Week in review – politics and policy edition

by Judith Curry

A few things that caught my eye this past week.


The UN climate chief is busy lowering expectations for December’s historic climate summit in Paris: [link]

China, India partner on climate change in a rare joint statement from the two countries [link]  …

French climate envoy sees ‘change of perception’ in Russia towards #climatechange [link]

African states are fighting back against big mining and energy companies—with rhetorics [link]

India’s Chief Economic Adviser lays out Govt steps to tackle climate [link]


Useful context on Obama’s arctic drilling decision: Arctic oil drilling presents tough environmental tradeoffs. Mixing in climate change only confuses things. [link]

Jeb Bush Signals His Faith Informs His Positions On Climate Change [link]

Bill McKibben in NYTimes: Obama’s catastrophic climate denial [link]

Obama offers welfare to miners out of work from EPA regs [link]

Policy analyses

New World Bank report: To save lives & livelihoods, start by understanding #disaster #risk: [link]

The Dark Side of Development: Displacement, Eviction in World Bank Projects and Ethiopia: [link]

The Nepal earthquakes offer a cautionary tale about the need for states to make disaster risk management a priority: [link]

Francis X Johnson on the science and politics of #bioenergy and #sustainability [link]

Oliver Geden: Paradigm shift in #climate policy (top-down/2C+binding UN treaty->bottom-up/non-binding #INDC) already predicted 2012 [link]  …


Watch out: In Iowa, its Al Gore vs Tom Steyer on corn ethanol. [link]

China could hold oil market ransom; tops US as world’s largest importer [link]

India punches well above its weight in terms of its expenditure on renewable energy: [link]

Electric giant @SouthernCompany foresees big uses for UAS (#drones) [link]

Survey: Climate change ranks surprisingly low among reasons that people oppose Keystone XL. [link]

Nuclear, the only energy technology with negative learning curve. Finland cancels Olkiluoto4. [link]

Cost of German solar versus nuclear [link]



The cutting edge for producing food, might just be the old method for producing food [link]

Threats to soil productivity threaten food security [link]  …

India quietly changes course on GM crop trials http://ow.ly/MZY1P


It’s not just California: The whole Southwest is facing a growing water crunch [link]   …

Why Food Companies Aren’t Prepared To Deal With Water Scarcity [link]



106 responses to “Week in review – politics and policy edition

  1. Pingback: Week in review – politics and policy edition | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  2. Thanks for the links! I found The Hill article on the China and India partnership very interesting. More interesting, in fact, in light of an article I was pointed to on Moyhu’s blog that your readers may also find interesting related to 2013 emissions drop in China:


    Other links there point to reports of reductions in mined coal also.

    • Correction to the above: what is reported by the IEA may be related to emissions reductions in China and other countries.

  3. The cutting edge for producing food, might just be the old method for producing food [link]

    “As the global population expands and begins to feel the pinch of climate change, agroecologists believe that traditional forms of farming offer a bounty of solutions to the most seemingly vexing problems associated with food production.”

    Taylor Dolven speaks as one would hear from Rachel Carson, in declarative sentences. No where is there a mention of an ounce of the productivity of her belief system’s techniques. What she describes as organic farming, is expensive and labor intensive; i.e. planting insect sacrificial flowers, trees, and soil nutrient restoring but not revenue producing crops. A brief history lesson Dolmen might learn from our Pilgrim ancestors: Pilgrims were taught by the indigenous people to plant four seeds of corn in soil mixed with a dead fish to improve the yields. It seems that the farming techniques Pilgrim’s brought with them from Europe were not sufficient/sustainable. Are these the techniques that agroecologists believe are the traditional forms of farming?

    Industrial farming, which Dolven decries as non-sustainable, is driven towards energy intensive technology as the farm worker pool keeps shrinking (folks keep movin’ to town). The soil has to be replenished for the next crop as farm land is so expensive, farmers can’t wait 20 years for the land to become fertile again on its own. Fertilizers, pest control are necessary if crop productivity is to be increased for a growing population in a globalized world economy.

    Traveling through industrial farm country this past week, one of the striking observations, at least to me, was the lack of plows used in the fields and the number of plows, during spring planting season, on the used farm equipment lots. Industrial farming using limited till techniques for crops.

    So, I wonder, what is the traditional form of farming Taylor Delvon is advocating and at what cost? in terms of lives and the price of food?

    Saying its better, doesn’t make it better.

    • When I was in high school we used no-till on my father’s farm. We had a corn crop in a year in which the entire county browned out by July. No-till started on family farms.

    • What she describes as organic farming, is expensive and labor intensive; i.e. planting insect sacrificial flowers, trees, and soil nutrient restoring but not revenue producing crops.

      The solution to “labor intensive” is robotics. Rapidly becoming cost-effective. Actually, I suspect, but can’t prove (at this point), that the “planting insect sacrificial flowers, trees, and soil nutrient restoring” might also be solved through robotic labor. As much as 8000 9,500 years ago, many agricultural societies were planting legumes (e.g. vetch), probably in rotation. (Note the Biblical prescription of leaving a field “fallow” one year in 7, and the fact that many pre-classical cultures left a field fallow one year in two.)

      I suspect a more “garden-style” method, involving planting legumes and grains next to one another, along with other species at intervals of a few meters, would more than make up for the productivity lost in “sacrificial flowers”. Proper management of such activity would be easy to program for robotic agricultural equipment, and with “Moore’s Law” bringing down the price of IT technology exponentially, it won’t be long before it’s highly cost-competitive with 20th century techniques.

      WRT trees, note that many leguminous trees, such as the honey locust can act as heavy nitrogen suppliers to the soil, as well as providing fodder for horses, cattle, and sheep.

      • AK

        Do you have any idea about the cost of one of those John Deere tractors with GPS, dragging 22 foot width of disks, harrows and rollers through a cut cornstalk field and right behind is the planter with fertilizer and herbicide? Someone bet the farm to do that in one fell swoop, and, a mighty big farm at that, as in thousands of acres.

        Ms Delvon has 4,700 acres in Montana. Care to calculate the person hours needed to “garden” that kind of acreage? One needs more than gloves and a trowel.

        No pansy gardener can compete for…productivity. Robots need…energy, electrical energy and plenty of it. Thank FDR for rural electrification. Next time one thinks of jacking up the price of electricity, look down at your dinner table and think again.

  4. The soil quality link misses things plus and minus. That it attributes any soil quality issues to climate change is religion not science.
    A missed plus. Thanks to glyphosate and ‘Roundup Ready’ corn and soybean, no till is possible, which prevents erosion and facilites soil prodution.
    A missed minus. In arid areas, irrigation results in a slow buildup of mineral salts that eventually ‘poison’ the land. That has already happened to about 5% of India’s irrigated acres.

    • Maybe I missed it, my attention did wander, but I didn’t see much in that article about the biological activity in the soil. The biomass of long lived fungi is enormous – some of the largest organisms on the earth are soil fungi. Then there is the mass and activity of bacteria, the most abundant life form. How much carbon is sequestered in life? I don’t know…

      • There wasn’t any. And that activity (disrupted by plowing) is a reason no till increases the rate at which farmed soil regenerates.

  5. First, fire. Then, flooding; and, mudslides. Then perhaps, snow? How biblical nature appears to be.

    …drought. Rain is unlikely to swarm over the state from the late spring to the fall, even with an El Niño in progress.

    The recent rain in California could be just a sample of what could occur months later…

    One of the strongest El Niño’s on record occurred during the winter of 1997-98, when an average of 20-30 inches of rain fell on California with yards of snow in the Sierra…

    Prior to the winter, the risk of thunderstorms with dry lightning will increase, should the pattern of weak storms continue. A small amount of rain will only spur on the growth of shrub brush, known as Chaparral Broom.

    The Chaparral then dries out during the summer and early fall and would provide more dry fuel for wildfires, prior to the winter rain and snow. ~AccuWeather

    • “…fire…flooding…mudslides…”

      Repent ye carbon sinner and kneel before the solar panel and pray for your salvation! Confess your sins to the Sierra Club priests (lawyers)! The basket will soon be passed around to receive your generous donations. Later you will be turned upside down and shaken vigorously to excorcize your evil coinage.

      So they say the chaparral will be dry and then burn.

      My oh my how the future looks like the past!

  6. Judith

    As a public service can you urgently provide a link to a web site collecting money towards the 100Billion dollars that China and the US are demanding annually for climate change reparations/mitigation/bribe.

    I am sure that JimD and JCH amongst others will want to make direct and generous regular donations.


    • I don’t really keep track of everything I say, but name one reparations/mitigation/bribe I have supported?

      My family is in the oil and gas business. It’s our primary source of income.

      • I love your products – they allow me to pick up my kids at school everyday. I wish I could fly them home in a solar plane, but **** in one hand and wish in the other …

      • In my earlier life the company I worked for made a solar balloon. It had tremendous amount of lift. Engineering had to enlarge the valve as the thing was uncontrollable as designed.

      • jch

        Hmm. Meant to say Chinese and INDIAN governments as per the link in the headlines.


    • tonyb “…reparations…”

      Incentives. I smell a rat. Something is rotten in France.

  7. I note that a new satellite is primed to be launched that is designed to accurately monitor the co2 and methane emissions from each country . It is expected to become operational in 2016 following a successful and binding Paris summit.

    Is anyone here able to work out how it would tell the difference between Human and Natural emissions?

    Secondly, can anyone work out whether a country such as the UK is overall a negative or positive emitter bearing in mind the contributions from natural AND human sources and that we have seas around us that vary greatly in temperature through the year and must at time be a sink and at other times a source?


    • Tony, the US already launched such a satellite late last year. Other than a quick preliminary global view that contained some surprises (or maybe bad processing algorithms), I am unaware of any public results yet. Other than by location (industrial areas versus rural areas, it will not be possile to sort anthropogenic from natural emissions. Finally the seas are a net CO2 sink at present: Henry’s law and biological activity. Latter varies some by season. In barren seas (station Aloha north of Hawaii, station BATS west of Bermuda) mixed layer pCO2 is increasing at roughly the Keeling curve rate.

    • A heavenly cash-for-sin calculator? The Renaissance popes never thought of that one. Call the satellite Rodrigo Borgia.

      And don’t worry yet about what’s human emission and what’s natural. First the science, then the art.

      • “… Cash for sin…”

        You betcha! Indulgences from the klimatariat! I used to have a muscle car – 5.7L V8. How much do I have to pay! Will I go to hell?

      • My son, a small emolument can save your soul, and you can even keep driving those muscle cars. Your emissions will be absolved by the Invisible Hand of the Carbon Market.

        But you must pay the full price per tonne…not the blatantly fiddled-down price of the Brussels/Strasbourg heretics.

  8. richardswarthout

    This is a bit off subject but I have a burning question and there are many people here that might be able answer it. Here in the US recently there was a train accident that resulted in 8 deaths and many more serious injuries. The train derailed while navigating a curve at 106 MPH, twice the posted speed. The propulstion system was an electric motor or a set of electric motors, and from my limited experience a failure mode of electric motors can be increased armature speed. However many in the media are already blaming the locomotive engineer. Could the derailment have been caused by an electrical failure?

    Thank you,


    • Richard,

      Theoretically, yes. Electric motors in general operate via brushes pulling electricity off the armature into the “propulsive” portion of the motor itself. The brushes wear down over time, and there are situations where the weardown can cause a short circuit, which in turn causes a direct high current to feed into the propulsive element.
      However, it would require highly incompetent maintenance in order for this to happen in a large industrial equipment like a locomotive.

      • richardswarthout


        Also, I remember a class in which we learned that removing the field would cause the armature to speed; mathematically the armature speed trended toward infinity. And we proved it the lab.


    • Well…

      Apparently there is a transition from brushed DC motors to BLDC or AC induction motors. The AC motors in particular couldn’t have had this theoretical speed-up failure (since the speed is set by the frequency).

      They have the black box data… If the train was going the set speed (or the correct power setting for the measured speed) this would sort of take electrical failure off the table.

      • richardswarthout


        Agree, we will soon learn the facts, but the media is now blaming the engineer; are they rushing to judgement? Is there no possibility of an electrical failure? I read that there are also converters involved, converting 60 hertz to other frequencies.

        Thank you for the comment,


      • Brushless motors move the problem from the brush to the inverter. The inverter itself can fail with a similar effect as the short circuit.
        AC induction motors avoid the brush/inverter problem but move it to the power supply. For something like a train on interstate travel, I very much doubt there is a continuous AC supply in the rails due to massive losses, but I don’t actually know.
        For intercity subways and light rail, AC induction motors work fine.

  9. richardswarthout

    From Bill McKibben in the NYT: “The Arctic is melting…”

    The author is an environmental activists and now a college teacher in Vermont. From Bill Ayers to this, a trend?



  10. Nuclear, the only energy technology with negative learning curve. Finland cancels Olkiluoto4.


    1. Not a fan of pressurized water reactors. You can make any technology safe but it is cheaper and easier to start with an inherently passive safe technology. Never pressurize a big pot of something you don’t want to get out.

    2. I’d love to understand why nuclear reactors have these huge overruns.
    On the other hand this seems typical of any project that has government involvement. At least with military contracts it is deliberate gamesmanship to maximize their revenue. Are the nuclear reactor contractors trying to load all their NRE on to the first couple of reactors, is it learning curve, or is it due to government interference?

    If someone has a good analysis of where the cost overruns are I’d love to see it.

    • At PA, re why nuclear power plants have substantial cost over-runs.

      My thoughts on this, as written extensively on my blog, include
      1) deliberate under-statement of completed cost estimates
      2) shoddy workmanship that is detected by inspection forces, requiring much more time for repairs or rework
      3) the combined effects of 1) and 2) require more spending for materials, labor and services due to inflation, and more interest on construction loans.

      Several articles show the under-statement of cost to build a new nuclear plant; one of these was the expansion of the South Texas Nuclear Project near Victoria, Texas. The reactor vendor was pressed to provide the final cost estimate several times, and each time increased its estimate. At approximately US$ 17 billion for two reactors, the vendor admitted it was still not enough. The project was cancelled.

      Nuclear plant vendors know quite well that they cannot compete with natural gas or coal, and rely on gullible regulatory bodies to approve their proposed plants. They also rely on the regulators approving additional spending to complete the plants when it becomes obvious their initial estimates were low-balled.

      Support for point 2) above can be seen in almost any nuclear power project: inferior concrete, the wrong rebar in the concrete, off-specification equipment, and many others. In the case of the original 2 reactors at South Texas Nuclear Project, incompetence by the construction contractor resulted in a one-year work stoppage while plant drawings were re-done to correct a substantial mis-alignment.

      Finally, Severance published a study of US nuclear power plants costs, with the above points plus many others having greater detail.

      • You just don’t like nuclear power.

        That isn’t a helpful perspective to analyze the problems with a nuclear power plant project. Your criticism of LFTR is not something that I would agree with.

        It’s crazy to build a large LFTR reactor. Any LFTR reactor should be modular and preassembled. If you want a large output you install a bunch of modules.

        The important thing for LFTR is to exempt it from just about all the existing regulations.

        LFTR is an unpressurized can of salt and reactant soup. When it gets cooking it is over 600°C. Virtually none of the existing regulations apply..
        Water should never get near the reactor. It can’t overheat (that causes an automatic dump into a safety vessel that is subcritical). The various radioactivity escape scenarios of a pressurized water reactor don’t apply.

        There are some chemistry issues and the possibility of some short lived gases escaping if the plant is staffed by liberal democrats or some other form of incompetent. But the “China syndrome” is reduced to a “basement syndrome”

        A leak in a LFTR reactor is something you scrap up with a shovel.

        But back to the modular point: all the equipment essential to a nuclear reactor should be delivered preassembled. The installation crew should just pour concrete and bolt things together to the greatest extent possible.

  11. Francis X Johnson on bioenergy: Not surprising, but sad that he makes no reference whatsoever to subsidies in biofuels. The reason biofuels suck up production which otherwise would go towards food is because of these subsidies – which in turn is governments literally paying to starve poor people. And for those who say that the poor can be subsidized in their food purchases – what exactly is the point in paying twice to feed poor people?
    Cost of German solar vs. nuclear: Craig Morris doing an excellent job – much as his pro alt-e cohorts – in obscuring the fact that the value of 1 kwh of unpredictable solar electricity IS NOT the same value as 1 kwh of base load nuclear electricity. The head of the Energiewende himself said this precisely is the problem – the effect of unpredictable solar and wind electricity combined with negative market prices is literally driving out natural gas power plants in favor of coal. In this context, why is nuclear bad? Also liked his complaint that use of the cancelled Finnish nuclear power plant was a cherry pick of a “cheap” cost – when in fact the plant was to be the most expensive of all time, were it to have been built.

  12. The awful truth about climate change no one wants to admit
    Updated by David Roberts


    • The “Awful Truth” is awful wrong.

      Absorption is increasing more than twice as fast as emissions – and emissions can’t go much higher – there is only a 76 year fuel supply at current rates, and if we burn it 50% fast it becomes a 50 year fuel supply. We will have run out of fossil fuel long before 2100.

      With available fossil fuels we can’t drive the CO2 level above the 430-480 of the “blue” RCP 2.6 scenario.

      That is the same as saying “No Problemo”.

      So the “Awful Truth” much like the “Inconvenient Truth” is an awful lie.

      • The forthcoming fossil fuel supply crunch seems to be largely ignored. I notice it just doesn’t seem to sink in.

      • The awful truth is that if we do run out of fossil fuels in 50, 75, or even 100 years with no viable alternative (meaning affordable, abundant, and reliable), we will be in deep doodoo. All the focus on renewables such as wind and solar that rely heavily on fossil fuels as a replacement, and which produce a fraction of the energy, intermitantly at great cost is simply insanity.

        As to joshuas link, as with all other predictionsof doom eminating from agw’rs, everything is based on models . The chart in the artcle resembles hansens chart, and we all know how well those predictions played out.

      • Well, the global warmers predict increasing fossil fuel use – which means 50 year supply or less.

        I hope they’re wrong.

        50 years gives us just enough time to develop liquid salt nuclear reactors and deploy them in quantity.

        If we don’t have a replacement for coal/gas baseband energy starting construction in under 20 years – things could get cold and dark.

        I would shift 18 Billion of the 20 billion flushed on global warming this year into LFTR and other energy systems development.

        Windmills and Dark glass are the lunatic solution to power production.

  13. The article on the cancellation of the Finnish nuclear power plant looks like it might have been written by a biased author (anti-nuclear campaigner) – “Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia”. I wonder if there are not-mentioned different reasons behind this Finnish cancellation? Hmm …

    • dougbadgero


      Author has an agenda but OL3 is definitely a cluster f—. Any project can be mis-managed that is not unique to nuclear construction. Construction managers need to understand how to manage their risks. Installing a reactor pressure vessel without knowing the metallurgy is acceptable is very poor risk management.

  14. The audit never ends:

    Oil tycoon Harold Hamm told a University of Oklahoma dean last year that he wanted certain scientists there dismissed who were studying links between oil and gas activity and the state’s nearly 400-fold increase in earthquakes, according to the dean’s e-mail recounting the conversation.

    In pictures:

    • Wilard’s captured email in no way supports his unsourced claim in italics. There is nothing in the email about firing anybody and nothing about earthquakes, just a suggestion that the author be put on a search committee for hiring a person to direct some unstated USGS-related academic directorship at the university.

      The post is deceptive. What is “in pictures” is practically unconnected to the claim it putatively supports.

      • > There is nothing in the email about firing anybody and nothing about earthquakes.

        You’re right. It’s the other one, just below:


        > What is “in pictures” is practically unconnected to the claim it putatively supports.

        If by “practically unconnected” you “it provides evidence there was a meeting,” then you’re right

      • Steven Mosher


        The dude is doing what we call making a record. basically, you have a meeting with someone. then you send a bogus recount of the meeting to a third party. These types of reports are never to be trusted.

        here is what we do in the real world.

        I have a meeting with you. I dont like some of the things you say.
        I send YOU a mail recounting the details for both of our records.

        Otherwise, its just a stupid pet trick by a clueless academic

      • > its just a stupid pet trick by a clueless academic

        The clueless academic wouldn’t risk funding for a stupid pet trick.

      • Steven Mosher

        of course he would, he just did

      • > he just did

        The alternative is that it’s not his.

        Another is that it’s more than a trick.

        Lots of theories.

      • Steven Mosher

        the point is simple.
        folks who know what they are doing send a post meeting email to the person who was there.

        otherwise you got bupkis.. well you get stories …but to really nail a bastard you have to do it right.

      • folks who know what they are doing send a post meeting email to the person who was there.

        Yes, but they still go to the meeting until after they send out for pizza at lunchtime.

      • > the point is simple

        Indeed it is:

        Hamm has been a generous donor to the University of Oklahoma, including a 2011 gift of $20 million for a diabetes research center named after the oilman. University President David Boren, a former U.S. senator, sits on the board of directors of Hamm’s Continental Resources.

        In the e-mail he wrote about his meeting with Hamm, Grillot—who himself sits on the board of Pioneer Natural Resources, an Irving (Tex.)-based oil and gas company—noted that he saw Boren leaving Continental’s corporate offices before he went in to see the CEO.


      • JCH, thanks for that link. Larry Grillot, University Dean responsible for the lousy email verbalising effort noted by Mosher above, happens to be retiring this year. It’s more likely to be evidence he was motivated to verbal the oil and gas man on his way out, than it is to be evidence he’s been pushed, which I am confident is precisely what Willard will believe.

      • He’s an oil and gas person through and through. Hamm thought he could talk shop. His mistake. He was way out of bounds. The fracking industry campaigned aggressively against finding a connection between quakes and fracking. The Dean demonstrated integrity. You can get a feel for the guy. 30 years in management for Philips, he could of gone and played golf. Instead he gave back. Go ahead and trash him.

      • > It’s more likely to be evidence he was motivated to verbal the oil and gas man on his way out […]

        “Likely” like in 67%?

        Lots of theories.

      • I wonder if Harold denied his efforts to influence the university? Or did he show an alternate set of meeting notes?

      • Mosher, Hillard, the TO: in that Email is the VP for External Relations of OSU. That means he is the one responsible for schmoozing Hamm and getting donations.

        If Grillot wanted a memo for file he would have printed it out and put it in the file. The interesting thing would be if Hillard responded. There may also be email btw Hillard and Boren, which would also be interesting

        You are, as they say, on this one, pulling a Curry.

    • Willard | May 17, 2015 at 5:57 pm |
      > its just a stupid pet trick by a clueless academic

      The clueless academic wouldn’t risk funding for a stupid pet trick.

      What part of “clueless academic” don’t you understand?

      • Which part of “an e-mail obtained from the university by Bloomberg News via a public records request” you do not get, PA?

      • Well, the real question is who is grinding an axe here.

        Why did Bloomberg go fishing through Oklahoma emails to begin with?

        It looks like some Boyd character is stirring up mischief. I think he is just upset at being ignored…

      • > Why did Bloomberg go fishing through Oklahoma emails to begin with?

        Why ask who grinds which ax instead of reading harder:

        In October 2013, the OGS signed a joint statement with the U.S. Geological Survey, saying they were “evaluating possible links between these earthquakes and wastewater disposal related to oil and gas production activities.”

        Within days, the state agency’s top seismologist, Austin Holland, had a meeting with Patrice Douglas, then one of three elected members of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates that state’s oil and gas companies. Also present was Jack Stark, then-senior vice president for exploration at Continental and now its president. “The basic jist [sic] of the meeting is that Continental does not feel induced seismicity is an issue and they are nervous about any dialog about the subject,” wrote Holland in an e-mail to his superiors.

        A month later, Holland was called into a meeting with Hamm and Boren—a gathering that has received extensive media attention this year, including from Bloomberg Businessweek, after it was revealed through e-mails made public in March. Holland told Bloomberg Businessweek that the meeting with Hamm and Boren was “just a little bit intimidating.”

        Drill, PA, drill!

      • I don’t see the point.

        As much money as Hamm gives the University he should have at least got some pointed headed scientists fired or influenced the director hiring. I can’t see where he got anything.

        From what I can tell Hamm was robbed and didn’t get value for his contributions to the University.

      • Hang on.

        The story that has so exercised Willard is that a seismologist peddling earthquakes-come-from-fossil-fuel-oil-and-gas-evil ‘research’ meets an oil and gas man who is not convinced of the “science” and the seismologist’s reaction is to feel intimidated.

        That’s the tell. That’s how we know the seismologist is a climate alarmist.

        Instead of feeling ‘challenged’ to defend the ‘research’ the seismologist feels ‘intimidated’ – a tactic to get out of having defend anything. Play the victim.

      • 30 years with Philips Petroleum. When he bleeds, he bleeds Oklahoma crude.

      • > From what I can tell Hamm was robbed and didn’t get value for his contributions to the University.

        PA for the win!

      • > a seismologist

        More precisely Oklahoma’s state seismologist.

    • Let’s be perfectly clear: water disposal operations can cause stresses which in turn cause earthquakes. Filling a dam reservoir can also trigger earthquakes. These phenomena can be studied, and the problem can be solved so as to avoid earthquake risk from our disposal operations. If the story is true and this guy is trying to stop an investigation it can make him liable for the consequences.

  15. Willard added the link right after I posted. Now it’s just misleading rather than deceptive, in that no one at the Oklahoma Geological Survey even received a stern talking-to from the Dean, much less was terminated.

    • > no one at the Oklahoma Geological Survey even received a stern talking-to from the Dean, much less was terminated.

      More than that, as far as we know, no one even claimed having received a stern talking to from the Dean, much less was terminated. Also, the Bloomberg’s report does not mention the word “stern.” Nor the word “howard,” for that matter.

      That sure means something.

      All that was claimed was that Oil tycoon Harold Hamm told a University of Oklahoma dean last year that he wanted certain scientists there dismissed who were studying links between oil and gas activity and the state’s nearly 400-fold increase in earthquakes, according to the dean’s e-mail recounting the conversation.

      • Yeah but Willard, you think there’s something incendiary about this whisper thin news report. You posted it cos you think it’s some kind of smoking gun for the big bad and awful oil and gas man.

        After FOIing University emails Bloomberg’s got nothing. Waste of time and $ for them. but they’re still going to publish – got to fill the bits between the ads, see. That’s their business model.

        So all we’ve learned from you is a) journos will beat up a story to within an inch of its life whenever they can despite the fact there’s no there there; and b) credulous numpties like you will see deep conspiratorial meaning in the sunrise and the sunset. Cos you’re credulous.

      • > you think

        Reading is better than mind reading.


        > Yeah but […]

        Thanks for playing.

      • Not mind reading, Willard. Reading your comments, mate. Each one, carefully. Jus own it, mate. You’re a believer.

      • > numpties like you will see deep conspiratorial meaning in the sunrise and the sunset

        Thus spake @hidethedecline.

      • The state seismologist received a more than stern talking to from Hamm and Boren. Boren is the president of the university. Oh well.

  16. About the UN lowering expectations for the December Paris meeting, please recall that Ms. Figurres has said that it is the UN’s goal to change the economic development model of the last 150 years and now she says it can’t be done at least in Paris.

    Don’t be fooled. Her goal hasn’t changed, but current realities are setting in. The Aussies saw to that during her recent visit there.

    George Devries Klein, PhD, PG, FGSA

  17. “Jeb Bush Signals His Faith Informs His Positions On Climate Change”

    Of course, this play squarely into the usual negative stereotypes held by the left. ‘m trying with all my might to find a Republican I can back next year after lifetime of supporting Dems. They just don’t make it easy.

    • Surely you’d find It a problem finding a dem you could support as well?

      Bearing in mind the real problems besetting the world including Putin, Iran and Isis, the available presidential candidates from both sides look inadequate.


      • “the available presidential candidates from both sides look inadequate”

        To get somewhere in Washington these days you have to jettison intelligent decision making and conform to the culture of stupidity. Which doesn’t help the rest of us a whole lot.


    • aneipris:

      ‘m trying with all my might to find a Republican I can back next year after lifetime of supporting Dems.

      Ron Paul is a lukewarmer. Being a doctor he is likely more science minded. Being a fiscal conservative, and at odds with the social conservative philosophy, he is also available to consider AGW. Though, being a senator of a coal mining state he is limited to how vocal he can be.

    • I share your pain. As I think of each one, there are all sorts of problems, politically, as well as questions of leadership. I saw Romney in a face off with a boxer for a faux match. Would Eisenhower have ever lowered himself for such a stunt? I think not.

      Even the ones I like seem to have their own particular weaknesses. With nearly 20 potential candidates, the field is still thin.

      • While many view the republican field as weak, a field that included only forest gump, goofy, tweety bird, and daffy duck would be infinitely better than hillary. It is beyond comprehension how the incompetence of dem candidates is glossed over or ignored while every pimple on a republican is put under a microscope.

      • Ike played golf with Arnie and Ben

  18. I’m probably not the first to observe that a large portion of the divide between “lukewarmers” and “consensus” is political, a belief that process and ethics matters. The progressive mindset, from a conservative view, is urgency for zealous actions, regardless of rules, ethics or full disclosure, in the climate debate are justified. Dire measures are called for when the steaks are high and the fight is to save the planet, “environmental “justice.” The passing of USA’s healthcare reform, for example, was a vote down party lines to the vote, some of which had to be bought with favors (LA purchase and Cornhusker kickback). Procedures had to be broken. The US constitution states that all appropriations bills originate from the House. The Affordable Healthcare Act could not be finalized in the senate due to a gained GOP vote, Scott Walker. So the monstrosity of law had to be heavily revised by the White House, (illegally,) countless times. Next month the Supreme Court will announce whether it was OK or not to have been implemented differently than what is written. If not, it will be yet another train wreck for this law that has already suffered many.

    Lesson: procedure does matter. Shutting down debate by negatively labeling any dissenter, questioner their intent as evil, is not just unjust, it’s anti-American. Fox New’s Democrat contributor, Kirsten Powers wrote a scathing article here of what she calls the illibereral left applying every sexist stereotype imaginable against the women on Fox News. It bothered her enough she also just wrote a book on it, which to me says its a politically systemic phenomena which is likely not limited to Fox News women.

    Hiding data, giving half truth, smearing dissenting opinion are never going to end in good policy. We need to agree on at least this.

    • Ron Graf | May 17, 2015 at 7:08 pm |
      Hiding data, giving half truth, smearing dissenting opinion are never going to end in good policy. We need to agree on at least this

      Nice comment. It is worth pointing out that Kristen Powers is politically left of center.

    • James Hansen in reply to an interviewers question:

      As you say you have been sounding this alarm for a long time now and many others have too. But for some years there the whole argument descended into a debate between the so called climate skeptics and the so called global warmists. Are we through that yet and what do you think the voice of the skeptics vs. the others

      On the surface that appeared to be what was happening but in reality the contrarians were representing the conservative side who felt that liberals are going to use this as a method to raise taxes and increase control over their lives and that’s exactly what they do not want and I don’t blame them. But they were simply denying the science because they did not want those political consequences. It did not really have much to do with science and it still does not. and we really do need to get the conservatives to understand the situation because they need to be part of the solution and I think that they will be but it needs to happen pretty quickly.

      Transcript of the entire interview @

      • Eli once again chooses to ignore the simple fact that the models upon which the predictions of doom have been shown to over predict future warming and to be highly unreliable.

        How is the use of inaccurate models to reach conclusions scientifically reasonable or justifiable?

      • Box: All models are wrong, some are useful. GCMs and now Earth System Models are increasingly useful

      • Eli once again writes an i diotic statement. “All models are wrong”. A factually inaccurate statement but also pointless to this issue.

        The vast majority of GCMs have been shown to perform highly inaccurately for temperature and the other conditions there were designed to forecast.

        A simple question- What specific GCM to you rely upon and consider reasonably accurate for temperature? How has that model done over the last 10 years on other parameters?

  19. Mike Flynn

    Wrt to your Nepal link.

    No amount of advice to introduce new legislation will stop the Earth shaking from time to time. In Nepal, some structures thousands of years old didn’t fall down. Some did. So did others.

    Even structures in the U.S. fail due to earthquakes, as they do all over the world. Buildings fall down. People are injured. The people and buildings are repaired or not, depending on their situation.

    Life goes on. Nepal is a poor country, some might say made societally poorer by the intrusion of foreign influences. Maybe US commentators should call for legislation to ameliorate the impact of future disasters in the U.S., first. Drought, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, dam failure, forest fire, volcanic eruption . . .

    The U.S. has been dealing with these for a couple of hundred years. Nepal has been coping with its natural disasters for around 3000 years, according to written records from the time of the Kirati empire. Of course, the civilisation goes back several thousand years more.

    Maybe get your own house in order first? Just a thought.

  20. I pity the graduates at this ceremony.
    From the article:

    PISCATAWAY — Graduation day at Rutgers University is a chance for students to relax after four years of college and celebrate with family and friends before entering the real world.

    Or, when Bill Nye is the keynote speaker, it’s a reminder that the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere is rising and its future may be a “no-way-out overheated globe.”

    Nye, the bow-tied host of “Bill Nye The Science Guy,” used his speech at Rutgers’ commencement Sunday as a platform to tell students they must find a way to stop climate change.


  21. I guess this belongs in policy because without policy, we wouldn’t have Tesla. Or at least, it would be deeper in debt than it is already.
    From the article:

    A new car shouldn’t have problems when you’ve owned it for less than a month. Yet Consumer Reports’ brand-new $127,000 Tesla Model S P85 D, with the fancy retractable door handles refused to let us in, effectively rendering the car undriveable. (Read “Why We Bought a Tesla Model S.”)
    After we’d owned the P85 D for a mere 27 days, with just over 2,300 miles on the odometer, the driver-side door handle failed. The door handles in the Model S retract electrically so they rest flush with the sides of the car when they’re not in use. Walk up to the car with the key fob in your pocket, and the handles move out to allow you to grip them.

    Driver’s door handle is stuck.
    Except this time, the one on the driver’s door of our P85D didn’t pop out, leaving us no way to open the door from the outside. And significantly, the car wouldn’t stay in Drive, perhaps misinterpreting that the door was open due to the issue with the door handle. We have observed other vehicles likewise prohibiting driving with a door open.
    We’re far from the first Tesla owners to experience this problem. Our car reliability survey shows that doors, locks, and latches are the biggest trouble areas with Teslas and that the Model S has far higher than average rates of such problems.


  22. Jim2, why did you leave out the rest of the Tesla article? One phone call and Tesla sent out a technician and fixed the door handle within 2 hours. This kind of service is offered to all Tesla owners.
    BTW, I test drove an S 85D performance model a few weeks ago. I felt like a 10 year old on his 1st roller coaster ride. 0-60 in 3.1 seconds and 800ft lbs of torque! It was the most exciting and fun car I’ve ever driven.
    Of course it’s a rich man’s toy but you’re a free market guy, aren’t you?

    I will seriously consider buying the 35,000 dollar model when it comes out in 2-3 years.

  23. Just discovered this, but suspect you have all seen it.

  24. From the article:

    While debate swirls in Washington D.C. about new encryption laws, the consequences of the last crypto war is still being felt. Logjam vulnerabilities making headlines today is “a direct result of weakening cryptography legislation in the 1990s,” researcher J. Alex Halderman said. “Thanks to Moore’s law and improvements in cryptanalysis, the ability to break that crypto is something really anyone can do with open-source software. The backdoor might have seemed like a good idea at the time. Maybe the arguments 20 years ago convinced people this was going to be safe. History has shown otherwise. This is the second time in two months we’ve seen 90s era crypto blow up and put the safety of everyone on the internet in jeopardy.”


  25. Christopher Monckton has a great post on WUWT taking apart Obama’s speech to the Coast Guard Academy graduating class.


  26. Peter Lang

    [I tried to post this comment on the ‘True cost of wind electricity thread’, but it wasn’t accepted.]

    Planning Engineer and Rud Istvan,

    My apologies for late responses here. I’ve been busy preparing to testify to the Australian Senate ‘Select Committee on Wind Turbines’. I testified on 19 May and have been busy with follow up since.

    This is an excellent post. I’d suggest it could be a very valuable peer reviewed paper in ‘Energy Policy’. If you submit it there it will be influential – and very helpful to Australia, UK and other countries. We need papers like this.

    Since at least 2010, the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) has been assuring NGOs and the public that wind would be cost competitive by now, all things considered

    The wind advocates from CSIRO and elsewhere and academia have been arguing that since 1990 in Australia.

    Yet incentives originally intended only to help start the wind industry continue to be provided everywhere. This fact suggests wind is not competitive with conventional fossil fuel generation.

    In Australia we have legislation for a Renewable Energy Target (RET). If electricity retailers do not buy a specified proportion of their electricity from approved renewable energy sources, they have to pay a fine. The fine is legislated at $93/MWh. The current price of the Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) is $36/MWh. So there is huge incentive to build more wind farms. But it’s driving the wholesale cost of electricity down and the retail price up (because the price of the REC’s has to be passed on to consumers). It’s sending the dispatchable generators broke – It’s a disaster for reliable energy supply and competitive electricity priced. But the renewable energy advocates love it and reckon its saving the planet.

    The record US annual wind capacity factor was 2014 at 33.9%. EIA itself says the median CF over the past decade is 31%. (Still better than the UK, where CF ranged from a low of 21.5% in 2010 to a record high 27.9% in 2013.) The assumed US 35% CF is unrealistically optimistic. [3]

    For comparison, the average capacity factor of wind power in the Australian National Electricity Market (NEM) was 29% in 2014.

    In other words, the capital annuity component of non-wind LCOE should be reduced by ~25% to reflect longer useful lives (40 rather than 30 year annuity, EIA capital only, 0.065 r). That is $8.35/MWh lower LCOE for coal …

    Is that correct? I haven’t checked the calculations. However, changing the amortization period from 30 to 40 years doesn’t make a great deal of difference to LCOE because of the effect of the discount rate. The NREL simple LCOE calculator is useful for doing quick checks like this: http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/tech_lcoe.html

    For example, GE’s FlexEfficiency 50 is a 510MWCCGT that can ramp 50MW/minute.

    An off topic factoid: The 1600 MW EPR is also designed to ramp at 50 MW/min down to 50% of rated power, and can operate stably at 25% of rated power.

    Your conclusion includes this:

    We can only approximate the ‘true’ cost of wind, and how much the reality differs from ‘official’ EIA (and industry) claims.

    Can you give me your rough guestimate of what factor the EIA LCOE’s should be raised by. Part way through the post you mentioned 50%. Would that be a reasonable rule of thumb to use?

  27. Peter Lang

    This is the key point I wanted to get across in my testimony:

    What’s the cost of CO2 emissions abatement?

    Answer: much higher than recognized. This is the key point of my testimony.

    The Warburton Review estimated the cost of abatement under the LRET at $32-$72/tonne CO2 in 2020 (Section 5.6 – Cost of abatement’ – from estimates by ACIL-Allen, Frontier Economics and Deloitte).

    But the actual cost is likely to be much higher because the estimates apparently do not take the CO2 abatement effectiveness into account.

    Wheatley estimates wind energy in the NEM was just 78% effective at abating emissions in 2014, and would be about 70% effective if wind power’s share was doubled .

    Under the current RET legislation, wind energy would have to supply about 15% of electricity in 2020. At 15% share, wind is likely to be about 60% effective .

    At 60% effective, the CO2 abatement cost would be $53-$120 per tonne CO2

    Compare these abatement costs:

    Source Year $/t CO2
    Warburton review 2020 32 – 72
    With effectiveness included (at 60% in 2020) 2020 53 – 120
    Carbon price at 2013 election 2013 24.15
    Direct Action (based on first auction 2015 13.95
    EU ETS price 2015 9.50
    International carbon permit futures (to 2020) 2020 0.56

    Therefore, the cost of abatement under the LRET would be:

    • 2 to 5 times the 2013 carbon price

    • 4 to 8 times the Direct Action average price achieved at the first auction

    • 6 to 12 times the EU ETS price

    • 100 to 200 times the international carbon price futures to 2020

    The most important recommendation from my submission is;

    The CO2 abatement cost estimates in the RET Review be re-estimated taking CO2 abatement effectiveness into account.

    If the Department of Industry, ACIL-Allen, Deloitte or Frontier Economics can be tasked to re-estimate the CO2 abatement cost taking into account the CO2 abatement cost effectiveness (e.g. from Wheatley’s analysis), the estimated abatement costs will be much higher than is currently recognised.

    Once The Treasury, Department of Finance, Department of Industry and the responsible Ministers recognise the high cost of CO2 abatement with wind power, this could be the catalyst for change. It could be the beginning of widespread recognition that the RET is a high cost way of reducing emissions and that the costs will escalate dramatically to 2020.

    These cost increases will harm Australia’s international competitiveness, the economy, jobs, wages and standard of living.

  28. Judith,

    Why do you keep reporting the extreme anti-nukes on the planet. If you are going to link to nuclear articles, why don’t you link to authoritative, balanced, factual material instead of the most extreme nonsense you can fiind;

    Jim Green is one of the most extreme anti nuke zealots in Australia:

    Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and editor of the Nuclear Monitor newsletter,


    It is true that learning rate for nuclear is negative and has been since the late 1970’s. It’s also true nuclear is the only electricity technology with negative learning rate. The average learning rate for other technologies over a century or more has been -10% to -20% per doubling. This is well known and it’s been studied for decades. The cause is also well known. It’s the result of the anti-nuke propaganda from organisation like Greenpeace, WWF, FoE and anti-nuke activists like your Amory Lovins, John Holdren and Mark Jacobsen, and our Mark Diesendorf, Ian Lowe, and Jim Green.

    They get well meaning people like you to pick up and spread their bile and disinformation around the world to the unsuspecting people who trust that if people like you repeat this nonsense, it must be correct..

  29. Judith, next you refer to an article by a renewable energy advocacy site comparing the cost of German solar and the cherry picked First of a kind EPR in Finland. How biased and what nonsense.

    The article begins:

    The Energy Collective is a website that calls itself “the world’s best thinkers on energy & climate.” Nonetheless, I recently found one of their articles to be poorly researched – based on an article a year older than the author thought and on a study funded by the Koch brothers, who support climate change denial publications in the US.

    Nuff said.

    50 years of this sort of nonsense is boring and frustrating. And the fact that people like you propagate this stuff is helping to delay genuine progress. Propagating this stuff is being part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  30. Judith,

    Could you include this link (Professor Bernard Cohen, 1990) in this week’s Energy policy post:
    Costs of nuclear power plants – what went wrong?

    Then we could build on it and debate the reasons why nuclear has a negative learning rate; e,.g.

  31. China and India’s joint statement:

    China, the world’s No. 1 greenhouse gas emitter, and India, the No. 3, said wealthier countries need to help the climate fight by providing the technology, financing and expertise to help developing countries like China and India cut emissions and cope with the effects of global warming.

    I agree 100% with their call for wealthier countries to provide “technology, […] and expertise”.

    I do not agree with wealthier countries providing finance to China and India. However, USA and EU hold the keys to making the viable technologies economically viable for all countries. USA and EU are blocking progress. Not much of significance can be achieved my mid sized economies like Australia until USA and EU unblock progress.