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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Jo Nova in The Australian: Carbon credits market is neither free nor worth anything

Credit to The Australian for printing both points of view. Published as an Op-Ed today.

Carbon credits market is neither free nor worth anything by: Joanne Nova From: The Australian July 31, 2013 12:00AM

THE paradox du jour: people who like free markets don’t want a carbon market, and the people who don’t trust capitalism want emissions trading. So why are socialists fighting for a carbon market? Because this “market” is a bureaucrat’s wet dream.

A free market is the voluntary exchange of goods and services. “Free” means being free to choose to buy or to not buy the product. At the end of a free trade, both parties have something they prefer.

[Those who know what real free markets are know that an emissions trading scheme is not and never can be a free market. The "Carbon-Market" is a market with no commodity, no demand, and no supply. Who needs a "carbon credit"? The government entirely determines both supply and demand.]

A carbon market is a forced market. There is little intrinsic incentive to buy a certificate for a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. It says a lot about the voluntary value of a [...]

Australian emissions reductions target is undone by one week in China

Here’s a graph showing something about Australian, Chinese and Indian emissions (thanks to Tom Quirk). At a glance you might think we are up there with the best of them (doing our bit to fertilize the flora of the planet, and to regreen the deserts). Alas, the Australian tally (the green triangles) represents the total emissions of Australia. The lines depicting Chinese and Indian emissions just show their annual increases.

Chinese annual increases in emissions are larger than the entire Australian output. India is not too far behind.

UPDATE: TonyfromOz points out the Y-axis scale  is missing three zero’s. Data source: CDIAC (Thanks Anton).

It appears the new coal fired power stations and cars coming on line in the breakneck-evolution-of-China produced twice the emissions of the entire continent of Australia.

Remember our aim to reduce our national output by 5% or so by 2020. Thanks to the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Fund, the Remote Indigenous Energy Program, the Low Income Energy Efficiency Program, the Living Greener program, the Regional Natural Resource Management Planning, the Light Vehicle CO2 Emissions Standards, the Household Assistance Package, and not to mention another 36 programs I could have listed as well as [...]

WARNING: Using a different computer could change the climate catastrophe

How bad are these global forecast models?

When the same model code with the same data is run in a different computing environment (hardware, operating system, compiler, libraries, optimizer), the results can differ significantly. So even if reviewers or critics obtained a climate model, they could not replicate the results without knowing exactly what computing environment the model was originally run in.

This raises that telling question: What kind of planet do we live on? Do we have a Intel Earth or an IBM one? It matters. They get different weather, apparently.

There is a chaotic element (or two) involved, and the famous random butterfly effect on the planet’s surface is also mirrored in the way the code is handled. There is a binary butterfly effect. But don’t for a moment think that this “mirroring” is useful: these are different butterflies, and two random events don’t produce order, they produce chaos squared.

How important are these numerical discrepancies? Obviously it undermines our confidence in climate models even further. We can never be sure how much of the rising temperature in a model forecasts might change if we moved to a different computer. (Though, since we already know the models [...]

Unthreaded Weekend

The real free market is making the fake carbon markets pointless

In a nutshell, this new study adds numbers and detail to a home truth that the grown ups in the room know already.  Basically humans  want cheap energy. The free market, powered by human creativity and mass demand, will always find ways to circumvent national policies that try to force people to use more expensive energy.

In the absence of a global ruler (Copenhagen anyone?), the only way to reduce fossil fuel use is to invent or discover a better energy source. Any other national policy is simply pushing rocks uphill, like poor old Sisyphus. Manufacturing will always move to countries where cheap energy is still available.

Researchers Andrew, Davis and Peters conclude that national climate and “carbon” policies are becoming less effective every year

Global trade in energy intensive goods is growing faster than global trade in carbon credits. So as some countries slow production and reduce their emissions, they are simply buying those goods instead from other countries. The energy is still used to make the goods, but it’s done in countries that have less regulation on carbon emissions.

The figure 1 graph below is one of the most information dense graphs around. It’s a story of global [...]

Let’s burn forests and millions of dollars! It’s another Nanny-State business “success”

7:30 Report, ABC

Nothing succeeds in flagrant waste quite like Big-Government.

Following in Soviet footsteps with gusto, politicians of all persuasions manage business failure on a grand scale. Did you miss yet another case-study on 7:30 report from last week (see the segment there)?

A mass of taxpayer-funded forests designed to make Australia self sufficient in plantation timber and paper are now being burned by land owners as the companies running the schemes collapse amid allegations of rorting, fraud and mismanagement.

The Howard government made plantations a tax deductable investment, and then the Rudd and Gillard governments made it even worse — broadening the rules in 2008 to include trees for “carbon sequestration” (which perversely could still be logged). Lo and behold, two and a half million acres of taxpayer funded forests were planted. What could possibly go wrong? Just a few things:

1. The bottom fell out of the timber market. There is no demand for the wood and the trees are not worth harvesting, so the forests are being burnt and the land reclaimed for other purposes.

2. Whole districts of farming communities were upended by the artificial boom and bust, as farmers sold their properties to [...]

A Handy-Dandy Carbon Tax Temperature-Savings Calculator

 Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger have created a calculator of exactly how many degrees of global warming will be averted if the IPCC is right. I can’t think why the IPCC didn’t do this before. For example, if all industrialized nations  achieve a 100% reduction  (that is, stop using coal, oil, gas, diesel, and avgas tomorrow*), then 87 years from now the world will be 0.352C cooler (assuming climate sensitivity is a high 4.5C and the models work, and nothing else changes in the atmosphere). The great thing is you can adjust the parameters yourself to see how many ways Global Action does not add up.

Calculator from (Click to go to the calculator)

Unfortunately it does not also project the costs. Version II perhaps?

*Please forgive me for that sweeping assumption. We all know that to get a true 100% reduction in CO2 emissions we’d need to do a lot more. Like building nuclear plants from handmade mud-bricks using solar powered trucks and wind-powered cranes. And no more flights to anywhere unless you have a pedal powered hang-glider or one of those marvelous solar planes that takes 2 months to cross the US.


Nick Cater in Perth tonight 7pm Royal Perth Yacht Club

I’ll be there. No RSVP necessary. Just turn up at 7pm. Royal Perth Yacht Club, Matilda Bay.

Free Public Lecture

“Who is really running Australia?”

Nick Cater author of the new best-seller The Lucky Culture. Journalist, and senior editor of The Australian.

Hosted by CNI. (Council for the National Interest).




The start of the end — Mainstream press says “Politicians go cold on global warming”

The Zeitgiest is shifting. The unthinkable is now thought, and in public.

Politicians go cold as global warming debate loses spark

From: The Times    July 23, 2013 12:00AM,   Reprinted in The Australian

Soon will come the time when everyone says “I always knew it was wrong”.

Tim Montgomerie notes the great backdown of  Kevin Rudd on the carbon tax and lays out the global carnage in the climate meme:

Throughout the world green politicians are presiding over similar climbdowns. From Washington to London, shale gas rather than any renewable technology is seen as the future. Even nations such as Germany and Spain, which led the march to green energy, are slashing unaffordable subsidies to the renewables industry. British Conservative Nigel Lawson has claimed that the average share price of companies in the renewable sector has fallen by 80 per cent over five years. “One renewable company after another is going bankrupt,” he declared. The heavy cost of green energy policies might have been justifiable if they had delivered results, but they haven’t. Since the Kyoto treaty on climate change, global emissions have continued to rise. Since 1990 they have increased by about 50 per cent. [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

Will an election be called this week, or will Rudd wait… ?


…. Update: See MV #10 — the man who knows the details.

Breakthrough: Labor Party discovers perpetual fountain of cash

The Labor government recently promised to reduce the price of carbon from the world-record-high of $25 a ton to a probably-could-be might-look-like $6 a ton price, as it switches (possibly) from a Carbon Tax to an Emissions Trading Scheme.

The compensation that was promised to offset the Carbon Tax will still be paid to voters, even though the Carbon Tax might end. Thus bread and fishes will be supplied, but hardly anyone will have to bake or fish. The innovation comes thanks to the impending-electron-factor — a strange combination of the Fibbs-Boson*, and a Poll flavored Quark.

Bonus for families as price of carbon falls

 by: ADAM CREIGHTON, From: The Australian

July 20, 2013 12:00AM

THE Rudd government has banked massive overcompensation into the federal budget for at least the next six years, if the carbon price fails to meet Treasury’s optimistic price projections.

More than 80 per cent of households will be overcompensated for the effect of the proposed emissions trading scheme by between $140 and $410 a year in 2019 if the price of carbon permits only rises to $10, new modelling shows. Even if the price of carbon reaches [...]

India threatens Wind farms with fines. They must accurately predict the wind a day in advance or else!

What the Nanny-State Goddess Giveth…

The intermittent power of wind towers plays havoc with electricity grids. Power black outs in India are so bad, they cut off the supply to 600 million or so people for two days last year. To make the grid more stable, an official somewhere decided it would help to have at least one day’s warning of how much electricity will flow from those towers.  (Why not two days I say?)

“A directive took effect this week ordering wind farms with a capacity of 10 megawatts or more to forecast their generation in 15-minute blocks for the following day. “

To put some perspective on this, here is what 7000 wind turbines across Northern Europe (between the North sea, the Baltic Sea and the Austrian-Swiss border) produced in 2004. You can admire the stable predictable output that comes from averaging so many turbines over such a large area. Right?

Percentage of peak grid power supplied by 7000 wind turbines in Northern Europe in 2004


Try to keep up with Australian politics. The zombie Parliament may rise again. Is that a Tax, a Trade or an Army I see?

So, we might have an election next month, we might trade carbon next year, the carbon price might be $24, or $6, or $40. We might have a new government soon, or none of the above.

Hows that stability working out for us now Rob Oakshott and Tony Windsor?

Kevin Rudd announced The Tax would move to become The Trading Scheme. But he still has to get it through Parliament, and it’s not looking easy.

The Greens don’t like it — because free market solutions are only “right” when the price is what the Greens want it to be.

The Coalition don’t like it either, though they are not so good at explaining why (watch Greg Hunt struggle here). The Coalition aren’t brave enough to say they prefer their own “no regrets” policy that could be unwound when the namecalling stops and everyone admits cooling Earth by 0.0C was always a waste of money. The Coalition won’t have to pay billions in compensation to their Green Army, but they can’t say that either. They know the love-media would crucify them if they admitted publicly that it was possible the models might be wrong. The IPCC can say that it is [...]

Wetlands like CO2 — “Gimme 700ppm” say sedge-grass

scirpus olneyi | Smithsonian

Not only does one particular grass seem quite happy at 700ppm, it was absorbing 30% more carbon dioxide, and there was no sign that it might not be equally happy at even higher levels. Will disaster strike the world at 401ppm? This 19 year study suggests (again) it might not be so bad. Arguably, 700ppm might be better. Even the C4 plants (supposedly the ones which prefer low CO2) still absorbed 13% more CO2 at 700ppm. (Absorbing more carbon usually means growing faster.)

During the worst drought years, growth slowed dramatically, but drought-stricken plants with 700ppm of CO2 around them still absorbed 4% more.

From the Smithsonian

High CO2 Spurs Wetlands to Absorb More Carbon

Under elevated carbon dioxide levels, wetland plants can absorb up to 32 percent more carbon than they do at current levels, according to a 19-year study published in Global Change Biology from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Md. With atmospheric CO2 passing the 400 parts-per-million milestone this year, the findings offer hope that wetlands could help soften the blow of climate change.

Plant physiologist Bert Drake created the Smithsonian’s Global [...]

Holden Volt $2.50 to fill? But it costs more to run than a big SUV

The Holden Volt

The Holden Volt is an electric hybrid car that, according to advertisements, costs only $2.50 to fill. Thanks to a polished ad campaign, there are probably people out there who think it might be cheap to run.

The ads don’t mention that if you are an average driver, doing about 40 km a day, you’ll need to fill it every day. It still only has a 60-80km range on electric power, before it has to switch to petrol. (The charge will take about four hours from a home socket). Even so, it almost sounds useful, except that it costs $60,000. (And don’t even think about the network grid infrastructure we’d have to build if everyone drove one).

When RACQ (Royal Automobile Club of Queensland) looked at the average running costs of different models the five year total costs of a Volt were $74,000 – $78,000.  The five year cost of running, say, a 2 ton Ford Territory (medium SUV) came in at $63,000.

So it’s cheaper to run an SUV for five years than it is to run a Volt If you commute 60km a day, and can pick up one of these second hand, and drive [...]