“CO2-guzzling bacteria made in the lab could help tackle climate change”

Bacteria have been rewired to live off carbon dioxide and they could be used to produce biofuels in a more sustainable way. Specific strains of Escherichia coli bacteria (E.Coli) are often used to make biofuels and other chemicals, but they normally feed on sugar. Ron Milo at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and his colleagues have managed to make E. coli consume CO2 instead.

The researchers added genes to the E. coli genome for an enzyme that converts atmospheric CO2 to biomass and deleted genes needed for sugar metabolism. They then left the bacteria for several months in the lab. After 200 days, they found that the microbes had successfully evolved to grow without needing sugar for food.

Source: New Scientist

What if the original E.Coli population was limited by presence of sugar and the new strain no longer has constraints on population growth?

But they didn’t delete any other genes (characteristics) of E.Coli…

Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should-Jurassic Park

What is E. coli?

E. coli (Escherichia coli) are a group of bacteria that are found in the gut of nearly all people and animals. There are many different strains of E. coli. Some cause no illness at all. Others cause minor illness, and yet others cause serious illness.

Minor illnesses caused by E. coli: Some strains of E. coli cause a range of minor illnesses including: traveller’s diarrhoea and food poisoning, both of which can cause diarrhoea, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting.

Serious illnesses caused by E. coli:
Some strains of E. coli cause serious illnesses such as:

  • pneumonia
  • meningitis in newborn babies
  • inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis)

Source: healthdirect

Why are scientists trying to emulate a function performed by the entire plant kingdom?

What Is Photosynthesis?

Photosynthetic cells are found in green plants, phytoplankton, and cyanobacteria. During the process of photosynthesis, cells use carbon dioxide and energy from the Sun to make sugar molecules and oxygen. These sugar molecules are the basis for more complex molecules made by the photosynthetic cell, such as glucose.

The building and breaking of carbon-based material — from carbon dioxide to complex organic molecules (photosynthesis) then back to carbon dioxide (respiration) — is part of what is commonly called the global carbon cycle.

Photosynthesis doesn’t just drive the carbon cycle — it also creates the oxygen necessary for respiring organisms.

Source: Nature.com

Wealthier people produce more carbon pollution — even the “green” ones

Green intentions are swamped by wealth Moser and Kleinhückelkotten set out to test these results by examining detailed data gathered by a survey of about 1,000 representative Germans, done in 2016 for the German Environment Agency. (More on that survey here. There is obviously some question how well the results translate to other countries, but in this domain Germany seems at least like a decent analogue for the US — wealthy and greenish.) They found a stark confirmation of previous research. First, “envir

Green intentions are swamped by wealth

‘Impact-oriented’ research [shows] that the primary determinant of a person’s actual ecological footprint is income. After that is geography (rural versus urban), various socioeconomic indicators (age, education level, etc.), and household size. Self-identification as ‘green’ is toward the bottom of the list, with mostly marginal effects.

Moser and Kleinhückelkotten set out to test these results …

‘Environmental self-identity did not predict overall energy use or carbon footprint’. In fact, energy use and carbon footprints were slightly higher among self-identified greenies.


The variables that most predict carbon footprint are ‘per capita living space, energy used for household appliances, meat consumption, car use, and vacation travel’. And wealthy people — even those who self-identify as green — consume more and do more of all those things.

Basically, research shows that ‘Environmental identity’ rarely drives serious reductions in the biggest sources of lifestyle emissions. Environmental self-identification rises with income, but so do emissions.

Source: Vox

Aunty’s climate of panic… and meetings

Journalists at the ABC awoke to an 8.51am email from Melbourne executive producer Barbara Heggen on Sunday, inquiring after “interest in an ABC-staff climate crisis advisory group”. The aim of this new group, Heggen wrote, would be to “gather together the brains trust of the ABC staffers to develop ways to report on and inform Australians about the climate crisis using a solutions journalism approach” and “to report back to ABC management our ideas and strategies for responding to the climat

Source: The Age

Venice’s mayor blames climate change for devastating second-highest flood in city’s history

The mayor of Venice has blamed climate change for severe flooding in the historic Italian canal city reaching the second-highest levels ever recorded, with financial costs expected to run to hundreds of millions of euros.

Source: ABC News

Of course, ABC ‘journalists’ failed to conduct the most rudimentary verification of this claim.

Still sinking?

[A] new study, detailed in the March 28 issue of the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, used a combination of measurement techniques that provided data on both the absolute and relative shifts in elevation of the area, along with GPS measurements and space-borne radar (InSAR) data.

The team … found that the city of Venice was subsiding on average about 1 to 2 millimeters a year. The patches of land in Venice’s lagoon (117 islands in all) are also sinking, with northern sections of the lagoon dropping at a rate of 2 to 3 mm per year, and the southern lagoon subsiding at 3 to 4 mm per year.

What’s causing the sinking?

The forces causing the subsidence now are likely natural ones that have been impacting the area for a long time, particularly plate tectonics. The Adriatic plate, on which Venice sits, is subducting beneath the Apennines Mountains and causing the city and its environs to drop slightly in elevation. The compaction of the sediments beneath Venice also remains a factor.

Source: Live Science

Claim: “Amazon rainforest dangerously close to irreversible ‘tipping point'”[1]

“Monica de Bolle, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, ‘calculates’ that if the current rate of deforestation is maintained over the next few years and government policy failure continues, that’s when the world-renowned [Amazon] rainforest will reach tipping point. In her policy brief that states the Amazon is a ‘carbon bomb’ the world needs to avoid setting off, she outlines how the fires in Brazil represent a government policy failure over many years, with Brazilian public agencies that are supposed to curb man-made fires ‘deliberately weakened’.

She said in keeping with his ‘far-right’ nationalist campaign promises, President Jair Bolsonaro’s government has intentionally backed away from efforts to combat climate change and preserve the environment, which has emboldened farmers, loggers, and other players to engage in predatory activities in the rainforest”.

Source: News.com.au

The story is accompanied by the usual J-curve ‘tipping point’ chart. The blue line shows actual deforestation while the red line shows projected deforestation according to the quoted source.

The picture is captioned:
Picture: Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE)[actual] and author’s calculations[projected]

Blue: INPE (actual) data,
Red: Author’s ‘calculations’

Bolle goes on to claim that the Amazon is a ‘carbon bomb’.

The trees of the Amazon store 60 billion to 80 billion tonnes of carbon.

“The rainforest is often wrongly called ‘the lungs of the world’”, de Bolle said.

“It stores carbon, but that is not what fights climate change. It would be more apt to describe it as a ‘carbon bomb’”.

“Setting fire to the forest for deforestation may release as much as 200 million tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere a year, which would spur climate change at a much faster rate, not to mention associated changes in rainfall patterns that may result from deforestation”.

This is fake on several counts:

  • The process of carbon release from deforestation is linear – there is no compounding effect which would allow the use of the term ‘tipping point’
  • The ‘carbon’ stored in the Amazon has been inflated. In fact, “the rate of carbon capture in mangroves ‘is an order of magnitude higher than rainforests'[2]
  • The rate of deforestation in the Amazon is *declining* according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research(INPE)[3]
    Year Change(sqkm) Cover(%1970)
    2000 18,226 87.9%
    2005 19,014 85.4%
    2010 7,000 83.7%
    2015 6,207 83.3%
    2018 7,900 82.7%
  • Reforestation is not taken into account
  • The increase in deforestation is fake. In fact, the rate of deforestaion is decreasing.


  1. “Warnings over ‘carbon bomb’ Amazon’s dangerous tipping point” – News.com.au
  2. “Local Wetlands more of a Climate Change Powerhouse than the Amazon” – National Geographic
  3. “Deforestation Figures for the Amazon” – Mongabay.com
  4. “Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest” – Wikipedia

Cooper Energy weighs climate change risk and rewards

“The increasing role of gas represents a significant opportunity for Cooper Energy to contribute to emission reduction.

‘This is the outcome of both the anticipated increase in global demand for gas as the world transitions to a less carbon intensive energy system and the forecast increasing gas supply-demand imbalance in south-eastern Australia’. The report describes natural gas as ‘by far the cleanest of the fossil fuels’.

Cooper Energy cites forecast growth in global demand for gas of 43% between 2017 and 2040, under the IEA ‘New Policies’ scenario.

‘Even the more radical IEA Sustainable Development Scenario, designed with a view to limiting warming to under two degrees Celsius, and which envisages no change in overall primary energy demand between 2017 and 2040, anticipates global gas demand growing by 11% by 2025 and flattening after that through to 2040′.

…the company is well placed to both contribute to emissions reduction and to benefit as society moves to lower carbon power sources, particularly gas’.

Source: Indaily.com.au

The picture shows the location of Cooper Energy in Cooper Basin.
Across the border in Victoria, gas exploration is banned. That means:

  • Victoria is ignoring its own gas reserves (a massive opportunity)
  • Victoria will have to import gas ANYWAY
  • Victoria will need to pay for import infrastructure for gas or reliable electricity
  • Victoria’s energy costs will be higher
  • Victoria needs fast-start gas turbines ANYWAY to back up unreliable ‘renewable’ windfarms
  • Victoria can expect blackouts before the Labor party finally gets a clue

Summary: Instead of gas being a huge revenue opportunity for Victoria, it will become a cost. Victorian businesses will leave. Jobs will be lost

Environmental Impacts of Natural Gas

Natural gas emits 50-60% less CO2 when combusted in a new, efficient natural gas power plant compared with emissions from a typical new coal plant[1]. Considering only tailpipe emissions, natural gas also emits 15 to 20 percent less heat-trapping gases than gasoline when burned in today’s typical vehicle[2].

If burning natural gas in vehicles is to deliver even marginal benefits, methane losses must be kept below 1 percent and 1.6 percent compared with diesel fuel and gasoline, respectively.

Source: Union of Concerned Scientists

[1] Cost and Performance Baseline for Fossil Energy Plants Volume 1: Bituminous Coal and Natural Gas to Electricity. Source: NETL (National Energy Technical laboratory)

[2] Find a car: Compare side-by-side.
Source: ANL (Argonne National Laboratory)


‘Dams don’t make rain’: Daniel Andrews defends drought policy

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has declared that “dams don’t make it rain”, defending his government’s policy of refusing to increase the state’s water storage capacity as he announced more than $31.5m in drought relief funding for Victorian farmers.

Mr Andrews travelled to the Gippsland town of Bairnsdale in Victoria’s east on Wednesday to announce the package, which will include grants for farming families, farm infrastructure, business planning, mental health support, and help for farmers to earn off-farm income.

Asked to respond to calls for his government to invest in dams, Mr Andrews told ABC radio: “Well dams don’t make it rain”.

“Most farmers will tell you that”, Mr Andrews said.

“There are a number of infrastructure projects when it comes to water that are worthy and important and we should get on with them, not be diverted into these silly political debates, instead provide real action and practical support to those who are doing it really tough”.

Source: The Australian

Infrastructure projects eh?

Foreigners scoop renewable energy windfalls

Foreign entities will clean up under Victoria’s ‘renewable’ energy target and reverse auction program, with new analysis showing foreign companies make up five of the six funded by the program and about 96 per cent of the generation capacity. Premier Daniel Andrews last month promised Victoria would emerge as Australia’s ‘capital of renewable energy’ as he unveiled a plan to underwrite six new wind and solar farms in the state, generating enough electricity to power up to 650,000 homes. As the Andrews government continues to duck questions over the cost of the program, energy advocates have argued that the bulk of economic contribution from six newly announced solar and wind farms is going overseas.

Australian Power Project chief executive Nathan Vass said taxpayers would be forced to effectively ‘pay twice’ for the program — once when they pay their electricity bill and again through government support of the companies running the solar and wind farms. ‘Australian industry won’t get much of a benefit from this deal’, Mr Vass told The Australian. ‘This will only help manufacturing jobs in China, Europe or the US where most wind turbine and solar panel manufacturers are based’.

State Environment and Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio defended the government investment, saying the new wind and solar farms would create jobs, while local content requirements would stimulate local industries.

The new windfarm assembly facility in Geelong – at the old Ford factory – employs 70 people. How people were employed in the Ford factory?

Source: The Australian

Victorian consumers might ‘only’ have to pay twice but NSW Consumers will have to pay 3 times or more:

  1. Electricity bill
  2. Taxpayer funded subsidies for ‘renewable’ energy
  3. Higher prices to pay for ‘Renewable’ Energy certificates
  4. Higher prices to pay for gas turbines
  5. Loss of business and jobs due to blackouts
  6. Capital costs of base load coal-fired power stations which provide backup to the ACT and Victoria

History of Windmills in Holland

Until the year 1400 AD, Holland consisted of wetlands, swamps and marshes separated from the sea by a belt of dunes. Villages were often destroyed by ravaging floods. In 1421, in a particular bad flood, over 70 villages were washed away and thousands of people drowned. Sea defenses were put up, dams were built and windmills were used to drain the lakes, swamps and wetlands. This dramatically improved living standards. Over the years, more and larger windmills were built and their water-lifting capacity increased. In the 16th century, due to design changes, windmills were used for several different purposes, such as for the production of oil, paper and to saw timber. Saw mills played an important role in the shipbuilding industry, enabling the construction of massive fleets and wth these ships, Holland was able to dominate world trade during the 17th century, known as the ‘Dutch Golden Age’.

Source: TheTravelingDutchman.com

Q. Will history repeat in Victoria?
A. Unlikely.

  • Victoria’s windfarms are built far from water, so they can’t be used to store potential energy
  • Victoria’s Premier refuses to build any dams. He claims that the dams will never fill anyway.
  • But he claims the Windfarms are spawning a new ‘Golden Age’ in Victoria where a vehicle plant at Geelong, which once employed thousands of people is now assembling windfarms using imported components.
  • Victoria has an annual trade deficit of $54b. It won’t become a trading nation while it keeps its wealth underground and imports the energy it needs, both gas and electricity.
  • The Dutch were resourceful and overcame adversity with their ingenuity. Victorians voted for Daniel Andrews.

Climate Change: Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

“The global average atmospheric carbon dioxide in 2018 was 407.4 parts per million (ppm for short), with a range of uncertainty of plus or minus 0.1 ppm. Carbon dioxide levels today are higher than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years.

Source: NOAA Climate.gov

This chart accompanies the claim(numbered red boxes added):

Statistical fallacies employed:

  1. “Correlation is not causation”:
    CO2 levels are interesting but correlation may be coincidental or the cause-effect relationship might be the reverse, i.e. temperature might cause CO2 to increase. The Climate system is complex and there are other significant variables influencing global temperature, atmospheric water vapour for instance and Milankovitch cycles.
  2. “Cherry-picking data”:
    The chart of the last 600 million years (below) shows that today’s CO2 levels are low relative to levels the longer timeframe.
  3. “Omitting the baseline”
    The Y-axis starts at 150. This is a case of “Graph manipulation”
  4. “Amplifying the Y-axis”.
    For the period which is cherry-picked, the maximum is 400 ppm (that is 0.04% of the atmosphere). CO2 levels have been 10 times that concentration in earth’s history.

The following chart:

  1. Shows both Temperature and CO2 levels.
    If there is any correlation, it isn’t obvious.
  2. There appears to be correlation for the most recent 50m years – but that could be coincidental
  3. The baseline is zero for CO2
  4. Showing the full range of CO2 levels (up to 7000 ppm), today’s levels of 400 ppm are not high

Source: JoNova

The 800,000 years shown in the first chart is about 1.3% of the Tertiary period at the right, less than 1 pixel width of the above chart.

The Corals which are supposedly jeopardised by ‘Climate Change’ survived 543m years, or most of the above chart. Thanks, JoNova!