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Climate Snippets #2

Electric cars

Chris Mitchell wrote in The Australian, July 6, 2020 (pay walled) attacking the ABC again:

“Panic is most obvious in reporting about climate change, where our ABC never misses an opportunity to publish wild claims no serious scientist believes.”

He does not provide examples from the ABC, but he goes on to provide some unsubstantiated climate claims of his own.

An interesting claim he makes is about electric cars. He writes:

“As this paper revealed at the time of the launch of hybrid cars in Australia, even motor vehicle renewable technologies have enormous carbon footprints in their manufacturing, in mining for rare metals they rely on and in the case of electric cars in base load power they need to recharge. They are a con.”

So what is to be done? Ban electric cars? Make cars out of plastic? Ban all cars? Mitchell does not say.

Wikipedia gives us a clue with Phase-out of fossil fuel vehicles. A list of countries proposing bans on vehicles, especially passenger vehicles, appears at this site. Reasons for the bans include meeting CO2 targets, health risks, risks from pollution particulates, meeting a compliance target without a carbon tax or phase-out of fossil fuels.

“The automotive industry is working to introduce electric vehicles with varying degrees of success and it is seen by some in the industry as a possible source of money in a declining market.”

In 2018, China led the world in the global production of electric cars (45%) and buses (90%).

At another site, The Driven tells us that the “Volkswagen factory produces last ever combustion engine car, shifts to EVs only“:

“Volkswagen factory produces last combustion engine car ever, shifting to EVs only. A factory owned by Volkswagen in Germany’s City of Cars, Zwichau, has produced its last ever combustion engine vehicle, closing a 116-year chapter on fossil-fueled cars and switching to electric vehicle production only.

“From today on, only electric models of Volkswagen and in the future also sister brands Audi and Seat will be produced in Zwichau…

“… the Zwichau factory is expected to start producing the first of its fully electric vehicles by the end of this year [2020], including the ID.4 and possibly an SUV from the sister brand Audi.

“As it happens, the ID.4 all electric SUV – a competitor to the forth-coming Tesla Model Y – is expected to be the first all-electric Volkswagen to come to the Australian market with a loose date set for 2022.

“The switch at Zwichau is part of Volkswagen’s plans to spend nearly 60bn euros ($97.3bn) over the coming few years on a large transition to EVs, with plans to roll out 75 all-electric vehicle models along with around 60 hybrid models.”

It is surprising that Mitchell had written about EVs back when they first came to Australia – how long ago was that? – but he has not caught up with latest technological developments. Something about the fossil-fuels ideology?

Facts about warming

Something ominous from The Conversation, 23 July 2020 – “The climate won’t warm as much as we feared – but it will warm more than we hoped”. They report that:

“… the exact amount of expected warming remains uncertain.

Scientists study this in terms of ‘equilibrium climate sensitivity’ – the temperature rise for a sustained doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations. Equilibrium climate sensibility has long been estimated within a likely range of 1.5 – 4.5 degrees Celsius.

Under our current emissions trajectory, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will likely double between 2060 and 2080, relative to concentrations before the Industrial Revolution. Before that, they had changed little for millennia.

A major new assessment has now calculated a range of 2.6 – 3.9 degrees Celsius. This implies that alarmingly high estimates from some recent climate models are unlikely, but also that comfortingly low estimates from other studies are even less likely.

The results indicate that substantial warming is more solidly assured than we thought…drastic measures are needed to curb climate change.”

Denier thinking

Here is an interesting and “intellectually curious” way of looking at global warming. It claims the atmosphere warms during the day even more than it does in years of climate change – and it does not harm us much, if at all. Ingenious.

Another idea among deniers is that we do not need to do much about climate change because we can simply adapt to the extra heat and spend the money on some other matters, such as eradicating tuberculosis.

Another concern of deniers is that ‘carbon’ might be taxed (“taxing air”, Bob Carter called it) now again in the present. John Howard himself contemplated a tax on carbon because concern for carbon emissions was stirring in the community. The idea for Howard did not last long.

Rudd and Gillard tried a price on carbon – and Gillard tried a minerals profits tax as well – and strangely they had some success, but the minerals super tax did not raise a lot because minerals were down in profits. Gillard made the mistake of allowing her price on carbon to be called a ‘tax’. Judith Brett, in her Quarterly Essay #78 “The Coal Curse: Resources, Climate and Australia’s Future”, lets Peta Credlin explain what happened:

“Along comes a carbon tax. It wasn’t a carbon tax, as you know. It was many other things in nomenclature terms, but we made it a carbon tax. We made it a fight about the hip pocket and not about the environment. It was brutal retail politics and it took Abbott about six months to cut through and when he cut through, Gillard was gone.”

So it was “brutal retail politics”. That is, it was a lie, and we had a few more lies to come in that era. And in a couple of years Abbott was gone.

In Brett’s essay (op.cit), she explains how deniers/sceptics mount elements of their “rigorous debate” and expand their false arguments (p. 68-69):

“The first is that the planet is not heating, so there is no need to cut fuel emissions;

second, even if it is, it is not caused by humans;

third, even if it is, Australia’s emissions both from what we burn are what we export are so small that stopping them won’t make any difference;

fourth, the drug dealer’s defence: if we don’t sell the coal and gas, someone else will:

fifth, the predicted damage will not be that bad and doesn’t warrant the economic costs.”

And there are people who will pay big money to support purveyors of denial/scepticism. Dr Peter Ridd gained $800,000 in crowd donated funds to appeal against his dismissal from James Cook University. In the IPA publication “Climate Change: The Facts 2017”, you can read an essay by Ridd about corals, and in the last part he criticises “the science,” which he himself opposes.

In that same publication you can read Ian Plimer telling us that climate science of the IPCC kind is a religion, whereas denier science is the real science. And there is a poem by Clive James in which he plays a contrarian role and piles together many denier/sceptic talking points, easily debunked. There is no coherent denier/sceptic “science” – just a collection of home-baked opinions.

Jennifer Marohasy, the editor of the IPA publication, tells readers they might find few “surprises”:

“I am referring to the snippets of apparently anomalous information scattered through the chapters. These can hopefully, one day, be reconciled.”

Ian Plimer, just recently, has been criticised for a number of silly things he has said, such as that there have been no “carbon emissions” because carbon is a black substance.

Well, the anomalies have not yet been reconciled, obviously, but they are still trying with another collection of essays this year.

With regard to special treatment for coal miners, consider their requests that special consideration not  be given to Indigenous people over land rights, but subsidies, special allowances or lesser penalties are acceptable to the miners.

For example, Acland New Hope mine was fined just $9,461 for 34 separate noise violations in 10 weeks. Last year the same miner drilled 27 illegal bores in the Darling Downs and received a $3,152 fine. The New Hope Group was worth about $2.3bn at the time.

Meanwhile, while the National Party associates itself with coal, agricultural farmers have formed a group, Lock the Gate, to protect themselves from the demands of miners. Coal mining is not welcomed by everybody.

Mining in the 1980s campaigned “to make ordinary Australians with no direct involvement in mining to feel they had a stake in disputes happening far from where they live.” (Brett, op.cit, p 42-43). But more recently faraway people not directly involved in mining have been told to butt out.

Judith Brett writing about coal, etc

Judith Brett (op.cit) gives an interesting short history of the development of the Australian economy, in particular the development of industry. She repeats the story told by John Button, minister for trade, when Carlo Benneton, of the Italian fashion house Benneton, came to Australia to invest in a weaving mill, but he could not find a suitable one. He said: “We have not had machines like that in Italy for 60 years.”

Brett goes on to explain that despite many attempts to revive competitiveness in the decades following WW2, “none of it worked.”

Brett mentions the loss of the car industry and the inability of the French submarine company to find 50%of its production from Australian sources. (pp. 36-37).

The fragile recovery of our manufacturing at the turn of the century could not survive the rise of China, nor Hockey and Abbott’s reckless abandonment of the car industry.” [my emphasis] (p. 37)

“Under Abbott, denial and scepticism about climate science spread to science generally. It is scientists who have uncovered the evidence of global warming…Abbott made his feelings clear by failing to include a minister for science in his first government…

“The denigration of science has not only affected climate science [my emphasis]. It has undermined the nation’s commitment to research and development more broadly and fostered a silly hostility to new renewable energy technologies… [my emphasis]

“If we look at federal spending, the picture is even worse…the federal government spent just 0.4% on R&D, putting us down at the bottom of the pack…There is a link. Research and development seeds innovation, developing new sources of growth in the economy, in manufacturing and in agriculture [my emphasis]” (p. 59).

So now Australia continues to depend highly on the coal industry as number one export and source of ‘cheap’ energy, part of the fossil fuels cause of climate change. But the fossil fuels industry is in decline while it advocates a hard fight back and infiltrates many parts of society, especially in influential areas of power, where the money is and where money has influence by promising jobs for the workers, even if there are not so many mining jobs in the age of robotics.

“Capital is deserting fossil fuels, in part because renewables and falling prices are threatening future returns, but also because of shareholder and customer campaigns for banks and superannuation funds to diverse from fossil fuels.” (p.77)

Brett points to ways Australia could ween itself off the curse of coal.

Mining companies, meanwhile, will have to find ways to rehabilitate the landscapes and agricultural lands. Environment is not just for exploiting, selling and buying.

“A bipartisan climate policy can help the economy recover by supporting investment to build a zero-emissions economy.” (p.74)

Meanwhile, there are those who boldly spruik the denier/sceptic ideology, especially those involved in the fossil fuel industry and those invested in it, such as media outlets like Murdoch’s NewsCorp, Fox News and the IPA, determined to carry on with business-as-usual.

James Murdoch has shown a way – by stepping down from the NewsCorp board.

Link to Climate Snippets #1

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6 comments

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  1. Phil Pryor

    C Mitchell is and always was a fellatio friendly Murdoch Maggot, an unwiped anus, a professional distorter and propagandist , all for undeserved money. A slut for money does not have to be a horny lady.., it is so often a keen liar for pose and front, for money and “prestige”, especially after the Yankee Wankee, Weird, warty tax bludging, phone tapping, wife dumping, government coercing, truth ruining political pervert, a foreigner to our nation and its older, better culture. Mitchell is scribbleshit, thought turds, inflated liar.

  2. John Hanna

    Phil Pryor,
    Couldn’t have said it better myself. I especially like the term “scribbleshit”

  3. Phil Pryor

    John, I get highly irritated by any conservative, greedy, self fixated slut who grabs a slice of public life for the egomasturbatory excesses of blistering social interference and assault. One might imagine the type Credlin would starve on Darlinghurst Rd, duties, even when the yankee fleet was in port. As for the Abbott type (I knew his father), it defies credulity that an entrenched, drenched, superstitious stenched idiot could be believed. Riddled with the filthy imperial doctrines of Rhodes, brainwashing bullshit bastardry all for murder, rape, pillage, theft, occupation, humiliation, slavery, exploitation and much worse, Abbott and othe romanists, especially, live in another world which never ever existed, and make up childish fantasy about redemprion, forgiveness, saved souls, superior and triumphal exclusivity, supremacist anuses! I could get angry soon…

  4. New England Cocky

    Where is the university faculty working on projects to use coal for the many uses other than propulsion of vehicles and generating expensive electricity?

    @ Phil Pryor: You have such a wonderful way with words ….. there is never any doubt about your opinions of any political subject matter.

  5. Terence Mills

    It is a tragedy for Australian manufacturing that we allowed the Abbott government to adopt policies and ideologies that hounded automobile manufacturing out of Australia. Particularly at an exciting time of transition form combustion engines to EV’s.

    From his observations, it seems that Chris Mitchell is a Luddite !

  6. guest

    Chris Mitchell writes again in The Australian today (17/8/2020) in an article “Al Jazeera latest left-wing media outlet to trip itself up in ‘War on Murdoch’.”

    “Al Jazeera did what Media Watch has been doing for decades, insisting there is no scientific debate about climate change because the science is settled. Except it really isn’t as journalists with any curiosity can learn for themselves on scientific blogs or by reading successive reports by the IPCC that show the Guardian favoured RCP8.5 climate crisis by 2030 scenario is a deliberately statistical outlier the IPCC itself does not predict…
    ” The truth is despite Al Jazeera’s stitch-up, the positions of different journalists within News are different.”

    Yes, you are right that the variations of opinion expressed by News journalists are different.

    And that is true also for writers in the IPA publication “Climate Change: The Facts 2017”. The editor of that publication is mentioned in this very post, where it is shown that the writers in that publication are very varied, too. She goes on to say that she hopes the contradictions there will one day be reconciled into a coherent “science”, which does not exist at present.

    How that will happen when Plimer says CO2 has nothing to do with climate change while Bob Carter said CO2 is a powerful greenhouse gas!

    As for the IPCC not predicting a crisis by 2030, his reference to the IPCC report RCO8.5 ignores the fact that RCP8.5 is “a so-called ‘base-line scenario’ that does not include any specific climate mitigation target”.
    This explanation appeared in springer.com (Springer Link) in 13/8/2011.

    There have been a number of IPCC reports since 2011. Wikipedia tells us: “SR1.5 also has modelling that shows that, for global warming warming to be limited to 1.5 degrees C, “Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide would need to fall by by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050.”

    Is that what was was decided in the Paris Agreement?

    As for Al Jazeera’s reference to COVID-19 gives Nick Cater a chance to defend Murdoch News and its reporting.

    “The theory that a lockdown would eliminate community transmission does not allow for imperfect decisions by bureaucrats or the wayward behaviour of security guards> It does not take into account the possibility a successful lockdown could starve the population of herd immunity…etc…etc.

    “These are matters better understood by economists…” [Yes, really. Economists.]

    “An alternative approach to lockdown is to simply muddle through until COVID-19 retreats into the history books. Muddling through has never been an easy strategy to sell in politics, yet it frequently satisfies policy aims and with fewer mistakes”.

    Thank you, Nick. It would satisfy the Murdoch News economists.

    Mitchell surely cannot be surprised that the Murdoch empire is widely criticised.

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