Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A must-read

There is a HUGE article here by an atmospheric physicist called: "The Great Global Warming Hoax?". I am almost inclined to put nothing else up here today in order to encourage people to have a look at it. But I won't do that, of course. There are so many other interesting comments to take note of. See below:

The South African example: A warning

An email from Will Alexander []. He says that the mismanaged South African electricity supply gives a picture of what Greenie attacks on power generation could lead to in other countries:

The following are extracts from a front page article in the Pretoria News of 14 March. They describe the action that the South African authorities intend taking to reduce our national electricity demand by 10 %. These measures are likely to continue for the next five years at least.


The gloves are off in the battle to get South Africans to cut electricity consumption. Eskom yesterday announced far reaching load shedding implications to force key industrial, commercial and municipal customers to reduce power usage ahead of the unpredictable winter period.

Eskom chief executive Jacob Maroga said the power utility would introduce power rationing, which involves scheduled load shedding for consumers who cannot prove that they reduced power consumption by the targeted 10% - a total of 3000 megawatts across the board.

The new power rationing phase will be introduced on March 31. Rotational load shedding [on a municipal basis] will occur between 6am and 10pm, for no more than two hours on average, every second day. Maroga said their aim was to get power consumption stabilised through penalties, monetary incentives and power conservation.

He was hoping that the planned increase in electricity costs and power rationing would change consumer's behaviour. He said the system had stabilized since January's extensive load shedding process but he could not rule out a national blackout because the system was "vulnerable".

Eskom also plans emergency load shedding (which is determined by its capacity and system), pre-emptive load shedding (done to enforce savings and reduction in consumption) and power conservation. Power conservation will entail penalties and sanctions for exceeding the allocated quota for energy consumption and incentives for saving energy.

"This is a steep target but we are asking South Africans to take an uncomfortable stance" said Maroga.

Given this information, how can any sane person believe that it is politically feasible for any country in the world to enforce similar action on all energy users, especially domestic users, with the sole purpose of reducing undesirable greenhouse gas emissions in situations where alternative sources of energy other than nuclear, are not available on the required scale?


The IPCC has been in existence for 20 years. Yet there is still no scientifically believable evidence of the claimed adverse consequences of human activities. In South Africa alone there have been no floods or droughts during this period that exceeded the historical maxima. Claims of increased desertification and loss of our unique plant and animal species are demonstrably false. Sea levels are not rising along our coasts. Yet as a result of rising populations African nations are increasingly vulnerable to natural climatic extremes. Blaming these extremes on human activities and proclaiming that they are therefore avoidable is false and misleading. This in turn can lead to increasing political instability in African countries when disasters occur and governments are blamed for doing nothing to avoid them.


South Africa has become the first nation in the world to suffer the consequences of large scale energy reduction measures and the unintended, consequential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Our experience serves as a good example of three major fallacies in the whole climate change issue. The first is that propagated in the Stern Review. According to the Review, the costs of not taking action to reduce emissions will exceed the costs of implementing them. The South African experience demonstrates the opposite. All levels of our society are suffering economically from these restrictive measures while there is not a scrap of evidence of adverse economical or environmental consequences if our activities had continued without interruption.

The second fallacy is that affluent developed nations would be prepared to assist developing countries technologically and financially to implement emissions control measures. This would neither resolve South Africa's present difficulties nor reduce our future contribution to adverse global climate change.

The third fallacy is that of adaptation to the consequences of unnatural climate changes. How can South Africa adapt to something that does not exist and is unlikely to occur in future? Not a single one of the alarmist predictions for southern Africa in the Stern Review and the IPCC reports is based on routine data published by the responsible authorities.

Underlying all three fallacies is the failure to appreciate that national scale emissions control measures have severe adverse effects on all levels of society in situations where coal is the major source of energy and carbon capture technology on the required scale does not exist.


While all this is going on, our roads are becoming increasingly congested, our international airports are being expanded, new national airports are on the drawing boards, our unique oil-from-coal manufacturing facilities are being expanded, new open cast coal mines are being developed, and our coal exports are increasing. Above all, the construction of new coal-fired power stations is being accelerated as a matter of urgency. No large scale emissions control measures are contemplated. All of this puts us on a collision course with the UNFCCC, G8 nations and environmentalist pressure groups who blindly believe in unproven climate alarmist theory and the means to combat it.


Many of us with broader visions are increasingly concerned that an unstable situation is developing internationally. This could result in trade wars and east-west conflicts with Africa in the middle. It is only a matter of time before this whole climate change charade is exposed. It will be interesting to see how the EU and UK in particular extricate themselves from this situation. They will not only lose face, but also lose international faith in their integrity and motives.

Book Review: "Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of 'Energy Independence'" by Robert Bryce

I no longer question my sanity. Robert Bryce's book, Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of "Energy Independence," provides THE much needed voice of reason in a cacophony of idiocy, ignorance, ideology, and isolationism.

I have been an energy policy wonk in Washington, DC for over 25 years, even founding and running energy policy think tanks for the last decade. Yet I found myself perplexed by much of what I heard being bandied about regarding energy policy. None of the public dialogue made any sense to me. Both Republicans and Democrats favored senseless interventions into energy markets, albeit for different reasons (R's for national security and D's for environment). The only thing the two parties could agree on was doling out pork to favored constituencies. Nearly everyone in public life embraced the ridiculous mantra of "energy independence."

I searched in vain for a hard hitting, top-to-bottom analysis of energy policy from a market perspective. Something Milton Friedman or Friedrich Hayek might endorse. I searched feverously for a book that would represent my world view. I found mostly apocalyptic screeds with titles like the End of Oil or Blood and Oil or Powerdown or Carbon War (about 35 such "sky is falling" titles are available on since only 2000).

It is against this gloomy backdrop that I read Bryce's Gusher of Lies. It is by far the best energy policy book in the last decade and that is because I am too lazy to go back farther. Bryce is a journalist and he explains his views in the easy to understand, down to earth manner that we expect from journalists. But unlike many journalists, he is amazingly comprehensive and detailed in his analysis. He has an economist's command of the salient facts and interconnections but writes in a lucid and comprehensible manner. Given the complexity of energy, this is no easy feat.

Interestingly, Bryce is no market ideologue (I plead guilty) so I doubt I will run across him at the next meeting of the vast right wing conspiracy. His bona fides are left of center. As America's leading energy journalist, his last two books were Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron, where he excoriates the Bush Administration for its cozy relationship with Enron, and Cronies: Oil, The Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America's Superstate, where his words drip with venom for the abuses of Republicans, especially the Bush Clan.

Despite his leanings, he wholeheartedly accepts John Adams' admonition that "facts are stubborn things" and Daniel Moynihan's lament that "you're not entitled to your own facts" and Dragnet's Sergeant Friday's "just the facts, ma'am." Admittedly, ideological tracts on markets and the perniciousness of government intervention get my adrenaline spiking but it is refreshing to see your ideology vindicated by such a cogent marshalling of the facts.

He obliterates much of the idiocy that passes for main stream views of energy. A couple of his nuggets: oil imports are not a problem, they are a solution; even assuming that climate change is anthropogenic, many of the proposals are just silly money wasters; wind energy, solar, and ethanol are not going to solve any of our problems; let price play its legitimate role; and why lowering electric demand is folly.

His chapter 21 lays out a host of very common sense (based on the facts as they are not as we wish them to be) proposals: get government out of the energy business; accept interdependence of energy supplies, especially oil; accept increasing energy use and adapt to a changing global climate; develop technologies that use solar, nuclear, and encourage efficient consumption; increase domestic supplies and rely more heavily on natural gas.

My only lament is that many of the policy makers who pontificate on energy will not take the time to read such a comprehensive treatment of energy. We are the worse for that. Bryce, however, has restored my faith that there are some analysts that see the world clearly, instead of through green colored glasses or wrapped in the flag.


Even the NYT review of "Gusher" is favourable. See below:

After motherhood and apple pie, energy independence probably qualifies as the most popular political slogan in the land. It is, as they say, a no-brainer. Robert Bryce agrees: You have to have no brain to think it is possible or even desirable. In "Gusher of Lies," Mr. Bryce, a freelance journalist specializing in energy issues, mounts a savage attack on the concept of energy independence and the most popular technologies currently being promoted to achieve it. Ethanol? A scam. Wind power? Sheer fantasy. Solar power? Think again. For the foreseeable future, which is to say the next 30 to 50 years, fossil fuels will reign supreme, as they have for the last century. Deal with it.

With all the gusto of a hunter clubbing baby seals, Mr. Bryce goes after one cherished green belief after another, but he is an equal-opportunity smiter. Having kicked the props from under every green technology in sight, he goes after the political right. The current administration and its neoconservative allies, he argues, have made energy independence part of the war on terror, a moral and tactical blunder. "Energy independence, at its root, means protectionism and isolationism, both of which are in direct opposition to America's long-term interests in the Persian Gulf and globally," he writes.

Mr. Bryce begins coolly, then heats up and eventually approaches core meltdown. In a perspective-setting opening chapter, he reviews the history and current state of energy needs in the United States, whose situation is not nearly as desperate, he argues, as one might think. Yes, the United States depends on foreign oil and natural gas, as it has for many decades, but only 11 percent of its oil came from the Persian Gulf in 2005. It imports 80 percent of its semiconductors and 100 percent of strategic minerals like bauxite and manganese.

Oil, Mr. Bryce argues, is simply a commodity. It also costs about the same, in real terms, as it always has. Oil producers need to sell just as badly as customers need to buy. It is undoubtedly true, as President Bush declared, that "America is addicted to oil." To which Mr. Bryce answers, So what? Besides, he writes, "America's appetite is simply too large and the global market is too sophisticated and too integrated for the U.S. to secede."

After clearing the ground, Mr. Bryce gets to work demolishing cherished green beliefs about alternative energy sources. Ethanol, in particular, drives him wild. Fuel derived from corn has channeled billions in subsidies to Midwestern farmers and agribusiness, he writes, despite glaring shortcomings. It is expensive to produce and requires enormous amounts of water when irrigation comes into play. It produces much less energy than gasoline while emitting more pollutants into the air.

Detroit loves ethanol because it can use it to inflate fuel-efficiency ratings on their cars artificially. The mammoth Chevy Suburban, produced as a flex-fuel vehicle capable of burning both ethanol and gasoline, magically boosted its fuel efficiency to 29 miles per gallon from 15, since under federal rules only a vehicle's gasoline consumption need be factored into the equation. Ethanol, in other words, has allowed American car manufacturers to produce more gas guzzlers and contribute to increased imports of foreign oil.

The problem with corn and other alternative fuel sources boils down to cost and output. Fuel made from switch grass, another potential solution to the energy problem, costs a lot to produce, delivers a lot less energy than petroleum and would require, like corn, vast areas of farmland to meet a meaningful percentage of current energy needs. Wind power and solar power have the added drawback of being intermittent and unpredictable. A town that relied entirely on solar or wind power would suffer constant service interruptions and wild fluctuations in output, which is why both technologies must be used in conjunction with traditional fossil-fuel generators.

Mr. Bryce lands one telling blow after another, but he favors a slashing, ad-hominem style of attack that can undercut his credibility, especially when he moves away from economics and technology and ventures into politics, an arena to which he brings no particular expertise. He employs a peculiar, almost actuarial assessment of the risk posed by terrorism, which he compares to random events like lightning strikes. This completely misses the point about the threat posed by radical Islam. Using the word "neocon" seems to be enough, for him, to discredit an argument or an opponent.

Fortunately, the book steers back to the high road at the end, when Mr. Bryce suggests that there is some light at the end of the tunnel, some of it solar-powered. Within modest limits, he argues, solar power can play a bigger role in meeting energy needs, especially with new technology that transforms infrared light into electricity. Algae look promising as a source of biodiesel. The major environmental groups may even, eventually, see the point of nuclear power, "the only sector that has enough momentum and enough capital behind it to make a significant dent in the overall use of fossil fuels."

Mr. Bryce's pet idea, though, is something that does not exist, a superbattery capable of storing large quantities of electricity. As the magic wand to bring this "silver bullet" into existence Mr. Bryce proposes a Superbattery Prize awarded either by the Energy Department or private foundations: $1 billion, say, for a compact, affordable system that can store multiple kilowatt-hours, and $10 billion for a system that can store megawatt-hours. The hard-nosed Mr. Bryce reveals himself in the end as something of a visionary and perhaps even a revolutionary. Power to the people.


Green gasbags

Big Media bloviation by The Washington Post and other gasbags about man-made global warming pretends that political science is science. The bias at most news outlets about climate alarmism -- and the indifference about reporting anything that diverges from the alarmist orthodoxy -- can be seen in a Post story on the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), as Lorne Gunter of Canada's National Post reminded recently.

The NIPCC is a counterbalance to the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which blames man for global warming. Washington Post readers learned the NIPCC has ties to conservative politicians and that the Heartland Institute, which sponsored the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change this month, received money from Big Oil and Big Health Care.

The Washington Post got it half right. Not taking anything at face value is wise, especially regarding such a white-hot issue. But since it's not settled science, both sides should face the same exposure. Skeptics of the Al Gore orthodoxy blaming man must be looked at closely by the media -- and should welcome that to help establish their credentials to a brainwashed public. But Mr. Gore's true believers must be held to the same standard. Science and reason don't generate the hot air produced by politicians and the U.N.


Reduce tax on incomes and put tax on pollution, says Al Gore in India

For rich people like Gore, this system would be a very nice windfall. He pollutes a lot but could pay for it easily from his reduced taxes and still have a lot more left over

Reduce tax on incomes and institute a tax on pollution was a suggestion environmental crusader Al Gore had for India to tackle the issue of global warming effectively. "Reduce tax on employees and employers and put a tax on pollution. The more carbon dioxide one emits the more he pays in taxes," said Gore in an interactive session at the India Today Conclave here on Saturday.

Replying to a question by Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma, Gore also suggested subsidising clean energy generation instead of carbon fuels like kerosene. "Why do you subsidise carbon fuels. Why don't you subsidise solar energy," he asked.

Gore, a former US Vice President, said India can take a leadership role in tackling the issue of global warming. "India has proven its capability in sectors like Information Technology and can be a leader in the world in developing new renewable technologies to combat climate change," said the 2007 Nobel Peace laureate.

Asked whether he would ever run again for becoming the President of the US, he replied in the negative. "I do not expect to be a candidate ever again, said Gore who lost the 2000 US Presidential election to George W. Bush. Gore listed achieving a breakthrough in the deadlocked talks at the Kyoto climate changes conference as his key accomplishment during his tenure as Vice President.

However, he termed as his failure is being unable to convince US Senators to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions he helped clinch 10 years ago.



India is willing to ensure that its green-house gas emissions will not exceed the per capita emissions of developed countries at any time, President Pratibha Patil said on Monday.

The government is also planning a 'National Action Plan on Climate Change', she said in her maiden address to the joint sitting of the Budget session of the Parliament. "India is willing to ensure that its per capita emissions shall at no time exceed the average per capita emissions of developed countries," she said.

The government acted with "urgency" on the issue of climate change and established a 'Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change' to plan and implement appropriate strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change, she said.

She said India "constructively" engaged with the international community at the recent Bali Conference on climate change to launch a comprehensive process on long-term cooperative action to deal with this issuance in accordance with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Taking a serious note of the pollution of water bodies, the President said that the 'River Conservation Programme' will be revamped to focus on cleaning of major rivers in the country.



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