Environmentalism: too many gravy trains and dangerous hidden agendas

The modern environmental, or ‘green’, movement has shifted from overt care for the environment towards activist and economic damage, self-serving agendas and covert promotion of more sinister agendas, often supported, even driven, by politicians.  But opposition grows by the day as evidence and  common sense start to prevail.   

Scroll down to read the most recent articles; links to previous articles follow.

Abbott’s speech tells it like it is on global warming

Abbott’s speech tells it like it is on global warming  By John Stone, The Australian, 17 Oct 2017

[Ex-Prime Minister of Australia] Tony Abbott’s speech in London was one of the most outstanding speeches in years by any Australian politician, says John Stone.

After reading the full text of what The Australian’s leading article called Tony Abbott’s “provocative” London speech, in my considered opinion it is one of the most outstanding speeches in years by any Australian politician.

That “provocative” appellation notwithstanding,The Australian ’s coverage of the speech has been an object lesson to the intellectual pygmies in the Fairfax press, the ABC, SBS and most politicians from the Prime Minister down.

More: Tony Abbott’s London speech transcript

While the focus has been on Abbott’s well-reasoned trashing of the global warming scam, the speech is also impressive in the way it frames that quasi-religious phenomenon within “the broader struggle for practical wisdom … across the Western world” — a struggle that could have us “entering a period of national and civilisational decline”.

For “civilisational self-doubt is everywhere” in the Western world: “We believe in everyone but ourselves; and everything is taken seriously except that which used to be.” (Does “marriage” come to mind?) “Far from becoming universal” after the failure of the Marxist folly, “Western values are less and less accepted even in the West itself”. While “climate change is by no means the sole or even the most significant symptom … only societies with high levels of cultural amnesia … could have made such a religion out of it”.

So what should we do? “The heart of any recovery … has to be an honest facing of facts and an insistence upon intellectual rigour”, qualities conspicuously missing from the “global warming” arena from the outset and, as the quality (sic) of the attacks on Abbott’s speech has again demonstrated, in spades.

Writing years ago on this topic I noted “the telltale signs” that invariably indicate resort to falsehood. The Orwellian linguistic transition from a hypothesis about man-made “global warming” (since largely discredited) to one about “climate change” (which naturally everyone acknowledges); or the demonisation of carbon dioxide, present in our atmosphere in minuscule proportions and an essential plant food without which human life would become extinct, as a “pollutant” (being deliberately confused with those genuine particulate pollutants that once belched from power station smokestacks): these are the clearest signs of the intellectual dishonesty of their proponents. It is those untruths Abbott has called out.

And the response from his critics? Personal abuse, distortion of what he said, refusal even to publish what he did say, but above all no attempt to engage with his facts, all of which I have checked and all of which are accurate. Extreme cold does cause 20 times as many deaths as extreme heat. To the (limited) extent to which Earth has warmed, it has grown greener as a result. Hence “a gradual lift in global temperatures … might be beneficial”. Yet the Prime Minister snidely refers to “it being Mental Health Day”; a minister (Josh Frydenberg) who resorts to the self-demeaning criticism that, as prime minister, Abbott defended the renewable energy target and signed up to the Paris Agreement, both of which he now criticises.

Of course he did, because, despite his long-held view that this new paganism was “absolute crap”, a Turnbull-led majority of his cabinet, to their eternal discredit, had gone along with it and tied his hands. Being at last free to speak the truth, should he be mocked for doing so?

The fact is, as Terry McCrann said (The Daily Telegraph, October 12), Abbott’s speech was “a seminal event”. Make no mistake: it will ring around the world, and is already doing so. A (real) political leader, someone of stature domestically and internationally, has pointed to the global warming alarmists and declared that, like the emperor, they have no clothes. “Beware the pronouncement ‘the science is settled’ … the spirit of the Inquisition, the thought-police down the ages”. Amen to that.

John Stone is a former secretary to the Treasury and former National Party Senate leader.

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Green  climate con hits home

Editor’s note: the post following this post comprises the two latest editorials from the prestigious The Australian national newspaper, which strongly support and compliment this piece.

Cairns Post editorial, 171012  By Julian Tomlinson, The Cairns Post, 12 October 2017

“Australia’s total annual emissions are exceeded by just the annual increase in China’s”

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Climate evangelists reduce debate to a binary farce

Climate evangelists reduce debate to a binary farce  The Australian newspaper Editorials, 11 and 12 October 2017

The response to former prime minister Tony Abbott’s provocative London speech on climate change has exposed the superficial approach to this crucial issue in our national debate. While Australia’s climate and energy policy will have clear and unavoidable impacts on our economy, it is arguable whether it will have any environmental effect. We produce only 1.3 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions, so can have no discernible influence unless our actions are tied to sufficient efforts by other countries to eclipse larger and growing emissions from nations such as China and India. So far, under the Paris Agreement, this is not the case. Our reductions will be dwarfed by increases elsewhere. At the least this means we should be in no undue haste because our actions are not going to save the planet any time soon; we have time to get the policy right. Our most urgent imperative is to ensure our household and industrial consumers have access to reliable and affordable energy.

The climate debate is a complex collision of facts, forecasts, theories and proposals. On every aspect of this multi-layered puzzle there are myriad records, measurements and options. The variables are so vast that even the simplest question about recorded temperatures in one place on one day is open to conjecture because of debates about measurement practices, external factors and homogenisation efforts. Extrapolate this on to interpretation of the record over more than a century of readings and we build more complexity. Then we delve further to geological samples, ice cores or satellite data, and we add to the database and sum of human knowledge but invite infinitely more areas of contestability. And that is before we get to forecasts and computer modelling, or the estimates of carbon emissions, natural and anthropogenic, and inputs of other greenhouse gases and the role of volcanic activity, land clearing, ocean currents, solar cycles and orbital variations. This is such a fascinating and multifaceted area of human exploration that it is beyond banal to talk about the “science being settled”, as if we have learned enough. Scientific consensus tells us human-generated greenhouse gas emissions have increased global warming and will continue to do so. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment says: “It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in GHG concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together.” Yet the climate has stubbornly refused to behave according to predictions. We have only just begun to understand, let alone master and manage, the immense and intricate process at play.

As if this complicated research isn’t challenging enough, it needs to be considered alongside an equally diverse range of possible responses. Politicians may spruik renewable energy to cut emissions and limit warming, but within this debate will be arguments about emissions trading, carbon taxes, clean energy targets, technology or simple regulation as a means to the end. Other experts argue this is futile and that only a rapid transition to nuclear power can cut emissions deep enough. Still others argue the forces unleashed already are so far beyond control that, rather than mitigation, adaptation is the only sensible path; that we should farm and populate areas rendered more favourable by warming and move away from areas placed under stress. The IPCC says some of what has been done cannot be undone and other factors will play a role: “Future climate will depend on committed warming caused by past anthropogenic emissions, as well as future anthropogenic emissions and natural climate variability.”

Despite all this, Mr Abbott’s blunt attempt to bring these issues into focus has been seized on by politicians and commentators as a chance to divide the world into believers and deniers — or those in favour of climate action and those against — as if there are only two choices available rather than an endless array of prescriptions. It demonstrates a debilitating debate that has failed to mature even after dominating a decade of national affairs and playing a pivotal role (three times) in the overturning of party leaders and prime ministers. The volatility is sufficient once more to do the same again on either side.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said Mr Abbott lost “the plot” and his deputy, Tanya Plibersek, said the former prime minister was “loopy”. Former British Labour leader Ed Miliband attacked the speech as “idiocy” while the Greens labelled Mr Abbott a “dangerous fool”. Labor accused Malcolm Turnbull of caving in to his predecessor’s posturing by inching away from a clean energy target. ABC political commentator Paul Bongiorno gave us the unintentional pun of describing the former prime minister as a “weathervane” on climate and declaring he flew “in the face of contemporary science”. For Bongiorno and many at the ABC it is suspiciously simple and clear. “There is catastrophic global warming coming,” he preached on Radio National, “and we have got to do something about it.” Righto, then.

This is the simplistic, partisan and binary inanity to which this crucial debate has descended. All the while our households and industries confront escalating energy prices and reduced security of supply while our economic competitiveness suffers and we export energy around the world. At the same time we subsidise renewable electricity and ponder how to lure investment in back-up or baseload generation, global carbon emissions still rise, oblivious to our costly gestures. Mr Abbott has injected some sorely needed frankness into this debate. He is mocked for talking about climate change “doing good”, yet even the IPCC talks about the “risks and benefits” of global warming, noting we are most likely to experience any upside before a looming downside. By ignoring the manifest complexities in the diagnosis and the treatment, the critics are not, as they claim, adhering to the science but rather eschewing it.

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Cutting emissions raises costs and lowers security

The Australian newspaper Editorial, 12 October 2017

By dint of deliberate policy action the politicians have conspired to create an energy pricing and supply crisis in our energy-rich nation and now have come up with a novel solution. They call it demand management. Rather than offer what we have come to expect in the First World — being supplied with power when we need it at an affordable price — the government is encouraging us to limit our consumption.

It is so keen to cut demand that it will spend taxpayers’ money on pilot schemes through the private and public power companies of Victoria, South Australia and NSW to offer financial incentives for households to curb their electricity use. People will be paid not to use power — to switch it off — at times of peak demand such as on hot summer days when most airconditioners run. Smart devices might turn coolers down or off to win rebates on power bills in the same way some energy-intensive factories receive payments to shut down during peak periods.

This is what we have become: one of the largest exporters of energy (through coal, liquefied natural gas and uranium) is so hellbent on boosting and subsidising renewable energy to cut carbon emissions that we now have grave concerns about the rising cost of power and possible shortages, and will pay people not to use electricity. It may be time for the Yes, Prime Minister scriptwriters to come out of retirement. Or perhaps Samuel Taylor Coleridge could be reworked into the Rime of the Ancient Coalminer with power, power, everywhere but not a switch to flick.

Malcolm Turnbull and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg have been mulling over energy policy for most of the year, particularly since Chief Scientist Alan Finkel handed down his report in June. Yet still we wait for official word on whether the government will adopt Dr Finkel’s key recommendation of a clean energy target — something former prime minister Tony Abbott has railed against and the government has been crab-walking away from. “There has been too much sloganising, too much politics, too much ideology and, frankly, too much idiocy, and we’re not going to make the same mistakes that were made in the past,” Mr Turnbull said yesterday. Yet the major errors, such as the carbon tax and renewable energy target, have been government interventions and the only proposed solutions are more interventions. As a nation, through actions of federal and state governments, we have inflicted economic self-harm, eliminating our natural economic advantage of cheap and plentiful energy.

Two of the nation’s leading non-political economic reformers, Fred Hilmer and Gary Banks, told our economics correspondent Adam Creighton yesterday that it might be time to wind back the nation’s emissions reductions target under the Paris Agreement, or at least make it subservient to the priorities of cost and reliability. “Not only are we choosing to transition to low emissions at a high cost, which is the RET or RET Mark II, we’re doing it over a compressed timeframe,” Professor Banks said.

The Prime Minister, on the other hand, remains committed to the target (which was agreed under Mr Abbott) and insists we can have our cake and eat it. “You’ve got to make sure that you keep the lights on, people can afford to keep them on, and you meet your emissions reduction obligations,” he said. However, it seems clear that this trifecta — aimed at solving the energy “trilemma”, as Mr Turnbull refers to it — cannot be achieved. Meeting the emissions targets is undermining the cost and security objectives.

Still, we wait, as Mr Turnbull keeps “working through this very complex area very carefully” to finalise a policy. His leadership nemesis Mr Abbott is stepping into the policy vacuum and Labor leader Bill Shorten is promising to go even further and faster down the perilous emissions reductions path.

In South Australia the Labor government is spending $550 million trying to remediate its renewables-dependent network and the Liberal opposition has additional costly plans to do the same. This is our glimpse into an energy future where no one will need to be paid to power down their appliances because it will be too expensive to switch them on, or the electricity will be out anyway.

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Links to previous articles

 

About Peter Senior

I'm a very experienced and pragmatic management consultant. I've reviewed and led the restructuring of many organisations - large and small corporations and Government Departments, much of the time as President of the New Zealand Institute of Management Consultants. Before that I was General Manager of a major NZ newspaper; earlier, an analyst for IBM UK. I gained an honours degree in engineering at London University, and studied management at Cambridge University. This wide range of experience has left me frustrated: I continue to see too many examples of really bad management. Sometimes small easily fixed issues; sometimes fundamental faults; and sometimes really tricky problems. Mostly these issues can be fixed using a mixture of common sense, 'management 101' and applying lessons from years of management experience. Unfortunately, all too often, politics, bureaucracy and daft government regulations get in the way; internal factors such as poor culture and out-of-date strategies are often evident. So what's gone wrong, and why, and most importantly, how to fix 'it'? I hope there are like-minded people 'out there' who will share their thoughts enabling 'us' to improve some significant management failures that affect the general public. If you just accept bad management, you don't have the right to complain! If you'd like to share thoughts on any aspects of management, send me an email to petersenior42@gmail.com . My latest project has the interim title 'You’ve been conned. Much of what you were taught and read is largely irrelevant, misleading or plain wrong – this is the REAL story of life: past, present and our possible future.' The working paper so far comprises 105 pages, many listing references and interim conclusions. The main problem is finding sufficient credible evidence, and realising the more Iearn, the more I realise I don't know!
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