Why I don’t believe Michael Mann

The extreme heatwaves and wildfires wreaking havoc around the globe are “the face of climate change”, one of the world’s leading climate scientists has declared, with the impacts of global warming now “playing out in real time”.

Climate change has long been predicted to increase extreme weather incidents, and scientists are now confident these predictions are coming true. Scientists say the global warming has contributed to on the scorching temperatures that have baked the UK and northern Europe for weeks.

The hot spell was made more than twice as likely by climate change, a new analysis found, demonstrating an “unambiguous” link.

Extreme weather has struck across Europe, from the Arctic Circle to Greece, and across the world, from North America to Japan. “This is the face of climate change,” said Prof Michael Mann, at Penn State University, and one the world’s most eminent climate scientists. “We literally would not have seen these extremes in the absence of climate change.”

“The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle,” he told the Guardian. “We are seeing them play out in real time and what is happening this summer is a perfect example of that.”

Hmm.

It is not too late to make the significant cuts needed in greenhouse gas emissions, said Mann, because the impacts progressively worsen as global warming increases.

“It is not going off a cliff, it is like walking out into a minefield,” he said. “So the argument it is too late to do something would be like saying: ‘I’m just going to keep walking’. That would be absurd – you reverse course and get off that minefield as quick as you can. It is really a question of how bad it is going to get.”

I have actually had a run in with Mann before now, directly. He challenged me to produce a better piece of science than a James Hansen estimation of what a carbon tax should be. I did this easily*. He’s not responded since.

But OK, this is climate change then. And we know what the most effective cure for climate change is, every economist on the planet has been shouting it for decades now – a carbon tax. So, Professor Mann is out there shouting we must have a carbon tax, is he?

No, no, he’s not. Thus I don’t take him seriously.

* Mann’s claim was that Hansen had shown that a carbon tax should be $1,000 a tonne. It was trivially easy to show that actually, he’d shown that it could be as much as that. The actual, from Hansen’s own calculation, rate would be not $1,000 but more like $100. Hansen has gone “If every thing goes wrong, if sensitivity is very high etc, then what should he rate be?” which is interesting. But the calculation of the actual rate must be weighted by the probability of that set of things happening. Which Hansen didn’t do.

I thought this was weather, not climate

And that the two aren’t the same?

This heatwave is just the start. Britain has to adapt to climate change, fast
Simon Lewis
Water, housing, farming … almost every aspect of public life needs to change. Why isn’t this top of the political agenda?

Well, what we’d actually have to do, over the next half to full century – if the more apocalyptic warnings are true of course – is adopt the housing, farming, water etc policies of those a few hundred miles south of us. And then we’ll be done.

This is not beyond the wit of man as even the French have already managed to do this.

You’re right, it is

It is a sight as common as fans sipping Pimm’s at Wimbledon; players take a freshly strung racket from their bag and remove the plastic from it, before giving it to a ball-boy or girl to dispose of. But if South Africa’s Kevin Anderson has his way, it is a sight that may not be seen for much longer.

At a time when the image of plastic in the oceans is becoming a global issue, removing the plastic wrappers from rackets might seem like a small step.

Making the electrons move to publish this has done more damage to the environment than anything anyone does to plastic racket covers at Wimbledon will save. Yes, even if they were to specifically and deliberately use each and every plastic racket cover to choke a whale.

Jeez, when will people start to gain a sense of proportion about this?

Seems fair

Hopes of building a £1.3bn “tidal lagoon” in Wales to generate energy by harnessing the power of the tide have been dashed after the Government said project does not offer value for money.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said the scheme – which would have been a world first – would not receive public funding because the power it produced would be three times more expensive than than energy from Hinkley Point nuclear power station.

At today’s prices, the same amount of power from the lagoon over 60 years would cost £400m to be generated from offshore wind farms – the cost of which is expected to fall in the future.

Grossly expensive isn’t the technology to favour really, is it?

Second order effects, second order effects

Plus Chesterton’s Fence:

Moths are thriving because of a growing energy efficient trend which has seen people wash clothes at 30C, a pest firm has claimed.

Rentokil said callouts to moth infestations had increased by more than 110 per cent from April to May and by 60 per cent over the last four years.

A survey by the company found that 54 per cent of people said they wash their clothes at 30C but didn’t five years ago. Rentokil warned that 55C was the temperature required to kill moth larvae.

Yeah, yeah, sure, pest control firm. Except they’re advising people to do something which precludes the use of their services.

So, why did we use high temps, that’s Chesterton. And what’s the cost of moths as opposed to higher washing temps? That’s the second order stuff.

And as we can see, yet again, those who would tell us how to live seem to ignore both crucial points, don’t they?

Significantly stupid climate change idea

Using mustard seed to power aeroplanes:

A Qantas plane powered partly by mustard seeds has become the world’s first biofuel flight between Australia and the United States, after landing in Melbourne on Tuesday.

The 15-hour flight used a blended fuel that was 10% derived from the brassica carinata, an industrial type of mustard seed that functions as a fallow crop – meaning it can be grown by farmers in between regular crop cycles.

The world-first used a Boeing Dreamliner 787-9 on a scheduled passenger service, QF96, and reduced carbon emissions by 7% compared with the airline’s usual flight over the same LA to Melbourne route. Compared pound for pound with jet fuel, carinata biofuel reduces emissions by 80% over the fuel’s life cycle.

Daniel Tan, an agriculture expert from the University of Sydney, said mustard seed could double as a valuable crop and a source of sustainable fuel for farmers.

“Almost within a day after harvesting, they can press the oil out in their own shed and use it straight into their tractors,” he said.

“Basically it’s good for growing, and also farmers can also use it. If they grow wheat every year it’s not good for the soil. They can grow mustard seed in between the wheat crops, every second or third year, press the oil and use it locally or export it for use in aviation fuel.

“A lot of the biodiesel now being processed is actually from waste oil from places like fish and chip shops. A lot of these oils can be processed, but the problem is that they can’t get consistent supply. The big problem with the biodisel industry in Australia is mainly the continuity of supply.”

OK. Mustard produces some 1 to 3 tonnes of seed per hectare (according to GOOG). This produces 400 litres of oil apparently, according to these peeps. A 747 uses 4 litres per second of fuel (obvs, an average).

Roughly speaking, we get a minute and a half of flight per hectare.

There are some 100,000 (a guess, but a reasonable one) flights a day. Of 90 minutes (another guess, but again a reasonable one) duration and not all are 747s but let’s just try to get a sense of scale here. So, we need 100,000 x 60 x 365 hectares of mustard to power ‘planes. 2.2 billion hectares of land.

This is more than current total cropped land.

Not a solution then.

Please do check my numbers. I can easily lose orders of magnitude……

What a surprise!

Earth’s surface will almost certainly not warm up four or five degrees Celsius by 2100, according to a study which, if correct, voids worst-case UN climate change predictions.

A revised calculation of how greenhouse gases drive up the planet’s temperature reduces the range of possible end-of-century outcomes by more than half, researchers said in the report, published in the journal Nature.

“Our study all but rules out very low and very high climate sensitivities,” said lead author Peter Cox, a professor at the University of Exeter.

Won’t stop people claiming that Flipper will be boiled in the remains of the last ice floe by 2100 of course.

Very silly indeed

Microwaves in Britain generate as much carbon dioxide as more than one million cars, scientists have concluded as they call on people to use the ovens more efficiently.

Sigh.

Over and above the mistake already pointed out (comparing total life emissions for microwave ovens to cars only in direct use) two more.

1) How much CO2 they produce in use, the thing that we are told we should be more careful about, depends upon the inputs into the electricity generation system. As is true of electric cars or electric trains.

2) What’s the opportunity cost? Or in this case, perhaps opportunity benefit? What would be the emissions from having hot and or cooked food – a pretty reasonable human desire – without microwave ovens?

Oh Lord, forgive them for they are idiots

France’s parliament has passed into law a ban on producing oil and gas by 2040, a largely symbolic gesture as the country is 99% dependent on hydrocarbon imports.

In Tuesday’s vote by show of hands, only the rightwing Republicans party opposed, while leftwing lawmakers abstained.

No new permits will be granted to extract fossil fuels and no existing licences will be renewed beyond 2040, when all production in mainland France and its overseas territories will stop.

Socialist lawmaker Delphine Batho said she hoped the ban would be “contagious”, inspiring bigger producers to follow suit.

France extracts the equivalent of about 815,000 tonnes of oil per year – an amount produced in a few hours by Saudi Arabia.

But centrist president Emmanuel Macron has said he wants France to take the lead as a major world economy switching away from fossil fuels – and the nuclear industry – into renewable sources.

If as and when renewables are cheaper then no one will drill for oil or gas. If they’re not going to be cheaper by 2040 then what the fuck are you doing banning drilling?

I wonder, is this actually right?

So, meat eating causes climate change.

To which, in the comments, the answer was given, that there is x vegetation growing, that’s going to be eaten by something, somewhere, the same amount of methane/CO2 whatever is going to be emitted, so eating the beef doesn’t make any difference.

At one level this fails because of nitrogen. We deliberately add it in order to boost growth and there are emissions from that.

But at the other, larger, scale, what’s is actually wrong with the idea?

Or rather, what will some warmist tell us is wrong with it so that we may examine their logic?

A few occur off the top of the head, that perhaps cows eating it produce more emissions than rabbits, (termites are a major source of emissions themselves I believe).

But even if there are corrections to be made like that this means that it is the marginal emissions of meat eating that must be considered, not total.

So, why isn’t the idea right at heart at least? Vegetation will be eaten/rot (which is only being eaten by bugs etc) and so who eats it and what happens to them doesn’t make a difference.

That is, are there any emissions from meat eating?

I truly don’t know which is why I ask. I’d expect the correct answer to be that there is some difference but that it’s not total emissions at all but marginal. But who knows? And where is it discussed in the literature? It must actually be discussed in the academic literature, so where?

Why not do this the right way?

“Sin taxes” on meat to reduce its huge impact on climate change and human health look inevitable, according to analysts for investors managing over $4tn of assets.

The global livestock industry causes 15% of all global greenhouse gas emissions and meat consumption is rising around the world, but dangerous climate change cannot be avoided unless this is radically curbed. Furthermore, many people already eat far too much meat, seriously damaging their health and incurring huge costs. Livestock also drive other problems, such as water pollution and antibiotic resistance.

You know, like every damn economist keeps shouting, just tax the emissions themselves?

This isn’t quite the way to do it but still

More than half of the European Union’s 619 coal-fired power stations are losing money, according to a new report. As a result, the industry’s slow plans for shutdowns will lead to €22bn in losses by 2030 if the EU fulfils its pledge to tackle climate change, the report warns.

Stricter air pollution rules and higher carbon prices are set to push even more plants into unprofitability, according to the analysts Carbon Tracker, with 97% of the plants losing money by 2030. Furthermore, rapidly falling renewables costs are on track to make building new wind and solar farms cheaper than continuing to run existing coal plants by the mid 2020s.

The correct way to do this has always been to work with the capital cycle. That is, the William Nordhaus version of the carbon tax.

We want to use the things we’ve already built and paid for for as long as they still work. To scrap them before they wear out loses us what we’ve already spent.

We don’t want people to build new ones though. Therefore a low tax now, rising off into the future in a predictable manner. That way we sweat those assets we have as they fall apart but still make the transition.

No, please, leave aside all the climate change isn’t happening etc. This is purely about what should we be doing on the assumption that it is. Which is, as people should know by now, the thing that really pisses me off. Just for, and only for, the sake of argument accept that it is happening. The idiots are still doing the wrong things.

This is pretty standard investment advice, isn’t it?

Now, the Norwegian central bank, which manages the fund, is proposing that it ditch the investments in the very industry the fund was built on.

In a letter to Norway’s finance ministry, Norges Bank wrote: “We conclude that the vulnerability of government wealth to a permanent drop in oil and gas prices will be reduced if the fund is not invested in oil and gas stocks, and advise removing these stocks from the fund’s benchmark index.”

The recommendation rested “exclusively on financial arguments”, it added. Climate change and the environment did not even merit an aside – the advice is all about a fund manager maximising value for their client.

If your income is being made from one particular activity or industry then your investments should almost certainly be made into other activities and industries, shouldn’t they?

You know, diversified investment?

You don’t put your pension into your employers’ shares after all…..

Plant food, plant food

Trees grow more quickly in cities than rural areas, a new study has found.
Researchers analyzed tree rings in ten cities around the world, and discovered that urban and rural trees have undergone accelerated growth since the 1960s – and say climate change may be the reason for this.
The results revealed urban trees are growing even faster than rural trees, and it could be due to the urban heat island effect, which involves higher temperatures in cities compared to the surrounding landscapes – and that may stimulate photosynthesis to help the plants grow.

No, it doesn’t change my general view. But it is fun, isn’t it, how many different feedback effects we find?

It’s all almost as complex as an economy, you know, those things we know we cannot plan in any detail, all that’s possible to to set a few general rules and leave it to then get on with everything.

The one intervention, a carbon tax, then leave well alone……after all, a revenue neutral carbon tax isn’t going to do any harm either.

The reason we must have the electric car tax credit

“If you look at total cost of ownership and factor in the cost of the vehicle, the cost of fueling and the cost of maintenance, many electric cars are already cheaper on a total cost-of-ownership basis than conventional vehicles,” Gina Coplon-Newfield, the director of the Clean Transportation for All campaign at the Sierra Club, told Salon.

Because they’re already cheaper therefore they must be subsidised.

Well, that is indeed the argument.

Bjorn Lomborg has been saying this for two decades now

Climate change may have unexpected benefits for Britons because fewer people will die from the cold during the winter, a new study suggests.

Although many regions of the world will see death rates soar as the climate heats-up, in northern Europe hot weather mortality will be cancelled out by the decrease in cold weather deaths.

It’s interesting what he got right in that book. And also how badly he’s been excoriated over the years for doing so, isn’t it? His predictions of the price of solar power have been right, for example….

Elsewhere

It isn’t going to be governments making pledges in Paris which change the future anyway, is it? It is going to be technological advance and the associated actions of the aggregated 7 billion of us which will. And one lesson to take from that great economic experiment we call the 20th century is that markets and incentives work rather better at determining what does happen than the promises, pledges and predictions of governments when trying to manage an economy. Or even reality.

As Bjorn Lomborg said near two decades ago – and boy doesn’t he still get stick for having been right – in a world where solar power drops in cost by 20% per annum and is still doing so what a politician promises to do to the rest of us is really very small beer indeed.

I don’t think so really

There is a “catastrophic” gap between what needs to be done on climate change and what governments and companies are actually doing, the UN has warned.

Despite pledges to work to mitigate and deal with climate change, current plans still lead to a 3-degree Celsius rise in temperatures by the end of the decade, a major new report warns.

Replace “decade” with “century” and you’ve got what the report does try to say.