Tuesday, February 12, 2019

GWPF Newsletter: The Oldest Eco-Scare Goes Up In Smoke








Green Madness: UK Government Accused Of Killing Shale Revolution

In this newsletter:

1) The Oldest Eco-Scare Goes Up In Smoke
Lyman Stone, The Wall Street Journal, 7 February 2019
 

2) Germany Alone To Control Russian Gas Pipeline As France Caves In
EU Observer, 8 February 2019

3) Geoscientists Call On UK Government To Relax Fracking Regulations
The Times, 9 February 2019 

4) Green Madness: UK Government Accused Of Killing Shale Revolution
The Sun, 11 February 2019

5) Compare & Contrast: Indian Govt Asks Firms To Expedite Efforts To Establish Shale Oil & Gas Potential
Reuters, 10 February 2019

6) Jason Pye: The Green New Deal Is A Communist Manifesto, 21st Century
RealClearMarkets, 9 February 2019

Full details:

1) The Oldest Eco-Scare Goes Up In Smoke
Lyman Stone, The Wall Street Journal, 7 February 2019
 
Governments stoke fears about overpopulation, but the reality is that fertility rates are falling faster than most experts can readily explain.


PHOTO: ARTUR WIDAK/NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES 

Is a dangerous population explosion imminent? For decades we’ve been told so by scientific elites, starting with the Club of Rome reports in the 1970s. But in their compelling book “Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline,” Canadian social scientist Darrell Bricker and journalist John Ibbitson lay out the opposite case: “The great defining event of the twenty-first century,” they say, “will occur in three decades, give or take, when the global population starts to decline. Once that decline begins, it will never end.”

Their book is a vital warning to the world that the risks associated with population have been catastrophically misread: Governments and activists have spent decades fighting the specter of overpopulation, but now face the looming demographic calamity of global population collapse. Fewer people participating in the economy will mean slower economic growth, less entrepreneurship, rising inequality and calamitous government debt.

Pulling examples from extensive on-the-ground research in settings as disparate as São Paulo favelas, Seoul universities and Nairobi businesses, the authors combine a mastery of social-science research with enough journalistic flair to convince fair-minded readers of a simple fact: Fertility is falling faster than most experts can readily explain, driven by persistent forces. In Brazil and China astonishing numbers of women opt for permanent sterilization well before the end of their fertile years (half of Chinese couples take this route). In South Korea and Japan women delay childbirth until their 30s or forgo it altogether. There even has been an unexpected collapse in fertility among Hispanics in the United States: They, like most of America’s other ethnic groups, now have below-replacement birth rates. The drivers of global fertility decline are here to stay.

So why exactly is everyone still worried about the opposite problem? The authors pin the blame on faulty assumptions by the population establishment, as represented by the U.N. Population Division. They don’t use the United States as an example, but I will: The U.N.’s most recent population forecasts suggest that the average U.S. total fertility rate from 2015 to 2020 should be 1.9 children per woman. In reality, CDC data shows U.S. fertility has averaged about 1.8 children per woman from 2015 to 2018. In 2019, early indications are that fertility will probably be nearer 1.7 children per woman.

Never mind their being reliable for long-run forecasts, the U.N. fertility estimates are 5% to 10% off even in the present. As Messrs. Bricker and Ibbitson point out, U.N. forecasts are substantially out-of-step with existing data from many countries, including China, India and Brazil. As a result of these mistakes, the most widely used population benchmarks in the world are probably wrong. The future will have far fewer people than the U.N. suggests; perhaps billions fewer.

“Empty Planet” succeeds as a long-overdue skewering of population-explosion fearmongers. But the book seems more confused about what should be done. The authors, for instance, repeatedly assert that falling fertility is a consequence of women’s empowerment: In virtually every country where gender equality improved in the last 50 years, fertility rates declined correspondingly. Yet at the same time, Messrs. Bricker and Ibbitson seem to argue that greater gender equality will increase fertility. “Maybe a third child won’t set back [a woman’s] career,” they write, “because [her partner] throws himself into parenting every bit as much as she does.”

There are many reasons to work for greater gender equality, but this is not one of them. Surveys of women’s fertility desires show that women in rich countries uniformly have fewer children than they say they desire: If we lived in a society where women had perfect control of their own reproduction, fertility would be higher, not lower. But rich countries are precisely the ones with the most gender equality—so there is no reason to think that gender equality is associated with more women achieving their fertility goals.

A similar confusion afflicts the authors’ vision for how to fight population decline. The authors (correctly) write that “immigrants may soon be hard to come by. Fertility is declining everywhere, even in the poorest countries. And incomes are rising in nations that once were very poor, decreasing the incentive to leave.” The implication? Migrant-receiving countries will be less able in the future to depend on immigration for population growth.

Of course, there are plenty of immigrants today to prop up growth, and the authors sensibly suggest the U.S. should adopt a Canadian-style merit-based system—letting in more people, but with selective standards. But then the authors go on to worry that, by giving in to “nativist, anti-immigrant sentiments,” the United States of America “will throw away the very tool that has been the secret to its greatness.”

And while immigration policy certainly will play a role in the country’s adaptations to population decline, the authors overestimate its importance. How can it be that immigration is likely to decline no matter what, but that the only policy lever worth commenting on is immigration? “Empty Planet” would have benefited from more pages devoted to the possibilities of pro-natal policymaking. If we admit more immigrants but have no fertility increase, our demographic bubble-bursting will only be postponed. And when the bubble does pop, population decline will be even steeper. The long-run population future for a large country like the United States will always, as a matter of arithmetic, rest on the fertility of its residents.

Full post (and comments)

2) Germany Alone To Control Russian Gas Pipeline As France Caves In
EU Observer, 8 February 2019

Germany alone will decide whether to enforce EU law on its new gas pipeline with Russia, after France caved in during last-minute talks on the issue.

The legal regime to be imposed on the pipeline, called Nord Stream 2, will come from the “territory and territorial sea of the member state [Germany] where the first interconnection point is located”, EU diplomats agreed in Brussels on Friday (8 February).

Previous wording of the new law on offshore pipelines had said EU single market rules had to be applied on the “territorial sea of the member states”.

The redacted wording meant European laws would have automatically covered all offshore pipelines in EU seas.

That would have forced Russian firm Gazprom to surrender its monopoly on Nord Stream 2, destabilising the project’s business model.

It would also have legally barred Russia from using it to impose gas cut-offs on Western states, such as Poland and Ukraine, in its neighbourhood.

Leaving Germany the option whether or not to impose the EU laws on Nord Stream 2 might see Gazprom keep its monopoly.

But a spokesman for French president Emmanuel Macron said Friday’s compromise still meant there was “European control”.

“The dependence on Russian gas worries us. For that reason, it is important to us to ensure European control so that this dependence does not increase,” he said in Paris.

“There is no French-German crisis,” he added.

“Regarding the gas directive, we have reached an agreement and this was possible because Germany and France worked closely together,” German chancellor Angela Merkel said the same day in Berlin.

The compromise was a climb-down for France, which had indicated on Thursday that it would back the tougher wording on automatic EU rules on offshore pipes.

Full story

3) Geoscientists Call On UK Government To Relax Fracking Regulations
The Times, 9 February 2019 

Almost 50 geoscientists have urged the government to commission an urgent review of the fracking earthquake limit, which they suggest should be raised to allow the industry to expand.

They say that the scientific rationale of the 0.5 magnitude limit before fracking must cease is debatable. They call for a “realistic regulatory framework”.

The letter to the Times, signed by 49 scientists, will increase pressure on the government to accede to the fracking industry’s demand for a review of the limit. The business department repeated this week that it had no plans to review the limit despite Cuadrilla and Ineos both saying that fracking would not be viable unless it was raised.

Cuadrilla resumed fracking in October after a seven-year hiatus and was forced to stop six times over the next two months after breaching the limit at a site in Lancashire. The interruptions meant that it was unable to pump enough sand down the well to hold open tiny fractures in the rock through which gas flows.

The letter says the limit is “very far below the levels set in other countries, or for other comparable industries in the UK (such as quarrying, mining and deep geothermal energy). It is widely believed by industry, and among informed academics, to be so low that it threatens the potential development of a shale gas industry in the UK.”

In the US the limit is 2.7 to 4.5 depending on the state, although fracking often takes place in less populated areas. The Richter scale is logarithmic, meaning a magnitude 4 tremor is 3,162 times higher than magnitude 0.5. The strongest of the earthquakes caused by Cuadrilla was 1.5.

Under the government’s “traffic-light system” for fracking, pumping has to proceed at a reduced rate after a tremor below 0.5 and stop for 18 hours after one of 0.5 or above.

The letter, co-ordinated by Professor Quentin Fisher of Leeds University and Professor Ernest Rutter of the University of Manchester, concludes: “We urge the government to instruct the Oil and Gas Authority to commission an expert review of the present traffic-light system threshold levels without delay.”

The scientists note that when the limit was set in 2012 the government said that it would be subject to review as experience of fracking developed.

Professor Rutter said: “When the traffic-light system was first developed, there was limited UK data available upon which to base it. That has now changed, and there is a wealth of new data available specific to our geology.”

Full story

4) Green Madness: UK Government Accused Of Killing Shale Revolution
The Sun, 11 February 2019

THE GOVERNMENT has been accused of killing the fracking revolution by forcing drilling firms to suspend work over tiny tremors.








It comes after a group of 49 scientists urged ministers to urgently review the fracking earthquake limit.

Current rules force fracking firms to stop drilling if tremors reach 0.5 on the Richter scale.

Professor Quentin Fisher, of Leeds University, joined calls to loosen the current threshold in a letter published by The Times on Saturday.

Yesterday he hit out against Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth for spreading “nonsense” claims about the industry.

Prof Fisher told The Sun: “To me it’s totally killing the industry, I find it really difficult to imagine how it can go forward with such low limits.

“The limits are just way below any other industry, both in the UK and equivalent industries abroad.

“The levels at the moment can’t even be felt.”

Ministers have refused to loosen up the current limits amid a wave of protests from anti-fracking campaigners.

Prof Fisher added: “There’s been a lot of really negative publicity from groups such as Greenpeace and Friends Of The Earth who are frankly just telling massive untruths which has scared the local population.

“Talking about things like water pollution when there’s absolutely no chance of it.

“The Environment Agency don’t even let people drill through places where there’s drinking water.

“I think there’s a general scaremongering about seismicity.”

Prof Fisher said Britain could stop relying on the likes of Qatar and Norway for gas imports if the fracking industry is allowed to expand.

Lee Petts, chair of pro-fracking group Lancashire For Shale, said the shale gas industry could potentially create 64,000 jobs and a £33 billion supply chain in the UK.

He added: “All of that is at risk if it’s so constrained that it can’t progress from where it is today to commercial production.

“Our government has got to recognise that.

“Last year the House of Lords select committee produced a report that said post-Brexit the UK could be more vulnerable to energy outages and supply disruption in the event of extreme weather.

“Now is not the time to be holding back a new energy industry that could offset some of those problems and dependency on EU imports.”

Full post

5) Compare & Contrast: Indian Govt Asks Firms To Expedite Efforts To Establish Shale Oil & Gas Potential
Reuters, 10 February 2019

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India is looking to expedite discovery efforts to establish the country’s shale oil and gas potential and has asked companies to submit a plan, two industry sources said on Sunday.

In late 2013, India gave rights to Oil and Natural Gas Corp Ltd to explore for shale oil and gas reserves. However, after years of exploratory reserves, it has failed to find significant resources.

In January, India’s oil and gas regulator Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) held a meeting with representatives from various private and government companies to urge them to pursue shale resources in the oil and gas blocks already held by them, a source at the regulator said.

“The idea is to bring shale on the map of India or just close the chapter once and for all within three years,” an executive from one of the companies who attended the meeting said.

Full story

6) Jason Pye: The Green New Deal Is A Communist Manifesto, 21st Century
RealClearMarkets, 9 February 2019

A 21st-century take on Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ Communist Manifesto was introduced in the form of a nonbinding resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

The resolution effectively does nothing other than express the sense that Congress should pass a so-called “Green New Deal” whose wholly unattainable goals would almost certainly wreak havoc on the economy and drive the United States further into debt.

The term “insane” understates how bad the ideas presented in this resolution really are. Both the Green New Deal resolution and the FAQ document released with it read like something concocted in a drunken haze in a college dorm room. Although it’s certainly imaginative, it’s not remotely close to serious public policy. Perhaps that explains why Rep. Ocasio-Cortez removed the documents from her congressional website.

Although the resolution isn’t a serious public policy proposal, conservatives and libertarians do need to take it seriously. Why? Because this is how far to the left the Democratic Party has drifted. Although some wave the banner of “democratic socialism,” others who share socialist ideals avoid the label that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez claims by identifying as “progressives” who support green policies. When one peels back the initial layer of green, the same tired and failed ideas of socialism are there.

The resolution begins with basic findings. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey take the most recent report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as though it was handed down from God to Moses on Mount Sinai on stone tablets. Although humans do contribute to climate change, many of the IPCC’s previous claims have been proven wrong. Remember, it was just 2007 when the IPCC warned that the world had only eight years to avoid the worst effects of climate change. The most recent report, released in October 2018, claims that we have 12 years to avoid the worst of climate change. When proven inaccurate, just move the goalposts.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey complain that the United States is “responsible for a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gas emissions, having emitted 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions through 2014.” Well, during periods of increased prosperity, emissions have been higher. Emissions have declined during periods of slow growth and recessions. As recently as 2017, the United States saw a decline in greenhouse gas emissions.

Eventually, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey offer a long list of things Congress should do in a so-called “Green New Deal.” The resolution is chock full of policy recommendations that radical environmentalists have long demanded. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey want the United States to “achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions” by eliminating fossil fuels. The Green New Deal FAQs document also states that the United States should also eliminate nuclear energy, although the resolution itself doesn’t include such language.

The goal of this aspect of the Green New Deal is to transition the economy to renewable energy. If that sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. Under the Paris Agreement, from which the United States withdrew, Americans were expected to see $2.5 trillion in lost gross domestic product (GDP), the loss of some 400,000 jobs, and an increase in energy costs between 13 and 20 percent. On top of that, the U.S. has led the world in carbon emissions reduction since withdrawing from the agreement. The difference between the Paris Agreement and the Green New Deal is that the Paris Agreement, by comparison, wouldn’t have been nearly as economically destructive.

Full post

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

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