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A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).



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Green vision protects coal deposits, razes forests instead: Europe goes back to wood power

Green Utopia

We’re trying to control the weather by limiting a universal molecule intrinsic to life on Earth. What could possibly go wrong? Loopholes, for starters. Only this isn’t a loophole — it’s an obvious outcome of “carbon neutrality”. The only thing that could have stopped wood from replacing coal is if the tidal-windy-solar idea had been competitive, reliable and batteries were really cheap. Or, if we all went nuclear.

So carbon neutral means conserving black coal deposits underground and mowing down thousands of square kilometers of forests. Don’t think Greenpeace saw that coming. Carbon Loophole: Why is wood burning counted as green energy?

Fred Pearce, Yale, e360

The forests of North Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi — as well as those in Europe — are being destroyed to sustain a European fantasy about renewable energy…

Wood burning is booming from Britain to Romania. Much of the timber is sourced locally…

But Drax’s giant wood-burning boilers are fueled almost entirely by 6.5 million tons of wood pellets shipped annually across the Atlantic.

Drax Power, UK emits 23 million tons of “good” neutral carbon which used to be trees:

About 23 million tons […]

Scientists discover an extra 5 million square kilometers of forest , just like that.

Scientists apparently can’t predict where forests are right now, but weather patterns one hundred years from now, no problem. It’s nearly 60 years since the first satellite was launched, and we are still figuring out basic stuff down here on the surface — like which bits are forest.

People are willing to set up a two trillion dollar global market to trade carbon, but their carbon models are so primitive that giant “oops” moments are still happening on a regular basis. In 2014 Indian accountants discovered they’d missed nearly half the carbon given off from their lakes and rivers. In 2015, an accounting error reduced China’s emissions by twice Australia’s output. Then later that year Yale guys found 2.6 trillion trees. Blame global warming. Forests are appearing everywhere. Trees are even growing on farms capturing 0.75 gigaton of carbon that no one noticed til last year.

Billions of dollars of carbon credits are winking in and out of existence with every scientific study. Bank that botany! A single paper could change national GDP.

How did they find 5 million square kilometers of trees? They stopped assuming that satellite photos would be enough and they did a field survey instead. They […]

News: 2.6 trillion lost trees found — whole world owes carbon credits to whole world

Yale scientist’s big new advance is to find the 2,600 billion trees humankind had not known about. Before now, 82% of the Earth’s trees were not counted, unknown, missing. This increases the tally of known trees by 7.5-fold. Phew. They reckon there are now 3.04 trillion trees, or roughly 422 trees per person.

They also estimate that humans have deforested exactly 46% of the trees on the planet in the last 12,000 years. (How fortunate that tree density estimates and satellite records are still available from 10,000 BC.) Presumably, the human deforestation factor is around 46% plus or minus 100%. Pick a number. Spin the wheel.

The idea was dumb enough to be produced by Yale and published in Nature.

Seeing the forest and the trees, all three trillion of them

A new Yale-led study estimates that there are more than 3 trillion trees on Earth, about seven and a half times more than some previous estimates. But the total number of trees has plummeted by roughly 46 percent since the start of human civilization, the study estimates.

Using a combination of satellite imagery, forest inventories, and supercomputer technologies, the international team of researchers […]

Carbon accounting error reduces China’s emissions tally by twice Australia’s entire output

Welcome to carbon accounting games. Which other global “free” market is based on a ubiquitous molecule made by life on Earth, and produced in massive quantities in places where it’s almost impossible to even measure accurately? The largest non-human and human players don’t play (they don’t pay). Massive quantities go missing from the accounts, while other countries are expected to turn their economies upside down to cut one tenth as much.

Shu Liu et al estimate China’s output of CO2 was 14% lower in 2013 than other estimates.[1] They estimate China emitted 2.5 Gt of “carbon” in 2013. Australia produces around 0.1 Gt a year.* So China’s “reduction” was 2 – 3 times what Australia produces every year. There is no other market in the world where so much hard money changes hands based on soft guesses about a product that no one wants, and is hard to even measure.

Frank Jotzo, ANU, reveals how irrelevant actual CO2 emissions are — it’s “good news” that doesn’t make any difference:

Frank Jotzo, the director of the Center for Climate Economics and Policy at the Australian National University in Canberra, said it was “good news” that Chinese coal was yielding […]

Australian target set at 26% reduction by 2030 — billions spent to reduce global CO2 emissions by 0.01%

The Australian Abbott government has announced the target of a 26% reduction in emissions of CO2 by 2030. This futile effort to change the weather is all cost and no benefit. It’s 26% reduction in 1.3% (Australia’s share) of 4% (human share) of total CO2 emissions globally. If we succeed there’ll be 0.01% less CO2 in the air (at best).

The only good thing is that the policy supposedly can be achieved without “without any need to purchase emissions reductions from overseas.” That means Australia won’t be feeding the global banker-broker machine and assorted “carbon market” bureaucrats — not until the Labor Party come to government, anyway. This is a big win, helping to slow the cycle of governments feeding vested interests who promote big-government.

For once the Greens had a realistic response, though they probably did not intend it that way:

“The Greens party room also discussed the government’s target. The party’s MPs agreed it was “an all-around science fail” and they “all nodded vigorously”, a senior source said.”

Because “carbon accounting” is a joke, measured in a dozen mindless ways, all sides are spinning this in equal and opposite directions. Black IS white simultaneously, and too […]

Those Green Australians! Our emissions per person fell 28% since 1990

Get ready for the startling news that Australians have been great corporate “green” citizens — on a per capita basis, all of us are so much more carbon-efficient (sic) than we were 25 years ago. Back then, in those dark days, people frivolously heated and cooled their homes without a thought to how many sinful cyclones they were creating in the Philippines. They drove recklessly in fossil fueled cars, and windmills were used to pump water a mere 10 metres, not to stop floods in Pakistan.

The amazing thing is that Australia’s population has grown by a whopping 38% since 1990. And our emission have grown with that, but the emissions per person has declined by 28% per person. Why aren’t the Greens more excited?

As with all these statistics, watch the pea for the real story. Most of that decline is not due to solar panels, pink batts, bird blending wind towers, energy efficiency, or even economic trends — it is predominantly due to cutting down fewer trees. The “improvements” are in the “land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF)” sector, of which the “LUCF” basically means deforestation, afforestation and reforestation. The decline is mostly thanks to farmers like […]