A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).



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The new $30 Trillion dollar climate wishlist of the same old ideas

There’s a new Christmas fantasy list for Climate-worriers. It’s a New York Times bestselling book (aren’t they all) and people are gushing …because it lists the same old solutions we’ve heard 100 times before, like using wind, solar, go vegetarian, walk to work, and (wait) educate your girls.

The PR material glows like the Sun. Wear your sunglasses and hazmat suit when reading:

Project Drawdown is the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming.We did not make or devise the plan—the plan exists and is being implemented worldwide. It has been difficult to envision this possibility because the focus is overwhelmingly on the impacts of climate change. We gathered a qualified and diverse group of researchers from around the world to identify, research, and model the 100 most substantive, existing solutions to address climate change. What was uncovered is a path forward that can roll back global greenhouse gas emissions within thirty years. The research revealed that humanity has the means and techniques at hand. Nothing new needs to be invented…

Project Drawdown’s ranked list of 100 climate change solutions has priced the whole planet-fixing kit at a cool $29,609 billion dollars (of other people’s money). Apparently this is cheap as it will save $74 trillion (trust me), and thousands of entreupeneurs have been sitting on their money waiting for a list like this.

All 100 are ranked through a kind of divination of a “Plausible Scenario” in a computer model. That calculates that wind turbines are ranked at 2, while nuclear energy is way down at number 20. Educating girls ranks 6th and family planning at number 7. Number one on the list is refrigerant management (and I’ll just say China, and a $2b HFC fraud).  These people are not good with numbers. Who would trust them with a computer?

#6 Educating Girls (will stop storms):

The cause and effect chain is so long here you will need your 800 ft Sidewinder Cave and Wreck Reel to find your way back to the surface.

Educated girls produce fewer human babies which means less humans in 20 years which will make less CO2, which will trap less heat and reduce the size of the tropical hot-spot that doesn’t exist, and that will cause less rain and more rain in all the right places, so we get fewer floods and droughts and bad weather or something like that.

Another great benefit they tell us is that educated girls are “less likely to marry as children or against their will. ” Ponder all those poor unschooled girls who accidentally marry against their own will. Oops, damn, I got married today and I didn’t want to?   How is educating girls supposed to make that less likely? Dear Warlord, I learnt my times tables, don’t marry me off?

Yes, sure, we all want girls (and boys) to get an education. We know the world is a better place when they learn to read and write (but not necessarily when they learn to turn atmospheric physics into a social justice campaign).

#63 Transport Teleprescence (is bound to save pigmy squirrels):

This idea implores people to do what conservative writers have been saying for decades and stop flying around the globe for meetings when they could use Skype instead. Telepresencing hasn’t caught on even with the IPCC — an organisation that is more panicked about global warming than any other. If the experts that live off the fear of climate change will not even telepresent their Olympic Annual COP Junket, what hope is there than any other less concerned institute will?

Somehow there are only 80 solutions on the list, not 100. Like everything in climate change, it’s exaggerated and nobody cares about the numbers.

Comment from MapTrap

The list goes from 1 to 80 in order of CO2 saved. Typical of people whose concern is about CO2 saving, with no consideration of money.

If you do what I did and drop the table into a spreadsheet, you can manipulate the data in terms of Saving/Cost per GT of CO2 saved. On that list Fridge Management goes from #1 to #62. Fridge Management is a no cost to implement, and negative $902 billion in savings, for a net loss of $10.06 billion per GT CO2 saved.

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EU decides to quietly drop “carbon neutrality by 2050″

France (with nukes) and Germany (with a huge renewables component) used to forge ahead with climate panic in the EU while the Eastern block (like Poland, with more coal and less cash) reliably pushes back against it. But France is pushing everyone to meet the new sacred 1.5C target with the big Carbon-Neutral-By-2050 plan. It’s a target so wildly ambitious even Germany has pulled the pin on yet another fantasy deadline like the last ones it failed to meet. This is despite (or rather, because of) renewables overtaking coal in Germany in January. The more unreliables a nation has the more inefficient their whole grid is, and the more it costs to save each ton of carbon. Every extra wind turbine is more expensive at reducing CO2 than the last.

The EU Council has just released its summit statement basically saying yes to all the IPCC favourite pet visions but not putting any dates on it. With no dates, it’s a meaningless wishlist.

But hey, it’s only the planet at stake, it’s not like there is a deadline that matters anyway eh?

The GWPF Calls it “Over” for the EU’s big carbon-neutral-by-2050 target

March 20: Tomorrow, the 28 leaders of EU countries are set to adopt a new strategy on action to combat climate change. In light of the student protests spreading across Europe and the world, many leaders in the West had wanted to strengthen the strategy. But this has been fiercely resisted by Eastern European countries led by Poland.

Keep reading  →

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Climate skeptics, anti EU party surges from nowhere to power in Dutch Elections

Like Trump, and like Brexit, journalists did not see this coming.  Centre right parties somehow expect to keep winning by adopting centre left policies.  But politics is being transformed by parties brave enough to speak against political correctness.
Dutch Parliament, photo skitterphoto


In the Dutch provincial elections the Forum for Democracy (FDV) Party has rocketed to 12 seats from nothing. They only launched in 2016.  The FDV campaigned against “climate change hysteria” and against immigration and for more direct democracy. The Financial Times calls them Eurosceptics.

For centre right parties there are many votes to be gained in being outspokenly skeptical of climate change — Abbott, Trump, Dean, and now “Baudet”.

Thierry Baudet, 36, heads up the FDV. The Dutch PM was and still is Mark Rutte (of the VVD supposedly a centre right party), and he has just lost control of the upper house. There are 75 seats all up, and FDV somehow looks like getting 12, the same number as the ruling VVD Party.

The “centre right” ruling party apparently now has to do deals with the Greens. Which tells us all we need to know about how not-right the centre-right is.

Far-right populists score stunning win in Dutch provincial vote

by Eline Schaart, Politico

Far-right populist newcomer Forum for Democracy stunned the Dutch political establishment after winning the most votes in provincial elections, according to a preliminary count early Thursday.

In order to achieve a working majority in the Senate, Rutte’s coalition will have to rely on the support of one or more opposition parties.

It’s unlikely that Baudet’s party will work with the government. It rejects, for example, the need for climate change policies, a major issue for the Dutch government. Last week, Baudet suddenly wavered on his long-standing support for the Netherlands leaving the EU.

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So much snow in the Northern Winter ski resorts staying open ’til summer

Remember when Dr David Viner famously said “Children wont know what snow is?

To paraphrase Tony Heller: “Soon Children Wont Know What Science Is”.

Two weeks ago snow mass in the Northern Hemisphere hit “exceptional”. This graph below is from the Finnish Meteorological Institute and unlike other datasets includes both snow and ice. They don’t say if this is an all-time record (since 1982).

Look at that chart: Total Snow Mass for the Northern Hemisphere (excluding mountains)

 Exceptionally large winter snow

[Science Daily] In the Northern Hemisphere the maximum seasonal snow cover occurs in March. “This year has been a year with an exceptionally large amount of snow, when examining the entire Northern Hemisphere. The variation from one year to another has been somewhat great, and especially in the most recent years the differences between winters have been very great,” says Kari Luojus, Senior Research Scientist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Snow Cover, Global

Credit: Image courtesy of Finnish Meteorological Institute

There are the usual we-still-believe weasel word caveats:

The weather fluctuates from one year to another and individual cold snaps in the Arctic area are not, as such, proof of the progression of climate change.

And lets not forget…individual hot snaps in the Arctic area are not, as such, proof of the progression of climate change either. Wouldn’t it be good if scientists reminded everyone?

97% of scientists are more certain than ever, but look out! We are about to be hit by the Climate Uncertainty Monster

“However, they [cold snaps] are a reminder of how climate uncertainty has increased and that we’ll have to get use (sic) to variations in the weather as the climate change proceeds,” Laaksonen observes.

And thus the scientists resort to Voodoo and post hoc excuse-making. Climate Uncertainty is the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card for modelers. It legitimizes every departure from average as “proof” of their success.

What would it take to disprove them — Ten average years? Not even an ice age?

Unlike “hottest ever” press releases the researchers felt compelled to cherry pick some contrary indicators and remind us snow cover has been declining. This snowy year could absolutely *not* be part of a changing cycle.

Total amount of snow declines and snow starts to melt earlier

Lengthy series of observation times show that the total amount of snow in the Northern Hemisphere has declined in the spring period and that the melting of the snow has started earlier in the same period. Examination over a longer period (1980-2017) shows that the total amount of snow in all winter periods has decreased on average.

Also, the ice cover on the Arctic Ocean has grown thinner and the amount and expanse of perennial ice has decreased. …

Remember when skiing would end?

That was 2017

  Time –  The Big Melt

“The dream of skiing on Alpine snow is going to go away,” says Zorzanello. The loss of the beauty that once was the Alps is a just price for the damage wrought by humans—and might serve as a sufficient spur for us to begin to avoid doing more.  — Jeffrey Kluger, undated, 2017 or later.

Climate Study Suggests Skiing Is On a Short Leash

Scientists ran 300,000 years worth of climate change models at U.S. ski resorts

In just 70 years, the ski season will be markedly shorter, no matter what happens in the near future.

Subsequently, revenue from ticket sales alone will drop in the coming decades by hundreds of millions to billions of dollars. – June 20, 2017, Julie Brown

This is now:

American ski resorts to stay open until July following snowiest winter on record

It has officially been the wettest winter on record in the USA, meaning many of the country’s ski resorts have experienced the snowiest ski season in history.

Las Vegas got it’s first significant snowfall since records began in 1937. There was also record snow in Seattle, Sierra Nevada, and Minnesota and in Arizona.

UPDATE: See also the Colorado Snowpack record and the one in the Himalayas.


h/t Andrew V

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How to hide 30,000 Polar Bears

A new book from Susan Crockford and published by GWPF looks interesting.  It’s called The Polar Bear Catastophe That Never Happened but maybe it could have been called “How to hide 30,000 Polar Bears” which the Green-Scare Machine has apparently done under a mountain of smear and indignation. This is a story of the concealment and the backlash — the failure of science.

“Polar bear numbers could easily exceed 40,000, up from a low point of 10,000 or fewer in the 1960s.”

Polar bear numbers have grown four-fold during the last fifty  years (obviously climate change has been good for them). But WWF is still running stories headlined: Polar bear population decline a wake up call for climate change action

The issue of polar bears is a bit esoteric for Australians, though we are still accosted by their posters, but it’s not so esoteric for people in little towns of Canada like Labrador where a bear was roaming the streets a couple of weeks ago.

At least they weren’t invaded by 52 polar bears like the Russian town Belushaya Guba was. Those fat healthy bears stayed for two months or so and even wandered into buildings.

Since a full grown male can weight 700kg and is the largest carnivorous mammal on land, that sounds like a Bruce Willis movie plot. Though polar bears in Russia are protected “because they are endangered” (though from what, I can’t tell you). If Bruce shot one he’d be breaking the law.

The invasion of bears was of course, also blamed on “climate change”.

The US site earns me a few affiliate dollars for the Paperback copy and the Kindle Copy.

The Australian Amazon kindle copy is here.

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Brexit: last week in the UK the elites rose up and overthrew the masses

How not to negotiate

Mark Steyn on Brexit the day after the last vote:

Last night, sixteen days before Britain supposedly leaves the European Union in accord with the people’s vote of three years ago, their elected representatives voted by 312 to 308 to rule out a “no-deal” Brexit – i.e. a straightforward walkaway - ever.

So the EU now has no incentive ever to reach a deal with Britain. The appalling “deal” Theresa May “negotiated” was for a wretched and humiliating vassal status with Brussels. Because for the Eurocrats, what matters is to teach the lesson the ingrate voters that you can check “Out” any time you like but you can never leave. Mrs May’s deal was meant to be a message to antsy Continentals that the citizenry’s impertinence must never happen again.

So last night the elites rose up and overthrew the masses….

Is May working for the EU or the UK?

Am I crazy? I’m hardly a foreign trade wizz, but I would have thought if you represent the fifth largest economy in the world, whose Monarch technically still heads the most widespread empire, culture and language on Earth* you arrive at the negotiating table saying “We’re out”. Offer us something worthwhile and we’ll consider it. “Two weeks to go.”

From afar downunder there haven’t been any signs Theresa May was serious about Brexit. Surely she would have already negotiated trade deals with the likes of the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand? The new arrangements would start the day after Brexit. The EU would be coming to her.

She’d have been delivering speeches about restoring the power and influence of the Commonwealth — surely a bargaining chip worthy of cashing in. Dare I say “India”?

May has had two years to prepare, yet here we are with days to go, and now she’s talking about Tariff details in a No Deal Brexit — the option the house voted down a few days ago?

Tonight the Express is reporting that a couple of economists are asking why she didn’t negotiate with the major EU nations instead of trying to negotiate with the man who had the most to gain from wrecking any deal.

 Brexit SHOCK: Economists claim UK should NOT have negotiated with Jean-Claude Juncker

Martina Bet, The Express

According to 2018 book, “Clean Brexit: Why Leaving the EU still makes sense” by authors and economists Liam Halligan and Gerard Lyons, Britain should have negotiated in the first place with big EU nations, chiefly Germany, and not Mr Juncker. If you represent the fifth largest economy in the world you arrive at the negotiating table saying “We’re out”. Offer us something worthwhile and we’ll consider it. Two weeks to go.

Mr Halligan and Mr Lyons claimed that as Britain heads for the exit, “the Commission is deeply concerned about losing the UK’s annual contribution – some £13.1 billion in 2016, or £8.6 billion in net terms.”

They wrote: “So Juncker wanted to do everything he could to frustrate, delay and even help prevent that exit.”

And in the end, the irony, for all the argy bargy on the floor of Parliament, the MP that stops the delay may be the PM of Italy

There are allies in Europe of Brexit.

Italy to BLOCK Brexit delay: Salvini plans eurosceptic favour to Farage, warns Merkel ally

Joe Barnes, The Express

Mr Brok, a close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, insisted there were “very different views” across the EU over Theresa May’s request to extend the bloc’s Article 50 exit clause. Any Brexit delay will require a unanimous decision by all leaders at the European Council summit on Thursday afternoon. Mr Brok has begged for a short delay until May 23 to avoid new British MEPs having to be elected to the European Parliament.

There are growing concerns in Brussels of swathes of Eurosceptics being elected through British polls as Theresa May fails to deliver Brexit on time.

 British Brexiteers have been working hard to lobby European governments to see if they would veto a British extension of Article 50 to ensure Britain leaves the bloc without a deal.

Brexit has friends here in Australia too. Here’s hoping the 17 million voters get what they were promised.

*OK. Call it “symbolic” but there’s 800 years of goodwill, culture and odd legal phrases connecting the Anglosphere. It might be soft power, but it’s still power. The UK has been called the second most powerful country on Earth in by Researchers at European Geostrategy. Though the nation appears to be working hard to change that…

h/t to Barry Woods from a throw away line in the GWPF office.

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“Market Bloodbath”: Too many new remote renewables projects means high losses

As Australia push-pumps “renewables” into remote locations some of their incomes are suddenly being cut because the losses (as they transmit across long lines) are higher than they expected. On March 8th the AEMO rerated many generators and this year it’s being called a bloodbath for wind and solar. Some of them,  like AGL’s Silverton wind farm face losses of 20%.

It all revolves around something called Marginal Loss Factors, a value that is set by the AEMO each year for each generator. The rating is reduced by transmission losses over distance and also by “congestion” from other renewables which are popping up in the same remote locations far from the cities and industries that need the electricity they make. This sudden loss of expected income threatens new wind and solar projects (as it should — hello market signal!) Sometimes the loss factors are hard to predict years in advance which makes it difficult to also predict whether a project will return a profit (even despite the guaranteed subsidies).

Another renewable inefficiency strikes — “marginal loss factors”

Generators are paid according to the electricity that arrives rather than what they produce at the plant. (Seems fair). This is called the Marginal Loss Factor (MLF). Ideally they’d get paid for an MLF of 1.0 or higher (which means paid for every MWh or potentially even more if they are based in an area where there is a lot of demand and not many generators). Loss factors range from 0.8 up to 1.2, though most of them are close to 1.000.  But this year there are losses across the board and only a few gains.  An MLF below 1.0 is bad news for generators. In the extreme case of Silverton, the marginal loss factor fell from 1.0 to 0.79 which means they only get paid for 79% of what they produce. One fifth of the energy generated is not getting to where it is needed and won’t get paid for. Karadoc Solar Farm dropped from 0.94 to 0.78. These are some of the biggest falls.

It’s affected base load providers too, to a lesser extent. Snowy Hydro, and some gas plants are down about 5%. If dumping too much capacity on the grid causes the MLF’s to sink, surely that is another “renewable cost”? Add it their bills…

The big inescapable  problem for unreliable generators is that they need acres of land which makes it expensive to build them near the demand.

There were some big falls last year (as in North Queensland for 2018 which was particularly bad). This gives us some idea of how the trend is “breaking new ground”. Alas I don’t think there are graphs for the 2019 projections yet.

Marginal losses, North Queensland, AEMO 2018

1996 – 2018: Last year the falls in marginal loss factors showed up in some places like here in Far North Queensland. In 1997 – 2006 before the growth of renewables, most projects in North Queensland had MLFs over 1.0.  (2018 Presentation AEMO)

Hard to believe but as our grid capacity grows and load stays largely the same, the marginal loss factors are increasing. Really.

These losses were not expected

According to Paul McArdle of WattClarity,  MLF’s have been in this wide range for 20 years, but these current announcements have still surprised people. It might have a lot to do with the huge 50% increase in renewable generation in the last 12 months. Who would have thought? Their models failed. As McArdle says: “In his “Lessons from the trenches” article from September 2018, Jonathon Dyson notes (about MLFs) that:

“physics of the power system beats financial models every day of the week”

Dyson has this spectacular quote showing how confused the developers are:

A recent conversation around MLF’s, where a developer told me ‘… the degradation in MLF was not in our business-model; who do we need to talk to get the MLF changed by AEMO?…

The draft Marginal Loss Factors report was released on March 8. The final one comes out on April 1. The AEMO says that the year-on-year changes to the MLF are high and they are considering proposals to change the way they are calculated, and other ways to make the system “more manageable” for generators. But these rules have been rules for years — smart planners should have allowed for the possibility that rampant subsidies and religious fervour would mean too many new renewables in the one spot, and when the wind stops on one, it stops on the neighbours too.

Wind and Solar plants get massive de-rating in congested grid

 Giles Parkinson, March 8th, Reneweconomy

The MLFs are having a greater impact on wind and solar farms because many are being built away from load centres, and the “open access” regime means the local grid struggles to transport the new capacity and some project developers might not know – at the time of construction – what else might be built nearby.

“As more generation is connected to electrically weak areas of the network that are remote from the regional reference node, then the MLFs in these areas will continue to decline,” AEMO says in its MLF draft documentation.

Last year, falls in marginal loss factors of 20 per cent or more were imposed on some projects as a result of grid congestion, or changes to load. That has the potential to dramatically alter the economics of a project, affecting equity owners and lenders alike.

The worst-affected regions this year and last year are north Queensland, south-western and western NSW and north-west Victoria, known now as the “rhombus of regret” – so named because of the shape of the grid and because of the sheer number of projects built and proposed for the area, and the grid limitations.

In NSW, these include three projects owned by Neoen – the new 150MW Colleambally solar farm (down from 1.01 to 0.88), the Griffith solar farm (1.06 to 0.92), and the Parkes solar farm (1.06 to 0.92) – and AGL’s Silverton wind farm (1.0 to 0.79) and Broken Hill solar farm (0.97 to 0.72).

Not good news for renewables investors

But remember this is another inefficiency hitting non-renewables to some extent too. No joy for anyone with a stupid system and a broken market.

New solar, wind projects may stall in face of network “bloodbath”

Giles Parkinson, March 12, Reneweconomy

 The MLF is a key calculation because it can make or break a power project. It reflects how much of a power plant’s output at source arrives at destination (load) and is credited for payment.

Many solar and wind farm operators contacted by RenewEconomy say the latest downgrades – of up to 20 per cent in some instances, and more than 5 per cent in many cases – will have a major impact on the industry.

Developers say that some existing projects may face equity calls or refinancing demands from lenders because of the anticipated fall in revenue. Other projects that are not yet developed, or yet to get finance, may find themselves stalled at the gate.

“Some projects won’t go ahead,” said the head of one international developer.

Some [developers] have been completely blindsided, in certain instances by poor modelling done internally or by consultants, and in other cases because they were simply unaware of the scale of impact, or the number of other projects competing for space in the same part of the grid.

The data is all in the AEMO latest draft. If anyone feels like graphing the fall in the MLF per state or region it might be interesting. However the latest report only has last years data and the projections. Other years are at the AEMO link. It would be quite a bit of work.

The AEMO explains why there are losses this year and explains that it could get worse

Changes between the 2018-19 MLFs and the 2019-20 MLFs are mainly due to changes in projected power flow over the transmission network. The key driver for these changes is a large increase in generation connections to the NEM, particularly in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. The modelling for the 2019-20 MLFs includes 47 new connections providing approx. 5,600 MW of new capacity. As more generation is connected to electrically weak areas of the network that are remote from the regional reference node, then the MLFs in these areas will continue to decline.

When will politicians stop the subsidies? The growth is becoming carnivorous.


Mosomoso #2:

What do they do? They mainstream a bunch of antique technologies guaranteed to be high cost, high impact, resource-greedy, import-dependent, unreliable, diffuse, intermittent and feeble. To improve the image they call these relics “renewables” and group them with an old technology, hydro, that has some mainstream use. For laughs, they incinerate anything that grows, is discarded or is exuded by a ferment and call all that “renewable” too.

Then they express surprise when distances prove a problem on a continent about which “The Tyranny of Distance” was written.

I say they knew it was all a turkey from the get-go. Renewables were too-failed-to-fail from their very inception. It was like clobbering the Titanic with an iceberg before it was launched.

Jo replies: But you are too kind. Most of the renewables-fans can’t add it all up and still don’t see what’s coming. Free is *!Free!* and dollars are only numbers!

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Greenpeace lies to save the planet — erasing Patrick Moore again

Donald Trump quoted Patrick Moore this week — the skeptic with an ecology PhD who was once a Founder of Greenpeace. So Greenpeace leapt to do some damage control on their brandname and created more damage instead. They promptly tweeted that he was never a founder and is a paid lobbyist. (And what is Greenpeace anyway if not paid lobbyists?)

If they’ll lie about their own history, what won’t they lie about?

Thanks to Anthony Watts for finding the tweet and reminding us of things we posted long ago.

Greenpeace tweet in 2019:

Patrick Moore was not a co-founder. Greenpeace Tweet.

Patrick Moore was not a co-founder. Greenpeace Tweet.

Greenpeace history page in 2007:

Patrick was not only one of the first five, but he was their only scientist.

Patrick Moore, Founder, Greenpeace, Wayback Machine.

The Greenpeace site on February 25th, 2007.  (Click to Enlarge) @Greenpeaceusa

For 40 years of Greenpeace history Patrick Moore was called one of the five founders of Greenpeace. He traveled on the first Greenpeace boat trip. Thanks to the Wayback Machine we know that sometime in March 2007 he fell off the Founders list.

Just Greenpeace copying their Soviet idols.

Other Greenpeace starring moments:

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Hands up who wants to be a serf?

Good people could use classes to stand up to absurdly hypocritical accusations

It doesn’t matter what narcissistic hypocrites say, good team-player-type folk seem to apologize so fast, it’s like a reflex.

Australia needs a Fox. When SkyNews was tested with Ross Cameron’s four word breach of “permitted” lines, they failed. How big would their ratings be if they stood for something that matters, like free speech, instead of being afraid of breaching rules set by people with no principles.

To paraphrase:

The whole conversation is an absurdity…

People who laud Bill Clinton accuse others of supporting sexism.

People who want race based rules accuse those who don’t of racism.

The lefts main goal is controlling what you think. They ban unapproved thoughts.

The left demand total conformity.

…never bow to the mob.

The group-thinking Left mob today,
Would control what we think, do and say,
Deny us debate,
Call opposing views ‘hate’,
Taking all hard won freedoms away.


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Venezuela’s melt down: Blackout day six and the grid struggles to reboot

Venezuela has 31 million people and has had almost no electricity for six days. There are estimates on Twitter (#sinluz) suggesting that about half is back up as I write, but the stories of chaos, death and disaster are surely just starting to come out as communication lines open.  The water coming out of taps is black, possibly contaminated with oil (are those shots fake?)the Pepsi plant was stripped bare, see the video. People are desperate:  Shop owners are apparently shooting looters. At least one tweeter claims people are eating zoo animals. One baker took his own life after his shop was overrun and everything was stolen.  It may not be over yet either — the grid  recovered almost as far a few days ago, then collapsed again. Indeed, today explosions have been reported at an electrical substation at La Tiama, as well as other substations. What a debacle, a disaster. Babies in hospitals are being ventilated by hand. Many life support systems are off.

Netblocks tracks connectivity in Venezuala, which seems to be a reasonable proxy for power, and clearly electricity is being rebuilt partially, then collapsing again.

On the BBC one journalist describes the situation as like living the apocalypse. “They never thought it would come to this”. And he is not even referring to the armed pro Maduro regime gangs that are allegedly arriving on motorbikes and firing on protestors. See @MarcoRubio In the video the crowd is screaming and running for their lives.

Venezuela shows how fragile (and marvellous) a working grid is

History books will be written about this crisis. Matias Delacroix points out in Wired, that it’s very difficult to restart a decentralized grid which has been badly managed and poorly maintained. No one knows exactly what went wrong to bring it down, but fingers are pointing at the huge Guri Hydro plant, which provides a whopping 80% of the electricity.

Normally a blackstart begins with a small diesel unit to kick over a bigger turbine. Then the whole grid is gradually rebuilt bit by bit by “bootstrapping”. At all times the supply has to match the demand, so before an engineer throws the switch someone has to have already done the numbers to make sure things will stay balanced. As each new generator-load segment is added it must also match the frequency and phase set up by the original first generator.  It would be dangerous to set up a bunch of little separate grids and then try to meld them together. Getting the frequency or phase wrong can cause explosions. Hence the grid must be built from one point out, and carefully. Wind or solar generators can’t be used in a black start, but a large Hydro plant should be able to do that, assuming people can open the water gates, but restarting a badly managed grid means there are many fragile failure points that don’t reboot properly. After days of darkness it must also be difficult to estimate how much load will be waiting to take new power.


Matias Delacroix, Wired

While distributed systems don’t have a single point of generation failure, they can be more difficult to black start if they do go down, since more generation sites need to be bootstrapped and there are more loads to balance.

Regardless of the setup, the crucial component of all black starts is understanding what caused the outage, having the ability to fix it, and working with a system that can handle the power surges and fluctuations involved in bringing power back online. Without all of these elements in place, says Tim Yardley, a senior researcher at the University of Illinois focused on industrial control crisis simulations, black starts can be prohibitively difficult to execute.

“Reenergizing a grid in some ways is more of a shock to the system than it operating in its norm,” Yardley says. “If infrastructure is aging, and there’s a lack of maintenance and repairs, as you try to turn it back on and try to balance the loads you may have stuff that’s not going to come back up, infrastructure that’s been physically damaged or that was in such a bad state of repair that reenergizing it causes other problems.”

I asked a network engineer once what happens to the energy if, say a large turbine, was connected to a grid at the wrong frequency. Energy can’t just disappear, and if the phase or the frequency flatlined, and and opposing waves cancelled each other out, where would all the joules go?  He replied that it could be catastrophic — those kind of events shear through the steel turbine shaft (and these turbines can weigh up to 600 tons). When there are megawatts of energy at stake, mistakes are violent.

Crews attempting to deal with black-starting a frail and brittle grid also face major safety considerations, like explosions. “You have a maintenance issue and a manpower issue, because it’s extremely dangerous to reenergize a system if you have gear that hasn’t been maintained well,” Yardley notes.

Venezuela has faced years of power instability since about 2009, including two major blackouts in 2013 and a power and water crisis in 2016. At times the blackouts were caused in part by weather conditions like El Niño, but overall they have established a pattern of poor planning, mismanagement, and lack of investment on the part of the government.

Yay. Socialism.

UPDATE: China is offering to help get the grid running.

UPDATE: This may take months

Brilliant comment from Lance #5 explaining why this is a nightmare for grid managers and may take 3 – 6 months to sort out. Or longer if they blow too many substation transformers which are custom made.

Lance     March 14, 2019 at 4:45 am · Reply

Performing a “black start” is no simple matter.

The primary problem is that everything that was connected to the grid when it crashed is still connected. So essentially, the Load is a “Dead Short” from the perspective of Generation.

Every inductive load (induction motors) takes 6 times the normal running current to start each and every one. In terms of real and imaginary (complex) power components, the Load appears to be almost purely inductive with a Real component vector of nearly zero.

Essentially, Generation must provide 6 times the power it was providing when the grid failed and that reserve simply doesn’t exist. So energizing a substation is an explosive event.

The safest / only way to restart the grid is to isolate all of the loads except residential loads and bring up the lower voltage substations (10 kV) gradually in a controlled fashion. The residential load has resistive components ( water heaters, clothes dryers, cooking ovens, etc ) that help reduce the inductive component and provide a unity power factor component to the apparent load.

Only after the lower voltage grid is stabilized can the higher voltage transmission lines and substations (110 kV to 750 + kV)be re-energized. Even so, it is a precarious dance of balancing generated power with apparent power.

When the generator is connected to the load, it “sees” a reflected wave coming back to the generator that trips the overload safeties and causes the turbine/alternator to disconnect if the apparent power exceeds safe limits. If those safeties aren’t functional, the risk is an exploding substation, alternator, sheared turbine shaft, etc.

This is a nightmare scenario. No sane person ever wants to “smoke test” a power grid by trying a black start. The ramifications are frightening.

This is specifically why keeping a stable grid operational is a lot smarter than trying to roll the dice with intermittent generation and sudden changes in loads.

Greens ought to give the situation in Venezuela a very serious consideration before destabilizing the existing grid in any location on earth.

My guess is it will take 3 to 6 months to restart the grid in Venezuela, even if things go swimmingly. If a few substations and alternators are blown out, it could take 2 years. Longer if some turbines are damaged.

Substation transformers are custom made to order. They do not exist “in stock on hand” at the power levels needed on a national grid scale. Unit substations might be available in smaller sizes, say 50 to 100 MW. But the high voltage and higher power switchgear and transformers can be a 1 to 2 year lead time item even if you have the cash to pay for them.

This is a teachable moment. Smart people will pause and reflect upon what is happening, lest it happen elsewhere. This is not a game sane people want to play. Societies melt down in a matter of days to weeks without electric power, water, food, transportation, communication, etc.

We’ve yet to see how bad this is going to get. It will get a LOT worse before it gets better.


UPDATE: This link to Monash IP Observatory is monitoring live net connections in each district.  Many appear to be back up in the normal range of activity. Urdeneta, Sucre is not. Bolivar appears to show blackouts two weeks ago in the lead up.  Valencia has some wild spike of activity.

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Birthstrikers – cancelling their future kids to advertise climate change?

Two hundred years from now anthropologists will marvel at a bizarre cult at the start of the third millennium that were so terrified of climate change that they vowed not to have children until the weather got perfect, or climate change “ended” or the Yeti appeared at their press conference.

This is the logical end point of where the self-hate civilization gets us.

 BirthStrikers: meet the women who refuse to have children until climate change ends

Elle Hunt, The Guardian

In just two weeks, 140 people, mostly women in the UK, have declared their “decision not to bear children due to the severity of the ecological crisis”, says Pepino. “But we have also had people get in touch to say: ‘Thank you for speaking out about something that I didn’t feel I could even talk to my family about,’” she adds. Many of these BirthStrikers are involved with Extinction Rebellion, which on Saturday threw buckets of red paint outside Downing Street to symbolise “the death of our children” from climate change.

So people involved with a group called “Extinction Rebellion” are rebelling against extinction by, wait for it, not having kids?

The irony ‘s so hot it’s almost nuclear.

Be aware, she realizes this won’t cool the planet. She’s cancelling her future children as an advertising campaign:

Pepino says that BirthStrike is distinct from the antinatalist movement (which says that having children is morally wrong because sentient life is so awful), and its aim is not to discourage people from having children, or to condemn those who have them already, but to communicate the urgency of the crisis. It is a “radical acknowledgment” of how the looming existential threat is already “altering the way we imagine our future”. “We’re not trying to solve it through BirthStrike,” she says. “We’re trying to get the information out there.”

Apparently they believe that if they went on a Birthstrike they could convince others to save the planet.  I think the theory is that their friends would see this “sacrifice” and go buy solar panels, electric cars or grow hydroponic soy beans instead? Good luck, eh?

BirthStrike, she says, “is about saying: ‘It is OK to make this choice, but it’s not OK to have to make this choice.’ We should never be in a situation where we are genuinely scared to bring life into the world.”

Oh. It’s also a handy therapy group for people who don’t want to have kids … I hope someone finds some peace there.

Seems pretty selfish to trade a future life for a political ad campaign.

UPDATE: There is an out clause:

Pepino, at least, takes a similarly optimistic view of BirthStrikers’ approach. It is, she says, “in a sense a very hopeful act. We’re not just making this decision, hiding it and giving it up. We’re politicising that decision – and hoping that will give us the chance to change our minds.”

Hopeful? Dear Ms Pepino, You’re 33 and you hope that the world will change energy sources, decarbonize and then cool, in time for you to have a baby?

Below Mudcrab points out that this is barely 140 people out of 11 million (being generous). A tiny sample. I reply:

Yes, but notice how little it takes to get a media story across the world if you are pushing the “right message”. 140 people sign something that no one checks, promising something that will cost them nothing, (which perhaps they were going to do anyway) and can be broken without penalty “by accident” any day and yet they get headlines everywhere.

The media IS the problem.

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Peter Ridd versus James Cook Uni — Free Speech on trial in two weeks

Peter Ridd

Peter Ridd in Brisbane getting ready for the trial.

Peter Ridd’s court case is set for 26 to 28th March in Brisbane. He invites  you to watch the proceedings (Jennifer Marohasy says she’ll be there, all three days!). Go on…

If James Cook Uni (JCU) wins, they lose. Whatever happens, the taxpayer lost a long time ago.

On a philosophical note, in my opinion JCU will lose the ethical argument even if they manage to win on some narrow legal definition. If they win, it will mean that a judge has decided that a university has set up legally binding contracts that give them the power to effectively take away the right to intellectual freedom of an academic and silence him/her. That would be something of a pyrrhic victory. The university hierarchy may feel vindicated but the general public, especially those in North Queensland who are most affected by the questionable Great Barrier Reef science, will take a different view. But without getting over-confident, I reckon the chances of us winning are considerably above average, so we will see. — Peter Ridd, March 2019

Ridd’s employment contract says he has the right to speek freely, but the universities “Code of Conduct” pretty much says the opposite. He’s allowed to air unpopular opinions even about JCU, but at the same time he must also uphold the integrity of the university and respect the reputation of colleagues. In other words, the university can ignore you or sack you depending on which tribe you are in (Gravy-making, or Gravy-threatening), and then some lawyers can buy a yacht.

JCU already have a dismal record of isolating, blackbanning, and ousting people who disagree with the consensus (vale, Bob Carter!) When Ridd suggested we can’t trust our scientific institutions, JCU censured him, then ordered him not to mention the censure too. Let’s censor the censure! Then they trawled through his private emails as well, hunting for more ammunition … yeah sure, just what any rigorous institute would do. Since then, a JCU former employee has been caught doing Fake science on fake fish. They’re so “concerned” they’ve taken a whole year just to form an investigative panel. Ridd discovered the fake flipped lionfish photos. He is the kind guy that saves a great institute’s reputation. If only JCU was great.  

Trump would sort this out in a tweet — saving millions

Last week Trump told universities – No free speech means no federal grants OK?  No one needs a court case. You either have free speech or you don’t. It’s safe to assume that institutions that don’t allow criticism are harboring incompetent rent seekers. If their staff were capable, they would defend themselves. Good institutions sack incompetent staff. Weak ones sack the good ones who make the weak ones “look bad”.

Where are our taxpayer representatives?

This could have been fixed so quickly. How much longer will most Australian conservative politicians sit by in silence, allowing academics to squander public funds on poor studies and bad researchers, producing irreproducible results and meaningless press releases that advertise Big Government? It was inevitable that Big Gov funded academia would evolve into a grant generating machine. For a while the troughing academics pretended they cared more about the science. But no one at JCU is pretending any more. (Or if they do care, they can hardly say that can they? )

When will conservatives learn?

– Jo

Dr. Peter Ridd’s  GoFundMe Page


The Spectator


Bad Riddance

On the persecution of Peter Ridd and its implications for free speech

by Gideon Rozner, (reprinted with permission) Director of Policy at the Institute of Public Affairs

The Spectator Australia, 9 March 2019

When the Left talks derisively about ‘climate deniers’, they probably imagine someone very different from Dr Peter Ridd. Bearded, bespectacled and softly-spoken, Ridd is a sandal-wearing one-time Green voter and former president of his local chapter of the Wildlife Protection Society. He is also a marine geophysicist who has been studying the Great Barrier Reef for over 35 years. And like many in his field, Ridd is passionate about his subject.

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The cost of one days electricity on the Australian grid is three times (or 50 times) more than it was in 2012

There were no headlines but $300 million dollars was burned at the stake of renewables

Just another day on the exciting Australian NEM.

Friday week ago we had another price spike hitting the $14,500 mandated price cap. On that day South Australians and Victorians paid a blistering $61 million and $210 million respectively. That’s the cost of a single day’s electricity on what was a hot day (but not a record) for Melbourne (38C) and Adelaide (42C). These are temperatures that those cities often reach in summer. It was about 28C in the other three capital cities. Don’t be fooled — high temperatures are not the reason for the price spikes — as it happens, NSW used 22% more electricity than Victoria that day yet paid 90% less.

Thanks to David Bidstrup for calculating these numbers (MSWord file).

Total cost of wholesale electricity for one day, March 1st, 2019, AEMO. Graph, Australia, NEM.

But even NSW and Queensland are pay millions too much

You might think NSW and Queensland have reasonable prices for electricity, but lest we forget, what they pay today is still three times more expensive than they would have been if they were paying 2012 prices. Long ago in the renewable dark ages the average price of wholesale electricity was $25/MWh — that was the average for the whole month of March 2012.

And in 2012 when Melbourne was hotter (40C on Jan 2nd), the cost of electricity was a mere $31/MWh.

The market is screwed.

Graph, cost of wholesale electricity, SA, Vic, NSW, Qld, Tas, Australia, March 2019, march 2012

On March 1st a price spike cost millions of dollars, but even without the spike prices are still three times more expensive than in 2012. Click to enlarge

The price table with the costs and demand for March 1st, 2019 in each state of Eastern Australia. The lower two rows are the prices and theoretical cost if the same demand was priced at the same rate that each state was paying on an average March day in 2012.

Table, Electricity cost, Wholesale March 1, 2019, Australia.

Table, Electricity cost, Wholesale March 1, 2019, Australia. (Click to enlarge)

This year, the average wholesale price in NSW (so far for the first 10 days of March) is $86/MWh and QLD is $74/MWh. It’s twice that in SA ($198/MWh) and Victoria ($195/MWh) and it’s $119/MWh in Tasmania.

 Prices are off the scale

Renewables fans (like the ABC) will tell us that high prices are caused by old coal, but old coal plants didn’t cause price spikes in 2012. Demand was greater in 2012 than it is today (everyone is using less electricity than they’d like because of the price) and coal power took on more of the load — with less “help” from renewables.

There are more price spikes today, more wind power, more solar power and less coal power. Most owners of coal plants have little incentive to fund and maintain their coal plants. The more coal plants they can shut, the more their other generation assets will earn. Look at what happened to Hazelwood.

The Australian NEM is a giant success for corporate gentailers or State owned generators and totally wrecked for consumers.


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