Chris Bowen reheats discredited, soak-the-rich super policy

In The Australian today:

You can’t step into the same river twice. But the bathwater is a different matter. It just gets colder and nastier each time.

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Lies, damned lies and temperature records

Top scientists start to examine fiddled global warming figures is the story, reported here as well, but how can they know the records were fiddled before they check?

Last month, we are told, the world enjoyed “its hottest March since records began in 1880”. This year, according to “US government scientists”, already bids to outrank 2014 as “the hottest ever”. The figures from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were based, like all the other three official surface temperature records on which the world’s scientists and politicians rely, on data compiled from a network of weather stations by NOAA’s Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN).

But here there is a puzzle. These temperature records are not the only ones with official status. The other two, Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) and the University of Alabama (UAH), are based on a quite different method of measuring temperature data, by satellites. And these, as they have increasingly done in recent years, give a strikingly different picture. Neither shows last month as anything like the hottest March on record, any more than they showed 2014 as “the hottest year ever”.

It ought to be a mystery, but it’s not really. If you hide the decline the number must go up.

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy | Leave a comment

Rafe’s Roundup April 26

Roundup has been on hold since I went into hospital on Monday 13 to have my second hip replaced. The first went three years ago. All is going according to the script, I just have limited activities for a few weeks, like no driving and great care in movement. Apparently there is great Youtube footage of hip jobs but I have not been prepared to look at it.

A nice Liberty Quote.

“The anti-climate science nonsense being promulgated by ratbag groups such as Quadrant, the IPA and the utterly degenerate and despicable Catallaxy blog depend on the rantings of a handful of so-called ‘sceptics’.”
— Harry Clarke

Greece. Down and out?

A useful government publication. Recycling by Penn and Teller. Sadly longwinded for busy Cats.

This has become a hotly debated topic demonstrating the death of the spirit of critical inquiry in the modern academies.

The importance of negative results and the way they are overlooked in the pharmaceutical industry. More on “Research Misconduct” . Failure to take notice of negative results is also part and parcel of the climate science that refuses to accept things like the failure of all the models used to predict disastrous warming.

Culture. In the Spectator last week. This week. Celebrating Ruth Park’s story of Surry Hills in Sydney. Declaration of interest, Ruth Park is my mother in law and we worked on two books together, the biography of the boxer Les Darcy and the update of her 1974 Companion Guide to Sydney.

The steampunk genre of writing. My son is a contributor. First Strike Shark Boats Legion

Climate. The end of fish and chips in the UK? Flight from climate science.

Sport. Sorting out the performers.

Around the town. Hendo and the media watchdog [Updated on Friday afternoon]. The Australian Institute for Progress, (AIP) “because the future does not look after itself”. IPA HEY. The Sydney Institute. Australian Taxpayers Alliance, Quadrant on line, Mannkal Foundation, Centre for Independent Studies.

Don Aitkin. Jim Rose, feral and utopian! Jo Nova, climate realist par excellence. Sean Gabb’s site.

Sites of interest. Spiked on line . Richard Hammer, Free Nation Foundation. Aust NZ libertarian students. Powerline. The British libertarian alliance.

Education, accuracy in academia.

For nerds. Melvyn Bragg’s radio program. Stephen Hicks, always interesting for nerds. Have a look at his piece on entrepreneurs and also his critical commentary on the rediscovery of Hegel. Econotalk.

Posted in Rafe, Rafe's Roundups, Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Chris Berg asking the tough question

In the Sunday Age:

What exactly is the point of a Coalition government if it offers the same sort of tax increases as voters expect from Labor and the Greens?

It’s disturbing how quickly the Abbott government has turned its attention to boosting government revenue rather than reducing government spending. It’s only been in power 18 months.

Posted in Budget | 47 Comments

Guest Post: Peter Lang – Wind turbines are less effective and CO2 abatement cost is higher than commonly assumed

Wind turbines are significantly less effective at reducing CO2 emissions than commonly assumed.  This means the CO2 abatement cost (i.e. the cost per tonne CO2 avoided by wind turbines) is higher than commonly recognised.  It is likely that the CO2 abatement cost estimates in the 2014 RET Review are under-estimates.

Effectiveness here means % reduction in CO2 emissions divided by % electricity supplied by wind turbines.  Wind turbines supplied 2.9% of Australia’s electricity in 2012-13 (latest figures available).  It is likely wind energy was around 80% effective at avoiding CO2 emissions.  That is, each unit of electricity generated by wind turbines avoided about 80% of the emission that would have been emitted generating a unit of electricity in the absence of wind.

The actual CO2 abatement cost is higher than commonly estimated.  In fact, the abatement cost is inversely proportional to the proportion of electricity supplied by wind power.  At 80% effective the actual abatement cost would be 25% higher than the analysts’ estimates if their estimates did not take effectiveness into account.  At 50% effective the actual abatement cost would be twice the estimates.

Economic analyses conducted for the 2014 Renewable Energy Target (RET) Review projected that wind power will supply about 15% of Australia’s electricity by 2020 if the RET legislation remains unchanged.  At 15% of electricity generated by wind, international studies of other electricity grids suggests effectiveness could be nearly as low as 50%.  At that rate the CO2 abatement cost would be double the estimates (if those estimates did not take effectiveness into account).

The cost of abating CO2 emissions with wind power in Australia in 2020 could be 2 to 5 times the carbon tax, which was rejected by the voters at 2013 Federal Election; 6 to14 times the current EU carbon price; and more than 100 times the price of the international carbon futures out to 2020.

The Senate ‘Select Committee on Wind Turbines’ has been established to inquire into impacts of wind turbines in Australia.  My submission (No. 259) focuses on the effectiveness of wind turbines at reducing CO2 emissions from electricity generation in Australia and the impact of the effectiveness on estimates of abatement cost ($/tonne CO2) by wind energy.

I would appreciate constructive critiques of my submission so I may have an opportunity to submit an addendum, with any needed clarifications and corrections, before the 4 May deadline.

Below is an edited version of the Executive Summary.

 -~-

“The Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 states:

“The objects of this Act are:

(a)      to encourage the additional generation of electricity from renewable sources; and

(b)      to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector; and

(c)      to ensure that renewable energy sources are ecologically sustainable.”

Object (b) is, arguably, the principal objective because if it is not justifiable, on the basis of objective evidence, (a) and (c) are not justifiable either.  This submission presents evidence that wind turbines are less effective at meeting objective (b) than is commonly assumed.  Therefore, the CO2 abatement cost estimated from economic analyses is frequently understated (CO2 means ‘carbon dioxide equivalent’ in this submission).

It is often assumed that effectiveness of wind energy is 100%, i.e., a MWh of wind energy displaces the emissions from a MWh of the conventional energy displaced.  But it is usually much less, and values as low as 53% have been reported (Wheatley, 2013).  Effectiveness means % reduction in CO2 emissions divided by % electricity supplied by wind.

Empirical analyses of the emissions avoided in electricity grids in the U.S. and Europe indicate that (1) wind turbines are significantly less effective at avoiding emissions than is commonly assumed and (2) effectiveness decreases as the proportion of electricity generated by wind turbines increases.

Unfortunately, neither the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) nor the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) collect the CO2 emissions information needed for an accurate empirical estimate of effectiveness.  Without good data for the emissions from power stations at time intervals of 30 minutes or less, estimates of emissions avoided by wind are biased high (i.e. overestimated) and have large uncertainty, i.e., we don’t know what emissions reductions are actually being achieved by wind generation.

Under the Renewable Energy Target (RET), the proportion of wind generation is increasing so it is projected to supply about 15% of electricity by 2020 (interpreted from the 2014 RET Review Report, Figures 11 and 13).  In this case, effectiveness might approach as low as 53% by 2020.

When effectiveness is properly factored into calculations, wind energy has a high abatement cost; I provide a simple analysis using Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) which estimates abatement cost of wind power at $168/t CO2 by 2020.

In comparison, the RET Review summarised economic analyses of the abatement cost of the Large Scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) at $32-$70/t CO2.  These analyses, however, are likely underestimated as they do not appear to take effectiveness into account, or at least not fully.  If the economic analyses do not take effectiveness into account, and if effectiveness decreases to 53% by 2020, the estimates of abatement cost would nearly double to $60-$136/t CO2 with effectiveness included.

To put these abatement costs in context, the ‘carbon’ tax was $24.15/t CO2 when it was rejected by the voters at the 2013 Federal election.  The current price of EU ETS carbon credits and the international carbon credit futures are:

  • European Union Allowance (EUA) market price (10/3/2015) = €6.83/tCO2 (A$9.50)
  • Certified Emissions Reduction (CER) futures to 2020 (9/3/2015) = €0.40/tCO2 (A$0.56)

Therefore, the LRET in 2020 could be 2 to 5 times the carbon tax, which was rejected by the voters in 2013; 6 to14 times the current price of the EUA; and more than 100 times the price of CER futures out to 2020.

Clearly, the RET is a very high cost way to avoid greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  The rational policy decision is to close the RET to future investments.  Or, as an interim measure, wind the target back to a real 20% of electricity generation.

I urge the Select Committee to consider: has the RET passed its use-by date?  Why not allow Direct Action to do what it is designed to do, to achieve emissions reductions at the lowest cost?

Recommendations:

In consideration of the issues outlined in this submission, I recommend that:

  1. The Government task an appropriately qualified agency, such as the Productivity Commission and/or Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) with estimating the full economic cost of wind energy ($/MWh) as well as the CO2 abatement cost ($/t CO2 avoided).
  2. To get an early indication of the abatement cost of wind energy, contract an appropriately qualified consultant to:
    1. assemble the best estimates it can of the ‘high quality’ data required for a sophisticated analysis (this may include seeking information from generators with appropriate ‘commercial in confidence’ agreements), and
    2. estimate the CO2 abatement cost with wind power (including all the hidden costs and the effects of higher electricity costs on the Australian economy).
  3. Either, repeal the RET legislation which will:
    1. avoid what will become an escalating compliance cost of emissions monitoring if it remains in place, and
    2. allow Direct Action to operate without the RET being a major market distortion.
  4. Or, if repeal of RET is not politically acceptable, close the RET to new entrants and incorporate the existing and committed RET installations into Direct Action.
  5. Change the name of Direct Action to ‘CO2e Emissions Reduction Scheme’ (CO2e ERS).  This should be technologically neutral with the primary selection criteria being objectively justifiable CO2e avoidance cost (i.e. $/t CO2e avoided).

Constructive critiques welcome.  The full submission is No. 259 here.

 About the Author:

Peter Lang is a retired geologist and engineer with 40 years’ experience on a wide range of energy projects throughout the world, including managing energy RD&D programs and providing policy advice to Government. Energy projects included: hydro-electric, geothermal, nuclear, coal, oil and gas and a wide range of energy end-use management projects.

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy | 32 Comments

Churchill and the Gallipoli Campaign

This is Steve Hayward discussing the military and political issues that surrounded the lead-up to the attack at Gallipoli. Everyone may know this already, or may just be wrong, but it seems the wasted lives were in the execution and not the concept. This is how it ends, but read it through.

The essential strategic soundness of the Dardanelles offensive has come to be more deeply appreciated as the decades have passed. Basil Liddell-Hart described the Dardanelles as “a sound and far-sighted conception, marred by a chain of errors in execution almost unrivaled even in British history.” It presents one of the great “what ifs” of history. Had Turkey been knocked out early, and the war ended sooner, perhaps the Bolshevik revolution would never have taken place. Perhaps Hitler would never have risen to power. These kinds of questions can never be answered, and it is perhaps frivolous even to indulge them. But it is a tribute to Churchill’s insight that nearly 50 years after the episode, Clement Attlee, who was Churchill’s great opponent in the Labour Party (it was Attlee who defeated Churchill in the election of 1945), remarked to Churchill that the Dardanelles operation was “the only imaginative strategic idea of the war. I only wish that you had had full power to carry it to success.”

I might also mention The Sunday Age ANZAC Day quote from Bill Shorten. Did they even pick it because they agreed with the sentiment. Here are the words. Read ‘em and weep.

When we landed here on this beach, it was someone else’s country.

Is he really as out of it as this? Who is his constituency because I don’t see the point he was making on a day in which we remember the personal sacrifices embedded in our military history.

Posted in Australian Story, History | 43 Comments

Is SBS meeting its Charter obligation?

From the SBS website:

The SBS Charter, provided in the SBS Act, sets out the principal functions of SBS and a number of duties it has to fulfil. The Charter, contained in Section 6 of the Special Broadcasting Services Act 1991, states: 

(1) The principal function of SBS is to provide multilingual and multicultural radio, television and digital media services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians and, in doing so, reflect Australia’s multicultural society.

(2) SBS, in performing its principal function, must:

(a) contribute to meeting the communications needs of Australia’s multicultural society, including ethnic, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; and

(b) increase awareness of the contribution of a diversity of cultures to the continuing development of Australian society; and

(c) promote understanding and acceptance of the cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity of the Australian people; and

(d) contribute to the retention and continuing development of language and other cultural skills; and

(e) as far as practicable, inform, educate and entertain Australians in their preferred languages; and

(f) make use of Australia’s diverse creative resources; and

(g) contribute to the overall diversity of Australian television and radio services, particularly taking into account the contribution of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the community broadcasting sector; and

(h) contribute to extending the range of Australian television and radio services, and reflect the changing nature of Australian society, by presenting many points of view and using innovative forms of expression.

Now see these tweets:

They have caused much anger in the weekend press.

Yet is seems to me that when the government sets up a news agency specifically for the purposes of catering for “many points of view and using innovative forms of expression” those tweets are exactly what we should expect.

Why the government would want to set up a news agency that denigrates Australian war-heroes is an open question, but the fact is that it has and will continue to do so. So let’s not turn our anger to those who fulfill the expectations of the SBS charter but at those who will do nothing about that charter and who will continue to defend the SBS and continue to fund the SBS with our money.

Update: SBS has sacked the reporter.

Posted in Budget, Federal Politics | 70 Comments

What does science have to do with real world facts?

In the mail, so to speak, I was sent this from the Mail on Sunday last month: Why my own Royal Society is wrong on climate change: A devastating critique of world’s leading scientific organisation by one of its Fellows. Here is the gist of it in the first few paras:

Five years ago, I was one of 43 Fellows of the Royal Society – the first and arguably still the most prestigious scientific organisation in the world – who wrote to our then-president about its approach to climate change. We warned that the Society was in danger of violating its founding principle, summed up in its famous motto ‘Nullius in verba’ – or ‘Don’t take another’s word for it; check it out for yourself’.

The reason for our warning was a Society document which stated breezily: ‘If you don’t believe in climate change you are using one of the following [eight] misleading arguments.’

The implication was clear: the Society seemed to be saying there was no longer room for meaningful debate about the claim that the world is warming dangerously because of human activity, because the science behind this was ‘settled’. . . .

Yet the Society continues to produce a stream of reports which reveal little sign of this. The latest example is the pre-Christmas booklet A Short Guide To Climate Science. Last year also saw the joint publication with the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) of Climate Change: Evidence And Causes, and a report called Resilience. Through these documents, the Society has lent its name to claims – such as trends towards increasing extreme weather and climate casualties – that simply do not match real-world facts.

Oh those real world facts. Why should that get in the way of anything? These people are doing a bang up job of demonstrating that science is where the truth is. Because this is from The Daily Mail today: Our climate models are WRONG: Global warming has slowed – and recent changes are down to ‘natural variability’, says study. If the facts don’t allow you to use your models to reach the conclusions you want to reach, just get another model. Watch how it’s done:

To test these, [the research team] created a new statistical model based on reconstructed empirical records of surface temperatures over the last 1,000 years.

‘By comparing our model against theirs, we found that climate models largely get the ‘big picture’ right but seem to underestimate the magnitude of natural decade-to-decade climate wiggles,’ Brown said.

‘Our model shows these wiggles can be big enough that they could have accounted for a reasonable portion of the accelerated warming we experienced from 1975 to 2000, as well as the reduced rate in warming that occurred from 2002 to 2013.’

‘Statistically, it’s pretty unlikely that an 11-year hiatus in warming, like the one we saw at the start of this century, would occur if the underlying human-caused warming was progressing at a rate as fast as the most severe IPCC projections,’ Brown said.

In other words, it doesn’t actually matter what happens in the real world, climate change is happening. And it’s not an 11-year hiatus, it’s now up to 17, but that too, I’m sure, fits into the data. There is, in fact, the way this has gone on, no observation that we can apparently make that is inconsistent with a prior belief in global warming.

Of course, the interesting part is why they so desperately want the planet to be warming, and why they want this warming to be man-made. Methinks there may be other agendas running, not least amongst which is a desire for more grant money to look into this problem further. But the anti-free-market agenda no doubt remains the top priority, as my own model conclusively shows.

[Thanks to Des for sending the Royal Society story along.]

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy | 18 Comments

Sense from the FWC: that didn’t last long

You will all be pleased to know that the Fair Work Commission has approved an application from the union (Professionals Australia – I think that is the old APESMA) to secure a period of protected industrial action on the part of the technical staff of the Bureau of Meteorology which will involve withholding weather reports from the Canberra Airport.

The aim of this action is to target times when politicians are travelling to and from Canberra (hang the rest of the passengers travelling at those times, I guess).

Is the FWC nuts?  Do they really think that this is appropriate industrial action that will probably not involve the staff doing the withholding facing any penalty at all, in terms of their pay being docked?

It is one thing to approve a group of workers genuinely striking (ie. not attending work) but all this sort of guerilla activity, such as at the BOM – stop work meetings, go slows, working to rule, two-hour stoppages called off with 5 minutes to go, refusing to do paperwork, etc – should never be legally facilitated by the FWC.

The legislation should be changed to reflect this but we know how Employment Minister, Eric Abetz, has gone with changing anything.

On the BOM issue, there is surely a very strong case for privatization.  Weather Channel here we come.

Here’s the story from The Canberra Times:

Public servants at the Bureau of Meteorology are planning to bring MPs and Senators down to earth by denying weather forecasts to Canberra Airport at times when the politicians are descending on the national capital.

The weather men and women will vote on the move, aimed at bringing their pay dispute to the corridors of power, in the coming weeks.

Union members at the Bureau are also planning to use their unique position to take their grievances to the nation’s airwaves, reading out messages before they broadcast weather forecasts on local, regional and metropolitan radio stations.

The BoM technicians believe they can withhold the weather information from airlines and air traffic control without putting safety or commerce at risk but say they cannot rule out inconvenience for the parliamentarians.

The Bureau’s 1700-strong workforce’s enterprise agreement expired nine months ago, and they have had no pay rise since June 2013 and there is no sign of a fresh offer.

MPs, staffers, lobbyists and other political operators surge through Canberra Airport on the Tuesday morning of each Parliamentary sitting week as they arrive from around the nation and again on Thursday as they hurry out of town.

The Fair Work Commission gave consent on Wednesday for a ballot of the BoM workforce on various forms of industrial action including targeting the capital’s airport on sitting weeks and to read out their messages on radio.

Other actions on the table include work bans of up to 24 hours, a refusal to post on the bureau’s Twitter feed and a ban on answering all non-essential media inquiries.

The technical union Professionals Australia says meteorological information would still be provided for the purposes of emergency services but not for commercial services.

Union official Dave Smith says that seven days’ notice would be provided to allow the Bureau to get organised and if there were valid “safety or economic concerns” then the meteorologists would reconsider their plans.

Bureau of Meteorology management did not oppose the application to Fair Work after the union agreed to some concession on its stance.

“It’s most likely that such bans would be for limited, specified periods of time – the hours around the beginning and ends of sitting weeks,” Mr Smith said.

“We are not surprised the Bureau didn’t oppose the application.

“They know, as well as we do, that the Government is responsible for this unfair approach to pay and conditions and for running down technical expertise across Government.

“It’s a message they are probably happy we’re sending.”

Three other unions –  The Community and Public Sector Union, Electrical Trades Union and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union – are also looking at taking their members at BoM off the job.

One BoM union delegate, who asked not to be identified, said the planned actions against air travel to Canberra were carefully calculated to impact on political decision makers.

“We may take action on the Canberra airport weather data because we see the delays in our EA negotiations as being partly due to the government’s unfair policies on enterprise bargaining,” the public servant said.

“We want to minimise inconvenience to the public and to industries that rely on our services, while sending a message to politicians who regularly travel to and from Canberra.”

And if you think it ends there, check out this little doozie from the FWC – that’s right, employers have no right to insist that their workers participate in a Physical Risk Review Program.  This is notwithstanding the employer’s overriding duty of care to their workers. Go figure.

[129] Accordingly for all of the above aforementioned reasons, taking into account the nature of the Risk Review Program, as presented, the general direction for the employees to participate in the Risk Review Program, is not a lawful or reasonable direction.

The question for arbitration is answered as follows:

Is the requirement by Cement Australia Pty Limited for employees, covered by the Cement Australia Transport Workers (South East Queensland) Enterprise Agreement 2014 and the Cement Australia Pty Limited Transport Employees (Central & North Queensland) Enterprise Agreement 2014, to participate in the Physical Risk Review Program a lawful and reasonable direction?

ANSWER: No. 

[130] I Order accordingly.

Posted in Uncategorized | 34 Comments

Unity, community and purpose

I went to the Dawn Service this morning here in Caufield. I had intended to go to the main service in Melbourne, but when the tram never made it, I walked back up along the tracks and found that the traffic had been blocked because of the service at our local RSL. So I went there instead. Not as exciting perhaps as the 100,000 that went to the Shrine of Remembrance. But there were a couple of thousand, the speeches were excellent and the Last Post just as moving no matter where I might have been. We even had a fly-past of our own.

The speeches by our local RSL President, Bob Larkin, struck exactly the right note, as did the speech by the Special Guest Speaker, Colonel Michael Joseph “Mike” Kelly (Retd). Former Labor member for Eden-Monaro though he may have been, his speech resonated with my conservative instincts as he focused on the importance of “unity, community and purpose”.

And this contrasted very badly for me with the speech given by “the New Zealand Sub-Branch President” who spoke favourably about the New Zealand ANZACs who had had separate Maori battalions where they were able to maintain their way of life and camaraderie even under arms. This was unlike the circumstance of our Australian aboriginal soldiers, he said, who had been merely melded into the regular Australia army, just like anyone else.

So I have to tell you, that for me listening on this 100th anniversary of the landing at ANZAC Cove, I felt a renewed sense of what a great country this is. Even a hundred years ago, we did not segregate and separate out our fellow aboriginal soldiers, but allowed them to fight and die with the rest of us together, as the members of our one united national army. This is as it should be, and it made me once again proud to be Australian.

Posted in Australian Story | 33 Comments