JoNova

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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Save the world and raze some forests

Look out, another knot of tortured researchers just went past. All this time we’ve been pouring money into planting trees and stealing land from farmers because we were sure that trees would cool the world. (Just like solar panels do, yeah?) But life is so complicated — for years now some researchers have been quietly wondering if more trees were actually going to warm the planet instead, but they didn’t want to say much. It turns out that while trees absorb the sacred CO2 (that’s cooling!) they also emit methane (that’s warming!), and terpenes (cooling) and isoprene (warming and cooling!) If that’s not complicated enough, then there is the albedo effect. Trees are dark, they absorb more sunlight than bare ground and snow. So depending on where they are planted, that makes for “warming”. Then some VOCs or volatile organic compounds also seed clouds.

So what’s the net effect? Who knows, it’s not like there are whole industries dependent on it…

Now they ask?

How much can forests fight climate change? Trees are supposed to slow global warming, but growing evidence suggests they might not always be climate saviours. Gabrielle Popkin, Nature

As usual, the debate is based on [...]

Abbott still leading — his “Direct Action” plan to reduce CO2 cheaply (without renewables) is back

Still leading the nation from the back bench

Scott Morrison wants to meet the Paris agreement and have cheap electricity. The have-cake: throw-cake-in-river option. How to resolve that dilemma (or at least have an answer for his Environment Minister, Melissa Price to give) — repeat the Tony Abbott plan.

“Direct Action” uses an auction system to find the cheapest ways to reduce CO2 — which obviously rules out intermittent renewables because they are wildly expensive.  Abbott is painted as a denier, yet his plan was more effective at reducing CO2 than any of the Green’s schemes. Naturally this only makes the cult believers hate him more — because he threatens the cash cow for dependent renewables. He exposes how useless wind and solar are and thus, how most greens are hypocritical self-serving political activists who pretend to care for the environment in order to get rich, go on junkets, or pump their ego while they fly to skiing trips in Japan.

Direct Action back on the agenda

Graham Lloyd, The Australian

The Coalition will refocus environment policies on the Abbott-era Direct Action plan, including a rebooted Green Army and a ­reverse auction scheme to ­improve land management [...]

Australia needs to sacrifice cows and sheep for Paris too

Everyone is talking about the NEG (National Energy Guarantee) which will supposedly attain the mythical trifecta of cheap, reliable, and planet cooling electricity. In terms of meeting our Paris “commitment” Tom Quirk  wondered how we are doing in other sectors, like farms, cars, rubbish — and whether we had cut emissions there. Well, ho, ho, here’s that report. Thank you, Tom. Looks like a lot of cows and sheep will have to go. Still, we want to stop storms don’t we?

Key points: The NEG is not enough on its own to reduce Australian emissions from 608Mt to 444Mt. Most of our reductions so far have come from just two sectors: the electricity sector and from changes to land-clearing. We’ve “achieved” nothing in other sectors like agriculture, transport, waste and industry. Methane emissions from sheep and cattle amount to 60Mt. Trashing the live-export trade may help reduce

With enough bad luck, and poor management, plus some sacrificial lambs on the altar, we might be the only country on Earth that meets its Paris agreement. Rejoice.

This is assuming that our population stops growing and Australia blocks all immigration tomorrow. That’s right, Tom Quirk has not made any allowance for the [...]

Australia overdoes carbon reduction by 294Mt: could cool world by 0.0002C extra (maybe)

Absolutely best possible reduction in global temperature because of the latest announcement of a Australian carbon mitigation surplus.

Other countries are failing to meet their targets, but we’re not only achieving them, we’re overdoing it. And this is despite our obvious handicaps: like that we have rapid population growth, are further from everywhere and anywhere* except for Antarctica, and we’re the largest coal exporter in the world.

The latest Australian Greenhouse emissions figures are out, and the Energy Minister is very excited:

Emissions are now the lowest on a per capita and GDP basis in 28 years, having fallen 34 per cent and 58 per cent respectively since 1990. Just as Australia beat its first Kyoto target by 128 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, we are on track to easily surpass our 2020 target.

The latest data indicates we will overachieve by 294 million tonnes, a 30 per cent improvement on the year prior. When one considers one million tonnes of carbon abatement is equivalent to taking 300,000 cars off the road for a year, this is substantial.

Substantial?- Don’t undersell this — that’s like taking 88 million cars off the road! Holy hat! That’s [...]

Climate Unicorns downunder as Australians offer to cut CO2 by 50% per capita in 12 years

I’ve been saying the Australian commitment of a 28% reduction by 2030 was an economic suicide pact. Terry McCrann’s got numbers on just how suicidal it is:

The so-called NEG or National Energy Guarantee is dammed upfront by the total irreconcilability of its three aims: to ensure both affordable and reliable electricity (and, indirectly, gas) and meeting our commitments under the Fake Paris Accord to cut emissions of carbon dioxide by 26-28 per cent by 2030.

This, not exactly incidentally, means we have to cut emissions per capita by closer to an economy-killing and individual-impoverishing 50 per cent, and do so, in barely a dozen years, thanks to our crazy-stupid “build another Canberra ever year” high immigration, for want of a better word, policy.

What were our negotiators thinking?

Nobody mention immigration. Australia has the fastest growing population in the West. China wants to use “per capita” calculations for obvious reasons. Australia doesn’t even want to talk “per capita”.

We cut our emissions per capita by 28% from 1990 – 2013, but that was done by stopping land clearing and by confiscating land from farmers, stealing their right to use their property, and jailing them if [...]

100 companies to blame for 71% of carbon “pollution”, but world’s worst corporates are Big Government

The Carbon Majors Report  came out two weeks ago has been used to stoke Marxist fears that “corporates” are polluting the world.

These 100 Companies Are to Blame For 71% of The World’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

[ScienceAlert]

Since 1988, a mere 100 companies have been responsible for 71 percent of the entire world’s industrial greenhouse gas emissions.

This data comes from an inaugural report published by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), an environmental non-profit. Charting the rapid expansion of the fossil fuel industry in the last 28 years, they have now released some truly staggering numbers on the world’s major carbon polluters.

Tess Riley of The Guardian tells us that “A relatively small number of fossil fuel producers and their investors could hold the key to tackling climate change”. She goes on to name the worst corporations: “ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron are identified as among the highest emitting investor-owned companies since 1988″.  It’s not til the ninth paragraph we find that: “A fifth of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions are backed by public investment, according to the report.” 

Only a fifth?

Look closely — the Worst corporate “polluters” are Big Government, not the Capitalist Pigs. [...]

China produces the same emissions in 18 days as Australia does in one year

Oh the futility. Australia’s entire annual production of carbon from all that mining, construction, industry and everything is replicated in China every 18 days.

If we cut our emissions by an obscene, bleeding 25%, we will spend billions and yet China will undo all our hair-shirt “savings” in just 5 normal days. (And that’s at current rates, it gets worse by 2030).

Australia is a giant coal and iron quarry built at the far end of the Earth, with a tiny, but rapidly growing population spread across a vast land. Transport distances are eye-watering. We run 94% of everything off  fossil fuels and there are no more easy cuts to be made. Gaia gave us more uranium than any other country but we are religiously opposed to nuclear power. (What would it take to change that — a bomb from China?). We’ve got more Sun, hot rocks and empty space than anywhere, so if solar, wind or geothermal were going to work on Planet Earth, it would be here. We are God’s Gift to the renewable industry — yet they all fail. (Today, Flannery’s Geothermal project crashed,  last week Windorah’s solar farm shut, and last month, the whole state of [...]

The USA — Fracking its way to jobs, wealth and lower emissions

It’s everything the Green revolution was supposed to offer — jobs, energy independence, money money money, and massive reductions in CO2. Australians hear how bad fracking is but not much about the transformation of the US.  h/t GWPF…

The Black Gold Rush

Exploitation of new oil and gas reserves by fracking shale rock has transformed the US economy since it started just 11 years ago – creating at least a million jobs and slashing electricity bills and greenhouse gas emissions.

The scale of this energy revolution is almost unimaginable.

The Marcellus shale bed in Pennsylvania is thought by geologists to contain enough gas to power and heat every home in America for 50 to 100 years. Yet a few hundred feet beneath it lies another giant formation, the Utica, that contains enough gas for a further century. – Daily Mail UK.

Emissions from electric power in the USA are back to 1987 levels

There’s a message here about how Australia could meet its obscene 28% reduction targets for carbon emissions. A caring Greenie would say No to more gifts for windfarms — and get cracking on the fracking. (Do they want to save [...]

18 million square kilometers more greenery due to “carbon pollution” that the Greens hate

What kind of pollution do you want to feed your plants? The carbon kind.

Yet again, a satellite study of leaf area shows that the world is greener than it was in 1982. There are more plants mostly thanks to CO2 aerial fertilization. The biggest benefits from CO2 are in the warm tropics. The extra greenery in colder areas was due to that other disaster called “global warming”. About a tenth of the greening had nothing to do with either carbon pollution or extra warmth and was apparently thanks to nitrogen from man-made fertilizers.

Obviously we need a $10 billion dollar program to stop this immediately.

Click to enlarge.

Humans are Greening planet Earth — ABC

The most comprehensive modelling of remote sensing data so far shows the area on Earth covered by plants in this time has increased by 18 million square kilometres — about 2.5 times the size of the Australian continent — largely due to the fertilising effect of carbon dioxide (CO2).

“[The greening] has the ability to fundamentally change the cycling of water and carbon in the climate system,” said Dr Zaichun Zhu, from Peking University in China and lead author [...]

Cut carbon emissions by 50%? — Greens nightmare — Coal gasification may be the answer

A new MIT report suggests a better way to use coal in power-stations and potentially cut CO2 emissions by 50%. The process involves gasifying coal and producing electricity in one process at the same site. The coal only has to be heated once,  and the electricity comes from a fuel cell, not a fire — it’s a chemical reaction across a membrane.  The output is potentially much more efficient, and makes no ash. The researchers argue we could get twice as much electricity for each ton of coal burned. Currently coal fired power pulls out 30% of the chemical energy in coal, but coupling these two processes might increase it to 55-60%.

This report is based on simulations, but the separate processes are already well developed and running. The next step would be a fully functioning pilot plant to put the two together and test the idea. If there was the political will it could be done in a few years. There probably won’t be.

The Greens of course will hate the idea because the Evil-Factor of coal is near 100%.

In the eco-collectivist-world, cutting “carbon” is important, but apparently not as important as propping up a dependent lobby group [...]

CO2 emissions? It’s China China China all the way down…

No matter which way we slice and dice it, China is The-CO2-Player that matters. India is forecast for a larger percentage-wise increase, but it’s starting from a small base. By 2030 even after doubling its output, it will still be barely a quarter of China’s total mega-ton production. The Congo and Indonesia are among countries forecast to ramp up production of CO2 massively, yet both of them are but a spec. The hard numbers show that if CO2 actually mattered, and the eco-greens really cared about it, they be talking about “The China Problem”.

Australia is irrelevant, except in some symbolic sacrificial way. The 28% massive reduction, at great cost, will amount to nothing globally (assuming it can even be achieved). Though Tasmania may win the global race for the fastest transition from first to third world. (North Korea here we come).

In the end, the real drivers of global CO2 may or may not be things like forest and peat fires, ocean currents, phytoplankton in any case.  Won’t it be a great day when we figure exactly where all that CO2 is coming from and going to?

       — Jo

 

[...]

Factories in China produce four times as much CO2 as Western factories

China is making the world’s products, but in terms of carbon they are horribly inefficient compared to the West. Old factories and coal fired electricity mean the country is pouring out CO2 — not that that matters, but it rather puts the squeeze on anyone who thinks it’s good for the environment to shut down clean western factories and give that production to China.

Figure 2 | China’s emission exports and the top exporting provinces. a The emissions embodied in goods exported from China to the US, EU and Japan are shown, representing 58% of all emissions embodied in trade in 2007 (the largest flows are labelled in MtCO2 yr-1.

A new study came out by Lui et al. with headlines all over like “Goods manufactured in China not good for the environment, study finds”. But none of these media outlets put a number on it — how much more polluting were these Chinese factories? The answer was right there in table 1 of the paper. Lui et al compare 15 products made in China and the EU, and found that China produces 4.4 times the emissions of CO2 in order to produce the same product.

When Chinese workers [...]

Forest fires may produce as much CO2 as half of all fossil fuels burned

Globally, fires have been overlooked as a key player in the global CO2 cycle. Tom Quirk has dug up some studies showing that CO2 emissions from fires can be as high as half of the total emissions from human fossil fuel use.

“In October and November 1997, the haze from fires in Indonesia spread as far the Philippines to the north, Sri Lanka to the west, and northern Australia to the south. In the Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo, there was a pollution index reading of 860.” | Annette Gartland

Peat deposits can be an extraordinary 20 metres thick. In 1997, a fire consumed 8,000 square kilometers of mostly peatland in Borneo. Researchers estimated 0.2 Gt of carbon were released in this one area that year, and that carbon emissions from fires across Indonesia in 1997 emitted between 0.8 and 2.5 Gt — or “13 to 40%” of the size of global human fossil fuel emissions.[1] Obviously uncertainties are large, but so are the numbers. It all makes the idea of a “carbon market” pretty meaningless: the largest players in this market can’t play and don’t pay. In carbon accounting, fires are “an act of God” (non-anthropogenic), and [...]

The carbon tax figures are in: Australians paid $14b to reduce global emissions by 0.004%!

We can finally assess (sort of) the carbon tax in Australia. It ran for two years from July 2012 to July 2014 and cost Australians nearly $14 billion. The National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Office released Australian emissions statistics for the June Quarter of 2014. The headlines hitting the press this week are saying we reduced our emissions by 1.4%. The Greens are excited, but neither the journalists or the Greens have looked at the numbers.  Not only is this reduction pathetically small on a global scale, but it’s smaller than the “noise” in the adjustments. Like most official statistics the emissions data gets adjusted year after year, and often by 1 – 2%. We won’t really know what our emissions were, or what the fall was, for years to come… (if ever).

Spot the effect of the Australian carbon tax in the graph of emissions by sector below.  It operated for the last two years. The falls in electricity emissions started long before the carbon tax (and probably have more to do with the global financial crisis, a government unfriendly to small business, and the wild subsidies offered for solar power).

(Click to enlarge)

Did Australian industry “reduce” their emissions [...]

North Korea — the ultimate low-carbon ideal

No nation has been more successful at reducing their carbon emissions than North Korea. Over the space of a few years, the carbon footprint of the entire nation was reduced by a massive two-thirds, thanks mostly to centralized planning with some help from famine, disease and the odd gulag. Anyone for Pine-bark cake? — Jo

Decarbonizing an economy – North Korea

Guest Post by Tom Quirk

The North Korean famine and general economic crisis from 1994 to 1998 is an extraordinary example of the failure of central planning and management. The results of what is called the Arduous March[1] are best illustrated by this image the Korean peninsula at night taken in 2014 (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Night image of the Korean Peninsula in 2014 shows that North Korea is almost completely dark compared to neighboring South Korea and China (source NASA).

The North Korean disaster led to the estimated death of between 220,000 and 2,000,000 people, 1% to 10% of the population. The famine, which continues to this day, has led to food rationing, black markets and a government keen to get foreign currency by any means — including drug smuggling and nuclear technology [...]