JoNova

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


Handbooks


Advertising


Australian Speakers Agency



GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper



Archives

Books

The Australian magical NEG target which turns black coal to white elephants

Australia is figuring out how to change the global climate and power up the nation. It’s the old “have cake: eat cake: sell cake and build a sea-wall with cake” dilemma. The PM, Malcolm Turnbull, has come up with a plan called the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), which will manage to hurt the environment, jobs and industry at the same time.

Who benefits? Gas companies, Renewables Co. Who loses? Everyone else.

One of the key ideas is that we should have an average emissions target of 0.4 magical tons of CO2 per MWh, because “storms”. Tom Quirk has laid out our current situation below and how (theoretically) we might meet that target. (Especially if clouds start raining money, thinks Jo, preferably in USD and filling Lake Eyre.)

The “good news” is that South Australia can stop already, it’s there. The bad news is that the rest of Australia will need to catch up with South Australia, including the size of the electricity bills (and then some).

In 12 years Australia needs to shut nearly every single coal plant thus turning black coal into white elephants. The one last black coal plant or two will operate barely at break-even point, sitting [...]

BOM homogenization errors are so big they can be seen from space

It’s just not cricket. And in so many ways.

Shame to let a perfectly good dataset go to waste… Australian data comes from some of the longest stations running in the Southern Hemisphere; it could be useful. Instead we get more evidence here that the BOM’s magical and secret homogenization adjustments can take poor data and spread false signals into better data. Homogenisation errors are already visible in a site-by-site analysis, but this shows the problems may be so big they affect averages across the whole of Australia, and we can detect them with satellites.

Tom Quirk continues comparing the satellite record of Australia with the BOM surface version. Previously, he (and for the record, Ken Stewart in 2015) showed that some discrepancies are due to the effect of heavy rain or drought. But now he looks further and finds that not-so-coincidentally, the largest gaps and most “inexplicable” differences occur in the mid nineteen-nineties, the same years the BoM shifted from using old large Stevenson screens to electronic thermometers. Around the same time, the large screens were often also swapped for much smaller ones too — like double jeopardy for data. Oddly, spookily, the BOM makes many adjustments to data [...]

Mystery solved: Rain means satellite and surface temps are different. Climate models didn’t predict this…

A funny thing happens when you line up satellite and surface temperatures over Australia. A lot of the time they are very close, but some years the surface records from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) are cooler by a full half a degree than the UAH satellite readings. Before anyone yells “adjustments”, this appears to be a real difference of instruments, but solving this mystery turns up a rather major flaw in climate models.

Bill Kininmonth wondered if those cooler-BOM years were also wetter years when more rain fell. So Tom Quirk got the rainfall data and discovered that rainfall in Australia has a large effect on the temperatures recorded by the sensors five feet off the ground. This is what Bill Johnston has shown at individual stations. Damp soil around the Stevenson screens takes more heat to evaporate and keeps maximums lower. In this new work Quirk has looked at the effect right across the country and the years when the satellite estimates diverge from the ground thermometers are indeed the wetter years. Furthermore, it can take up to six months to dry out the ground after a major wet period and for the [...]

Victoria paying big to drive at breakneck speed to repeat South Australia’s blackout

Victoria is driving down Blackout Drive. They have reports from South Australia up ahead, they know where the road goes, but the state is paying for the first class ticket on a trip to RiskyGrid.

Victoria has 5.7 million people, over three times bigger than South Australia. Right now SA relies on the Victorian grid stability to keep running, and gets up to 800MW of reliable electrons from the state-next-door. But Victoria wants to add more wind power — theoretically the equivalent of a big coal fired plant (like Hazelwood).

Tom Quirk and Paul Miskelly looked closely at the numbers and patterns and see the writing on the wall. To help expensive, unreliable, intermittent green energy survive the government subsidizes it by around 9c per KWhr (bear in mind the wholesale rate for coal fired power is 3 – 4c per kWhr.) The government also demands retailers have a 12.5% mix of renewables, and that they accept most electrons from wind power whenever and wherever it is available. This strange anti-free market rule is called “nondispatchable” power, meaning the system can’t just throw it away if there is any demand at all. Whereas coal [...]

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 [...]

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

 

[...]