Monday, July 06, 2015



Red Tape on Steroids — the Obama War on Consumers

Consumers and businesses won big at the Supreme Court on Monday.

The justices struck down an Environmental Protection Agency regulation on coal-plant emissions on the grounds that the EPA failed to consider whether the costs outweighed the benefits. Not the cost to government, mind you. The cost to us, as consumers and business owners, to comply.

The Court's 5-4 decision in Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency is a setback for the Obama administration, but an important protection for the rest of us.

Federal over-regulation - of everything from automobiles to fast food and power plants - makes it more expensive for employers to hire workers and more expensive for consumers to buy everyday products. Amazingly, 29 percent of what the average household spends is due to regulations jacking up prices.

We could all afford a lot more if there were fewer regulations.

Some are needed to protect our health and safety, of course. But Washington, DC, overdoes it.

Monday's court ruling is a red flag to regulators to measure the costs and benefits to society before deciding to pile on another regulation.

The lawsuit against the EPA was brought by the coal industry and 21 states reliant on coal plants. Though the regulation, limiting emissions of mercury and other metals, only went into effect this April, dozens of coal plants already had closed to avoid the cost of complying, estimated at a whopping $10 billion nationwide.

The court's ruling will not undo those plant closings. They are casualties in Obama's war on coal.

In Monday's ruling, Justice Antonin Scalia raked the EPA over the coals, saying it "refused to consider whether the costs of its decision outweighed the benefits. The Agency gave cost no thought at all, because it considered cost irrelevant to its initial decision to regulate."

Congress opposes the president's crusade against coal, so the EPA found a provision in a law already on the books - the Clean Air Act of 1970 - to justify regulating metallic emissions from coal plants where "appropriate and necessary."

Scalia raged that it's not "even rational, never mind ‘appropriate,' to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health and environmental benefits."

Requiring cost-benefit analysis originated with Ronald Reagan in 1981. But it's only part of the remedy, since regulators will play fast and loose with the numbers to justify their regulations.

The problem, explained Justice Clarence Thomas in his concurring opinion, is that Congress gives agencies too much leeway to decide when to regulate. It's inevitable they'll overdo it - regulation is their business. The undemocratic result is regulation without representation.

Obama's regulatory strategy can best be described as red tape on steroids. Regulations imposing more than $100 million in yearly compliance costs are up 41 percent over what the George W. Bush administration imposed, even though Bush over-regulated as well.

These proliferating regulations take money out of your pocket - for example, adding $44 to the cost of a dishwasher, $83 to the price of a refrigerator and $1,357 to a new car (which will soar to $3,157 in 2017), according to economists at the American Action Forum.

And then there's the cost to our democracy. Obama's EPA is also rolling out another scheme - the Clean Power Plan - against the will of Congress. It'll force states to close coal plants and make greater use of alternative-energy sources while cutting their use of fossil fuels.

Harvard constitutional law professor Lawrence Tribe is urging his old student, Barack Obama, to obey the Constitution.

"Frustration with congressional inaction cannot justify throwing the Constitution overboard," he warned recently.

Twelve states are now suing the EPA to halt this scheme as well. Obama's EPA lost in the Supreme Court on Monday.

But the president, ruling with a pen and phone and without Congress, bullies on.

SOURCE





Will High Court ruling save Britain's most glorious coastline from wind farms invasion?

Plans to erect thousands of wind turbines across some of Britain’s most picturesque vistas have been thrown into disarray by a landmark High Court ruling.

Cornwall County Council has been forced to accept it acted unlawfully when it gave the go-ahead for a 250ft eyesore near a beautiful stretch of coastline – throwing doubt on about 4,000 other turbines it wants to erect.

The ruling followed damning claims of a cosy relationship between a ‘green’ energy company and a planning officer who misled elected councillors about the scale of protest.

He failed to properly consult locals – at one stage using just a postcard pinned to a parish noticeboard to alert them of the planned blot on their landscape – failed to pass on objections from English Heritage and the National Trust; and relied on dubious figures about how much energy the turbine would generate.

Retired police officer Peter Waller brought the judicial review as part of his fight against a planned turbine 400 yards from his cottage near Newquay. In it, he complained of the relationship between Clean Earth Energy and planning officer Ellis Crompton-Brown, who has recommended that other of the company’s wind projects go ahead.

Campaigners claim the case demonstrates the danger of a national policy of allowing developers to pay a council to have the planning officer of their choice.

Mr Waller said: ‘If this turbine had gone ahead, life here would have been miserable. I should be happy that I have won, but I really want those responsible for this to be held to account. Mr Crompton-Brown and head of planning Phil Mason should be made to apologise for what they have done and disciplined.’

He also questioned the value of the guidance given by planning offers who he claims ‘are expected to promote such projects’ in line with the council policy.

Emails between Mr Crompton-Brown and Clean Earth showed the firm assumed it could press ahead with work even before a final planning meeting had been held.

Mr Crompton-Brown failed to include a detailed objection from English Heritage in a report to the planning committee. Key among its fears was the impact on views from Trerice, a Grade I listed Elizabethan manor house, and other beauty spots. A landscape architect with the National Trust, which owns Trerice, also wrote to Mr Crompton-Brown about his concerns, but this, too, was withheld from the committee. Meanwhile Clean Earth claimed the turbines would be 30 per cent efficient, well above the usual 23 per cent.

Following the ruling, several previous applications involving Mr Crompton-Brown and Clean Earth are to be scrutinised. Mr Waller’s lawyers say this is ‘far from an isolated case’.

Danny Mageean, of anti-turbine pressure group Cornwall Protect, said: ‘Far too much power is delegated to planning officers, who are sometimes not immune to the will of their political masters.’

He also said turbines would affect Cornwall’s vital tourist trade, saying they have replaced church towers as the dominant structures in the landscape

Planning chief Mr Mason said that, of the 9,200 planning and enforcement decisions the council makes each year, fewer than five are typically challenged by judicial review, less than half of which succeed. He added that he has ‘full confidence’ in Mr Crompton-Brown, who declined to comment.

Clean Earth Energy said it was ‘unfortunate’ that the council did not defend itself in the judicial review and added: ‘We work in a transparent manner.’

SOURCE





Fracking hell: the green war on progress

A UK council’s refusal to allow shale-gas exploration is very bad news

In the US, the ‘shale-gas revolution’ has brought down energy prices substantially and enabled a switch from burning coal to gas, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. The ‘dash for gas’, based on North Sea gas, was a major reason the UK managed to reduce emissions in the past. So when large deposits of shale gas were found in Lancashire, it was good news, right? At a time when supplies of gas from the North Sea are dwindling, Britain potentially had a new supply of energy that was cheap(ish) and relatively clean.

Prime minister David Cameron renewed his support for shale gas in January this year: ‘I want to see unconventional gas properly exploited in our country… I think there are good reasons for doing this. We want to have greater energy security, we want to keep prices down, we also want to tackle climate change. The most important thing that needs to happen is for some exploratory wells to be dug and all would see local communities are benefiting from [fracking].’

The decision by Lancashire County Council to reject two applications for exploratory drilling is, therefore, hugely disappointing. The decision was surrounded by a veritable circus of green groups spreading scare stories about fracking. So Frack Free Lancashire could claim: ‘We know that fracking carries serious risks to local people, to our health, our water, our wildlife, and contributes to climate change.’ This flies in the face of a report by Public Health England, revised in 2014: ‘PHE has reviewed the literature on the potential public-health impacts of exposures to chemical and radioactive pollutants as a result of shale-gas extraction. We conclude that the currently available evidence indicates that the potential risks to public health in the vicinity of shale-gas extraction sites will be low if shale-gas extraction is properly run and regulated.’

The Cuadrilla proposals were rejected on the grounds of visual impact and increased traffic on rural roads, not the safety of fracking itself, which has been pored over at great length. But a decision on the basis of visual impact and heavy traffic seems to condemn industrialisation in general. How can there possibly be economic development without traffic or some changes to the skyline? It also seems to suggest a preference for one kind of development over another. Windfarms clearly have a massive visual impact on rural areas and, unless they were installed by magic pixies, wind turbines are carried to their sites on large road vehicles. But wind is good, gas is bad, it seems.

In truth, green groups simply don’t want fossil fuels to be used at all, despite their enormous benefits for society. Indeed, many greens are really arguing for a society based on zero economic growth. Of course, such an attitude is not exactly popular among people who want jobs and decent living standards rather than an existence based on nut roast, crochet and folk singing. So instead of an honest debate about how we move society forward, we get scare stories about poisoned water tables or the safety risks of heavy-goods vehicles on rural roads. In that context, and with little support for development beyond that from the companies involved, local residents prefer to play safe.

If we want to generate wealth and, in the process, make our lives more comfortable and open up new possibilities for humanity, we need industrialisation in general and more energy production in particular. Shale gas is just the canary in the coal mine of a wider rejection of economic growth. The poisonous arguments of environmentalists need to be taken on. The problem, as Daniel Ben-Ami has frequently argued, is that this scepticism about growth runs right to the top of society. In the absence of a counterweight to the arguments about growth, sustainability and precaution, we will all end up worse off.

SOURCE





British green subsidies in the budget firing line

George Osborne to abolish coalition's green tax target as customers face paying £1.5billion more through their bills to subsidise wind farms, solar panels and biomas plants

The cost of subsidising new wind farms is spiralling out of control, government sources have privately warned.

Officials admitted that so-called “green” energy schemes will require a staggering £9 billion a year in subsidies - paid for by customers - by 2020. This is £1.5 billion more than the maximum limit the coalition had originally planned.

The mounting costs will mean every household in the country is forced to pay an estimated £170 a year by the end of the decade to support the renewable electricity schemes that were promoted by the coalition.

Tory ministers are said to be "angry" at the scale of the over-running costs. They are blaming the Liberal Democrats who ran the Department for Energy and Climate Change for the past five years for the spectacular failure to control renewable energy programmes.

The huge excess spending is thought to be a result of higher-than-expected numbers of rooftop solar panels being fitted on houses, falling wholesale energy prices, and offshore wind farms proving more productive than anticipated.

The Chancellor believes the figures demonstrate the need to rein in the cost of policies to tackle climate change.

As a first step, he will use this week’s summer Budget to announce that he is abandoning targets set under the coalition to increase the level of environmental taxes in a move he hopes will save customers and businesses billions of pounds.

This Budget will be Mr Osborne’s first opportunity to exercise complete control over setting environmental tax rates, and subsidies for wind and solar power, without being constrained by Liberal Democrats.

Under the coalition, ministers decided that investment in new renewable energy developments, such as wind turbines, solar panels and biomass schemes, would be paid for by energy companies, rather than through taxation.

Energy firms were allowed to recover the cost of these subsidies from their customers by adding it to household bills.

In order to limit the impact of the green schemes on customers, ministers set a strict cap on the total amount that could be spent in these consumer-funded subsidies for renewable energy.

By 2020, the maximum amount to be spent through these subsidies was set at £7.6 billion a year. But new projections from DECC show this cap will be exceeded by a massive 20 per cent, or another £1.5 billion.

Official figures showed that environmental levies added £68 to the average household bill last year. By 2020 this had been expected to rise to £141. But the latest DECC figures suggest the true figure will be closer to £170 as costs continue to mount.

One million people are living in homes with solar panels on the roof

Government sources say there is little that Mr Osborne can do because the subsidies have already been agreed under long-term contracts signed by DECC while Liberal Democrat ministers were in charge.

However, the Chancellor will review the system to see whether further steps can be taken to cut the cost of climate change schemes such as the subsidies, sources said.

In previous years the Chancellor has tried to help businesses cope with punitive environment policies in Britain and across Europe by providing tax relief. He has warned that forcing steel mills and aluminium smelters to shut down and relocate outside Britain will not help “save the planet”.

However, in coalition, DECC was run for five years by Liberal Democrat ministers, firstly Chris Huhne, and then Ed Davey, while Nick Clegg, the party leader was passionately committed to protecting the environment.

In Wednesday’s Budget Mr Osborne will abandon the coalition’s target to increase the proportion of taxation raised from key environmental taxes, such as the Carbon Price Floor, charged on fossil fuels, and the Climate Change Levy, which businesses pay on their energy use.

SOURCE





Republican Governors Signal Their Intent to Thwart Obama’s Climate Rules

As President Obama prepares to complete sweeping regulations aimed at tackling climate change, at least five Republican governors, including two presidential hopefuls, say they may refuse to carry out the rules in their states.

The resistance threatens to ignite a fierce clash between federal and state authorities, miring the climate rules in red tape for years. The fight could also undermine Mr. Obama’s efforts to urge other nations to enact similar plans this year as part of a major United Nations climate change accord.

Republican strategists say that rejection of Mr. Obama’s climate policy at the state level could emerge as a conservative litmus test in the 2016 election. Two of the governors who have said that they might defy the regulations — Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana — are among at least four Republican governors who are expected to vie for the presidential nomination.

Other governors who have issued threats over the rules include Greg Abbott of Texas, Mike Pence of Indiana and Mary Fallin of Oklahoma.

The governors’ actions have come after the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, opened a campaign earlier this year urging all governors to refuse to carry out the climate change rules.

Mr. McConnell sent a letter to every governor in March, and he has continued his push in meetings and phone calls. In addition, his staff has been working closely with regulators and environmental officials in many state governments, helping them shape legal strategies to block the rules.

“As governors begin to seriously look at what these plans will look like, we expect more and more governors will follow Senator McConnell’s lead,” said Robert Steurer, a spokesman for Mr. McConnell.

The fate of Mr. Obama’s climate change agenda, which he hopes will be a cornerstone of a major environmental legacy, depends heavily on the compliance of state governments.

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a draft regulation that stands at the heart of the president’s efforts to fight global warming. The proposed rule assigns each state a level by which it must reduce its planet-warming carbon emissions from electric power plants. Under the rule, which the administration expects to release in its final form in August, every state will have one year to draft a customized plan detailing how it will comply.

States, for example, could submit plans to shut down heavily polluting coal plants, replacing them with natural gas plants and wind, solar and nuclear power generators, and to improve energy efficiency in buildings. They could also enact taxes on carbon pollution, or join regional “cap and trade” programs, which require companies to pay for government-issued pollution permits.

The White House envisions the plan as a trigger that will prompt a transformation of the American electricity system, shifting it from dependence on fossil fuels to a reliance on renewable and low-carbon energy sources.

But some governors call the proposal a federal intrusion on their authority.

“The E.P.A.’s latest attempt at imposing burdensome regulations represents an unprecedented meddling with Texas in order to push the Obama administration’s liberal climate change agenda,” said Mr. Abbott, the Texas governor, who has met with Mr. McConnell about his effort to ensure that states do not submit climate change plans, and has announced that he will support the push.

Michael Reed, a spokesman for Mr. Jindal, said in an email: “The president’s Clean Power Plan undermines the role of states in the federal Clean Air Act in an effort to realize a radical, liberal agenda that will lead to increased energy costs. While we believe the proposed rule should be immediately withdrawn, we are considering all options to mitigate the damage if it becomes final, including not submitting a plan.”

In a letter to Mr. Obama, Governor Walker wrote that he feared the “staggering costs it would inflict on Wisconsin’s homes and businesses,” and added that absent major changes to the plan, “it is difficult to envision how Wisconsin can responsibly construct a state plan.”

Given the volatile politics, the Obama administration is preparing for some states to reject the proposal. The E.P.A. is drafting a model state-level plan to have at the ready if states refuse to submit their own plans.

Administration officials say it is in states’ interest to design their own plans, which would be customized to meet the needs of their local and regional economies.

“E.P.A. has an obligation under the Clean Air Act to develop a model federal plan, something that many states have asked E.P.A. to do so it can provide an example for states developing their own plans,” said Thomas Reynolds, a spokesman for the agency. “E.P.A.’s strong preference is to approve state plans, but we know that setting out a federal plan is an important step to ensure that our Clean Air Act requirements are fulfilled.”

Environmental policy experts say that the federal government could ultimately force a policy created in Washington on the economies of each state. But that could mean the process would be extended for years.

“If the federal government has to enforce this program if the state is unwilling or unable to comply, it will drag out the process, exacerbate the challenges, and make implementation that much more difficult,” said William Becker, the executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies.

But for presidential candidates promoting their conservative credentials, highlighting the difficulties of federal regulation may be precisely the point.

Michael McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist and political strategist, has advised governors to reject the plan.

“When this rule is final, people are going to have to say whether they’re in favor of it or against it, and political activists, voters in Republican primaries, are going to look at it,” he said. “It’s going to be on the test.”

SOURCE





Historic Climate Court Decision in the Netherlands

And Americans complain about SCOTUS over-reach!

Big news from the Netherlands, where a court just decided that the government was not doing enough to combat climate change. Yep. You read that right.

“The state must do more to reverse the imminent danger caused by climate change, given also its duty to protect and improve the environment,” the court said in its ruling.

The court’s decision is being seen as not only a victory for environmentalists, but also for human rights advocates worldwide. This is the first attempt by European citizens to hold the state accountable for potentially devastating inaction on climate change. It’s also the first case in the world in which human rights are used as a legal basis to protect citizens against climate change, according to the Urgenda Foundation.

“This makes it crystal clear that climate change is a huge problem that needs to be dealt with much more effectively, and that states can no longer afford inaction,” said Marjan Minnesma, a Dutch citizen and one of the plaintiffs in the case. “States are meant to protect their citizens, and if politicians will not do this of their own accord, then the courts are there to help.”

The logic behind the court case was, actually, quite simple. As Minnesma stated above, governments have an obligation to protect us, its citizens, from dangers. And few dangers have as widespread, potentially devastating impacts as climate change. Attempts to both plan for, and mitigate, emissions require incredible coordination between governments, businesses and citizens.

You would think the Netherlands would get it. Of all the countries in Europe, it is one of the most vulnerable. It is a very low-lying nation, with significant land-area below sea level, leaving it highly susceptible to even a small sea-level rise. Moreover, one of its national symbols is the windmill, showing its place as an early-adopter and developer of wind-technology.

Yet, the Netherlands is lagging behind its neighbors in installing clean energy, and in cutting carbon emissions. The decision, which can be appealed, would force the country to cut its emissions

SOURCE

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Sunday, July 05, 2015



New paper finds Mediterranean Sea was up to 7C warmer than present during the Pliocene

In a Greenie coal-free paradise



Regional and global significance of Pliocene sea surface temperatures from the Gulf of Cadiz (Site U1387) and the Mediterranean

Alexandrina Tzanova and  Timothy D. Herbert

Abstract

The Atlantic – Mediterranean water exchange is a component of global ocean circulation capable of influencing deep water formation in the North Atlantic, yet it is poorly constrained for the time period preceding the intensification of Northern Hemisphere Glaciation (NHG). The sea surface temperature (SST) gradient between the Atlantic and Mediterranean sides of the Strait of Gibraltar can shed light on the communication between the two basins. IODP Site U1387 in the Gulf of Cadiz provides the first alkenone based reconstruction of SST for the Atlantic waters that flowed into the Mediterranean Sea during the Pliocene. This site reflects open ocean North Atlantic subtropical temperature trends while the published SST records from the Rossello composite section (Sicily) in the Mediterranean reflect the addition of regional, continentally-influenced signals from Europe and Northern Africa. The Mediterranean, in particular, may be influenced by high latitude Northern hemisphere climatic evolution. In the modern regime the sites discussed in this work have comparable SST and uninhibited surface connection; however, change in local heat loss/gain over the Mediterranean due to variability in latent heat loss and obstructed connection can result in a gradient between the sites in the Pliocene. The Pliocene surface waters of the Gulf of Cadiz and the Mediterranean Sea were as much as 7°C warmer than the modern average of ~ 19-20°C. The reconstructed temperatures show a ~ 1°C cooling for the Atlantic side of the Strait of Gibraltar from ~ 6 Ma to ~ 2.7 Ma and increasingly cooler glacials. The long-term SST record from Site U1387 provides a basis for future studies into the hydrological balance of the Mediterranean and the temperature component of Mediterranean Outflow Water (MOW) density. We compared SST on either side of Gibraltar between ~ 3.4 – 2.7 Ma and found that between ~ 2.7 and ~ 3.1 Ma the Mediterranean and Atlantic surface waters show comparable average temperatures and comparable variance.

Global and Planetary Change. Available online 4 July 2015. In Press, Accepted Manuscript





German silliness

Germany to "mothball" largest coal power plants to meet climate targets -- but will switch them on whenever "renewables are not delivering!  It would almost certainly be cheaper and safer to leave them in spinning reserve.  You can't fire up such things instantaneously.  Perhaps that is really what they are going to do

Germany agreed on Thursday to mothball about five of the country’s largest brown coal power plants to meet its climate goals by 2020, after months of wrangling between the parties in chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition.

But Merkel and the leaders of her two junior coalition partners also, in effect, agreed to set up a “capacity reserve” system where utilities could switch on the brown coal plants if there were power shortages in the country.

An economy ministry spokesman said the decision on brown coal would mean Germany could meet its goal of reducing German CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020 compared to 1990. The goal is much more ambitious than the EU-wide target of the same cut by 2030.

“Brown coal-fired plants with a capacity of 2.7 gigawatts will be mothballed. Those plants will not be allowed to sell any electricity on the normal power market,” said a spokesman for the economy ministry after the talks which lasted four hours.

In a television interview, economy minister Sigmar Gabriel expanded on the plans, which are part of Germany’s switch to renewable energy away from nuclear and fossil fuels.

“We need a capacity reserve on the power market in case there are shortages due to the switch to renewables. The reserve will be made up of brown coal,” Gabriel told ARD television.

Gabriel originally proposed putting a levy on CO2 emitted by the oldest and most-polluting power stations above a certain threshold to help curb CO2 emissions from the coal sector by a further 22m tonnes by 2020.

But he faced a backlash from industry, with unions saying the plan could put up to 100,000 jobs at risk and lead to the decline of the mining and power generation industries.

The utility companies lobbied hard against the levy and demanded compensation for an alternative reserve option.

While the levy now seems to be scrapped, it is unclear whether companies such as RWE or Vattenfall Europe will get compensation payments or not.

Gabriel also said the leaders of the coalition had agreed that taxpayers should not end up paying for provisions for the costs of the nuclear phase-out.

“We agreed that we want to ensure, a bit like parents being responsible for their children, that a situation doesn’t arise where, due to changes within companies, taxpayers have to pay for the provisions,” Gabriel said.

SOURCE





Germany’s Green Energy Transition May Be Running Out Of Money, Study Warns

The expansion of Green energy is costing billions. The strain on utilities is so heavy that they threaten to fall away as capital providers. Other investors are needed – but that is easier said than done.

The German energy transition has cost more than 100 billion euros so far. It has hit large and small electricity suppliers with force and put traditional business models in question. But 15 years after the start of the transition of the power sector with the aim of renewable, low-carbon generation, experts are asking themselves an anxious question: is the energy transition running out of money?

Quite possible, is the answer that the German section of the World Energy Council and the consultants from Roland Berger provide. In an unpublished study they come to this conclusion: “The necessary equity funds for the expansion of the network infrastructure and offshore wind can probably be provided only with the participation of alternative and international investors. High risks however make it questionable whether the investment needs can be met at a sufficient capacity and speed.”

New investors must be found

It is not about small change. At least 280 billion euros would need to be invested in the next 15 years in order to promote the politically demanded goal of the transformation of the energy system: from wind turbines, biomass plants and solar power plants to local, regional and national electricity distribution networks to large offshore wind farms. This calculation already includes “sustained political support”. Otherwise, it could get even more expensive.

The traditional energy companies – whether they be public utilities or large corporations – are no longer reliable. “Many traditional utilities, which previously financed investments in the electricity sector, mainly through their shareholders’ equity, are today with their backs to the wall,” says Uwe Franke, president of the German section of the World Energy Council, a global association of energy companies. He previously ran the business of BP Europe. Franke says, private and municipal suppliers lacked the investment funds. Therefore, new investors would have to be found to ensure “the energy transition and the security of supply.”

The prerequisites for this will vary. Money for photovoltaic systems, wind turbines on land and for biomass is there. “The necessary funds can still be provided by banks, households and project planners in the future”, according to the Berger study. In addition, the state could possibly easily help out with incentives.

“High risk and market entry barriers” and a “significantly tighter situation” are however applying to investments in offshore wind farms and networks. In 2012 two-thirds of offshore capacity were located in the hands of utilities, which had invested between one and 2 billion euros per wind farm. Here a greater commitment of other investors would be needed in the future. But that is easier said than done: “The high risk of investing in offshore wind farms, however, contradicts the risk profile of institutional investors.” Not least because laws and capital market regulations make the business hard for investors.

When it comes to the distribution networks, weakened public utilities are faced with a significant need for investment. Investors are additionally deterred by structural reasons: the fragmentation in 900 network operators and the trend towards re-municipalisation. For the expansion of the distribution networks, the German Energy Agency estimates costs from 28 to 43 billion euros by 2040.

Required equity questionable

For the transmission systems that transport electricity over long distances double-digit billion investments are needed too. Given the high amounts, it is questionable whether Tennet, Amprion, 50Hertz and Transnet BW “can muster the necessary capital resources on their own.” Funds and institutional investors could be discouraged by the associated risks of major projects like network expansion such as delays in approvals and construction. The current big resistance of the state of Bavaria against the network expansion could be included here.

According to the study, the utilities get under pressure from two sides. On one hand, many lack the capital for green energy investments. At the same time, big investors entered the market, driven by low interest rates and searching for attractive investments. Utilities could therefore lose their role as financiers and owners of installations and networks. At the same time its role as operators will be questioned by specialized project engineers and possibly soon also by equipment manufacturers.

Utilities should be more flexible, understand themselves more as a mediators and think in terms of cooperation. They could take the roles of fund initiators, fund service providers and financial investors. A business model opens at the interface of project developers and investors. “But this transition will not happen automatically,” says Franke. Utilities would have to change and understand the “energy transition as a capital transition”.

SOURCE






Encyclical Ghostwriter: Pope Francis ‘Did Not Intend to Canonize’ Scientific Theories

With the help of some rather convoluted language, American Catholic theologian Thomas Williams attempts below to row back from the plain words of the Pope

In a recent interview, Bishop Mario Toso, who co-wrote the first draft of the papal encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, denied that Pope Francis had any intention of “canonizing” scientific theories regarding climate change, but only wished to assert his authority on the moral level.

Toso, who was secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the time of the drafting of the encyclical, said that in the encyclical letter the Pope sought to offer “reflections on the anthropological and ethical issues” related to the care of creation, but that he did not wish to “impose” the results of scientific studies on anyone or to confer his moral authority on scientific opinions.

“Everyone knows that many opinions today considered ‘scientific’ are not irrefutable or incontrovertible,” he said.

“The Church has no competence on the technical and scientific level,” he said, “but rather on the anthropological and ethical levels that relate to scientific phenomenology.”

Toso’s comments come at an opportune moment, when many wonder aloud how far the Pope intended to go in endorsing scientific theories regarding the environment in his letter.

For instance, a London priest, Father Ashley Beck, recently wrote an essay, titled “No Catholic Is Free to Dissent from the Teaching of Laudato Si.” While true in its own way, such a statement could easily be misunderstood to mean that Catholics have to believe everything in the encyclical, which is not the Pope’s intent in writing it.

Much of Pope Francis’ encyclical is an appeal to discussion, rather than a definition of doctrine. He addresses the letter not just to Catholics, but to the whole world, asking for active engagement in facing our common call to responsible stewardship of the environment. He presents a point of view and asks that it may serve as a stimulus to debate.

To take just one example, when the Pope states that the “land of the southern poor is rich and mostly unpolluted,” he is not defining doctrine or asking for Catholics to nod their heads in agreement. One look at the Riachuelo Basin in the Pope’s former archdiocese of Buenos Aires—one of the most polluted places on the entire planet—is sufficient to know that there is plenty of environmental cleaning to be done in the “land of the southern poor.”

The Vatican’s doctrinal office has taught that the papal magisterium sometimes intervenes “in questions under discussion which involve, in addition to solid principles, certain contingent and conjectural elements” and notes that it often only becomes possible with the passage of time “to distinguish between what is necessary and what is contingent.”

It also noted that one must “take into account the proper character of every exercise of the Magisterium, considering the extent to which its authority is engaged.” By saying that the Pope was not intending to engage his moral authority regarding scientific opinions, Bishop Toso offers a helpful point of reference for reading the letter.

Moreover, Pope Francis specifically states that his letter forms part of the Church’s social teaching. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church offers its own guidelines for interpreting papal texts in this area. Specifically, it says that the “doctrinal weight of the different teachings and the assent required are determined by the nature of the particular teachings, by their level of independence from contingent and variable elements, and by the frequency with which they are invoked.” Obviously, where “contingent and variable elements” are themselves the matter in question, the Pope is not trying to assert any authority on the matter at all.

Francis himself, in fact, stated bluntly that “the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics.” This is important for those who find scientific opinions presented in the encyclical as unsettling.

None of this comes anywhere near “dissent” or “cafeteria Catholicism.” To refute settled Church teaching on faith and morals is one thing; to question scientific interpretations on the state of the environment or what will or might happen in the future is quite another.

“Climate change” will never, and by its nature could never, form part of Catholic doctrine, something which should give Catholic climate skeptics a little relief when they are accused of being somehow less Catholic than the Pope.

SOURCE






Sustainability

By Rich Kozlovich

Sustainable development is a phrase that's being bandied around everywhere these days. It's promoted by the United Nations as the answer to every problem in every aspect of human activity: sustainable development in agriculture, sustainable development in banking, sustainable development in tourism, sustainable development in education, and more. Let's get this right.  Sustainable development is just another effort by the left to take commonly understood words and re-define them in support of an irrational, misanthropic and morally defective ideology. Socialism!

P.T. Barnum would have been truly impressed with this trompe l'oeil, for what better way to deflect attention away from themselves, the real perpetrators of the economic mess in which the world finds itself.  And now, because they've adopted and promoted this phrase - sustainable develoment - and tout it as a philosophy, we're to believe the economic incompetents who run these socialist governments, including the United States, have an economic vision that can be implemented with them in control and it will work to humanities benefit!  We desparately need to explore this.

Just as when they use the phrase “it’s for the children” when they want some pesticide banned - after all, who could be against something that's "for the children" - they resort to these emotional appeals to prevent you from looking deeper into what they’re really promoting.   Their policies haven't been "for the children", it been  “to the children”.  For over 50 years those policies have devastated the children of the third world terribly.

Correspondingly, we had better look more deeply into the phrase “sustainable development” when they talk about economic development.  After all - Who can be against sustainability? After all isn’t sustainability something that can be done over and over again!  Who can be against development?  Isn’t development about creating more and better ways to live!  What can be wrong with any of that?

Let’s think about this for a second.  The words sustainability and development can easily be defined separately, but can they be defined as a phrase?  Are they even compatible as a philosophy?  Ask ourselves this question.   Is anything sustainable if there’s development?  We will explore that!

What happens when the two are combined and defined illogically and in a way that will generate a diametrically different goal than either sustainability or development would mean independently? What happens when the real goal isn’t the leftist mantra – we can fix everything if the world just adopts our vision of sustainable development and give us the power to define it, and unendingly re-define it, as we see fit to meet needs that only we can understand and implement according to some unknown formula?  What if the real goal is global governance under the auspices of the United Nations?

Independently both of these words are easily definable. The trick is to put these words together in order to create a phrase that is so meaningless anyone can attribute any philosophy to it they wish and call their policy “sustainable development”.

In reality the term sustainable development as a philosophy is a logical fallacy because it has no logical foundation.    Who decides what’s sustainable, and for whom?  Who decides some practice or other is or isn’t worth developing?

There are no identifiable parameters for a universal definition or modalities of action to which everyone can agree.  As a result there can be no logical foundation from which to make viable verifiable determinations for what needs to be done.  That leaves opinion - not facts, not science, not history, not results – just someone’s opinion as to how the world should function.  Make no mistake about this.  If the world accepts this there will be no level of individuality will be tolerated, including the real foundation for economic sustainability or development – personal property rights.

Here in the United States that is now, and has been, the thrust of these people from the beginning.  The elimination of personal property rights by use of the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, via their agents of tyranny at the EPA, the Wildlife Service and the Army Corp of Engineers.

They claim sustainable development is to support current and future generations. Both of which is completely incomprehensible for central planning purposes, especially by bureaucrats who’ve never had a real job. Who knows what future generations need?  Who knows what developments will arise that will change the needs of society today.  Who knows what developments will be thwarted by central planning meddling?   Who’s to say what’s best for current of future generations, and how do we know their goals and plans are benign?

Especially since - as a group – the sustainable development mob thinks – mostly privately lest the world find out how insane their vision of the world really is – the world has between four and six billion too many people.  So why does anyone think a massive infusion of regulations and taxes implemented by an unconnected, unaccountable, unconscionable United Nations bureaucracy dominated by tyrants should regulate sustainability?

The reality is that sustainability has no need of government at all.  Actual sustainability is self regulating! Either something can be done or it can’t.  If it can’t be done people will stop doing it and attempt some other way of achieving a needed goal.

That makes development self regulating also.  Development occurs when a need arises, and as in all developmental processes there will be successes and failures.  That’s how light bulb came into being.  Edison tried 1000 compounds as a filament and failed, but he took each failure as a success because they now knew what wouldn’t work.   When a reporter asked, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied, "I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."

What regulation from a central authority could have made that happen?   What if central planners didn’t want this development to happen?  What if central planners had decided electric light bulbs were destructive to the economic interests of candle makers and declared light bulbs as a threat to current and future generations?

Who was the most antagonistic opponent of the electric light bulb?  John D. Rockefeller!  Why, was he a supporter of sustainability or development?  I guess you could say he was a supporter of sustainability – because his company, Standard Oil of New Jersey’s number one product was kerosene, which was used to light the nation’s buildings, and the electric light bulb would not be sustainable for his business model.  Remember, gasoline was a by-product of kerosene production and was thrown away because it was so volatile and there were few cars.  Once again – the reality of history is this - nothing is ‘sustainable’ if there’s development.

Now we find these promoters of sustainable development claiming sustainable development isn’t possible without equality of genders.  Really?  Why?  Whether or not our particular societal paradigms practice equality of race, equality of gender, equality of class or not, there is no ‘sustainable’ proof that has anything to do with sustainability or development.  Great political and economic empires came into being without practicing anything that could be construed equality in any arena.

The world’s history demonstrates the largest obstacle to sustainability or development is   government!   The very people who are promoting what they call sustainable development are the very people who stand in the way of legitimate economic sustainable or development with massive infusions of regulations, fees, taxes and penalties for doing anything with which they disagree.

What if they decide drinking wine is a threat to the needs of today’s society? What if they decide growing grape vines or the making of wine will not be tolerated?  What if they decide theatrical entertainment should be restricted in order to more directly focus on producing the things the central authority decides is most important?  Both of those things occurred in ancient China.

These aren’t stupid people.  They’ve been educated in the best universities in the world so they must have studied history….but did they really?  In order to really understand world economics we need to study the history of China!

According to the book Wealth and Poverty of Nations, “by about 500 BCE the Chinese had learned to improve the supply and use of water by means of artificial devices and arrangements; were making use of draft animals (above all, the water buffalo) for plowing; were weeding intensively; and were putting down animal waste, including night soil, as fertilizer. All of this required prodigious labor, but the work paid off.  Yields shot to a high of 1,100 liters of grain per hectare, which would have left a substantial surplus for the maintenance of nonfood producers.”

Printing and paper was invented by the Chinese around the 9th century, but the difficulty of ideographs versus an alphabet made printing or even learning difficult.  “for all that printing [in China] did for the preservation and diffusion of knowledge in China, it never “exploded” as in Europe,.  Such publication depended on government initiative, and he Confucian mandarinate discouraged dissent and new ideas”.  (WAPN pg 52)

The Chinese use of gunpowder started by the eleventh century (two to three hundred years before it appeared in Europe, and probably brought from China) but never advanced beyond their use as incendiaries because the “Chinese would seem to have been more afraid of rebellion from within than invasion from without.  More modern armaments might fall into the wrong hands, and these including those of the generals.” (WAPN Pg. 53)  

So it appears the central authorities decided gunpowder was not to be developed any further for the benefit of a sustainable society…Right?  Or was it for the benefit of the central authorities?

The control of the Chinese population by a central authority – The Emperor, who was presented as “The Son of Heaven”, making him a semi-divine being in the eyes of the Chinese – feared innovation as a threat to his rule.  As a result a nation that was scientifically 500 years ahead of the rest of the world stifled innovation with regulations and an unyielding bureaucracy until the rest of the world surpassed them.  That’s been the history of central planning all over the world.

While there have been times when in the short term it has worked to meet a specific need, as a permanent arrangement to meet societies needs – it’s a disaster!

Their rhetoric about "sustainable development" gives the impression this will benefit society providing for all of humanities needs.  But what happens when this central authority decides to change it to "sustainable consumption"? All they promote in all their schemes and international treaties lead to that - sustainable consumption - and they will decide what and how much will be consumed and by whom.

After he took power in China communist dictator Ma0 Tse Tung decided he needed armament but he didn’t have the capital to purchase it.  So to fix that economic problem he decided to sell the food needed by his Chinese countrymen to get that capital.  Over thirty million innocent people starved to death and Mao said that was the beginning and more may need to die in order to attain his goals.  What was he sustaining?  His power at the expense of humanity!

The left is not a lover of humanity, sustainable development as a policy defined by them and under their control, will not be benefit humanity.   We have the history of leftism, and that history is incontestable!  There really is good and evil in the world and there really is such a thing as right and wrong.  What needs to be demonstrated over and over again is the left isn’t just wrong.  It’s evil!

SOURCE







Australia: Not so little Lambie compares Greens to Islamic State

She's got a point

INDEPENDENT senator Jacqui Lambie's comparison of the Greens to Islamic military extremists has left the political group demanding an apology

ADDRESSING a mining conference in her home state of Tasmania on Friday, Senator Lambie opened her speech with "a little joke".

"What's the difference between the Greens and ISIS?" she asked an audience gathered for the third and final day of the Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council annual conference.

"Not very much. They both want to take us back into the dark ages."

Pre-empting a backlash, Senator Lambie said she was not talking behind the Greens' backs.  "I told the same comments (to) a group of Green senators at the last sitting of Parliament. "I make no apologies. They need to be told, and often."

However, Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O'Connor took offence.
"It is outrageous to compare Greens and conservationists with murderous terrorists," she told reporters.  "It's unnecessary, divisive language and she should apologise."

Senator Lambie's comments came in response to a United Nations committee decision in Germany on Thursday to uphold protection measures across Tasmania's 1.5 million hectare Wilderness World Heritage Area.

"The people from the UN would be better off listening to the average person from northwest Tasmania than the environmental zealots and alarmists like the Wilderness Society's Vica Bayley, who will never be satisfied until we're all living in caves, burning candles and eating tofu," she said.

The first-term senator renewed her call for an upper house inquiry into the activities of the Greens, citing the party's move to shut down Tasmania's mining and logging industries. "The key question is: did they use taxpayer funds to kill off Tasmanian jobs and sabotage a sustainable, environmentally friendly industry?"

Senator Lambie went on to tell the conference that she struck a deal with federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, that guaranteed Tasmania the right to burn wood waste to produce energy, in exchange for her support of the renewable energy target legislation.

"Let's see if he keeps his word," she said, according to News Corp.

SOURCE

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For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here

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Friday, July 03, 2015



The church of global warming

The new rosary: "Hail warming, full of grace, blessed art thou among climates and blessed is the fruit of thy womb panic"

In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is unhappy with the Pope's backing of what Zeg insists on calling "anthropological" global warming.

Zeg seems to be a bit of a Latinist too.  That gobbledegook above the Pope's head in the toon is not dog Latin  but real Latin.  It translates as, "The crack-brained poison of Rome".





Radiation hormesis rediscovered

Panic merchants of all kinds insist that harm from ionizing radiation rises in a linear way.  Greenies need to argue that to justify their scares about nuclear technology. But the evidence for a threshold effect is strong.  Weak to medium strength radiation has repeatedly been shown to be beneficial in fact.  So it is good to see below some cautious acknowledgement of that

Countless scientific studies have debated the issue - does radiation from X-rays and CT scans cause cancer?  At very high doses the evidence is clear, scientists say - the answer is yes.

But one oncologist from Loyola University in Chicago now points to 'serious flaws' in the theory, when considering everyday exposure to radiation during medical scans.  Dr James Welsh said the reliance of past research on unproven statistical models is important.

'Although radiation is known to cause cancer at high doses and high-dose rates, no data have ever unequivocally demonstrated the induction [start] of cancer following exposure to low doses and dose rates,' said Dr Welsh, and his co-author Dr Jeffry Siegel.

They argue studies that have identified a link between medical imaging and cancer, typically use a model known as 'linear no-threshold' (LNT).

In LNT, the well-established cancer-causing effects of high doses of radiation are simply extrapolated downward in a straight line to low doses.

The LNT model assumes there is no safe dose of radiation, no matter how small. But although LNT is used by regulators around the world, the model is 'of questionable validity, utility and applicability for estimation of cancer risks,' Dr Welsh and Dr Siegel said.

Contrary to the LNT model, there is compelling evidence that the human body has evolved the ability to repair damage from low-dose radiation.

For example, the mutation rate caused by low-dose background radiation in the environment is 2.5 million times lower than the rate of spontaneous mutations in the body.

So even if the LNT model were true, the small increase in mutations caused by low-dose radiation from medical imaging would be unlikely to overwhelm the body's defences.

They add studies purporting to find a cancer link to medical imaging radiation have other flaws besides the questionable LNT model.

For example, Dr Welsh and Dr Siegel highlight, two recent studies suggested possible increased cancer risks from low-radiation doses associated with paediatric CT scans. But these cancers are likely due to the medical conditions that prompted the need for a CT scan, rather than the radiation exposure, the pair noted.

While many people focus on the apparent risks of radiation in medical imaging, 'the more significant and actual risks associated with not undergoing an imaging procedure or undergoing a more invasive exploratory surgery are generally being ignored in both the scientific literature and the popular media,' they added.

The views first appeared in the journal Technology in Cancer Research & Treatment.

SOURCE






Scientists predict polar bear population crash

Greenies have not got a prediction right yet so there is no cause for alarm. Additionally, there has been huge fraud in  estimating bear numbers, with whistleblowers heavily sanctioned.  So this is just propaganda and prophecy combined: A unimpressive combination

Imperilled polar bears will see a population crash in most parts of the Arctic if global greenhouse gas emissions continue at current rates, thereby causing accelerated melting of the sea ice the animals depend on for survival, a study has found.

A study led by US Geological Survey (USGS) biologists showed that a worldwide failure to reduce the release of atmospheric pollutants tied to the burning of fossil fuels will likely lead to "a greatly decreased state" for polar bear populations in Alaska and elsewhere, except for an Arctic region north of Canada where summer ice is known to persist for longer.

The world's 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears, which can stand as high as 3.35 metres and weigh as much as  635 kg, use floating sea ice as platforms for hunting their preferred prey of ringed seals, for mating and to travel vast distances quickly and without expending crucial energy reserves on long-distance swimming, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The bears were protected in 2008 under the federal Endangered Species Act after US wildlife managers said climate changes threatened the massive mammal's survival, in the first such listing of its kind.

USGS ecologists used updated models for predicting greenhouse gas levels under a variety of scenarios in a research paper that concluded that polar bears will face severe challenges in the next several decades even if climate warming stabilises thanks to of reductions in global emissions.

"Substantial sea ice loss and expected declines in the availability of marine prey that polar bears eat are the most important specific reasons for the increasingly worse outlook for polar bear populations," said Todd Atwood, USGS research biologist and lead author of the study.

Dr Atwood and his team found that other stressors for polar bears, including oil and gas exploration and hunting by indigenous peoples, had little impact on them compared to the loss of sea ice.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to release for public review a draft plan on Thursday for the recovery of polar bears.

SOURCE





The link between climate and poverty



The climate alarmists are practically giddy over Pope Francis’ recently released “climate encyclical” — remember, these are, generally, the very same people who dis the church and its position on abortion, the origin of life on earth, and the definition of marriage. Even Al Gore, who admits he was “raised in the Southern Baptist tradition,” has declared he “could become a Catholic because of this Pope.”

Not surprisingly, Carl Pope, who served as executive director of the Sierra Club for 36 years, chimed in. He penned a piece published on June 22 in EcoWatch in which he bashes “American conservatism” and positions the papal publication as being responsible for a “new dynamism” that he claims is “palpable.”

“It is more a gale than a fresh breeze,” Pope exclaimed, “when the most ground-breaking pope since John XXIII links poverty and climate.” In his post titled “How Pope Francis’s Climate Encyclical is Disrupting American Politics,” Pope pronounces, “Something fundamental is shifting this summer in political and cultural attitudes around the climate.”

The former Sierra Club director then goes into a litany of news stories to support his position. Included in his list: the recent agreement from the “world’s major industrialized nations” to “Phase Out Fossil Fuels by 2100” — which is more rhetoric than reality.

In his claim of colliding “new realities and social change forces,” Pope never mentions the polling indicating that after the most extensive and expensive global propaganda campaign, fewer people are worried about a warming planet than were 25 years ago. Nor does he acknowledge that, according to Harvard Political Review, the vast majority of Americans — even those who agree that “global warming is a proven fact and is mostly caused by emissions from cars and industrial facilities such as power plants” — are still “unsupportive of government measures to prevent climate change that might harm the economy.”

And “harm the economy” it does — which is why, despite the G7 non-binding “agreement,” many European counties are returning to fossil fuels and retreating from renewables — led by German capacity payments to keep coal-fueled power plants open.

On June 19, in PV Magazine, Stelios Psomas, policy advisor at the Hellenic Association of Photovoltaic Companies, laments Greece’s “policy U-turn towards lignite.” Psomas said, “All [the new government] is concerned with is how to promote power generation from fossil fuels e.g. new lignite power stations, new gas pipes and exploratory drilling for oil. So far, it has shown no interest at all for renewables energy.”

In May, Greece’s Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, sent a letter to the European Commission “requesting permission to reactivate and prolong the life of Ptolemaida 3” — an “old technology” coal plant. Among his arguments, Lafazanis cited “the country’s ongoing recession, which has prompted the need to maintain household heating costs as low as possible.” Greece is also due to start construction any day on Ptolemaida 5, a new lignite-fired power station in Northern Greece.

Greece’s return to coal is due, according to Lafazanis, to the intermittency of renewable power, which endangers the country’s “energy security,” and to economic concerns. The Greek photovoltaic industry is “now preparing for the worst.”

Similarly, Poland is also seeking exemptions from “the European Union’s rules on reducing carbon emissions because the nation’s energy security and economic development depends on coal,” BloombergBusiness reports. Poland has previously received concessions from the EU climate policy. The new governing party, Law & Justice, is planning a strategy for the economy that “rejects the dogma of de-carbonization.” On Carbon-Pulse.com, Ben Garside predicts, “it may become more tempting for Polish governments to try to opt out of the [climate] laws altogether.”

Following elections in the United Kingdom that gave the conservative Tories a decisive majority, Britain’s energy policies are changing. While, so far, claiming to stick to its carbon targets, the new government will focus on minimizing costs.

In an editorial prior to the elections, The Guardian framed the party differences this way: “The Tories have cast off their green disguise. They will end subsidies for onshore wind power and rely on the market to bring down prices, they are enthusiastic about fracking and they want to build more roads. … The Greens, of course, remain committed to creating a zero-carbon economy, even if that is at the cost of economic growth.”

As predicted, the new Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, announced an end to onshore wind subsidies, which “will save hundreds of millions of pounds.” She acknowledged that ending the “subsidy scheme” meant about 250 projects, totaling about 2,500 turbines, are now “unlikely to be built.”

The change in the government’s attitude toward wind energy, which was part of the Conservatives Manifesto, is likely the first of many to come in the weeks ahead. The Manifesto pledges to:

Keep energy bills as low as possible;

Halt the spread of onshore windfarms;

Back a significant expansion in new nuclear;

Continue to support development of North Sea oil and gas and the safe development of shale gas; and

Not support additional distorting and expensive power sector targets.

In The Telegraph, columnist Fraser Nelson reports that, after taking stock of what has been learned in the past five years, Rudd intends to take the summer to come up with “a proper Tory plan” — which, like the wind subsidy decision, is expected to follow the Manifesto and keep energy bills as low as possible.

Once again, economics are an important factor. Nelson states the following as a problem with climate-driven energy policy: “the fact that at least 15,000 British pensioners die of the cold each winter. It’s a staggering death toll, which has been greeted with a shrug for far too long. But this, too, is ending. The notion of ‘fuel poverty’ is being more widely recognized — and green subsidy is compounding the problem.”

In Germany, Greece, Poland, and the UK, fossil fuel has reemerged. However, in Ethiopia, according to Pope, they are willing to reduce projected 2030 carbon pollution by 64 percent. The caveat? “If climate finance is made available.”

Yes, there is a “link” between poverty and climate. The green energy favored by the Pope, Carl Pope, and other climate alarmists threatens energy security, harms the economy, and creates fuel poverty that kills thousands of people each year.

SOURCE





The EPA gives with one hand and takes away with the other

The Obama administration issued a potential setback to Royal Dutch Shell's  Arctic oil exploration plans on Tuesday, telling the company that established wildlife protections prevent it from drilling two rigs simultaneously within 15 miles (24 km) of each other, as it had planned.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued Shell a permit on Tuesday that said that under existing federal walrus and polar bear protections, Shell must maintain a 15 mile buffer if it plans to drill two rigs simultaneously. In Shell's 2015 Arctic drilling plan, no two of its wells are more than 15 miles apart.

SOURCE




GREENIE ROUNDUP FROM AUSTRALIA

Three current articles below

Unpacking wind farm impacts in Australia

Fears over adverse health impacts caused by wind farms are being heavily scrutinised during a parliamentary inquiry into the controversial renewable energy source.

The Senate select committee inquiry into the regulatory governance and economic impact of wind turbines, established last November, is due to report by August 3.

The inquiry’s extensive terms of reference include investigating the impacts of wind farms on household power prices and the Clean Energy Regulator’s effectiveness in performing its legislative responsibilities.

The role and capacity of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in providing guidance to state and territory authorities is also under scrutiny.

The first public hearing was held at Portland in Victoria on March 30 while two were held in Cairns and Canberra in May.

About 460 public submissions have been received with four more public hearings scheduled for June in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra.

Conflicting views

At the most recent hearing in Canberra on May 19, witnesses presented a range of conflicting views about the adverse health impacts of wind turbines, particularly around low-frequency infrasound.

Family First Senator Bob Day said the inquiry had heard extensive evidence from state and local governments that they were struggling with regulating the wind turbine industry.

Senator Day said infrasound did not appear to be covered by regulations, “which mostly cover audible decibel measured sound”.

He said evidence from hearing expert Dr Andrew Bell claimed infrasound cannot be measured, and it was unknown how the ear coped with infrasound.

“It is just not possible to measure it – all you can do is accept the overwhelming evidence that people are affected by it,” he said.

Dr Bell said large infrasonic impulses – whether from a wind turbine, coal mine or a gas turbine or “whatever” – can have an effect of altering the middle ear and causing a pressure effect, “maybe headaches, maybe seasickness and things like that”.

“I think infrasound by itself with very large low-frequency pressure pulses does disturb the human ear,” he said.

“Exactly how it happens is unknown; my suspicion is that it is the middle ear muscle – the gain-control before the cochlea – but we are just beginning to do work in this area.”

The annoyance factor

The Australia Institute research director Roderick Campbell referred to a report on the wider impacts of wind energy written by researchers at the Nossal Research Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne.

Mr Campbell said the institute’s medical researchers concluded in the report that there was “no credible peer-reviewed scientific evidence that demonstrates a causal link between wind turbines and adverse physiological health impacts on people”.

But he said they found that there was some connection between annoyance from wind turbines and sleep disturbance.

“They felt that attitudes towards wind farms have a considerable influence on these factors and the extent to which noise, visual disruption and social change resulting from wind farms can cause stress or annoyance, which in turn can contribute to health issues,” he said.

“Any effects from such exposures are therefore likely to vary considerably across communities and are best considered indirect effects.”

Mr Campbell said the Warburton review – along with almost every other review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) “which is dominated by wind energy” – found that the RET either has a minimal impact on household prices or, in the longer term, is likely to put downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices.

‘No problems whatsoever’

Australian Wind Alliance national co-ordinator Andrew Bray said evidence also existed of people living near wind farms with no reported problems.

Mr Bray said he had also spoken personally to people who were in “great distress” – and “I certainly do not want to say that they are making stuff up”.

However the danger of looking at those cases selectively was “that you miss the much larger pool of people who live near wind farms who have no health problems whatsoever”.

Mr Bray said if a study was undertaken of all people living around a wind turbine, “you would find that the incidence of health problems is not high”.

However, NSW Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm said: “With cigarettes, the incidence of lung cancer was not high either”.

Public Health Association of Australia CEO Melanie Walker said complaints from people affected by noise from wind turbines must be recognised and managed, with fair and reasonable solutions developed.

Ms Walker said allegations of harm to health from wind turbines must also be placed in the context of minimal evidence supporting some claims and the considerable evidence supporting harm from other energy sources.

She said governments should also support wind power as one of the viable evidence-based renewable energy options to rapidly transition the economy from fossil fuels.

“This is supported by the Public Health Association on both health and safe climate grounds,” she said.

“We know that people who are disturbed by noise become annoyed, and we know that if you are annoyed you become more acutely sensitive to the cause of your disturbance,” she said.

“We are also aware that if you are annoyed and disturbed that you are going to have interrupted sleep, and we know that this is not good for people’s health in the short term.

“The linkage from the short-term annoyance to longer term health problems is more problematic, because there is a chain of events that takes decades to work through.

“But we do know from the broader social determinants of health literature that there are some connections between psychological distress and, over a period of years, the emergence of chronic diseases.

“So we are not saying that this does not happen, but we are saying that it is a long-term, not immediate, effect.

“We are also aware that people who live near coalmines in the Hunter Valley or people who live in Morwell in Victoria also have sources of stress in their environment which is contributing to their sense of unease as well.”

Senator Leyonhjelm said the committee had heard from people who favoured having wind turbines erected on their properties and were also very supportive of renewable energy.

But he said after the wind turbines were erected, some of those people then reported suffering adverse health effects.

More HERE

Bass Strait's artificial structures good for hungry fur seals

Greenies will hate this,  Everything artificial is BAD, according to them

A study looking at the feeding behaviour of Australian fur seals in Bass Strait has found the animals benefit from the shipwrecks, pipelines and cables in their underwater world.

The researchers found these structures act like artificial reefs, attracting fish and other marine life. This makes them a happy hunting ground for hungry fur seals, which feed on a variety of bony fish, squid and octopus.

Revealed by the study's GPS tracking data and underwater "seal-cam" footage, the results showed the animals from the Kanowna Island colony off Wilsons Promontory favoured particular foraging routes.

"In one case we looked at the GPS track and it was a straight line, which made us think that the seal might be following fishing vessels," said John Arnould from Deakin University.

On closer inspection the researchers realised something else was at play: the animal's foraging path mirrored a pipeline. And it wasn't alone. Others were doing the same.

Underwater infrastructure in Bass Strait includes the high-voltage Basslink power pipeline, communications cables, wells and numerous shipwrecks.

Published in the journal PLOS ONE on Thursday, the findings showed this infrastructure benefited the fur seals because by forming an artificial reef, marine life became concentrated in what was otherwise a sandy seafloor with very little habitat variation.

Associate Professor Arnould said the Australian fur seals, which feed almost exclusively on the seafloor, appear to have cottoned-on.

"For some individuals it influenced where they were foraging and for some of the 36 studied, the artificial structures were heavily influencing where they were foraging," he said.

The research team, including scientists from the University of Tasmania and the University of California Santa Cruz, also looked at how far from the infrastructure the seals were feeding.

In some cases it was up to 100 metres but Associate Professor Arnould said this still indicated the artificial environment was having an impact on foraging behaviour.

"Structures can influence currents and therefore nutrient transport," he said. "So even if seals aren't always feeding on the pipeline, the pipeline is influencing where they forage."

On one case, black and white video footage of a seal foraging around an oil rig revealed a surprising number of fish concentrated in the area.

"The amount of fish around this structure was unbelievable," Associate Professor Arnould said.

Thirty-six Australian fur seals were fitted with a GPS tracker and dive recorder as part of the study. Two of the 36 had an underwater camera attached to their dorsal fur.

Heavily hunted for their coats in the 1800s, the Australian fur seal population dipped to as few as 20,000. Now protected, the seal population is recovering at about 3000 pups a year, or 2 per cent.

SOURCE

Huge subsidies needed for electric cars:  Australian government not interested

Renault Australia boss Justin Hocevar has held up the delivery of the Renault Nissan Alliance's 250,000th electric car as evidence the Australian government has the wrong approach to motoring.

The partnership sold the landmark car, a Renault Zoe hatch, to French resident Yves Nivelle, who took advantage of a €10,000 ($14,500) subsidy to buy a €21,990 ($31,885) car for little more than half its retail price.

"The government's environmental bonus was a big factor in my decision to get an EV," Nivelle says.

The French subsidy encourages drivers to trade in older diesel models for a new electric car.

For customers who aren't prepare to pay cash for the car, other French subsidies allow drivers to lease an electric Renault for just €99 ($145) per month.

Australian drivers miss out on the Renault Zoe as tawdry charging infrastructure and a lack of rebates provide little incentive for people to choose electric cars.

"The lack of support for electric vehicles certainly impacts the business plan for Renault to introduce electric vehicles to Australia," Hocevar says.

"Currently electric vehicles in Australia carry a price premium over their internal combustion engine counterparts and in such a competitive and price sensitive market; this does make it difficult for us to look at introducing product."

Asked whether the Federal Government would consider subsidising electric cars, a spokesman for Ian Macfarlane, Minister for Industry and Science, says the main encouragement for people to consider green cars lay in the Green Vehicle Guide website that helps consumers compare cars "based on greenhouse and air pollution emissions".

The government also charges less in luxury car tax to prestige vehicles that use less than 7.0L/100km, however that threshold (set at $75,375) hasn't changed in four years.

Minister MacFarlane is on the record as saying electric cars are "an idea, not a solution", and that he is more interested in hydrogen-fuelled cars than machines that primarily use coal-sourced electricity.

That's not a notion supported in Norway, where government subsidies have pushed electric car sales to around one in five of all models. More than 50,000 electric cars are on the road in Norway, where battery-powered motorists benefit from reduced taxes, toll-free use of motorways, free parking and the use of public transport lanes.

Hocevar says "it would be fantastic if we could emulate this support in Australia", but "at this stage we don't believe there is a plan for the government to introduce support in the near future".  "The lack of support for electric vehicles in Australia is disappointing," he says.

The difference between Australia and Norway is that the majority of local power comes from coal, whereas the Scandinavian nation relies on hydroelectric energy [Those wicked DAMS!] . Yet plenty of other federal, state and local governments around the globe provide strong incentives for green cars, and Hocevar isn't the only Australian executive to criticise the government's approach to electric machines.

SOURCE

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For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here

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Thursday, July 02, 2015


Once more: Climate was highly variable in prehistory too

Findings from Finland yesterday, South America today.  Another finding of big climate swings.  Also found below: Insolation (the sun) was primary driver of tropical S. American climate in the past 120,000 years.  Just the first half of the unusually long abstract below.  The second half deals with models

Nature and causes of Quaternary climate variation of tropical South America

Paul A. Baker et al.

Abstract

This selective review of the Quaternary paleoclimate of the South American summer monsoon (SASM) domain presents viewpoints regarding a range of key issues in the field, many of which are unresolved and some of which are controversial. (1) El NiƱo-Southern Oscillation variability, while the most important global-scale mode of interannual climate variation, is insufficient to explain most of the variation of tropical South American climate observed in both the instrumental and the paleoclimate records. (2) Significant climate variation in tropical South America occurs on seasonal to orbital (i.e. multi-millennial) time scales as a result of sea-surface temperature (SST) variation and ocean–atmosphere interactions of the tropical Atlantic. (3) Decadal-scale climate variability, linked with this tropical Atlantic variability, has been a persistent characteristic of climate in tropical South America for at least the past half millennium, and likely, far beyond. (4) Centennial-to-millennial climate events in tropical South America were of longer duration and, perhaps, larger amplitude than any observed in the instrumental period, which is little more than a century long in tropical South America. These were superimposed upon both precession-paced insolation changes that caused significant variation in SASM precipitation and eccentricity-paced global glacial boundary conditions that caused significant changes in the tropical South American moisture balance. As a result, river sediment and water discharge increased and decreased across tropical South America, lake levels rose and fell, paleolakes arose and disappeared on the Altiplano, glaciers waxed and waned in the tropical Andes, and the tropical rainforest underwent significant changes in composition and extent.

Quaternary Science Reviews. Volume 124, 15 September 2015, Pages 31–47




There's nothing unusual about current levels of CO2

Even though there were no coal-burning power stations in the Eocene. The late Eocene interglacial was ~100,000 years ago. Data from China

The pCO2 estimates of the late Eocene in South China based on stomatal density of Nageia Gaertner leaves

X.-Y. Liu et al.

Abstract.

Late Eocene pCO2 concentration is estimated based on the species of Nageia maomingensis Jin et Liu from the late Eocene of Maoming Basin, Guangdong Province. This is the first paleoatmospheric estimates for the late Eocene of South China using stomatal data. Studies of stomatal density (SD) and stomatal index (SI) with N. motleyi (Parl.) De Laub., the nearest living equivalent species of the fossil, indicate that the SD inversely responds to atmospheric CO2 concentration, while SI has almost no relationships with atmospheric CO2 concentration. Therefore, the pCO2 concentration is reconstructed based on the SD of the fossil leaves in comparison with N. motleyi. Results suggest that the mean CO2 concentration was 391.0 ± 41.1 ppmv or 386.5 ± 27.8 ppmv during the late Eocene, which is significantly higher than the CO2 concentrations documented from 1968 to 1955 but similar to the values for current atmosphere indicating that the Carbon Dioxide levels during that the late Eocene at that time may have been similar to today.

Clim. Past Discuss., 11, 2615-2647, 2015





All Isn't Lost, as SCOTUS Rebukes EPA

EPA chief Gina McCarthy isn't pleased.

The Supreme Court proved it still has a little bit of respect left for Rule of Law in its decision yesterday in Michigan v. EPA. In a 5-4 ruling that predictably followed partisan lines with Justice Anthony Kennedy swinging to the right, the High Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency did not properly consider the high costs of regulation of emissions from coal-fired power plants.

That this Court — the one content to rewrite ObamaCare in order to save it, twice — found the EPA went too far in rewriting the law is saying something.

The EPA, which has been pursuing the ecofascist dream of completely wiping the coal industry off the face of the earth, released a series of regulations in 2012 that would force energy producers to comply with limits on mercury and air toxins released in coal energy production. The National Federation of Independent Business said the regulations, known as Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), are among the costliest ever issued.

The EPA estimated the new rules would cost close to $10 billion annually, while bringing direct annual benefits of no more than $6 million. Bureaucrats also made the un-provable assertion that the rules would prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths and 130,000 asthma cases each year. In developing its regulations, the EPA was expected to adhere to the Clean Air Act’s “appropriate and necessary” standard. But the agency arbitrarily determined that cost had no bearing in the development of the regulations, essentially flouting the decades-old law and choosing to make up its own rules. The EPA determined that its work protecting the environment justified whatever actions it saw fit.

Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion stated, “EPA strayed well beyond the bounds of reasonable interpretation in concluding that cost is not a factor relevant to the appropriateness of regulating power plants.” Scalia also noted, “The costs to power plants were … between 1,600 and 2,400 times as great as the quantifiable benefits from reduced emissions of hazardous air pollutants.” He added, “No regulation is ‘appropriate’ if it does significantly more harm than good.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California weighed in on the decision in a statement, saying, “The Supreme Court’s decision today vindicates the House’s legislative actions to rein in bureaucratic overreach and institute some common sense in rule making.” That said, Congress has more work to do to rein in an out-of-control EPA, especially given that the Court left open a substantial loophole of sorts: Regulations are fine as long as the EPA “counts the cost.”

Indeed, the EPA seemed nonplussed by the decision, with spokeswoman Melissa Harrison saying, “EPA is disappointed … but this rule was issued more than three years ago … and most plants are already well on their way to compliance.” In other words, she gloated that the damage was already done and blew a raspberry at opponents.

The EPA and the White House will certainly try to play down this loss, but the Court’s decision lays groundwork for a number of other cases in which multiple states are seeking to challenge the imperial overreach of the EPA. As noted by National Mining Association President Hal Quinn, “The decision effectively puts EPA on notice: reckless rulemaking that ignores the cost to consumers is unreasonable and won’t be tolerated.”

But Justice Clarence Thomas warned in his concurring majority opinion, “[W]e seem to be straying further and further from the Constitution without so much as pausing to ask why. We should stop to consider that document before blithely giving the force of law to any other agency ‘interpretations’ of federal statutes.” We can think of a few other cases in which that logic applies, and we hope this victory isn’t merely symbolic.

SOURCE





EPA Predicts: Workers Will Lose $170B in Wages By 2100 Without Global Action on Climate Change

Lucky that Greenie prophecies are always wrong

 The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has projected that by 2100, without global greenhouse gas mitigation, labor hours in the U.S. are projected to decrease, costing an estimated $170 billion in lost wages, according to a new EPA report.

The EPA report, released on June 22, 2015, is titled “Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action,” and was created to estimate the physical and monetary benefits of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, otherwise referred to in the report as GHG mitigation.

“Without global GHG mitigation, labor hours in the U.S. are projected to decrease due to increases in extreme temperatures,” states the report. “Over 1.8 billion labor hours are projected to be lost in 2100, costing an estimated $170 billion in lost wages.”

The EPA claims that labor hours are lost when the “extreme summer heat” causes workers to take more breaks, get ill, or stop working altogether.

“Extreme summer heat is increasing in the U.S. and will be more frequent and intense in the future,” states the EPA. “Heat exposure can affect workers’ health, safety and productivity. When exposed to high temperatures, workers are at risk for heat-related illnesses and therefore may take more frequent breaks, or have to stop work entirely, resulting in lower overall labor capacity.

“This is especially true for high-risk industries where workers are doing physical labor and have a direct exposure to outdoor temperatures (e.g., agriculture, construction, utilities, and manufacturing),” according to the EPA.

“The majority of the country is projected to experience decreases in labor hours due to extreme temperature effects,” states EPA. “In 2100, parts of the Southwest and Florida are estimated to experience a decrease in hours worked for high-risk industries ranging from -5% to -7%. Although the impacts vary by region, only a limited number of counties are projected to experience increases in labor hours.”

The EPA claims that if we act on global climate change, and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, labor hours can be saved.

“Global GHG mitigation is estimated to save 1.2 billion labor hours and $110 billion in wages in 2100 in the contiguous U.S. that would otherwise be lost due to unmitigated climate change,” states the report.

“Climate change poses significant risks to humans and the environment” the EPA stated. “The report shows that global action on climate change will significantly benefit Americans by saving lives and avoiding costly damages across the U.S. economy.”

SOURCE





Australia's crooked BOM again

Vanishing hot days of December 1931 — and BOM monthly averages hotter than every single day that month

Lance Pidgeon has drawn my attention to the mysteriously detailed weather maps of the Australian BOM, with their mass of contradictions. The intricate squiggles of air temperature profiles suggests an awesome array of data — especially remarkable in places like “Cook”, which is a railway station with a population of four. Eucla, the megopolis in the map, has a population of 368. The shared border in the map (right) is 674km long top to bottom.

Thankfully, after 80 years of modern technology, the weather at Eucla and in the Great Victorian Desert is much more bearable than anyone would have expected. The BOM ACORN data set works better than airconditioning. In places near Eucla, where old newspapers record 43C, the BOM tells us the highest maximum that month was “under 27C”. Far to the north of there, the highest maximum stayed under 36C, but the average for that same whole month was above 36C. Go figure. It’s a new kind of maths… [or maybe the miracle of reverse cycle a/c?]

There are a half million square kilometers in this map here and almost no thermometers, but plenty of lizards. It is so empty that every railway station and even a single house will earn a “dot” and a label. The point where WA meets SA and the NT is so remote that more people have been to the South Pole. Despite that, the BOM can draw maps of daily air temperature variation separating sand dunes and salt lakes where no man probably walked in a whole year.  Marvelous what computers and assumptions can do.

Jokes aside. The state of the BOM database is not so funny.

More HERE





A lesson? Under an unsympathetic conservative government, Australian Greenies have become more moderate and balanced in their demands

The set of policy principles released by the Australian Climate Roundtable yesterday are extraordinary for two reasons.

First, the principles themselves offer some calm common sense in an arena that has been dominated by ferocious partisan politics and dramatic policy reversals. They could therefore offer a way to break the current policy deadlock and re-establish a bipartisan approach to climate change.

Second, the principles are the product of a highly unusual alliance of ten organisations, representing business, unions, environmentalists, and the community. It is unusual that such disparate groups can sit down together to talk, and downright extraordinary that they can agree on a common set of principles. So what is going on here?

A principled approach to policy?

On the first point, the principles state that: Our overarching aim is for Australia to play its fair part in international efforts to achieve this while maintaining and increasing its prosperity.

The Roundtable’s ideal policy would lead to “deep reductions in Australia’s net emissions”, using policy instruments that are well targeted, well designed, based on sound risk assessments, internationally linked, operate at least cost, and are efficient.

On the environmental side, there is a demand for net zero emissions in the long run, an acceptance that there are market failures that need to be fixed, and a call for long-term planning based on climate change scenarios.

On the economic side, there are statements about achieving reductions at the lowest cost, avoiding regulatory burdens, ensuring no loss of competitiveness for trade-exposed industries, and the need for a smooth transition to a low-carbon economy, without undue shocks for investors.

Finally, on the social side are concerns about providing decent work opportunities, protecting the most vulnerable people, and helping communities to make the necessary transition.

While there is apparently something here for everyone, the contentious issues are avoided.

There is no mention of the Government’s Direct Action Emissions Reduction Fund, the former Government’s price on carbon, or the recently reduced Renewable Energy Target. This is clever politics, as it allows for the establishment of a broad consensus without the need to quibble over policy detail.

An unlikely alliance

The roundtable’s membership is remarkably diverse: the Australian Aluminium Council; the Business Council of Australia; the Australian Industry Group; the Energy Supply Association of Australia; the Investor Group on Climate Change; the Climate Institute; WWF Australia; the Australian Conservation Foundation; the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU); and the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS). How and why did these disparate groups form such an alliance?

It is clear from the principles themselves that all the member groups want some policy consistency that will survive regardless of who is in Government. The last thing they want is for the recent cycle of major policy changes to continue.

Such reversals impose waves of new compliance costs on industry and create uncertainty for investors, which is why business is so heavily represented in the Roundtable. Policy changes also make it difficult to consolidate significant emissions reductions, which is where the environmentalists come in. Finally, policy uncertainty has implications for employment options and the cost of living, which is why the ACTU and ACOSS are also on board.

There are also some specific strategic advantages to being involved in the Roundtable for each of the participants.

Business groups that have been getting bad publicity about their contributions to climate change might use the Roundtable to improve their image and frame the future policy debate in a way that suits them (for instance, by calling for a strong focus on costs and competitiveness).

Environmentalists, who have effectively been sidelined by the Abbott government on climate change, might see this is a way to deal themselves back into the policy game and make some progress in reducing emissions.

Unions concerned about their members' future employment might see this as a way to manage the transition by creating new “green-collar” jobs that will offset the loss of employment opportunities in the older polluting industries.

Finally, ACOSS is clearly worried about the impact of climate policies on low-income households, and being part of the Roundtable ensures that their concerns are heard.

A precedent for influencing policy?

While unusual, alliances such as the Australian Climate Roundtable are not unknown in Australian environmental policy. Sometimes they have led to the creation of effective long-term policies; other times they have fizzled out, leaving little more than rhetoric.

One positive example is that of Landcare. In 1989 the Australian Conservation Foundation and the National Farmers' Federation proposed a grant scheme that would empower communities to rehabilitate their local environment. More than a quarter of century later, Landcare is still going strong with the support of all four leading political parties.

On the negative side, an extensive consultation process involving all levels of government, business, unions and environmentalists led to the creation of the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development in 1992. It is still on the books and referred to by current legislation, yet we don’t appear to be much closer to sustainability.

So will this be a Landcare moment or not? Only time will tell.

SOURCE

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For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here

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