Climate policy: Driving us in the wrong direction

The following article from the Spectator Australia

In the not-too-distant future, the climate policies of the Albanese government will become untenable.

Why? Because these policies are based on two misconceptions and, if maintained, will lead to the lights going out.

The electricity misconception

There are two types of electricity: continuous (or base load) and intermittent (typically wind and solar power). In the eastern states, coal-fired plants supply over 80 per cent of our continuous electricity.

Over the next decade, seven coal-fired plants are scheduled for closure. They make up more than half of all Australia’s coal-fired plants in terms of capacity.

Without replacement by other forms of plants supplying continuous electricity, the Australian economy will grind to a halt.

But what ‘other forms’ are available?

Renewable energy is not one.

Its supporters assume that batteries will allow electricity to be continuous, but this is a misconception.

To illustrate, after a widespread blackout in South Australia in 2016, Tesla installed the world’s largest battery on that state’s grid.

However, as pointed out by Mark Mills of the Manhattan Institute in the US, ‘To keep South Australia lit for one half-day of no wind would require 80 such batteries.’

Danish commentator Bjorn Lomborg says that, ‘Europe has batteries able to supply a little more than 1 minute of average electricity consumption now, and about 12 minutes in 2030.’

The situation in America and Asia is similar.

Achieving the level of battery manufacture required for renewable energy to be continuous would take decades and, in any case, would be financially untenable.

Gas-fired power is at least continuous, but it is much more expensive than coal-fired power in Australia. And in the eastern states, there will be little spare gas available before 2025. The government blames Queensland for this. But the real culprits are Victoria and New South Wales, because of restrictions in the last decade on gas production in these two states (notably Victoria).

Nuclear power, which provides continuous electricity, would address the problem. However, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in July that it is ‘not currently a viable energy source for Australia’.

And even if this changes, nuclear power is at least 10 years off.

As is happening in Europe, the almost-certain answer to our current energy conundrum will be to extend the lives of existing coal-fired plants and/or build new ones.

The government will have no choice but to accept this.

The climate-science misconception

‘Climate science is settled,’ says Chris Bowen, Minister for Climate Change and Energy.

But it is not, and even some scientists concerned about greenhouse-gas emissions accept that it is not.

Here are the views of several well-known dissenters.

‘The science is insufficient to make useful projections about how climate will change in coming years.’ (Steven Koonin, prominent US physicist and author of the 2021 book, Unsettled.)

‘The climate system is way more complex than just something that you can tune with a carbon-dioxide control knob.’ (Judith Curry, prominent US climate scientist.)

‘There is no climate emergency … the gap between the real world and the modelled world tells us that we are far from understanding climate change.’ (CLINTEL, a European-based foundation.)

In Australia, Professor Michael Asten (co-author of this article) is part of an international team researching a growing area of climate science: natural cycles of climate change over the past 2,000 years.

These cycles include warm periods in Roman times to 500 CE, and in Medieval times (900 to 1300 CE), followed by a cool time for 550 years. Up to about 1850, global temperature variations had nothing to do with greenhouse-gas emissions.

And studies show that temperature variations with similar magnitudes and rates of change as those since 1850 have occurred in the past, especially in the Medieval warm period.

In the past decade, multiple authors have studied the combination of natural cycles and greenhouse gases as causes of warming since 1850, with many concluding that natural cycles are likely to be more important.


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