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Climate Politics Abroad Are Turning Decidedly Skeptical

May 3, 2019

Climate Change Weekly #322

From Alberta to Australia, from Finland to France and beyond, voters are increasingly showing their displeasure with expensive energy policies imposed by politicians in an inane effort to fight purported human-caused climate change.

Skepticism about whether humans are causing dangerous climate change has always been higher in the United States than in most industrialized countries. As a result, governments in Europe, Canada, and in other developed countries are much farther along the energy-rationing path that cutting carbon dioxide emissions requires than the United States is. Residents in these countries have begun to revolt against the higher energy costs they suffer under as a result of ever-increasing taxes on fossil fuels and government mandates to use expensive renewable energy.

For instance, in France in late 2018, protesters donning yellow vests took to the streets—and have stayed there ever since—in large part to protest scheduled increases in fuel taxes, electricity prices, and stricter vehicle emissions controls, which French President Emmanuel Macron claimed were necessary to meet the country’s greenhouse gas reduction commitments under the Paris climate agreement. After the first four weeks of protest, Macron’s government cancelled his climate action plan.

Also in 2018, in part as a backlash against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s climate policies, global warming skeptic Doug Ford was elected as premier of Ontario, Canada’s most populous province. Ford announced he would end energy taxes imposed by Ontario’s previous premier and would join Saskatchewan’s premier in a legal fight against Trudeau’s federal carbon dioxide tax.

In August 2018, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was forced to resign over carbon dioxide restrictions he’d planned to impose to meet the country’s Paris climate commitments. His successor, Scott Morrison, announced reducing energy prices and improving reliability, not fighting climate change, would be the government’s primary energy goals going forward. Subsequently, Australia’s deputy prime minister and its environment minister announced the country would continue using coal for electricity and expand coal mining and exports.

The changes in 2018 were just a prelude for the political climate revolt of 2019.

In mid-March, the Forum for Democracy (FvD), a fledgling political party just three years old, tied for the largest number of seats, 12, in the divided Dutch Senate in the 2019 elections. FvD takes a decidedly skeptical stance on climate change. On the campaign trail, Thierry Baudet, FvD’s leader, said the government should stop funding programs to meet the country’s commitments to international climate change agreements, saying such efforts are driven by “climate-change hysteria.”

On April 14 in Finland, where climate change policies became the dominant issue in the election, support for climate skepticism surged. Whereas all the other parties proposed plans to raise energy prices and limit people’s energy use, the Finns Party, which made the fight against expensive climate policies the central part of its platform, gained the second-highest number of seats in the Parliament, just one seat behind the Social Democratic Party’s 40. The second-place finish was a big win for the Finns Party and its skeptical stance: just two months before the election, polls showed its support was below 10 percent. After the Finns Party made battling alarmist climate policies its main goal, its popularity soared. The New York Times credited the Finns Party’s electoral surge, in large part, to its expressed climate skepticism.

In Alberta, Canada, where the economy declined after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s climate policies took hold, voters on April 16 replaced Premier Rachel Notley and her New Democratic Party (NDP), which supports the federal climate policies, with the United Conservative Party, headed by newly elected Premier Jason Kenney, who vowed to scrap the province’s carbon tax and every other policy in NDP’s climate action plan. Among the other climate policies Kenny said he will reverse in an effort to revive the economy are NDP’s plans to accelerate the closure of the province’s coal power plants, and its plan to cap greenhouse gas emissions from the region’s oil sands. In addition, Kenny says he will challenge the federal government’s climate impositions in court and streamline regulations hampering Alberta’s critical oil and gas industry, including restrictions preventing pipeline construction imposed by NDP.

Even as daily headlines in the lamestream media become ever shriller, hyping climate fears based on projections made by unverified climate models, the public, especially the voting public, is becoming increasingly weary of the Chicken Little claims of impending climate doom. Voters in developed countries are saying “enough is enough” to high energy prices which punish the most vulnerable people in society and do nothing to regulate climate change.

  • H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: CBC; Global News; New York Times; New York Times; Climate Change Weekly


IN THIS ISSUE …

Electric cars emitting more carbon dioxide than diesel in GermanySolar activity could portend coolingIceland’s glaciers growing


ELECTRIC CARS EMITTING MORE CARBON DIOXIDE THAN DIESEL IN GERMANY

German scientists have discovered the country’s efforts to push an increase in sales of electric vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its transportation sector has actually resulted in increased carbon dioxide emissions.

The research team found when carbon dioxide emissions from the production of batteries used to power electric vehicles and from the electricity used to charge the batteries is accounted for—in Germany, coal electricity generation has grown in recent years—electric vehicles emit 11 to 28 percent more carbon dioxide than comparable diesel vehicles in Germany over their functional lives.

As a result, the researchers say electric vehicles should not count as zero-emission vehicles. They propose, instead of forcing European car manufacturers to sell more electric vehicles, if emissions reduction is the goal, the German government should allow manufacturers to produce natural gas powered vehicles instead. They point out natural gas vehicles produce 33 percent lower carbon dioxide emissions than comparable diesel cars and trucks, and much lower emissions than electric vehicles when emissions from manufacturing of the batteries required for their operation and producing the electricity to charge them are accounted for.

SOURCES: The Brussels Times; The Wall Street Journal (behind paywall)


SOLAR ACTIVITY COULD PORTEND COOLING

A recent study published in The Open Atmospheric Science Journal goes beyond regional correlations of solar cycles with temperature and climate changes to look at proxy data from around the world to determine whether, over the last 2,000 years, changes in solar activity can be connected to global changes in climate.

A team of German researchers examined two types of cosmic isotopes found in tree rings and ice cores, in the process confirming the magnetic field of the Sun had varied over three particularly strong, distinct cycles of approximately 1,000, 460, and 190 year periods over the past 2,000 years, with the 190 year cycle being confirmed over the past 10,000 years. They then compared this data with proxy temperature data from different sites and sources around the world covering the last 2,000 years, complemented by instrumental temperature measurements of global temperatures from 1850 to the present as recorded by Climatic Research Unit at University of East Anglia and the Hadley Centre, and RSS satellite data from AD 1979 to the present.

The researchers confirmed shifts in solar activity corresponded to significant climate changes on the same 1,000, 460, and 190 year timelines. For instance, shifts in solar activity coincided with “temperature extrema … [in] the Roman, medieval, and present optima as well as the well-known minimum of AD 1450 during the Little Ice Age,” says the article.

Based on their analysis of the correspondence between solar shifts and temperature changes, the researchers project the earth’s average temperature will likely decline from the present through approximately 2050, followed by a slight rise from “from 2050 to 2130, and a further drop from AD 2130 to 2200.”

SOURCE: The Open Atmospheric Science Journal


ICELAND’S GLACIERS GROWING

Researchers from the University of Iceland have projected, to their great surprise, each of Iceland’s glaciers will expand this year, marking the first time the country’s glaciers have expanded year over year in the past 25 years.

Hofsjökull, Langjökull, Mýrdalsjökull, and Vatnajökull glaciers have each expanded in the last twelve months, from autumn to autumn, “With Mýrdalsjökull showing a really ‘significant addition of ice this year,’” according to an article in Electroverse. Each of these glaciers had been losing ice over the past quarter-decade, with Langjökull, for example, losing as much as one-and-a-half meter of ice per year on average for the past 20 years.

Finnur Pálsson, project manager for the research team studying the Icelandic glaciers, points out, in the last few years, the ice loss from Langjökull and Vatnajökull has been close to zero, “neither expanded nor diminished,” and in 2019, all of Iceland’s glaciers are expected to grow because “[i]t is a fact that it has been colder the last few years. And there was more snowfall in August on the upper part of Langjökull, which is very unusual,” Pálsson is quoted as saying. “[These glaciers growth] is unusual over the last 25 years.”

Cap Allon, the author of the article discussing the glaciers’ growth, says the scientists are only surprised at the growth of the glaciers because they have accepted the consensus claims that human carbon dioxide emissions are driving climate change. Since emissions have continued to rise, their theory indicates the planet should still be warming and cause the glaciers to decline. If, however, you take solar activity to be a climate driver, you can understand why Iceland’s glaciers are growing, writes Allon:

If you’re bold enough to dump the AGW theory for a minute and bring solar activity into the mix instead, you’ll quickly solve the mystery of Iceland’s expanding glaciers. Our star has just exited the Modern Maximum—a 30-or-so year period of high solar activity—and is now on the slide back down. The solar cycle just completed (24) was the weakest in over 100 years and the Earth is once again cooling as a result. And it isn’t just Iceland’s glaciers experiencing expansion—Greenland and the Arctic have also gained ice over the last three years, 45 percent more than normal in fact. And by late Nov 2018, Hudson Bay was already 40 percent iced up.

Allon cites recent research by Prof. Valentina Zharkova speculating a new Super Grand Solar Minimum, one possibly weaker than even the Maunder Minimum from 1645 to 1715, will begin around 2020. If Zharkova is right, it’s possible, for the near term, we should be planning for global cooling, not warming.

SOURCE: Electroverse

Author
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
hsburnett@heartland.org

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