Category Archives: Energy

Climate change is no catastrophe

UnHerd by Michael Shellenberger, November 3, 2021

No global problem has ever been more exaggerated than climate change. As it has gone from being an obscure scientific question to a theme in popular culture, we’ve lost all sense of perspective.

Here are the facts: in Europe, emissions in 2020 were 26% below 1990 levels. In the United States, emissions in 2020 were 22% below 2005 levels. Emissions are likely to start declining, too, in developing nations, including China and India, within the next decade. Most nations’ emissions will be bigger this year than last, due to post-Covid economic growth. But global emissions are still likely to peak within the next decade.

And the result will be a much smaller increase in global average temperatures than almost anyone predicted just five years ago. The best science now predicts that temperatures are likely to rise just 2.5-3°C above pre-industrial levels. It’s not ideal, but it’s a far cry from the hysterical and apocalyptic predictions of 6°C, made just a decade ago. A 3°C increase is hardly an existential threat to humanity.

Not that you’d know it, if you had half an eye on the headlines this summer. The floods, fires and heatwaves that plagued the world were, for many observers, proof that the impacts of climate change have already become catastrophic. In Europe, more than 150 people died in flooding. In the United States, wildfire season started earlier and lasted longer, razing hundreds of thousands of acres. Around the world, hundreds died from heatwaves.

But again, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the facts: there has been a 92% decline in the per decade death toll from natural disasters since its peak in the 1920s. In that decade, 5.4 million people died from natural disasters. In the 2010s, just 0.4 million did. Globally, the five-year period ending in 2020 had the fewest natural disaster deaths of any five-year period since 1900. And this decline occurred during a period when the global population nearly quadrupled — and temperatures rose more than 1°C degree centigrade above pre-industrial levels.

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The great climate change fallacy

By Tom Chivers

But then, 1°C is not that much. What determines whether people die in heat waves is not whether temperatures rose to 110°F — or even 115°F— instead of 109°F. It is whether or not they have air conditioning. Heat-related deaths have halved in the US since 1960 — even as the population expanded and heat waves grew in frequency, intensity, and length — because more and more people did.

Though climate alarmists steadfastly ignore it, our capacity to adapt is extraordinary. We are very good at protecting people from natural disasters — and getting better. To take just one example, France in 2006 had 4,000 fewer deaths from a heat wave than anticipated thanks to improved health care, an early-warning system and greater public consciousness in response to a deadly heat wave three years earlier. Even poor, climate-vulnerable nations like Bangladesh saw deaths from natural disasters decline massively thanks to low-cost weather surveillance and warning systems and storm shelters.

And today, our capability for modifying environments is far greater than ever before. Dutch experts today are already working with the government of Bangladesh to prepare for rising sea levels. The Netherlands, of course, became a wealthy nation despite one-third of its landmass being below sea level — sometimes by a full seven meters — as a result of the gradual sinking of its landscapes.

Global sea levels rose a mere 0.19 metres between 1901 and 2010. But the IPCC estimates sea levels will rise as much as 0.66 meters by 2100 in its medium scenario, and by 0.83 meters in its high-end scenario. Still, even if these predictions prove to be significant underestimates, the slow pace of sea level rise will likely allow societies ample time for adaptation.

Where the secondary effects of climate change do cause catastrophe, it’s often due to failures on the part of authorities. The extent of the devastation wrought by wildfires on the West Coast of America was, for instance, preventable. California has mismanaged its forests for decades — including by diverting money that the state’s electric utilities could and should have spent on clearing dead wood.

Given how good we are at mitigating the effects of natural disasters, it’s ironic that so many climate alarmists focus on them. It’s perhaps because the world’s most visually dramatic, fascinating events — fires, floods, storms — make their cause stick in the minds of voters. If it were acknowledged that heat deaths were due to lack of air conditioning and forest fires were due to the buildup of wood fuel after decades of fire suppression, alarmist journalists, scientists and activists would be deprived of the “news hooks” they need to scare people, raise money and advocate climate policies.

And not all climate alarmists are altruists. Elites have used the cause to justify efforts to control food and energy policies for more than three decades. Climate alarmists have successfully redirected funding from the World Bank and similar institutions away from economic development and toward charitable endeavours — which don’t power growth.

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Is this the end of the world?

By Doug Coupland

This is part of a common pattern: the people who claim to be most alarmed about climate change are the ones blocking its only viable solutions, natural gas and nuclear. This year’s increase in coal production is a case in point. China has been widely criticised for waiving environmental and safety regulations on its mining recently, in a mad rush to meet winter heating demands. But less attention has been paid to the fact that the increased demand is mostly due to climate activists’ efforts to prevent oil and gas development in Europe and the United States. Lack of natural gas is what led directly to China having to reopen coal mines — and to Europe, North America, and the rest of Asia having to burn more coal. Had climate activists not fought fracking in America and expanded oil and gas drilling in Europe, then we would not be experiencing its worst energy crisis in 50 years.

Meanwhile, the organisations claiming that climate change dooms poor Africans to war, drought and poverty — including the WWF, the World Economic Forum and the United Nations — are the ones seeking to deny poor Africans life-changing natural gas plants, hydro-electric dams, and funding for fertiliser, roads and tractors. It goes without saying that all those organisations are dominated by rich, white Westerners.

The truth is that prosperity and environmental progress go hand in hand. Reductions in carbon emissions came from fracking and off-shore natural gas drilling; both lowered electricity prices, too. Technological innovation like this lowers energy prices, which reduces natural resource use, moving humans from wood to coal to natural gas to uranium. So it’s better to see growth — such a bogeyman to Team Green — as a solution, rather than a problem.

Instead of putting the brakes on, we should be facilitating more innovation, prosperity and wealth. For instance, the melodramatic UN’s own Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) concludes, as do all reputable analysts, that future food production, especially in poor African nations, will depend more on access to technology, irrigation and infrastructure than on climate change — these are the things that made all the difference, last century, in today’s rich nations. Humans today produce enough food for ten billion people, a 25% surplus. And even the FAO suggests that we’ll produce even more, under a wide range of climate change scenarios.

Indeed, the best available economic modelling finds that, by 2100, the global economy will be three to six times larger than it is today, and that the costs of adapting to a high (4°C) temperature rise would reduce gross domestic product by just 4.5%. Why kill ourselves trying to eliminate a problem that just isn’t that severe?

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Eco-fascism is our future

By Paul Kingsnorth

Consider the other threats humankind has recently been forced to cope with. In July 2019, NASA announced it had been caught by surprise when a “city-killer” asteroid passed by — just one-fifth of the distance between Earth and the Moon. In December 2019, a volcano unexpectedly erupted in New Zealand, killing 21 people. And in 2020 and 2021, four million people died from coronavirus.

While nations take reasonable actions to detect and avoid asteroids, super-volcanoes, and deadly flus, they generally don’t take radical actions — for the simple reason that doing so would make societies poorer and less capable of confronting all major challenges. Richer nations are more resilient, which is part of the reason why disasters have declined. When a hurricane hits Florida, it might kill no one, but when that same storm hits Haiti, thousands can die instantly through drowning — and thousands more subsequently, in disease epidemics like cholera. The difference is that Florida can afford to prepare properly, and Haiti can’t.

The richer the world gets, the better it will cope, then. But the climate alarmists have taken against economic growth. According to their holy scripture, the industrial revolution, powered by fossil fuels, was our fall — and the consequence is, according to the United Nations, “extinction.” The only alternative is puritan: don’t eat meat and don’t fly. There are even indulgences, for the wealthy who feel guilty, in the form of carbon offsets sold through the airlines.

This is the heart of the matter: climate alarmism is powerful because it has emerged as the alternative religion for supposedly secular people, providing many of the same psychological benefits as traditional faith. It offers a purpose — to save the world from climate change — and a story that casts the alarmists as heroes. And it provides a way for them to find meaning in their lives — while retaining the illusion that they are people of science and reason, not superstition and fantasy.

Naturally, as a religion, climate change has a fraudulent aspect. Some offsets pay rich landowners not to cut down trees they could not profitably cut down anyway. Exposed, the climate religion seeks to censor. The American government’s Forest Service has repeatedly silenced one of California’s most published and respected scientists, Malcolm North, who stressed to me and other reporters that the cause of high-intensity forest fires is not climate change, but rather wood fuel. The Center for American Progress, which raises tens of millions from natural gas, renewable energy, and financial interests, has been pressuring Facebook to censor critics of renewable energy.

It’s working: few people have a realistic understanding of climate change. Few consider whether, at its current rates, it might be less dangerous than efforts to mitigate it.

https://unherd.com/2021/11/climate-change-will-not-be-catastrophic/?1637012238158

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Europe’s Energy Crisis Is About to Go Global as Gas Prices Soar – Bloomberg

And the Greens and Democrats want to get off carbon based fuels? And discussion of the most rationale solution, nuclear power, will get you branded as an “enemy of the world”.. This is not craziness? mrossol

 
A power failure in November 2016 plunged London's West End into darkness. Energy supplies in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe may become more unreliable this winter.

A power failure in November 2016 plunged London’s West End into darkness. Energy supplies in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe may become more unreliable this winter.

Photo illustration by 731; Photo: Getty Images

This winter, the world will be fighting over something that’s invisible, yet rarely so vital—and in alarmingly shorter supply.

Nations are more reliant than ever on natural gas to heat homes and power industries amid efforts to quit coal and increase the use of cleaner energy sources. But there isn’t enough gas to fuel the post-pandemic recovery and refill depleted stocks before the cold months. Countries are trying to outbid one another for supplies as exporters such as Russia move to keep more natural gas home. The crunch will get a lot worse when temperatures drop.

The crisis in Europe presages trouble for the rest of the planet as the continent’s energy shortage has governments warning of blackouts and factories being forced to shut.

relates to Europe’s Energy Crisis Is Coming for the Rest of the World, Too
Employees patrol a tank at a liquefied natural gas terminal operated by China Petrochemical Corp. in Qingdao, Shandong province.
Photo: VCG/Getty Images

Inventories at European storage facilities are at historically low levels for this time of year. Pipeline flows from Russia and Norway have been limited. That’s worrying as calmer weather has reduced output from wind turbines while Europe’s aging nuclear plants are being phased out or are more prone to outages—making gas even more necessary. No wonder European gas prices surged by almost 500% in the past year and are trading near record.

European Natural Gas Prices

Per megawatt-hour

Data: Intercontinental Exchange

 

The spike has forced some fertilizer producers in Europe to reduce output, with more expected to follow, threatening to increase costs for farmers and potentially adding to global food inflation. In the U.K., high energy prices have forced several suppliers out of business.

Even a normally cold winter in the Northern Hemisphere is expected to drive up natural gas prices further across much of the world. In China, industrial users including makers of ceramics, glass, and cement may respond by raising prices; households in Brazil will face expensive power bills. Economies that can’t afford the fuel—such as Pakistan or Bangladesh—could simply grind to a halt.

relates to Europe’s Energy Crisis Is Coming for the Rest of the World, Too
Low water levels in the Parana River are forcing Brazil’s hydroelectric plants to rely on other fuels for generation.
Photographer: Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images

Utilities and policymakers are praying for mild temperatures because it’s already too late to boost supplies. The prospect of accelerating energy costs, in conjunction with squeezed supply chains and food prices at decade highs, could make more central bankers question whether the jump in inflation is as transitory as they’d hoped. Traders will be carefully dissecting every weather forecast published from now to December.

relates to Europe’s Energy Crisis Is Coming for the Rest of the World, Too
A man fishes in front of a liquefied natural gas tanker berthed at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s power plant in Futtsu, Chiba prefecture, Japan.
Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

“If the winter is actually cold, my concern is we will not have enough gas for use for heating in parts of Europe,” Amos Hochstein, the U.S. State Department’s senior adviser for energy security, told Bloomberg Television on Sept. 20. For some countries, “it won’t only be a recessionary value, it will affect the ability to actually provide gas for heating. It touches everybody’s lives.”

Global LNG Imports

In tons

Data: BloombergNEF

 

In Asia, importers of liquefied natural gas are paying record prices for this time of year to secure supplies, with some starting to snap up dirtier fuels such as coal and heating oil in case they don’t obtain enough. This may undermine efforts by governments to hit ambitious green goals: Gas emits about half as much carbon dioxide as coal when burned.

China, the world’s biggest buyer of natural gas, hasn’t filled stockpiles fast enough, even though imports are almost double what they were last year, according to customs data. Several Chinese provinces are already rationing electricity to industries to meet President Xi Jinping’s targets for energy efficiency and pollution reduction. A power crisis could exacerbate shutdowns if authorities divert gas to light and heat households.

If Chinese factories have to contend with widespread power shortages, global prices for steel and aluminum will jump. To make matters worse, the country is also grappling with a coal shortage.

 

Utilities in Japan and South Korea are largely protected by long-term LNG contracts that are indexed to oil. Still, Korea Electric Power Co. said on Sept. 23 that it will increase electricity prices for the first time in almost eight years. A sudden cold snap could force more power companies to dive into the spot market to buy emergency gas supplies at record-high rates. That’s what happened last winter.

The cost of securing LNG supplies has sparked a political controversy in strapped Pakistan, with opposition politicians demanding an inquiry into purchases by the state-owned importer.

relates to Europe’s Energy Crisis Is Coming for the Rest of the World, Too
Qatar’s Energy Minister Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi.
Photographer: Donat Sorokin/Getty Images

In Brazil, the lowest flows to the Parana River Basin in almost a century have slashed hydropower output and forced utilities to rely more heavily on gas. The country boosted gas imports to an all-time high in July, and power bills are rising. With inflation already ballooning, that could hurt President Jair Bolsonaro’s chances in next year’s election.

The stage is set for an all-out scramble among Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America for shipments of LNG from exporters such as the Qatar, Trinidad and Tobago, and the U.S. “We have huge demand from all our customers and unfortunately, we can’t cater for everyone,” warned Saad Al-Kaabi, Qatar’s energy minister, at an industry conference this month.

Global Power Generation

In gigawatt-hours

Data: IEA Electricity Information 2020

 

American exporters are poised to ship more LNG than ever as new projects come online toward the end of the year. But as more gas goes abroad, less will be available at home. Even though gas prices have been notably lower in the U.S. than in Europe and Asia, they are trading near the highest level since 2014. Gas inventories are running below their five-year seasonal average, yet U.S. shale drillers are reluctant to boost production out of concern that would crimp their profitability and put off investors.

The Industrial Energy Consumers of America has requested that the Department of Energy reduce U.S. exports until storage levels get back to normal, a move that might exacerbate shortages abroad.

It used to be that the average person paid little attention to the market price of natural gas. It isn’t like oil, where a snap decision from OPEC will almost immediately affect how much they pay at the pump. This winter, the world is likely to learn how much the global economy depends on natural gas. —With Lynn Doan and Anna Shiryaevskaya

via Europe’s Energy Crisis Is About to Go Global as Gas Prices Soar – Bloomberg.

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