Category Archives: Environment

A Mom’s Research (Part 2): Texas Freezing and Global Warming

Very nicely written article. Very informative and well documented. mrossol

The Epoch Times. 2/21/2021

Commentary

A few days ago, my husband and I were chatting about the freezing weather in Texas and the resulting blackouts. My daughter got grumpy when she heard us and said, “So you don’t believe in global warming?”

“Not necessarily. If you want to convince me, answer my questions,” my husband said. “First, is it true that we have global warming? See how cold Texas gets and how much snow we are getting.”

“Scientists said these are caused by global warming! I can find out,” said my daughter.

“OK. Second, if global warming is true, is it caused by carbon dioxide or by human activities? Third, would it help if the United States and Europe stopped emitting carbon dioxide while China can do whatever it wants? You know, the emissions from China are more than those from the United States and Europe combined.”

“Global warming is an interesting topic for my writing, I guess,” I interjected.

“No! You can write about anything but global warming!” my daughter yelled.

“Why?”

“Because it’s stupid!”

“Why is it stupid? I am going to research it.”

“The scientists… the United Nations… NASA said global warming is true! If you doubt it, it is like you are saying the earth is flat!”

“Well, I don’t think the earth is flat, and I will do some research on global warming,” I said.

“But what you write is about socialism stuff. That’s politics. Global warming is SCIENCE!”

“OK, if it is a science, people should be allowed to debate about it based on evidence and data, right? Why are you so upset? I am just curious to find answers to your dad’s questions. I don’t think you would be upset if I wrote about whales and sea turtles, and checked which of them swims faster.”

At that point, I made up my mind to do the research and find out why my daughter was so nervous about this topic.

Explaining Texas Freezing as a Symptom of Global Warming

Since my daughter mentioned NASA, I researched NASA first. They’ve published a video showing the global surface temperature changes from 1880 to 2020. It looks like the global surface temperatures are getting higher, especially since 2005. The temperature increase at the North Pole is most obvious.

But why is Texas, in the Sunshine Belt, getting so cold? According to mainstream media, like the New York Times, a warmer Arctic Sea and thinner Arctic sea ice is the reason for colder continents in lower latitudes of the northern hemisphere. This is because the warmth weakens the circulating “jet stream” holding the cold polar air, so the frigid air escapes to the lower latitude areas.

Although this is the media’s standard answer, in scientific circles it is still considered a hypothesis and has been challenged by prominent climate scientists:

“It’s an interesting idea, but alternative observational analyses and simulations with climate models have not confirmed the hypothesis, and we do not view the theoretical arguments underlying it as compelling.

 … Coincidence does not in itself constitute a strong case for causality. Cold air outbreaks even more severe than occurred this winter affected the United States in the early 1960s, the late 1970s (most notably 1977), and in 1983, back when the Arctic sea ice was thicker and more extensive than it is today.”

—John Wallace, Isaac Held, David Thompson, Kevin Trenberth, and John Walsh, in a 2014 letter published in Science.

 “Over the past six or so years, there has been a surge of modelling studies ­­suggesting only a weak influence of Arctic warming on mid-latitudes. The magnitudes of the simulated responses are consistently weaker than observations might imply, for reasons that are uncertain and contentious.”

—Russell Blackport and James A. Screen, in a 2020 letter published in Nature.

Apparently, scientists haven’t found a compelling explanation for the extreme winter chill in Texas in the context of global warming. That is quite inconvenient for climate apocalypse advocates.

Global warming has been held as the culprit for all kinds of miseries, like hurricanes, droughts, flooding, wildfires, heatwaves, malaria, and rising sea levels. Therefore, extreme winter cold has to be caused by global warming somehow, right? Just as Liz Sherwood-Randall, President Biden’s homeland security adviser, told reporters on Feb. 18, “The extreme weather events that we’re experiencing this week … do yet again demonstrate to us that climate change is real and it’s happening now, and we’re not adequately prepared for it.”

Global Warming vs. Hurricanes

“Hurricanes have been depicted as the literal poster-child of the harmful impacts of global warming.”

—Christopher Landsea, American meteorologist

Thanks to Chapter Sixteen (Parts I and II) of The Epoch Times book “How the Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World,” I was shown a gateway to an ocean of knowledge about climate change.

Christopher Landsea is an American meteorologist and hurricane expert. On his webpage on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website, I found an article on the relationship between hurricanes and global warming.

In the article, Dr. Landsea indicates that he believes that global warming has occurred, and human activities have contributed to the warming. However, according to his research, “the overall impact of global warming on hurricanes is currently negligible and likely to remain quite tiny even a century from now.”

Global warming increases both ocean temperature and air temperature. According to Dr. Landsea, higher ocean temperature contributes to the formation of tropical storms or hurricanes, while higher air temperature aloft impedes the storms. Other factors—like air moisture, thunderstorms, and wind—might play bigger roles than ocean temperature.

Dr. Landsea’s prediction is—if the global temperature increases by a significant 2–3°C (4–6°F) by 2100—that the number of hurricanes may decrease by 25 percent, the intensity may increase slightly (approx. 3 percent), storm surges may increase by 3 percent, and rainfall may increase by 10 percent per hurricane.

Wait a second! Aren’t we getting more hurricanes and bigger damage in recent years? Some studies showed that the number of hurricanes and tropical storms has increased from 6–8 per year in the 1870s to 14–16 per year in the 2000s, while the sea surface temperature increased by over 0.78°C (1.5°F) during the 100-year period.

Dr. Landsea argued that the increase of hurricanes can be attributed to the more advanced technologies to detect and monitor hurricanes. Tropical storms and hurricanes form above the oceans. Most or all of their power would be dissipated above the oceans. Nowadays, researchers have aircraft, satellites, radar, buoys, and automated weather stations to monitor hurricanes. Many of these technologies were not available decades ago. Therefore, it is impossible to get accurate historical data on the actual number of hurricanes.

An alternative way to evaluate the trend is to check those storms and hurricanes that have struck land. By this measure, more hurricanes made landfall in 1933 than in 2005, and the long-term upward trend in numbers disappears significantly.

As for the increased damage by the hurricanes, Dr. Landsea explained that it is caused by more wealth we own per capita, and much more population on the U.S. coastlines. From Maine to Texas, the coastal population has increased from 10 million in 1900 to almost 50 million in 2000. If these factors are taken into consideration, or, if we calculated the damage of the historical hurricanes based on today’s society, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was not as powerful as the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926, and the hurricane damage from 1996 to 2005 would be equivalent to that between 1926 to 1935. “There have been no peer-reviewed studies published anywhere that refute this. However, this normalized record of damages does provide us with some indications of hurricane climate variations that likely are unrelated to global warming,” Landsea wrote.

Inconvenient Truth

In his celebrated 1974 “Cargo Cult” lecture, the late Richard Feynman [1965 Nobel Prize in Physics Laureate] admonished scientists to discuss objectively all the relevant evidence, even that which does not support the narrative. That’s the difference between science and advocacy.

—Steven E. Koonin, Theoretical Physicist, Director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York Univ.

Dr. Steven E. Koonin is the former undersecretary for science of the U.S. Department of Energy. In an article he wrote for the Wall Street Journal in November 2017, he lamented that many climate scientists show data out of complete historical context in order to support their narratives. This practice, however, violates “basic scientific norms.”

He pointed out that, in the U.S. government’s Climate Science Special Report to be published in November, the description of sea-level rise was questionable. “The report ominously notes that while global sea level rose an average 0.05 inch a year during most of the 20th century, it has risen at about twice that rate since 1993. But it fails to mention that the rate fluctuated by comparable amounts several times during the 20th century. The same research papers the report cites show that recent rates are statistically indistinguishable from peak rates earlier in the 20th century, when human influences on the climate were much smaller.”

This is not the only example of misleading omission in the report. “The report’s executive summary declares that U.S. heat waves have become more common since the mid-1960s, although acknowledging the 1930s Dust Bowl as the peak period for extreme heat. Yet buried deep in the report is a figure showing that heat waves are no more frequent today than in 1900.”

This governmental report was written by a team of about 30 scientists. The artifice revealed by Dr. Koonin also appeared in other official climate reports for the U.S. government and the United Nations.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations has promoted the theory that malaria and other insect-borne diseases are getting more widespread as the climate warms. However, according to a 2011 Forbes article, “The World Health Organization reports global malaria deaths have declined by nearly 40% during the past decade, even as the earth experienced its ‘hottest decade on record.’” An article published in Nature in 2011 presented a scientific study that found that “warmer temperatures seem to slow transmission of malaria-causing parasites, by reducing their infectiousness.”

As for the relationship between droughts and global warming, David Legates, former Director of the Center for Climatic Research at the University of Delaware, testified to a Senate committee in 2014 that “droughts in the United States are more frequent and more intense during colder periods.”

William Happer, a research physicist and former vice president for research at Princeton University, testified to a Senate subcommittee that “In spite of the drumbeat of propaganda, CO2, is not ‘carbon pollution,’” but brings “increased agricultural yields.” He also pointed out that “various mainstream climate models have predicted much more warming than observed.”

Current climate researchers rely almost entirely on computer models to do their studies, because the complexity of the climate problem makes it impossible to experiment and validate under controlled conditions in the laboratory. However, the climate models are far from perfect. According to Joanne Simpson, an award-winning NASA atmospheric scientist, “We all know the frailty of models concerning the air-surface system.”

The late Princeton physicist, Freeman Dyson, pointed out that, while clouds are a very important factor that affects the climate, climate models cannot simulate them realistically because they are “far too small and too diverse.” He also said, “You can learn a lot from [models], but you cannot learn what’s going to happen 10 years from now.”

Global Warming vs. Carbon Dioxide vs. Humans

The earth has gone through cycles of warming and cooling throughout history. According to Dr. Takuro Kobashi and other Japanese researchers, 11,270 years ago the temperatures in the northern hemisphere rose about 4°C (7°F) within a few years. 8,000 years ago, the Greenland temperature cooled by about 3°C (5°F) in less than 20 years, followed by a warming that lasted for about 70 years.

Chinese scientist Zhu Kezhen pointed out that the annual average temperature in China 3000 years ago was about 2°C (4°F) higher than the current temperature. Elephants were roaming the plains at the same latitude as Little Rock, Arkansas. One thousand years ago, Europe experienced 300 years of the Medieval Warm Period. It was followed by a 400-year cold period called the “Little Ice Age,” which resulted in a wide range of food shortages and famines.

Whether the current warming is largely caused by humans, or part of a natural climate fluctuation, is a debatable topic in scientific circles. Some scientists believe that galactic cosmic ray flux or solar activities play bigger roles in climate change than man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

In addition, according to “Modeling Climatic Effects of Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide Emissions: Unknowns and Uncertainties,” a research paper published in the Climate Research journal in November 2001, scientists found that the warming effect of greenhouse gases (mainly carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) can be mitigated by factors like stratus clouds. “A 4% increase in the area of stratus clouds over the globe could potentially compensate for the estimated warming of a doubled atmospheric CO2 concentration.”

In 2013, Dr. Hans von Storch, a German climate scientist reported a phenomenon that cannot be explained by the current climate models: “Recent CO2 emissions have actually risen even more steeply than we feared. As a result, according to most climate models, we should have seen temperatures rise by around 0.25°C (0.45°F) over the past 10 years. That hasn’t happened. In fact, the increase over the last 15 years was just 0.06°C (0.11°F).”

The Sacred ‘Consensus’ and the Canceled Scientists

IPCC’s establishment in 1988 signified the entry of global warming into the political realm.

Every five years, IPCC publishes an authoritative report for policymakers involved in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The objective of the UNFCCC is “to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system …” Apparently, the assumption here is that humans are the culprit creating “interference with the climate system.”

In her testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives in March 2017, Dr. Judith Curry, a climate scientist at Georgia Tech Univ. pointed out that, with the mandate of the UNFCCC, “the climate community has prematurely elevated a scientific hypothesis on human-caused climate change to a ruling theory through claims of a consensus.”

Dr. Frederick Seitz, the 17th president of the United States National Academy of Sciences, published an article in the Wall Street Journal in 1996 that criticized the newly released IPCC Assessment Report. He discovered that the published report did not contain any statements expressing uncertainty about humans’ roles in climate change although these statements were in the final peer-reviewed version approved by the contributing scientists.

Forbes report revealed that the report “used selective data, a doctored graph,” in addition to the omissions mentioned by Dr. Seitz. It also mentioned that “several tens of thousands of scientists have lodged formal protests regarding unscientific IPCC practices. Some critics include former supporters.”

With practices like this, a “consensus” is established: Climate change is caused by human activities; extreme weather events will result; substantial and increasing damage will occur.

Dr. Stephen Schneider, an advocate of the “consensus,” and a Lead Author of IPCC’s Third Assessment Report, was quoted by Jonathan Schell in a 1989 Discover magazine article talking about the strategy for spreading the “consensus”: “We need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.”

As science becomes the servant of politics, scientists who stood their ground against the “consensus” tasted the chilling cancel culture. Quite a lot of examples were given in the book “How the Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World.”

Physicist Michael Griffin, then the administrator of NASA, expressed in an interview with NPR in 2007 that higher temperatures are not necessarily bad for humans. He was immediately criticized by the media and some climate scientists, and had to apologize for the controversy to NASA employees the following week.

Swedish meteorologist Lennart Bengtsson, then the director of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, received intense repercussions in 2014 because he joined the board of The Global Warming Policy Foundation, a think tank promoting open-mindedness on the science of global warming. He had to resign from the foundation within two weeks due to tremendous pressure.

The late David Bellamy, a famous British botanist, stated publicly that he did not believe in the “consensus.” As a result, in 2004 he lost his leadership roles in Plantlife International and the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts. The BBC also stopped working with him on nature programs. He was even spat on in a London street by activists.

Similarly, Dr. Hendrik Tennekes, a Dutch meteorologist, lost his position as the director of research at the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute in 1995, after publishing an article criticizing the accuracy of climate models.

The list goes on. Many researchers also lost their funding because of their stance against the “consensus.”

In a 2015 Senate hearing, Dr. Judith Curry testified that “A climate scientist making a statement about uncertainty or degree of doubt in the climate debate is categorized as a denier or a ‘merchant of doubt,’ whose motives are assumed to be ideological or motivated by funding from the fossil fuel industry.” Dr. Curry herself was labeled as a “climate heretic” because of her expression of concerns on the “consensus.”

What Is Behind the Political-Scientific Alliance on Climate Change?

Now I started to understand my daughter’s fear. A label of “denier” of climate change make people think of Holocaust deniers. “How dare you not care about the future of mankind? How dare you not worry about a scorching earth with rampant fires and horrific hurricanes?” Also, the risk of being “canceled” socially or professionally is scary.

But what is behind the very obvious political-scientific alliance on climate change?

In a 2010 interview, IPCC official Ottmar Edenhofer gave some startling confessional statements: “Basically it’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization … One must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy … One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole.”

Sound familiar? Globalization. Wealth Redistribution. Green New Deal. The Great Reset. Climate Change is their common denominator.

This is a new form of socialism. Actually, not that new. Eco-marxism and eco-socialism are not new concepts. From the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century, British scientist Arthur Tansley, who originated the concept of ecology, and Darwinian zoologist Ray Lankester, were both Fabian socialists. Lankester was even a friend of Karl Marx. While Marx labeled capitalists as the enemies of workers, Tansley and Lankester labeled capitalism as the enemy of nature. Environmentalism is a convenient storefront for communists to continue the fight against the free world.

The Paris Climate Agreement is the result of climate change advocacy. According to the agreement, by 2025, developed countries must commit $100 billion annually to developing countries to help them “reduce emissions” and “adapt to climate change.” This is a brilliant wealth redistribution strategy.

Besides, the United States, which has 12 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, is supposed to cut emissions by 26–28 percent by 2025, while China, which has the highest share (23 percent) of emissions, is only required to “PEAK carbon emissions no later than 2030.” In other words, the Chinese Communist Party can do whatever it wants until 2030, without an upper limit for emissions. This kind of rule would definitely weaken the economy of the free world while boosting Chinese communist power.

Concepts like carbon neutrality (balancing carbon dioxide emissions with removal), carbon credit (tradable permit for emission), and carbon market are floating around and gaining momentum. A developed country whose carbon credits are used up can buy carbon credits from developing countries. This carbon credit can be a new form of currency, and it is a new way for wealth redistribution!

In November 2019, Bloomberg published an article with a chilling title: “Climate Changed. Earth Needs Fewer People to Beat the Climate Crisis, Scientists Say. More than 11,000 experts sign an emergency declaration warning that energy, food and reproduction must change immediately.”

Apparently, the social movements driven by the climate change theory are changing the world. Based on a glorified hypothesis and computer models, it is becoming a tyranny, a way to take away our freedom. I am going to share my research results with my daughter, and I hope it helps you to know more about it as well.

Jean Chen is originally from China, and writes under a pen name in order to protect her family in China.

https://www.theepochtimes.com/a-moms-research-part-2-texas-freezing-and-global-warming_3705225.html?utm_source=news&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=breaking-2021-02-22-3

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Wildfire Sanity. Why’d it take this long?

I guess painful loss creates an incentive, and incentives matter. mrossol.

WSJ – 9/15/2020. by Daniel Henninger

Wow. Overnight, apparently there’s nobody who does not understand that climate policy is not an answer to California’s wildfire crisis.

Even the do-gooder, nonprofit news group ProPublica plaintively asks in a headline, “They Know How to Prevent Megafires. Why Won’t Anybody Listen?” The article goes on to assert: “The pattern is a form of insanity: We keep doing overzealous fire suppression across California landscapes where the fire poses little risk to people and structures. As a result, wildland fuels keep building up.”

I guess when thousands of people might be burned out of their homes, it concentrates the mind.

But then why was California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s most quoted response to the fires “Never have I felt more of a sense of obligation . . .to face climate change head on”?

Confusion abounds. One admirable New York Times article makes clear the immediate answer does not lie in climate policy: “Millions of Americans are moving into wildfire-prone areas outside of cities, and communities often resist restrictions on development. A century of federal policy to aggressively extinguish all wildfires rather than letting some burn at low levels, an approach now seen as misguided, has left forests with plenty of fuel for especially destructive blazes.”

But another Times article on the same day insists that “the mechanism driving the wildfire crisis is straightforward: Human behavior, chiefly the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil.”

Such sentences are a counsel purely of despair. People who take an interest in global warming can only conclude fires are unstoppable and must be endured as a result of our accumulated planet sins.

I promise no long foray into social psychology, but take the most textbook finding of behavioral economics: “prospect theory,” or the observed tendency of human beings irrationally to overvalue a bird in the hand vs. multiple birds in the bush.

 

This discovery really tells us that people, in their mind’s eye, overweight a potential loss against a potential gain because the loss might be visible to others. Human beings are intensely social creatures even in the ways they systematically misconstrue their own interests. This is also why it’s such an enormous, heavy lift to get past virtue-signaling before we can speak rationally about key matters. We have to spend 20 minutes talking about climate change before we can spend one minute talking about policies that would actually affect wildfires.

But, as I say, their houses burning down are an incentive for people to grow up.

A bit of history: It’s been nearly 32 years since climate change became a mainstream political cause—I date the beginning to then-NASA scientist James Hansen’s public fight with the first Bush White House in 1989. In the decades that followed, as nature dictates, climate politics became institutionalized. Institutionalized means interest groups and business lobbies becoming self-sustaining based on the money that climate fears generate. A cynic might note that during this time the world’s greenhouse emissions rose more steeply than ever. Problems that become institutionalized aren’t solved. They become a multigenerational meal ticket by not being solved.

And yet 32 years have taught us a few things. It was always implausible that the world’s politicians and electorates would require their economies to forgo the advantages of fossil fuels and so it has proved. But we also have discovered a lot about the likely track of future emissions. The world seems to be adhering to RCP 4.5, the second-lowest of the CO2 scenarios sketched by scientists. And not because of penny-ante handouts to solar panels and electric cars, but because of very large social and economic megatrends: urbanization, slower population growth, a shift to service- and digitally-based economies, advancing technology and a declining energy intensity of GDP. One example: Fracking led to a multiyear decline in U.S. greenhouse gas output. Last year, before the pandemic hit, global emissions would have been flat if not for China’s.

Though this column has frequently mentioned the virtues of a carbon tax, nothing is more important for climate change than making sure this socioeconomic progress continues.

Progress in politics is harder to come by, but I can point to some. In the past 24 months, it likely has become impossible for government and private agencies to continue peddling dire climate forecasts, as they have in recent years, based on an unrealistic, worst-case RCP 8.5 emissions scenario.

A surprising thing has happened: Even greens have become embarrassed at the institutionalized dishonesty of such forecasts. (I cited a significant example in a column here in January.)

If we can start being rational about fire-suppression policy, we can start being rational about climate change too.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/finally-wildfire-sanity-11599856913?mod=opinion_featst_pos2

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Requiem for a Climate Dream

I have argued for nuclear power for the better of 30 years… Not that I’m that smart, for sure.

WSJ 12/4/2019 By Holman Jenkins, Jr.

Rigor could be restored to mainstream climate journalism with a single clause. That clause consists of the words “if climate models are accurate.”

A United Nations study issued in advance of this week’s climate summit in Madrid would appear in a different light, though still worrisome, and still a challenge to policy makers, if it were reported as saying: To avoid any chance of a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius, annual emissions cuts of 7.6% must begin next year if computerized climate simulations are correct.

Such simulations, we should admit, are science. Their findings represent a legitimate pursuit of knowledge. The common failing in the media involves leaving out the necessary caveats. Such carelessness has ultimately enabled a new kind of science denial on the left, where advocates like Greta Thunberg and the U.K. group Extinction Rebellion increasingly talk about climate change leading to a human demise that is nowhere supported in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or other scientific bodies.

In my view, Al Gore bears heavy responsibility here. Name any important policy commitment in history— whether Social Security or Medicare or even fighting World War II—that required that all debate be silenced and all skeptics vilified before it could proceed. The Gore formula is good for stoking tribalism. It’s not good for making policy progress in a democracy. And so it has proved. Nobody remotely believes the supposedly necessary emissions cuts will take place. The only response left to the climate crowd is to ratchet up even more dire predictions.

Let’s start over. If stated properly, the “scientific consensus” would run as follows: climate models teach us to expect some warming from human- caused atmospheric CO2 increases, but disagree about how much. It’s hard to make cost-benefit judgments on such a basis, but happily the Green New Deal makes it easy—it would cost a lot of money and accomplish nothing since U.S. emissions are just 14% of the total and shrinking. India and China, not the U.S., will determine the fate of climate change.

Cost-benefit analysis also tells us a bunch of things that might be worth doing even in light of the uncertainties. A tax reform based on a revenue- neutral carbon tax could make our tax system more efficient and pro-growth. Government investment in basic research tends to have a high payoff, and battery research is a particularly attractive opportunity. Rethinking nuclear power and regulation is another area of huge potential. Safer and cheaper nuclear technologies continue to advance on the drawing board even in today’s inhospitable political environment.

And guess what? All the above would be easier to sell to other countries than Green New Deal masochism. Voters would readily gobble up new energy technologies and tax models that would make their societies richer and stronger. In honor of this week’s global climate gathering in Madrid, the New York Times aptly refers to the “gap between reality and diplomacy.” International agreements, by their nature, are designed to put an imprimatur on what domestic politicians would do anyway, and that doesn’t include prematurely ending their careers by imposing on consumers the kind of crushing burdens the green left seeks.

Look elsewhere for the turning points that actually matter. If climate change proves as severe as some scientists believe, the most damning moment will be one that passed largely unremarked except in this column: the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown after Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Under Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany, the world’s sixth biggest emitter, chaotically and thoughtlessly announced within weeks that it would close all 17 of its nuclear plants. China and India, then pursuing ambitious nuclear expansions that should have become more ambitious, instead recommitted themselves to burning vast amounts of coal.

Nuclearphobes should remind themselves that more people die each year from coal-mining accidents than have been killed in all the nuclear accidents in history. Never mind the tens of thousands who are statistically estimated to die annually from inhaling particulates. No technology is perfect, but NASA’s James Hansen, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Gaia theorist James Lovelock, and the late Harvard economist Martin Weitzman are among the diverse and serious students of climate change who have said that meaningful cuts won’t happen without nuclear.

The Fukushima accident, widely misread and breathing new life into the antinuclear lobby, will prove more significant than even the advocacy errors of Al Gore. It will prove more significant than the Paris Agreement, the election of Donald Trump, the tiresome legal vendetta against Exxon, or any of the matters that obsess the climate left. It probably put paid to any hope that emissions cuts will play a role in climate change for at least the next three or four decades. Get used to it.

BUSINESS WORLD

By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.

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water. AUS style.

I had not hear about this from my AUS kids…  Hmm?

Dead kangaroos and a dying river are results of Australian system considered in the U.S.

Australia’s Darling River was once filled with fleets of paddle steamers carrying wool to ships bound for England. For nearly two centuries, it provided fresh water to farmers seeking to tame Australia’s rugged interior.

No longer. The Darling River hasn’t flowed for eight months, with long stretches completely dried up. A million fish died there in January. Kangaroos, lizards and birds became sick or died after drinking from toxic pools of stagnant water.

Australia’s water-trading market is drawing blame. The problems with the system, created more than a decade ago, have arisen as similar programs are being considered in the U.S.

“We’ve seen a complete market failure,” says Katharine McBride, whose husband, Rob McBride, is a rancher at Tolarno Station, along the Darling River some 700 miles west of Sydney. “It is becoming pretty clear that there is large-scale corruption and manipulation.”

Water crises are unfolding across the world as surging populations, industrial-scale farming and hotter temperatures deplete supplies.

Australia’s experience is a warning to the U.S., where Western states including California, Nevada and Arizona are looking at Australian-style water-trading plans to apply more market discipline to water usage.

Australia thought it had the answer: a cap-and-trade system that would create incentives to use water efficiently and effectively in the world’s driest inhabited continent. But the architects of water trading didn’t anticipate that treating water as a commodity would encourage theft and hoarding.

A report produced for a state resources regulator found the current situation on the Darling was caused by too much water being extracted from the river by a handful of big farmers. Just four license holders control 75% of the water extracted from the Barwon- Darling river system.

The national government, concerned that its water-trading experiment hasn’t turned out as intended, last month requested an inquiry by the country’s antitrust regulator into water trading.

Anticorruption authorities are investigating instances of possible fraud, water theft and deal making for water licenses. In one case, known as Watergate, a former agriculture minister allegedly oversaw the purchase of a water license at a record price from a Cayman Islands company cofounded by the current energy minister.

The former agriculture minister said he was following departmental advice and had no role in determining the price or the vendor. The energy minister said he is no longer involved with the company and received no financial benefit from the deal.

Water has been bought and sold in parts of the U.S. for decades. The Colorado-Big Thompson project in Colorado is one of the most active markets, but trading has never grown to make much of a difference in overall supply.

In California, some local authorities see trading as a way to comply with legislation that requires groundwater use to reach sustainable levels by the early 2040s. In Nevada, the state engineer approved a water- trading plan in January in the Diamond Valley, near the town of Eureka.

The Nevada plan is meant to change a system in which farmers each year use twice the amount of groundwater replenished by rainfall. Under the plan, which faces a court challenge from farmers and ranchers, water users would be allocated shares that they could freely sell, trade or bank, with each share representing a unit of water. Each

year, the number of water units decline, resulting in a reduction of use.

Since 2007, Australia has allowed not only farmers but also investors who want to profit from trading to buy and sell water shares. The water market is now valued at some $20 billion.

Putting a price on water was supposed to encourage smarter decisions. Farmers would grow crops that paid the highest returns, and local river systems would be nursed back to health because people would stop wasting cheap water. One benefit of the system has been that farmers who couldn’t plant during dry years could sell their water rights to others, saving many from bankruptcy.

But making water valuable had unintended consequences in some places. “Once you create something of real value, you should expect people to attempt to steal it and search for ways to cheat,” says Mike Young, a University of Adelaide professor.

Big water users have stolen billions of liters of water from rivers and lakes, according to local media investigations and officials, often by pumping it secretly and at night from remote locations that aren’t metered.

A new water regulator set up in New South Wales investigated more than 300 tips of alleged water thefts in its first six months of operation.

In 2018, authorities charged a group of cotton farmers with stealing water, including one that pleaded guilty to pumping enough illegally to fill dozens of Olympic-size pools.

Another problem is that water trading gives farmers an incentive to capture more rain and floodwater, and then hoard it, typically by building storage tanks or lining dirt ditches with concrete. That enables them to collect rain before it seeps into the earth or rivers.

David Littleproud, Australia’s water-resources minister, says 14% of water licenses are now owned by investors. “Is that really the intent of what we want this market to be?” he asks.

Even without theft and hoarding, the water market has changed Australia’s landscape. Because investors could secure large quantities of water, there was a shift from crops including wheat to the more water-intensive citrus, cotton and almonds, further taxing Australia’s limited supply. The risk is that a drought, rather than wiping out one or two wheat crops, will kill the nut and citrus trees, causing much deeper losses.

“When you push people to find the highest return, the system’s vulnerability is hugely intensified,” says Erin O’Donnell, a water expert at the University of Melbourne.

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