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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Those Green Australians! Our emissions per person fell 28% since 1990

Get ready for the startling news that Australians have been great corporate “green” citizens — on a per capita basis, all of us are so much more carbon-efficient (sic) than we were 25 years ago. Back then, in those dark days, people frivolously heated and cooled their homes without a thought to how many sinful cyclones they were creating in the Philippines. They drove recklessly in fossil fueled cars, and windmills were used to pump water a mere 10 metres, not to stop floods in Pakistan.

The amazing thing is that Australia’s population has grown by a whopping 38% since 1990. And our emission have grown with that, but the emissions per person has declined by 28% per person. Why aren’t the Greens more excited?

As with all these statistics, watch the pea for the real story.  Most of that decline is not due to solar panels, pink batts, bird blending wind towers, energy efficiency, or even economic trends — it is predominantly due to cutting down fewer trees. The “improvements” are in the “land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF)” sector, of which the “LUCF” basically means deforestation, afforestation and reforestation. The decline is mostly thanks to farmers like [...]

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 [...]

Where have those fossil fuel emissions gone?

Oh the paradox! Human emissions upset the delicate balance and drive up global CO2 levels by 2ppm a year, but lordy, at the same time, that delicate balance roils and rolls with the seasons by a far larger range. Get the feeling there is more to Life on Earth than humans?

There are places on Earth when CO2 swings every year by 16ppm or more – like Point Barrow. Then there are places like the South Pole, where it barely changes all year round — a bit like the level of greenery there which varies from white to white. And there’s a clue. The other part of the world where CO2 levels don’t swing is at the equator — where it’s 100% green all year long. The big changes in terrestrial CO2 occur in the zones where plant life ebbs and flows.

Tom Quirk tracks the seasonal shifts in CO2 and finds that the northern Boreal forests are probably drawing down something like 2 – 5 gigatons of CO2 every year, and because the seasonal amplitude is getting larger each year, it suggests there is no sign of saturation.  Those plants are not bored of extra CO2 yet. This fits [...]

CO2 emissions in last 50 years made us $3.5 Trillion wealthier

Millions of people are alive today because the net emissions of carbon dioxide have increased. These extra emissions have provided essential fertilization for crops around the world. Craig Idso has released a new report calculating that the extra value that the rise in CO2 has produced from 1961 – 2011 is equivalent to $3.5 trillion dollars cumulatively. Currently the extra CO2 is worth $160 billion dollars annually. Big-biccies. Projecting forwards, increasing CO2 levels could be worth an extra $9.8 trillion on crop production between now and 2050. Virtually every economic analysis to date does not include the agricultural gains. There are also benefits in health, as warmer winters reduce mortality by more than hotter summers increase deaths. The real economic question then, is “Can we afford to slow CO2 emissions at all?”

While there are negative externalities projected by some climate modelers, their models are unvalidated, proven wrong, and based on unsupported assumptions about clouds and humidity. Compare that to the agricultural gains, which are not just demonstrated in laboratory greenhouses, but confirmed in the field, and with global satellite estimates of increased biomass.

Obviously, the only sensible thing to do at this point is continue our emissions of [...]

Astounding discovery: World War II had low carbon footprint

USS Pennsylvania leads convoy to reduce Japanese carbon emissions

Tom Quirk sends me thought provoking news.

File this in the Semi-Satirical Times

Since 1920, ice cores from Law Dome show only one significant pause in an otherwise relentless rise in CO2. Ominously, that sole plateau occurs from 1940 to 1950. If human activity drives changes in global CO2, there is no mistaking that the pause was during the only decade that war went global.

The question has to be asked: Is war an alternative to wind-farms?

Who would have thought all the tanks, bullets and bombs, and all the men in green uniforms, could be so good for the planet? World War II must have been a low electricity use time.

Or was it the mass burials – a form of carbon sequestration? (Though, cremation, after all, undoes the benefits. Does anyone have stats on the ratio of burning versus burial? Can we get a grant?)

In World War 2, direct action against the evil large fossil fuel polluters took on a new meaning. Don’t just tax those factories, bomb them!

Ahem… (all [...]

Climate Aid: The $39 bn industry, mostly used to slow developing countries

Climate Analytics say that developed nations have paid $35.9 billion dollars into the UN Aid program called FastStart. This was the project rescued from the aftermath of the 2009 Copenhagen climate convention.  Somehow $3 billion of private finance has been tossed in as well, making it nearly $39 billion since late 2009.

As usual, when other-people’s-money is spent on the poorest of the poor, the poor seem to get no say, and not much use out of it either.

[Bloomberg] “Seventy-one percent of the total finance went to emission-reduction ventures rather than adaptation projects such as water conservation or flood defense, today’s report shows.”

Sooner or later, the aid-recipients are going to suffer through a flood or a drought (thanks to climate-sameness). But two thirds of this aid money won’t add up to a dime’s worth of protection. Seventy percent of the funds were used to stop emissions of a fertilizing trace gas instead of preparing people against the ravages of the weather. Indeed most of the money was spent reducing something that would be considered an asset if not for the decree of climate models that we already know are wrong.

Hey, but it’s only $27 billion or so [...]

Upgrade coal power and cut 15% of emissions. Where is the Green applause?

If the Greens cared about CO2 they’d be very interested in ways to reduce emissions. But their selective interest speaks volumes about their real priorities. Anton Lang shows how newer coal fired powers stations run hotter and at higher pressures, and use 15% less coal to produce the same amount of electricity. We could upgrade our power stations and cut a whopping 15% of their emissions — which is huge compared to the piddling small, often unmeasureable savings thanks to renewables. Even massive floods that stop industry don’t reduce our emissions as much as this would. Do the Greens hate the coal industry more than “carbon pollution”? — Jo

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Ultra Super Critical Coal Fired Power gives a 15% CO2 Emissions Reduction

Guest Post: Anton Lang (aka TonyfromOz)

It all comes down to steam.

Assume (for a moment) that we have to reduce the emissions of CO2 by something like 20% between now and 2020.

Previously I showed we could achieve a reduction of 13% in CO2 emissions from the electrical power generating sector just by converting from the current 70’s technology coal fired power to the newest technology USC (UltraSuperCritical) coal fired technology. That 13% I quoted [...]

CO2 emitted by the poor nations and absorbed by the rich. Oh the irony. (And this truth must not be spoken)

Kudos to John O’Sullivan for finding this story; see the note at the end about the extraordinary response his post on this received.

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Who are the world’s worst “polluters”? According to a new high-spectral-resolution Japanese satellite — it’s developing countries.

Who knew detailed spectroscopic data on Earth’s atmosphere was available to figure out where the CO2 and other greenhouse gases are being produced and absorbed?

In January 2009, a Japanese group launched a satellite “IBUKI” to monitor CO2 and methane spectral bands around the world to establish exactly where the world’s biggest sources and sinks of greenhouse gases were. With climate change being the perilous threat to millions, this data would seem so essential you might wonder why didn’t someone do it before. As it happens, NASA tried — it launched the Orbiting Carbon Observatory in Feb 2009, which was designed to do exactly the same thing, but it crashed on launch. Oddly, NASA don’t seem to be prioritizing the deadly climate threat, as it will take NASA four years to figure out why the Taurus XL rocket failed and relaunch it.

The results from from Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)  show that Industrialized nations appear to [...]

Italy caught emitting 10 times as much of a potent greenhouse gas

HFC-23 is 15,000 times as potent as CO2 in the greenhouse gas stakes. It’s only made by six factories in the whole of Europe.

Given that, you would think that they’d have this one esoteric compound completely tracked, measured to the nth, audited and cross checked, right? After all, how devastating would it be if governments can’t report something as simple as HFC-23 accurately, how could they possibly expect to run a global trading scheme on a gas like CO2, which is not just made in hundreds of factories, but thousands of cities, millions of cars, and billions of animals. Well, if you thought someone somewhere had a handle on those numbers, get ready to be corrected. Not only did people think it was a good idea if countries self-assessed their emissions, but they trusted those countries to accurately report numbers that millions of dollars of payments rested on, and nobody was looking too hard over their shoulder.

Who has been emitting twice as much HFC-23 as they admitted? That would be the whole of Western Europe. Italy, apparently, has snuck out 10 times as  much.

So what does a “binding target” mean exactly? Not much. When we can’t measure [...]

Blockbuster: Planetary temperature controls CO2 levels — not humans

There goes another “fingerprint”…

It’s not just that man-made emissions don’t control the climate, they don’t even control global CO2 levels.

Judging by the speech Murry Salby gave at the Sydney Institute, there’s a blockbuster paper coming soon.

Listen to the speech: “Global Emission of Carbon Dioxide: The Contribution from Natural Sources”

Professor Murry Salby is Chair of Climate Science at Macquarie University. He’s been a visiting professorships at Paris, Stockholm, Jerusalem, and Kyoto, and he’s spent time at the Bureau of Meterology in Australia.

Over the last two years he has been looking at C12 and C13 ratios and CO2 levels around the world, and has come to the conclusion that man-made emissions have only a small effect on global CO2 levels. It’s not just that man-made emissions don’t control the climate, they don’t even control global CO2 levels.

CO2 variations do not correlate with man-made emissions. Peaks and falls correlate with hot years (e.g. 1998) and cold years (1991-92). No graphs are available from Salby's speech or paper yet. This graph comes from Tom Quirk's related work (see below).

The higher levels of CO2 in recent [...]

We can lower Australian CO2 emissions by… (wait for it) building new coal plants!

A joint writing project: Jo Nova & Tony Cox,

based on an idea and research by Anton Lang (who writes as TonyfromOz at PAPundits)

It’s the paradox that will torture the Greens. What if the best way to achieve their environmental aims as well as providing jobs and power was to build more coal fired power stations? Imagine if we could reduce CO2 emissions by more than 5%, supply 24 hour baseload electricity, create jobs, and save thousands of square kilometres of Australian bush from industrial domination. Imagine if “New Coal” turned out to be the lowest cost alternative as well? Anton Lang has researched it, and Tony Cox has confirmed that the big numbers make sense with an Australian electricity company (who shall not be named). Selling the Carbon Tax in Neverland is already a public debate that’s pretzel tied in impossible contradictions, so what’s one  more unlikely twist? Possibly, just enough to get us out of a knot, or at least enough to expose the real aims of the carbon reduction plan. Old existing large scale coal fired power plants in Australia are all twenty to forty years old. Major advances [...]

A simple proof that global warming is not man-made

Guest post by Dr David Evans PDF at sciencespeak.com

Now that ClimateGate has buried the fraudulent hockey stick for good, it is easy to prove that global warming is not man-made: just compare the timing of our carbon dioxide emissions with the timing of global warming.

Human Emissions of Carbon Dioxide

Emissions of carbon dioxide by humans are easy to estimate from our consumption of coal, oil, and natural gas, and production of cement:

Figure 1: Carbon emissions by humans. Source: Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center.

The vast bulk of human emissions occurred after 1945, during post-WWII industrialization. Half of all human consumption of fossil fuels and cement production has occurred since the mid 1970s.

[...]