Friday, October 28, 2016

Another "suggestion"

Suggest away!  No surprise what they would "suggest".  Kinda sad that suggestions is the best they can do however

An indirect effect of climate change may be causing intensely cold winters in the UK and US, a study suggests
Warming in the Arctic is thought to be influencing the jet stream, a high-altitude corridor of fast-moving air, leading to severe cold snaps.

It may have been responsible for record snowfall in New York during the winter of 2014/15, and unusually cold winters in the UK in 2009/10 and 2010/11.

Previous studies have shown that when the jet stream follows a 'wavy' irregular path there are more cold weather fronts plunging south from the Arctic into mid-latitudes, bringing freezing conditions that persist for weeks at a time.

When the jet stream flows strongly and steadily from west to east, winter weather in the UK and other countries in the temperate belt between the tropics and the Arctic is milder.

Lead researcher Professor Edward Hanna, from the University of Sheffield, said: 'We've always had years with wavy and not so wavy jet stream winds, but in the last one to two decades the warming Arctic could well have been amplifying the effects of the wavy patterns.

'This may have contributed to some recent extreme cold winter spells along the eastern seaboard of the United States, in eastern Asia, and at times over the UK.'

He added: 'Improving our ability to predict how climate change is affecting the jet stream will help to improve our long-term prediction of winter weather in some of the most highly populated regions of the world.

'This would be hugely beneficial for communities, businesses and entire economies in the northern hemisphere.

'The public could better prepare for severe winter weather and have access to extra crucial information that could help make live-saving and cost-saving decisions.'


Previous studies have shown that when the jet stream follows a 'wavy' irregular path there are more cold weather fronts plunging south from the Arctic into mid-latitudes, bringing freezing conditions that persist for weeks at a time.

When the jet stream flows strongly and steadily from west to east, winter weather in the UK and other countries in the temperate belt between the tropics and the Arctic is milder.

It may have been responsible for record snowfall in New York during the winter of 2014/15, and unusually cold winters in the UK in 2009/10 and 2010/11.

Prof Hanna was part of an international team of climate scientists that included experts from the US Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Their findings are reported in the latest issue of the journal Nature Climate Change.

Scientists have been divided over the cause of recent cold winters.

One camp believes they are merely the result of natural jet stream variability, but the other is convinced there is a connection with global warming.

The new study brought together experts from both groups, who for the first time agreed that the evidence implicated climate change.


The lies never stop

CNBC viewers are being snookered.

The business news network featured an article in the “Sustainable Energy” section of its Website that proclaimed: “Renewables surged past coal in 2015 to become world’s biggest source of electricity: IEA.”

In reading that headline, one might get the impression that wind turbines and solar panels produced more electricity last year than coal. But the fine print actually reveals a very different picture.

The opening paragraph of the article by “Freelance digital reporter” Anmar Frangoul gives a clue as to the sleight of hand being used. Frangoul cites the International Energy Agency (IEA) as reporting that “Renewable energy moved past coal in 2015 to become the biggest source of global electricity capacity.” The key word there is “capacity.”

What’s noteworthy is that capacity is far different from actual production. The average wind turbine has a maximum rated capacity of roughly 2 megawatts. That means, if the wind is blowing between 26-56 mph, the turbine can spin up to its peak generating capacity. In such moments, the wind turbine can produce its full 2 megawatts.

However, wind turbines, like solar panels, offer only intermittent power generation. Wind turbines can only produce power when there is sufficient wind—and when they are not shut down due to cold weather, repairs, or high winds. And solar panels only produce electricity during periods of direct sunlight. Thus, while a wind turbine can have a maximum capacity of 2 megawatts, its typical output may often be far less, or even 0 megawatts (on a windless day).

In contrast, and as the IEA itself notes, coal provided 40.8 percent of worldwide power generation in 2014. The renewables that Frangoul crows about—defined by the IEA as “geothermal, solar, wind, heat, etc.”—produced only 6.3 percent of all power.

Thus we see some of the misleading language in the CNBC article.

Frangoul talks about renewables producing 23 percent of world power generation in 2015—which is only possible when hydropower’s robust 16.4 percent is added to renewables’ paltry 6.3 percent share. And while the IEA says that “renewables represented more than half the new power capacity around the world” in 2015, one has to remember their frustrating intermittency. Wind turbines only generate roughly 20 percent of their installed capacity, and solar panels yield an even more meager 10 percent.

So, while Frangoul is happy to tout all of this new power plant construction, one has to consider that it represents investments that will often sit idle.

Such imprudence might seem naive. But the IEA astutely notes that “renewable power expanded at its fastest-ever rate in 2015, thanks to supportive government policies.”

Indeed, it is these very subsidies that have triggered a rush to wind and solar, despite abundant evidence of their limitations. It would be interesting, then, for reporters like Frangoul to further examine these much-touted renewable projects, and see if “capacity” actually meets expectations.


When Asked To Show Evidence Of Man-Made Warming, Scientists Can't Do It

Dr. Patrick Moore, founder of Greenpeace

There's probably not a phrase that the global warming alarmists and dim celebrities trying to play the role of intellectuals use more than some variation of "the science is settled." It's a catchy phrase that's intended to shut down debate and shame skeptics.

And it's simply not true.

The alarmist community has had almost three decades to prove its assumptions, and while it is plausible that there has been a small measure of warming, the disaster many predicted hasn't occurred. Worse for them, it's impossible to say with any degree of certainty that the warming that has happened — and quite possibly there's been none at all — was caused by man. Earth's climate has warmed and cooled throughout its existence. It's part of the natural cycle.

Yet the alarmist community persists and never acknowledges that it might be wrong. At the same time, when its members are pressed to prove that their one-way beliefs are indeed fact, they can't do it.

Consider a recent exchange in Australia, in which a skeptic, parliament member Malcolm Roberts, asked scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization to convince him that there was proof of man-made global warming. With Roberts being a skeptic, the scientists naturally had a high hurdle to clear. But the response Roberts received was not particularly compelling.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Alan Finkel responded with the usual stale answers: Atmospheric carbon dioxide traps heat, CO2 emissions have increased, therefore man must be warming his planet.

Then the Morning Herald noted, in a paraphrase, that Finkel conceded that "the effect of warming on climate wasn't clear." It followed with a direct quotation from Finkel, which was actually an admission.

"We have models to try to predict what that will be and that's difficult," said Finkel.

Difficult. And wrong.

Finkel's failure to complete the task that Roberts put before him is nothing new nor isolated. Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore has said there "is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth's atmosphere over the past 100 years," while science writer Michael Fumento wrote convincingly three years ago that proof of global warming was evaporating.

What the alarmists call "proof" and "evidence" is nothing more than conjecture. They cannot prove that man's activities have warmed the planet, even if the next 100 years are twice as hot as they have predicted. They can lay out their "evidence" as if in a courtroom, and urge the jury to make the connection.

But the fact they can't get around is that there is more than enough reasonable doubt to throw out their prosecution. Carbon dioxide simply isn't the only suspect. Earth's climate system has far too many influences for the inquisitors to settle on just one.


Iowa Wind Project Generates More Tax Credits than Electricity

After reaching a settlement with some of its biggest customers this summer, the Warren Buffett-owned utility company MidAmerican Energy may soon build a massive new wind farm in Iowa. The thing is, electricity is far from the only thing it will generate. Known as “Wind XI,” the proposed 2,000 megawatt wind farm—Iowa’s largest ever—has the potential to produce a lot of electricity, but even more tax credits.

In total, Wind XI could generate up to $1.8 billion in tax credits for its backers over the next decade.

The winners? Warren Buffett; MidAmerican Energy’s other investors; and Facebook, Microsoft, and Google—MidAmerican’s biggest customers, who will receive tax benefits of their own for using wind energy. The losers? Taxpayers and other ratepayers footing the bill.
Unfortunately, this is part of an ongoing trend in wind energy across the country. It’s not the demand for more electricity that’s driving construction, but rather the government’s preferential tax treatment and counterintuitive energy mandates.

The demand for electricity in the U.S. has been nearly flat over past decade, due to slow economic growth and gains in energy efficiency. Despite the lack of new demand, new wind farms are popping up across the country because of the tremendous tax credits they generate for their owners.

Warren Buffett has admitted as much. In 2014 he explained: “I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire's tax rate [. . .] We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That's the only reason to build them. They don't make sense without the tax credit.”

And the tax credits Buffett mentions are substantial. Although MidAmerican Energy likes to note that Wind XI is not receiving any financial incentives from Iowa, that’s only half of the story. The federal government provides $23 in credits for every megawatt hour—the large-scale unit of production for energy-- of electricity produced by wind and other alternative energy sources. Known as the production tax credit (PTC), this government giveaway means that MidAmerican’s new wind farm could generate $180 million in credits each year.

The federal government does even more than that to ensure green energy producers get ample benefits. MidAmerican Energy can use the PTC for up to 10 years, after recent regulatory changes expanding the life of the credit. In addition to the tax credits, government regulators set a fixed rate of return for MidAmerican Energy to charge its customers. MidAmerican will receive a guaranteed 11 percent return on equity for Wind XI, meaning it will rake in $395 million in profit over the roughly 30 year life of the project.

Another set of reasons why new wind farms are in high demand are energy mandates at both the state and federal level. Currently, 29 states have renewable portfolio standards mandating utilities to generate a certain percentage of their electricity from sources such as wind and solar. On the federal level, the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent carbon regulations—if eventually upheld by the Supreme Court—will shutter many traditional power plants, leaving wind farms to take their place.

In other words, government policy is doing everything in its power to set the stage for wind. Those investing in wind stand to reap guaranteed profits, while taxpayers and ratepayers have to pay more in the end. In terms of tax dollars, the production tax credit for wind is estimated to cost taxpayers $13.8 billion between 2014 and 2018. Energy mandates, meanwhile, will drive up electricity prices as traditional energy sources are phased out for costlier power provided by wind and solar. The EPA’s carbon regulations that would potentially go into effect in 2022, for example, could raise electricity bills for the average American family 14 percent higher than they were a decade prior.

Public officials must stop gearing energy policy around the promise of guaranteed profits for well-connected energy investors like Warren Buffett. This hits average Americans once in their taxes and twice in higher electricity bills, which raises the prices on goods and services as well as utilities. If wind farms like the one Iowa will soon get are worthy investments, it should because of the power they generate—not the tax benefits.


Australia's climate heating and drying out: report

The contemptible rubbish below comes from people who pretend that a global temperature rise of a few hundredths of one degree tells us something important.  It does not. Such rises are well within the error of measurement and are not statistically significant for a start.  And they would be trivial even if they were significant.

And when there was a rise of around a degree last year, it was due to El Nino.  El Nino was such a well known natural effect that they had to mention it below but, without mentioning a scrap of evidence, they dismissed it as a minor effect.

Well let me mention some evidence.  The authors below imply that the temperature rise was part of a continuing warming process due to increased level of CO2 in the atmosphere.  So there must be some sign in the record that CO2 levels have increased recently.  But look at the CO2 levels from Australia's Cape Grim climate observatory over the heart of the El Nino period.

Within an accuracy of parts per billion, there was NO increase in CO2 levels at all!  The warming over the El Nino period was ENTIRELY natural, with NO contribution from a CO2 rise. CO2 levels did NOT rise so they CANNOT be responsible for the higher temperatures.

The article below is an egregious example of cherry-picking and outright lying

The biannual State of the Climate report from the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO shows the effects of climate change are being felt in Australia.

Australia is becoming an even more sunburnt country with worse droughts and more extreme flooding rains.

The latest State of the Climate report, released on Thursday, shows the trends of climate change in Australia are continuing.

"Climate change is happening now; it's having a tangible impact on Australia," the Bureau of Meteorology's climate monitoring manager Karl Braganza told reporters.

The biannual snapshot, prepared by the bureau and CSIRO, shows the country is experiencing very hot days more frequently and rainfall is reducing across the southern part of the continent.

Between 1910 and 1941 there were 28 days when the national average temperature was in the top extremes recorded. In 2013 alone there were 28 such days.

Dr Braganza predicted the record-breaking extreme heat will be considered normal in 30 years' time.

The report also shows below average rainfall across southern Australian in 16 of the past 20 autumn-winter seasons.

"This decline in rainfall for southern Australia, 10 to 20 per cent might not sound like a lot but it's reducing at a time of year where typically we recharge the soil moisture and vegetation and water storages as well," Dr Braganza said.

A 10-15 per cent reduction in rainfall over winter can lead to a 60 per cent reduction in stream flow into water storages.

"That's what we're seeing in southwest WA where their water storages from essentially rainfall (dropped) in 2015 and they're using desal and groundwater to make up the difference," he said.

This combination of drying out and warmer weather increases fire danger, with the fire season already routinely extending into spring and autumn.

The report also shows 15 of the 16 hottest years on record were the past 15 years.

"The earth is warming," CSIRO climate science centre interim director Steve Rintoul said.

While there was some natural variability in temperature caused by effects such as El Nino and La Nina, it was not sufficient to drown out the overall trend towards increasing temperatures, he said.



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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Judge Rules That EPA Must Account for Job Losses of Its Regulations

In a 17th October ruling, U.S. District Court Judge John Bailey sided with Murray Energy and held that the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to perform continuing evaluations of job losses due to the agency's regulations.

To date, the agency has estimated the employment impacts of its rules by using a model that assumes 1.5 jobs are created for every $1 million spent on regulatory compliance. The underlying premise of this model is that jobs created in pollution control will always outpace job losses in the regulated industry. Of course, this is a ridiculous assumption. For starters, it sheds no light on actual job losses caused by EPA rules; rather, job losses are merely assumed to be less than job gains. More broadly, EPA’s employment model fails to pass the sniff test: it is absurd to think that spending infinite resources on regulatory compliance will forever lead to job gains.

If it stands, Judge Bailey’s ruling means that the agency has a responsibility to actually tally job losses caused by its regulations (rather than relying on dubious economic modeling to wish away the actual job losses). Importantly, these analyses must occur on a sector-by-sector basis, so every industry subject to a rulemaking may compel the agency to estimate the impact of the rule on employment.

EPA has not yet decided whether it will try to appeal Judge Bailey’s ruling before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.


Warming is mild and manageable

Should Chris Wallace ask our presidential candidates about climate change? Absolutely, but only as part of a broader discussion of the role of fossil fuels in America’s energy future.

“Climate change” — more precisely, man-made warming — is a side effect of using fossil fuels for cheap, plentiful, reliable energy. To ask candidates to address climate change without addressing the unique benefits of fossil fuels is like asking the candidates to address vaccine side effects without addressing the unique benefits of vaccines.

The question Wallace should ask is: “Given your assessment of the benefits and risks of fossil fuels, including the effects of warming, what is the right energy policy for America?”

Energy is the industry that powers every other industry. Cheap, plentiful, reliable energy makes possible cheap, plentiful, reliable food, drinking water, sanitation, transportation and housing.

In a world where more than 1 billion people have no electricity and a much larger number live in deep “energy poverty,” only the fossil fuel industry has developed the ability to produce energy for electricity, fuel and heat on a scale of billions. The politically popular alternatives, solar and wind, are expensive “unreliables” that depend on reliable sources, mostly fossil fuels, for life support.

In America, the fossil fuel industry has been the indispensable supporter of our economy for the past decade, as the shale energy revolution has made the U.S. the world’s energy superpower. We can do much more.

But should we? To answer that, we have to reject the false alternative of “climate change believer” or “climate change denier” and become “climate thinkers” — people who think carefully about the magnitude of man-made warming and compare it with the unique benefits of fossil fuels.

Candidates who are climate thinkers will conclude that man-made warming is mild and manageable, not runaway and catastrophic. And thus they will conclude that fossil fuels should be liberated, not restricted.


BOOK REVIEW of "Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics and Politics of Climate Change" by Michael Hart

Review by Michael Kelly FRS FREng, Emeritus Prince Philip Professor of Technology, University of Cambridge

Let us be clear at the outset: the global climate is changing, and has always been changing. The earth has warmed by 1C over the last 150 years. That is not the issue. The issue is whether the human emissions of carbon dioxide since 1850 are heralding an imminent and certain global climate catastrophe that could be averted by engineering projects.

This is the most complete book to date that takes a critical look across the whole of the recent history of climate change as science, as input to policy, and as a driver of far-reaching societal change. My own interest in the subject starts from the totally unrealistic engineering outcomes being assumed and implied by a decarbonisation of the world economy by 2050, and even a simplistic attempt to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of the decarbonisation project as far as engineering and technology will make a difference. The scale of the investment for the unknowability of the measureable outcomes implied by ‘solving the climate change problem’ represents hubris of the grandest order.

The opportunity costs dwarf any possible outcomes. If one then goes back into the ‘post-modern science’ from which the imperative to decarbonise originates, several cans of worms are waiting. I fear that when this whole enterprise collapses, as certainly as the tulip bubble evaporated in 1637, there will be a backlash against trust in science that will herald a dark age in which scientists are routinely regarded as untrustworthy shamans. My concern is that the integrity of science is under great threat and that my own subject, engineering, will get caught in the backlash, even though engineers have been among the most vociferous critics of the projects of imminent global catastrophe caused by humans. It is the human desires for comfort, secure and variable food, health, education, mobility, communications, defence and other fruits of the industrial revolution that lead to the scale of human emissions of carbon dioxide, and only a deep and dramatic curtailment of these desires by everyone, but especially those living in the developed countries, will reduce carbon emissions in the next 30 years.

Michael Hart, who has spent the last decade working on this book, has produced a scholarly and accessible analysis of this saga. The first third of the book talks about the nature of science and current pathologies in the practice of science that would have Newton, Einstein and even Feynman spinning in their graves. There is a core of robust but uncertain science undertaken by humble and true scientists, but this is overwhelmed by second rate and rampant speculation passed off as gospel: the humble and true do not protest against the accretions, and their silence is held against them. The science of climate change is not settled insofar as it is used to inform policy, with wide and intrinsic uncertainties not noticeably narrowing over the last 25 years, and with mainstream predictions of global warming running 2-3 times faster than the real-world data over that period. How are we to trust the long term predictions if the short term ones are so much at odds with reality?

The second part of the book deals with the politicisation of the science, and especially the studies of future impacts and possible measures by way of mitigation and adaptation under the aegis of the United Nations. This is where we see evidence of serious malpractice in continuous post-hoc modification of historical data, exaggeration of claims, the collusion of the premier journals and the reports of the academies that report upper extremes as expectations by the simple expedient of  repeating the extremes without qualification, and sedulously avoiding any mention of the proven upsides of the last century of global warming. One chapter entitled ‘Baptists, Bootleggers and Opportunists’ draws some interesting comparisons of the contemporary climate change movement (for that is what it is) with the temperance movement a century ago.

The titles of the last two chapters speak for themselves: ‘Rhetoric vs Reality’ and ‘Immorality Pretending to Virtue’.

This book should leave any dispassionate reader deeply disturbed. It should be required reading for people in policy and politics who deal with these matters. No thought leader should be ignorant of the contents.

How will humanity extricate itself? One can hope that the accumulation of failed predictions over the next two decades will burst the bubble. The world academies cannot be asked to sit in judgment on the misconduct, as they will be in the dock. The UN is also hopelessly compromised. Perhaps this might be the subject of a follow-on study?


Renewable Energy Cost Explosion: €25,000 Euros For Each German Family Of Four

The Institute for Competition Economics at the University of Dusseldorf has calculated the total cost of Germany’s Green Energy Transition. The result: By 2025, an estimated €520 billion euros will be spent. A family of four will pay more than 25,000 euros for the Energiewende.

Seldom was a German environment minister more ridiculed and mocked than Peter Altmaier (CDU): Three years ago, the current Chancellery Minister warned that the cost of the Energiewende could, if nothing were done, “cost the country around one trillion euros by the 2030.”

Major magazines and weekly newspapers from Wirtschaftswoche to Die Zeit immediately snapped that the environment minister must have got it wrong. “Don’t scare the living daylights out of people with horror figures,” Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister and Green Party star Winfried Kretschmann demanded.

Perhaps the time has come to rehabilitate Peter Altmaier. That’s because the Institute for Competition Economics (DICE) at the University of Dusseldorf has calculated the direct and indirect total cost of the energy transition up to 2015 and estimated the additional cost by 2025. The result shows that the one trillion Euro threshold might be reached earlier than even Altmaier had believed.

According to the institute’s calculations, the Energy Transition has already cost some €150 billion euros for the period 2000-2015. “For the years 2000 to 2025 it is estimated that some €520 billion euros (nominal, including network expansion costs) will be spent for the transformation of power generation.” Based on the 150 billion euros already spent, an additional 370 billion euros will be spent in the coming decade.

“Per capita, from newborns to the elderly, this amounts in total of more than €6300 euros, which accumulates in the period from 2000 to the end of the year 2025″, says DICE director Justus Haucap: “A family of four thus pays over €25,000 euros, directly and indirectly, for the Energiewende.” The bulk of the cost is not incurred yet, but awaits the consumer in coming years,” said Haucap:” In the next ten years it will be 18,000 euros for a family of four.”

By comparison, 40 percent of German households have net assets of less than €27,000 euros according to figures by the Deutsche Bundesbank.

The Institute carried out the calculations on behalf of the Initiative New Social Market Economy (INSM). The institute is funded by employers associations and campaigns for less government regulation and a social market economy. In the past few years the institute has called for the promotion of renewable energies to be more aligned along market principles.

The study is unlikely to be a report that panders to the client: For four years, competition economist Haucap was chairman of the Federal President German Monopolies Commission appointed by the German President and is co-editor of numerous international economics journals.

In addition, the prognosis on the future cost of renewable energy subsidies are based on data from the Öko-Instituts and therefore from an institution that, says Haucap, “is not suspected of exaggerating the costs of this energy revolution”.
Biggest cost: the Renewable Energy Levy (EEG)

According to the study, most of the direct cost of the energy transition are due to the EEG surcharge to subsidise green electricity production and the so-called cogeneration levy to subsidise combined electricity-heat (CHP) producers.

The EEG surcharge has already cost €125 billion euros by the end of last year. By 2025 this figure is expected to rise to 408 billion euros due to the rapidly growing number of renewable energy projects. Including the CHP allocation this will rise to €425 billion euros.

On top of that there are additional indirect costs of the energy transition. The DICE Institute expects the cost for expanding network transmission and distribution to be around €56 billion euros, plus costs for the offshore liability levy to protect offshore wind power, as well as the cost of feed-in management, “Re-Dispatch” and reserve capacity.

Finally, the Institute also includes low-interest loans from the KfW banking group, research expenses and the impairment of conventional power plants as well as the negative electricity prices to the overall costs. All in all, the total cost of Germany’s energy transition amounts to just over €520 billion euros of which 80% is due to the Renewable Energy Surcharge (EEG).

Assertions that the energy transition also has cost-saving effects for consumers are rejected by Haucap. Representatives of the renewable energy industry often argue that the expansion of renewables had led to falling electricity prices on the wholesale market; they also claim that thanks to renewables there are lower import costs for fuels such as coal, gas and uranium.

According Haucap, however, these price effects have already been taken into account in the calculations. The report is based on the EEG’s pure differential costs that are the direct result of wholesale prices. Therefore, one should “not deduct twice” these price-reducing effects.

The energy transition is “not only a problem for convinced social marketeers like us,” said Hubertus Pellengahr, CEO of the Initiative New Social Market Economy: “The reason has twelve digits and a currency symbol. €520 billion euros.”

The energy transition “is out of control and will remain out of control”, Pellengahr said, pointing to the continued rise in the Renewable Energy Surcharge (EEG) in coming years. “At the end of the day, this chaos is being pay for by the energy consumers.”
Extremely poor cost-benefit ratio

On Friday, the Federal Network Agency will publish the official amount of the renewable energy levy every energy consumer will have to pay next year to subsidise green energy producers. First estimates suggest an increase from 6.35 cents to 7.1 cents per kilowatt hour. “This would represent approximately a doubling of the cost in five years,” said Pellengahr.

Back in 2003 the then Federal Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin (Green Party) had assured Germans that the energy transition would cost consumers “no more than a scoop of ice cream per month free.” Since then the Renewable Energy Levy (EEG) has risen seventeen-fold.

DICE-director and study author Haucap stressed that the 520 billion euro cost was far from over-all. That’s because the sum only refers to the period up to 2025 and the only covers the electricity sector. In the meantime, “sector coupling” has become the official goal of German energy policy and thus the decarbonisation of transport, the heating sector and agriculture.

“After 2025, the energy transition won’t be cost free” Haucap said. In fact, the current policy’s cost-benefit ratio is extremely poor: Germany’s CO2 emissions today are the same as in 2009. Thus, Germany’s energy transition policy has “saved zero tons of CO2 – for a lot of money.”
More market economy in climate protection

Pellengahr and Haucap argued for a future climate policy based on market instruments. In their view, the best option would be strengthening of the EU’s emissions trading scheme. The second best option would be the introduction of a quota model along the Swedish model. Utilities would be required to deliver a certain proportion of renewable energy. This would create a price-lowering competition between different types of renewable energy.

The Federal Association of Renewable Energies (BEE) said that Haucap’s calculations of the renewable energy surcharge “is not suitable as a cost indicator for the energy transition.” Haucap’s proposed quota system would also be “significantly more expensive than the EEG.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Association of New Energy Suppliers (bne) has presented a proposal according to which the Renewable Energy Surcharge should in future be extended to the use of fossil fuels. If, in future, green energy levies would also have to be paid for the consumption of natural gas, oil, petrol and diesel, the Renewables Energy Surcharge on electricity could be almost halved. Moreover, it would offer incentives for carbon-free heaters and electric cars, enhancing the planned “sector coupling” of Germany’s energy revolution.


Vermont Wind Project Needs Support, So Company Offers to Pay Voters

And even the NYT is perturbed

To many residents in this tiny town in southern Vermont, the last-minute offer of cash was a blatant attempt to buy their votes.

To the developer that offered the money, it was simply a sign of how attentively the company had been listening to voters’ concerns.

The company, Iberdrola Renewables, a Spanish energy developer, wants to build Vermont’s largest wind project on a private forest tract that spans Windham and the adjacent town of Grafton. The project would consist of 24 turbines, each nearly 500 feet tall, and generate 82.8 megawatts of power, enough to light 42,000 homes for a year if the wind kept blowing, though the houses could be in Connecticut or Massachusetts.

Residents of the two towns will vote Nov. 8 on whether to approve the project, which has pitted neighbor against neighbor. No one knows which way the vote will go.

That same day, residents statewide will be voting for governor. Wind development has become an issue in that race, which The Cook Political Report rates a tossup, and sentiment here could be decisive in the outcome.

Facing the possibility that voters here may reject the proposal, putting a damper on large-scale wind development in Vermont, Iberdrola last week put cash on the table for individual voters.

Windham residents at an informational meeting hosted last week by Iberdrola, an energy company that wants to put a wind farm there. Credit Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times
Many residents called the offer an attempt at undue influence, if not an outright bribe. But after a review, the state attorney general’s office said that the offer did not appear to violate state law.

Still, the individual payments — a total of $565,000 a year to 815 registered voters in both towns, or $14.1 million over 25 years — on top of millions more to the towns, suggest how much is at stake for the company. Iberdrola has been trying to persuade voters here for more than four years to approve the project, in a state that is actively seeking clean-energy development.

Vermont’s energy goals are among the most ambitious in the country: to derive 90 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2050.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election after nearly six years in office, has been the state’s chief proponent of clean energy.

“There’s nothing I’m more proud of than my legacy of having helped to get Vermont off of oil and coal and moved us more aggressively than any other state in the nation to renewables,” he said.

The state has 20 times as much wind power as it had when he took office and 11 times the number of solar panels. Electricity rates in Vermont have dropped while soaring in the rest of New England.

Critics of commercial wind power consider themselves every bit as environmentally conscious as the governor. They say he is doing more harm than good by promoting developments on the state’s ridgelines, among Vermont’s most important assets, where turbines, roadways and infrastructure are destroying habitats, increasing flood risks and scarring the landscape much the way mountaintop mining has scarred West Virginia. They also complain about noise, lower property values and blighted views.

Critics are appalled that Mr. Shumlin is backing another Iberdrola project, a 15-turbine development under construction on two ridgelines in the Green Mountain National Forest that would be the first commercial wind project in a national forest.

All of this development, they say, is doing little to stave off climate change. “These handful of turbines won’t do anything to offset the documented scampering increase in the mining and use of coal in India and China,” said Frank Seawright, the chairman of the Windham Selectboard and an opponent of the project.

Mr. Shumlin counters by saying that climate change is easily the most important issue facing the planet and that everyone has a responsibility to curb it. While he says he would never favor turbines on Vermont’s most iconic mountains, naming Mansfield and Camel’s Hump, he adds that they have to go on ridgelines because that is where the wind is.

The state’s environmental groups are with him. Paul Burns, the executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, said that a vote against the wind project here “would demonstrate an unwillingness to be part of a solution to what is recognized as an incredibly serious problem.”

Vermont’s battle over wind has been brewing for years, and is playing a role in the race to succeed Mr. Shumlin. Phil Scott, the Republican nominee, who opposes further industrial wind development, faces Sue Minter, the Democratic nominee, who is backed by the wind industry and favors it. The issue was a factor in her winning the Democratic nomination.

Statewide support for wind turbines has been relatively high, but appears to have ebbed in recent years, according to polling by Castleton University, dropping to 56 percent this year from 69 percent in 2013.

Windham and Grafton generally vote Democratic, but most lawn signs here proclaim support for Mr. Scott and are paired with signs against the wind turbines.

“A lot of Democrats in this room will be voting for a Republican governor for the first time,” Sally Hoover, 72, a retired accountant in Windham, said last week as Iberdrola hosted a meeting, where residents first learned of the cash offer.

At the meeting, which drew more than 100 residents, the developer shared its new plan. It reduced the number of turbines to 24 from 28 and increased the money paid to Windham to $1 million from $715,000 a year for the 25 years. The payments would cut property taxes in half and provide $150,000 a year for charities, fire departments and educational scholarships.

The company said it would also set aside $350,000 each year for direct payments to Windham’s 311 registered voters — $1,125 apiece annually, or $28,135 over 25 years, which a voter could accept or not.

In Grafton, the company set aside $215,000 for voter payments. The town’s 504 registered voters would each receive $427 a year, or $10,665 over 25 years. (Windham would have 16 turbines and Grafton eight.)

Asked if the company was trying to buy votes, a spokesman, Paul Copleman, said that Iberdrola was merely responding to what residents had said they would need to win approval, and that the developer would abide by the result.

In an email later, he added, “Our current proposal is based on feedback from community members who are frustrated that the tax relief from the project would give a larger break to those with more expensive properties.”

Kathy Scott, 74, a retired bookkeeper and one of the Windham residents who negotiated the package, said residents, not the company, came up with the idea of payments.

She said her group saw them as a way to “level the playing field” with second-home owners, many of whose homes have high assessments and who would benefit more from the tax cuts. (Although second-home owners pay 60 percent of the town’s taxes, they cannot vote here, a sore point for them.)

Opponents were outraged at the payments, perceiving them as an attempt to buy votes, and complained to state officials.

But Michael O. Duane, senior assistant attorney general, said the payments did not violate state law. The proposal “doesn’t say that the funds go only to those people who signed a sworn statement that they had voted for it,” he said.

Still, the payment proposal has left a sour taste. As The Rutland Herald put it in an editorial on Sunday, “The naked offer of money to individual citizens may be even more corrosive to the civic life of the town than the potential environmental effects of the wind turbines.”



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


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Species may be listed as threatened based on climate change projections, court says

A court equates a prophecy with fact??  Back to the Middle Ages! This could open floodgates

Federal authorities may list a species as “threatened” based on climate models that show habitat loss in the coming decades, an appeals court decided Monday.

Oil company groups and Alaskan natives had challenged a decision by the federal government to list a sea ice seal subspecies as threatened and deserving of protection.

The groups maintained the subspecies’ population was currently healthy and the climate projections were speculative.

 A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. The ruling would allow government protection of all sorts of wildlife likely to be affected by climate change in the decades ahead.

The panel decided unanimously that the National Marine Fisheries Services reasonably determined that loss of Arctic sea ice over shallow waters would “almost certainly” threaten the survival of a Pacific bearded seal subspecies by the end of the century.

“The service need not wait until a species’ habitat is destroyed to determine that habitat loss may facilitate extinction,” Judge Richard A. Paez, a Clinton appointee, wrote for the court.

The bearded seals congregate on ice floes over shallow waters, where they give birth to pups and nurse. The floes give the nursing mothers close access to food sources — organisms on the ocean floor — and enable the pubs to learn to dive, swim and hunt away from their predators, the court said.

Climate models show that the ice floes would disappear during breeding times, and mother seals would have to nurse their young on shore, where they would be vulnerable to predators such as polar bears and walruses.

A lack of ice floes in shallow waters also would force the seals to forage in the deeper ocean, which contains fewer of the organisms they depend on for survival, the government found.

One peer reviewer said the 80-year prediction was more likely than not to “greatly” underestimate the impact of climate change on the seals.

“All parties agree that there will be sea ice melt,” the court said. “The only uncertainty is the magnitude of warming, the speed with which warming will take place, and the severity of its effect.” Is that all?]

 Although climate projections for 2050 through 2100 may be volatile, they remain valuable in the government rule-making process, the court found.

The Endangered Species Act does not say a species can be listed “only if the underlying research is ironclad and absolute,” Paez wrote.

“It simply requires the agency to consider the best and most reliable scientific and commercial data and to identify the limits of that data when making a listing determination,” the court concluded.


Report: Justice Department told feds to “stand down” on Dakota Access Pipeline protests

A mystery may have been solved in terms of the ongoing protests surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Throughout these demonstrations and incidents of violence centered on the makeshift camps set up on federal land, we’ve been wondering why the federal response has been so muted. In fact, fairly early on I pointed out that there seemed to be something of a double standard between this confrontation and the showdown with the Oregon protesters last year. Given the amount of damage taking place and recorded incidents of violence, why weren’t federal agents moving in to keep more order and support local law enforcement?

A new revelation this week may provide the answer. According to at least one report, the Department of Justice under Attorney General Loretta Lynch passed the word to “stand down” and not get too involved. (Daily Caller)

Attorney General Loretta Lynch refused to meet with National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) Executive Director Jonathan Thompson about the law enforcement issues facing communities in North Dakota as a result of protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the DOJ wants the ND U.S. Attorney to stay away from the situation.

Protesters trying to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline are threatening and intimidating nearby residents, commuters, and press as well as threatening the lives of law enforcement officers…

According to an email obtained by the Daily Caller, Thompson told NSA personnel, that DOJ refused to deploy federal resources in support of local Morton County, North Dakota Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier in an effort to fend off what the NSA and local officials called, “unlawful protests, threats of community intimidation and interfering with lawful commerce.”

One source close to the situation told TheDC that “the DOJ told the US attorney to stand down on help. North Dakota’s attorney general is not engaged either. Sheriffs are in the middle of the storm with limited help.”
This is a disturbing turn in the story to say the least. It’s one thing to adopt a bit more of a hands off approach in general… providing things aren’t getting out of hand. It’s another matter entirely to refuse the requests of state and local officials for help when there’s legitimate violence taking place. In addition to the violent encounters referenced in the linked article, the protesters have already engaged in arson which destroyed millions of dollars of equipment which was lawfully situated and in use. Refusing such a request is just leaving the sheriffs and state police high and dry.

Another aspect of these protests is cleared up by The Daily Caller’s research as well. You’ll recall that we previously highlighted the dual nature of the protest camps. Some of those engaged in demonstrations are locals and members of the Native American tribes in the area. But a second group is composed of outsiders who were brought in to fight any and all fossil fuel activity. The DC points us to a record of arrests thus far from the Dickinson Press. Out of 123 arrests as of earlier this week, less than twenty of them were locals or members of the tribes. The other 106 were all imports from out of state.

One could understand if the Department of Justice was reluctant to go in and start busting heads among the tribe members. Not only do they have legitimate claims to the land and their heritage, but the optics would be horrible. But that’s not who is causing the problems here for the most part. Loretta Lynch could send in the cavalry to drag out the anti-energy, green warriors who are burning the place down with no such complications. Unfortunately, those interlopers are very big with the Democratic base and there’s an election coming up, so I suppose the local cops are on their own.


Exxon Mobil Fights the Abusive Behavior of Democrat Attorney General’s Climate Inquisition

Exxon Mobil Corp. is fighting back against New York’s Democrat attorney general who is demanding decades’ worth of documents about the company’s position on global warming and climate change.

On Oct. 17, Exxon asked a federal judge in Texas, Ed Kinkeade, to stop the abusive behavior of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman by tossing out the subpoena that Schneiderman served on Exxon as part of a investigation of the company for supposedly lying to the public about catastrophic, man-induced climate change.

This is part of the effort of state attorneys general like Schneiderman to criminalize scientific dissent and punish heretics who question the validity of this unproven theory.

Exxon had already filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop a similar investigation being waged by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, also a Democrat. Exxon’s Oct. 17 motion asked the same federal court to allow it to amend its original complaint to add Schneiderman to its lawsuit.

Schneiderman’s subpoena demanded the production of essentially every document in the company’s possession concerning global warming or climate change for the last 40 years, including not just its internal research but any interactions with any other entities such as universities, researchers, and scientists that Schneiderman calls “aggressive climate deniers.”

Schneiderman has accused conservative groups—including The Heritage Foundation—of being part of a “dark money empire” that is supposedly directing a disinformation campaign on climate change and Exxon.

As Exxon points out in its brief, it is politics that is behind what the New York attorney general is doing, not enforcement of the law.

The brief summarizes in great detail the political motivations driving not only Schneiderman and Healey, but all of the other state attorneys general who held a press conference in March pledging themselves to use whatever means necessary to “deal with the problem of climate change” and force energy companies to support the preferred public policy on climate change of their coalition, which calls itself the Green 20.

That includes their secret, closed-door meetings and coordination with climate activists who made it explicit that their goal was to use law enforcement tools to “delegitimize” Exxon.

What is abundantly clear is that Schneiderman, Healey, and the other attorneys general who are part of the Green 20 are abusing their authority and power as governmental prosecutors to engage in a political witch hunt.

The true purpose of these investigations, according to Exxon, is to “suppress speech with which the Green 20 disagrees” on climate change. And the public statements made by Schneiderman and Healey make it clear that their “improper bias” disqualifies them from serving as the disinterested prosecutors required under the Constitution.

Interestingly, Exxon points out that the original fishing expedition engaged in by Schneiderman over its “historic climate change research” has changed. Less than a month ago, Schneiderman’s official press spokesman said that the attorney general was changing the focus of his investigation to Exxon’s estimation of its oil and gas reserves for the purposes of claiming that the company has engaged in “massive securities fraud.”

The attorney general is apparently now asserting that Exxon has overstated its reserves because he believes that “future global efforts to address climate change” will force the company “to leave enormous amounts of oil reserves in the ground.”

But, as Exxon points out, that theory conflicts not only with standard accounting procedures, but also with the regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC prohibits energy companies from considering the impact of future regulations when estimating oil reserves. As Exxon says in its brief, “to the contrary, they require Exxon Mobil to calculate its proved reserves in light of ‘existing economic conditions, operating methods, and government regulations.’”

In other words, the SEC “requires Exxon Mobil to ignore Attorney General Schneiderman’s assumptions about future regulations when estimating reserves.”  The fact that the Massachusetts attorney general has now adopted the same mistaken legal theory “speaks volumes about the pretextual nature of the litigation.”

According to Exxon, the “true objectives are clear: to fish indiscriminately through Exxon Mobil’s records with the hope of finding some violation of some law that one of them might be empowered to enforce, or otherwise to harass Exxon Mobil into endorsing the Green 20’s policy views regarding how the United States should respond to climate change.”

This action to add the New York attorney general to the Texas lawsuit was the result of an order issued by Kinkeade on Oct. 13 that should fill both Schneiderman and Healey with foreboding.

Normally, a federal lawsuit filed to try to stop a state lawsuit would be dismissed under the Younger abstention rule. The Supreme Court held in Younger v. Harris in 1971 that there is a strong federal policy against federal court interference with pending state judicial proceedings.  However, one of the exceptions to that rule is a state proceeding filed in bad faith.

Kinkeade stated that Healey’s actions “causes the court concern” and presents the question of whether she is pursuing this claim “with bias or prejudgment about what the investigation of Exxon would discover.”

If the allegations about Healey are true, then her actions “may constitute bad faith” that “would preclude Younger abstention.” As a result, he ordered discovery by both parties “to aid the court in deciding” whether Healey committed bad faith or whether this lawsuit should be dismissed.

What is abundantly clear is that Schneiderman, Healey, and the other attorneys general who are part of the Green 20 are abusing their authority and power as governmental prosecutors to engage in a political witch hunt that violates basic constitutional rights of due process and most importantly, the First Amendment.

Their intention is to chill speech and silence anyone who disagrees with them about a disputed scientific theory and public policy issue that is the subject of great debate.

That is how government prosecutors operate in the Third World and in banana republics—not the United States of America.


Once Overwhelming Support For German ‘Energiewende’ Fades, Study Finds

It used to be that the German Energiewende (transition to renewable energies) once enjoyed overwhelming support among the population. However, a recent national survey conducted by Germany’s University of Stuttgart, in cooperation with the University of Münster and two Fraunhofer institutes, shows a nation that has become split over the bold project.

Only 29% of those surveyed now see themselves as supporters of the Energiewende.

A total of 2009 persons were surveyed by telephone on a variety of aspects concerning perception of the Energiewende, e.g. wind parks in the countryside, in coastal areas and offshore, solar energy and grid revamping. Scientists at the Zentrum für Interdisziplinäre Risiko- und Innovationsforschung (Center for Interdisciplenary Risks and Innovation Research) at the University of Stuttgart (ZIRIUS), the University of Münster and two Fraunhofer institutes for System and Innovation Research (ISI) and for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) reached the following results:

29 percent of the German population are classified as supporters of the Energiewende. Another 29 percent are ambivalent with regards to the Energiewende and the related technologies, and thus are viewed as being undecided, while 27 percent can be classified as critics of the Energiewende.

This is a far cry from overwhelming support and shows growing disenchantment with the transformation. What should be worrisome is that the big brunt of the costs have yet to hit.

Already 29 percent of those surveyed said that they are no longer willing to accept to pay more for electricity in order contribute to the success of the Energiewende, the survey found. Less than half, 47 percent, of German citizens say they are willing to pay 50 euros per year more for helping the Energiewende to succeed. That figure, the study notes,  is only under the condition that the total costs of the Energiewende get shared fairly between industry and the citizenry, and among the citizenry itself.

Trust in the main players of the Energiewende (large energy companies and utilities) and fairness are the most important factors in realizing acceptance. Refusal to pay or non-acceptance are not irrational defensive reactions, the study finds, but rather are based on sound reasons.


Green activist ban on Australian government agenda

Malcolm Turnbull has flagged a fresh attempt at passing laws to prevent environmentalists using the courts to block major projects, before his week-long visit to Queensland.

Labor and the Greens blocked a previous attempt by the Abbott government to prevent people with political agendas from using the courts to disrupt and delay projects such as coal mines.

The prime minister told reporters in Sydney, on the eve of a Brisbane cabinet meeting, he appreciated the value of a "robust democracy".

"People are entitled to bring their cases before the court, but there is no doubt there has been very systematic, very well funded campaigns against major projects," Mr Turnbull said.

"It's right to express concern about that."

He said the government would test whether the new Senate - which has nine Greens and 11 minor party members on the crossbench - has the "appetite" to reconsider the Abbott government bill.

Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche said such laws were important, especially given the increasing role of foreign interests in lobbying against resources projects.

But he said the federal government should go further and reassess taxpayer subsidies for "green activist" groups.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said he was concerned environmental activism and poor management by the Queensland Labor government were holding back major projects.

"I certainly don't take this place for granted, Malcolm doesn't take it for granted and we want to make sure we drag other people along with us on this path of making Queensland a stronger place," he told reporters in Brisbane.

The Greens want a ban on fracking and all coal seam gas and shale development.



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, October 25, 2016

CO2 levels mark 'new era' in the world's changing climate

Only because Greenies say so.  CO2 levels have been rising fairly streadily for a long time.  They will presumably continue to do so.  The 400ppm level was just another step on the way. The only interesting question is whether they had any effect on global temperature.  There was an abrupt temperature rise in late 2015/early 2016 but there was no abrupt CO2 rise at that time. Rather amusingly, 2015 was one year in which CO2 levels did NOT rise.  So the culprit for that rise was clearly the long awaited El Nino effect, a natural weather fluctuation

Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have surged past an important threshold and may not dip below it for "many generations".

The 400 parts per million benchmark was broken globally for the first time in recorded history in 2015.

But according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), 2016 will likely be the first full year to exceed the mark.

The high levels can be partly attributed to a strong El Niño event.
Gas spike

While human emissions of CO2 remained fairly static between 2014 and 2015, the onset of a strong El Niño weather phenomenon caused a spike in levels of the gas in the atmosphere.

That's because the drought conditions in tropical regions produced by El Niño meant that vegetation was less able to absorb CO2. There were also extra emissions from fires, sparked by the drier conditions.

In their annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the World Meteorological Organisation says the conditions helped push the growth in the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere above the average for the last ten years.

At the atmospheric monitoring station in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, levels of CO2 broke through 400 parts per million (ppm), meaning 400 molecules of CO2 for every one million molecules in the atmosphere.

The last time CO2 was regularly above 400ppm was three to five million years ago, say experts.

Prior to 1800 atmospheric levels were around 280ppm, according to the US National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).

The WMO says that the rise through the 400ppm barrier has persisted and it's likely that 2016 will be the first full year when the measurements show CO2 above that benchmark, and "hence for many generations".

While the El Niño factor has now disappeared, the human impact on climate change has not, the WMO argue.

"The year 2015 ushered in a new era of optimism and climate action with the Paris climate change agreement," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

"But it will also make history as marking a new era of climate change reality with record high greenhouse gas concentrations."

The report also details the growth in other greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide.

In 2015, levels of methane were 2.5 times greater than in the pre-industrial era, while nitrous oxide was 1.2 times above the historic measure.


Global Warming Versus Global Greening

Matt Ridley finds that the slightest deviation from Green dogma is an unforgiveable sin

I am a passionate champion of science. I have devoted most of my career to celebrating and chronicling scientific discovery. I think the scientific method is humankind’s greatest achievement, and that there is no higher calling.

So what I am about to say this evening about the state of climate science is not in any sense anti-science. It is anti the distortion and betrayal of science.

I am still in love with science as a philosophy; I greatly admire and like the vast majority of scientists I meet; but I am increasingly disaffected from science as an institution.

The way it handles climate change is a big part of the reason.

After covering global warming debates as a journalist on and off for almost 30 years, with initial credulity, then growing skepticism, I have come to the conclusion that the risk of dangerous global warming, now and in the future, has been greatly exaggerated while the policies enacted to mitigate the risk have done more harm than good, both economically and environmentally, and will continue to do so.

And I am treated as some kind of pariah for coming to this conclusion.

Why do I think the risk from global warming is being exaggerated? For four principal reasons.

1. All environmental predictions of doom always are;

2. the models have been consistently wrong for more than 30 years;

3. the best evidence indicates that climate sensitivity is relatively low;

4. the climate science establishment has a vested interest in alarm.

Global greening

I will come to those four points in a moment. But first I want to talk about global greening, the gradual, but large, increase in green vegetation on the planet.

I think this is one of the most momentous discoveries of recent years and one that transforms the scientific background to climate policy, though you would never know it from the way it has been reported. And it is a story in which I have been both vilified and vindicated.

In December 2012, the environmental scientist Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University drew my attention to a video online of a lecture given by Ranga Myneni of Boston University.

In this lecture Myneni presented ingenious analysis of data from satellites proving that much of the vegetated area of the planet was getting greener, only a little bit was getting browner, and that overall in 30 years there had been a roughly 14% increase in green vegetation on planet Earth.

He argued that this was occurring in all vegetation types – tropical rain forests, subarctic taiga, grasslands, semi-deserts, farmland, everywhere.

What is more, Myneni argued that by various means he could calculate that about half of this greening was a direct result of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, rather than the application of agricultural fertiliser, irrigation, warmer temperatures or increased rainfall.

Carbon dioxide, along with water, is the raw material that plants use to make carbohydrates, with the help of sunlight, so it stands to reason that raising its concentration should help plants grow.

I was startled by Myneni’s data. I knew that there had been thousands of so-called free-air concentration (FACE) experiments, in which levels of CO2 had been increased over crops or wild ecosystems to find out if it boosted their growth (it did), and that commercial greenhouse owners now routinely maintain CO2 levels in their greenhouses at more than double ambient levels – because it makes their tomatoes grow faster.

But the global effect of CO2 levels on the quantity of vegetation had not, as far as I could tell, been measured till now.

Other lines of evidence also pointed to this global greening:

the increased rate of growth of forest trees,

the increased amplitude of seasonal carbon dioxide variation measured in Hawaii and elsewhere,

photographic surveys of vegetation,

the increased growth rate of phytoplankton, marine plants and some corals, and so on.

I published an article in the Wall Street Journal in January 2013 on these various lines of evidence, including Myneni’s satellite analysis, pointing to the increase in green vegetation.

This was probably the very first article in the mainstream media on the satellite evidence for global greening.

For this I was subjected online to withering scorn by the usual climate spin doctors, but even they had to admit I was “factually accurate”.

Six months later  Randall Donohue and colleagues in Australia published a paper using satellite data to conclude that the arid parts of the planet, such as western Australia and the Sahel region, had seen a net greening of 11% over 30 years – similar results to Myneni’s.

Myneni’s results were eventually published three years later in April 2016 in a paper in Nature Climate Change, with 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries – when the IPCC report was safely in the public domain and the great Paris climate jamboree was over.

His results were now even stronger than he had concluded in his 2012 lecture. Now he said that 70% of the cause of greening was carbon dioxide – up from half.

As Myneni’s co-author Zaichun Zhu, of Beijing University, puts it, it’s equivalent to adding a green continent twice the size of mainland USA.

Frankly, I think this is big news. A new continent’s worth of green vegetation in a single human generation.

At the end of 2015, when his paper had been under peer review for eight months so he knew these results were coming, Dr Myneni, criticized me specifically, saying on a green blog that “[Ridley] falsely claims that CO2 fertilisation is responsible for the greening of the earth”. Yet a few months later he himself published evidence that “CO2 fertilisation explains 70% of the greening trend”.

In the press release accompanying the article in April 2016 he once again referred to me by name:

[“The beneficial aspect of CO2 fertilization in promoting plant growth has been used by contrarians, notably Lord Ridley…to argue against cuts in carbon emissions to mitigate climate change…"]

As Richard Tol commented: “The new paper vindicates what Matt Ridley and others have been saying all along — yet they apparently deserve to be kicked nonetheless.”

I wrote to Dr Myneni politely asking him to justify his criticism of me with specific examples. He was unable to do so. “There are no ‘up-sides’ to having too much CO2 in the air,” was all he said.

In the very same issue of the same journal was another paper from an international team about a further benefit of global greening, which concluded that CO2 fertilisation is likely to increase crop water productivity throughout the world, for example by up to 48% for rain-fed wheat in arid areas, and that “If realized in the fields, the effects of elevated [CO2] could considerably mitigate global yield losses whilst reducing agricultural consumptive water use (4–17%).”

Their chart shows that without CO2 fertilisation, crops will become more water-stressed during the current century; with it they will become LESS water-stressed.

These are huge benefits for the earth and for people. The CO2 fertilisation effect is already worth trillions of dollars, according to detailed calculations by Craig Idso.

At this point Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit drew attention to my vindication on twitter. Richard Betts, the Met Office’s twitter frequenter, protested that global greening was well known and had been referred to in the IPCC’s report.

This was misleading at best and false at worst. The Summary for Policy Makers of Working Group 2 refers to global greening not at all. The full report of WG2 does very gently hint at there being some evidence of greening, but in a dismissive way. These are the only mentions I could find:

[“Satellite observations from 1982–2010 show an 11% increase in green foliage cover in warm, arid environments…Higher CO2 concentrations enhance photosynthesis and growth (up to a point) and reduce water use by the plant…these effects are mostly beneficial; however, high CO2 also has negative effects.”

“In summary, there is high confidence that net terrestrial ecosystem productivity at the global scale has increased relative to the preindustrial era. There is low confidence in attribution of these trends to climate change. Most studies speculate that rising CO2 concentrations are contributing to this trend through stimulation of photosynthesis but there is no clear, consistent signal of a climate change contribution.”]

If that’s a clear and prominent statement that carbon dioxide emissions have increased green vegetation on the planet by 14% and are significantly reducing the water requirements of agriculture, then I’m the Queen of Sheba.

Back in 1908 Svante Arrhenius, the father of the greenhouse theory, said the following: “By the influence of the increasing percentage of carbonic acid in the atmosphere, we may hope to enjoy ages with more equable and better climates.” It appears he was not wrong.

The consensus

Now let me back to global warming. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and UN Special representative on Climate Change, said in a speech in 2007 that “it is irresponsible, reckless and deeply immoral to question the seriousness of the situation. The time for diagnosis is over. Now it is time to act”.

I disagree. It is irresponsible not to challenge the evidence properly, especially if the policies pursued in its name are causing suffering.

Increasingly, many people would like to outlaw, suppress, prosecute and censor all discussion of what they call “the science” rather than engage in debate.

“We will not, at any time, debate the science of climate change,” said three professors at the University of Colorado in anemail to their students recently.

Shamefully, much of the scientific establishment and the media are prepared to go along with that program. And to bully any academic or journalist who steps out of line.

This coercion was displayed all too vividly when the distinguished scientist Lennart Bengtsson was bullied into resigning from the academic advisory council of GWPF in 2014 by colleagues’ threats. He even began to “worry about my health and safety…”

And when Philippe Verdier was sacked as weather forecaster in France for writing an honest book. And when Roger Pielke was dropped by the 538 website for telling the truth about storms.

No wonder that I talk frequently to scientists who are skeptical, but dare not say so openly. That is a ridiculous state of affairs.

We’re told that it’s impertinent to question “the science” and that we must think as we are told. But arguments from authority are the refuge of priests.

Thomas Henry Huxley put it this way: “The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”

What keeps science honest, what stops it from succumbing entirely to confirmation bias, is that it is decentralized, allowing one lab to challenge another.

That’s how truth is arrived at in science, not by scientists challenging their own theories (that’s a myth), but by scientists disputing each other’s theories.

These days there is a legion of well paid climate spin doctors. Their job is to keep the debate binary: either you believe climate change is real and dangerous or you’re a denier who thinks it’s a hoax.

But there’s a third possibility they refuse to acknowledge: that it’s real but not dangerous. That’s what I mean by lukewarming, and I think it is by far the most likely prognosis.

I am not claiming that carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas; it is.

I am not saying that its concentration in the atmosphere is not increasing; it is.

I am not saying the main cause of that increase is not the burning of fossil fuels; it is.

I am not saying the climate does not change; it does.

I am not saying that the atmosphere is not warmer today than it was 50 or 100 years ago; it is.

And I am not saying that carbon dioxide emissions are not likely to have caused some (probably more than half) of the warming since 1950.

I agree with the consensus on all these points.

I am not in any sense a “denier”, that unpleasant, modern term of abuse for blasphemers against the climate dogma, though the Guardian and New Scientist never let the facts get in the way of their prejudices on such matters.

I am a lukewarmer.

There is no consensus that climate change is going to be dangerous. Even the IPCC says there is a range of possible outcomes, from harmless to catastrophic. I’m in that range: I think the top of that range is very unlikely. But the IPCC also thinks the top of its range is very unlikely.

The supposed 97% consensus, based on a hilariously bogus study by John Cook, refers only to the proposition that climate change is real and partly man-made. Nobody has ever shown anything like a consensus among scientists for the proposition that climate change is going to be dangerous.

Professor Daniel Sarewitz put it well recently: “Even the vaunted scientific consensus around climate change…applies only to a narrow claim about the discernible human impact on global warming. The minute you get into questions about the rate and severity of future impacts, or the costs of and best pathways for addressing them, no semblance of consensus among experts remains.”

Besides, consensus is a reasonable guide to data about the past but is no guide to the future and never has been. In non-linear systems with feedbacks, like economies or atmospheres, experts are notoriously bad at forecasting events. There is no such thing as an expert on the future.

More HERE  (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Global Warming Concerns 'Not a Blank Check' for Clean Power Plan

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last week released a 320-page transcript of the September 27th oral argument on the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emission standards for existing fossil-fuel power plants, the agency’s so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP). From a constitutional perspective, the best moment of the marathon proceeding was Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s reminder to his colleagues that “global warming is not a [regulatory] blank check.”

The fun part of it is that Kavanaugh, a conservative judge appointed by President George W. Bush, invoked liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s concurrence in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, a case invalidating the Bush administration’s use of special commissions to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

In Hamdan, Justice Breyer wrote (citations omitted):

The dissenters [Justices Thomas, Scalia, and Alito] say that today’s decision would “sorely hamper the President’s ability to confront and defeat a new and deadly enemy.” They suggest that it undermines our Nation’s ability to “preven[t] future attacks” of the grievous sort that we have already suffered. That claim leads me to state briefly what I believe the majority sets forth both explicitly and implicitly at greater length. The Court’s conclusion ultimately rests upon a single ground: Congress has not issued the Executive a “blank check.” Indeed, Congress has denied the President the legislative authority to create military commissions of the kind at issue here. Nothing prevents the President from returning to Congress to seek the authority he believes necessary.

Where, as here, no emergency prevents consultation with Congress, judicial insistence upon that consultation does not weaken our Nation’s ability to deal with danger. To the contrary, that insistence strengthens the Nation’s ability to determine—through democratic means—how best to do so. The Constitution places its faith in those democratic means. Our Court today simply does the same.

Kananaugh applied Breyer’s reasoning as follows (p. 100):

The larger point is that it’s up to Congress to decide. And it seems . . . and I’ll just throw this out, I’m concerned about making sure our decision, in the grand sweep of separation of powers, is consistent with the past, and consistent with the future. And it seems like what we have here is a thin—people disagree with the adjective—but a thin statute [i.e. Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act]. It wasn’t designed with this specifically in mind, but it can be kind of moved around to get here, for some really urgent problem.

And thinking in the past, I mean, the prior administration in the national security realm went through the same thing, and thin statutes trying to defeat an enemy, and the Supreme Court said no in the Hamdan case, which I think is highly relevant. Justice Breyer said the dissenters say that today’s decision would sorely hamper the President’s ability to confront and defeat a new and deadly enemy; the Court’s conclusion ultimately rests upon a single ground: Congress has not issued the Executive a blank check; no emergency prevents consultation with Congress; judicial insistence upon that consultation does not weaken our nation’s ability to deal with danger; strengthens the nation’s ability to determine through democratic means how best to do so; the Constitution places its faith in those democratic means.

And it seems like we’ve lived this issue where the most urgent need of our country was identified as a reason to use old statutes that weren’t squarely on point to jam new urgent needs into those. And the Supreme Court, Justice Breyer speaking directly to it, war is not a blank check. Global warming is not a blank check either for the President.

Distilling Kavanaugh’s riff on Breyer down to a soundbite, we get the following: Where, as here, no emergency prevents consultation with Congress, neither war nor climate change justify executive lawmaking.


Another Greenie fraud

Lies come naturally to the Green/Left.  It's all they've got

One of the world's leading institutes for researching the impact of global warming has repeatedly claimed credit for work done by rivals – and used it to win millions from the taxpayer.

An investigation by The Mail on Sunday also reveals that when the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP) made a bid for more Government funds, it claimed it was responsible for work that was published before the organisation even existed.

Last night, our evidence was described by one leading professor whose work was misrepresented as 'a clear case of fraud – using deception for financial gain'. The chairman of the CCCEP since 2008 has been Nick Stern, a renowned global advocate for drastic action to combat climate change.

He is also the president of the British Academy, an invitation-only society reserved for the academic elite. It disburses grants worth millions to researchers – and to Lord Stern's own organisation.

On Friday, the CCCEP – based jointly at the London School of Economics and the University of Leeds – will host a gala at the Royal Society in London in the peer's honour. Attended by experts and officials from around the world, it is to mark the tenth anniversary of the blockbuster Stern Review, a 700-page report on the economic impact of climate change. The review was commissioned by Tony Blair's Government.

The review argued that the world had to take immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or face much higher future costs. It has exerted a powerful influence on successive British governments and international bodies.

Part of the CCCEP's official mission, which it often boasts about in its public reports, is to lobby for the policies Lord Stern advocates by presenting the case for them with British and foreign governments and at UN climate talks.

Last night, CCCEP spokesman Bob Ward admitted it had 'made mistakes', both in claiming credit for studies which it had not funded and for papers published by rival academics. 'This is regrettable, but mistakes can happen… We will take steps over the next week to amend these mistakes,' he said.

The Mail on Sunday investigation reveals today that:

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), which has given the CCCEP £9 million from taxpayers since 2008, has never checked the organisation's supposed publication lists, saying they were 'taken on trust';

Some of the papers the CCCEP listed have nothing to do with climate change – such as the reasons why people buy particular items in supermarkets and why middle class people 'respond more favourably' to the scenery of the Peak District than their working class counterparts;

Papers submitted in an explicit bid to secure further ESRC funding not only had nothing to do with the CCCEP, they were published before it was founded;

The publication dates of some of these papers on the list are incorrect – giving the mistaken impression that they had been completed after the CCCEP came into existence.

Academics whose work was misrepresented reacted with fury. Professor Richard Tol, a climate change economics expert from Sussex University, said: 'It is serious misconduct to claim credit for a paper you haven't supported, and it's fraud to use that in a bid to renew a grant. I've never come across anything like it before. It stinks.'

The paper cited by the CCCEP of which Prof Tol is a co-author was published online by the Ecological Economics journal on July 31, 2008. At the time, he and the lead author, David Anthoff, were on the staff of the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin. Their co-author, Cameron Hepburn, was at Oxford University. The research on 'the marginal costs of climate change' was funded by the European Commission and the Stockholm Environment Institute.

Prof Tol said: 'Our paper had no relationship to the CCCEP. It came out of David Anthoff's masters thesis. At the time, the CCCEP did not exist, and it only came into existence after the paper was published. Fraud means deception for financial gain. That is what this is.'

Confusingly, the CCCEP sent data to the ESRC for two separate lists of the publications that should be 'attributed' to it, and although they mostly overlap, they are not identical. Both, however, are misleading.

The first list is a compilation of 276 journal articles submitted in late 2012, headed 'CCCEP publications October 2008 – August 2012'. The submission also includes dozens of works of journalism. Many of these were written by CCCEP spokesman Mr Ward on subjects such as the Scottish golf course owned by Donald Trump and vehement attacks on climate change sceptics.

When it submitted this list, which includes the paper co-authored by Prof Tol, the CCCEP had already been awarded £4.7 million by the ESRC and was asking for another £4.4 million. It received this amount to cover the period 2013 to 2018.

The centre also gets generous funds from other government and private sources, such as American green billionaire Jeremy Grantham. This year, it was awarded a £374,000 grant to pay for a three-year CCCEP fellowship by the British Academy, presided over by Lord Stern. These grants make it one of the most lavishly funded institutions of its kind in the world, with an income since 2008 of more than £30 million.

Lord Stern has also become personally wealthy through his climate change work. When it last filed accounts a year ago, his company, NS Economics Ltd, set up to handle his public speaking income, had a bank balance of £349,000. He is also paid as an advisory director of the giant Spanish solar energy firm Abengoa SA.

This newspaper has found further papers on the 2008 to 2012 list sent to the ESRC which were in fact completed before the CCCEP came into existence. One of them, jointly authored with CCCEP co-director Simon Dietz, is by Lord Stern himself – and first published on April 23, 2008, six months before the CCCEP opened.

Another paper, a study led by Natalie Suckall, now at Southampton University, dealt with 'cultural identity' in the Peak District National Park. Ms Suckall and her colleagues found that white, middle class people liked the scenery more than working class or ethnic minority visitors – a topic not obviously related to climate change.

This paper was first sent to the Journal of Environmental Management in March 2007, accepted in revised form in June the following year, and published on July 30, 2008, more than two months before the CCCEP existed.

Another example was a study led by Prof Tol's co-author, Prof Cameron Hepburn. Since 2010, he has had a part-time post at the LSE, in addition to his position at Oxford. But his paper on 'social discounting under uncertainty' was first submitted in 2006, and published online on September 5, 2008 – when there were still four weeks to go before the CCCEP began operating.

Mr Ward admitted that to tell the ESRC that a total of seven studies identified by the MoS had been funded by the CCCEP was a 'mistake'. But he insisted it was not misleading that the list claimed some of them had been published in 2009, because that was when they appeared on paper.

Dr Elizabeth Wager, editor of the journal Research Integrity and Peer Review and the former head of the international watchdog the Committee on Publication Ethics, disputed this. She said: 'Everyone regards the online date as the actual publication date. It is considered published the day it goes online.'

These and other papers clearly played a direct role in the ESRC's decision to award the second, £4.4 million grant. But the second list, an online record of CCCEP publications updated monthly and published on the government's research funding website, Gateway To Research, is equally questionable – suggesting the CCCEP has for years been inflating its reputation and the scale of its activity unjustifiably.

Some of the items on this list amount to blatant theft of credit which is due to others. For example, in 2011 Kersty Hobson, then at Oxford and now a professor at Cardiff, was lead author of a paper entitled Public Responses to Climate Change. Her co-author Simon Niemeyer was at the Australian National University in Canberra.

She told The Mail on Sunday: 'This paper had nothing whatsoever to do with the CCCEP. It was completely funded by the Australian Research Council.' Another case is a study led by Oxford's Prof Stephen Duncan on 'optimal harvesting of fish stocks under a time-varying discount rate', a highly technical paper based on data from the Peruvian anchovy industry in the 1970s. Prof Duncan said: 'This piece of research was not funded by the CCCEP. It came out of ideas three of us had at Oxford when we were all based here.'

Mr Ward disputed this, claiming that the CCCEP should have been 'properly acknowledged' because Prof Hepburn was a co-author.

Other papers on the Gateway To Research list bear no relation to climate change and the CCCEP's goals. One is called 'Traffic lights and food choice: a choice experiment examining the relationship between nutritional food labels and price.'

Lead author Prof Kelvin Balcombe, of Reading University, said: 'I certainly wouldn't think it appropriate to claim this as a CCCEP output. It's not about climate change. And they had nothing to do with it.'

Mr Ward admitted including this on the list was a mistake, as was a paper on noise pollution and its effect on human happiness by the LSE's Diana Weinhold. He said: 'Some publications have been mistakenly uploaded.' It would take steps to put this right.

Academic funding experts reacted with astonishment to our investigation. Lord Willetts, the Universities Minister from 2010 to 2014, said: 'There is an assumption that academics are bound by ethical principles. The system relies on trust as well as policing by administrators.'

Dr Wager said: 'It's troubling the funder has not spotted this. If you're claiming credit for work when you shouldn't, that is not fair to other institutions who play by the rules.'

Former Labour Minister Lord Donaghue, a governor of the LSE for 25 years, called for an inquiry, saying: 'To preserve the academic integrity of the LSE, it is necessary that the relevant funding authorities launch a full investigation.'

The ESRC said the second phase of the CCCEP's grant was paid because the council concluded that 'the work of the centre had been excellent'.

Mr Ward said the CCCEP is a 'world class university research centre', and when it asked for the second slice of funding from the ESRC, it submitted in all '520 research and policy outputs' and 139 media articles. He added: 'We reject any suggestion that we misrepresented the outputs of the Centre in our submission to the mid-term review.' He claimed our investigation was an attempt to 'promote climate change denial'.


Australia: Slow and steady on climate policy

The Turnbull government will ensure the next phase of its climate policy meets Australia's obligations under the Paris deal but isn't "messianic", Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce says.

The government will review its full suite of climate policies in 2017, as the emissions reduction fund exhausts its $2.55 billion budget and the coalition looks to other methods to cut carbon pollution.

Environmental groups have concerns the review will provide a smokescreen to drop climate action and respond to sceptics within the government and on the Senate crossbench who see it as a waste of taxpayers' money.

Mr Joyce told reporters in Brisbane on Monday the government would ensure it met its Paris target - to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 - which builds on its 2020 target of reducing emissions by five per cent below 2000 levels.

"We believe in our obligations as signed off by an international treaty in Paris and we'll make sure we meet them," Mr Joyce said.

"We are on target to meet them at the moment and we are doing it at a vastly more affordable way than the Labor party ever was."

But he said the government would not achieve the target "by changing the whole world, like the ACT, to 100 per cent renewables - what a load of crock".

"We are not going be a messianic figure out there by ourselves," he said.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said he would like the review to be conducted in a bipartisan way.

"(But) we're not going to get bipartisanship while Malcolm Turnbull has lost his spine on climate change," Mr Shorten told reporters in Perth.

"He did have it once, no questioning that, but now he's so keen to keep his job he'll swap climate change policy for climate scepticism ... he won't take any real action in terms of the fundamental issues including standing up for renewable energy."

Mr Turnbull's deal with the Rudd Labor government on a carbon pollution reduction scheme ended with his own party dumping him in favour of Tony Abbott.



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.  

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