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.


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….


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.

Well, yes, and we were told this too

Now, in an authoritative and excoriating report commissioned by the government, Dieter Helm, professor of energy policy at Oxford University, has torn away the fig leaves covering the government’s nakedness. Policy interventions, he tells us, are so numerous and badly designed that they have resulted in costs well in excess of what is needed to meet emissions targets. These subsidies will cost a hair-raising £100 billion by 2030. “Much more decarbonisation could have been achieved for less,” Professor Helm drily observes.

Nick Stern actually told us. Change the damn price, once and once only, then leave it alone. Don’t try to plan the thing in detail.

Because, as Professor Helm does not hesitate to tell us: “Government has got into the business of ‘picking winners’. Unfortunately, losers are good at picking governments, and inevitably — as in most such picking-winners strategies — the results end up being vulnerable to lobbying, to the general detriment of household and industrial customers.”

That is a nice formulation which I’ll have to steal. Losers picking governments…..

About time someone noticed really, isn’t it?

Consumers are paying too much for their energy because of “excessive” green taxes added to bills, a damning Government-commissioned report has found.

A series of “spectacularly bad” decisions by ministers have “unnecessarily burdened” households and businesses with higher green energy subsidies than necessary, according to Prof 
Dieter Helm, of Oxford University.

Some of us have been saying this for some time now.

Even under Stern’s carbon tax it should have been about £30 billion tops. More than that is being charged – when we include, as we should the fuel duty escalator etc. Too much is being paid therefore.

That’s before we get into the nonsense manner in which they’ve actually done it.

Well, yes, OK, challenge these statements

The BBC has apologised to viewers for airing an interview with Lord Lawson in which he was allowed to deny climate change without challenge.

The corporation has now admitted that the interview was a breach of its own editorial guidelines, after the former Government minister claimed that global temperatures have not risen in the past decade.

Well, go ahead then, challenge them.

The controversy was caused in August when Lord Lawson said that a UN body on climate change had “confirmed that there had been no increase in extreme weather events”.

He added that “during this past 10 years, if anything, mean global temperature, average world temperature, has slightly declined.”

As far as I’m aware at least the first statement is true the second, well, I’ve not been following the twists and turns but it’s at least potentially true. For the last decade that is – not so for many but then that’s not what he said either.


The grownups have finally won and everyone in the UK, from those in cold homes to those on polluted streets and in flooded towns, will benefit. The most important aspect of the UK government’s new clean growth strategy is its unequivocal statement that tackling climate change and a prosperous economy are one and the same thing.

Well, no, not really:

But the biggest worry is the very limited support for carbon capture and storage, the technology that takes emissions from fossil fuels and buries them under the ground.

“The technology”? We don’t have a technology which does this. We’re even pretty sure that we’ll never have a technology which does this. It’s not the grown ups who go about wishing for the sunbeam and cucumber storage technology.

I wonder why we don’t do this

The entire world could be powered by one deep-sea wind farm stretching across the North Atlantic.

Building a renewable energy project the size of India across the ocean would allow the entire world to get access to sustainable energy and fulfil its needs, according to a major new study.

There are likely to be very significant hurdles to building such a major project, especially one that would require international cooperation and incredible levels of investment. But it would also allow people to get access to vast amounts of energy: at least more efficiently than onshore wind power.

The two researchers found that if a wind farm were built across three million square kilometres of the ocean it would account for roughly the equivalent of all energy used today.

I mean, there must be some reason why we don’t, mustn’t there?

The thing is, all of this is true

Tony Abbott, the former Australian prime minister, has drawn criticism for suggesting climate change “is probably doing good” and claiming that “far more people die in cold snaps”.

Addressing the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a climate sceptic thinktank, on Monday evening, Mr Abbott said policies to tackle climate change was like primitive people trying to “appease the volcano gods”.

“There’s the evidence that higher concentrations of carbon dioxide (which is a plant food after all) are actually greening the planet and helping to lift agricultural yields. In most countries, far more people die in cold snaps than in heat waves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it’s accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change, might even be beneficial.

It’s actually what the science says too.

The science goes on to say that it doesn’t stay like this as emissions and temperatures rise which is what the problem is. It’s not that unusual for a bit to be a good thing, a lot not so much, any drinker can tell you that.

“At least so far, it’s climate change policy that’s doing harm; climate change itself is probably doing good; or at least, more good than harm.

That’s also true, although the influence of what is being done on that future when the effects, in aggregate, are predicted to be bad is probably good.

Reacting to the speech on Twitter, Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader, said: “I know Donald Trump has lowered the bar for idiocy but…..”

But Ed, he’s actually right here.