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December 08th 2016 print

Alan Moran

The Wind Has Changed

Problem is, the Turnbull government hasn't noticed that president-elect Trump is about to knock the well-funded wheels off the global alarmism industry, as his cabinet picks confirm. Instead, we're told to lie back, think of Paris and make our own green rent-seekers so much richer

broken turbineForeign Minister Julie Bishop illustrates the total lack of awareness of how the world has changed, having just reaffirmed Australia’s support for the disastrous Paris Climate Accord at the same time that US president-elect Donald Trump underlined his determination to destroy it by appointing Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the EPA.  Among the many accolades for this choice is the damning opposition of the left-leaning Politico website. Progressively, the Trump appointments are demonstrating how he intends to unwind the economy-stifling green excesses of the Obama and previous administrations.

In the climate field the next target is NASA. Who can forget how warmist pin-up scientist Brian Cox was allowed to show a NASA doctored temperature map in a Q&A gotcha moment designed to humiliate Senator Malcolm Roberts (presently in Washington at a meeting with Myron Ebell, who heads up Trump’s EPA transition team.) Gavin Schmidt, who has inherited the much-arrested catastropharian James Hansen in heading the climate-alarmist branch of NASA and has warned off Trump. Fat chance!

The action on the EPA adds to the targeting of NASA. Bob Walker, a former congressman and Trump’s space policy adviser, said he would like to shrink NASA’s Earth-monitoring programs. “We see NASA in an exploration role, in deep space research,” he said. “Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies, where it is their prime mission.” An irony of history is that NASA acquired its responsibility for monitoring the atmosphere in 1985 under President Reagan.

One area of NASA that is unimpeachable is the global temperature satellite-based recordings of the UAH at Alabama by Dr Roy Spencer.  These show a persistent undershooting  (below) of the temperature compared to modellers’ forecasts.

moran chart 1Back in 1991, we only had 11 years of evidence from satellite measurements of the lower troposphere (the area where the warming picture would be most readily seen). At that stage a US friend, a professor of meteorology, commented to me: “Don’t knock this global warming crap!  It allows me to travel the world in comfort and to double my salary while doing consultancy work. And year by year the satellite data will come in so that, about when I am considering retirement in a dozen years’ time, the myth will be utterly discredited.”

My American friend was, of course, right about the data discrediting the myth, but he misunderstood the impetus being unleashed from scientists, environmental activists and subsidy-seeking industrialists. Climate modellers refuse to learn from 37 years of data on climate outcomes, persisting with forecasts (amplified by their theoretical treatment of water vapour) that serve their own careers rather than scientific truth. In 1991, the issue was little more than a glint in the eye of the more science-oriented politicians — people like our own Science Minister Barry Jones.

It would be another six years before the first and hesitant regulatory steps were taken, with John Howard announcing a “target of an additional 2% of electricity to be sourced from renewable sources by 2010”.  The ambiguous tone was swiftly reinterpreted and became quantified as 9,500 GWhs, a staging post to the current objective of subsidies to achieve 33,000 GWhs of large-scale generating capacity, plus perhaps 12,000 GWHs from roof tops. Current programs cost Australian consumers and taxpayers $5 billion a year, a staggeringly wasteful sum that grows larger as delusional policy is soldd as being in the country’s best interests.

The issue is being heightened in Australia ahead of next week’s meeting of energy ministers.  This has been preceded by the release of the Terms of Reference into the post 2020 Climate Review.  Mr Turnbull, having been forced by a backbench revolt, to abandon this as a catalyst for his renewed push for a carbon tax placed the blame for raising it on Josh Frydenberg, in the process cruelling the prospects of a possible leadership contender.  Following the backdown, South Australia is threatening to go it alone with renewables and a carbon tax – the latest power outage shows how well that would go!

Ministers at next week’s meeting will hear from the team the PM assembled under Chief Scientist Alan Finkel (“We are losing the battle against climate change”) to examine the national electricity market.  None of the team has experience in the key issue: the effect of intermittent wind energy on the wholesale market and its implications for transmission spending.  Ministers will likely get another Magic pudding-style variation of the energy intensity tax that Turnbull was forced to disown.  The variation that the Finkel group will offer aims to conjure the outcome of that tax as reduced energy costs, improved environmental outcomes, and a more hospitable world for investment.  Such outcomes do not pass the smell test. Sadly, gullibility is not in short supply, so that the mistake of heeding interested parties, such as the Grattan Institute and Frontier Economics, is persuasive. For an example, see the Australian Financial review, which has already been suckered into accepting the bogus logic.

Magic puddings abound in the energy space.  Only yesterday a paper prepared by our own CSIRO was published.  It was choker-block with assumptions.  CSIRO Chief Economist Energy, Paul Graham, said that “$16 billion in network expenditure could be saved by 2050 if the grid buys support services from customers with onsite resources”.  According to the report, shifting to 100% renewables by 2050 would mean:

  • $414 annual saving in average household electricity bills (compared with roadmap counterfactual, business as usual, pathway)
  • A medium family which cannot take up distributed energy resources is over $600 p.a. better off through removal of cross-subsidies

The paper has the usual array of fanciful wavy lines just to prove it has been honest and diligent.

moran chart sub IILike NASA, CSIRO has become highly politicised over the years.  At one stage in the Rudd Gillard era, science commentator Tom Quirk estimated that half the agency’s resources were directly and indirectly associated with the climate change issue.  With the election of the Abbott government, this share fell — though perhaps only because programs were re-badged.

The latest post-2020 energy policy review shows we are little advanced in restoring the energy market to the highly competitive one that offered contracts at $40 per GWh before ministerial interventions destroyed investment confidence and forced the replacement of cheap, reliable coal by wind. Energy contracts are now priced at over $100 in South Australia and $80 in Queensland. It appears that it will be some time before the unravelling of this, commencing with the government taking Senator Cory Bernardi’s advice and withdrawing from the doomed Paris Agreement, and removing all subsidies and spending on the carbon caper.

Alan Moran runs the website Regulation Economics

Comments [15]

  1. Jody says:

    Right off the top of my head I cannot remember any serious government policy ever being formulated in a climate of panic and hysteria. If anybody can remember one please let us all know. Even two World Wars were carefully considered by heads cooler than our own. And I use the word ‘cooler’ ironically.

  2. ianl says:

    Jody

    The advent of NASA and subsequent successes in satellites, moon landings and even more thrilling, the little robot men crawling over Mars and sending back unparalleled data, started in utter panic after the Soviet sputniks went up. Fear of nuclear weapons being delivered from unstoppable satellite technologies caused so much desperate angst in the US Govt that NASA and associated appendages were given pretty much blank cheques for decades.

    • Jody says:

      So, you’re suggesting that the Cold War and the Star Wars technology are interconnected. But the Bay of Pigs nearly did end in disaster for the western world, and the Cold War had been heating up (cough) since the early 1950s. So, it was hardly spontaneous and febrile thinking of defensive strategies for nuclear holocaust.

      • ianl says:

        You’re evading the point, I fear, and verging on straw men (the Star Wars extravaganza was several decades later – initial panic had long evaporated by then). The unexpected arrival of the sputniks in the 1950′s kick-started the space race, with the US fearful and panicky of vulnerability there. That the Cold War had already started in Berlin at the end of WW2 was backdrop to this.

        The Americans were startled out of their technological comfort zone by the sputniks. They were nowhere near being able to match the Soviet satellite technology and even rushed into mass alterations of maths and science teaching in the high schools and universities. Countless $millions were spent – some of it worked. We all use GPS now; people did indeed walk around the moon; I had the mind-blowing (to me) opportunity to examine first-hand rock specimens retrieved from the lunar surface; little robots crawled over parts of Mars for some years.

        So this is an example of governmental panic spending that actually had some good outcomes. My point is that such examples are sparse indeed. It is much easier to list all the stuff-ups – that list is way longer too. One may even suggest that the good outcomes from initial 1950′s panic funding of NASA were serendipity … I regard it so. But I regard R&D as only ever having one guaranteed result – whatever you find will not be what you expected.

        • Jody says:

          I see your point; I was thinking more about the technology of warfare rather than space exploration. But I would think ‘rushing through mass alterations of maths and science’ would have had at least few years lag time. Conversely, everybody over-reacted to Al Gore’s documentary and the panic that ensued was immediate and on steroids.

        • pgang says:

          Panic spending. Well I guess that’s one very odd way of putting it.

      • gardner.peter.d says:

        As it happens I was working in strategic intelligence in the 1980s. Star Wars arose directly from the Cold War and was in principle capable of unbalancing MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction. It was de-stabilising but it raised the cost of nuclear deterrence to the point at which the Soviet response broke Communist Russia and ended the Cold War. It was highly controversial and I guess the wisdom of Star Wars is still debatable, simply because nuclear war itself remains a theory. When I first entered this field I was surprised at how much information was exchanged between USA/UK and Communist Russia. It was very important that each side was convinced of the credibility of a second strike capability, if they weren’t then a first strike could become a feasible option. Star Wars ostensibly, although the technical capability was not entirely proven, afforded protection against first and second strikes thus destabilising the entire strategic balance.

  3. Bill Martin says:

    It boggles the rational mind seeing so many ostensibly intelligent, reasonable people held hopelessly captive by the CAGW mythology. One can understand that it is fabulously lucrative for some to pay homage to the creed regardless of conviction but there must surely be armies of those who simply believe in the creed. They must surely be of the same ilk as religious fanatics – fundamentalist Muslims come readily to mind – for whom even the thought of seeking proof is dastardly heresy, prompting them to categories all disagreement as dangerous to humanity which should be legally punishable. It is a trite old saying but for ever true: “None is as blind as the one who wouldn’t see.”

    • Lawrie Ayres says:

      You only have to witness the violent way the true believers react to heretics to people like Malcolm Roberts, Christopher Moncton, Roger Pielke Jnr or Judith Curry. When venues are refused because the owner cannot guarantee safety due to threats of violence you know the believers are angry. Angry because someone challenges their belief or that others might hear an alternate view. Climate Change is really a religion and it is being found to be based on a lie and the adherents can’t handle the truth.

      The GBR is doomed say scientists, just this morning, due to bleaching. In the past 200 million years the GBR has never been bleached these goons are saying. There is one positive in all this; anyone can get a PhD these days. They are as common as dog excreta and about as valuable.

  4. Bran Dee says:

    Trump is the difference. Soon our conservative government will get some spine.

    • Jody says:

      Time magazine “Person of the Year”, complete with the letter “M” over his head making him look like a devil – and the Divided States of America written below his picture. Even Hitler got an objective “Man of the Year” front cover!!!!

  5. pgang says:

    Ah, Bernardi trying to be the hero once again. Where is his cape? Perhaps it’s in lost luggage after his latest junket.

  6. Ian MacDougall says:


    Problem is, the Turnbull government hasn’t noticed that president-elect Trump is about to knock the well-funded wheels off the global alarmism industry, as his cabinet picks confirm. Instead, we’re told to lie back, think of Paris and make our own green rent-seekers so much richer

    But an even greater problem is that the election of an outstanding climate ostrich (and real estate speculator) to be US President has not altered the laws of physics and chemistry: not by one skerrick of one iota.

    Sea levels continue to rise, showing what is really happening in the heat balance of the planet.
    CU: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    AVISO: 3.3 ± 0.6 mm/yr
    CSIRO: 3.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    NASA GSFC: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr
    NOAA: 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr (w/ GIA)

    So perhaps the text above should be:


    Problem is, the Turnbull government hasn’t noticed that president-elect Trump is NOT about to knock the extremely well-funded wheels off the global fossil carbon industry….

    Nor has the election of Trump altered the scientific consensus on the role of CO2 and the other GHGs in warming the planet. Said warming has been quite unintentional no doubt, but no sooner said than rationalised and explained away after the fact by the usual chorus of fossil-carbon shills.

    http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

    • Lawrie Ayres says:

      A consensus is not the same as proof. There was consensus that Lindy Chamberlain was guilty of murder but there was no proof. She was finally acquitted. There is absolutely no proof that CO2 is to blame for recent warming. There is more proof that changes in sun spot activity affects our temperature more so than CO2 emissions. After all CO2 concentration has risen by 50 ppm whilst temperatures have remained constant. Meanwhile the sun was very active during the 80s and 90s but has now quieted to the extent a minimum is being predicted. Temperatures may fall then what will the learned PhDs say?

    • gardner.peter.d says:

      Perhaps there is more to it than we understand at present: A decade of sea level rise slowed by climate-driven hydrology http://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6274/699