In The Climate Wars, Two Steps Forward For Every One Back

The Climate Wars continue to rage.  In Washington, EPA Director Scott Pruitt has been driven from office, supposedly over a series of ethical issues.  All of them seemed exceedingly debatable and insignificant to me.  On the other hand, Pruitt must have known that the full force of the environmental left was gunning for him, so there was no excuse for errors, however minor.   Pruitt will be succeeded by Andrew Wheeler, another professed climate change skeptic.

Perhaps this is a good time to take stock of where things are going on the "climate change" front.  Have you noticed that the whole climate issue seems to have mostly disappeared from the news lately?  That could only mean one thing:  the latest information does not fit the preferred narrative.  Let's look at the news that you won't be finding in the New York Times or on CNN.

Under the Paris Climate Agreement, the main designated victims are the U.S., EU, Canada and Australia.  You know that the EU (with a few exceptions like Poland) is going along because it is consumed with guilt, and the U.S. has now said it's out; but how about Canada and Australia?  Here's the latest from those places:

  • In Canada, the province of Ontario (Canada's largest, with nearly 40% of the population) has just elected a new Premier, a guy named Doug Ford.  Ford's predecessor, Kathleen Wynne, had put through a so-called "cap-and-trade" scheme, designed to reduce carbon emissions by raising the price of energy, comparable to the similar scheme in place in California, and to another one proposed by President Obama for the U.S. but not enacted by Congress.  In one of his first acts as the new Premier, Ford has entirely scrapped the scheme.  From the Toronto Sun, July 3:  

    Cap and trade, a carbon tax by another name, raises prices on goods and services rather than the taxes on them.  “Every cent from the cap-and-trade slush fund is money that has been taken out of the pockets of Ontario families and businesses,”  Ford said in a written statement, adding he was fulfilling his election promise to scrap the Liberals’ “cash grab” designed to fund “big government programs” that “do nothing for the environment.  We believe that this money belongs back in the pockets of people,” Ford said.

  • In Australia, support for mandatory carbon emissions reductions schemes appears to be rapidly waning.  Although the current Liberal government (we would call them conservatives) of PM Malcolm Turnbull has not yet pulled the plug on all the restrictions, former PM Tony Abbott, who remains a member of Parliament and a strong voice in the governing party, continues to speak out forcefully about the insanity of carbon restriction policies.  On Tuesday (July 3) Abbott delivered a lecture in honor of prominent Australian climate skeptic Bob Carter (recently deceased).  The text of the lecture is available on Abbott's website here.  Key excerpts:   

    As the business leaders in Canberra last week to discuss energy policy made crystal clear, we cannot go on as we are.

    A few weeks back, high demand on cold days, next-to-no renewable energy, and planned and unplanned outages in ageing NSW power plants meant that the wholesale power price spiked to $14,000 a megawatt-hour and the Tomago aluminium smelter was forced to stop three times in a week.

    As the Tomago head said, you can’t run a smelter on weather dependent power, and you can’t run one on base-load gas either because it’s too expensive.

    But this is our future – under the National Energy Guarantee – because the emissions reduction requirement means more wind and less coal; and the reliability requirement means more gas and more “demand management”. . . .  If we surrender our main comparative economic advantage, cheap power, in what turns out to be a mere gesture because total emissions keep increasing and other countries have either made no commitments to cuts or don’t keep them – future generations will judge this one very harshly indeed.

And in the New York Times?  They seem to have mostly stopped covering the whole subject of climate.  Well, there is the exception of the op-ed by Lauren Markham on June 29, headlined "A Warming World Creates Desperate People."   The subject of the op-ed is Guatemala, source of many claimed refugees heading north to the U.S.  Ms. Markham seeks to pin the blame for the flood of refugees not on economics, not on violence or crime, but mostly on climate.

[T]here’s another, lesser-known dimension to this migration. Drought and rising temperatures in Guatemala are making it harder for people to make a living or even survive, thus compounding the already tenuous political situation for the 16.6 million people who live there. . . .  The hundreds of migrants I’ve interviewed in the past few years — whether from Gambia, Pakistan, El Salvador, Guatemala, Yemen or Eritrea — are most often leaving because of some acute political problem at home. But I’ve also noticed something else in my years of reporting. If you talk to these migrants long enough, you’ll hear about another, more subtle but still profound dimension to the problems they are leaving behind: environmental degradation or climate change.

Really???  Of Course, Ms. Markham's article contains no actual data on temperatures or rainfall in Guatemala over the past several years.  In a couple of hours of googling today, I wasn't able to find anything to substantiate that there has been a severe drought in Guatemala, at least not anything severe enough to make it impossible or even difficult to grow crops.  Same for drastically rising temperatures.  To put things in context, here is average climate data from the World Bank for Guatemala City for the period 1901 - 2015.  Average high temperatures range from about 21 deg C (about 70 deg F) in January, to about 25 deg C (about 77 deg F) in May.  Wait a minute!  That's just about perfect!  Could it really be that "rising temperatures" are making it hard to "even survive"?  This is quite preposterous.  OK then, it must be the drought.  But it looks from the same data that Guatemala City gets around 2600 mm of rain per year.  That's over 100 inches -- it's tropical rain forest territory.  In a "drought" where you got only half of normal rainfall for years running, you'd still be getting well more rain than just about anywhere in the U.S.

For comparison, the rainfall in the most productive agricultural area of the U.S. -- the Central Valley of California -- ranges from a high of about 20 inches per year, all the way down to about 5 inches per year in some areas.