Wednesday, February 22, 2017



Hurrah! Trump scrapping NASA climate research division in crackdown on ‘politicized science’

The crooks are going

Donald Trump is poised to eliminate all climate change research conducted by Nasa as part of a crackdown on “politicized science”, his senior adviser on issues relating to the space agency has said.

Nasa’s Earth science division is set to be stripped of funding in favor of exploration of deep space, with the president-elect having set a goal during the campaign to explore the entire solar system by the end of the century. This would mean the elimination of Nasa’s world-renowned research into temperature, ice, clouds and other climate phenomena.

Nasa’s network of satellites provide a wealth of information on climate change, with the Earth science division’s budget set to grow to $2bn next year. By comparison, space exploration has been scaled back somewhat, with a proposed budget of $2.8bn in 2017.

Bob Walker, a senior Trump campaign adviser, said there was no need for Nasa to do what he has previously described as “politically correct environmental monitoring”. “We see Nasa in an exploration role, in deep space research,” Walker told the Guardian. “Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission.

“My guess is that it would be difficult to stop all ongoing Nasa programs but future programs should definitely be placed with other agencies. I believe that climate research is necessary but it has been heavily politicized, which has undermined a lot of the work that researchers have been doing. Mr Trump’s decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicized science.”

SOURCE




Heavy reliance on other countries for "green" Britain's electricity supply

More than two kilometres down a dark, dank tunnel deep inside a Norwegian mountain, the air is thick with dust and the smell of explosives. A pair of red laser beams pierce the blackness, providing guide marks for a drilling machine to bore a computer-programmed pattern of 30 holes into the rock.

“Once the drilling starts it gets really noisy,” Nigel Williams says. “They go four metres into granite. Think of the power needed to do that. They are massive machines.” The resulting holes will be packed with explosives and then detonated. Three such blasts extend the tunnel by ten metres each day.

It forms a crucial part of National Grid’s key project: to build the world’s longest subsea power cable. Like a giant extension lead, the £1.4 billion, 450-mile North Sea Link interconnector will plug Britain into the Norwegian grid, enabling it to import 1.4 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power 750,000 homes. From Blyth in Northumberland, the cable will stretch across the North Sea before winding its way through 60 miles of fjords until the seabed comes to an abrupt halt on the far side of this mountain, 50 miles northeast of Stavanger. The cable will run through the tunnel, now close to completion, and then cross a lake to Kvilldal, home to Norway’s biggest hydroelectric power plant, where it will connect with the grid.

While Britain is facing increasing challenges keeping the lights on as old coal and nuclear plants close and intermittent wind and solar take their place, plants such as Kvilldal mean that Norway’s grid is practically overflowing with cheap and reliable green power.

“From a UK perspective, wind and volatility has picked up and has become a real headache,” Mr Williams, National Grid’s project director for North Sea Link, says. “These interconnectors can provide flexible services to support changes in output very quickly.”

Britain has 4GW of interconnectors, but the government has backed the development of up to a further 9GW. Ofgem, the regulator, offers financial support through a new “cap and floor” system to guarantee domestic developers such as National Grid, which is building the link jointly with Statnett, its Norwegian counterpart, a minimum return.

Critics have questioned whether foreign power imports can be relied upon in a crisis. Even Norway’s usually plentiful hydropower supplies, which mean that its wholesale power prices typically are only half of British levels, can run short and push up prices in a dry year. Thor Anders Nummedal, project director for Statnett, says that any water shortages would hit only in the spring, after the UK’s winter demand peak. In fact, he says, the interconnector will allow Norway to import wind power from Britain when there is surplus. “Then we don’t have to use water and we can store it and use it later,” he says. “Imports from the UK will enable us to avoid price shocks.”

Ensuring that the interconnector is reliable also means going to great lengths to protect it from the kind of damage suffered by one of the UK’s existing interconnectors, which was severed by a ship’s anchor last year. The cable will be laid in 80-mile stretches, reeled off the back of a ship at more than six miles a day. Once each stretch is on the seabed, a robotic machine the size of a tank will crawl along its length at a rate of two metres a minute, blasting water down beneath it with the force of 500 patio jet washers and creating a trench into which the cable can fall.

Work at sea is due to begin from Britain in 2018 and Norway in 2020 — provided that the cable is made in time. Development of new interconnectors and offshore wind farms around Europe mean that there is fierce demand for the specialist cables. About five inches, or 13cm, in diameter, they consist of a copper core wrapped in paper and soaked with oil, then coated in lead, tape, steel and plastic to insulate and protect it. Delays to cable supply, meaning that it cannot be laid in calmer summer weather, represent the biggest risk to the project’s schedule and could increase the cost up to more like £1.8 billion, according to Mr Williams.

If all goes to schedule, the link should start operating in December 2021, in time to make good on Mr Nummedal’s light-hearted promise to “turn on the power and light up the Norwegian Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square”.

That’s assuming that the cable works to begin with. “Only when you plug in and you turn the voltage up at the converter ends, only then will you test the cable,” Mr Williams says. If there is a fault, most likely at the join between two sections, a remotely operated vehicle will be sent down to sever it and pull the ends up to the surface to be linked afresh. Nobody wants that to happen.

“Do it once, do it well,” Mr Williams says. “You never want to see that cable again.”

Progressing by making connections

Interconnectors represent a small but rapidly growing part of National Grid’s business (Emily Gosden writes). The utility giant already co-owns Britain’s existing subsea power cables linked to France and the Netherlands, but there are more in the pipeline. As well as the new North Sea Link to Norway, it is building the Nemo link to Belgium, is preparing to build an interconnector to Denmark and a second to France.

“It’s our growth area,” Jon Butterworth, head of National Grid’s non-regulated business, says. “We are actively looking at more interconnectors.” Indeed, the company has early plans for a link crossing part of the northern Atlantic to Iceland and is understood to be considering second links to the Netherlands and Norway.

The projects offer the potential for higher returns than the Grid’s core domestic power and gas networks. It could earn up to 8 per cent for the North Sea Link, compared with about 4.5 per cent on most of its regulated business, using Ofgem’s post-tax real project return figures.

However, the expansion has fuelled concerns about a potential conflict of interest between National Grid’s role as system operator, advising the government on keeping the lights on, and its commercial interest in developing interconnectors.

SOURCE



Global  warming not happening in China

How often have we heard that extreme weather is a sign of global warming?

In one of the most comprehensive studies on trends in local severe weather patterns to date, an international team of researchers found that the frequency of hail storms, thunderstorms and high wind events has decreased by nearly 50 percent on average throughout China since 1960.

The team analyzed data from the most robust meteorological database known, the Chinese National Meteorology Information Center, a network of 983 weather observatories stationed throughout China's 3.7 million square miles. Meteorologists have been collecting surface weather data through the network since 1951 or earlier, which provided the researchers an unprecedented look at local severe weather occurrences.

"Most of the data published on trends in severe weather has been incomplete or collected for a limited short period," said Fuqing Zhang, professor of meteorology and atmospheric science and director, Center for Advanced Data Assimilation and Predictability Techniques, Penn State. "The record we used is, to the best of our knowledge, the largest, both in time scale and area of land covered."

The team, who report their findings today (Feb. 17) in Scientific Reports, found that the strength of the East Asian Summer Monsoon decreased at a rate strongly correlated to that of severe weather throughout the same time period. The monsoon is an annually recurring, long-term weather phenomenon that brings warm, moist air from the south to China in the summer, and cooler air from the north to China in the winter. A monsoon's strength is measured by calculating the average meridian wind speed in this area.

"We believe that changes in monsoon intensity are affecting severe weather in the area because of the strong correlation we found, but we cannot say the monsoon is the exclusive cause," said Zhang. "A monsoon is one of the major drivers of severe weather because it affects the three necessary 'ingredients' for severe weather, which are wind shear, instability and triggering."

Wind shear is the difference between the wind speed and direction at different altitudes. Because a monsoon brings southerly winds into China, a weaker summer monsoon would decrease the overall low tropospheric wind shear. The weaker monsoons would also bring less warm, moist air from the south—one of the most common sources of instability in the atmosphere. A common triggering mechanism for severe convective weather is lifting by the front, a high temperature gradient across the monsoon, and this would also be reduced in a weaker summer monsoon.

Some studies suggest that climate change may be one of the reasons that the Asian Summer Monsoon weakened. One factor in monsoon formation is the difference between the temperature above land and the temperature above adjacent ocean or sea. A warming climate would affect the difference between these two and, as a result, simulations show that this could continue decreasing the monsoon's strength. However, the team noted that other major changes in the area—such as an increase in industrialization and air pollution in China in the 1980s—might have played a significant role in the region's atmospheric changes and could affect the severe weather.

While a decrease in severe weather might sound beneficial, it may not always be a good thing.

"There are many natural cycles that rely on severe weather and the precipitation it brings," said Qinghong Zhang, professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, Peking University, lead author of the study, who conducted this research while on sabbatical at Penn State. "A decrease in storms could potentially lead to an increase in droughts. Also, some theorize that while the frequency of severe weather decreases, their intensity could potentially increase. We cannot say if this is true yet, but it is something we will analyze in the future."

This was the first study in its level of detail because of the amount of data collected by the Chinese National Meteorology Information Center. The study also showed that occurrences of hail remained relatively steady from 1961 through the 1980s before plummeting.

"The frequency of thunderstorms and high winds decreased gradually over the time period we studied, but not hail," said Qinghong Zhang. "This is something we don't fully understand at this point but plan to investigate more."

SOURCE





Global warming: Be fair to both sides

The public is vastly misinformed on the global warming/climate change issue, because of the utter one-sidedness of the media's coverage. I know doom and gloom sells, but whipping up hysteria with headlines about rising seas, melting glaciers and climbing temperatures is irresponsible and dangerous. 1970s headlines threatened a new ice age, 1980s headlines warned us of population growth that would lead to global starvation, and now we are told we'll burn to death because of carbon-dioxide emissions.

To present the debate fairly, first the two protagonists must be identified. They are the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control and the Nongovernmental Panel on Climate Control. The IPCC is a branch of the United Nations. It is not a scientific panel. Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, its former chairman, explains: "We are an intergovernmental body, and we do what the governments of the world want us to do. If the governments decide we should do things differently and come up with a vastly different set of products, we would be at their beck and call." Another U.N. climate official, Ottmar Edenhofer, stated that the goal of environmental policy is to "redistribute de facto the world's wealth by climate policy."

The NIPCC is a group of nongovernment scientists. According to its website, the NIPCC "seeks to objectively analyze and interpret data and facts without conforming to any specific agenda." The NIPCC is funded by special interests specifically to counter the claims coming from the IPCC. I am not insinuating that either one of these groups is right or wrong, but rather that the media should inform the public of the players.

Second, presenting the debate in an antagonistic manner ignores the fact that there is common ground and scientific agreement between some of the players on the two sides. Both state that the climate has always changed and always will. They agree that there was a "pause" in global warming from 1998 to 2015. It is also agreed that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, the accumulation of which warms the lower atmosphere. And there's consensus that the Industrial Revolution produced a new source of carbon-dioxide emissions. They also agree that a temperature increase of about 0.7 degrees centigrade may (my emphasis) have occurred in the 20th century.

The ongoing debate is fueled by science issues. The most contentious is exactly how much the industrial (read human) carbon-dioxide emissions contribute or will contribute to warming. There is also debate as to whether humans have caused any dangerous warming for the past 50 or so years. And finally there is considerable doubt as to whether the various computer models used by the IPCC can accurately predict the climate 100 years from today.

Use these suggestions as a basis for fair and honest coverage. This is a political debate and should be presented as such. If you have an opinion about global warming, remain flexible, because the science is most certainly not settled.  

SOURCE




Australia: Coal proves its worth while the Left tilts at windmills

[Former Leftist leader] Kevin Rudd breezed into the Sky News studio in Canberra last week to decry the lack of “deep, strong, committed national leadership” since the electorate’s foolish ­decision to turf him out of office.

It was “nuts” to remove the carbon tax, he said. “Where we are now can be summed up in three words: dumb, dumb, dumb.”

Australia’s energy market could be dumber still if Labor wins office and pursues its vanity target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030. The plight of South Aus­tralia, the canary in the turbine blades, demonstrates what happens when an economy becomes hostage to unreliable sources of power.

Yet Rudd was unapologetic. Coal? Don’t get him started. “The message for coal, long-term globally, is down and out,” he informed us. We need “a heavy mix of renewables”, which was why he was proud that the government had introduced the renewable ­energy target.

In the real world, the one outside Rudd’s brain, the RET is nothing to be proud of. It is one of the most expensive public policy disasters of the century, market intervention on a massive scale with unfair and unintended con­sequences that will haunt Aus­tralians for decades.

Rudd, determined to tackle the era’s “greatest moral challenge”, upped the target by more than 450 per cent in an uncosted promise before the 2007 election.

It was crazy, as the Productivity Commission politely tried to tell him in a 2008 submission. The target would not increase abatement but would impose extra costs and lead to higher electricity prices, the commission warned.

It would favour existing technologies — namely wind and solar — while holding back new ideas that might ultimately be more ­successful.

Rudd, of course, knew better. Not for the last time, he ignored the Productivity Commission and pushed ahead with his renewable target of 45,000GWh by 2020, of which 41,000GWh would come from large-scale wind and solar.

If the policy was designed to punish Australian consumers, it was a roaring success. Household electricity bills increased by 92 per cent under the Rudd-Gillard governments, six times the level of ­inflation.

Rudd went further, spending $4.15 billion on dubious clean ­energy boondoggles. He put $1.6bn into solar technologies, delivered $465 million to establish the research institute Renewables Australia, gave $480m to the Nat­ional Solar Schools Program to give schools “a head start in tackling climate change and conserving our precious water supplies”. Easy come, easy go; the money tree seemed ripe for picking.

The cost of meeting Rudd’s windmill and solar fetish has been extraordinary. Wind-generated power is roughly three-times more expensive than traditional energy, and large-scale solar even pricier.

It has taken cross-subsidies of $22bn to keep renewables viable, according to a 2014 review for the federal government. The economy-wide cost was put at $29bn.

It amounts to industry welfare on steroids. Corporations that jumped on the clean energy gravy train have benefited from assistance on a far greater scale than that we once lavished on the car industry.

Wind farm operators work in splendid isolation from the risk and uncertainty that trouble ordinary businesses. Their share price is not driven by supply and demand for electricity, but by the funny-money world of large-scale generation certificates.

When the LGC spot price shot up from $52 in July 2015 to $86, the value of Infigen’s stock ­quadrupled.

Coal energy producers, on the other hand, saw their fortunes decline. The Alinta power station closed at Port Augusta in May last year, ground down by operating losses of about $100m.

The result of Labor’s ill-considered RET policy should shame the social justice party into silence. Shareholders in the likes of Infigen have grown rich by squeezing coal operators out of business with all that entails: the loss of 440 jobs at Port Augusta, for example, and the threat the closure presents to jobs in other South Australian industries.

They have grown rich through a scheme that has made the electricity grid more unstable and reduced the reliability of supply.

They have grown rich through a scheme that has more than doubled the cost of running an air­conditioner, a detail that probably won’t trouble Infigen’s executives on the 22nd floor of their five-star energy-rated Pitt Street, Sydney, headquarters but would make life uncomfortable for a pensioner surviving on $437 a week in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.

On paper, the case for abolishing the RET is strong. Deloitte’s estimates the reduction in electricity prices would add $28.8bn to GDP by 2030 and create 50,000 jobs.

The politics of liberalising the energy market would be punishing, however, and all but impossible to negotiate through the Senate.

The status quo — a 23.5 per cent renewable target by 2020 — will require doubling the capacity of wind and solar and will further erode the viability of coal plants. The doubling of energy future ­prices that followed the announcement of the closure of Victoria’s Hazelwood power station is a sign of things to come.

Rudd’s claim that coal is “down and out” will come as news to the Japanese government, which is planning up to 47 coal-fired, high-energy, low-emissions plants burning high-quality Australian black coal.

It would be viable in Australia, too, if energy providers enjoyed a free market. With gas prices high, ultra-supercritical coal generation would fill the demand for base-load power.

Yet the uncertainty of Labor’s greener-than-thou policies — not just a 50 per cent RET but a price on carbon, too — could yet make the end of coal a self-fulfilling prophecy.

SOURCE

***************************************

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

*****************************************



Tuesday, February 21, 2017



Strange science

The article below says that global warming cools the temperature in the Pacific and that a cooler Pacific is likely to produce centuries of drought in California.  It appeared just 4 months before the current floods: A very large predictive failure.  

But it was a nutty article anyway.  The Pacific is the world's largest body of water.  Why should global warming cool it?  How can something global leave out the Pacific or even a large part of the Pacific? The authors could have avoided the egg currently residing on their faces if they had questioned their finding that warming causes ocean cooling.  Such an absurd finding should have led them to question whether or not something was wrong with their research methods.  There clearly was.



Prolonged California aridity linked to climate warming and Pacific sea surface temperature

Glen M. MacDonald et al.

Abstract

California has experienced a dry 21st century capped by severe drought from 2012 through 2015 prompting questions about hydroclimatic sensitivity to anthropogenic climate change and implications for the future. We address these questions using a Holocene lake sediment record of hydrologic change from the Sierra Nevada Mountains coupled with marine sediment records from the Pacific. These data provide evidence of a persistent relationship between past climate warming, Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) shifts and centennial to millennial episodes of California aridity. The link is most evident during the thermal-maximum of the mid-Holocene (~8 to 3 ka; ka = 1,000 calendar years before present) and during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) (~1 ka to 0.7 ka). In both cases, climate warming corresponded with cooling of the eastern tropical Pacific despite differences in the factors producing increased radiative forcing. The magnitude of prolonged eastern Pacific cooling was modest, similar to observed La NiƱa excursions of 1o to 2 °C. Given differences with current radiative forcing it remains uncertain if the Pacific will react in a similar manner in the 21st century, but should it follow apparent past behavior more intense and prolonged aridity in California would result.

SOURCE




CA: Global warming causes droughts, global warming causes floods.  Is there anything it can't do?

Credulous journalists below just parrot what the incompetent scientists say

With California having its most rainy winter in years, residents have relied on emergency spillways and other precautions for the past two weeks.

The night of Feb. 11, the Oroville dam filled with rain and its emergency spillway was used for the first time. The dam’s emergency spillway, however, collapsed. The residents of Oroville and surrounding towns downstream were ordered to evacuate immediately.

CSUN professor of hydrogeology Ali Tabidian said this is one of the major issues with global warming, which is causing such extreme weather. When it comes to floods, Tabidian said, they’re going to be bigger and more frequent.

He also said dams and levees are based on years of data. So engineers do their best to take this information into account when they’re designing precautions. However, the type of rain and climate happening now is not in the data from the past because of global warming.

“A lot of flood control projects, these are based on old data,” Tabidian said.

Not only is global warming an issue, but urbanization is as well. According to Tabidian, with urbanization there is an increase of asphalt and a decrease in soil. Therefore, when it rains, there’s not as much soil to absorb it. All the extra water will flow into lakes and rivers.

“With so many homes and shopping centers, it’s unbelievable and going to generate more runoff and bigger floods,” Tabidian said.

SOURCE





High efficiency, low emission (HELE) coal-fired power

Deploying high efficiency, low emission (HELE) coal-fired power plants is a key first step along a pathway to near-zero emissions from coal with carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS). HELE technologies are commercially available now and, if deployed, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the entire power sector by around 20%.

What does improving efficiency mean?

Improving efficiency increases the amount of energy that can be extracted from a single unit of coal. A one percentage point improvement in the efficiency of a conventional pulverised coal combustion plant results in a 2-3% reduction in CO2 emissions.

What can be achieved?

Moving the current average global efficiency rate of coal-fired power plants from 33% to 40% by deploying more advanced off-the-shelf technology could cut two gigatonnes of CO2 emissions now, while allowing affordable energy for economic development and poverty reduction. Two gigatonnes of CO2 is equivalent to:

* India's annual CO2 emissions

* Running the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme for 53 years at its current rate, or

* Running the Kyoto Protocol three times over

In addition to significant benefits from reduced CO2 emissions, these modern high efficiency plants have significantly reduced emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2 ) and particulate matter (PM). Beyond the climate benefits of reduced CO2 emissions, reduction in these pollutants is of additional importance at the local and regional level to address air quality and related health concerns.

Supercritical & Ultrasupercritical Technology

New pulverised coal combustion systems – utilising supercritical and ultra-supercritical technology – operate at increasingly higher temperatures and pressures and therefore achieve higher efficiencies than conventional PCC units and significant CO2 reductions. Supercritical steam cycle technology has been used for decades and is becoming the system of choice for new commercial coal-fired plants in many countries.

Research and development is under way for ultra-supercritical units operating at even higher efficiencies, potentially up to around 50%. The introduction of ultra-supercritical technology has been driven over recent years in countries such as Denmark, Germany and Japan, in order to achieve improved plant efficiencies and reduce fuel costs.

SOURCE




Canada: Murray Energy CEO claims global warming is a hoax, says 4,000 scientists tell him so

Murray Energy Chairman and CEO Robert Murray on Friday claimed global warming is a hoax and repeated a debunked claim that the phenomenon cannot exist because the Earth's surface is cooling.

Murray appeared on CNBC's "Squawk Box" to discuss Republicans' rollback of an Obama-era rule that would have restricted coal mining near waterways. President Donald Trump signed the measure on Thursday in front of Murray and a group of Murray Energy workers.

Murray Energy is the country's largest coal miner. Many of its mines are in Appalachia, a region that would suffer some of the biggest impacts of the rule. Murray also successfully sued to delay implementation of the Clean Power Plan, which would regulate planet-warming carbon emissions from power plants.

Asked about the economic analysis behind President Barack Obama's energy regulations, Murray said, "There's no scientific analysis either. I have 4,000 scientists that tell me global warming is a hoax. The Earth has cooled for 20 years."

It was not immediately clear who the 4,000 scientists Murray referenced are.

Asked for clarification, a spokesperson for Murray Energy sent links to the Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change, which says "human-caused climate change is not a global crisis," and the Global Warming Petition Project, a list of science degree holders who don't think humans cause climate change.

Murray's claim that there is no scientific analysis behind climate change is not true.

A landmark 2013 study assessed 4,000 peer-reviewed papers by 10,000 climate scientists that gave an opinion on the cause of climate change. It showed 97 percent of the authors attributed climate change to manmade causes.

The above is a false claim.  The "landmark" Cook study in fact showed that two thirds of climate scientists took no position on global warming.  Read the abstract for yourself here

SOURCE





Australian Leftist leader fails to specify cost of his  renewables policy when asked four times

Bill Shorten has declined to be specific about the cost of Labor’s goal to have 50% of Australia’s electricity generated from renewable sources by 2030.

In an early morning radio interview on Wednesday, Shorten was asked four times about the cost to consumers of executing such a transition, but the Labor leader deflected, pointing to the costs of not acting.

With the Coalition intent on making energy policy a point of sharp partisan difference, Malcolm Turnbull pounced on the interview, telling reporters in Canberra the Labor leader had admitted “he had no idea what his reckless renewable energy target would cost, or what its consequences would be.”

“He confirmed precisely the criticism that we’ve made about Mr Shorten, that he is literally clueless on this subject, mindless, just like South Australia has been.”

Labor’s 50% by 2030 policy is not a RET, it is an “aspiration”. Labor’s election policy says the 50% national goal would work in concert with state-based RET schemes, which the prime minister has blasted consistently since a storm plunged South Australia into a statewide blackout last year.

During an interview with the ABC Shorten was pressed repeatedly about the practical consequences of the shift – the costs to consumers of executing such a significant transition in Australia’s energy mix.

Shorten attempted to explain the broad rationale for increasing renewables in Australia’s energy mix, and he said Labor believed there was “a range of levers which assist, from having an emissions intensive scheme and the energy intensity scheme in the energy industry, having a market trading scheme and an emissions trading scheme [and] looking at the rate of land clearing.”

“Our answer is very, very straightforward. We think the cost of not acting is far greater.”

“We don’t think we could sustain the cost as the Liberals are saying, of building new coal-fired power generation on the scale which Mr Turnbull is saying and we don’t think that, from insurance to drought to extreme weather events, that we can simply go business as usual.”

Australian National University research associate Hugh Saddler in July 2015 estimated Labor’s policy would increase wholesale market prices by four cents per kWh above present levels in every state market except South Australia.

By signing on to the Paris climate agreement, the Turnbull government has committed Australia to reducing emissions by 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2030. Meeting those targets will impose costs on consumers.

The government has been advised by numerous experts that its Direct Action climate policy will not allow Australia to meet the Paris targets, and adopting an emissions intensity scheme, a form of carbon trading, would allow Australia to reduce emissions from energy at the least cost to households and businesses.

The government has thus far rejected that advice.

SOURCE

***************************************

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

*****************************************



Monday, February 20, 2017



The war on coal is over with Scott Pruitt in at EPA, sets stage for 2018 Senate elections

The Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt on Friday to run the Environmental Protection Agency.  Vote was 52 to 46



Ever since his time as Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt has fought the EPA at every turn throughout the country. Pruitt joined 11 other Republican Attorneys General in 2013 to fight against the sue and settle lawsuits of the EPA which provided the agency with wide latitude over the enforcement of environmental law, where environmental groups sue the EPA and to avoid further litigation, the parties settle the suit and the EPA is given permission to address the issue with newly expanded powers.

There will also be an opportunity for the EPA to reconsider the 2009 Carbon Endangerment Finding, defining carbon dioxide as a harmful pollutant under the Clean Air Act, which has been used to justify the continual implementation of regulations that expand the agency’s power and wage a war on coal via the new and existing power plant rules.

The EPA has successfully forced states to regulate the coal industry as an extension of the Clean Air Act, and given itself far more oversight than ever intended.

This assault on coal has placed burdens on the economy that Pruitt has consistently seen as both unattainable and unnecessary, arguing in 2014 in response to a new EPA regulation on emission controls that “The EPA can’t force utility companies to actually incorporate emission control measures unless they’re achievable through technology. And here, there really isn’t any demonstrated technology that will see a reduction of 30 percent… this is coerced conservation.”

Pruitt’s constant defense against this coercion by the agency built by the Obama Administration allowed all 52 Senate Republicans to back him Thursday morning as his confirmation process moved forward. However, Republicans were not alone in their favor for Pruitt.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp both voted in support of Scott Pruitt as well, and this vote could be what saves them in 2018 as Democrats defend a whopping 25 Senate seats. Even Democrats are starting to learn that the war on coal is hurting the jobs of their constituents and polluting the economies of their states.

The Washington Post reported in Dec. 2016 that West Virginians were “euphoric” and “thrilled” by Trump’s win noting that “Before the price of coal collapsed, before the number of working miners in the state fell to a 100-year low of 15,000, miners could make $60,000, even $75,000 a year, without a high school education. Walmart money doesn’t come close.”

In states with a strong mining industry, a senator’s vote for Pruitt is a vote to return economic possibility and the American dream to thousands of workers.

Even Heidi Heitkamp has been consistently willing to oppose her Democratic establishment when it comes to assisting her constituents in getting back to work. In 2015 Heitkamp argued “EPA’s over-reaching policy won’t work for North Dakota. We now have EPA in the driver’s seat dictating how we generate and transmit electricity, and that’s a dangerous road to go down.”

Constituents in states like North Dakota and West Virginia were integral in developing a support base for Trump that Democrats willfully ignored. Heitkamp and Manchin have proved that they are listening to their people, other Democrats would be wise to do the same.

The rust belt was integral to Trump’s election in part because of their reliance on coal; for states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Indiana, three of which Trump won, Trump was the easy decision to get the people back to work and make the economy stable once again. Yet all four of these states have Democrats in office, all up in 2018 as well, who voted against Pruitt: Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey, Mark Warner and Joe Donnelly.

In a statement, Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning blasted these senators as “those politicians who voted against the Pruitt nomination told the workers in their states they prefer San Francisco radical environmentalist campaign cash over the votes and livelihoods of their constituents.”

Clearly, Heitkamp and Manchin are focused on creating jobs for their constituents and retaining their position in 2018, and proof was their vote for Pruitt. Brown, Casey, Warner and Donnelly, not so much.

President Obama led the war on coal, and now Scott Pruitt is about to end it as EPA Administrator. The work he has done in Oklahoma sets the stage for ending EPA overreach and in doing so, he can force other Democrats in the Senate to actually start listening to their constituents — or else face the music in 2018.

SOURCE





Demon coal

Coal is a gift that we have in abundance.  The vast reserves of coal guarantee the United States energy for hundreds of years.  Coal is efficient.  No fuel, other than uranium, is cheaper.  Coal burns clean in modern plants.  Strip-mining coal in the modern way improves the landscape.  According to the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. demonstrated coal reserve base is 477 billion 2,000-pound tons, enough for more than 500 years at current consumption rates.

In the eyes of the diminishing crowd of believers in catastrophic global warming, coal is evil, a demon.  Why?  Because it is mostly carbon, and when coal is burned, carbon dioxide (CO2) is created.  CO2 is supposed to create a disaster.  As the predicted disaster (global warming) fails to materialize, a new disaster (extreme weather) is invented. The disasters that never materialize are blamed on CO2 and indirectly on coal.

Apocalyptic ideology needs scapegoats.  Coal and CO2 serve well.  According to the Sierra Club, demon coal will destroy our world and poison our children.  If the Sierra Club only offered mountain meadows and wildflowers, it would be pretty boring and wouldn't raise $100 million every year.  Demons and conspiracies are the stuff that raises big money.

The CO2 released by burning coal is wonderful stuff.  Plants breathe CO2, and if there is more CO2 in the air, the plants breathe easy, grow faster, and need less water.  Greenhouse operators put CO2 generators in their greenhouses because more CO2 helps plants thrive.  Worldwide agriculture is going strong, partly because the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased from about 0.03% to 0.04%.

The idea that "science" proves that CO2 is a demon is most plausible to people with limited exposure to down and dirty science.  Down and dirty science is at its dirtiest when it is seeking money or protecting its money.  Former president Dwight Eisenhower, in his 1961 farewell address, anticipated global warming:

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present - and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

Eisenhower's fears have materialized. A not so elite alliance of climate scientists and federal bureaucrats has captured public policy, demonizing CO2 and predicting a global disaster.  Around 2010, the disaster narrative shifted from "global warming" to "extreme weather."  That should have closed down the demonization of CO2.  It's not fair to keep changing disasters.  But they had to change their disaster, because global warming stopped beginning in 1998.  By 2010, the revision of the predicted disaster was well underway.

The failure of global warming to continue after 1998 is powerful evidence that the theories predicting disastrous global warming from CO2 are simply wrong and that the amount of warming that might happen is likely negligible or beneficial.  Global environmental data suggests that global warming is a scare story whose time has passed. The failure of the globe to warm for the last two decades is validated by satellite temperature measurements, the most reliable form.

In 2015, an attempt was made to erase the global warming pause by re-analyzing ocean temperatures.  That attempt has been discredited by angry whistleblowers.

Psychologically, extreme weather is a good choice for a disaster. It seems that weather is becoming more extreme because the memory of previous extreme weather episodes fades with time.  Scientifically, extreme weather clashes with global warming.  According to global warming theory, the poles are supposed to warm more than the tropics, decreasing the temperature difference between the tropics and the poles.  But weather is driven by that temperature difference.  Less temperature difference due to global warming should result in less energy available to drive weather.  But extreme weather is an elastic concept.  If the weather is nice and uneventful for long periods, that is extreme, too.  In the U.S., it is clear that extreme weather is decreasing.

The promoters of dubious science like to add conspiracy theories to discredit objections.  Anyone who disagrees with them is part of the conspiracy.  In the case of global warming skeptics, they are supposedly part of a conspiracy promoted by the fossil fuel companies.

The Harvard professor Naomi Oreskes deserves the title of global warming conspiracy queen.  According to Dr. Oreskes, the oil companies, in league with certain right-wing scientists, belonging to the military-industrial complex, are plotting to spread disinformation critical of the absolutely clear and true science of global warming that has been devised by very sincere and nice scientists.  She even made a movie about it.

Dr. Oreskes should get in touch with the many inventors of high-mileage carburetors whose inventions are allegedly being suppressed by the oil companies.  Also interesting are the people who claim that General Motors bought up and closed down all the trolley car lines so people would have to buy cars and buses.

The organization that hates coal more than any other is the Sierra Club.  Every scrap of literature produced by the Sierra Club on the subject of coal includes a picture of a backlit smokestack.  By photographing a smokestack emitting harmless condensing steam with the sun behind the smokestack, the steam can be made to look like black smoke.

It is rare to see black smoke coming from a smokestack.  Polluting smokestacks disappeared many decades ago.  Below is a picture of the John W. Turk generating plant in Arkansas.  Nothing visible comes out of the smokestack even while it is burning 300 tons of coal per hour.  Noxious substances in the flue gas have been scrubbed down to a low level by pollution control equipment.

In a modern plant that burns coal to generate electricity, the principal polluting substances - sulfur, particulates, nitrogen oxides, and mercury - are removed from the flue gas and reduced to low levels before the gas enters the smokestack. The ash left over after the coal is burned is buried in a safe landfill.  In spite of being overregulated by the government, and demonized by the Sierra Club, modern coal plants are highly reliable and generate electricity cleanly and cheaply.  The carbon dioxide emitted is harmless and increases agricultural productivity.

By using coal to generate electricity, natural gas, a premium fuel, can be reserved for low-duty cycle, peaking power plants, for powering transportation, for domestic heating, or to be exported to customers in Asia.  Natural gas should not be squandered by using it to generate base load electricity when vast coal supplies are available.

But, if you listen to the Sierra Club, coal is a dirty and outdated fuel.  Rather than suggesting natural gas or nuclear, the normal alternatives to coal, the Sierra Club wants us to use windmills to generate electricity.  The Sierra Club is especially interested in offshore wind:

Offshore wind produces no air or water pollution as it generates electricity. Coal plants, by contrast, pollute our air with soot and smog that cause or worsen respiratory illnesses, heart disease, and asthma. Asthma from coal plant pollution is estimated to cause3,000,000 lost work days and 554,000 asthma attacks each year, 26,000 of which are severe enough to require an emergency room visit. Coal plants also dirty our water with toxic mercury that can cause birth defects, neurological disorders, and developmental delays in children.

The medical claims that the Sierra Club attributes to modern coal use are false or at least astronomically exaggerated.  Note the fake, nearly exact numbers for asthma attacks and emergency room visits.

The problem with wind power is that it stops when the wind stops.  You have to have alternative plants to take up the load. With wind power, you don't replace the fossil fuel infrastructure.  It keeps on working, as a backup, part-time and at great cost.

SOURCE





If THIS isn’t evidence of SABOTAGE against Trump, I don’t know what it is

By Allen West

I was driving down I-45 from Dallas to Houston Friday morning I heard this very disturbing news.

As reported by The Week, “In a last-ditch effort to block the confirmation of President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency director nominee Scott Pruitt, EPA employees have resorted to calling their senators.

(Ahead of) Pruitt’s confirmation vote… employees at the agency (were) growing increasingly worried about the possibility of a new boss who has vowed to “get rid of” the EPA and who sued the EPA “at least 14 times” while he was Oklahoma’s attorney general, The New York Times reported.

“It seems like Trump and Pruitt want a complete reversal of what EPA has done. I don’t know if there’s any other agency that’s been so reviled,” said EPA lawyer Nicole Cantello. “So it’s in our interests to do this.”

The bold and blatant effort is out of the ordinary, and perhaps unprecedented. “I’ve been here for 30 years, and I’ve never called my senator about a nominee before,” an EPA employee in North Carolina told The New York Times. Former EPA employee Judith Enck said the rebellion reveals how desperate EPA employees are to block Pruitt. “EPA staff are pretty careful. They’re risk-averse,” Enck said. “If people are saying and doing things like this, it’s because they’re really concerned.”
Former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was indeed confirmed as the new Director of the EPA on Friday, obviously to the chagrin of the employees of the agency he’s about to lead.
What type of bizarro world are we living in where government employees of an agency are now calling to block the nominations of their future boss? Haven’t these folks EVER heard of the Hatch Act (which prevents government employees from lobbying)?

This is purely political activity and it should not and must not be tolerated. However, this abhorrent behavior has been playing out quite often in these early days of the Trump administration. There’ve been reported instances of similar actions in the Department of Defense and State, and we all know someone is leaking classified information to the liberal progressive media in order to undermine — no, sabotage — the peaceful transition of government.

These are government employees whose salaries are paid for by the American taxpayer. They should not be using their positions as political platforms, which is what the Hatch Act seeks to prevent. This just goes to further lend credibility to this belief that there’s some sort of residual rear guard, Obama shadow government left in place to create chaos for the incoming Trump administration.

Can you just imagine if, in February 2009, there were government agency employees calling their Senators, demanding they block Obama cabinet and agency appointees? The liberal progressive media would be going apoplectic! Instead they’re busy frothing over President Trump’s impromptu press conference from Thursday. Yes, it is the media’s fault they’re losing credibility and are hardly trusted. A story such as this should be receiving immense coverage, but instead, these rogue employees are being heralded as heroes and courageous by the leftists.

It’s time some very serious actions take place, and the government unions are not going to like what I say. These folks cannot see themselves any longer as being impervious to suffering any consequences to their actions. Not just this, but also the failures of government inefficiency — a reason why there are so many government hired contractors.

These government employees must be fired.

They cannot operate in this realm of feeling “untouchable” any longer. Their paychecks are signed by us, the American taxpayer. They don’t work for any political party, cause, or in advancement of an ideology. They are part of the swamp, the bureaucratic administrative state, and there is no place more indicative of that than the IRS and the EPA. This agency in the past eight years was used as an ideological agenda weapon of mass destruction.

SOURCE





US Congress launches a probe into climate data that duped world leaders over global warming

Revelations by the Mail on Sunday about how world leaders were misled over global warming by the main source of climate data have triggered a probe by the US Congress.

Republican Lamar Smith, who chairs the influential House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology, announced the inquiry last week in a letter to Benjamin Friedman, acting chief of the organisation at the heart of the MoS disclosures, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

He renewed demands, first made in 2015, for all internal NOAA documents and communications between staff behind a controversial scientific paper, which made a huge impact on the Paris Agreement on climate change of that year, signed by figures including David Cameron and Barack Obama.

The paper – dubbed the ‘Pausebuster’ – claimed that contrary to what scientists had been saying for several years, there was no ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in the rate of global warming in the early 21st Century, and that in fact it had been taking place even faster than before.

The ‘pause’ had been seized on by climate sceptics, because throughout the period, carbon dioxide emissions continued to rise.

This month, this newspaper revealed evidence from a whistleblower, Dr John Bates, who until the end of 2016 was one of two NOAA ‘principal scientists’ working on climate change, showing that the paper based its claims on an ‘unverified’ and experimental dataset measuring land temperatures, and on a then newly issued sea-temperature dataset that is now to be withdrawn and replaced because it exaggerates both the scale and speed of warming.

The ‘Pausebuster’ paper’s claims were trumpeted around the world when it was published by the journal Science in June 2015, six months before the UN Paris climate-change conference. Its assertions were highlighted in scientific briefings to officials who hammered out the Agreement – which commits the developed world to sweeping greenhouse-gas emissions cuts and pledges an additional £80 billion every year in ‘climate-related’ aid to poor nations.

In his letter to NOAA, Congressman Smith expresses frustration that previous demands for documents about the Pausebuster were not met, although his committee took the unusual step of issuing a legal subpoena. NOAA’s decision to withhold the documents was, he wrote, ‘without any justification in law’.

As for the revelations by this newspaper, Mr Smith said they ‘raise additional questions as to whether the science at NOAA is objective and free from political interference’. NOAA has said it intends to bring in ‘independent outside parties’ to investigate the Pausebuster and the flawed datasets.

Last week Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring at the UK Met Office, admitted that notwithstanding the Pausebuster, it was clear ‘the slowdown hasn’t gone away’.

The ‘pause’ is clearly visible in the Met Office’s ‘HadCRUT 4’ climate dataset, calculated independently of NOAA.

Since record highs caused last year by an ‘el Nino’ sea-warming event in the Pacific, HadCRUT 4 has fallen by more than half a degree Celsius, and its value for the world average temperature in January 2017 was about the same as January 1998.

SOURCE




Polar bear numbers still on the rise

Polar bear populations are still growing despite global warming, according to new research.

The new population estimates from the 2016 Scientific Working Group are somewhere between 22,633 to 32,257 bears, which is a net increase from the 2015 number of 22,000 to 31,000. The current population numbers are a sharp increase from 2005’s, which stated only 20,000 to 25,000 bears remained — those numbers were a major increase from estimates that only 8,000 to 10,000 bears remained in the late 1960s.

Until the new study, bear subpopulations in the Baffin Bay and Kane Basin (KB) were thought to be in decline due to over-hunting and global warming. The new report indicates this is not the case.

Scientists are increasingly realizing that polar bears are much more resilient to changing levels of sea ice than environmentalists previously believed, and numerous healthy populations are thriving.

Predictions that bears would die due to a lack of sea ice have continuously not come to pass. Recent rumors about polar bear extinction underscore another time when scientists discovered the creatures possess higher resilience to changing levels of sea ice than previously believed. Another new study by Canadian scientists found “no evidence” polar bears are currently threatened by global warming.

“We see reason for concern, but find no reliable evidence to support the contention that polar bears are currently experiencing a climate crisis,” Canadian scientists wrote in their study, published in the journal Ecology and Evolution.

Polar bears became an icon for environmentalists who claimed that melting Arctic sea ice could kill thousands of bears. Former Vice President Al Gore heavily promoted this viewpoint by featuring polar bears swimming for their lives and drowning in his 2006 film on global warming.

Fears about global warming’s impact on polar bears even spurred the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to say that the bear was “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in 2008. Polar bears were the first species to be listed over possibly being harmed in the future by global warming.

Scientists, however, have increasingly been questioning alarmists as there are way more polar bears alive today than 40 years ago.

In fact, polar bears have likely survived past ice-free periods in the Arctic. There is no evidence of large scale marine life extinctions in the Arctic in the past 1.5 million years, despite the Arctic going through prolonged periods with no summer ice cover.

SOURCE

***************************************

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

*****************************************

Sunday, February 19, 2017



Sea ice around Antarctica hits record low as NASA captures the moment massive iceberg the size of Manhattan breaks away from  giant glacier

Once again a single event is being hailed as proof of global warming.  But you cannot logically do that.  A global theory requires global evidence.  You can have warming in one place while it is cooling elsewhere -- for no net effect.  And it IS cooling elsewhere.  I repeat once again the graph showing ice GROWTH in Greenland.  The authors below slide around the Greenland data by saying: "At the other end of the planet, ice covering the Arctic Ocean has set repeated lows in recent years."  It sure has -- in recent years but not this year.  Greenies sure can be slippery.

And breaking ice shelves of course do not raise the water level by one iota.  They are FLOATING ice.  Check your Archimedes.

Also note that West Antarctica is normally more prone to melting than the rest of Antarctica -- probably due to greater subsurface vulcanism




Sea ice around Antarctica has shrunk to the smallest annual extent on record after years of resisting a trend of man-made global warming, preliminary U.S. satellite data has revealed.

Ice floating around the frozen continent usually melts to its smallest for the year around the end of February, the southern hemisphere summer, before expanding again as the autumn chill sets in.

This year, sea ice extent contracted to 2.287 million square kilometres (883,015 square miles) on Feb. 13, according to daily data from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

That extent is a fraction smaller than a previous low of 2.290 million sq kms (884,173 square miles) recorded on Feb. 27, 1997, in satellite records dating back to 1979.

It comes as NASA revealed stunning images of a huge area of ice breaking off from the Pine Island Glacier.

Pine Island Glacier is one of the main glaciers responsible for moving ice from the interior of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to the ocean.

The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured these images of Pine Island Glacier's floating edge before and after the recent break.

The top image shows the area on January 24, 2017, while the second image shows the same area on January 26.

About a kilometer or two of ice appears to have calved (broken off) from the shelf's front.

Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC, said he would wait for a few days' more measurements to confirm the record low.

'But unless something funny happens, we're looking at a record minimum in Antarctica. Some people say it's already happened,' he told Reuters.

'We tend to be conservative by looking at five-day running averages.'

In many recent years, the average extent of sea ice around Antarctica has tended to expand despite the overall trend of global warming, blamed on a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuels.

People sceptical of mainstream findings by climate scientists have often pointed to Antarctic sea ice as evidence against global warming. Some climate scientists have linked the paradoxical expansion to shifts in winds and ocean currents.

'We've always thought of the Antarctic as the sleeping elephant starting to stir. Well, maybe it's starting to stir now,' Serreze said.

World average temperatures climbed to a record high in 2016 for the third year in a row. Climate scientists say warming is causing more extreme days of heat, downpours and is nudging up global sea levels.

At the other end of the planet, ice covering the Arctic Ocean has set repeated lows in recent years.

Combined, the extent of sea ice at both ends of the planet is about 2 million sq kms (772,200 square miles) less than the 1981-2010 averages for mid-February, roughly the size of Mexico or Saudi Arabia.

The shocking new NASA images show the reality of the problem, as Pine Island Glacier has shed another block of ice into Antarctic waters.

The loss was tiny compared to the icebergs that broke off in 2014 and 2015, but the event is further evidence of the ice shelf's fragility.

SOURCE




Canada: The public backlash rises as the credibility of high-cost low-carbon policies collapses

Despite what you might hear from certain Canadian politicians, governments everywhere are starting to back away from anti-carbon policies as the backlash from voters continues to mount. We see it in Germany where they’ve begun returning to coal power. We see it in the cancellation of green subsidies in the U.K., Portugal and Spain. And there are even signs of it in Ontario, which suspended plans for $3.8 billion in new renewable contracts.

Something largely lost in the media flurry over President Trump’s executive orders was the Republican Congress’s unravelling of notable fossil fuel regulations. The House passed two resolutions last week: one rescinding “war-on-coal” water-quality standards, and another rescinding a rule requiring energy companies to report payments made to governments to extract oil, gas and minerals.

This is just the start. The Republicans will roll back more regulations. President Trump will likely withdraw from the Paris COP21 agreement with its weak, King-Canute-like commitments to keep temperatures rising no more than 1.5 degrees by 2100. The United States will likely decline to advance climate policies for at least four more years. But is it behaving any differently than other countries?

In a recent National Bureau of Economic Research paper, Yale University economist William Nordhaus, a strong proponent of climate policies, shows that government efforts have globally done little to reduce GHG emissions. Only the EU has implemented national carbon policies and even those were very modest. Nordhaus aptly calls all the empty talk from so many governments, from South America to Scandinavia, the “Rhetoric of Nations.”

Nordhaus argues that the original Kyoto accord target of limiting temperature increases to no more than two degrees by 2100 is now infeasible. An increase limited to two-and-a-half degrees is technically feasible but “would require extreme, virtually universal global policy measures.” His optimal path to achieve decarbonization with more aggressive policies, without completely suffocating economic growth, requires letting the global temperature rise by an expected 3.5 degrees by 2100.

Governments have a major credibility problem: they’re overpromising and under-delivering. As I’ve written in this space before, Canada’s “commitment” to reduce GHG emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels is certain to fail, even if the optimistic environment minister insists that target is but a “minimum.”

There is, of course, a reason why governments are backing away from carbon policies: voters don’t like them. This becomes apparent the moment the public understands that increasing carbon prices comes at a cost. And the phase-out of oil, gas and coal jobs don’t end up replaced by green jobs, as politicians promised they would.

Take the example of Ontario’s renewable energy policies, which have imposed high energy costs by phasing-out coal and subsidizing wind and solar energy. Sole-sourced, non-competitive contracts awarded to producers of wind and solar power have become extremely expensive. Adding to that cost, for every megawatt of intermittent solar and wind energy added to the grid, another megawatt (or close to it) of reliable base-load power — natural gas or nuclear — must be added as well, for those many days without enough wind or sun. When there’s too much wind, solar or other power, as often happens, Ontario has had to pay producers to curtail production, or dump electricity at a loss into the markets of neighbouring competitors.

SOURCE




Now trees are bad?

Scotland was originally heavily forested

Some of Scotland’s greatest landscapes could be threatened by plans to expand tree coverage to a quarter of the country, according to an alliance of countryside campaigners.

The Scottish government has set an ambitious target of increasing woodland cover from 17 per cent to 25 per cent by 2050. The SNP administration has also pledged to plant 10,000 extra hectares of trees by 2022 as part of its strategy to combat climate change.

However, groups representing mountaineers and gamekeepers have forged an unlikely partnership to oppose the plans.

Mountaineering Scotland (MS) and the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) have submitted a joint letter expressing concern to Roseanna Cunningham, the environment secretary.

SOURCE





Britain receives final warning on ‘shameful’ air pollution levels

The European Commission has threatened Britain with court action and hundreds of millions of pounds in fines for persistently breaching EU limits on air pollution.

In a move described as shameful for the UK, the commission sent a “final warning” yesterday, accusing the country of failing to address breaches in 16 areas, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow.

Britain is one of five EU countries served with the warning over illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide, which causes heart and lung diseases. Diesel cars — representing a third of those on British roads — are a big source of NO2. Air pollution from sources including road traffic, industry, farming and construction sites is linked to the early deaths of about 40,000 people a year in Britain.

SOURCE




Could the EPA be gone by this time next year?

Liberals are losing their minds over a new bill in Congress, and it’s only one sentence long. It reads:

“The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”

Introduced by freshman Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), it comes after a series of potentially deadly cases in which people and the environment were poisoned by the EPA. Not only did EPA officials spill three million gallons of toxic waste into a Colorado river, they were caught conducting banned human medical experiments in which people were forced to inhale poisonous car exhaust, using the same methods used in suicides.

Gaetz’s legislation has three co-sponsors: Reps. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), and Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.)

SOURCE


***************************************

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

*****************************************


Friday, February 17, 2017



Another brainless Warmist overgeneralization

It never stops.  Warmists point to some unusual event somewhere and conclude from that that the globe is warming.  But climate is NOT uniform.  The temperature can be rising in one place while it is falling elsewhere.  And that is what we see below.  Part of Arctic Norway has warmed up a bit and that is presented as evidence of global warming.

In fact other parts of the Arctic -- Greenland -- are getting colder.  See the ice cover graph below.  These attempts to generalize from one instance are statistical and brainless rubbish, albeit rubbish that is all to common among Warmists.  Global evidence is needed to support a global theory



In the Arctic something odd is taking place. Temperatures in Spitzbergen, on the Norwegian island of Svalbard, hit a balmy 4C on Monday,

At this time of year they should be around minus 16C. Instead locals are having to adapt to a fast-changing environment, one that leaves Norway’s environment minister Vidar Helgesen in a sweat.

“What is happening now is a harbinger of things to come, we are seeing drastic changes,” he tells Climate Home in an interview.

“One of our major glaciers is retreating one metre a day, two kilometres in five years. It’s happening very fast and the world should take note.

“This will happen faster in the Arctic. We know a 2C rise in global average temperatures means up to 4C in the Arctic.”2

The unusual conditions should alarm all governments, he says, given the Arctic’s influence on global weather patterns and the evolving links between climate change and issues such as conflict and migration.

SOURCE





Trump's likely science adviser calls climate scientists 'glassy-eyed cult'

The man tipped as frontrunner for the role of science adviser to Donald Trump has described climate scientists as “a glassy-eyed cult” in the throes of a form of collective madness.

William Happer, an eminent physicist at Princeton University, met Trump last month to discuss the post and says that if he were offered the job he would take it. Happer is highly regarded in the academic community, but many would view his appointment as a further blow to the prospects of concerted international action on climate change.

“There’s a whole area of climate so-called science that is really more like a cult,” Happer told the Guardian. “It’s like Hare Krishna or something like that. They’re glassy-eyed and they chant. It will potentially harm the image of all science.”

Trump has previously described global warming as “very expensive … bullshit” and has signalled a continued hardline stance since taking power. He has nominated the former Texas governor Rick Perry, a staunch climate sceptic, as secretary of energy and hopes to put the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) under the leadership of Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, who has been one of the agency’s most hostile critics.

John Holdren, Barack Obama’s science adviser, said Happer’s outspoken opinions would be a “substantial handicap” for a job that has traditionally involved delivering mainstream scientific opinion to the heart of policymaking.

“Every national academy of science agrees that the science is solid, that climate change is real,” he said. “To call this a cult is absurd and … an insult to the people who have done this work.”

Happer also supports a controversial crackdown on the freedom of federal agency scientists to speak out about their findings, arguing that mixed messages on issues such as whether butter or margarine is healthier, have led to people disregarding all public health information.

“So many people are fed up of listening to the government lie to them about margarine and climate change that when something is actually true and beneficial they don’t listen,” he said, citing childhood vaccines as an example. “The government should have a reputation of being completely reliable about facts – real facts.”

Happer dismissed concerns that Trump is “anti-science”, saying he had a positive impression of the president during their January meeting. “He asked good questions – he was very attentive, actually,” he said.

Climate change was mentioned but was not the main focus of discussions, according to Happer, who revealed that Trump had expressed support for solar energy in areas like Arizona “where it makes sense”.

“His comments were that of a technically literate person,” he said. “He wasn’t ideologically opposed to renewables; he wasn’t ideologically in favour of them either.”

Unlike many of his scientific peers, Happer is in favour of contentious legislation aimed at reining in the ability of federal agency staff to hold press conferences, give television interviews and promote their findings on official websites.

The “Secret Science Reform Bill”, which is being pushed by the Texas Republican Lamar Smith, chairman of the House science, space and technology Committee, would require federal agencies to publish all the raw data underpinning any proposed regulations and for new findings to be scrutinised extensively by outside experts before being announced. However, critics view the bill as an attempt to strip federal agencies of autonomy and reduce their regulatory powers.

“There is this special need for government science to be especially clean and without fault,” said Happer. “It’s OK to have press conferences, but before you do that you should have the findings carefully vetted.”

When asked for examples of where the current vetting process has failed, Happer cited a recent controversy surrounding a high-profile paper published by National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) scientists showing that global surface temperatures had risen again after temporarily levelling off.

Earlier this month, a retired Noaa scientist, Robert Bates, accused his former colleagues of rushing out the paper ahead of the UN conference, prioritising political impact over scientific rigour – although Bates later clarified that he had an issue with timing and transparency rather than “tampering with data”.

“This disappearance of the hiatus in global warming, which was trotted out just before the [UN] Paris conference … it was clearly just a political fanfare,” said Happer. “We shouldn’t be doing that. They were fiddling with the temperature records to make the hiatus go away.”

Happer argues that climate monitoring, such as the collection of CO2 and atmospheric temperature data, is valuable and should be continued. However, he claims that the overall threat posed by global warming has been overplayed by scientists swayed by a political agenda and power-hungry civil servants.

“There’s a huge amount of money that we spend on saving the planet,” he said. “If it turns out that the planet doesn’t need saving as much as we thought, well, there are other ways you could spend the money.

“When you talk about fossil fuel companies being motivated, well, there’s nobody more motivated than the people working for the federal government,” he added. “You can’t rise in the American bureaucracy without some threat to address.”

Happer said he began to question the emerging consensus view on climate change while working as director of research at the Department of Energy as part of the George W Bush administration. Climate scientists would “grudgingly” present their work to administrators, he claims, while those in other fields would share their results with enthusiasm.

“I would ask questions but they were evasive and wouldn’t answer,” he said. “This experience really soured me on the community. I started reading up and I realised why they weren’t answering the questions: because they didn’t have good answers. It was really at that point that I began to get seriously worried about climate as a science.”

Concerns about the Trump administration’s apparent disregard for mainstream scientific thinking on climate change has triggered a wave of activism, including plans for a science march in various cities.

However, Happer said that the public, who may view scientists as part of a privileged elite, may be less sympathetic.

“There’s a potential downside [to the march] of them being seen as a greedy bunch of spoiled people,” he said. “I don’t think they’re that way myself, but it could be easily twisted into that kind of narrative.”

SOURCE





What are they trying to hide?

The children of the light love the light, but the children of the darkness love the darkness -- John 3:19-21

Judicial Watch, a conservative group, has used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to sue for the privileged email correspondence of nine climate scientists employed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

On January 27, 2017, the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) filed a brief in the District of Columbia federal District Court urging the court to protect the communications between these scientists.

Why Do These Emails Matter?

In 2013, a leaked draft of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report stated that the rate of global warming had slowed between 1998 and 2012. Though the final report stated that “trends based on short records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not in general reflect long-term climate trends,” climate contrarians latched onto the idea of a “pause” in warming to bolster their position: If global warming has stopped, there is no need to curb fossil fuel use or take any other action to combat climate change.

The hiatus was rebutted in 2015 when Thomas Karl and his colleagues at NOAA published a paper in Science based on updated, more accurate data that demonstrated that there was no pause in global warming. In fact, warming from 2000 to 2015 was at least as great if not greater than that of the last half of the 20th century.

Other researchers have corroborated Karl et al.’s conclusions. Most recently, a 2017 Science Advances study by Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at Berkeley Earth, validated Karl et al.’s findings using independent data from satellites, buoys and free-floating Argo floats, and reached the same conclusions about the rate of global warming.

Soon after Karl et al. published their study, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology — who disputes the scientific consensus on climate change — subpoenaed the scientists’ documents and communications. He alleged that NOAA had readjusted historical temperature readings to suit the Obama administration’s political agenda, that the scientists had engaged in “suspicious” behavior, and that this had “broad national implications.”

NOAA supplied some documents to Smith, but refused to turn over the scientists’ confidential email correspondence.

In late 2015, Judicial Watch sued for the scientists’ emails under the Freedom of Information Act, a law designed to ensure transparency in government. Judicial Watch states it “is investigating how NOAA collects and disseminates climate data that is used in determining global climate change.”

SOURCE




Plastic bags cause global warming?

Like how?

New York City shoppers can put away their coin purses if they want to continue to use plastic bags. Gov. Cuomo Tuesday signed a bill to impose a moratorium blocking the city from imposing a controversial 5-cent fee on plastic disposable bags.

Cuomo, who released a lengthy statement on the issue, said the city law that was due to go into effect on Wednesday was “deeply flawed” even if the intent to clean up the environment was a good one.

The governor said he’s creating a task force to come up with a uniformed statewide plan to deal with “the plastic bag problem.”

Gov. Cuomo torn on whether to block plastic bag fee
"New York — like the rest of the nation — is currently struggling with the environmental impact of plastic and paper bag waste, particularly with a focus on plastic bags,” Cuomo said. “Plastic bags are convenient, but not without financial and environmental costs.”

Supporters of the moratorium criticized the bag fee as nothing more than a tax that would hurt lower-income people.

“I'm absolutely thrilled that the madness has been put on hold and I hope that during the next year that maybe we can come up with something that is more acceptable to both sides of this,” said Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn).

Opponents of the delay, including Mayor de Blasio, had argued the fee would benefit the environment.

Brooklyn assemblyman wants plastic bags banned in New York
De Blasio, appearing on NY1 Tuesday night, called the moratorium a mistake “because we need to do something to address global warming right here in this city.”

He said the goal of the fee, which he made clear was initially a City Council idea, was to change people’s behavior to get away from using plastic bags, which clog landfills.

“Now we have a status quo that’s not going to get us anywhere,” de Blasio said.

City Council spokeswoman Robin Levine accused Cuomo and the state Legislature of imposing their will on the issue over that of the City Council.

NYC's proposed bag fee divides father, son who are Albany pols
"Instead of protecting the autonomy of the New York City Council and our legislative process, Gov. Cuomo has added to the rampant dysfunction that is Albany by putting cheap politics ahead of our environment and the will of the people who actually live in New York City,” Levine said.

Levine said that the Council would have been willing to earmark a portion of the bag fee for environmental purposes had Cuomo and the Legislature granted the authority to do so.

“The New York City Council's Bring Your Own Bag law would have stopped the scourge of plastic bags in our City, and this ridiculous state law undermines New York City's authority, hurts New Yorkers and sets a dangerous precedent for our city and every other locality in the state,” she said.

Cuomo, who last week called it a “complicated” issue, legally had until Saturday to sign or veto the moratorium bill that the Legislature passed last week.

But with the city law imposing the bag fee set to go into effect on Wednesday, Cuomo acted Tuesday.

“While there are no doubt institutional political issues at play, and while New York City's law is an earnest attempt at a real solution, it is also undeniable that the City's bill is deeply flawed,” Cuomo said.

He called the provision that merchants keep the 5-cent fee as profit “the most objectionable.”

SOURCE





The Australian Left's 50 per cent renewable energy aim suddenly gets complicated by the political heat

Labor’s renewable energy policy used to be so simple it could be reduced to street-march chants.

“What do we want?” “Fifty per cent renewable energy.” “When do we want it?” “2030.”

But now it has been complicated by the intensification of the political debate over energy security, and Labor has had to lose the simplicity of a “target” with the addition of terms such as “aspirations” and “goals”.

It no longer sounds like a guaranteed destination.

“What do we want?” “An aspirational approach to renewable energy goals.” “When do we want it?” “Some time in the future we hope but first we have to see where we are in 2020.”

Try chanting that. In fact, try defending and defining it in a political debate.

“What we have is, there are two Labor policies: there’s the renewable energy target and there’s the goal of getting to 50 per cent renewable energy,” shadow treasurer Chris Bowen told Sky News yesterday.

“Now 50 per cent renewable energy is underpinned by a range of policy measures.”

Tested on definitions Mr Bowen said: “Well, there’s the renewable energy target and then we have the 50 per cent aspiration which is separate to our renewable energy target.”

Today opposition environment spokesman Mark Butler had a crack at explaining the policy but also seemed to add qualification to qualification.

The aim, from what he told Radio National, seems to be to promote the shift to renewables with the wish and the hope the momentum will produce the goal in 15 years. The hope is that a combination of early backing and the retirement of fossil fuel generators will see Australia coasting to 50 per cent renewable energy use.

Well, that’s the aspiration. There is not dedicated plan to fix a target for 2030.

First task is to reach 23.5 per cent renewables by 2020, as proposed by the Paris Agreement Australian signed last year. By then, the task will have been done, said Mr Butler.

“By the 2020s though, this technology on all the modelling will be able to stand on its own two feet, compete in the market without subsidy from government or without subsidy effectively from consumers through a government legislated scheme, providing that there is a proper policy framework that gives investors a long term price investment signal that is compliant with our carbon pollution reduction efforts,” he said.

That momentum combined with emission reduction targets, Mr Butler said, “will require, in my very clear view, about half of our electricity by 2030 will be zero emissions”.

The political debate, which has been condemned by industry and the ACTU, also had hidden the fact there isn’t much difference between Labor and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Turnbull said Monday: “Renewables have a very big place in Australia’s energy mix and it will get bigger. The cost of renewables is coming down.”

The key difference is the Government has yet to offer a “target” as the Prime Minister knows that would require some form of emissions trading, and Coalition colleagues wouldn’t allow that.

SOURCE

***************************************

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

*****************************************




Thursday, February 16, 2017



More on the Bates revelations about the NOAA paper by Tom Karl

The writer below says that the Bates revelations have one and one only important implication:  That unvalidated data was used.  In my career as a psychometrician, I too often railed against the unvalidated data often used by my fellow social scientists.  So I agree that use of unvalidated data means that the conclusions of that particular study cannot be accepted.

I don't think the problem ends there, however.  I think it unlikely that the data used CAN be validated.  The revelation about the best measurements of sea surface temperature not being used do, I think, have that implication. They imply that the data body used was constructed to defraud


It is sometimes said science is all about data… observation, measurement, experiment, measurement… But that is NOT the whole story. To ensure data is reliable and understood, we’ve developed standard units of measure, and document procedures used to obtain and record measurements. The intention is to make sure BOTH the data AND collection methods can be reliably understood and used by others. The fleshed out version of this is the scientific method, and is integral to, and indispensable in the advance of science. It works because it helps eliminate bias and protect the integrity of both data and process. Any departure from rigorous adherence to these principles may or may not adversely affect data. But it increases the risk, and introduces doubt as to the overall integrity. And any subsequent reliance on this data must not assert confidence levels beyond the weakest preceding link. For example, it would be inaccurate or dishonest to claim 100% certainty on results that can only be replicated 50% of the time.

So let’s wind forward…

There has been much suck-and-blow blather in the aftermath of the David Rose column on the whistleblower allegations by former NOAA scientist John Bates. I won’t rehash the article, other than to say Rose does seem eager to sensationalize speculative results rather than the details, but that in no way negates the seriousness of the allegations stated. What I want to discuss is the allegations and impacts. Rose is not the story. Bates is not the story. The story is the circumvention of procedures put in place to protect the integrity of the data, and hence the reputation of the NOAA. From John Bates:



Predictably, both the “consensus” and skeptic camps largely missed the mark in jumping to defend or attack positions. There were a flurry of hastily written newspaper and blog reports on “bad data“, “data manipulation“, and “data tampering“. Bates’ report didn’t say data was deliberately compromised (he mentioned a “thumb on the scale” which he later seemed to walk back), but that the presentation may have been biased, and adherence to protocol was haphazard. These of course are different things. This opened the door for the usual suspects from the other side to rush out reports showing the NOAA data was largely in agreement with other datasets, directing the discussion away from the presentation and protocol questions to “The data checks out. See? No problem.” This was cleverly, cynically, and all too accurately highlighted by Gavin Schmidt:



Let there be NO mistake: Regardless of the best efforts of Schmidt and friends to paint this as just deniers denying, if NOAA followed THEIR OWN established protocols, there would be no story.

Now the hordes of hyperactive and secure-in-their-ignorance columnists, tweeters and bloggers from the periphery join in with escalations of character attacks, dishonest misdirections, and deliberately uncharitable interpretations of innocuous statements. The Guardian chipped in with a nastily biased bit:



Referring back to the Science Insider piece…



Just one little problem: They provide no evidence that Bates said anything about being wary of skeptics. He said “people”. And as both skeptic and consensus camps have seemingly derailed in their rush to the wrong conclusion, it could easily mean either, or more likely both.

I could go on at length about the ridiculous obfuscation and mean spirited BS thrown about during any attempted discussion of the allegations (most of which have not been denied, but rather downplayed) but I’ll save that for a separate post. That’s just another distraction from the real issue at hand.

No, the issues are as Bates outlined: “Ethical standards must be maintained”. There can be no confidence in data without confidence in the procedures surrounding collection and storage of data. And persons or organizations that place no value in these procedures further erode confidence. This happens repeatedly:


  • publicly funded trustee of information gets “sloppy”


  • concern is expressed


  • those at fault are defended


  • the ‘concerned’ are attacked


  • conversation derails


  • nothing is fixed


  • rinse and repeat


  • This is damaging to public confidence in climate science in particular, and government programs in general. And rightfully so. There are many billions in public funds that need to be allocated to the best possible effect. At a minimum, these continued scandals damage public willingness to invest resources required. And potentially more damaging, errors lead to resources that could have been better spent (poverty, etc) being wasted to no benefit.

    Perhaps in this case no data was harmed. I hope not. But if we don’t take these matters seriously eventually there will be damages. And not just to a database.

    SOURCE





    Hans Rosling: humanism by numbers

    The Swedish statistician was a powerful antidote to our Malthusian times

    Hans Rosling, the Swedish doctor and statistician who died on Tuesday, has rightly been the subject of glowing obituaries ever since. With great imagination and humour, Rosling made understanding the world through the use of statistics more enjoyable and more enlightening than perhaps anyone else. But while his ability to bring numbers to life was a great talent, the message he conveyed about the state of humanity was even more important.

    Essentially, Rosling told a story of a world in which things have been getting better for almost everyone. In making this point, Rosling wasn’t alone. Others, like Indur Goklany, Matt Ridley and Steven Pinker (and, of course, spiked), have, in various ways, pointed out the benefits of a richer, better educated and more peaceful world. Nonetheless, Rosling was certainly rowing against the stream in an age where many of the elite and influential commentators were obsessed with climate change and overpopulation. Human beings were screwing up the planet on the one hand while, on the other, billions of people were doomed to lives that would be nasty, brutish and short.

    Rosling pointed out the great strides that have been made in the past 200 years. In the early 19th century, almost everyone – apart from the very richest people on the planet – was poor and unhealthy. They had few possessions, no education and were destined to die young by modern standards. Living past 40 would be unusual. But thanks to the Industrial Revolution and continuing material progress, countries started to get richer and healthier, starting with the UK and the Netherlands, but soon spreading across Europe and America.

    As former colonies achieved independence in the decades after the Second World War, they too started to become richer. Life expectancy has shot up in developing countries and they are, for the most part, converging with the living standards and longevity of the richest developed countries. Of course, there are still plenty of places where this needs to go a lot further – particularly poor countries that are blighted by war – but the trend is clear: things are getting better.

    Moreover, Rosling was clear that it is industrialisation that we have to thank for all that. His entertaining TED talk about washing machines is a case in point. His eco-worrier students would proudly proclaim that they had forsworn the motor car for the sake of the planet. But as Rosling pointed out, every one of them still needed a washing machine. He recounted the moment in his childhood when his parents finally bought an automatic washing machine, an event so momentous that it demanded a family gathering. Just a couple of generations ago, his grandmother would have washed clothes by boiling water on a fire and scrubbing each garment by hand – still the greatest chore for billions of women around the world.

    All that labour is saved thanks to electricity, running water and the liberation that is the washing machine. And the washing machine is in turn the product of a whole host of other industries from steel mills to chemical refineries. And what comes out of washing machines, he asked? Books. When women are freed from hours of laundry, they have time to read books to their children, offering another kind of liberation: education. The most pressing question we face, therefore, is how everyone on the planet can enjoy the freedom that comes from washing machines and other labour-saving devices.

    This human-centred outlook was what made Rosling’s statistics and presentational skills matter. There are plenty of ways of making data look entertaining. Rosling’s contribution was to put that gift to the service of making the case for more development. The world’s most high-profile neo-Malthusians, Paul and Anne Ehrlich, did Rosling the greatest compliment by rubbishing his ideas, calling him ‘a confused statistician’ and claiming – as they have done for decades – that extreme poverty would be the lot of the great majority of humanity when the inevitable civilisational collapse occurs. Rosling showed that industrial and technological progress could solve the big problems facing humanity, if we didn’t do anything so stupid as to turn away from these powerful, welfare-enhancing tools.

    The Ehrlichs are back in vogue, feted by the Royal Society – supposedly the bastion of rational, scientific thought. The leader of the UK’s main opposition party, Jeremy Corbyn, once signed a Commons motion that claimed that ‘humans represent the most obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilised and lethal species ever to inhabit the planet’ and looked ‘forward to the day when the inevitable asteroid slams into the Earth and wipes them out thus giving nature the opportunity to start again’. The most backward, misanthropic ideas are still very much mainstream. Hans Rosling was a powerful antidote to such thinking and will be greatly missed. RIP.

    SOURCE





    Cutting carbon emissions in Mass. may increase them elsewhere

    A Baker administration plan to cut harmful greenhouse gases could have the unintended consequence of boosting carbon emissions across the rest of New England, say some environmental advocates and representatives of the energy industry.

    The plan was designed to comply with a landmark 2016 Supreme Judicial Court decision that requires specific limits on sources of greenhouse gases. But while the regulations might help the state curb emissions, they could cause electricity production to be diverted to less efficient power plants outside the state that might use more polluting energy sources, such as coal or oil, critics say.

    At a recent hearing at the state Department of Environmental Protection, Dan Dolan, president of the New England Power Generators Association, called the proposed rules “fundamentally flawed.”

    “While Massachusetts plants have their ability to operate severely curtailed, electricity demand will still have to be met,” said Dolan, who represents the state’s coal and natural gas industries. “So plants in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and other states that are less efficient and higher emitting will run more. It just doesn’t make sense.”

    Environmental advocates acknowledge the proposed rules could, in the short term, increase emissions in neighboring states. They support the proposal overall, but are urging the state to revise the rules to make that less likely.

    State officials declined to answer questions about the rules’ potential to increase emissions in other New England states, but issued this statement:

    “Through a robust comment period and public hearings around the state, Mass. DEP looks forward to engaging with stakeholders in an effort to ensure that the final rules are thoughtfully designed and effectively implemented.”

    The rules would require power plants in Massachusetts to reduce emissions 2.5 percent each year, starting in 2018. Once they reach their annual pollution limits, they would be required to shut down.

    The regulations would also cap emissions for the state’s fleet of vehicles, other parts of the transportation sector, natural gas mains used by utilities, and gas-insulated switch gear, such as circuit breakers.

    Critics say the draft regulations would ultimately force the operator of the regional grid to draw a greater portion of its electricity from dirtier plants. ISO New England, an independent company that runs the grid, must seek power from the most efficient plants — those that provide the cheapest electricity with the least emissions — before looking elsewhere.

    When the company can no longer obtain energy from those sources to keep the lights on, it turns to the region’s remaining coal and oil plants, which pump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

    Under the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act, the state must reduce emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and 80 percent below that threshold by 2050.

    Last May, the state’s highest court ordered the Baker administration to limit overall emissions from specific sources, such as vehicles and power plants, and set annual limits on those emissions.

    State officials say Massachusetts has already cut emissions by nearly 20 percent below 1990 levels. But environmental advocacy groups dispute that figure and say it doesn’t account for the closing of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in 2019, which is likely to result in more carbon emissions from other energy sources.

    Concerns about rising emissions in New England aren’t hypothetical. In 2015, the year after the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant closed, the region saw emissions rise for the first time in five years.

    Environmental advocates acknowledge that whatever increase in emissions elsewhere might result from Massachusetts’ rules, it would disappear when more energy from offshore wind, hydropower, and solar facilities is brought online. And the increase, known in the industry as “leakage,” would be minor, they say. Overall, they praise the scope of the proposed rules.

    “It would be worth the possibility of a small rise in emissions, because we would be sending a clear, strong signal to the market that the future of power in Massachusetts will be clean and renewable,” said David Ismay, a senior attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation .

    Ismay and other environmental advocates are drafting suggestions for revised regulations that they say would reduce the likelihood of a rise in emissions. Their plan would create a kind of auction system that would allow power plants to trade emission allowances. That would encourage the grid to use newer, more efficient plants, such as one recently built in Salem, they say.

    The system would be similar to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade program that allows plants across the region to swap pollution allowances.

    “The leakage argument is historically something of a ‘sky is falling’ one that power companies frequently make in opposition to new climate initiatives, and was made by opponents” of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Ismay said.

    Since the initiative began in 2008, it has led to reduced emissions and lower energy prices, said Peter Shattuck, director of the clean energy initiative at the Acadia Center, an environmental advocacy group in Boston.

    “While there may be some offsetting increases in emissions beyond Massachusetts’ border, the Commonwealth has to set its own policy course,” Shattuck said. “If we’d been looking over [our] shoulder at what other states were doing, we might never have pursued health care reform, marriage equality, or the Global Warming Solutions Act itself.”

    But power plant companies warn the proposed rules, which the state is required to issue in August, could threaten their viability in Massachusetts. Dynegy, a Houston energy company that owns nearly one-third of the state’s power plants, said the rules could force it to shutter its plants and eliminate hundreds of jobs.

    SOURCE




    British commuters warned of air pollution risk

    Travelling by public transport exposes commuters to up to eight times as much air pollution as those who drive to work, a groundbreaking study found.

    In the latest evidence of the health risks posed by rising traffic levels, researchers found that drivers commuting in diesel cars did the most harm to the wellbeing of other travellers — producing six times as much pollution as the average bus passenger.

    The authors said that the results revealed a “violation of the core principle of environmental justice” because those who contributed most to air pollution in cities were least likely to suffer from it. People in poorer areas, who are more reliant on buses to get to work, suffer greater exposure than those in wealthier neighbourhoods, who are more likely to commute by car, according to the study by the University of Surrey.

    Air pollution causes 40,000 premature deaths a year in Britain and diesel vehicles are a large contributor to the problem, producing high levels of particulates and toxic nitrogen oxides, which can cause respiratory disease and heart attacks. Of Britain’s 5.4 million asthma sufferers, two thirds say that poor air quality makes their condition worse.

    Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, is due to introduce a £10 daily “toxicity charge” on pre-2005 diesel cars in central London this year and has called for a national scrappage scheme to encourage diesel drivers to buy cleaner vehicles. The government will publish a plan in April for tackling air pollution after the previous one was ruled inadequate by the High Court.

    The latest study involved commuters wearing air pollution monitors who undertook hundreds of journeys by car, bus and Tube. Bus passengers were exposed to concentrations of particles, known as PM10, which were five times higher than those experienced by car commuters. Levels of PM2.5 fine particles, which can be more lethal as they are drawn deep into the lungs, were twice as high on buses as in cars. Bus journeys were typically 17-42 minutes longer than car journeys, meaning that bus passengers were exposed to higher levels of pollution for longer. Motorists tend to keep windows closed and are protected by filters stopping particles and dust from entering the interior. Bus passengers, by contrast, are subjected to pollution at stops when the doors are opened, often in places where queues of idling vehicles are pumping out high levels of toxic gas and particles.

    Diesel buses on average produce three times as many particles per mile as diesel cars but they typically carry 20 times as many people.

    The authors calculated that the emissions produced per person by a diesel car containing two people were six times higher than by a bus containing 40 people and travelling the same distance. Tube passengers had the shortest journeys but were exposed to eight times the level of PM10 pollution as car commuters and five times as much PM2.5 pollution.

    The researchers did not measure pollution experienced by people who walked to work but said that they could experience high exposure because of the time spent beside traffic. The study found that passengers on the Underground’s District line, whose trains have closed windows, were exposed to far lower concentrations of particles than those on trains with open windows. Particle levels were much higher on trains with open windows in deep tunnels.

    People using public transport were also exposed to more pollution than car commuters because they spent time at bus stops and at stations or walked on busy roads to complete their journeys, the study found. Levels of pollutants in the morning peak were up to 43 per cent higher than in the afternoon peak.

    Prashant Kumar, who led the study published in the journal Environment International, said: “We found that there is definitely an element of environmental injustice among those commuting in London, with those who create the most pollution having the least exposure to it.”

    Parts of southeastern England could experience high air pollution today because strongly easterly winds have swept pollutants across the Channel from the continent, the Met Office said.

    SOURCE




    The Carbon-Tax Scam

    I have nothing but respect for former Secretaries of State Jim Baker and George Shultz, but come on, gentlemen: You’ve been snookered.

    These two esteemed gentlemen are endorsing a tax scam that would be one of the largest income-redistribution schemes in modern times. It would do considerable and lasting damage to the U.S. The justification for the tax is that it will save the planet by reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, but it won’t even do that.

    The Baker-Shultz plan would impose on America a carbon tax, which would be a tax on American energy consumption. Since energy is a central component of everything that America produces, it would make the cost and thus the price of everything — and I mean everything — produced in America more expensive. It is a tax that only China, India, Mexico and Russia could love.

    The tax is highly regressive, so the remedy that the two call for is a quarterly check from the Social Security Administration for every American. They call this a dividend. Somehow they have come to the conclusion that two really bad ideas paired together make for a good idea.

    So let’s get this straight: We are going to tax the producers of the economy and then give the money to people who don’t produce, and somehow this isn’t going to negatively affect the economy. If that makes sense, then why not adopt a 100 percent tax on production and then redistribute the money to everyone?

    My colleague Katie Tubb at The Heritage Foundation has noted another glaring flaw with the carbon tax. While it is true that a carbon tax is a much more efficient way to cap carbon-dioxide emissions than the mishmash of EPA regulations, renewable energy standards and subsidies for wind and solar power, there’s a strong likelihood that the carbon tax would end up not being a replacement for these economically destructive policies. Instead, it would simply be another addition to the regulations. It is naive in the extreme to think otherwise.

    I’ve been somewhat open to a carbon tax in the past. The idea of replacing our current, economically destructive tax system with something less economically destructive is attractive. But the reality is that even a carbon tax perfectly administered is a poor substitute for the strong tax and regulatory reform that is currently possible.

    But the green plan proposed by these former Reagan statesmen would not cut a single tax rate, meanwhile giving the Left a massive new tax regime. How could any conservative support this plan?

    Even worse is that the Baker-Shultz plan does close to nothing to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions or to lessen the threat — if one exists — of global warming. Whether or not the U.S. reduces its carbon emissions has close to zero impact on worldwide carbon-dioxide emissions. This is because China and India are building coal-burning energy plants at a frantic pace. The Wall Street Journal reported in November that new coal production in China in the next few years will create more carbon dioxide emissions than the entire energy production of Canada. India isn’t far behind.

    So it is a fairy tale that China and India and other fast-developing nations have any commitment to reducing their fossil fuel use. As Donald Trump would say, they are laughing at America behind our backs. They would be absolutely gleeful about the proposed U.S. carbon tax. Raising the cost of production for U.S. goods and services will transfer more production to China and India. We will get relatively poorer, and they will get relatively richer.

    And if you are a global-warming worrier: This carbon-tax would drive global greenhouse-gas levels up, not down. We have clean-coal regulations. None of the developing nations do. The less America produces, the worse off the planet is.

    The best way to reduce global greenhouse gases is for the U.S. to produce more of our domestic energy, not less. We have very cheap and abundant natural gas (thanks to fracking), and we should export it all over the world. The U.S. has reduced carbon emissions more than any other nation not because of regulations or green-energy subsidies but because of shale gas. Let’s sell it to every corner of the globe, get rich and save the planet.

    The Baker-Shultz plan will do nothing to save the planet, but it will surely make America poorer.

    SOURCE

    ***************************************

    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

    *****************************************