Scientific American endorses Biden – first time in 175 years

Wow. Scientific American has endorsed Joe Biden. This is the first time the magazine has backed a presidential candidate in 175 years. We think it may live to regret its move. The magazine has merely exposed the deep partisan bias and confirmed again how much of scientific academia and media leans left. Why?

The editors closed with,

It’s time to move Trump out and elect Biden, who has a record of following the data and being guided by science.”

If we listened to Joe Biden’s ‘Moses and the 10 Commandments’ speech the other day, it was full of unsubstantiated hyperbole about the risks of higher incidences of floods, hurricanes and wildfires if Trump is reelected despite the fact that under the current administration, harmful GHG emissions have fallen by the largest absolute number ever in 2019 according to the IEA.

For a magazine that rests its laurels on “following the data” and “being guided by the science”, perhaps it missed the UNIPCC’s March 2018 report on weather extremes (with respect to anthropogenic induced global warming) which noted:

…There is low confidence in observed trends in small-scale phenomena such as tornadoes and hail because of data inhomogeneities and inadequacies in monitoring systems…in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, in central North America and northwestern Australia. There is limited to medium evidence available to assess climate-driven observed changes in the magnitude and frequency of floods…low confidence for the attribution of any detectable changes in tropical cyclone activity to anthropogenic influences..low confidence in projections of changes in extreme winds.. low confidence in projections of changes in monsoons…low confidence in wave height projections…overall low confidence because of inconsistent projections of drought changes…low confidence in projected future changes in dust storms…low confidence in projections of an anthropogenic effect on phenomena such as shallow landslides.

Perhaps the editors missed the questionnaire posted by the UN Interacademy Council committee on its website which invited interested parties to respond to the scientific processes at the IPCC during the compilation of the gold standard climate bibles? These were some of the responses;

some of the lead authors…are clearly not qualified to be lead authors.” (p.16)

There are far too many politically correct appointments, so that developing country scientists are appointed who have insufficient scientific competence to do anything useful. This is reasonable if it is regarded as a learning experience, but in my chapter…we had half of the [lead authors] who were not competent.” (p. 138)

The whole process…[is] flawed by an excessive concern for geographical balance. All decisions are political before being scientific.” (p. 554)

half of the authors are there for simply representing different parts of the world.” (p. 296)

Lest anyone think that people from less affluent countries were being unjustly stereotyped,

The team members from the developing countries (including myself) were made to feel welcome and accepted as part of the team. In reality, we were out of our intellectual depth as meaningful contributors to the process.” (p.330)

The founders of Scientific American must be rolling over in their graves. If their scientific rigour is as sound as their endorsement then Trump has even more chances to secure reelection.

This should be seen as a rejection of Trump not an endorsement for Biden.

Telstra’s CEO should close down operations to be on the right side of history

Telstra CEO Andy Penn has suggested that climate change will be the “defining challenge” of the decade but proclaims he doesn’t want to be drawn into the government policy debate. 

He has called for “more urgent action on climate as changing weather patterns deliver more frequent bushfires, floods, droughts and storms” at an American Chamber of Commerce lunch yesterday. 

What a pity that the UNIPCC’s March 2018 report on weather extremes (with respect to anthropogenic induced global warming) contradicted Mr Penn:

“…There is low confidence in observed trends in small-scale phenomena such as tornadoes and hail because of data inhomogeneities and inadequacies in monitoring systemsin some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, in central North America and northwestern Australia. There is limited to medium evidence available to assess climate-driven observed changes in the magnitude and frequency of floods…low confidence for the attribution of any detectable changes in tropical cyclone activity to anthropogenic influences..low confidence in projections of changes in extreme winds.. low confidence in projections of changes in monsoons…low confidence in wave height projections…overall low confidence because of inconsistent projections of drought changes…low confidence in projected future changes in dust storms…low confidence in projections of an anthropogenic effect on phenomena such as shallow landslides.”

Never mind what the scientists ‘actually’ think. Just run the narrative of the activists instead to prevent Extinction Rebellion nutcases from super glueing themselves to the lobby entrance. FNF Media could indulge you on what the scientists actually think of the IPCC. For those interested please see the link here. Spoiler alert – it is exceedingly critical.

Mr Penn said that businesses and individuals should become aware of their carbon footprints. He admitted Telstra is one of the biggest consumers of electricity in the country as data storage needs explode by up to 50% per annum.

If it is such a massive concern, Penn should put Telstra’s shareholder money where its mouth is and charge customers extortionate fees for data storage and data usage such that he can force them to lighten their evil digital-driven carbon footprint. That way he can slow his electricity consumption. Then, Telstra can await all of those woke customers fleeing Vodafone and Optus in droves to sign up for inferior service for more money. Not quite sure what shareholders would think of that…

Even better he could suggest to the board that they close the business for good for the sake of the planet. After all, by going the whole hog he can sleep safe in the knowledge that his kids and grandkids will know he was on the right side of history (the standard alarmist playbook) before we’re swept away by the rising sea levels. Think of all that energy saved.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen this vacuous corporate virtue signalling tokenism before. Who could forget the comments made by Josh Bayliss, the CEO of Virgin Group? He said,

“It’s definitely true that right now every one of us should think hard about whether or not we need to take a flight.”

Why didn’t he close down the airlines in the portfolio? Instead of waiting for his customers to grow a conscience via flight shaming and do the right thing why not force their choice? The obvious answer is that it’s hypocritical in the extreme.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has already positioned behind the flight shaming movement to do its bit for climate change. In a two page flyer, it covered the idea that we reckless passengers must consider our carbon footprint but at the same time help the U.N. raise $40bn in taxes, sorry ‘climate finance,’ between 2021 and 2035.

The Carbon Offsetting & Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is the vehicle which the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) intends to liberate us from our sins and help fund the waste so endemic in the NY based cabal. Wherever the UN is involved expect a sinister agenda behind the virtue.

All airlines have been required to monitor, report and verify their emissions on international flights since Jan 1, 2019. Operators will be required to buy “emissions units” from the UN. If one asked the UN would it prefer emissions to be cut or taxes to be raised, it would select the latter every time.

Still, the easiest way to gauge public fear on climate change is not via a biased think-tank poll but monitor individual consumption patterns. It isn’t just population growth, because it isn’t growing  at these rates. Three examples:

  1. Aircraft demand – In 2019, Boeing reported airlines will need around 44,000 new commercial aircraft worth $6.8 trillion by 2038, vs. 43,000 planes worth $6.49 trillion estimated in 2018. There are currently 25,830 commercial airliners in service.
  2. Smartphones – estimated that the number of global mobile subscriptions could be 13.8 billion in 2025 and 17.1 billion in 2030. The number of global mobile subscriptions has already reached 6.7 billion in 2013. Smartphones will grow from 6.3bn units in 2020 to 12.1 billion by 2030.
  3. Energy Consumption  – the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that world energy consumption will grow by nearly 50% between 2018 and 2050. Energy consumed in the buildings sector (including residential and commercial structures), increases by 65% between 2018 and 2050, from 91 quadrillion to 139 quadrillion Btu. Rising income, urbanization, and increased access to electricity lead to rising demand for energy.

So good luck trying to get people to feel awkward about their individual carbon footprints. They’ll be to busy charging their mobile devices while booking the next overseas holiday to the Maldives.

$14bn shock for Shorten. Not $100m

Image result for bill shorten ev

Let’s face it, pre-election budget boasting is a beauty contest we can do without. Fanciful promises guarantee we will not end up in surplus. Shorten’s speech was loaded with mistakes. Let’s cut through some numbers.

The Coalition put forward the following on Tuesday.

What escaped many in the Frydenberg budget of Tuesday is that to fund the 16.8% jump in tax receipts on 2018/19, individual taxpayers will still see their pockets hit +18.4% in aggregate even after including the ‘generous’ rebates. Superannuation tax collections will jump 43% in 4 years time.

NDIS spending is targeted to be 92% higher by 2022/23 than last year. Medicare +24%, public hospital assistance to the states +21%, aged care services +27%. For all the celebrations of lowering pharmaceutical rebates for one wonder drug from $120,000 to $6.50, the reality is spending in this segment will fall 18.4% in total. The family tax benefit will squeak 4% higher in the next 4 years.

As written on Tuesday, the revenue projections of the government are unrealistic as we stare at a slowing world economy. German industrial production in March cratered to 44.1 and China’s auto sales continued a 7-month double-digit slump in February.

Analyzing the Labor response

Shorten claimed NDIS was cut A$1.6bn to get a surplus. Under Frydenberg’s budget, NDIS for 2019/20 will rise A$4.5bn. Out to 2022/23, it rises to over A$24bn.

The Opposition Leader also made reference to A$14bn in cuts to public schools. Note the funding to public schools on 2013/14 was A$4.8bn. In 2018/19 it was $7.7bn and projected in 2022/23 to be A$10.4bn. 

$200mn to renovate nursing campuses in Australia won’t achieve much. The John Curtin Medical Research School at the ANU cost $130mn alone.

Shorten made reference to bushfires being caused by climate change. Fire & Rescue NSW notes that 90% of fires are either deliberately or accidentally set. A Royal Commission after the horrible Black Saturday bushfires showed that policies which restricted backburning reduction targets were to blame for the larger spread of fires, not climate change. In 2013, Tasmania learned none of the lessons with similar policy restrictions preventing the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service to complete more than 4% of all the 2.6m hectares it manages. The reef is not being damaged by climate change and floods and drought are no more frequent or severe than a century ago.

While climate alarmists will relish the prospect of 50% electric vehicles (EV) and cut emissions 45% by 2030 to save the planet, a few truths need to be considered:

1) our own Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, has admitted that no matter what Australia does to mitigate global warming our impact will be zero. Naught. Nada. Putting emotion to one side, is there any point in spending $10s of billions to drive electricity prices?

2) South Australia and Victoria have already beta tested what having a higher percentage of renewable energy does or rather doesn’t do for sustainable and reliable baseload power. Both states have not only the highest energy prices in Australia but the world. These stats are backed up in Europe. The EU member states with a higher percentage of renewables have steeper electricity prices than those with less. These are facts.

3) Consumption patterns matterLast year Aussies bought only 2,200 EVs. In 2008, SUVs made up 19% of the new car sales mix. Today they make up 43%.
In 2008, c.50m total passengers were carried on Australian domestic flights to over 61m today. The IATA expects passengers flown will double over the current level by 2030. These are hardly the actions of people panicked about cataclysmic climate change. Or if they are, they expect others to economize on their behalf.

Qantas boasts having the largest carbon offset program in place yet only 2% of miles are paid for, meaning 98% aren’t. 

4) Global EV production capacity is around 2.1m units. While rising, it is still a minor blip on 79 million cars sold worldwide. Add to that, auto parts suppliers and car makers are reluctant to expand capacity too fast in a global auto market that is slowing rapidly.

Car sales in China have fallen for 7 straight months. In Feb 2019, sales fell 13.8% on the back of January’s -15% print.  Dec 2018 (-13%), Nov 2018 (-13.9%) & Oct 2018 (-11.7%) according to the Chinese Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). The US and Australian car markets are under pressure too. 

5) So haphazard is the drive for EV legislation that there are over 200 cities in Europe with different regulations. In the rush for cities to outdo one another this problem will only get worse. Getting two city councils to compromise is one thing but 200 or more across country lines?

Without consistent regulations, it is hard for makers to build EVs that can accommodate all the variance in laws without sharply boosting production costs. 

6) Fuel excise tax – at the moment, 5% of our tax revenue comes from the bowser. $25bn! Will Mr. Shorten happily give this up or do we expect when we’ve been forced to buy EVs that we will be stung with an electricity tax on our cars?

7) Norway is a poor example to benchmark against. It is 5% of our land mass, 1/5th our population and new car sales around 12% of Australia. According to BITRE, Australia has 877,561km of road network which is 9x larger than Norway.

Norway has around 8,000 chargers countrywide. Installation of fast chargers runs around A$60,000 per unit on top of the $100,000 preparation of each station for the high load 480V transformer setup to cope with the increased loads.

Norway state enterprise, Enova, said it would install fast chargers every 50km of 7,500km worth of main road/highway.

Australia has 234,820km of highways/main roads. Fast chargers at every 50km like the Norwegians would require a minimum of 4,700 charging stations across Australia. Norway commits to a minimum of 2 fast chargers and 2 standard chargers per station.

The problem is our plan for 570,000 cars per annum is 10x the number of EVs sold in Norway, requiring 10x the infrastructure.

While it is safe to assume that Norway’s stock of electric cars grows, our cumulative sales on Shorten’s plan would require far greater numbers. So let’s do the maths (note this doesn’t take into account the infrastructure issues of rural areas):

14,700 stations x $100,000 per station to = $1,470,000,000

4,700 stations x 20 fast chargers @ A$60,000 = $5,640,000,000 (rural)

4,700 stations x 20 slow chargers @ A$9,000 = $846,000,000 (rural)

10,000 stations x 5 fast chargers @ A$60,000 = $3,000,000,000 (urban)

570,000 home charging stations @ $5,500 per set = $3,135,000,000 (this is just for 2030)

Grand Total: A$14,091,000,000

Note that Shorten pledged $100m to EV charging stations around Australia to meet his goals. Even if he was to skimp on 2 fast and 2 slow chargers per stand, Aussies taxpayers will need to shell out $6.5bn. At least he could technically cover that with repealing $6bn in franking credits.

Norway’s privately run charging companies bill users at NOK2.50 (A$0.42c) per minute for fast charging. Norway’s electricity prices are around NOK 0.55 (A$0.05c) per kWh to households.  In South Australia, that price is 43c/kWh. So will Shorten subsidize an EV owner charging in Adelaide at the mark up a private retailer might charge? 

What about subsidies to EV buyers? If we go off Shorten’s assumptions of $3,400 per EV at 570,000 EVs per annum, the tax payer will fork out $1.94bn a year.

Will there be a cash-for-clunkers scheme?  If the plan is to drive internal combustion powertrains off the road, existing owners may not be emboldened with the decimation in the value of their existing cars. Let’s assume buyers are irrational and accept $3,000 per car (Gillard offered $2,000 back in 2010) trade-in under the scheme. That would amount to $1.73bn.

8) Making our own batteries! While it is true Australia is home to all of the relevant resources, sadly we do not have enough cobalt to make enough of them.

Australia is home to only 4% (5,100t) of the world’s cobalt. 60% of the world’s cobalt comes from DR Congo which has less than satisfactory labour laws surrounding children. If we want cheap EVs, we have to bear that cross of sacrificing children to save the planet. It can’t be done any other way.

Li-ion batteries consume around 42% of the globe’s cobalt supplies. Cars are 40% of that. The rest being computers, mobile phones, etc.

9) Automakers have set up their own battery capacity to supply internal production. Given our terrible history in automotives, we should not expect them to line up to buy our batteries.

Nissan spent around A$770m on a battery plant in Sunderland. Panasonic plowed $2.8bn into the battery plant that supplies Tesla.

10) Australia has no real homegrown industrial scale EV battery technology. If we bought in a technical license, that will only make our production costs prohibitive on a global scale. Our high wage costs would add to the improbability of it being a sensible venture.

All in, Shorten’s EV plans could cost Australians well over $20bn with c.$4bn in subsidies ongoing.

11) Green jobs – according to the ABS, jobs in the renewable sector have fallen from the peak of 19,000 in 2011/12 to 14,920 in 2016/17. The upshot is that green jobs in the renewable sector are not sustainable.

In short, Mr. Shorten’s budget reply was extremely thin on detail. Especially with respect to climate change. The LNP has plenty of ammunition to prosecute the case on his wild costing inaccuracies (as outlined above) yet will they have the gumption to fight on those lines. Saving the planet is one thing.

Loading a stretched grid with EVs and increasing the proportion of less reliable power sources looks like a recipe for disaster. We need only look at consumption patterns to get a true sense of how ‘woke’ people when it comes to global warming. South Australians and Victorians are already living the nightmare of renewables.

This election is about one thing – individual pocketbooks. The electorate needs working solutions, not electric dreams.