies were still being developed.




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