Coal is King, Again

To save the world from carbon dioxide emissions that they claim will heat us to a crisp, the environmentalists have targeted “fossil fuels” -- coal, petroleum (oil), natural gas, oil shales, bitumens, and tar sands and heavy oils. This was after they and their political puppets pretty much killed nuclear-powered electrical production, the  cleanest source of energy production, by  making new construction impossible and reducing existing capacity.

Of all the fossil fuels, natural gas releases the least amount of CO2, but it remains a target here and in Europe. Its major source is Russia, and thanks to rising demand, the cost has risen precipitously this winter just when Europe has it greatest need for it.

European power climbed to a fresh record as France faces a winter crunch, spurring the region’s top aluminum smelter to curb output. Electricity for delivery next year surged as much as 6.4 percent to an all-time high in Germany, Europe’s biggest power market. France, which usually exports power, will need to suck up supplies from neighboring countries to keep the lights on as severe nuclear outages curb generation in the coldest months of the year. The crunch is so severe that it’s forcing factories to curb output or shut down altogether.

The consequence for the world of Western governments’ fanciful energy views and absurd policy proscriptions is that coal, almost pure carbon, which when utilized emits not only carbon but also “sulfur dioxides, particulates, and nitrogen oxides” is being used in record amounts. While new technology can reduce these emissions somewhat, coal remains the dirtiest of the fossil fuels. One cannot escape laughing at the irony—according to the International Energy agency (IEA) after all the government mucking about on greening energy production, coal production is set to hit an all-time high. Large Asian nations (mostly China and India) need it and gas shortages in Europe are revving up coal demand.

 Germany has had to rely on coal and nuclear power for electricity generation throughout 2021. This meant the contribution of coal and nuclear power for energy production reached 40 percent this year, compared to 35 percent in 2020, with renewables accounting for 41 percent compared to 44 percent last year. At present, Germany is planning to end nuclear power production by the end of 2022 and phase out coal by 2030. Even the U.K., which pledged to end coal production a year earlier than anticipated by 2024, had to fire up coal plants in September to meet electricity demand in the face of gas shortages and surging prices. During this time, coal contributed 3 percent of national power, rather than the average 2.2 percent. This was following a landmark period of time in which the U.K. run coal-free for three days in August.

It seems that private investment will be needed to get industry to convert more rapidly to non-coal sources in the absence of substantial government financial incentives to do so. I’d consider that a crap shoot for any investor. Who knows what bright ideas governments will dream up next to muck up energy  production and supplies? And why should anyone assume that this time with even more private money down that rathole, "renewables" will fill the void of burgeoning energy demand?

On the contrary, the only bright spot on the energy horizon I’ve seen this week is a report that fifteen states are rebelling against banks which are refusing financing to fossil fuel producers. Together these states have $600 billion in assets they pledge to take elsewhere unless the banks relent.  It’s a nice  counter-play to the Biden administration’s pressuring Wall Street to refuse financial backing for fossil fuel producers.

Morrison Fiddles While Australia Burns

Do you ever make a promise that you know you won’t keep? Keep, discard? Discard, keep? I dare say you might, at least every New Year. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised that he’ll stick with Australia’s target set in the Paris Agreement of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 percent on 2005 levels by 2030. He knows he won’t keep it. Politicians don’t worry too much about that sort of thing. That’s why they’re politicians.

Developed countries made up their own targets as part of the Paris Agreement. Some, like the U.S. and Canada, anchored their targets to the base year of 1990. It’s a dog’s breakfast. Whatever target countries set in 2015, they were supposed to up the ante after five years. They didn’t and haven’t but have promised to consider doing so by the time next year’s Egyptian COP27 rolls around.

As it stands, Australia is seemingly on course to better its target. Therefore, Morrison, if he's still in office, will grab the costless kudos in Egypt of upping the target. He just won’t say so now. He wants to win the upcoming election. He’ll try to force the opposition Labor Party into making a bid of say 40 or 45 percent. Then, gotcha! You coal-mine closers and job killers. It’s the way he won last time. Why change a winning formula?

Re-election ho!

It’s all political theatre. Coal’s good one day, tomorrow belongs to net-zero. Electric cars will destroy motoring as we know it (election campaign 2019) to here’s a heap of government money ($250 million plus another $500 million of public and private money) to build public charging stations. Morrison plays the climate game like the fiddle it is. He doesn’t have a position on the climate at all. I doubt he’s thought about it and most certainly not read about it. He has position on keeping his job. And that cynicism carries over to Australia’s newly-released modelling of its net-zero plans.

A vainglorious quest to cool the planet has taken over all reason. The gains explored in the modelling have little to do with saving Australia or the planet from the incipient ravages of climate change. They have mostly do with warding off the ire of international financiers; who, in their wokeness, would take a dim view of Australian climate recalcitrance. They would punish us to the tune of from 100 to 300 basis points, according to Treasury mandarins. In turn, this would wreak havoc on investment and reduce living standards. And there’s more. Countries and their citizens would take umbrage, likely impose trade barriers: and, thus, buy less of our produce. Result: misery.

So, you see, the substantive gain from committing to net-zero, more properly, from announcing the commitment to net-zearo, is the avoidance of penalising international action. Australia will be part of a quite novel bootstraps movement which is likely to sweep all before it; China, India and other so-termed gigantic but still-developing nations excepted. Action designed to combat global warming will, in fact, be driven by the imperative to combat being singled out for not taking action to combat global warming. If you follow my drift.

Notice something about the climate plans of governments, whichever government. They all dance on the surface and hope no one queries the unseen details and consequences. Reading Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) might help.

Take electric cars. The Australian government wants 30 percent of all new cars sold by 2030 to be electric or hybrid. The aim is to have 1,000 public charging stations. Currently there are about 6,500 refuelling stations in Australia. Fewer per capita than in the U.S. or Canada, more than in the U.K. Geography and demography tell the tale. They also tell the tale whether you’re driving an internal-combustion vehicle or an electric one. One thousand public charging stations, if they’re ever built, scratch the surface. Whence comes the rest; who’ll foot the bill?

They say people will charge their cars overnight in their garages. Which people? Or is that rich people? When I drive around inner suburbs of Sydney, I see cars parked, packed, along every suburban street. When I return to my birthplace in Liverpool England, I see the same. It may come as a surprise to the rich and famous but not everyone has off-street parking let alone a garage. Where are they to charge their cars?

How is Mrs. Robinson to refuel her flattened-battery EV parked outside her home in order to get to work, ten miles away? She might just make it to her closest charging station five miles away. Wait in line, as others like her, as each vehicle in front of her takes about 30 minutes to recharge. She’ll be very late for work; that is, unless she rises at 4 am. Complain not, comrade citizen. You’re gonna get your mind right for the sake of the planet.

Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson.

Any plan or modelling of electric cars should set out the life cycle of a typical vehicle; it’s upstream, downstream, and side-stream implications and consequences. We can handle the truth. But I don’t think they know the truth or care about finding it. They certainly don’t include it in any modelling I’ve seen.

Electric cars are being foisted on populations to save the planet apparently. Why then doesn’t modelling show the human, environmental and extraction costs of mining sufficient rare earths in China and, say, Madagascar. Why doesn’t it evaluate the (internal and external) transport and manufacturing costs, the eventual disposal costs, and the costs of providing a refuelling network? The effects of scale on electricity generation? How about the fire-service costs of dealing with unextinguishable electric-vehicle fires?

The fundamental problem here is the replacement of the free market with crony capitalism, aka the Great Reset. Morrison says that we Australians will rely on technology and the market to deliver solutions. But it’s not the market, here or elsewhere. On one side is government, on the other packs of rent-seekers, snake-oil salesmen, and purveyors of boondoggles vile and various.

The free market goes down dead ends many times. The difference is that it quickly reverses course in the face of financial penalties. Government-subsidised and -funded dead ends can be very long and debilitating. And they will be.

Final thought. Wake in fright in the Anglosphere.  Biden, Trudeau, Johnson and Ardern are far worse than Morrison.

Green is the New Black

The entire industrial world is suffering from needless energy shortages caused by efforts to  precipitously switch from conventional  fossil fuels. It’s not true that simply mandating a switch from reliable power sources to intermittent wind, sun, and water will make the change workable when we need it. There’s scarcely a place in the modern world that will not be feeling the high cost and discomfort of a shortage of energy supplies and their increasingly soaring prices. Lebanon already is. Due to a shortage of oil, the two power plants that supply 40 percent of that country’s electricity simply shut down recently.

It’s an extreme case, but even the United Kingdom, the E.U., the U.S., and China are running up against diminishing ability to obtain the necessary energy supplies to keep things running smoothly. Nature has a way of fouling up such plans. Some of the shortages are due to accidents, like the cutting of an undersea cable to the U.K.; some are due to flooding of mines (China has closed down some mines because of it);some are due to draught in other places like America’s West which at the best of times has limited hydropower; some is due to extreme cold or lack of wind that has limited wind power; some is due to hurricanes which shutdown Gulf oil refineries.

These things are not exceptional occurrences, but reasons why redundancy must be built into energy planning. But most of these shortages are due to green policies and stupid political choices, ironically shutting down oil and gas-fired power plants and fossil fuel exploitation and transport at the demand of the greens, who grossly overestimate both global warming and the ability of air, sun, and water to take their place. Indeed, just today the Biden administration announced a new federal project to develop wind farms in American waters, including one near New York City.

Hard to kill King Coal.

Ironically, this means coal -- the dirtiest possible fuel -- is back in huge demand. The U.S. has lots of it, but the greens forced closing of most of the mines and mining is today a highly skilled job requiring substantial training. The miners who left for other work, are not easily replaced so that source is now not readily available to take up the demand.

Despite an import ban on Australian coal, China relented and has begun unloading Australian coal because of an extreme power crunch. Coal is now in demand in Europe as gas prices soar and the E.U.’s energy policies are in large responsible:

The ideological split will drive a wedge between the European Union, a long-time champion of a coal phaseout, and corporate interests as market conditions favour gas-to-coal switching. The switching ratio has slid in coal’s favour in the last weeks of June 2021 and judging by the current futures structure, it will stay in place until at least Q2-2022...

The current coal demand surge should force the European Union to reconsider its position on coal -- as polluting as it might be, it could still help alleviate energy crunches across Europe when the situation demands it. As things stand today, the upcoming four years would see at least seven countries phasing out coal: Portugal (2021), France (2022), UK (2024), Hungary, Italy, Ireland and Greece (all 2025). As Europe has seen nine consecutive year-on-year increases in aggregate coal burns, perhaps more switching flexibility and less bans could still be the way forward.

It’s no secret that the cleanest most reliable fuel – nuclear -- was murdered by the greens (except in France where Macron refuses to shut it down). Then natural gas, the second cleanest, became their target, so now many places are desperate for coal, the dirtiest option.

Was there any point to the war on fossil fuels? Probably not. Judith Curry, one of the most reliable climate researchers, explains how even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) admits finally that the dire climate models off of which they were working were in substantial error.  The latest report from the IPCC indicates previous models were predicting a hotter climate than warranted.

A substantial number of the CMIP6 models are running way too hot, which has been noted in many publications. In its projections of 21st century global mean surface temperatures, the [report] provides ‘constrained’ projections (including climate models with reasonable values of climate sensitivity that reasonably simulate the 20th century).

GCMs [Global Climate Models] clearly have an important role to play particularly in scientific research.  However, driven by the urgent needs of policy makers, the advancement of climate science is arguably being slowed by the focus of resources on this one path of climate modeling.  The numerous problems with GCMs, and concerns that these problems will not be addressed in the near future given the current development path, suggest that alternative frameworks should be explored.

The shortage of energy supplies is causing food prices to rise, in fact, everything from food to  gasoline to heating and cooling is becoming more expensive. Inflation is not the only rational worry connected to energy shortages. Scarcities in everything from adhesives and paints to auto parts  are already showing up. Russia which is now a major natural gas supplier for Europe  is not only growing richer for the reduction of its usual  energy sources from elsewhere (and Europe’s incomprehensible reduction of its conventional sources) but it has now a more powerful lever to bend the gas dependent E.U. to its will. 

The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming.

Polling to date has shown people are generally in accord with their propagandized perception of the ill-considered green agenda, but unwilling to pay higher prices and undergo impoverishment to fund it . Expect continued pressure on the government leaders who bowed to the green propaganda (often because it allowed them to shovel government revenues to favored friends and donors) to now shift gears. Even the pork-rich proposed budget framework of the Democrats, contains a unanimously adopted provision to bar implementation of the Green New Deal, an amendment to prevent the promulgation of regulation to ban hydraulic fracturing -- fracking -- which made this country a global leader in oil and gas production, and two amendments barring the Agriculture Department from denying financing to fossil-fuel burning power plants and regulating emissions from farm animals.

It’s a small beginning to what will likely be a multi-national citizen pushback against this nonsense. The one thing politicians worldwide prize over everything else is retaining their personal power, and it’s looking more and more like the Green New Deal will either falter or a lot of political leaders who fell for this irrational program will be shortly out of office.

Dirty, Sooty, Black, and Indispensable

Australia like other countries individually, and collectively on the international stage, has seen a proliferation of government and non-government organisations dedicated to saving us from climate Armageddon. To name some under the auspices of just the federal government: the Clean Energy Regulator, the Clean Energy Financial Corporation, the Climate Change Authority, the Australian Energy Regulator, the Australian Energy Market Commission, the Australian Energy Market Operator and the Energy Security Board. What these organisations and many others do is hard for me to say. I do read their blurbs but for the most part their roles soon slip from my mind. My brain is not set up to manage the verbiage – to which I will return.

Mind you, a plethora of organisations provides opportunities for those who might otherwise struggle to find gainful employment. Easily alarmed? Please apply here. Being suffused with emotion when interviewed is probably favoured. Looking at clips of Greta Thunberg beforehand might be advisable.

I’m too cynical. As from a stopped clock, sometimes a glimmer of sense emerges. And, when you think about it, having the moniker of Energy Security Board (ESB) suggests that it is the most likely of climate organisations to employ one or two fifth columnists; i.e., people interested in keeping the lights on. And, as you would expect, any such treachery earns the ire of true believers.

How many Australians does it take to screw up an electric lightbulb?

The ESB is charged with telling a council of federal and state energy minsters (total nine) how to move to renewables while keeping the power affordable and flowing. Of course, it is an impossible task which is the reason its reports are so prolix and vague. How to wrestle with the irresolvable?

Answer, write many thousands of meaningless words, gobbledegook, complex convoluted sentences. Here are two at random from many hundreds. “Reforms are underway to refine frequency control arrangements, addressing the need for enhanced arrangements for primary frequency control and a new market for fast frequency response. [And] The ESB recommends the detailed design for a capacity mechanism that ‘unbundles’ the value for capacity from energy be developed over the next 12-18 months.”

I counted 664 pages of ESB reports since March 2019, including the three-part “final” report provided to the council of energy ministers in August this year. Alas, by the way, describing the three-part report as final is a wind-up. Much more to come. And a difficulty for the ESB is that it might have to get precise.

The ESB is chaired by Kerry Schott. It must be difficult for her, armed as she is with a doctorate from Oxford in pure mathematics. Some intellectual airhead would have been better suited to the job. He or she could have more easily glossed over the need for coal. Not Schott. She knows that coal power has to ramp up when the wind lulls and the sun dims; and that this is a problem for the economics of running coal-power stations. Her solution: coal-power stations might have to be paid for their capacity to deliver power not just for power they deliver. Otherwise, no coal power and inevitable blackouts; at least until the dawning of la-la land, when renewables come of age.

Imagine the angst this solution - so-called “coalkeeper” subsidies – has caused true believers. See, for example, here, here and here. Subsidising coal! Heresy afoot. But real, not imaginary, life gave Schott no option. Coal is being driven out of business by the economics of providing power at a profitable rate only when the heavily subsidised wind turbines stop turning. And stop turning they often do.

My friend Rafe Champion, who keeps watch on these things, reported another failure at breakfast time on Sunday September 5 in the states of South Australia (SA) and Victoria (Vic). Wind was delivering only 25 percent of its capacity in SA and 30 percent in Vic. I mention this instance because wind delivers much less power than this at times, and demand on Sunday mornings is relatively subdued. Yet, both SA and Vic needed to import power from other states – sourced from hydro and coal. What about when coal is gone?

Don't worry, bro, it happens to everybody.

Reports from the U.K. and Europe in the first half of September tell the same tale. “Energy prices have spiked to a record high in Britain after calm weather shut down the country’s wind turbines… Wholesale power costs surged to more than four times their normal level, forcing officials to fire up coal-based plants to handle demand.” [And] “Energy prices in Europe hit records as the wind stops blowing.”

Those in the ESB and in like organisations in every western country know that wind won’t work. What to do? Ms Schott and her ilk can’t say it can’t be done or let’s go nuclear. They’d lose their gigs and be replaced with others of more compliant dispositions. So, in addition to being wordy, they separate the future into the short and longer term. In the short term; thank goodness for coal. In the longer term, technology turns up Micawberesque to save the day. To wit:

A successful transition would see the right mix of resources, on the demand side and supply side, incentivised into the energy market which maintains reliability while minimising consumer costs. That mix will likely include new and evolved technologies which may require refinements to market arrangements.

In the meantime, coal power is being driven out of any future, and our enjoyment of a ready and affordable supply of electricity, the indispensable staff of modern life, is being thrown to the tender mercies of the fickle forces of nature.

It's Not About the 'Climate,' Stupid

A series of interrelationships exists in the world of the Klimate Kult believers that needs to be understood to grasp what is going on and the impact it has on the future. These relationships aren’t about the climate. Look at Nordstream2. Germany, a country American taxpayers have been paying to defend from Russia (and its socialist (i.e. “failed”) predecessor, the USSR) for 76 years decided to buy natural gas from Russia instead of America. Why?

Why not?

As Bastiat notes in The Law (pp 9-10), “When they can, [people] wish to live and prosper at the expense of others.” Germans want stuff but want neither to make it nor make the energy necessary to make it, nor bear and raise and educate the children who would be required to make it (or create the energy) in a future they don’t believe in enough to populate, having among the lowest Total Fertility Rates on the planet: it’s just too much work.

Listen to Freddy.

But to pretend that Germans are making any of their decisions not to frack, not to nuke, but to support the fantasy of “climate change” is ignorant.

That any energy purchased from Russia will be dirtier under a regime bound by no environmental laws or regulations, than energy extracted in Germany or the U.S. under very strict regulations, belies any professed “concern” about the planet. Choosing Nordstream2 is choosing against the climate. Germans aren’t stupid; they know this.

Can Germany create any amount of energy they need for manufacturing, heating, transportation, etc., without adding to "greenhouse gases"? Sure. Build nuclear power plants; zero GHG. Can they frack their own natural gas? Sure. But that would be work, require having children to keep doing it, and that’s harder than just buying it. So they buy it. They’ve made a make-buy decision and bought from their preferred supplier.

America can pretend that Germany ought to buy from us because we defend them – as though Germans owe us for American taxpayers voluntarily paying for their welfare state for 75 years by funding their defense – but it’s just pretense. The first priority of any government is defense of its borders and people; money is fungible – we’re paying for their welfare state. Or Americans can think Germans buy from Russians for political reasons. It doesn’t matter. Buying dirty energy is buying dirty energy – and that’s the decision Germans have made.

Who loses in this exchange? American workers. Germans should care about American workers, because…? And, of course, the planet - at least that's what the Klimateers demand you believe.

Germans know American taxpayers will keep defending them and their barren future (why?), regardless of their Nordstream2 decision – so why pay more than they must? It’s not as though the American Military-Industrial Complex will give up their best gig to continue to have those same taxpayers funding the defense of all of Europe’s welfare states, and buy the haven’t-won-a-war-in-decades-military new toys, get promoted, and travel, right? What’s the downside for Germany? None.

Therefore it’s not about the climate. It’s about Bastiat. And lazy voters.

Sunset in California.

Look at California. By refusing to drill their own oil or frack their own natural gas or build their own nuclear plants, they are instead counting on oil from other countries (their voters doing their best to ensure no energy is extracted domestically… in any State), resulting in, as with the Germans and Nordstream2, dirtier energy.

California, too, has below-replacement fertility (all Blue States do), illiterate immigrants sweeping the streets and nannying their (few) children, and a desire to buy from others rather than make things themselves. California won’t even house its population let alone require it to work to buy stuff. It has the highest poverty rate in America and a third of the nation’s welfare recipients… buying stuff with other people’s money. Your money.

Which is why China. Americans would rather buy than make; it’s why our factories are all in China now, using dirtier energy for manufacturing, transporting workers, feeding workers, etc. It’s why we import illegal aliens. We’d rather buy stuff from illegals – street sweeping, gardening, babysitting – than do the work ourselves. If we left our jobs here (and foreigners there), stuff might cost more, but our own standard of living would rise making stuff affordable – and providing jobs and energy for our own future. The idea America can be a First World country and not pay First World wages is so crazy even a fifth-grader would get it. Our elites get it, but destroying the Middle Class is their goal, not maintaining a prosperous nation.

Our entire welfare state is built on Bastiat – large portions of the working-age population would rather buy stuff with your tax dollars than buy them with the output of their own work. Since these people also vote, our politicians compete for their votes by allowing them to work less and buy more.

By rejecting energy extraction and creation domestically, we dirty the world by buying energy from the Third World that we refuse to extract or make here. And by exporting our jobs to China, we enable China to build large numbers of coal-fired power plants, consuming millions of tons of coal (54 percent of global consumption), creating zillions of tons of GHG (27 percent of the entire planet’s; more than twice the USA’s 11 percent)… all to make what we refuse to make here with cleaner – far cleaner – energy via extraction industries regulated far more heavily, and under a government that has reduced greenhouse gases faster than required by a Paris climate treaty that China isn’t following.

If you want a dirty world, export jobs to China so that everything is built with coal-based energy. If you want a clean world, onshore jobs and close the border and build nuclear power plants.

None of this is about the climate.

Sure, the useful idiots in the streets think it is, the low-info voters think it is. It’s about Make vs Buy, and our elites would rather have us buy our bread and circuses – regardless of the cost to the climate and our living standards – than to make our own stuff and demand the liberty to do with the fruits of our labor as we see fit.

Every decision made by the KlimateKult establishment (and their low-info voters) creates a dirtier planet: Oil from Nigeria, Russia, Mexico, Iraq, Kuwait, no nukes, offshoring jobs to coal-based energy nations, encouraging illegal immigration and the welfare state voters who vote to support the establishment dirtying the planet … rather than encouraging work and higher wages – and the always-present greater environmental concerns of richer nations – by ending illegal immigration.

None of this is about the climate.

In Locked-Down Australia, Bad News Good, Good News Bad

Disdain for the progressive media cuts me off from 95 percent and more of news commentary. Luckily, from very little that’s true or uplifting. How do I know, you might ask, if I don’t read or watch it? Well, I have to admit to occasionally refreshing my disdain.

Living in the hermit kingdom of Sydney under yet another dystopian Covid stay-at-home order, replete with troops on the streets, I had time on my hands and switched idly from watching Fox News to BBC World News. As it happened, the presenter was interviewing Professor John Thwaites, chair of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute and of Climate Works Australia; a professional climate alarmistWhy was Thwaites being interviewed? Basically, to add to the gloating about Australia earning a wooden spoon; having been awarded last place in taking “climate action,” according to a U.N. sponsored report.

Notice something about those alarmed by the impending climate catastrophe. They get immeasurable sanctimonious pleasure from bad news. Whether it is bush fires, hurricanes, droughts, floods, etc.; or, as I will come to later, coral bleaching. Bad news is good news for them.

A face only a mother could love: NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

The report, issued by a bunch of economists calling themselves Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), evaluated the “sustainable development” performance of almost 200 countries across 17 categories; climate action being one of the categories. Oh yes, I should mention, Thwaites is one of the co-chairs of a council overseeing the work of SDSN.

Climate action, we are informed by SDSN, is judged on four criteria: CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production; CO2 emissions embodied in imports and, separately, in exports; and progress in implementing carbon pricing. Being the second largest coal exporter obviously didn’t do Australia any favours. At the same time, I can’t work out how Australia managed to beat Indonesia, the exporter of the largest amount of coal, and China, the builder of most new coal-power stations, into last place.

Last in terms of taking climate action, really? Those disquieting reports of wind and solar farms being built across the Australian landscape must be gross exaggerations. I looked at some numbers. To wit, per capita generation of electricity from wind plus sun in 2020. Lo and behold, Australia (1584 KWH) outdid the USA (1421 KWH), the UK (1284 KWH), Canada (1006 KWH) and China (505 KWH). I’m beginning to feel aggrieved that our magnificent achievement in erecting ugly, inefficient and intermittent energy totems is not being sufficiently appreciated.

I think the U.N. and their hangers-on have it in for Australia because we won’t agree to go along with the globally-woke in-crowd and voice commitment to zero-net emissions by 2050. My advice to Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, is to just say it. You know you want to but for those few pesky conservatives still clinging on in your party room. And, best of all, you don’t have to mean it, nobody else does. Nobody else has a clue about how to get there either.

Morrison: good thing he's a "conservative."

Coming last on climate action was compounded by more bad news. Or, was it? And then there was relief from good news. Or, was it? Again, it all depends on your point of view.

UNESCO threatened to declare the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) “in danger;” which would give this highly politicised and compromised organisation license to busy-body itself into Australia’s climate affairs. You might recall that Donald Trump sensibly withdrew the United States from UNESCO. Not a chance Australia will have the gumption to follow suit.

A first view was that China put UNESCO up to it. Australia is firmly in Xi Jinping’s bad books for wanting an inquiry into the Wuhan lab, among other wanton anti-Chinese provocations from another of America’s running dogs. Though it turns out that hypocritical oil and gas exporter, pipsqueak Norway (pop. 5½ million) was the principal party behind it.

Anyway, Australia’s marine scientists were overjoyed at this “bad news.” Nothing they would like better than the reef being declared in danger. After all, they have spent decades foreshadowing its imminent demise. Keeping the research funds coming depends on keeping the reef endangered.

Then just as things were going swimmingly, ill-timed “good news” from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). It reported an upsurge in coral on the reef. Whether it’s the Northern part of the reef (up 27 percent since 2018/19), Central (up 26 percent), or Southern (up 39 percent), it’s all on the up and up. And that indeed was “bad news” for marine scientists, coming shortly before UNESCO was to pronounce judgement. Sure enough, UNESCO backed off, for now.

Peter Ridd, former professor at James Cook University, and expert on the reef, averred that coral on parts of the GBR was at a “record level” (The Australian 23 July, paywalled). The real danger he said is that the coral, as a matter of normal course, will fall from this record level, providing a fresh pretext for alarmism. But then he’s an outcast. He criticised the quality of his colleagues’ scientific research on the reef in 2017; maintaining that the reef was robust and healthy. He was sacked in 2018. Toe the party line or be cancelled.

His case for unfair dismissal has now reached the Australian High Court and will be decided shortly. At stake is the free speech of a dwindling sub-species: academics wedded to evidence rather than to an activist agenda.

We're still all right, mate!

And, as for the evidence on the state of the GBR? It’s unequivocal. The reef’s blooming. Ridd has been proved right. Ergo, those who’ve been relentlessly propagating scare stories recanted? Wrong! They immediately went into face-saving mode. Some examples.

Coral reef scientist Susan Ward: “another heat wave could wipe away this good progress.” Marine scientists James Cook and Scott Heron: “signs of recovery should not distract from the underlying threat to the reef.” And here is chief executive of AIMS Paul Hardisty, no doubt feeling guilty about his organisation’s upbeat report: “There is some encouraging news in this report and another good year would continue the recovery process, but we also have to accept the increasing risk of marine heatwaves that can lead to coral bleaching and the need for the world to reduce carbon emissions.”

There it is. When bad news is good news and good news bad. This is the perverted worldview I prefer not to have streamed into my living room, as I said at the start.

In London, the G7 vs. Humanity

The assembly of clowns, charlatans, and senile old men pretending to be President of the United States are about to deliver themselves of a malignant mouse and call it progress:

G7 leaders were on Sunday urged to take urgent action to secure the future of the planet, as they finalised new conservation and emissions targets to curb climate change, and wrapped up a three-day summit where revived Western unity has been on show.

Veteran environmentalist and broadcaster David Attenborough told the gathering of the world’s richest nations the natural world was “greatly diminished” and inequality was widespread. “The question science forces us to address specifically in 2021 is whether as a result of these intertwined facts we are on the verge of destabilising the entire planet?” he said.

“If that is so, then the decisions we make this decade — in particular the decisions made by the most economically advanced nations — are the most important in human history.”

With all due respect to Sir David, bunkum.

What's got into Boris Johnson? Apparently his brush with Covid-19 has permanently addled his pate and he is now all but indistinguishable from your average lefty climate nut. And don't be fooled by the "building back greener" trope -- if "green energy" were real, we'd have been using it long since. Instead, it's just more toffish nonsense from the Davos crowd, part of the Great Reset they have in store for us.

Enjoy your friend green cicada and bat-butt soup while you have the chance -- things will get much, much worse.

 

The Pot Calling the Anthracite Black

What a dilemma for the flower children! A recent study has determined that "legal cannabis production in Colorado emits more greenhouse gases than the state’s coal mining industry."

Hailey Summers and her colleagues at Colorado State University have quantified and analysed the greenhouse gas emissions produced by cannabis growers. They found that emissions varied widely by state, from 2.3 to 5.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per kilogram of dried flower produced. In Colorado, the emissions add up to around 2.6 megatonnes of CO2e, which is more than that from the state’s coal mining at 1.8 megatonnes of CO2e. “The emissions that come from growing 1 ounce [of cannabis] ... is about the same as burning 7 to 16 gallons of gasoline,” says Summers.

Environmentalists have no qualms about calling for the destruction of whole industries for even the remotest potential environmental benefit, but something tells me that they will allow the burgeoning legal pot regime off without even a slap on the wrist. It's a hot industry right now -- a researcher for the above mentioned study points out that "the profit margins [for legal cannabis] are so huge that you don’t have to be making super energy-conscious decisions” -- and it wouldn't be surprising to find that a lot of the people who pump money into radical environmentalism are also heavily invested in pot.

Making green from green for green, you might say.

There might be another cost/benefit calculation to their reefer madness of course. After all, without legions of stupefied youths, would the environmentalist movement exist at all?

John Kerry in La-La-Land

"Climate czar" John Kerry made a particularly tin-eared comment recently which demonstrated how ignorant liberals are about the world outside of their utopian fantasies. Kerry was asked what he would say to oil and gas workers who would "see an end to their livelihoods" should the Biden administration's climate agenda be fully implemented. He responded, "What President Biden wants to do is make sure that those folks have better choices... That they can be the people to go to work to make the solar panels."

This was justly mocked as a modern-day rendering of the apocryphal Marie Antoinette quote, "Let them eat cake." But it's worth noting that there's something more shocking about Kerry's blockheadedness. Does he really not know how ridiculous it is that Green Energy jobs could replace the natural resource ones he wants to disappear?

The U.S. government subsidizes wind and solar power to the tune of $7 billion per year to make it even somewhat competitive with traditional energy sources. Even if the Biden administration doubled that, so-called renewables wouldn't come close to filling the gaping hole left by lost oil and gas jobs. In an editorial about green jobs, the New York Post offers a relevant anecdote:

[Andrew] Cuomo spent $950 million in public money to put up a solar plant in Buffalo. The first tenant, SolarCity, went bust; Elon Musk had to have Tesla take SolarCity over. Panasonic was lured in to help Tesla make a go of the plant, only to flee a year ago. With nearly a billion bucks down the drain, the project has never come close to offering the jobs once promised for it.

Pouring money into renewables isn't going to create the jobs they claim it will, and certainly not in Appalachia or the Rust Belt, which would be hit hard by a fracking ban.

It's worth noting that 70 percent of the world's solar panels are manufactured in China, and that isn't going to change anytime soon. Meanwhile, China's preferred power source is carbon-intensive coal. In fact, China's new coal-fired energy capacity in 2020 outstripped the rest of the world by 300 percent.

Which is to say, whatever his intentions, Kerry's energy preferences don't amount to blue collar job creation, but to increased American investment in Chinese renewables in order to subsidize China's addiction to coal. Maybe if he came down off his private jet for awhile he'd realize how crazy that is.

Toyota Chief on Electric Cars: Slow Down!

The Observer reports on some very striking comments by Toyota Motor Corporation president Akio Toyoda, on the topic of Electric Vehicles. EVs are hot right now, with the automotive industry investing heavily in them, and governments throughout the world (prominently, as The Observer mentions, those of Great Britain and California) looking to aid their development by banning the sale of gasoline and diesel engines in the not-too-distant future.

But Mr. Toyoda is not convinced that they are the answer. At a recent press conference, he pointed out a few problems with the projected shift to EVs. First, he claimed that “the current business model of the car industry is going to collapse" if the industry shifts to EVs too quickly. No word on whether he thinks that the oft-discussed 10-15 year timeline put forward by activists in and out of government falls into that category, but it wouldn't be surprising if that is exactly what he had in mind.

Next, he pointed out that "Japan [for one] would run out of electricity in the summer if all cars were running on electric power." There just isn't enough electricity to go around, especially with battery technology being what it is. He estimated that "the infrastructure needed to support a 100 percent EV fleet would cost Japan between 14 trillion and 37 trillion yen ($135 billion to $358 billion)," a hefty percentage of GDP for a famously stagnant economy like Japan's.

Worth noting that it is a lot cheaper to generate the electricity a given vehicle needs on site -- that is, within the vehicle itself, as a gasoline powered combustion engine does -- than producing it elsewhere and transporting to the car.

And, following up on that point, he called attention to the fact that "most of the country’s electricity is generated by burning coal and natural gas, anyway," so the stated goal of leaving fossil fuels behind by shifting to EVs isn't going to happen. In his words:

The more EVs we build, the worse carbon dioxide gets… When politicians are out there saying, ‘Let’s get rid of all cars using gasoline,’ do they understand this?

Unfortunately the answer to that question is probably "No," both for the politicians and the propagandists in the media.