Tuesday, May 31, 2011

That insane carbon tax!

There is a report out today (http://www.miningweekly.com/article/carbon-to-add-r26bn-to-miners-tax-bill-deloitte-2011-05-30/al_id:140404) giving an assessment of the cost of the proposed carbon tax to the mining industry. It reinforces my view that the tax is idiotic.

Why should we wreck our economy when it is North America and Europe that are the big polluters? What happened to the "polluter pays" principle? Among the developed nations, only Europe has inflicted a carbon tax on itself, and that would never have happened without Brussels. Should we really be the only developing nation to commit economic suicide this way?

Friday, May 13, 2011

The prophet dies before his prophecy fails

Earthlife Africa's Saliem Fakir has a long piece about how it was the 'unknown unknowns' that caused the disaster at Fukushima. http://www.polity.org.za/article/japans-nuclear-crisis-shows-up-the-unknown-unknowns-2011-05-13

He is wrong, of course. For instance, he says "Nobody expected the reactor fuel would leak radiation so quickly owing to cool water not being able to get into the reactor after most of it had evaporated in the essential stages." What does Fakir think they provided emergency generators at a power station for?? Everyone expected that the reactor fuel would fail if cooling failed. The designers did their best to ensure that cooling would not fail. The tsunami proved them wrong.

And then he stoops to guilt by association - "And the Japanese economy lost close to $300-billion in the first few weeks of the disaster." That was the result of the tsunami, NOT the result of the nuclear incident. Soon we will be told that over 10 000 died at Fukushima.

Finally he moves into the prophet mode - "The long-term damage is significant. The area around the disaster won’t be habitable for decades." How does he know? The accident happened in March; the levels of radiation in the present exclusion zone have fallen nearly to background over much of the area.

Long term gloom is so very easy to predict - the prophet is dead by the time his falsehoods become apparent.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Food and climate change

There is a new bunch of loonies coming out of that grand old institution, Stanford University. They have a model, and this model tells them precisely what crops we can expect under what conditions. My, it is a wonderful model! Using this model, they have found that, although crop yields are improving worldwide, they could be improving faster were it not for climate change. So waar!

Can I suggest that crop yields might be improving worldwide because of improvements in farming and in the strains of seeds planted? It is called the Green Revolution, and has been taking place for the past 50 years.

Could I also suggest that increased CO2 might be playing a part? Plants demonstrably do better with more CO2. If you doubt this, visit CO2 Science (http://www.co2science.org/index.php) and you can read hundreds of references to the fact - and even watch great videos.

Then I have to ask how the heck they can calibrate their models, if indeed the climate is changing? An uncalibrated model is as much use as a Porsche and no driving licence.

Finally, let me remark that this crowd of modellers really should stick to their choo-choos. Real farmers know that getting high crop yields takes skill and luck in equal quantities. It is not an exact science.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The price of carbon

Business Day reported on 3rd May that Trevor Manuel had bemoaned the lack of price for carbon emissions. I have no sympathy for him. I emit carbon every time I breathe - do my exhalations have value? If so, will he please tell me where I can find someone to pay for them?
I am not alone in this. It is only greedy taxgulpers like Manuel who believe there is money in carbon. The whole saga rests on the thesis that carbon emissions are destructive. I have sought in vain for any conclusive evidence of this, and found absolutely none. I have found some indications of a warmer world, but no destruction as a result - rather, I have found some benefits, such as living longer. With every passing year, the failure of King Carbon to appear robed in the cloth of doom becomes more evident.
When he was Minister of Finance, Manuel commanded considerable respect. He is rapidly eroding his credit as he gets deeper into the carbon scam. Scam? Yes, it is a scam when, as you report, our Government commits to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020 with no consideration of the costs. The deal struck at Copenhagen said we would only reduce our emissions if the major emitters paid us. There is no sign of that happening.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Crime and climate change

A global anti-corruption coalition Transparency International has published a ‘Global Corruption Report: Climate Change’. “Where huge amounts of money flow through new and untested financial markets and mechanisms, there is always a risk of corruption,” it said.

Indeed! Look at how the EU had to shut down its carbon market, when it found that VAT fraud on carbon trading had cost it €5 billion. When you try to trade in something as ubiquitous as carbon, you face real problems - which is why the Kyoto Protocol has been such a dismal failure. It has cost billions, and achieved nothing.

I think there has to be a lesson in there somewhere.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Anti-Nuclear lies

Yesterday the New York Times had an extraordinary story from a Dr Helen Caldicott. She claimed that Chernobyl would give rise to over a million extra cancer deaths, and that Fukushima was likely to do the same.

I hadn't been following the debate between the good Dr Caldicott and George Monbiot. http://www.monbiot.com/2011/04/04/evidence-meltdown/. I don't always agree with Monbiot, but I admire his honesty. In this case, his experience in debate caused him to dig deeper, and he found:

The anti-nuclear movement to which I once belonged has misled the world about the impacts of radiation on human health. The claims we have made are ungrounded in science, unsupportable when challenged and wildly wrong. We have done other people, and ourselves, a terrible disservice.

My own response to the Caldicott piece agrees:

Helen Caldicott (NYT May 1) claimed that "If any of the containment vessels or fuel pools exploded [at Fukushima, Japan], it would mean millions of new cases of cancer in the Northern Hemisphere." The basis for her claim was that thousands (and possibly millions) might die from cancer as a result of the exposure to nuclear radiation following the Chernobyl accident. She cited two studies in support of her position.
Unfortunately she seems to have missed key data. First, there are the studies of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission life span study noted an increase in the death rate of about 10% for those exposed to less than 10 rad (0.1Sv). The primary cause of the increase was additional deaths from leukemia. For an expected lifespan of 70, this is an additional 1430 deaths per year per million people. There were less than a million exposed to significant radiation at Chernobyl.
Secondly, there was the atmospheric weapons testing of the 1950's and 1960's, when the whole world was exposed to fallout. It contributes about 1% to the annual radiation dose we each receive. The fission products distributed into the environment were about ten times those released at Chernobyl. It has not been possible to detect any increase in cancer incidence from this source.
For those concerned about radiation, it helps to reflect that we require a radioactive substance in our diet. This is potassium, an element key to the functioning of our nervous systems. Potassium, thorium and uranium contribute approximately equal amounts of nuclear-derived heat to keep the centre of our globe molten.
It is easy to be frightened of what we cannot see, and nuclear forces are essentially invisible. Nevertheless, nuclear energy provides us with over 10% of the electricity we need to run our economies, and that percentage is growing.
Helen Caldicott admitted that there was a great debate about the number of possible fatalities caused by Chernobyl, but she gave only one side of the debate. Unsafe at any dose? If I starve her of the naturally radioactive potassium, her life will be radically shortened. A zero dose is truly unsafe - the rest of our dose needs careful management.

The people of Japan need help, sympathy and comfort. The losses they have suffered from the tsunami are of a warlike dimension. It is irresponsible of Caldicott to add her nonsense to their woes. As a medical doctor, she should have more care for human well-being than the publication of lies.