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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

I have said repeatedly that the NBN is a dumb idea – grossly overpriced and completely unnecessary.

So you might think I’d agree with the Economist Intelligence Unit that the Australian Labor government’s NBN is not a good plan because it is going to cost a lot more money and deliver slower speeds that South Korea’s similar proposals.

On this, a spokewoman for Communication Minister Stephen Conroy:

“Comparing Australia to Korea is like comparing apples to oranges. Investment in Australia’s road, rail, telecommunications and utility infrastructure faces vastly different factors than countries such as South Korea,” she said.

“Australia’s land mass is over 7.6 million square kilometres compared with South Korea’s which is just over 100,000 square kilometres. Australia has a population density of 2.7 people per sq/km compared with 487 people per sq/km for South Korea.

She’s right. For any group calling itself intelligent, that is not a terribly intelligent comparison to make.

And the NBN is still a dumb idea.

Sigh… If only it were that easy.

Had a letter from the Kangaroo Island Council today, inviting us (and every other ratepayer) to an information session on the ‘Solar Councils Community Program.’

This is free advertising for one of the solar panel carpetbaggers – ZEN Home Energy Systems. KI Council thoughtfully enclosed a brochure so we could be impressed by how green and nice and renewable and sustainable and everything their panels are.

They even won an award – from the Municipal Association of Victoria, the ‘Award of Excellence in Sustainability.’ So they must be good, eh. Choice, bro!

Of course, they give money to the local Council too, in the form of grants for a local ‘Renewable Energy research Fund,’ which will be used to investigate further options to cut greenhouse gas emissions in local areas.

Perhaps they could investigate the number of vegetarians eating excessive amounts of cabbage.

The brochure tells us that ‘The introduction of renewable energy in communities has the potential to create jobs through the greater take up of renewable energy opportunities and growing industry. it will ultimately lead to lower power bills.’

Lovely. Except that nothing in that sentence is true.

The experience of every country that has ‘created jobs’ through the installation of photo-voltaics is that approximately 5 jobs are lost for every job created. This is because it takes an average of $400,000 in subsidies (in other words, money taken from taxpayers) to create each new job.

That is money taken from businesses which are creating something useful or offering useful services. It is money that cannot be spent employing people to create those useful things, because the government is taking it to spend on solar panels.

If solar panels really did save more energy than they cost, they wouldn’t need to be subsidised.

And as for leading to lower power bills – ROTFL!

Well I would be if it were not so damned tragic. Solar subsidies will actually raise power costs by about 20%. And this, like every other increase in basic living costs, will impact most on people who can least afford it.

But who cares, as long as the government looks like it’s being green and responsible and stuff, and the solar carpet-baggers are making their loot?

I do, for one.

The subsidies are wrong, the advertising dishonest, and the overall cost to the consumer and the wider community ridiculously expensive. Rooftop solar schemes will increase unemployment, and because of the utterly useless increased taxes they require, reduce our competitiveness in industry and export.

So should I get solar panels? The problem is that whether I get them or not, I am still paying for them – both in the initial subsidies and the in the ongoing forced (by the government) payment by power companies of excessive rates for solar power fed back into the grid – payments which increase the cost of power for everyone.

Even with the subsidies they would barely save me anything over their lifetime. And straight away that tells you there is something wrong. If they really did save energy they would be cheaper. They wouldn’t need to be subsidised. But I’ve already said that. 

So should I get them?

I would be participating in a scheme that rips everyone off if I do.

But I’m paying for them anyway. I feel like I’m ripping myself off if I don’t.

Climate change alarmists need to be called to account.

When they talk about global warming, they actually mean three separate things:

1. The world is getting warmer in an unprecedented, or at least highly unusual and alarming, way.

2. This unusual warming is caused by human activity, specifically, the use of fossil fuels.

3. The world getting warmer is a bad thing.

Is the world getting warmer at an unusual rate?

No.

No one argues about the fact that the world is getting warmer.

But the last century has been one of remarkable climate stability. There has been an average global temperature increase of less than 1 degreee Celsius over the last 100 years.

Given that we have just come out of a period of extreme cold that lasted for 500 years, this minor increase is neither unusual or alarming.

This very small rate of warming has continued unchanged except for minor fluctuations for the last 150 years. There is no evidence of any correlation between temperature change and human activity.

The real ‘climate change deniers’ are the global warming alarmists, who persistently ignore or downplay much faster and larger historical changes in climate, or worse, deliberately alter data to make past temperatures look colder, and recent records look warmer.

Everyone has heard of the HadCRUT/Mann/‘hide the decline’ alterations to the twentieth century temperature record.

But even little New Zealand’s official record keepers have done the same thing – changing the temperature record to hide the fact the raw temperature data show no warming at all.

Organisations which depend on creating alarm over alleged climate change in order to gain funding cannot make their case without lies and exaggerations.

More recently the NASA GISS records have been tampered with in the same way.

Comparing the data they offered as fact in 1999 with data they assure us is correct now, it takes two seconds to see that over that ten year period, earlier temperatures have been reduced, while later temperatures have been increased. The resulting graphs change from one that shows a mild and moderate increase in temperature, to one that shows a much greater increase.

From WUWT:

James Hansen and NASA GISS Telling Fibs Again

Climate change alarmists need to be called to account.

‘Recent extreme weather events are because of global warming!’

Really? Is there any real world evidence of an increase in the number or intensity of extreme weather events?

‘Our modelling shows…’  No. Forget the computer games. Is there any evidence of an increase in extreme weather events.?

‘Well, no.’

“Sea levels will rise catastrophically!’

Really? Is there any real world evidence of an increase in the rate of sea level rise?

‘Our modelling shows…’ No. Forget the computer games. Is there any evidence of an increase in the rate of sea level rise?

‘Well, no.’

‘The world is warming at an unprecedented rate!’

Really? Is there any real world evidence that recent climate change has been unusual?

‘Our modelling shows…’ No. Forget the computer games. Is there any evidence of unusual warming over the last century?

‘Well, no.’

‘Damaging climate change is caused by human activity! We have to stop using fossil fuels!’

Really? Is there any real world evidence of a correlation between human activity and changes in global temperature?

‘Our modelling shows…’ No. Forget the computer games. Is there any evidence of correlation between human activity and climate change?

‘Well, no.’

Over 100 billion dollars has been spent on this farce.

This money, completely wasted, could have made a real difference if spent on, for example:

  • Real environmental issues. 
  • Disaster – flood/fire/cyclone – preparation and mitigation.
  • Fusion research.
  • Building roads, hospitals, schools or other infrastructure.
  • Eradicating malaria, measles, polio.

The list could go on…

Climate change alarmists need to be called to account.

The climate change farce has to stop.

As the Daily Mail points out, this looks like a computer generated graphic of the Ice Age:

NOAA Satellite Photograph - Snow and Ice

But this was yesterday.

Of course Al Gore now claims: 

‘As it turns out, the scientific community has been addressing this particular question for some time now and they say that increased heavy snowfalls are completely consistent with what they have been predicting as a consequence of man-made global warming.’

Sure, buddy.

Just like the accuracy of Australian of year Flim Flannery’s prediction of dire heat and droughts extending into the foreseeable future were confirmed by the recent cold wet Winter, cool wet Summer, and extensive flooding in Eastern Australia.

Glacier retreat has been one of the key pieces of evidence in the warming alarmists’ campaign against cheap fuel and the world economy that depends on it. Himalayan glaciers are melting!

Never mind the fact that even if the world were warming, this would prove nothing about why it is warming. Less than 1 degree Celsius of warming in the last hundred years as we come out of an extended period of intense cold does not seem either unnatural or alarming to me.

But now we know the Himalayan glaciers are not melting. And the IPCC research that said they were was one phone call with one scientist who had no evidence to back up that claim at all. But that’s the IPCC. No facts necessary.

Investors.com notes that with the collapse of the ‘glaciers are retreating and it’s our fault’ claim, the whole ‘climate change = human caused disaster’ story seems to be melting away. But they also note that Ed Josberger, a researcher for the U.S. Geological Survey, now claims that glacial expansion is proof of global warming.

Oh, those global warming guys: ‘Australia is in for extended drought. Dams will never be full again. When this happens it will prove what we have been saying is true.’

Then there are huge floods, dams are overflowing. ‘Hey everyone, we said this would happen. This proves what we have been saying is right.’

‘Glaciers everywhere are melting. This proves global warming is real. Stop driving those SUVs you rednecks. Act now or it will be too late.’

But many glaciers are growing. ‘Yeah, we said this would happen. This proves global warming is real. Increase our funding or it will be too late.’ 

This Ramirez cartoon sums up the present state of the debate:

Gore Speaks With Forked (and Frozen) Tongue

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Politicians are dreaming up ways to look responsible and caring by creating ‘green jobs’ which will help end unemployment and the global warming crisis at the same time.

Except that we already know there is no global warming crisis, and that every ‘green job’ created costs two real jobs.

Spain, the darling of the green jobs lobby, now has the highest rate of unemployment in the industrialised world – over 20% – and is struggling to win the trust of lenders and trading partners.

So naturally Obama in the US and Gillard in Australia are saying ‘I’ll have what she’s having.’

Oh joy.

Four of New York’s seven worst ever recorded snow storms have occurred since 2003.

This January has been new York’s snowiest since records have been kept, breaking a record that goes back to 1925. January 26th also broke the 1871 record for the most snow to fall in one day.

Records for cold and snow are being broken across the northern hemisphere. In Korea, for example.

Last year saw record cold in the Southern hemisphere. In Australia and South America for example.

But that’s just weather. It doesn’t mean anything. No one could have predicted it.

Except that Piers Corbyn did. Based on science. Against the global warming establishment.

So did the Farmer’s Almanac. Based on science. Against the global warming establishment:

And it’s going to keep getting colder.

No, that is not my Native American name.

Gary Jason at Liberty Unbound draws attention to two recent WSJ articles about the cost of ‘green’ subsidies.

The first is about those annoying annoying and expensive energy saving light bulbs:

California’s utilities alone spent $548 million over the past seven years in CFL subsidies. In fact, California utilities have subsidized over 100 million CFLs since 2006. And on the first of this year, the state started phasing out incandescent bulb sales.

Of course, when I say that the California utilities have been subsidizing the CFLs, I really should say that the aforementioned hapless consumers have been doing so, because all the subsidy money — about $2.70 out of the actual $4.00 cost of the CFL, i.e., more than two thirds of the actual cost — is paid by the consumer in the form of higher utility rates.

Naturally, the rest of the country — and, for that matter, the world — is set to follow California’s lead on CFLs. A federal law effective January 1 of next year will require a 28% step-up in efficiency for incandescent bulbs, and bans them outright by 2014. One consequence of this federal policy — unintended, perhaps, but none the less foreseeable — is that the last US plant making incandescent bulbs has been shut down, and China (which now makes all the CFLs) has seen even more of a jobs expansion, and is able to buy even more of our debt.

But now — surprise! — California has discovered that the actual energy savings of switching to CFLs were nowhere near what was originally estimated. Pacific Gas and Electric, which in 2006 set up the biggest subsidy fund for CFLs, found that its actual savings from the CFL program were collectively about 450 million kilowatt hours, which is only about one-fourth of the original estimate.

And of course, they contain mercury, and you are not supposed to put them in the trash, they don’t last nearly as long as the manufacturers claimed they would, the light they produce looks artificial, and there are stories of their exploding.

So they cost jobs, are expensive, potentially dangerous, and don’t save much energy. Naturally perfect candidates for extensive government subsidies.

The second article is about the abject failure of big wind (the multi-billion dollar wind and solar power industry) to make any appreciable contribution to electricity needs, while consuming vast sums of taxpayer money:

The second Journal story (Jan. 18) reports that Evergreen Solar has closed its Massachusetts plant and laid off all the workers there.

This is deliciously ironic. Evergreen Solar was the darling of Massachusetts. Governor Deval Patrick, devout green and all-around Obama Mini-Me, gave Evergreen a package of $58 million in tax incentives, grants, and other handouts to open a solar panel plant there. In doing so, he simply ignored Evergreen’s lousy track record — a record of losing nearly $700 million bucks in its short life (its IPO was in 2000), despite lavish subsidies from federal and state governments.

Now Evergreen is outsourcing its operations, blaming competition with China, and whining like a bitchslapped baby about China’s subsidies of its solar energy and its lower labor costs. But Evergreen has itself sucked up ludicrously lavish subsidies, and it knew all along about China’s labor rates compared to Massachusetts’ …

It turns out that the wind industry — aptly dubbed “Big Wind” — copped a one-year, $3 billion extension of government support for wind power. It was part of the end-of-2010 tax deal.

Originally, this government subsidy was a feature of the infamous 2008 stimulus bill, under which taxpayers were forced to cover 30% of the costs of wind power projects. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) begged for the subsequent bailout, because without it 20,000 wind power jobs would be lost (one-fourth of all such jobs in America). But despite the billions in subsidies, Big Wind is sucking wind; its allure is dropping like a stone. The AWEA’s own figures show a 72% decline in wind turbine installations from 2009, down to the lowest since 2006.

Besides trying to make the 30% subsidy(!) permanent, the AWEA is pushing for a national “renewable energy” mandate that will force utilities to buy a large chunk of the power they sell from renewable sources (mainly solar and wind), irrespective of the fact that the price of renewable energy is sky high. The association has gotten more than half the states to enact such mandates, with higher energy bills for consumers as the result.

The cost of energy is the base cost of every mined, grown and manufactured item. So why are current administrations in both Australia and the US putting such enormous amounts of taxpayer money into schemes which make energy more expensive?

I don’t think there is any devious leftist plan to undermine primary industry and manufacturing.

It is just wanting to look ‘green.’ Sheer stupidity.

Of course, talking of big wind, President Obama in his STUFU address last night called for a massive increase in investment in remewable energy.

So we and the US are to follow where Spain and Germany have bravely gone before. On a short day’s journey into a cold dark night.

He, he.

‘We can give billions of dollars to green energy research.’

‘And that will enable us to replace gasoline with sunbeams?’

‘Nothing lost in trying.’

‘Except the billions of dollars.’

‘That is taxpayer money. If we don’t take it from them, people will just waste it on their own families, instead of it being put to good use by liberals.’ …

‘We’ll start with America.’

‘Won’t that devastate the economy?’

‘Yes, but it will be worth it.’

‘Will that stop global warming?’

‘No. But think of the moral superiority we will gain…  Also, being green is very trendy right now.’ …

‘So how would you disprove global warming?’

‘You can’t. That’s how you know it’s true.’

One gem after another!

via Small Dead Animals:

The ETC Group, an international organization supporting sustainability and conservation, has just published its newest report, an 84-page document that presents a lengthy criticism of “the new bioeconomy.” In it, principal author Jim Thomas argues that using biofuels for energy and resources isn’t green — in fact, he says, it’s even more harmful to the environment than coal.

“What’s being presented by the government as ‘the green way forward,’ is this idea that we can use plant matter from crops, trees, or algae and convert it into fuel, plastics or chemicals,” Thomas told FoxNews.com. “And it’s just assumed that it’s carbon neutral. But when you burn something like a tree, you release as much, if not more, carbon dioxide than when you burn something like coal.”

Not to mention the fact that besides not reducing ‘greenhouse emissions,’ large scale diversion agricultural land from food production means (doh!) less food produced, which means higher food prices, which means more hungry people.

All these pious schemes which do more harm than good but which make wealthy Westerners feel good about themselves remind me of the following exchange from the Poirot story The Kidnapped Prime Minister:

Sir Bernard Dodge: You don’t seem to realize, Poirot, this is a national emergency. I do not intend to sleep until the Prime Minister is found!
Hercule Poirot: I am sure it will make you feel very virtuous, Sir Bernard, but it will not help the Prime Minister! For myself, I need to restore the little grey cells.

In any case wasteful and expensive ‘green fuels’ are just not needed. It is now clear we have vastly more energy reserves than was imagined even two years ago, which means enough cheap fossil fuel to sustain steady growth in the West, and rapid growth in developing nations for many generations to come.

And just for the heck of, and in case you missed it earlier this year:

African Crops Yield Another Catastrophe for the IPCC (but fortunately, not for Africans).

Julia Gillard is not stupid.

But as Forrest Gump said, ‘Stupid is as stupid does.’

And there could hardly be anything more stupid than putting a punitive tax on the resource – cheap carbon fuels – that has underpinned the fastest ever growth in development and standards of living around the world, including health and education, and without which there would be no modern industry, no fast, economical transport, no large scale agriculture providing cheap food, etc, etc.

There is simply no reason for such a tax. The world is not running out of oil or coal.

So this claim by Ms Gillard is nonsense:

‘The alternative is very stark, if we continue to do nothing we will pay a heavy cost – electricity prices will spiral up. Our power supplies will begin to run short.’

No, our power supplies are not going to run short and cause spiralling prices.

But putting unnecessary taxes on energy resources will push prices up, causing industry to move offshore, and impacting especially harshly on poorer families.

So why do it?

Because human activity is causing the world to warm catastrophically?

If that’s the real reason, Julia, just say so. If you can prove it, I’ll back you 100%

But before you impose even more taxes on Australian businesses and families, I suggest you do some reading:

How Not to Measure Changes in Temperature

In the latest episode of Climate Family Feud, activist paper Scientific American ran a survey to guage its readers’ opinions on IPCC traitor Judith Curry and her opinions.

The results show that Scientific American’s readers (over 4,000 of them) are better informed than its editors.

A couple of examples:

What is causing climate change?

Greenhouse gasses from human activity 31.4%

Solar Variation  33.8%

Natural processes  76.7% 

(responders could choose as many answers as they wished)

The IPCC is..

A corrupt organisation, prone to groupthink, with a political agenda  81.9%

How much would you be willing to pay to forestall the risk catastrophic climate change?

Nothing  77.1%

That’s because while climate changes all the time, there is no evidence of any impending catastrophe, and even if there were, we would be better off preparing for it, rather than making Canute like efforts to stop it (unfair to King Canute, but that’s another story).

Via Small Dead Animals

The rare earth elements are not ‘earths’ but metals. Nor are they rare. They are expensive because they are difficult to extract.

Thorium isn’t a rare earth. It is generally found as a by-product of the processing of Monazite ore for rare earths elements (REEs).

Thorium is a radio-active metal approximately three times as abundant as Uranium. I’ll come back to Thorium in a minute.

REEs are used in the production of automotive catalysts, pigments, batteries and magnets. Many of the ‘high tech’ items we take for granted depend on them. Demand for REEs is increasing.

China produces virtually all (97%) of the world’s rare earths. In 2009 China announced that over the next few years it would reduce supply from about 70,000 tons per year to 35,000 tons per year.

In September of this year, China said that it would cease supply of rare earth oxides to Japan completely. Given that Japan is a leading manufacturer of mobile phones, TVs, electronic medical equipment, etc, this is potentially devastating to Japan’s economy.

Japan cannot afford to be without REEs.

However…   China is not the world’s largest supplier of REEs because it has the largest deposits, but because its low labour costs meant that in the 1980s it was able to force every other producer out of the market.

Up until the middle of last century, most REEs were exported from Brazil or India. Later the US (California) was the leading producer.

Global Rare Earth Production 1950 - 2000

The two main ores from which REEs are extracted are Monazite and Bastnasite. Bastnasite has been preferred because the cost of removing Uranium and Thorium in Monazite has been prohibitive.

Australia has good (nowhere near the most, but good) supplies of Monazite.

Two things are happening which will make Australian production of Monazite viable.

First, China’s massive reduction in exports of REEs.

Secondly, new developments in the use of Thorium in nuclear power generation.

A ton of Thorium can generate as much power as 200 tons of Uranium. Thorium reactions do not produce Plutonium.

Plutonium is one of the key ingredients of nuclear weapons. Weapons production was the reason Uranium based reactors became the standard.

Despite this, Thorium based reactors are now on the verge of being commercially viable.

They are safer, more efficient, and more secure – there is no risk of by-products being diverted into weapons production. So Iran, for example, could have nuclear power without giving everyone the heebie-geebies about the possibility of its developing nuclear weapons.

This means that Thorium will no longer be a low value, nuisance by-product, but a valuable resource in itself. Australia has some of the world’s highest Thorium deposits.

So by investing in the development of Australian Monazite deposits, you could potentially make a fortune, help to deliver energy to the world’s poorest nations, and make the world safer, all at the same time.

Cool!

With solutions that don’t work.

I hope soon to comment on the Murray Darling proposals (costing billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to ‘preserve’ something that never existed until fifty years ago) and SA’s proposed marine parks (costing some 1,000 jobs and approximately $1 billion in lost income from commercial and charter fishing to ‘protect’ fisheries which are under-utilised and not remotely in danger).

But for now, wind farms: Europe’s Ill Wind, a 25 minute video packed full of information.

If you only see, read or listen to one thing about wind farms, this should be it.

And excuse the sometimes shoddy camera work. Unlike global warming alarmists and alternative energy ridiculists, rational people don’t have access to vast sums of government money for high end production work. The facts are what count. Unless you’re a greenie, of course, but then you probably won’t watch it anyway.

And so he should be. But what is he worried about?

Climate change. Of course.

There are two possibilities here.

Either Osama is an ignorant bloodthirsty hypocritical loon, and he really does believe that anthropogenic climate change is a bigger threat to world peace than he is.

OK, it’s certainly possible.

Or he is an intelligent bloodthirsty hypocritical loon, who knows that spending billions on trying to change something that cannot be changed will weaken Western economies and distract Western governments from the real threat. Him and his borg buddies.

And as for this: “What we are facing… calls for generous souls and brave men to take serious and prompt action to provide relief for their Muslim brothers in Pakistan.”

It seems to have escaped his notice that it was Western governments who protected Muslims during the war in the Balkans, Western governments who saved Kuwait from Saddam Hussein, Western governments who came to the aid of Indonesia after the tsunami, Western governments who provide most of the support and aid for the Palestinian Authority, Western governments who are working, at a cost of billions of dollars and the lives of their own young men and women, to build safe and stable societies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Western governments who are providing most of the aid to flood affected regions of Pakistan.

Are the Islamists and Greens more like the borg, from Star Trek, or the Necromongers, from the sadly under-rated Chronicles of Riddick?

The Borg - You Will Be Assimilated

Necromongers - Convert or Die

OK. Don’t get the idea I have spent hours on this. But ..

The Islamists are more like the borg. They are not interested in everyone. Some people are beneath consideration and might as well be dogs or pigs. The borg create nothing, but take the culture and technology of others and and use and claim it as their own. They have an ideal of perfection, and destroy without mercy or remorse anything that does not contribute to the achievement of that ideal.

The problem is that the ideal, when realised, is  a kind of living death that only sustains itself through the objectification and demonisation of others.

The necromongers are similar. But they don’t assimilate technology or culture. Their one purpose is to sweep across the universe on their way to a new, pure ‘verse, where there are no disagreements. There are no disagreements because anyone who might have disagreed with them has been converted or killed. Those who are not necromongers are contempuously described as ‘breeders’. Necromongers have no use for children. Their leader is two faced. Or three or four faced really.

So the necromongers are more like the greenies.

But in both cases the message is the same: Join us or die. Resistance is futile. No pressure. Your choice.

Everyone has heard by now of the appalling video produced by the 10:10 climate campaign. It was meant to be amusing, apparently. And to teach a message.

But the only people who could possibly find it amusing are psychopaths, and the only message that could possibly be drawn is that greenies are either complete zomboids, or raving eco jihadis.

Whoever produced this parody version has drawn the same conclusion:

And if you think that is unfair, get into the groove with this cool idea from Franny Armstrong, 10:10 founder:

“Doing nothing about climate change is still a fairly common affliction, even in this day and age. What to do with those people, who are together threatening everybody’s existence on this planet? Clearly we don’t really think they should be blown up, that’s just a joke for the mini-movie, but maybe a little amputating would be a good place to start?”

Still not funny, Franny.