Peter O’Brien: Kill CAGW starting now

The much vaunted NEG is in the news again today thanks to a Newspoll that shows voters trust Labor more than the Coalition to lower power prices and deliver reliability.  Admittedly the numbers are close but if the Coalition cannot make this an election winning issue then what hope do they have of holding the line on other, more line-ball, issues such as taxation reform?

It’s time for true Conservative politicians to draw a line in the sand over CAGW.

From a recent article in The Australian by Joe Kelly:

The NEG is aimed at guaranteeing energy reliability, while lowering costs for consumers and delivering on Australia’s Paris Agreement commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 26 per cent on 2005 levels.

And therein lies the problem.  If anyone thinks that the emissions reductions pledged as part of the Paris agreement, even if they were achievable globally (an extremely doubtful proposition), will put an end to the insatiable demands of the Green Blob they are seriously deluded.    Because the Agreement’s goal is not couched in terms of emissions reductions but in terms of keeping global warming to less than 2C (and preferably 1.5C) above pre-industrial levels, there is endless scope for demanding greater cuts than agreed under Paris.  Indeed, the ink was not even dry on the Agreement before the anguished howls went up that it was nowhere near enough.

The constraint to reduce emissions necessarily compromises affordability and reliability.  If we were able to achieve cuts of 26% it would come at a price higher than that consumers, particularly businesses (as Kelly’s article highlights), are already finding intolerable.   Once we got to 26%, the demand would be ramped up to 50%, as some state governments are already proposing.  Every year that goes by, you can guarantee will be hotter than the last by some miniscule amount (a degree of magnitude less than the margin of error).  If the thermometers don’t produce this result, NASA will.  You and I might think such a small increase should be enough to discredit the whole scam but it actually plays into the narrative by postponing the day of reckoning (“well, we’ve reached 2C and it’s not so bad after all”) and allows the specious but powerful claim that “every year in the past ‘x’ years has been hotter than the last”.

One argument often advanced to justify ‘hastening slowly’ on emissions reductions is that Australia only produces 1.3% of global emissions and whatever we do will not have any appreciable effect.   That is true but it is a pretty weak argument.  The same logic applies to the vast majority of the roughly 200 countries that make up the international community.   The “we must be seen to be doing our bit” counter argument will always prevail as long as we’ve got weak kneed or opportunistic politicians kowtowing to mindless Green activists or rent-seeking renewable energy entrepreneurs.

I am not versed enough in the intricacies of power generation to make any definitive comment on the NEG.  As I understand it, the idea is that suppliers will be forced to source energy from reliable sources such as coal, gas or hydro, when the Sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.  That’s all well and good but presupposes that such generators will exist.  What if they don’t?  How can suppliers be forced to get power from a source that doesn’t exist?  If we let Liddell go, will it be replaced by a new coal or gas fired plant?  AGL have said they won’t do it.

Let me quote from Jo Nova to re-inforce my point:

Apparently right now the AEMO are dealing with requests to consider adding another 20,000MW of unreliable, intermittent, subsidy-sucking energy to the Australian grid. This is the same grid that has a total peak summer demand in the order of 35,000MW. The total generation capacity of the grid is 54,000MW, which already includes more wind and solar than any nation built on a coal-gas-and-uranium quarry needs. How are any unsubsidized sensible baseload providers going to survive in this socialist market where crazy-brave squads of new entrants are still being drawn to fill gaps that aren’t there, weren’t there, and aren’t projected to open up soon?

“Business just wants certainty”.  We hear that all the time.  Will the NEG give businesses the certainty they need to invest in the infrastructure we need  20 years into the future?  Even 10? I doubt it.

This NEG is nothing but wishful thinking on steroids.

No, the only way to guarantee affordability and reliability of power is to kill the CAGW myth stone dead.  Is that possible?  Maybe not.  But it will only happen if enough politicians on both sides (Martin Ferguson comes to mind and, yes, I know he’s now persona non grata with Labor but there must be some others lurking in Caucus) have the guts to come out and speak some home truths.

Another mistake is to allow commentators (and almost all of them do it) to describe ‘climate change’  as an ideological issue, pitting Left against Right.  There is no right and wrong answer to an ideological question  eg euthanasia, same sex marriage etc.     If you accept CAGW as ideological, particularly if you are inclined to the Left, you are automatically excused from applying any critical thinking. The science becomes irrelevant, it is the ‘morality’ that counts.   Rudd set the ball rolling on this when he proclaimed that climate change was ‘the great moral challenge of our generation’.  That provenance alone ought to be enough to have every conservative commentator running the other way.  In theory at least, CAGW owes its existence to science and science is not ideology.

When I first became interested in CAGW, in about 2009, I was initially prompted by an instinctive feeling that something wasn’t right.  I didn’t inherit my CAGW scepticism by virtue of my conservatism.  When I expressed my misgivings to a friend, she leant me Ian Plimer’s ‘Heaven and Earth’. That started me off and I spent the next year or so intently studying the subject.  For every hour I spent at Wattsupwiththat I spent an hour at Real Climate.  I scoured the major websites on both sides of the question.  As a result of that I became a CAGW sceptic.  I remember thinking, in about 2010, by which time I was confirmed in my view and started expounding it to anyone who’d listen, ‘I’m going to look a real goose if, in say 10 year’s time,  serious warming kicks in and all these promised catastrophes start to eventuate’.  Well, it’s now 2018 and I don’t feel like a goose.  I am more than ever convinced that CAGW is scientifically unsupportable.  There must be many Coalition MPs who feel the same way.

Maybe CAGW is now already baked into the mindset of even sceptical politicians as “just the cost of doing business”.  Like death, taxes and the NDIS.  But I still think it’s worth a try.

It would take time and would require a phased approach.  Here’s a bare bones narrative that might work.

Point One:   Concede that there is a body of science that postulates that human CO2 emissions are warming the planet harmfully but point out that there is a considerable body of work rejecting that view.   It won’t be enough to attempt to disprove the CAGW hypothesis.  It will be necessary to point out that there is, at least, one viable alternative theory that seeks to explain recent warming i.e. the Svensmark cosmic radiation theory.

Point Two:   Highlight that recent warming has been miniscule and that the CAGW theory is by no means settled science.  The most cogent argument for the latter point, to my mind, is the fact that the estimate of climate sensitivity –  1C to 4.5C – has not narrowed in the more than thirty years that ‘climatology’ has been a  field of study.  Climate sensitivity, the degree of warming attributable to a doubling of atmospheric  CO2, is the fundamental metric of CAGW.   If the science were certain, climate sensitivity would be a physical law expressed as an equation.  The fact that climate sensitivity is still an estimate, and still as vague as it was thirty years ago, gives the lie to the ‘settled science’ meme.  Even if you conceded that what is ‘settled’ is that human CO2 emissions are causing warming there is no such certainty about it being catastrophic.  At 1C of warming it would, almost certainly, be beneficial.

Point Three:  Point out the astronomical cost associated with eliminating fossil fuels.   Argue that such expenditure can only be justified if the benefits of such expense are large and undeniable or risks of not acting are imminent, specific and undeniable.  A responsible government, with an eye to future generations, has an obligation to carefully weigh all considerations and not act precipitately.

Point Four:  Argue that, warming and cooling are all part of the natural climate cycle and that weather extremes have always been with us and always will, regardless of whether or not the world stops warming at 2C above pre-industrial times.   If we are going to spend huge sums of money to protect ourselves against the vagaries of climate let’s spend it first on infrastructure, such as dams that can mitigate against flooding and drought, more robust power generation and transmission and so on.  Then, in the highly likely event that the world fails to rein in CO2 emissions (and how hard would it be to demonise China and Russia just at the moment?) and we do get a deterioration in the climate, we are at least better prepared than we would be had we flushed billions down the toilet of renewable energy.

Point  Five:  If in government, appoint a new Climate Commission tasked with evaluating all aspects of climate change, including alternative science and cost benefit analysis of alternative approaches.   Ideally, Maurice Newman should head this body but he probably wouldn’t be politically acceptable.  Include both sceptics and alarmists but only from the ranks of scientists and economists.  No activists.  (I do accept that there are practical problems with this proposal but it’s worth considering)

Point Six:  Establish an independent committee to oversee BoM climatology methodology.  Ideally this committee should include Dr Jennifer Marohasy, who has the requisite academic credentials and has done more than anyone to bring to light the doubtful temperature homogenization practices at the Bureau.

I concede the above is very sketchy – it would need fleshing out.  Just food for thought for Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce  or Craig Kelly.  Guys, stop playing by the alarmist’s rules.

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35 Responses to Peter O’Brien: Kill CAGW starting now

  1. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    You can’t refute an unfalsifiable hypothesis. The only thing to be done is to ridicule and destroy it.

    Do not play by their rules.

  2. Genghis

    Did amnyone else know that renewable power from Wind Farms in Eastern Australia (NEM) worked at less than 10% of their capacity factor for the last 13 days of April 2018! Yes I know they only average 30% of their rated capacity but the world is going to have to push back on the stupid claims of progressives/environmentalists. If you want to lower CO2 emissions then go Nuclear.

  3. stevem

    “Business just wants certainty”. I’ve never understood how the only businesses that ever seem to want certainty are the subsidy farmers building wind turbines and solar plants.

    Other businesses need certainty too. All those businesses trying to compete despite rising power prices wanting some certainty of price. All those businesses with perishable goods or thing like smelters where certainty of supply are vital. How are these businesses not worthy of consideration?

    Consider other businesses because “Business just wants certainty”.

  4. egg_

    The NEG is aimed at guaranteeing energy reliability, while lowering costs for consumers and delivering on Australia’s Paris Agreement commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 26 per cent on 2005 levels.

    Is not demand management the trashing of reliability?

  5. Old School Conservative

    A great set of recommendations. However the ideological resistance to such logic will never admit to the truth.
    Energy policy in Australia needs a leader with enough courage to say “CAGW is crap” and immediately remove all renewable subsidies. Business will then have the certainty they crave – low cost electricity is best provided by coal and nuclear energy.
    The only party getting close to that position is the ACs. They don’t seem to be in a position to form government though.

  6. H B Bear

    Electricity prices are only going one way under the UniParty. The only question is how high, how fast.

  7. struth

    There is no global warming to worry about as the UN is not worried about it.
    They only apply restrictions to western countries allowing all others, especially China and India, go ballistic with coal generated power.
    That’s all the argument you need.
    It is an attack on the west by the global socialist UN.
    Until we pull out of this corrupted organization or at least out of the Paris Agreement, kiss your arse goodbye.

  8. RobK

    I agree with the post. Something needs to be done.
    We will need dams for cheapish water, (or nuclear powered desal, probably both), to have some show of carrying a greater population, quite aside from CAGW.
    There is an equal likelihood of cooling for which we must also be prepared as it will be more catastrophic than warming. Lomborg’s approach was more sensible but met stiff resistance of “no platform”.

  9. JohnA

    One argument often advanced to justify ‘hastening slowly’ on emissions reductions is that Australia only produces 1.3% of global emissions and whatever we do will not have any appreciable effect. That is true but it is a pretty weak argument. The same logic applies to the vast majority of the roughly 200 countries that make up the international community. The “we must be seen to be doing our bit” counter argument will always prevail as long as we’ve got weak-kneed or opportunistic politicians kowtowing to mindless Green activists or rent-seeking renewable energy entrepreneurs.

    The rebuttal should be that those countries which will not make any appreciable impact on the putative warming scenario should not be penalised. The effort should be concentrated on those few countries where it will “make a difference.”

    Those Green activists will then say, “But we can’t persuade China, India, Russia and the USA.” Tough! Why should all the small countries, whose emissions can’t change the climate in either direction, be your target?

    If you (Green activists) can’t succeed where it counts, you are the definition of “sisyphian futility” (BIRM), and taking it out on the rest of the world constitutes childish petulance. Go away and grow up!

  10. Gerard

    Given that the pre industrial temperature was the end of the ‘little ice age’ a 2 degree increase in temperature would be welcome rather than something we should try to prevent. It is also part of a natural cycle of temperature increase and decrease we cannot control, with the next part of that cycle being a decrease as the sun approaches a solar minimum. Another little ice age anyone???

    Of course the IPCC and the UNFCCC have both downplayed natural influences, or else there would have been no case to answer.

    The key science to consider is Henry’s Law which determines the proportion of gas dissolved in a liquid in contact with a gaseous phase – i.e. between the oceans and the atmosphere. This means, that as the oceans warm due to the sun’s recent increased output, more CO2 goes into the atmosphere, hence the upward trend. What is not commonly told is that 95% of CO2 emissions are natural. (this means if we were able to stop all ‘man made’ emissions, CO2 concentrations would still increase) This process will reverse when, as is inevitable, the oceans cool again as the sun puts out less energy. This is before we even debate the role CO2 has in ‘warming’, which is miniscule. Again, we are not told that 96% of the ‘greenhouse effect’ is due to natural water vapour, which we cannot control. Of the remaining 4%, mainly due to CO2, most is again natural, as already discussed. What a scam!!!!!

  11. wal1957

    The NEG is aimed at guaranteeing energy reliability, while lowering costs for consumers and delivering on Australia’s Paris Agreement commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 26 per cent on 2005 levels.

    The NEG will NOT lower prices. How can it? All it does is guarantee supply that, as pointed out in the article, can only be guaranteed as long as we have the fossil fuel stations operating.

    If the nongs in parliament can’t understand that we need to invest in more “reliable” generation as opposed to renewable “unreliables’, then we are doomed to blackouts in the future. Anybody with an IQ above 50 should be able to see that. Maybe that is the problem, we elect idiots and hope it will turn out all right.

    Any chance the Liberals had of retaining power at the next election went out the door with this NEG proposal. Smoke and mirrors is all it is. I hope the general public aren’t as dumb as the politicians they vote for…

  12. manalive

    That just about covers it IMHO.

    If the science were certain, climate sensitivity would be a physical law expressed as an equation …

    The ‘no feedback’ climate sensitivity for doubling of the CO2 concentration is 1 – 1.2C, but the effective sensitivity depends on assumed feedbacks, positive and negative.
    Empirically-based estimates of climate sensitivity have been declining over time.

  13. Norman Church

    Any new Climate Commission would be captured by the left regardless of the initial appointees. It would be another waste of money. We need far fewer government bodies.

    We all know what we needs to be done. We simply need political leaders with the courage to stand up to the MSM and the doctors’ wives.

  14. Gerard

    Maurice Strong was the UN bureaucrat that used the UN World Meteorological Organisation to set up the IPCC and developed the UNFCCC when he ran UNEP. He made no secret of what his objective was. His most famous quote is:
    “What if a small group of world leaders were to conclude that the principal risk to the Earth comes from the actions of the rich countries?… In order to save the planet, the group decides: Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”

    It is nom accident that the Paris agreement focusses on Western economies decreasing their emissions. Our politicians are either ignorant, complicit or both.

  15. RobK

    Is not demand management the trashing of reliability?
    Demand management existed previously as an emergency contingency. It will be brought into normal operating protocol and be greatly expanded using “smart technology ” which will make the grid far more complex and yes, sacrifice reliabilty as well as utility. There is a lot more involved than just installing smart meters.

  16. Thank you Peter.

    On this blog it has been asserted many times that our ruling class finds themselves living in a technological world beyond their powers of comprehension.
    Most politicians cannot see the connection between CAGW and “renewable” energy. They can, however, see the opportunity for their families and associate organizations to make huge windfalls from investment in market protected wind and solar projects.
    Follow the money.

  17. egg_

    Demand management existed previously as an emergency contingency.

    From previous, smelters have had to dust off their demand management plans that they used with their respective State Govts decades ago – progress, NOT.

  18. egg_

    We simply need political leaders with the courage to stand up to the MSM and the doctors’ wives.

    There will only be push back when inner city soyboys get a cold latte.

  19. We have one chance and one chance only. Scott Pruitt, with the support of Donald Trump, exposes the fraudulent “science” produced by the activists at the US EPA (along with all the damning emails between those activists).
    If that happens, then there may be enough support to go after NASA GISS and the CRU in East Anglia to expose the fraud they’ve participated in, in producing fake Global Temperatures.
    A forensic study of their computers should expose them and send a few to jail where they belong.

    Oh by the way, the climate sensitivity to CO2 is precisely ZERO. If the so called ‘Greenhouse Effect’ warmed the planet, then the hottest places would be those areas with the strongest Greenhouse Effect, namely the wet tropics. The wet tropics rarely get above 34 DegC.
    It is the places with the weakest Greenhouse Effect, namely the dry deserts, that are the hottest.

    CAGW is a UN fraud, has always been a UN fraud and only exposing the UN fraud will win the day.

  20. Fat Tony

    Point One: Concede that there is a body of science that postulates that human CO2 emissions are warming the planet harmfully

    I have never actually seen this “body of science” – could someone point out where it is please?

  21. Gerard

    We are told that we need the greenhouse effect to explain the current temperature of the planet. Supporters claim that without it earth would be ice covered with an average temperature 33 degrees lower. However, the basis of the greenhouse effect – the back radiation due to greenhouse gasses is not supported by basic physics which does not support the transfer of heat from a colder upper atmosphere to a warmer surface.

    The current warmth of the planet can be explained more simply by the temperature/pressure effect of the atmosphere, warmed as it is by the sun. i.e. the so called ‘greenhouse effect’ is itself a myth.

    Supporters of the theory pointed to an upper atmosphere ‘hot spot’ that was supposed to exist to support the idea of a feedback loop that would increase warming. It has never been found. But it is the ‘settled science’. Go figure!!!

  22. Mother Lode

    “Business just wants certainty”

    I first heard this sort of nonsense during the fishwife Gillard’s regime.

    Of course, she called it ‘cardaindee’.

    Knowing something bad is going to happen is better for strategy than not knowing it – but not having things bad happen is better.

    She would have made a great doctor: “You have a condition which will, if left untreated, will certainly kill you. There is a treatment available which offers you a 50% chance of survival. If you are like me though you would prefer cerdaindee, so I am off to rut in a paddock with a Labor minister or two.”

  23. jupes

    The much vaunted NEG is in the news again today thanks to a Newspoll that shows voters trust Labor more than the Coalition to lower power prices and deliver reliability.

    If, as the Coalition tell us, CAGW is a real and imminent threat and renewables are the cheapest and best way to mitigate it, then they shouldn’t be surprised when people prefer the Labor policy which has more renewables.

    Idiots.

  24. Ubique

    I became fascinated by the threat of global warming around 2001. I spent two months reading everything I could find on the subject, before deciding the weight of evidence was overwhelmingly on the sceptics’ side. Being an AGW sceptic and an environmental consultant isn’t always an easy path to tread! It disarms the clients somewhat.

  25. Kneel

    “One argument often advanced to justify ‘hastening slowly’ on emissions reductions is that Australia only produces 1.3% of global emissions and whatever we do will not have any appreciable effect.”

    It is a good argument when you carefully note that the increase in Chinese emissions from 2016 to 2017 was greater than Australia’s total emissions over the same period. In other words, even if we magically ceased all anthropogenic emissions of CO2 in this country, any benefits to “the world” from doing so would be consumed by less than one year of Chinese growth.

    It is also noteworthy that paying attention to global values of a climate variable is required where on can show local changes in the opposite direction, but when it comes to sea ice, the opposite is true – that is, one should care about Arctic sea ice, not global. Other than “for effect”, I have not heard a good explanation of why global sea ice extent and volume (which have been rising) is not more important than Arctic sea ice extent and volume.

  26. Motelier

    Here are a couple of pointers to get any dinner party off to a flying start when a CAGW believer is in the party.

    1. Ask the party if the temperatures today are (a) higher, (b) lower, (c) the same as temperatures in the past. Real debate starter this one.

    2. Ask the party if the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere today (approx 400 ppm) 0.04% is (a) higher, (b) lower, (c) that same as CO2 levels in the past.

    3. Ask the party what will happen if CO2 levels drop below say 200 ppm.

    I am sure there are many more that can be asked, but usually by 3 the party usually stops for some strange reason as some guests walk out.

  27. Faye

    Don’t exhaust ourselves trying to REASON with these people. The ones who know it isn’t true but enjoy the gravy, we shouldn’t waste our time with. Then there are the others who actually think it is a moral duty to save the world, we won’t change their mind no matter what.
    To blast the whole CAGW cabal to smithereens is to politely tell them, all subsidies/grants/paid expenses/Agreements/sympathetic regulations/tax kickbacks/special favours/Universities and schools climate brainwashing/etc are henceforth withdrawn.
    If your “save the world” products are so brilliant, finance them yourselves.
    Also tell your globalist, one-world socialist government masters (e.g. Soros etc) that the nations of the world are fighting back (e.g. America, Britain, Italy, Poland, Hungary and many more) to govern themselves, to retain their borders and decide who comes to live in their countries.
    The Liberals a la Turnbull/Lucy are socialist climate change believers so Australia’s stuffed!

  28. Roger

    Construction of Australia’s largest wind farm has begun in the South Burnett region of QLD.

    Components for the 123 turbines are being imported from India, China and France.
    What could possibly go wrong?

    The farm will power up to 260 000 homes…when the wind is blowing.

  29. Faye

    I forgot to insert the “UN” Agreements and (eg Soros “and the UN”). Faye

  30. MikeS

    “For every hour I spent at Wattsupwiththat I spent an hour at Real Climate.”

    You must have a stronger constitution that I do Peter. My first encounters with Real Climate are what drove me to doubt. Their snotty contempt for what to me seemed quite reasonable questions and my first encounters with Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit cemented my skepticism. I was already persuaded long before the “Climategate” emails, which should have killed any lingering doubt for any sentient observer.
    Reform of climate science will require the same solution as reform of the ABC. Nothing will happen until the trough has been emptied and the hopelessly corrupted practitioners have quit, karked or discovered they only get funded for producing useful results.

  31. Rococo Liberal

    We simply need political leaders with the courage to stand up to the MSM and the doctors’ wives.

    Exactly right.
    Once we defy the MSM and win through, we will turn the argument our way so that more and more people will join us.

  32. Percy Popinjay

    “Business just wants certainty”

    I first heard this sort of nonsense during the fishwife Gillard’s regime.

    Of course, she called it ‘cardaindee’.

    Correct – the ‘carbon’ tax was the vehicle intended to deliver that cardaindee.

    An another note, I recently questioned an AusCons senate hopeful on his views on catastrophic human induced climate change. He completely fluffed it by displaying a very disappointing ignorance of the issues.

    Not good enough.

  33. manalive

    The current warmth of the planet can be explained more simply by the temperature/pressure effect of the atmosphere, warmed as it is by the sun. i.e. the so called ‘greenhouse effect’ is itself a myth …

    Gerard (at 11:26 am) do yourself a favour and go here.
    There is a lot at stake, sometimes I wonder if that hogwash is spread by the CC™ industrial complex as black propaganda.

  34. Entropy

    Point Five: If in government, appoint a new Climate Commission tasked with evaluating all aspects of climate change, including alternative science and cost benefit analysis of alternative approaches. Ideally, Maurice Newman should head this body but he probably wouldn’t be politically acceptable. Include both sceptics and alarmists but only from the ranks of scientists and economists. No activists. (I do accept that there are practical problems with this proposal but it’s worth considering)

    Sorry, a real bad idea. They will only put their own mob in charge when it is their turn at the levers of government.
    No. Dismantle all this shit, and salt the earth so they can’t re emerge.
    The solution to too much government is not another lot of government.

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