It must be the weather. As heatwaves and blackouts produce recriminations on Capitol Hill, the lamentation of climate alarmists becomes ever more shrill. An anxious chorus of atmospheric Jeremiahs and green rent-seekers seems more determined than ever to spin any meteorological “event” as a harbinger of doom. With apocalyptic angst again reaching dangerous levels, expect more cases of “climate fatigue”.
A worrying new syndrome also has emerged: renewable energy trauma (RET). Expect more rhetoric about “energy security” as the bi-partisan renewable energy monster further cannibalises itself; increasing retail prices, penalising “liable entities” (energy retailers), driving coal-fired power generators out of the market and destabilising grids in the process. Yet any roll-back or termination of this flawed policy experiment seems unlikely, especially if a legal liability time-bomb lurks somewhere in this new class of property rights.
Midsummer madness: foolish or reckless behaviour, considered to be at its height at midsummer; acronym: MM. Includes (i) prognosticating wildly about complex natural systems in a state of constant change, such as a planet’s climate, and believing one’s pseudo-predictions; (ii) legally requiring an entity to acquire in the future something that does not exist in the present, such as a specific amount of renewable energy; (iii) using public funds to try to ensure its existence by a specific date, whatever the cost; and (iv) ignoring compelling evidence undermining the legitimacy of the whole exercise. (Summer is the period from 21/22 December to 20/21 March, based on the astronomical calendar.)
To kick off the MM season, Canberra recently hosted a four-day conference: “Australasian weather, climate and oceans: past, present and future“. The mood was not cheerful. (See Joanne Nova here.) Our “best climate brains” are “fed up, sad and frustrated, as extreme weather becomes the new norm,” reported Weatherzone’s Ridley Stuart.
Arch warmist Dr Andrew Glikson: “There’s definitely what you would call ‘climate fatigue’ on the part of scientists. There’s a fatigue when it comes to arguing in public. It’s definitely a concern. There are people who don’t think in scientific terms and don’t want to accept the basic laws of nature, or have some vested interest. Yet it just hits you what we’re doing to our planet.”
Another attendee with a “heavy heart” was ANU climate scientist, Professor Will Steffen. In the last talk of the conference he stole much thunder by launching the Anthropocene Equation. A brave attempt to quantify the unquantifiable, this intriguing construct was swallowed whole by the media.
At the ABC, The World Today’s Eleanor Hall assured listeners that the “new mathematical formula” showed clearly that humans are driving global warming 170 times faster than natural forces. This news came courtesy of scientists in Australia and Sweden who have assesed “the impact of human activity on the climate, and compare[d] it to events such as volcanic eruptions and changes to the planet’s orbit.”
Tony Thomas: The Climate Cult’s Blackout Brigade
A sevenfold increase in global human biomass in the past two centuries -the more than seven billion people who today occupy the planet — clearly has affected local and regional environments. It seems perversely anthropocentric, however, to put such a precise number on it. Can one quantify nebulous concepts? Here’s how it’s done.
Catastropharian Will Steffen: We have estimates of how temperature has shifted through the Holocene … And climate was shifting very, very slightly to a cooler state at about one hundredth of a degree per century. But since 1970, temperature has been rising at a rate of about 1.7 degrees per century, and when you compare those two, since the 1970s, the climate has been changing at a rate 170 times faster than that long-term background rate.
Walter Stark, a regular contributor to Quadrant Online, has a different perspective.
That this kind of wild speculation dressed up in pseudo-scientific sophistry can be authored by persons widely deemed to be leading experts, be approved by peer review, published in a respected academic journal and broadly accepted as serious science would seem to be surreal nonsense were it not in fact actually happening. Even more bizarre is the fact that while polls indicate that a majority of the public now consider the threat of catastrophic climate change to be untrue or exaggerated, most politicians appear to remain committed to engaging in some kind of hugely expensive measures to “do something about” this phantasmagorical danger.
Summer Downunder also has attracted two high-profile US climate worriers. Hear the collective sigh of relief from paid-up members of the Canberra Carbon Cargo Cult Club (CCCCC) and folk down at the Clean Energy Regulator and Climate Change Authority. Mr Bob Inglis, a lawyer and former Republican congressman from South Carolina, is one of them. Described as a devout Christian by New Daily’s Quentin Dempster, he “instinctively rejected Al Gore’s prognosis about catastrophic climate change until one of his five children suggested he clean up his act.”
Another climate-epiphany came on a visit to Antarctica with a congressional committee. The “increasingly infectious” carbon dioxide bubbles from the past two centuries” he saw in ice cores were a revelation, but increasing sea ice around the continent left him cold. Mr Inglis now feels all so-called “extreme weather events” are the direct result of escalating concentrations of the gas. As a believer in God, one has a “responsibility to nurture all life on the planet, and not threaten its survival”, he said.
Hence Mr Inglis has established republicEn.org to promote a cumulative carbon [dioxide] tax in the US, starting at US$40 a tonne. Several veteran Republicans from the Climate Leadership Council reportedly have joined up, including James Baker, Henry Paulson, George Shultz, Marty Feldstein and Greg Mankiw.
Mr Inglis will address the National Press club on February 22. Perhaps there will be a question on recent public comments by US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who defended carbon dioxide in a recent keynote speech honouring Sir Winston Churchill (here). How could an invisible trace gas we exhale be a “pollutant”? But this is the national press we’re talking about, so don’t count on any queries that might run counter to the media’s catastropharian narrative.
The other visitor was Michael “I’m not a charlatan, seriously” Mann, the professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University whose so-called hockey stick graph landed him in hot water a few years ago. From Tina Perinotto’s breathless account (“…the Barrier Reef is almost gone”) for website The Fifth Estate to Fairfax Media’s reliably hysterical climate diddler Peter Hannam, such was the ecstasy of his admirers that one might almost hve thought the Messiah was gracing our shores our shores. Predictably, none mentioned Mark Steyn’s what-an-ignoble-piece-of-work-is-Mann, A Disgrace to the Profession, nor did they mentioned the defamation case slowly making its way through US courtroom.
Mann fan Tina Perinotto: Mann himself was stunning. Humble, quietly spoken, reserved, like the really superior minds among us are, and also mindful not to venture publicly into too many political no-fly zones, lest he provides more targets for those who lie in wait to down even more respect for science with their ballistic missiles.
If Mr Inglis has God on his side, Professor Mann had the weather on his during the workshop, organised by Professor Christopher Wright, University of Sydney Business School, and the Sydney Environment Institute.
Tina Perinotto (again): One of the world’s most respected climate scientists who has rankled the denialist industry more than most – and we know that because he’s received death threats –Mann was the star attraction. The tour came in the two weeks since Donald Trump took power and promised to destroy American leadership in climate action. Poignantly, as if to underscore what’s at stake, it was also amidst the increasingly vile weather punishing the country.
It was, alas, mostly bad news. Yet there emerged “a kind of solace and strength” in solidarity. Fortunately, academic Lesley Head was there to deal with the emotional side of climate change. “We don’t always have to be optimistic,” she said. “There is value in acknowledging grief, for it has its own work to do.”
“Lesley has a point,” gushed Perinotto. “The death spiral of the planet has started and no one yet knows how to bring it back. In addition, we have amongst us the enemy who are trying to actively stop us taking action.” But one person professes to have the answer. In his book, The Madhouse Effect, Professor Mann offers a solution that might save both the day and planet – a “giant sucking machine” (Chapter 7, page 126).
Michael Mann: If, however, after doing everything possible to reduce our carbon emissions, we still find ourselves in need of a stop-gap scheme to avert catastrophic climate change, carbon-sucking artificial trees may be the safest and most efficacious of all the available geoengineering schemes out there.
Wonders never cease in the climate space! The determination of climate modellers to get reality to dance to their tune knows no bounds. Consider, for example, this recent report in Nature:
At least 58 NZ glaciers advanced between 1983 and 2008, with the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers advancing nearly continuously during this period. While “unusual” on a global scale, the [report's] authors claimed it was “consistent with a climate system being modified by humans.
So global warming is making the world’s glaciers shrink — except when climate change makes things colder and they don’t. Intriguingly, the paper’s authors noted that alarmists’ chatter about vanishing ice rivers owed much to a preference for “using data interpolated from global measurements rather than from local observations.” (emphasis added)
While their reassessment “may seem to be a surprising result in light of the protracted [glacier] advances, it nevertheless “confirms that New Zealand glacier mass balance was affected by anthropogenic forcing since 1980.”
Astonishing stuff — or, rather, it would if academic warmists had not embraced inconsistency and error as their stock in trade. Nowwhere told that cooling is “consistent with” warming? Good Lord, they are a shameless bunch.
Meanwhile, while glaciers grow and warmists sling their sophistries, the legislated bi-partisan magic-number target of 23% renewable energy remains on the books — that figure attainment requiring a 50% increase in the output of solar systems and wind farms in just three short years. Should they fail to make their mandated nut, energy retailers will be required by law to pay a shortfall charge of $65 per megawatt hour, thereby forcing up consumer prices yet again. Indeed, some are already paying the penalty because they are unable or unwilling to source more RE.
As Andrew Bolt explained last week, “any talk now of scrapping the target will just make that green investment shrivel even more. So the government is too scared to even speak the truth about the sheer uselessness and vandalism of its own renewable energy target.” If your business is obfuscation, this is a small price to pay for the chimera of “climate stability”, at least in the short-term.
Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg is now mooting a change to changing existing regulations to permit the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to fund construction of new “re-badged” high-efficiency, low-emission coal-fired power plants – presumably instead of more windmills. He said
We’re going to look at all our options because of the challenges that we face, namely to ensure energy security [and] energy affordability, as we transition to a low-emissions future. We’re looking at all our options because we’re intent on stabilising the system. Right now we need more baseload power. Our focus is on stabilising the system and not allowing a repeat of what happened in South Australia [with blackouts] to happen anywhere else in the country.”
Full speed ahead, then, to the promised land and a “low emissions future” – or bust.