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August 05th 2017 print

Peter Smith

The Burning Intolerance of Green Scolds

Rational analysis offers the hope that warmists and sceptics might find common ground were they to focus on cost-benefit analyses of "solutions" to greenhouse emissions. Nah, who am I kidding? Carpetbaggers living off public subsidies now control the agenda, so no hope there

coal burningBy the accident of mistakenly tuning in to the wrong channel I heard part of a speech on August 2 by Peter Freyberg to the British Australian Chamber of Commerce. Freyberg is the head of Glencore’s coal operations. You would expect that he likes coal and he evidently does. And presumably that would make him persona non grata among environmental types. Which is a pity because he had some sensible things to say.

When it came to the environment and climate change his message came down to the proposition: do you want to feel virtuous or be effective? At one point, he used the example of the most populous state in India which was building coal power stations to provide base-load power to millions upon millions of people now without electricity. He suggested that a lot more could be done too reduce emissions by redirecting subsidies bound for new wind farms towards building the most up-to-date and efficient (and, per force, most expensive) coal power stations in this Indian state. In other words, you would get more bang for your buck in terms of emission reductions per kilowatt hour.

I feel confident that he is right; though, of course, I don’t have the figures. However, right or not, he is whistling into the wind, so to speak. Carpetbaggers living off public subsidies now control the agenda. And behind the carpetbaggers are hordes of green-tinged know-nothings with ‘ban coal’ tee-shirts. Rational thinking doesn’t get a look in.

It is worth reading Return to Reason by Roger James, who applied Karl Popper’s thinking to explore government planning mistakes in the 1970s. What often happens he explains is that solutions morph into objectives. The solution becomes the goal. The goal becomes lost and sometimes is not even clearly formulated from the start. Among other things, this means that the emergence of more effective solutions to the original problem are not brought into consideration; and nor is the problem continually monitored to assess whether it remains in need of a different solution or of a solution at all.

Think of the PM’s Snowy Mountains (mark 2) power plan. Did this come out of a thorough analysis and identification of the problem and of the potential solutions? Not so far as I can tell. It is not hard to see the problem (a shortage of reliable base-load power) and its generic solution (increasing the supply of reliable cost-effective power) morphing into how do we get the new hydro project built.

Assume that anthropogenic CO2 emissions constitute a life-threatening problem, even if you don’t. The solution of reducing emissions has morphed into replacing fossil-fuel power with wind and sun. Now be brave and get into the mind of a greenie, like Al Gore perhaps, and listen to Freyberg.

While I don’t have a transcript of his speech, readers can check the fidelity of my account against the video of Freyberg’s address, thoughtfully posted on Friday at the website of the Australian British Chamber of Commerce. He says that wind and sun cannot provide the solution. He has figures which back his claim that, unless we go back to the Stone Age, wind and sun will not work. They are too expensive, too intermittent and too unreliable to supply base-load power to modern industrial and industrialising countries in quantities that will make a material difference to emissions.

And that Elon Musk mega-battery coming to South Australia? It would keep an aluminium smelter going for less than 8 minutes. Instructively, he further says, each precious public dollar spent on subsidising wind and sun power is a dollar that could have been better spent on increasing the efficiency and reducing the emissions of conventional power.

Just think a dollar spent on making coal power more efficient reduces CO2 more than a dollar spent on wind turbines. This is too much information of a contrary kind for Al Gore-types. You will find yourself shutting down and refusing to listen. You will suspect motives. You will don your trusty tee-shirt. You will put aside rationality and go back into the streets with like-minded simpletons. Where zealotry abides, slogans will trump considered thinking any day of the week.

Yet the key, as Roger James argues, is to keep a tight hold on the problem which requires a solution. One questioner of Freyberg asked whether a goal of reducing emissions cost-effectively couldn’t potentially bring both sides together. I honestly forget his answer, but I don’t remember him being optimistic. Neither am I.

What happened to Bjorn Lomborg’s plans to establish a climate policy centre in Australia is indicative of the other side’s intransigence. You either buy their whole narrative — man is responsible, renewables are the answer, fossil fuels and nuclear are bad — or you are blackballed and insulted to boot. This is a pity. There was room for compromise and accommodation provided the goal of most cost-effectively reducing emissions per kilowatt hour is kept upmost. Those like me who doubt the received scientific wisdom could have been dragged along without that much kicking and screaming.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Comments [30]

  1. Patrick McCauley says:

    Funny how the carpetbaggers spread their selfish greed like a virus – so that it grows at a compound interest rate faster and faster until whole towns and communities are corrupted and divided. The institutions insist that we believe in global warming under threat of banishment and make laws against old pensioners gathering fallen wood from the side of the road, to keep warm because they cannot afford the electricity bill. The same institutions insist that our children learn gender theory and be given every opportunity to be Gay or Transgender if they wish, some might say encouraged (by the State) to entertain romantic fetish beyond belief. What cosmic vanity is this – that we can turn the dials of the entire climate down in percentages of a degree … and change our sex at will like a chameleon. – yet we cannot get light to the poor nor feed the starving Africans, and we cannot cut wood to stay warm.

  2. Bill Martin says:

    The rational mind is utterly befuddled by the attitude of the climate alarmists. One can think of these possibilities to explain the phenomenon: some fundamental, religion-like belief in a tenet that bares no questioning; a very limited level of intelligence relying on the opinion of others; a vested interest in perpetuating the delusion; probably a combination of some or all of those in varying proportions.

    The resilience of the idiocy is both baffling and alarming. That resilience wouldn’t be, by any chance, the result of the generous financing by the Globalist Background Money Cabal – fronted nowadays by George Soros – advancing their agenda to destroy western civilisation which is the obstacle to the realisation of their ultimate dream of One World Government, under their exclusive “benevolent” control?

  3. whitelaughter says:

    The thought occurs that OZ was in the process of going over to renewable energy in the 1970s and 80s – by building hydroplants. Fearing the loss of the coal mining seats, Labor destroyed that excellent solution.
    But as renewables are proposed now, the coal mining seats remain complacent. Perhaps that indifference is because they know that wind and wave won’t work? If so, any reasonable plan will be immediately shut down by the same forces that prevented the Franklin dam.

  4. Egil says:

    Yes, The Greens are an absolute menace – totalitarians at heart.
    But;
    One valid point they do have.
    Our traditional sources of energy, mainly oil and coal, are not unlimited.
    Transform the planet’s age, 4.5 Billion years into a year and a second transforms into 140 odd years.
    That means that we really did not start using our planet’s slowly built up resources
    until 23.59.59pm on 31/12.
    We are okay right now, a second later, but what about 00.00.02am into the “New Year”?
    That would be in about the year 2300.
    Even the most optimistic would agree that, from what we know now about reserves anyway,
    things would be looking a bit grim by then…?
    Technology and innovation will probably come up with some solution for our great,great, great etc grandchildren.
    But writing off renewable energy sources, wind/sun, cannot be wise at this point in time.
    Unless you accept Bill Leak’s take on the matters at hand and conclude;
    “That will be the least of our problems.”

    • Homer Sapien says:

      “Technology and innovation….” would have to scrap the 2nd law of thermodynamics (the most stable of all) if you want the world to go on for that long, not even mentioning genetic entropy.

  5. Dallas Beaufort says:

    Ah, the chilling turning/tipping point, The Nimbies now recognise 40 years of mistaken green wash now turning up unaffordable results.

  6. Ian MacDougall says:

    Peter,

    Your beef is not with ‘Green Scolds’. It is with Nature. (nb, not the journal.)
    You don’t have to resort to conspiracy theories or notions of ‘evil greenies’ to explain all this. If you do so resort, you have not far to go before you are into stuff like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and all the consequences, political and otherwise, flowing from there. (Though I notice our friend Bill Martin has already arrived at that station.)

    Ultimately, your argument is against quantum physics, or if you like, God: both of whom have ordained that CO2 molecules in the air shall have the ability to turn the whole planetary atmosphere into the roof of a greenhouse.
    You are arguing that the only way we humans can survive is by via continuing business-as-usual; burning fossil carbon and thereby running down the Earth’s ability to deal with incoming radiant heat and to sustain life as we know it. Call it if you like The Venusian Terminus.
    It is not just the argument favoured by the barons of fossil carbon. It is also for the strategy attributed by the ancients to the ostrich for facing and coping with any given problem; though in reality the ostrich is far too smart a bird to bury its head in the sand, thinking ‘out of sight, out of existence’.
    (Links next post)

    • CarerP says:

      If you want to see the most comprehensive book on the energy/electricity debate(so called)that I have read have a look at “not for greens” by Ian Plimer.However if you belong to the Green Church don’t bother.

  7. en passant says:

    Peter,
    Ian MacBot, the QoL resident robot climate-denier troll is becoming ever more unbalanced. The cows and the Archangel Gabriel he converses with in his back paddock make more sense.

    MacBot never answers the questions posed to him about the destination he seeks, or the ‘right concentration of CO2, but presses on regardless repeating the same old mantra. Delusional!

    We have had a major tropical storm raging at our front door for the past two days, but I kept it at bay by keeping the panoramic plate glass door closed and the air conditioners permanently on (thank you to the giant coal-fired power station in Ba Ria). It is still raining, so I have not checked, but the sea appears to be where it has always been (and not in my living room) despite the largest waves I have evaaa seen here. Unprecedented since records began …
    Ho hum, I am still confident that my bet that the sea will not rise 1.5m to my front door by the end of the century is safe. Flim-Flannery made the same bet with his home on the Hawkesbury so I am in bad company.

    Ah, “the Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, the favourite anti-Semites handbook. Even Wikipedia declares it a forgery, but like global warming, alchemy, eugenics, zombies, phrenology, Ian MacBot & Global Warming (or whatever) and horoscopes it will not die.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Protocols_of_the_Elders_of_Zion

    “The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion is an antisemitic fabricated text purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination

    … despite having been exposed as fraudulent by The Times of London in 1921. It is still widely available today in numerous languages, in print and on the Internet, and continues to be presented by some proponents as a genuine document.”
    I have often advised the MacBot to seek professional help, but now realise he (or it) is beyond treatment.

    Best we just mock him and ignore his references. Can he explain:
    Venus = 97% CO2 – Hellfire is spades
    Mars = 96% CO2 – Hell frozen over. Best ignore the facts.

    Egil,
    Like you I lie awake worrying about running out of coal in 2300 (though more likely 2500).
    “We are okay right now, a second later, but what about 00.00.02am into the “New Year”? That would be in about the year 2300.”

    Try to get over it as barring a miracle I try not to worry about anything beyond about 2025 (at the latest) by which time it is likely that I will have claimed ‘a corner of a foreign field that is forever Australia’.
    If we have not solved the Thorium Fusion Reactor technology by then, then as a species we deserve to be replaced by AI robots. Now that would be a worry, were it not for the Stone Age Greens and the 7th Century death cults trying their best to reverse progress. Until then, I am happy to turn the coal-fired knob on the wall and select my preferred climate.

    • Jody says:

      A person who has an opposite opinion to yours is NOT A TROLL. Hurling insults is not now, nor ever was, ARGUMENT.

    • ianl says:

      > “MacBot never answers the questions posed to him …”

      Not only the resident trollster, but Sir David King, now retired Chief Science Advisor to the Blair UK Govt and prime urger that the hoi-polloi buy diesel ICU vehicles – a position he has now retreated from with an admission of 180o scientific failure, having observed the economic and environmental mayhem he was a major contributor to.

      http://www.bishop-hill.net/discussion/post/2667155

      Absolutely disgraceful. Power corrupts, without exception.

    • Egil says:

      The fact remains that we are using 4.5 billion years of built up finite resources in the ground, very very fast.
      Logically a replacement energy source will have to be found.
      Consequently supporting R&D in finding solutions makes sense.
      No, not losing any sleep over it.
      My opening paragraph should have given you a hint about that.
      May you enjoy your A/C even past 2025.

  8. Keith Kennelly says:

    Jody

    Watch this.

    Ian forever and a day you have been telling us rising sea levels are the ultimate proof of global warming.

    Right?

    That has been repeated ad nausum in this site for a couple of years now.

    Right?

    Ian the latest data form your oft quoted source NASA is now showing sea levels have been falling… for the past three years.

    Can you explain how sea levels are falling when you claim warming is causing the ice in the polar regions and glaciers to melt?

    Or are you going to claim the failing sea levels are now also a result of global warming, like, you know, like you said warming causes cold .

    • Ian MacDougall says:

      Jody:
      Also watch this:

      Keith:
      You might be cackling yourself silly…. (Frankly, it would not surprise me if you were.) But I have searched online for evidence (NB which I would welcome) that the observed sea level rise has gone into reverse: but to no avail. What appears to me to be the information that you may have seized on is a NASA study published about 18 months ago claiming that the rate of sea level rise has slowed, although the Earth’s one ocean is nonetheless still rising. NOTE: A slowdown in the rate of rise is not the same as the sea level falling.

      Feb. 12, 2016
      RELEASE 16-015
      NASA, University Study Shows Rising Seas Slowed by Increasing Water on Land
      New measurements from a NASA satellite have allowed researchers to identify and quantify, for the first time, how climate-driven increases of liquid water storage on land have affected the rate of sea level rise.
      A new study by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, and the University of California, Irvine, shows that while ice sheets and glaciers continue to melt, changes in weather and climate over the past decade have caused Earth’s continents to soak up and store an extra 3.2 trillion tons of water in soils, lakes and underground aquifers, temporarily slowing the rate of sea level rise by about 20 percent.

        • Keith Kennelly says:

          No Ian

          It’s a release of data not a warmers study justifying their belief. Just a simple release of data. I’m not surprised you can’t find it. It deals with irrefutabke fact.

          Keep looking Ian..

          It’s a release since president Donald Trump took over the reins and his appointees are demanding rigour in the releases from government agencies. NASA and NOAA included.

          No point in supplying us with old studies (instead of actual real data).

          We know how corrupt those agencies became under the global warmers.

          Jody

          See how derogatory without cause Ian became as soon as his claims were challenged.

          He’s just like the old deniers of the holicaust of the Jews.
          And a troll.

          • Ian MacDougall says:

            Firstly, I notice that Eyn Pyssant has abandoned his ‘Protocols’ gambit. A wise move on his part.
            The sea level data derived from satellite altimetry to be found at http://sealevel.colorado.edu/ shows that relative to the geographic centre of the Earth, the level of the Earth’s one ocean has been steadily rising, as the world’s glaciers and ice sheets slowly but steadily melt. Mainstream scientific opinion puts this down to the rise in atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide CO2, known to be a heat-trapping gas since at least the time of the chemist Svante Arrhenius: around 1900.
            The OSOC (Ostrich School of Climatology) maintains that this can be ignored and/or dismissed, or cannot possibly be happening: most likely IMHO because if it was, it would be bad for established business, and particularly the coal and fossil carbon business generally.
            One of the world’s leading ostrich climatologists is the US President, Donald Trump. Periodically, between sackings of staff and amid the general chaos of his White House, Ostrich Trump orders a purge of climatological and any other scientific data he finds disagreeable. (See the links at my next post. ) This appears to me to be what Keith is referring to.
            What Trump appears to want is a public opinion modelled on whatever pastache if ignorance and wilful blindness that is the inside of his own head.
            Those who hero-worship him do so at their own peril. He has a Stalinesque track record of insisting on total agreement from all his palace officials, family and associates. We see illustrated here two well-established principles:
            1. Power corrupts (Trump) and
            2. He who asks the questions or orders the search sits in the power chair (Eyn Pyssant; Keith Kennelly).

            I first realised the truth of the latter fact when I was about 7 years old.

  9. Keith Kennelly says:

    You know like the BOM pseudo scientists who tell us if you delete from the temperature data the lowest temperatures you won’t lower the average minimum temperatures.

    Why is that important you ask?

    Well Ian you see the BOM and the other crazies have been telling us, ad Infinitum that rising minimum temperatures are the most important proof the the earth is warming.

    Doh and they are blaming the gauges and not so smart smart cards.
    And they intend to investigate themselves

  10. White Dove says:

    Climate Change. Two words that can mean so many different things to different people. The way I understand these two words used together is that the climate is changing from what is was or has been and yet there is no indication in my lifetime that this is the case. Every day the weather is different. On this day, 6th August, 2017 it is cold and bleak, however come the 6th August 2018 it may be quite different. Sunny, but cold. Not one day is the same. The temperature is not hotter or colder and the seasons remain the same. If there was such a thing as climate change then surely the season would be at different times. My simple view of the world. When researching the family tree, Australia in 1885 to 1890 had periods of severe drought and then massive floods. Also heatwaves which resulted in the deaths of many new settlers. It has all happened before but not the same time period or even every 30years between events. In other words, nothing to do with man made influence but good old Mother Nature. And anyway, these people who think it is, should stop flying if they are serious, but no, I have to have less cows. How crazy is that. And how are they going to stop the volcano from erupting. Of course I am concerned that the rain forests of Brazil are being destroyed as I feel there is much to be learned from these forests and many plants that could be used in medicine. But that is getting off track. The climate change scare that we see today, my gut feeling is (can we still have those) that this is driven from greed. People are making money on the back of all these wind and solar power schemes. And I am not talking some money but millions. It is quite obvious to me who these people are and Governments are going along for the ride. President Trump, like him or loath him, his policies are a breath of fresh air. But the funniest thing is the batteries that are being built in South Australia. How stupid are people to believe that is going to work. Around 1950 my husband remembers that out in the bush on their small farm they had a diesel generator and the greatest new thing was batteries lined up to store power from this generator, however when his Mother turned on the electric iron, “poof” all the power was gone from the batteries. So she couldn’t iron unless the generator was working. How good is that. Best of luck South Australia. Now we have come full circle and have a diesel generator on our farm so that when the power goes out in Victoria (and it will go out) the meat we have in our freezers will be okay. What progress. Please someone in government listen and dismiss this crazy religion or call it what you like but we need to at least burn coal and have coal fire power stations until they work out what works. Mine is only a very simplistic view and I don’t need to read all the mountains of information. Common sense and having been there done that, sometimes trumps everything else. Cheers to you all. Joy Heath.

    • en passant says:

      Joy,
      From a purely logical and commonsense point of view you make a lot of sense.
      Well done!

      MacBot wil be back repeating his mantra.

      Jody,
      you criticise me for calling MacBot a troll. He is. He called me a racist in a previous post (the last resort of the troll). When it was pointed out that my wife of 42-years is Asian he did not back off and apologise, but doubled down. The ultimate action of a Leftard Troll killing the plane through his farting, methane producing cattle.
      MacBot now quotes the anti-semitic forgery ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ – your commentary, please.

      • Ian MacDougall says:

        NB: Eyn Pyssant says I “quote” the anti-semitic forgery ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’, when I have done nothing of the kind. In a comment back up this thread I cited that scurrilous document. It may take Eyn some time to come to an understanding that citation does not equal recommendation, commendation, approval, or anything similar. But I have every confidence that he will get there in the end.

  11. Keith Kennelly says:

    You never answer any questions Ian.
    You continually obfuscate.
    See my latest exchange with you. You introduce Old warmers outdated and corrupt arguments.
    With relation to that study you quoted. Nowhere in it does it supply actual data on the sea levels m.

    See you are a troll.

  12. en passant says:

    Ian MacBot,
    When can my wife and children expect your apology for calling her husband of 42-years and their father a racist?
    Sorry, Jody, I forgot that trolls nevaaa apologise but just keep repeating their mantra.

    1. The planet is not warming catastrophically
    2. Coal provides a HUGE net benefit – as does oil – and there is plenty to go around for centuries to come.
    3. The seas are rising insignificantly, if at all (I am always suspicious of mm-scale measurements of an moving, irregular shaped obloid taken from hundreds of km away. Why can my GPS only get within 10m?)
    4. Do we know the ideal average global temperature or the ideal concentration of CO2? If we don’t, how do we know when we have achieved the objective? Oh, yes, we will know, when the economy is non-existent, the treasury is empty and someone else owns Oz.
    5. Perhaps his cows or the Angel he converses with (glad you shared that, Ian) will tell us the destination we seek, because IAN NEVER WILL. Trolls never allow clear answers as that puts them on the defensive.
    6. Checked the sea levels today now the storm has cleared. Yup, the sea is still there, just where it has always been and not 46 years x (enter whichever annual mm rise figure you worship) = zero +/- insignificant error bars.
    7. I will take notice of Ian when he kills all his methane farting cows as his contribution to saving the world. Me? I will just continue praising coal and oil for giving me the comfortable life I have, a standard of life I would wish millions of other people to have too.

  13. Patrick McCauley says:

    Thanks White Dove (Joy Heath) – thats the sort of common sense that comes with first hand experience. It is true that the seasons have not changed and that the deeply implied meaning of ‘Weather’ is the word ‘change’ itself. There is no greater attribute of the weather than its ability to find different combinations of air and water and hot and cold for and every new unique day. Yes there is a lot of money being made … but also through the battle of ideas … our public intellectuals are engaged in a fight fuelled by vanity which has trickled down through ‘social media’ to almost every individual in the western world … and divided us down to the very fabric of the remnants of any true family or ‘community’ we might have left. Somehow, human beings have come to hate – human beings – the Industrial revolution – the Enlightenment – farming – mining. Deisel is way too expensive now, I wonder if anybody could make a coal fired farm generator ? apparently coal is cheap?

  14. gardner.peter.d says:

    I don’t think rational solutions or rational evaluations would help. I think there is a more fundamental issue to do with collective lunacy and the death of civilisations. I have many friends in the arts. All of them believe firmly in CAGW. They also think, sincerely, UK is mad to leave the EU. They are all fundamentally wrong on both issues. When I state a few facts about either issue, the usual response is, “Oh, I didn’t know that”. I wonder how people who are intelligent and otherwise decent people can hold views based in ignorance so passionately. There is a collective madness afoot. God did not say how the world would end for humanity but it seems to me that the psychology of collective mass decline and death is a more essential issue than climate change.